I am neurodivergent and bipolar (prone to psychosis) and was diagnosed many years ago, long before I met my husband. He's been aware the entire time I've known him, and he knows there are some quirks and eccentricities about me because of my neurodivergence.
I am high functioning (for lack of a better term) and so my issues may be invisible to many people but my partner, his family and my friends and family all know my situation.
Specifically, I don't have overnight houseguests, and I don't allow guests past midnight unless it's pre-cleared with me.
This is because the sounds and noises and interruptions of other people are a lot for me to handle, and I can only handle and "mask" so much before I am just completely spent.
I eventually lose my temper/filter and either become enraged or start sobbing or even find myself unable to sleep for days on end and going psychotic because I'm so overstimulated and haven't slept. My husband's mother has never seen me this way and I hope she never does.
Losing my temper and filter is not something I want to do around friends or family. I also need 2-4 hours to calm my brain down after a lot of socialization before I can go to sleep, hence my midnight cutoff. I don't feel this drained/stressed way around my partner, or he wouldn't be my husband. But everyone but him and my best friend of a decade, yes.
My husband moved from his city (which his mother lives in, his father has passed long ago) to my city to be with me when we got married. Before he did that, I talked to him about how I can't have overnight houseguests.
In two years of dating, neither of us has had an overnight houseguest except each other. He said he understood and it was no problem.
But now, his mother wants to come to visit for a week at Christmas. And she wants to stay with us, in the "guest room" (my partner's office that has a bed in it also, he sleeps in there when I'm having trouble sleeping).
This will require my partner to work in the kitchen, right beside my office corner (not really a room), causing a ton of noise and disruption, and we'll have another person around all the time draining my energy. Currently our offices are separated.
My partner said he agreed with the overnight houseguests thing when he assumed I meant our friends. He says he never understood it to mean his *mother.*
I've offered to pay for half a hotel when his mother comes to stay but he says that isn't the point and she doesn't want to come if she can't stay with us. We live in the city and the hotel is literally one block from us (this is not an exaggeration). I've stayed at it before for a week when I was waiting for our apartment to become ready and it's very classy.
AITA for insisting his mother stays at a hotel when she visits so I can stay sane?
TL;DR: I'm mentally ill with Bipolar I with Psychotic Features. Overnight houseguests totally set my mental illness off. AITA for not wanting his mom to stay with us? I talked to him about it before moving in together, but he didn't think houseguests referred to his mom so he didn't realize I meant her too.
Edit: changed "houseguests" to "overnight houseguests" because this was confusing for some folks.
Edit 2: Yes, I have been hospitalized for two weeks before for being psychotic. So "just grin and bear it" means I probably go back to the hospital for not sleeping and going crazy. I don't think this is a fair outcome for me.
Here were the top comments on the original post.
NTA but you need to really spell out to him that just because he finds his mother easy or comfortable to be around doesn’t mean you do.
If they insist on his mother staying in the house nobody is going to enjoy that time because it will be tense and awkward even if you do somehow find the energy to keep it together; and whilst it takes you weeks or months to recover your mental health, your relationship with your in-laws may never recover from the experience if you allow this.
This isn’t just you being controlling or demanding of your personal space - this is a boundary that’s in place to protect your health. They should treat it similarly to not bringing something you’re allergic to into your home as it could have serious long term consequences that will affect all of you if they insist on crossing this line.
Having said that, though, would it be an option for you to stay in the hotel instead? Or at least to offer that option so that you can have some personal space while they get the intimate family Christmas they both seem to want? It’s not ideal over the holidays but if it’s not every year it might work just this once?
I think this is is what I have to do. Offer to stay at the hotel.
And watch my husband panic, because I basically run the household. Who would care for the dog and cat? Who would water the plants? Who would tell him about what is going to happen tomorrow because he's bad at checking his calendar?
Who would remember to get the mail or our packages? All he does is cook (which is no small feat, and he does clean up!), but I do basically everything else. Him having to take all of that over would not be fun for him and he might rethink it.
NTA. But, is he your BF or your husband? The title says BF, but you call him your husband in the post.
In any case, the solution is pretty simple. If she insists on staying at your home, you go stay at the hotel.
