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Father at wits end with his volatile wife, mean mother-in-law, disabled sister-in-law, and four kids all in one home!

Your Question:
I been with my wife for 10 years and she has been nothing less than demonic. We have 4 children. She comes from a very disfunctional family. I got her pregnant which I wanted her to abort at the time because we did not know each other well enough. She refused, so I stuck and because I could not bring a child into this world and abandon it.

Anyway, through out our marriage there has been nothing but problems because she is a very angry person who yells at the kids constantly. Works and don't want to pay any household bills.

Three years ago she brought her sick mother who is unable to walk and 32 year old sister (who cannot perform a single task for herself because she has down syndrome)into our household.

This was suppose to be a temporary situation. However, it turns out that her mother was in the process of losing her apartment because she was behind on her rent. We have a very small apartment with three bedrooms. One is being occupied by me and my wife, one by my mother in-law and and my sister in-law, and the final one by my four children (Imagine having four children in one bedroom).

We have only one bathroom which my sister in-law is constantly stinking up. She contantly leave feces and urine on the toilet seat. At times it on the bathroom walls and floor too. When she goes out in public, if she has to go to the bathroom, she will do it in her pants. There were times she has done it in her pants while I am driving The kids start crying beceause they can't take the smell She done it on public transportation and in stores. Can you imagine how embarrassing this can be

Basically my wife does what she wants feeling extremely confident that if I leave I will have to pay alimony and child support. My mother in-law contributes $450 a month towards the rent only because I will not allow her to stay in my apartment for free. She complains about that. I pay all household bills with the exception of food. MY wife buys the food.

It is very hard for me to save money paying all the bills by myself. I am quite knowledgeable in terms of investments, but because my wife refuse to contribute towards any bills I cannot invest the way I would like too. We have an aide that comes in to care for my mother in-law on a daily basis. This is probably the 11th or 12th one that we had. Most of them leave because they get fed up with my wife's antics which includes screaming at her mother.

None of my wive's sisters or brothers like her or my mother in-law, so they do not come over to help out their mother. They truly hate their sister who appears to be a replica or clone of her mother. My family dislikes my wife who they think is manipulative.

My wife is very lazy, cooks and cleans if she feels like it. She works in the evenings from 3 to midnight. Most of the time she doesn't cook. We have mice and roaches because she is very nasty. Clothes are piled up in the hallway because she refuses to do laundry on a regular basis. I try to do as much as possible but the more I do the less she does. I've tried to get her everything possible to make her happy but nothing seems to work because she refuse to sit down and map out a plan that we could live by to make our lives more organized. We go on vacations annually at my expense. Yet, she gets angry because I refuse to take her family on vacations or weekiend getaways that I plan to get me and the kids away from her mother and sister.

Her disfunctional ways are destroying our family. It is affecting my work which will eventually get me fired. I do have a somewhat decent job. I make over 50K per year. I would like to take my 401K savings and by me a home in Pennsylvania but I refuse to buy a home and take the same problems in my household with me (My mother in-law and my sister in-law). My wife will not help her mother find an apartment. She want to take them with us to Pennsylvania if I did decide to purchase a house. My mother in-law is terrified of her daughter who verbally abuses her and constantly threaten to through her out.

I could go on and on with the problems I am having with my wife because of her refusal to buy into being a family. For instance. This past Friday my wife went to work at 10A.M. She work a double (16 hours) and called me to tell me that she was working until 3A.M. I told her she better come home because she needs to take care of her mother. She got angry hung the phone and call the aide and asked her to stay until 4A.M. I dont want anybody in my house until 4A.M

Bad enough, I have to come home from work and cannot go out because someone needs to be there with her mother. Therefore, If I wanted to take my kids out for an hour I can't do it.

If something was to happen to her mother I told her I don't want to have to make a choice between going to the hospital with her mother or staying home with my kids.

I want to take my kids and leave but unfortunately it is a scary situation for a man to try to get custody of his children in NY. If I lose I probably wouldn't be able to afford a place to stay paying child support and alimony.

What is it that I can do to prove that my kids need to get away from their mother before she ruins them completely . I want 100% custody of my kids. This has gone on long enough.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing and taking the time to clearly describe what's going on. It certainly doesn't sound like much fun.

I hope you saw my disclaimer somewhere on the website that I can tend to be direct. I think it's sometimes very important to slap someone who needs slapping. Ready for a slap?

You need to find your backbone. Your story, while very disturbing, is that of a man who comes from a place of being a victim, not a man. If you intend to survive a divorce and child custody battle, you're really going to have to reclaim your testicles. Yell from the rooftops, "I reclaim my testicles, and I shall no longer tolerate any of this!!!!"

Did someone hold a gun to your head and force you to have four kids with this woman? You describe the first as being unplanned, and the marriage as a "doing the right thing" step. Sure, I buy that. But despite you saying these awful things about the mother, you had three more kids with her. Claim your role in that... that was YOUR choice.

Did someone hold a gun to your head and force you to accept your mother-in-law and sister-in-law into your home? Claim your role in allowing that. It may have led to an ultimatum in your marriage (as it's all coming to a head now), but you were a party that allowed them to move in. Got it?

Okay, now... it's great that you're talking strong about doing something major to help your kids. It's really a great sign. You're finally realizing that your home isn't good for them and that you need take action.

Look at my What You Must Have webpage. Order that book (e.g., from Amazon), and strongly consider ordering the software. When you order the book, ship it to a location where your wife won't see it. This book will offer you so much in the way of strategy and tactics.

Be as involved as possible in the caretaking of the children. Find ways to document it via witnesses (e.g., teachers, doctors, neighbors) and your own personal journal. In your journal, at the end of every day, describe the parenting you did (i.e., activities and time spent).

Locate a family law attorney in your area. You want one with at least ten years' experience in your county; that means that the attorney will know the judges and others too. Ideally, you'll have a recommendation from family or friends. Interview several before retaining one.

Do not inform your wife of what you're doing or let her catch on. You want the status quo situation to remain. Encourage her to work long hours, if that's what she wants. It's better for your position.

If you have one or two months to plan your strategy, you'll be at an advantage on filing for divorce and temporary orders on custody.

If you've documented everything that you've outlined in a way that would be admissible and persuasive in court, I think you'd have a good chance at getting temporary custody of the children (i.e., majority of timeshare, though likely called joint custody initially).

In addition to the emotional stability concerns you have of your wife, you should be hammering that she has very little time for the children-- between her long hours and taking care of her own mother and her sister with Downs.

Finally, immediately after you file, see if your wife's family would support you having custody of the kids. If that happens, it's close to being game over. When one's own family recommends that custody be placed with the other parent, it's a pretty darn credible slew of witnesses for the court. Don't approach her family prior to your filing. You don't want to tip her off, in case they're not on your side.

Stay confident, stay strong, and do what has to be done for these kids. Give them the peace and stability of a calm household, and have that be your guiding light. You'll have rough waters ahead, but I think you can pull it off... if you do it right.

Of course, this all assumes that you have no major problems yourself. If you do have any major problems (e.g., clinical depression, alcoholism, drugs, violence, etc); then get help immediately. A court has much less concerns over a parent who is recovered or improving than a parent who is in denial about a troublesome behavior.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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