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It's too late for me. I'm stuck. What do I say to that?

(95 Posts)
SaltedCaramelWithEverything Mon 02-Dec-19 09:38:09


I'm going to try and condence this as much as possible, as it could turn into an essay.

My parents have been together 40+ years and I don't think either of them have been happy for the majority of it, but for different reasons.

My dad is 70, a lover of routine, stays in his safety zone, is generally resentful and is completely reliant on my mum....for everything. That's no exaggeration. In some ways, you could say it's a generational thing. I.e my mum washes his clothes, cooks for him, packs for him, buys his clothes etc, but that's not just usually. That's all the time. My dad has never bought himself a pair of socks even. He is clueless and when they are on a shopping trip, he will stand there like a giant child, while she holds up clothes and he will get mardy when it takes longer than he would like. Again, like a child.

All this is incredibly annoying and of course, it's wrong. However, what concerns me more is his complete lack of respect for her.

For example, he will leave his (clearly used) underwear on the floor, daily and expect my mum to pick them up. He never cleans the toilet after himself and yes, will expect my mum to go in with a loo brush. They were just staying at our house and she was on her hands and knees in our bathroom, mopping up his wee from the floor angry I was furious on her behalf, but not surprised, which is the saddest part. Not only does he do this, but he also completely ignores her most of the time. He has never taken her out fgs! They go out, but he has never taken her out. Never. This genuinely did surprise me and something I only just found out.

I said, as I always do, that she should flat out refuse to do it (the clearing up his wee), but when she has refused, he goes into 'you clearly don't love me like you used to' mode and goes into this self pitying, wallowing, depressive state. He is depressed and I really pushed him to get help for this, 10 or so years ago. That said, it doesn't excuse this behaviour.

My mum is mid 60's and is naturally a happy, positive person, but she recently told me that it's too late for her now and that he's basically turned out her light. Heart breaking isn't the word. I cried after they left this time. I have always been angry and sad for my mum, but this time I saw it differently. I didn't see her as my mum, I saw her just as a woman who has missed out on the basic joys of life.

Is it too late? It can't be. How do I help her?

My dad loves my mum to pieces. She is his world, but he treats her so appallingly. I forget the extent of it tbh. Most of the time it's just not spoken about.

My dad wouldn't be able to cope without my mum. Practically or emotionally. He wouldn't want to live and she knows this. I suspect that's why she stays.

He also ignores me most of the time and whereas I know he loves me, I have always been sad that we don't have a better relationship. He has never bought me a present, a card...he has never even called me for a chat. He doesn't know me and I don't think he has any interest in getting to know me. I get jealous when I see father/daughters together and he actually shows interest. It crushes me tbh. This isn't about me though. I've made my peace, to an extent, that this is the relationship that we will always have.

I just don't know what to do. As much of an arse as he can be, I love him and I worry about him, but I can't stand by and hear my mum say these things and ignore them.

Any advice on how I go about this? I'm devastated.


ElloBrian Mon 02-Dec-19 09:40:06

I don’t think there is anything you can do I’m afraid. You can support your mum, find opportunities to take her out and have a good time and all that, but whether your parents stay together or not is not up to you.

Goldenchildsmum Mon 02-Dec-19 09:46:57

Your mother is allowing her life to be controlled by someone else. She's actively and consciously making that choice.

MarianaMoatedGrange Mon 02-Dec-19 09:51:32

Firstly, it is NOT a 'generational thing' that your DM has done everything for DH. I am mid 60s like your DM and had a DH, LTRS, FWB, the works! but I have NEVER run around any of them like a skivvy - and would certainly NEVER clean a dirty toilet they've left, or wipe their piss off the floor. Nor would any of the above have expected me too.

As a pp said though, it's their marriage, all you can do is step back and ensure your DM has a good time with you, outings etc; and be supporting.

MsMellivora Mon 02-Dec-19 09:57:48

I am sorry but he doesn’t love her in the way he should, I think he loves having a servant. What was his childhood like? Your real problem is he doesn’t see a problem.

My older sister DH was like your Father but not quite as bad. She was widowed two years by ago and it’s like she has become alive. She is 65 this year and is doing dancing classes and has got herself a BF who treats her well as far as I’m aware. She is very regretful and really sees how her DH was now she is being treated well. Your Mother would do well to divorce him really.

bsc Mon 02-Dec-19 09:58:13

Love is a verb! He isn't loving her or you for that matter. Your poor lovely mum! It is never too late, please tell her this, and show her ways her life can be better. Her life- the one she is suffering in now.

MsMellivora Mon 02-Dec-19 09:59:08

I agree with others that you should take her out as much as possible without him.

