Who is being unreasonable? If it's me, how do I fix this?

(44 Posts)
coralpig Fri 12-Feb-16 12:09:24

DP and I are engaged and we have a great relationship most of the time.

For the last few months he's become extremely anxious about leaving taps on, electrics, cooker - everything really. Taking photographs with his phone of a tap so that he can prove that it isn't running etc. He'll often go back home when he's half way down the street to check. A few nights ago, after I'd had a very long day and I had only just relaxed out with him, I mentioned the cooker in passing and he got up and left and was gone nearly 45 minutes so that he can check the lights were off at home (they were). I'm finding this behaviour incredibly difficult to deal with and whenever I've raised it it's either been dismissed or he's told me that he lets go my personality quirks.
Similarly, is a problem with wanting to rush to leave immediately as soon as something is finished. For instance, I had a new friend round who is very shy and is going through a hard time, we had dinner and as soon as we had finished he was up, clearing, cleaning and making lots of yawning gestures saying he was tired and ready to go to bed. My friend took the hint and started to make tracks home. I was mortified and embarrassed that he would be so rude but he said he didn't mean to and thought he was actually being nice.

Last night was the straw that broke the camel's back. We were sitting and relaxing when he immediately asked me if I was ready to leave, proceeded to check and recheck the taps, electrics, keys and said that I should go ahead so that we make the next bus. He could see that I still had lots to do and I didn't like being rushed. I didn't want to make a scene or pick a fight but my mood clearly changed. Later on, he became angry at me for 'spoiling a lovely' evening and I really hit the roof and said some unkind things how about how I was sick of this kind of behaviour and brought up the fact that he was rude to my friend the other night. I called his anxieties about taps running and the cooker ridiculous and he started to become extremely upset and angry. Stormed out of the room and wouldn't speak to me. Exasperated, I asked if we could talk about this like grown ups so we didn't go to sleep upset with each other. He refused and this morning told me he was extremely angry and upset and that I had behaved disgustingly. He said that I'd crossed a line and that I had no right speaking about his anxieties - they were his problems not mine. He also said that I had mental health problems and he would never be so unkind about them. He said that he had let my attitude towards the other night 'slide' but that I had no right to make him feel so small and to belittle him. Now he's gone to work.

I apologised repeatedly this morning for speaking so unkindly and i've done so again by text. I do mean it as I don't like to upset him and whilst I thought he might have some control over his tendencies and his rushing around, maybe they are wider mental health problems and probably symptomatic of OCD or similar. In my text, I said that I was really sorry for being so unkind but that I wish he would talk to me and not shut me out. I said that I just wanted to talk things through so I could support him. He's ignored this text and I know that he's seen it.

I'm not normally so insensitive but, similarly, I don't think his reaction to this reasonable. Can anybody with experience of OCD or of living with somebody with the condition suggest what I can do to support him? Thanks for reading.

goodnightdarthvader1 Fri 12-Feb-16 12:22:16

He needs help, and if he won't accept that I would get frustrated too. He needs to see a doctor.

acasualobserver Fri 12-Feb-16 12:27:53

He needs to see a doctor.

Yes, and you need to think carefully about marrying him.

WhoseBadgerIsThis Fri 12-Feb-16 12:32:58

I second the need for him to see a doctor. I would also say that the kind of anxiety that drives someone to do the things he's doing is very distressing to the person suffering it, so he's likely to be quite defensive and upset about the situation. Broadly though, he needs to acknowledge the problem and seek help for it. One in four people experience mental health issues, so there is no shame in it, and the doctor will have seen it all before and be able to suggest things that can help.

I'm not sure if the rushing-to-leave problem is part of this though - it could be unrelated and something you need to discuss separately with him. Unless he is rushing due to some anxiety about something.

In terms of its effect on you - you can't fix this, only he can seek help for this and only if he is willing to. In the short term, I would suggest you check things like the oven before heading out as then you can reassure him that whether or not he remembers doing it, you have done it and it's all fine. That is not a long-term solution though.

I really sympathise, it's no fun being on either side of this situation.

firesidechat Fri 12-Feb-16 12:34:14

I hope I haven't missed it in your post, but do you have mental health issues? I only ask because if you don't then it was wrong of him to suggest you did and makes him more unreasonable.

