Friday, May 11, 2012

Trying to find common ground

It's ironic that Dulce de Leche chose to post this article today. DH and I were just discussing this very thing a couple nights ago.

Like Melissa and her spouse, we - or perhaps I should say, I - have been questioning our relationship as it was, is, and will be in the future. (DH prefers the deny/ignore/pretend approach.) In conclusion, I have to admit that it wasn't what we thought it was. It isn't what it needs to be. And it won't survive without more changes than just DH staying sober.

Some of those changes can be mine. And I have hesitated a long time about bringing the subject up, because I don't think it's fair to sit there and say what I feel, which is: "You have no parenting standards, no boundaries, and therefore I am right by default and it's up to me to set the boundaries and you better toe the line if you want to stay."

I went to switch out the laundry at my mom's house next door the other night. Batman was on the TV when I left and all three of my guys were watching it. I was gone ten minutes. When I came back, Family Guy was on. A horse was licking Peter's bare ass in the bed. I. Flipped. Out. 

A few months ago I collected all the South Park, Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Always Sunny DVDs, and hid them, because DH refused to stop watching them in front of the kids. Oh, he didn't refuse verbally. Verbally, he agreed with me as always and assured me he was on board. He just didn't stop.

So his response was, "Whiz Kid got it out. I don't know where it came from." Oh, and that is relevant HOW? "As long as they were hidden, this wasn't a problem! I haven't been letting them watch it. This just happened, he found it and put it on." So you were powerless to stop this? Your 7-year-old makes the decisions now?


I decided the talk was too long overdue. So we put the kids to bed and I sat down to try to put all the pent-up anger, betrayal, and anxiety of the past few months into words other than "I hate you for being a liar and a fraud." Which is a little bit of how I feel, but not the majority of it. That's just the part that takes over when I'm feeling hurt.

After a while I managed to express that I realize we have nothing in common. And I mean nothing. No interests, no beliefs, no values, no hobbies, not even foods for crying out loud. Except one thing. Or three, I suppose. Our kids.

I have given up on changing the other things. He will never be interested in socializing or making friends with anyone I want anything to do with. He will never want to participate in the sorts of activities that I enjoy. I can't be friends with the kind of people he associates with. I am tired of wasting the very little time I have for fun on things he enjoys. Can I live with that? Yes.

Our beliefs and values, however, must find a common ground. I can sacrifice a few things, because I feel it is healthier for the kids overall to have consistent household standards than for me to stick to my guns. The trouble is, I've already made all those compromises, just unwillingly. I am not going to make any more. My kids have already become the kids I wanted to keep my kids away from. And although I no longer believe in keeping my kids away from peers unless those peers are abusive to them, I still am unwilling to compromise further.

I can live with my kids playing video games and watching Batman and listening to wordly music that is not angry or excessively loud. But they can't watch mature television shows, horror movies, or listen to violent and screaming music. System Of A Down and Black Sabbath are not appropriate for young children. Plus it's bad for their hearing. Just like lots of sweets are bad for their teeth. Both things he refuses to believe.

Dulce made the point about being a united family, not a united front. I do think it's important to be a united front when the kids inevitably try to bend the rules. And they will, because that's what kids do. But I was already thinking about how to involve the boys in establishing some household rules and agreeing on consequences if they are broken. My only fear is that DH will break those rules himself on occasion, and the boys will be in a position of either tattling on Daddy, which is not good for them, or seeing him break the rules without consequence, which undermines the value of the rules.

All I can do is try. And as always, he says he will go along with it. We shall see.


  1. Pippi,
    I want to wish you a Happy Mother's day.
    Take care-

  2. I have just started reading your blog, but I hope you will find in me and ally and a friend. In many ways I can relate to what you are going through; in too many ways, in fact. :(

    I strongly recommend an EMDR/grief counselor for you, to strengthen your confidence and help you rise to your full stature as a woman. It seems to me like you are already going through a realization process, and a little help would be nice, since waking up is hard to do. (Play on "breaking up is hard to do" but often the two go hand in hand.)

