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DH and DS Difficult Relationship - long - please bear with

(51 Posts)
Sweetpeas20 Thu 22-Jun-17 21:22:50

Advice please people (I'm a first time asker, so be kind to me!).

I am married to a workaholic. We've known each other since I was 17, and got together as a couple when I was 28. We've been married 28 years.

During that time, he has mostly worked away Mon-Fri, we have been abroad on various postings, and at one point he worked out of the country for a whole year (only home for 3 days a month). When he is at home (and it'll be the same when he's away) he leaves the house at 6.30-7am and gets back at any time between 8pm and 9.30pm. He regularly 'forgets' to come home, due to work. When he does get in, he often emails until about 11pm. He works at least one day of each weekend, and a day never goes by that he doesn't check his emails and send a cheeky one or two.

We have reaped the financial rewards, sent the kids private, paid our mortgage off early and enjoyed lots of luxury travel, which is what he wanted, but he never feels that we have enough - we have some very wealthy friends and he can never work out why we haven't done as well as they have (luck, maybe?) so he beats himself up about it.

He cannot be criticised - he sees any request, even a simple household one, as a personal attack. He is highly worried about what others think about him.

He sounds awful, but he is really lovely, honest and true as a husband, all the things I was looking for in a relationship after being brought up in a difficult household. Our relationship has been give and take - my madness tempers his gravitas and vice versa. I gave up work when we had our first child as one of us had to be at home and I have been there for them throughout. I have tried to involve DH in everything and he made it to all the shows and the parents' nights etc, so he didn't completely miss the kids' childhoods, and we consciously arranged special time together whenever we could.

We have 1 DD (aged 25), who now lives abroad, teaching, having successfully navigated through life to this point: excellent grades, good degree, never a problem (her turn will no doubt come but she has a lot of emotional resilience).

Our DS was born a bit poorly and spent the first ten years of his life in and out of hospitals with very severe asthma and life-threatening allergies. He's good at music but chose a science degree. He has very low self-esteem and suffers from depression and anxiety. He has recently had to come home after half the third year and will have to restart in September. He's a lovely person, very gentle, and kind. But he is lazy, and some of the problems with the college work were because he preferred partying and hanging out with his mates than living sensibly and healthily. On the other hand, he knows he could die at any minute (and nearly did 18 months ago), so I guess that's where some of that comes from.

So: the problem. My DH is, because of his perfectionism, an extremely pushy parent. If there was a concert, the question would always be 'do you have a solo'? Only A grades are acceptable. Arts subjects are not considered 'real' subjects. Anything involving emotions is a waste of time. I am studying a degree in psychotherapy, and he says to me that he is impressed with how hard I work and the subject's demands, but I hear him tell lots of people he doesn't believe in it. The DD did philosophy, and he was proud, but used to say she'd be a waitress. Our DS is doing a science degree, because he felt he had to, but he hates it and has no passion for it. Beginning to get the picture?

So my DH decided about 5 years ago, when DS didn't get straight A's in his AS/A levels that he had 'wasted his money', that DS 'wasn't worth it', etc. He thinks DS in a waste of space and has basically put him on the scrap heap. Sadly, DS knows this - DH isn't subtle. And this is partly where his low self-esteem and depression comes from. After a particularly unpleasant rant on the phone tonight, DH told me that he doesn't expect to have a relationship with DS in the future because DS is a shit. Wow! I have no words.

I have said that he and DS need to work their relationship out but he puts it all on DS and cannot see where the fault lies. DS, on the other hand, feels he has a bad relationship with DH because of his emotional unavailability and pushiness, and is now feeling very angry about it. This has culminated in DS withdrawing a bit from DH and deciding he can 'go fuck himself'.

How can I get them to work this out? DH certainly won't go to therapy - he got fired from a recent go at it because he wouldn't talk about anything other than work.

Feeling deeply, deeply sad sad

AnnaleeP Thu 22-Jun-17 21:44:51

His preoccupation with what others think stood out for me.

I wonder if you could use that as leverage somehow. That he would look better to give his son the support he needs.

He sounds like a bully though, I'm sorry.

Quartz2208 Thu 22-Jun-17 21:48:12

Reread what you have written and see him not as a husband (which I think you have accepted) but as a parent. You say he is lovely and true as a husband but is he as a dad. No he is an abusive one.

