Worried About Her Daughter’s Verbally
Abusive and Controlling Husband

By: Sherry Blake, Ph.D.

Q: How do I overcome my dislike for my daughter’s husband, and
overcome my depression in seeing my daughter fall prey to a
controlling SOB? My daughter always defends his actions, and
whenever I say anything, she flies into a rage.

My son-in-law is not very nice to my daughter. He uses passive-
aggressive actions and words to demean and control her. He had a
9-year-old daughter when they married 10 years ago, but he does
not want any more children. She has always wanted children. He
says she is a stepmother to his daughter and that’s that. My
daughter has been a wonderful stepmother, better than her real

He thinks his daughter’s needs come before his wife’s. His daughter
will walk into a room and never acknowledge her stepmother — not
even with eye contact. Her father never says a word.

There is too much to tell in this message, but I tell my daughter that I
will always have her back and that I will always be there for her. I only
talk to my only child about once a month and actually see her even
less. She has to sneak over to visit me. I’m 75 years old and live
alone. I need help. I’m sinking fast. Thank you for your help.

“Whatever you need, have an honest conversation and ask for what
you need.”

A: I clearly perceive your anger and frustration. I also hear the insight
that you have at 75 years old and your love for your daughter.

As harsh as this may sound, your daughter and her husband are not
your issue. Your daughter may indeed be married to a “controlling
SOB” but that is her husband of 10 years. She has accepted her
stepdaughter and been a wonderful stepmother. This is her family,
and she apparently loves her husband enough to defend him.

This does not mean that she does not love you or hear your
concerns. Rather, she has made a choice of how she wants to live her
life. You may never understand or agree with her choice, but she is
an adult. You may also never like your daughter’s husband but
hopefully you will get to a point of accepting your daughter’s choice.

The real issue is that you long for a close relationship with your
daughter. It is unclear when you say, “I’m sinking fast,” whether you’re
referring to your emotional or physical health. Regardless, you
appear to need some assistance.

I would suggest you call your daughter and tell her you need to sit
down and speak with her about issues that regard you. It is important
that she knows the conversation is not about her or her husband.
Otherwise, she is likely to ignore what you have to say. You should not
mention him or how you think he is treating your daughter.

Be very clear on what you need and desire from your daughter at this
time in your life. Do you need her to go to the doctor with you? Do you
need help taking care of your home and household responsibilities?
Or do you just need for her to check up on you by calling and visiting
frequently? Whatever you need, have an honest conversation and
ask for what you need. Let her know your fears and concerns about
aging and your life. Also, assess your support system for help and
look for community opportunities to engage in activities with other
people your age. Remember, growing old is a privilege that everyone
does not get!

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