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Friend thinks we should get back in touch

(23 Posts)
bettydl Wed 12-Aug-20 15:47:39

Hi all,

I've been missing for a while - incredibly busy with homeschooling! I recently let a very good friend in on how DH is estranged from his parents. She was very insistent that we should get back in touch and this has left me feeling dreadful. It's hard to describe how the estrangement arose as SO much of it sounds so petty, but the main crux is that DH (who is incredibly optimistic and a true joy) goes into a depression when he see's his parents.

What do you do in this situation? And how do you pull yourself out of feeling bad/ guilty>

AGAA4 Wed 12-Aug-20 15:59:09

I don't think your friend was right to insist that you get back in touch. Even if she is a good friend it really isn't her business.
It is up to your DH if he wants to be in contact with his parents and there must be a reason why he feels depressed when he sees them.
You shouldn't be feeling guilty about this. Your friend shouldn't have got involved. It is not her problem.

overthehill Wed 12-Aug-20 16:19:52

Sadly not all parents fulfil their parental duties towards their children and this leads to heartache and resentment building up over the years.

I speak from experience and although I was friendly towards my mother before she died, 18 months before I made the decision if I never saw her again then so be it. In the end she came to see me so I accepted it must have been a big thing for her to do so we resumed relations. Had this not been the case I made the decision to cease contact completely as she caused me so much grief.

If your husband doesn't want to see them I'd abide by his decision and feel no guilt

Smileless2012 Wed 12-Aug-20 16:29:04

I wouldn't let your friend's opinion make you feel guilty betty. If your H is happier not seeing his parents I certainly wouldn't try to persuade him to change his mind.

That would be a decision for him to make, and as it was his decision to estrange them, there's no need for you to feel bad or guilty about it.

Chewbacca Wed 12-Aug-20 16:45:27

Why on earth would you feel coerced into making contact again by someone who doesn't know the facts of the estrangement? Your OH wouldn't have come to his decision lightly, he'll have taken a long time to come to the decision that it was right for him. It has nothing to do with your friend; really not her business to get involved at all. Tell her to butt out.

HolyHannah Wed 12-Aug-20 16:59:49

bettyd1 -- That's a common theme when estrangement happens. The guilt can lead to as much depression as the contact can.

First off, try to go easy on yourselves. Yes, quite often the 'reasons' for NC can sound petty etc. to an out-side observer/someone who has not dealt with a similar situation, but you know your truth. Try not to let other people dictate your truth/reality.

I encourage you and your husband to talk to each other or someone who understands/supports the choices you have made. Reminding yourselves that the decision was not made lightly and the pain you are feeling is normal and processing it takes time, will help you both on the path to healing.

It took Me years to gain the mental strength I have but it was worth the work... Now when some trot out the "standard lines" I just shrug and tell people, "I'm glad you had a better experience then me growing up." and steer the conversation elsewhere.

Starblaze Wed 12-Aug-20 17:19:24

Weirdly, I have had the most empathy and understanding from people who had the best childhoods and adult relationships with parents.

I wonder, when I come across those who think my decision is wrong, if:

1. Some people who can't empathise with you have possibly made similar mistakes with their own children and do not want to look closely at their own behaviour so won't admit you (or husband in this case) were abused.

2. They are just very normal people who have made lots of mistakes and resolved them and they don't realise that, abusive people do not care if they make mistakes and they don't try to be accountable or apologise. Worse, they often lie to others and gaslight you to cover it up. It's not the mistakes or the stories, it's the reaction to them and feeling unloved and unwanted as a result that is the real problem.

3. They have strong ideals, beliefs or otherwise are invested in the idea that family is special and parents are always loving and wonderful. If you (or husband in this case) very simply said, I/He was terribly unhappy in a past marriage/relationship and it was destroying my/his mental health, they would probably instantly say that you/he made the right choice.

I understand how devastating it is. Estrangement is such a terrible decision to be forced to make and having someone act that way can be so painful.

