Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Marriage Has Been a 26-Year Prison Sentence”

jail love

I am 51 years old, my husband and I will be married 26 years this November, and I have gotten to the point where I can barely even look at him anymore because of all the past pain and anger towards him. Now all I see when I look at him is resentment and, as hard as I’ve tried, I just cannot get past it. I’m still with him, and I would say we probably fight more than we get along, but I just don’t know where to turn anymore.

The main problem for the 26 years we have been married has been his parents – primarily his mother. We live out in the country and his parents live right next door to us (within 100 feet) and have for the entire time we’ve been married. My husband is also an only child and has never been able to stand up to his parents, especially his overbearing mother. She is very controlling, an extreme pathological liar, extremely narcissistic, nosy, and just a nasty person in general, although she works very hard to make herself out to be a saint to everyone else. Basically, it’s her way or no way at all, and she won’t hesitate to lie to get what she wants. Because of her chronic pathological lying, she has many times pit each of my two boys against me, making up lies to better herself and make me out to be the one who is lying, and she almost completely poisoned my 22-year-old son against me about three years ago when he believed her lies over my truths. And here is where the resentment comes in: When I’m in her wrath of mean behavior for sometimes no reason at all, my husband has never EVER stuck up for me, not once! He has never once confronted her to stop the lying and stop trying to cause problems between me and our boys — no attempts at all! He just lets her get away with anything.

Here’s a few examples of what this woman has pulled over the past 26 years so that you know what kind of person she is. When my first son was born and he was about three weeks old, she tried to give some unwanted advice that I did not wish to accept, so, since she did not like that, she decided to spread all over town that our son was not my husband’s child, basically to get even with me for not welcoming her unwanted advice. I might have never known about this had it not been for a woman who approached me one time in a grocery store and told me what my mother-in-law was saying! When I told my husband, his first reaction was to laugh, and then he said he didn’t believe it. He would not even confront her to ask her if she said it; he was just too scared of her as he has been for 26 years since we’ve been married, probably his entire life. One time she actually called our bank loan officer and asked him to give her private information about how much money we had in the bank, how much our loans were, etc. He declined but let us know that she did that. Again, even though our loan officer TOLD us she did this, my husband did not want to believe it.

But I think the worst behavior came at my mom’s funeral about 4 years ago. Instead of comforting and supporting me during the worst time of my life, she chose to fight with me at my mom’s funeral, shaking her finger in my face and meanly stating, “You back off Roger!” Meaning that she thought I was “forcing” my son to look at my mom lying in the casket when I was not. I was appalled that this woman would do this to anyone, especially her ONLY daughter-in-law, on the worst day of her life. Since she always pulls her stunts when no one is looking and since my husband never saw her do this at the funeral, again he believed her when she said she never did it, so he never stuck up for me and never confronted her, asking her why she would ever do such a terrible thing to me on the worst day of my life. I have never forgiven him for this, and I really haven’t forgiven my mother-in-law for that either because she chose that horrible behavior knowing how upset I was.

There have been 26 years of these kinds of instances, mostly all involving her causing problems with her lying and her mean-spirited behavior, and then my husband letting it happen and not sticking up for me when she does. I’m just SO tired of this and feel like I have served a 26-year prison sentence because of the problems she’s caused and because of the lack of action on my husband’s part. We never had enough money to move away which is why we are still here, and, since I don’t have a job after being laid off three years ago, I don’t have any money of my own to move out and get away from his family. His dad is going to be 89 next month and his mother is 86, both are still in relatively good health and, although I don’t want you to think, because I’m not a nasty person, that I’m just waiting for the ball to drop, sometimes I think that’s going to be the only way I’m ever going to have peace in my life, although the resentment will probably never disappear even after she’s gone because it will have never gotten resolved as to WHY my husband never stood up for me. Sometimes, as nasty as this woman is, I swear she’s going to live to at least 100 just to spite me! I know that’s not nice, but, trust me, it’s hard being nice when you’ve been put through the wringer as much as I have from her!

