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need perspective

(64 Posts)
smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:00:43

my partner and i are splitting up. We've been together 13 years. In many ways we get on amazingly well, but from the start, we've had these godawful rows. It's pretty much because he's angry with me, and I can understand many instances why. I know I've made many mistakes, but people do, and it's not been like I don't want to do what I can to help things be how he needs or even likes them to be (he's certainly done that for me). But the technicalities of the row are such that, when he explodes in a fit of temper, he's very verbally aggressive, and accuses me of having done/not done things on purpose, not giving a shit about him (this is obviously, how he feels by my not having done/not done the thing that upset him). When I tell him my side of the story, he dismisses it entirely. He tells me it's excuses/bullshit, and continues to what feels like verbally attack me – not let me speak, dismiss everything I say as crap, shout, be verbally abusive, call me horrid names, tell me again what my transgression is and how nasty I am. I get more and more upset because he won't let me say anything, and the row escalates until I manage to leave (he physically blocks me for a long while) because I feel I can't participate in the row. His feeling is that he has told me what he wants from me "nicely" many times. When he sees me not producing the goods over and over again (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't – I'm a working mum and the main carer for our offspring – but that isn't good enough), it makes him feel more and more not cared about, until he explodes. But the upshot is that, in the entire marriage, we have not resolved a single row.

The things he gets upset about were mostly practical things, but also, me "not noticing" what he needed and providing it for me.

He tells me I have never said the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, which is why he has never listened to me – and that I talk a load of crap.

I have tried to keep trying to say my side of the situation, to say it later that day, to bring it up the next day, the next week, the next month, a long time later. I've tried to change the language I use (until I get so upset at him not letting me into the conversation, I revert to classic "what not to say in a row" language). The only thing that has ever calmed him down when he's upset is if I don't say anything at all about my own feelings/my side of the story, but instead, simply focus on him and his feelings.

In other ways, he's been the perfect partner, and he feels that all he has done for me should be evidence that he loves me – I shouldn't need him to listen to me in a row – I should just shut up and do what he wants to prove I love him. But I have felt like I'm the baddie, I'm the crap one who doesn't care/do as much as the other person (for the other person), that I'm always letting the side down. And I have also always felt that it's not me he loves, but a "better" version of me that he's waiting for me to turn into. After all, if he loves me, why won't he listen to me?

We've been to 3 sets of counsellors. No joy.

Little bit more info – I'm messy, he's OCDish, I'm in the moment, he's a planner. In many ways, these opposites come together very well. But I know my lack of organisation really pisses him off.

Apparently, our splitting up is entirely my fault, and he hasn't let me down in any way at all.

What do you all think? Bear in mind that he has really worked hard in our lives together, and although I've worked to my full capacity (which is lesser than his – he's quicker, brighter, better than me at many things), he's felt throughout that I'm not pulling my weight, which he takes as proof that I don't care about him.

OxfordBags Sun 10-Feb-13 23:00:29

PS You can see that he needs to believe his crap about you. You are so insightful. But don't make the mistake of waiting for him to ever realise that you're not at fault, or to accept his part in it all. It ain't going to happen. You know this is a fixation he has, a mental health problem actually, and has nothing to do with the reality of who you are; you were just unlucky to be chosen as the recipient of his issue. I bet his Exes were all bitches who treated him like shit, right? hmm

Don't give up on love!

Snazzynewyear Sun 10-Feb-13 23:06:57

I agree with those posters who have already said that this is actually about him and everything needing to be his way. But anyway, there is a sense in whih it doesn't even matter - you have decided the relationship isn't working and it's over. Who cares if he thinks it's all your fault? It's done. Don't even have the discussion with him, it's pointless. But of course he wants you to 'prove' stuff to him - and this is the major red flag. Tell him there is nothing to prove anymore.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:07:29

OxfordBags,

Yes, there was an abusive element to my childhood, and yes, that pre-disposition exists, I recognise it. I've been bullied by a boyfriend in the past, too. I REALLY hope I don't go picking another fucker of a bully again. I need to find out how to spot one, and I need to examine my predisposition to being bullied. I think it might have something to do with, yes, my mother. Never approving of me. I think I might pick a bully in the hope that he will see me and love me for what I am, but then I end up making sure I get the emotional response I'm used to – I'm hateful and not good enough. It's really not conscious at all. I don't know how to recognise this in myself if it happens again, which is scaring me. I can't let some bastard into my kids' life.

