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Can only one spouse reconcile with EAC?

(49 Posts)
MamaBear20 Tue 01-Dec-20 22:12:18

If your EAC was willing to reconcile with one parent but not the other, would you go along with that? Would you reconcile and leave your spouse out? Or if it was you they didn’t want, would you encourage your spouse to reconcile? Or is a married couple always a package deal, even if it means against their children?

Lolo81 Wed 02-Dec-20 02:38:27

It would depend on the reason for estrangement.
Ideally each parent should be able to have an adult independent relationship with an adult child - so although it would hurt the other half of the couple, then keeping the lines of communication open could be a good thing. But realistically based on many of the accounts on here around the reasons why people estrange, the personality types involved wouldn’t or couldn’t allow this.

So an example would be no contact starting because Dad is unable to have a healthy relationship, won’t accept any accountability for his part and refuses to accept he did anything wrong. EAC still wants to call and see mum. In an ideal world this should be doable, but in this example given the personality type “Dad” has - it’s unlikely to happen because he “didn’t do anything wrong” so may not have the emotional intelligence to accept that EAC can have a parental relationship excluding him and would make mums life a nightmare. So effectively Dad now has an EAC who resents him and most likely a wife who feels the same.

Obviously this is a made up example, but I can easily see how complex it could become.

MamaBear20 Wed 02-Dec-20 04:27:20

LOLO your example is pretty much the actual situation, except it’s the mom who can’t maintain a healthy relationship, is an emotional terrorist, and refuses to admit to her poor behavior all while playing the victim. The dad refuses to reconnect with his son unless he reconciles with mom as well, and accept her just the way she is.

RiverQueen Wed 02-Dec-20 05:42:48

Ideally each parent should be able to have an adult independent relationship with an adult child -- Lolo81

So true. Unfortunately in family dynamics such as that, the enabler/co-dependent parent almost always sides with the spouse. So from my experiences I agree, in an ideal world this would/should be possible but in unhealthy families, no.

sodapop Wed 02-Dec-20 09:29:40

I know a family where this has happened and has gone on for some considerable time. In this instance in my opinion its the adult child who is the cause of the problem. Fortunately the estranged parent is able to deal with this effectively but I can imagine there have been tears behind closed doors.
Until I joined GN I didn't realise how big a problem this was amongst families, all very sad,

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 10:14:57

A very good question MamaBear and as has already been said it would very much depend on the circumstances.

An EAC looking to reconcile with one parent would have estranged them both so which ever parent they now choose to reconcile with, will have the worry that they could be estranged again. This is a real fear for anyone who has been estranged and can be a major stumbling block going forward.

The examples you and Lolo have given are where one of the parents is at 'fault' and it's their behaviour/attitude that has led to them being estranged. Of course this is not always the case. Sometimes it's the AC and/or their partner who are at 'fault'.

You posted RiverQueen that "the enabler/co-dependent parent almost always sides with the spouse". This also occurs in relationships that some EAC have become involved in. Our ES is the enabling/co-dependent partner who sides with his wife.

Eight years estranged now, so the 'what would we do if' is a conversation we've had and the decision from the very beginning has been, that unless we were both in a position to be reconciled, reconciliation wouldn't be an option for us.

Neither of us would want to be seeing our ES and possibly our only GC if the other were to be excluded. We have come through the pain and devastation of our estrangement together; moved house and rebuilt our lives together.

We have both been estranged so any possibility for reconciliation would have to include both, just as I'm sure it would have to be for our ES and his wife.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 10:20:49

Just seen your post sodapop. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be for that parent who remains excluded and how many tears have been shed behind closed doorstchsad.

Astral Wed 02-Dec-20 11:24:28

I think parents should be able to have independent relationships if that is what the parent who still has a good relationship wants.

The same with married couples, if a spouse doesn't like a parent they should have a right to not see them but it should not mean an adult child cannot see their parent.

A couple is a unit and an adult child should never stand by and allow their spouse to be abused by their parent either. So fostering a positive relationship with a parent while allowing that parent to abuse their spouse is not ok and in that case they should protect their spouse and estrange really as its enabling abuse.

