My fiancee's relationship with her parents is worrying me. Before I came along 2 years ago, she would spend every weekend at he parents place, on a hobby farm (father has full time engineering job during week, mother is architect but not practising). This farm has a lot of space and things to manage just for two people (they do employ workers to help them) and the father runs the farm aspect, the mother builds things using her designs and ideas and is very controlling. Fiancee is the eldest of 3 siblings.
On the surface it all looks sort of healthy (in terms of output and their place), but ever since I started to date her I noticed a problem which has exasperated itself over time. The problem is that the relationship between the two parents is very turbulent and apparently has always been like this, and she seems stuck in the middle to pick up the pieces. The parents argue constantly and do not talk through any of their problems like you'd expect a couple to do. My fiancée hate's her mother (there have been times when she has "wished she was dead") and idolises her father, and I've seen the full force of hysterical breakdown and self-blame in my Fiancee when things are "out of control", like loosing a cheque. However, there are times when talking to her where she says she has a "deep love" for them and "would die for them". Ok. When the siblings are all there under one roof, working every weekend (or everyday if they are home for holidays) for all the little/big chores that need doing, it functions quite well (as their own family unit).Problems between the parents are covered up, the father is happy, the mother content enough. Then when there are disagreements, it's WW3 and Fiancee becomes anxious and emotionally involved.
When the "kids" are not there, the parents don't talk, they argue to the point where the father has said 2 or 3 times over the past 6 months "that's it, I'm packing up my bags and leaving after the wedding" to my Fiancee but not to his own wife, and hence without ever resolving anything. A lot of responsibility is handed to Fiancee and because of this it sucks at our relationship - constant guilt and worry about parents "suffering", constant need to go back to the farm on the weekends, constant over-sympathy for the father, whilst desperately trying to avoid blame from the mother (through needless lying)...all of this is happening, and at the end of it I have felt quite lonely - because the constant need to please them (mainly through time) has been taking time away from our relationship, both in terms of physically proximity and emotionally.
The mother has been building some apartments for a future business...but she is expecting the kids (who are adults now) to have some form of long-term involvement in them, so by default taking away their choices. My Fiancee already takes a lot of responsibility for general bills and other family related things.
When fiancee was quizzed by her mother on what would happen in the future, whether we'd move away (because it's a strong possibility with my work), the mother expressed concern that we'd be "taking the grandkids away from her" (we don't have kids yet), and "don't you care about my projects" type replies. This is obviously just the tip of the iceberg.
As time has gone by, and as I've pointed out certain dynamics and tried to apply my own boundaries(not always very well) things were starting to look better. Fiancee and I have talked and talked. We've carved out the need to set firmer boundaries for the future, especially as man and wife. She's agreed to not go back so much on weekends and to be firmer with her mother. But sometimes it feels like a fight, and I'm growing tired...most of our arguments as a couple has to do with this dynamic in the form of couple-time being invaded (mostly at the weekends), and certain boundaries (of mine) being crossed.
My problem is through the anxiety and unavailability that this situation causes, and I feel it really drives us apart at times. Yesterday, when I talked to her about some of these/our issues as a couple, she mentioned that she has fear to "abandon" her parents because of their suffering. Alarm bells are ringing!
I guess I'm looking for support and advice. She is listening to me and we are going forward (in terms of words at the moment, since wedding preparations are in full swing)...but I worry about whether she will be strong enough to face this and whether this dynamic will change enough to give us as a couple time to grow in the future. It'd be great to hear any advice from people who have a similar situation, and it'd be great to hear opinions on whether this is a serious dynamic issue, or just needless worrying on my part and what else I can do to steer this in a healthier direction.
Thanks for listening