I have had so many fights over the years with my husband, with me telling him that he’s wrong for never sticking up for me, never putting me first, and letting her cause so much heartache for me, but he has never agreed. He still thinks there’s something wrong with me that I’m making too much out of it but it IS a big thing when your own spouse will let someone repeatedly treat you so badly and not speak up. I just want to know what’s wrong with a grown man who cannot stand up to his mother? I know it’s obvious she can get nasty, but is he just so timid that he is afraid to stand up at the expense of our marriage? Can you PLEASE help me and let me know what to do at this point? Like I said, I don’t have any money to move out, and I have only put up with what I have because of our boys. There is absolutely no love left between us – he won’t even wear his wedding ring and says it’s too tight when it fits him just fine. ANY advice would be so greatly appreciated! I’m at my wit’s end and don’t know what to do anymore! — No Love Left

You say you’ve stayed in this miserable marriage for 26 years partly “for your boys,” but I don’t buy that. They aren’t even little anymore. One is already in his 20s! The other will be done with high school soon. Do you think any scarring they might have from their parents splitting up is worse than they have from living with parents who hate each other? Please.

I think your main reason for staying put is, as you say, you don’t have the money to move out and you feel completely powerless, helpless, and hopeless. In short: you’re stuck. I wrote recently about how to get unstuck in an unhappy marriage. I suggest you read those tips very carefully because many of them apply to you. You need to quit giving everyone else the steering wheel to your life and start driving your own self. This is your life. Start making it count. Stop literally waiting for people to die until you can start living, and live now.

It’s clear you believe your marriage is beyond repair. And after 26 years, if you don’t have any fight left, then I won’t suggest you muster the energy for a battle you don’t even care about. Instead, I’ll suggest you move on to your next plan. Marriage isn’t working for you and hasn’t worked for a long, long while (if ever), so it’s time for Plan B. And if, in 26 years, you haven’t devised some sort of map for getting yourself out of your (honestly, self-imposed) prison, it’s high time, sister. Don’t have money? Get some. Don’t have a job? Get one. There aren’t any jobs where you live? Move somewhere where there ARE jobs. Or, make your own job. Babysit for money. You’ve raised two children, so you have experience with childcare. Do you have a car? Start a taxi business, shuttling older people to and from their doctor appointments. Do you cook or bake? Start a home-based catering business cooking meals for people who are unable to cook for themselves. Get creative. There are lots of ways to make some money. Channel all this despair and resentment you’ve felt for decades into something productive. If lack of money is the thing holding you in prison and keeping you miserable, figure out a way to make some dough. Enlist some of your support people and brainstorm. YOU have the power to break out of your prison. No one else is going to carve a tunnel for you like “Shawshank Redemption.” Honey, you’ve got to carve your own damn tunnel.

I know you want me to tell you how to make your husband change (or explain why he is the way he is). Maybe you’re hoping I have secret tips for getting even (or at least getting along) with your crazy mother-in-law. Actually, I’m not sure what you are looking for from me. You can’t change your husband, you can’t change your mother-in-law, and you really can’t change your marriage if you have no desire to stay in it. The only thing you have the power to change is your own behavior and your own attitude and your own actions (and reactions). You can set into motion your escape plan. Or, you can continue waiting around indefinitely for your in-laws to die so that your crappy marriage can be, what? A little less crappy? You’re still not going to love your husband after his parents die. You’re still going to resent the hell out of him. So, get out. Move on. Just…make it happen. Because no one else is going to make it happen for you. You’ve sat in prison long enough. Start carving that tunnel. Better now than never.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

74 comments… add one
  • coconot

    coconot September 8, 2014, 8:42 am

    Wow. Wendy was more polite than I could’ve been. LW, why did you not fix this situation about 25 years ago? If you were that unsatisfied you should’ve done something. By the way, in my opinion your three examples actually don’t make your mother in law sound that evil. I’ve heard of way worse. If those are the worst things she’s ever done, maybe she is not the real problem and there is something else going on here between you and your husband. Regardless, after this much time I agree with Wendy that it’s time to MOA instead of trying to fix whatever problem that may be. Stop waiting for external forces beyond your control to happen, like your husband changing or your MIL dying (well, hopefully that’s not in your control) and take the reins of your own life like you should have done decades ago.

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    • avatar

      MissyC September 8, 2014, 8:49 am

      I don’t know, I wouldn’t say that spreading around the (likely small, as they live “out in the country”) town that the woman is having/had an affair and that the child is not biologically her husband’s is not such a big deal. Could she spread things that are worse? I don’t know, maybe. But this in my opinion is pretty crappy and outrageous.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed September 8, 2014, 8:51 am

        That coupled with the fact that her husband is always team mom–that definitely makes things worse.

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      • avatar

        MissyC September 8, 2014, 8:54 am

        Yeah, never believing *anyone* over the mom (wife, bank officer, …) is absolutely crazy to me.

