Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Feeling hopeless

(25 Posts)
feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 00:04:09

Hi

I have posted many times before (intermittently) so if you look up some of my threads you will get a flavour of what I am talking about.

Basically, h and I are in our nth period of utter silence following an argument. While we were in counselling last year he said it wasn't that he "wasn't talking to me" but that he had nothing to say. The longest these silences have lasted is 6 to 8 weeks.

This last silence came after 2 to 3 weeks of getting on reasonably well during which I was feeling a lot more positive (as our relationship is on very shaky ground). That's what made the beginning of our current silence even harder to bear - that feeling of here we go again.

I've been involved in a campaign to help stop my dcs' primary school being forced to become an academy. H has been quite cynical and negative about the whole thing, though occasionally coming up with positive suggestions.

The current ostracism began because he lost his temper with me over something really silly, telling me not to talk to him in the way I was talking (he was filling in a form which I was going to post and I was telling him to hurry up as I had to be somewhere) but to save that for "the stupid people you talk to" and that "you spend all your time doing junky things for other people but nothing for me"...

It sounds like not much but there is a context to it all which I found deeply upsetting. H can be ok but he can also be deeply critical, very negative and autocratic. Over the months and years there have been various outbursts where he has said things which I find completely unacceptable. His main gripe with me is that I am untidy. I used to spend too much money on crap (around the time that my Mum was ill and then died of breast cancer 6 years ago) but that is over now.

We went to counselling last year but that was cut short after one session when things got very heated and I was very honest about the negative things which I felt. He said he would not be going back and cue another long period of silence.

So this latest period of silence is killing me. At first I was deeply angry at the things he had said to me and the way he had said them so I wasn't "talking" either. After 2 or 3 days however I calmed down, but of course h is not talking at all and this could carry on for weeks and weeks. I actually cannot do this anymore. In the past it has always been me who has got him out of silences after weeks of agonising, but I don't see why I should.

We basically have no tools whatsoever at our disposal to resolve our arguments / differences. H will quickly get angry and then shut down completely.

So, apart from very rare moments where we might sleep together (this is when we are talking), there is no affection between us. I cannot live like this anymore. I think what he is clearly telling me is that he actually does not care whether I am here or not. Every night he spends hours and hours developing websites on his computer (he does other work during the day which he doesn't like). He is totally and utterly self sufficient.

The problem with getting divorced is that I am a SAHM (kids are 7, 9 and 11). I should now be applying for work but feel so distraught at the situation (having to go round the house being chirpy for the kids) that I cannot bring myself to big myself up on application forms.... If I could run away I would.

H is once divorced, and in the past when I have said we need to separate has said things like "fuck off" then, so he would not be of the amicable school of separation. I am frightened of a million and one things. Especially, I suppose, that if we get divorced, I will not be able to be there all the time for my children.

On the other hand, I don't want them to grow up thinking that it's normal that your parents spend half their time not talking to each other.

My Dad lives abroad. My sister lives close by but is not really in a position to support me emotionally. I am terrified of leaving the family home (I don't mean without the kids - they would have to see both of us), but see no other way for me to regain some confidence and ability to act. I feel totally frozen and paralysed and fear that the rest of my life is going to be lived in this way.

bbqsummer Sun 12-May-13 01:09:31

He is stonewalling you. I really feel for you because I was in a relationship like this and know that the silences are a total killer to deal with/exist with. his long silences ( sometimes just disappearing for a few days too) used to leave me exhausted and a nervous wreck. But it's abuse plain and simple. Abuse and control. You need to leave. You need some advice and support to help you do this though. Have you tried Women's Aid? i haven't seen any of your other threads so maybe you have tried before?

You can't live like this - you are doing yourself and your children endless harm. The man is a bully and a shockingly poor husband and father.

Be totally determined and focused this time: the relationship is dead in the water and you and your children deserve peace, joy and happiness. So pick up the phone and call for support. Talk to your sister. Talk to your friends. Talk talk and get out.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 12-May-13 01:36:43

I feel so sorry for you reading this - it's horrific - but it's also an absolute no-brainer. You have to get away from this man - this horrible, abusive man.

Having separated recently myself (7 months ago) from a passive aggressive, angry, difficult man I can understand the fear and the reluctance.

But it's obvious reading your post that there is no alternative. This man is horrible, an absolute cunt. There is nothing good here for you. He hasn't got the maturity or emotional equipment to have a normal, communicative relationship and you will continue to be destroyed by him as long as you stay. The longer you stay, the more rebuilding you will have to do later. The sooner you leave, the quicker you rid yourself of this pain.

