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Is this emotional abuse or am I just oversensitive and intolerant?

(55 Posts)
Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 09:52:59

I've namechanged for this.

I feel quite unhappy in my marriage at times, we seem to have very good times and then very bad times, and I don't know if there is emotional abuse there or not. My first marriage (from which I have one DC, then my current DH and I have 2 children) broke up as my ex was very abusive, but this was more obvious. Been with DH for about 10 years, married 5.

If I list a few things my DH has done I wondered if some of you might be able to tell me if you think there is emotional abuse or if it's just me (as DH says it is)

He makes mess all the time but then moans at me if the house is messy. He leaves stuff everywhere. Ranging from paperwork, to shoes, to crisp packets, to wet towels. It's got where I've started to give up on the house a bit as it's just full of his junk everywhere, and he moans at me all the time about it and says I'm lazy. He will occasionally (by that I mean once a fortnight or so) unload the dishwasher or put a few bits in the washing machine but that's it.

He seems to put himself first all the time, and never the kids and I. He seems to see the children as my job and if he does anything with them it's a big favour for me, yet he never does things properly with them. For example yesterday I had a bit of a lie in, and when I got up he had taken the children out for an hour, but the younger two had had no breakfast, hair was unbrushed, teeth uncleaned, and the house was a total state. He'd had lie ins on Saturday and Sunday and during that time I'd carried on as normal and he'd got up to clean, dressed children, and a tidy house. Then yesterday he had the view that he'd "done his bit" once he brought them home and I feel like I effectively pay for any time off I have by having to do all the jobs. He also regulary (twice a day at least) just disappears off to the loo for between 45 minute and an hour. He won't go in the downstairs loo and uses the upstairs one, so I can't get in to bath the kids, and he always chooses to do this either in the morning when we are getting ready, or at the kids bathtime.

He gets really moody with me if I'm ill or if the children are ill, and won't play any part in looking after any of us. I had a virus a couple of months ago and was in bed but he wouldn't watch the children or do anything for me at all, not even bring me a cup of tea or a glass of water. He says it's not fair that he should have to be inconvenienced if any of us are ill as it's not his fault we've caught something.

He thinks he knows everything, thinks he is always right, I am wrong, and he has an opinion on everything I do. Whatever I do, he homes in on anything negative he can find and starts saying "What you want to do is X" and starts giving me advice, whether it's on my cooking, cleaning, or anything else I do. He is very vocal about his opinions and goes on and on and on. At the weekend I was doing a fitness DVD that I do each morning and he came in and started criticising my technique, and saying "What you want to do is get heavier weights"and just pulling apart it all. If one of the kids or I are ill he is always adamant he knows the cause and will say 'It's because you haven't had enough sleep, you're not ill' and will go on and on about it. He literally has an opinion on everything and I'm expected to take it on board. He has mentioned before that I need to learn to accept constructive criticisim. Whilst I am of the school of thought that there are times and places not to give an opinion and I don't want his constructive criticism all the time.

There are loads of other things too but these are just some of the things that are making me resentful.

What do you get out of this relationship now?. What keeps you within this?.

What do you think your children are learning from the two of you about relationships here?. Do not think that the children are not noticing how he is mistreating you and by turn them.

He is projecting all his damage and insecurities on you and that is just wrong on so many levels. He seems very much like your first husband in that this man is also abusive. You and the children are probably seen as mere possessions to him.

Counselling for your own self alone may be helpful to you as you could then talk in a controlled and safe environment.

I would also talk to Womens Aid.

Do NOT go into any joint counselling with him as he will completely undermine you in such sessions and use those too as a further stick to bash you over the head with.

One day your children will leave home and then it will just be the two of you?. What then for you?. And how would your children feel in the meantime about their childhoods?.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 07-May-13 10:17:24

I don't know about emotional abuse but he certainly sounds like a selfish bully. The constant nit-picking and negativity would piss me off.... talk about crushing someone's spirit. "You're doing that all wrong!!!" Constructive criticism my arse. hmm

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 10:21:31

Attila, I don't know what I get out of it really. I think to sum it up when times are good they are good and we have a good time as a family, but when they're bad and he's in a mood or on a downer then times are horrible. It all hinges on him. Having to do everything in the house really drains me. I don't think I could afford to be on my own though. I don't work at the moment (although am planning for that to change!). I think I will look into counselling.

