Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
In for another miserable weekend because of sex(173 Posts)
We haven't had sex since last Saturday. We're supposed to be in a 'no pressure, it happens when it happens' phase because we've had lots of issues around him wanting more sex than me, not expressing that in the right way and me losing interest because he makes me feel like crap.
I've explained if he just relaxes and let's things happen naturally we'll end up having better sex. Maybe not as often as he would like but he complains lots about quality and my thinking was this would be a quality over quantity thing. Last weekend after this discussion and agreement we had great sex and he was really happy and up for the idea.
Fast forward to last night. We went to bed, I gave him a cuddle (another thing he complains is that I don't show him enough affection so I've been trying to make the effort to) he immediately thinks great we're having sex. I know if we don't have sex now he's going to shouty and miserable for the rest of the weekend. I feel like I have to have sex now and that immediately takes any fun out of it.
So I said words to the effect of let's just have a quicky. Because I honestly haven't got it in me to roll around for hours with someone who doesn't really care as long as he gets off. It didn't go down well. He ranted for a bit then told me to just get on with it then, I could make the effort for a change. I tried but he wasn't really turned on, I said let's just leave it tonight so he got out of bed and started shouting about oh that's great we're in for a great fucking weekend now. And that its my fucking job to turn him on if he's not and I can forget staying out tomorrow night (we're supposed to be staying at a friends DC at GP) he makes horrible digs and is shouty and rude stomping about the house.
Part of the problem is he knows we're out tomorrow and Sunday he has to have an early night so he thinks we won't get a chance for a couple more days. I do know that but just wanted to do what we said and let it happen when it happens and try and build it up slowly. I got up with the DC this morning and took him in a coffee this morning and he's already grumpy with me.
He'll be shouty and grumpy all day now. He's done this so many times and I hate it that a lovely weekend is ruined by sex again.
"I almost feel like I can't relax because I'm waiting for it to all start again."
And this is the problem. This isn't what an actual happy, healthy, relaxed relationship looks like, because you cannot relax. Even the good times are spoiled by this, because you know he can, and probably will, turn again the minute something happens. The worst part is, you don't even know what the trigger is - something might happen and you might flinch and he carries on being nice, it's confusing. But you know deep down that he will flip again and you'll see the other side of him.
This is not you at fault, being unable to give him a "proper chance" - this is just what the (relatively) good times are like with an abuser. You are already feeling guilty that you aren't having sex, perhaps because you feel he deserves a reward, like a toddler who has behaved well all day? (Clue: You are not his mother. It is not up to you to reward him for good behaviour.) Or perhaps because you fear that eventually his threshold for patience at waiting for sex will reach his limit and that will be the trigger. I think this one is more likely, even though you might be more consciously aware of the first drive. In fact it is a combination of the two. This is a monumental effort for him. It's not his nature, or he'd be like this most of the time. He is making the effort because he knows you are unhappy and he wants to keep you sweet again. Perhaps not consciously - he may just literally believe this is how relationships work.
But be careful, he is not doing it because he feels guilty, because he wants it to be like this all the time, or out of the goodness of his heart, he is putting in extra effort because in his world this means that he deserves something back. And so, as a combination of the two, he will grow increasingly frustrated that his efforts are not getting any return (sex, or perhaps not just sex but general doting on him from you) and in his mind, he is not even getting the minimum/expected amount! (of sex and/or general servitude) He's getting even less! Your perception is "Oh, fantastic! He's behaving like a normal human being - perhaps we can have an equal, happy relationship after all!" and his perspective is "I'm putting in all this effort and getting nothing back! What a cheeky bitch, she's just taking it all!
If you imagine something, say, housework (I know your issue isn't housework but as an example) as being your responsibility, you'd be amazed and grateful if someone came and did 25% of it for you.
However, if you saw this housework as jointly yours and the other person's responsibility, ie 50% each, but they did only 25% leaving you to do 75%, you'd probably be pissed off and resentful at them about it.
