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Multiple issues - help to untangle

(111 Posts)
Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 01:26:54

Son dropped out of a last minute attempt at uni with depression, self harming and strong weed habit and lost all healthiness and put on 3 stone in weight in 1 term.
Hubby took redundancy 7 yrs ago and set up own business just at point we had agreed I go self employed contractor to allow me to work flexibly. His income dropped by 75% leaving me to work long hard contracts to make up income difference. We had agreed I contract and take a break due to a number of previous issues of his making that had resulted in depression for me then an affair by him in response. His redundancy has been used to fund his business - circa £100k invested and I earn good money but see v little of it due to family needs. I work long hours and hubby does 8 days a week wfh which means I pick up all domestic duties and every time my back turned any time day or night he is back in his office.
Just needed a new hip and lost contract as a result due to poor recovery. 19 yr old son stealing my strong pain killers and Valium ( never used before but needs must). Daughter a poppet at 17 doing AS levels. Her bf family going through huge issues and am trying to help. disabled mother 130 miles away and complex physical and mental issues and dad struggles to help. Can't drive due to hip to see them and when working its a strain but I manage to do visits and the SOS calls when there is a crisis.
Hubby just taken an expensive and 12 day holiday as he "needed a break" leaving me to deal with all of the looney son, hospital appts for me and him and read out his work emails to him. I was never asked if it was ok to go away and if we (ie my wages) could afford it - answers would have been no
Why am I sharing this?
Because I want reassurance that if I get cross and shout it's to be expected. I need better coping strategies (dh always been adrenalin junkie and we used to do more together). Even his best mate has criticised his behaviours which I want to cut down to stress.
But have retreated to spare room for a month and removed wedding bands. I am looking for a restatement of why we want to stay married as we did so initially after the affair for the kids sake and they are now 17 and 19 and with the financial burden on me for so long I feel so resentful I can't be kind or generous to him - even though my friends would characterise me by these traits. So I can't be kind to him anymore and resent him for making my behaviour towards him less kind than for anyone else. Can't detail the big bad issues which triggered my behaviour but they were bad bad bad and would have made for a v difficult divorce if revealed to the court - nothing perverted but just overly adventurous given age of kids
Did try Relate at one point 7 years ago but it was when he was having affair and I didn't know and he left the room and called mistress and told her everything we discussed so I find it hard to contemplate that route again.
But I am at the end of the line of confrontations which lead to a ceasefire but not real peace because inevitably he will do one more thing of great selfishness and I will lose my head. Married for 23 years.
I have just about enough insight to know he must be feeling bad too but am too involved to resolve any of it so suggestions please would be v welcome.
Signing off now as can smell drugs son is smoking - that's the university dropout one with clinical depression

fidelineish Tue 22-Apr-14 01:39:02

What do you want to tackle first? What feels most urgent, least bearable?

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 22-Apr-14 01:44:25

Not all these problems are yours. Certainly not your DD's BF's family.

OP, can you list the three most pressing issues, giving each one sentence only?

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 22-Apr-14 02:06:01

Have re-read your OP Chris.

Things you can do that will have an immediate beneficial impact:
1. Hide your medication.
2. Forget DD's BF's family. Not your business and really nothing you can do.
3. Tell DH to you will not check his e-mails. Tell him what you need, then feel free to scream at him when he does not fulfill your needs. If he continues to be a dick while on holiday, change the locks and engage a divorce lawyer.
4. Forget "domestic duties". Altogether. You have neither the time nor the energy.

eightandthreequarters Tue 22-Apr-14 02:21:27

Wait up. Your 'D'H just went on a two week holiday without you? WTF? Has this happened before?

I think you were within your rights to leave him at any point after he rang his mistress during your Relate sessions and told her all. I'd be contacting a solicitor and divorcing this man.

But not immediately.

For now, I would ignore all other problems and focus on the medical issues for the moment. How is your hip and the recovery? You need to be really kind to yourself and heal. As much rest as possible - and do you have physio appts happening?

Your son needs help, too. Defo hide your meds, in a locked safe if need be. Try to clear out his stock of smoke-ables, too. What sort of medical intervention is happening for him?

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 22-Apr-14 02:40:51

Can you get your DS into residential rehab OP?

Oh and one other thing: if you and DH have joint finances, separate them. Transfer your assets and income into an account in your name only. Arrange a joint account that you will transfer a set amount of money from each account to cover domestic bills.

AcrossthePond55 Tue 22-Apr-14 03:15:39

Get well and get OUT. You can't help your son until you help yourself get to a better, healthier place. Your H does nothing for you so there is no reason to keep him around. Sort your finances and separate them completely. See a solicitor ASAP! Life is too short to live in unhappiness and pain.

temporarilyjerry Tue 22-Apr-14 06:17:35

How about some individual counselling to help you to find your way through all this?

HexBramble Tue 22-Apr-14 06:35:01

Can you be certain that your H is travelling alone?

FabULouse Tue 22-Apr-14 07:56:27

looney son hmm

Nice

CogitoEggySometimes Tue 22-Apr-14 09:06:46

I think the person to untangle is you. You're sick, stressed, and you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. So take a big step back, detach a little, look at the people around you and prioritise.
- Your husband sounds like a major source of a lot of the stress and I think you'd cope better with the other issues if you didn't have him around.
- Families of boyfriends are not your responsibility.
- Your DS clearly has some serious MH problems and I hope he's in receipt of medical treatment. Both you and your DH have a responsibility there to make sure he gets appropriate medical treatment but you need to recognise your limitations and also understand that, as he is an adult, he has ultimate responsibility for himself.
- Your DD sounds like an innocent bystander and deserves your attention.

Good luck

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 09:37:48

Thank you for all of these comments. I have hidden my drugs and going to follow through with physio as was back in hospital on Weds for manipulation under anaesthetic by consultant. He reckons it could be another 6 months before I recover
Son referred urgently by GP in Jan to see psychiatrist. The NHS wait time for counselling was 18 weeks for assessment then 4 weeks - so he would not have had any help between Feb - June so we went down the private counsellor route which is costing £400 per month plus follow up private psychiatry at £280 a month. We also need to pay rent on private room he took on at uni at £369 PCM til July. We knew what it might cost and signed on to using long term savings. Husband now suggesting private guys have vested interest in stringing it out - which undermines the support he needs to give.
Son's Counsellor recommended a book which I have hard copy and on all kindles. Hubby not got past foreword in 6 weeks - prefers to play racing car games on phone when at rest.
Had I left him for the reasons all those years ago had then my solicitor said if I gave these reasons then the courts would have restricted his access to kids due to the inappropriate adrenalin activities he had done which he exposed them to and if I did not tell then he would have free access to do whatever he wanted with them on his weekends - I did not want the abnormality of the former for the kids as that seemed to punish them - or the risk of the latter - where I knew he would do stuff just to prove it was safe - so I stayed.

The trigger for seeing a solicitor was that I was out on a v low key work function. He was off ice climbing the next day in the Alps for a week. Unbeknown to me his 2 seater micro light plane was due for testing and if he left it until after his week ice climbing then it would have cost a lot more time and money to test. So instead of getting the girl next door to babysit (as regular) or ask me not to go out he took the kids down to the farm strip and told them to wait in the car. He then went flying with an instructor up to 50 miles radius away from the farm strip for 1 hour 45 mins. The kids were 7 and nearly 9. Of course they got out of the car. Other people - strangers fly from this farm. At any point the instructor could have asked him to land elsewhere and the weather or mechanical issues could have prevented him from returning. I got so upset at this neglect that I saw solicitor and then felt so trapped by the rock and hard place options I was in I got severely depressed. That's when he got a girl friend and was inviting her on holidays to the alps whilst at the same time coming away with me on a lets try to put this behind us trip to Italy
We have muddled along since then, had some better times with the kids who now are old enough not to need mum around to protect them. My mum and dad always said the most amount of happiness would be gained if we tried to stay together.
But forgive and forget is hard when the next problems come along and his reactions are to retreat into his work and run away on holiday or play stupid games on his phone. I end up being a nagging harpy and have to take the Valium just to stay calm. Meanwhile son is deteriorating and I can't stop it. We can't live off the money he brings in - he sold the plane recently for £7k has had to use half of that that to subsidise his monthly salary payments.
On a fairly regular basis he has to work away and with female colleagues. He has lied to me about this once about 17 months ago and all of the trust I had started to rebuild after the girl friend stuff just crumbled. I hit him with a plastic coat hanger on his chest in my fury and distress - not hard and not something I have repeated. I then took to spying on his emails and phone trying to check that he was telling the truth about other trips. That made him v cross. Last thing I found was in Feb this year - when I was still on crutches from op - was to his regular travelling work companion where he put "am now going to delete" at the end of the message. This regarded a day trip out and to visit a factory up north on a Friday. He had told me he was going alone and I said I would cook a nice meal for his lonely return. On his return he told me that he had travelled the long way back via the Peak District and visited all our old climbing haunts, forgetting to mention that he had this same companion with him, eaten a good pub lunch and was even later due to diverting to take her home. Her hubby beats her up and turns out done it again recently and she has left him. Hubby and she have plenty of long car journeys and overnight jobs together to become friends who share complaints about their partners- which he says is as far as it goes. But I feel undermined and driven into behaviours I hate in myself due to anxiety feeling unloved, not put first.