Cogito, crushed is a good word to describe how he makes me feel. I feel like he's just slowly killing our relationship and trying to crush me and make me downtrodden.

musickeepsmesane Tue 07-May-13 10:24:07

I think he is a selfish, opinionated twat. I have a friend who could've written this word for word. I have often wondered why the hell she stays with him, she gets nothing positive out of the relationship and worse, the kids are absorbing his attitude and have started treating her like a second class citizen. If you have no respect for him and he behaves like this you need to examine your reasons for being in the relationship. Do you love him enough to put up with his fairly major flaws?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 07-May-13 10:29:15

If you feel crushed, you're being bullied and it is utterly unacceptable, abusive and not the sign of a healthy, loving relationship. You may not be able to afford to be on your own right now but that's pretty much what you are, unfortunately. Better to travel alone than to be badly accompanied and all that.

Make plans to end this, seek counselling, get yourself a lovely job but, in the meantime, stand up to him and don't let him bully you. He is not right all the time & it is not constructive criticism he's dishing out, it's just nit-pick, nasty, old-fashioned browbeating. You are entitled to an opinion and, if he starts having a go about your work or your exercise programme or questioning if you are properly sick, you are fully entitled to tell him to fuck off to the far side of fuck and then fuck off some more..... (I HATE bullies with a passion, can you tell?)

PeppermintPasty Tue 07-May-13 10:31:01

Gordon Bennett he sounds exhausting. You sound exhausted.

He appears to be a selfish entitled man. Does the "good" really outweigh all the bad?

Can you do something for yourself? Counselling, or getting out and away from him on your own? -Which would have the extra bonus of meaning he would have to pull his finger out with the children at least.
I can't bear men who think that because they pushed little Millicent on the swing for ten minutes they can leave everything else to their partner.

Leverette Tue 07-May-13 10:33:12

Yes he's abusive.

He clearly sees you as a domestic slave, not a person of equal value to him and deserving of equal consideration, respect etc.

He's a using, sexist bully and I'm not surprised you feel crushed.

There's lots of those traits that I recognise in my husband.

Have you spoken to him about it? Explained how this makes you feel? I'm training for a half-marathon at the minute, and when DH tries to advise me, I'll just smile sweetly and say "I'll take your advice after you've done YOUR race".

Can you set some time aside to clean and tidy the hosue together, even half an hour or so?

Cloverer Tue 07-May-13 10:36:15

I don't know about abusive, but he sounds like an utter cunt and I can't see what he brings to your or your children's lives?

Sounds like you would have an easier, happier, cleaner life without him.

Limelight Tue 07-May-13 10:39:32

I'm not good at putting definitions on things but he sounds like a twat. At the very least you very clearly don't like him very much (hardly a surprise. I wouldn't either).

Not sure what you're getting out of your marriage if I'm honest.

LemonPeculiarJones Tue 07-May-13 10:40:56

OP you are in another abusive relationship. Yes.

What happened in your previous relationship to help you leave him?

RL support? Women's aid? Solicitor? What got the ball rolling?

You don't have to live like this.

Lweji Portugal Tue 07-May-13 10:42:21

TBH, if you want him to change, you have to be prepared to leave and he has to believe it.

When he says "what you want/need to do", just tell him to show you how and walk away, leaving him to do it.
Tell him to do X, Y and Z because he does it so much better and you are useless. smile

Does he ever get ill?

BeCool Netherlands Tue 07-May-13 10:51:50

his behaviour when you are sick is unforgivable & cruel.

He sounds like a very sexist person and above everything else a huge "know it all, do nothing BORE"! I wonder how you can bear it on a daily basis? Oh the horror of being sat next to someone like this at a dinner party, let alone living with them.

He certainly feels superior and more important than you OP and your DC as well sad

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 11:03:25

Thank you everyone for the supportive replies. It means a lot. Unfortunately I have no support from family or friends. My family wouldn't be supportive at all. My mum is of the school of thought that when you get married you become the property of your husband and should be dutiful and do as you are told. And although I have friends I don't think any are close enough to want to offer me any support regarding something like this. I'm so glad I can have an outlet on here!

Regarding the 'going on' from DH, it just does my head in. All you can here is his voice, lecturing us all, all the time, about how we should do things. I wouldn't mind, if he pulled his weight, but he seems to have so many ideas about how I should do everything but does nothing himself.

I've decided to re-start doing something on a freelance basis, that I used to do years ago, and although he knows nothing at all about the industry, he has started on about that "What you want to do is..." and telling me how I should do it. No, I shouldn't hire the local school hall to do it (it's running a class), I should run X hall, that will be cheaper. No, I shouldn't teach X I should teach Y. No one will want to go to X classes and I wont' earn as much money. Etc

ChasingStaplers Tue 07-May-13 11:05:06

Everything you have mentioned (and you'be said there is more) are examples of things my ex used to do to me. He slowly drained the life out of me and crushed my spirit.
Unfortunately, when I realised this and started to stand up for myself he upped his game and became physically abusive (not saying this is what would happen in your situation).
I'm not sure you can get a man so entitled to change his behaviour, after all, what would be in it for him? He's probably just fine with the way things are.
Start to build your confidence back up. Spend time with people who value you, get support on here and in RL if you can and go from there. You will be surprised how different being with people like that makes you feel and might even get the strength to ditch him!
Good luck OP.

