crowyhead Posted April 17, 2008 Report Share Posted April 17, 2008 My fiance', who is in his early 30's, has long had a very strained relationship with his father, who has no ability to control his anger and who was physically abusive toward my partner for most of his childhood and young adulthood. My partner has already done a lot of work in dealing with this, in particular going through therapy to learn to control his own hot temper, although conflicts with his father really cause him to lose his temper easily -- since his father hasn't changed anything in the way he communicates with my partner, my partner has a very hard time not playing out old patterns. Recently, though, things took a decided negative turn. My fiance' and I were at a family function when he and his father, who is in his mid-60s, got into an argument and his father physically attacked him. We left the situation, but the next morning (we were staying with his father) when the previous night's incident came up, his father denied any culpability, and when I contradicted him, he attempted to physically intimidate me.This was pretty much the last straw as far as my fiance' was concerned, and since this incident (which was a little over a month ago), we have had little to no contact with his father. In most ways, this seems like a good thing, but I know my partner would like to somehow reach some sort of peace with his father, because his father is in poor health and my partner doesn't want to have any regrets. I support this to a point, of course, but I also have grave concerns about it because it's become evident that my partner's father has systematically undermined my partner for his entire life, and not only does this make me angry, it also makes me nervous and leery of any contact with the man.I guess there are several issues I'm concerned with here. One is how I can best support my partner as he deals with estrangement from not only his father, but the rest of his family (they have chosen to believe that my partner is the violent one and initiated the conflict). The other is, how do I express my nervousness about any contact my partner has with his father, without making him feel that I am undermining his desire to come to some kind of reconciliation? I am frankly afraid of my partner's father, I don't particularly want to see him again, and I worry about the negative effect he has on my partner's self-esteem and psyche -- and yet, I can sympathize with the urge to make peace. The problem is that I doubt that any kind of lasting peace can be achieved, unless my partner's father makes some major effort to change (unlike the short-term token efforts he has made in the past).I read Susan Forward's books "Toxic Parents" and "Toxic In-Laws," and while both were helpful in understanding what my partner is going through, neither one offered much guidance in sorting out my own conflicted feelings (although I did pass "Toxic Parents" on to my partner). Any advice on this sitaution? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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