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On the edge

(35 Posts)
Simmon Tue 13-Sep-11 10:03:26

We have two daughters, 4 and 7, now both at school.

I've growing concerns re my wife becoming increasingly fanatical about pretty much everything. There is nothing in our house/lifestyle that isn't a threat to our children. Mobile phones, wireless hubs, chopping boards, lip salve, dirty electricity (that's a long one to discuss), baby monitors, "the garden", leave in conditioner, dishwasher tablets, microwave ovens, barbeques....I could go on.

We've had some counselling over the issues that have driven us apart. Basically my wife has taken from it that I can't react to any of her behaviours just to keep her happy, however the behaviour is getting more extreme and I can't get her to see that it's out of hand and becoming detrimental to our children.

All our friends see how unrelaxed she is and find her hard work, her sister had a massive fall out on holiday as she couldn't cope. Her mum sits on the fence as she doesn't want to offend her. Her dad see's it all, but she doesn't listen to him.

My wife would love a third child, and treats our youngest as a child to hang to the baby element. In the climate that has been around for 7 years, I've never wanted a third child. I've put both of a children to bed around 5 times in 7 years as my wife always wants to do it and doesn't have any outside hobbies. She continues to lift our youngest at 1am to pee, but any discussions to try not lifting and moving on isn't heard.

I find it unfair on our youngest who is used to still be spoon/fork fed, warm milk morning and night. Her appetite is judged by mum not our daughter. Bribes and blackmail for ice-creams are regularly handed out, even though our daughter has said she's not hungry at least three times.
They are not obese children at all, but one of my concern is the lack of encouraging independence and the ongoing fears of the world v's her young children. There seems no perspective, and I've given up trying to discuss it as she can justify everything and turns it into an argument which ends with, if that's what keeps me happy leave me to it.
It is easier for me not be in the kitchen when she is cooking, preparing and feeding our children. Any raw meat is treated as nuclear waste. I love to cook for the children, but I've given up when my wife is around. I get two days a week of doing supper, bath and books which keeps me sane, but it's not enough. I'm told what to cook, when and for how long......I'm then the child.

If anyone can shed any light on what is normal I'd be grateful. She's changed so much in the last 10 years, I'm on my knees with it.

Regards Simmon

Angel786 Tue 13-Sep-11 10:22:25

Hi,

You're not being unreasonable. Sounds like there are some deep underlying issues which need to be brought to the surface. What happens in or after the. Counselling sessions?

I'm not sure I understood your first para, do you mean she is v over protective and doesn't allow those things? I wound if sth happened previously to make her so cautious, loss of a child or harm to a child perhaps?

You're well within your rights to want to spend time with the children! Could you try sending her out for a break at the weekend / evenings so you getvto spend even more time withtgem?

Deflatedballoonbelly Tue 13-Sep-11 10:24:36

I feel terribly for you, your children and most of all your wife.

She cannot be happy in any way. (something I never do but: x x )

MorningHasBroken Tue 13-Sep-11 10:25:30

Simmon, There's clearly a problem and I would think perhaps further counselling - but for your wife rather than both of you as a couple - might help? You sound very patient and kind, but you must be allowed to have a say in how your children are brought up.

Other people with much more experience and better advice will be along soon but didn't want you to feel that no one was going to answer.

squeakytoy Tue 13-Sep-11 10:27:39

Your wife needs to see her GP, preferably with you present too, so that you can start to address her issues.

Nobody is going to be happy living in this sort of situation, and eventually it will explode if it goes untreated.

Justonemoreglassthen Tue 13-Sep-11 10:36:21

Yes good luck Simmon, not going to be easy to get her to the gp I suspect but maybe you can instigate the help of her family to persuade her, either all at one or cumulatively.

Have you considered crushing up herbal calming pills and putting them in her tea? I do that to my DH when he's really stressed at work as he refuses to take them. They definitely calm him down a bit....

Cereal Tue 13-Sep-11 10:38:38

I am sorry to hear of this situation. Do you think your wife could be suffering from OCD? This is a real medical condition and there are treatments available, including medicines and talking therapies (not just general counselling but specifically tailored to treating the OCD). This could explain her fears of household objects, contamination from the garden/raw meat etc. If your wife has this condition it is not her fault and she needs reassurance and patience. You are doing the right thing in seeking help and I agree with squeakytoy that seeing the GP would be a good idea.

whattodoo Tue 13-Sep-11 10:44:51

Simmon, this sounds awful. Very unhealthy for all of you.

From my point of view, this behaviour is far from normal. All parents want to protect their children, but it is normal to also want them to develop, grow and thrive as independent people.

