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I don't know how to deal with DM/DF situation

(10 Posts)
juliej75 Tue 16-Jun-15 09:44:51

DM and DF have a terrible marriage. DF is emotionally abusive and pressurises DM into sex to the point - I suspect - of rape. DF blames DM for all his unhappiness and can barely bring himself to say a pleasant word to her.

Of course, on the surface all is well. DM has only confided in one friend who is in a similar situation and myself, but otherwise the world thinks they're a happy and privileged couple with plenty of money, lots of lovely holidays, children and grandchildren.

DM has had a lot of counselling both on her own and with DF (although the latter has been spectacularly unsuccessful) and seems to be coping ok. She has a rant to me periodically about DF's latest fuckwittery and we try to laugh about it, and I reassure her endlessly that she is a kind, thoughtful, strong person and not the cause of DF's unpleasantness in any way.

But I'm finding it really hard to hear of DM being in such an unhappy situation. DM and DF have been together since school and it kills me that she's never known anything different. She knows DF won't change but says it's too late to leave him, doesn't want the lifestyle change etc.

I can't tell DM I don't want to hear it any more. I know I'm a bit of a lifeline to normality and I can counter the gaslighting that goes on. But obviously I can't force her to leave him. And she doesn't want me to say anything to DF because then he'd be even worse to her. He does NOT cope well with being challenged on anything. Ever.

What should I/could I do? Do I just have to butt out and carry on being a safe shoulder to cry on? Is this enabling? I'm in such a dilemma as I'm scared of making things worse but hate seeing my mum living a life like this.

Ejzuudjej Tue 16-Jun-15 12:23:53

How awful for you, and what a wonderful daughter you sound. flowers
I think you need to tell your mum that you are not a counsellor, but can arrange for her to speak to one if she would like to.
Also, let her know you will support her if she decides to leave - and you hope she does.

PurpleWithRed Tue 16-Jun-15 12:26:54

How horrible for both of you. Is she adamant she wants to stay with him? How old is she?

juliej75 Tue 16-Jun-15 12:59:03

Yes, adamant that she wants to stay - or at least adamant that she can't leave. She's in her 70s and hasn't worked in over 40 years so thinks she couldn't cope on her own.

What she can't get her head around is that she already does virtually everything for herself bar financial stuff, but she's very switched on, has masses of skills from years of volunteering, loads of friends (albeit lots of them shared with DF) and hobbies and is fit and well.

She knows I think she ought to leave but just can't conceive of the practicalities and knows DF would be horrific to her. I've done a bit more online reading this morning though and may suggest the Freedom Programme to her, although I'm not sure she always wants 'helpful' suggestions but just a listening ear. But she knows I'm always here for that too.

pocketsaviour Tue 16-Jun-15 14:18:17

She really shouldn't be putting this burden on you.

How were things when you were young? Did you dad abuse you as well?

Dead Tue 16-Jun-15 14:35:50

You could be her oxygen and enabling her. I was in this situation with my own mother and step father. It is exhausting and draining to listen, worry and advise for decades - and frustrating that nothing improves. It soured our relationship as I was sucked into dramas and fixing crises all the time.

Maybe you need to put in some boundaries - so that you do not exhaust yourself or sour your relationship together.

What she is doing is dumping on you what she should be turning around and facing/dealing with directly with your DF.

My sisters had a different relationship with my Mum at the time -- all escapism, fun and frolics - might be superficial - but they never fell out or got frustrated - and when she died suddenly at 62 - they had lovely fond memories of good times together.

You need to think what sort of relationship legacy do you want. She will not leave him. My mother didnt.

NorthernLights33 Tue 16-Jun-15 14:44:57

What a horrible situation for you and your mother to be in. It is understandable that you mother would not want to leave given she has been with him pretty much her whole life, and a big change like that at her age would seem overwhelming and she may also be frightened of being on her own in her old age. However his treatment of her does need to stop. I don't know if this is even an option, and it would put you in possibly a very stressful situation, but would she maybe be comfortable leaving him if perhaps she could come and live with you or one of your siblings? This way she may feel like she wouldn't be suddenly on her own?

juliej75 Tue 16-Jun-15 17:44:51

Thanks for such understanding replies.

Luckily, I don't think my relationship with DM will be soured by this. We're quite different in many ways but are both very good at compartmentalising so mainly have fun times together and maybe once a fortnight or so (or if she knows she won't be overheard on the phone), she'll vent.

That kind of works for us both, but my feeling is that it's escalating at the moment and she can't do or say anything that won't precipitate a really bad row.

To be honest, I don't realistically see her leaving him but I will talk to her about some logistics (including staying with me for a while) so that she is aware it's possible to leave if things get unbearable.

I feel very helpless but perspective from others helps. DSis doesn't want to know any of the details, and also in part blames DM for making things worse by responding in the wrong way to DF's moods...

Ejzuudjej Fri 19-Jun-15 14:39:21

Could she come and stay with you for a while to 'help' you?
I agree with other posters that it's not fair on you to have to deal with this. It's really not. It must be very hardcore you to hear. Have you thought about calling Women's Aid for support and advice for yourself?

Ejzuudjej Fri 19-Jun-15 14:39:48

Hardcore? I meant hard. Sorry!

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