Now imagine your perspective is the second one, but the other person's perspective is the first. They would be confused that you're pissed off, because in their mind they've just done you a massive favour. They would think you were ungrateful. Perhaps, as well, they were expecting payment for doing their share and now you have had the cheek first of all not to even mention payment, but to criticise their efforts and say they aren't good enough!
This is what your relationship will always be like. You are expecting 50% from him, he is expecting 100% from you and even when he puts in something, he will never understand that you have totally different expectations. You cannot resolve this, unless you totally sacrifice your entire sense of self to give in to his needs, and look where that gets you even then, it will probably never be good enough.
OP you can always defer the leaving plans until he's an arsehole again, I'm sure you won't have long to wait. I wouldn't recommend it, but it's entirely up to you.
Why can't he just be like this all the time and then we would never have got to this point
Because people are complex. There's a side of him that's nice & a side that's awful. It would be great if the awful side didn't exist, but that's not the reality. The same could be said of Harold Shipman... he was a doctor, I'm sure he was nice to some people...
Yes, OP,this is the Honeymoon phase of abuse. Compared to how he can and does treat you, it feels extra-special and extra-wonderful. And you can feel really bonded to him again. But it's all part of the cycle that keeps you trapped and then excusing and minimising the abuse and questioning and blaming yourself.
My love, he should be treating you this way all the time. What you deacribe is not special behavioir or special treatment, it's not him being wonderful, etc., etc., this is the baseline level of relationship that you shouldtzke for granted. You ask why can't he be like this all the time - he can't be because this is not the real him,because he is not capable of remaining non-abusive. Abuse is his true nature. When things are going his way, or he needs to keep you sweet, feels he has maybe overstepped the mark and risks you calling him on his shit, he can make himself be normal and pleasant.
It is NOT your fault, the abuse, the problems, the unpleasantness. You are not creating, causing or triggering it. You teally must get your head around the truth that you are not responsible for his, or anyone else's, feelings and behaviour.
You say you can't relax, waiting for it all to happen again - how do you thinkit makes the kids feel? Do not delude yourself that them acting happy means they are unaffected.
Learning this cycle of nice and nasty from him is incredibly abusive and damaging to them.
Oh, OP, he sounds horrible. He's bullying you into sex. And his behaviour/reactions are HIS business - it's not up to you to MAKE him feel anything. It's up to him to behave like an adult. He's using sex to control you - if it wasn't that, it would be something else. What are you going to do?
De-lurking to say what a fantastic post Yoni, OP that makes so much sense, hope you can take something from those wise words.
Jeez, he sounds like a git. Why would you ever want to have sex with someone that is only bothered about their own pleasure?
Yes yoni what you say makes perfect sense. I suppose I do know he will get fed up waiting and he definitely will be thinking you cheeky bitch before long!
The way you describe the difference in expectations is spot on, I think this is what worries me, that we could work on lots of things but underneath we fundamentally have different ideas of a relationship.
I know when he's being an asshole its not my fault. But when he's being like this its really hard to hold onto. I know the answers, I know what I would say if someone else was telling me this but its so hard not to doubt my part in it because I've allowed it to get this far. I've allowed the cycle to go on and on for 10 years, basically letting him think its ok.
And now you are starting the process of clearing your mind and stepping back mentally to take stock - which is a very good thing.
when the pendulum swings back to him being awful again, and it will, come and revist what you wrote here and see and believe that it's a never ending grindstone revolving away and you and your children are the things getting crushed
But that's what I mean. In a normal healthy relationship things are happy and relaxed and stressfree ALL the time (well okay, ignoring any external stresses) and nobody thinks the other is "cheeky" if they aren't giving them loads of extra things back in return for this, and to boot, you're not wondering constantly when they are going to flip and turn into the scary person.
