Her son wants her to see me, thinking that the mother couldn’t let go of the past, and has always been picking fights so much that the home is never felt peace. So she came.
When I asked about her relationship with the husband, she said they are always fighting. “Which couple wouldn’t? We face each other 24/7. We live together, work together, go out and in together. It’s normal right (that they fight all the time)?” I tried to imagine, being married for about 40 years, facing each other 24/7, yea, perhaps she’s kind of right (deep inside I still don’t feel right, especially if there is only “fight” between them). So we continued to talk about her children, grandchildren, work, neighbour, leisure etc. And I figured that her life is all about this family for the past few decades, she’s never seen the world outside, and she feels miserable in the family, that she’s sacrificed so much for the family but is not treated fairly and nicely by the members in it. So I helped her to find out what she used to love when she was young, and wanted her to look into engaging in these activities again.
What concerns me took place during our second session. She said she has nobody to talk to about “these things” for the past so many years. “Even if I said it, nobody believed me, they all think that he’s a perfect dad.” She told me the husband is always flirting other women, including her own sister, their maid, neighbour, and now daughter-in-law. I was slightly shocked, because I’ve heard a lot about the family from the son, in my mind, her husband is a traditional but good dad, except that he’s bad tempered and uses swear words when he’s angry. But I listened on.
She gave examples. She told me a few incidents that she observed. She even questioned the husband when things happened. But that only led to arguments, as the husband always denied it, and the children always sided their father. She felt alone, unfairly treated, and disappointed. (What do you think at the point?)
Some of the incidents she observed are: the husband peeping the maid while the latter is taking shower; the husband’s hand gesture was very close to the daughter in law’s face which she deems very inappropriate as a (asian, traditional) father-in-law; the husband used very gentle voice to speak to the daughter in law; the husband was chatting up with her sister. It’s mainly surrounding in themes of this sort.
She has told me not to tell her son or anyone about these. She doesn’t want to spoil their father’s image, and she knows nobody would believe what she says anyway, because they are never really there, she’s the one who spends so much time with him. She also thinks the husband will “lose face” if these things are broken out in the family.
When I was listening, I had “morbid jealousy” (read more here) in my mind. But at the same time, I know it’s also possible that the husband is really “that kind of person” (sorry for being judgmental, I’m a woman, haha). It’s not quite possible to confirm either way, unless I have a third party in the family who can tell me more, but I’m not allowed to share these with the members in the family since that would break confidentiality and trust.
So I’m going to continue digging without causing suspicions in the family. I’ve seen quite some cases of morbid jealousy in the past few years, the diagnosis is always confirmed with the statements of the spouse and/or family. Is this diagnosis possible without presence of another party?
Do email/whatsapp me if you suspect that you or your partner might have the condition, or you would like to know more about the treatment. There is also a quiz you can do here!
N.B. I’ve noted this else where in my blog, but I think it’s important to again emphasise that all cases under my “Clinical case studies” category are written either agreed by the patient and family OR modified/combined so that it’s not possible to trace back to the person.