Parenting with a uPD spouse

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11JB68

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Parenting with a uPD spouse
« on: August 17, 2018, 04:29:47 PM »
I know that I've likely posted about this before, but I really struggle with this one and I'm hoping others can share their thoughts. Everything I know to be true about 'good parenting' says that the parents are partners, should support one another, should present a united front, should not undermine each other's authority, should not encourage or allow the child(ren) to 'split' them, etc etc.
I know that even 'non' parents (2 'non' parents) will occasionally disagree about parenting techniques and philosophies. I also know that I am a 'nice' person, I like to be 'nice', I like for people to 'like' me (though I don't think in a narc way)-just that I don't like to be 'mean' to people. I know that I can be a pushover. I do know that children need limits, guidelines, boundaries, etc. But in my heart/core I believe that people (all people including kids) deserve to be true to themselves, to express themselves, to be 'free' to a great extent. uPDh is authoritarian. I believe he is OCPD. I believe he has some other PD traits (some N, some BP etc). I feel that these are often expressed in his parenting. He is, basically a 'good' father. He loves DS. He wants what's best for DS. They actually have a pretty good relationship. In fact, last night they had an hour long great discussion about politics/history/economics and seemed to really enjoy themselves. I LOVE to see that. I don't see how uPDh can have such an intense discussion with DS on those topics and it goes well, but something like a haircut or the way DS is dressed, or a way that DS stood or walked in public can set him off onto a controlling rage. It's a mystery to me. Over the years (and this is no where near what some of you have experienced - it's not daily or even weekly, there's no physical abuse, no namecalling etc) there have been situations where I've felt h is being irrational, unreasonable and verbally or emotionally abusive. At those times I have sometimes tried to tell him I disagree, or that I feel he is overreacting or whatever. That results in more rage. It results in him being angry at ME for not backing him up, for being too nice...in fact, I've felt it has resulted in him being that much more angry/mean towards DS as a result. So then at other times, I sit by and watch, or 'act as if' I agree/support him when I truly don't. I HATE this. This is NOT ME. Inside I am screaming/crying because I feel this is not right. I'm starting to learn/understand that this is part of the larger picture of being a 'non' in a relationship with a 'pd'. That we can't expect them to behave in an acceptable way. I can understand how to establish personal boundaries of what I will or will not accept in terms of his treatment of me. But how do we handle this when we are in opposition re: parenting?? If I stand up to him, he accuses ME of being a bad mother (not his words, but that's the message), AND I feel it gives DS a confusing/mixed message - how is DS supposed to know what to do - it forces HIM to 'pick sides' - that feels wrong too (even now that he is an 'adult' at 20yo, but especially so when he was a child).  How do we resolve this conflict??

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Juniper1981

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2018, 05:38:39 PM »
I don't know how to solve it, but I do know how to relate!

my spouse is undiagnosed but displays characteristics very similar to OCDPD and some APD. He's pretty tame compared to what some deal with, but frustrating none the less. H has a much more authoritarian way of parenting than I do (though oddly will also give the kid multiple 'last chances'). He's quicker to anger than I am, and has a lot of rules that are make no sense to a 5 year old or are too complex for a 5 year old to follow, and then gets upset when the 5 year old doesn't comply. He lets his anger and frustration with her show, whereas I try to not show as much anger and frustration- particularly when it's something she has no control over (ex: potty training accidents, etc). I have found myself letting his more authoritarian style dominate, even when it makes me really uncomfortable, and I hate that feeling of being a pushover. I mean, it's one thing when it only affects me, but in this case it affects the kid, too.

So, what I try to do is address the issue at a time when the kid isn't around. For example, I might say 'I know it's frustrating when the kid doesn't follow XYZ rule. Maybe she's just too young to get it right now. You might be able to get the outcome you want by saying/doing XYZ"

This is usually met with 'the look' (it's a face that's hard to describe but is sort of like 'oh so you think you're a better parent') but maybe a few days later he might try the new thing. Not always, but sometimes.

The only time I critique him in front of the kid is when he is being plain old mean or is angry over something that didn't happen/isn't what he thinks it is. Ex: Normally the kid isn't supposed to be playing with X item (the item is mine) but if she asks I will sometimes allow her to play with it under certain conditions. H sees her with the item and gets mad that she's doing something that she's not supposed to be doing, and won't believe her when she says it's OK. In that case, I do correct him.


