I’m a stay-at-home mom with young children, and visit my mother once weekly during the day, while half of my kids are in school.
My husband of 12 years says this visit equals the monthly four-and-a-half-hour treks we make to spend the weekend with his mom every month.
We only see my dad, my siblings and their families, a few times a year, though they live forty minutes away.
We do take one weeklong seaside vacation with my family. Although my parents pay for it, my husband makes us leave them almost every day.
He mentions this one week during every fight that’s raised, when I complain about not seeing my family much.
Yet he admits that he always has fun with them.
He feels that birthdays should be celebrated by “just us” without any extended family.
He also has unfounded issues with my siblings and can hardly stand my brother-in-law and sister.
He thinks that since I talk to my mom while he’s at work, I should never talk to any family members on evenings or weekends, which is “our time.”
Visiting my family alone with the kids isn’t an option.
If I insist we attend a family function, which isn’t formerly agreed on, he forces me to visit his mom even more.
Her house is filthy and triggers all my allergies. I sleep on her floor because all of the beds exacerbate my back issues.
If I refuse to go to his parent’s house even once, he says he won’t go to holiday functions (Thanksgiving, Christmas) with my family and will take all the kids to his mother’s house instead.
He has no friends, so every time I want to see one of my friends on an evening or weekend, he “lets” me, but makes me feel guilty.
His mother is also a scorekeeper on how often we see my family versus her.
In other aspects of our marriage – finances, intimacy, etc., he’s not controlling.
Our kids are very young and staying home with them is a high priority for me. Otherwise, I would’ve left him long ago. He refuses counselling because he “ has no problems.”
What should I do?
Get counselling yourself to 1) try to understand why he’s a controller in this frequent and significant area and; 2) consider what are your options.
You don’t mention love, but do mention non-controlling intimacy with him. You’re also clearly bound together by your youngsters.
Yet he’s a social loner who wants all your time and dedication when he’s home.
Eventually, you’ll face a desire for more independent time - whether with your own family, friend, or work outside the home.
Professional guidance can help you learn how to introduce gentle but steady changes in this dynamic over time.
But a few things must change now, through you insisting on them, for your own self-respect:
Bring an air mattress and pump or other decent sleep aid to his mother’s house.
Do NOT repeatedly leave your parents when they’ve treated you to a vacation. Bring them along on some outings.
There’s no “guilt” to your seeing friends. Have some over occasionally and go out with them at other times.
Do NOT let your husband isolate you. That will ultimately cause you to just flee, which is chaotic.
Instead, try with professional guidance, to find some reasonable compromises. They may work, or they may buy time until you’re more certain of what you want to do.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who never met his “real father” but was told many lies about him (Nov. 16):
Reader – “As the mother of a child who had both a father and step-father, I note that the man’s “real” father is the one who raised him.
“The other man may have created him but he isn't a father.
“My son often tells people that he has a dad and a father.
“When people ask what’s the difference, he tells them that one is the person who created you but the other is the one who’s always there for you.
“While the other may not have been given the chance to be a dad, this man in the column should be wary of the pain that can come from not finding out before he puts his heart on his sleeve to know "his real father."
“He may find that he’s the man who never wanted to be there.”
Tip of the day:
Get counselling to try to create compromises with a controlling partner and/or weigh your options.