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help to think through this please..(16 Posts)
My partner has said tonight he's considering us cancelling our wedding in April and him leaving as he can't see a way forwards. He says it's not about his feelings towards me. He isn't being horrible, he just doesn't think he can do this.
We have been together five years. He moved in with me and my 12 dts two years ago and we settled into a lovely family life. He's a wonderful step-dad to them, plays games, takes them to football training, kung fu, surfing, fishing, camping etc. He's also an incredibly thoughtful and loving partner.
I have an elder son who is 20. When he was 14, against my wishes he chose to live with my mother. This was a really awful time for me, and to add insult to injury I got cervical cancer and needed a hysterectomy. When he was sixteen my mother threw him out. Although we were in a better place, I wasn't able to persuade him to move home and he went to supported accommodation. He didn't stay there long, and basically sofa surfed. After moving back in with my mother a few months ago, she threw him out again two weeks ago, and I said he could come home.
This has put an awful lot of pressure on the household, as we're now overcrowded. We live in a little three bed flat. Also my son is messy and nocturnal. He is also sometimes a bit odd in his behaviour - he paces or stands awkwardly in the room, struggles with eye contact and gets flustered easily. My son has really low self-esteem, he's chronically shy, has never had a girlfriend, (although is heartbroken over a girl who he loved from afar) has no qualifications, no job, can't seem to manage to claim any kind of benefits, and has a really knackered sleep pattern.
On the positive side, he's very funny, intelligent, kind and charming. He taught himself piano and guitar and he's really good at them.
My partner feels unable to meaningfully relationship build with my son. My son is unintentionally pissing my partner off, and my partner has so far not felt comfortable saying how he feels to my son - he's just been saying it to me. I'm 8 weeks away from finish a post grad diploma in social work and I'm on placement in a child-protection team, so I'm up against it all day at work, and then studying and essay writing at night. I'm struggling to offer emotional support to my partner.
Tonight my 20 year old put on a film called 'hot tub time machine' to watch with the 12 year olds. He thought it was suitable for them. My partner came in from work and saw it on, and said to me that it wasn't suitable, and so I said it had to go off. I knew that would be embarrassing for the 20 year old, but unavoidable. My partner then chose to bring up with the 20 year old that he has left the kitchen benches unwiped, and could he go and wipe them. My partner really blundered through this, and got his delivery pretty off. It came across quite poorly, and on top of the film being turned off, the 20 year old. I think my partner could have thought his way through this a bit more cleverly. I said nothing about my thoughts at the time, but my partner asked if I was angry, and I said no, but that I had thought he was insensitive in his telling. Basically, having quietly seethed for two weeks, he decided telling son in front of the twins in a slightly frantic, snarky way was the best thing to do...
My partner works in psychiatric rehabilitation with patients who have similar behaviours to my son, obviously on a greater scale. My partner understands how mentally fragile my son is. There's a huge backstory to my son's emotional state, which I'm happy to go into, but aware this is already a huge post. What the fuck shall I do? He wants to leave cos he thinks he's getting it all wrong, is walking on eggshells and can't sleep. He's a man who suffers at times with anxiety and is currently on a low dose of citalopram.
good grief, what a rambling post.... I'm not surprised no one has replied.
Hi Op. sounds like you are all struggling. If your DP has anxiety could he be maybe over thinking and reacting with wanting to cancel the wedding. Because he feels it's a solution when no others are presenting themselves? Jumping from A to Z without looking at anything else.
Has your son ever had a diagnosis or support. I know you said there is a backstory. I'm wondering if you could access help through mind or anywhere for him? For you all?
Maybe postpone not cancel the wedding, see if it can be pushed back to let you all sort out living arrangements etc.
I'll happily be a listening ear.
OP - has your son ever been assessed? It sounds to me like he could be on the autism spectrum? (I have a family member who is). I can kind of understand your partner's worried as it seems stifling, all five of you in a 3 bed flat, especially as your DS doesn't seem to be able to hold down a job, or get benefits of any kind.
