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.
Is it weird that my parents are the main reason I haven't left DH yet?(27 Posts)
My parents loom so large in my conscious and subconscious mind that I feel like they thwart me without even being there.
When my sister and I were teenagers, they were solidly overprotective. We kept boyfriends and all kinds of other things secret from them - to the extent that I bought a musical instrument (a bass guitar, I was always musical) out of my own saved up birthday money and hid it at school to avoid their disapproval. I never felt OK to ask them about boys or sex. They waited til we were 13 to have the facts of life talk and it tells you plenty that I refused to hear it (a: I already knew, obviously, and b: sex was never ever ever discussed). When I came home from uni at 19 with a new nose stud my mum refused to let me stay in the house until I took it out. It healed over. I never got it re-pierced. At the same age I once overheard my mum saying in a panicked voice to my dad "But young people today get up to ALL SORTS" when they were discussing if I should be ALLOWED to go away for the weekend with my then BF. When my sister dumped her first serious BF my dad actually PHONED HIS FAMILY TO SEE IF ANYTHING COULD BE "WORKED OUT". When I failed to get into Oxbridge, my dad ACTUALLY WROTE REPEATED BEGGING LETTERS TO THE COLLEGE against my express wishes. That kind of thing.
They're good and nice and sweet people in almost all ways, and our family was affectionate and close. But as you can see, they never let us off the leash. My sister was the good girl and conformed and has grown into quite a spiky and resentful adult. I was badly bullied for years at school, never told them, rebelled but then conformed hard in my 20s - I think I wanted to show them I was OK now and nothing to worry about.
Part of that was marrying at 23. He's a wonderful man - clever, kind, calm - and I've never loved him. It's really sad, but I've had to accept I can't live like this any more. I want to be kind to him and I will be, as much as you can be when you're leaving someone. That part is worked out: it's not coming out of the blue, we both know full well the relationship is faltering and failing badly.
The blocker for me is that my parents still represent a huge terror for me. Does anyone have any experience of defying controlling but loving family? The thought of telling them makes my heart thump against my ribs. Why?! How can I get past this?
Bumping for you. I can't imagine how difficult this must be with both your parents and your DH to contend with. Do you have anyone in RL who can be in your corner to support you?
File for divorce.
Then send them a copy. ...
Huge massive big girls pants needed.
They gave you life but that's doesn't mean they get to control how you live it...
You get past this by stopping living your life according to other people's rules.
This is your life and you are perfectly entitled to make decisions that are best for you.
That is meant for you, but I might repeat that over and over to your parents until they get it.
I've no experience of divorce but certainly have of the parents you describe.
I learnt after many years to just big fat do it anyway. But never give them too much notice. That just leaves a nice gap for them to fill with consternation.
There will be consternation anyway. But rather during/after rather than before, as before is when they know they have a chance to turn the tide and will be intimidatingly vociferous.
During/after, the tone is a bit more defeated and disappointed. Nothing you can do about that. At least you'll have paddled your own canoe.
As a mother I love my dc. But I do not want to take over their lives for my own needs. I want the best for them, but it has to be for them and part of that is accepting they will want different things for themselves than what I would want.
What I'm trying to explain is that whilst they are your parents, they should not be controlling your adult life this way. It is not a loving or kind thing to do. They are dysfunctional and perhaps excuse what they do as caring or loving you so much but actually they are using you to fulfil their own needs. They want you to stay married so they can sleep at night and feel successful. Despite your loveless marriage and consequent pain.
You have to find a way to stand alone and please yourself first. Not your parents. This will never make you happy - or them really as you aren't the strange being they have decided you should be to make them happy. Your life should not be lived to make you parents happy. They gave you life, but that life should not be spent trapped in their outdated/impossible ideaology of you that makes them happy.
You weren't born to make your parents happy.
Your life is your own to live.
Your happiness is not their's to own.
Big girl pants is right. I know it. When I think about it rationally, there's nothing concrete to be afraid of: worst case scenario they never want to talk to me again which (god this sounds horrible) would almost be a relief. Likely scenario: they try to stick their oar in and try "teaming up" with DH's family to force us back together and just give me years of pass-agg disappointed face.
Which when I put it like that seems so small. But the pounding in my chest isn't related to the rational likely outcome. It's bypassing my brain totally and just freezing me with terror.
Part of this is needing to know something simple: the stuff in my OP about how my parents are. That's not normal, right? I'm not making a fuss about perfectly normal loving parents here?
It's not normal.
I think you qualify for the "Stately Homes thread".
You get some therapy. No the stuff in your OP is not normal. Get a counsellor in your corner who can help you work out what was and wasn't appropriate and who can help you work through without your parents' support. You shouldn't have to feel like they are another battle to fight rather than being behind you at every step, but since that's the way they are, even the odds and get someone else to be on your side! And good luck.
You need to do what's best for you & your DH you can't live the way you are doing.I can fully appreciate your situation as it's similar to the way that I was brought up.However,I am divorced,and yes it wasn't a pleasant experience telling my DPs well DM more to be precise.
This is your decision and yours only to make be brave and see it through.
My parents were similar OP. Even down to my Dad calling the Oxford college I didn't get into and pleading with them on my behalf - I get on very well with them but they control me a lot, or try to, which has made me horribly dependent on them as an adult.
Both are more laid back now - mainly I think because my sister is the poster child they always wanted:rich lawyer boyfriend, great job, speaks multiple languages, 1st from Cambridge and travels the world but they seemed to have realised it isn't necessarily all that. My sister gets as much flack as I do but for different stuff.
