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Worried about my cousin and her DH - am I right to be?

(18 Posts)
QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 15:36:52

She is married (for 8 years - they were teenage sweethearts) and has a 6mo baby. Before having her DD she had 6 m/c, and understandably is now very protective of her, and very cautious. She has had depression since we were teenagers and has struggled with PND as well. They live over 100 miles away so I don't see her often but we are in touch via email and phone calls, and do meet up a few times a year. When I have met him her DH seems like a nice, quiet man, but I am starting to have some concerns.

Her DH works, not in a massively well paid job, though well over min. wage but they never have any money. Her father rents them a flat at low rent, and they don't have an extravagent lifestyle at all. But, for example, if she needs to talk she will call me and ask me to call back as her DH goes mad (in her words) if she runs up a phone bill. Last time I was in the city where she lives we were going to meet for a drink/cheap meal, and then she rang to say her DH had decided it would cost too much so she couldn't come. She wants to visit me but he thinks it would be too much money (£20 on the train). Little things like that, but it has been niggling at me just where the money is going.

Anyway last week she mentioned the fact that he has all the money and she has to ask him if she needs any. Apparently the CB gets paid straight to him, and they don't claim tax credits because her DH doesn't want the bother hmm So she is in all day every day with the baby, and if they need anything she rings him to get it on the way home as she has no money for shopping. I don't like the sound of this - she is quite vulnerable for various reasons and I hate the idea that she has no income of her own and is so reliant on him. She often gets upset as he is very critical of her mothering and they way she keeps the house - apparently she doesn't really meet his standards since she had the baby.

She is severely dyslexic and also has dyscalcula (sp?) and gets very stressed and confused if I try to talk to her about how tax credits work, and how much they should be entitled to. She says she doesn't know what he earns as he deals with all that side of things.

I don't know how what the best way to help her is or how seriously I should view it. I know what I'd say if I read it on MN - but its so different when you know those involved.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Wed 30-Sep-09 16:17:12

Mm I was a bit in 2 minds until I got to your 3rd paragraph - but it DOES sound like he may be using money as a way to control her (and also being quite controlling generally given the criticism of her parenting etc).

A few things that would be interesting to know - what is he like wrt spending money on himself? - is it "one rule for her and one for him" or does he also restrict his spending? Also, how does he react if she proposes something that doesn't cost any money but would involve her seeing other people/having some more freedom (e.g. if you offered to pay for the train, would she be allowed to visit you then)? And is she planning to go back to work eventually and if so, how does he react to that?

I think at the very least I would try to keep in close contact with her and maybe ask some more questions (gently) to get more idea of whether there is a real problem or not.

QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 18:26:24

Well, its hard to say what he's like about spending money on himself but I know he seems quite careful, he cycles to work and doesn't appear to have any expensive hobbies or habits. He works a normal day and leaves at 8am, but doesn't get home til 8pm when the baby is in bed. I don't know if thats because he works that long a day every day or if it's because he does something else afterwards.

My cousin seems to feel she needs him there if she goes out - he has been quite hard on her for a few mistakes (like once baby got too hot and she didn't have any water for her - he was livid) and she really seems to lack confidence to do things on her own with the baby. I know thats partly PND but he does seem IMO to put her down and make her feel she can't cope on her own.

I don't think she is sure about working yet. She was quite ill before and during her pg and hasn't worked for a while.

thisisyesterday Wed 30-Sep-09 18:31:42

hmm does soiund a bit worrying. he sounds very controlling doesn't he?
could you speak to her parents? see what they think?

i was under the impression that CB should be paid to the main caregiver, so I wonder if you could point that out to her? might not make a difference but worth a try

QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 18:58:36

Her parents think he is the best thing since sliced bread - she had a difficult time as a teenager for various reasons and then when she met him at 18 they were thrilled. He does seem like a perfectly nice, reliable, responsible man. I don't really get on with them well enough to ask anyway.

I have told her that about CB but apparently her DH thinks its easier for him to handle the finances.

diddl Wed 30-Sep-09 19:11:19

Does she not have a bank account at all?

If so, could CB be transferred to her?

thisisyesterday Wed 30-Sep-09 19:47:06

thinking about itsome more, how do you think SHE feels about the money situation?

i know that when i was suffering from depression what i longed for was for someone to take care of me, not to have to worry about a single thing and to basically be "mummied"

is it possible that she actually doesn't mind it being loike this, even though it adversely affects her?

obvously i am projecting here, but it is possible that rather than being unhappy at having no money she is thankful for not having to bother??

QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 19:58:41

TIY yes I think in many ways she is very grateful to her DH for taking care of everything. It just seems to me that she is being 'kept' a little bit too closely for comfort.