Last summer he knocked a wall down and ripped out large parts of kitchen and we need to sort it out - which I am trying to do but it's hard as enthusiasm low - can't drive to see kitchen places and rest of house messed up as a result.

If you met my husband you would find him charming, friendly, practical, even tempered - he can cook, will shop and lay fires. I know that if you provide the right environment for things to grow then this happens and that I can't seem to use this knowledge to make it work.

We have different interests as well as shared ones - but unlike in the past werarely go away together on shared stuff -due to his work - and given the choice he will go motor biking with a mate who lives 50 miles away. Even when we do it starts off with arguments usually started by me - as he says there's so much in the swamp that anytime something else happens like the Peak District lie - then all the other related bodies come out of the swamp. So he uses this - my argumentativeness as reason for not going away as well as not trusting son to be left. Any advice on how to be nicer company when you are seething mass of resentment? (Recent things which trigger the swamp -yet again you got me to the hospital late, picked me up late from my operation, couldn't be bothered to get me breakfast before 12 so I could take pain relief after hip replacement, why do you only take me out to Aldi and to nowhere else when I have been stuck in my village unable to drive since December ?). It all sounds trivial - but I guess I feel unloved and uncared for and then react by being unloveable

I am trying to break it down into chunks by working on hip fitness and son stuff - tho feeling undermined by husbands attitude.

I am strong ( there's too many other scary tales to bore you with) - but I would like to know if there are other folk out there who have got through this level of stuff and how?
I can't run away as I have got to get son straightened out, hip sorted and daughter through her AS and A2 exams - she wants to be a vet. So need some coping strategies please for next 18 months.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Apr-14 09:50:03

Has it occurred to you that, growing up in such a dysfunctional family could be one of the reasons behind your DS's anxiety and depression today? Watching the pair of you fake it all these years, seeing you swallow your self-respect and sink into depression, knowing all is not well, can really screw a kid up. Children tend to blame themselves. They see unhappiness around them and they can feel responsible & overcompensate. They also copy the examples set. It isn't protecting kids to make them live like that.

You talk about 'coping strategies' when you should really have rejected the behaviour out of hand. You still seem to be planning to stick around and you refer to 'running away' as if it was some kind of irresponsible act. If you decided it was over I think everyone would heave a sigh of relief rather than be troubled by it. Delay and you'll never get out.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 10:13:37

I have had mum with strokes, BH, psychosis, sectioned twice, MS, epilepsy and a non coping dad, all running in parallel to main story line. Working 50-60 hours a week to keep the money coming in, handling calls from son school about his performance for 7 years. I sit down at 10 at night. I am not a wimp just too exhausted to think straight. Frightened by the wreckage of divorces I have helped friends through and seen what that has done to those kids. Saw it took 4-5 years to recover from a divorce so chose to put those years in to my marriage instead.
It's the past 2 years where we have fallen apart as a family due to husbands long hours and 2 long motor biking holidays 17 days and 13 days putting pressure him when he returns, as well as long business trips.

I am not a victim - tho I think the comment about losing self respect due to having to put too much behind me is fair. I am in work and by nature a Fixer Upper
I have good friends who are there for me but are too close and diplomatic to give perspective I need. Most have previously said could not have managed to stay and point out that I am above average intelligence, am employable and reasonably well preserved for age.
Counselling is best next step for me - thank you for your astute observations and kind words.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Apr-14 10:24:53

"Frightened by the wreckage of divorces I have helped friends through and seen what that has done to those kids. Saw it took 4-5 years to recover from a divorce so chose to put those years in to my marriage instead"

The 'wreckage of divorce' is relative. If the divorce has come as a shock thing out of the blue with traumatic revelations about affairs etc then it can take several years to recover. If the divorce is your own initiative and is therefore an assertive act, it is still painful but arguable shorter-lived. What is truly miserable is being trapped in an unhappy marriage or - in the case of kids who have no say in the matter - trapped in someone else's unhappy marriage.

It goes without saying that you are a strong, capable and intelligent woman that sees themselves as a problem-solver or fixer. Women like that have a fatal flaw i.e. tenacity. They persist flogging a dead horse long after someone else would have given it up as a bad job because they don't like to admit defeat. Don't compound the error by planning to give it another 18 months to avoid bad timing. Kick the can down the road and there will be something else that makes it a bad time to act....

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 10:40:59

Good lord you are worrying about the wreckage of divorce but can you not see how you marriage has destroyed you and your children?!

Ten years ago was the incident of terrible neglect by your husband and you say there is more, yet you chose to protect your marriage over your children?! Against the advice of a solicitor?! Do you not understand how bad it must have been for a solicitor to advise that the court would want to protect your dc from your h?!

You've gone completely wrong IMO, you absolutely need to leave and to start focusing on getting yourself and your son well and your daughter through her a-levels away from your poisonous husband before it is absolutely too late.

UptheChimney Tue 22-Apr-14 11:36:24

Why are you still married to this man?

You are recovering from major painful surgery, and he goes on holiday? Alone?

You poor thing.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 12:47:39

We DH and i have always worked as a team - it's where we started off in life as a climbing team. I helped him leave his family business working for his dad, get through a full time Cranfield MBA, into corporate life and then out via redundancy. Like many women I found my career pulled out of shape after kids - but retrained into something I could work on a contract basis. I have helped him grow his business and when we are close and work as a team it works, as a couple and as a family we get along it is good and we used to be well known as the family that did lots of stuff together and we can still make some happy times with the kids.That's why I stayed in the hope more of those can come along and to try to show kids that just cos things go wrong doesn't mean you can't fix them. He overstepped the mark with me on some stuff - but the big ticket items stopped after the airplane incident. There was a 2 year period of bad stuff up til then, then the affair. Big period of depression for me as a result. Then time we needed to mend as a family. Then some better times. The past 2 years of conflict have been driven by husband working 7 days a week and joining us for Sunday meals or at 9 on Friday and sat night after working and then bathing and returning to work emails even after eating.

Last night after I posted my son was so out of it on drugs he has vomited all over his bedroom - which I recently cleared so as to spot any new drug paraphernalia - broke a couple of plates in the process. It's not the mess it's the awfulness of it all. He lies in bed his fit body now a bloated mess of stretch marks and fat. No ambition, no hopes no joy. Just belligerence.

Btw hubby recent holiday was an adventure trip - with paying guests run by one of his oldest mates who was so pd off with my husbands behaviour he rang his wife who is my BF to complain and say all other guests also complaining about him. Only caught a bit of the conversation but he was really cross. Says husband has become more selfish - is this age, personality or is he cracking under pressure of it all inc. his business and I should be more compassionate about his behaviour?
His father is not a nice man and was a cruel dad and boss when husband worked for him for 12 years then ratted on him, his parents tolerate each other. Mine are a bit over sloppy affectionate but rowed a lot and I was attracted by the more level headed ness of my husband- wanting a more peaceful family life but with the warmth and affection and putting others first of my own family. So that explains a bit about why I am here and that I am no angel - not sure if there is a Geiger counter shouting measurement tool for under pressure mums with teenage kids that we could use to measure and comfort ourselves with the fact that we may have shouted but it was low on the score or if this time the needle moved really far and we were out of order.

Off to call GP to get more help for son.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Apr-14 12:57:50

"That's why I stayed in the hope more of those can come along and to try to show kids that just cos things go wrong doesn't mean you can't fix them"

But nothing's 'fixed' from what I can see. Simply endured and tolerated at the expense of your mental health. Don't you think you'd be a mum significantly less under pressure if you weren't stressed about your unfaithful irresponsible partner? No-one's an angel but no-one ought to be a martyr either.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 13:00:25

You seem like you are using this thread as a way of releasing the pressure but your posts are so full of excuses about your husband's behaviour.

I'd be very surprised if your son's problems are nothing to do with his experiences growing up in your marriage and I think it will be hard to help him if he is still living in the same environment.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 13:01:26

And I can't see from your posts where you and dh are a team.

It seems he's pathetic and irresponsible and you run about behind him cleaning up his messes.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 13:02:11

I think you and the dc deserve much better than this,

MorrisZapp Tue 22-Apr-14 13:12:53

This marriage has become unsaveable. Is your dh currently seeking help and advice about how best to make his marriage work?

Is he fuck, he's shagging his colleague in a cosy b&b while you take on the problems of the world.

Nobody here will advise you to prolong this awful situation or to give it 'one more chance'.

Dont be a victim of the sunk cost fallacy. The effort yoyou've put in already does not make it any more worth 'fighting for'.

Get rid, and restart your own life.

Driveway Tue 22-Apr-14 13:21:50

I think everyone would be happier if you and your DH split.

bibliomania Tue 22-Apr-14 13:27:15

Does your H currently make your life better in any way?

Or is it just that you think he could do if he, you know, totally changed character?

It's not a sign of weakness to stop trying to achieve something that can't be achieved. You can't will a good marriage into being.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 13:27:34

It's taken years to out all this down so please understand this.
Husband says he is not malevolent and wants to try harder but I am on his case all the time which makes him give up as there's too much to fix so why try.

I took up learning to sail yachts with a girl friend 8 years ago as a way of gaining confidence in my own skills separately from him as he has always been action man and I have been his trainee being told 'you are perfectly capable' all along being shown how to do the different hazardous sports
- never starting at the entry level as that would be boring.