And everything you have said about him is what i have felt myself about him at various times in our marriage. It's SO good to read that he is a bit "textbook", and that my reactions have been so, too. I'm not alone.

I've got to remind myself that his "caring" is very conditional, which is less than I've offered him. You are right – it is a pathetic need – he's weak. Too weak to see he's bullying the person that has loved him most in his life. I can't believe it's taken so long to just see it. He had a pretty shit mum too, but he never rocks the boat with her...

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:09:04

"I bet his Exes were all bitches who treated him like shit, right?"

Oxford, How the hell did you know?????

I have often think he'd be happier in that type of scenario.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:10:13

AnyFucker,

For the sake of my LO, I HAVE to keep this man out of my life. I need to have enough emotional energy to be a decent enough mum!

AnyFucker Sun 10-Feb-13 23:11:26

good for you x

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:11:45

"But don't make the mistake of waiting for him to ever realise that you're not at fault, or to accept his part in it all. It ain't going to happen."

This is my problem. Why do I need him to see???

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:13:45

Snazzy,

It's me that needs something. I need him to tell me he was wrong, that he shouldn't have treated me like he has, like he should have let me speak, he's the one who blocked communication.

I would tell a woman in my situation – you don't need this confirmation from this man. You know it.

But I'm really having trouble knowing it INSIDE, if you know what I mean.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:14:10

It's as if I don't believe it until he tells me.

AnyFucker Sun 10-Feb-13 23:15:02

Why does he have the last word ?

Take the last word...it is yours to keep

Snazzynewyear Sun 10-Feb-13 23:16:02

I know what you mean, spirit, but I have to say he's unlikely to give you what you are looking for. So you have to try and make yourself feel it. Does it help that everyone on here thinks he has behaved badly at all? Could you go and talk it through with a counsellor? He sounds to me like the kind of person who would never, ever admit to being in the wrong.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:16:13

I don't know what to do with the last word. I don't believe it if I say it. My self esteem...

What if I"m wrong? What if I'm being really unfair to him? These thoughts stop me keeping the last word.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:17:26

Snazz, you have all really lifted my spirits this evening and I'm going to save this thread and reread it over and over. I have to find a way to make myself feel it.

After previous experiences, I'm a bit allergic to counsellors. And broke.

Snazzynewyear Sun 10-Feb-13 23:20:30

Ah, ok. You don't always find a good counsellor the first time, unfortunately. Real life friend who would listen to you patiently? Who knows you well?

FWIW I don't think you are being unfair to him. I don't think you're wrong. But you have to take that in yourself - or you have to come to the point where it doesn't matter because whoever was wrong <whispers: IT WAS HIM> the fact is you are better off apart. Concentrating on your happier life ahead is the thing to do.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Sun 10-Feb-13 23:27:26

I'm just going to send you a <<HUG>> Honestly, it's SO NOT YOU. He's a horrible, horrible 'man', what he has done to you is disgusting, truely disgusting sad

wordyBird Sun 10-Feb-13 23:35:30

You said 'we've been to 3 sets of counsellors' so I guess you have had couples counselling. Ouch. That will make an abusive relationship worse. sad When you are up to it, perhaps look into counselling for yourself?

But you can just get yourself out of there first, if you prefer. You do need to do this, as there is no chance he will change.

He is damaged and cannot see you as an independent person. He thinks it's your job to fulfil his needs and read his mind, and his anger comes from frustration that you see yourself as independent with needs of your own. This literally doesn't make sense to him.

This is why he abuses you. He really does think he's perfect (and so do you, as you've described him as 'the perfect partner'). And because you don't fit his completely warped understanding of what a partner is, you are challenging his fundamental worldview, and he thinks you deserve to be berated.

This is why his exes were 'awful' according to him. They were normal women like you.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:36:19

Snazz, a happier life ahead, yes. I will concentrate on that... Weekends when I can play in the park with my LO instead of rowing at the edge of the playground, hoping he'll keep his voice down, etc etc etc etc etc. Just doing things my way. He's still here – sorting himself a place now. Once he goes and I do things my way for a bit, I hope I'll gain more confidence in my way. And happier times with my LO.

And maybe in time I'll take it in that it wasn't me. I'm taking advice and going to delve into the EA threads.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot – hug is much appreciated smile

wordyBird Sun 10-Feb-13 23:38:21

I'm working at full capacity. If I was how he wants me to be, I'd live every moment with a board and checklist and could think of nothing else. ... That's awful, but I think you are spot on!