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      • avatar

        csp September 8, 2014, 3:26 pm

        True, but her kids are grown. So it was something that happened 18 years ago.

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    • Amanda

      Amanda September 8, 2014, 9:42 am

      Yeah…I grew up in a teeny-tiny (EXTREMELY conservative town). If where they live is anywhere like that, a rumor about an affair would be very damaging.
      .
      Not that this excuses the LW from getting herself unstuck. If there’s nowhere in her town to look for work, she could try online. My mom does pretty well with her Etsy store. It may not be a lot, but it’s a start!

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    • avatar

      Eve September 8, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Erm… just curious, what would a person (any person) need to do in order for you to think they are “that evil” or that they indeed are causing real problems between two people? :/ I can’t think of that many worse things one can do without actually beating someone up physically (even complete strangers who hate you can’t do that much worse, in my opinion)

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    • possumgirl

      possumgirl September 8, 2014, 1:45 pm

      Also, if she’s been married 26 years, remember that in a small town in 1988, you’re still not talking about progressive attitudes towards women. The social pressure regarding children and marriage is enormous, there might even be religious guilt. In addition, one could imagine that if the mother in law is doing things like spreading rumors about affairs and trying to get their personal financial information, she’s not pleasant in other situations either, and the ongoing pattern has become too much to handle. LW’s children are used as pawns against her. She sounds utterly helpless and with no control.

      It seems this woman needs permission to leave her husband, to leave her situation, to know that doing that doesn’t make her a bad person or a bad woman. Why should Wendy have been rough on her? That’s only going to reinforce LW’s own obviously poor opinion of herself. Writing this letter was probably a major act of defiance in and of itself, and took a lot of nerve. I hope she finds herself and finds her own voice.

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      • avatar

        Eve September 8, 2014, 1:56 pm

        Hm, you’re comment made me think a lot. You’re right, maybe she’s part of the toxic cycle herself and it’s difficult for her to break away and needed advice without any blame or nagging. It actually made me feel bad for the rather harsh comment I myself gave :/

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      • possumgirl

        possumgirl September 8, 2014, 3:28 pm

        I love that Wendy gets us thinking and sharing! Co-dependency is SO hard to break free from, and generally goes hand in hand with poor self worth. And while it is so frustrating for others to see happening, you have to remember that she is in a fog (fear, obligation & guilt) and just can’t see a way out.
        Thanks for responding. =)

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. September 8, 2014, 3:08 pm

        Not just in 1988. Those attitudes still persist in certain areas of the country. I have spoken to women younger than me (I’m 47) about how things were when I was young, and they have expressed shock that I couldn’t do some of the things they take for granted. And I’m not exactly ancient. I read the LW’s comment and the one that Wendy posted below. The LW is absolutely correct when she describes the difficulties someone in their 50s has finding jobs. I may soon be in that situation myself, and I live in a relatively sophisticated, urban, progressive environment. Add to that societal or religious pressure to remain married and she is up against very tall odds. We also don’t know what (if any) job skills she has. If she hasn’t worked for all the time she’s been married, she may not have any marketable skills. Just telling somebody to get a job or move to a place where there are jobs isn’t really helpful. If she truly has no money, then how can she be expected to move anywhere? I’m sure there are resources, online or otherwise, for people who want to better their lives. My mother taught a program to teach people the skills they needed to find work. Maybe there is something like this in the LW’s area. I can tell from the LW’s response to Wendy that she is a very angry person. Frankly, if I felt trapped for 26 years, I’d be pretty angry, too. I just think a lot of these comments were unnecessarily harsh.

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      • possumgirl

        possumgirl September 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

        Yeah, I’m in my 40’s myself and while I live in a very progressive urban environment as well, I grew up in an extremely conservative small city. After reading the LW’s comments back to Wendy, it’s clear she is a huge part of her co-dependent cycle. It’s very sad. We only get one life, and how sad that she’s spending it in a cycle of anger and hostility.

