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How can I help my DM cope with DF?

(14 Posts)
NoClueWhatToDo Wed 07-Jan-15 20:39:20

Oh my, I just have no idea where to start.

DParents have been married 50 years. Always argued but this is due to my DM being a bit shouty and DF being a bit irritating. No history of EA or domestic violence. Very traditional roles within their marriage.

DF has always been a bit of a hypochondriac, but has suffered with severe depressive episodes and I think when not depressed his anxiety tends to focus on his health. DM is a carry on whilst she loses a leg sort so his illnesses tend not to garner much sympathy. And tbh there is usually little wrong with him. The depression is well managed on the whole.

Over recent years they seem to have been leading increasingly separate lives, and not particularly enjoying each others company. They live together, and continue in their marriage "roles" but my DM has become more and more frustrated with the lack interaction with DF. He says tell me what to do and I'll do it, she thinks he doesn't care. He does but can be quite self absorbed - however will help anyone if they ask.

DF has currently had a growth discovered in his lung and is suffering terrible back problems - consultant doesn't think the two are related, we are waiting to find out if it is cancer. If it is they have caught it early although clearly a very worrying time.

DM has completely gone to pieces. She can't cope with him being ill, and says she has had to worry about him for years with his non existent illnesses, she can't cope with another one.

She is swinging between sobbing that she can't cope with out him, and then that she wants to leave him! She was so insistent today that I said I would support her and him if they wanted to separate, but she backed down and said she didn't.

She is on at my DF constantly asking him how he is feeling, he is getting pissed off with the continued questioning and then they argue. She can't stop moaning about how he can't do this or hasn't done that. Then she tells me today that her and DF haven't slept together for 25 years shock and that she is lonely, and they have only stayed together for the kids.

I just don't know what to do sad. I can support DF quite well I think, I have not a clue how to support DM. I don't want to hear constant criticism of my DF but she has no where else to offload. If I stick up for him she gets upset saying she is letting him down.

Shit, that's virtually a book and I haven't even really said anything blush. If anyone has any ideas on what I can do to try and make things better for her I would be so happy to hear them. My ideas thus far to mention to her are a local knitting club and gransnet.

middleeasternpromise Thu 08-Jan-15 00:18:13

I doubt there is much you can do as you are a close family member and this sounds like a case of cant live with and cant live without. I had parents with a similar relationship, mother never happy but what ever was suggested she didn't want to change things but it was always my dads fault. For a long time I was caught up in her view point as DF could be selfish and annoying but TBF he was always consistent - I gradually came to see that DM was unhappy with her life but wasn't prepared to change it, glass half empty type - when DF got seriously ill suddenly she couldn't cope it was dreadful and practically gave up. I had to learn I cant change them they have to do that for themselves very hard but I am determined not to live my life like that and if I do I will try not to moan incessantly to my kids about my choices - good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 08-Jan-15 09:31:44

"I don't want to hear constant criticism of my DF but she has no where else to offload. If I stick up for him she gets upset saying she is letting him down."

I think it's desperately unfair of parents to try to get children - any age - to take sides. She's been married to him for 50 years, she's had opportunities to make different choices and she has gone for a path that has led her to this point. I have similar parents. They don't get along and now they are old and infirm, they are both dependent in different ways on someone they can't stand! (Yet another big black mark against the ridiculous idea of 'staying together for the children'....)

So I think you say that you love them both and are happy to do what you can, but that you do not want to get involved in their marriage and you cannot take sides. If she is depressed about her situation, suggest she talks to a GP. If she has no-one to talk to, suggest she becomes more sociable. Deal with this issues.... stand up to the whining.

Vivacia Thu 08-Jan-15 09:44:41

I don't think that there's much you can or should do, apart from telling your mum firmly that you don't want to hear her bad mouthing your father.

NoClueWhatToDo Thu 08-Jan-15 09:46:19

Thank you both, it's lovely to hear someone else's perspective. I veer between being cross at my dad and cross at my mum depending on who is moaning about who.