Your daughter has lived up to his high expectations yet she has moved far away and has coped with him because she is emotionally resilient. But who knows what damage has been left that will come out on her relationship and parenting.

How do you work it out. You take your sons side and you help him as much as you can build up his confidence as self esteem

And you read this again and really see what you wrote about your so called lovely husband

corythatwas Thu 22-Jun-17 21:51:48

I am sorry but I am afraid my answer to that would have to be "then you won't have a relationship with me either".

But let's dig a bit deeper. This has been going on a long time and clearly had a very averse affect on your ds' mental health. So how have you reacted to this? Have you stood up for your ds? Have you made clear to your dh that if he can't parent properly then that is his failure? Or have you just let things slide? Does your ds know that you are on his side?

He is suffering from anxiety and depression- what kind of support is he getting? What is the tone in your house regarding MH issues? Do you shout your dh down if he tries to make comments that could damage your ds?

Your dh needs to be aware that suicide is a very real risk with young people in your ds' situation. He also needs to be made very aware that if anything happened to your ds because of the way he treats him that is the end of the road as far as you and him are concerned. You need to fight for your child. That is your responsibility.

I also have a child, similar age, who suffers from anxiety and depression. The fear of what could happen never goes away. And I would take on the world to keep her safe.

sincerelyelated Thu 22-Jun-17 21:55:15

He is awful to your son.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 22-Jun-17 21:58:30

I can not imagine someone who treated one of my two the way your Dh treats your son being someone I ever wanted to speak to again- let alone someone I would describe as "lovely".

Wolfiefan Thu 22-Jun-17 22:03:20

He may be lovely honest and true as a DH.
He's an abusive and shitty father who runs his son down. He needs to change. Or leave.

Orangetoffee Thu 22-Jun-17 22:04:12

You can't get them to work it out as your husband has made clear he is not interested.

You can support your son by being on his side.

QuiteLikely5 Thu 22-Jun-17 22:05:42

He is not recognising your son as an individual but instead is seeing him as an extension of himself.

Well to an extent our children do represent what we brought to them and your son is exhibiting and suffering because of what his father has brought to the mix.

What you must do is talk to your son and acknowledge that he has been badly let down by his father and you need to also take responsibility for standing by and allowing this to continue.

Your son is unhappy because he is trying to live a life to please his parents. This must stop and you must encourage your son to follow the 'arts' and pay for it too!

Anything less would be failing him.

Stand up to your husband. He is not all that. He has given the public illusion of perfection but he's a selfish ba*%##rd. I dont like to curse but sometimes it's necessary to illustrate a point!!!

YokoReturns Thu 22-Jun-17 22:08:35

Your son is anxious and depressed as a direct result of your DH's behaviour.

Your DH is very unpleasant at best.

Now that this situation has arisen, what can you do to show your DS that you support him without question?

SequinsOnEverything Thu 22-Jun-17 22:20:31

If my husband treated our children that way, I would tell him unless it stopped I would leave him. I would follow through as well. Your son might never recover from the effects of his fathers treatment of him. He needs to know you fully support him rather than you standing by and watching him be bullied by his dad.

Sweetpeas20 Thu 22-Jun-17 22:21:33

OK guys, it reads very badly - I can see that, reading it afresh - but he's not a complete monster.
This doesn't go on on a daily basis - it's just every 6 months or so we have a nasty outburst - usually just to me - not direct to the DS.
His family are very cold emotionally and that side of him comes out from time to time.
I think there is a way through because most of the time they are OK - and when DS had to come home earlier this year with MH problems DH was absolutely amazingly understanding - and kind to him, telling him not to worry and saying he didn't have to go back if he didn't want to. They do tell each other they love each other - they go to the pub together - they laugh together - they are mostly OK. The nasty stuff he says is just this little part of him that pops out occasionally - like tonight.
I really do shout him down when he does it, and always have - none of us are doormats in this household. We had a pretty shit argument tonight actually. He said something unpleasant because he's stressed out by a bad project at work, and he's sad because his 91-year-old dad is in hospital and his mum is developing dementia. He was angry because DS didn't help him out yesterday evening and was lying on his bed (being a lazy git, to be honest). But I told him that it's NOT one-sided and that he needs to ask himself what he might have done to be part of their co-created relationship surrounding DS's feelings of worth. He wasn't happy about it, but he WILL do it. Part of the reason it's all coming to a head is that he knows he has done it wrong - but he needs to admit it to DS.
As a MH sufferer in the past, I know how important it is to safeguard DS and he has additionally been supported by his GP surgery and his Uni Welfare team. He has been in therapy for 6 months and is learning learning to piss his Dad off now - which is why things are getting worse!
But they need to talk - and it won't be pretty.
I don't want to give up on either of them because under the problems, they are both good people.

