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a cautionary tale?

(23 Posts)
muffinthemoo Fri 23-Apr-21 12:54:24

Hello ladies. I have not posted her in some time but you have all been very kind to me in the past about some family problems, and I wanted to share a strange development.

We have not been estranged from my in laws but over the years MIL and I have had an extremely difficult relationship to the extent of me avoiding visiting her or being at home if she did visit. I have always made sure she saw the children regularly and at holidays etc and taken care of birthday, Mothers Day etc gifts and cards and suchlike. It was important to me that the children formed their own relationship with their grandparents and that I not be the cause of any further strife between H and his parents, who he can be difficult towards.

Over the course of the pandemic my H and I have had some serious issues. He struggled terribly to cope with the stress of his NHS job (not direct patient care) and the very long hours he was putting in, and things became very difficult at home. He struggles with motivation to be a father at the best of times and he needs a lot of emotional support from me.

To cut to the chase, there was an incident of unacceptable physical chastisement of the children and myself, and in a separate incident he goaded me to commit suicide. I have a history of severe depression which he is aware of, was struggling very badly with his behaviour at home at the time, and this was not a casual throwaway comment. I did not harm myself but this was a difficult incident to rebound from.

Given the various issues, I decided I needed to contact my MIL - past troubles notwithstanding - and reach out to her to find out if he could stay with his parents for a while until he either managed to get a hold on his behaviour - particularly towards the children - or finally agreed to some personal therapy. I had indicated I would not attend marriage counselling until he had addressed what I am forced to admit is his controlling and abusive behaviour towards me in particular but I feared also towards the children.

Pandemic rules allowed someone to visit for the purposes of providing support to a vulnerable person, so MIL came to visit when H was out at work so that we could discuss what had happened. It was very difficult to be honest about things that out of shame I have concealed for many years, but the children come first and I was able to be very honest with her about how we live and the extent of the controlling and abusive behaviour.

The relevant part of the discussion for this board's purposes if that during that conversation and following ones, MIL and I discovered that since H insisted on being the conduit of communication between us, he had frankly lied over and over and invented grievances and insults between us that had never happened. Some truly terrible words were put in our mouths by him and then conveyed one to the other. The most upsetting things that had occurred in our relationship were essentially his invention.

We are in agreement that it suited him for us to be distant from one another as it prevented me confiding in his family about his behaviours and also discouraged MIL from keeping an eye on how he was acting at home.

I will cut a long story short: MIL and FIL sat him down and held an intervention about his behaviours. I can report the children have experienced no further chastisement. MIL advised both him and me that she would call the police on him if she heard of any more unacceptable behaviour. She also advised us both that she has put the money aside for a divorce lawyer for me if he does not behave in the manner she expects of a husband and father.

His behaviour has improved substantially since this incident. It is almost a year and whilst he will never be the husband I might have hoped for, he has stopped terrorising us. I do not know honestly if there is a long term future here, but knowing that I have the support not just of my own family, but of my in laws to leave if need be has really transformed my outlook about that. I no longer feel trapped and he is no longer under the impression that I keep secrets from those around us.

The crucial thing I wanted to bring to you ladies' attention here is that he quite deliberately attempted to estrange me and MIL. I pass this on purely because it might strike a chord of concern with those lurking. It is not always the child in law - or indeed the parent in law!! - who is the 'problem' party in the relationship.

I am very glad to report that MIL and I have been able to make up for many years of lost time in following months and have become very close. She is a great sort of support to me and we speak most days via phone, and I have taken over visiting with the children, which H was always reluctant to facilitate. It turns out MIL was always happy for us to drop by (I was always told the exact opposite) so the children and I see her often. I am glad that a relationship that was always a source of pain to me in my life has become quite the opposite now. I care for her very much.

I thought I was too old and wise to believe someone 'telling tales' between two parties, but it turned out I was not. I would support anyone in a similar position to myself in reaching out directly to the other person who is supposed to "hate" you. It might just not be the case at all.

Dee1012 Fri 23-Apr-21 13:06:46

While I appreciate the 'positive' side of your post i.e the building of the relationship with your mother in law, please think about the relationship with your partner.
Physical chastisement, emotional abuse, manipulation etc?!!
Only you can make the decision but your children deserve a happy, safe and secure life. You deserve that.
I'd have packed my bags long ago.

Bibbity Fri 23-Apr-21 13:17:00

I agree with the above. Have your children received therapy for the abuse they suffered? Have they been able to confide in any trusted adults? Were social services involved. The fact he has decided not to abuse them further does not mean they are not now traumatised as abuse victims and they need help to heal from that.

