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Unread 11-18-2010, 09:11 PM
 
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Hopes - go get checked and take your medicine! We'll nag you until you do.
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Unread 11-18-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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I need help from you guys. The double standards thread inspired me to discuss this here, but I don't want to start a thread because it's marriage related, not parenting---except in the aspect of saving a marriage for the sake of the children.

It's my little sister. Her marriage isn't the best. It's not the worst either. She's depressed.

History: She has been married for about 20 years. Married right after our parents died. Her husband proposed the night of the funeral saying he wanted to take care of her the rest of her life. They were high school sweet hearts. It wasnt like she didn't know him. They had dated for quite a few years and lived together for a couple of years too. She was young and scared after our parent's death. I'm six years older than her and I was scared too. Something about losing your financial and emotional safety net, I guess. Maybe everyone feels that way when losing a parent. Whatever.

Anyway. They have four children. The youngest is one. They have a stable life. Both have great jobs. They have a great house. Everything looks perfect. But it has never been perfect. He's not physically abusive. But he takes advantage of her. And she has always let him take advantage of her. It has worn her down.

He has those old fashioned double standards. They both work full time. She does everything at home---housework, taking care of the kids---everything. He does whatever he wants. He hunts. He fishes. He'll go for entire days doing what he wants. He buys expensive toys---like boats---without discussing it with her. Treats watching his own children like he is a babysitter.

She asks permission to buy anything. She never goes anywhere. We're talking it's a big deal for her to go shopping without the children for even two hours. He comes and goes as he wants (as he should), but she has to ask him to watch the children if she wants to do something. It's always a big hassle. He buys expensive toys and she has to ask to buy herself a new shirt.

He's manipulative. Degrading. Holds things over her head for years. Makes fun of her. Plays head games. Granted, not everyday, but this is how he has controlled her all these years.

After 20 years and 4 children later, she is worn down. She's older and wiser. She's starting to decide that this isn't the life she wants. She's depressed. She started counseling.

She told him a month ago that she was so unhappy that she was thinking of divorce. It blew him away because in his mind he has the perfect marriage. He's happy. His life is perfect! He was devestated. Told her he wanted to work it out and help her overcome her depression. He said he would watch the kids once a week so she could get out of the house.

That happened one week. This week, he had to watch them while she was working one day so he refused to watch them for her to go shopping at night. Now he's playing his head games and is acting like she must have someone else. She doesn't. She's confused by this reaction. I told her that's what guys do when their wives start talking divorce---they assume their wives have someone else.

In her depression, she is feeling like she married him for all the wrong reasons. She had an opportunity to marry someone else who was a better match for her a year earlier and regrets she didn't marry the other guy. She doesn't want a divorce. She wants her marriage to be right. She wants to be treated like a wife, not a daughter. Treated equal. Who wouldn't want that.

I've been trying to encourage her to take control and form healthy boundaries. Go buy something without permission. Go do something without asking permission----just say without warning, "I going jogging. Be back in an hour." And leave the kids there with him and just go. Like he does to her.

But I'm worried that she might become unsafe if she starts flexing her independence. She has so many years of parenting left to go. Her beautiful children have a nice life. The household is calm and light hearted because my sister has played along. I'm not saying she should keep playing along. I'm just afraid she might be poking a sleeping bear.

This is all foreign to me. My husband and I are equals. We both come and go as we please. We both buy whatever we please.

How does a woman in her situation turn her marriage around into what she wants it to be?

Last edited by Hopes; 11-18-2010 at 09:34 PM..
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Unread 11-18-2010, 09:26 PM
 
37,872 posts, read 39,239,593 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkcoop View Post
Hopes - go get checked and take your medicine! We'll nag you until you do.
Okay! Okay! I'll do it! I really will! Next week. I don't have class on Tuesday! Promise!
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Unread 11-18-2010, 09:28 PM
 
Location: Denver area
16,369 posts, read 10,467,427 times
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Originally Posted by jkcoop View Post
Awwhhh....

Have a good holiday!

I will - thanks! Tomorrow is my last day of work - took all next week off...It's so slow right now. Family descends on Monday night and leaves Thursday. I've done pretty much all my shopping...all that's left is the cleaning and cooking...By Thursday evening I'll be beat. I may sleep all day Friday! DD will want to drag me shopping but it's so not my thing to shop on Black Friday...but if it's important to her she knows I'll go...Especially if her BFF and her mom go..then we'll meet up for coffee, shop then have lunch....Those girls have been besties since 6th grade so she's my other DD....

