SO's Sick mother- not sure how to deal with her asking my SO to move in
January 6, 2014 10:08 AM   Subscribe

I come from an abusive family where illness was often used an an excuse to mistreat people. For example, my mother would emotionally abuse my father and I and then say it was because she was sick and that we had to learn to deal with it. My SO just moved from another city to be with me and two months in his mother is asking him to move back home for her hip replacement surgery "until she can drive." I am finding this very stressful.

My SO (we have known each other for years, we got together last year) has not found a job here yet so I am supporting both of us. It's OK so far, but finances are a bit tight at time and I'm finding myself living at a lower standard than I'm used to. Obviously he can't get a job here if he's going back there.

I asked him to ask his mother if he could talk to someone at her doctor's office about the prognosis so we can make future plans and she dismissed it. Googling around, it seems some people are able to drive at six weeks, for others it is longer. She has good insurance and would be able to be in a rehab facility if he didn't go help her, but she says they are "awful" and in general made my SO feel so guilty that he felt like he had to go. She says she is depressed and she lives alone. Her ex-husband lives nearby but he has a "new family."

He said she says I might be able to visit, but financially this doesn't seem like a good idea and it doesn't seem like she wants me to come. I get the impression that she is needy and manipulative, but I also worry that because of my background I am projecting, so it's making it very difficult to have a good conversation with my SO.

My grandmother had the same surgery recently and she was in a rehab facility and it was fine. Some of us flew done there for a week. But I understand it's different for everyone.

I won't lie- I feel like settling in here is a priority and I wish he didn't have to go or at least didn't have to go for so long. I do feel guilty for this. One side of me feels like a jerk to a sad old lady, another side just feels kind of hopeless and depressed about it.
posted by ponytime to Human Relations (34 answers total)
Best answer: I don't think you are awful. But I cannot imagine going through hip replacement surgery alone. And I would want my child to stay with me during that time. However, would she consider a rehab facility near you? This would allow her to get extra help and have emotional support from your partner and your partner could still focus on finding a job.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I see where you are coming from, but my mother went through knee-replacement surgery and even after she went home, it was really hard for her.

Be gracious, let your SO go home and tend to his mother. Trust that he can set and keep appropriate boundaries and will return when he is able to do so.

I too suspect a bit of manipulation here, but this is all for your SO to determine and deal with. If this is what he wants to do, support him as best as you can.

Simply say to your SO, "I'm frustrated because I feel that it's important for you to settle in here with me. I understand that you need to be with your mother while she recuperates. I'm a bit concerned that she doesn't want me to visit you in X. How do you feel about that?"

Then listen to him.

Sometimes shit happens at the most inconvenient time. Showing flexibility, love and understanding can go a LONG way towards moving your relationship forward.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:17 AM on January 6, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: made my SO feel so guilty that he felt like he had to go

Would he go if he had a job?

This is a deep-set dynamic between your SO and his mother, and you can be sure that hip surgery won't be the only time it happens. You're not going to have any influence on his relationship with his mother, and it appears that she's going to influence her son's relationship with his SO. It's your call, now that you know about it, whether you want to be part of that.
posted by headnsouth at 10:17 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What is your SO's history with his mother? Your family history has nothing to do with his particular situation.

My parents drive me *bonkers* and I live 1000+ miles away from them, but since neither of them have ever used illness to be manipulative I'd drop everything in a heartbeat to be there with them during a recovery if they said they needed me. However, if my cousin (who is "sick" all the time unless there's something fun to do with her friends) made a similar request, I would be extremely extremely hesitant. So for me, you should put your trust in your SO that he will make the best decision for himself based on his experience.

I understand where you're coming from and I don't think it makes you a bad person. I think you should explain to your SO your reservations, and why you feel the way you do, since that will be helpful for him to know so that the two of you don't let resentment build (as can happen when these things are left unsaid). Remember that his decision is about his relationship with his mom--if he leaves to help her, he is leaving to help her, he is not leaving to hurt you.

