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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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 01-Jul-13 17:38:11

What I'm seeing here mostly is that you were sold a pup. Lured in under false pretences initially and then had the spirit slowly crushed out of you subsequently. Pre-wedding it sounds like MIL kept a low(ish) profile and it was only when you were definitely tying the knot that you discovered you weren't becoming a wife, you were being recruited as Mum and Son's general lackey and heir-bearer....

My suggestion is therefore to take a big step sideways from the chronic emotional bullying that the pair of them have subjected you to, forget counselling for the time-being, and get some solid, practical, RL & legal advice about what a split would actually look like in reality. I notice you're worried that your part time job wouldn't be enough to survive on, for example. That's the kind of assumption you have to clear up. He's not going to leave Mummy and he's certainly not going to sign up to have his behaviour changed unless there is some serious threat to his lifestyle.

Once you have the practical advice, then have a 'we need to talk' session about his lack of respect, taking you for granted, verbal abuse and all the rest. Tackle it from a position of strength, point out the nitty-gritty things he'll lose when you walk with your DDs, and make it clear that you won't tolerate it. If you're looking for an angle for the counselling, assertiveness training might be a good place to start. The next time he crosses the line, pack the bag and show him the door.

Get off the eggshells.... Good luck

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 19:07:21

Thanks again for all your insightful comments.
I think the problem with my DH stems from the dysfunctional relationship between my MIL and FIL. My FIL never wanted to go out and socialise during their 50 year marriage, he also turned down promotions at work even though the family were short of money. My MIL turned to my DH (her eldest son, but she also has another son and daughter) as someone to confide in and vent all her frustrations and bitterness about her life. My DH then took on the role of father figure in the family and advises them on legal and financial matters, even to this day. His entire family look up to him. My MIL always goes on about the 'sacrafices' that they had to make in order to send their second son to expensive private school (my DH won a scholarship, but middle son failed entrance exam. Interestingly, daughter was sent to comprehensive). I think MIL is very dissatisfied about how her life turned out, and my DH tries to compensate for this.
My DH's brother is very different though. He has a happy-go-lucky attitude, he adores his wife and she wears the trousers in their relationship. Despite having 4 kids, they seem as happy now as they ever did.It makes me sad sometimes when I see them kiss in public - my DH would never do that.

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 19:11:29

Thanks CogitoErgoSometimes, you absolutely hit the nail on the head there. I'm going to try and arrange a free 30 min consultation with a solicitor as well. Although, he's such a high earner, I don't think his lifestyle will alter at all.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 01-Jul-13 19:20:53

The fact that there is a normally functioning, emotionally literate, non-abusive brother kind of blows a hole a mile wide in the theory that your DH is only acting the way he does because of his upbringing. smile Rather than psychoanalysing your DH's family dynamic as a way to rationalise his attitude towards you try looking at it from the stance that (like his brother) he chooses to behave the way he does and would behave the same way, even if he had a completely different mother and father. If he replaced you with a different woman, he'd probably treat her the exact same way. You might find that a depressing thought but I think you have to start believing your DH is responsible for his own behaviour,... not you, not his parents, not his stressful job etc.

slipperySlip000 Mon 01-Jul-13 20:30:53

Cogito speaks the truth, although I am not sure the behaviour from this dh is chosen, as such, it is learned and entrenched behaviour borne out of a particular family dynamic. And very, very, hard to break.

Alipongo1 your situation is VERY similar to mine, I could have written a lot of your posts. In fact the family dynamic is not dissimilar, my own h tried (out of guilt) to make things better for his own mum who was physically, verbally, emotionally abused by her dh (my FIL).

One week ago I sort of blue a fuse with the low-level misery, negativity, occasional intimidating behaviour and lack of real effort with the kids. My h is now living out of the house.

There is loads to sort out, finances etc. and it was messy and unplanned. My friends have been amazing, and really rallied round. But you know what? Me and the kids are fine!!! It is a brave, brave thing to come out of your shell and show the world that your marriage was not what people thought it was. But you know what? Under all the unpeeling of the facade lies ME, minus the emotional strain and drain, happy, and no longer living a lie!!!

I would not recommend doing it in the way I did (all messy and unplanned). Take your time, get some legal advice. Then leave in a position of preparedness. You will never look back.