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:39:19

WordyBird,

"He is damaged and cannot see you as an independent person. He thinks it's your job to fulfil his needs and read his mind, and his anger comes from frustration that you see yourself as independent with needs of your own."

His mother was very emotionally neglectful. He felt he couldn't ask for anything, because if he was, he would be "selfish" (his main gripe with me).

When we row, he doesn't seem to think for a second that he might not be in the right. He took the martyr role in his childhood home, always the one to do the right thing to gain mum's approval, but knowing all the time no one was doing the same for him as he was for them.

He's repeated that with me. Duh!

OxfordBags Sun 10-Feb-13 23:42:00

I hate to break it to you, but you're going to join the list of bitches who treated him like shit to the next woman unlucky enough to get involved with him.

It's so hard to know that and hard to break from the need to have him know that he was wrong, but you need to let that go somehow. Because what you are really waiting for is your mother to acknowledge that she was wrong and treated you badly. Neither is going to happen. But there is something worse than people who have treated you badly not acknowledging or apologising - and that's staying with an abuser whilst you wait for it to happen (hint: Hell will freeze over whilst you wait).

He has a shit mother whom he never challenges, but he treats the woman closest to him like shit, every tiny thing is challenged and seen as some unloving victimisation on her part... Who does that sound like? He is not even subtly punishing you for the pain from her that he refuses to face. Emotionall, you're like a punchbag with a picture of his mother's face pinned on to it. You're the stand-in for her, so he can take his pain and resentment and rejection and fury out on without actually doing it to her in actuality.

You're not wrong, you're not being unfair. Even if you were, you don't deserve this treatment, this life. And you know what? Even if you are a massive bitch (I doubt it highly!) you still don't deserve it, you are not responsible for his feelings (although I bet your mother made you feel like you are responsible when others treat you badly, huh?) and you can choose to end the relationship.

You say you have DC. It is not right that they grow up seeing this dynamic. It teaches boys to become abusers, girls to become victims. Make the last word you stopping this horrible abuse dynamic for the next generation. Make the last word ensuring a peaceful, happy, respectful life for your kids.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 23:44:19

LemonDrizzled,

If you're still around, you said you were in a relationship with a similar man for 28 years. I'm guessing you had kids together.

My ex is a really good dad so far. Leaves most of it to me, but his actual involvement is good. But will he continue to be? We have boys. What was your ex like with your kids as they became teenagers? How did their relationship continue?

What I want to know is, did he try to bully them, too?

TDada Sun 10-Feb-13 23:45:10

I haven't read it all but his anger makes me uneasy. What is it that is REALLY bugging him?

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Mon 11-Feb-13 00:00:14

Oxford,

I know to his friends (of which he has very few, because everyone is a useless wanker, of course), I am already the evil bitch, and it really hurts!

Yes, Ms Insightful Wonder Counsellor, I am waiting for my mum to acknowledge her neglect and abuse. In real life, I know that well is dry – I see her as she is, and accept her, and (mostly) have worked out how to protect myself from her. Actually, all I want now is to see her through to the end of her life as comfortably as she can be (but she does come third, after the boys), while expecting from her only what I can realistically expect, so that my family (mum + dad + child me) is not a completely tragic story – for me and my kids.

But on an emotional level, the need for that acknowledgement still exists, and if I don't somehow deal with that, I'm scared I'll attract another abuser.

But how the hell to deal with that?!?!?

I have often used the word "punchbag" to describe my position in his life to him. He thinks that's "bullshit", of course.

My boys are good boys. Full of beans and generally happy, kind and so gentle with my emotions, so generous to me on an emotional level. I think they can sense the unfairness. I desperately want them to have a happy home, and see me coping well, feel safe by me, have fun with me – not with me at the edge of the playground, rowing with dad. And I hope I can meet someone and trust them in the future, and they get to see a truly loving relationship.

From what you all say, and from my own unconfident speculations, I suspect that a truly loving relationship is not one they will ever experience at their dad's home.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Mon 11-Feb-13 00:01:29

TDada,

It's shit from his childhood – a neglectful mum, and abusive dad, a loveless family that he tried to hold together but none of them really wanted him. Life not happening the way he feels it should seems to be constantly tapping that well of anger in him.

TDada Mon 11-Feb-13 00:03:41

the good side of him should rationalise that it is not your fault? I am sure that you would have been sympathetic to him. Is he looking to you to be a mom to him?

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