Some views from Mr. Carroll

Before I go on sharing my story, I thought to share some views from my husband whose FOO (family of origin) is the main topic of these posts. He knows I blog, in fact, he supports it. I certainly wouldn't be writing about these things if he did not okay it to begin with. Abuse is personal. Sharing these stories may help someone else and God help me, I refuse to cover up their words or actions anymore. As a reminder of why we are NC with his family and as a reminder of how far we've come, the dirty truth has to be exposed before it affects another generation.

I'm part of several different groups of women dealing with toxic in laws, a term used by author Susan Forward in her book, Toxic In-Laws (great read, by the way!). Many of these women are stuck in marriages where their husband feeds into an unhealthy relationship with his FOO. Some have been in this cycle for years with little hope of it ever getting better or their husbands stepping up to say 'no' to a controlling mommy or daddy. These women are disrespected, ignored, belittled and forced to be a servant in their own home or in theirs for holidays and the like. Their emotional and mental needs are of no consideration to their in laws and eventually, some of their families are affected because their children see it's okay to treat their mother in a certain way as long as grandma shows love to them or daddy. It's sad, twisted and just wrong to bear witness to even in safe forums or groups over the Internet.

The same questions resurface in these groups from women who feel forced into putting up with abusive and toxic relationships with their in laws because it makes their marriages easier without confrontation.

"What can I do?"
"Why does he do this?"
"What can I say to him?"

Many of these husbands are probably great guys, love their wives love their kids.... but are also stuck in a rut of being at their FOO's beck and call and often putting their own family's needs secondary to what their parents want. They are still very much little boys unable to speak up to mom or dad when unreasonable demands are made. When their wives are ignored and abused in front of them.

I asked my husband his thoughts on this the other day, mainly as to why such men would know their parents treatment of their wives is wrong but are unwilling to say or do anything to stop it. His answer was this.

For guys, it's probably a whole lot easier for them to turn a blind eye to what's happening. They see their own emotions as secondary to what their parents want and do not realize they are sacrificing their wives and children's emotions up on a silver platter when they give into the demands of their parents. They may see their own happiness as worth the price of material wealth or 'family' as shown to them by their N-parents. Other men may simply be selfish, able to see the problem but unwilling to step up and take a risk.

Bottom-line. It could be a number of reasons preventing guys from standing up. But the attitude of 'I can't do anything to stop it' many wives have really twists my knickers in a knot!

Fact is, you CAN do something. You and your children don't have to be subjected to this behavior and abuse(verbal, emotional or mental). You have options. You have choices. If your husband refuses to stand up for you and your family, you can leave. I realize not many women want this to be an option, but there it is. If you are being abused and your husband does nothing to stop it, you have the power to leave for your own mental heath and safety.

You CAN stand up and say no for yourself and your children.
You CAN say no to answering phone calls from them.
You CAN say no to holiday visits and having them over.

Empowerment comes as a result of education and understanding. I feel many women with truly toxic in laws do not see the fact that their husband's family is not at all healthy for them and their children to be around.

I know, I know. I've wrestled with the thought of this myself. I can say that without my husband being a team with me and finally saying 'no' to them (as is his place, not mine), I probably would be divorced by now. I take marriage seriously but I take abuse seriously as well. I want to encourage you if you are reading this from a hard place, you have the power to change it for yourself.

For months I remained silent as seen in my last post, unable to speak up for myself in fear that my husband would be driven away from me and to his family. I was told not to speak up by family and friends and even pastors. I see now this was damaging to me and to our marriage. If you stand up for yourself in the face of abuse and your husband goes right back to the abusers in his family.... well, your marriage probably didn't have much hope to begin with.

Harsh? Maybe. True? I think so.

I really do believe that healing begins at the point a person is able to admit the abuse. You are not alone. I wish someone had told me that years ago. You are not imagining things. Your emotions and mental health do matter. Your marriage matters.

It's time to stop throwing our hands in the air and saying "I can't tell him anything"... well, maybe not but at least you can say you stood up for yourself and your family.

My husband says that he realized it had to stop when he realized we were much happier without his family in our lives. To him, that was the point of no return. Realize it's much harder for a spouse to see the actions that are considered normal in their family as abuse or wrong. Being married to an ACoN you probably have the best insight to help your spouse. Stand up, speak out. Together, let's break the unhealthy cycle and give ourselves and our children a chance at a happy, healthy family life!

You are worth it.
Your children are worth it.
Your marriage is worth it.

Being silent doesn't stop the abuse, in fact... it just enables the abusers.

Comments

  1. Great post! I believe it will speak to many women out there who ARE afraid to do what they need to do when their husbands refuse to put them (instead of their mommies) first.

    "My husband says that he realized it had to stop when he realized we were much happier without his family in our lives." <--Crucial, in my opinion.

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  2. Love it! EMPOWER THE PEOPLE! :-D

    This is why I blog - it's to say to myself, "Hey, it's okay to say 'no' to these awful parents", to get the support of others when they say, "Wow, your NM is heinously abusive! GET OUT!", and also so that I can empower other ACoNs to say, "If it's not okay for Quercus to be treated that way, than it's not okay for me to be treated this way! I can say 'no'!" :-)

    I like your heart for others, Gracie!!!!

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  3. That's why I blog as well, Quercus. For those days I'm like... 'hmmm...maybe it's all me, maybe I did do something wrong..maybe the n's are right..'
    reality slap! Um no.... I did the right thing in running far, far away! I've found that putting it all out there on the blogsphere has given me more incentive to move forward. It's a permanent record of wrongs and why I'll never go back there!

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  4. "Many of these husbands are probably great guys, love their wives love their kids.... but are also stuck in a rut of being at their FOO's beck and call and often putting their own family's needs secondary to what their parents want. They are still very much little boys unable to speak up to mom or dad when unreasonable demands are made. When their wives are ignored and abused in front of them."

    Change all of the husbands in this sentence to wives and that was me. I think back on the times when my family abused DH, and I did nothing. Insetad, I told him to:
    "Suck it up"
    "Just deal with it. The rest of us have to."
    "She/he/they didn't mean that"
    "They were just joking"

    Bear with me for a moment while I shamefully hang my head...ohmygodican'tbelieveiactuallysaid(allof)thosethings....Ok.

    Before I was finally able to break away from the family circus, I thought DH was being oversensitive. Couldn't he take a "joke" like the rest of us? You know, "joking" - where another family member says something incredibly biting but they hide it beneath that smirk and some sarcasm...A trait my family, especially NF is notorius for.

    This is a fantasic post Gracie! I think it's so helpful for ACoNs to see the other side of the coin. Sometimes its hard to admit the abuse when you're so deeply involved in it that you don't even know that's what it is.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Grey! My husband has said similar things to me in the past and feels the same way. I feel for him and you, living with that as 'normal'- no wonder you didn't see it living with that all those years! SO glad you were both able to break out of that cycle. It's so encouraging to me to hear and I'm sure others as well.

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