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Weird feeling about my friend's husband

(28 Posts)
thedogdaysareover Tue 07-Jun-16 13:52:06

I have deliberated about whether to post this for ages, and would appreciate some advice.

Some context. My friend and I have known each other since school, we are both mid 40's. When she got together with her now OH she had just got out of a long relationship (12 years) with a good guy but they were both stuck in a rut and decided to part. She then started sleeping with her now husband and it looked to me to be more of a sex thing than anything long-term. They don't seem to share many things in common. She's really into music and film and he is all about work. She got pregnant very quickly and had a daughter but I don't think she would have stayed with him if not for that. They have now been together for about 10 years. I found him boring but that was about all.

They had a second child and then about 8 years ago she told me she'd found some condoms in his wallet (they don't use them). I think it all got brushed under the carpet and then they got married. I don't think she's happy but she's the kind of person who doesn't talk much about her problems, as she wouldn't like to be thought of as someone who has any. She is quite opinionated about my life and relationships though, which kind of pisses me off sometimes because there is no to-and-fro. I think she's sold her soul for material objects personally, and now acts sort of superior because it looks on paper like she is happy, but I think she is in denial, but that is just my opinion. She seems kind of bitter generally and I am not sure how to broach this subject with her, if I should at all. She has friends where she lives, but not sure how close she is to anyone really.

It is about him and the way he plays with his daughter. I am not a parent myself and I have sometimes been told (not by her but by others) that I don't know what I am talking about and I shouldn't offer an opinion on parenting at all. I work around children though and I love children. I don't intend to have kids myself.

I have been round her house several times and when he plays with his daughter he tends to pin her down on the floor until she gets very distressed and wants to get up, but he laughs and won't let her. He pins her hands over her head and holds them down. I hate watching this, I think it's odd. My friend doesn't think it's odd, it goes without comment but I just don't feel like being around to see it, and I feel a bit hamstrung because if I commented it might cause a rift between me and my friend.

I don't like him, I feel weird about this. She always seems a bit on edge and the children are polite but don't seem very joyous.

I have been in a couple of emotionally abusive relationships myself, but because she is so hard to talk to I wouldn't know where to start, indeed even if I should, or even to assume that he is abusive to her. I care about her kids though, very much, but I am not close with them because we don't live near each other. I don't like seeing her daughter distressed like this though.

Does this strike you as weird or am I just being a bit para? I wouldn't even know where to start raising this with her. Feels like a minefield.

spanky2 Tue 07-Jun-16 13:59:03

He sounds odd. I'm not sure that pinning a child down means more than rough play. You can keep an eye on him but I don't think you have any evidence that he's a cheat or paedophile.

VestalVirgin Tue 07-Jun-16 14:06:42

It does strike me as weird.

Not the difference between your friend and her husband - there's lots of couples who seem to have nothing in common but are happy.

However, happy people tend to be nice to others. Her behaviour towards you might be her trying to convince herself that she is happy and her life is better than yours.

Does she ever imply that you might be in an abusive relationship? The only way I would dare approach this topic is ask her it'd be okay to turn up at her place and stay for a couple of weeks in case you need to get out of an abusive relationship. And then you can tell her that of course she is welcome to do the same at your place.

Telling people that they are in an abusive relationship rarely goes well, the recommended way is to extend a helping hand and wait until they realize what is going on.

Does she ever visit at your place with the children? Or do you live in a too small space for that?
(Seeing how she behaves away from her husband would be a hint as to whether the relationship is abusive, I think ...)

VestalVirgin Tue 07-Jun-16 14:08:33

I'm not sure that pinning a child down means more than rough play.

If the child doesn't want it, it's abusive. He may or may not do worse than that, but just his showing the child that he doesn't care what she wants is rather disturbing in and of itself.

Iflyaway Tue 07-Jun-16 14:13:25

This disturbs me too because she is being overpowered by someone who should be her protector.

Alanna1 Tue 07-Jun-16 14:14:32

I think it's abusive to pin a child down who doesn't want to be pinned down and has become distressed.

That's very, very different from tickling a child who runs away or is screeching stop whilst laughing. It isn't hard to tell when a child has had enough. You just stop.

ChicRock Tue 07-Jun-16 14:22:06

You think she's sold her soul, is unhappy, acts superior, is bitter and in denial and you think her husband is boring and they have nothing in common.

No I don't think I'd broach anything with her if I were you. I'm hardly surprised that she doesn't talk much about her problems to you and I honestly can't see why you're still in touch with her given that you seem to dislike her so much.

spanky2 Tue 07-Jun-16 14:28:57

I have a skewed perception of abuse as my mum was violent and volatile to me. She almost knocked my dad off his feet to get to me when I was a kid. I don't do wrestling with my dcs but thought that sort of thing was rough play.

thedogdaysareover Tue 07-Jun-16 14:40:36

He is definitely cheated, that is not in dispute, it just got forgiven. Whether this is just rough play or not it's hard to tell, yes, I agree with that. The child doesn't like it though.