He then learned to sail and having been a pilot and a diver is a better boat handler so has undermined my confidence in this area by simultaneously berating me for decisions or ideas such that other people on yachts stare at him. He then pushes the hired yachts beyond what I think is safe and comfortable for us and the kids because he thinks he is perfectly capable of handling it - too much sail out In High winds is not nice, heels a boat over and risks damaging it plus the child/ man overboard risk.

He has just walked in and asked me what I want to do about lunch. So day to day it's not like I am being beaten up. Ok that's a bit weak.

Promise you - if you ever met this guy you would find him funny, flirty, interesting company and he can cook etc. it's how he has managed to pour the oil onto the problems and settle me down again but I call it a ceasefire or truce not an everlasting peace - because I give in. Jt am underneath seething which is why it looks as is it's not much to spark it all off again. I describe it as feeling like my needle is pushed to point 99 on the dial - well out of the range of 40/60 that most couple tolerate in exploitation and misdemeanours. Then when he does onE more thing my need hit 100 and my head falls off and I get angry.

I know this must just seem like a stream of rubble but it's helping me so much and I am thinking about your responses and they are helping. My DS and DD don't need a cross weepy mum who they know loves them to bits and who runs round fixing for them like she does for their dad

Grennie Tue 22-Apr-14 13:28:59

Sometimes depression is really anger turned inwards. That period of depression after your Husband treated you badly, was probably you very angry at him but you didnt know how to express it.

Grennie Tue 22-Apr-14 13:32:24

OP if a man treated your daughter the way your Husband is treating you, what would you think she should do?

MorrisZapp Tue 22-Apr-14 13:34:58

No really, I believe you. He's a selfish knob.

Nobody here cares if he's charismatic or polite. Those traits cut no ice when he's unfaithful, cruel, and unsupportive.

I think you know what you need to do, but you feel the need to explain it first. No harm in that, slag him off on here all day and we'll all listen and nod.

But you don't have to have some kind of watertight case backed up with multiple examples to end this empty marriage. You can take control and cut him loose. Then he can get off with his colleagues as much as he likes.

UptheChimney Tue 22-Apr-14 13:37:48

I helped him leave his family business working for his dad, get through a full time Cranfield MBA, into corporate life and then out via redundancy. Like many women I found my career pulled out of shape after kids - but retrained into something I could work on a contract basis. I have helped him grow his business

What's he done for you? Is he doing all the heavy lifting (quite literally) while you recover from major surgery? Is he stepping back in his career yo allow you to develop yours, so that you both have equal opportunities & financial security?

Being a young widow 20 years ago was tough, but reading this, I think I got off lightly (my DH didn't).

I've never written this before but LTB.

UptheChimney Tue 22-Apr-14 13:44:58

He has just walked in and asked me what I want to do about lunch

So he's making lunch?

No? I thought not.

Frankly, OP, from your description, I doubt I would find your DH a charming man on first meeting. He sounds competitive, macho, and sexist. That's not a reflection on you: it's perhaps to try to help you to see what the situation looks like to a complete stranger. To help you to disentangle.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Apr-14 13:45:24

"Husband says he is not malevolent and wants to try harder but I am on his case all the time which makes him give up as there's too much to fix so why try."

You realise that's a fairly standard excuse from selfish, controlling people who have no intention of doing things anything other than their way? Like liars who say 'if you didn't react so badly, I wouldn't have to lie'... it's a big non-argument. He should be able to be a decent human being unilaterally and because it's the right thing to do. Not solely when you ask him to be one. hmm

I may be way off the mark here but you seem to think he's superior to you. Or at the very least he's some kind of exceptional creature for whom normal rules do not apply and for whom you (and others like children) have to make endless allowances.

The more I read, the more I think that there is emotional abuse going on here. Not so much in his actions but in your response and - by extension - in the response of your DS. Chronic stress, self-doubt, self-harm, low confidence, feeling trapped.... You are both displaying a lot f the traits normally seen in abuse victims.

wallypops Tue 22-Apr-14 13:46:54

Woman what are you doing? Who are you trying to persuade. No-one here is going to say stay in this marriage because it is quite literally destroying you, and if you could only be honest with yourself your kids too. Which of your behaviour as a couple do you want them to repeat? Your son would appear to have chosen the 180° option from daredevil dad - to drugged up waster. Your daughter seems to be repeating your role as an enabler.
Can you really not see that this is not working for you. The only person who will be surprised by you seperating would appear to be you. Honestly the kids are no longer dependent on you for their physical needs - you've done your time by anyones measure. Get the hell out, today if not sooner.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 14:12:53

What you said about if we met him reminds me of when abusive xp had just left and my women's aid counsellor was able to predict all his horrible behaviour and the magistrate and mediator saw right through him. I was totally confused by this as his abuse had me convinced that he was somehow beyond consequences and would wrap everyone round his little finger. In reality this was just about disempowering me and was something he had constructed by carefully controlling the environment we were in so it only contained people who pandered to him. When put in a situation he was not in control of his act was easily dismantled and I, about 5 years after the last contact with officials, am baffled by my inability to see that the stuff he did and said was so ridiculous no-one else in their right minds would find him agreeable.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 14:14:42

What you say about the boat is horrendous. As are the blaming excuses he gives you. What an utterly horrible little man he is.

Marche76 Tue 22-Apr-14 14:29:36

Wow, you poor thing. Here's my take on it - obviously I don't know you at all so some of it could be off but I do think you are in deep denial about your DH and the affect he's had on your kids. I would be to start divorce proceedings and work out how you can separate as quickly as possible. Your DH is coming across as incredibly manipulative, dismissive, controlling and quite scary. I think you have a very skewed idea of what a normal childhood and marriage is.

Your children will undoubtedly have suffered from growing up in this environment. Your DH may be charming - but that is a key trait of most abusers so don't be fooled by the good times - it's the fact that the very bad times exist at all that is the massive problem. Flip this around - if I was a lovely friend to you all the time but punched you in the face once a year would you consider me sane, rational and a good friend? I wouldn't!

The kid's are young, if you properly face up to this mess now you can help them. I'm reading that you poor teenage son is really messed up by his Dad - self-harming is a huge red flag for things running a lot deeper than you are appearing to allow yourself to accept. As I said above the good times do not erase the bad. You need to find out what he feels he is lacking emotionally so that you can help him to rebuild himself. In the immediate term if he is having counselling and it's not helping then can you try talking to him and saying what you think is happening (e.g. that your joint parenting of him has contributed to all of it in someway and you want to help him deal with that instead of carrying on pretending everything's been 'fine'?).

You need to give your DD physical and mental space to complete her studies - can you trust DH to do the right thing and move out now (cheap shared room in a house somewhere if necessary)?

Stop trying to reason with your DH, just stop the merry-go-round now. You have the power to make the kid's and your life a lot calmer. Get your head, finances and legal rights straight.

I really feel for you - you sound as you put an enormous amount of energy in trying to keep everyone's plates spinning but have lost sight of the big picture and are in fact enabling a really dysfunctional situation that needs to be stopped. Get yourself some counselling if you can - you need to work out what you want out of life and how to get rid of H with sanity intact. You have so much internal resource - you CAN direct it to a better life. Good luck.

bibliomania Tue 22-Apr-14 15:03:36

It's really good that you're starting to write these things done - it sounds like they've been surpressed for a very long time.

Can you do some reading as well? Lundy Bancroft "Why does he do that?" gets recommended all the time on here, and I think you would find it interesting.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 15:12:53

Daughter is the peacekeeper and says she thinks dad will behave better if she brings a friend along on summer holiday - he wants to sail. I dont as if he plays up on a boat all my recovering with my hip could go down the pan if / when he throws the boat around. Also my kids are more risk aware and enjoy a bit of excitement - which may be far too much for her friend.

Both kids love their dad and are very proud of the business he has built. It is a good business and does good and is well liked/

He runs his business from home in 2 rooms and we had to get a mortgage to build the extension for his business - so he would find it hard to move out.

I earn much more than he does usually - but I work for myself as a contractor and currently have some critical illness money coming in due to not earning due to hip operation going wrong / providing for a slow recovering in Dec.

Its much less than my salary and fixed on how long it will pay out. We are paying private school fees for daughter and have 16 months left of this - it was a joint decision to do this when he was made redundant. It would be wrong to move her now. At that time he promised to use his redundancy to replace his salary - but after a year cut this by 75% which gave him much longer to make small contributions to the finances - also dropping the promise that if the business did not "wash its face" in the first few years then he would return to well paid corporate life.

I earn more than he does because I had to find work that paid well - moving away from sectors I enjoyed into well paid but not personally rewarding work which i had enjoyed prior to having a child career break and moving round with his previous career. 5 houses in 2 years across Wales and Englang.

So i think I need to get sorted by June next year and get counselling asap (call just made so thank you for those nudges).

I think it was having to take valium due to too many issues and then finding son nicking them that was my road to Damascus moment - how did a competent independent working mum with 2 lovely kids end up in this space with these problems with her kids?

Thank you again for listening. I am unpicking it - bit by bit.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 15:20:20

It would be very irresponsible of you to put someone else's child at risk from your husband's behaviour just to keep the peace. Can you see that it is ridiculous that your dc should be put at risk but that it is unforgivable that you might use someone else's precious child to help maintain your crap situation?

Why does h need so much space for his business?

Could he not manage in a house/flat of his own?

You should get legal advice about the assets I think as well as counselling.