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      • avatar

        Eve September 8, 2014, 3:54 pm

        I agree about the co-dependency, I know what it feels like first-hand. But I still find it quite rude replying to Wendy like that I mean.. Wendy’s responses can be quite abrupt sometimes, but that doesn’t make it necessarily a bad response or an unhelpful response, not at all! I would have been quite upset spending ages trying to formulate a good response to someone and getting this back, particularly when there was nothing offensive in it :/
        PS The LW’s response to Wendy reminds me 100% of how my parents (used to) respond when someone said anything to them they don’t like.
        I hope the LW calms down and listens to the advice anyway 🙂

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      • possumgirl

        possumgirl September 8, 2014, 7:41 pm

        Agree 100%. 🙂

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  • avatar

    SasLinna September 8, 2014, 8:44 am

    You need to make a solid plan to get out. There are probably some baby steps you can take already – getting out of the house more, accepting jobs like Wendy suggested. I believe that the interaction with some other people besides your husband and his family will already be helpful. Start carving out your own life.
    As cynical as it may sound, you could put yourself at risk by just MOA’ing immediately. You don’t want to end up without any money or no place to stay. So plan carefully and think through your options.

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  • avatar

    jottino September 8, 2014, 9:27 am

    This letter makes me so sad. What about relatives? You said your husband is an only child; do you have a sibling or a cousin or anyone who you can talk to & ask for help? Even a close friend? Someone you can stay with for a little while? At least until you can start earning a little bit for yourself.

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    • avatar

      MsMisery September 8, 2014, 1:05 pm

      Exactly. It’s clear she has no support on his side. She’s been isolated to a nearly-abusive level. LW, even if you have to move across the country on a Greyhound bus, find someone (a sister, your parents, an old college roommate) that will let you crash until you can get back on your feet. Tell them everything. You need someone on your side for once.

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  • avatar

    Lili September 8, 2014, 9:31 am

    I feel like, now in my mid twenties I’m seeing quite a few of my friends parents who were staying together “for the kids” finally split. if LWs life at home is as unpleasant as it sounds the kids know already, they have heard the fighting and are probably just as sick of it as she is. they’ll probably be upset if she leaves but they will learn to deal with it, they are adults now and hopefully, maybe with some counseling, can learn to see both sides of the story here. What I’m saying is “the kids” is the worst excuse ever for you and for your kids who’ve been forced to watch a marriage fall apart for twenty years.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes September 8, 2014, 9:58 am

    Lw, this is so sad. Mostly because you have waited so long to live your own life, and let others dictate it for you for so long. Wendy’s advice is stellar, per usual. It is your time now. If you have to be a bit misleading as to why you are trying to earn some money, DO IT. Say you just need to get out of the house, or need some activity to occupy your time or whatever. Just get out there and get some money in your pocket so you can make your escape.
    ***
    This is not legal advice: presuming that the house is marital property, half of it belongs to you. Which means it may have to be sold in order to divvy it up. So it goes. Your husband seems to want to be under Mommy’s thumb, so he can just move in with her, then.
    ***
    Good luck

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  • avatar

    LW September 8, 2014, 10:42 am

    Thank you to all who were SYMPATHETIC and not cold and stabbing like Wendy and a few others. Those people have obviously never been in emotional pain in their lives and know that that is the LAST thing someone needs is to have their personality ripped to shreds when those rude, insensitive people have never even met me. And to Wendy, coconot and Missy and others who were so quick to judge, since you haven’t lived in my shoes and know all the circumstances, unless you yourselves are so perfect, then you shouldn’t be judging anyone! No one tries harder than I do – at getting a job, at trying to be the best person and mother I can, no body! And for any one of you to say I’m doing this or that, I dare you to come to my home and see how hard I try and what a decent, honest, moral person I am and then have the nerve to say those horrible berating things to my face! Thank you to those who were supportive and not completely lacking of empathy. I appreciated your responses.

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    • avatar

      csp September 8, 2014, 3:30 pm

      But, LW, all your hard work isn’t working. You can’t look at your husband and have been living with a hateful MIL for 26 years. Everyone here is saying that you need to change your approach because all you are doing hasn’t worked out for you.

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    • avatar

      pinkaffinity September 8, 2014, 6:13 pm

      Wow.

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  • avatar

    csp September 8, 2014, 11:26 am

    Wendy, I love the Shawshank quote! Dig your own damn tunnel. Love it.

    LW, you have to stop being a passive person in your life. Start being active. Clearly, your approach so far has not worked. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So change your approach. There are many examples of women who started their career in mid life. You just have to stop believing that there is nothing you can do.

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  • avatar

    HmC September 8, 2014, 11:30 am

    ” I just want to know what’s wrong with a grown man who cannot stand up to his mother?”

    You’re asking the wrong question LW. The question is, what is wrong with YOU that you stayed with someone for 26 YEARS that makes you profoundly unhappy, who you state has never once stood up for you, and who you clearly do not want to be with. You can’t change your mother in law or even your husband, but it should not have taken you 26 years to start questioning your marriage over an issue this fundamental.