However, you and your husband know the truth and that's what you should be focused on. That and undoing any harm and finding future happiness.

Madgran77 Wed 12-Aug-20 18:09:06

Don't take any notice of your friends opinion. She doesn't know the facts and it is not her business to comment atall! You DH will have made his decision for his own reasons, and that is how it should be. It does take time to process a decision like this and he and you do not need anyone derailing the process.

Do not discuss it with her atall. If she raises it tell her clearly that it is not open for discussion and that you are not willing to discuss it or listen to anything about it. And leave if necessary. I think a version of Holy Hannahs "I'm glad you had a better experience then me [than him] growing up." is a useful phrase to keep in mind flowers

HolyHannah Wed 12-Aug-20 18:09:48

Starblaze -- I agree with all 3 points. I find that those who condemn the loudest, those who go No Contact, generally have a motivation to make No Contact between a parent/child as 'bad'/abusive toward the parent.

Whether that is EP's or abuse victim's who don't want to face their reality, because denial is a powerful thing, adults who go No Contact become stronger in doing so. Abusers don't like to see their supply/victim get healthier and fellow victims don't want to be left alone/try to end the cycle themselves. Enablers go with the 'norm' because it's less work.

Madgran77 Wed 12-Aug-20 18:12:45

Enablers go with the 'norm' because it's less work.

By that Holy Hannah do you mean Starblaze's no 3 or am I misunderstanding that?

Smileless2012 Wed 12-Aug-20 18:22:39

For goodness sake, there's nothing in betty's OP to even suggest that her friend regards her H's estrangement of his parents as abusive or that betty's husband's parents were abusive.

betty has posted that so much of what resulted in the estrangement is hard to explain "as SO much of it sounds so petty".

Starblaze Wed 12-Aug-20 18:24:53

Oh Holyhannah the enablers, something I need to understand a lot more I think. With my stepdad, he was just very controlling and needed to appear perfect which meant buying in to the narrative of my mum and the projected image. The awful things she actually did to him and his relationships through jealousy.... I will struggle to understand how image and frenzied rug sweeping can be more important than that but I'd like to try at some point

Luckygirl Wed 12-Aug-20 18:25:49

Does it really have anything whatsoever to do with her?

All families function in different ways and if being with his parents makes your OH unhappy then he has made a wise decision to stay away. Clearly far from an ideal situation; but life is not perfect and we have to keep ourselves sane as best we may.

Smileless2012 Wed 12-Aug-20 18:27:54

we have to keep ourselves sane as best we can we certainly do*Luckygirl*smile.

HolyHannah Wed 12-Aug-20 18:35:17

Madgran -- I would say the first part of Starblaze's #3 is enabling type behavior, yes. Putting forth the idea that "family is special and parents are always loving and wonderful" is often the theme enablers use to remind the victim how 'important' they are to the 'family' and that is not a positive thing. It also crosses into gas-lighting... Sometimes these things blend and don't just fall into one type of dysfunction.

Enablers like the 'status quo' because it doesn't rock the boat/add to their emotional 'load'. It was easier for my 'dad' to have Me apologize to my 'mom' then admit that SHE was the issue. Since 'mom' was convinced I was "the problem" it was easy for him to jump on board. Less 'work' so to speak....

Madgran77 Wed 12-Aug-20 18:42:01

Thanks *HolyHannah yes I thought it was that, just wanted to check.

PetitFromage Thu 13-Aug-20 07:41:50

I think that if you have never been estranged it is quite difficult to get your head round, as a concept.

A friend of mine has not had contact with her mother for many years, although they used to live in the same village, so would sometimes bump into each other but not speak. I remember being absolutely shocked at this, as I was close to my own DP and couldn't imagine a situation where a human being has given birth to another human being but could pass each other in the street without speaking. My friend explained the reasons and of course I did not tell her that she should contact her DM, as it was clearly a hard decision which she had reached, but I felt so sorry for her, so desperately sad, as I loved my own DC so much. I accepted what she said but I didn't understand, not really.