<handhold> and good luck flowers

Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 20:57:45

Thankyou, all of you. Slipperyslip, you've given me lots to think about, and I'm so pleased that you've turned your life around. I'm making a plan! Starting tomorrow, I'll begin getting photocopies of all our financial stuff.
Thanks again.

JaceyBee Mon 01-Jul-13 21:01:46

Actually it means nothing that the brother is completely different. Just because two siblings are brought up in the same household together it doesn't mean their experiences are the same, far from it in fact. They clearly have been treated differently to each other by their parents and the way they have turned out reflects this.

MmeLindor Mon 01-Jul-13 21:22:26

Ali
Google 'red flags controlling behaviour' and read a bit about this type of person. I can PM you a link to my blog about this, if you would like me to.

It is very difficult to pinpoint this kind of emotional abuse because at the first glance, the abuser seems such a nice and caring person, and the 'abuse' is excused as 'he's under a lot of pressure, he's tired/stressed'.

Is the incident with the car keys the first time that he has been verbally abusive towards you?

Darkesteyes Mon 01-Jul-13 22:02:23

. He also says I need to see all these things in isolation, and to stop drawing lines

So he says that but refuses to see your "mistakes" in isolation and shouts at you Yes he is emotionally abusing you and playing "different rules for different folks" Abuse and hypocrisy.

IEM3 Mon 01-Jul-13 23:18:26

I am in a similar situation but not the strange MIL. My H doesnt think much of my family and is quick to criticise them. I am making plans. Going through all sorts of emotions but made appt with solicitor. I hope you get some help.

DHtotalnob Mon 01-Jul-13 23:32:58

Fwiw, a friend of mine did study rocket science and she told me that, in the scheme of (physics type) things, it's not actually that hard.

This always makes me smile when people trot out the old 'rocket science' bollox

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Jul-13 07:50:06

"They clearly have been treated differently to each other by their parents and the way they have turned out reflects this."

Not necessarily. The only thing that is clear is that they have different personalities. Any parent of even a small child suspects that personality is fixed pretty early. Fundamental preferences are something you're born with, will die with, and, whilst behaviour can be modified according to circumstance no amount of good or bad parenting can turn a fundamentally decent person into an abuser or vice versa.

Alipongo1 Tue 02-Jul-13 11:43:51

Thanks, all you lovely people.

Have just been crying with laughter at DHtotalnob's comment.

No, mmelindor, there have been quite a few other occasions where he has shouted at me. When I gave up work to have my first child, he arrived home one evening and asked me what I'd been doing all day. I listed the things that I'd been doing, one of which was cleaning. He then went round the room checking the surfaces for dust in a very angry manner! That was a long time ago, but more recently, I bought a steam cleaner (v cheap one) without asking. Again, he was so angry with me. He was shouting that it would absolutely ruin the (cheap) laminate floor. It hasn't. He never apologised.
However, what worries me more than the verbal bullying, is the strange things he does relating to any possession given from my family. Although I never saw him do it, I know it was him. Presents given from my parents to my children went missing, photographs of my parents have disappeared etc. One day I arrived home to discover him destroying 2 pieces of furniture in the garage. He never consulted me. My parents had given us the furniture, and they were old, but my DH insisted they were all riddled with woodworm. Once we arrived at my parents house late at night, when we got into their house my DH said he had to nip back to the car to get something. The next day, when we were leaving, my parents both gasped to see a massive dent in the door of their brand new car. Neither of them could explain how it had happened, as it hadn't been there the day before. My husband stood there and said nothing. I'M SURE IT WAS HIM! But, I had no proof, so again I said nothing.
Just writing this is making me feel sad and angry again. We're supposed to all be going on our family holiday in 2 weeks. the children have no idea what's going on in my head.

MmeLindor Tue 02-Jul-13 12:30:00

Ali
it sounds like he has been abusive for a long time, and you have learned how to live with it.

You shouldn't be going through life on your tiptoes, hoping not to disturb him or cause him to rage about something.

Alipongo1 Tue 02-Jul-13 12:43:58

I know, you're right. It sounds completely pathetic, but I'm scared of being on my own. I don't live near any family. Who will help me if my car breaks down? Who will fix a leaky water pipe? My DH is very capable like that.
I have my free 30 min appointment with solicitor tomorrow. DH and DD's know nothing. I feel sick with stress of it already, and all the worst bits are yet to come.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Jul-13 13:02:44

"Who will help me if my car breaks down? Who will fix a leaky water pipe?"

