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My parents had a really messed up marriage

(8 Posts)
TheHotstepper Tue 18-Oct-16 16:29:02

I don't know why but I've been thinking a lot about my parents marriage recently, and realising just how messed up it was.

They seemed to hate each other, and enjoy hating each other. They argued in front of us children quite regularly, including on occasion throwing things at each other. My mum seemed to have no respect for my dad whatsoever, and my dad just bumbled through it. I think she may have asked for a separation at some point, but for whatever reason it didn't happen.

I'm pretty certain my mum cheated on him at least once, with one of my teachers. I kind of turned a blind eye to it, but several people at my school saw them kissing at a school event. Why would a parent do that to their child somewhere like that?

My dad once announced to me that they'd split up and that it was my fault. Obviously I logically know that a child is never to blame for a relationship ending, but I cannot for the life of me think of even one tiny thing that might have caused him to say this.

They stayed together though, and my mum was very upset when he died. But it was a very strange and messed up relationship.

I've no idea why I'm thinking about this now. I'm married, and I have young children. I'd class us as happy on the whole, but we have had a few problems recently. Just silly snappy arguments more frequently than usual. It doesn't seriously worry me as we've both had a bit of a stressful time lately and we're both absolutely exhausted. It doesn't concern me - we've head the occasional ropey patch before, and I know we love each other even when we're being snappy.

But do the relationships we see growing up affect us in adulthood? In my 20s I was desperate to be in a relationship and be in love. Ended up in several pointless ones. Id say I've had two successful relationships, one of which is the one I'm in. But if the rot set in for my parents, could it for us? When did my mum stop respecting my dad? When did he give up caring? And when did they forget that they were setting a terrible example to their children? I always try to not be critical or snappy or say nasty things in front of my children, and neither of us have.

Just a musing really. Do we follow the example we're set? Could I be sleepwalking into the miserably family life they had?

happystory Tue 18-Oct-16 16:39:45

That was a dreadful thing for your father to say to you. Theirs does sound a messed up marriage and a terrible example to you. I can only speak for myself (parents equally messed up marriage that included alcohol and violence) - somehow I think they thought that because we weren't directly affected , it didn't matter. It did, my brother and I were just very good at hiding how much it mattered.

But...l hope it will be a consolation to you that I have been married once, to the same man now for over 30 years. It wasn't easy in the early days but I think I subconsciously 'chose' a man who I knew would be reliable and there for me whatever. You are not predetermined to make the same mistakes.

TheHotstepper Tue 18-Oct-16 16:54:21

Good to know there's somebody who didn't repeat their parents mistakes! Yes, I think maybe subconsciously I was looking for somebody reliable, respectful, and I'm certain that's what I've got. Sometimes when we're being a bit off with each other I do mentally remind myself of what I do have. And I occasionally worry that I'll be like my mother and for some reason start disrespecting him. I don't know why though, I've never once contemplated ending the marriage or anything like that.

I think the big difference is that I'm not trapped. My mum chose a job over a university place, and she met my dad at that job, married and had children quite quickly. I get the impression she regretted not taking up that university place. I went to university twice, have had a succession of reasonably good jobs and married and started my family later. Maybe that was my subconscious protecting me from making what she considered to be her mistakes.

Relationships are strange and weird things. No idea why im thinking about this now, I haven't done in years. Not since I was living there, and that was more than half my life ago.

Lottapianos Tue 18-Oct-16 17:03:47

OP, I have had similar doubts. My parents had a very messed up, toxic marriage and it has certainly left its legacy. I have had a nagging worry for years that my own relationship is somehow 'doomed' and that ending up miserable is somehow inevitable. It took years of therapy to shake this. This worry was down to my mother giving me and my sister regular lectures about what bastards men were and how they will all let you down in the end hmm

So I think that yes, your parents' relationship has a profound effect on how you view relationships as an adult, but that none of it is set in stone and you are certainly not doomed to have a miserable relationship yourself. It takes a lot of work and self awareness though. Professional support through psychotherapy was absolutely invaluable for me

Losingtheplod Tue 18-Oct-16 17:13:01

My parents also had a pretty hideous marriage. I have ended up with the complete opposite. I think it was more by luck than judgement. I'm fairly sure I could have ended up in a similar situation, and might have accepted it as normal, although I hope not.

FlemCandango Tue 18-Oct-16 17:31:08

My dad had two terrible marriages, then died. Leaving 6 children - we have all gone on to have long term relationships Tha have been stable and successful. Some married some not, but all committed. My youngest sibling was a serial monogamist but is settled now. My eldest sibling had a long marriage but divorced in her 40s and is in a new ltr now and v happy. There are 15 grandchildren so far.

My dad was a rubbish husband, my mum was depressed and broken and did the angry crying, plate throwing etc. Dad just checked out emotionally from her and took us on long country walks. But they were caring parents just really terrible at relationships. I learned alot about how not to do relationships from them! hmm

Myusernameismyusername Tue 18-Oct-16 19:26:40

I had a horrible childhood and my parents had a horrible marriage. It has made quite an impact on me. I've had quite a lot of counselling. I am giving my kids a completely different childhood than what I had but I have not managed to make a relationship work for very long yet

EssentialHummus Tue 18-Oct-16 20:00:07

When I look at my parents' marriage now, I often think "WTF?". If my friends did any of the things they did I'd have serious concerns.

They married three months after meeting, mum was engaged to someone else at the time. Their only child was born 10 months later. Their entire married life has consisted of dad working away in a series of third world hellholes, while mum's anxiety seeps into every social interaction and relationship. He is (imo) too guilty to leave her, she has alienated literally everyone in her life. Horrible.

I'm trying to do better, but now that we're TTC the spectre of my parents' marriage is absolutely haunting me.

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