I have pushed back and back the last few years, against negative comments, pushiness about promotions and their need to see me how I am in their heads I think. Instead I bought a horse, which they always said no to growing up, refuse to get fat (my Mum would feel much better) or get too thin (my Dad would be so proud) and only just considering sticking my neck out at work to take the next step up.
You won't get to 80 and wish you'd done as you were told more. Please do what makes you happy.
Those are my parents!! But I was a rebel and in some ways they learned to expect the worst from me. Every rebellion resulted in not being spoken to by my parents for months at a time. When I told them I was marrying my dh they didn't speak to me for months and then only to say where and when we would be getting married (we went along with it for peace and quiet). I am in my 40's and have teenaged children and they still think they can control me. You have to think of the worst case scenario. IF they stop speaking to you the world will keep on spinning and you will keep breathing in and out...only maybe a bit more easily now that you're free to make all your own decisions.
I agree with PP.
Get divorced, then present it as a fait accompli.
I have controlling parents, as well, although mine aren't as bad as yours. My mother has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers, which makes a lot of sense.
Thanks everyone. You have no idea how comforting it is to hear that it wasn't normal and that other people have gone through similar. It's really inspiring to know that you've come through it and stood on your own, too.
My parents are not remotely in the same league as yours, but I agree with the pp and have adopted the same tactics: don't discuss, don't give them an opportunity to comment / worry / interfere, present major life decisions as fait accompli once they are made / done / in the past. It's your life, not theirs. This gets easier over time.
I could have written this myself. I will reply but I want some time to reread your words and put together an answer.
It sounds like it will be an amicable divorce, as much as that's possible, and that both you and your dh are on the same page about getting divorced.
So, maybe you could agree between you a way to counteract any bizarre dodginess that may be thrown up by your parents - even if it's just talking to his parents in case they ring them as you suspect so that they have a prepared line in 'don't be so ridiculous, they are grown up and know what is best, what on earth are you doing trying to meddle?'. And an understanding that if your parents say batshit things trying to meddle, that it's nothing to do with you. Would be horrible if they managed to make the situation worse by their poking their nose in.
I'd also practice in your head taking a deep breath, and working out what you would say to them. You need to figure a stock phrase you can fall back on when they challenge you - maybe for the divorce something along the lines of 'I don't understand why you want me to stay and suffer. I've told you there is a problem. I am being proactive and doing something about it. DH and I are agreed on this being the best route for both of us. Please don't interfere. This is my life, I only get one and I want to live it for the best. You have your own lives to live as you wish.'
And 'I don't understand why you have a problem with xxx. If I do xxx then what do you think is going to happen that is a problem? Why is that a problem? That is not a problem for me, yyy is a problem for me. That is why I'm doing xxx to sort out yyy. Then I won't have the problem with xxx.'
and 'why are you not happy for exh and me? we have both happily parted and are looking forward to the next stages of our lives. we would have been miserable if we had stayed together - is that what you wanted? why? why do you want us to be miserable when we don't have to be?'
It's going to be horrible. But start small maybe, challenge something little - like that they want you to have cake for tea when you want a sandwich or something else trivial. Use it to practise talking to them calmly but assertively to state what you want and not what they think you should have... once you have done it a few times with smaller things it will become easier - and they will hopefully get more used to you doing it!
So much rings similar to me here, and no, it's not normal. But it's hard to get your head around when your parents are kind, generous, normal... and also heavily over-protective, over-involved and controlling. It's like seeing the first side makes it hard to be clear on the second side.
When my OH and I got together and I was pregnant with our first, my parents waited until I went away on a business trip and then went to see him to ask him what his intentions were towards me. I was 35 years old at the time. There are so many other examples I could give.
I'm not quite at the same place as you, though several years on, I do have some doubts about our relationship. But the idea of telling my parents I'm leaving is at least as scary as the idea of leaving.
I think I am just conditioned to believe that any choices I make that are not the choices they would make for me are wrong, selfish, hurtful and stupid, and that they make me "hard work", "hard to love" and will cause my parents to see those choices as a failure on their parts (even if I'm happy with the choices myself).
Not much advice, I'm afraid, but a little solidarity on the "it's not normal" side.
Are you worried about telling them for any other reasons? Are they elderly and frail now, for example?
I would just like to reassure you - my DM is very much like this, DF not so much. She is so controlling and manipulative but dresses it up as 'concern'
I have eventually learned after many years of conflict with her - that I will do what I want and she can suck it up and nothing that bad happens yeah sure she sulks with me for ages and I get all the passive aggressive BS from her. But really, you are an ADULT. You make your own decisions and you deal with your own consequences. It is not their concern. I wouldn't even bother telling them tbh - unless you have to, its your own personal business, not theirs.
It's controlling under the guise of caring, but really they see you as an extension of themselves, another limb, and not a separate person.
I think it's pretty normal to worry about upsetting/disappointing your parents. But genuinely loving and supportive parents will get over their upset and see that you've done the right thing. Your parents won't do that.
Remember that you do not need to justify or discuss anything with them at all. You don't even have been to tell them you're divorcing.
Extricating yourself from their control will do you a huge amount of good.
You don't actually have to tell them you're getting divorced. If your ex is willing to play along for a few visits, you could simply pretend until you're divorced and it's a done deal. Maybe the shock of "why didn't you tell us" and you replying "because you're so controlling I'm actually terrified of you" will help them see that no matter how hard they try, they can't control their adult children. Maybe they'll realise they don't know you at all, because you've had to be so secretive around them.
this is my parents. others are shocked at how they controlled us. we did nothing without their approval, everything was monitored. i have learned to keep a distance from them and not to let them into my life. If i stay over at their house i am back to being treated as a child, ie, i cant go out when its dark (even in winter).
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.