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 (lawsociety.ie, 01 672 4800) who can help you find a solicitor. You should also contact Citizens Information (citizensinformation.ie, 0761 07 4000) for advice on your rights.