Dear Greek Oracle,
My Greek partner and I moved in together a year ago and he has moved his recently widowed father into an annexe adjoining our home. It is really starting to put a strain on our relationship and I don’t know how to cope.
I am not a bad person, I cared for my own elderly parents so I completely understand my partners decision to care for his father.
However, since moving in my father-in-law has become increasingly nasty towards me and seems to think I am his own personal skivvy! The family have dumped all the medical and other duties on me and it is just assumed that I will take care of everything at the expense of my own career, family and freedom. Papou complains if I leave the house to visit friends, and he times how long friends visit me and makes nasty comments!
I have organised a cleaner for him, and a carer comes in to help with personal care and dressing as I flatly refuse to get involved in nursing care, but I still do the washing, cooking to his exact requirements and there is an endless round of organising appointments and medical supplies and having to arrange to be at home to let in the medical visits etc.
I teach part time at a local school and it is difficult to juggle everything so I can be around for letting in all these services on top of the actual duties.
Although my partner is the main breadwinner and it would be impossible for him to take time off etc, I not only resent all this being pushed on me, but the complete lack of appreciation and total expectation that it is my job as the woman to run around after this very self-centred old man! I admire my partner for wanting to look after his father, but I am not a carer, and think it is highly unfair of him to put this all on me.
How can I sort this out?
(Names have been changed to protect identities)
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When you become involved with a Greek man, you take on his entire family as well. It doesn’t matter if you have other responsibilities, you could be the prime minister for all he cares, but now you are with him, HE comes first. And so does his family.
You are clearly doing a brilliant job looking after Papou and this has not gone unnoticed by your Greek man, hence he wants you to do more. Obviously that is completely selfish, but a Greek man won’t see it that way. He will genuinely believe that your commitment to him extends to his family and couldn’t possibly understand why on earth you would rather get on with your own life when you could be completely involved in his.
This inherent sense of one’s own self-importance is quite common amongst those Mediterranean men who have grown up with over-bearing mothers praising them at every turn.
The best thing you can do is ignore Papou when he is rude to you – he is clearly looking for a reaction, probably because he is bored and has nothing to look forward to except…well…his impending trip to the Elysian Fields.
Whatever you do, DO NOT give up your daily routine to look after him. If you have to go to work, (or out with friends), just go – it is NOT your responsibility to look after Papou no matter what your partner says. Does he not have any other relatives to help? You are not a nurse, nor have you even offered your services to look after him. You have your own work and do not rely on your man so why should he rely on you to take care of his responsibilities. Whatever your situation, no self-respecting person should manipulate another into doing their bidding.
If you simply go off and do your own thing, both Papou and his son will get the message. If he wants a full time carer/cleaner/slave he can hire one. And if he doesn’t like your new way of thinking, then too bad.
May the Gods be with you.
The Greek Oracle
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