It is nothing to do with you allowing him to do anything - you are not his keeper. He doesn't need permission from you to behave in any way he likes. The reason that he behaves like an asshole some of the time is because deep down something in his personality tells him that it's okay for him to do this, or even "this isn't really okay but she really pushed it so I had to" - either way, he feels justified. And if something in his personality exists that tells him this, then that's not going to go away no matter how hard he tries.
Just think of what baseline part of your personality fundamentally stops you from hurting someone or saying hurtful things to them. He doesn't have that. So he will always think it's okay.
All emotional abusers are "nice" or actually what people in a good relationship would call 'normal' for a while, otherwise no one would ever put up with them for any length of time. My ex was 'normal' for a year...it lasted until I had DD and my focus was quite rightly on her. He still does it now, but it is easier to deal with as I am not living with him. The thing is, what you think is nice should actually be the baseline in the relationship not the exception. Your expectations of his behaviour are watered down each time this happens and also the normal behaviour becomes less frequent. Take a look on the EA abuse thread the links are especially useful.
Thank you lahti I really appreciate your point of view as it does seem we've been through a similar situation (even though you seem to have sussed this and got out a lot quicker than me!) He definitely lasts less and less time between snapping but what's involved when he snaps these days is no where near as bad as it used to be and he seems to be able to get it under control quicker.
Yoni you really are spot on again. He does have a sense of entitlement, there is always a reason why he's acted the way he does. Even if he agrees it was out of order he still finds something that I've done wrong as well. What's more confusing is that these days he often really seems to understand that its not what I'm doing that causes his outbursts but completely his own fault. He tells me all the right things to make me feel like he understands but the minute it happens again its clear he never really meant it. I don't know if its that he tries really hard to sort himself out and is just really sad when he fails or he's just got really good at saying what I want to hear. It's really hard to tell.
The other point about me not saying horrible things is true. No matter what mood I'm in or how much he had upset me I would NEVER speak to him or anyone else the way he does me. I've tried saying to him before that if he manages to control it in front of other people he should be able to with me. It's always excuses. He is quite blunt with everyone though. He says things to people sometimes that are completely inappropriate or actually sound quite rude but he's oblivious to how he comes across. And he lies all the time about everything. I notice, my mum notices, our friends notice. I think people at work must notice. We've talked about it before but he's almost convinced himself he's not as bad as he is. He thinks no one else is aware and that he's clever enough to get one over on people.
When I write all this down together it sounds ridiculous that I'm with him but it just doesn't feel like that day to day. If that makes sense?!
Yoni you have just described my marriage to a tee!
STBXH has been out of the house for 3 months now. It sure is hard but at least my sense of self is intact. And wow, the feeling of 'coming back to being me' was completely exhilarating! My friends all expected me to be sobbing, but quite the contrary, I was on a high for a about six weeks.
Now life has settled down, life is full and very very tiring, but I'm being a true and honest person in front of my children now, and they are growing in confidence and in a sense of themselves, because of it.
Yes, it does. I remember that feeling so clearly. I was exceptionally lucky in that I poured out to my mum one day that I wanted to leave and from that day forward she kept me focused and working on it even when I was having a "but he's being so normal" day. I remember feeling this total disconnect and like the life I was living was someone else's life, one day when we were going to the council offices. I remember explaining it like, if you lived in a war zone, and you were constantly in danger of a bomb falling on your house and killing you all, or walking on a mine, or your children doing so, or being gassed in the night while you slept, and this was the case for years and years, you couldn't constantly feel that fear even though the danger was constantly there. It would destroy you and paralyse you and leave you unable to actually do anything. And while all this is happening, you still have to cook, and go shopping, and feed the cat, and get the children to school and help them with their homework. And you would chat to your elderly neighbour and watch TV and do your usual hobby in the evenings, and life would go on as normal, except that there is this big awful frightening danger happening all the time.
