I'm a 23-year-old straight male, but this isn't about me. My mother has been emotionally abusive to our family—me, my father, and my brothers—as long as I remember. She calls us names, she brings up our failings whenever we argue, she yells at us constantly, she never listens to what we say, and she doesn't give us the slightest warmth to offset it all. And this is just the tip of the psychological iceberg: she's a compulsive buyer and a pack rat, she's terrified of travel, she's hypochondriac...

Fortunately we kids are out of the house and are done with her. My dad isn't. I've tried to convince him to Divorce the Fucking Mother Already for at least a decade to no avail. Despite the abuse and the total absence of love or even lust, he insists on preserving the relationship, claiming it'll "keep the family together" and that he can "find her help." I think he's just getting walked all over. How can I help? Should I and my siblings work towards divorce or more towards helping him cope in other ways?

Tearful About Loveless Lives

My response after the jump...


It's a mystery how some people can remain married to toxic shitpiles for decades. Also mysterious: that some people can watch the toxic shitpiles they married emotionally abuse their own children and not murder their shitpile spouses with their bare hands.

Now before I answer your question, TALL: I'm going to credit your obvious affection for your father to the many, many interventions you failed to mention in your short letter. Presumably you dad went out of his way to defend you and your siblings from your piece of shit mother and did all he could to make your childhood bearable—short of divorcing your abusive mother and fighting for sole custody. And, hey, it's possible he stayed with your mom while you were kids because he didn't want to risk her getting sole or even primary custody.

Okay, TALL, you've got to accept that can't force your father to leave your mother. Spend time with him alone, gently and briefly encourage him to leave her every once in a very great while, but refrain from bullying him about the choice he's made to stay with your mom. He's your mother's only punching bag now that all you kids are out of the house and he's presumably getting all the bullying he needs at home. It's your job—yours and that of your sibling—to treat your dad to a good time whenever you see him, to enjoy his company, and to avoid the subject of your mother whenever possible.

It might help to look at it this way: a toxic piece of shit like your mother wants nothing more than to dominate the discussion and ruin the good times even when she's not around. Don't give your POSM what she wants.