If he does decide to go, I think it would be a good idea to keep the following in mind: there should be a reasonable end date for him to move back home to you and he should continue looking for jobs in your town while he's helping his mother.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I think you're conflating your own family issues with his family situation. He should be able to decide whether he wants to move in with his mother at this time.
posted by xingcat at 10:20 AM on January 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I'd say that this would put SO at a disadvantage in finding a job in your town anytime soon. I suspect that the way things are is unsustainable for you financially in the long term. I don't think you're a jerk at all for not wanting to let him go.

But it's his mother, it's his call. The only call you have to make is whether or not this is okay with you and him moving back is a dealbreaker. It's honestly okay if it is.
posted by inturnaround at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: What does your SO want to do? How is his relationship with his mother? Personally, I am fairly close to my parents and would want to be there if they were having major surgery. Even more so if it were a single parent with no support network, and I didn't have a job and were relying on my SO for financial support. He may be feeling pretty helpless right now and being there for his mother is something he can do for his own and his family's emotional well-being, something where he can say, "well, I was unemployed for n months and it sucked, but at least it gave me the opportunity to support my mother through a health crisis." You don't say in your question how he feels about this (other than that he feels a bit guilt-tripped) so I'm just trying to see this from his perspective.
posted by payoto at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I come from an abusive family where illness was often used an an excuse to mistreat people. For example, my mother would emotionally abuse my father and I and then say it was because she was sick and that we had to learn to deal with it.

This, IMO, is the real crux of the issue. You are projecting your previous experiences onto your boyfriend and his family, and that is not especially productive or fair. Have you pursued therapy to try and tackle the trauma of childhood abuse?


I can't speak for your boyfriend, but I would promptly dump someone who didn't support me helping one of my parents through a major surgery. Tread lightly here.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2014 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe part of the challenge is that since you are not married your "mother in law" does not really feel like fully including you in the decision-making process.

If so, it's not an issue that can be solved in the short term, so you're going to have to rely on your SO to ensure your needs are met.

It's not always easy to balance family with one's spouse in the best of times, so you're going to have to communicate to him what your needs are, and expect him to do the right thing when he can.

On the other hand, it must be absolutely no fun to be stuck in a city where one has no job and presumably few prospects.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One thing that may help you keep your feelings about your family history from getting tied up too much in this is to try and accept that it's possible for your SO's mom to (a) potentially be being needy and manipulative about this and (b) genuinely need to have someone close around for what's probably a really distressing period of surgery and recovery.

Basically, it's totally okay to feel uncomfortable about your suspicions about her behavior while also supporting your SO's decision about how to help his mom out. The question of whether you're correct or not to think she's being manipulative in the way that you have a bad family history with is pretty much ancillary to whether your SO feels its his responsibility to go be where she is as the pragmatic solution to this situation. Even if you could somehow know with objective 100% certainty that she's being unfair, that wouldn't somehow change his relationship with her or his sense of obligation, and trying to make this surgery and recovery situation into a fulcrum for forcing him to redefine his relationship with his mom on short notice may not really be a good idea in practical terms even if it'd be the emotionally preferable thing for you in some ways. Getting through this now and working on the parental relationship dynamic problem long term might be more workable even if it's a personally frustrating way to go.
posted by cortex at 10:30 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I went through a couple of hip surgeries as an otherwise-vigorous and healthy young man. It would have been impossible for me to manage by myself for the first part of my recovery. I couldn't drive. I couldn't even carry a cup of coffee across the kitchen (crutches). Your SO's mother is probably not as vigorous or healthy as I was at the time, and I don't blame her for not wanting to be in a rehab facility (also, I don't know what qualifies as "good insurance" but it might be stingier than you realize).

So I acknowledge your misgivings, and I'll even allow that your SO's mom might be acting needy, but even so, it's your SO's obligation as a family member to help her out, and she does need help.
posted by adamrice at 10:34 AM on January 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I am in therapy for my family history. I have to say that I do think it would be different if we were married, IE, she would have asked me too, and that stings a little especially since I am the breadwinner at the moment and I am likely to make the majority of this household's income in the future, but I come from a conservative family too and I understand that. I also know things would be different if he already had a job because he has a brother who works in tech in a different country and he is not expected to come help and has not been made to feel guilty about it.
posted by ponytime at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Also remember how he treats his mom is how he'll treat you, as the saying goes.

