My husband of 30 years seemed on edge when we were with his parents. Early on, they seemed to dislike me, though I’d always been respectful.
His contact with them has been sporadic. They’d all go months without talking.
Ten years ago, he finally realized that his father was a selfish, abusive bully who intimidated him, his sister, and his mother as he grew up.
He also realized that his mother was a willing follower who looked away when his father was verbally, and sometimes physically, abusive towards my husband and his sister, who died at 41.
My husband became their only child and our children are their only grandchildren.
We had a very rough time financially and personally ten years ago, during the 2008 recession.
We had four small children to care for, and an issue with infidelity, but with counselling and love our relationship’s stronger than ever.
During those hard times we asked his parents for help. They said we could stay in a guest house on their property for the summer while we saved enough to rent a small house.
After two weeks, they told us to leave. It was devastating.
We don’t consider it their "job" to help us, but it was hard to see our children sometimes go without proper food while his parents enjoyed their new boat.
We stayed in a small, miserable mobile home for two years.
Eventually, the kids and I spent a summer in Canada with my family who helped us, while my husband stayed in the States with friends and worked two jobs so we could save for our own home.
My concern now is with my husband.
His mother was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. His father came to my husband's work (he part-owns a popular local restaurant) and yelled at him about not keeping in touch or caring about his mother.
He repeated this public performance a couple of weeks later.
Since then, my husband’s refused to speak to, or see, his parents saying that he wishes them well, but doesn't want any contact with them.
But they’re now both 70. How will he feel if one or both parents passes away?
My husband says he now knows who his parents are as people. He's not interested in therapy or counselling because he knows they’ll not change or suddenly respect him as a man and a person.
Do I accept his decision to cut his parents from his life or do I encourage him to see them and offer some support to his cancer-stricken mother?
I love him and don't want to see him hurt or living with regret. He's a good person, a great father, and has always been a good son.
No Contact With Family
They were abusive parents when he was young, selfish grandparents later. They’re toxic to your husband who’s still dealing with anger and hurt, and recent public humiliation from his father.
He has every right to refuse seeing them. But he should know that their eventual passing will also affect him.
If he remains dis-connected, there’s no chance for resolution, no way to see them as people who were damaged themselves in their upbringing.
But the ugly scenes at his work are too recent for him to handle that now.
Tell him your concerns. Say that you support his decision, but that getting counselling about this (it’s helped you both previously) may make future events regarding his parents easier.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man considering moving far from his three young sons, for a new love (Feb 22):
Reader – “My mother moved to North America with six children including me, then 11.
“Our father soon moved to South Africa, then Spain. I’d had a good relationship with him until we moved.
“He never came to visit us. I always felt a loss at not having a father around during my teen years.
“My three younger siblings never really knew him.
“If that man moves, he will lose his children to another “father” figure, and even some visits won’t make up for everyday things. My siblings and I resented our father’s selfishness.
“The love for whom he left our mother never became a long-term relationship. I think he regretted his choice of leaving his children but we never knew till we were parents ourselves.
“I’d never abandon my children for anyone.”
Tip of the day:
Even when anger and resentment are warranted, it takes a toll on those who live with it.