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cant turn back

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 07:26:32 AM »
I relate fully to both of your experiences.  My DD is now 15.  For me it got worse as DD got older and as STBXH got more distant/angry/depressed.  His style of communication would often be riddled with manipulation, guilt trips, and anger.  Very much as you describe 11JB68.
As I would see him treat DD in these ways my resentments mounted as it was very clearly inappropriate.  For years I would tell him so, in a gentle manner away from her (I work in a field in which I do actually have some education and experience to have sound opinions on these types of matters) only to be yelled at or dismissed as HE COULD NEVER BE WRONG OR ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY TYPE OF FAILURE. Then I began standing up for her in front of him, to show HER that it wasn’t ok and that I wasn’t going to pretend anymore that it was ok.  Needless to say things never got better, I got tired of being treated this way and I got MORE tired of watching our DD be treated this way, and worse... thinking this was ok and a normal type of family functioning.  So very unhealthy, constantly walking on eggshells. 
So.. we’re divorcing.  I’ll be damned that if I can’t show DD15 what a healthy marital relationship is, I will in the very least show her someone who is strong enough to stand up and say no, and that you can live with integrity and not have to be relegated to a down position by someone who is essentially an insecure, low self esteem bully.
However 11JB68, while divorcing is effectively my standing up and saying ‘no more’...  it has certainly not made our parenting of DD15 any easier.  It will never be resolved.  My STBXH is broken and DD15, and I, will have to forever navigate these waters.  But at least I no longer feel complicit and disempowered and I am now living with integrity, living how I feel on the inside.  I won’t downplay that the payoff right now seems questionable, as with our shared custody DD15 is only with me 50% of the time.  I just could no longer reconcile the disconnect in how we were living, I felt like I was dying in the inside.  I felt like a fraud in my own life.  I truly hope and pray that DD15 will see through all the murkiness and internalize the message so that it will resonate for her as she navigates relationships in her life.

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MeFirst

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2018, 11:21:51 AM »
Just want ti say that I can so rekate. I was so gratefyl to find this thread as this is ecactly what I have gone through too. I applaud you Cant turn back for leaving. I am starting to see that being on my own is better too. I was so sick of keeping my mouth shut so as not to enrage him. I was so upset about not speaking up and protecting and defending my children. Its so good to know my instincts were spot on and that all his behaviour was out of order.

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elly87

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2018, 02:02:17 PM »
I relate fully to both of your experiences.  My DD is now 15.  For me it got worse as DD got older and as STBXH got more distant/angry/depressed.  His style of communication would often be riddled with manipulation, guilt trips, and anger.  Very much as you describe 11JB68.
As I would see him treat DD in these ways my resentments mounted as it was very clearly inappropriate.  For years I would tell him so, in a gentle manner away from her (I work in a field in which I do actually have some education and experience to have sound opinions on these types of matters) only to be yelled at or dismissed as HE COULD NEVER BE WRONG OR ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY TYPE OF FAILURE. Then I began standing up for her in front of him, to show HER that it wasn’t ok and that I wasn’t going to pretend anymore that it was ok.  Needless to say things never got better, I got tired of being treated this way and I got MORE tired of watching our DD be treated this way, and worse... thinking this was ok and a normal type of family functioning.  So very unhealthy, constantly walking on eggshells. 
So.. we’re divorcing.  I’ll be damned that if I can’t show DD15 what a healthy marital relationship is, I will in the very least show her someone who is strong enough to stand up and say no, and that you can live with integrity and not have to be relegated to a down position by someone who is essentially an insecure, low self esteem bully.
However 11JB68, while divorcing is effectively my standing up and saying ‘no more’...  it has certainly not made our parenting of DD15 any easier.  It will never be resolved.  My STBXH is broken and DD15, and I, will have to forever navigate these waters.  But at least I no longer feel complicit and disempowered and I am now living with integrity, living how I feel on the inside.  I won’t downplay that the payoff right now seems questionable, as with our shared custody DD15 is only with me 50% of the time.  I just could no longer reconcile the disconnect in how we were living, I felt like I was dying in the inside.  I felt like a fraud in my own life.  I truly hope and pray that DD15 will see through all the murkiness and internalize the message so that it will resonate for her as she navigates relationships in her life.

