Mothering a man

Sometimes it’s just sad to understand something.  Not just sympathize, but understand.  My heart ached a bit reading a blog today:

The Breakfast Monologue   Especially this part…  “Am I just being bitchy? Why do I dislike him so much? Maybe I feel cheated. I ended up with a husband that cares more about himself than about our marriage. I’m just a warm body in the same house so he won’t be alone. I’m not sure I would have ever found a husband who truly cared about me, but living alone would be so much better than living with a grown man who wants you to be his mother.

Ouch.  How many times have I said to him, “I’m not your mother!”  or…

“Your mother and I are different people!” or…

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I want to end up like your mother!”

Why do I say that?  Because his mother has managed his emotionally immature father for decades, about a quarter of a century longer than I’ve been dealing with a lot of the same garbage.

Ouch again.

His mother has made it clear that her kids and grandkids will take a back seat when push comes to shove.  Managing that overgrown emotional toxic toddler husband is her first priority.  It has always been her first priority.  When we were first married, my husband said, “She sold us down the river.”  His words about his mother.

I have a soft spot for his mother though.  I can’t help it.  I’ve tried not to, especially since she hasn’t been particularly good to me over the years.  I just can’t help having sympathy for her.  I guess because to a degree, I understand.  Involuntarily, mind you.  She knows it too.

Like the blogger above, maybe I’ve felt cheated, and I’m not sure I would ever have found a man that truly loved me, but whatever it takes to mother an adult husband for life must be beyond what I’m capable of, because I’m wearing down and wearing out.



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12 Responses to Mothering a man

  1. Exodus says:

    Your mother in law sounds like my mother. How sad though that your husband says that about his mother PJ’s. I mean, in one way it’s good that he says it and acknowledges that she was negligent but then it’s sad that he can’t acknowledge how it has led to his suppressed anger and how he uses you to relive that painful trauma of his childhood.

    I sometimes find myself getting angry at my husband’s parents. I often blame them for creating the monster that I married and not warning me ahead of time. I admit that I don’t attend family functions anymore because I very much resent how my in laws ignore or buffer my husband’s bad behavior. I am often reminded of that horrible movie, ‘ The Burning Bed’ and how Farrah’s in laws behaved the same way. I turned to my in laws once for help and they just sat there like lichens on a tree. They didn’t have anything to offer except to say that we needed to be going to Church more often and praying and then they just changed the subject.

    Like you PJ’s, I do have a soft spot in my heart for my mother in law though because I realize now that she has been abused by a PA husband too. It has become extremely clear to me in the last two or three years that my perception of both of them was very skewed. A year ago, around Thanksgiving, my in laws stopped by to say hello. My mother in law kept telling me how beautiful my home is and that she envied my creativity and she suggested that I would be great at making holiday wreaths and jewelry and opening a shop. I responded by reminding her that I once had a business doing that but had to give it up and wasn’t about to pursue anything that brought me pleasure anymore because her son would ‘ beat me up’ for enjoying my life and that I simply couldn’t handle anymore unnecessary ugliness. She and her husband just looked at the floor as usual. I realize that I should have been more respectful and diplomatic and just not said anything at all but, I can’t help it. I have a lot of suppressed anger too! Then,several months later, I visited her to drop off some seeds ( from my survival stash) and as I pulled up the long drive to the farm, I noticed a beautiful Baltic blue door on one of the barns with red and yellow flowers painted all the way around the building. I was stunned by how beautiful it was. My mother in law told me that she painted it all by herself. I had no idea that she was an artist. I stood there in awe looking at all the details in the mural. It was so beautiful that I almost cried!! I grabbed my camera and began taking photos of the barn. She was taken back my reaction and became extremely excited and wanted to show it to me up close and tell me all the details about her project and how she finally mustered the courage to do it. She told me that she loved to paint when she was younger and had all sorts of canvases and paints but had to give it up. I looked around her house and took inventory of all the small meek dust-covered displays of creativity that she had attempted throughout the years but that were never fully realized. I always felt like everything was so incomplete and unfinished in her home resulting in chaos and clutter but I didn’t realize why until that day. I never judged her for not having a nicer home but I always thought it was so strange that they lived in such a dull dusty environment. That day, it became so clear to me that her creativity had been completely stifled and cloaked in insecurity and fear. I realized that I was becoming her or rather, that I had become her and I think she knew what I was feeling and thinking that day. I felt as though her mural was her diplomatic and safe way of telling me not to allow her son to bully me any longer. That’s what I want to believe anyway. BTW, her husband kept trying to interrupt our conversation about her mural but I kept putting him right back in his place by telling him to not to be rude and interrupt her ( which he always does whenever anyone shows any interest in her) I guess he needs mothering as well.
    Sometimes when I get angry at my husband now, I will say , ‘ Do you think I’ll ever get the chance to create a blue door of my own?”