ElaineI Fri 23-Apr-21 13:20:45

Thank you for being so frank and sorry you and your children have had such a difficult time under his abusive control. It is encouraging that your MiL is now supporting you and become part of your life. I agree with Dee1012 that his behaviour was unacceptable and indeed against the law if you live in UK. In your shoes I would be making plans to leave, definitely pack safe bags so you can get out in a hurry if he becomes physical - perhaps MiL would store them? and seek advice from Woman's Aid and a lawyer. You have been very brave over the course of your marriage and you are a strong woman so best wishes.

SueDonim Fri 23-Apr-21 13:24:37

Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry your marriage hasn’t been what you’d hoped for, Muffin, but very glad that your MIL is now onboard.

I remember you well from the past - your baby must be a toddler now, I think?

Chewbacca Fri 23-Apr-21 13:25:42

I'm not sure that there's much optimism of a happy and successful marriage if the husband has only stopped his abusive behaviour towards his wife and children because his mother said so. Will you have to trek off to your MIL in the future every time he steps out of line? You haven't painted a particularly attractive picture of this man; he's a bully, a thug, a manipulator, a liar and he only behaves like a decent human being when his mummy tells him off. Why are you still with him? confused

muffinthemoo Fri 23-Apr-21 14:12:05

The (last!) baby is very much a toddler now yes, Sue !

I have been over the financial situation with dad and separately with MIL. We have run the child support, benefits etc calculations, assuming he did not quit work to prevent me getting any child support. Financially I am in a very tight situation and to have any realistic possibility of housing and feeding the kids, I need to get back to work. That's not going to be possible for some time so I am getting my ducks - very slowly - in a line. Of course if I had to leave immediately to ensure our safety I would and can do so. I learnt to drive and keep the keys of my car about my person at all times. I do keep some emergency clothes etc offsite and am working on saving up the little bits of money I get here and there as birthday presents etc to give me some funds. To be absolutely fair, both my dad and my MIL have been very clear that they would not see us left roofless or hungry until I could find somewhere for us to go. I know I am in a better position than many people in that respect so I am grateful for that.

The children are fine, I think. They are very attached to him despite everything. They have a very open and trusting relationship with both sets of grandparents and both sets of GPs have had a number of appropriate and sensitive talks with them about what has happened. The hitting was thankfully a one off incident but we had always been very clear the children would not be physically chastised and that is not a secret I am prepared to keep. I am sure in other family environments it would maybe not be seen as a big deal but for me it is a very big deal indeed due to some background issues.

I don't expect to be happy but the children must be safe. I don't think anyone in the extended family except H actually expects this marriage to last.

I felt like I have complained so much about my poor MIL here that it was only fair to set record straight... she in fact had not done the things I always thought she had done and said!!

Madgran77 Fri 23-Apr-21 14:17:25

It is not always the child in law - or indeed the parent in law!! - who is the 'problem' party in the relationship

So true muffin , every story is different!

I am glad that you have built a relationship with your MIL. However I am concerned about the behaviours you describe. Many husbands/wives/partners would be incapable of the behaviours you describe. The fact that he IS capable is very worrying and not loving and I hope that over time you can come to some decisions about the future that are right for you and your children's real happiness.

You have been so brave with what you have done so far and your post shows real insight into the reality about manipulation and control of you and I suspect, your children as they get older. Do think carefully about that flowers

Madgran77 Fri 23-Apr-21 14:20:45

Ps sorrymuffin, missed your update before I posted my last comment. Good that you are prepared "just in case"! And I wonder of consulting a solicitor/ citizens advice might be helpful too.

Susysue Fri 23-Apr-21 14:51:27

Oh my poor sweetheart. You deserve a life so much more than this. The father of my 4 children and I spilt when my youngest was just 2. He left the house thankfully and though I had to sell up and start again, it is completely doable. Child tax credit, working tax credit etc huge help. Can he not leave the house and go live with his parents. Not only are you living a hellish intolerable existence but the impact on your children long term may be huge. No child should have to live in this kind of environment. I know it will be hard but you are a strong cookie who has already dealt with more than she deserves and you will succeed in getting a happy, peaceful life for you and your kids without this arsehole. Another little word of advice, don't rush into forming another relationship with a new man. You may unknowingly attract the same kind of guy and find yourself back to square one. Enjoy your kids, new life and take one step at a time. Much love x

Dee1012 Fri 23-Apr-21 14:57:10

muffinthemoo I'm really pleased that you have a plan/exit strategy in place.
I have worked with victims of abuse for many years and sadly, have witnessed the horrific effects of it, both physically and mentally.
I can also understand the importance of housing etc but believe me, while not wonderful by any stretch of the imagination, if needed Women’s Aid could assist with a safe place and arrange benefits.
You can't put a price on peace of mind or safety.
I sincerely wish you a better and safer future.

