Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Am I mad to consider leaving DH at 12 weeks pregnant with DC2?(38 Posts)
Ok, my first down and dirty personal thread here.
As per title, am currently 12 wks with dc2. Dc1 is 3.5.
Sorry, all this is long, but relevant to my question, so I've tried to condense.
Both DH and I are survivors of toxic families. Both of us have one parent who is a fairly extreme narc. As a result, our behaviours and boundaries in certain areas are not as healthy as I think they could be. I am in the process of going NC with my narc parent, DH went NC with his just after Dc1 was born.
We have always had a tricky relationship, but this has been much more so since dc1 was born. DH's upbringing was very abusive and neglectful, and his parents separated when he was young. His toxic parent then proceeded to totally trash the other one in front of DH, impede access of other parent to their children (DH and siblings), withhold maintenance and generally play silly buggers. DH has an OK relationship with other parent, but poor communication between them.
DH has extremely poor communication skills, low empathy, and almost no conflict resolution skills. He cannot really do closeness or intimacy, and our sex life is very strained. He is classic avoidant, unless given no option but to confront, when he switches to classic DARVO (deny, accuse, reverse victim and offender) tactics. He dismisses an awful lot of what I say and feel, however big or small, without stopping to think about it. He can be appallingly callous and it can take years for him to retain information that matters to me - even down to the mundane, eg what food I like. He is extremely judgemental and blames me frequently for my feelings. He provides very little emotional support and this has been very hard won and after much argument, pleading and explanations from me. He does provide excellent financial and practical support (finally!) and is doing more than his 50% of the domestic stuff at the moment.
I feel as though he is mirroring the behaviours of his toxic parent in our relationship, and that this is causing me to mirror some of those from my childhood and upbringing. He particularly undermines me in front of our (very observant, sensitive) dc1. What has prompted this post are a few recent incidents where if I object to how he treats me in front of our dc, dc has started telling me to leave DH alone, or similar. Naturally Dc is hearing my upset tone and picking up on his blame of me for the situation, but is not old enough to really understand why I might have reasonable grounds for being upset. He will also undermine boundaries I'm trying to set with dc and even if we agree on how to handle things, he will go back or change his plan. He is deeply uncomfortable with any strong emotions, especially anger, and pacifies and gives in to our dc's tantrums far more than I do. If I am angry or upset he will blame me or avoid me, which makes me more upset.
I feel generally as though I'm being constantly positioned as the bad cop with our dc, who (while extremely emotional and demanding in this respect) I am very close to and adore. This makes me feel frightened as I fear it is starting to damage my relationship with DC, who plays us off against each other. If I on a rare occasion get cross with DC, DH swoops in and acts as though I have done something terrible (sometimes without stopping to check what the situation actually is), and DC I know notices this and blames me too. I have a temper when pushed (violence is my trigger especially, and DC is being very violent at the moment) but I work really hard to govern this and I rarely lose my temper with DC and shout. I have had to restrain them as they are very strong and can really hurt me. DH has backed me up about half the time, but the remaining half will make his judgement and criticism of me very clear, in front of DC.
DH sought counselling a few months back after years of requests from me, but I gather it focused more on his childhood than how his behaviour is affecting us now as a couple. He isn't going currently and doesn't plan to return.
I'm used to feeling unvalued, judged and distant from him, but I value my relationship with my DC too highly to watch him damage it like this. I think I've done all I can but he will never trust me or give me the benefit of the doubt, and he doesn't seem capable of parenting as a team. I'm seriously considering leaving. Is this possible and sensible to do in this situation and pregnant? My DC absolutely adores him. He may be right - and she would be better off with him?
Apologies for length, thanks for reading.
Sorry, I can't really advise at the moment, but I do think it is not good that he is undermining your parenting so much.
You don't sound very well matched and he's not a great support - this probably won't change - you know what's happening isn't what you need . It can be wearing being wrong all the time judged etc and it makes you shut down rather than be open - trying to make conversation can be difficult let alone parent
Could you cope alone? Would you be happier? I think if ask him to leave and give you some space for a few weeks
Thanks for the replies.
You're right Sally, it has taken a toll on my mental and physical health. I'm having treatment for anxiety and get panic attacks which are mostly triggered by his judging me.
