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How to stop being co-dependent on an emotionally abusive relationship while still living in the same house.(26 Posts)
Things are very difficult between h and I and have been for a long time. Though there are weeks where things are relatively peaceful, they are always punctuated by rows and bouts of not talking. We have been to counselling together (which h stopped coming to after 5 or 6 sessions together), I have been to counselling on my own (for 2 years) but these things have been like sticking plasters really.
There is so much to tell that I don't know where to start. Suffice to say that though I have done things which have damaged our relationship, I do think that h is emotionally abusive and that I can only remain in this relationship if I accept that our communication is only ever going to be superficial. The problem with this is that it is getting harder and harder to do. The pattern is that we will have an argument within which h says horrible things which will offend me terribly. There will be days when we don't talk to each other. Though I can get over this relatively quickly, h has been known not to talk to me properly for weeks and weeks.
The most recent argument happened two days ago. Dd1 is displaying a lot of symptoms of OCD which is really worrying (she is 10). She has shared a lot of her worries with me not not h so it is not his fault that he was not completely on the same page as me the other night when it all erupted. I have however, recently mentioned that I think she should see a counsellor (would have gone on to talk about CBT in relation to OCD) to which his reaction was very disapproving and loud, saying that was for "namby-pambies" (whatever that means ), so that was the end of that conversation.
When it all came to a head the other night, I was, in front of dd1, saying what she needed help with (h had come upstairs because of her crying and she had complained to him that she had overheard me and dd2 talking about her so h had at first focused on this) and explaining some of her symptoms (amongst other things, thinking she will be contaminated by plants, not wanting to read her book anymore as I touched it with the same hand I had used to fill the car with petrol - he is already aware of how much she is washing her hands, and she is generally more inactive than usual and very sad looking). At some point in this conversation he turned on my shouting that I wasn't going to do my "cuckoo" thing . His eyes boring into mine aggressively. Classic. He can't stand the heat of what is going on as everyone's emotions are all over the place, and he turns on somebody else. He is quite a blaming and bullying character. So I asked him what he meant and he didn't explain but basically repeated the same thing - can't remember exact words.
So I was very upset and went downstairs and out of the house for a couple of hours which I have never done before and we haven't spoken since apart from absolutely necessary. No apology (which there never is) from him or explanation as to what he meant. Was it a reference to our joint counselling sessions (which he tends to think of as being the result of my being kind of crazy at the time rather than a reflection of how crap our relationship is), or the fact that dd1 also has something called "premature adrenarchy" which I took her to see a consultant about 2 years ago. He now resents me for "telling" my ds1 (who had to come along to the appointment as he was 10 at the time) as he (ds1) has in the past teased my dd about it. Horror of horrors does he think that the whole premature adrenarchy thing was made up by me and evidence of me being "cuckoo"??
So when things are bad between us I have a constant pain in my stomach and I literally find it very difficult to function. It is getting to the point where I actually cannot do it anymore. During the 2nd to last argument he said that the reason that he was often rude to me was because I "challenged" him... Evidence of him being blaming.
So this morning, 2 days after the argument about dd1, I asked him where the car keys were which he ignored and also asked him if he wanted a cup of tea. To this he coldly said that he would make his own tea. Anyway he has gone away until Sunday now while the kids and I are going to my cousin's wedding tomorrow (he was invited but did not want to go as he knows that I have talked to my aunt a lot - especially during the periods of time that he was ostracising me - and probably feels that he will be judged).
This kind of thing floors me completely. I have considered divorce for a long time due to our lack of affection and communication and the fact that the atmosphere between us often means that I am lethargic and cannot function. I am beginning to feel humiliated by the situation as, on bad days, h carries on being as pleasant as possible to the dc while ignoring me. Even on ok days, there is no affection between us or conversation about anything other than the very mundane. To talk about anything else often means that h will become angry / defensive.
