Dilemma: I want my elderly mother to move in
I really want my mother to move in with us, but my husband isn't keen on the idea - far from it.
Both our children have now left home, so we have the room and I'm getting increasingly worried about my mother's health and safety. How can I insist?
Jo Brand's advice
The basis of so many jokes, sitcoms and cartoons, the poor old mother-in-law has really done her time as a figure of fun, but if you ever go on any websites or read articles based on relationships between the parents of spouses and their in laws, you won’t find much joy and love going on there.
Does your husband like your mum first of all? If the answer to this is a no, you really are in trouble there. He has obviously envisaged numerous scenarios in which he is the hapless recipient of a ticking off, an avalanche of gossip, or ‘helpful advice’. Alternatively he may imagine he will be required to be a glorified manservant, a personal shopper or be prevented by the two of you from watching Top Gear and a whole host of other fantasies males may have about an approaching mother-in-law lodger.
Also, I should say, you can insist all you like, but if your husband is recalcitrant there is really nothing you can do about it. However, maybe there is room for negotiation.
Firstly, I would get him to talk honestly about what his fears are about having your mum there. Loss of freedom? Having to eat her bread-and -butter-pudding-which-doubles-up-as-lagging every week, or just feeling his home is not his (and your) castle any more?
Once you know what his fears are, address them.
How big is your house? Could you put your mum in something like a little granny flat/bedsit and make sure the two of them never bump into each other.
I am joking, but you may need to make serious compromises to make this work and ensure a reasonable atmosphere in the house.
Failing that, maybe you could leave him and move in with your mum!