It's a good sign that he loves his mom enough to go take care of her. It is rare that men are the caretakers of sick parents. Take it as a good thing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: If you were married and she had asked you to come as well, would you have been able to go, since you're the sole breadwinner right now?

If he doesn't have a bad history with his mom (especially around manipulative behavior stuff), then he really needs to weigh the "feeling guilty about not going" versus "making a new life in a new place" with you, and you should do your damndest to not project *your* family's issue's onto his.

FWIW, I once left my mom to deal with a scary diagnosis and surgery by herself. I had reasons. Looking back, they were not good reasons, but I can see how I thought they were. I still regret my decision. I did the best I could at the time, but I wish I had done it differently.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to echo schroedingersgirl that I would seriously re-evaluate a relationship with someone who lobbied against my staying with a parent for a period of only some several weeks to help them through major surgery. This is a legitimate need for aid on her part.

Being alone, helpless, and entirely at the mercy of strangers in an institutional setting strikes me as kind of horrible, regardless of how kind the carers might be or how posh the facility is otherwise.
posted by Andrhia at 10:42 AM on January 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: If you can accept him going, and want a glass-half-full perspective on that:

Depending on what your SO does/wants to do, several weeks of heel-cooling whilst helping his mother would leave lots of time to invest in things that could help with a job hunt, even if he's not actually putting feet to pavement in your city: dusting off and revising a CV, writing cover letters, upgrading some skills online, brushing up on recent developments in his field, or even starting some sort of blog or journal or online project that helps show his passion and expertise for the field he wants to work in. Maybe his field of employment doesn't allow for that, but with a little creativity there are probably things he can do to make himself look better to employers when he gets back.

So you could agree to take a "yes, but how about also treating your time as prepare-for-a-job-hunt time?" approach. He gets to go take care of his mom, but it's not 100% lost time as regards job-seeking and looking for ways to better share your financial load.

If he goes down there and treats it like two part-time jobs -- the Help Mom Job and the Get Ready for Work Job -- you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
posted by Shepherd at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: One of the reasons your mother was able to manipulate you in childhood is because illness is difficult to live with and people of goodwill do make sacrifices to assist people they love in distress.

It's entirely possible that your SO's mother is manipulating him. It's entirely possible she isn't. And you can of course go through life believing that all claims of illness are lies if you want to. You can go through life believing that they are all sincere if you want to. And you can strike a balance anywhere in between these extremes.

You might benefit from some therapy in helping you to live with your feelings about this stuff. It's okay. What you feel makes sense and is understandable, and you're not a monster or anything for feeling it. But (and I'm reading between the lines here a little) it seems like you want a little more control over your feelings about this topic, and therapy can help you with that.

Good luck.
posted by gauche at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think you're projecting. If this were something more minor, it'd be one thing. But hip replacement? That isn't the sort of thing where you make it up to get sympathy. And yes, a lot of the rehab facilities are not that great, but at their best, if you've visited a facility like that? You were there for... what, a day? Living there for weeks is different. Home is home for a reason, and almost everybody would prefer to be there if at all possible. I don't even like my mother very much, but I'd do this for her, even though I'd bail as soon as humanly possible.
posted by Sequence at 10:52 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: I am in therapy for my family history. I have to say that I do think it would be different if we were married, IE, she would have asked me too, and that stings a little especially since I am the breadwinner at the moment and I am likely to make the majority of this household's income in the future, but I come from a conservative family too and I understand that. I also know things would be different if he already had a job because he has a brother who works in tech in a different country and he is not expected to come help and has not been made to feel guilty about it.

It really sounds like you are conflating a lot of different issues, or looking for motives that may not be there, and as a result complicating what is really a simple issue: your SO's mother needs help, and he is in a pretty good position to provide it, all things considered.

I don't think her asking your SO instead of you is because she assumes he's Head of Household because he is The Man of the House or anything. It's because he's her son. And it makes perfect sense that she would ask the son who lives in the same country as her and is currently out of work, rather than the son who has a job in another country. It may seem unfair, but it just works out that sometimes one person is a more logical choice than another. Maybe the expat brother can help out financially in her recovery, since he can't be there in person.

This is life. People lean on each other sometimes.
posted by payoto at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

When my Mum had double hip replacement surgery I moved back in with her both times.