He isn't willing to address any problems between us. His solution is to wait for it all to blow over. He is also incredibly defensive and our DC is starting to copy this behaviour too.
I think i would be less stressed alone, but given my health at the moment I am worried about coping with the practical stuff. I work almost full time and we have no family support.
It sounds exhausting but I would think many times before leaving when you have just broken off contact with a parent. That's a huge deal. Then you also have the full small child/ pregnant years which are so tiring it's hard to see straight.
I agree that conflict in front of the dc is bad news. I would start by just getting the conflict level down even if it means picking your battles with the dc. If you are feeling less undermined your positive feelings for your dh might have a chance to revive - you married him once, you must have liked him!
Also maybe tease a bit more - if he sweeps in, announce 'its superdad ready to rescue the princess from the evil mummy' etc
Yes I think you should leave him.
I read through your post trying to find something salvageable about the relationship.
But I think he is causing you a lot of damage.
Unless he is willing to go to joint counselling and work very hard on himself and his behaviour, there is no chance he will improve. Even then, it might be too late, given the way he's treated you for years.
I honestly think you'd be happier alone and might even be more effective co-parents if you separate.
Not sure what to say here. Are you a qualified psychologist? why so much jargon? I think you are overanalysing things from your own perspective. At this rate you will be living on your own bringing up violent[sceptical] dc.
I read that trying to work out why on earth you even dated him, let alone married and had not one but now two children with him
However sympathetic or understanding you might be of how he ended up like this, he just sounds like an awful person to be around.
You worth how you'll cope without him, but reading that from the outside I think that ANYTHING hard about being single is going to be easier than being WITH him.
From a lay external perspective I'm struggling to see why you are with him at all. You seem to be very aware of the damage your upbringing caused and very careful not to impose that on your DC - he seems to be the opposite, a damaged adult handing his damage on down the family tree, blind to the consequences.
It's always easy to say 'leave him' but I've been there and know how hard it is to do. But I also know the long-term damage that can be caused to children when their parents adopt very different parenting styles and undermine each other to the children on a day to day basis.
Op I think that of you left him your mental health would be a lot better.
He has internalized his parents behaviour and is unlikely to change unless he has quite a long time in psycodynamic therapy.
What can you do? You need to start looking into your options, housing, money, work, childcare etc. It may also be helpful for you to have your own therapy, your gp or hv should be able to refer you.
You will need to look at your support network, do you have anyone irl that you can talk to?
What ever you decide, it will help you to know what your options are.
Anandale, yes I do like him in many ways! Just trying to keep my post as short as possible really. We get on very well in the superficial stuff, and are a great team on the practical stuff (money, domestic stuff etc). He's just terrible at the emotional side. Thanks for the teasing suggestion, I'll try that. Also agree I'm feeling very battered by my NC situation, and generally not at my most positive frame of mind due to small child / pregnancy, so that might explain why my post is emphasising the negatives.
Newworld, of course it's from my perspective - it would be impossible for it not to be . I'm not a qualified psychologist but have spent a reasonable amount of time on the relationships board and stately homes thread especially recently, trying to make sense of my family dynamics, so that's the reason for the short hand. If the language I've used is a problem for you then no need to reply.
Cabrina, purple, odfod- thanks for the replies. Agree it doesn't seem on the face of it a great decision to have married him or had children with him. I was taking him at his word really that he would try, that he loves me (and I think he does really, but just has no idea what loving behaviour looks like). After many years of training in appeasing and putting up with behaviour that's not helpful for me, I suppose this felt "normal" for me, to keep making the effort and trying even when it wasn't good for me. It's really only been in the last couple of years I've realised my own issues and have started to see how my choices have been affected by my upbringing.
I have started CBT and will look into counselling / therapy as well. I have some support irl but mainly from my family, who as you can imagine, don't have the healthiest views of relationships themselves and haven't been 100% supportive / helpful in the past (eg my DM told me I needed to work harder to understand why DH was being horrible to me).
I have tried to address the conflict in front of DC and will do so again and see how it goes.
NewEmma, sorry, didn't mean to ignore your post. I am starting to feel exactly that, that we would be more effective co parenting if we separated. I will try and talk to him about that later.
