My husband's father is crowding me out of my own house

As a U.S. Marine, my husband is away on duty, but that doesn't mean there's room for his dad here. There isn't!

By Cary Tennis
Published December 6, 2006 12:19PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I'm 25, married for almost seven years to a Marine. We have two wonderful kids ages 7 and 5. This past summer my husband informed me his dad was moving in with us because he got laid off.

Well, we live in an extra-small two-bedroom townhouse. My father-in-law sleeps in our living room on an air mattress. He is morbidly obese. Having him here is ruining my family. My kids don't care to have him here. He tries to take charge when I'm getting after my kids. He doesn't have a vehicle, so I have to run all his errands. I don't have time to do everything for him. I work part time and take care of my two boys. My husband is never home because of his job.

My father-in-law smells like poo, has ruined my furniture, and is a slob, lazy and helpless. When I cook dinner I have to serve him at the table, and my kids are always doing stuff for him. He eats all their snacks and lunch food. Every time I use the restroom I have to clean it because he gets poo everywhere. If he wants to take a shower, I have to go downstairs so he can use my room.

I can't live like this anymore. I know it seems like it shouldn't be a big deal, but I can't sit here and watch him waste his life away. It has been six months and nothing has gotten better. I can't ask my husband to kick his dad out. So I've been thinking of leaving my husband. There's much more than what I've told you, and this situation is getting out of hand. How do I get my father-in-law to move out without hurting anybody?

I really love my husband and I don't want to leave him over this, but I can't keep going on like this. Please help me figure out what to do. The smell needs to go!!

P.S. He's living off of disability and unemployment, which runs out very soon!


Dear Desperate,

It sounds like you are under so much pressure that you are not thinking straight. Don't leave your husband to get rid of his dad. You need to stick with your kids and your husband. It's his dad who has to go. I know that's hard. It's very hard. But it has to be done. You have priorities. You belong with your children and your husband. Your husband is going to have to accept the fact that his dad can't live with you. You are running the household while your husband is away with the Marines. You have to do what's right.

Your husband may get upset, but if he is a good man he will respect you for it in the end, knowing that it's best for his children. He has to side with you, not his father.

His father is apparently disabled in some way and not fully capable of taking care of himself. He has some limited income, and should be eligible for aid. He needs some kind of social assistance. Call a social worker or a social services organization. Explain your situation to them. Ask for advice. Find out what sort of aid your father-in-law is eligible for. Is your father-in-law a veteran? There may be veterans benefits, including counseling, if he is a veteran. If not, as a man who has been laid off and is on unemployment, there should be counseling related to job seeking and so forth.

Ask the social worker about all the possible options available. And reach out to friends and relatives for help as well. Does your father-in-law have relatives in the area, or friends who care about him? Put him in touch with them. See if there is someplace he can stay. This is too much for you to handle on your own with your husband gone.

Also, I suggest you reach out to other Marine wives, who may know of resources for military families, and may have had experiences such as yours that they can share.

Do what you can to help him, but also set a deadline by which he has to be out of your place. Ideally, he needs to go somewhere where he can have a room of his own, and where there is care.

You will need to explain this to your husband. He may not realize what bad shape his father is in. He may not be able to face the fact that his father is so messed up. But you and he need to talk and come up with a plan. Ideally, if your husband could get leave to come home for a few days to help move his father, that would be best. If not, you will have to confer with your husband as best you can, and help his father move out with the help of a friend or other relative.

The bottom line is that it's your husband's father who has to go. You owe that to your children, and to yourself, and your husband, so that you can run your household efficiently, and so that your children will feel safe and comfortable in their home. Do what you can to ensure that he finds the necessary housing, medical attention and social services, but get him out of your place.

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