While I understand you must be exhausted with all of this, you can't let it continue (or escalate, even) as you risk damaging your children's well-being and development.

Is your youngest at school yet? Presume she is. Is there any way you could use this as leverage to your wife getting some help or advice? Although i take it that she doesn't see that she has a problem. Can you talk to someone at your children's school? Or a health visitor or your previous counsellor? Or go to your own GP (preferably hers).

Her family also need encouraging to see the bigger picture and the long-term implications. Are your family aware of the situation? Can they help?

DogsBestFriend Tue 13-Sep-11 10:47:22

"Have you considered crushing up herbal calming pills and putting them in her tea? I do that to my DH when he's really stressed at work as he refuses to take them."

Justonemore, in what parrallel universe is it acceptable to crush tablets, albeit only herbal ones, and administer them to a grown adult not only without their knowledge but against their expressed wishes? shock

Simmon, I'm sorry for what you're going through. I don't have the answers except to suggest that you encourage your DW to consult her GP. I think if I were in your shoes I'd be planning on taking my children and leaving, all credit to you for being stronger than I.

morelovetogive Tue 13-Sep-11 10:51:07

"Have you considered crushing up herbal calming pills and putting them in her tea? I do that to my DH when he's really stressed at work as he refuses to take them. They definitely calm him down a bit...."

Please don't do this, can you imagine what it would do to her existing anxieties to find out you had done this. Not to mention the ethics of giving anyone pills of any kind aginst their will or without their knowledge.

I agree that your wife needs help to deal with her anxieties. You also need her family to support you in this. For the sake of all of you things cannot continue as they are. You sound like a lovely husband to be so patient with her.

substantiallycompromised Tue 13-Sep-11 11:01:28

Hi Simmon. Agree with Cereal It sounds to me like your wife is ill with anxiety. She may need help from a licensed pyschologist or psychiatrist (and perhaps anti-anxiety medication).

Get thee to the gp!

I personally wouldn't involve the school behind her back as she would find that incredibly embarrassing/demeaning. Hard though it is, any step towards treatment has to come from her.

She cannot be happy being as anxious as she is - perhaps you could try that tack ie you seem so stressed and anxious - I'm worried about you and the effects on the dc - shall we make an appt etc etc???

shock at Justonemoreglassthen

helpmenow Tue 13-Sep-11 11:09:26

Simmon, does she drink?

I'm a recovering alcoholic, but years before my drinking got out of hand and I was drinking 'normally' I had paralysing anxiety around my childrens' safety.

I was convinced they would not be there at school collection point, and even went mid day to collect my daughter from a club where I was convinced she was not safe. I never slept through the night and was unbareable to be around as I had to do everything for my DCs and predict every danger at all times.

As I say I was not drinkinfg alcoholically at the time, but the drinking exacerbated by anxiety, then seemed to alleviate it. It became a real chicken and egg situation and I became round the clock drinker to 'cope'.

I tell you this for 2 reasons;
1) If she is already using alcohol as a crutch be aware.
2)If she's not don't be tempted to top her up- I was encouraged to drink by my Dr as a short term relaxant.

Apologies if this is irrelevant.

FilthyDirtyHeathen Tue 13-Sep-11 11:22:07

I second going to the GP because this does sound like obsessive behaviour born from anxiety. Take a look at the MIND website for some useful info on anxiety disorders. Also, Anxiety UK run a helpline, you might be able to call them and ask for advice on how to get through to her that she needs help and the situation is not healthy for any of you. The poor woman must be frazzled with all of the worry as you must be too. You sound like a good person though and I wish you the strength to get through this.

Jamillalliamilli Tue 13-Sep-11 11:39:55

YANBU if things are as you see them.
She clearly has something going on that's almost certainly beyond her control, and she's probably not choosing to be like this, how ever hard she's justifying it.

If it's wrecking the relationship then you definitely need to seek help and hopefully people will put more sources of it up.
To me it sounds like as well as high anxiety, she's living through her children?

Parentline (0808 800 2222) might be able to help you draw up lines of what is 'normal' parenting or not.

I understand the annoyance about your daughter being disturbed at 1am, but do you think she can carry on doing this as she progresses to yr 1 etc? I guess I'm suggesting you pick your battles carefully, and I'd think that increasing time with them, and not being 'supervised' might be a more important one from the children’s point of view and bringing a balance to things.

Re the 'dirty electricity' I have a friend who's got theories on what electricity is doing to our children and can drive a saint wild with her rantings at all opportunities. (I accept she may even turn out to be right, but I have to bring up my children in this world, not the one that might or might not be better for them) Just wanted you to know that what may seem too bizarre and beyond explanation, may not come as a surprise to others who've been on the receiving end of ‘stuff’.

