Emotional Punching Bag

Hi all,
Writing here because I can’t get it right. Ever. My other half was diagnosed very early in his life and is now 44 with increasing symptoms (but not noticeable externally). He is in pain everyday though and fatigued. He has an 8 year old from his previous marriage and we have a 3 year old. We both work full time and we’re struggling. He has terrible mood swings and I am supposed to intuitively know how he’s feeling, understand his pain. He travels a lot for work and puts it first (family firm) but then has nothing left in the tank for us (his own family) and is resentful if I simply ask if he’s up for bath time. Or I ask him to sit with our son while he eats so I can do some shopping etc… I’m so torn between doing everything and watching my son’s relationship with his Daddy become more distant as a result vs asking him to help in the hopes it’s a good day and he can or a bad day and I’m the awful one for pointing out what his condition restricts him doing. He refuses simply to kindly say, today’s not great so I can just get on with it. I am just supposed to know! Advice please! Am I asking to much? It really is fine if I am, I’ll adapt but how do you know how to gauge mood/pain etc when you can’t see it? And they won’t talk?

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You need to direct him onto here. Sounds like he’s either not coping or in denial.

It’s terribly hard for our partners to understand it: MS isn’t like most diseases -unfortunately we don’t get better, we only get worse, by degree, and generally slowly over decades. It’s quite something to get one’s head around and if he’s still working full-time, he’s in the early stages and for much of the time it’s possible to ignore it. Indeed, perhaps he’s not told others in the company at all?

He’s probably decent, hard-working with a sense of duty and doesn’t want to let others down so he’s “protecting” them. He may also be gettihg to the point where he has to be honest with himself and acknowledge that maintainng the “front” is getting too hard for him. He needs to appreciate that where the cracks are appearing may not be at work but in his family time. Do you think he should be discussing a lighter load at work now? Better to do that than crash & burn one day - that’s a much bigger adjustment for the business.

Your situation is by no means unique: I left an employed role end '18 and set up my own business in same field. Part of my plan was to do yoga/ pilates/ swimming sessions in daytime to maintain mobility and fit work around it. Eventually closed business earlier this year when I couldn’t cope with the physicial side - visiting sites etc. Not necessarily now, but your husband may have to start making adjustments too.

He’s fortunate - his employer is also his family, so loyalty is greater than an ordinary employer-employee relationship. I’m sure they will do everything they can to accommodate him, but first he needs to be honest with them. It’s certainly not fair for you to be bearing the brunt of his struggle.

Thank you… sadly he was diagnosed at 16 and his family are fully aware and far from supportive. In fact, I recently had to sit through a torturous family meal where all his father did was criticise him. At one point his father said that when he falls over in the office it’s just embarrassing. It sends me into Lioness mode as it often feels like I’m to only one who can see his pain. He’s driven by some misplaced loyalty to his Dad in a quest to one day please him rather than disappoint. They frequently tell him no one would employ him because of his MS.
Hence I tend to be his emotional outlet for everything that’s wrong. Another huge driving force is that he feels if he slows down his body will just give up on him. His pride won’t even let him use a stick for support on days he needs it. Very often I’m his leaning post. It tough, and I just wish I had a magic spell to help him see all the positives. While his father goes on one holiday after another or was furloughed, he very quietly not only saved the family firm but tripled the bottom line. A stick doesn’t detract from how amazing he is.

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He’s a bit of a bastard then, your father in law :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

Supportive families can be the best thing ever but unsupportive ones are the worst. Your husband has probably suffered from this abusive relationship his whole life. Instead of love & compassion, his own family are punishing him for being ill and they don’t realise it’s abuse.

Have you tried the nuclear option? Go round to his Dad and try to explain to the bigot exactly what his son has got. Could you talk to one of his Dad’s close friends to try to get him to have a word? Sadly the one thing you’ll never get from a man like that is gratitude.


Hello GinGem

It sounds to me that your husband has learned his behaviour from his father. What is his dads attitude to the rest of the family? What about his own wife? Is he only a bully to your OH or to all? And other employees?

I get that your partner has learnt throughout his life that his MS won’t make him employable by anyone else. Perhaps also that he isn’t worth more than the cr@ppy treatment he gets.

BUT, that is absolutely no excuse for behaving to you the way he appears to judging from your initial post.

What message is your own son supposed to take from his father’s behaviour? Is he going to grow up as a bully himself? Unless you can stop your partner from, in your words, treating you as an ‘emotional punching bag’, he will carry on. More than just having an ever increasing distant relationship with his own son, your partner will be teaching him that this is the way to treat women and indeed, how to behave within a family.

I’m not convinced you can alter a man’s anger, bullying, attitude to you and his family.

What do you anticipate happening over the next few years? Suddenly he will wake up to his becoming like his own father? He’ll start talking to you about his feelings, his pain and fatigue? Or will he just carry on the way he is now?

Obviously I may be entirely wrong, but the picture you paint is not pretty. Having MS is no excuse for treating others like crap.

I apologise for my straight talking. If I am wrong about your relationship, then I’m glad for you. (Very happy to be wrong!)



Thank you GCCK.

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Hi GimGem, I do feel for you. It’s difficult living with someone with a chronic illness, especially when a lot of it isn’t visible.

It sounds as though you are very keen to support your other half, but between his moods and his family’s lack of compassion and understanding, the brunt of dealing with all the emotional side of things is falling to you.

Are they the kind of people who would be open to learning more about MS and how it affects their son? If so, there is plenty of literature available they could read. If not, then I’m afraid you will need to grow a skin like a rhino and ignore their critical comments.

There is a counselling support service on MS-UK which offers up to 6 sessions free or you could ring the helpline on MS society or MS-UK just to talk it through with someone. They may not be able to fix things, but sometimes just having a person to really hear what you are going through can help

You sound amazingly strong, even if you don’t feel it. Remember to try and find some time for you.


Interesting, GimGem.

Your first post described your husband’s behaviour at home with you whereas your second you talk about the toxic atmosphere in his own family (and therefore work too), in particular from his Dad. As Sue observed, your husband has reverted to type and adopted the learned behaviour of his father.

I know of a lad, best friend to my stepson, who comes from a large family presided over by a bully father. The lack of love from an abusive and exploitative father, complicit mother has ruined their kids. One’s in jail, another is a drug addict and the lad we know is an alcoholic, self-harmer at 20. We feel so helpless but I’d put it at 50/50 whether this kid decides that life’s not worth living. It’s tragic how families can be so self-destructive.

Sad story but doesn’t help you much :worried: We are more worried about you! You can only take so much before the fight or flight instinct kicks in. One thing I’ve learned since my diagnosis is that one can only help others if you’re in a fit state yourself. First of all, safeguard your own headspace and the well-being of your kids. Realistically your husband needs to decide where his loyalties lie and at the moment he’s biting the hand that feeds. I’m guessing you know all this already?