    I can only blame my in laws to a point and then it becomes my husband’s duty to take responsibility for himself and his own healing. My husband is almost 50 years old and despite his upbringing, he’s been with me long enough that he knows our marriage and business is not working and that I’m depressed and stressed. In fact, he tells me how unhappy HE is. Nothing changes because he doesn’t care. He truly does not care unless it benefits him in some way to care but he must have some motivation to manufacture care- whether it’s because he’s done something that will upset me or he wants to buy something for himself. Our therapist told him years ago that the parent child dynamic between us was destroying our marriage but he just got defensive and angry and walked out.


  2. lonelywife07 says:

    OMG!!! I tell PA Man the same thing! I WILL not become your mother!
    It wasn’t until I realized in Jan. 2012, that my husband was PA, that I also figured out that his father is ALSO PA!!
    My FIL is verbally abusive to my MIL…he will whisper to us, “Hey, watch this” and then will tell my MIL that she burned dinner last night, or her floors are dirty…and my MIL will go off! Yelling and cursing, telling him to Go -blank- himself….And my FIL will sit back and laugh, almost rubbing his hands together in happiness, because he got a response out of her!
    I’ve seen this over and over again, and just did not understand it…PA man would laugh, right along with his father! NOW I understand…this is classic PA behavior!
    My FIL is a cheater and a drunk….and my MIL has paid the price! She’s NOT a nice person, she’s very bitter…and I’ve never really cared for her at all!
    But NOW??? Now I do feel sorry for her, but only to a certain degree….because she COULD have left a long time ago, but she has chosen to stay with him.
    I once told PA Man….”Do you REALLY think your father married that bitter, hateful woman? No man in his right mind would have married her!! Your father MADE her that way! She is his own creation!!”

    Exodus…that is beautiful about your MILs painting….just beautiful 🙂 And GOOD FOR YOU for putting your FIL in his place!!


    • Exodus says:

      You commented about how your mother in law CHOSE to stay and it reminded me that other people’s denial is the root of ALL my problems today. My in laws denial is the source of my anger toward them at times. My brother’s denial has hurt me to the core and it has always caused him to abandon me in my time of need. Denial is so damaging and prevents problem-solving and healing. Shameful behavior causes people to deny the truth which begets more hurtful behavior and more denial. Lies beget more lies, shame begets more shame, denial begets more denial, evil begets evil. Anytime anyone, including ourselves, chooses to deny the truth, we are being selfish- whether it’s to protect ourselves from further abuse or whether it’s because we simply don’t want to acknowledge the problem and take responsibility for fixing it. Living in truth takes courage no doubt but just think of all the wasted time spent in hurtful negative drama when we deny it. My husband spends most if not all of his energy into supporting his lies and his negative behavior. His entire life is built around making me unhappy and I literally mean that. One would think he would want to create a happy world, a happy marriage, a happy life for himself. Instead, he chooses to feed the negative, hateful, angry child that lives inside.
      One of things that I’ve had to realize when I’m feeling so worn down and hopeless is that if I’m expending energy to cope with and survive all the abuse, then I’m still capable of using that energy in a more effective and productive way that nurtures me. I know how difficult that can be when someone is constantly robbing our energy with all their drama but I know it’s possible. Taking care of ourselves, our own happiness and well-being is the foundation for our escape from this insanity. It’s always been difficult for me to put forth any energy into caring for myself. I’ve never felt worthy of even the slightest amount of self-care and I’ve always allowed everyone else’s drama to consume all the oxygen in the room until I am barely breathing.
      I ask, ‘ who is more insane? The abusive husband who is just being himself or the people who know he is abusive and tolerate him and stay with him anyway, expecting him to change?” I don’t mean to insult any one of us but, we do need to be aware that insanity begets insanity and if we don’t take measures to protect our ourselves, we’ll end up insane. While we are sitting in an institution waiting to be told when to eat and drink and go to the bathroom, our husbands will be out in the world talking about how difficult it was living with a depressed wife and how he’s just so glad that we’re finally getting the help that we need.
      For those of you who enjoy reading, have any of you read Mavis Gallant’s, Green Water, Green Sky? Gulp…I could barely get through it. It’s about how a very self absorbed mother drives her daughter to insanity.


      • lonelywife07 says:

        Exodus…I totally agree! I AM codependent…I know this, and I went to counseling for a few months, and while it did help, I also know that it’s up to me to fix this…to fix ME!!