Personally I would tell your DP you understand his frustration and maybe ask him to help you assist your son in some way: to have him assessed / find him a job and somewhere to live etc.
Agree with PP, maybe put the wedding off for now until you can all get the accommodation side of things sorted.
Thank you so much for the replies. OH is in a better place this morning.
I don't know what to do about the wedding...
I do think there maybe something going on with my son, but he point blank refuses any kind of professional input. As he's only been home two weeks, I want to give him some breathing space. My mother has been emotionally abusive to him (she herself is a very odd woman with I suspect undiagnosed mental health or personality disorder). He is also really struggling with several other issues - I was groomed and abused by my cousin from the age of 14 and became pregnant at 17 with my son. I lied about the father when my parents found out. My family discovered that he was the dad when my son was born and my family believed we'd been in a relationship. I was infatuated with this cousin and he had complete control over me even though lived in the south and I in the north. I lived with mum after my son was born, and she really interfered with how I wanted to parent, undermined me constantly. I stopped contact with her for approximately five years when my eldest son was about 13/14. He became unmanageable at home, behaved aggressively and we had some violence. Mum used this to create division and ds1 went to live with her. She very much fed into him being a 'poor soul' with no dad and an awful Mum. There were no proper boundaries, she is quite neglectful around providing food in the house, clean clothes, etc. She smokes weed and is into homeopathy and using charcoal instaead of toothpaste so the 'fluoride doesn't block her third eye' she won't drink tap water or eat certain foods. She also has times when I think her mental health isn't great and she is volatile, and becomes abusive. Examples include ds1 leaving her kitchen messy and Mum going in to him when he's in bed asleep and screaming in his face calling him fat, a lazy lump, etc. Just before Christmas ds (who has been reclusive for months) got a job in a call centre, worked for a month and then with his pay disappeared down south to find his dad. This did not go well - he found him but it was really awkward. His dad (my cousin) is still living at home in a really toxic situation and has taken heroin for years. He's involved with the music industry somehow, as is his dad.
Ds was broken emotionally when he returned and it was shortly after this Mum threw him out.
I feel my son has never had any good male role models and my partner is unable to be emotionally open with my son. I think he needs to be the adult and actually open up to my son, and have a level of honesty. I think he finds this difficult because my son presents with similar behaviours to the young men he works with. Professionally it would be unthinkable to him to open up to a client in this way, and I feel he sees my son as a 'client'
Didn't want to read and run but I really don't feel the slightest bit qualified to comment on something so complicated, so I'll offer my sympathy, fwiw.
If your son isn't getting counselling then that would be the first thing I'd try and get in place. Obviously he'd have to want to go, which I imagine will be a problem.
I think your dp is right to put the wedding off until your future is clearer.
I feel desperately sorry for your son and his issues and for you. However, i couldn't live in that environment.
Your adult son put a fulm on that was inappropriate and you are worried that he felt embarrased. Then dp talks to him about not cleaning up after himself and you arent happy with the way he did it. After 2 weeks i am surprised he didnt end up losing his temper.
You say you didnt say anything to dp but he clearly knew you were happy.
I am not blaming anyone but it sounds like you are so worried for your son you are dismissing how difficult he is to live with and worry about challenging his behaviour. Your dp is getting stressed and everything is too much for you all.
You need to find new ways to cope with the situation you are now in. But as a couple.
Your son sounds similar to mine, with a similar background of upheaval and emotional abuse (in my sons case by his birth mum)
It may be that for now you need to put your relationship on hold and concentrate on helping your son get to a more stable place. How would that prospect make you feel? I think your partner has given a pretty clear message that he can't cope with being thrust into a father figure role, or any kind of make role model. It's going to hurt your son more if he has a presence in the household who effectively doesn't want him there.
Feel free to pm me if you want.
