My fears of the combined stress of my wife and kids spending more time with each other over summer break and a visit by my wife's biological mother leading to explosions proved correct.
I was very concerned that my wife was starting to rage at our teenage son while her mother was there--she has usually kept her anger in check in front of other people. (She met her mother about 25 years ago and sees her only a couple of times a year.) It was over our son sneaking electronics he was not supposed to use until he did some basic chores. I had to repeated keep trying to talk her down while she expressed anger at me. She kept complaining to me that she had a right to be angry and that I was telling her she did not. I kept validating her emotions, but also explaining that she was responsible for how she acted upon that anger. Other blow ups during the course of the visit included our kids not wanting to go places, my wife teasing our son about something while we were at a baseball game, lack of progress on chores, and some extreme issues with our daughter (9), including urinating and possibly defacating in improper places. In the case of one fight the spilled over onto me, I was upset because my wife had suggested having sex that night, only to find one more youtube video after another. When I finally got her to stop watching and start getting ready for bed, I expressed my doubts that we would actually have sex. She assured me we would AFTER the kids got to bed. Then she went downstairs and started a huge fight because she found our son drinking iced tea--he was supposed to have already brushed his teeth, food and drinks are part of his messy room, and she thought the sugar and caffeine would keep him up. (He already has trouble falling asleep and getting out of bed the next morning.) The spillover was the result of her anger that I was not "doing enough." I eventually went downstairs and slept on the couch.
Yesterday, we repeatedly called for our son to come downstairs and take out the trash and recycling. He kept saying "I know, I am coming," but did not come. Finally, I was trying to take a shower (around 10) and she yelled to me that he had "walked out the door." It turns out that he finally came down and started doing the recycling, but she would not stop complaining while he was trying to do it. (We used to get into huge fights over why I had not cleaned the bathroom while I begged her to stopped fighting and let me clean the bathroom, so this can be a real problem.) She admits that she then stood in his way as he tried to reenter the house. He walked away and said he needed to find a friend's house to stay at. We received a text from his friend's mom and I picked him up. From his perspective, his mother threw him out of the house. I reminded her of how scared I have felt when she has done things like physically blocking the doorway of the bathroom when we were having a fight.
With regard to the sex, about a year ago she said that her sex drive was low and I suggested she seek medical help. She agreed to see her midwife about it. But she has not done so. Why? It wasn't time for her annual appointment yet! I expressed how hurt I was by the fact that she did not think my needs and feelings were important enough to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment just to talk about the issue. Oh, but we already have so many medical appointments! (Yesterday, she said that she has finally made the appointment.) Our marriage therapist said we should spend our session next week talking ONLY about the sexual problems. Now my wife wants to also talk about what happened with our son last night.
A contractor is coming to redo the living room and dining room floors in about a week and a half, and both rooms are still full of clutter. I have done my best to clean up and pack books, but I am working and she is off for the summer. A big problem is that she spends more time arguing with the kids about why they are not helping than she does on getting the work done. When ever we have moved in the past, we have been up until 3 am trying to frantically pack everything, only to wind up leaving stuff we needed/wanted behind. I anticipate more fireworks over this issue, as well as getting our son packed for summer camp.