Wolfiefan Thu 22-Jun-17 22:30:50

So he says shitty stuff about your child and you have to shout him down? But he's a lovely husband.
You have shockingly low standards about what constitutes lovely.
He may have horrible things going on in his life. That doesn't give him the right to be vile to you or about DS.

iamavodkadrinker Thu 22-Jun-17 22:31:42

Stop minimising what a cunt he is.

Your daughter left the country to get away from him.

mumndad37 Thu 22-Jun-17 22:33:22

I have no experience of this, but I have heard from others that sometimes a parent and child have some therapy sessions together. Could this help them? If your son's therapist thinks he could handle it, and that it may be helpful, I'd give it a try.

YokoReturns Thu 22-Jun-17 22:34:35

OP your DH can stick up for himself but I expect your DS needs to feel that you're on his side. I don't think putting yourself 'between' DS and DH works, unless it's to protect your son from further upset.

Orangetoffee Thu 22-Jun-17 22:42:26

The nasty stuff is just a little part of him, you are minimising. The nasty stuff is a big part of him but as long as you all do as he says, it won't come out. Your son is trying to please his dad, I am glad he learning to piss him off now.

Admirablenelson Thu 22-Jun-17 22:50:55

What a well-written post. Generally I skim the long ones but I read every word of this. Your husband has spent his life largely avoiding his family and justifying it by being a mega-provider, but not mega enough for his own satisfaction. He is disappointed in himself and maybe it comforts him to be disappointed in his son instead. He does come across as horribly cruel and selfish and it is hard to imagine the good qualities you describe. It is easy to see why your son does not want to emulate his workaholic dad. Can your husband see that that is what is happening? No wonder you are sad, caught between these opposite poles.

WorzelsCornyBrows Thu 22-Jun-17 22:54:54

So he's barely ever around, turns up to put on a show at parents evenings etc but when he is around he's a vile bully. Yep, I can see why your daughter lives overseas and your son has esteem issues.

He might be everything you want in a husband, although from his comments on your degree it's quite possible that you have developed the habit of brushing aside his dismissive attitude to all of you. However, he sounds like a dreadful father. You can't fix that, he has to. If he's such a shit that he won't accept any fault, then all you can do is encourage and build up your son and get him some therapy.

Itsallgone Thu 22-Jun-17 23:21:45

Children remember the smallest negative things especially if said by parents. It doesn't matter if it's just twice a year, DH refers to ds as hopeless, never gonna make something of himself. That's enough to destroy his mental welbeing. So very sadsad

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 22-Jun-17 23:26:28

And this is partly where his low self-esteem and depression comes from.

I just can't get over the fact that you know that your husband has caused this damage to your child and you are ok with it. How can you not hate him for harming your precious boy?

Smellbellina Thu 22-Jun-17 23:29:29

Forget DH, concentrate on DS. He will need to learn he can never please his Dad and if he wants to be happy he needs to accept that.
I suspect you can help with that more than anyone right now.
Hopefully one day he will meet a partner who can help him, if they get there before you don't be angry and begrudge them, just be pleased they did for your DS what you couldn't.

Itsallgone Thu 22-Jun-17 23:34:42

I'm sorry if i sounded unsupportive. I know it's hard to see what's creeping up on your family when 90 percent of the time it's good. And you love every one of them and are trying your best x

CatsInKilts Thu 22-Jun-17 23:43:47

"and when DS had to come home earlier this year with MH problems DH was absolutely amazingly understanding - and kind to him, telling him not to worry and saying he didn't have to go back if he didn't want to."

I think it says a lot that you consider this to be "absolutely amazingly understanding". To me this would be the absolute minimum that I would expect from a father.

Lovegaultier Fri 23-Jun-17 00:07:52

Your op is uncomfortable to read because your husband is a bully. How can you say how wonderful and amazing he is when he thinks his own son is a waste of space? Worse than that, your son knows it.

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