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I don't know if I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship or whether its just me being highly strung

(60 Posts)
Pleasefiveminutesforme Sat 24-Aug-13 23:43:58

I feel like my husband is constantly criticising me. We have two kids, age 3 and 1. So I have a lot on my plate. And I do a hell of a lot. But I always seem to forget something, or get so something wrong. The house is always too messy for his liking, too cluttered. And he is always picking me up on it.. even though he claims that he actually lets so many things go and that he is constantly having to hold his tongue and say nothing and make allowances. He says that i am so so sensitive that i cannot take advice on how to do things better or more efficiently, and that what he said under his breath wasnt for my hearing anyway. And he is so so good at arguing his point that I am always the one apologising, even if we are bickering about something I really believed not to be my fault.

I'm so lonely about this as I don't want to be unfaithful to him by talking to my friends about it but most of my closest friends have seen me in tears at one point or other over something he has been angry with me about. I feel like I am always in the wrong in his eyes and he always claims to not remember examples of him previously putting me down, so much so that I've threatened to start writing everything down as annoyingly I can remember the put-downs but am unable to repeat the whole circumstances that lead to it. He huffs and puffs when I've annoyed him and then when I get frustrated he claims that I'm being unreasonable for attacking him for breathing.

We have always had an argumentative relationship. I think I have always felt put down by him but its worse since I had kids. I have never argued in previous relationships but most arguments come from me getting indignant or answering back to criticisms he makes. And he is so so good with words he can argue me in to a corner. He has such courage in his convictions that I am always the one who ends up apologising. He is also an only child so I wonder if that is why he is so convinced he is always right.

I have ended l on anti anxiety tablets for the past year. But I feel like its him that's causing my anxiety. When he is away for work I don't miss him. I get stressed with the kids but not anxious which is how I am around him, I feel like I am constantly watching what I say when he's therre. i do jobs for fear of being told off. i darent ask him to do anything round the house as he will discover my way of doing it is flawed and that it needs changing or that i hadnt done it properly the time before. If he thinks any of those things he will have a go at me or there will be a big argument. He says its been loads better between us of late as we haven't argued so much but that's because I keep my mouth shut most of the time when he offends me now.

I dn't know what to do. He is an amazing father and has a sweet heart but he is so critical and gets angry with me. He has banged doors and walls but never ever raised a hand to me. Once in the middle of the night when he was having go at me for how I was dealing with our son screaming in the night I lashed out at him in the bed out of pure frustration and he had to pin me back, so now he likes to remind me of how I was physically abusive to him once and has even brought it up in front of our three year old.

On the other hand I am an emotional person and I think maybe it is all me and that I am being unreasonable. I like getting my own way so maybe its just that I don't like being told. My family laugh and joke and say that I was a handful and that he has calmed me down. (I changed career 6months before I met him and I actually think it was partly being more fulfilled that may have done that too). I just thought relationships were supposed to be teamwork and the only way that has materialised in our relationship is that he works really really hard and I do the kids and house. But I don't criticise his job, although he is constantly critisising mine. Is feeling this way normal?? I just don't know! All I know is I am mostly miserable with him and that although I love him loads I am getting to the point where I almostwould rather walk away.

Please your advice would be really welcome, is it just me being a little princess and expecting too much??

TerribleTantrums Sun 25-Aug-13 00:03:09

Yes, that is an EA relationship. You should read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft because your H is in there. I think it will be helpful to you to at least recognise the classic control techniques that he is using, so that you know it's him and not you. Then, when you have a clear picture, you will be better able to make decisions about your future and how to take back control of your own life and emotions.

HopeClearwater Sun 25-Aug-13 00:06:20

It's not you... the answer is in your fourth paragraph. This is a heartbreaking post. It sounds as if you have put up with a lot, too much. Can you continue to live like this indefinitely? Do you want your children to see their Mummy being put down and criticised?
I'm sure someone will be along in a minute with more advice.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sun 25-Aug-13 00:11:46

This is abusive, yes. Sorry but it is.