Goldenchildsmum Mon 02-Dec-19 10:00:59

Firstly, it is NOT a 'generational thing' that your DM has done everything for DH.

Totally agree

No way would any man treat me in this way. I'm 58 - so same generation.

Saying it's a generational thing absolves your mother of responsibility for the choices she is making. Which isn't helpful for her

Ragwort Mon 02-Dec-19 10:03:18

It is definitely NOT a generational thing, my parents are late 80s and my Dad wouldn’t dream of treating my mum like that.

Have you gently tried talking to your mother about separation and that she knows that she would have your support? I feel very sad for her, she is only a couple of years older than I am and she should have many happy years to look forward to.

WalkAwaySugarbear Mon 02-Dec-19 10:07:46

My parents were a bit like this. My Mum divorced him when she was late 50s. She's never been happier. My Dad didn't know what had hit him, had no idea how to take care of himself but he did. They both have new partners and seem better for it.

PizzaExpressWoking Mon 02-Dec-19 10:14:18

It takes 2 people to make this situation.

Your mum is a fully functioning adult who is making this decision about her own life. You may think it's the wrong decision because it is the wrong decision but it's hers to make and not yours.

It's very tough on you, but you can only control what you can control.

ginghamstarfish Mon 02-Dec-19 10:17:58

Horrible for your mum. You could tell her you would help her if she wanted to leave him/divorce etc, and give her some hope for the rest of her life to be happier. Mid 60s is nowhere near old enough to be 'stuck' in a crap situation, she could well have a great life and blossom into her own person. My mum wasn't very nice and treated my lovely dad horribly, and we all wished he would leave her - but he didn't, and I wish now, too late, that I'd told him how we (3 sisters) felt.

Megan2018 Mon 02-Dec-19 10:22:51

This is not generational-my parents are 70 and my Dad has always cooked, cleaned, ironed and has always been an equal parent.

It’s your mum’s life, all you can do is support her and call your Dad out on it.

FizzyGreenWater Mon 02-Dec-19 10:29:22

I am just so puzzled that you can describe this kind of casual, unthinking abuse and then say oohhh but he loves her to pieces. And then yourself - you describe someone who doesn't give the tiniest shit about you as a person and then 'Oh I know he loves me'.

No he doesn't. What on earth do you think the word love is supposed to describe, to mean? Your dad despises your mum. To describe him as loving her is absolutely incorrect, and this is the way abusive dynamics are legitimised. It belittles and diminishes the way she feels and excuses him, even if that's not what you mean to do.

Change that at least. Stop making your nasty piece of work father out to be some confused, poor, defective thing that can't help it.

He'd never dare treat anyone else in his life like this.
He'd be mortified if he saw a male friend having to clean up his piss, but your mum doesn't even register, she's an animal to him.
He is incapable of even buying socks? What, so he must be mentally defective I guess... he must of course never have been able to have a job, or drive a car... No? Then yes, he can buy socks. His response to your mother when she shops/chooses/cleans/cooks is simply a part of the abusive cycle. Letting her serve and punishing her for doing it. Watching her struggle and getting satisfaction at some level at increasing the confusion and stress.

'He wouldn't want to live' ohhhh I can assure you that he would. He isn't the thing you are painting him as. He's a casual abuser, and if he had to survive alone then he would, just as he does everything else in his life when he has to.

Start by validating her. He's a pig, say so. Don't tell her he loves her. Stop thinking that he can't help it.

I really hope she can get out.

Lweji Mon 02-Dec-19 10:29:39

Realistically, what happens if she doesn't clean after him or buy him clothes?

It's easy to say don't do it when it's not you living with a dirty toilet or dirty clothes scattered around.
She may find that having someone at home is better than having nobody.
How much support does she get from you?
Does she have your support to leave home if necessary?

madcatladyforever Mon 02-Dec-19 10:35:52

I don't think you can do anything. It's up to her.
This is why I point blank refuse to be a servant to any man in my life. If they leave the toilet in a disgusting state I'll show them and I expect them to clean it.
I absolutely will not sacrifice my own free time to "look after" someone else.
If you aren't mean they don't respect you at all. None of us respected our mother for being a doormat.

CmdrCressidaDuck Mon 02-Dec-19 10:36:00

He doesn't love your mother (or you). Does he find it convenient to have her around? Clearly, who wouldn't like someone to wait on them and do all their drudgework? But to treat someone like shit and then call it "love" because, IDK, he'd have to pick his own bloody pants up if she left is obscene. Love is what love does. If "love" doesn't result in loving actions and loving care it isn't love, and it has no worth. How can he love you when as you say yourself he has no real interest in you?

