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.

Have i been emotionally abused my entire marriage?

(105 Posts)
Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:03:58

Hi, I discovered this site a few weeks ago and decided to tell you about how I've been treated in my marriage in the hope that you can help me. Before I begin, I must tell you that my DH acts in a normal, civil manner for most of the time. He can be very kind, for example, shortly after we met, he financially supported me through a one year training course and used his money to pay for a deposit on our first house. However, the trouble began when we were planning our wedding abroad. My parents and siblings said they would stay with us for a week, then go home so we could have our 'honeymoon'. My DP's mother insisted that it wasn't worth going for a week and was planning to stay with us for whole 2 weeks along with her husband, daughter and SIL. I wasn't happy with the situation, but DP said he wasn't prepared to say 'no' to his mother! After the wedding my DH was quite distant with me and was constantly fussing over his mum - she even sat with us in the horse-drawn carriage from the registry office! I feel we lost out on all the intimacy that should be built up at this time, and was made to feel like the unwanted addition to his family holiday.
When we returned home, my MIL announced that she wanted to leave city where she'd lived for 30 years and move to countryside. She and my DH came to agreement that she could have all our savings (14k) and she'd pay us back in her will! I wasn't even consulted! When I said 'no' they were both moody and sulky and I was made to feel selfish and mean. She eventually bought a new house - 4 doors down from DH and myself!!!!
When my husband was made redundant he got a new job 60 miles away from where we lived. He tried commuting, but eventually we decided that we'd have to move closer. My MIL started to make up stories about how she was becoming ill and hinting that she had cancer, I think to try and make us feel guilty. My DH, again, was cold and distant towards me, almost making it seem that I was 'making' him leave his mother.
We have 3 DD's (14,12 and 6) and he dotes on them. However, i feel that he speaks to me in a very derogatory way, for example when I said that i'd been 'stupid' at making a mistake about something, he replied "That's not stupid: it was idiotic". A few days ago I made a mistake on the computer and he was shouting "This isn't rocket science! Why don't you know this by now?" He does apologise afterwards, but says that I'm over sensitive. He also says I need to see all these things in isolation, and to stop drawing lines.
Can anyone help me make sense of this? I'd be very grateful. I also have lots more examples, should you need them.

TVTonight Mon 01-Jul-13 14:13:42

Possibly.

I'd say generally that a man whose mother is crackers makes poor husband material until he has recognized the issue and taken substantive efforts to distance himself. Your MIL sounds to me like a "Sacred Cow"

TVTonight Mon 01-Jul-13 14:14:33

Actually the shouting and belittling is abusive

cjel Mon 01-Jul-13 14:19:31

I'd say if yo feel it , then its probably true, not much point in asking his opinion hes hardly likely to say you are right i do mistreat you!!
As for m-in-l she will always come first. I used to think when a man gets married he leaves his mother and father and joins as one with his wife, trouble is no one tells some sons and their mums,

What are you thinking?

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:21:19

Thanks for your response. I have actually had thoughts about leaving, however, I have completely lost confidence in myself. When I discovered I was pregnant with first DD, we both decided I should give up work and be a SAHM. I think this was the worst decision I ever made since I lost all my skills and self-esteem. That was 14 years ago, and although I have a part-time job now it is fairly low paid and I would struggle to live independently.
His Mother is very much a Sacred Cow, and my DH has a really strange relationship with her. It's almost like she sees her son more like her husband.

cjel Mon 01-Jul-13 14:30:13

I wouldn't worry too much about finance, I put off leaving my xdh for years because of what he'd intimated about me managing, I've found that what he said I'd get was way below what i've had and I don't have dependant dcs. I'd say never let money be a reason to stay. I had years of suffering with my nerves but once i made the choice to leave haven't had one anxiety attack in the whole tow years. I've moved 3 times and renovated my new house on my own and I am sooo capable you wouldn't believe it!!

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:32:46

Thanks 8cjel8 . It's not just that he puts his family before anything else, he really dislikes my family too. It's almost as if he sees any time spent with my family as some sort of 'betrayal'. He would get very irritated if I ever suggested they stay with us. I think my family have been quite hurt over the fact that they hardly see my children. I suppose this all boils down to the fact that I always feel very subordinate to him.