Ask yourself why, if you are so awful to be with, messy, anger-inducing etc, does he stay? What is he getting out of this? The answer is not a nice one. He gets something out of the constant criticism. Decent husbands do not like their wives to feel bad all the time. Yet he evidently does. He wants you to be constantly in the wrong and apologising. Why?

Have you ever discussed separating with him? If so, what does he say?

LemonDrizzled Sun 25-Aug-13 00:12:25

Oh love it is him not you! Come over and read some links on the EA support thread and we will
sort out your spaghetti head mess

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 00:14:24

That has made me cry. I wanted to be told it was just me and to pull myself together and get on with it. I think it will break him if I were to have to confront him and tell him he is being abusive.. I will get the book. But I hope I can learn to deal with it as I do love him, I am just beginning to get concerned for our son as my husband does not hold back in front of him and I feel that it will cause my son to treat future partners in the same way. Thankyou for taking the time to reply.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sun 25-Aug-13 00:20:17

Ah, OP, don't try to get yourself to put up with it. Why should it be you who has to change and learn to live with things and not him? Why shouldn't he be able to cope with some mess and some stuff not done the way he'd do it? Because he is wrong; wrong to treat you this way. Don't 'learn to deal with it'. Instead put your energy into building up your strength to tell him this is not on, and if it continues, he will have killed your marriage.

You say most of your close friends have seen you in tears over this. Is there one of them you could talk to? I bet at least some of them feel you get a really hard time but don't want to say.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 00:44:53

Book ordered. Thanks all for your thoughts. I think we have a rocky few months ahead of us. Hopefully he will accept the problem and perhaps come to relate or something. He once agreed to it because i was miserable and told him he bullied me but he backed out again. I will read the book and if I think there is much point I will attempt to get him to read it himself. He starts a new job next week so he will feel as if everything is hitting him at once but as he is going to be in a managerial role I think it will be important for him to address this ASAP.

Helpforthehopeless Sun 25-Aug-13 00:45:43

He is a bully - been there, done that. No more! You're right, your son will learn that it's acceptable to behave this way and it will be a vicious circle. You say you love him but his behaviour will kill any love you have if this carries on. Be strong for the sake of yourself and your children. x

MariaLuna Sun 25-Aug-13 01:02:43

Don't give him the book - he will use it against you - and don't go to counselling with him but go by yourself.

He bangs walls and doors and has "pinned you back". This will only escalate.

He is already starting to damage your children (how scary at those ages to live with daddy banging his way around the house). He is terribly abusive.

He is always criticising your housework? Even the people I know who have a cleaner treat them with kindness and gratitude. (as they should!).

WhiteandGreen Sun 25-Aug-13 01:58:06

Go to councelling by yourself, not with him. The book explains that abusive people will use things you've said in councelling (where you're likely to be open and honest) against you.

Jux Sun 25-Aug-13 01:58:11

Please, please don't put up with it. You will get more and more demoralised and miserable.

Don't go to joint counselling, he'll use it against you. It will help him find more ways to torment you, more subtle ways that will make you think you've lost your mind.

Find some individual counselling for you, to help you stay strong until you are ready to change your situation.

He is horribly abusive and will get worse. Your son will copy him and show no respect for you.

Can you phone Women's Aid? Chat to them about him, they have so much expertise and support you through it all.

YvyB Sun 25-Aug-13 06:22:48

An Emotional Abuser doesn't change. They don't want to. Joint counselling gives them even more power PLUS an audience. My stbxh said some appalling things in front of our relate counsellor and used the moral highground of "well, it's important to be honest, otherwise what's the point?" as his excuse to publicly humiliate me even more. I am an extremely experienced professional in a demanding career, have coped with the death of a child, have a lot of friends who all seem to genuinely like spending time with me yet this man had me so convinced there was something Wrong with me I ended up taking 2 lots of antidepressants in a bid to make myself "better" in his eyes.

