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Has anyone read and identified with 'Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents'?

(3 Posts)
flipflap75 Tue 14-Mar-17 18:17:38

Snappy little subject there!

It's by Lindsay C. Gibson and what she calls 'Emotionally Immature' sounds in part like BPD or narcissistic traits.

Anyway, I read it and massively identified with it as a description of my mother. That's not much of a shocker to me - I went through therapy a few years back and have pretty much accepted the situation re. my mother (no boundaries, made me responsible for her emotional wellbeing, intrusive etc). The book talks about the result being that the adult child has a consistent sense of loneliness/emptiness. A great read, IMO.

The thing which is bothering me is that I've had some issues with my husband over the years plus this ongoing emptiness thing, and the more I think about it, the more I think that he shares the same traits as my mother. I don't want to improve my relationship with my mother, but I do want to improve my relationship with my husband.

I've no idea where to start. He's brilliant in some ways, but also can be incredibly negative, critical and difficult to please. Sometimes he's inappropriately rude and abrupt with me and our children. If I try to take any of this up with him, he shuts it down either with sarcasm, denial or over dramatic statements e.g. "Wow, I've no idea how you've put up with me for so long - I must be such a terrible person". He seems to have an inability to take responsibility for anything or to apologise.

I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on how to address things, before they get any worse. I know you shouldn't 'diagnose' other people, but having read this book, I feel like I have some kind of key to why my husband is the way he is sometimes - I just don't know what to do with the insight.

Cromwell1536 Tue 14-Mar-17 18:48:33

at the risk of sounding flippant, run. I was with someone like this (btw, is there ever an appropriate way of being rude and abrupt with your spouse and children?) and it was grim. I'm sorry, I have no advice on how to deal with it. I would have had to divorce him, but he died and so things improved dramatically. The wonderful man I subsequently met and married made me realise what it was like to be with someone who liked, loved, fancied and respected me. Wanted me to be happy and who cherished me, our children and the relationship.

Is your husband negative about you as well as generally? Does he attack you verbally? Is he difficult about you pursuing your own interests, friendships, work, hobbies? Does he criticise your friends and family? Is he nasty about your choices and does he undermine you as a parent?

I'm sorry if this is an over-reaction, perhaps I"m projecting massively and I don't mean to be unhelpful. But it sounds unpleasant in your household, to say the least, and I know I had lucky escape - I would hate to see other people waste their one life with someone who was really a shithead towards them.

Incidentally, you don't say why you think your husband is the way he is, you just describe the behaviour. But does understanding why, if indeed you do, help at all? I"d still be inclined to think I'd picked a wrong 'un, just get out.

flipflap75 Tue 14-Mar-17 20:43:13

Thanks very much for replying, Cromwell1536. I really appreciate your comments.

I've been with my husband for 21 years (married for 13), and the unacceptable behaviour seems to have gradually become more frequent. We have two kids under 10 - I can't say the deterioration has come with parenthood, but I'm probably more conscious of it as I can't help but think and think about how/if/when it's affecting the kids.

I've thought about running at times, but on the other side of the coin, he's often loving, funny and supportive. Just not often on an emotional level - he struggles with that. The book I mentioned talks about the origins of emotional immaturity being in the person's own childhood - i.e. he was emotionally neglected so didn't develop in that way himself.

One trait is an inability to deal with distress - an emotionally mature person would recognise why they're feeling the way they are and either share it with someone close or at least manage it, while an immature person will 'communicate' it by making other people feel the same. Kind of like a baby screaming and waving their arms around!

When I say he's sometimes 'inappropriately abrupt or rude', you're right - it's never appropriate as such. I mean that he might react in that way when as far as I know, he has no reason to be particularly short of patience/empathy but 'barks' at one of us. He's been suffering from a chronic health condition over the past few months (not painful but annoying at least and sleep-disturbing), and if he's worried about that, it tallies with the screaming baby I mentioned earlier.

My husband isn't generally negative about me. He might comment about me eating crap or not cleaning enough, but it's once in a blue moon. He doesn't speak negatively about my hobbies/job - he's supportive about both. He occasionally criticises my friends/family, but doesn't ever suggest I see them any less than I do. Actually, he puts up with my mother (who's trickier than he is!) remarkably well, despite having major reservations about her behaviour.

So it's a really hard one to call. He's not an utter shit, and I think I understand him now more than I did before. But that doesn't change the fact that he doesn't connect with me (or anyone else) on an emotional level. So I guess that means I have to either accept it/not expect it from him, try to find a way to get him to work on the issues, or get out. Sometimes I think it's a non-negotiable for me to be happy and fulfilled in a relationship, and other times I think 'bugger it, I've done without proper emotional connection this long, and maybe I wouldn't find it elsewhere anyway'.

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