My dad is of the opinion that I should not leave in a rush and that I have to plan anything like this carefully so that it does not totally ruin my life. So find work and look after the house and try not to let him get to me.
So my question is - how do I do that? My anxiety often means that I don't do what I should be doing... He is not coming back until Sunday but I know that then I will be upset about his communicating with the kids and being loving to them but not me... I feel oddly humiliated and kind of bullied (not saying that I don't do things that hurt his feelings, but really all I would like is to talk properly, but he is very defensive, kind of irrational in his beliefs, and I think, feels above that kind of thing).
So I suppose to sum up, I would like to know, how do you get over being co-dependent on what is essentially a dysfunctional relationship so that you can eventually and if necessary, move on to a separate life?
The other thing which terrifies me is what life would be like separated with regards to our 3 dc (now 8, 10 and 12). I have no idea how horrible or irrational (or not) he might turn out to be in regard to them. It feels like anathema talking about breaking up a family in this way, but being with him and his short temper / irrationality, makes me feel strangled emotionally. Or is it just me being unreasonable ?
There is loads more to say but I have to stop somewhere.
Sorry for typos.
Am also scared that all or any of the dc might, when old enough, decide to live 100% of the time with him.
I have no idea why you are continuing to live with someone who treats you like this, the relationship is clearly over, the way you two are will also be damaging your children's view of what relationships should be like. I can only advise you go right away and get legal advice and find out where you stand financially.
It sounds like pure torture.
Your husband is abusive towards you and your children. you need to get out right now. your DD is suffering and needs help.
your dad is crazy if he thinks his DGD should continue to be exposed to this for ANY reason. money can be made back, debts can be repaid, but your DD's mental health may be destroyed permanently by her exposure to this terrible conflict and nastiness.
How, on earth, are you supposed to not let this not get to you? He is killing you slowly, from the inside.
I can think of nothing worse for your kids and you than continuing this life.
Please do act fast- your first move should be getting legal advice. Would he leave the house if you ended this? I hesitate to call it a relationship.
Time to un-cripple yourself. You deserve so much more.
I did go to a solicitor for basic advice a few months ago. He would be very very averse to leaving the house and I can see that financially divorce is a very difficult option. However I have to think more positively than that. I have been a SAHM for 12 years but really need to get back to work of some kind. The thing which I don't understand is whether I have lethargic / depressive traits anyway (which I think I do) or whether they are aggravated by h (which I think they actually are). In other words, am I blaming my problems on h without actually trying to solve them (ie. become more organised, get work etc....).
Plus I wouldn't expect him to leave the house. Something more creative would have to be thought of. Not sure what.
have you gone to see CAB and worked out what you're entitled to?
No I haven't. Just going to the solicitor took a lot of effort. I tend to be more on the passive side but would like to change this. My Dad thinks the dc would feel abandoned by me if we were to get divorced and I understand what he means. I suppose if you are not available to your children for half the week or whatever, then they might well feel abandoned , however much you would rather the situation wasn't what it is.
no... you're the primary caretaker... they would probably see their father every second weekend, with maybe an evening during the week. don't go off on fantasies of how life may be after divorce. get proper advice. keep a diary of all incidents so that you're prepared for any custody discussions.
abandoned? do you not think they feel PROFOUNDLY abandoned that their mother is allowing this treatment of them? your dad sounds like he talks shite tbh. no offence to him. but i'm not sure how you can justify keeping them in the same house as their father if this is the state of things?
you WILL be available to them. all the time. regardless of whether they're with their father or not. why would you not be?
please talk to CAB. being passive is not an option. your children are going to be damaged for life by this. don't let that happen.
adaorarda my h is generally very affectionate towards the dc. I agree that I do not want them to have our relationship as a model.
My dad is very cautious.
You will be sole carer so that won't be how it is. If you are serious about getting away from the abuse, you need to go and find out what you would be entitled to, CAB and Women's Aid should be your first port of calls.
