Is there any hope of healing damage to older teens if spouse cooperates?

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seeking serenity

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I have a 19 year old son, who just left for college, and a 17 year old daughter, who is a junior in high school. I feel I have made huge leaps in coming OOTF and am continually healing myself. My daughter has been a part of this (unknowingly) because she tends to see behaviors clearly and is outspoken. She has pointed out many inappropriate behaviors of my uNPDh over the past 6 years. I now see how my codependent behaviors have allowed emotional abuse to take place in our home. My daughter is in therapy at her request. I hope this therapist will be able to see what is going on. We have had lots of therapy over the years-family, couples and individual. I find most therapists we have seen don't seem to be able to identify emotional abuse, even when I have pointed it out. We've made some progress, but at this point my uNPDh and myself are not happy campers. Him, because he is no longer getting what he wants from me. Me, because I am seeing our interactions more clearly. We get into arguments and sometimes they get nasty enough that divorce is thrown around (not in front of our daughter). Then he says he just wants to get along and loves me..... I don't know that leaving him would do anything but make it worse for their college success. I think he would put himself entirely first and do whatever he needed to get what he wants in life, which I imagine would be a new wife, most likely a gold-digger that would then get the resources that are supposed to be for my kids' college plans, which we have promised them for years, including medical school. We watched this scenario play out with his uNPD bio-dad and have seen a couple of friends do the exact same thing. I feel I would have more control over how he treats my kids if I stay (yes, I hear the codependence in that statement).

I wish I could have come OOTF 6 years ago because I feel not staying with him would have been healthier for all of us. Unfortunately he kept me in so much chaos that I couldn't see it.  I'm getting to the point of thinking I can't do this forever, but I struggle with timing. On one hand, I think if I stay and do not tolerate his bad behavior by standing my boundaries and walking away when my gut tells me the temperature in the room has shifted, I might have the opportunity to be a better role model for my daughter when she sees me no longer accepting bad treatment.  I have found that if I talk in the third person and point out what I will tolerate or not, both her and my uNPDh think it's funny while allowing me to get my point across.  Something like, "my codependent self would have put up with that, but my authentic self won't allow you to talk to me like that". My thinking is that if I do this I can make my kids aware of what is appropriate treatment and what is not (for my son, I hope to have opportunities on school breaks). Truthfully, my daughter already understands when some behaviors are inappropriate so it's really about me standing up and making him aware of what is ok and not ok.

I desperately want to protect my kids and do whatever I need to prevent this dysfunctional cycle from being passed on to their futures. I feel if I could do things to strengthen their self-worth by us both apologizing for past mistakes that I have identified plus reinforcing the things I think they need healed, I could help reduce the damage we've done. At this point, I think I could get my uNPDh to unknowingly go along with me because he loves to take on my ideas as if they are his own. I have had lots of times that he has done this and it has been good for our kids. This includes him apologizing for behavior I have pointed out has been hurtful to them. My struggle is in knowing if it's too late because they are basically adults. If it's not too late to reverse some of the negative effects, I feel able to stay and find enough calm to do this. If there is no chance of this because they are too old, maybe I could still help my daughter by leaving.  I would love any thoughts on this as I am in limbo and constantly agonizing over this.


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SerenityCat

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Re: Is there any hope of healing damage to older teens if spouse cooperates?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2019, 06:31:25 PM »
You deserve acknowledgement and praise for all the work you are doing. I hope that you are taking good care of yourself during this.

You know that you can't control your uNPDh. I personally think trying to trick or coax him into apologizing for his behavior to your kids is a trap. I don't think the attempt would be healthy for you.

You come first, then you and your children. Your husband needs to make his own choices.

If leaving the marriage is the best thing for you, my vote would be for you to do that. Taking excellent care of yourself can provide a good role model to your children.

It's never too late. Recovering, healing, learning all is a process as long as we live.

You do not need to sacrifice yourself in order to somehow try to make your husband behave better. In my opinion, this sacrifice would not help your children either.

 :hug:

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Poison Ivy

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Re: Is there any hope of healing damage to older teens if spouse cooperates?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2019, 06:50:16 PM »
Being divorced might have negative effects on paying for college, for a few reasons.  One is the one you mention, that an ex-spouse might get remarried and choose to not contribute to college expenses.  Another comes up for students who might be eligible for financial aid (FA).  Both parents must provide financial information for FA applications. If one parent doesn't provide his or her information, the student will almost certainly not be considered eligible for any need-based FA.

Some (probably most) divorced parents are happy or at least willing to participate in the FA application process.  But some aren't. If you think your husband would not provide his information and if your child currently in college receives FA or you think your daughter might be eligible for need-based aid, you should think very carefully about the timing of a divorce.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Is there any hope of healing damage to older teens if spouse cooperates?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2019, 10:21:01 AM »
seeking serenity welcome to this supportive forum!  If your H is anything like my NPDh your fears are justified. Mine stopped supporting our youngest 6 months after I moved out - leaving the house and all it's contents for his sole use on the promise that he would support our youngest until she had completed her education. NPDh simply informed youngest that he no longer had the funds to support her. And that was that.  He spent lavishly on refurbishing the house, a fast car, holidays with his new partner instead.

On the other hand,  my kids are prone to select abusive partners as this is what they are used to and what I role modelled for them.  They would need therapy but as they are adults it is their decision to make.

When I came Out of the FOG, the tools Medium Chill, grey rock, and non JADE were so important for me as well as the implementation of boundaries. This made my home life calmer and I felt more in control.  You are well on your way with all the changes you implemented - you put yourself and the kids first - just continue on your path of healing and show your kids that it can be done.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: Is there any hope of healing damage to older teens if spouse cooperates?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2019, 02:34:22 PM »
I filed for and obtained a divorce after my children graduated from college. I don't think that timing is magical in any way.  It was just when the stars were aligned, so to speak, for me, emotionally, financially, and logistically.  My ex began disengaging from me and our children when our children were in middle school.  I don't know if it was coincidental, but this was also the time, as it is for most young people, when the transition ramped up from their needs being mostly physical to their needs being mostly emotional. 

Both of them had seen therapists at least a few times by their early teens.  That is fine; I don't attribute the need solely to my ex's behavior.  Anxiety and depression run in my family, including in me.  When my older child was in college, she had some issues and I consulted my own long-time therapist for suggestions.  My therapist never met my husband but I talked about him quite a bit and she recognized the dynamics and disengagement.  She suggested that my older child see a male therapist.  She said it would likely help make up for some of the issues resulting from my husband's parenting deficits.  She recommended one of her colleagues.  He was a great fit for my older child.  I think she'd probably still be seeing him if she lived in this area, but she hasn't lived at home since starting college.