    If you want permission to leave now, there, you have it. She sounds awful and he makes you unhappy, so leave already. You’ve accepted this man’s behavior for 26 years- even if you whined about it, you still stayed FOR 26 YEARS. Of course he’s going to keep acting the same way, you showed him through your actions that there were no consequences for him if he continued.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 8, 2014, 11:37 am

    Get divorced. That said — your woe is poor little me act makes for a DREARY read. I am not sure how much of your sorry tale, I actually believe. The way you often phrase things makes me suspect that there is much more to this story…

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    • avatar

      ktfran September 8, 2014, 11:53 am

      Agreed. While I sympathize with this LW about her mother in law, because let’s face it, she sounds awful, I do have to wonder if the LW shares some of the blame. For instance, when the MIL offered parenting advice, how did the LW react? Did she blow up in the MIL’s face? Was she rude about not wishing to take it? Maybe she wasn’t, but that’s not the impression I got from the letter. IDK, it doesn’t sound like she has tried to have a cordial relationship with this woman, and maybe she did and was rebuffed? There’s not enough information.
      .
      Regardless, there really isn’t any hope for happiness in this marriage. I would divorce and call it a day.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark September 8, 2014, 12:18 pm

        Yeah. The wording there is precisely what I am talking about. The phrasing is just very curious.

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    • avatar

      Eve September 8, 2014, 1:49 pm

      Given that we can only hear (I mean read) her side of the story, there is always the chance that things aren’t exactly how she says they are or that she is omitting some facts – and this is true for every single letter we read here on Dear Wendy. That being sad, I think it is unfair to almost dismiss all the crap she’s being through (admittedly, on her own accord) because the “wording” makes you think she’s playing the victim – some people actually are victims (because they haven’t done anything about it for 26 years, that’s another story) and the story they tell often really is the complete truth. Just saying.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 8, 2014, 2:42 pm

        See Wendy’s update below… some things are VERY apparent from the way one chooses to describe a situation.

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      • avatar

        Eve September 8, 2014, 2:50 pm

        Yeah I just saw it, haha good job you guys, I was totally in the wrong this time. Applauds on your psychology skills, I’ll trust your intuition from now on lol

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 8, 2014, 4:24 pm

        Haha. There was a point when I would have thought exactly what you did about the letter. But a combo of me becoming increasingly jaded and being addicted to DW for so long have me sitting squarely in Cynical City. Seriously, I’m agreeing with BGM these days! And OFTEN! Ahhhh. Who am I?!

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster September 8, 2014, 12:59 pm

      This is exactly what I was thinking while reading this letter- what can YOU do, LW, to change your life. Like BGM, I find how fully you’ve painted yourself as the victim to read very false. I don’t doubt things have been hard, but you never once take responsibility for your own happiness, and you’ve drawn a portrait of your husband that is so narrow and flimsy that he might as well be made of cardboard. Real people are far more complex.
      .
      This LW makes me think of my aunt and uncle (my mom’s brother) who have been miserably married for almost 30 years. And all you ever hear from either of them is how the other is a horrible, terrible wife/husband. I think the only reason they are not divorced is because having the other one there to blame for all their problems is a comfort. As you might imagine, it’s very sad to watch since they are good people and parents who stopped loving each other long ago. It’s frustrating to see how incapable they are of getting out of their own way and for such a long period of time!
      .
      LW, stop making excuses and get yourself out of this marriage already.

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  • avatar

    HmC September 8, 2014, 11:54 am

    If you allow anything other than an actual prison sentence to become like a prison sentence for you, that is on you. No matter how horrible others are, unless you have been kidnapped and held captive, about 25 years of this existence was 100% your choice. You will never be happy until you fundamentally understand that distinction.

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  • genevathene

    Genevathene September 8, 2014, 12:21 pm

    You’re living next to a textbook narcissist, and your husband is a classic golden child/enabler. I disagree with the commenters who say your MIL can’t be that bad – narcissists are very good at keeping up appearances with others, while being insidiously cruel to their families (the people they see as extensions of themselves). Google for the “Raised by Narcissists” sub-Reddit for resources and support, and maybe share it with your husband, too. But this has really been going on for too long. You have every right to take care of yourself for once and leave. Nothing other than no contact with this woman is going to work.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth September 8, 2014, 12:23 pm

    LW, you are bitter and angry. I recommend counseling as part of your growth process and getting out of this. Counseling does not mean you have to stay with your husband, but you have to accept that you chose to stay with him thus far. I agree with Wendy with finding work, finding hobbies, find something out of the home to get your mind off how angry you are. Your husband is not going to change. Your circumstances can change if you put forth the effort to change them. A counselor might help you see how deep your anger is and help you find good outlets for it.

