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Staying in unhealthy marriage set bad example for daughter

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

I have been in a manipulative, one-sided relationship my entire adult life. I tried to get past a lot of the problems in the quest of keeping my family whole. I am basically strong, self-supporting financially, and pretty content with myself. I can stay in the house, we are basically civil, but it's not healthy.

But now my only child treats me with the same disrespect and attempts the same manipulation practices and I am just sick of it. We are still close but I am sad about her disregard and disrespect. I just want it to stop. What do I do?

I have said I will go one day.

-- Haven't Yet

You must acknowledge that your child is more of a victim than you are, warranting intervention, due in part to choices you made. The family you kept "whole" set unhealthy examples that your child is now living by.

So find a skilled therapist and go, by yourself, to figure out how to manage the consequences of this extremely unhealthy home environment.

For you, it's basic: to keep doing the important things anyone has to do in the face of manipulation and disrespect. Know yourself, know your limits, and hold to these calmly.

For your daughter -- and for your relationship with her -- it's about learning what avenues are still available to you for breaking this unhealthy emotional mold.

And also please pardon me for using you as an example to others: People in similar predicaments have to weigh the potential impact of divorce on a family, yes, but also the costs of leaving that household intact.

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