February 19, 2000
Dear Dr. Irene:
Mine is the same old story. My husband had verbally abused me for
years. He blamed me for everything. It took years to stop
taking the blame for his behavior, and I am still learning and healing.
Over the years it has been control of the money, criticizing everything I
did, name calling, angry outbursts over the slightest thing, demanding his
way or the highway, etc. I was foolish enough to try so hard
to please him that I almost had a nervous breakdown. Not knowing
then that even if I fulfilled all of his demands, it would never have been
enough to calm his terrible rages. He has recently confronted his
anger problem. He is now on medication and is addressing the way he
reacts improperly. Good!
The problem I am still having is
outside influences: his mom. My mother-in-law divorced his father
for abusive behaviors and left the kids with him. Even though she
remarried a man who treats her very kind, she still to this day enables MY
husband to be an abuser!
Every sentence is.." I know he
has a bad temper BUT..." Naturally that "but" is me.
If I did not provoke him. If I would just stay quiet
when he is yelling. If I was a better housekeeper. If
I had my make-up on every night when he walked through the door. And
the list goes on. For your own sake, if you
are acting out angrily, stop. But, nothing
Every time I set
boundaries, he ran to the only person who would support his behavior:
mom. When I would make headway, she convinced him that she "understands"
because I am so inadequate. I was physically ill and her own
grandson was in therapy because the yelling caused him severe headaches. She
asked my son why he was having headaches and seemed unhappy. He told
her that he did not like when his father yelled. She told him to try
and do his chores without being told and that there are "two sides to
every story - your mother provokes him". Can you believe that
my son open up to her for support - thinking that his grandmother might be
able to get through to his father - and she blamed me and the
It has taken me a long time, but I
know that I am a good wife and mother. I have 5 children (2-9). My
days consist of cleaning and caring for them. My house is clean, but
you could find toys or a piece of cookie under the cushion. I told
my husband that I doing my best and that is all I can offer at this time.
Things can not be perfect. I have always wanted a big family, and
have never regretted for one minute having them.
But his mother's constant
interference and enabling is awful! I am constantly trying to set
boundaries for BOTH OF THEM. It is confusing for him because he is
thinking, "my own mother would not steer me wrong. There must be some
validity in my demands."
When I was 15 pounds overweight and
he told her that it bothered him, she ran hundreds of dollars of diet food
to my house. When he overspent, with her help, he took control of
the finances and took my name off the accounts! There have been countless
other such examples. I was too depressed and weak to confront the
situation, so it continued. Now, I am getting well and have broken
all ties with her, but she continues to be a big influence in his life.
Please tell me how I can get her
out of my marriage and our business. She needs to see that she is
stunting his growth. Its not up to her. He has
to tell her to butt out. He is a big boy now.
I can't believe that a 32 year old man would be so dependant on his
mother! She excuses and condones his abusive ways. Any ideas how I
would approach this? I am at my wit's end. Tell
your husband that he is married to you and not to his mother. Tell him her
well-intended "help" is hurting your marriage and is a violation
of your marital boundaries. Tell him, now that he is cleaning up his act,
that you want to restore the integrity of your marriage. Get into counseling
I am sure that there are other victims who have a third party
enabling the abuser in thinking that their behavior is acceptable.
Thank you for any advise you may be able to offer. Sincerely, Katje
advice is to put your foot down and insist he stop the
triangulation, as opposed to expecting mom to stop it. She won't. Let's
see what advice others have for you. Doc
I want to read the posts.