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DH has revealed abuse by his mother(178 Posts)
I have name changed due to the sensitive nature.
I have spent ages trying to write this post as I am shocked by what has come out and I'm trying not to let my own feelings towards my MIL influence my opinion or advice.
My DH had a slightly difficult upbringing as his parents went through a very acrimonious split when he was very young.
We get on very well with my FIL but he can be quite distant. We cut of contact (not easily) with my MIL about 2 years ago. She kept asking for money and became very emotionally manipulative. It's a very long story but it came to a head with my DH deciding to cut off all contact with her.
Despite my own feelings towards her, I was willing to suck it up if it made my DH happy to rebuild a relationship with her . He has recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I gently suggested that perhaps it might help to resolve the situation with his mother. He refused and I accepted his decision.
We happened to be watching a podcast on YouTube today and the topic of discipline growing up was discussed. My DH told me how his mother would discipline him as a child, such as beating him with a bent wooden spatula which he buried in the garden so she couldn't find it, and literally washing his mouth out with soap if he said something she didn't like. There were other examples that were explained as accidents but now I don't know.
He is such an amazing man and it broke my heart when he asked if I experienced the same growing up, I think he expected me to agree but my parents never hurt me in any way.
What do I do? Do I suggest therapy of some kind? Should he tell his dad? I'm at a total loss right now and just want to support him but I don't know what is for the best
I don't know but
Try talking to him see what he wants/needs?
Thank you for replying. He doesn't know what he wants or needs, we are early thirties and it is only now that we are thinking about having children ourselves that he is questioning how he was brought up. It breaks my heart, but I will support him any way that I can
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If he's only early 30s it isn't that long ago, it IS abuse and it does matter.
I was brought up in the 60s and 70s and it still lives with me.
It is a thing for him. He feels like it was abuse. Those were his words, not mine. I have my own opinion but I don't want to influence how he feels so I am asking for advice on the best way to support him
A lot of people don't question this kind of thing until in their 30's 40's . I think often when having their own children . It is good to question and process before having your own children. Some don't and go on to repeat the same patterns. I think , let him talk and listen to how he felt / feels.
Thank you @LineysRuff, I (with his agreement) spoke to my mum about it today. She is in her early 70s and said it was common for her to get a quick slap growing up, but she was never beaten with an implement. When I told her about my MIL forcing a bar of soap in his mouth and washing it out she was just as disgusted as I am
My MIL hit my SILwith a wooden spoon because her Mum hit HER with a wooden spoon.
Then one day, when SIL was about 5 and running away from the spoon, SIL trod on a rake and cut her foot badly.
MIL had an epiphany and threw the spoon away and broke years of cycles of abuse.
SHe speaks about it openly and with huge pain.
Your MIL has not had the epiphany but your DH has....talk to him about how the cycle (possibly centuries old) has now ended with him so future generations won't be harmed.
We had tough discipline growing up, but it was unheard of outside of urban myth to have soap forced into a child's mouth. Pretty sadistic.
If he can can find the right counsellor, he can talk his feelings through in a safe, neutral setting.
Thank you @comfortandjoy that is good advice. I will always support him no matter what, I would give anything in the world to make him feel better, but perhaps he needs time and to know that I am here if/when he needs to talk
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20pounds I think you're being quite rude and patronising.
@20PoundsOfCrazyInA5PoundBag with the greatest respect I don't think you are quite understanding the situation
Then explain it better. I'm just being frank with everything I've read
People will say it was normal "back then" and "not that bad" (which really does beg the question of what you'd consider bad - I do wonder at the lives people have lived if this isn't "that bad").
People will also tell you he should have gotten over it. Tell you what, how about someone a lot bigger than them sticks soap in their mouth and beats them and we'll see how long it takes them to get over it.
The truth is your husband was beaten by his mother and it was done in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation - not mistaken discipline.
I think he should stay away from his mother and see someone to talk through his understandable anger and sadness at having been treated violently by the one person who should have treated him kindly.
Like Lineys said, if he can find the right counsellor (and it might take a couple of gos) he can talk his feelings through.
My husband is 30. He has gradually opened up about his mother beating him with a spatula, shoving soap in his mouth, I would go on but it gets worse, and he was lucky not to end up scarred. Not to mention the emotional abuse
He thought this behavior was normal, are you saying that it is? Really?
I suggest he has a look at CALM - the Campaign Against Living Miserably (link below). It's a mental health charity by men for men. They have a helpline and evening web chats.
Thank you pallisers. I really am grateful for your advice. I wish I could give him a hug and make it better, but I know it won't fix anything. I will gently suggest therapy but I'm not sure he is ready to talk about it yet
You say there's worse, but what you're saying now isn't that bad. That's just that. But like I said he should seek professional help, help him accept his past, and move on.
If he is finding this so upsetting that he’s depressed over past events, I wonder if the actual physical punishment was not the only way she punished him. As pallisers said it is the fear and intimidation. I’d also add humiliation. As you cut contact due to her for being manipulative was she perhaps also emotionally abusive? In my personal experience these went hand in hand.
@Weezol thank you so much for the link, I haven't come across CALM before but it may well help
This wasn't and isn't normal, and I think deep down (or maybe not even that deep) you and your DH know that. The physical abuse seems to be wrapped up alongside the mental neglect and anguish and is seeping out. He still has that hurt little boy inside, and a good counsellor will help that little boy make sense of what happened and get stronger. Prepare yourself that there may be more to uncover but it will help him to heal. You sound amazingly supportive. Often having children is a wake up call to many on how they were dealt a bad hand in retrospect, so good to get support now as you look to start a family. Good luck
but what you're saying now isn't that bad.
A grown big woman stuck a bar of soap in a small boy's mouth (ever tried that yourself - it makes you gag and want to throw up) and beat him with an implement. And that isn't that bad???
Would you do that to your children? If not, why not? No, it wasn't accepted years ago. I grew up in the 60s and was never hit. My parents grew up in the 30s and were never hit. Still less having a bar of soap shoved in our mouths or being so afraid we buried the implement used to beat us ... not that bad??
I can't understand someone minimising this violent behaviour.
@Mummyoflittledragon I suspect she was also emotionally abusive. I know she struggled when she split with FIL but she seemed to expect DH to step up and provide for her when he should just have been a carefree teenager
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