I am not in an abusive relationship myself anymore.

ChicRock, she created the distance to be honest, she has given unsolicited advice to me about my own relationships, and I am keen not to do the same. But that is water under the bridge. I am simply pointing out that she is a bit spiky and why. That I care for her kids is a fact that goes beyond friendship.

thedogdaysareover Tue 07-Jun-16 14:46:00

And I have never even hinted that that's how I feel, so I find your comment very unhelpful.

ChicRock Tue 07-Jun-16 14:54:18

Perhaps the fact that 'she always seems a bit on edge' is more to do with spending time with you - believe me, your disapproval of her and her life/choices comes across loud and clear and she's probably picked up on something from you.

Not having a go, just something to think about.

Fwiw I do think pinning the child down is a really odd form of 'rough play' and not 'the norm' but I don't think you're the person to approach this with her and it's interesting that other people (who know you in real life) have told you that you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to parenting.

Thisisnow16 Tue 07-Jun-16 14:57:54

She could probably just do with a supportive friend hmm

thedogdaysareover Tue 07-Jun-16 15:06:23

On edge around him I meant. We've known each other 35 years, give me a break.

Forget it. Forget I ever asked. I'll just pretend she's fine. Perhaps you can go round there Chic, since you seem to know so much about her.

Yoksha Tue 07-Jun-16 16:59:24

thedogdaysareover.....I don't think ChickRock is goading you. From my understanding of her posts it seems to be she's trying to help you think more objectively about the situation. Your instinct is telling you something isn't quite right. Expanding your perspective might allow you to see something you're missing.

Artistic Tue 07-Jun-16 17:13:01

Your instincts are probably right. If my DH plays with my DDs and I get upset I make him stop. Even if DDs are not upset. So in this situation, I'd be asking my DH to not play with my DD as it looks distressing in every way possible. If your friend isn't then there are way too many things wrong in this picture. I think you should tactfully bring her attention to this matter but allow her to decide what she wants to do. She may brush you off, but if she's good to her children she might do something about it after you leave. Which is what you'd want anyways.

RiceCrispieTreats Tue 07-Jun-16 17:15:19

This disturbs me too because she is being overpowered by someone who should be her protector.

^ This.
Sadly I don't think there's anything actionable in it. Probably all you can do is be an empathetic and supportive presence in your friend and her children's lives.

SandyY2K Tue 07-Jun-16 17:20:05

I wouldn't allow my DH to do that to our kids.

Zaurak Tue 07-Jun-16 17:23:48

Ignore all the materialism stuff. That's irrelevant really.
You've got a gut feeling something is wrong with someone youve known a very long time - that's the relevant bit. I've had a couple of these in my life and I've not been wrong.

The question is what do you do about it? Can you talk to her? Next time you're there and he does it, I'd look him square in the eye and say something like 'she's not enjoying that. Why aren't you stopping?' And see his reaction.
Ultimately there's very little you can do other than keep up the lines of communication. Keep being her friend and try to talk to her.

April2013 Tue 07-Jun-16 18:46:39

I would speak to NSPCC anonymously first to get advice on the situation and then decide what to do, don't go on what mumsnet think - ask the professionals. I think if I saw that either before or after I became a parent my instincts would tell me something maybe wasn't right.

Thistly Sat 11-Jun-16 22:27:08

Sounds like they might need you at some point in the future. Even if it's unpleasant to be around, do keep in touch so that your friend knows she has someone to turn to.

How have you responded to heR comments about your relationship? I know I would probably react defensively, but it might disarm her I to being more open herself if you respond by being open and candid with her.

scallopsrgreat Sat 11-Jun-16 23:33:09

Reading about his daughter being pinned down and getting distressed I found quite disturbing. Your instincts are right. The fact he doesn't react to her distress is really not nice and not good.

He is crossing her boundaries and teaching her that her boundaries don't matter.

Agree with others about keeping the lines of communication open. She may not have previously opened up because she knows something is wrong and scared of the flood gates opening (so to speak).

chipmonkey Sun 12-Jun-16 12:15:53

I don't like the sound of the pinning down one bit. Very upsetting for the child.

coconutpie Sun 12-Jun-16 13:15:51

Pinning down any person when they clearly do not want to be pinned down is abusive. That poor child, how awful sad. You need to say it to your friend. His behaviour is not acceptable. That child is going to have major emotional issues if this abusive behaviour does not stop. He sounds disgusting.

coconutpie Sun 12-Jun-16 13:19:42

Also - just on the boundaries thing. Agree that he is teaching his daughter that boundaries do not matter and that it is acceptable for a man to pin down a woman against her will. And that just opens up a whole other form of abuse. If this happens in front of you, do you not say anything?

As usual, I'm going to zero in on the fact that she got pregnant unexpectedly and stayed with him because she was.

I think there's a lot more about this relationship that you haven't even seen. But, FTR, what you've seen is plenty.

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