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  • avatar

    Eve September 8, 2014, 12:56 pm

    I guess there’s no point me adding on to the nagging about how you obviously should have left this HELL a long time ago. Your MIL’s behaviour is some of the most toxic behaviours I’ve heard of and your husband is evidently the biggest coward I’ve seen in my life. It’s one thing being scared to defend yourself from your toxic mother, it’s a whole different story being in your fifties and still not growing the balls to do so. Although your husband is a victim of his own totally dysfunctional family and I do feel bad for him in a way, the fact that he refused to stand up to his parents for 50 years is NOT your problem. Why on earth did you ever think you have to stay in that marriage?! Did you not know what his mother was like (and more importantly what a coward he was) before you got married ?! (okay, I promised not to nag)
    And Wendy is right, your kids have been scarred enough from living in an environment where their parents openly hate each other and where their own grandmother living 100 feet away is absolutely crazy (honestly, if I had the choice I would never subject my own kids to the influence of such a person). Trust me, a divorce which makes their mum happy and results in you moving away with them when they were young kids probably would have been the best thing to happen to them. Don’t think that your kids don’t have their own scars.
    And of course you will feel resentment to your husband after all these years of putting up with this sh*t, what normal person wouldn’t ?! (Also, why do I feel that it’s not a coincidence that you could never move away from your MIL’s watchful eye …? Have a think about that too) And about the answers to your questions: yes, your MIL is simply a toxic person, she might have changed like 50 years ago if someone ever stood up to her, but as no one did, at the age of 86, errr …. No, she won’t change. Your husband has zero excuse for subjecting you and your kids to this misery for 26 years, he is just a plain coward and he definitelyyyyy won’t change either. Do you know why? Because I’m a girl in my twenties, my mother used to be similar to what your MIL seems to be (nothing quite as bad though!), I stood up to her more than a year ago and after going initially through hell because of it, just recently we actually managed to start building a healthy and respectful relationship with her, which feels great. Your husband never did this – not your problem.
    If you want to move out, you can, but you are looking for excuses (and please spare me “it’s for the kids” excuse… ) – if you want to do something you will find a strategy to do so, not an excuse. Wendy gave you more than enough ideas.
    Don’t be like your husband just accepting that this is how it’s meant to be. Do you like your current lifestyle? Do you LIKE living in a marriage full of resentment? Do you like your MIL acting like this? Are you finally convinced that neither of them will change after 26 long years? So what do you do then ?
    Don’t you have friend in any vaguely large town you can stay with? Tell someone you’re relatively close with about your story, ask them if they know anyone who can give you a job anywhere else (if you really can’t get a job in your village). Also, this is classified as emotional abuse (I think) so you may get some organisations to help you out, not sure about this. DIG DIG DIG for ways out of this life, no one will do it for you!

    A final piece of advice: if you need to move away to get some money, don’t go on explaining yourself to your husband or your MIL, just disappear one day. I don’t think it will be a pretty picture after they know what you’re going to do…. (not sure what to do if your kids both still live with you though)

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy September 8, 2014, 2:32 pm

    After the LW response to my advice (see below), I have a better understanding why her husband and MIL treat her the way they do:

    “Wow, you are a heartless BITCH! What kind of a human being are you? You don’t know me, so you don’t know the fact that I’ve tried getting a job for three years now applying for THOUSANDS of jobs constantly coming out in second place because no one wants to hire a 51-year old woman who although intelligent has no college degree! Not even grocery stores will hire me because then they say I’m OVER qualified! How DARE you judge me when you have NEVER met me! I really feel sorry for anyone in your life, especially if you have a spouse or children because you are one COLD bitch! Good luck with your horrible, apathetic, berating attitude since life seems to be so EASY for you!”

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 8, 2014, 2:47 pm

      CRAZY PANTS!

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    • Amanda

      Amanda September 8, 2014, 3:09 pm

      YOWCH!