It's the same when you're in an abusive relationship - you can be aware of the danger (emotional and physical - and there IS always physical danger with someone who has rages) objectively when you think about it or talk to someone about it or write it down, but day to day you have to normalise it to get through the normal stuff, feeding the baby, remembering to buy food, washing, meeting friends. Otherwise you're just paralysed from doing anything, and you can't just stop doing this stuff. The baby needs feeding, the clothes need washing, life goes on. The defence mechanism that enables you to live day to day prevents you from being able to act.
If you feel like this the best thing to do is plan your exit in fantasy - get all the building blocks together so that when you need to go, you can go. But also keep being aware of it, keep noticing the little things (look at red flag lists - this helps, as there will be a lot going on even during these "good" times which you aren't aware of, e.g. him always choosing what you watch on TV, feeling like you have to go to bed at the same time/different time to him, etc) talk on mumsnet or to anybody else who "gets it" - you will feel your mindset start to change.
Make an emergency plan first - make sure that your important documents are all in one place, back up important photos online, know where your nearest police station, council housing office, phone box etc are. Memorise Women's Aid's phone number or save it in your phone under an innocuous name like "Jackie". Make sure your phone always has credit and charge and try to keep it on your person. Keep your changing bag stocked with essentials like nappies, change of clothes for DC, formula cartons, snacks (if necessary), cash, bank cards, spare phone charger, etc. It's very unlikely you'd have to leave in a hurry but just in case.
Other than that, look up prices of rental properties in your area, and/or information about how you can get him out of your house, including finding out how much it would cost to change the locks, look up your benefit entitlements as a single parent, start looking and imagining in fantasy what your life could be like. Do the routine of leaving/kicking him out in your head so that you know the steps even if you never really think you will have to or want to do it. Protect yourself - delete mumsnet or at least this thread from your browsing history, or use "private browsing" to access it. Always sign out of mumsnet, emails etc when you stop using the computer.
You don't have to make a concrete plan of when you are leaving. But making a plan to leave helps you to realise that you can do something about your situation. You can't stop the war, you can seek refuge somewhere else, or make it go away (with help). Likely the thing that makes you finally say "Enough" will be something relatively minor. Big things are too easy to smooth over and say "Oh, it doesn't matter, it's over now."
I believe in you, we all do. You can make a better life for yourself and your DC.
This man will say or do anything to keep you there and under his thumb. The methodology will vary from angelic loveliness to actual violence, across the spectrum between, but the one constant remains: he does not give a shiny shit about you, or the children.
This man played Disney dad during the split and was Mr Perfect... except he did not give a fuck if his daughters starved to death and would not give you a single penny towards their upkeep - and you see no contradiction in those statements? None? And this after he had to leave because he escalated his behaviour to physical
You say things haven't got worse and that over the last ten years they have in fact improved, and that this to you proves that it isn't an abusive setup. But in the next posts, you say you left because he started being physically as well as emotionally abusive, and so after a sustained charm campaign and lies about his having had treatment for his anger issues, you took him back. Since then he has been incrementally backsliding - of course. He's working you back into where you once were. And this time, you're less inclined to leave, because you did it once and it didn't stick.
You also say you think you should stay with him because you're grateful your mother did with your father, who was very similar to your DH. You do realise you have repeated the marital pattern thus modelled to you? You realise your two daughters are subconsciously internalising your own marriage as a template for how theirs should be? How is that in their best interests - man handing on misery to man, as Philip Larkin so acerbically put it? You can break the cycle, start a new model and meet someone who will actually value you as a human individual and who would no more abuse you as he systematically does than they would fly to Mars.
I'be got 2 girls. I hate the thought that I'm ruining the potential for them to have healthy future relationships. I just don't even know where to start. He's made it clear he would never leave again and I have no way of getting some where else to live. He also wouldn't compromise on how often he sees the DC. He would only accept 50/50 at the least. I could accept that but don't even really know what that means.