Cogito you are completely right, DM has made her choices and perhaps as they got together very young I also think they don't value what they have in many ways - how many nasty relationships there are out there. And theirs isn't nasty, more grumpy smile

It's a relief, although sad for those involved, to know that there are other people with parents like this.

Middle could I ask what happened when your DF was ill, did your DM rally round or did you end up taking the weight? Our parents do sound very similar. I am happy to take the weight of DF being ill, if DM lays off with the moaning. I can't cope with both though I don't think.

GoatsDoRoam Thu 08-Jan-15 09:56:31

I can support DF quite well I think, I have not a clue how to support DM. I don't want to hear constant criticism of my DF but she has no where else to offload.

Keep doing what you're doing for your DF, and listen to your Mom's worries, but when she starts badmouthing your father cut her off by saying: "I don't want to hear it." You're allowed.

Weathervain Thu 08-Jan-15 10:04:07

I think you are hearing from your DM her fear for her DH sad

With such a long marriage they are almost one unit and the though of him really being ill is too much for her.

Not sure what you can do except understand how she feels and help out where you can.

NoClueWhatToDo Thu 08-Jan-15 10:12:20

The thing is I do understand why she moans about DF, I'd kill him if I lived with him smile but it has gone up several notches since the illness.

You are right Weather she just can't cope with the thought of anything happening to him, it's like she is blaming him I think for not being well. And trying to nag him back to fitness, an interesting technique but not one that has much success.

It's such a relief to talk to someone other than DH, who is very sympathetic but has no idea what to do either.

Maybe I should distance myself a bit, and just listen and almost ignore the content of what my DM is saying, while still supporting them.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 08-Jan-15 10:20:48

Listening is fine but you have to draw the line at dumping.... Dumping is not fair, not constructive and, if you ignore it, then it'll carry on and get worse.

My DM has been 'confiding' in me what a terrible man my father is since I was 10 yo. He's not a person but he is not a terrible person either. Being 10yo I had no choice but to suck it up so the pattern was established. 40 years later he's her carer (she has dementia) and, even though I now cut her short, she still hasn't a good word to say about him.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 08-Jan-15 10:21:20

not a 'perfect' person... that should have said.

NoClueWhatToDo Thu 08-Jan-15 19:08:40

I'm sorry you've had that experience Cogito I am sure that's painful to hear even if not true, or perhaps particularly if not true. At least DM does intersperse her moaning with positives about DF.

I have taken your advice and told her I'm not listening to it today. It's helped that he has been more with it now he is off some of his drugs, but it does seem that she has been a bit more positive. Maybe by letting her moan I am sort of helping her perpetuate a downward spiral. I'll continue with the geeing up and closing down the negatives and see if I can raise her spirits a bit.

paxtecum Fri 09-Jan-15 05:09:08

You have great sympathy from me.
My Mum off loaded her frustrations about my DF everytime I saw her, which was at least twice a week. This continued after he died.
It drove me mad listening to her stories that got more embellished as time went on.
My siblings, who visited her occasionally would just tell her that they didn't want to hear it so she would talk about other things.

I suggested she went to counselling, but she only went once because she didn't 'everyone' knowing her business!

I wish I'd been brave and told her to stop it.

I hope she takes notice of you today. It will make you visits to them so much less stressful.

NoClueWhatToDo Fri 09-Jan-15 07:53:27

Thank you paxtecum fingers crossed she does

middleeasternpromise Sat 10-Jan-15 14:22:53

Sorry for delay NoClue in replying, sadly when my dad became ill my mother realised her life as she knew it was coming to an end, she couldn't cope and relied heavily on me. I had to upsticks for a few months and move in with her - sadly father died. She turned the resentment that she used to hold against him to life in general - its not fair; what's the point; cant be bothered. She neglected her own health and I had to bring her to live with me (trust me the decision was a hard one) I was going through a difficult divorce at the time it was all very difficult - the up shot was she died prematurely - it would have been romantic swan story but for what I knew - the sad fact was she never got to be happy because of her own demons; they both did not get the life they wanted because they couldn't take responsibility for making choices or not making them. I feel at peace with what I have had to do and determined to learn from their mistakes (they say you cant do that but I would rather learn from others than repeat the cycle) I wish you well with it.

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