my parents are having problems
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default my parents are having problems

Preface: I'm 18 years old, and my parents have been together for 20-odd years.

over the years my mom has changed attitude towards my dad. More often than not, she is short with him, nitpicks, makes fun of him, points out all his flaws/mistakes, and pretty much shows no concern for how he feels. My dad on the other hand, is the opposite. He always tries to be nice to her (unless he loses it when they start arguing). There is no romance in the relationship at all anymore.

But here's where I need some advice. My parents are thinking about divorce, and i dont really care if they do or not, i just want them to be happy. But my mom is making my dad feel like he's ****ing things up when my dad has done nothing wrong.

and my dad is feeling like its his fault because he has no support. my mom has her parents and her friends to talk to, my dads got no one.


its obvious that my mom doesn't give him the attention he needs, and she rejects the attention he gives her. How can i explain this to my dad? He's confused, angry, hurt.. etc. He can't seem to describe the way he's being treated, and i need help figuring out how to explain what my mother is doing to him.


I just want my dad to be able to explain to my mom what the real problem is

Can ya give me some different ways to phrase what is happening in their relationship?
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

Middleman,
Two years ago the same thing happened to my parents, except it was the other way around. Instead of my mother confronting my father about what he was doing to her and what her problem was, she cheated on him. He ended up alone with no friends and family around thinking he was the one who got the shaft, which he did because cheating is never a solution, but it was not 100% my mother's fault. So it ended badly.

It's hard being a child witnessing your parent's falling out of love and hitting the bottom, but the only thing we can do is support them. I know you love your mother, but sometimes it's okay step in and tell the other party that it is not their fault and let them know you are there for them. And because your father does not have anyone to lean on, he may need you more than you know. I would just sit down and discuss your feelings about it all with him...your parents should listen to you and you should be able to trust that they will not throw you into the middle of their problems...you are ultimately just giving your opinion and concerns for your parent's behalf. Does your father just let your mother walk all over him? Maybe you should suggest that he sticks up for himself at times.

Women are strange..and especially when they get older and their kids start moving away. They go through some sort of withdrawal and life crisis. My parents raised us kids and put everything into us, so when we moved out they had NO idea how to even take care of one another or really who they were together. People change and although your mother is treating your father in a way that is unhealthy for their marriage...it does happen and I suppose it is something they will work out.

Have you spoken to your mother about the way she is acting? Sometimes a third person to say "Hey mom, I've been noticing the way you make fun of dad and how he can never do anything to please you...give him a break." You are old enough to where you are seeing the real side of things and understanding what's going on...so you have the right to speak up...Just remember to respect that any decision they make is between them.

Also...this is not your fault and your parents love you no matter what. My youngest sister was 17 at the time of my parent's separation and was left in the cold by my mother and is stuck living with my depressed dad...and every day I wish someone would tell her it's not her fault (because she blaims herself since she was living within the household at the time).

I am no pro at this by any means, but I do hope this helps. If you need anything please post!
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

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Originally Posted by mygirls2 View Post
Women are strange..and especially when they get older and their kids start moving away. They go through some sort of withdrawal and life crisis. My parents raised us kids and put everything into us, so when we moved out they had NO idea how to even take care of one another or really who they were together.

^ this was helpful.. that's exactly what's been going on. My brother has moved out, and my sister and I live at home, but we're pretty much independent anymore and now that they are left with each other, they don't know what to do with one another. i think i do need to say something to my mom, but i think i'll start by saying something to my dad. thanks for the quick reply.


and its hard to say my dad lets my mom walk all over her.. he does when she's being passive-aggressive, but then as soon as she says something he feels he can argue with (bills, work, chores, etc) he starts yelling because he doesnt seem to know how to call her out on her passive-aggressiveness.

how do you call someone out on being passive-aggressive? she won't admit it. i guess it'll take my whole family sitting down and talking things out. she's just so sure of herself and my dad's so hot-headed, its hard to keep things calm
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

Hey Middleman,
Well I do not have any adivce on how to tell someone they are being passive-agressive. However, if your mom doesn't think she is...she may not want to believe it. It's hard sometimes to take criticism even if it is constructive. Because she may be in some sort of denial with herself, I don't think having the entire family sit down to chat about it would be best. Because passive-aggressiveness is a sort of defensive and negative personality. It may help her to know everyone is noticing it, but maybe not with everyone there to confront her at the same time...
A way you may be able to get her to realize is by sitting down and explaining what you see and ask for her response is to why she is acting that way and maybe she just needs someone to listen. She's gone 20 + years taking care of everyone and that very well could be why she is behaving and acting for herself. My mom up and left and seriously does not have a listening ear for anyone anymore...just herself...I get upset about it because I still look to her for words of wisdom and encouragement, but then I realize that she did her part and it's really her time...She may just want HER time and for that time to be alone so having someone with her still may make her feel even more stressed. I am not really sure. I hope you can talk to them and maybe help reduce some of your concerns and possibly theirs. Good Luck!
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

It must be said in this situation that is very common, all the talking in the world is not going to help this problem.