There's nothing wrong with me! I have a lot of friends and a thriving career because I'm decent, kind, reliable and graft like a racehorse. BUT if I had not read Lundy's book, I still wouldnt know what the hell was happening to me.

EA is horrific. I didnt know it existed before so I had no armoury against it. It is not you. These people don't want an equal relationship. They don't get pleasure out of seeing their loved ones happy. They don't recognise anybody else's needs as valid and important. You can't make this better. You must prioritise taking care of you now. You deserve to be looked after - and you can make a start by doing it for yourself. Stay strong.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 08:59:31

Oh sorry that I wasn't clear- it wasn't that he chose to pin me down- I went a bit like a banshee out of pure frustration of being criticised for doing it wrong and was hitting and kicking- he has never ever laid a finger on me apart from that. He has hit a wall or door three times out of frustration with me- one of which was after I had slammed my food across the table out of frustration with him. He is definitely not a physical abuser.

But every day the critisisms, the being 'told off', the way of finding fault with me for everything that happens... Ie our son wet the bed this morning, it was my fault that I'd mucked up the clock in his room and let him sleep in too late (I think that our son had played with the clock and changed the time).

I asked him this morning if we could have a talk as last night I slept in the spare bed after stormingout when he was annoyed that I had put subtitles on the tv for him to watch ( he always wants to watch tv to get to sleep and I hate it, when I went to bed he asked if he could watch tv on silent but then once in bed huffed and puffed when I asked him to put it on mute, so I put subtitles on for him. And he was indignant that I hadn't asked him if he wanted them, at which point I headed for the spare bed and said I'd just had enough). Anyway his response this morning to my suggestion of having a talk about things was that he didn't want to, it would be more nagging, I only ever see the bad things and nothing is ever good enough for me (he is referring to the fact that he cooked for me last night- whenever he does anything nice like that he wants about a week of me fawning with gratitude). Nothingis ever good enough for me is one of his mantras... He is a good provider, we have a nice house and money to spend, so i should be grateful, not complain, and i should keep the place properly. He rarely helps out on his time off, apart from helping out with our son, both with disciplining him and taking him out for an hour or so. I know what he means about not seeing the good things and that's because if he is not annoyed or frustrated with me he will compliment me that I am amazing with the kids, but I am not sure how he thinks I can have a spotless house and pay with/entertain them as well. I think he may have had them both a handful of times in the past 18 months and he always tells me how easy it was afterwards.

Oh I am being a right droaner, but nice to have an outlet for this! Thanks for all your messages.

alarkthatcouldpray Sun 25-Aug-13 09:25:50

He always tells me how easy it was

What a dick. I would be livid. Looking after your own children for an hr or two occasionally is totally different from day in day out parenting plus housework, cooking, grocery shopping & all the other tasks & appointments which need fitted in.

Any partner who WOH & does not respect the work that happens at home in their absence would have their coat on a very shoogly peg as far as I am concerned.

If you feel less anxious when he is not about that speaks volumes sad

bragmatic Sun 25-Aug-13 09:29:26

It is not you.

It. Is. NOT. you.

RhondaJean Sun 25-Aug-13 09:34:43

Is he two???? Throwing a strop over subtitles????

This is not normal. People with small children do find it hard, and they do have arguments, but this is not normal.

How do you work your finances? Do you work at all at the moment? Do you have access to all money if you need it?

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 10:17:58

I am starting back at work two days a week the week after next (I am a teacher). I am such a different person at work!

So we just had a big chat about things. I Forced him to talk to me as he as being sulky that I was still upset about last night.

His side of things is that whatever he does, we always end up in the same place, with me making him feel like an arsehole. That nothing he does is never good enough for me. He reminded me that we've had an expensive summer holiday, that he's helped out with the kids etc. It was an amazing holiday. He went off and did sport all day and I was happy!

