Should my fiancé and I move in with my Mom to help her out?
May 27, 2010 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Should my fiancé and I move in with my Mom to help her out?

I've been living with my gf (we're in our early twenties) for about three years and the last two of those years we've been living unhappily with a roommate. About two months ago I proposed to my gf and she graciously accepted. Since then we've been planning/getting excited to move out and get our own place together. Our lease on our place is ending two months from now and we've already begun to look at new places.

My Mom and I have a close relationship and I've always been a very grateful and loving son. She's a fantastic caring woman who actually introduced me to my now fiancé. Despite her luck with matchmaking my mom has been married three times and is very aware of her inability to find a good man. She's currently been married to her third husband for about four years and has been talking about leaving him for the last two. I have encouraged her to take action on this because I believe that it's an unhealthy relationship and the guy's a total jerk.

Today my Mom called me and nervously asked me if my fiancé and I would be interested in moving in together when our lease is up in two months. Now this wouldn't just be my fiancé, my mom, and I living together. This would also be bringing my Mom’s job; daycare, in which sometimes can have up to 15 kids in the house at one time; my younger brother, who is in college; and my younger sister, who is in middle school.

This is not quite the situation we were thinking of being in when we got married. When I told my fiancé about all of this she wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea and brought up the point that she doesn't necessarily NEED to move in with us to survive but I feel like it would really help her through a hard time and would allow her to have a big enough space to continue her daycare.

Would I be ruining the beginning of my marriage? Am I being a terrible son for considering anything other than helping my Mom? My guess is that it’s neither but more like something in the middle. I need some insight please!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Whoa, terrible idea. I'd be cautious even if your fiance was excited about the idea but that she isn't is a big red flag. This will be a huge strain on your relationship.
posted by 6550 at 1:12 PM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]

Jesus Christ, you know this is a terrible idea, don't do it. If your mother is capable of caring for 15 kids at a time, as well as her other two children, then she can handle living on her own.

God, I have shivers just thinking about how much damage this would cause your relationship.
posted by Think_Long at 1:12 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

(And I don't mean a red flag in a derogatory way to your fiance.)
posted by 6550 at 1:13 PM on May 27, 2010

I think it sounds like a terrible idea. There are ways to support your mother without moving in- you could send her money every month, you could visit, you could do certain chores so she doesn't have to hire someone, you could put in hours at the daycare. But to ask your soon-to-be wife to move into a daycare center with your dysfunctional mother, little brother and little sister is A LOT to ask of anyone. You guys need your own living space to build a healthy marriage.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]

When I told my fiancé about all of this she wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea

She was probably being nice. In all likelihood, she hates this idea.
posted by puritycontrol at 1:14 PM on May 27, 2010 [21 favorites]

Timing is just not right on this one. Too much baggage, don't do it.
posted by raisingsand at 1:15 PM on May 27, 2010

I feel like that's a situation you and your fiance don't want to get into. Could you find a place close to your mom? That way you two would have your own space, but could also be there to provide moral support. And no, you aren't being a terrible son. You won't be much help if you are miserable with your living situation.
posted by MaHaGoN at 1:18 PM on May 27, 2010

In my mind the dealbreaker here is not the mom angle, it's the day care. This means basically giving up a large chunk of your house & housetime to as many as 15 kids. This involves parking, additional utilities, legal restrictions, specific hours and a lot of other things. It's a lifestyle change to live with a daycare. Additionally, having your two siblings in the house makes it seem much more that you are still living at home than you and your finacé are having your Mom move in with you. If I were your fiancé, this would be a non-starter.

I think your fiancé is making clear noises that she is not happy with this situation and if I were you I'd be heeding those noises and working to resolve things with her. Basically marriage is the point for many people where, if it hasn't come before, you have to prioritize people in your life who are not your parents, and concentrate on your own family. People do this differently in different families, but it's worth having some discussion with your fiancé about how she views your responsibility to your Mom and her life and decisions and your responsibility to her and your partnered choices. You and your fiancé are a team, and as a team you can help your mother deal with her issues, but if you two are at odds about this, to me that indicates that you're not serious enough about your soon-to-be-marriage and trying to be too much of a fixer with your mom and siblings.

