How can I break free from this co- de­pen­dent re­la­tion­ship?


When my fa­ther-in-law died in 2015, my hus­band in­vited my mother-in-law, whom I de­spise, to live with us. He has al­ways put her needs be­fore mine and our chil­dren’s. My mother-in-law bul­lied and ma­nip­u­lated my hus­band and caused hor­ren­dous prob­lems be­tween us. He con­trolled me fi­nan­cially and would not al­low my name on the three prop­er­ties that we bought, ren­o­vated and sold. I left him and we are now di­vorc­ing. In front of other peo­ple, he is charm­ing and funny, but he is an­gry and abu­sive at home. De­spite this, I am ad­dicted to him. I re­alise that it was a co-de­pen­dent re­la­tion­ship. I would like to have no con­tact with him, but we need to be in touch be­cause of our chil­dren. I am tem­po­rar­ily rent­ing a house from a friend, but I can’t af­ford it and it is about to be sold. The coun­cil have said that they will put the chil­dren and me in a b&b while wait­ing to re­house us in an apart­ment. They also say that I must not make my­self vol­un­tar­ily home­less and leave be­fore the bailiffs turn up to re­move us or we won’t be re­housed. How do I sort out this mess? In broad terms, co-de­pen­dency is a re­la­tion­ship in which one per­son feels that they are re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing an­other per­son happy and they for­ever try to do the right thing, no mat­ter how badly they are treated. How­ever, it of­ten re­sults in de­struc­tion of the de­pen­dent per­son’s life. You need to break away from your hus­band as much as pos­si­ble. In your let­ter, it is clear that he has treated you ap­pallingly. I agree that it would be prefer­able to have no con­tact with him, but as there are chil­dren in­volved, any in­ter­ac­tion should re­main strictly about them and you should also re­mind your­self to say no to any­thing else. Please ask your GP for a re­fer­ral for coun­selling; it should give you the strength to dis­en­tan­gle your­self from this re­la­tion­ship and im­prove your self-es­teem. You could also look on­line for co-de­pen­dency sup­port groups. Take the coun­cil’s ad­vice so that you and the chil­dren can be re­housed, but also ask a so­lic­i­tor to pur­sue fi­nan­cial sup­port for you and the chil­dren as it sounds as though your hus­band is a lot bet­ter off than you. Con­tact the Law So­ci­ety of Ire­land (law­so­ci­, 01 672 4800) who can help you find a so­lic­i­tor. You should also con­tact Cit­i­zens In­for­ma­tion (cit­i­zensin­for­ma­, 0761 07 4000) for ad­vice on your rights.

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