Fast forward a number of years and, having gone through a very painful period of estrangement from DD1, to whom I was close (she said I was her best friend and role model), I can see how these situations can arise. Even the strongest relationships can be fragile.

I am sure that your friend means well, but it isn't her business. It is up to your DH. However, I wonder, since you have posted, whether you feel that your DH has made the right decision.

Smileless2012 Thu 13-Aug-20 09:01:16

That's a very important point PF. Unless you've experienced estrangement it's hard to understand how it can happen.

Even when it has happened to you it can leave a life time of unanswered questions.

Elegran Thu 13-Aug-20 21:28:56

You ask "What do you do in this situation?" that is, when your friend insists on giving you unasked-for advice on a situation she knows nothing about. I would remind myself that if my friend insisted on advising me to go skinny-dipping in the everglades among the alligators, I would not feel obliged to do so, or allow her to make me feel guilty that I usually avoid alligators.

Amelia247 Mon 17-Aug-20 03:25:44

My husband is estranged from his parents as well. I heard all of the same things from friends and family alike. The loudest detractor was my own mother who dealt with so much abuse from my fathers family (including lies, theft and a wide range of schemes to humiliate her at every chance). It was shocking that someone who had dealt with such abuse and cried over it for years was insisting that we continue to try repair a relationship that was bringing my husband a similar amount of pain.

Don’t listen to this “friend”. She has not walked in your husbands shoes and will not be the one comforting him through the inevitable depression. Tell this friend you were mistaken to discuss the family issue with her and would prefer to stick to other topics in the future.

HolyHannah Mon 17-Aug-20 06:43:15

Amelia247 -- You are describing something that I have tried to describe and still baffles Me...

"The loudest detractor was my own mother who dealt with so much abuse from my fathers family (including lies, theft and a wide range of schemes to humiliate her at every chance). It was shocking that someone who had dealt with such abuse and cried over it for years was insisting that we continue to try repair a relationship that was bringing my husband a similar amount of pain."

I think the recipe of 'that' is, one part denial of how bad what they went through was and how it truly impacted/hurt them and one part enabling because THEY probably took the advice of a 'friend'/flying monkey/enabler that they regret and I sincerely believe miserable and 'hurt people' want "company" and it's not a healthy mindset type of "company" they seek to create...

"Tell this friend you were mistaken to discuss the family issue with her and would prefer to stick to other topics in the future." -- This is such a great mind-set/statement to Me. Is it awkward? Yes, but it tells the other person, "You kinda crossed 'a line' with your attitude/judgement there..." and if they continue to push/cross that "line"? Don't be surprised if there is a consequence/unfriendly response to further conversation in that direction.

I have absolutely had people tell Me that I should reach out to my husband's 'family' to "try to mend the 'rift'..." because that is what a "good" wife does...

My reply -- "A 'good' Wife does not undermine her Husband by implying She 'knows better' then Him. A 'good' Wife trusts Her Husband in every way because He gives that in return... I don't need to hear 'her/their side' of the 'story' because I have a 'mom' just like His. Much like my Doc, I don't need to meet His 'mom' to know He is telling the truth about HER. How He is and the issues He has, much like my own, are diagnosis enough of what his 'mom' IS."

Amelia247 Mon 17-Aug-20 17:21:47


Too often, people project their own experiences ahead of the experiences of the person they are trying to advise and that can lead to the type of issues OP is experiencing with her friend and what I experienced with my mother.

I think OP made a mistake discussing the estrangement with this friend but it's easily rectified if she holds firm to her boundaries and refuses to discuss it further.

Unfortunately, most people really do not "get it" until they have the misfortune of being "in it" and that goes for all sides - estranger, estrangee and collateral damage.

timetogo2016 Mon 17-Aug-20 17:25:39

Well put AGAA4,couldn`t have put it better myself.