SueDonim Fri 23-Apr-21 15:02:07

Leaving sounds the best option for you all, Muffin, but I know from friends that that is easier said than done. Organising your ducks now is a good move, and also keeping a paper/virtual evidence trail could be very useful later on. A couple of friends have had to take the slowly-slowly approach but it’s worked out for the best later on as they were able to detach with relative ease as they’d already smoothed the path.

I have to say, I’d react like your MIL, too, if I thought either of my sons had behaved in that way. Good for her, she’s a keeper even if her son isn’t. She must be so disappointed in him.

Smileless2012 Fri 23-Apr-21 15:37:27

I've posted so many times here in GN, that the damage a bullying, controlling and manipulative partner can have on already established relationships should never be underestimated, but time and time again I see that it is.

Thank goodness for your m.i.l. Muffin and for your courage to reach out to someone who your H had conveniently portrayed as your enemy.

I'm so sorry that you and your children are in this situation but it's good to see that you have exit strategy plans should the need arise.

I can only add my concern to what has already been said here that living with this man isn't a safe or healthy environment for you or your children.

You are wise to take your time to 'get your ducks in a row' before making any final decision and as others have suggested, if you've not already done so, get some legal advice too.

It looks as if you now have a bond with your m.i.l. that even her own son wont be able to destroy. I hope so and wish you all the luck in the world so, when the time is right, you'll be able to rebuild your life and be free of himflowers.

EllanVannin Fri 23-Apr-21 16:00:54

There really are some horrible men out there. A wide berth in future as there'll always be a snake who'll prey on the vulnerable.

What a blessing you now have MiL on side as it does help with the emotional backing that you so need. Let's hope things work out well for you flowers

Hithere Fri 23-Apr-21 16:12:12

Dont know where to start - this situation has so many bandages that I doubt the real issues are addressed long term

DiscoDancer1975 Fri 23-Apr-21 16:35:11

I’m glad you’ve found this betrayal out, but I couldn’t stay with a man like this. I couldn’t have stayed with him before to be honest. Easy to say I know...and I pray you can all move forward in a positive direction.

sodapop Fri 23-Apr-21 17:07:11

Very sorry to hear about your relationship problems muffin it must have been a very difficult time for you. Its good to know your mother in law is so supportive now and ready to help. I think you are wise to start getting an exit strategy in order even though things have improved a little.
I hope you have a better future ahead of you.

janeainsworth Fri 23-Apr-21 17:24:24

Hello muffin, I can’t add any more advice to that you’ve already had, but just wanted to say I remember you from previous posts and I’m glad you now have support from your PiLs as well as your parents and that you have a good relationship with MiL.
You sound amazingly strong and generous and I do hope things work out for you.thanks

Nicegranny Fri 23-Apr-21 17:43:48

Dear muffinyour husband sounds like the worst narcissist and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is just paying lip service to you all.
I have had quite a bit of experience with this and I don’t believe that he’s going to change. He clearly has no compassion and these types will only be secretive about what they are planning next.
I understand how difficult this has been for you over the years but it takes years for normal loving people like you to work them out and realise how they gradually break you down and then their own children will be broken also.
Please take care of yourself and your children’s welfare and never leave him alone with them. I know you are taking steps to protect them and yourself but there’s no limits to what this type will do to gain back control over the situation.
Children can be broken so easily and I would hate for you to come back in a few years to tell us what damage has been done to them.
I think you should be making plans to out him and move away from him for good.
This stress is so bad for all concerned.
Find a way to leave a protect your precious little children’s pure heart’s before it’s too late. X

Namsnanny Sat 24-Apr-21 11:46:47


Dont know where to start - this situation has so many bandages that I doubt the real issues are addressed long term

Thankfully Hithere, it isnt necessary to 'start' anything.

Good post smileless and
Thank you muffinthemoo for taking the trouble to give your perspective.
Good luck shamrock

Redhead56 Sat 24-Apr-21 12:52:56

The children are the priority put up with him until you can find away for him to leave. I had my ex husband arrested five times in one day alone. It was necessary and it secured an injunction against him to stay away from me. I think you do need legal advice to find out where you stand financially. Take everything he says with a pinch of salt because you cannot trust him. Keep building on the relationship you have with your in laws take care of yourself and your children. ?

luluaugust Sun 25-Apr-21 13:08:17

muffin I remember your past posts well, as ever good advice on here, do take care of yourself

Diane7 Thu 06-May-21 12:02:11

My heart goes out to you. I finally left my husband, walked away basically with nothing, after 40 years of marriage. I had left him before but stupidly went back. He is abroad, the divorce is ongoing, my daughter has done a witness statement for me. It's heartbreaking with the memories of her childhood. Please leave your husband, start afresh with your children.