My talking point would be "Mom, you mean a lot to me but me and fiancé need to start our married life together without moving back in with you + daycare + siblings. Let's discuss other ways we can help you with your situation." and move from there, no negotiating, no "well what if I move in and siblings live with asshole ex husband #3?" This should be a clear sign to your fiancé that you are working with her on the problem, and also give you room to work something else out with your mom. There are a ton of options that are not "let's all move in together" such that I don't think that should even be on the table.
posted by jessamyn at 1:19 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'd be miserable if I were your fiancee, but feel too "guilty" about turning down a mom in distress to tell you that to your face bluntly. I wouldn't do it at all unless someone in the scenario was going to end up homeless otherwise. It's going to be nasty if you do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:35 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a son, you should do everything possible to help your mother. As a husband, you should do everything possible to ensure that the life you and your wife are living is good for both of you. Mixing the two together means one of those will have to go, and it is not unreasonable for your wife to be less than enthusiastic about the possibility of hosting a daycare facility in your new home.
posted by davejay at 1:52 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh dear god, no. Do you value your relationship with your fiance? If so, stay far, far away. If your mom needs help financially, thats another thing. By all means, help her out if you can. But this is not the way to do it. It has trouble written all over it. Your unhappy with one bad roommate now. You're potentially getting 3, including a teenager??? Never mind a house full of toys and 15 kids. Run away. Be the good son from another unit in the complex, down the street, or across town. There are so many other ways you can help, but DO NOT DO THIS.
posted by cgg at 1:54 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

OH, and to avoid future friction: don't tell your mother that your wife doesn't want to do it, or say "we decided" (which she may interpret the same way.) Take ownership of it, make the decision yourself to respect your wife's desires and to set appropriate boundaries between helping your mother and sharing a good life with your wife, and tell your mother that you don't think it's appropriate, and so on. If your mother asks if your wife had anything to do with it, just say "You are my mother, and this is my decision to make -- and I have made it."

And seek some compromise with your wife, where it could require some sacrifice without being inappropriate. For instance, if you were going to start your life in a 3-bedroom home or apartment, discuss taking a 1- or 2-bedroom one for the next few years so that you can financially assist your mother with her housing.
posted by davejay at 1:56 PM on May 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

I cannot emphasize how much of a disaster this would be.

If you want to continue to be on track to marry your fiancée*, you should not do this.

*it's two e's for a woman, one for a man. that wacky french language!
posted by winna at 2:27 PM on May 27, 2010

The only way this would be a good idea is if you are a sitcom writer.
posted by padraigin at 2:39 PM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]

Is it possible that your mom's request isn't just a matter of financial practicality, but also of psychological need--like, she needs to have a new plan in place before she feels comfortable leaving her current husband? Can you find a way to support her decision without actually moving in with her (and your siblings, and the daycare)?

I agree with all above that, especially if your fiancee isn't enthusiastic, but even if she were, the situation would be extraordinarily stressful, but your options aren't 1) betray your mother, or 2) destroy your relationship. You can (and should) find ways to help your mom through this transition while protecting your relationship, and protecting your relationship most likely means not moving in with your mom.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:50 PM on May 27, 2010

You really need to be in your own space together when starting out. Even if you're comfortable living with your mom, it would be really unfairly stacking stress and discomfort on your soon-to-be-ladywife to put her in a space that not only could she not call her own, but that would be under perpetual invasion by kids who, let's face it, suck at boundaries.

Get your own place. Find another way to help you mom out, be it money, feeding her... something.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:50 PM on May 27, 2010

HOLY FUCKING SHIT NO GOD DON'T FUCKING DO THIS JESUS NO. This will make nobody happier, including your mother.
posted by beerbajay at 2:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Awful plan. Your mother doesn't need you to be there. This will be bad for everyone. She's a grown woman who obviously can support herself and you need to take time to start your marriage.

If your fiancee posted about this situation, she probably would be told by many people to run 1000 miles from you because the situation could be perceived as you being unable to really separate from your mother, a situation known to kill marriages.

If you want a happy marriage, you need to prioritize your wife over your mother. If you learn this now, you will save everyone a lot of heartache.
posted by Maias at 3:14 PM on May 27, 2010

Please don't do this. A new marriage really does require privacy, peace and quiet that can't possibly exist in your mother's current living arrangements. If you move in and allow your mother to start relying on you for her day to day survival, what will you do if you discover that you can't stand the chaos? How will you extricate yourself and your new wife without hurting your mother? It's far easier to say no to this idea now than it will be to try and change your mind later.

Saying no to your mother's preferred solution to the problem doesn't mean that you're abandoning her. Your mother deserves your love and support, but not at the expense of your marriage. Please try to find ways to help her from the outside.
posted by contrariwise at 3:21 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing no.
posted by Spurious at 3:25 PM on May 27, 2010

Daycare would be the deal breaker for me. My first husband and I lived in a house with his parents and his teenage brothers and one pregnant teenager connected to one of said brothers. It was hectic and chaotic, but all in all it worked out fairly well for the brief period it lasted...maybe 6 months or so before we got jobs in another city.

