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Time to leave - - but still unsure

little bird

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Hi all,


I have been with my partner for over 3 years now, and for a lot of that time I've been unhappy about his relationship with his mother.

I've posted briefly about it elsewhere, but basically they are in a weird codependent relationship where he spends most of his free time with her, goes on holiday with her, has dinner with her 4 nights a week, meets up with her for coffee morning, noon and night (because they live within walking distance of each other). He also rings her every day, no matter what.

He's 45, and never been married or had kids, only had one live-in relationship that failed after about 4 years.

He has a sister, similar age, who is much the same way, who also has not married or had children, and who also lives within walking distance (in fact, she's probably even more enmeshed with the mother than he is! She and the mother have dinner together every single night and spend *all* of their free time together.)


He has difficulty dealing with arguments and emotional issues in our relationship. It recently occurred to me that this is hardly surprising, since emotionally he really is an adolescent.


I've read the book 'When He's Married to Mom' and it describes him perfectly.


I often feel second-best in the relationship, often feel as though he is holding back, often feel as though our relationship is play-acting - that if he were forced to make a serious commitment to me, that he'd choose his mother instead.


Despite all of this, I love him dearly. He's a beautiful person and I don't want to lose him. He can be the kindest, most sweet, funny man, and he is my best friend. I can't imagine life without him. I really want to stress this part. I'm not a martyr; I would never have remained with a man who is abusive or who *deliberately* treats me badly. He just can't see that there is a problem at all. The one or two times I've tried to talk about this (it's a very sensitive topic), he accused me of not being generous enough to share him with the other people in his life. He said that I was being controlling. Reality is, I think his fear of being controlled is just a projection onto me of what his mother is doing to him.


So here's the thing. I've realised that the situation will probably not change. I am writing him a long letter to explain all of what I've written here, and how I feel about things. I am writing that I love him and want things to work out between us, but that there is a huge problem he needs to recognise. I realise that this may lead us to break up, but I've finally come to an acceptance of that possibility and I'm prepared to deal with that if it happens.


I'm asking for some help from all you clever people out there.

How do I explain to him why his mother is such an issue between us, when he thinks that theirs is nothing more than a very close relationship? When he thinks that the problem is my inability to share him with others?

How do I explain what enmeshment is to someone who is enmeshed and cannot see it?

Importantly, how do I explain the difference between a normal, loving bond between mother and son and the unhealthy thing that he has going with her? (I am very stuck with this part).


I'm having trouble with this. I don't want to attack him or blame him for what's happened. I understand why his mother is the way she is (she had a trauma in her past. I get that. But IMO, she's ruining her son's life by not giving him the freedom to form healthy relationships with other women).


Most importantly, I want to leave open the possibility, however small, that the letter will resonate with him somehow, that he will think hard about what I've said and agree to work on this. Maybe I'm dreaming, but I still want to try.


It's taken me a long time to get to this point, and I've barely slept for two weeks, knowing that we will probably break up after he reads the letter. I am so, so, so scared. But I need to do this. Writing it down makes me realise just how much.



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Hey girl,


First of all, I think you are right in being concerned about his relationship with his mother. It is on the one hand great that they get along so well and that he treats her like a queen. On the other hand, a 45-year old man should not be dependent on his mother this much. The fact that his sister behaves similarly could mean that part of this not 'growing up' has to do with a mother that is anxious to let her children go.


In a healthy situation, he'd start arranging his plans to be centered around you and not her. But he is not used to making his priorities himself, that is clear. She makes them for him- that is why the relationship has not affected his relationship with her- she takes care that her role as a mother is still the same as it was about 25/30 years ago, when he was growing up.


It is worrisome that he makes this about you (he changes things around!), like what he does is normal and you are acting jealous or something. He either doesn't see what is happening or is unwilling to open his eyes (or both). It seems to me that you have already addressed these issues and I think re-addressing them is no luxury since things haven't changed. So yes, do write the letter and be clear in it that you cannot develop a mature relationship if there is no place in his life for a serious partner.


Just out of curiosity, did his other relationship bump into similar issues? Do you know why it ended? And just finally... you keep mentioning wanting to work on this, and I know how frustrating it is to see a relationship go down like this... but this is mostly HIS issue. If he doesn't see it and realize that something has got to change, do yourself a favor and don't put yourself in the impossible position in which nothing changes on his part.



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I just went through the exact same thing only with my X's grown kids. She called her son (32) like two to three times a day everyday and spend hours on the phone. I only wish I had been that lucky to get that kind of quality time in the relationship, and I surely felt I had moved down the list to either 2nd maybe even 3rd and I had to be #1. I tried to talk to her about what was bothering me to no avail. So one day I just broke it off and moved out one day and never even told her, as much as I really loved her I wanted to give her a wake up call some sort of shock treatment. A person has to have the courage to take a stance meaning her. And she has to take that stance towards her man. Its really easy when you only hear one side of the story, they will come rally to their rescue and you will always be deemed the BAD GUY.