I know it must be very hard to hear and contemplate these things about your F. Part of us always remains that tiny child who just desperately wants to know they are loved by their parents. But maybe if you can free yourself of the idea that this man loves you and your mother you can free yourself of a mental burden that is holding you back. Your DM should leave him and let him sort himself out, but whether she does that or not is up to her. What is up to you is how much you are willing to listen to her on this topic and where you set your own boundaries. I would suggest you start calling your dad's behaviour what it is, tbh, abusive and shitty, and suggest your mother speaks to Women's Aid. You may also want to minimise your own contact with him and see your mum on her own.

madcatladyforever Mon 02-Dec-19 10:37:36

One of my patients said her husband demands a three course meal everyday. She spends her life cooking.
I'd laugh in his bloody face.

HyacynthBucket Mon 02-Dec-19 10:38:54

As lots of others have said on here, this is not a generational problem. People of your parents' age were in the era of 1970s feminism, so they know all about how it could/should be, but have fallen into a different pattern where he seems like a child. Is your mother quite domineering, maybe? It seems odd that she buys his clothes, etc. As his daughter, could you gently suggest to him that he could do this on his own? It would be a start. Perhaps he is depressed because he has given up any sense of being masculine and active, and just has things done for him rather than assert himself. So sad, but there is probably a limited amount you can do. Maybe talk to him though and say you would like a more positive relationship with him. If he has tuned you out, it could possibly be because he sees your mother as the dominant force and that she, not him, has the relationship with you in some way.

Somepoorbugger Mon 02-Dec-19 10:44:11

This is very sad to read. As others have said, I would try and provide opportunities and encouragement for your mum to do her own things to make her happy but the reality is she probably won't because your dad will make her feel guilty for not being with him.

Dissimilitude Mon 02-Dec-19 10:48:08

I see this with my in laws.

After my FIL suffered a stroke, my MIL does absolutely everything for him, in a way that both tied her to him, and impeded his own incentive to recover and do things for himself. Now both of them are trapped in a resentment-tinged, symbiotic relationship where they kind of hate each other but can't seem to find a set of daily arrangements that works for them.

A lot of this is driven by her extreme sense of duty and guilt. She can't allow herself to leave him for more than an hour or two at a time, despite the fact that he's more or less completely capable of seeing to his own needs, in the house (i.e. he can get to the bathroom, can prepare simple meals etc), and is pretty happy pottering about on his own.

It's so weird to watch, she's putting herself through this difficult, tethered existence, for no reason I can see other than a misplaced sense of duty.

I remember reading that extremely agreeable people (agreeable in the psychological, Big Five trait sense), often end up extremely resentful, because they are so agreeable they cannot effectively police their own boundaries, and end up expecting everyone else to infer their own unvoiced preferences.

I see this a lot in some women. They are so conciliatory, so keen to avoid a hard conversation, so dependent on others to do the right thing, that they end up seething with unvoiced resentment.

Zaphodsotherhead Mon 02-Dec-19 10:49:46

Did she fall into this relationship? Did he move straight from his mum's house to being married and just flap about saying he didn't know 'how to do it..' so she just took it on for a quiet life?

I can see how it happens. And I had an XH who didn't 'know' how to work a washing machine or cooker and wasn't interested in finding out and made it my life's work to pick up after him, because that was what his mother did.

You can't fix them. You can quietly support your mum and tell her that you know this isn't right, but any action has to come from her. She may be so deeply entrenched in looking after him that she just can't break free. But maybe ask her how she envisages her life were anything to happen to him? She'd be sad, obviously, but does she have plans? Things she would do as soon as he was gone? Becaue that may be a place to start.

diddl Mon 02-Dec-19 10:55:06

How can he possibly love her when he pisses on the floor & leaves it for her to clean up?

The last time I heard "you'd do it if you loved me" was when I was about 14 & it was a way of trying to coerce me into having sex.

As for it being generationalhmm

Lweji Mon 02-Dec-19 11:05:05

What did you do when you saw her cleaning his piss in your bathroom?

Selfsettling3 Mon 02-Dec-19 11:11:31

Definitely not a generational thing. My parents are early 70s. My Mum was mostly a SAHM when I was at primary school except for Saturday mornings wen she worked in her friends shop. Dad was always changing all the bedding on Saturday mornings and he was always in charge of cooking on Sundays. Now he is my Mum’s carer and does most stuff. He still wouldn’t think of buying himself new clothes or buying me presents but if I needed anything he would give me the money. He would never piss on the floor and expect someone else to clean it up.

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