My wife wants her mother to move in with us, but I can’t stand the woman. What choice do I have?

Dear Evie, my wife (47F) and I (52M) have been married a long time. In all these years, I’ve never got along with my mother-in-law. She’s a nosey, controlling woman who I suspect may be a narcissist. My wife also struggles to have a healthy relationship with her but we’ve managed all these years as my MIL lives on the other side of the country and we only see her during family vacations. My wife’s father recently passed and her mom asked to come and live with us, even though she’s still pretty independent and doesn’t need much help. My wife agreed without asking me, and I’m dreading it! I can’t stand a week with the woman let alone having her in my personal space. How can I put my foot down and tell my wife “no” without causing a big fallout? – Arthur, NY 

Dear Arthur, 

Thanks for writing in – I feel your pain!

You’re facing a tough situation, and it’s crucial to address it head-on with honesty and respect. Your feelings about your mother-in-law are valid, and it’s understandable that the thought of her moving in is causing you stress. Here’s how to navigate this delicate issue:

First, have an open and honest conversation with your wife. Choose a calm moment to express your concerns without accusing or blaming. Use “I” statements to focus on your feelings and needs, such as “I feel anxious about your mother moving in because our relationship has been strained in the past.”

Acknowledge her perspective too. Understand that she may feel a sense of duty towards her mother, especially after her father’s passing. This is a time for empathy and support, not just for your wife, but also for yourself.

Suggest alternative solutions that can meet everyone’s needs. Could her mother move to a nearby apartment instead? This way, your wife can fulfill her sense of responsibility without disrupting your household dynamics. Offer to help find resources or options that ensure her mother is well taken care of without her moving into your home.

If that fails, set clear boundaries. If living together is the only viable option, establish rules and expectations from the start. Discuss how you’ll handle privacy, household responsibilities, and personal space to minimize friction.

Remember, it’s about finding a compromise that works for both of you. Your marriage is a partnership, and major decisions like this should involve mutual agreement. If necessary, consider involving a therapist to facilitate these discussions and help navigate the emotional complexities.

Ultimately, you need to stand firm on what you can and cannot tolerate but do so with compassion and a willingness to find a middle ground. By communicating openly and working together, you can hopefully reach a solution that respects everyone’s needs.

Wishing you luck, 


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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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