CottonFrock Fri 12-Feb-16 12:34:46

To an armchair diagnostician on the internet, some of those behaviours certainly suggest OCD, for which he should seek help. However, no one I know with OCD has treated them like the own private pets, which are not allowed to be mentioned by spouses or immediate family, nor been repeatedly furious with a partner because of them. And the rudeness to your anxious friend sounds like just that, rudeness, as if he's the only one allowed to have vulnerabilities. The people I know with OCD who are in relationships/have children work incredibly hard to minimise the impact on those around them, and on managing the more obtrusive behaviour, and are entirely admirable.

He needs to seek help immediately, for his own sake and yours, and if he won't do so, or won't actively work to help manage his anxieties and behaviours, then I think you need to think very carefully about your future with him.

Has something triggered the behaviours in the last few months?

The rushing you to leave might be anxiety over being late (he may have a set idea in his head about when you need to leave or it will all go wrong and get stressed when you are not cooperating with an arbitrary deadline you know nothing about). He needs to see his GP as this is unlikely to improve on its own.

ConkersDontScareSpiders Fri 12-Feb-16 12:41:43

He's massively OCD, and it's reached the point where it's becoming unmanageable and starting to impact his life, (and yours). I think his angry reaction is because he is aware of this but does not want to admit it to himself as to do so would mean he will have to do something about it.
It's difficult but I think you need to wait until things are calmer (but soon, don't leave it for too long), and reframe the conversation into one that comes from a place of concern (which you of course are) rather than frustration (which you also are and that's natural-OCD like that is honestly very difficult to live with). Hopefully he will agree to get some help (gp likely to refer to CBT I would think). But as with all mental health stuff, the person has to want the help really for it to work. best of luck op-I don't think you should be thinking of leaving him at the moment, as he will need your support and you love him-and this is manageable.But if he refuses all intervention then I guess you will need to think about wether you want to live like that long term as it wouldn't be easy at all.

redexpat Fri 12-Feb-16 12:41:58

He thinks you dont have a right to talk about his anxieties that are affecting you and your social life? I really wouldnt marry this one.

coralpig Fri 12-Feb-16 12:44:09

Thank you for responses. I've suffered from anxiety and depression for a number of years and he's been a great support to me and was the one who encouraged to seek help in the first place. He was my rock.I speak openly about this to him. That's probably why I'm so shocked that I was so unkind as to call his behaviour ridiculous in my outburst yesterday.

He's never suggested to me that he has mental health problems explicitly or done much up until recently that has made me suspect so he may not be fully aware of his behaviour.

I don't for a second want to consider leaving him - I really do want to know how to help him and support him but, similarly, I'm feeling bewildered.

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 12-Feb-16 12:45:11

I have only read the first paragraph, but your DH sounds like I used to be. Ask him if this poem resonates with him:

If when you have washed your hands you wash them again
though they are already perfectly clean,
if when you've checked you've got everything -
directions, cash, vaporizer, ticket - you go through
everything again just once more,

if when you are halfway down the street
you think you may not have locked the door
so you go back and yes, it is locked, but you wonder if
you remembered to switch the cooker off
so you go back to make sure,

I have to tell you it's likely to get worse.
Soon you won't be able to leave the house.
You will cram your bag with everything
you possess, you will hide it somewhere
absolutely safe.

You won't know where to put yourself.
You won't know what to do with your hands
so you'll steep them in pure bleach
but they are still offensive
so you pick up a knife.

You have lost your tongue. You have lost
your head. The cooker turns itself on
automatically, the burners are red-hot,
the warning light flashes
the sirens go off.

Dorothy Nimmo

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 12-Feb-16 12:48:14

I've read the rest of it now. He's in denial, and angry at you for making it obvious. I suspect he prefers to think of you as the 'sick' one and himself as the towering beacon of sanity who heroically puts up with you. So kind hmm

Do not marry, not ever now anyway.

I8toys Fri 12-Feb-16 12:48:22

My experience of OCD. I was just like him - but my OCD started as a child - checking for monsters under the bed. It got worse when a teenager and checking that things were switched off and doors locked etc.

It changed completely when I had my first child. It morphed into going from checking things to checking my son. It is better now and I feel that because I am happier I am more in control of it. It still appears but not as much.

Does he fear change or of hurting others? That is how my OCD manifested itself in I thought that I would harm someone else with my actions.

I can only suggest he gets medical help. I take a low level of sertraline now and forever and it helps. I tried counseling but didn't like it.

ILoveTFIFriday Fri 12-Feb-16 12:55:44

He's got OCD. It is very distressing and he can't help checking all these things. He needs to see a doctor.

MuttonWasAGoose Fri 12-Feb-16 12:58:08

We weren't there so we don't know the tone or exact language you used with him. Perhaps you were shouty and horrible. However, your frustration with his issues is perfectly understandable and he needs to be able to talk to you about them.