I'm actually scared by how BADLY he has warped your perception of the world. He dictates to you on how any split would play out, without reference or regard to the welfare of anyone else (and most notably the kids) and you seem to meekly take his word as the law? Shock as it might be to him, he is not the law. There's a whole system of family courts set up to administrate family breakdown, and if you're married the starting point of division of assets is 50/50, and realistically the primary carer of the kids (you're a stay at home mother, right?) usually ends up with more simply because harsh reality dictates that housing them suitably takes more than half of what most families have to contribute. Whether married or not, he is by law forced to pay child support. He can "make it clear he wouldn't leave again" all he wants, but if you were to file for divorce on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour he might very well have to within a few short months. And as for "would only accept 50/50" erm, that isn't up to him, and is not the norm. Every other weekend and one midweek night is. He can say he "won't accept that" till he's blue in the face but the fact is he isn't Lord High Dictator of the World and you don't have to give a shiny shit what he thinks he will or won't accept. He has to accept what the law says he must, like everyone else. His entitlement attitude is quite pathetically mistaken, frankly. The scary part is that you're just assuming he must have whatever he states he wants, and arranging your life as though his proclamations are anything more than the entitled whining of a nasty little overgrown toddler. I WANT! Is not actually binding on the rest of the world.
DH and I never have sex unless we're both in the mood. After I had a baby I went off sex for a year and it was only when things perked up that I asked him how he'd coped. He shrugged and said he'd just wanked more. When I asked if he'd minded, he said he'd not had any other options - he didn't want sex with me unless I wanted it. That's normal. Your husband's abuse of you is anything but. He's not treating you like a partner, but like a trophy crossed with a domestic appliance. He seems to have absolutely no regard for your feelings and you seem to have been so ground down by him that you are straightforwardly accepting his view of the situation and your own powerlessness within it. This is not a normal or healthy dynamic. It's a horrible one. Surely you can't want this to be your life? There are so, so many lovely men out there who would truly partner you and love you and befriend you. Yet you are stuck with this one?
Your posts make me wince. This is a profoundly abusive relationship. Your daughters are learning that this is normal. And you yourself don't even fully realise that that is what it is.
I forgot to add - you sound lovely. Sane, reasonable, switched-on, socially adept and very intelligent. I think that's part of the problem. His behaviour is so crazy it's second nature to rationalise and minimise. But it also means that you would have a perfectly happy, calm and sane life without him - he is the chaos and the drama, in one person. Your life could be so relaxed and easygoing without him.
A friend told me, when I was in an equally appalling relationship, that the problem was I never was able to take a step back and look at the whole overall pattern. I just got angry about individual incidents. I think that's a coping mechanism when the cognitive gap between what life should be, and what it is, is so huge.
Thank you for your posts perfect and yoni. Yes my life was so much calmer and sane without him and I know it will be again when I can find the strength to get out of this.
yoni your post actually gives me confidence. The fantasy plan is something that I am already doing, I feel better knowing that maybe that means I'm already heading in the right direction and not just being a coward who imagines things instead of taking immediate action. The way you describe things is incredible, it really is. The war analogy is so exactly how my life is except I can never explain it so clearly. In fact having you explain it like that has made it become clear in my head, if that makes sense.
All these things are so amazing, this is why MN is so important. The thread the other day about whether strangers should be telling people to ltb had some really great points on it. Having other women together saying no this is not ok instead of the male oriented world we live in which tells us how we should make things better by changing our behaviour, its critical it really is. I wish my mum had MN to tell her its NOT ok. I wish lots of my friends could read the threads on here and begin to question the things they accept as normal. It's only when you do that you realise how conditioned we all are to accepting things because men (apparently not all men which is a new concept in my world!) lead us to believe that it is 'just the ay we are.' I feel sad at the situation I'm in and actually quite angry that its so obvious that other people can explain my life better than I can my own (not at anyone on here but more at myself) I AM an intelligent person, how is it I've allowed myself to live this life? Thank you so much for all your comments, they really so so much appreciated.
