ask ammanda

My husband won't let me see my daughter

My husband has forbidden me from seeing my grown-up daughter in our home as they don’t get along, this causes me issues as she houseshares and this means I’m left with trying to arrange to meet her in coffee shops or McDonald’s late after work or on weekends which isn’t always ideal as I’m disabled and really don’t want to have conversations with her in a public place.

My issue is it’s my home too, and his children and family hate me but they're welcome at our house I just make myself scarce. What’s the difference?

He refuses to talk about it. He also makes fun of me with his friends if I have an idea of something I’d like to try or even the fact I fell and badly injured myself and ended up in hospital I was the butt of their joke, I don’t understand it when I’m nothing but supportive and understanding, I feel alone and confused any help is appreciated.

Your husband has no right whatsoever to treat you like this.

Consistently preventing you from seeing your daughter, which is effectively what he’s doing, or making it so difficult that the effort of seeing her itself causes pain and distress is one of the many forms of domestic abuse.  I’m happy to be as blunt as this because from everything you tell me I am concerned for both your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.

I know that’s probably hard to hear because so often abusive behaviours become ‘the norm’ and we no longer recognize them for what they are. It’s a bit ‘how do you boil a frog?  Slowly, because they won’t immediately recognize the water getting hotter and hotter (For the avoidance of doubt, of course, no one should be boiling frogs either, but it illustrates the point...).

Abusive partners rely on gradually wearing their other half down and this is ultimately what gives them the power to make the sort of decisions he seems to have made as well as belittling you and your disability with friends and family. 

You describe how supportive and understanding you are, but I find myself wondering if really what you do is to walk on eggshells around him in the hope of appeasing him or getting him to treat you with the dignity you so richly deserve. It becomes a pattern of learned behaviour, again one which abusive partners promote.

I’m not remotely surprised to learn how alone and confused you are and anyone would feel as you do now.  The important thing to make quite clear here is that you have not brought this on yourself in any way. Abusive partners often insinuate or actually tell you that if you were different, then of course, they wouldn’t need to treat you as they do. None of this is true because behaving as he does is an active choice which is everything about him and nothing about you.

We all get it wrong sometimes. We all say and sometimes do things that cause a partner unhappiness. That’s because we’re human and sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. We put our own needs first and whilst that’s what we need to do sometimes, the sort of behaviours you describe are a systematic abuse of power. I think you should reach out for professional support to help you to consider what your best moves might be.

I wonder too if you might find it difficult to talk directly with friends or your own trusted family members. Sometimes people feel a sense of shame that they’re in a situation such as you describe and it’s this that makes it difficult to talk to people about what’s going on. If that feels like something you recognize in yourself then taking the first step to reach out as you’ve done with me and have your distress validated will hopefully encourage you to seek more practical help and support.

I think it would be worth getting some legal advice or perhaps making an appointment with the CAB so that you start pulling together knowledge and information to help you to better decide on potential next steps. It’s often really helpful to go with a trusted friend or relative too.

Our fantasy is often that if we could just get a partner to ‘see’ how painful their behaviour can be, then they would stop – as I’ve said, we can all be thoughtless sometimes. But healthy relationships are generally based on equality with no one person consistently using hurtful and unkind behaviours to undermine their partner. Feeling isolated and constantly undermined is no good for mental, emotional or physical health so individual counselling could be useful to help you to feel emotionally supported whilst you consider the next steps.  

Do you have a question to ask Ammanda?

Ammanda Major is a sex and relationship therapist and our Head of Service Quality and Clinical Practice

If you have a relationship worry you would like some help with send a message to Ammanda.

ask Ammanda

*We're not able to reply individually to every email we receive, please see our Talk to someone pages for further support.

Join our newsletter to get relationship advice and guidance straight to your inbox