Things sound very hard. I actually posted a similar post, though not with quite the same issues, at around the same stage in pregnancy 2. We are still together.
First thing I would say that should be immediately fixable is undermining in front of dc. A simple code word from either of you can let the other know they don't agree and will talk later about it. I know I do 'side with' my ds at times because I really disagree with OH's decision-usually an impulsive one and at odds with our way-and he hates it. I try but like you my DC and how they are brought up/spoken to is so important. So that's just devil's advocate on that, although I can see it's different and you are being calm but firm which is different.
You articulate some real concerns here and I admire your ability to analyse and reflect on what would be the best outcome for you and your children. I think you know what you have to do. You can't subject your children to a similar experience and you can't subject yourself to any more emotional torture.
Hi mikado, sorry you've been in a similar position. I hope things are better for you now.
I've not tried the code word yet but getting him to discuss it post- incident can be really hard work. I'll put that to him and see if he gets it (worth another try!). I've spoken to him before about how we can handle these situations better but as with most other things, he agrees at the time and then reverts back to his standard behaviour.
That's exactly what I'm aiming for: fair but firm and trying not to make DC "bad" for feeling angry / frustrated. I feel a fair bit of the frustration is stemming from lack of consistency between us. DC is noticeably easier to handle on my own ( DH works away quite a bit).
Thanks Pallas. Yes I think all the analysis is an upshot of the difficult relationships and the stage I've been at trying to work it out! Also I can't really talk to anyone about it so I've tended to try and help myself by reading as much as possible to try and work out what to do.
I do think the writing is on the wall, yes. I'm not the parent I'd like to be while my energy is being drained by all this hassle with DH.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
Perhaps you should separate as a temporary thing with a view to honestly seeing if that is better for all of you?
If parenting together is being damaging then the writing is on the wall?
Time apart may make him realise that he needs to implement change in order for you to work as a family unit and it be healthy?
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
Ok, whether you are together or apart, it might be good to have a conversation about what sort of future you want for your DC? Does he envisage a world where everything will revolve around them and people will overlook bad behaviour, or does he want his children to be well socialised with good boundaries, for example?
Sometimes people are so busy reacting to situations as they arise, they lose sight of their long-term child-rearing goals. Together or apart, it would be best if you were both on roughly the same page.
Thanks Atenco, yes, I'll give that a try too. I actually think we are on a similar page in terms of the goals. DH just reverts to whatever is easier for him in the heat of the moment, which is essentially to leave the bits he finds hard (dealing with tantrums, laying down boundaries) to someone else, ie, me. The blame he then directs at me for doing it doesn't appear to be a contradiction.
Just had a conversation with him earlier about it being not his problem to resolve this and talk about it, as he's already tried, apparently. So he's off out tonight as its all my fault and he doesn't need to fix it...
The more you post the more I think you should end this relationship sooner rather than later.
I think he's learned some abusive behaviours, and if he refuses to accept any responsibility, blaming you instead, that makes him just as bad as the abuser(s) he learned from.
You don't deserve this shit. No one does. And you sound lovely. Kind, reasonable, emotionally intelligent. You would be happier without him. You might even meet someone who treats you the way you deserve.
I'm struggling to imagine why you're bothering with him? He sounds really, unusually awful.
Why did you decide to have another child with him? It must be torture being married to him..?
My ex sounds a bit like him, but not nearly as bad. And I left. I can't really imagine a reason to stay? He doesn't sound capable of the most basic relationship skills, and is actively destructive in some ways. You'd quite literally be better off without him.
Oh god yes, get out.
Your DD is 3.5 years, already picking up this terribly toxic atmosphere, never mind what it's doing to you. And now you have another one on the way who will come into this too.
You owe it to the 3 of you - 4 of you if you include DH, for he will be confronted with the fact he, like pp said, needs some serious therapy and stick to it, maybe this will give him the impetus.
I'm a LP since the beginning, my son is an adult now. It was the hardest thing to do but oh so worth it to avoid a similar situation that you are in. I was no way going to repeat the pattern into the next generation.
Wishing you lots of strength!
Join the discussion
Please login first.