ChasingStaplers Tue 07-May-13 11:08:49

Perhaps you should employ the 'smile and nod' technique when he starts giving you unsolicited 'advice'? Then just ignore him! smile

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 11:09:18

ChasingStaplers, funnily enough I have been feeling that he is draining the life out of me too.

I think I will start to spend more time doing things for me, and with people that I like spending time with, and basically start to think 'stuff him' a bit more and let him get on with his behaviour by himself

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 11:09:30

Ah yes, smile and nod, LOL

fuzzywuzzy Tue 07-May-13 11:45:54

Namechange, but are the good times really good, or are you just so relieved he isnt being an arse that it just feels the 'good' times are amazing?

Find out your legal position and speak to womens aid.

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 11:56:44

Yes I think you're right fuzzy; the good times are never brilliant they are just better than the bad times.

The other thing he does all the time that upsets me is says I have an attitude problem or a bad attitude and he won't have it when I say I haven't got one. Or he'll mimic 'I haven't got an attitude'. I think he knows it really winds me up as he almost smirks when he says it. It's so frustrating. Bad attitudes or attitude problems are generally something a teenager is accused of, as an adult we are free to take any attitude we like over things, although I definitely would say I've not got an attitude problem anyway. Argh, it' infuriates me

catsmother Tue 07-May-13 12:12:20

Another vote for selfish wanker I'm afraid.

His attitude towards his family's illness is disgusting. Good god how much effort would a glass of water take ?

The bathroom thing almost seems like a power thing - if it always happens when you need the bathroom to get the children ready it smacks of him making sure you know who (in his twisted opinion anyway) is top of the pecking order. What happens when you point out there's another loo he can use if needs be and that you need to get the kids ready for school ?

Everything else - nitpicking away, constant criticism - is just horrid. It isn't the behaviour of someone who cares about you that's for sure. He certainly seems to think you're beneath him - both you and the kids. Won't help or sympathise if you're ill, leaves his fucking mess for you to clear up and then criticises if you don't do it soon enough or up to his standards as if you're the skivvy. Won't care for his own kids properly even though we're talking "jobs", like teeth brushing or a bowl of cereal that'd take minutes ..... because that's your job and such things are far too menial for someone as important/arrogant as him. And you're not to supposed to have any opinions of your own are you because remember he knows best, he's the most important person in the house - how very dare you try to assert yourself or suggest he might be wrong. I bloody hate people who, having voiced their opinion, refuse to consider that what they think might not be correct, or appropriate, and who then rather than accept defeat graciously, or at the very least, agree to differ, turn it all back round on you and accuse you of not being able to accept "constructive criticism". That may of course be true on some occasions but I find it very hard to believe it applies to everything he throws at you - i.e. that he's never mistaken about anything - and it's more about making you feel small. It's interesting that you say your mum believes a woman is the property of her husband hmm ..... because yours certainly acts like it.

Namechangething Tue 07-May-13 12:32:53

I wouldn't mind his opinions a) if he gave them in a decent, genuinely constructive way and b) if I asked for them in the first place. For example I might wipe the table and then he will start saying 'What you want to do is start in this corner, and then finish there'. Well to me, wiping a table (or hoovering a room, or stacking the dishwasher or closing the car door or whatever) is just wiping a table. And I wouldn't mind as much too if he actually did the things he critisises me on. He never does any exercise and is overweight, yet thinks it's ok to tell me how to do a workout DVD.

If I point out there's another loo he doesn't take it well. Like you say, it's all about keeping me in my place and letting me know he's top of the pecking order. The worst time for him going to use the bathroom is during the evening, after tea, when the younger children need a shower or bath and to have their teeth cleaned and to be put to bed. He will rarely put them to bed, and if he does, it is literally just putting them into their beds; no teeth cleaning, bathing, hair washing, story, face washing, nothing, and yet he makes it so difficult for me to do this task

BeCool Netherlands Tue 07-May-13 12:45:02

This is making me quite angry. He's a total knobhead.
What are you going to do OP?

fuzzywuzzy Tue 07-May-13 12:46:11

What would happen if you handed the cloth/hoover/duster to him and asked him to demonstrate so you can truly understand the art????

He sounds like very hard work.

Imagine the space you'd have if he wasn't in your life and the blessed silence.

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