I could not read your post without commenting on it. I am your DD15. I grew up in a home with a raging father who I was terrified of, and an enabling mother who either actively or passively supported him. She never stood up for me. She watched my NF throw me out of the house at 17 years old after he didnt like the guy i was dating, into the freezing cold of winter, no coat, no money. She watched him remove the lock from my bedroom door as a teenager, verbally and physically abuse me for years. He never had to apologize for anything he ever did, and they r still together but have no relationship with either of their kids anymore. For years i dreamed of her doing just what you have done, taking a stand for me, for us, divorcing him, so we could be free in our house. she never did. They are still together, now for 33 years. they are left alone with each other now, as they have alienated all kids and grandchildren. I always wonder if she regrets her decision but i honestly dont think she has any insight and couldnt care less.
your DD15 is so lucky to have you. She will likely be really close with you as she grows because she can trust you for advocating for her and leaving.

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11JB68

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2018, 05:01:55 PM »
Leaving is not always an easy choice to make. When DS was younger I truly feared that if I left, uPDh would try to take DS from me in some way. OR I feared uPDh sharing custody and what that would look like (DS being alone with him 1/2 the time with NO go-between at all). Also uPDh has shown (by behavior or words) that if I were to do that he might decompensate further and either a) become depressed/suicidal and/or b) even more rageful/spiteful/etc. towards me and/or DS. Also - Looked into leaving about 6 mos ago and found that 1) I would have to pay alimony to uPDh...and 2) in reading others' experiences on this forum, PD folks can make it VERY VERY difficult and EXPENSIVE to divorce them!!  DS is now in college and we have (the 3 of us) collectively taken on student loans...to leave could put that at stake... I know that I haven't done the best job, but I've done the best I can at each stage...to keep all of us as safe as possible.

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sevenyears

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2018, 07:40:32 PM »
11JB68 - wow, I understand what you are going through. Your first post could have been from me. My stbxh - uocpd is the same way and has the same reactions. He is authoritarian and punitive - especially towards me and our older child (they are six and three). He is easily angered if the children or I break one of his rules - which we don't know about in advance, and which apparently only apply to us, not him. Like you and others, it got to the point where I no longer wanted to walk on eggshells and defer to him, and instead stand up for myself and my children.  My situation is a little bit different though because our social worker for our older child brokered an informal and temporary arrangement that I move out and the child care arrangements are split 50/50 until mediation or (more likely) court determines the final outcome. My heart bleeds every week when they are with uocpdstbxh. I worry what he emotional damage he is doing to them, and whether his explosive anger will become physical. And, I wonder how successful he will be at turning them against me. You are right that leaving is a hard choice to make - and pds will always make sure there are consequences for that. You have to do what is best for you and your children. It sounds like you are doing the best you can with the cards that you have been dealt. Good luck. 

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11JB68

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2018, 11:49:14 PM »
Seven years....yes...the arbitrary rules are the worst...just when you think you've figured it out....you haven't....and yes many of them apply to us But not to him....staying or leaving, neither is ideal. I did finally sit down and talk with DS20 about what I think the issue is...and I did let him know that I seriously considered divorce,but that as of now nothing is happening. I told himthat I am reading and learning and talking to others (finally) and trying to do what I can to make things better. Partly because I don't want him to be shocked/blindsided if I do make a sudden drastic change. He seemed to understand and to appreciate our talk. He didn't say yes you should leave or no you shouldn't...I think he gets the dichotomy involved. I did tell him that I'm stronger than my enF is, and that if things came to a head and I had to pick sides that is pick his. That's something my enF was not able to do.

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sevenyears

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2018, 02:44:18 PM »
11JB68 - it sounds to me like your DS knows and understands quite a lot. And, it sounds like he has had quite a strong shoulder from you for him to lean on.

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11JB68

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Re: Parenting with a uPD spouse
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2018, 05:21:24 PM »
And today we dropped DS of at school...always hard...uPDh has a lot of control issues with this process... Wants to put all of ds's supplies away in the desk...I say 'I'd let him do it, Otherwise he won't know where stuff is, in sure he has his own system'...but uPDh 'knows best' and does it anyway. Later he feels the need to (once again) lecture ds on how to shake hands and introduce himself... Updh does have a moment of insight, after lecturing ds on how to be friendly/meet new people, he comments that we aren't really the ones to lecture on throes since "we" don't have that many friends..
I agreed...