Separating is hard. I am on other threads here talking about how miserable it is when the children aren't there, and how hard it is grieving the loss of the family unit and the dreams and hopes that were there at the beginning. But there is sometimes no choice. I procrastinated for ages, was simply paralysed by fear and guilt (my dh was also divorced before, one of the reasons he didn't want me to leave). I am still processing the feelings which are often unpredictable and confusing but I know that I did the right thing and more and more the main theme of my thoughts is wishing that I had got the fuck out much earlier.

This must be harming your children. If you have sons they are seeing their precious mum being treated with a total lack of respect by their father: dismissed, marginalised and given the silent treatment. They will think this is normal, they may act this out in their own relationships and cause misery to another generation of women. If you have daughters they will see your low self esteem and inherit it.

I'm not saying that to guilt trip you; leaving is really hard. But there is an alternative and in the long run you will be so much happier without this horrible, stunted man. In the short term it will be horrible, but in the longer term, so, so, much better. If you stay you will be killed by a thousand cuts. If you leave you can heal, and role model a strong, happy woman for your kids.

Please give up on the myth that if you just try harder you can somehow make this all OK. There is no alternative but to escape. Please, please get some help. Find people you can talk to, call Women's Aid, call friends.

I have little family support and I didn't think I would ever find the strength to get out of my marriage, the obstacles felt so insurmountable. But I got out and life is getting better all the time. I am working out who I am away from that toxic individual and all the damage he did me. I only wish I had done it sooner. You have to escape, you can, you will.

Stay on here, without MN I would never have found the strength to get out; I got so much support. MN saved me from madness and possibly suicide. There are so many wonderful women on here who will help keep you strong.

Good luck xx

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:01:53

Thanks for your messages bbq and tired.

Re-reading my message, I realise I made it sound as if h and I only attended one session of counselling. We actually attended about 5 (?) together before it both fell apart. I must have seen her about 3 / 4 times on my own. She also wrote to him being very open about him coming back but I am not sure when he would have read the letter as some of his post stays unopened for a long time.

Anyway, that was last year and I don't think we could realistically go back to counselling. He simply is not someone who wants to open up and talk about anything beyond the superficial, or maybe not to me anyway. From my side, I think our relationship could only be repaired if we were able to communicate in this way.

Am going to make a checklist of things I need to do and then post it on here for advice etc... Maybe if I break things down into tiny bits, it will be easier to work my way through it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 09:34:51

You are flogging a dead horse. He doesn't want to 'open up' very simply because he doesn't think he has a problem and isn't prepared to change. He's quite happy with this bizarrely dysfunctional relationship where he a) doesn't appear to like you and b) sulks for weeks on end. I'm really not surprised you're leaving, it sounds intolerable.

You're going to need moral and practical support in order to start fresh independently. If you don't have much in the way of moral support I think great strength can be gained from getting professional advice and throwing all your energies into getting the best outcome possible for you and your DCs. Nothing is more motivating than knowing your back is against the wall. Everything you achieve from that point is a personal victory that will boost your confidence.

unapologetic Sun 12-May-13 09:35:09

I have split from a man who spent much of his time actively ignoring me. The freedom when he left was wonderful. Of course, separation is difficult and there are moments of sadness. But you know you can't go on like this. I think you have reached the end of the road and I wish you well.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:37:16

I would like to move out into rented accommodation (not without the kids - they would have to see both of us) as I find the atmosphere very difficult to function in.

Just now, example, in the midst of the silence, h has told me to put stuff in the dishwashwer rather than wash it by hand and waste a lot of hot water "as I usually do" apparently... I was feeling semi upbeats but the lack of kindness in his voice kills me. He is deeply resentful of many things I do or don't do, some of them justified (I am messy it is true), but if he dislikes me as much as his cold tone, lack of affection, and endless criticism implies, why doesn't he put an end himself to this relationship which is clearly not meeting any of his needs either?

If I move out however, do I lose any "rights" to half of the house (which is in his name only, but we are married)? I could definitely not stay in the same home as him if we were going through a divorce.

I don't want to waste my life feeling down and incapacitated sad.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:39:33

I missed your messages cogito and unapologetic. Thanks for your support.
Yes, part of the fear of divorce is the fear of having to deal with huge feelings of loss sad.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:41:59

I suppose I wonder why he does in fact seem to dislike me so much? On the other hand, there are parts of his character (though not all) that I really don't like (his cynicism / negativity etc / bad temper etc..) so I suppose it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other??

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 09:46:01

"If I move out however, do I lose any "rights" to half of the house (which is in his name only, but we are married)?"

This is why you need to get professional legal advice. As a married woman with children you have quite a lot of rights. The house for example, even though you are not named on the deeds, would be regarded as a 'marital asset'. If he owned it 100% before you got married and you'd only been married a year or two then your claim would be small. But if you bought it during your marriage and it has been your family home for some time then the starting point is a 50/50 share. Your contribution to the marriage as a SAHM has been significant, even if not strictly income-related and, if you gave up work enabling your DH to further his career, you may find you have a claim on other things such as his pension.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 09:48:06

"I suppose I wonder why he does in fact seem to dislike me so much?"

