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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

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10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

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4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

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4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Outside Influence: His Mom

Outside Influence: His Mom

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 else flies.

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 children?  

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 with him.  

 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

Dear Katje,

Basically, my 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

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