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AIBU?

My DH said 'I know you hate it when I talk about my childhood'

14 replies

Hatetosay · 12/12/2019 19:02

I feel terrible.
For background DH and his whole immediate family are now no contact and have been for a few years. MIL in particular was very nasty to me and told several lies to Dp (when we weren't together for long) some which were ridiculous! Such as I told her O didnt want to be pregnant with his child- when i was very happy to be pregnant with our first child!
That i was treating our unborn child like a doll because i brought some baby grows and vest.
That i was only in it for the money (12k a year whem we met!) Becauase i asked him to contribute to our rent
That i was top interested in his finances because i told him he needs to change his bank statements to our address instead of leaving them being sent to her house because she was clearly opening them!
AND THE BEST ONE- That i was trying to stop them from seeing our son because we hadnt visited in two weeks. The two weeks they were on holiday! (Paid for by borrowing the money from my dh- presumably why she didnt want him contributing to the rent).

Anyway after a few years she physically attacked me and broke a few things in our home. Completely unprevoked- she told me to leave my own kitchen (i expected she was trying to snoop in our drawers or something) and i refused. She started screaming at me to get out (of my own kitchen!!!!!) And then started hitting me and screaming that she will batter me! Dh kindly came to my rescue and had to physically drag her off me, all while my 2 year old and 9 month old were watching and screaming in terror, trying to get past her to me, obviously they couldnt and i was so scared! She could have kicked them or anything! It was terrifying. She obviously wanted to start a fight without dp knowing the cause and then say i started attacking her. Luckily he saw the whole thing and that was that. We havent seen her since.

However we have bumped into other family members around town and have always either been ignored (if i am with dh) or followed and shouted at (if i am on my own - with the children each and every time).on one occasion i was walking with the children in the double buggy and dhs brother kept circling the block I was on with his car shouting and throwing things out at me. I had to go into a friends house and ask them to walk me home vecause i was so scared. Another time i realised whole crossing at a zebra crosaing that it was this brothers car who i was walking in front of. He kept reving his engine and creeping forward every time i went to step out so i had to just turn around and walk through a park instead of on the road. The worst occasion was when i walked past dps sisters and cousins (big group) with my 2 LOs and a pregnant belly. This time the eldest threate ed to beat me up and physically blocked my double buggy. They all surrounded me and i really thought i was going to get beaten up (theyre the type) and i didnt leave the house for the rest of my pregnancy (except for school run. Which i changed school for juat incase they showed up at pick up/ drop off).
So lots of reasons to hate his family. Not just 'theyre mean'. They are threatening and terrifying.

Anyway i was talking to dh the other night and he brought up something about when he was a kid- obviously his parents and siblimgs were in the story and he said this!
I know you hate it when I talk about my childhood.

When i have been drunk i have told him that i find it hard hearing 'nice' family stories about these people. Some of the stories involve drugs and theft and bayliffs and police and things! these are from when my poor dh was a child. I cant laugh along with his 'funny stories' because most of them involve abuse or neglect. It is really sad.
The only stories i genuinely like to hear about are with other family members or friends or school. Its not like he has no nice stories but there is always a 'well that explains it' kind of thing. I wont give examples for obvioau reasons but things like inappropriate gifts or punishments for children.
He tends to think it was funny (probably because it would be too hard to think about it properly). I always have to ask him to reassure me that he would never punish our children in the same way or give our kids inapporpriate gifts (think weapon) but it always puts a dampener on the story and he goes quiet.
I dont mean to do it but my jaw tenses and i cant laugh. And if i try to its so obviously fake that hes told me not to bother.

I feel like this could be a serious problem in future. Like he will resent me for not being able to talk about his family to me without me tensing up, faking it or feeling sorry for him. He knows me well enough for the fake laugh to not be enough and honestly, i think it is hurting him.
But i dont know what to do! These are vile people and his childhood was so, different to mine. Not that I had a oerfect childhood. I saw things i shouldn't have and spent more than my fair share of weekends bored in the pub. But i have nice stories too and i can work through the harder stuff with my own siblings. Something dh cant do anymore. I dont know how i would feel if it was the other way around. However my family havent tried to beat him up or been mean to him. They get him xmas gifts and have even socialised with him without me or the kids! He even initiates visits so its not the same.