If this is a matter of the way you talked to him, then all you can do is apologise and wait for him to calm down. If you know that you used words that were nasty then you know not to do that, again.

However if you were merely frustrated and displayed emotion without actually being abusive (that is, you didn't scream, you didn't name-call, etc) then he's being unreasonable and you should stand your ground and insist that he needs to address these problems.

I think it's really rude to leave someone sitting somewhere for 45 minutes to run off and do something else. I wouldn't want to be married to someone who impacts my life in that way.

WhoseBadgerIsThis Fri 12-Feb-16 12:58:54

"I suspect he prefers to think of you as the 'sick' one and himself as the towering beacon of sanity who heroically puts up with you. So kind"

Oh come on, you can't possibly tell this from the facts we have been given. Maybe the bloke is terribly distressed and not able yet to face up to what he is going through. I agree with everyone that the problem is his lack of willingness to discuss it, but give the guy a chance!

Attitudes like the quote above are exactly why people with mental health issues fear to discuss them with others!

BluePancakes Fri 12-Feb-16 13:03:39

It's not necessarily OCD, it could be GAD (General Anxiety Disorder).
My DH has GAD and Depression (controlled using meds), and has been diagnosed with OCPD (thankfully only manifests itself when the anxiety gets extreme, so not too often). When he is bad, he can check, double check, panic about leaving things on, the doors not locked etc. He doesn't have OCD, but sometimes has similar manifestations in a bid to control his anxiety.

As for who is being unreasonable, it could be that you both are, it could be that neither of you are. He does need encouragement to see a GP and get help, though. x

IceRoadDucker Fri 12-Feb-16 13:07:41

LaContessaDiPlump what a bloody awful thing to say. Please educate yourself on mental health issues before you spout such harmful drivel again.

SonjasSister Fri 12-Feb-16 13:11:51

He's pretty unwell from the sounds of it OP, sorry he and you are going though this.

Yes of course you want to support him - but only if he sees the problem, sees that it has a major impact on you as well as him, and decides he wants to fix it. The illness isn't a 'leaving offence', not caring how it affects you is.

By the way, I think the rushing off thing may be related. I have a friend a bit like this - she is always running though everything in advance in her head worrying about what could go wrong, and ends up kind of 'desperate to get on with it' so she can put all her 'damage prevention' checks into action, and not just have to run through it all again in her mind - so she is always trying to get me to arrange the details of things (what I see as) ridiculously early.

It's a bit annoying sometimes and yes, she can end up seeming rude and impatient (and also, untrusting) as a consequence, but I know she meditates etc to try to keep on top of it, and she is very very loving in other ways, and as I don't live with her it doesn't impact me much. I could NEVER live with her though. (she lives alone, btw)

SonjasSister Fri 12-Feb-16 13:13:20

Or I suppose, if we did need to live together, I'd have to talk to her a great deal more frankly than I have had to hitherto, if you see what I mean. Which you are going to have to find a way to do.

TitClash Fri 12-Feb-16 13:14:55

He also said that I had mental health problems and he would never be so unkind about them.

Big red flag here.

He needs to cgo for CBT at the very least. Call off the engagement until he has dealt with these issues.

My ex did exactly the same thing - suddenly demanded I be ready to leave now. Thats a control issue. It flusters you and puts you on the wrong foot. That allows them to feel in control compared to you.

whois Fri 12-Feb-16 13:15:16

The illness isn't a 'leaving offence', not caring how it affects you is.

Exactly.

You really do need to look our for yourself here. He needs to engage with treatment to prove himself to be a worthwhile man for a relationship with you.

GloGirl Fri 12-Feb-16 13:19:17

I think he had hoped his anxieties didn't impact on you. Now you have put it in very clear black and white terms how much that bothers you. That is going to make him feel ashamed, embarrassed, upset and likely to make his difficult behaviours much much worse in the short term, this may spiral for him as it leads to more shame etc.

I don't blame you at all for saying what you did as you are sorry for saying it. Just letting you think about how the next few days are not going to be easy.

lunar1 Fri 12-Feb-16 13:19:49

Has he ever belittled you for your mental health?

I'd think back to what he did to help you seek help and do that. It's your turn to be there for him now.

toffeeboffin Fri 12-Feb-16 13:22:16

What a casual said.

Had his OCD got worse over time?

I have very slight OCD about leaving the oven on, so I can understand his point. But I've always been like that since teenager and it hasn't got worse. My mum's the same.

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