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My parents relationship isn’t working

Community Member

Hi there, I am a middle child (22 years old) still living at home with two siblings. My mother and father have been married for 35 years. My dad is OBSESSED with my mum, he calls her 5 time a day for no reason, follows her around the house, needs to hug and kiss her every time she leaves and constantly asks where she is, who she was with etc. he has no social awareness skills at all and no idea what he does is too much and no idea when others are put off by the things he does. The problem is that my mum is completely out of love with him. She finds him controlling, creepy, weird, insecure, overly jealous and just a sad excuse of a dad and husband and completely changed from the first years she knew him.

she’s tried to enrol him in counseling and tried to get him to change but he cannot acknowledge what he does and he always reverts to the same behaviours.

It’s sad because he loves her more than he wants to breathe yet she’s doesn’t like him at all - and I understand why.

when my mum hears him arrive home, she is filled with sadness and often does the “shoot your self in the head” gesture.

I’ve asked her why she doesn’t get a divorce and she says that she doesn’t think we can financially live without him AND she is worried what he might do to us or her if that happened.

This is because his whole life revolves around her and we all believe he would be capable of violence or worse if the situation is bad enough as sometimes he can appear to have a few screws lose in his head.

whilst he has never physically abused her, I can tell that she is exhausted and depressed being in this relationship and struggles everyday to put up with him - and I’m sure it’s hard for my dad who always notices she doesn’t love him.

i Guess I wanted to write to this forum to hear if anyone has any suggestions. Therapy is hard when the person refuses to go and he is also paranoid that if I bring it up to him that it was Mum who suggested it and that she is wanting to divorce him.

Please feel free to respond.


4 Replies 4

Hi Gabetockens22,
Thank you for the bravery you are showing in this post; feeling caught between your parents is rough at anytime, but especially when it feels so fraught and intense. 

We can feel that you really empathise with your Mum, but also that you can feel where Dad is stuck. There seems to be a feeling of risk or concern at the moment in the house if any action is taken - we really want to make sure you are feeling safe too?

For yourself, we would like to invite you to reach out - you can contact us 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 but if you are concerned of being overheard or any other risk, please consider using the webchat function to talk this through with us.

We would also recommend reaching out to Relationships Australia to get their insights as well - 1300 364 277 - they are pretty incredible with these sorts of issues, and they take them very very seriously!

I have no doubt that many members of the community - will want to reach out and support you in anyway that they can very soon - but for now please take good care of yourself first and foremost!

We hope we will talk to you soon!


Sophie M.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Gabetockens, sorry because this must be awkward not only for your mum but to you and the rest of the family.

As your mum is not in love with him any more, he could be worried about her seeing another person, that's why he pays so much attention to her with hugs, kisses and by touching her.

If she doesn't want to divorce him for financial reasons, then that's certainly not helping her in life, and to once be able to breathe without all this unwanted attention because she will be able to get half the house if it's sold.

A suggestion, if she was to contact Anglicare then they will be able to provide her with a flat/house for her and any of your siblings that want to be with her and she has the choice of getting an AVO on against her husband while the divorce goes through.

If she can plan something in advance, then she might be able to obtain some money from their account until Centrelink begins to pay her.

If this does happen is she able to change her name, depending on how her kids feel.

If you can it would be good to hear back from you.


Spl spl
Community Member

Hi Gabetockens22,

I'm sorry you're going through that, and the rest of your family. Pardon my judgement but that sounds like a bit of a nightmare. Thank you so much for reaching out.

While your dad has never physically abused your mum, stalking her is still abusive. Its also a criminal offence. The most common idea of stalking is of a stranger following someone on the street, but there are other forms of stalking behavior as well. Constantly asking where she was, who she was with, is a method people use to control others. On top of that, he also knows that you all rely on him financially. He is taking advantage of that. The fact that your mum is worried about what he would do if she left is giving me massive alarm bells. Look, my dad was too and left too after my mum went back and forth on the idea for years. But in my situation, we were not worried about what he would do. Some things can't be compared from two different situations, but that is the brightest red flag that I would say he is not a safe person.

Its perfectly understandable if you are just used to this and his behavior, as it has just become routine. In this type of situation it is very easy to brush things off and move on, ignore it, think it will go away if you try this or that. Its very easy to forget that not every other family is like that, but, the fact is they're not. Fear of an unstable financial future is very normal in this situation, but that idea of that is often a lot scarier than the reality. You would very likely survive, especially in this country. You're also at the age where you're not going to rely on your parents for another 20 years. Your dad could arguably face some criminal charges if you wanted to push things in that direction. He could be bound by law not to get close to your mum. It may sound intense now, but if you're able to step out of this situation, I hope you will be able to see it for what it was, in the future. You can get out of this, it just takes that push where you say "that's enough" and stick to your word.

I may be pushing you in this comment, but oh my god this hits a little too close to home. Life after my dad left is like heaven, you have no idea. I want you to experience life with your mum and siblings, not having to worry about your dad. Once the hard part is over (writing the forms lmao) it is absolute peace. My mum can finally relax in her house, and I find I can too. It may seem taboo, but you should tell more people about your dad and home life. That helps most.


Community Member

Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my post, I appreciate it more than you know - and it’s definitely opened my eyes to know that something needs to be done.

I will be contacting Relationships Australia on Monday since they were shut today and see what they say also.

it’s a very tricky situation and I don’t know how to get this started, the last thing I want is to break apart the family on something I started or said, but I will have that phone call on Monday and go from there.

thank you all again for you input