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AIBU to want to carve out our own life instead of always mirroring IL's decisions?

(30 Posts)

I can't see the wood for the trees with this. Yesterday DH and I had a row about the DC's birthdays yesterday and it escalated into a pretty nasty discussion.

DH said he thinks 3 DC's (10,5 & 2) shouldn't have birthday celebrations as such. Just presents, a meal at home and cake. He said the tea party at home for Dd, the bouncy castle party in church hall for DS2 and an adventure session for DS1 with 3 of his friends is over the top and the dc's don't appreciate it. He didn't get it when he was young, children don't need it and his parents did it.

My argument was that DH and I work, we earn a fair amount, we holiday in the UK only and once a year tops and the DC's don't get big treats apart from at birthdays and Christmas. DH got really angry with me for saying it. I was giving my opinion on it and he just shouted over me and wouldn't listen. The problem is he tries to model our family life on choices his parents made. Same attitude to food, money, holidays, activities even our car! I tried to point out our circs are different. His mum didn't work, they had more dc's, lived rurally etc so we don't have to make the same choices but he thinks I'm just being inflammatory and trying to challenge him. He then got personal and started attacking my family (he hates them, whole other thread). AIB ridiculous? I don't know what I want from this thread and I'm even more confused after writing it down!

Does it really matter why he wants to do all these things in this particular way? It just sounds as if he expects to get his way on all these issues, without you having a say at all.

Has he always been this way?

Is counselling an option?

MothershipG Tue 23-Jul-13 18:32:43

Your DH is trying to live in the past, so much about our children's experience of life is going to be different from ours and it's impossible to recreate it.

But actually I think that is the trees, the wood is that he is dismissive of your opinion and he got nasty when you had an arguement, I think that's the real issue that needs addressing.

Frenchvanilla Tue 23-Jul-13 18:33:10

What's happened for the last fifteen birthdays?

Frenchvanilla Tue 23-Jul-13 18:34:46

Sorry, 17. That's a lot of arguments.

It's normal for children to get treats for birthdays now, here. Tell your dh that not doing so will make them different from their peers.

Cailinsalach Tue 23-Jul-13 18:37:30

Different times, different circumstances lead to different choices. What was relevant in his upbringing may not be relevant in your cildren's.
Would comparing the family experiences to your childrens' friends help to show him what is "normal" for most children today?
I would be concerned regarding his reaction to you disagreeing to his argument.
Kids need a childhood. There is nothing wrong with throwing a party for them.

Fairenuff Tue 23-Jul-13 20:43:25

The problem is that you can't have a reasonable discussion about it with each of you airing your views and the other listening and then perhaps agreeing to some kind of compromise.

Does this happen with all decisions, does he refuse to listen and shout over you a lot?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 24-Jul-13 07:18:24

This is not about bouncy castles or your ILs. Your DH sounds like a bully, pure and simple. It's one thing to disagree with your opinion or to have strong views. It's totally unacceptable to shout you down, 'get personal' and start attacking your family, just because he's not getting his own way.

Is this the way other disagreements tend to go in your relationship? Do you find yourself backing down or avoiding certain subjects because you fear him kicking off?

Sorry RL got in the way for a bit there. Thanks for all your replies.

It is interesting that a few if you picked up on DH potentially being a bully. I have said this to him many times over the last 10 years. He does tend to resort to bullying ways if he thinks he is in the right. I gave seen DMIL do this to DFIL countless times too. If she doesn't want to do something she just argues and argues until DFIL relents. It makes me so angry that DH expects the same from me. He gets very angry if I challenge and refuse to back down.

During the argument I posted about re the DC's birthday because he started shouting and getting angry I pointed out that he was trying to bully me into agreement/backing down and was therefore unreasonable and he turned it on me saying I was the bully and passive aggressive because I was remaining calm. What could I respond to this?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 09:32:33

Refuse to accept it being made your problem. You are allowed to have differences of opinion - that's normal. Repeatedly point out that just because he disagrees with you, that is no justification for verbal abuse and other aggressive behaviour. Shouting and getting angry - if that is typical of him - is bullying

Cogito - I think due to low self esteem and issues from my childhood I did relent in the first 5 years, to keep the peace etc. However, in the last 5 years I have repeatedly challenged his bullying. Refused to give him fuel to his fire and really refused to allow our marriage to reflect his parents. He has consistently carried on. I have asked him to attend counselling (I have done a full course of CBT myself, got myself on AD's, told my family and him that I will not be the piggy in the middle between their anymosity but very little has changed.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 09:51:43

I don't see how you undergoing therapy or taking tablets will stop someone else being a bully. You're not sick, you're a victim. If he doesn't think it's a problem and has no real incentive to change behaviour then he will carry on like this for ever. Why would a man with no problems go to counselling? It's not his family driving this behaviour, he's doing this because he wants to do it.

I think you have to provide a serious enough consequence - the end of the relationship - before he'll even consider changing and, if he doesn't change, you'll have to follow through.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 25-Jul-13 09:58:58

I think you're doing the right thing by pointing out when he's being a bully, and when you feel bullied. He is very clever accusing you of being passive aggressive.

