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Introduction to Family and Relationship Issues

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 29th 2002

Welcome to our Family and Relationship Issues topic center. Whoever we are, we are all very much shaped by those who raised us, our parents and/or caregivers. We are the product of human relationships, and most of us spend our days within the context of relationships with other people. We need other people to be close to us in our lives, or we tend to get sick. Who we are is very much a function of where we have come from, and who we surround ourselves with.

family on beachDespite their vital importance in our lives, relationships can be very difficult to manage. We expect our intimate partners to provide for many of our needs, but often find that differing expectations, frustration, and a need to be right create conditions for conflict and erosion of intimacy. Angels though they may be, our children test us for weaknesses and we don't always pass. Our adult parents grow older and require care, placing a burden on our other responsibilities. A diverse set of communication and relationship skills is required if one is to successfully meet the challenges of family life.

Primarily, we learn how to be in successful relationships by experiencing them directly; by watching our parents manage conflict successfully and stay true to their loving union. Similarly, we do our best learning on how to become a good parent while being parented ourselves. Problems experienced in our early relationships are often expressed in our own behavior towards others (child abusers were often themselves abused). And vital though they are, relationship skills are seldom taught in school or other institutional settings. All of this adds up to the fact that many people end up making a mess of their relationships, in part because they never learned how to do them properly.

In this topic center, we've gathered resources to help you learn about relationship problems, and what is known about how to solve those problems. We offer information on common basic relationship issues, including marital and intimate relationship problems and parenting problems. We hope that you find these resources to be valuable.


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Can't take much more pain, in need of a miracle! - - Oct 27th 2011

I hold so much sadness inside, everytime I try to start rebuilding my life, I get broadsided again with yet another painful event.

May 09' to present:

1. Failed at my 23 year marriage-Catholic-Highschool sweethearts together for 29 years-I admit 50% of blame, my ex stated "I'll never take accountability for as long as I live". No affairs, No drugs, alcohol, etc. Went to counseling about 5 times throughout our marriage, always the same things-last sessions-hignsight-he had already checked out, stated "I will not compromise, period". We were opposites, attracted, but became opposites on every level. He walked out after an arguement and never came back, I was blindsided, really, but my family said they could see it coming. Stayed in bed, my refuge place for 3 months straight. Had a hard time with him calling it quits.

2. I normally took care of 80% of the household chores as he worked out of town most of the time. (one of my complaints, I needed more help now that I was managing 2 branches for a Fortune 300 company) He refused. Now that I have to take care of all of our obligations 100% (raising children and keeping up acres of property and rent house, plus family home) started to drown in work, but couldn't afford to hire someone at the time.

3. MY FAMILY and his family blamed me, I am a strong, educated woman (but very fragile inside), he is a meek, uneducated man who's decisions like not compromising in our marriage and paying me attention or giving me my kind of affection which left me lonely and frustrated. He left, cried to our families about our problems, I kept our problems to myself, so they got a one-sided story thoughout our divorce. My family and his showed me no compassion, no kindness, no support. Repeatedly did and said things that hurt. A few of my mother's words to me in my greatest time of need after all my life being there for her thru 4 cancers, being the daughter that always put my life on hold to step up to the plate and nurse her back to health- you must have done something to him before he hit you, he wouldn't just hit you for no reason. (we have physically fought twice in our marriage) There is no one in our town who thinks he is 50% to blame. So he was not willing to compromise by showing you affection like watching a movie together on the sofa, rubbing your hair/back, kissing, touching and being affectionate, or helping out when asked, this is no cause for divorce...anytime your father wanted to have sex, I did it, weither I wanted to or not. I told her, but mom, I am not the one who filed for divorce. She said well now instead of 80% of the work, you have 100%, so you should have just keep your mouth shut and lived with it, I did.(thru counseling, came to understand she related to him as the victim in her marriage that failed after 50 years. She also took no accountability for the failure of her marriage. (I, after years and years of meeting his affectionate needs, then in the last years, refusing to do so without him compromising and giving me what I needed, actually started the begging of the end.) My mom talked about me to the rest of the family, even bad mouthed me to my children, my oldest sister talked about me at the beauty shop to everyone about how horrible I was being to my mother and distancing myself from her. My other sister, continued to invite my ex for supper with her family because her husband and him are friends, enviting him to go eat out, 3 OUT OF 4 WEEKENDS, talked about me to my ex, decided to have a party for my oldest son who was coming into town, inviting both sides of his family, invited me, I said I was not going because I would feel uncomfortable around my ex, she said oh, well, that's your decision, I'm still having it. I said, yes, I understand. But when my ex's lawyer pulled a stunt to get him out of paying for half of minors bills and my ex couldn't come to her party, decided to cancel it because he wasn't coming, even though I called her and said I will come now that he can't. Still to this day she keeps pulling him into my family circle and I have asked her to please, stop talking and gossiping about my issues with my ex, it is very painful for me. Her response, you are not the center of conversation even though you think you are, if he brings your name up, I listen, sometimes I respond, sometimes I don't, but I do not gossip about you with him. So I have removed her,my mother and my older sister from my circle, I do not tell anyone in my family about anything that happens in my life. Even the little things that are really important, which started coming back to me misconscrued and inaccurate.  