Your father must stop being the passive "nice guy" and then reacting to your mother by yelling when she is pushing his buttons. By this "nagging" and pushing buttons your mother is testing your father to step up and he is in so many words failing this test.

For whatever is the motivation from your mother, a midlife change or whatever that has lead her to realize she is not happy, simply this, she is not feeling as a woman should feel and she will express this as resentment in her behavior.

In many marriages when this happens it is leading to affairs or divorce or both.

Also understand the solution is rare to never to just sit down and talk about it, because do not assume your mother even understands herself in the logical sense what is going on, often a woman will only knows she feels a certain way and these feelings are extremely powerful to the woman and are motivation to start affairs or even a divorce proceeding so strong are they for a woman.

So for your father, the solution for him to stop bending over backwards or be a "nice guy" or in other ways to let your mother "lead him" but instead to take the stand, and instead to concentrate on himself and his happiness first.

The things in life he enjoys and is successful at, and invite your mother to share in these things. For her to stop seeing him as the boring husband that doesn't find her attractive or doesn't make her feel beautiful and feminine and alive, and instead see him as the confident successful happy dominant man that she fell in love with at the beginning, the kind of man that will make her feel like a woman again.

Search for the threads speaking of the dominant man and the dangers of being the "nice guy", also in those threads often are books mentioned that you could read or even give to your father for these situation.

I wish you well.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

Hi middleman

I admire the maturity and clarity of thought in your message. Just briefly, I was in the same position at your age. I know now that I was not responsible for my parents problems, nor could I have mediated to solve them.

BUT: my dad, like yours, was in a very isolated position. I really do hope I was able to show that I loved, respected and cared for him whatever my mother said about him. If you are able to show your dad your love, respect and independent judgement that will mean the whole world to him at this very difficult time.

And don't overlook your own well-being. I'm sure you are very distressed by what's going on - if you can talk it out with a friend that will keep you grounded. And keep posting here - I'm sure people will be glad to offer support and advice.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

I applaud your maturity as well.

I think your mom is bullying your dad, and your dad needs to treat her like any other bully.

That is, to flat out ignore her... to not take the bait, turn his back on her and walk out of the room.

With she follow him, screaming even louder? Of course, she's trying to get a response. By ignoring her he takes her power away. And it'll driver her nuts until she realizes he isn't going to play her game anymore.

It would be a very good thing for your dad to take the high road and be gracious, instead of stooping to her level here. This is the message you need to convey to your dad. Hopefully your mom's crazy behavior will help your dad realize " it's her, not me", which will allow him to find peace for himself.
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: my parents are having problems

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do not assume your mother even understands herself in the logical sense what is going on, often a woman will only knows she feels a certain way and these feelings are extremely powerful to the woman
Yes, because women are irrational creatures driven by their emotions. Ugh. That is 18th century thinking, at best.

ALL people tend to respond to feelings before thinking, if the feeling is strong and basic enough. Your mom's behavior sounds passive-aggressive to a "T."

Do not confront her; help her access the thoughts behind the feelings. Feelings come from thoughts, but she may or may not be aware of the thoughts she's having. Rather than "What's wrong with you" in a negative tone, sit her down and let her know that you can tell she is unhappy. She may deny it, but then just explain that her behavior suggests she is unhappy, and one or two examples (you use sarcasm a lot more, mom; you roll your eyes now and you almost never did that,--what ever you think is a noticeable change, and just one or two examples). Let her know that no matter what she is thinking, she needs to work it out--talking with you or a counselor.

I suspect there is a lot in your parents' relationship that you do not see or understand. The fact that your dad has "no one" is a huge red flag. That means your mom has been his sole emotional support for years and years and it is very possible he has never returned the favor at an emotional level. She may think--rightly or wrongly--that she must always be the "strong" one. There may be sexual issues you can't help with. Too weird for everyone.

Do not try to replace your mom as your dad's emotional buttress. Offer support, but let him know he needs to develop other resources for support, too--friends, in particular. It is never too late to make friends.

Be sure to sit down with your parents together--if they do not initiate this--and at that point you simply give them feedback about what you see as your position, and how you feel. Let them know that their individual happiness is important to you, and you will not "choose sides."

Good luck.
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