He's trying to rile you into being the same way as he is - ie frustrated, voice raising, out of control.

If I were you I would leave the room. If he's shouting too much to hear you say - I'm leaving the room and will talk when you stop shouting - then you'll have to write it down, show it to him and leave the room.

It's like a child. If a calm conversation is possible, have it, if not, don't engage.

As far as the birthdays are concerned, if things have been done "his" way for so many years then go ahead and do things your own way. I'm not a fan of extravagant birthdays but sounds like you just want something that's normal these days, not extraordinarily over the top.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 25-Jul-13 10:00:58

I agree with Cogito this isn't "your" problem to solve, especially not by medicating yourself. And if the children are being damaged (sounds almost inevitable?) then it could soon be time to consider your position. Sounds like a horrible home atmosphere.

That's just it. I have tried for so long to fix myself to try and fix the relationship. It is now very very clear to me that I can go to all the counselling in the world, try every medication under the sun, be as assertive as I can but he will continue to lack something fundamental to an equal relationship - respect. He blames my childhood (I was abused), my family, my mental health, my previous boyfriends for making him angry but he only directs that anger at me. I can't stop him doing that by fixing myself sad.

pictish Thu 25-Jul-13 10:10:00

He sounds like an overbearing, bullying, disrespctful, self satisfied arsehole, to be frank.

I can't advise you on how to deal with this, because nothing any of us suggest will make even the slightest dent in his sense of entitlement and authority.

As far as he is concerned, he is perfectly within his rights to shout you down whenever he likes, because he regards himself as the boss, and you the serf. When the serf challenges the boss, he views it as madness that must be stamped out by employing aggressive and intimidating behaviour, until order is restored, and he is rightly obeyed.

Good luck with that. Personally, I'd be making plans to get the fuck out. There's nothing you can do to change his deeply ingrained sense of entitlement, so why bother trying?

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 25-Jul-13 10:18:00

Pictish I have read your posts on other threads about human relationships of all different kinds and you seem to be very acute.

pictish Thu 25-Jul-13 10:20:45

Why thanks!

I am tired of trying pictish I really am but when my marriage fails it will be me left with that failure. The judgement from friends and family that once again I have screwed up.

It is hard to let go of something which you and others have said saved you from a self destructive pattern if behaviour. It seems like I have moved the pattern of destruction from myself to my DH and I can't help but worry that it is me causing this. I don't understand myself now, I am rambling. Sorry.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 10:28:36

" The judgement from friends and family that once again I have screwed up. "

If you had adopted a dog in good faith and it turned out to be vicious, growling and snapping at everyone, didn't respond to training and then bit you or the kids a few times you'd get rid of it. Would you consider yourself a failure for getting rid? Would these friends and family accuse you of failing at dog ownership?

It's not 'self-destructive' to be the victim of a bully. Your past is not making your DH behave the way he behaves. You are not making him this way.

pictish Thu 25-Jul-13 10:31:20

OP - I can see from the little you said there, just how much his intimidation and aggression has ground down your self esteem.
The faith in yourself to make informed and sensible choices, has been eroded by being subject to this dreadful treatment...the disrespect and lack of regard for your opinions.

YOU haven't screwed up - HE has!! Just because he shouts the loudest, doesn't make him right you know!

No one views being bullied and trampled on throughout your marriage as a success! No one expects you to accept that as your lot!

And if they do...you may discount their opinion as being as twisted and damaged as your husband.

pictish Thu 25-Jul-13 10:47:53

He blames my childhood (I was abused), my family, my mental health, my previous boyfriends for making him angry but he only directs that anger at me.

Look at what you have said yourself.

There is only one person to blame for his anger...and that is him.

No one makes him behave aggressively. Not you, not your family, not his parents, not another living soul. He chooses to conduct himself in theis fashion, because it weilds results...he gets how own way, and you back down. There is no other reason for his angry behaviour.

Unless he is unable to control his anger elsewhere...like at work, or with friends...then you mat be completely assured that his problem is not centred around his anger, but his abuse.

He is not abusive because he is angry OP...rather he is angry because he is abusive.

This is NOT a mutual problem...it is his alone...and it is one that will not change, no matter how you try to deal with it.

myroomisatip Thu 25-Jul-13 10:55:51

It is very damaging being the victim of a bully. sad

I ended up with a lot of problems, AD's, counselling, CBT, debt, alcohol abuse, all because I could never do the right thing and thought it was all my fault.

Take all the help you can get so that you can see the situation clearly and then you can decide what you want to do. You only have one life.

His argument is that he was not angry or aggressive before he started a relationship with me. It is the way my family (who have challenged his authority and undermined him with the dc's in the form of wanting to spend time with their grandchildren) my past, and ability to 'wind him up' that have made him into the angry person he is today. I do believe that I am a difficult and complex person to deal with due to my past and my equally difficult family but I'm at a loss now on how to move forward with a happy marriage. It isn't going to happen is it?

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 25-Jul-13 11:40:41

That's victim blaming. Don't fall for it. His unpleasant character is not your fault.

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