Thanks again for the replies. Kate I see your point about my own coping mechanisms, they're definitely compromised at the minute. I'm going to take some time and dig deep. My partner is feeling better - he's up and down though, so it's not a given that will remain the case... I've had time to have a talk with ds1. He went to his room after the film was turned off and has only just surfaced. Dh is out with friends tonight, so we have had time to talk. Ds has said he's been very subtly giving dh a hard time. I didn't press the point, but it makes much more sense now. I'm actually numb as to how I feel about what he's said. It's such manipulative unkind behaviour. I'm also considering other perspectives - ds is really emotionally immature... I feel so rotten for poor dp, and I'm really sad my son is having such difficulty he feels the need to live and behave in the way he does.
Gosh so difficult for everyone. I'm guessing prior to your son moving in him and DH haven't had time to bond? I would imagine your DH had bonded with the younger ones before moving in, whereas this has happened very fast. I think it's a lot harder as step parent to take on parent role with effectively an adult child. Also when he met you, mentally he's preparing himself to take on 2 children, and hasn't contemplated the eldest moving in etc. At least with the young ones, it's much easier to take some authority and nurture them etc.
I think few things to focus on:
1. Postpone wedding - it's totally normal, don't worry about that.
2. Slowly bonding your partner with your son out of the home.
3. Let your DH have some more alone time in and out of house.
4. Have good conversation with your DH for action plan for your son, how you can help him move forward, get him a job etc. This way, you are helping your son, involving your partner, and it's a time frame you hope things will improve,
In addition to everyone else's advice:
1. Get through your diploma - tell them what is going on because lack of sleep and a chaotic home life are not going to help you. Make sure you've got some slack from them if necessary.
2. Your DP is fragile. He needs slack too. Plead with him to put on temporary arrangements until you are through your diploma so that he can care for himself, e.g. The option of sleeping at a friends some nights a week. This is not the end of your relationship, it is a v challenging set of circumstances.
3. Everything you describe about your eldest son sounds like classic undiagnosed Aspergers stuff, from the eye contact to the isolation to the mental health and bad sleeping. Even if he won't see a professional, you can read up on it and strategies to work with it, e.g. communication techniques for transition times like everyone going to bed. Get thee to the internet and stick with responsible sites like the National Autistic Society and the NHS.
4. You must be so strong to have come through south and be in the position you're in. Well done, but you need to dig deep and find some Hingis to get everyone safely through the next 8 weeks until you can address everything properly.
5. I've seen parents who work with SEN kids have a SEN kid and not know how to stop being professionals. This is understandable and I suspect it takes time to adjust. Your DP will eventually get the chance to build a relationship with your son, but he may expect to be able to do it overnight as he's good at this stuff professionally. It's an adjustment.
6. I wouldn't try to do anything huge other than gently accommodate your son, build trust and keep him safe until you have more time. Make sure your twins are on board too.
Oh, and the wedding. It's just not the right time any more, is it?
Blimey! You have a lot on your plate
South and Hingis! FFS autocorrect, I meant all this and things.
I feel like we can do this today. Things seem brighter. My son actually spoke with DP last night, when they were alone together. He apologised for his behaviour DP has told me. He feels something fundamentally shifted between them for the better. DS has gone out for the night, and won't be home until tomorrow, and we're going out with friends for a meal and cinema, which he and I are looking forwards to. I've cleaned, he's shopped and we feel like a little team again. I feel like we have the foundations right for success a bit more now. I know it won't be plain sailing, so I will need to think up ways to get through the next eight weeks. I honestly don't know what I was thinking having the wedding a month after, but everything is booked and paid for - the invites have gone too... DH has said he does want to go ahead still. I do too. I guess waiting another two weeks and reassessing the whole situation again then might be an option... Writing things here has really helped me clarify, although I'm aware it's impossible to include all the different minutia of what's being happening. I'm so grateful for the compassionate helpful responses.
So glad things are improving. If you are at uni you can access their counselling service (especially if your home situation is impacting on your work). It might help to have someone outside the situation to talk to.
Ordinarily I have a wonderful supportive friend but we are both under the cosh right now. She'd be my go to, but to be fair just writing it down has helped a lot and getting support here made all the difference
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