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Can I really divorce to get rid of the ILs?

(37 Posts)
probablyhadenough Thu 02-May-13 18:28:01

Have nc for this. Sorry it is long!

Dh and I have had a bit of a rubbish time for about 8 years - he is an expert stonewaller and has (I think) depressive episodes when he is impossible to live with. He thinks I am shouty and difficult.

Anyway, things came to a head last weekend and we had a horrible row. He went AWOL for 24 hours with no contact - we have young 2 children who were confused and upset and I had an absolutely miserable weekend trying to comfort them whilst feeling furious and worried myself. He has done similar before, and seems to be instigating a scene to have an excuse to avoid childcare when he is exhausted.

Apart from the lack of contact, the main thing that upset me was that he went to his parents and clearly discussed me and our marriage in negative terms. To give some background, his mother has always had a problem with him being married per se and particularly to me (e.g. she cried when she saw the double bed in our first flat together and had some kind of breakdown on our wedding day). She has manipulated situations, lied and caused problems ever since.

We had a counselling session last night and most of DH's objections seemed to come verbatim from her. "I prevent him and the children from seeing them", I am the cause of his depression etc. I was so flummoxed that it was hard at the time to respond without sounding shouty and difficult. DH is good at putting on a reasonable public face, he is very different in private - so he came across as having legitmate concerns I think. It was impossible to convey how destructive his mother is without sounding mad.

WHen I got home I checked how many times we/he/the children have seen the ILs since we moved closer in September. It is 10 times - not exactly prevention! Plus I suggested he saw his mother on Mothers day (he wouldn't have initiated it) and it was me who suggested moving closer in the first place.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I think she has phoned me twice today and I suspect it is to warn me not to prevent DH from seeing the girls - something I would never do. (He is still staying with his parents hmm).

I am totally sick of them - not particularly pro DH either - and am seriously considering giving up on them all.

Is that madness?!

DotCottonsHairnet Thu 02-May-13 18:36:23

Can see it would be tempting!

I have seen my ex mil twice this year and she has made no attempt to see our children.

Btw she has only seen stbxh twice too - hardly mother of the year material.

I will be glad to be shot of her - the children accept she is just not interested in them anymore either.

Lweji Thu 02-May-13 19:26:01

It seems that one way or the other they will drive you towards divorce. sad

Personally, I don't mind having got rid of PILs when I got rid of ex.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 06:33:33

Thanks both - it would definitely be a bonus. Very sad though and I just wish dh would see what harm this dynamic is doing sad.

You divorce to get rid of your DH. If you want to stay with your DH then he and you sort out the relationship with the ILs.

Maybe you need to discuss your future with your DH. I suspect he'll run to mummy and you'll be the wicked witch but you can rise above that.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 06:46:47

Thanks Creature - You are right, I find it so hard to rise above though. MIL is so expert at persuading him of things he never thought before - and he doesn't seem to realise that she put those thoughts there. So apparently - I never have a kind word to say about anyone. I am willing to admit many faults but this just isn't one of them (it is much more her actually).

How on earth do I just accept that my husband is manipulated and the truth is distorted and still want to stay with him.

RubyOnRails Fri 03-May-13 06:49:38

Why are mums so wierd and possessive? Cried at sight of the bed? I can't wait for some fool to take mine off my hands, and he's three!

Tell her to F off put of your marriage if Dh can't. Tell your husband to sort his priorities.

I've got a possessive mother too...had a bust up last week and feel liberated without the constant phone calls.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 07:03:34

I don't know Ruby - it sometimes comes from feeling unhappy in their own marriage I think. Certainly not healthy for anyone though. You sound like you will be an easier MIL - in a few years at least grin.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 03-May-13 07:28:40

Have you ever had a serious conversation with him, either with a counsellor or independently, where you've pointed out that his mother's bizarre behaviour (and his mirroring of it) is a big factor in why you want the marriage to end?

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 09:08:00

I tried Cogito, last week in counselling, but he pitched it very much as me just 'hating' his mother, so we didn't get far. I am going to persist at the next session, and try not to be deflected by random claims - what I have done to deserve her attitude, how I am at fault etc etc.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 03-May-13 09:19:49

Creature is right of course, but I would add a corollary: if DH places MIL's concerns over yours, then getting rid of him is the logical path to follow. Even if MIL is the root problem, he has the choice whether to be swayed by her or not.

Clearly he chooses to place her first.

RubyOnRails Fri 03-May-13 09:26:12

That's true, probably, my mum was at her most overbearing when they were on the cusp of divorce. Nonetheless, crying at the sight of a bed is fairly Oedipal!

He has to place his family first, but you cannot see your own parents with the same perspective as others....I've only just woken up to the weirdness of my family dynamics, my husband says he's relieved and that I've never noticed my mum has queen bee syndrome. He's right but I was blind.

RubyOnRails Fri 03-May-13 09:27:49

You need to make him see the by clearly explaining you won't stick around if you are second best

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 03-May-13 09:34:07

Starting to sound like counselling is pointless if all he's doing is using it as a platform to hurl insults rather than accept there is anything that he might do to improve matters. I really wouldn't waste any more time on either of them....

DameFanny Fri 03-May-13 09:34:45

I imagine the counsellor has picked up on the dynamic if they're any good. Is it worth making a timeline of the times you've seen mil to take in and go through? And document the examples of how you've enabled your H to spends time with the DC, whether he's wanted to or not?

He may well have deep seated problems with admitting how his mother is - I know DH certainly does, and it took a few sessions before he was ready to admit that I might have a point about his mother being batshit...