Justonemore you're so far out of order. How would you feel if you found your partner was drugging you against your will and express wishes because you wouldn’t do what he said?

substantiallycompromised Tue 13-Sep-11 12:11:18

High anxiety is also a symptom of post-natal depression:

see here

CocoPopsAddict Tue 13-Sep-11 14:14:01

Hi Simmon,

Perhaps she has invested so much of her identity in looking after your daughters when they were babies, that now she doesn't know what to do with herself, so is clinging on to your younger daughter as though she is still a baby.

Does she work outside of the home at all? Or have any other interests that don't involve your daughters?

Simmon Fri 16-Sep-11 11:32:06

Thanks very much to all responders. To answer clarify some of the questions:

The list are things my wife has a fear of, or a reason to think they will harm or have harmed our children (private healthcare for our two has been taken out in case of brain cancer caused by baby monitors being kept too close for two years).
No to being an alcoholic (unwinds with wine after work, evenings, not much more than 2 glasses). Asleep on sofa most evenings by 9.30 till 1 am ish. Won't come to bed to get full night sleep. It helps in her routine in lifting our youngest before she comes to our bed.
The drugging thing won't/can't happen!
My wife works 2 and a half days a week. (intelligent - double first from OxBridge, responsible, busy, well respected and good at her job)
There's been an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarraige from an unexpected preganancy. One ending in surgery the other miscarriage (this I think is most of the underlying problem).
After the counselling our relationship did improve, but I realise that is because I'm compromising, not my wife. She continues in not being able to relax around the children or allowing our daughters to be independent, especially at meal times.
My wife has no outside interests/hobbies (which is a big issue for me). She justify's not doing anything by saying she wants to do things as a family.
Ocassionally she goes out with some girl firends for a drink. But never until she's put our youngest to bed. The routine is so particular that apparantly I ruin it and it ends in tears. The time i have with the girls is when my wife is working and for 2 hours on a saturday morning. I can't pack my wife off to do anything independently (not even a girly weekend away....her idea of hell).

I feel we have no joint goals in how to do anything with the children. Just my wife's way. I feel that I live in her world, I'm on the periphery.
All that said, we have two very beautiful intelligent and loving children.

I've tried to see it as "our" problem, but the denial my wife has, has stopped "us" from getting to the root of the problem/anxiety.

She see's my challenging her as bullying, which is a very powerful way of getting me to keep quiet and her behaviour to continue. This in turn makes her believe that everything in our relationship is my problem and not hers. My not challenging has allowed other behaviours to get worse. It is changing my behaviour into being deceitful. For example, my youngest has got chapped lips. My wife's method is salt water. Mine is lip salve (banned due to being a potential carcinogenic). I took my daughter to school and left the lip salve (hidden in my car) with her as I'm picking her up tonight. I will have to remove it before my wife comes home.
Is that right to have to do that? Am I wrong to do that if it is against her wishes? Is lip salve poison?
As for having to clear our sewer drains.......(she can never find out!)

I'm now turning into an advocate to my children. If I don't agree with my wife's behaviour (force feeding/bribing our children to finish their plate despite over portioned/full etc) I politely step in, which ends in animosity.
Having to have a full cup of milk after a big breakfast, evening meal before bed seems impossible if we were adults, but acceptable for our children.
My eldest hates Innocent Smoothies, however she is forced to drink them as they are deemed the super food (antioxidents, one a day etc). There seems to be no perspective or acceptance of the balanced view I'm trying to take.

The only solution I can see is getting to the GP. But how do I do that????

By speaking to her GP behind her back could be seen as betrayal.

She can manipulate any behaviour to justify what she's doing.

I have lost the ability to communicate as I just feel I get a brick wall response back.

Thanks for listening.

notherdaynotherdollar Fri 16-Sep-11 11:39:58

OP your wife sounds like your average MNer lol

birdofparadise Fri 16-Sep-11 11:50:39

So the nub of this is that you feel your wife is overprotective. Can I delicately ask whether you are a little bit reckless? Do you leave dishwasher tablets open and accessible, knives balanced on edges of surfaces, the BBQ unattended? Everything you have listed that she worries about is indeed a potential hazard (although the lip salve might be a bit extreme). What is odd is for it to become an issue between parents. I am only wondering because your DW might be less obsessive if she thought you could handle responsibility too and perhaps her outbursts stem from you being (in some way) irresponsible. Just a thought...and probably completely wrong!

