COVID has caused my wife to lose her mind and buy a house next to her parents

Oh I could start a whole thread on my bear experiences.

Yeah, I got to play bachelor last week thanks to our company summer party in Manhattan. I went into the city the night before to have a few beers, took a day to recover and then drove back the next morning.

Generally we try to tie such breaks to a specific event or activity so it’s not “I’m going to the other house because y’all annoying”. Usually it’s “I have a work thing Weds” or “my friend is in town Sat” or whatever. It’s close enough that it’s easy to shuttle back and forth.

All in all it’s a good experience for out kids. They get to spend time with their grandparents, aunts and cousins (on my wife’s side. Other than my dad who lives 2 hours from either location, the rest of my family is either too far away or bachelors/child-free couples with no interest in kids). They get to see a lot of nature like bears, rabbits, foxes, snapping turtles, groundhogs, deer, frogs, and so on. We have a big yard and a swimming pool. We even have really great neighbors (one house has a bunch of kids our kids age).

And it probably doesn’t hurt that they get exposed to people who aren’t all finance / tech / lawyers like most of our city neighbors.

Is it possible that your in-laws hate a certain pet ? Like a dog or cat or a reptile ? :slight_smile:

Does your wife have siblings - that you can buy air tickets for your in-laws to visit for a long time ?

Is it possible to have very expensive furniture / rugs / furnishings put in the house that the in-laws will have to tip toe around and hence avoid coming over ? :smiley:


I’m going to use that tactic the next time my MIL drops in.

Gee, do you think you could pick up the dog poop? or I’ve been so busy, would you mind cleaning the toilets? You know…as long as you’re here.

Heh. My Wife moved in with me and rented out her house. A VERY small house. It needed the roof redone. I’ve done that lots of times.

We offered a big discount on the rent if they would help. They lasted maybe an hour and then scattered like deer from a forest fire.

So much for your discount. Can’t really blame them. Roofing can really, really suck.

No, they aren’t wrong. If we’re being honest I am not happy with the current situation and the deal with my in-laws is just one symptom. My wife seems constantly overwhelmed, all the time, and I’m not sure what, if anything I can do to help. Like she has this picture in her head how everyone is supposed to act and if anyone deviates, it’s a problem. Like she never relaxes and just hangs out or lets the kids play. My wife is obsessed with he job, not because she’s ambitious or likes it, but I think because she thinks it’s “safe”. So when she has free time for the kids, it feels like it’s always driving them to complete tasks.

Same with me. Most of our interactions are a bunch of “honey-do” tasks. It’s kind of like being an Uber driver married to a Kanban board.

That got a chuckle out of me. I’ve enjoyed your writing over the years and I’m sorry that your home life isn’t satisfying. That’s supposed to be the fun part.

I’d never heard of a Kanban board, so I looked it up.

I’m so sorry I did. I think I feel a migraine coming on.


That’s ‘Yikes!’ territory. It sounds like it is time for the two of you to go somewhere to have either a very clear talk about how all this feels both to you and to her, or a very romantic weekend to try to reconnect. If you can start out with the first, and end with the last, that would be awesome.


Sometimes it really is “happy marriage, two careers, kids: pick two.” That’s sad, but it too often true. The fix may be to recognize the dilemma and have you both confront it straight up, preferably on a week’s vacation away from kids, email, and in-laws. Go off-grid, just the two of you, even if it’s just to the Marriott in the next county, and really, really talk about what you each see and feel is happening to your relationship and your personal mindset.

It won’t necessarily be fun, but a problem unrecognized as such is by definition insoluble. And insoluble problems never magically get better by themselves; they only drift aimlessly but inexorably towards worse.

The two of you can have a better world. But it’ll take effort & that takes energy.

Your advice is sound but it only works if both spouses recognize that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed and can be fixed and wants to do the work. This may be a problem. Mentioning the elephant in the room can be the start of a good thing or make things much worse.

Agree completely.

But if they’re both unhappy while still of mutual goodwill, but also unwilling to make the gutsy leap to having the difficult conversation, they’ll limp along in a messed-up state for years. Lots of people do that. To horrendous cost in lost potential happiness. Conflict avoidance is a short-term tactic that brings temporary calm at the expense of long-term failure.

If the situation is left to stagnate it’s destined to get worse. IMO in that case it’s better to (wo-)man up, have the difficult talk, and face the resulting music with what kindness & compassion you can muster. But be prepared to be shat on, rather than embraced. Or even ignored or dismissed, which is probably the worst outcome of the three.

Whichever outcome you receive, you’ll have gained valuable info to inform your next decision and actions.

Apparently my in-laws who never do anything or go anywhere are going to a Willie Nelson concert tonight. So they actually might become kind of cool and chill by the time they get back.

Tell them to breathe deeply.

Stoner Trivia: From things said in interviews, it has been postulated that Willie Nelson has smoked more cannabis than anyone else in the world, with Snoop in second place.

“What are you thinking about? Marriage?!! Family?!! They’re prisons! Man-made prisons!!”

Maybe being closer to her roots will eventually help ease the situation for all of you.
Of course, given that you don’t go berserk until that happens :wink:

The OP and this post made me think, “wait, I’m pretty sure I’m not married to @msmith537 …”

I mean, I’m not! But my parents are pretty similar to OP’s (my mom recently literally ordered us three large cartons of ramen because I mentioned my older kid liked it. RAMEN. It’s not like… we couldn’t go to the grocery store and get it…). I guess the difference is that she bugs me more than she bugs my husband (who would just retreat into his office or work), and when my parents mentioned they were thinking of retiring to our state we were both like “okay! I guess that would be okay.” They were mortally offended by what they perceived as our insufficient enthusiasm, and my sister for some reason enthusiastically wanted them to live near her, so that’s what they did. (Which also made sense because lower COL, better retirement communities, better health care for them – they probably would have moved there regardless.)

I also feel like the kids thing is endemic to upper-middle-class households – a lot of people I know (including myself) were pretty driven as kids and have a pretty good life as a result, and we need to feel like our kids will also be able to have that. So we, or at least I, have my kids in activities and make them practice music and make them do their math in the hopes that I can make up for any drive they don’t have, and sometimes I feel like when I’m not working I’m just pestering them about that. And I feel like a lot of the other families I know in the same demographic are pretty similar.

One thing that’s actually helped me is going to church – I’m Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, and so a lot of my church friends have four, five, six kids. With that number of kids there’s no way, you can’t micromanage that many, and they run (relatively) wild and – generally speaking, they all turn out OK; the failure rate is not really any greater, and may even be less, than the failure rate of my super uptight upper-middle-class echelon who occasionally have their kids just completely break under the pressure (this happened to someone close to me, actually). I also liked Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids (Caplan) – it didn’t make me want to have more kids than I already wanted to have, and I don’t know that it’s the best researched book or anything, but the message was basically, “Calm down about parenting!” and that was a useful message for me at the time I read it.

I do feel like there needs to be a discussion and maybe a compromise in your marriage, because it sounds kind of miserable for everybody. But yeah, it sounds difficult.

That was the original intent, but but I feel like any benefit from being able to drop the kids off at their grandparents house for a bit is offset by having to deal with their family drama.

And in most ways IMHO, having my wife’s parents around just makes everything worse. I feel like they make my wife feel like she’s being constantly judged for our parenting or that she has a job that is sometimes demanding (but at least is mostly from home) or whatever other stupid mother/daughter shit they are bringing to the table.