Counselling can't make you feel better if you are feeling bad because you are still married to a dangerous arsehole.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 15:28:40

Offred - I was kind of illustrating the stupidity of the situation because no way would i put any child esp not one of my own in that position. But for my daughter to suggest it shows the extent she is trying to be a peacemaker - which is awful.
His business needs the equivalent of 2 large double garages - one for storage and one fully insulated etc for working in and more storage plus a 4*3m workshop - which is what we built. Thats quite a big rental to cover at the moment

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 15:32:02

Ah ok.

Could you go with the dc or have him rent somewhere else to live and come back to work?

UptheChimney Tue 22-Apr-14 15:34:07

Daughter is the peacekeeper

Haven't read your recent post past this.

Your poor, poor daughter. At 17, just what is she learning about relationships between men & women? Think about it. Your poor daughter.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 15:34:45

Bibliomania - Will start reading that book now - thank you for that recommendation.
I go through my working life with the mantra - everyone's behaviour is rational if you can just see the world through their eyes. So I do need perspective. I think if you asked him he would say I am very hard to help and distant. I think thats just an excuse for not trying hard and then getting a poor reaction for a poor effort - but I may be being unfair. So I will read the book.
A few years ago he bought me an ipod i said I would never use - but hw thought he would try and loaded all my favourite music onto it and had a v romantic track ready to play when I opened it on Christmas day. Tickets also bought for going to see 2 my fave artists as part of the present. This was in the better times in the middle. Its this stuff you hold on to....and hope will come back

Walkacrossthesand Tue 22-Apr-14 15:35:40

Oh Chris - you ask 'how did a competent independent working mum with 2 lovely kids end up in this space with these problems with her kids?' - do you really have to ask? Would any of this have happened if you hadn't been bending over backwards to 'support' the man who is now off on an adventure holiday and irritating the hell out of his companions while you recover from a hip replacement; and also planning a sailing holiday during which your new and fragile hip will be compromised? Wake up, woman, please!

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 15:37:08

All abusers do nice things. I think you know that it doesn't erase the horrible things. Even that thing about the iPod is not purely nice. It's controlling and arrogant - he's getting you a present you don't want and forcing you to like it and you think that's romantic?

MorrisZapp Tue 22-Apr-14 15:38:45

God love you OP. Really hope this is a major turning point for you, you're clearly very bright. You can do this.

AcrossthePond55 Tue 22-Apr-14 15:44:20

I understand wanting to stay put until DD finishes school, really I do. If that is a conscious decision you have made, so be it. BUT, that does not mean that you don't set the wheels in motion for separating from that horrible man the minute she is done. Make a countdown calendar. Separate finances immediately! And start to live a separate life emotionally and mentally, even if you are remaining in the same household. Move to a separate room if possible. Stop expecting anything from him and stop doing anything for him. Stop paying attention to his peccadillos & start paying attention to your own needs. Tell him to get his own damn lunch! You must begin to view him as that 'bad room mate' that you must put up with until the lease runs out. You must set in motion your own support system of friends & family. Find someone in RL to confide in. Seek counseling, emotional and legal.

Again, you cannot even begin to truly help your DS while you are in such a toxic emotional climate. The sooner you begin to 'divorce' that man in your head the sooner you will have the room in your head to concentrate on getting yourself, DS, and DD to a better place, mentally & physically.

Chris2107 Tue 22-Apr-14 17:18:01

Counsellor contact made - appointment for me next week. Physiotherapy appointment made for my hip - for this Friday. Son's counsellor briefed for session on Friday and I will go with him to see his psychiatrist tomorrow. Think the gods threw me a lifeline with a dodgy hip because at least I am at home to look after all this and maybe take the time to reflect and open up.

My parents are coming to visit for a couple of days - making monumental efforts to get down to help, given their infirmities. They bring bucket loads of food and unconditional love with them.

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 17:20:18

Ok, but none of that actually sorts out the problem - h.

Can you get out to CAB? Does your local one do a telephone service? You could do with some advice about entitlements financially. What about a solicitor?

Offred Tue 22-Apr-14 17:21:58

If you get a good picture of your financial options it will help you think about your choices more competently and rationally and it may well help you feel better and more empowered to deal with things even if you choose to stay until dd finishes a-levels.

Grennie Tue 22-Apr-14 20:19:31

Chris - Well done for setting up those appointments. You have done really well making a start at improving your situation xx

Chris2107 Wed 23-Apr-14 09:42:37

Bibliomania - you asked if he makes my life happier in anyway - when he takes the time and engages with the kids he is good tho finds son too hard at the mo so tends to be closer to our DD who tend to run convos across the dinner table when I am trying to get son into conversation.
.
He will come out on theatre & cinema trips. He did make lifts for the bed and sofa after my hip op - he's a practical engineer type so tends to be better at fixing things and will do this stuff for me e.g put up trellis in the garden. It's the emotional stuff and putting others ahead of himself that makes me unhappy. We can still laugh together, he will cuddle me even tho it's often cos he's upset me that I need a cuddle - and is very kind and patient with my parents. He used to joke that if we weren't together he would want to be adopted by them as they are kind and loving - unlike his own.

But the cycle of stuff goes on. Here's a year to date summary - ignoring all the other awful historic stuff.
On NYE he persuaded me to go to his sisters party 80 mins drive away - 2 weeks after hip op. It was a v uncomfortable ride for me. He Got v pissed so we couldn't leave til 8pm next day as they live rurally and it was NYD a taxi was not an option.. During the evening he, lost my camera which I had bought for my own birthday present and I had not been asked if he could take it. It's now April and he still has not replaced it
As pissed he spent most of night flirting with someone who when I got up out of bed at 3am to go and find him he was then with his sister who said this woman was a big flirt. I got out of bed because DD had come into room to tell me that she was worried dad was going to hurt me again like he did before and she could not stand that. His reaction was that I and DD had over reacted and that earlier he had offered to drive and not stay over and I had said no - let's stay over as the kids can spend more time with their cousins - shouldn't have done that as hip not up to it but trying to do best for kids too as they don't often see their dad's relations..

When he first mentioned the nye party invitation he said it might be better for me to go otherwise I would be lonely ie they would go leave me behind. He quickly retracted that statement when DD challenged him -but it wasn't nice to hear when just out of hospital. So ignoring all the other historic stuff - since NYE he has lost and not replaced my camera, flirted outrageously enough to upset DD, hardly taken me out, lied about trip with female colleague, gone on holiday for 13 days without asking, leaving me post hip, not driving and son with severe MH issues. He has had erectile problems for 3-4 years and sought help 2 years ago - you then worry about where the tablets are going...Some of this is being stupid typical male and some of it is really unkind...and prob some of it is me being paranoia due to historic behaviour.

I work in stressful environments which can be very political and need after 50 + hours a week to vent. He says it's too technical and he's not interested in the he said she said stuff. I only ever need 10 mins air time to download but don't have him there for that. I only do this work to earn the big bucks we need due to his shrunk income. So,listening every day for 5 mins isn't a big ask. His job is v rewarding and every day he has grateful customers and good feedback.

I crack jokes as have dark humour which others seem to get - but he is so shut down that he doesn't respond and says that's because he is always on the defensive. But I don't do the stuff he does which gets reactions and puts him on the defensive.

So the short answer is that he can do small ticket stuff which makes me happy, the kids enjoy his company, v occasionally does a good big ticket thing. But we never seem to be more than 2 or 3 weeks away from a misdemeanour that really upsets me and takes some explaining.

Form recent rational conversations I think we may want different things - I want to do a bit of good in the world and re-find work in sectors I enjoy once my hip has recovered. This may mean a salary cut but I don't care. I love cooking and gardening and want to walk up hills again, hip permitting and do some gentle exploring, culture and rock climbing ( the safe stuff like kids do) and spend time with family and friends and go weekend camping. He still at 54 wants lots of adventures - ice climbing, winter mountaineering, motorbike holidays - and to run his business which does not earn enough to fund a team which can run it whilst he is away and doesn't earn enough to pay for all the adventure holidays he would like to take. I earn that money.

Since I started posting on mums net he has started to read depression book and he has now volunteered that he would come to couples counselling. I am going to the first session by myself and take it from there. I don't know if a good counsellor could get him to take responsibility for his own actions and gain long term insight. There's stress and personality combined to understand for both of us and I don't know where it could take us. A friend spent over 10 years figuring out her hubby's behaviour and then still left him.

Sorry I have rambled on again - but you lose track of what happens and get conned into thinking it's just a one off and that "other things" happened ages ago when they were more recent. Got to get head ordered into priorities otherwise will waste counsellor time overloading.

Think I will cut n paste and edit all my posts and take them into first session for her to read. Mums net has given me some really good challenges and external perspective - I am moving out of making excuses mode.

wallypops Wed 23-Apr-14 09:53:24

Really positive post Chris - I'm so glad that your eyes are starting to open. I'm still not sure you have understand how being without someone who makes you stressed and unhappy can be life changing in such a positive way. Just not having someone bringing you down daily is fantastic. And he would be then responsible for himself financially, so if he doesnt earn enough for a holiday that's his problem. You know its not money you've earned, so you dont feel bitter about it.

UptheChimney Wed 23-Apr-14 09:55:37

If I didn't know you were describing your husband I'd think you were describing an immature 19 year old (although my DS at 19 has more thought for others than this!) or a laddish mid-20s yob, frankly.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Apr-14 10:00:41

"Since I started posting on mums net he has started to read depression book and he has now volunteered that he would come to couples counselling."