Sorry but you don't sound too bothered about your kids having to live in an unnatural environment, you either want to give your kids a happy, safe and healthy upbringing, or, you don't.
it's interesting that you responded to my post by defending your dad and husband, and not addressing the feelings of your children as i described them.
your husband is shrieking abuse at you in front of your child. the abuse is based on you being "cuckoo". and the child in question has mh problems.
that is a vile, shocking situation for a child to be placed into. you seriously need to start focusing on your children here. you and dh's feelings are not important, relative to theirs.
Wtaf are you doing allowing these frankly criminally idiotic men call the shots in your life?
What kind of father stands by whhile his dd is suffering, his gc are displaying signs of extreme distress, and says you have to stay a while?
All the while piling on the guilt about you breaking up the family.
A real man would go and 'have a
fucking word with his Son in law and boot him from here to kingdom come.
Stop listening to your dad. He wants you to stay being abused.
He wants to see you wither, your children wither away too.
Get legal advice, financial advice and blast anyone out of the way of your exit that is't helping you get your babies to a safe and kind environment.
Wake up lovey, time to get busy and stop allowing these abusers/abuse apologists from harming you and your dc.
You can (and must) do this. The signs your dd are showing need to be addressed as a matter of utmost urgency. Use this as your rocket up the bum please?
Definition of cautious (adj)
cau·tious[ káwshəss ]
careful: having or showing care, thoughtfulness, restraint, and lack of haste
Where is the care love? Where is your dad caring for you? Being thoughtful of you? Your children?
While you're being abused, and your children are crying out?
You need help, serious multi agency help.
Get yourself to the Dr, report this to SS and get yourself out of there as a matter of urgency.
Every day spent with this poison all around you all, is another day it'll take for your dc to recover.
You say your 'D'H is affectionate towards the DC and yet describe emotional abuse of them as well as you - minimising / ignoring DD's OCD traits is very worrying. And these can be exacerbated by anxiety of course.
Please take steps to separate. DC stay with you and he has contact as often as benefits the DC, not him (or you).
Your DC are learning terrible ways to behave. They will not feel abandoned if you divorce. They will learn appropriate boundaries.
I can only echo what pp have said; i'll be honest, this is the worst situation i have read on mn for some time, even more disturbing, and i don't want to distress you further, is your apparent passivity in this.....you don't seem to make any concious link between your daughter's potentially crippling (currently developing...) mh issues and your husband's horrendously abusive, belittling and humiliating treatment of you AND them. You also say you think you may have depressive traits, almost suggesting "how i feel isn't really his fault as i may have pre-existing mh tendencies", er no. His behaviour is your direct cause here. You don't seem to be convinced that his abuse is serious enough to merit removing yourself and your children from "because he can be really affectionate to them". Whilst ignoring you......they are seeing this day in day out and it is just a recipe for absolute disaster for them and for you. You deserve so much better, you are worth so much more. You would be teaching your children a superb example by extricating yourself and them from this, opening your eyes and seeing the suffering he is causing. Oh, and your dad......he just has NO IDEA. He may be your dad, it doesn't mean you have to listen xxx
Thanks for your posts. I suppose I endlessly think that I need to do this or that that I haven't done yet for the situation to improve (and I do think that if I were working I would feel better and maybe remove some of the pressure which h probably feels from me), but I never get round to doing the things I need to do (organise parts of house which are messy and find work) as I so often feel lethargic / apathetic.
Sorry but you don't sound too bothered about your kids having to live in an unnatural environment, you either want to give your kids a happy, safe and healthy upbringing, or, you don't, I do care how my children feel and about the unnatural environment but it is difficult to see the wood for the trees and I blame myself for some of our relationship problems. H thinks I don't pull my weight and that he has to carry the whole of the financial burden. I, on the other hand, am resentful of the fact that he owns everything and of some of his behaviours so withdraw from him and don't do some of the things which would probably make him happier and easier to live with. And on it goes.
Must stress that the shouting and calling me cuckoo is not a regular occurrence, we can go for weeks being ok but distant. Not saying that distance is a good model for kids, I don't think it is...