But add daycare to that, and I would have been gone so fast I would have been but a memory in a white dress, I tell you what. Even putting aside the fact that children are disease ridden germ monkeys who will leave smudges on places they cannot possibly reach, thereby eliminating your bride from being able to create her own home with her own style because everything will need to be able to be disinfected...or in some cases burned.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I hate other people's children, or feed them to wolves when nobody is looking...but dear god, being trapped in MY OWN HOUSE with 15 of the little egoists...the mere thought of it makes me want to hide in a darkened room.

Also, if you own the house: insurance for daycare is a nightmare. And you will need LOTS of insurance. This is America. Litigation is a hobby 'round these parts.

So; tl;dr: Family could be fine. Loads of people live in extended families. But extended family, plus newlywed, plus daycare? No. That would be crossing-the-streams bad.
posted by dejah420 at 3:43 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

The daycare isn't the dealbreaker for me only because I grew up in a house with an in-home daycare, but the privacy for you and your fiancée is the dealbreaker. Talk to your mom and tell her that you will do all you can to help her out and find a place for her and your siblings, but for your sanity you need to allow her to pursue this on her own. You can still be a loving and supportive son without shouldering this kind of burden.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:09 PM on May 27, 2010

posted by HotToddy at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2010

Neither my spouse nor I married our mother's-in-law THANK HEAVEN!
posted by leafwoman at 4:18 PM on May 27, 2010

Ugh no. You sleeping in separate rooms? Otherwise life will be a living hell. Even if you were married (especially if you were married) this would not be a good idea.
posted by brownrd at 4:25 PM on May 27, 2010

Please, please, please take *davejay's advice here*.

You've put your fiancee in a really tough spot. She thought she was finally getting out of the place with the crappy roommate and you guys were going to start building your new life together in a new home, just the two of you. You must know how excited she was about that. Now she's gotta give that up and move into a house with her future mother-in-law, two teenagers, and an entire daycare, or else be cast as the selfish shrew who forced you to abandon your family.

Don't make her the bad guy here. Like davejay said, it's a tough choice, but it is completely on you. Tell your fiancee, "I'm sorry I put you in that position, it wasn't fair to you. There are lots of ways I can support my mom without sacrificing your needs and the needs of our relationship, so I'm going to tell my mom that *I* have decided it's a bad idea for us to move in with her. Let's discuss other options for helping out my mom, and I'll only offer her the options you're comfortable with." Your fiancee seems like a very reasonable woman (I'd probably have started screaming bloody murder), she'll probably be very willing to help you come up with other ideas.

It's great that you and your mother are so close, but you're a grown man with a life and family of your own now. The fact that your mother even asked that question shows that she hasn't yet learned to respect the boundaries. To make everyone's lives easier in the long run, it's up to you to start enforcing those boundaries asap.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:23 PM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]

I also think you shouldn't do this, OP, but I sympathize with the tough spot that you're in. You're a kind and loving son, which is what causes you to feel guilty refusing your mom, regardless of how crazy and demanding of a request this is. And to be frank: a considerate mom would not ask this of her early-20s, recently-engaged son; she'd exhaust all other living options first. I'm with jessamyn and others on the fact that the biggest dealbreaker here is the daycare. You and your fiance will have no privacy and no peace.

For much of human history (and in some cultures still) families really did all live under one roof like this while running a business out of their home. I say this only as a bit of a counterweight to those who are saying ICK GOD NO RUN AWAAAAY!!! STOP and to suggest some context for why, in a certain light, this request almost sounds reasonable. But if you're in 21st-century America, any girlfriend will have better options than sticking with a fiance who comes with a needy parent, two dependent children, and a whole daycare in tow. Refuse your mom for your fiancee's sake and for the sake of your relationship.
posted by ms.codex at 5:28 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is a world of difference between this scenario and a couple who have been married for 15 years or more deciding to have an elderly mother-in-law move in.

The voting seems unanimous. This would kill the marriage before it has a chance to find roots and grow.
posted by yclipse at 6:00 PM on May 27, 2010

posted by aramaic at 7:44 PM on May 27, 2010

It's great to be the dutiful son, but once you're married your primary responsibility is to your wife, not your mother. After bringing this up with her, you're going to have to prove that you understand this if you want the relationship to continue and the marriage to go forward.

Involve her in deciding what you can do to support your mother emotionally and potentially financially (for a specified amount of $ and time -- and only if you can afford it without sacrificing anything you and your fiancee have been thinking about), but make sure she knows that you have ruled out the Walton Family scenario.
posted by rocketpup at 6:06 AM on May 28, 2010

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