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:38:19

Wow, that's really interesting. I also started experiencing panic attacks and anxiety a few years ago, I think brought about by the constant 'treading on eggshells' feeling I have with my DH. I'm not sure I'm as strong as you. I'm self-employed and my job also involves me needing a car, laptop, phone, printer and scanner. Because I spent so long out of the work place I'm useless at getting things up and running and would need help. I have no family nearby.

cjel Mon 01-Jul-13 14:47:11

I have bern on my own 2 years and still don't work, i am re training. I started this before leaving. If you think you can't cope i'd advise you start to plan/build your new life you want. If you are together at the end then good, if not you will also be happy with that. Try not too think that you have to have home, career, social life all sorted at once baby steps will be enough until you can run!!!

GiveMumABreak Mon 01-Jul-13 14:49:22

We all owe our temper and say shout things we regret sometimes. I think the fact that he does apologise is a good sign, perhaps he's just a normal flawed human.

However, the mother sounds awful, and completely controlling and manipulative (slightly narcissistic). The way in which he deals with her is not normal, and unless he is in agreement that her selfish behaviour is a problem things will not improve.

OP you sound as if your confidence has taken a knock? It also sounds like your DH puts his mother before you.

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:56:51

My DH would NEVER say anything negative about his mum, no matter what she did. He really does love her more than anything in the world, I suppose I just feel sad knowing that he will never feel quite the same way about me.
Yes, my confidence is really low. A lot of DH's comments are pretty low-level, but I do wonder about the effect of hearing them over such a long period of time ( also, he only apologises when I get upset or angry, otherwise I think he believes that it's a perfectly acceptable thing to say).

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 15:00:40

My DH would NEVER say anything negative about his mum, no matter what she did. He really does love her more than anything in the world, I suppose I just feel sad knowing that he will never feel quite the same way about me.
Yes, my confidence is really low. A lot of DH's comments are pretty low-level, but I do wonder about the effect of hearing them over such a long period of time ( also, he only apologises when I get upset or angry, otherwise I think he believes that it's a perfectly acceptable thing to say).

GiveMumABreak Mon 01-Jul-13 15:07:22

It's really wrong that you feel second to his mum, you should be his number 1 (and he yours!) I'm a mum to a wonderful son, I would never expect him to choose me over his wife (as hard as that would be!). Would he ever consider counselling together?

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

This is not the relationship model you want to be showing your children as they learn about relationships from the two of you. What do you think you are both teaching them about relationships here?. What would you think if either one or all of them ended up with men like your H?.

Joint counselling, even if he would go anyway which he likely would not as he probably thinks there is no issue in the first place, is a complete non starter here due to the emotional abuse that he metes out.

Abusive men are not abusive all the time, many of them are infact plausible to the outside world. Your confidence at his hands has truly been shot to shreds but you still have choices even now. Walking on eggshells to my mind is actually code for living in fear.

You have a choice re this man, your children do not. One day your children will leave home, what then for you two?.

This man has been conditioned by his toxic mother to put her first. This has put you and the children well down the pecking order in his mind even if you are at all on his list of priorities, which you are not.

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 15:55:26

Thanks for all your responses. I definitely think that our relationship shows that wives are subordinate to husbands - which I feel ashamed about. My own parents shouted and screamed at each other all through my childhood, and I have a real fear of conflict as a result.
In answer to what I get out of the relationship now, well, it's really things that I know shouldn't matter e.g. complete financial security, living in a nice house in a nice part of town etc.
If I announced I was divorcing my DH people would be amazed. He is so relaxed and happy with neighbours etc. They have never seen this other side.
I guess what prompted this post was that a few weeks ago our car alarm went off by accident during the afternoon. my DH ran outside to check that it was actually our car, and then burst back into the house screaming "What are you F***ing doing, F***ing standing there, get the F***ing car key NOW"!!!! I had actually been looking for the key, but it wasn't where it normally was. I told him that if he ever spoke to me in that manner again ( it was in front of DD's too) I would divorce him. And then a few days ago we had the computer incident, so I'm just wondering whether I should be giving him another chance. I know my DD's would be devastated as he rarely loses his temper with them.
I think I might suggest going to see someone, although I know if they didn't agree with him, he would just dismiss them as being 'crap'.

