09-18-2011, 10:32 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Wife of a Codependent with Parent
I have been married to my husband for almost 6 years. I have always known he has had a unique relationship with his parents. He has always been the parent-like figure and they have been emotionally dependent on him.
First a little background: my FIL was a "functional" alcoholic for all of DH's childhood. He is an only child. He stopped drinking when DH was about 20. DH describes his childhood as chaotic, oppressive, unstable with constant turmoil and fighting between his parents. His parents are still married to this day. They are both in their early 70s, both in good physical health and live about 1 hour away from us.
DH is very loyal to his parents and feels responsible for their well-being. Both have always been dependent on him and when something goes wrong (sink breaks, TV light goes out, you name it) they go straight to DH for help. I always just shrugged this off as being their family dynamic and never could put my finger on why their relationship bothered me. It seems like the neediness continued to grow. DH says this is because he's the only child and it's his job to take care of them. I don't mind helping anyone out who is older and needs assistance with physical tasks. There is just something else there that's intangible and bothers me - a sense of emotional dependence that doesn't seem normal.
We now have a couple of young kids and I noticed that their need evolved into "needing" to see the kids. I feel like we do our best to accommodate reasonable visits - usually a whole day visit every 2-3 weeks. I realized 5 years into our marriage that it's the guilt that my husband feels that really bothers me. The strange thing is I never see FIL or MIL (well MIL does a little guilt trip whenever we have to leave) really put a big guilt trip on DH. I shouldn't say there are never guilt trips, because I remember after my DD was born, FIL would call and say how much they missed her and DH would want to go down there the next weekend to visit because he felt bad that they were missing our daughter. I would feel a little miffed since my parents never played that card and as a result they see their grandkids less often (my parents are very careful about respecting boundaries).
In any event, I noticed how much guilt my husband carries around for his parents. I don't know why I couldn't put my finger on it until now. I feel my resentment growing over this situation and my resentment is with DH. His parents are needy, but I wish he had healthier boundaries. I notice the guilt seems to especially surround his dad, who was the alcoholic. Last night, he brought up the possibility of moving his parents closer so they could be around their grandchildren more often. I dread this idea so much and last night I finally realized why. I came across a codependent article online and it describes my husband and his relationship to his parents (especially his Father) to a tee. He even brought up moving one of his parents into our home if the other should die later on (regardless of whether they are capable of physically taking care of themselves). I told him I was not comfortable with that as boundaries could be an issue. He brushed it off and said that we could all live together and boundaries wouldn't be an issue. I stood my ground as calmly as I could (I was just seething inside since we had discussed this same topic a long time ago and agreed it would be best not to have parents living with us unless it was an extreme health situation).
I couldn't figure out why I feel the way I do. I feel guilty whenever he wants to take them along on vacation with us and I don't want them to come (seems like he is just being a good son). We do vacation with them occasionally, but seems like he's perfectly fine making that the norm. I used to wonder if I was just jealous of their "close" relationship? But, that didn't seem like it since I don't feel that way about anyone else in his family. I sense this relationship is a threat to my marriage and I don't know what I can do. I told him about the codependent article and he just laughed it off as "well you should be glad I went through all of that, it made me who I am today."
I don't know what to do. I sense we are in for big problems in the future. I am feeling like my husband holds his loyalty to his parents almost equally (maybe slightly below) the loyalty he has to me. It seems like they need constant emotional rescuing, even though their requests usually don't seem unreasonable. I really do love them, I am just afraid the issues would suffocate our family and marriage if they were closer. It really bothers me that my husband sees this as perfectly normal. Please help and let me know if I should be worried or if I'm just being paranoid. Is there anything I can do?
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The following user gives a hug of support to kangaroo55:
10-01-2011, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Re: Wife of a Codependent with Parent
Originally Posted by kangaroo55
I am just afraid the issues would suffocate our family and marriage if they were closer. It really bothers me that my husband sees this as perfectly normal. Please help and let me know if I should be worried or if I'm just being paranoid. Is there anything I can do?
Would he balk at couple's therapy?
If he is set in his ways and doesn't want to change his ways or seek any help,the only thing you can realistically do is work on you.
There are codependency groups and the like out there.
What is your family's take on this?
When in doubt, post it out.
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