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Since my childhood my parents have a terrible relationship.

Constant arguments, gaslighting, infidelity, bickering...
Since my childhood my parents have a terrible relationship. Constant arguments, gaslighting, infidelity, bickering over money, hiding money, blaming, tattling, belittling me, each other and their grandchildren. This extended into their late 80’s. This has been devastating for me. Crushing. Dealing with this craziness through their declining health has been debilitating.
My husband and I thankfully are far from behaving like them. But through the years I have told my husband that I feel he doesn’t support me or present a united front when they attack us or are nasty to us.
My mother has since passed away and my father has ramped up his nastiness. He has accused me of ‘getting’ all of my mother’s monetary savings and ‘having’ her car without legal documentation. He’s not exactly saying stealing per say. but that’s how it sounds to me. It’s not true anyway because it was all willed to me. At her burial I was not even acknowledged by the chaplain as being her only child. It was so horrible standing in the rain like a stranger. My husband’s response was— that’s really terrible. Flat line. Finally after I got myself together I told my husband again. I don’t feel like he is my protector. He would talk to my father if I ask him to. But he approaches it like mediator instead of a husband. It’s been 26 years. He knows this is not he said, she said. I have been direct about telling him how alone I feel. I finally said out right if I were the man I would say (to my father) maybe you don’t understand how hurt your daughter is feeling right now. Whether he understands/comprehends that or not. The bot***** *****ne is— this is my wife, when you upset her, you are upsetting my household. I am responsible for caring for my family and my wife is not ok. Please treat her kindly like you would want to be treated and speak to her civilly.
That should have happened YEARS ago. I have been very up front with my father (and my mother when she was living) about his behavior too— face to face, and through letters. It’s not that I expect my husband to solve this, but I need him to support me like I support him. His lack of empathy for my pain has been very slowly driving a wedge between us. I don’t understand how he doesn’t want to attempt to resolve this. How it doesn’t bother him. How he can watch me suffer and just say— well, that’s bad. This is the first time I’ve said— you need to stand up and be a man. I know that’s not a particularly nice thing to say but that is how I feel. I need help with this, please.
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Answered in 28 minutes by:
3/13/2018
LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 954
Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience
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Hi, thank you for writing. My name is***** am sorry to read your brief story. Being treated so poorly buy your parents is heartbreaking and I understand that you wish you had someone in place to really stand up to your dad to ensure he understands how much he has hurt you. However, I am not sure this is necessarily the role of your husband. I think my first question to you would be in regards ***** ***** husband's personality. Is he the type of guy to be aggressive and confrontational? Or is he more demure and lower key and avoidant. Because if he isn't confrontational, then you may simply be expecting/desiring him to do something that is completely out of his character. In that case, you may be misreading his resistance as a sign he lacks consideration for your feelings when he really does care. But even in caring, he may just not be the type oto stand up to your dad due to the nature of his personality. Let's start there. What are your thoughts?

I look forward to thinking this through with you,

-Leah

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
That is true he does avoid confrontation. And if this were 10 even 20 years ago I would accept that. But my husband has watched me dutifully care for both of my parents, defend them from each other, do whatever it takes including lifting my 200+ lb father off the floor when he’s fallen. At some point I feel like even for him there has to come a point where enough is enough. Or too much, where you are compelled to say something. He advocates for himself at work, and for the kids. I am just always on my own. Even a lack of comfort when it’s just us.