Your silence re what you get out of this relationship now speaks volumes.

He's had more than enough opportunity and he's blown it. How many chances have you already given him though?. That does not even begin to address his issues of his dysfunctional relationship with his mother either.

He doesn't have to lose his temper with his daughters, he abuses them indirectly by directly abusing you instead. He is showing them that his word is law, they are likely to be fearful of them and do not say anything either for fear of further upsetting you. They are seeing and hearing all this and it is very damaging for them to be in such an atmosphere.

It is not altogether surprising that you are showing your DDs now what you saw in your own childhood, we after all learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents. Look at all the damaging crap your parents taught you - and what you are teaching your girls now. Its all horribly familiar isn't it?. Unfortunately no-one saw it fit to protect you and get you away from the verbal violence your parents meted out to each other, they put their own needs before yours. History now is in real danger of repeating itself. However, this time around you have posted on here, you know what he is doing to you here is wrong.

Is this really the ideal role model of a relationship you want to impart to your children?.

Joint counselling is a non starter due to the emotional abuse that is happening and is never recommended anyway in abuse situations. It would be more helpful to you if you were to see a counsellor on your own.

As I stated earlier as well, abusive men are very plausible to those in the outside world. This side of them remains hidden and behind closed doors.

Supposed financial security does not cut it though when your emotional needs are nowhere near being met by him. He totally disrespects you as a person, you are non person to him and thus do not matter.

Better to be alone than to be badly accompanied.

GiveMumABreak Mon 01-Jul-13 16:15:08

Yes as attila says perhaps a counsellor on your own is a good start?

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 16:20:30

You're right. I would like to see someone on my own. I did have 10 sessions with a C.B.T professional, not about our relationship, but about my anxiety, and she did mention that she thought I was a 'perfectionist'. This has made me question things, I'm not even sure I actually know what a normal relationship is. It did make me think for a while that everyone shouts and loses there temper from time to time, and to expect any different is just having too high expectations.
Do you have any recommendations for what sort of counsellor I should see?

IHateWinter Mon 01-Jul-13 16:22:03

What is his mothers marital status etc:? Is your husband her only son?

Firstly I think your husbands language and manner towards you is very derogatory and the swearing/name calling is completely unacceptable in any relationship based on mutual respect and love.

It sounds like he idolizes his mother, and has not accepted that when he married you, he promised to put you first and his mother second. You have every right to be upset at having been placed in the position where you are playing second fiddle to his mother. 'Mother comes first syndrome' happens in a lot of only-boy-in-the-family dynamics, - the son becomes a kind of replacement husband.

You sound like you have not expressed your frustrations with the situation for ages out of fear of conflict - I grew up in a shouty, negative household so I understand - and possibly fear of your husbands angry responses, which sound quite intense and overwhelming to deal with.

Problem is now you're really resentful.

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 16:23:26

Attila, just read your next post and a chill went down my spine. Those are the exact words I said to him..."You see me as a non person". He, of course, apologised and said he does love me, it's just that he gets tired/stressed sometimes.

I think toxic pil are at play here and whilst he carries on sticking by mil every whim you will never truly be happy. Don't give up hope that he will see the light and realise the hold mil has.

My relationship with dh can go through stages of him being conditioned by pil, then taking it out on me by being snappy, off and sometimes plain nasty. It can be particulaly bad during Christmas, Birthdays and celebration's that pil want the limelight in. Don't get me wrong i think my dh is a decent man, but he can go through stages of being under the FOG and it can get me down.
Maybe councilling would be a start, wish my dh would see one, until then i can't wait for the day he sees the light!

BACP are good re counsellors and do not charge a small fortune. Alternatively you could talk to Womens Aid as they could also be helpful to you.

He does really see you as a non person - he does not know the meaning of the word love and his relationship with his mother who may well be a narcissist is definitely dysfunctional.

He citing tiredness and stress is no excuse for his actions towards you. Its a cop out on his part.

Lweji Portugal Mon 01-Jul-13 16:56:07

I haven't read it all, but if he shouts and swears that much at home, unless your neighbours live quite far away they are likely to have heard it. sad

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