Is it normal for me to feel resentful of my MIL?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 31, 2016
Harlemom asked...

I am the one primarily responsible for the care of my mother in law. My husband (her only child) does not have a good relationship with her. She has never liked me and at one time wanted him to choose between the two of us. Fortunately for me he stood up for me. She is a very emotionally driven person and often takes out frustrations on me. I do what I do for her because I love my husband and I do pity her. Her abrasive personality has kept her from having longtime friends. Ironically, she truly believes she is a sweet little old lady and everyone thinks she is cute. People that spend much time around her realize the shallowness of her personality and admire me for my efforts. I don't feel admirable, I feel guilty that I dislike her so much. I just pity her, and she depends on me for everything. I am kind to her and treat her with respect, but once I leave her apartment (she lives in a retirement home) I find myself thinking uncharitable things. Is what I feel normal? I don't wish her dead, but I do look forward to the time she is not part of our lives.


Expert Answers

Mikol Davis, PhD has worked in community hospitals with geriatric patients suffering from dementia, depression, and other psychiatric problems. He has a doctorate in Psychology from the University of San Francisco and has been in private practice in Marin County, California. Davis co-founded AgingParents.com with his wife, Carolyn Rosenblatt.

Resentment of your mother-in-law is quite normal considering the life history you explained. If your mother-in-law has not recently had a physical it would be helpful to determine if her being an emotionally driven person may be symptomatic of chronic depression. Often depressed elders cover their sadness with intense anger and abrasiveness. If she is a candidate for antidepressant medications your mother-in-law could enjoy a far better quality of life. You as her caregiver will equally benefit. Don't wait to check this our with her physician.