Is there a way i can share in his family history without being a bloody bitch about it. I imagine its quite draining and im sure he has started to tell a story but changed him mind.

With xmas coming up i think he will be thinking about it more and he has a brother with a december birthday so it's that much harder. He will probably feel like he cant reminisce on his childhood xmas stories amd it makes me sad. And more so it makes him sad. I love him so much but am finding this part hard.
Sorry for length and sorry for typos.

OP posts:
bumpertobumper · 12/12/2019 19:18

His family are obviously incredibly dysfunctional- this has had and impact on you, understandably. Of course it is hard for you to hear stories about them from dh childhood.
However, it is so much harder for him. He grew up surrounded by these people. He has the confusion of knowing that they are toxic etc but still having love for them. For him to accept they they are so awful that negativity applies to him too.
It sounds like he is a good person despite it all. It would be supportive if you could find the resilience to hear him, hold him, he needs to process his upbringing and telling these stories is a part of that.
If possible some counselling would be helpful for him. But having a supportive empathic loving wife will benefit you both. Don't punish him for the sins of his family.

KarsOfficial · 12/12/2019 19:20

This is a very difficult situation for both of you. You both seem to know that his childhood was hard. I understand that you don't necessarily hate when he speaks about his childhood, you hate hearing about the things he had to go through, yes? It helps to try and make these conversations into a constructive thing for both of you.

For example, you can feel bad about his situations, but don't try and make it into a burden. Say how you feel about the situation but don't try and be overbearing. Try and be supportive of how dh has grown as a person despite his past and, if the opportunity arises, try and relate to your own experiences. It's best to have open, supportive communication about negative things than treat them as that-- a negative concept. Sure, it is tough to hear that a loved one struggled, but you have to be there to console him.

Perhaps remind him that his childhood was difficult, but there was no way that he could have really changed it? Or try and remind him of how things are different now. Remind him that his struggles are not a burden to you, they just might be a bit difficult to hear since you care about him so much. I apologise if any of this comes off as unhelpful, it is just what I imagine I would do in a similar situation. It is always upsetting to hear about a loved one's pains.

Perhaps one of the big things you and dh may look into is just being open about your feelings about his past. Again, reminders that this isn't a burden will make him feel a lot better. Nobody wants to feel like they're burdening their loved one by venting or complaining about something.

Best of luck to you and hopefully you can figure it out.

CSIblonde · 12/12/2019 19:29

He's minimising the neglect etc with humour which is probably his coping strategy. Also, maybe you're the only person he's told so he genuinely doesn't get that they're sad, not funny. I think you'd both benefit from counselling so that he can get an objective perspective on it & not think it's just you that feels this way: & you can find strategies to help you deal with it too.

BoomBoomsCousin · 12/12/2019 19:37

I can understand why you react the way you do to his stories. I don't know if you can change that but I would point out that when you listen to them and feel horrified instead of seeing the humour in it that he sees, you're engaging in sympathy rather than empathy. Especially when you then turn his story back on him to make him promise not to do what his parents did. He may have been badly treated but he managed to come out of it well - which says a lot about his resiliency and strength of character. Using humour to play down shocking events is a common coping strategy a way to accept his past without having it retraumatise him every time he looks at it (though he probably doesn't think of it this way). If you want to get past this with him you need to find the ability to listened to him and see his childhood through his eyes rather than your own.

MoMandaS · 12/12/2019 19:41

I have this issue, to a lesser degree. My strategy is to listen, smile a bit distantly and say nothing. It's really hard, I know, but saying anything will just make him feel defensive and conflicted. What I have found is that by staying silent and desperately trying not give off vibes of disapproval has sometimes brought forth his own reflections on his childhood.

ladybee28 · 12/12/2019 20:08

I always have to ask him to reassure me that he would never punish our children in the same way or give our kids inapporpriate gifts (think weapon) but it always puts a dampener on the story and he goes quiet

Ouch.

Stopping that habit would be a good place to start.

And beyond that, turning some of your judgement into curiosity might be helpful. Ask questions – not outraged "how could they possibly!" ones – genuinely curious ones.