I suppose I am also projecting tbh as I have been a single parent for nearly 5 years (I do have a DP now but he doesn't live with us or anything like) and I'm fiercely independent. I think its shocking that she doesn't get to know what he earns, or where it goes, or have any say over it or share in it. That she loses out on benefits to which she/their DD is entitled that could be worth £70/80 a week because her DH won't share the information she needs to claim them, or make the claim himself. To me that is an outrage.

thisisyesterday Wed 30-Sep-09 20:04:34

oh no, i totally agree with that, i had just got to wondering whether she just prefers it like that.
that said, een if that was the case he does seem very controlling taking the drink/meal example where she wanted to go and then he said it was too mcuh

i dunno, i guess i'd maybe bring it up with her and see if she wants to visit you or something and then if she mentions lack of money just say "oh, why don't you get the CB paid to yourself, then you'd have some spending money" and see what she says.

LauraIngallsWilder Wed 30-Sep-09 20:09:18

QoFE - Surely with most landline packages telephone calls after 6pm and at weekends are free anyway - certainly with bt they are so she doesnt need to worry about that

I would suggest she gets some sort of hobby to get her out of the house more - give her a wider perspective on life perhaps.

Here if you do a course that involves learning - basic skills course to help her with maths and literacy for example she would qualify for free childcare for the baby

It does sound to me like her dh has her in his pocket rather too much yes

Needs to be sorted I think but not entirely sure how - maybe if homestart are in her area she would benefit from having a homestart volunteer to chat too about things? (I am a HS volunteer myself!)

thisisyesterday Wed 30-Sep-09 20:18:11

homestart is a good idea actually. and i wonder if her local library does anything? ours does lots of free stuff for kids

Janos Wed 30-Sep-09 20:21:37

Hi Queen, I don'tw ant to aalrm yu but having read your OP your cousin sounds quite at risk and her DH sounds as though he could be an EA (Emotional Abuser).

There are some big red flags. He controls her access to money and doesn't let her out? Doesn't let her make phone calls? And he criticises and undermines her parenting ability, when she's vulnerable - suffering from PND.

I think you are dead right to be concerned and look out for her. He may not 'seem' to be a bd guy but abusive men can be very convincing to the outside world.

I'd bet you anything he is trying to limit your contact with her as he is threatened by you - not letting her come out and see you because it would cost too much eh? Hmmm. I would do your utmost to keep in touch as it sounds like she needs your help.

Frankly, he sounds like a nasty piece of work.

Janos Wed 30-Sep-09 20:24:24

Apols for bad spelling. Tiredness!

Agree that homestart (or is it surestart) might be a helpful starting point.

Also, I do wonder if 'D'H is taking advantage of your cousins vulnerabilities.

It's really good you are looking out for her Queen

LauraIngallsWilder Wed 30-Sep-09 20:28:18

Home start and sure start are similar but different
HS are a charity and offer home visits by volunteers plus mum and baby groups and sometimes other stuff

Sure start are a government thing (I think) and offer drop in centres, home visits, behaviour managment courses, other stuff

QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 20:51:58

I will suggest HomeStart to her, thanks for the idea.

Janos - that is exactly what I worry about. He does seem so nice and mild mannered. I know that means very little and its what he actually does (however nicely he may do it) that count. But my cousin and her family all think he has her and their DD's best interests at heart. TBH I suspect they think I am poorly qualified to offer advice on relationships after what happened with my DD's dad hmm

She is really, deeply vulnerable, though she doesn't see herself as such and I wouldn't say it to her. I won't go into too much detail but she had a pretty grim childhood/adolescence, with depression and eating disorders as a teenager. She knows where I am and that she is always welcome here and that if she needs me to I will pay for her ticket.

WickedWench Wed 30-Sep-09 20:55:47

There is a very good reason why the CB should be in her name. It gives whoever's name it is in protection over their State Pension - it's called Home Responsibilities Protection.

www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Caringforsomeone/DG_10018 691

Her DH is paying conts towards his SP and your cousin isn't. He is gaining no advantage - other than control - from having the CB in his name and he is putting her at a serious disadvantage in the long term.

If she isn't working and isn't paying NI then it is madness not to have it in her name. I don't see how he could argue this one. She needs to protect her financial future and if he is a DH who actually cares about her (?) he wouldn't want to risk it either.

QueenOfFlamingEverything Wed 30-Sep-09 21:03:56

I will try to talk to her about it again. I had forgotten about HRP - thank you for pointing that out.

She just gets so upset/confused when money and entitlements are mentioned - I know it fries her head and she tries not to think about it.

Portofino Wed 30-Sep-09 21:12:27

Taht's maybe a ggod one to use. Not contraversial to point out that she is missing out on pension entitlement as he is currently getting the CB. She could have "recently learnt" this. His reaction to this request would tell volumes!

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