        So that’s what I’m trying to do now…but I feel so guilty when I concentrate on just ME, I grew up in a strict Baptist home, where the man is waited on hand and foot….the husband is the “authority” over the wife, etc.
        I know realize that I’m very messed up because of my upbringing….but I’m doing small things that I like….I’m getting my nails done every two weeks…and yes, PA Man makes a snide remark about it, every now and then, about the money I’m spending, but as soon as he does, I look right at him and say, “Do you want me to stop? I’ll stop if it bothers you!” And he’s quick to say, “No, no, I don’t mind, I like your nails looking nice!” And he does! He’s the one who suggested I start getting them down again, since I quit a few years ago….and btw, money is not an issue.
        He makes enough, but there are times that I could swear he’s resentful that he has to work and I don’t….a few weeks ago he even suggested a part time office job where two of my boys work, since the owner needed someone trustworthy….Right, I homeschool and our youngest son has severe anxiety issues AND mild OCD that he’s in therapy for…Yea, lets shake up his life even more with mom getting a part time job! Fool!!
        BUT when I suggested I start a at home business, he vetoed that idea!! So who knows WHAT he wants…..I don’t think he even knows!!
        BUT I will tell you this….right now I feel that my youngest son needs me….he’s 14 1/2 and his dad’s affair really messed up his feelings of safety and security….Heck, it blew me out of the water, so for a 11 yr old kid, you KNOW that screwed him up, especially when he overheard us talking divorce!!
        BUT, when I can see that maturity has caught up with him….when he’s learned to get his anxiety and OCD under control…Yea, I’m getting a job, I’m going to have my independence, even if we stay married and living as “friends” instead of husband and wife…I WILL be my own person!


      • lonelywife07 says:

        Oh, and I meant to add…..PA Man will NOT drive ME insane! I’m too strong for that! I like who I am. I like how I treat others. I like how MY boys come to me and talk to me about what’s going on in their lives….sure I feel guilty when I take care of ME, but I’m getting over that!
        PA Man is the messed up one…he owns that, NOT ME!!!


  3. WritesinPJ's says:

    Wow, your father-in-law sounds like he’s overtly cruel more than passive aggressive. Not a nice man at all!


    • lonelywife07 says:

      PJs…He’s an alcoholic and a jerk! My in-laws live several hundred miles away, so we only saw them every 2-3 years and since the affair, that they know about since PA Mans cousins helped him hide it…well, since the affair came out, PA Man has cut ALL his family out of his life…because he blames them for his “abusive” life…not that there was much communication with them anyway…maybe a phone call every 2-3 months….the whole family is VERY dysfunctional and I’m glad to be free of them!


  4. choosetobehappy says:

    I’ve heard something similar as well from my pah, he’s said many times that his mother couldn’t defend them with their father because then she would get it afterwards. My father in law would tell his mother that she was “protecting her little babies”, with that statement she would back off and let him beat them or abuse them emotionally by telling them they were nothing and would amount to nothing. Mean, cruel, abusive and childish, all of the above.
    The one good thing is that my pah hasn’t lifted a hand to me, mostly because he knows I will defend myself and when he tried the “protecting my babies” thing with me, I did what I had to do as a mother, regardless of whatever was going to happen afterwards with him. Thank goodness they are better adjusted than I would have thought (although I still think I screwed them up by staying with this man for so long).


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      choosetobehappy, I worry about the impact on all my kids too.


      • choosetobehappy says:

        From what I’ve seen so far from my kids, I’m very worried, I know for sure that one of my sons is my pah and the other is me – and the scary part, they have each of them become what I loath about my relationship. One will let anyone walk all over him because it’s what he’s seen and how he has survived by just agreeing with his father, the other one will act exactly like his dad and he seems to think that it’s okay to react that way, that it’s normal…. NORMAL!! I’m so grief stricken when I think about the life that these two will live… very scary.


      • lonelywife07 says:

        Me too, PJs….my 18 yr old is a good kid….he’ll come down and help me with dinner, empty the trash without being asked, he takes care of our chickens etc.
        BUT he seems to be PA with his younger brother….He’ll do things that are very aggravating to him, things he KNOWS he doesn’t like….then laugh it off saying he was just kidding around….it worries me, it really does!
        Now, if COULD be just a sibling thing…and I’m hoping that’s what it is, because my son does show empathy for others, and has a very funny personality, something PA Man is sadly lacking…so my fingers are crossed!
        My boys don’t have a good relationship with their dad and that does worry me….I know it will impact them in the future, I just hope and pray that it will impact them in a good way and show them how they DO NOT want to be as a father!
        So far, my oldest son, who’s been married for a few years now, seems to be a really good husband….he’s a lot like me….has a lot of empathy for others…so I’m hopeful the other boys will be like him.
        PA Man isn’t too PA with the boys, mainly it’s just me who gets the brunt of it…because of his affair and me not letting it go and acting like life is perfectly normal…So even though I know they notice things…again, arguing and tears because of the affair…I don’t think the younger two see the PA behavior….Son #2 does see the PA behavior, and he’s experienced it from PA Man…but he stands up for himself when his dad tries that PA crap on him!
        Sons 2 & 3 have asked me in the past why I don’t make their dad leave…but I have son #4 to consider….he has anxiety issues and has been in therapy for several months….again, this is a result of the affair, and his fear of divorce!
        He’s only 14, so I’m hoping within a couple of years, that maturity will help him accept that his dad and I are going to separate, IF it comes to that….also, I don’t want PA Man to use him as a pawn…and since I don’t really know PA Man, I have to consider that possibility!


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