When they think things aren't going their way, selfish people will say and do almost anything to regain some kind of control. 'You want me to be more insightful?... See me read this book and offer to attend counselling ... Now I have done what you wanted and you have no grounds for complaint'.

It has nothing to do with self-awareness or making your relationship better and everything to do with ticking enough boxes to maintain the status quo.

Offred Wed 23-Apr-14 10:00:46

I'm not sure there's much working out to be done! What's this about 'typical male behaviour'? You've not bought into this crap that male=abusive selfish arsehole have you?

I do wonder about your dc. They are displaying worrying behaviour from what you post.

Of course all dc love their parents because they grow up acclimatising to their environment but the trick with dc who have an abusive parent is helping them to see and feel confident saying when their abusive parent is hurting them. Dd seems able to do that re you - is she able to do that re herself? Does she feel she has to keep quiet about her dad in order to support you or keep the peace? She seems to be taking a somewhat parental role.

I would beware couples counselling if I were you. I don't think they will get him to take responsibility no. I would focus on building your own self esteem and self respect.

Offred Wed 23-Apr-14 10:03:15

Re when he is hurting you she can stick up for you but can she do it when he hurts her or does she also feel she must play along with the 'happy family' thing.

Preciousbane Wed 23-Apr-14 11:29:49

Op never have I read such a frustrating lot of posts. He is quite frankly a massive man child and I think my 13 year old DS sounds more mature than him.

The whole charming thing as well actually frightens me as it shows he can change his behaviour to suit him. Worrying, manipulative and very clever.

Diagnosis by Internet is dangerous but the charm and the excessive thrill seeking links in to sociopathic traits.

Offred Wed 23-Apr-14 11:37:27

I did wonder about that preciousbane actually.

It's not just the thrill seeking but the seeking to endanger others and the total lack of empathy along with the charm.

Marche76 Wed 23-Apr-14 14:59:48

Really glad you have found mumsnet somewhere to work this through and that counselling is on it's way. Life with your partner sounds utterly exhausting and soul destroying, I can't believe he is 54. sounds as if you and the kids would be better off renting somewhere small and calm whilst the assets get divided. Might be what your poor DS needs - maybe being around your partner is preventing him from getting some headspace.

Life doesn't have to be walking on eggshells waiting for the next disaster. Life is very short - you still have time to make your life a great one.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 23-Apr-14 15:17:15

Sometimes the point of counseling is to help a couple to 'un-couple' as peacefully as possible. Not all marriages can be saved and many shouldn't be. Go to counseling by all means. But be honest about your expectations, don't censor your responses, and listen carefully to what your H is saying vs his actions.

I still think you need to separate yourself financially. Draw up an equitable 'who pays for what' and present it to him. Start using some of your hard-earned money on yourself, instead of his expensive holidays. Let him pay for those out of his own income after the household needs are met. You need to do more for yourself, trust me it will help you immensely. Even if it's a pint of ice cream and a trashy magazine.

For what it's worth, my DH is still a thrill seeker, even in his late 50s. I've never been one, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. It's never affected our marriage and he's in no way a sociopath. The difference is that my DH has always put the family first.

Offred Wed 23-Apr-14 16:35:50

I would beware couples counselling whether it is to split or stay together tbh. If he is a charming abuser couples counselling will be bad for the op.

Chris2107 Wed 23-Apr-14 16:45:06

AcrossthePond55 - thanks esp for sharing about your hubby - it's good to know that you can be a thrill seeker but not need to involve family. I like a bit of thrill but tbh was so inexperienced with this lifestyle when I met him that I put all my early misadventures whilst learning his sports - which in fairness I was keen to do - down to bad luck rather than being taken into situations beyond where a novice should be. I now know that learning to canoe on grade 3 white water is not safe for novices and will lead to an underwater getting stuck on rocks on grade 4 rapids - sorry if this is a bit technical but grade 5 rapids represent serious threat to life. I fell off rock climbing when barely knew how to lead (ie be at the top end of the rope) and not shown properly how to do it or how to lead within capabilities. One runner held out of 4, I was 80 foot up and near the top calling for a rope from the top but being ignored, I fell 25 foot and didn't drive for a year due to back injury. I was far too ignorant and trusting - with more knowledge I now know I should not have been allowed to do this climb or that river but I trusted him. After the fall I was taken to the pub not to hospital. After the underwater swim canoeing I was eventually found submerged under 3 feet of water and left on the river bank whilst they finished the remaining paddle - it took me ages to walk back to the car -alone and cold and in shock. One last thing - I had an out of of air incident diving at 35 metres on 5th dive - under his supervision - again just another misadventure. But at a serious depth for a novice diver. He stopped diving shortly afterwards because he got a serious bend which I cared for him through. All of this stuff happened before we married. What a lack of foresight and imagination I must have had not to be able to picture the next years. In all of our stories there are places where we need to take responsibility - even if it's being over trusting.

I can see now I have responded to his desire for fun by jumping in with both feet and too much trust and not enough knowledge - and probably a fear of being left out or left behind. I also went into parenthood without tough ground rules about the kids. He wanted the kids he was miserable working for his dad I sent him away camping to sort out what he wanted from life. He came back saying he had no career decision made but he had seen a happy family tumble out of the back of a van with young kids and a dog and obviously happy and loving and this is what he wanted. As I wanted kids too and he drew that picture that I bought into it seemed right and safe. We had a little cottage and I had a happy job - so apart from the bad sport experiences and immense strain of working for his dad - if anyone ever seen Brass with Timothy West - that's the set up.

So we had a family - then it started to kick off....first with his temporary fix to washing machine. It was not fail safe - ie get it a bit wrong and you die - i made a mistake in using the fix and found I was attached to it (washing machines run on v high power - what a time to find out the house had no trip switches) and could feel the electricity travelling up my arm into my body and realising I was going to die in front of kids making an awful noise I managed to wrestle self out of machine - wearing rubber soled shoes protected me a bit. The fix involved putting hand down internal working of washing machine to make door work. I was taken to hospital for stitches and heart trace. I have a deep scar of right wrist which DD v squeamish about as got slashed on w machine mechanism. Never did any science at school so didn't understand the risks - but a heart trace, pools of blood on the floor and a permanent 2 inch scar have given me some insights. Trip switches now fitted. The temp fix could have been accessed by kids as they were toddlers and the bare wires exposed were at eye height.
I am not going to bore readers with the smaller ticket bad stuff when the kids were growing up. And yes there have been good times too.
But I want to know if this is a normal amount of stuff for living with a thrill seeker or a bit more than normal?. Ok I can probably guess your answer but boy is it helping me to write this stuff down and it has been over 20 years story in the making - just in case spreading it out over a longer time frame makes it seem more normal compared to others lives.? Ok that last was prob a rhetorical question...

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Apr-14 16:51:41

"I want to know if this is a normal amount of stuff for living with a thrill seeker "

The personality type is immaterial. What is most important is what you determine is a normal/comfortable/manageable amount of stress and, from what I'm reading, you are at the end of your tether on an almost daily basis because of your partner's irresponsible behaviour. You shouldn't have to be medicated or in receipt of therapy in order to cope with anyone, let alone a partner.

Chris2107 Wed 23-Apr-14 17:08:17

CogitoErgoSometimes- yes I am at End of tether - have not been impulsive as feel sorry for my kids And my parents and for husband as he is totally confused and hurt. I feel as if giving up is the selfish option and that I should have enough resources to cope with it. And if I could somehow Create the right conditions then it would get better and he would be kind and loving - which he has been in the past. Can't bear the additional strIn of all the wrangling that will go on financially as part of separation. Too exhausted for that just now - so medication and therapy will have to be my life rafts until dd exams and my hip sorted and son a bit better.

Corygal Wed 23-Apr-14 17:38:38

I think you have a problem you haven't described - your attitude towards your children. One is 'my poppet', the other, sick one is 'the looney'.

IAmNotAMindReader Wed 23-Apr-14 18:11:39

Good God.
Not one of these issues are typical man stuff but stem from a person who has absolutely no regard for any other humans safety and well being but his own. This includes you and his children.

The fact that your daughter thinks bringing a friend along will get her a break from his dangerous behaviour is desperation on her part. Your son has turned to drugs to numb himself from it all. All of this stems from your husbands attitude to life.
Others now find him unbearable, you only heard an edited version from friends.

He has systematically destroyed your boundaries to the extent that you feel any attempt by you to put the breaks on for any reason, be it your own health or your childrens sanity are you being weak willed.

Get this straight now, this man does not care if you or your children pack up or leave, drop off the face of the earth or die tomorrow.
The only thing he will think about is how that would affect him, never once would he do what you do and think well what drove them to it.
You cannot be anymore accommodating in fact you need to be an awful lot less so or it will kill you and destroy your childrens lives. Your son is hanging by a thread here and your daughter is so people pleasing she could be lining herself up for lifetime of the same albeit with differing issues.

You all need counselling although you also all need to see the whole picture, the ugly stark reality of it. Not the I can cope haze you are putting on it.

Saying your husband kindly raised a few items of furniture for you so you could continue to whiz round doing everything is not being wonderful that's just ensuring you won't ask him for anything. Any other partner would take over your share of the load.

If he can suddenly drop everything on you and go on holiday for 2 weeks he could have managed his work load to accommodate this. He just didn't want to.