In a scenario where one parent is abusive, the other has responsibility for allowing that abuse to occur so probaly is not a safe person to have a relationship with as an abuse enabler.

Overall, while parents have the right to autonomous relationships I think it would be detrimental to everyone involved and that is probably why parents get estranged as a unit.

That's not very straightforward but I think overall we should protect the ones we love from abusers and not be party to allowing any kind of abuse.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 12:03:43

If one of the parents had a good relationship with their AC, why would they have been estranged along with the other? The OP asked "can only one spouse reconcile with an EAC" in order for that to be an issue, both parents would have had to have been estranged.

Parents abusing their children is not the only reason why they get estranged. One reason is because their spouse doesn't like their parents, and often the entire family is estranged, not just the parents.

It's up to the individuals concerned. For some, one parent reconciling with the AC who estranged them is an option but that wont be the case for everyone.

I agree that "overall we should protect the ones we love from abusers and not be party to allowing any kind of abuse" and that includes one parent not wanting the other parent to become involved with the AC who estranged them, for fear that they'll be estranged by them again.

I do think it's a shame when talking about EP's that the assumption is too often made that the parents must be abusive.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 12:12:14

Let's say for example that it's the AC's partner who is the problem. I very much doubt that she/he would find it acceptable if the AC's parents said they wanted to have a relation with their AC at the exclusion of her/him.

Toadinthehole Wed 02-Dec-20 12:54:28

From what you say about the causes, it sounds like something that’s been building up over many years. In this case, it does seem a shame for the dad to impose those sort of conditions. It may make the son feel they’re not that bothered. Is the son bothered, or is it the parents hankering to see him? I think I would want to meet up with my son, and then try to resolve it that way, rather than with my husband around, which may have previously been hampering the whole thing. I’m not sure I could keep that up, but then I wouldn’t put up with a spouse who behaves the way you say this mum does. My that type of scenario, would come first I think.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 13:03:33

I've been thinking the same thing Toadinthehole. We wouldn't have been estranged if one of us had abused our child(ren) because our relationship would have been over as soon as that happened.

Hithere Wed 02-Dec-20 13:35:19

I think it is a very hard thing to do

Husband and wife owe loyalty to each other (marriage).
If they are divorced, it is a different story.

It could put the non estranged parent in a very precarious situation with the estranged parent.

If we add dysfunctional behaviour/personality disorders - complicates everything even more.

The only case I see this working is if the non estranged parent and estranged parent decide it is ok

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 13:42:27

I agree Hithere and I think there would need to be an honest discussion between the parents as to what would happen, if the estranged parent found it far more difficult to deal with than they anticipated.

With the best will in the world, thinking that we can cope with a particular situation can be entirely different when that thought process is out into practice. As you say, the non estranged parent could find themselves in a very precarious situation, and the strain placed on their relationship with the estranged parent could have serious repercussions.

Of course if they are no longer together, that's an entirely difference scenario.

Astral Wed 02-Dec-20 14:27:21

Smileless I tried to make the comment fair and did not assume abuse is present. I'm sorry if that did not come across.

Honest answer, if my child wanted a relationship with me and not my husband I would have that relationship over my husband and his feelings. My answer was myself looking at it trying to think it through. I think if my child wanted me and not my husband I would have to seriously consider why that would be the case. I know that generally parents are both estranged though and I am guessing there are many different reasons why.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 14:38:00

In our situation there's no way I would have a relationship with our ES unless Mr. S. was included Astral. I just couldn't do it and wouldn't want too.

The thought of being able to see and talk to our son without him being there is impossible to imagine and then there are the GC. The only GC we have are our ES's children and I couldn't bear the thought of being able to see them if he wasn't allowed too.

I couldn't have survived the last 8 years without his love and support so there's no way I'd put a relationship with our ES over him and his feelings.

Astral Wed 02-Dec-20 14:50:48

Do you think that would be the same at the beginning of estrangement Smileless? We're you told whether 1 or both of you were the "reason"? Quotations there for clarity of, not a statement of fact and I know that "reasons" aren't always given.

I don't know if it is right to put my children above my husband. I've been thinking about it all day.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 15:36:09

We had a note pushed through our letter box on Christmas Eve 2012 together with a book we'd bought for our GC's first Christmas.

