Dear Sir/Madam This refers to my very traumatic/depressed/angry/denial/repressed husband of 25 years. He is in full midlife crisis that I know I have contributed to but our reunion in November died quickly as he told me he couldn't go against his (childhood abuse) parents who didn't approve of our reunion. We have two sons he loves dearly. I know he loves me dearly but I am still responsible for his pain as well, now he won't talk to me at all. I don't want time to get by with the "No Contact" rule. Here in Australia ALL of his support people help him to move on and get over me. He has absolutely no support for marriage or family, only for getting over us. Is there anything in your deepest hat you can pull out for me to help him, to at least find a way he will talk with me again, to end the pain for our sons and I? Thanking you, Hazel...
I would like to help you with your question.
I am so sorry this has happened. A midlife crisis can be a very rough period for couples and some couples survive it..other don't.
I am glad that you see you had some part in his crisis...but then again each of you do have choices about how you go forward.
It is puzzling that he gives his parents (and other support people) so much power in deciding his future. That would seem to be the place that you can challenge him...
Obviously, your husband is an adult and he ought to be capable of making adult decisions. But at this point in his life he seems to be laboring under depression/anger/trauma/denial/repression...that means he is unable to think clearly. And, from what you have written, he is depending on his parents and others to make the decisions he cannot make. Is this good...is this right? No it isn't.
Dear Dr L
So I think the task for you is to help him see that he is depending on the wrong people to help him. Who he ought to be talking to is YOU...his partner in life.
I know but should I keep trying to talk because research says he'll just push me away? Should I use this 'no contact' rule everyone is referring to as though he will miss us?
Another quick question Dr L is - can his psychologist divulge any information to me? At 25 I think her advice has been to encourage him to move on and he won't let me meet with her. I think she's been on the totally wrong path for 10 sessions with him?
His mother abused him when he was little and his three sisters tell me but he has always said he can't remember anything about his childhood. I believe she has full control and he seeks her approval now. Can I do anything about mother?
What research are you talking about?
Who is talking about a "no contact" rule? And...who says this will make him miss you?
You will have to check with the Board of Psychology to find out if you can talk to his psychologist.
In many countries...you cannot have that information without him signing a Release of Information form. You will have to verify that.
Why will he not tell you who he is seeing?
Have you had couple's therapy? Was that ever discussed?
I take it my research is wrong then...He told me who he was seeing and we were reunited in November before he cried telling me "he can't go against his parents" - they disapproved. He won't talk to me, he's moved house and not told me where he lives, he won't see the Priest with me (he is Catholic), he won't see anybody with me...I've been completely shut out.
No..you really can't do anything about the mother. If she abused him as a child then his fear of her may be so great that he dares not cross her.
Why do you think he is so secretive about where he is living and so forth.
It seems to me that he cannot go against his parents because of the abuse...his mother...and possibly his father...have tremendous power over him...so much power that he does not have the courage to go against them.
They have likely threatened him into submission.
Have you ever done any reading about abuse victims?
That might be helpful for you.
I honestly believe his fear could be that great. We've been together since he was 19. I guess I can't do anything while his mother disapproves then. What a mess. We were a good family until pressures at work, money, kids, etc all became too much in our own ways and now when we found a way to be together and talk things through in November, the mother has quickly and by the sounds of it, permanently changed that.... People can't see the struggle, grief and pain our sons & I try to manage every day. I'm so sorry that there's absolutely nothing more I can do. I have spent many emails and loving letters to try. I had no idea mid life transition could change someone so completely to go against everything that he said was the most important in his life... Thank you anyway Dr L. We'll keep putting one foot in front of the other and try to get over him.
I don't think your situation is hopeless. I think you are up against a formidable opponent in his mother. I think the very best you can do for yourself is to see a psychologist so that you can work through your own feelings of pain and abandonment...and in so doing be there for your children. At the same time...I would see if you can locate your husband so that he doesn't drop out of the children's lives. I can only imagine how terrible this is for them...
Unfortunately...he is listening to the wrong people. Please check to see if it is possible to talk to the therapist. You might simply call her office and ask for an appointment and see what happens.
He has made such a dramatic change...how very sad.
Thank you Dr L - If I tried to email (it's all he may respond to) in a supportive, loving and kind way is it possible I will push him further away? Or if he stops reading my short, sweet notes, can I try to approach his brother who also dislikes me but may see another aspect to what my husband is going through?
Emailing is not going to push him away. Let me give you some suggestions on what to write:
Dear ____ I am hoping that this email finds you well and open to hearing from me. I want you to know that I am trying very hard to understand and accept your choice to not go against your parent's wishes. These are your parents and you are very loyal to them.
I think he is so secretive about where he is living because it's his way of dealing with me is to not deal with me at all. He said he's ashamed, he says he's so confused. He said he's treated me so badly. I think he can't face me though I've said I understood his extreme difficulty and we've always been best friends. I think if he gives me any time to be with him or talk, he'll be tempted to reunite again and he said to me he can't see how he can be with me and have his parents in his life. I said I can talk with them or his sisters but he told me not to.
I respect your love for them and your desire to not go against them.
I do hope and pray that someday you will allow us to talk. Please know that I will give you all the time you need to come to that decision.