My other thought is along the lines you have hinted at - your DW needs to have something else to focus on. If not work, then some hobby. Exercise is generally very relaxing.

fit2drop Fri 16-Sep-11 11:58:38

Simmon
You sound like a kind and caring if not perplexed and worried partner and father.
Print off your posts here and take them to the GP. Not with your wife, but for yourself for advice on where and who to go to next.
Do not do this behind your wife's back , tell her what you are doing and why, but don't negotiate it.
Your wife is showing quite a number of paranoid behaviours and definitely elements of ocd, you are right, by not challenging her you are in fact enabling her to continue.This is not healthy, you know its not healthy and if it was anything else other than a mental health issue I feel you would demand she sees a doctor
This is not fair on any of you, your wife is probably deeply unhappy / stressed with all the rituals and fears she is displaying .
Someone needs to take control of this situation now in a healthy and proper way and you will need support from health services and possibly / hopefully her family too.

Just one question , does she display any of these behaviours at work re "the dirty electricity" etc or are the behaviours purely around the children?

StickyGhost Fri 16-Sep-11 12:53:35

This sounds like a very hard situation to know how to tackle, and like there are going to be negative impacts/conflict whatever you decide to do. But I think it's very clear that something has to change as none of u can go on living like this. U are clearly very unhappy, it'll be having some kind of impact of ur children, and I can't imagine ur wife will be happy with all the stress she is putting herself under.
As drastic as it sounds I think u need a major intervention and taking the softly softly approach is not enough; it hasn't really worked so far has it? I feel very sorry for ur wife and she seems to have a lot of issues she needs help with, but she obviously has no insight into her own behaviour. Would u consider being firm with her, getting ur own feelings out into the open and make her get some help or make some changes? I don't know if this is appropriate or what u want to do, but personally I think u need to stand up to her and not feed into her behaviour.

Proudnscary Fri 16-Sep-11 12:57:35

This is really hard for you, no wonder you are struggling. Obvious question and apols if you've addressed it and I've not seen - have you told her all this? Have you explained how pushed out and frustrated and concerned you are?

Could you show her this thread?

This needs assessing by a professional. From what infromation you've given, your wife sounds quite unwell. I think you need to stop compromising and giving in for a quiet life and start challenging things like force feeding the children.

DeWe Fri 16-Sep-11 13:17:40

Try vaseline for the lips. :-) That may be okay.
Doesn't she worry about the salt content in using salt water? My point there (I'm not suggesting you add that to her worries) is that she's obviously getting het up about some things and not noticing others. With my pfb I was het up about salt intake. grin

I'd try talking to the GP. They may be able to suggest some things to help.

I think the point bird makes is a valid one for you to consider. Sometimes dh thinks I'm fussy, I sometimes think he's careless. It may well be that you're not, and she certainly seems over controlling anyway, but making sure that you're not gently winding her up because "it doesn't matter" may make things worse.

I'd think that you need to get this sorted sooner rather than later because at some point the children are going to want to get independence and express their need forcibly. She is going to find this very distressing and worrying unless she can get help.

Good luck with all.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Fri 16-Sep-11 14:55:02

I agree with Cereal; from what you've said, your wife is displaying symptoms of OCD which can only be alleviated by therapy.

While her anxieties may be related to the ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, it is significant that they began 7 years ago which would seem to coincide with the birth of your first dd.

Being highly intelligent can be a curse; unless the personality is well-rounded and well-grounded there can be a lack of emotional empathy which, coupled with disproportionate self-belief, can lead to the individual becoming overly controlling and 'always right'.

Living with such an individual can be likened to a walk in a mine-field and, as such, can cause mental fatigue - please do not neglect your own equilibrium while you pick your way through what is harmless and what is harmful to others.

You've said that your attempts to challenge her behaviour turns into an argument which ends with, if that's what keeps me happy leave me to it. Given that her excessively controlling behaviour is negatively impacting on the wellbeing of yourself and your dds, and has been observed by others in your/her wider family, it is no longer appropriate for you to regard this matter as 'our' problem.

Your attempts to persuade your wife that her behaviour is detrimental to the welfare of your dds have been unsuccessful and, as her issues can only be resolved through therapy, it is now time for you to become more proactive.

In the first instance I would suggest that you make one more attempt to discuss your wife's 'eccentricities' with her and, if she remains unwilling to consider that there is a problem, inform her that you intend to do whatever it takes bring about a more relaxed way of life for all of you.

The stark fact is that unless she is willing to concede that she needs help, or agrees to participate in therapy, you will be powerless to compel her.

It may be that you will have to consider presenting your reasonable expectations as a dealbreaker by telling her that, unless matters improve, your marriage cannot continue and that if divorce ensues, you will seek custody of your dds because of her unreasonable behaviour.

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