Not My Mother-in-Law’s Keeper


Dear Robin:

I have been arguing with my wife for a week straight and since we are both fans of yours we decided to toss this bomb into your house.  In a nutshell: my wife’s mother (widowed) recently fell and broke her hip.  She is not a good candidate for hip replacement surgery and the doctors told us she should not live on her own any longer.  This was her third fall in as many months.

My wife is an only child so there are no other siblings to lean on.  She wants her mom to come live with us but I want to put her in a nice facility.   My mother-in-law has plenty of money to pay for the best and our home isn’t very big or set up for an invalid, plus our youngest child just moved out and I am enjoying the “empty nest.”

While my wife and I aren’t leaving this decision in your hands, we are curious what your take is on it.  Please help us try to resolve this vexing issue.  Our marriage is a very good one and I don’t want to put it at risk.

Kevin in Portland

Dear Kevin:

Whatever you do, don’t put her here: Suicide victim accidentally thrown in a dumpster, thought to be April Fool’s Day joke.

All joking aside, and that is really hard for me, this is an extremely serious problem and I appreciate you bringing it to me and discussing the details a bit further via text yesterday.  Besides being an abusive mom, this woman has been horrible to her daughter, Kevin and their children for years.


Mother of the Year, she ain’t.

I asked Kevin if he and his wife had ever discussed the possibility of turning their home into a senior care facility and he assured me they had always agreed it would never happen.  Luckily for Kevin, both his parents are in the ground so that question is moot.


Sorry Kevin, I know you loved your parents, but you gotta admit they did you a favor here.

Kevin, your mother-in-law should under no circumstances become a resident of your home if you want to maintain a happy relationship with your wife.  If you are secretly hoping to tank the marriage, by all means roll her into the guest room.

Here are the AskDesCamp top 5 reasons your mother-in-law should reside at a senior facility and not in your home.  If you REALLY hate her, send her to a Holiday Retirement “community.”


5. She’s got the money for a top-notch Miserable Old Bitch Warehouse.  From what you told me, she could live at the best place in town for years and still have plenty of cash to buy your wife a ton of therapy once she finally dies.  I know a lot of families struggle with this question because of money but you don’t have that problem.

4.  I’m not one to dwell on the past, really!



For other reasons I go into below, your mother-in-law should not live with you.  However, I think it is important to remember how she has treated all of you over the years.  She wasn’t just absent or dismissive; she was downright mean and abusive.  Your grown children refuse to even see her – that’s how terrible she was.  She has not earned a place in your home, Kevin.

3. Both you and your wife have been looking forward to having the house all to yourself and enjoying a more impetuous and flexible lifestyle, including getting freaky-deaky on the kitchen floor.  Having Cruella de Ville rolling around in her wheelchair and barking orders at you both is likely to be a real boner-killer and coochie-closer.

2. Part of the reason you don’t have a big house despite the success you and your wife have enjoyed is because you have been saving for over 20 years for a fabulous retirement that will include a lot of travel and a second home in Palm Springs (be sure to listen to the Bill Feingold and Kevin Holmes show on 94.3 FM every weekday from 6 – 9 a.m.!).



All those dreams are going right down the toilet if you agree to this permanent house guest.  Resentment + living with someone you dislike who tanked your decades-old plan for retirement = divorce and possibly a new raised flower bed in the back yard, if ya get my drift.

1. You both made a promise to one another on a very crucial matter, albeit a hypothetical one at the time you made the promise.  That doesn’t matter: it still counts.  Changing a major rule of the marriage game at this late stage is unfair and unreasonable.  I personally wouldn’t stand for it but like Kevin, my in-laws are, shall we say, less than ambulatory.  This won’t be an issue in my home.



Kevin, I don’t want to appear to be punting here, but I’m worried about what’s happening in your wife’s head.  My advice (beyond telling Granny she’s going to the Farm) is to get into joint therapy to explore this conflict and what may be behind it.  Why is she suddenly going rogue on you over a major decision you both made years ago?

As we get older many of us want to repair the past, but there is no magical sewing kit that can stitch together the torn up years of fear, abuse, neglect and intimidation your wife suffered in her childhood.  She lost her dad when she was only 12 and is now faced with losing the only other parent she has.

I’m betting she wants to try to make everything ok before she becomes an orphan in this world, even if that means subjecting herself to the same miserable woman that shit all over her childhood.  That’s sad, silly, admirable and just plain wrong.


Please keep me updated.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. jeff

    Huh? “While my wife and I aren’t leaving this decision in your hands…………” If I ask your advice, I will expect to follow it to the letter. If things don’t work out doing as you suggest, I can fall back on the “she used to be a lawyer, so she should be held accountable for giving me bad advice” ploy, and seek financial compensation for having been done wrong. Now, to come up with a plausible scenario in which I would actually need someone’s advice.

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