Thank you Dr L. You give me some hope that I can still continue to email him just now and then. And I will use your suggestions for the wording which are very similar to those I've written. I won't overdo it, I know that. May be just one a month.
I would not involve his family at this point. Doing that would give them "power" and right now they have had too much power!
Your husband certainly does seem confused...he knows he has hurt you badly..yet he does not seem to have the strength of character to go against his parents.
Is he taking any medication for depression?
It certainly sounds like he ought to be evaluated for that.
Absolutely stay away from his family...they are toxic!
The more "permission" you give him to work through this the better. Right now his parents and family have put enormous pressure on him to comply with their demands. So...if you treat him differently...you have a much better chance of being listened to! It is as you say...if he were to see you or talk to you...the liklihood is that you would reunite.
That was the most important statement you could make to me about power and his family. I had been dwelling on the idea and now I can put it to rest. I have read about abused children specifically of narcissistic parents. His are 75 and 86, does the child get better after their passing? Yes, he is taking medication and tells everyone he's so happy but then told me he cried on Christmas Day because he didn't see his sons which was his choice. Thank you also for the toxic term, I have been told directly 'poison' too. What have I mixed myself up in all these years..
I'm glad you have done some reading...absolutely they are toxic people if they are pressuring him to leave his wife and children! The possibility is that when they die he will be free to make his own decisions...that could also happen as they age and become incapable of exerting so much power.
I am glad he is taking medication..that ought to give you some hope that his depression will lift and he will be able to make better decisions.
Yes...I can understand why you would say...what have I mixed myself up in...
Sometimes people do not reveal their true self immediately. But the fact that your husband suffered from abuse at the hands of his mother tells me - and you - that there was dysfunction in the home and that these are not healthy people.
Dr L, would you have an email that I can contact you on at a later time. I would be happy to pay for your consult. You've been very helpful and you remind me that I'm not going mad, my ideas have been supported by you which gives me confidence knowing what to do. The psychologists (3) here in Queensland, Australia also tell me to just move on, take a hot bath and say there's nothing I can do., He has to be committed and he's clearly shown he's not after the reunion so there's nothing more can be done.. They have been negative in many ways, encouraging the norm of 50% divorce in Australia. It seems to me that your information encourages marriage and children. Thank you so much...I know I will think of other very important questions later...but I'm very appreciate of your time today.. All the Very Best, Hazel....
I am glad that you have found our chat helpful. Yes...I look at each relationship in an individual way and when I believe that the marriage can be "saved" that is what I will support. And...in your case that is what I see.
I'm sorry, but as an Expert on JustAnswer I cannot contract outside of this format. However, you can continue to use my services by asking for me by name when you post a question. So...when you would like to chat...just indicate that this question is for Dr. L only...that will ensure that the question comes directly to me.
I will be very glad to work with you in the future.
I'm sorry that you have not found good psychologists in Queensland....taking a hot bath is NOT helpful!!! And...giving you no hope for your marriage is a great disservice.
You are not going mad. Your are fighting for your marriage and that is what makes sense to do at this point in your life.
Dr L. My husband has coincidentally just brought a box of my son's items around. He said to me 'talking won't help'. He said 'he drew a line' and 'there's no going back'. I said how happy I thought we were reunited and that we'd moved forward together and he said 'mmm'. He said 'he'll see' to talking but he doesn't know when that will be. Does it sound like progress here or just more months of pain and pointless asking and being denied.
Dr L. Thank you so much for your time. I have one last question if that's ok. I have always suspected my husband doesn't have any empathy. I tell him about our sons feelings at Christmas when they actually used the word 'depressed' and we talk as much as a mother can with a 19 and 16 year old. But when I tell my husband he just says about their feelings "I don't know". It's very frustrating. He said though they didn't spend this Christmas together, that "next Christmas they'll be ok". But a week ago, he told me he cried on Christmas Day and 'it killed him' and I said it was killing us too. He just seems to have no regard for his sons feelings either. Are there people with no or little empathy? Is there any way of reaching them?
I would not pressure him into talking, but rather follow the course we talked about earlier...that is, you send him an email. Since you just saw him tonight...wait a week or so to send that email.
I don't think rehashing the past will do any good at this point. He seems to have convinced himself that there is no more to talk about. That, as he said, he has drawn a line in the sand.
I encourage you to focus on you and the children right now and not to reach out to him. He is getting so much pressure from his parents that any pressure from you is going to be received as negative.
As to the empathy. Right now he is overloaded with his own emotional world...the depression/anger/denial you write of. It may be quite impossible for him to even consider what his children or you are feeling. I would not waste any time thinking about this...his mental health is truly in question right now. One of the things for you to try to remember is that you cannot expect him to act/react like a rational man. His emotional life is a mess...he is under the thumb of his parents/family...so you cannot expect him to talk or act like he once did. Right now he is not "himself".
Thank you again Dr L. I have learned so much and I think I have a lot more to work with in patience, in better understanding and in knowing it's not all the gloom I had painted for myself. To be honest, I myself was about to draw the line in the sand now I can continue my daily life with our sons knowing that the future may bring us together as a family again while balancing my hopes more conservatively. Kind regards, Hazel....