I told him I don't need money, expensive holidays etc, I just need him to stop having a go at me for things... He quite rightly said that I am overly sensitive, he will harrumph about something nothing to do with me and I will be asking what I've done... But that's because 9 out of 10 times its something that was my fault... Like if he goes to make tea there are no tea bags in the caddy because I forgot to fill it (not an actual example but couldn't think of an exact one). So I think I have got in a rut with being overly sensitive because he has been angry with me for things in the past and now I am being paranoid. He claims he has been making a real effort all year trying to let things go... And thinking about it he is loads loads better, he doesn't lose his rag with me much any more so maybe I need to stop being paranoid that he is going to. Mostly nowadays it is just mini grumps with me rather than shouting and banging things (last wall bang was over a year ago).

I have realised he gets grumpy about other things and I always assume it is about me- another of his mantras is that is not all about me!

I am going to read the book but I don't want to walk away from my marriage, I just want to learn to understand that it isn't me!!

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 10:20:19

I will get the counselling too. Thanks. I got offered CBT when I got the anti anxiety meds. Do I need to go to relate or something or will the CBT do?

myroomisatip Sun 25-Aug-13 10:22:20

Please OP, you are right to worry about your son. I speak from experience sad My son bases his own relationships on the example of his father and more often than not his GF's end up in tears and I feel as if I am watching a re-run of my own life when watching his.

Please get away from this man.

RhondaJean Sun 25-Aug-13 10:40:15

He doesn't get angry so much any more because most of his conditioning is done, he has you walking on eggshells and worrying about whether the tea bag caddy is full, you are right where he wants you.

You haven't answered about access to money? Sorry but I don't think from your posts you are ready to look at what is really going on here, but please, remember that IT ISN'T YOU.

colafrosties Sun 25-Aug-13 10:41:30

I'm sorry OP, his behaviour towards you sounds horrible.

You said you're such a different person at work. Is that because at work you're the "real you" and at home you can't be that?

Jux Sun 25-Aug-13 11:04:45

Take the tea caddy example. If dh makes tea and the caddy is empty, he walks to the cupboard, gets a box of tea bag from it, opens the box and empties the tea bags into the caddy. Amazingly, he can do this all by himself and without moaning. He has legs which work. He has arms and hands which do what he wants them to. It would appear your h does not.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 11:15:40

Thankyou for all your posts.

RhondaJean, I do have access to money in the joint account and the savings account which is linked to the joint account. I am actually in charge of the finances, although I am not great at it as I keep going over budget on our food shopping, petrol etc. he used to get annoyed when he realised we were over budget and go though the statement totting up how much I had spent each month, but he hasn't done that for at least 2 years now. He claims I expect everything on a plate. I had a comfortable upbringing as my Dad had very very little as a child (lived in a 1 bed flat, shared a room with parents till he was 12 etc)so when he was successful he wanted his children not to worry about money and even if my parents were struggling for money they kept their children out of it.

Jux, thankyou for your comments. Would women's aid really want to talk to me? I think they have cases of physical abuse where children are at risk of physical harm to deal with. I feel as if I would be wasting their precious time.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer, I have mentioned separation to him. He reminds me how he will live a miserable existence and I will get the kids and that I hold all the cards. It came up in conversation this morning. It comes up every six months or so. I feel pretty uncomfortable talking to my friends about this. Eithr they are both our friends or they have their own issues which make it tricky. Either way I feel unfaithful to him for discussing it.

Do I really need to leave?? Is there no other option??. He is a wonderful father. But I have to admit I always imagined I would marry my best friend. He doesn't seem to be that person. Although he says I am his.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 11:19:43

Cola frosties, I think I'm the real me at home as well as at work. I just don't worry so much about to consequences of everything I do in the same way. And I am pretty professional and confident that I am good at my job as no one is critisising me!

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