I wish you well OP. You are on a long road and I hope you have the strength to see it through to the end. Don't shy away from any tough decisions, you need to re-evaluate your stance to factor in how much his behaviour is affecting them and put you and them first because if you go down he will certainly let them sink, he has proven this time and again. Stop listening to what he says and watch what he actually does.
Does he do any of it voluntarily or is it a token gesture to get you to back down?

Twinklestein Wed 23-Apr-14 18:18:22

Reading your thread OP, this relationship has characteristics of an abusive relationship without, apparently, the abuse.

If I met your husband I would not think he was charming and charismatic, I would think he was an irresponsible arsehole with balls bigger than his brains.

Your sense or 'normal', your boundaries have been so warped by exposure to him that you are not seeing him objectively.

My husband is an athletic type, he likes ski-ing, climbing, surfing, riding, diving, cycling etc, but never, never in all the time I have known him has he ever put the children or me in danger. Ever. There is a big difference between liking some more risky sports and putting other people's lives at risk.

Reading through your posts the main question is what hold does your husband have over you that you stay with him despite his sociopathic behaviour? Why would a clearly intelligent woman stay with a man after he put her and her children in danger multiple times, whose own solicitor recommended that contact be limited with the children for their own safety, who has cheated on her, lied to her, whose own son is now devastatingly affected by the dysfunctional family dynamic, whose own friend called her to say he was pissing everyone off on holiday - how many indications that this man is a disaster do you need before you listen? If you won't leave after risk to your life, infidelity, your son's breakdown - what does he have to do to break the deal? Kill someone? Because that's all that's left..

This is why I say your relationship has characteristics of abuse. He has the same kind of power over you that abusers have. You are completely in thrall to him, addicted to the highs and lows and the sheer stress of being around him. Addicted to him in fact. Perhaps he's not the only adrenaline junky, perhaps you are too? You say you stayed for the children, but I think you stayed because you couldn't tear yourself away.

In abusive relationships there is what is called 'trauma bonds' where the victim forms strong bonds of loyalty and attachment to the abuser in spite of detriment to the victim. He has put you through multiple traumas in which your life was at risk and that has caused you to bind yourself to him intensely. So desperate are you for his approval, that you will take any risk, make any sacrifice. You are furious with him and en-meshed with him at the same time. At bottom 'trauma bonds' are a survival mechanism. In order to rationalise your need for him you say - 'no marriages are perfect, maybe all thrill-seekers are like this, I stay for the children'. In fact, you stay because you are so tangled up in this man you have lost touch with yourself, and you cannot get free. You cannot even see right from wrong anymore. This man is destroying you and your children. At the moment it is clear you would rather go down with the ship than jump free.

I think it is really important not to go to relationship therapy with him. He will continue to manipulate you in therapy. He has a vested interest in keeping the marriage going as it suits him. Who else will fund his adventure holidays, indeed his entire lifestyle? He will never get that elsewhere. He will dangle the carrot of 'working on it' so you continue to be his servant. You could carry on like this for another 10 years. He has no intention of changing, he is fine, it's you who are on your knees. You need counselling alone asap. You really need a third party to help you see his behaviour for what it is.

Your first priorities should be yourself and your health, your son and your daughter. The first step back to normality out of this madness would be to kick your husband out. If he has to find somewhere new to live and work that's his own lookout. Peace at home would no doubt help your son enormously. Your husband has come first for far too long.

Twinklestein Wed 23-Apr-14 18:20:59

x-post with IAmNotAMindReader - absolutely agree.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 23-Apr-14 19:13:53

Chris, Good God lovey, you must've had a death wish! Not really, I completely understand the wanting to 'love what he loves' thing. We've all been there. But by the time I met DH we were both done with that and it was 'take me as I am' for both of us. I would no more have gone hang gliding (his #1 passion, after the family of course), than he would have donned evening kit and accompanied me to the opera. We've compromised (I'll watch him fly & go get him if he files cross country and he'll go to a matinee lol). I'll ride on the back of a snowmobile & he won't drive like a madman when I do. We have mutual interests, of course, but also respect each other's hobbies/pastimes without demanding the other make them their own. The few days we spend apart during the year doing our own thing always bring us home to each other, even more appreciative of what we have together.

But it's obvious that your H doesn't put the family first and therein lies the problem. If he won't do, you must. Frankly, I'd kick him out, if I could afford to!

I do think your marriage is broken, probably beyond repair. I think there have just been too many hurts and patterns of neglect and selfishness to ever fix it. And if you did manage to glue it all together the cracks and breaks would still be there, visible and hurtful. Wouldn't it be much better for all to toss it out and get a whole new, unbroken life? A life in which you can thrive and your DS can hopefully heal and get the help he needs?

Chris2107 Wed 23-Apr-14 19:25:18

To everyone I must apologise for a poorly used term for my son is not a looney - he is ill and disruptive and violent and sad. It was a horrid shorthand to use and if you had seen what I have done to support him from the day he was born you would know I love him too dearly. He ended up ill and in hospital for 19 days because no one apart from my BF who is a GP believed me and he has needed a lot more support ever since. I have been passed round the staff room so many times to speak to teachers about him and I stopped working so that I could feed and nurture him through his gcses. There's lots more but have no doubt he is getting the help now because I sorted it out and am the lead parent with GP, psychiatrist and counsellor. Just fought and won his uni refund fees for his loan.
I am scared when I walk into his room to find him sitting on the window sill legs hanging out smoking strong weed. I am terrified he thinks nothing of waking his sister up in the middle of the night before an important exam with no other reason than he wants something from her. And this will affect her badly and cause her to fail her exams.
So please excuse my bad word. I love both my kids so v much.

UptheChimney Wed 23-Apr-14 21:06:24

He's a sociopathic abuser.

Your children are already damaged -- your son at risk of his life. You are getting perilously close to being implicated in your husband's abusive behaviour towards his children.

WhotheWhat Wed 23-Apr-14 21:23:47

Does he (DH) do anything without an audience? He needs continuous validation and that is not sustainable, although you've made a valiant effort. Bow out: you've become faceless to him.

Sherlockholmes221b Wed 23-Apr-14 21:52:32

FWIW I feel it is harsh to say you are implicated in your 'husbands abusive behaviour towards his children', in fact I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't stayed in this marriage far longer because you felt it necessary to protect them from your DH's adrenalin fuelled jaunts. Had you split up years ago there would have been occasions where your husband would have been in sole charge of them, given he's nearly killed you with his extreme sporting hobbies on several occasions I think you have done as much as you could to keep them safe. But they are adults now, it's time to detach from this selfish man.

UptheChimney Wed 23-Apr-14 21:59:56

I said "close to" ...

Chris2107 Wed 23-Apr-14 22:12:01

Sherlock - I have stayed exactly for the reasons you stated and hoped to be loved along the way. But it's not there. The kids can now say no. Both have more of my emotional intelligence than husband - who used to say to me " if I become like my father then shoot me". So I know I can help them get untangled. But I wed him to help stop him becoming like his dad so perversely I feel as if I am letting husband down by abandoning him because he has become what he feared he would become.
Does this make a bit of sense? Have fistful of degrees, armful of long standing friends so can't be a complete looney for being in this position. Tbh if he just said I sm really sorry I have been a complete knob and am about to lose what is most precious to me then I would try again. But I don't think he will do that and stupidly I think I and the family are worth him wanting to do that. This is the acute pain I feel and need to have understanding and support through. Rationally I can see through it but emotionally I can't.

Twinklestein Wed 23-Apr-14 22:19:56

That's not strictly true though is it, her solicitor advised her that if she divorced him and detailed his risky behaviour in court his contact with the children would be restricted. That was a chance to protect them right there. It wasn't necessary to stay in the marriage to protect the children, it was a choice.

I'm not blaming the OP btw, I understand how she is in the situation, she has the same confusion and bamboozlement that is common in abuse victims. I suspect he is an arch manipulator.

Ehhn Wed 23-Apr-14 22:19:57

Dear god, he sounds awful. Unsupportive, uncaring, mildly to seriously emotionally abusive.

Look, my oh and I are into our dangerous sports. I got mine into skiing off piste etc. but we always take care and I downgrade my ambition to fit with my oh's skills in order to keep him safe because I love him and want him to enjoy skiing.

Your daughter sounds like she is sick to death of him and his behaviour and she fortunately has the emotional maturity to articulate her worries to you (also a sign of your strong relationship). However, boys are not so good at articulating their feelings and instead your son is exhibiting on his own body his feelings about the situation.

Your family is a mess emotionally and all because of that man. He should be caring for you and your son right now and taking the burden away from your hard working daughter. Sit your kids down while he is away, talk to them honestly about the situation and don't try and protect your h. Find out what they think and feel, together, away from him.

Don't keep fighting for this relationship. Check out of it and build your own happy, calm, successful life with your kids as you all heal physically and mentally away from this man.

Ehhn Wed 23-Apr-14 22:20:38

*your strong relationship with your daughter that is!

Twinklestein Wed 23-Apr-14 22:20:50

My post was to Sherlock ^^

Twinklestein Wed 23-Apr-14 22:26:12

Sorry OP, xpost with you, and I ended up sounding like I was talking about the cat's mother.

Thinking you can save someone is a rather perverse and self-defeating reason for marrying someone. Only he can decided if he turns out like his father, and he did.

Even he apologised for being a knob his whole life, he wouldn't a) mean it or b) change.

