Wife Blasted for Refusing to Help Care for 'Seriously Ill' Mother in Law

A woman has drawn a furious response online after revealing she has been refusing to help her husband care for his elderly mother.

According to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers looking after adults aged 65 or over in the U.S., with around 90 percent providing support for an aging relative.

But while caring for an elderly relative may be demanding, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of adults who looked after an elderly parent found it to be a rewarding experience.

What's perhaps less commonly explored, however, is the impact supporting a parent can have on the carer's partner. While the traditional marriage vows talk of "in sickness and health" for some, that lifelong promise doesn't always extend to their partner's relatives.

A case in point came to the fore on Reddit in a post upvoted over 13,000 times in which a 33-year-old married woman came in for criticism after steadfastly refusing to help care for her husband's elderly mother, despite the fact she is "extremely sick" and had been "bedridden for 3 months."

With no other siblings or relatives available to provide support, she said her husband has taken full responsibility for her care. However, she has refused to let her stay in their home, claiming it "isn't fit" for a woman in her condition.

She suggested they could pay for a carer, but refused to "contribute money" to the cost, arguing that his mom "has assets" she could use. When this was rejected, she proposed they put her in a home, but her husband was "very offended" at the idea.

At that point, she decided to take a stand. "I made it clear I will not be taking any part in his mom's care or be dragged unwillingly into her care," she wrote. As a result, her husband has now moved in with his mom to look after her, with his wife occasionally bringing meals and providing some assistance.

However, matters came to a head during a recent visit when his mom "fell off the bed" and his wife "refused to get involved."

"I reminded him that I will not be helping out after he shut down other means of help and he started lashing out at me saying he had no time for my pettiness," she wrote. When he then asked her to help with his mom she "just turned and walked out" the room.

He later confronted her, calling his wife "cruel" and "unhinged" and claiming she was "refusing to help just to prove a point." The wife refused to back down, telling her husband she was "just setting boundaries and sticking to them" and reminding him: "I did not volunteer to be a carer."

"I'm not qualified and neither is he but he argued that being sympathetic and helping his family doesn't require any form of qualification," she added.

Fed up at his response, the wife said she grabbed her stuff and went home. Her husband called her later that night to express how "hurt" he was, telling his wife he never expected her to treat "his loved ones" like this.

Despite this, the wife remained vehemently opposed to the idea of looking after her mother-in-law claiming she did not want to feel "used" by her. It's a stance that has won her few allies on social media.

Wickedlucky214 sided with her husband, writing: "You were fine up until refusing to help when a frail, dependent, elderly woman fell and it became more important to prove your point. You not only were petty but cruel."

Unicorndreamer23 echoed those sentiments, commenting: "I don't fault her for having boundaries but when an emergency came ... to just wipe her hands of it ... it's just wrong."

Therealmissbrady urged the woman to "put herself in her husband's shoes." They said: "No other family is willing to help (physically, emotionally or financially) and the burden being solely on him must be a tremendous weight."

Dark_sun_new felt the wife's actions may even have damaged her marriage beyond repair. "It shows a lack of empathy and basic decency," they wrote. "I would be surprised if her husband is actually scared of being with her from now on."

Quite_Successful took it further, responding: "I'm not sure I could even be friends with someone who saw a vulnerable person on the ground and didn't try to help them."

Despite her actions, users like fatherfatpats felt ultimately it was her husband's "choice" to support his mom and that he needed to face reality. "He needs to get his mother a carer at best or into a home at worst," they commented.

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment.

An old woman looking upset.
A file photo of an old woman looking upset with a carer behind her - a married woman has been lambasted online for refusing to help care for her husband's terminally ill mother. PIKSEL/Getty