The note, written by our son said we were no longer a part of his and our GC's lives and were to stay away. Our GC was 11 months old and we hadn't seen him since he was 8 months old.

We knew things weren't good; a few weeks before when I 'phoned him to wish him a 'happy birthday' I got a message that said "the person you are 'phoning is no longer accepting calls from this number.

That said, to say the note on Christmas Eve was one hell of a shock would be an understatement. Reasons weren't given at the time and things that were said later had no basis in truth.

Had that note said 'I don't want dad in my life but I want you to be a part of mine and your GC's life', my response from the very beginning would have been a 'no'.

Of course if that had been the case, there may have been an opportunity for me to talk to him and find out what the problem was, and perhaps find a way to sort things out. I would have told him that I couldn't be in a relationship with him that excluded his father, which may or may not have given him pause for thought.

We held one another that night as we cried and we've held one another many times since as one or both of us has wept. We've been together for 43 years; married for 40 so as much as I love our ES, it's a no brainer.

Toadinthehole Wed 02-Dec-20 16:45:06

Smileless 💐.

Lolo81 Wed 02-Dec-20 16:45:51

Mamabear, based on the info you’ve given about your specific situation I would find it highly unlikely that the son and dad can reconcile and have a lasting relationship.
Dad expressing that son should “accept her the way she is” is effectively enabling her bad behaviour that son obviously had an issue with.
It could be that dad is truly supporting his wife and believes she is being poorly treated or more likely he doesn’t want to be the target of her manipulation amongst the wider family/social circle.
As much as son would like to maintain a relationship with dad, what would this actually consist of? Nothing of real genuine value IMO - because son would be reluctant to share details and experiences in his life with dad for fear of dad reporting back to mum.
The whole subject is a bit circular when I think about it - EAC will estrange both parents, EP’s will stick together as a couple should - and then both the EAC’s and EP’s get stuck in a circular situation because of the loyalty felt toward spouses, whilst building up ill feeling towards whoever they feel is the responsible party for estrangement. It’s so sad.

Smileless2012 Wed 02-Dec-20 17:15:38

Thank you for the flowers Toadintheholetchsmile.

You're right to describe it as getting "stuck in a circular situation" Lolo, one that doesn't seem to have any end and as you say "It's so sad".

OceanMama Wed 02-Dec-20 20:35:07

I really think it depends on the situation. I think it can be possible for one parent to have a relationship with a child while the other doesn't but it would be difficult.

I could see the possibility of meeting an EC for lunch and maintaining the relationship that way. I can't see separating from my DH for events or holidays though. The relationship with my DH would have to have priority there. His feelings and the reason for estrangement would also factor into how it could work.

MamaBear20 Thu 03-Dec-20 00:08:45

It seems that a reconciliation will not be possible. The dad refuses to reconcile with his son unless the mom is also part of the reconciliation. Although the dad is willing to reconcile first, with the understanding that eventually the son will reconcile with mom as well.

The son will not reconcile with his mom unless she admits to her poor behavior and makes changes so that the behaviors do not continue. Her behaviors disrupted the peace of his home for many years, creating constant discord. Dad denies the behaviors, but in the same breathe says mom isn’t able to make the first move to reconcile because of her behaviors.

There was never a plan to estrange. It happened that way because dad sided with mom from the start. The plan was to take a break from moms behaviors for a few months to let the upset subside and figure out how the relationship could go forward. Unfortunately mom was so upset that son wanted a break, that her behaviors escalated and she has not calmed down, and she won’t admit to any wrong doing. We suspect mental illness.

Every once in awhile dad texts son and demands a reconciliation. Son asks him to acknowledge moms behaviors. Dad refuses. Silence ensues until the next holiday or major life event when dad tries again. And on it has gone for three years now.

Hithere Thu 03-Dec-20 00:43:19

I hope the son realizes the dad is as guilty as the mother- he is his wife's enabler.

MamaBear20 Thu 03-Dec-20 01:53:31

I hope so too Hithere. He is most definitely her enabler and he has taught all of their children that their mom’s emotions trump theirs. And her emotions are volatile.