"My husband has turned against my family... so many times he laughed at my love for my mum."
After a sleepless night I'm writing you again as, for the first time, I feel hopeless.
I fear my husband and I have arrived to the end of the road, and this time I cannot see any way out or forward, especially because my fear is actually stopping me from feeling anything.
It all started when my mum came to stay last week for her birthday. During dinner my husband completely lost his temper with my sister, completely ignored it was mum's birthday and then started to be very offensive towards my family. The following day my mum, who can't speak english, tried to calm him down, opened her heart( while I was translating) telling him how much he's turned against them, how much they feel pushed away, how worried she is about him being too isolated and that they welcomed him with open harms only to having him being very arrogant and aloof those few times a year we get together.
He listened, thanked her.
We all thought we could move forward.
But yesterday, while I was out with mum he text me out of the blue saying it was over, he'd never live up to their expectations, he married me not them..and then he started to be very nasty towards all of them when we then met at home.
As I was trying to calm him down I realised this had nothing to do with my family or me... so I told him what I kept from him all these years and..he cried..saying I was right.
My husband gets to see his mum and dad 3 times a year, they live 30 minutes away from London,we have not seen his brother in 14 months... he lives 20 minutes away!
When I first met him, his mum had not spoken to him in 5 years cause she never received her birthday voucher, in all this his dad never took a stand for him...He also told me how, as a kid, he once noticed his mum "playing" with him in a strange way. I really wanted to run away, as there was too much pain and coldness in him, I didn't think I could help him as I had my own baggage.
But you see Ayal I loved him right away, I knew he was for life, so I took courage and by Christmas that year his relationship with them was on the mend. I felt very proud and I always thought this would make him appreciate my values, my love for my family. In the beginning he was lovely towards them, really trying to embrace them.
Then things changed.
He lost his highly paid but hated job, my dad died, we got married, I started panicking about my mum being on her own.
He went back to his music career, but it has not taken off and that has made him bitter. He said he never wanted to go back to an office as he can't stand people so he's been trying different businesses from home... only to spend most of his his time on his own. He got so fixated to music and business that even just going to the gym is like a mission, everything has become about money ...champagne on top of a skyscraper ...that's life! I tried to understand and support him, but then suddenly things started to feel weird, I missed genuine things, a community, family. But he really turned against my family, so many times he laughed at my love for my mum. We are our own family now, he says, but somehow I could sense this was not it... he was hiding something or from something.
So yesterday I spat it all out to his face, told him the fact that his own family never make an effort is eating him up inside, he'd rather tell the world he doesn't care and people like me are just idiots for their love to their families. I told him is bitter about his music and money and champagne thing is his cover to proof his worth...
He started to cry...
He told me he has a void inside, a dullness that stops from feeling anything, the need to push everybody away because that's what he has been taught ...keep people away before they hurt you. He hates people, they only let you down, and he can't feel my family's love, he can't understand it... because his parents give us £300 each every Christmas but there is no way they'd spend that day with us... my family give us little things but they are happy to have us around.
I wanted to run away... take my mum and just go...
Then he went to my mum and told her what he told me (me still translating). But by now my mum was very wary and told him he is the only one who can help himself, we gave him everything we could... she came all the way from Italy only to be treated so poorly.
So, here I am, not understanding, ashamed of not knowing if our marriage can survive, mortified towards my mum, unable to know if I can really help my husband... it sounds like a daunting challenge.
My mum told me we need to calm down, and really try to work it out, but for the first time she said I don't need to stay if I don't think it is worth it... I know she's upset and worried.
I think this is my time to face the possibility that, maybe, right now my family won't be able to believe in our love and hell have to find his way back to them... and still stand by his side 'till that happens.
But the question remains... what is my role here? I can't see it anymore as I'm scared... not so much any more of losing him, but of spending a life trying only to find myself writing to you again for help.
Thanks Ayal for your great wisdom... you don't know how much your advice has improved my marriage through time!
It sounds to me as if your husband experienced sexual abuse at an early age... if he remembers his mother "playing with him in a strange way" ...that's what it sounds like to me. Also the fact that he hates people and expects them to hurt him – he stays away from his own family because they are not a safe place for him. All of these are strong symptoms of someone who has been abused in some way.
When someone has experienced abuse as a child, it is a very, very difficult and challenging thing to heal. It takes years of deep and hard personal healing work. If someone remembers or recognizes that they have been abused, and they get into therapy, and get some help and support and guidance to work with this, to heal it, they have a chance to change. If they are not willing to do this, then you, as his partner, have to decide whether or not you can live with him, and have any kind of good life with him, given the stress you will feel, the problems it raises for you, the distorted energy you will be bombarded by day after day.
His anger toward his own family is being directed at your family – it is called a projection, or misplaced anger. It sounds as if you have a good relationship with your family, and this may have appeared attractive to him at first, as he does not have that with his own family, and the little child within him desperately needed that. So, seeing your family being loving and close and supportive was probably something that he at first felt pulled toward. However, now the wounds are showing, and his rage and hostility are being thrown around. He needs to get some professional help... if he will. He is trying to isolate himself, with you, to make it you and him against the world – the one safe place for him – but it comes at too high a price for you, and it is not a healthy answer at any rate, at all. It will not help or heal anything, and his anger and hostility and negativity and pain will still be there, raging inside of him.
I think that your role with him is to continue to speak your truth – don't hold it in until things have built up to the breaking point. I think your role also is, if you love him, to support him in getting the help he needs, and to continue to support him to keep on going to a good counselor for a long period of time – we are talking years of therapy... again, if he is willing to do that. He has to see the depth of the problem – and it is very, very deep, and be willing to fully commit to healing himself. Again, if he won't get help and face his problems, then you have to decide if you can live in a relationship with someone who is damaged in this deep way and who will continue to be this way, full of hurt and rage and hostility and fear.
It is a frightening thing to be with someone with this level of deep trauma and rage – it feels crazy, and it is crazy, and that is why they need to get help. You can't heal him – he has to be willing to go get the help he needs and to stick with it for a long, long time. Going even for a year won't be enough. I'd say ideally a minimum of once or twice a week 3 years, and probably more.
If he does get into therapy, you, too, will need to also go to help you heal the wounds you have felt by being exposed to this distortion and rage. There is a great book out called Survivors and Partners: Healing the Relationships of Sexual Abuse Survivors, and it talks all about what the partner of someone who has gone through the trauma of sexual abuse also goes through by living with them.
One thing I also want to point out to you is this: someone with that kind of rage usually picks someone who is softer and gentler, someone they can take their rage out on. If you have your own level of deep fear, and you easily get frightened, and it is hard for you to speak your truth and stand up for yourself, then you have both picked the perfect partners, in a negative way, to fit your own problem area. You have picked a domineering, raging guy who scares you and with whom you have difficulty speaking your truth. He has picked someone he can rage at, or at least rage at her family, but inside of him is a hurt, terrified little boy who cries when he is finally confronted with the truth. Your work is to also face what in yourself, your areas of trauma and lack of power, had you choose such a guy. Until you face this in yourself, your own healing won't evolve. What inside of you had you pick someone you seem afraid of, who frightens you, and with whom you feel so powerless? What has caused you to be powerless? Can you handle being and gaining the strength you will need to deal with this long process of healing? It will be a process of healing for both of you – if you love him enough to stay, and you are not staying because you are feeling afraid or powerless.... and you will need to check into that – just know that it will not be easy much of the time.