He either chooses to see you as a person or to act as a mouthpiece for his mother. You can't make him decide either way, but you can line up the evidence so he's making an informed choice.

Or you can just leave him, if you're sure there's nothing to be saved - or if you're just tired of fighting it - there's no right or wrong for you.

However - and this was a big one for me - I was well aware that mil would have had unsupervised access to ds if I was out of the picture, something I'm not willing to allow until ds is old enough to recognise her for what she is.

ElectricSheep Fri 03-May-13 09:42:20

he is an expert stonewaller
He went AWOL for 24 hours with no contact
instigating a scene to have an excuse to avoid childcare
he went to his parents and clearly discussed me and our marriage in negative terms
most of DH's objections seemed to come verbatim from her
DH is good at putting on a reasonable public face, he is very different in private

I am totally sick of them - not particularly pro DH either - and am seriously considering giving up on them all. Is that madness?

NO

Your DH sounds like a twunt.

It also sounds like there are quite a few emotionally abusive tactics mixed in there - the stonewalling, AWOL, the public/private Jekyll/Hyde divide. Do you know much about emotional abuse? I suggest you get a copy of Lundy Bancroft, 'Why Does He Do That?' and read up if not. It may help you make a decision on whether to give up. But if you need reasons, I certainly think you've already got ample from just your OP. (And your MIL sounds a nightmare)

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 10:55:04

Thanks all - it helps to have some perspective on this mess. Yes, it does sound like a form of abuse but the counsellor seemed to accept his account that I am so unbearably hostile it was reasonable to escape. I was hostile because he was deliberately running through a list of complaints/insults/criticisms until I shouted at him.

DameFanny - that is really interesting. So can I ask if things have improved with your DH and does he consistently back you up now? That is exactly how I feel with access to MIL should we split. With an added issue that dd1 has severe allergies (anaphylaxis) and the ILs have never got it at all. She is actually unsafe there, I think and - surprise surprise - DH has never insisted that they put away the nuts, learn to use epipens etc etc. Once again I just look like the mad, conflict-loving one who causes problems if I step in.

ElephantsTeaParty Fri 03-May-13 11:06:46

Could you write some of this down on paper before your next session and give a copy to both your husband and counsellor to read then? Or for you to read it aloud to them, but with them still having copies so that they know what you want to say and how much, and with the agreement that neither of them interrupt before you finish? Then you would have everything you want to say in a clear, concise and fairly unemotional format and your DH would have to at least wait until you had aired what you want to say before derailing you. He may not listen, but your counsellor would, and thus hopefully direct things better. I'd also include your feelings on the counselling sessions as well.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 11:27:47

Yes that's a good idea, Elephants - I suppose I am wary of sounding the high maintenance one who needs to be heard though. He is so plausibly reasonable in these settings. Even his voice changes and it drives me up the wall....

DameFanny Fri 03-May-13 11:46:50

Absolutely what elephants said about writing it all down - especially any lunacy about not recognising allergy.

We're ok now. We'd never got as bad as you had though - DH very much wanted to make things work after a precipitating event which had nothing to do with mil, but gave me the leverage to get him into counselling.

He'll never fully accept that his mother doesn't mean well, but he does understand that ds has to come first, and that his health and sanity trump any desire of mil's to play uber-gran.

DameFanny Fri 03-May-13 11:47:30

I don't think I've ever told the story in full. Maybe someday in the 'other place'...

ElectricSheep Fri 03-May-13 12:06:57

Be very careful about counselling OP. It is not recommended in cases of ea for just the reason you are experiencing - the counsellor can be bullied into accepting the ea partner's perspective (which is controlling and abusive) and therefore legitimises it in the eyes of both partners.

So the ea partner gets his abusive perspective reinforced and gets further ammo to be abusive. The victim of abuse gets their feelings and thinking further criticised and undermined so that the small inner voice of sanity and self-preservation recedes even more.

I attended relate with an ea H and it was really shocking how he he got the counsellor on side and going along with what, looking back now, was really controlling stuff - how I did housework, what I spent money on, where I took my DM out, how I spoke etc. I've always thought anyone who purports to be a relationship counsellor should be required by law to have ea training first.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 13:12:02

Thanks Electric, that is good advice and I'm sorry you too had such a miserable experience with counselling. It is hard somehow to reconcile what my dh is doing with ea - it just feels like I am going to wake up soon from a nightmare.

I did feel absolutely awful after the first session, as if no one would ever believe me. Although actually, some of my friends and family have recently started to see that he isn't 100% what he seems sad.

ElectricSheep Fri 03-May-13 14:49:30

Oh and the 'he thinks I am shouty and difficult to live with' is also a classic ea tactic -turning the unreasonableness around on you, projecting how he is back on to you.

Have you read the Lundy Bancroft book? Honestly it's such an eye opener when you've experienced ea. It articulates all the stuff you noticed but didn't have the confidence to really believe your own judgement about. Ea isn't that rare unfortunately. Lots of people throw their weight around to get their own way. And ground you down over time. Doesn't mean you have to accept it though.

You shouldn't feel absolutely awful after relationship counselling. The counsellor should be mediating to prevent it getting to that stage. In a way though it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, including your family or even DC. They are not married to him. You are. It's up to you to decide whether you want to stay married. No one else. And if you are unhappy and feeling bullied then that alone is reason enough to separate. Life is too short to be miserable when you can do something about.

probablyhadenough Fri 03-May-13 15:31:07

Thank you Electric - you are right, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I'm not sure why I need to justify it so much. I suppose I can see the fallout with me painted as the unreasonable one and all the lies that will be bandied around by the ILs. Why I care about that I don't know....

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