Look, it's not like you're being mean. And it's also not like he doesn't know about your mental health issues. I think he is intentionally obstructionist because he doesn't want a conflict with his Mom. Or he thinks you will cave in.
Don't do it. You have a solution. But, honestly, has he even explained your mental health issues to his mom? It sounds like she has no clue.
Husband of about six months, lol. I keep calling him my partner or boyfriend still.
I'm totally doing the hotel thing. I'm going to talk to him tonight. People have given many helpful suggestions.
His mother knows I am bipolar but does NOT know about the psychosis, almost nobody does. The amount of people that know about the psychosis is 3 total, including my husband (I typed boyfriend again, lol), best friend and psychiatrist.
I am very private about it because it was the lowest point of my life to be hospitalized for two weeks.
Here I am having talked to John and my MIL and I got a lot of messages asking for an update.
I spoke to my husband "John" last night about the situation re: his mom staying in a hotel, and I explained that I would pay for and go to a hotel myself, or pay for half of his mother's hotel when she came.
John was absolutely aghast. First, he was freaked out about me not running the house for the week (and having to take over my roles), as I had guessed. John has autism, and is very attached to his routines.
Here's my role in the house, from one of my comments:
I do his laundry, taxes, all of the vet runs, all of the groomer runs, all of the grocery runs, I plan all of our doctors, dentist and optometrist appointments. I send out the Christmas cards.
I'm the sole driver in the house and take him to all of his appointments, and I also get all of the car maintenance and washing done myself. I go to the pharmacy and dry cleaner for him.
I replace anything that is broken or damaged, his or mine. I plan all of the date nights, all of our anniversaries, all of our vacations and trips. I picked all the furnishings for our apartment because doing so stressed him out.
I do the budgeting, finances, and pay all of the bills (with both our money). ... It's maybe an hour a night for him to cook and clean, maybe four times a week (we get our own breakfasts and lunches, and eat out 3x a week), but I spend much more than an hour a day running the rest of the household.
So, John was already having to make a stretch to his routine to have his mother visit, but to have his mother visit and me be gone? He REALLY didn't like that. Plus, he told me he hated the idea of not sleeping in the same bed with me for a week and that "this is a non-starter".
So, he became amenable to calling his mother, which we were both nervous about because he had talked it up so much. They are from a culture where respecting your parents is very important and John was extremely afraid of offending his mother.
We called her and explained the situation, saying that it's really hard for me to fall asleep unless I'm around him or my BFF and that's why I had the no houseguests role. We told her there was a place less than a block away that was a lovely four star hotel and we would be happy to pay for it.
WELL. Then his mother started yelling/talking loudly. Not at me though. Best I can remember:
JOHN YOU HAD A FIGHT WITH HER ABOUT ME STAYING THERE WHEN YOU'RE HAPPY TO PAY FOR ME TO STAY IN A FOUR STAR HOTEL? JOHN, I KNOW YOU HAD A FIGHT BECAUSE YOU NEVER BOTH CALL ME UNLESS IT'S A HOLIDAY.
YOU'RE TELLING ME YOU DIDN'T IMMEDIATELY GIVE ME THE CHANCE TO STAY IN A FOUR. STAR. HOTEL. JOHN! WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME I STAYED IN A FOUR STAR HOTEL? LET ME TELL YOU, THE ANSWER IS NEVER!
So his mom is EXTREMELY excited about staying in the four star hotel and now keeps making joking comments about how she might not even see us on the vacation because she will be at the spa, fancy restaurant etc. at the hotel.
John is happy as pie about all of this because I'm happy and his mom is really happy. He doesn't care at all that she isn't staying with us, only that she wasn't offended by the hotel idea.
Thanks to everyone that told me to respect my boundaries. All the best!
There was a party in the comments.
HAHAHAHA I love that this is how it worked out. Glad you and John will be happy at home in your routines AND mom gets the pleasure of staying at a 4 star hotel so close by.
I can absolutely hear my own mother saying something like that - "There was an opportunity to stay in a fancy hotel and NOT in your cramped library and that wasn't the FIRST choice?!?" I'm glad she reacted well, and that your husband realized that your needs were serious.
omg i braced myself for the caps but then it all turned out much better than expected lol!
a true everyone wins situation. congrats on getting there with some communication!!