Father Playing Favorites Is Destroying My Family
Dear Annie: I am writing because I don't know how I ended up so unhappy. Part of me is angry for letting this go on for decades, while other parts of me keep hoping my husband will see what he has -- an amazing family! I have been married for over 30 years and have four beautiful and amazing kids. I was so blessed to grow up in a wonderful family with siblings and parents who loved us beyond measure. It was always a "family first" mentality. That is the plan that I wanted for my life. Had I known the truly unhappy circumstances my husband grew up in, I would not have married him.
Fast-forward to marriage. We had a honeymoon baby, who my husband has hated since conception. This has all but destroyed this child. "Devon" does a good job of hiding it, but I know how much it hurts him. The constant wondering of "what did I do wrong?" and "why does my dad want nothing to do with me?" is hurting him; I can tell.
Next came three more kids over the next 10 years. The second is the golden child to my husband. The third child he tolerates, and the fourth my husband hates as much as the first. I am at a loss as to what to do. My husband goes out of his way to be as mean as possible to our oldest and youngest kids.
Part of me is ready to walk away. I feel life is passing me by, and I am not sure how much more I can honestly take. We have tried counseling, but my husband has the ability to never take the blame or acknowledge his part in any of this. I want what time I have left to be the best for the "not wanted" children. Any advice is much appreciated. -- Sad in the States
Dear Sad in the States: Your husband is not being fair to anyone, and he is in serious need of therapy. If your children were still in the house, I would encourage you to remove them from their father's toxic influence. I'm guessing they are grown, so it is now up to them to decide what kind of relationship they want with their father. Keep telling them you love them. Have conversations with them regarding their father's behavior, and don't make excuses for him. Focus on bonding with them over this incredibly important issue in their lives, so they can see it was their father, and not them, who created so much suffering because he himself is suffering.
You and your husband should absolutely push through with therapy if you expect to resolve any of these issues. Sometimes it takes a couple of different therapists and a matter of months or years before seeing the progress that you want -- but you won't get there if you don't keep trying.
This has clearly been taxing on your children as well, and I'm guessing they are experiencing intense feelings of anger and confusion. Help them find therapists, too. Psychology Today has a great online resource where you can search therapists in your area and filter by insurance, among other factors. You can check it out at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/.
Healing is hard work, but it is always worth it. If your husband is unwilling to put in the work, then it might be time to walk away.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.