Dear Annie: I am married to an absolute angel. Unfortunately, her mother has been living with us for the past two years. Mom doesn’t work, doesn’t do much of anything around the house, doesn’t cook or clean, and sleeps until nearly noon. We have to ask her to do things, just as we would a child, and then she responds as if we’re scolding her.
Mom is only 54 and has no medical or physical problems that would keep her from working. She has worked, but can’t keep a job. When her husband died, she lost everything because she never bothered to ask for help or advice. She believes that God will make a way for her. I have no problem with that, but God expects you to be willing to take the first step forward.
We don’t want her on the street, obviously, and will continue to let her stay here. But we have no privacy and require extended trips just to feel normal. How do we encourage her to move on? – Need Mother-in-Law Help
Dear Need: Mom is too young to be so useless around the house. Does she have mental health issues? Adult Attention Deficit Disorder might explain why she has so much trouble keeping a job.
But regardless, she is not going to do anything about it if you and your wife don’t set some rules and stick to them. Even volunteer work would give Mom a sense of purpose and a place to go every day. Your wife needs to be frank with her mother, saying that she loves her but needs her to contribute to the household in some form.
Insist that she get counseling as a condition of staying, and your wife should ask to go with her for the first session to explain the issues to the counselor.