I need advice. I have raised my niece since she was 5 years old. She is the daughter of my heart. She is 32 years old, has two college degrees, and always has a job. She is in many ways a charming and delightful young woman, but she is in a very toxic relationship.
He is 30, but a very lazy man who has not worked in the 12 years they have been together. He doesn't help around the house, either. He is extremely controlling, and very mean. But she is very manipulative and an extreme drama queen. She will spend hours on the phone with me telling me how terrible he has been lately. She will reject any suggestion or advice, yet will demand suggestions, advice, and help. The next day she might tell me about something nice he did, and how good things have been lately.
If it wasn't for the fact that he is verbally abusive and treats her terribly right in front of me and others, I would doubt her word. She has lost friends who either decided that she was lying, or who got tired of it, or who said "I told you so" or "you must like it because you refuse to leave" and made her mad.
Well, after all these years, I have given her money, done many things to help, listened to her complain and cry for literally thousands of hours, and I find I am past my limit. I don't want to hear it anymore. She calls and instant messages me everyday, and he is the main topic. Some days it is hard for me to get anything done because she is monopolizing my time. If I tell her the truth, I am afraid of losing her. What do I do?
By Kiro from CA
I think I would try asking her to lunch, and telling her how much you love her and value the time you spend together, BUT that she is wearing you out. Tell her you have every faith in her ability to handle her relationship herself. Remind her that you have offered advice, which she chose not to follow, and that you just don't have any more (advice) to offer. Tell her you cannot spend all day on the telephone, and that you will only be available for calls from 5 to 5:30 pm (or whatever time you decide), unless it is a true emergency. Tell her you would like to meet for lunch (or coffee, or whatever) each week--or whatever time interval works for you.
She might be angry for a short while, but stand your ground. Remind her that you are not cutting her off, just limiting how much you have to listen to. Tell her it hurts you when she is hurting, (appeal to her selfish side) and you can't bear to hear it all the time.
THEN, you have to follow-through. Use caller ID or your answering machine to screen calls, and only answer her calls during your specified time. Be sure to tell her it is OK to leave a message, and you can call her back. (Again, unless it is an emergency, only call her during the designated time.)
Ignore texts, and if you are using other forms of instant messaging, set the default sign on to make it look like you are not on. (For example, on AIM, you become "invisible"; on FB, you can just turn the chat feature off.)
Keep reaching out to her; but set those limits and stick to them. She is an adult, employed, and intelligent; now it's time for her to put on her big girl panties and deal with her life.
There isn't really anything you can do. She won't do anything about it until she is ready to. Maybe she is a person who thrives on that type of relationship. I have a 46 year old daughter who doesn't have enough self respect to live the way she was raised. She prefers to basically live like the natives on the SD reservations live. She recently asked her Dad who lives in another town to buy a better car for her and he told her no, and she got really mad about that. She is one of these adult kids that people hear about that thinks her senior citizen parents should keep giving her handouts. She has a 24 disabled son who gets SSI and she uses his checks to pay the rent, however, last October they got evicted from the house they were renting and a couple weeks later I saw in the court news in the daily paper where she had a judgment against her to the previous landlord for almost $6,000. Her rent was only $650 a month for a 4 bedroom house. I have no idea what she did with all that money. Her four kids have said they had nothing to show for it. Her youngest kid is 14. When they got evicted she called and asked if the disabled son could stay with me for a few days(to me a few days is no more than four) and he was here for a month while they were finding a place to live. The other kids were staying with friends. I have comlained to Soc. Sec. and sent them a copy of the court item I had found in the paper and nothing has happened. I have complained to food stamps because she uses the disabled boy to get food stamps without having to work or do community service. She says she has to stay home and take care of him, but she has been leaving him home alone for about 12 years, for probably 50% of the time, while she does errands, goes visiting, etc. I have given up trying to reason with her, she also isn't getting anymore help in any way from me. Some people have to learn the hard way. They say what goes around, comes around.
You cannot change her, she will have to realize it on her own (just like an alcoholic or drug dependent person). Tough love is the only way you will survive. It is not easy, but you cannot continue to support her by being there every minute she wants to talk about 'her problems'. We had to finally tell our adult child that we could no longer support her financially (I realize emotional support is different, but not so much so) and that she would be own her own. Just let her know you love her and will be there when she is ready to make a change, but you can no longer be her 'whipping' board. Let her know how hard it is for you and stick to you guns! God Bless.
