Intrusive mother-in-law

I have been living with my in-laws since we got married. My husband is the only son and when we got married he asked I was fine to stay with his parents since he has a duty to care for them. They are elderly and my father-in-law has dementia. Now that we have two young kids, I would like my own home and space. I do not get along with my mother-in-law as she is intrusive and feels that since the home is theirs, she can do what she likes, including coming into our rooms. I have spoken to my husband many times but if we move out, there is no one else to help care for his parents. I am frustrated because I not only have to care for my two kids, I have to care for two elderly people who do not appreciate what I do for them.  At the same time, I want to submit to my husband as he is the head of the home.

DIL woes

At The Well

Li Ping says

Dear DIL woes,


It sounds like you are looking at only one option to your current situation: moving out. May I suggest a 10-step framework from the Prepare/Enrich programme that allows you to explore other alternatives and resolve the situation in a constructive way.

  1. Set a time and place for discussion, ideally when both of you are at your calmest and most creative.
  2. Define the problem. Be specific, including detailing how the situation affects both your husband and you.
  3. List the ways you each contribute to the problem.
  4. List past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful. For example, only exploring the option of moving out.
  5. Brainstorm at least ten possible solutions. Do not judge or criticise any at this point. Some solutions may involve boundary setting with your MIL, giving you regular personal time and space to recharge, getting help for specific caring duties, etc.
  6. Discuss and evaluate each of these possible solutions as objectively as possible. Discuss how useful and appropriate each suggestion feels for resolving your issue.
  1. Agree on one solution to try.
  2. Agree how you will each work toward this solution. Be as specific as possible.
  3. Set up another meeting (place, date, time) to discuss your progress.
  4. Reward each other for progress. For example, praising your partner for making a positive contribution towards the solution.