    This may be way out of line for me, mere internet stranger, to write, but I think your husband has way more problems than can be quickly or easily solved. He himself is a child of abuse, and what that means for his personality is that at whatever age the abuse began, that is the emotional age he will stay without trauma therapy and long-term counseling. He acts like a child because he IS a child inside.

    In reality, you do not have a two adult parent arrangement. You feel like the only responsible adult because you ARE the only responsible adult. It's not just a feeling, it's an accurate assessment of the situation. BTDT.

  3. Would parenting and running the household be easier on your own than staying married? Probably, but you owe it to yourself to thoroughly explore all the issues with a counselor before making big changes. There is a reason you were attracted to this man-child(unless it was just because he was your only social connection) and healing that little glitch in your spirit/heart/emotions will keep you from repeating the same mistake with another guy.

    I don't mean to be insulting when I say that your husband is a toddler in a man's body. It's not like he CHOSE to be abused and have his emotional growth truncated as a child! He may honestly put real effort into being more "grown up" and responsible, but inwardly he is still relying on the emotional resources of a young child. He means well, but he lacks the self-control and ability to foresee consequences that should have naturally developed over time as he grew up were he in a healthy environment. Abuse sort of short circuits the natural development of children. It's not like he WANTS to be the way he is. I'm sure he has told you that many times, promised to be different, and is as disappointed with himself as you are when he fails.

    I keep suggesting EMDR because it is working for me, and for my husband. Even still, we have discussed that a separation might be in order, and he knows I will leave him if the abuse doesn't completely stop. Right now, the abuse is farther between, but it still happens. It's not physical abuse; it's emotional abuse for the most part at my house. (Stuff similar to your husband saying to your face he won't watch certain videos, then watching them anyway with the kids. I call that abuse, because it keeps you emotionally unbalanced, caught between a desire to trust and relax and a need to be mistrustful and vigilant. That's emotional abuse in a nutshell- continued uncertainty, anxiety, unsafe to relax and enjoy life.)

  4. I came up with a five year plan. My five year plan involved domestic violence group therapy, meds, and long-term EMDR/talk therapy for my husband. My five year plan involved long-term EMDR/talk therapy for me (with my OWN therapist) as well as going back to school to learn a trade. In twenty-one months I will graduate. Once I am financially self-sufficient, he is out of time to get it together.

    And in between then and now, if he is abusive again, I told him he could move into the guest bedroom for a minimum of three months. We are now on year three of my five year plan, so I did not come to this consequence quickly. But it is in place now. My husband IS doing all the can to heal, but in the end, it still may just not be enough.

    Your life is totally different from mine, and you will need to come up with your own plan, obviously. But I hope my story helps you come up with a really GOOD plan: one that gives you plenty of time to do what's best for you and your children, as well as helps you build the strength and job skills you will need if that plan involves going your separate ways.

    Peace and good will, SS

  5. You knew that I was Pippi, right? Some of the things you said made me think perhaps you didn't know that. I thought I notified all my followers, so sorry if I missed you.

    Yes, I am all too well aware of the fact that he is still a child, and that it was the child in him I was drawn to since I really dislike men in general. I hoped the methadone clinic would provide these counseling resources, like they bragged they would. But he sees a counselor for 45 minutes a month as one of 3,000 patients, and sees a doctor for about 5 minutes every two weeks. They have not provided any family counseling at all, have in fact started him on some very drastic Hep-C medications without talking to me at all. And while they may not be legally obligated to involve the spouse, I feel strongly that given the debilitating side effects of these drugs, they owed it to us on a moral level to discuss with BOTH of us what we should expect as far as the impact on our lives.

    Anyway, I don't have time to get into it all here, I have a lot of posting to do that I just can't get to. Thankyou for your kind advice and suggestions. I will look into that therapy, but until we can get some kind of medical coverage, anything that doesn't come from the clinic is out of reach. :(