I am with Jilson! Also, please don't take this as a personal attack because it's not meant to be, consider that how you have been handling and accepting her behaviour is enabling and reinforcing her own toxic behavior and her behavior is just as toxic as her husbands, just different. Don't worry if she gets mad at you for awhile and don't let her guilt you into not standing your new ground rules firmly because, as long as she and others perceive her to be a victim it gives her attention and a certain edge of power. She is bound to at least try to make you feel guilty instead of pulling her own self up by her bootstraps.
12 years? You gotta be kidding, she doesn't want to get away from him. Have you ever heard of tuff luv? Sometimes that is the only answer. Let her see it for what it is.
This will work. When she complains about him say "well honey, when you are tired of it you will leave him". It is an answer that she can't argue with and it also plants the seed of leaving him in her mind. You will say it over and over but at least you won't be trying to give her useless advice and listening to her say "yes but..."
Say it in the mirror until you are used to the sound of your voice repeating it. "Well honey, when you are tired of it you will leave him".
There is little difference between a child you raised from age 5 and a child you raised from infancy. The harsh truth is that she will change her drama queen tactics when and if she is ready. Sometimes you have to set her free and tell her you long for the day when the two of you can be not only relatives but friends; when her personal dramas don't take up your entire relationship. You can't let her enslave you. Sometimes love means being tough!
She is who she is and she is 32, so you cannot change her. She's gotta wake up and see what's in her life, not just the ''toxic relationship'', but that she is toxic to herself as well,
Brilliant advice from everyone! I was in your shoes once and I finally said, " I have given you all the advice I can. Life is filled with choices and you are choosing to put up with this guy's behavior. It's up to you to choose to stop. I can't listen to this anymore. I am choosing to stop because it is too hard on me to hear you so upset all the time...and so unwilling to change."
Months later, this girl told me that it was the best advice she's ever received! She said that once she had no one to complain to anymore she forced into doing something about the problem.
You may want to go to the library and get a book by Dr. Laura called "10 stupid things women do to mess up their lives." It's great!
Good luck and be firm.
I'd tell her that I've listened for 12 years and given all the advice that I know. Her/his problems are beyond anything you are able to solve, so for her birthday gift (or mother's day, or Christmas, etc), you have made an appointment for her with a marriage therapist. She can talk all she wants, get all the professional info she needs to make informed decisions, and then decide the best way for her to handle her situation: stay with him and take his behavior or leave him to get away from it. It is her problem, and she needs to grow up and handle it by herself.
This all sounds like what I was going to say. Another statement you can make to her is,"If you want things to change, you are going to have to make the changes." Do limit the time she can call you. I, too, was going to suggest counseling. Maybe you should go, too.
Oh, Kiro. I've been there, done that, on both sides of the story. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 15.5 years until God opened the right door and sent me through it. I know my family cheered, in fact, my mother made a gift of the divorce filing fee when I couldn't come up with it.
On the other side. I know a 40-year-old man who lives upstairs in his parents' home. It's always been a toxic relationship, and he got into the habit of calling me daily (sometimes several times a day) because no one else showed an ounce of empathy. A few days ago when he called to complain about the second dog his parents had obtained over his objections and to justify caving (again,) I simply said, "I cannot rescue you from your situation without your cooperation." He still calls, but not every day, thank God. I hope that one comment of mine was a light bulb moment for him.
Thank you for all the advice. So much of it is really good. The problem is, I've tried pretty much all of it at one time or another. I know I can't influence her to leave him, I've given up on that. I guess my real problem is that I feel guilty for not wanting to listen to her. She really believes that she is stuck, and there is nothing she can do. It think that's a big part of the problem with all the drama queens out there - they really believe all the drama they create, and believe they are helpless victims. Thank you all for trying to help.
Can someone please tell me how this topic relates to being "thrifty"? Remember, the site is called Thrifty Fun, not marriage or shacking up counciling.
chef4u, anyone asking a question here at ThriftyFun is someone reaching out for needed help and that help doesn't have to be regarding a monetary value. Have you noticed that questions have been asked here for years and years about anything from poddy training a child to keeping a neighbors pet from poddying in their yard? Those things don't have to do with money but rather needed advice.
Or have you noticed submissions of photos for beautiful scenery or a favotite pet? Those photos are sharing the heart and not a thrifty tip either. ThriftyFun is about more than pinching a penny and being frugal. It's also about hearts and souls touching one another and sharing from day to day.
I think Joslin had the best reply. To add my two cents worth I will say it has been my experience that people do not make a change until they are desperate. She might wish things were different but she is doing nothing to make that happen. As an educated woman I can't figure out why she wants this for her life. Or why you continue to allow her to monopolize your time with all the repetitive negativity. A half hour with a competent psychologist would help her immensely. Set it up, pay for it, give her the appointment time. Then move on with your life. She needs help; she is not getting it from you. You are not qualified to help her see her inner self.
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