4. My 25 year old Marine son is screwed up (has anger management problems, post tramatic stress disorder, depression, etc etc., I am left to deal with his decisions alone. He cheated on his pregnant wife, they both moved seperately to the same area 2,000 miles away, I've seen my beautiful grandson 4 times, his wife is now screwed up, neither of their priorities are about their child. He is mentally abusive to all, especially me, who has helped him so much in the past, but through counseling, understand when my help is enabling him, he got addicted to pain pills, started shooting them up his vains, is now in the VA due to a staff infection, has now got an abcess in his spine, surgery pending, texted ex to let him know of the shooting up narcotics, as my support system said I should inform him of this life threating addiction. Got no response, as usual. I have to always text, my ex has lied to his lawyer about me, I had proof of his lies, so I decided that I had to have proof from now on.Upon hearing of emergency surgery from my 20 year old as my 25 year old cuts me out of his life when I don't do what he wants, called my son, told him I wanted to be there for him, he refused my help for 2 days, then said ok you can come if you are mature about things and treat me like a 25 year old. I said, I will fly over, but know, we don't think alike, and I will not do everything perfect in your eyes, so remember I am only there to help you for 4-6 weeks if I do something that upsets you. I flew over to Cali, and on the second day, his wife dropped off my grandson at the hospital and said she would return in 30-45 min, when I went back up to the room with my grandson, my son blew up because she left and left me with my grandson, He was cursing at me, calling me names at the top of his lungs, pulled his I.V. out, started throwing stuff acrosses the room, and would not let me have my grandson to go want for her in the lobby, said he wanted to see her face when she came back to see how long she was gone because he knows she wouldn't return for hours. I was in a no win situation. She finally returned, picked me and my grandson up to take us to a hotel so I could spend time with him. She almost didn't slow the car down to push us out, she left me with no food for the baby, disappeared for 2 days without cking in. I told her I couldn't afford to stay at a hotel, to drive me to my sons appartment and I would see if I could stay there now that I had a laps of judgement and had paid for the months rent when my son called crying and depressed because he didn't have the funds. The appt. office had to call my son to get his permission, I was hoping he would allow me to stay there and have a change of heart about getting mad at me for something that was out of my control. He started yelling at the office manager, 20 min. later showed up at his appt., went AMA from the hospital, said like hell would he let me stay there. I got into his wifes car(they are seperated), as not to fuel my son any further, she pulled out of the driveway, was crying, said she couldn't handle being involved anymore than she was, dropped me and my bags off on the corner near a hotel, hugged me and said she was sorry and took off with my grandson. It was surreal. Called the V.A. to alert them of the AMA and begged the social worker to help, he said he would call me back. Waited in the parking lot with my bags for 3 hours not knowing what to do, having tried the social workers cell every hour. It got dark, I started to get cold, got a room, and he finally called. Said my son has stopped all communication to me about his health. Got a flight back home the next morning. Calculated the amount I spent out of my savings that I am trying to hold onto because I had to quit my job due to the company that acquired my company. I have spent $4,000 in the last 2 months trying to help my son. Realizing not an ounce was appreciated.