Even something as simple as bending down to pick something up is impossible. Don't get me started on how difficult it was for her to get up off the toilet on her own...... she's more than fine now and she's young (60) but those 2 surgeries were extremely rough on her and I was more than happy to help her out during the recovery process.

I can't imagine how awful it would have been for her (and me) if my SO told me I couldn't go and take care of my Mum. You say: "I get the impression that she is needy and manipulative", but, I can't help thinking exactly the same thing of you in the way you've phrased the question.
posted by JenThePro at 10:58 AM on January 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds manipulative to me. And I couldn't imagine my or any of my friends' parents expecting them to move away from their new city just as they're starting to put down roots and jeopardize their future just to care for them after a hip replacement, when there are facilities and other options available. It's not like she's terminal and this is the last few weeks he'll spend with her. It seems very selfish to me and very much the parent-acting-as-child scenario. He's at a very crucial stage of finding work right now, and long stretches of unemployment (even if caring for a sick relative) are hard to overcome in the hiring process.

However, if he wants to go, then her state of mind is not really relevant (I mention it only because it seems no one else sees this as sketchy and I wanted to let you know that you're not alone in your interpretation and I don't have a manipulative family history). This is between you and him, not her. Communicate to him, clearly and without accusing his mother of anything, that you think it's a poor decision because XYZ (he needs to find a job, it's leaving you in the lurch financially, you'll miss him, etc). He can then decide if those reasons outweigh the reasons for going. It's his responsibility to manage and balance his relationship with you and his relationship with his mother. If he decides to go, that is a decision he is making -- don't let him blame it on his mother, he is the one making the choice.

Don't make any ultimatums to him ("If you go, I'll dump you") to try to get him not to go (that only leads to bad things). But, if him going is a dealbreaker in this relationship, then it is what it is, and maybe it's run its course.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:12 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When my Mom had a knee replacement, she went to rehab center. We had to argue with the insurance company to get them to pay for it. I am so glad she did! Friends & family could visit there. She wasn't stranded on the 2nd floor (no bed & bath on the first floor at home). She had regular physical and occupational therapy right in the rehab facility. By the time she went home she was well prepared to walk up & down steps, her pain was manageable and she was very glad to be home.
posted by MichelleinMD at 11:18 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: As a frame of reference, I spent a week taking care of my mother after her hip replacement surgery. Most people don't go to rehab facilities after hip replacement surgery. But she also had my siblings and my dad around to help when I had to leave.

By the end of that week, she was transitioning from using a walker to using a cane but still needed a bit of help.

By the time I saw her several weeks after that, she was walking better than she had in years.

If you are going to be in a relationship, then you have to accept that certain things are priorities on top of priorities. This is a time when someone else's health priorities supersedes any preexisting priority you may have had. Health > Settling in.

"Until she can drive" is likely somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks. I think your SO going for 3 weeks is reasonable, assuming no unforeseen consequences. If your SO's mother lives anywhere suburban or urban, then your SO can set up a recurring grocery delivery for her, etc. while also looking into additional care if his mother will need it at that point. By week 4 or 5 she should be back to normal activity levels.

She may be manipulative. But she may also just be scared. Hip surgery is great. It works really well. But it's also a major surgery and can take a long time. It's not something someone should go through alone and without support.
posted by zizzle at 11:19 AM on January 6, 2014

All the answers here telling you she's being manipulative and you need to reevaluate the relationship are all long and convoluted in their explanations.

The answers telling you this is case of a mother who needs her son's care are simple and easy.

That should help you see how to view this.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:20 AM on January 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

I can see where MIL is coming from. Your SO isn't forsaking any job or income or burning all his leave by helping her out, he's just delaying his job search and he can probably continue on applying for jobs and submitting resumes while he's there. Yes if he gets a promising interview it will be pricey to go to it, but there are a lot of work arounds he could manage. Also he could wait to apply for jobs until she's on her way to recovery and he knows when he's returning, which means he'd be back by the time he got any interviews. So he may only be delaying his job search by a month. With the way the job market is there is a very good chance he'll still be unemployed in 2 months and how is he going to feel if he's sitting around doing nothing while his mom is in a rehab facility? All things considered the timing of this isn't bad.