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    • avatar

      ktfran September 8, 2014, 3:25 pm

      Hahaha. I knew it!!!!
      .
      I just think that if someone “tried” with another human being, that would have been mentioned. And it wasn’t, at all, which is very telling. It’s apparent what kind of woman this man gravitates toward.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo September 8, 2014, 3:27 pm

      Wow, she’s sure got YOUR number! Bet you’ll never write her again offering completely unsolicited advice. Wendy, have you ever considered a “Best of Hate Mail” column?

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 8, 2014, 3:30 pm

        Remember that one email she posted from someone who wanted Wendy to tell him all her personal stuff – I am vaguely remembering someone reaching out and asking Wendy about her sexual preferences and I don’t know what – it gave me the heebeegeebees … All this to say: I second a “Best of Hate (or Creepy) Mail” column!

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      • Diablo

        Diablo September 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

        I already know WAY too much about everyone’s sexual preferences from reading this site…

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      • avatar

        csp September 8, 2014, 4:03 pm

        seriously diablo, you made me laugh at my desk… now I am trying to act like it didn’t happen.

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    • Portia

      Portia September 8, 2014, 3:32 pm

      Oh boy…

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    • Diablo

      Diablo September 8, 2014, 3:36 pm

      Also, Dear LW, my mom was a degree-less homemaker who set aside her career for close to 25 years while she raised our family, and THEN started a 15 year career as a buyer for Eaton’s (a now-defunct Canadian store like Sears) and later Sears until her retirement. So somebody out there likes to hire women your age, who, although they lack a degree, have gained lots of usable skills and knowledge in the course of several decades of personal growth and just generally sucking it up.

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      • Portia

        Portia September 8, 2014, 7:22 pm

        Diablo, your mom sounds like a fantastic lady! I can’t imagine going from running a household to a department store buyer, although it makes sense the skills from one helped with the other. I have a few women in my own family who basically started life over at middle age after the kids were gone and basically just reclaimed their lives. I really do think there are more people out there like this than we realize.

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    • possumgirl

      possumgirl September 8, 2014, 3:38 pm

      It sounds like she is a huge part of a co-dependent cycle of abuse and hostility. How very sad.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster September 8, 2014, 2:40 pm

      Wow. Yeah. She doesn’t want advice, but validation of her victimhood. Yikes.

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ September 8, 2014, 5:28 pm

      Nice. I guess that pretty much explains it all, then, LW.
      .
      I feel bad for the kids in this family, though. Can you imagine growing up surrounded by this bunch? Or having to deal regularly with someone who reacts to a truth they don’t want to hear with this much abject bitterness and venom? Wow.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite September 8, 2014, 7:25 pm

      Lovely.

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  • avatar

    Eve September 8, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Loool excuse me for my supportive comments then. That attitude seems to run in the family, she seems to be no different to what she’s describing her MIL to be (and NOW I too am definitely questioning what she’s omitted and what she’s made up, I need to stop being so trusting haha 😉 )

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 8, 2014, 3:50 pm

    Damn. When I nail it — I, uh, REALLY nail it, eh?

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 8, 2014, 4:08 pm

      you really did.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 8, 2014, 4:14 pm

        There’s a first time for everything I guess. (Bada bing? bada bing.)

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    • Diablo

      Diablo September 8, 2014, 4:22 pm

      Echoes of Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” rant, eh? (BTW, I’m pretty sure you owe the Canadian government royalties for using “eh” like that, eh? I mean, I can, because my papers are in order, but… :P)

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning September 8, 2014, 4:19 pm

    The LW’s thin-skinned reaction to Wendy’s advice tells me that she wanted sympathy and that’s all. Wendy didn’t treat the LW like a victim; she pointed out that she was the one who had to change and gave great ideas on how to do it.
    Plus, applying for thousands of jobs over the past three years. How is that possible?

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    • Portia

      Portia September 8, 2014, 4:59 pm

      With so many job postings online these days and applications as easy as emailing or submitting an already-made resume online, it is a possibility. Improbable, maybe, but not impossible.

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning September 8, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I was going to say that Wendy’s idea of starting out as a babysitter as a way to get out of the house and make a little money, but her calling Wendy and every one else who didn’t agree with her cold and stabbing and heartless bitches makes me not want her around helpless children at all.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning September 8, 2014, 4:24 pm

      Meant to say that Wendy’s idea of starting out as a babysitter was a good one…

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 8, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Haha agreed! The funny thing is, no one was disagreeing with the LW. Wendy for one just offered ways she can start building the tunnel, as she says, to escape her prison. You’d think the LW would be grateful for that. But it’s obvious she’s just looking for validation. But then that’s a little confusing too because NO ONE sided with the husband or MIL here, so she should have validation…. I dunno.