5. My 20 year old son started smoking pot every day at college, very intelligent, in physics, I told him he would spiral down to a dead end and I would not help him financially anymore, he ended up having bad grades, said he didn't need college, became a radical. Said he was moving in with is brother in California. I said you already tried living with him while going to college, it didn't work, your choice, I will not help you financially, he left with $1200 in his pocket, transmission messed up on the way, got there with $800 in his pocket, no job, got mad at me because I would buy him a mattress and he had to sleep on a military cot, it lasted 2 months, he is back at home, found a job with his cousin cuz the company doesn't drug test, he is now trying to find him a place to move because I'm upholding our agreement, you move back, you help me out when needed, and you will cut the grass once a week and clean the pool once a month. He hasn't, so I told him he must or find another place as he was living in my home rent free and enjoying my food and utilities. Our relationship is ok, because he's smart and gets that mom has changed and I am no longer willing to enable bad behavior. (the rest of the family does enable all bad behavior and thinks I am cruel for making him move, my son told them his side of the story leaving out our agreement before he arrived. I am not speaking a word, as it does no good in this family, only fuels gossip)   

6. I had to quit a job I loved and excelled in over the last 9 years in August. The take over was brutial, many many problems and when they decided to cut our commissions after the 3 month transition period, I felt I couldn't go another day working 20 hours a day and now with less pay, so I turned in my resignation. I was the last in my state to leave, and felt I had given the new company my all. I did not have a job lined up which I know is a no no, but my mother fell ill from my sister's care as I removed myself from them. She does not know as much as I know about my mother and her chronic illness and when my mother called her and told her she wasn't feeling well, my sister told her to take a pain pill and a xanax and she would come by later, she was don't laundry. She found her 4 hours later, unresponsive, with fever 105.4, she was septic and dehydrated. I felt I had to do what I have done for the past 15 years, so I stepped up to the plate and stayed all but 2 out of the 28 days with her in the hospital, nursing her back to health, saving her life from a doctor with a group the hospital used to come in a see patients like a hospitalist does. He didn't bother to do a bed side assessment, charged that she was a CHF patient and was in fluid overload, and order Lasix IV for 2 days. Thank God I was there to catch her second dose. I had went home to freshin up and the nurse who took care of my mother the night before gave her the first injection that morning and had put her back into a dehydrated state, not catching the doctors misdiagnosis or bothering to listen to her lung sounds which clearly would have told her she was NOT in fluid overload.

7. I am in the process of having to sell my beloved family home and having to move to an unfamiliar town due to the no-compete I signed to work in the same industry that I love so dearly. I have tried to find a new industry, but there are just no decent jobs available in my area.

 I am tired, emotionally drain, hurt, scared, lonely, worried about my finances, but trying to focus on my priority job and focus as much attention as I can on my baby girl that's 13 who did see my counselor a few times, but doesn't want to talk about what she has seen and heard from family members about what's happening in her family, and has started sleeping with me every night which I know is due to emotional damage from her family falling apart. I am skin and bones now, can't seem to keep any weight on me. I try to eat but the effort just to fix something sometimes out weighs the benefits. I am depressed, sad, and broken hearted that our lives are so off track, and I know my sweet girl sees it even though I hide most of it very well. I am seeing a doctor, taking medicine to try help with my emotions, but it makes me not want to eat. I don't want to move forward, I don't want to stay stagnant. I feel lost, I feel like people in my family just make crazy decisions without thinking about the effects on others. I am disappointed, I am lifeless, I do try to do things with my friends, but 1/2 the time, I just don't feel like putting on a smile. My tooth is broken in the back, I need a complete blood work up, a yearly exam, need Botox BIGTIME, etc. etc. but low on funds, time, energy, etc. Can someone tell me something that will help besides: you can't control the actions of others. (I know I can't, but their actions have affect me greatly) You have to move on, keep yourself healthy, especially for your daughter (I know I have to move on, I am trying one day, one step at a time, I just seem to get nowhere fast) You have to let it all go and leave it in the past (I know, easier said than done, that past stuff has left me in the state of listlessness, untrusting, angry with no outlet for my anger because I can not sit and talk with my family, my ex, etc. as my family does not know how to take accountability for their actions and the effects their actions have on me. I would fair better beating my head up against a wall. My counselor told me not to bother bringing my mother back, she just doesn't get IT, plus no insurance to pay for counselor now) Pray, let go and let God (I do it all the time, but the drama keeps coming and it won't stop) Do something for yourself (I really, really, don't have a min. to spare to do that nor the money anymore). Even telling myself God has a plan for me, doesn't seem to help my physic' cuz that plan doesn't help me cope today, now, this minute. Thanks in advance for anything someone can say or any guidance someone can give. You would think this long ass post would have helped me get my feelings out, but the effort in typing it has just sucked the life out of me!

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