IAmNotAMindReader Wed 23-Apr-14 23:50:20

You can't support 100% of the relationship and help him to change when he has no interest in changing or putting any effort into doing so. Anything else is just words that blow away on the wind.

You can't keep doing the same things and expect different results. The same things are you doing everything and trying to make his life easier and helping him to change and expecting him to be different each time. If anything he is less and less inclined to change as time goes on and is digging his heels in more.

You can't make a relationship better if the other person wants the status quo to remain or for the balance shift even more in their favour.

Your children need you now, they need you to support them. A fraction of the effort you've put into your husband directed towards them will kick start them on in leaps and bounds.

Your husband has shown you many times nothing in his world is going to change and you cannot make it. You can only change your reaction to it and the direction of your own life.

AcrossthePond55 Thu 24-Apr-14 00:15:26

Is he still on holiday??? Change the fecking locks!!! (Can you legally do that?) I'm sure both your children would support that!

Call him and tell him that he is not welcome back and will need to make other arrangements.

Chris2107 Thu 24-Apr-14 00:30:50

He is back from holiday and in shock at my untangling response. I did not go with solicitor advice to have separation and social workers involved for v good reasons -as this would have been v abnormal for kids and my father in that line of work for 39 years advised against it. So tbh staying put and keeping guard was the safest option for the kids.
Just had daughter tell me she and son don't want us to stay together for their sake and both kids know I would be their main choice for carer. That is so affirming. They can see through the situation and don't want me to hang around being unloved whilst exams are finished. They think there is a fine life ahead of me and I deserve to follow it. They understand they love their dad but his way is not the way they would choose for their kids. As a result I feel as if I have not completely messed my kids up and have been given their permission to make choices going forward. Mums net - helped get this all out. Not a bad thing ...

oldgrandmama Thu 24-Apr-14 09:02:50

Jesus Christ, OP, just read the post about washing machine, wild water rafting, diving ... etc. etc. etc. Sociopath? Psychopath? No kidding - sounds like attempted murder, to be honest. And with the washing machine, BARE BLOODY WIRES? Putting your dear children at risk, along with you? Sorry to be harsh but you're still with him? Sounds as though you're under a sort of malign magic spell cast by him. HE WON'T GET BETTER and he's destroying you, your son, and soon your daughter, too. If some ghastly accident doesn't happen to them thanks to his idiotic 'thrill seeking', he'll grind down their esteem, personalities, confidence - your poor poor son is already on the way to all that.

Please, OP, wake the hell up. I've seldom been so distressed reading a thread. I know you're suffering the after effects of hip surgery - I had a hip replacement, it went perfectly but it was still horribly painful afterwards, so what you're going through after a messed up op, I hate to imagine. But you can start being pro-active immediately - get decent legal advice, split off your finances (and STOP paying for his holidays), and - yes - forget couples counselling because he'll be learning what's on your mind to use against you. Lundy Bancroft's book advises against joint counselling and the book is an absolute bible for women in your position, so do read it.

I spent 20 years married to a sociopath and he was charm personified to the world - fun, generous, gregarious, life and soul of the golf/rotary club etc. But in reality, a nasty, faithless, mean and spiteful man. I regret those 20 years - stayed for sake of kids. Boy, do I regret it. I got out when I was nearly 50 and never looked back.

Please, OP, you've had some amazing advice here from MNs. I hate the thought of you waiting longer - did you say in earlier post something about June next year? Hell, you shouldn't have to wait another week coping with his shit. And meanwhile ... he's off on his hols, again, LEAVING YOU LIMPING AROUND, IN PAIN, TO COPE, while upstairs your darling son is in emotional hell himself and your sweet daughter is anguished about everything that's going on.

Sorry for the epic post. I just feel so angry and frustrated for you.

oldgrandmama Thu 24-Apr-14 09:05:57

OP, just read your post above mine ^ thank God.

UptheChimney Thu 24-Apr-14 09:10:10

I hate reading about children -- particularly daughters -- who have to turn into parents. It damages them terribly.

This thread reminds me of one (in the other place eventually) of a woman who suspected she was going to be forced into an unwanted 4th (?) pregnancy, whose husband required her to give up well-paid work to be a SAHM to support him, but whose husband controlled her finances, and the safety of her home. Rooms in their house were unsafe for their small children, the washing machine didn't work, and he refused her "permission" to buy a dishwasher to ease the burden of housework with 3 small children.

She was clearly being abused but just couldn't see it. But she eventually did, and got away with the help of Women's Aid. She was formerly an independent, well-paid professional woman. I hope she is once again, just as I hope you become so, once again.

Lancelottie Thu 24-Apr-14 09:16:22

Yes, Oldgrandma, it sounds like the plotline of one of Agatha Christie's lesser works.

Hope you aren't insured in his favour, OP.

Your children are telling you they want out. Sounds like that's what you need to do for them -- and this time don't let your father's 'advice' put you off. Surely no 'abnormal' separation could be as weird as your life with him has been?

bibliomania Thu 24-Apr-14 09:34:26

You've come a long way in 4 pages, Chris! I think it's unanimous that this marriage isn't worth saving.

I really like Twinkle's post yesterday about trauma bonding. I do understand why you felt it safer to stay when the dc's were young. Just because your solicitor felt contact should be restricted doesn't mean you'd actually be able to get that arranged in practice. Similiar things have been said about my ex from time to time, but it's not always realistic to think you'll get contact stopped on the basis of feared harm in future, as opposed to harm that has happened already.

Anyway, thankfully that's irrelevant now. What's stopping you, woman? You're in a great position! Financially solvent, not child contact issues. Your life is going to be so much better without him in it. I think you'll be amazed at how soon you'll be able to throw away the Valium once he's gone....

Chris2107 Thu 24-Apr-14 10:22:51

In the end once recovered from hip I will be solvent and less busy. ATM I spend my days in exercise for hip, chasing up medical appts for son and me.
Not an adrenalin junkie for husband at all - just trying hard to be loved and then repeatedly when I shout because of the latest - repeatedly - piece of nonsense take most of responsibility for creating relationship set back by shouting. Kids have seen and heard too much and I feel v bad about that as it's been my shouting - husband says it's cos I am naturally combative and he doesn't want to fight. I think he just wants it all his own way. He said to me he would support me if I wanted to go off and do things like long holidays but the point is by the time I have done all that needs to be do e there's no time or money for me to do that. And if I did then there would be no time together or as a family. So from his perspective turns sounds fair and reasonable - take turns - buts it's an empty offer for he knows I would not leave kids for my own holiday - especially whilst all this has been going on.
But when you are the shouting one it's easy to fall into the pattern of feeling like you need to make the peace - so you just stop shouting without anything being resolved. Life is hard but less busy than in 10 years so only now am I getting my head round it all. Been trapped by practical work/home/ kids circus and desire to want to make marriage work. But not addicted to him - frustrated to hell and back by him and shout about it. I never shout in any other circ - so don't think I am a shouting addict either .... Just had a bit too much practice and worry I could make same mistakes again with someone else.

Twinklestein Thu 24-Apr-14 10:39:10

You don't need to be loved by this man to be ok. You have just got dependent on his approval. I'm not sure that he can love in any meaningful way, he's totally self-oriented.

You must not berate yourself for shouting at him. You have not 'set the relationship back' by doing so, he is the cause of all it. You are simply reacting to his extreme antisocial behaviour, and manipulations - his holiday strategy is a case in point. He says he wants you to take a long holiday but he knows you won't leave the kids, & so much money goes on his holidays that there's none left for you. He says one thing and does another, you're so impressed with his apparent reasonableness that you don't notice you've been had.

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 10:56:27

"I did not go with solicitor advice to have separation and social workers involved for v good reasons -as this would have been v abnormal for kids and my father in that line of work for 39 years advised against it. So tbh staying put and keeping guard was the safest option for the kids."

I'm sure that's an accurate representation of what happened but there are a number of fallacies in there IMO. I don't think your father's advice was helpful there.

Keeping your children in an environment where they are put at risk is not the safest option, it has not transpired to be the safest option. What risk do you think appropriate support for your family from social services to keep their damaging father away or keep them safe when he saw them would have done?!

I have to say that I disagree with bibliomania, I accept it is sometimes difficult to protect children from a NRP who has not yet done anything abusive or neglectful to the dc but in this case there are numerous incidents where the op's h has endangered and neglected the dc and in those cases it is not difficult to get steps put in place to protect them like supervised contact, indirect contact, restrictions on where he can take them and what he can do with them and contact being withdrawn if he breaks the rules.

It is ridiculous to think it is safer for the children to stay.

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 10:58:03

But yes I see that this is part of the thinking you have when you are with an abuser. It is more about cognitive dissonance and difficulty breaking away than it is about a rational choice to protect dc.

bibliomania Thu 24-Apr-14 11:03:54

I'm not advocating the merits of staying, Offred. I'm saying why I understand the OP's logic in the past. Believe me, I'm in favour of leaving a dangerous relationship and dealing with contact issues as they arise.

But the point is that there's no value right now in discussing what OP should have done x number of years ago. What she needs to concentrate on is what to do now, and I think that's a better use of her energy than having to defend long-ago decisions.

