Ex-husband has to leave
After I divorced my husband for being unfaithful I had some financial problems and had to move. He said he'd help me out since it was his fault and then move on. It's been a year and 7 months on the 25th of this month and he still hasn't moved even though I'm paying for just about everything. The only reason I let him pay utilities is because he is living here so I feel he should be paying something. I also take care of my grandchildren while their parents are at work and my nephew (who has had some problems) is staying with me now. For the past nine years I've taken care of my mother as well as she is totally dependent.
Everyone gets on his nerves and he tries to bully them. I always speak up when it happens. We do not sleep together, I do not depend on him for anything, so why does he not move out? When I bring it up he acts like I'm talking to someone else. I'd hate to get nasty about it but I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?
Thanks for writing. You ask, "Why does he not move out?" and I can clearly sense your confusion and frustration. Let me ask you a question...why would he move out? He lives in your home, basically, for free. He is a tyrant and pretends that he controls the household. He "calls the shots" and bullies family members. When questioned about his behavior, he feigns ignorance (or hearing loss) and nothing happens. There is, apparently, nothing which threatens this set-up that he has, and he has successfully pulled this off for eighteen months. Why would he leave?
Would you leave, if all your needs where met and you had no responsibilities? May I move into your house and be provided for by you? Don't answer... you'd probably say, "Yes," Rosie. You said you "hate to get nasty," and my assumption is that you feel that taking any steps to move this man out of your house (like an eviction or restraining order) would be 'nasty.' Have you ever considered how 'nasty' you are being to yourself?
How does it feel to support someone who betrayed your trust (and marriage vows)? How does it feel to continually be abused by his irresponsible behavior? How does it feel to see how much chaos he causes in your delicate family situation, where you do so much for other folks who deserve your care, love and efforts?
I have no idea why his abusive disregard for you is ok, while any limit setting you do with him would be 'nasty.' Do you see the same double standard here that I do?
You have, I suspect, some deep-seated self-esteem issues which come up in your relationship with this man. Despite knowing intellectually what is "wrong with this picture," you become unable to be effective and capable in your own life, based on this low self-esteem. The good news is that you are ready to look at this life-long tendency you have had (to prioritize the needs of others over your own).
The fact that you wrote to an online counselor proves this awareness. Please investigate counseling to work on these self-esteem issues. Assertiveness-training is what's indicated as necessary, here, and you will be learning about boundaries and limit-setting.
You have nothing to lose by doing this, Rosie. And you stand to gain self-worth and dignity, plus another room in your home. What would you like to do with that empty room? It's your house, it's your life, it's your dream.
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/