You end up in the end feeling shamed, disrespected and rejected and of course second best. Its not a good feeling at all. The really sad part in it all is that you have so much in your heart that you really want to say, but some how is always seems to get twisted and distorted back at you and then it no longer makes any sense at all.


I remember mine I was actually sitting down reading a book I was so confused and a light went off in my head and I said this wonderful relationship that we once had was now getting so complicated that even I could no longer figure it out as to really what was going on. Anger was being directed at me almost as if she were shooting constant arrows through my heart only because something were bothering me and I had some concerns and wanted to address them. And it really hurt and it really tore me up and I ended up moving out because of it. I was hoping the move out would wake her up and make her realize how much she was madly in love with me. So I was waiting for the invite back into her life and that special call, well that never happened either to my demise.


I miss her dearly, and I left her out of love. I tried to save her and us all at the same time. And in the end it was really other people that ended up coming in and were really the ones that ended up cutting our ties. We were once inseperable and now we are apart and I don't see any hope on the horizon as to ever getting back together unless a miracle comes into play. The only thing I regret is, we ended up now being apart but now after the fog cleared I've had time to go back and reflect I can only tell you this. If you love the person with all your heart, you have to find a way (no matter how hard that may be) and you have to fight for them all the way to the end. You have to find someway to break down the very large wall that has broken down all lines of your so valuable communication. Because when that goes it all goes and in a hurry. I was with mine going on 5 years to, but its not the number that matters. It's you and him, and you have to stand up for outside forces because they will creep in and divide you every time its a given. I told mine this ......I said.....Look, I love your parents and I love your kids (they were both grown and had their own life) but were very much involved. You have to tell your kids, this is the guy, this is my man, I'm going to stand beside him no matter what. We will work through this and we will get through to the other side some how. He is the one that makes me happy and he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. So please support me in my decesion because we will work things out.


Well thats what I wanted, but it never really happened that way. Mine was looking for the life of the wealthy and the prestige and we wanted the same things. And her kids were saying stuff like mom you can do better then this guy (slander, gossip) planting that evil seed in their heads. And thats when things got wacky for me and I could not handle it anymore so I suffered in silence until it got to me then I just sort of snapped. One day I rented a U-Haul and moved it happened in just a few short really sad hours that I may have to live to regret forever. The money timelines for her were not happening fast enough and the timelines were not realistic and their really was nothing I could do. So in the end I in a way was still a good guy that ended up being deemed the bad guy even if it were not true for moving out and standing up for my rights. And her family came in and said you can do better and gave her all the emotional support she would need. Every man knows women have different choices then men in many ways and I knew that and at the snapped moment was willing to take that chance. Being the nice guy I wanted her to now choose so I rolled the dice and took a really long shot and I knew it and still did it. And in the end I ended up shooting craps. I knew not I was giving her options and instead of taking the option she loved me which I was hoping she would do. She choose to go back out there in the scene and look for something better. Sometimes love really hurts, because I know it left this guy really sad and thats why I'm in here trying to help someone else because in a way it helps me heal. And this is not the kind of girl you just get over in a day or two. Everyone loves this girl so you know the next guy surely will. All I can do now is look back and reflect on some of the good times we had even if were only for 5 years I at least had her for that long. I was planning on going all the way with her and of course that did not happen. In the end I found out the really hard way that love was not enough. Even though I knew in my heart she was my soulmate, I found out and had to accept I really was not hers as hard as that was for me.

Everyday now I wake up in a new strange place with an emptiness in the pit of my stomach I have to some how deal with. So don't end up like me, get in there and be a warrior until the end. Good Luck, I have a feeling you're going to need some.


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A sad situation. Whatever the cause- addictions, unhealthy attachments to others, inability to communicate, etc. - it is always so sad when a relationship is stuck because one partner cannot see the damage he/she is doing to the other partner.


It is good that you are writing the letter. Keep it simple, is my advice. State things once and frame them in terms of your experience and your needs, rather than what he is doing wrong. You might suggest counseling, and say you'd very much like to try that before giving up.


It is likely that he is not ready to face this problem he has. He may never be ready. What would be best is if he read your letter and realized that he was losing a very important person, and was ready to change whatever he had to in order to become healthy. Chances are, though, that this will not happen because it would be very hard work for him, and people who are so reliant on their crutches- mother, drugs, whatever, - tend to avoid the hard work necessary to make themselves stand on their own.


Inside he will feel sorrow, of course, and it will probably come out as anger or coldness. Some day he may realize that he needs to change. All you can do now, though, is protect yourself, and feel the sadness that he was not equal to the task of appreciating you and showing you the love you deserve. And, probably, it is time for you to move on, move away from this man who cannot do the right thing.


So sad.

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