Chris2107 Thu 24-Apr-14 11:18:33

Offred - I know what he would have done because on the one opportunity he had to holiday with the kids before the plane incident he was stupid with them and whilst it was not dangerous they basically ran out of food because at 6 and 7 they could not carry enough. This happened without my knowledge when I went on my sailing Holliday. Why did he do this with them? Well the summer before the running out of food trip with the kids - before the plane in a field - we had met up with friends in the Pyrenees. He wanted to do a 3 night camping linear mountain walk across peaks. I was not keen as ambitious, linear walk with no early escape for kids down off it and weather been unpredictable and due to late planning It was highly not possible to get booked into mountain huts so we would have to camp and take all the stuff with us. On set off day kids too tired so he went on and said I should bring them up the mountain pass - and remember to bring food and water for 3 days just in case. I struggled to pack rucksacks for the kids and me with one change of clothes in case the weather was stormy as it had been. I pu the sacks on my kids backs and they fell over backwards and that was without my sack being loaded up with food and water and I was scared that I could not supervise them safely and get them up the mountain. My friends hubby and wife who couldn't have kids walked into hotel room at that point to find me in a pool of tears surrounded by rucksacks. Her hubby scooped us all up and got us moved into a hotel. There were storms in the mountain overnight and H retreated. He blamed me for us not setting off together as the previous day we had done an enjoyable walk which had left the kids tired. My friends were appalled. The 4 day walking trip "travelling light" win the kids the following Easter was to make the point that they could travel light. At worst they had to live off bread and swizzle sweets for a couple of days. But the point is he would do stuff with them if if was. To there and do it his way just to make the point that "they were perfectly capable" - his fav phrase. So stop please telling me I should have left years ago because I have prevented many things from happening by being around to control the excesses and still some stuff has got passed me and I feel awful about that but it's better than it would have been. Even the solicitor advised against social worker involvement as it was hard to escape from - what she did was tell me the logical outpace if I revealed the stories.

bibliomania Thu 24-Apr-14 11:34:07

The past is the past, so I think you need to avoid getting bogged down in whether it was the right decision or not back then. Time for that later. For now, it's much more important to concentrate on your next few steps.

Twinklestein Thu 24-Apr-14 11:38:53

I agree woulds or shoulds about the past are irrelevant now, the focus should be on the present.

What can posters here do to help you OP?

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 11:41:18

I think it is important because you're still in the mindset that he has the power to decide everything tbh and you aren't going to get free of this or him or protect your dc while you are still bogged in that thinking or having that thinking confirmed as correct.

I'm not trying to change the past or tell you you should have left ages ago, it is a moot point because you couldn't and didn't. It's about the future.

Your h would not have been allowed to take your dc on those trips at all if you had split and been able to take steps to protect them and I think it is obvious from your story that it is outsiders stepping in who prevented you from doing what he said.

It's worrying and yes it is his fault but if you split and you are able to fight for it (or could have done then) he would not be able to put them at risk, it would not be up to you to try and desperately protect them while he put them at risk. He just wouldn't be able to do it. The more you accept that he has ultimate authority and all you can do is minimise the risk the longer you'll be stuck with him and I don't think you should be blamed, that's not my aim, but I do think you need to see these decisions as controlled by him and that you have other better options.

I think you should get in contact with women's aid really because you're living in such fear of him.

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 11:43:10

Can you see what I mean? Saying yes she would not have been able to protect them if she'd left is just saying to her 'your fears are correct he really does have ultimate power over you and the dc'?

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 11:44:37

You can be free of him op and he does not have any power unless you give it to him. The fear he has created in you of him is not keeping you and dc safe it is directly harming you IMO.

Chris2107 Thu 24-Apr-14 12:04:05

Prob time for me to stop posting for a bit as the buried memories are rising up and swamping me and I am losing ability to docus on kids and visiting parents.
You are right - I need to focus on future. So posters here - I will let you know about my counselling which is on 6th May and may stay away til then. You have been brilliant at shining light into my head thoughts so thank you.

Offred Thu 24-Apr-14 12:07:37

That's very good, take the time you need. I think he's really done a job on you and I really hope the counselling can help you confront your fear of him.

bibliomania Thu 24-Apr-14 12:33:36

Best of luck.

bibliomania Thu 24-Apr-14 12:36:14

I do get where you're coming from, Offred.

Sherlockholmes221b Thu 24-Apr-14 13:27:44

Good luck Chris, so pleased your kids have given you the green light to extricate yourself from this messed up marriage. Children's love of a parent can be just as unconditional as a parents for a child, however abusive the relationship becomes, and the fact that they are both supportive of you separating says a lot.

AcrossthePond55 Thu 24-Apr-14 14:16:57

You are in my prayers, Chris. There is a lot of mental processing to be done, isn't there? Remember that your children have given you permission to leave your abusive relationship. And given your DS's problems, his being able to come out of his own pain to try to help you deal with yours speaks volumes about the young man he could be, given the right circumstances!

Listen to them. Listen to yourself.

Please do update us. And remember that we are behind you.

UptheChimney Thu 24-Apr-14 14:53:40

Good luck. Remember the almost unanimous response on this thread:

You are not being unreasonable
Your husband can be dangerous
There are ways to protect and nurtrure your children without staying in a damaging marriage

oldgrandmama Thu 24-Apr-14 19:12:49

Thinking of you, Chris. Your kids sound brilliant, bless them. Please let us know later how you are.

Chris2107 Mon 28-Apr-14 00:20:30

Just Some Rubbish to download - am now defined as the unreasonable one because no one else would have soaked up what he has had to over the years - and I am capable of verbal agent orange when provoked -Irish Catholic rhetoric with graduate language - perhaps someone better to have on your own team - and not always happy with the cheap shots I throw his way - and therefore described as "hard work". But I don't fight with anyone else - he says I am hard work but I didn't set off to be like that - just he won't do a fly past saying big fat sorry, I understand and will try harder. Just had a half successful evening cooking roast dinner - but when he started micro managing my gravy prep and interrupting funny story by querying my storing of leftover food I threw strop as it was him just taking back control and dulling down a light hearted convo.. V childish of me to strop as - cos I became unfriendly - so kids fled. It's DD's AS levels coming up and he is blaming me for making a crisis out of nothing, but going off on hols leaving me to soak it up with DS and own bad hip - was not nothing. I did do counselling after big ticket stuff which calmed me down but don't think it works unless both parties understand need to change - I calmed down and that was it - tho the protagonist he took no help at the time. In my case I am going back again for counselling but he thinks he may just need a tweak here or there and doesn't see the point in him seeing someone as I will just stay being hard work. Vvv hard to be better behaved during AS period - must try harder

Perhaps if DD ends up needing help too he will realise he is common denominator. Aaargh he was a good man and lovely when we married but has hardened up.

Other subtext - my most significant old v successful financially solvency but perhaps too doting single ex uni bf ( ie 20+ yrs of friendship and 5 of dating) telling me I can go stay for r n r no strings attached. Distraction. Greener grass. Am not adulterous by nature So no funny business and who'd want to take a 51 body to someone who last saw it at 23 ? - that's my dark humour btw - so no lectures please. But all the poetic bits of my life which are totally neglected in my home would get a chance to come out. Just venting here - but you can see my confusion - I just want to belt remorse and changed behaviour into hubby and that's a tall order in any circumstance- even without our background and my verbal heavy weight punches so am going to end post by childish frustration by saying bum, botty, poo, wee, potty cos it makes me smile and stops me wanting to let bad articulate unconstructive sentences out of my mouth into his ears. I do hope mums net posters see that sometimes we need to be able to treat it like a padded cell where you can say and fantasise about stuff - and that is itself is fantastic.
I did DH his website which grew his businesses enormously at 10% cost and provide all IT equipment and when I get really cross I threaten to remove it. This is really crass of me - as he feels threatened and I just say well that's what it felt like when he threatens me by being a neglectful plonker. Then his sense of feeling threatened blocks progress on any front.
Roll on 6th May counselling and I shall resist ex bf offer til end of AS levels ...
Today he helped our friend loads cos her hubby is getting a divorce and being a rat bag and she needs bucket load of help on finances and hubby put himself out whilst at same time feeling v uncomfortable that my help to her was enabling me to prep for self - it wasn't. So like everyone else he has better sides. My dentist says I grind my teeth - anyone else got that problem? :-) signing off with willy, bottom, poopoo, peepee and all those other naughty words kids want to say in order to vent. I have a picture in my head of grown women across the uk yelling out similar expletives as a way of releasing frustration. To paraphrase Dave Allen " Good night - and may your frustration release expletives go with you" :-)
Not expecting much response from this post - using it as a wAy to stay a bit sane and behaving for AS levels til counselling. Also getting bum massaged twice a week by physio - so bum and bumps getting sorted

AcrossthePond55 Mon 28-Apr-14 14:09:59

Rant away. It's good for the soul. But come back & read it when you've put your 'sanity hat' back on.

You & he are just at cross purposes & probably have been for years. You've probably rubbed along well enough but now both of you have been rubbed raw. And sounds as if neither of you really knows what to do about it. Counseling sounds great & if he won't go, go alone. right now you need to concentrate on yourself & figuring out what you want.

And I think you should avoid old BF like the plague. Not that you would cheat, but just that you don't need another complication/distraction in your life.

Chris2107 Mon 28-Apr-14 14:35:29

AcrossthePond55 - good advice on all fronts. Thank you. I send you one of my hugs that I have invented - here it is - (8) - the brackets are my arms and the 8 in the middle is the motherly boobs.

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