Because, like all bullies, they only 'like' people who are doing what they want. Step out of line and you're not on the team any more ... which he demonstrates by complete withdrawal of attention. Very cruel behaviour.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:50:07

He bought it maybe 4 years before we got married but we were already living together. We have now been married for 11 years and have 3 children. During counselling last year he said he had bought it before we got married so he obviously would not go down the "ok let's share everything" route.... I have spent the entire time being a SAHM which, though great at the time, is difficult now.

I suppose my other question is, how do I keep my chin up living with someone who clearly thinks I am a waste of space and that it's okay either not to talk to me or to talk to me like dirt (comment about using the hot water delivered coldly while he was cooking with our daughter and being all kind and affectionate with her)? How do I apply for jobs and do everything I need to do while feeling useless?

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 09:51:23

Because, like all bullies, they only 'like' people who are doing what they want. Step out of line and you're not on the team any more ... which he demonstrates by complete withdrawal of attention. Very cruel behaviour.

Thanks Cogito, for this. Think you may have hit the nail on the head.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 09:52:07

"I suppose it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other??"

No. What you dislike are some very unpleasant personality traits - normal. What he is doing is withdrawing affection in order to manipulate your behaviour ... quite different and abusive. When you said this originally "In the past it has always been me who has got him out of silences after weeks of agonising" that is a classic example of someone playing on your fear of rejection in order to make you do what they want.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 09:58:18

"how do I keep my chin up living with someone who clearly thinks I am a waste of space and that it's okay either not to talk to me or to talk to me like dirt"

I don't know if you have any experience of acting but you need to go for an Oscar-winning performance starting now. smile Means getting up in the morning and, as you get dressed, also 'put on' the character of a strong, independent, capable woman that doesn't take any crap because she knows this is only temporary. You have to relentlessly tell yourself that you are fantastic until you believe it. Hold your head high and ignore the doubts. To coin a phrase 'fake it until you make it'.

If you think you may be depressed, if you feel overly anxious, if there's anything wrong physically/mentally that you feel is excessive to the stress you're experiencing then also talk to your GP. Medication aside, they can be quite a good sounding board and also a route to counselling.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 12-May-13 10:18:56

how do I keep my chin up living with someone who clearly thinks I am a waste of space

^^ what cogito said.

But also tell yourself over and over that this is his problem and no reflection on you. It's not easy when your self esteem has been eroded but you have to try to get your head round the fact that he has orchestrated this situation where you feel like shit about yourself, because as cogito says, he is a bully.

My husband was like this, a slow drip drip drip of criticism also about trivial things like how I stacked the dishwasher (incorrectly). You get into a pattern of trying to please that person, or at least not to antagonise them. It's a horrible insecure way to live and then when you do upset the arsehole you blame yourself for letting it happen again. Well I did anyway, and it's all wrong.

Even once I'd realised (partly thanks to MN) that it was his problem not mine, I've had a lot of work forgiving myself for marrying someone who had so little respect for me.

I have found that when the negative thoughts start creeping in I just repeat in my head the phrase 'don't beat yourself up'. It helps me a lot.

Please stop putting this man on a pedestal and digging a hole for yourself. Get some good advice and don't allow yourself to be intimidated by his belief that you deserve nothing. You've been a SAHM to three children and you are married. That actually puts you in a strong position with respect to divorce.

My dh didn't think I deserved anything either. He thinks I've effectively stolen a house out of him and 'stolen' his children (that we share 50:50). It's bollocks.

There are some threads on here with comprehensive advice about separation. I wish I knew how to link to them. If anyone else reading this knows how to, could you do this for the OP please?

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 11:31:33

Thank you.

Now I am upset because h has gone out with middle dd to get turf for the garden (I am not upset about this part) and to get paint to paint her bedroom green apparently. She deserves to have a nice room but I am upset that I have in no way been consulted over this. It stings all the more because, our three dc having claimed the three bedrooms upstairs, there is now the attic left. This has been converted but is full of stuff that needs sorting. Including a piece of furniture that needs to be freecycled but which h has to take apart for it to go down the two flights of stairs. I've asked him several times but have now given up (given context of awful silence).

So, h sleeps in one of the kids' bedrooms, I sleep in younger dd's room... The attic is a pigsty (partly full of stuff which has come from my parents' house which my Dad has recently sold, and partly full of h's old office stuff). I don't have the will to sort it as a room for me because I spend half my time wishing I did not live here anyway. And now h has gone out to get green (?) paint for dd's room and I obviously don't figure anywhere. I don't even know if I am being unreasonable to be upset about this as of course I want her to have a room that she likes.