You have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!
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Unread 11-18-2010, 09:50 PM
 
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Oooh Hopes - I don't know how your sister put up with that for all those years. Funnily enough, my hubby is going through almost the exact same thing with his sister. His sister's husband is acting now like nothing is wrong, but his first words after hearing how miserable she is were "I'm going to take everything you hold dear." Men do not react kindly once their fantasy worlds are shattered. My first instinct would be to say "go.. run.. be free... " but after having a kid I don't think that way any more.

Of course, everybody deserves to live a better life. But I think you are right about the kids.. their world will be uprooted and chaos will ensue. It worries me after reading so many threads about Moms having conflict with their teenage daughters with their Dads no longer in the house, if that were to be the ultimate outcome.

OTOH, what message does it send to them that it's ok to be treated like a child by your own husband? The danger is that they will mimic the same behavior when they have serious relationships. I have no idea if it's even possible to change her husband's attitude. She let him get away with it for an awfully long time.

Oy, it's very complicated and I don't think there's one good answer.
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Unread 11-18-2010, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Denver area
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Hopes....If they are to work the marriage out, I think they both need counseling. She probably needs to continue individual counseling but the relationship also needs work and it can't just be her working on it. Sadly, I don't think her situation is all that unusual - even in this day and age. I am close to some people in very similar situations. It truly does take both people willing to work to make a meaningful change. It sounds as if he is thinking he just needs to be supportive while she's "going through stuff" and that once she's "fixed", she'll be back to normal and things will continue as in the past.
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Unread 11-18-2010, 10:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FinsterRufus View Post
Oooh Hopes - I don't know how your sister put up with that for all those years.
They didnt have children right away. I think her oldest is 10. Prior to having children, the relationship was more volitile. She would get into the car and leave---but drive around feeling like she had nowhere to go because our parents had died. She only told me this recently. She could have come here! I think it was because she was sooooooooooo young when our parents died. I think she never thought she could take care of herself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinsterRufus View Post
Men do not react kindly once their fantasy worlds are shattered.
That's what worries me. He's already starting the mind games he played years ago. This crap about thinking she has a boyfriend. She fell right into groveling and kissing his rear end---when she should have said "how dare you!" I'm trying to explain to her that he does this crap because it works. She needs to stop letting him manipulate her into kissing his rear end. I think deep down she's afraid of him---not shaking in fear, not walking on egg shells, but senses what he's capable of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinsterRufus View Post
My first instinct would be to say "go.. run.. be free... " but after having a kid I don't think that way any more.

Of course, everybody deserves to live a better life. But I think you are right about the kids.. their world will be uprooted and chaos will ensue.
Yeah. She doesn't want a divorce. She just wants him to help make the marriage truly happy for her. She loves her kids too much. I know she would leave him if he physically attack her. I know she would leave him if the household became hostile with constant fighting. But household is actually very calm. If that changes, she would probably leave to do what's best for the children. Right now, that's not the case. The children have a nice life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinsterRufus View Post
OTOH, what message does it send to them that it's ok to be treated like a child by your own husband? The danger is that they will mimic the same behavior when they have serious relationships.
I know! But it's sort of under the radar because she doesn't make an issue of it. I don't think they realize that daddy has all this freedom and mommy has none.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinsterRufus View Post
I have no idea if it's even possible to change her husband's attitude. She let him get away with it for an awfully long time.

Oy, it's very complicated and I don't think there's one good answer.
Sleep on it. I'm desperate for ideas.

At this point, I told her that she needs to take the doctor up on the recommendation for antidepressants.

How else can she continue to be the happy fake wife OR rebel without some pharmacutical courage?
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Unread 11-18-2010, 10:10 PM
 
37,872 posts, read 39,239,593 times
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Originally Posted by maciesmom View Post
Hopes....If they are to work the marriage out, I think they both need counseling. She probably needs to continue individual counseling but the relationship also needs work and it can't just be her working on it. Sadly, I don't think her situation is all that unusual - even in this day and age. I am close to some people in very similar situations. It truly does take both people willing to work to make a meaningful change. It sounds as if he is thinking he just needs to be supportive while she's "going through stuff" and that once she's "fixed", she'll be back to normal and things will continue as in the past.
You're right. I know that too. I'll talk to her about it. I just don't see him going to counseling. I guess miracles do happen.
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Unread 11-18-2010, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Denver area
16,369 posts, read 10,467,427 times
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Quote:
I think she never thought she could take care of herself.
This is exactly why I stress to both my kids (but particularly my daughter) to not get married without living on your own for a bit first. There is power to knowing you can support yourself if needed.
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Unread 11-18-2010, 10:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by maciesmom View Post
This is exactly why I stress to both my kids (but particularly my daughter) to not get married without living on your own for a bit first. There is power to knowing you can support yourself if needed.
That's so true!

btw, I think you're right on target about his thinking that she'll go back to normal after she gets over this.
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