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Long story - I need perspective domestic abuse?
This is my first post and I really need help understanding how I can resolve my situation. Thanks in advance.
I have 4 children from my 1st marriage which ended when my youngest was 3 by the time my youngest was 5 I'd married an old friend who I'd reconnected with. The kids adored him and he was kind and patient, a few months after we got married he lost his temper with one of the kids and was bemused as to why we were all so upset, I parented with mutual respect and the kids had never been spoken to like that (shouting, demanding, authoritarian - as per his own upbringing) - that was my first inkling that parenting with him might be difficult. Over the years he'd loose his temper periodically, I'd intervene and address how what he said could be damaging and that he needed to manage his anger better, he'd always apologise, the kids would accept it and we would all move on. Move forward five years and life was tough (work, financial etc.) and my husbands temper grew worse, our emerging teen daughters would argue constantly and one day he really lost his temper, he held my thirteen year old against a wall with his arm under her chin and punched the wall right next to her head. I said that if anything like that happened again we would leave and that he had to get help for his anger. He did and he has never done anything physical like that again but the temper outbursts, unreasonable expectations as to their behaviour ('do as I say not what I do') and general 'grumpiness' (which really was just a blameless way of saying hostility) led to the kids walking on egg shells and being wary of him. I increasingly grew more passive (my psychologist says learned helplessness) and although I intervened when things got particularly nasty, nothing ever changed and with two more children, a mortgage and a business in common I felt unable to do anything other than mitigate, excuse and counter his behaviour. My 3 eldest have left home, the two oldest boys love my husband as their own Dad but my eldest daughter has disowned us due to my husbands behaviour and my lack of protection. The youngest of the 4 is home still but mentally has a lot of problems which have culminated in a suicide attempt and ongoing self harm (there are other factors too - bullying from peers, her bio father left without a trace, gender dysphoria) for which she is getting the help she needs.
Please read first comment with the rest of this, thanks
Welcome to BB.
Just once, I'd like someone on this forum to ask a simple question; like the meaning of life.
Family dynamics are difficult; blended family dynamics are an order of magnitude more difficult again. Throw in a rebellious teenage step daughter (yes, I'm stereotyping ), and things can quickly get out of hand.
Does your partner direct his frustrations/anger at you directly, or does the problem always start with one of your children from a previous relationship? It just seems odd that your two oldest boys love him. As I said, complicated.
I wish I had a simple answer for you. All I can suggest is continue seeing your phycologist.
I hope others on this forum can offer better practical advice.
Yes he directs anger towards me if I don't back him up with the kids, support his view or if I raise any of this with him, but he is never intimidating towards me.
My elder boys spent less time at home before they flew the coup. My eldest was desperate to leave due to being an independent and impatient perfectly normal teenager and as he has grown up he sees that he always had his best interests at heart and taught him some valuable lessons which he values and they have a lovely adult father-son relationship. My girls in that their teen years have brought more challenges - sexuality, veganism, gender dysphoria, feminism, suicide, self harm, eating disorders, mental health... its made the stakes higher and therefore the lack of empathy more hurtful and damaging I think.
I'm glad you came back with a bit more context.
From the outside looking in, all of your issues appear to stem back to your children, and your partner's different parenting style.
The big problem is, they are your children not his; that puts your partner in a no-win situation if you cannot agree on a parenting style; think about that for a while. When you look back, all you can see is your partner's faults; when your partner look's back, all he can see is disrespect from your children. You are both looking at the same problem, your children, just from different perspectives.
I can only guess that your teenage girls with their mental health problems made matters worse. You said his lack of empathy made matters more "hurtful and damaging I think". This may be correct, but I can easily turn that statement around and argue, that the girls' MH problems were also hurtful and damaging to you partner. It's all about perspective.
Let me finish by saying, if you are looking for fault, you will find it in the best of marriages; your partner is not perfect; he does not have to be perfect. You said, "he is never intimidating towards me" and, "he is fun, generous, kind, clever, charming, hard working, loving to all of us too". This does not sound like, "domestic abuse".
Hopefully you guys can sort things out with a couples counsellor. I'm sure there will be enough fault/blame to share around. It takes two to tango.
All the best!
I am very sorry to hear of your experience. I can understand Paul’s response regarding perspective - I have a partner who also says this about our own blended family.
However at the end of the day, your children are/were children and your partner is the adult. There is no excuse for violence, intimidating behaviour and criticism. It’s all domestic violence.
I was alarmed to read of the incident between your partner and daughter. With all due respect, your partner sounds as if he has mental health issues of his own if he was losing his temper like he was.
At the end of the day, the children come first and need to be protected as the affects can be life-long.
I hope you find a resolution where yourself and children will be happier.