They had to take the car and h could not find the key. It turns out it was in his key drawer but it gravitates between him and I as we both drive the car and so was not on his bunch. He said I would have to get it copied, knowing full well how much it would cost to get a key like that copied. All I could think of was that I won't have any need of the sodding car and the ridiculous key when I no longer live here anyway sad.

RandomMess Sun 12-May-13 11:37:52

Speak/email woman's aid and find out about the assistance you could get to move into rented accommodation whilst the divorce is sorted.

Do you have access to savings/joint money?

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 11:43:55

Yes, I have some savings of my own. I could rent a flat for a few months after which "the shit would hit the fan" financially.. However, even knowing this, it is terrifying, the thought of taking that step. I have been thinking I could go for a legal separation telling h what I really need from a relationship (basically equal, open and affectionate communication). The ball would then be in his court to see whether or not he could change to an extent to accommodate that. I think probably not, but it would then be clear that actually, were things different, I would much rather stay and contribute to a happy, both parents there, family life. Your phrase, tired, where you said that if you had been valued you would have stayed forever (maybe that was from the other thread which you are on at the moment), really rang bells.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 12-May-13 11:58:10

" The ball would then be in his court to see whether or not he could change to an extent to accommodate that. I think probably not, but it would then be clear that actually, were things different, "

The ball is already in his court. It's his ball and his court at the moment. You're not even on the other side of the net as far as he's concerned... there's no 'match' being played here. You're just some woman that sweeps up (badly) round the edge of the court and needs ticking off occasionally.

Realise you still feel obliged to give him one more chance but please make decisions and do whatever you need to do based on what's best for you & not in a vain attempt to poke him into action.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 20:07:17

How do you not feel like the villain of the piece if you are the one who initiates the split?? Sitting there watching The Voice with our three kids, (h and I still not communicating of course), and thinking it is very hard to imagine how I might broach the subject of them having to spend some of their time with h and some with me. Not only with them of course but with h himself, who might go into denial or be really difficult. All the time with the same pain in the pit of my stomach though, from the ridiculous situation I am in (ie.not talking) with h sad.

Lavenderhoney Sun 12-May-13 20:34:41

See a solicitor. You get half an hour free. It's not up to him what you and the dc get.

He sounds awful and I'm not surprised you want out. It's the only thing to do.

Make that first step to finding out what is possible and solutions will come.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 21:43:02

Yes. Have been thinking more today that I should go down the "legal separation" route. Apparently, however, it is just as formal as going down the divorce route except that of course you are not yet divorced, so it gives you thinking time. It's the thought of having to have any kind of conversation with h about what is due to whom. Do you think it would be possible to agree all of this without ever having to talk face to face - what do they call it - mediation but in separate rooms?

Then I have been wondering whether I am overdoing the amount of hurt I feel at not being consulted or involved in any of the dealings with regards to painting dd's room. I am glad she likes her colours (turns out she picked teal for one wall and a much lighter shade of teal for the other walls), but the fact that h is doing it without so much as a mention of it to me (why would he since we are not talking sad) feels like a slap in the face. Then saying to her that they will change it next year and discussing colours with the other two for their rooms (though ds has said that he doesn't want his room painted for a while, to which h replied that unless he picked a colour he would be picking one himself hmm). I feel really really left out. It taps into my whole thing of him making more of the decisions in the house because it is actually "his".... (and he is 12 years older than me). Also reminds me of the time he painted the inside of our conservatory or lean to green without asking. I told him I didn't like the colour (again very hurt) and he said he "wasn't bothered about me".

So now the kids have gone to bed and I am sitting here wondering on the one hand if I am wrong to feel so upset about the paint and if I should actually be helping h to paint?? What to you wise people think? On the other hand I feel like declaring war, which in this case means finding a flat to rent as soon as possible and getting all of my stuff (stuff has been a big issue in our relationship) out of the house angryangryangry.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 21:50:53

Also upset that he is doing all of this for my daughter and I must come across to her as the bitch who is doing nothing (she would never think in those terms of course, she's only 9) sadsadsad.

I often daydream about having my own space that I am completely in charge of (and therefore could paint my dcs' rooms with them etc...) but it seems that this has become so important to me - more important even than trying to keep my family together sadsad.

In the end, the kids will gravitate to whoever they feel is less selfish I suppose. I think one of the problems between h and I is that when I met him, I had never been truly independent. So now, 17 years later, at the age of 44, I desperately want to set up home independently, where I am in charge of absolutely everything. Not sure how this ties in with having a family blush.

feelokaboutit Sun 12-May-13 21:54:38

And part of me (it's all coming out now!), I have to confess, feels jealous that he is doing this for one of the dc, but cannot be bothered to even talk to me to try and sort our problems out, let alone help me to sort the attic out which, if we were getting on better, could be our bedroom sadsadsad.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now