You don't have to like the stories, but seeing them and using them as a way to learn more about the man you love could be a helpful way forward.

Hatetosay · 12/12/2019 20:14

@momanders
I'm not sure he would go for the staying silent because he will know I feel bad and he has gotten upset before when he thinks i am solently judging him (well his family). I think he genuinely thinks i hate his mum so anything she did was wrong or bad (which i suppose is true- she could give a thousand pounds to charity and i'd probably have something negative to say about it lol)
I think it is because before we went no contact I had to laugh along with the stories infront of his family, even though i thought they were mental and dh was probably adopted he is so different! But i dont have to do that now because he wont intimidate me if i dont get why shouting at a teacher is funny. I will try and take all this on board. Easier said than done
Thank you for your replies
Means alot

OP posts:
Christmastree43 · 12/12/2019 20:19

Hi OP, I know how you feel, my DP's family is not abusive or aggressive to me at all, but he had and now his younger siblings have a very dysfunctional upbringing - moving house every six months, bailiffs, arrests, no food in the home, no pyjamas or a change of clothes, held back in school and the embarrassment that comes with it all...

When MIL laughs about things like the kids being held back or how lovely the chaos is at home shows off their brand new rented house that they will trash and move on from in six months... Or when DP and his bro go on about the amazing Xmas presents they would sometimes get (proceeds of crime....most years they'd get nothing and some birthdays were forgotten) it does irritate me. Especially as MIL's still doing it now while we work hard and save like normal people.

Quite often I will laugh and humour my DP as he is remembering what to him as a child were good times. Sometimes especially when it's related to things that are ongoing I will say 'that's awful' or similar and fortunately for me he does see it too.

It's pretty sad all round I think that a child has been brought up around that and grown to think it's normal. I think as long as you're sure your DP knows right from wrong there's not always the harm in humouring them when they are looking back in rose tinted glasses/ having a bit of light relief at their past.

Christmastree43 · 12/12/2019 20:23

Oh god the shouting at teachers!! DP's mum relishes relaying stories about this, she is so proud Confused I think she uses stories like that as a badge of being a 'fierce protective mum', whereas if she'd not failed the kids in every other way the teachers probably wouldn't have had a problem in the first place...

She is very proud of the fact that the kids do no homework as 'home is for playing'. Convenient that playing requires zero effort/ input from the adults...

Winterdaysarehere · 12/12/2019 20:27

Maybe encourage him to see a therapist?
We are also nc with neglectful mil and fil. Dh had a rant at the time but no longer mentions them - his choice.

BemidjiMinnesota · 12/12/2019 20:58

If your DH has never told these stories to anyone external to the family before then he might not realise how bad they are? I had a similar situation when I was telling some people about how my sister swore once as a child so my mum dragged her into the kitchen, poured fairy liquid into her mouth and held her head under the tap by holding her hair while my sister was screaming and crying. I thought that was a normal 'parental discipline' story, but it became apparent that it was actually a horribly abusive story, I'd just never thought of it properly before because I still believed in the 'family beliefs' about what is normal.

Would your DH be open to getting counselling? Having family that threaten to beat up his heavily pregnant wife is a whole other level of dysfunctional, and there must be a lot to unpick.

Could you move away from them? It must be so scary to have these psychos around you.

k1233 · 12/12/2019 21:00

You need to not judge. Just accept the stories as they are told to you.

I agree with Ladybee and BoomboomsCousin.

He had no control over his childhood and the actions of others. He had to live through that life and come out the other side. Sounds like he's done pretty well not to end up like his family. That takes quite some doing on his part.

Mydogmylife · 12/12/2019 21:25

Op I think you have to be very careful that your husband doesn't think you are judging him along with his (very) dysfunctional family. Please try not to jump in with comments that might make him think he would behave in this way when he relates a story from his childhood - you do mention that you tend to do this and it must be very hurtful. He seems to be amazingly well adjusted from what you say, so be proud of him and let him know it

BoomyBooms · 12/12/2019 21:44

Can you try to find an angle of his stories to relate positively to? If he has a memory of a place or an event or a story, consciously try to find something good about it and comment positively on that. Even if the only thing that's nice is that he thinks it's nice, iyswim- "it's nice you have a fun memory like that".

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