This isn't to say he should do it, but I don't think the request is unreasonable on her part.
posted by whoaali at 11:50 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well. I wrote out a longish response but, for the sake of brevity:

You are putting a lot of emphasis on his being physically proximate to you right now as though his employment future and your relationship hinge upon it. If it does, his mother is not the problem.
posted by sm1tten at 11:54 AM on January 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Unless this is part of a larger pattern of behavior on his mother's part, I don't think there is any indication here that she's being manipulative or controlling.

I can't tell if you are hurt that you were not asked to come stay with her as well. I suppose this really depends on family dynamics, but recovering from surgery makes people vulnerable, it's embarrassing, there's very few people that I would want around me during that time. Her not wanting you around while she recovers from major surgery probably has absolutely nothing to do with you or what she thinks of you.
posted by inertia at 12:25 PM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: A guy who's good to his Mom is a good guy, even if she's manipulative. She really does need help, and she's probably lonely and worried. No reason for it to be on her terms. Mom, I can come for 6 weeks. GF is going to visit a couple of times, And, I'll visit GF at least once or twice. I will be looking for temp work to pay GF back for all she's been spending. While I'm there, I'll help you get set up with transportation, maybe a housekeeper, and anything else you need.

Disclaimer: I'm a Mom, would be so thankful if my son and SO were supportive when I needed them. Even if she's not, doing the right thing is good karma.
posted by theora55 at 12:55 PM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: SO says that there has been a patterns of controlling behavior in the past, but unlike in my family it is attention-seeking rather than abusive. I can say I'd feel a lot better about everything if it had been approached as "can you please come help me" rather than "If no one comes and helps me I'll be sad/lonely/depressed." That is very triggering for me, but I agree I should not project that onto the situation. I will acknowledge it makes me very uncomfortable and talk to my therapist about it.

Regardless, the answers are right that say no matter who she is, she does need help. SO is going to insist on talking with someone from med center to see what prognosis is. I will set aside any savings from the time he is gone (food, transportation, etc.) to help cushion some of the financial issues and plan to be the breadwinner for some time. To be clear the jobs he qualifies for in the food industry typically are not easy to apply for from far away. I work in tech and can work remotely occasionally, though obviously it would probably not be a good idea to visit if she feels uncomfortable with that and it would be costly.
posted by ponytime at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I really disagree with a lot of the answers here. His primary obligation is to be able to support HIMSELF financially and not rely on you to pay his bills You have already supported him for two months and she is trying to delay that. (I understand she needs help and that it's scary, but she could go to a rehab center). If his mom wants him to delay finding a job, then she should give him money to tide him over when he moves back to your city so that you are not supporting him.
posted by gt2 at 8:37 PM on January 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, even before seeing your last update, I was prepared to comment that even if you are triggered by this, it doesn't mean that something didn't set off that alarm. I won't go on, as you just explained all that perfectly well -- the way she asked involved some emotional manipulation. Then again, the use of persuasion is a bit of a cultural thing, so if they are a very Ask (vs. Guess) family, a little "c'mon..." might not be totally out of line.

I would not read too much into the fact that she isn't seeking to have you there. It could mean that she is private and embarrassed about needing help. She might feel she won't be able to entertain you at her usual standards. (Being private in times if weakness might relate to not going to a rehab place, too.) And while I can see why it might twing your fear of her being needy (wanting him ALL to herself) or not supporting your relationship (you don't want him searching for jobs here and now you don't even want me visiting??) it could also be something very different (not wanting to trouble you, being embarrassed, not wanting to try to entertain while in pain).

I'm a bit worried about your relationship, because it seems like you're having to figure this out all on your own, whereas eventually, you two may need to develop a shared language and understanding here: what triggers you and why, how his relationship with his mom does or does not parallel the unhealthy dynamics in your family, what are his values and beliefs around family obligations/service and boundaries, etc. I'd like to see him helping you sort out whether you're triggered for reasonable reasons or misreading their dynamic. The fact that you are asking us makes some sense early in a relationship but will probably need to change, if this relationship is to be good for you in the long run.