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      • Miss MJ

        Miss MJ September 8, 2014, 5:32 pm

        We were supposed to all jump on the husband and MIL and say what terrible, horrible, no good rotten people they are and how it’s amazing that the LW was able to put up with them this long and my, oh, my what a long-suffering saint she has been instead of pointing out that the only person who can change her situation is her and that it’s really not impossible to change your life, if that’s what you want. The audacity of Wendy and the commenters to – gasp! – offer the LW constructive ideas for solving the problem she wrote in asking for advice to solve.

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      • Portia

        Portia September 8, 2014, 7:33 pm

        Yeah, if you write into an advice site, you want advice, right?

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      • avatar

        Eve September 8, 2014, 5:39 pm

        If she isn’t getting any sympathy from absolutely anyone else, I guess I do see why she would be craving sympathy from just about anyone, it’s only natural. But very soon she needs to go beyond the “I crave sympathy because everyone is being so mean to me” mode and actually start accepting that she is responsible for fixing her own problems and running away from her own misery – instead of throwing insults at whoever says anything she doesn’t like, even if it’s trying to help her.
        LW, if you’re still reading this, you have our sympathy and all, but complaining from your MIL and your husband to the whole wide world won’t fix your life. You have to deal with it yourself in a very different way. Done.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster September 8, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Haha. Hide ya kids! (Hide ya wives!)
      .
      Seriously, I would not leave my children around this woman!

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      • avatar

        Married By Elvis September 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

        I wouldn’t leave my cats around this woman. And they can bite and have vicious claws.

        Wait, maybe I would.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones September 8, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Eek.

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  • avatar

    cyndi September 8, 2014, 8:00 pm

    lady- you sound as crazy as your mil

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  • avatar

    Teri Anne September 8, 2014, 8:31 pm

    Many abusive husbands conspire with their families to join in the verbal abuse, so that the in-laws criticize the way a woman keeps her house, disciplines the children, dresses and so forth. Abusive husbands also do their best to deny their wives the resources to leave, such as a car and access to bank accounts. The LW has been beaten down by many years of verbal abuse, to the point that she feels trapped. That does not excuse her abusive reply to Dear Wendy, but it somewhat explains it.

    I would urge the LW to get in touch with a battered women’s shelter in her town, so that she can get help formulating her escape plan. The LW will need to figure out how to get money, a place to stay and transportation. Putting together an escape plan will take time, and leaving after 26 years will not be easy. But the reward for the LW will be a new life free from abuse.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy September 8, 2014, 9:22 pm

      I doubt she will check back into this thread, but if she does and if she is indeed in an abusive marriage, these escape tips are quite helpful:

      http://dearwendy.com/17-safety-tips-to-survive-and-escape-domestic-violence/

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    • avatar

      Eve September 9, 2014, 2:30 am

      There was an episode on one of my favourite crime series regarding this exactly, the woman was keeping everything in such order that she was measuring the distance between the hangers in the wardrobe with a ruler, and yet all her kids were going on about what a bad mother and housewife she was under the influence of their dad. They said: She never goes to our baseball games, she doesn’t care about us at all, she’s just a horrible mother, she can’t do anything right. She told the FBI agents: How could I ever leave the house, I will embarrass the family if I do, my husband told me so. I am a horrible wife, I can’t do anything right, everything is such a mess in the house.
      It was so sad. I hope the situation with the LW is not like this, is seems like a truly painful situation to be in.

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      • avatar

        Eve September 9, 2014, 2:31 am

        Ah apologies, I was meaning to reply to Teri Anne. I wish I could delete my comment and copy it there 🙂

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  • Nookie

    Nookie September 9, 2014, 10:17 am

    I’d just like it noted that carved Andy Dupre (sp) a tunnel in Shawshank Redemption, he did it his damned self! Ahhh, now I feel better.

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  • norabb

    Norabb September 10, 2014, 8:17 am

    This may have been brought up already, but would any of you suggest to LW that she try counseling before she decides to move on? Maybe an impartial resource will help them both, and make the husband more aware of what is going on with her. Clearly he is not getting the message, and she is not communicating in a way that he ever will! So maybe counseling could break down a wall?
    .
    Otherwise, if she really is completely unhappy, she should move on. I guess if the idea of counseling seems like it won’t ever help, or she feels she’d rather just get out asap, then counseling is a no-go.
    .
    Just wondering!

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