Mechanic for the car? Plumber for the pipes? smile When all that's holding you back are feeble excuses like who will fix a leak I don't think you're even convincing yourself and it's just your apprehension talking. The more information you get from solicitors and so on I think the less your stress will become and the more your confidence will grow. Good luck

MmeLindor Tue 02-Jul-13 13:20:13

Its not pathetic, he has worn down your self-esteem so that you think you can't cope.

If my car breaks down, I take it to a garage. If a pipe bursts, I call a plumber. You don't have to do EVERYTHING.

I had a temporary 'split' with DH last year, as he was working abroad and only able to come over to see us every couple of weeks. I quickly learned to make decisions, to fix things (or find someone to fix them) and to stand on my own two feet. It was scary at first, but now I am much more confident and even though DH has now moved over here, I still do much more than I used to.

You can do this.

LisaMed Tue 02-Jul-13 13:49:55

It seems really overwhelming to strike out into the unknown. Loads of support available here.

I don't know half of what the wise ladies on here know, but stuff like, how do I fix a leaky pipe - YouTube video here Or there is ehow, or people on here, or neighbours, or a dozen different options. Stuff like leaky pipes are a huge mountain to climb at first when you are worried, but they are a part of the enormous mountain you can manage. Focus on the other stuff - trashing your family stuff is a deal breaker for me, but it may not be for you. If your h can keep you away from your family by this sort of stuff then he can be worse to you. Your family represent to him a factor that affects his control of you. hugs.

Sending you lots of positive vibes.

Alipongo1 Tue 02-Jul-13 14:03:29

Thanks for kind words everyone. The thing I'm dreading most is telling him I'm going to divorce him, but then having to live in the same house. I'm not sure I've got the emotional strength. I used to suffer with insomnia in the past, when my anxiety was bad. I know this will happen again because this is going to be the most difficult thing i'll ever do in my life. I would love to just 'disappear' from his life and create a whole new life somewhere else, but I can't because of the children.

MmeLindor Tue 02-Jul-13 15:57:06

Why do you have to stay in the same house? You could start anew.

Is the house you have one that you want to stay in? Really and truly?

cjel Tue 02-Jul-13 18:09:09

I would agree with getting on to BACP straight away, it may beok to find out what your legally entitled to but if yo are a wreck and don't see yourself as worth anything you won't be able to do it any way.

Start counselling asap with no delay. A good person-centred counsellor will help you recognise what you want for your life and give you the strength to cope with the things you are afraid of.flowers

zigzoo Tue 02-Jul-13 21:06:11

Please please speak to woman's aid. Your post from 11:43 this morning really really worries me.
This is a form of gas lighting.

I am afraid this man will turn horribly nasty when he finds out you want to leave. Are you clearing your browsing history etc.

If it helps please share other things which niggle as being off which have happened in the past.

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 08:36:20

Hi again.
Yes, I always delete my browsing history, but I'm really scared I'll be seen going into the solicitors today - we live in such a small town where everyone knows everyone else.
We had a big argument last night where I recounted all the nasty things he'd done since we've been married. When I used the word 'abusive' he said it was an insult to those women who had really been abused. He also said I had a 'problem' in that I couldn't let go of the past. As far as he's concerned once an apology has been accepted the slate is wiped clean and that incident should never be referred to again. I'm starting to feel all mixed up and confused - is he right? Quite a lot of these incidents happened over a decade ago. He also says that he can't even remember some of these events, but I find them hard to forget because they were so hurtful.
ZigzooI have threatened to divorce him in the past, but never took any real steps to achieve it, so I think he would just see it as an 'empty' threat. However, I'm scared that when he knew it was really happening that he would do anything he could to mentally hurt me and make it as painful and stressful as he possibly could.

Do let us know how you get on at the Solicitors today. So what if someone you knew actually saw you go in?. Ok so its a small town but its still highly unlikely. People visit Solicitors anyway for all sorts of reasons too.

And no he is not right at all, he is still messing with your head and giving you spaghetti head as a result. Its yet another tactic that such abusive types use against their victim.

zigzoo Wed 03-Jul-13 09:16:01

Alipongo1 - just a tip - stop outside the solicitors entrance and pretend to answer a call or text then have a check of the street to see if you recognise anyone. On the way out ask if they have a back entrance. Good luck!

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