Another thing I see, and I may be wrong, but I see you talking a lot about what he needs to do for you / your relationship. Is that how you think all the time; for instance, do you ask him how many jobs he applied to on a given day? I'm guessing you don't, which is why I'm bringing it up. My complete guess is that when someone starts manipulating you, you've learned to clearly articulate your own needs, as a way of not getting sucked in to just meeting theirs? That would be a good strategy when you're on the front lines battling a manipulator. And ( tentative theory continues...) here, that strategy might instinctually lead you to respond to her demands on [you two*] (* actually just him) by articulating what [you two*] need, (*in practice, what you need from him). Is this valid at all? If so, I just want to caution you that this might have an impact that is different from your intent. I'd guess your intent is to unite with him to achieve your shared goals. But I'm guessing the practical impact is to put him in the middle of two people seeking things from him. That's a really tough tug of war. I think your way out of it could be to try not to see this as her manipulating you two, but as your delightful BF saying he needs your support and can't do XYZ for you right now. Put more simply, you dislike manipulators but like your boyfriend, so just focus on how you want to relate to him for now ("now" being until you guys can have the conversation I described in the previous paragraph).

In general, the fact that he's in the middle means that you'll probably have to find very different strategies from the ones you use to deal with manipulators. To me, this is one of the harder things about someone else's life triggering you; you can't solve it using the instincts and strategies you've honed to such a sharp point. I got good at hanging up on people who harangued me after one bad relationship. When my friend was in a bad relationship and being harangued, I couldn't hang up on HER date for her, and telling her to hang up didn't work. It made me crazy! Eventually I figured out that even though it was essentially the exact same human dynamics (and we haven't established whether it is or not in your situation), I still had to puzzle out how to handle it completely afresh, because my role in the dynamic had shifted from victim to third party supporter / occasional secondary victim in minor ways. I kept wanting to step into her role in the play, because I knew those lines by heart, but I had to keep remembering that I was cast as a different character this time.

Okay, apologies for the novel, and I hope this comes off sympathetically. Good luck!
posted by salvia at 8:48 PM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

By the way, I don't mean to label his mom a manipulator. I don't think we can know based just on what you said, if it's even useful to label people at all. But right now your triggered subconscious sees her as one, which is all I meant.
posted by salvia at 8:56 PM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Even though I would also be leery of an SO who didn't want me to go take care of a parent who was facing serious surgery, this situation set off alarm bells for me. Not of abuse or manipulation necessarily, but because I know a lot of people who are trapped in the vicious cycle of being the family's designated caretaker (of ill/elderly parents, other family members' young children, etc) because they're unemployed.

Your boyfriend's mother sounds like she's scared and isolated-- her ex has another family that's his priority, and both of her children have moved away. She is probably terrified of being sick and in pain and unable to take care of herself as well as being alone. But the guilt factor-- that she brought up being lonely and sad, rather than needing help-- is both totally natural and could lead to problems, like, worst-case scenario, your boyfriend being sucked back into living at home forever should he be unable to find work and should his mother have further health problems. This might be my issues talking here, but I think both you and your boyfriend are going to need to concentrate on having both the bf and his mother be as medically empowered as possible, and on disentangling her needing to be less isolated and lonely from her needing medical assistance. If she has money and good insurance, this might be easier than if not. Your boyfriend needs to be on page with her doctors, he needs to look into rehab facilities should they end up being necessary, and look into a homecare assistant or housekeeper for when it's time for him to come home. Good luck to all of you guys.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:17 PM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: worst-case scenario, your boyfriend being sucked back into living at home forever should he be unable to find work and should his mother have further health problems.

His mother took care of her own mother for awhile and my SO believes that's one of the reasons she is so socially isolated. According to my SO has almost no friends, has chronic depression, isn't part of any kind of community and won't make any effort to join one, has no plans for the future, doesn't take care of herself, lives in a place where you can only get around by driving, and my SO believes she can't move to a city like ours because she can't adapt to new situations and also she owns her house and doesn't want to leave it. On the bright side she seems financially stable, but my SO has had some bad luck and is not.

I'm very concerned he will be sucked into whatever kind of cycle she's in, which seems to me almost a kind of learned helplessness. I think my SO and I need to address what this means for the future.

I feel like it's hard to talk about this with people I know IRL and I asked here because I felt like kind of a jerk for having these doubts about a sick woman.
posted by ponytime at 3:30 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

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