Thanks for replying. It sounds like maybe this lack of defending you may just be one issue you are having with your husband. Often, we find ourselves hoping for change to come naturally. Hoping the other person will just "get it" and step up to meet our need. But 1) they may not know what we are expecting or hoping from them and 2) they just may not be the type of person to deliver what we want. So if the traits you are seeing are more life-long and have always been the way it has been in your marriage, then you may need to face the reality that it isn't likely things are suddenly just going to change. Your husband didn't say anything then and may not have ever been the most empathetic or warm companion, so again, this is likely to be a stagnant trait. If you expect something from here or want to seek change, then you have to be diligent about advocating for what you need and want. Trust me - this is easier said than done because it is often so much easier to just let things slide as they wax and wane in importance. But then, we get more and more backed up with stifled emotions and resentful. My point is that if you want something to change, you should speak up and express what you want. If you weren't doing this your whole marriage, now may be a good time to start. Then, give him a chance to address your requests and justify his own choices. Ultimately, you can't control the way he acts but you can control how you react and if this has been a marriage always lagging in support, it may be time now that you and him consider greater efforts to try to remedy these issues (such as through counseling) so you and him can actually find peace and grow together. But it has to start with honesty and open communication.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have never been the type of person to expect him to know what I need. I tell him. I am definitely direct about it. I just have trouble understanding that he may not have a bot***** *****ne where things are just too much for him to stand by complacent.

I hear you. That is frustrating. What would it be like if he really did not have this bot***** *****ne point. Do you feel like that implies he doesn't care like he should?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have mentioned this before when it was less serious. I’d say it would have been nice if...
He will go talk to him if I directly ask him to but he goes like he wants to hear my father’s side of things (each and every time he returns saying your father is telling serious lies, or he’s changing the subject) He does not go as my advocate. Which is what I think should be his goal.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
If he doesn’t have a bot***** *****ne I’d think something is seriously the matter with him. And if something were really plaguing the family I would have the urge to push him aside and deal with it myself so that it was handled and not let slide.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
This so stresses me out that if I drank ( I don’t) I feel like this would drive me to drink/ self medicate.

Do you think it is possible that he just knows your DaD has such issues that he doesn't feel it worth the confrontation? i am not trying to defend your husband here. You clearly feel very let down. But you have talked o him before and nothing has changed. At this point, you probably will either have to adjust your expectations, fight harder, or leave. In your broader relationship id this lack of advocacy for you against your father enough to end your marriage?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I’m trying for that not to be the case. It is an issue when we have to have a united front on issues with the kids too.
He is a very nice man, but some times I feel like we are friends not lovers or spouses. What really hurt is I explained this to a male family member (other side of the family) and he said I hate to hear this it makes me mad I can’t do or say anything to stop this from happening to you.
Exactly what I would say if it were reversed. It’s got to stop.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Even if he can’t fix my dad, (that’s likely the case) his goal should be to make sure I am ok or as much as he humanly can.

I fully agree - a husband should seek to support his wife. So the issue here is two-fold - 1) he didn't stand up to your Dad and 2) you don't feel well supported and are feeling more like roommates than spouses. These issues are actually mutually exclusive meaning he can still support you and care and empathize without standing up to your Dad, But if he isn't doing either, then I encourage you to look at the bigger picture, which I believe you are trying to do and are just using the situation with your dad as one example. If your husband is nice but you do't feel you and him are connected and on the same page, needless to say wholeheartedly supportive, then really think you need to consider getting in to see a couple's therapist to determine if you want to work on this issue and how.

I can personally relate to this. Sometimes it can be hadr in the midst of tough times to remember why you chose your partner. A lot of marriages go through tough times and it can be easy to lose sight of past happiness. Just remember, if things were happy once and you chose him for good reason, things can be happy again. That may involve some work though. And luckily, you are not without options. Right now, you need to decide if this man is worth the effort at this point in your life, and if he is, then you should be hopeful about opportunities to rediscover the reasons why you married him in the first place. Then, if things really don't improve because he just doesn't have it in him, then you can make new decisions knowing you threw everything you could at this.

LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 954
Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience
Verified
LeahMSWuofm and 87 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Ok , thank you, ***** ***** going to talk to him again tonight and see how he sounds about counseling.

You are welcome. I think that is a really great idea to address therapy. I certainly have hope for you and your marriage and I hope he shows you through agreeing to therapy that he DOES care and is wlling to work on this issue as a team. Good luck to you!!

-Leah

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LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 954
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Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience

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