Kids very attached to both of us, it is a big deal to think of separating them from either of us.
However I know that I have a whole heap of things to do - the sorting of the house, the finding work and then the reassessing the situation between h and I, all the while looking after the dc..
I would like to know how to stop minding that h and I can't get on in a normal, easy, affectionate manner and how to find the energy to do what I need to do. At the very least, when the house is tidy and when I am in work, if h and I are still so strained with each other, he will no longer have any kind of excuse for some of his behaviour.
I do think that the instability of the situation must affect my daughter, but I don't think this is the only cause of her current OCD. She had an episode which lasted a few weeks when she was 5. I have no doubt she would feel happier if h and I were happier with each other, but I also think that the predisposition to OCD is within her. I have ordered a book we can look at together (and one for me to read which gives you helping techniques) and have contacted "place to be" from her school in the hope that they can organise something she can go to without knowing I had anything to do with it as she has point blank refused to come to the doctor with me.
I missed the last few of your posts while writing. H has a natural antipathy to anything to do with doctors or especially counsellors. I think he thinks that dd's current OCD will pass and that we have all had similar things which have passed.
Not defending. I do think he is worried about her, but tends to think that doctors etc.. just make things worse.
You are defending him.
You are sleep walking your DC into a deep black ravine, and wondering how they got there.
You have to get them out. NOW!
Stop doing what you are told, by people who don't care about you, and start saving your dc.
If I knew you personally, i'd call SS. Your dc need help.
Please understand that you can't 'manage' this situation.
You're not running it. It's not being run for the benefit of anyone except deeply flawed men.
This will only ever get worse, and the signs your dd's showing now won't get better until you do something and get her out of there.
She could very well end up killing herself, you can see that, right? She's 12, about the most dangerous age there is for this kind of stuff.
Please get help. Please call NSPCC, call your Dr, your local Woman's Aid service, and don't stop until they get you out of that environment.
She's 10, my ds is 12.
I do know it could get a lot worse yes but we are at the beginning of it and I am hoping that her finding out about it with me will help (and she is listening when I talk about it) - that the "place to be" thing happens if it is possible. Am also going to go to the doctor on my own (as she won't come and I don't have h's back up to convince her) to ask their advice.
My (general) passivity and inertia have to come to an end, yes.
You need to go to the doctor to have your own depression/mh issues sorted. hoarding and getting overwhelmed with the house is actually a trait of OCD. You and DD may be suffering similar problems.
DD needs to get to the doctor whether she wants to or not. she is ill. OCD carries a serious suicide risk. take control. you can't just let her carry on like this. from what you describe DD is FAR gone down the road of OCD, she NEEDS medication and professional therapy, not reading a book with her mum. sorry to be blunt but this is your child's life.
the state of the house and your being a SAHM are not excuses for him being blatantly abusive.
all abusers are nice some of the time.
you can't "make" someone easier to live with. he's abusive and a shit partner and father. that he is nice some of the time doesn't make up for it.
you need help, ask for it, get the gp onside, get on medication and start accessing counselling. and stop listening to your father who sounds like he couldn't find his arse with both hands, frankly.
You really don't get it, no matter how you do things, whether everything is perfect or not, he will come up with something to bitch about. Because it suits him to be able to blame you. He always will blame you, because that works for him, then everything is your fault not his.
Your daughter is obviously being very affected by his behavior and the dynamic at home, you are fooling yourself if you really believe that it's something innate. It's happening because she needs to exert some control in her life due to the anxiety that she is experiencing. Please realise this. It's an awful environment for you children and for you.
You are misunderstanding predisposition. Someone can be predisposed to an illness such as depression but not actually get it if their environment and experiences work out for them. Your daughter may be predisposed to ocd but her environment and experiences are making it a certainty that it will manifest itself. Sorry am on phone and its difficult to explain clearly but I hope you get the gist.
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