Is this Enabling?

by Brenda

My in-laws are providing everything for my husbands new apartment. He has decided he wants a divorce and is moving out on his own. Problem is he has a mental problem/issue. He is seeing a psychiatrist in a couple of weeks. Possible bipolar/sex addiction/depression. Won't know for sure till he sees the doc.

I say they are enabling him to move out and not accept the consequences of his actions by helping him totally supply his new apartment. Their words - don't buy a thing. My sister in law agrees with me. My mother in law says it isn't enabling. What do you think?

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Jan 08, 2010
I have been in that situation
by: Anonymous

I was there just over a year and a half ago. My newly diagnosed (but has had for a long time) bipolar husband left me a week after back surgery with 2 girls and 2 sons I share from a previous marriage. His parents bought him expensive things for the girls and I too felt as you do.

A year and a half later I will tell you this:
His parents and I are separately receiving treatment from a therapist, going to a group meeting once a week, and learning on our like crazy about the condition, buying books on the subject and desperately trying to understand bipolar disorder.

His parents got a legal order to put him into a psych unit in mid November. He was engaged in all kinds of internet relations and what I consider porn. He desperately wanted what I feel crazy inappropriate sex, and had what I consider sex addiction. He stole my prescription pain pills for his fun. He spent money like crazy that we did not have.

Now, he has not worked since his stay at the psych unit, and has been to the Dr many times. He is on several medications with side effects that make me wonder if the grass wasn't greener on the other side. (Not really!!) The sex and drug issue was I believe due to the bipolar disorder. I am not at all saying that is what you are dealing with.

My in-laws spent most of their sons life in denial, enabling his behavior. It made me feel awful during the 7 years of our marriage. But now, I see that they too are victims of the illness and the enabling was just one of the pieces of the huge puzzle we are piecing together.
Even if his parents are enabling, what can you do? After a 4 month separation from my husband that year, his parents were not happy to see us back together I am sure. They had spent a lot of money to help their son assuming he was done with this relationship.

Now, we work as a family one day at a time. His parents have worked to detach and get healthy. It took what we feel was quite a painful experience to chose to take off the blinders and move forward.

I have no advice. I just thought I would share one possible outcome of what you may be going through.

I am learning, and growing, hurting, and happy. It is my walk with God. The path to healthy I hope. I am unsure of a path to happiness but I can become healthy.

Best wishes to you. Keep us updated.

Jan 06, 2010
by: Anonymous

I think you have strong feelings about this that you haven't expressed in your post.

I'm hoping you have enough support that you get to express them to others.

Jan 05, 2010
In laws
by: Godbear

Hummmmmm. Sounds like your mother-in-law really hates you. What do you think?

Jan 05, 2010
further information - is this enabling
by: Brenda

The sex addiction was diagnosed by a LCSW who was our first marriage counselor. He won't accept the diagnosis

We have been married 19 years - would have been 20 this year. have been together 25

I do have a counselor - the same one who diagnosed him as a sex addict.

I feel that his need to leave is part of his addiction and possible another issue-won't know till he sees the doctor

Jan 05, 2010
Marital Conflict
by: Archana Nene, Psychological associate

Hi Brenda,
How are you? This must be very stressful for you. I would like to address it one by one as I can see lot of wounded areas for both of you. In order to comment on this issue, I would need to have more information:

1. How old is this relationship and how old is your marriage?

2. How do YOU feel about everything?

In general I suggest you to check on following things:

1. What do you feel about this relationship?
2. Do you want to make it work for both of you?
3. What are your concerns?

Focus on the specific areas which are bothering you the most other than external interference by his family. In my opinion, sex life plays an important role in a married life. It has power to save or spoil the relationship.

I can?t comment on Depression, Sex addiction or bipolar you have mentioned until it comes from a doctor. Because if it is the case, we would have to take a whole different approach for handling this issue.

Brenda, with the very little information to go by, what I suggest to you, is talk to yourself first. Concentrate on what you think about all this and want you want from life. Are you feeling lonely or insecure because he is getting lots of help from his family? (Apart from right or wrong)
If yes, then tell yourself that it is very normal to feel that way and get some help. You need someone to talk to.

If you can manage to see some counselor, that would be good because we are professionally trained and qualified to handle these kinds of situations. But, if you are not able to do that then talk to someone you trust. It could be your friend or family -- any one YOU trust and feel very comfortable talking to.

All the best Brenda and take care of you. Many times life is all about challenges we face. But the result depends on how well we tackle them.

Archana Nene
Psychological Associate

Jan 05, 2010
To Brenda (Is This Enabling?)
by: Angie Carter

I have facilitated many family groups and the topic of enabling has come up frequently. What exactly IS enabling? Well the easiest and quickest way that I describe it is with this one sentence (as it pertains to someone with addiction)- Helping is doing something for someone that they cannot do for themselves and enabling is doing something for someone that they should be doing for themselves.

Examples: bailing someone out of jail, paying bills while they spend their money on their addiction, making excues or covering up for them, in other words not letting the person experience the natural consequences of their behavior. Because your husband has not been diagnosed yet it is hard to say.

Sometimes people have mental issues and they cannot take care of themselves. This may be true of addiction also, but once the addicted person KNOWS what the problem is and they still choose not to seek the solution then enabling can happen. If the family member or loved one is aware that the person is suffering from addiction and they continue to alleviate or 'soften' the natural consequences of the addict's behavior, then I would consider that enabling.

It is really difficult for parent's not to enable. I know, because I have a son who has struggled with addiction and as a parent when your child is in trouble you want to want to fix it. With other illnesses and other life situations this would be helpful, with addiciton it is not. It allows the disease to flourish and steadily worsen.

Regardless, you don't have control over what your in-laws do, but you can educate yourself, as you are doing, by asking questions and seeking information. Kudos to you Brenda! The more correct information we have the better decisions we can make for ourselves. Others will see those decisions and may inquire about some information for themselves. Good luck and feel free to ask more questions if you like.

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