Your post brought tears to my eyes!
Honestly, this stuff is NOT obvious at all, it's the total opposite of what our instincts and everything we've ever learned about relationships tell us. Even professionals in a lot of cases have no idea of the nuances and the underlying reasons, the control etc. The only way I'm able to speak so clearly about it is mainly because I've been on these boards (and reading recommended blogs, books, etc) for nearly 5 years now, reading, responding, thinking, putting things together. As you say, once the lightbulb is on you want to spread it to everyone - my perfect job would be to work with teenagers about the topic of sex and relationships, or some kind of DV support, maybe run some kind of course for professionals about understanding DV/EA.
Yes that's exactly it, I want to grab my mum and friends and shake them and say look this isn't the way it has to be. But its so hard to fight against. My mum is supportive of me and agrees DH is unreasonable but I can still see her thinking I should work things out 'for the children' that some how a separation is the worst thing that could happen to us. All around me people minimise (sp?) the things that happen. This is the first time people have said to me no you're not mad, ungrateful and expecting too much, trust your instincts. It's quite overwhelming (but in a good way) and makes me feel quite emotional too. They SHOULD teach this stuff. This should be what we fight for.
Show them by example, NotHappy. You'll have sooooo much time and energy to talk about it and encourage them in the future. Yes, this is what we should fight for, what should be taught in every school in the country. But, first, we need to support you through it. I came upon your thread this morning. It is so heartening so see the difference between the you who started this thread, and the you who wrote those last couple of posts.
Once you are free, look into the Freedom Programme. It will help you reset your boundaries.
Yoni, wouldn't it be great if you could do that?
I would love to. No idea how to get into it, though. I am teaching EFL at the moment. Sort of a vague hope that the teaching experience may help me migrate in that direction at some point in the future
One of my friends from the TEFL course is now teaching in a refugee centre in the UK, mostly wives of male immigrants/refugees from countries where value is only placed on male education. She's giving them a whole new skill which will be a lease of life for them in this new country, I think it's fantastic. Not sure if we will come back to the UK, though, and not much call for English for immigrants here!
Finally de lurking to offer some support nothappy. There is lots that I want to say but won't ramble on too much... My ex was similar to yours in some ways though my situation wasn't as bad, I had no children but also had no claims to the house and was financially dependant on him. He used to hassle me for sex in a passive/aggressive way, using guilt to get to me. He used to hound me about it, mention it constantly and grope me at inappropriate times then say it was my fault for turning him on because I was so attractive. Jesus what a loser! Anyway one day I shouted at him "if I agree to have sex with your tonight will you just shut up about it?" And he said yes! Ffs who wants sex under those circumstances?! Sometimes I'd cry all the way through it but I though that because I'd consented (even though under extreme pressure) then it was my problem. He even complained once that it felt like he was raping me, it didn't stop him though!
The thing was he wanted me to want him, maybe if he'd backed off when I asked him to we could have got to that place but he thought if we had sex often enough I would learn to enjoy it or something, I don't know... But he dint back off and bit by bit he killed whatever love I had for him, all shows of affection, a kiss or a cuddle was his cue to start pressuring me for sex and in the end I found him repulsive.
I left it a long time before I left, at first I was scared, then I felt guilty (he'd conditioned me to feel that way) and finally when I realised what a loser he was I stayed because I felt sorry for him,because I knew no one else would want him. How messed up is that?!
It was hard to leave, he tried to guilt me into coming back, when that didn't work he got angry, he tried lots of things but he didn't have any power over me anymore and that felt great, it really did! Once I'd let go of all that guilt and responsibility it was so much easier to leave than I thought it would be.
If gone on too long, sorry. What I really wanted to say is keep working on your plan, don't fall for his shit because he'll tell you whatever he has to to get has needs met. You're a strong woman, you can do this and your kids will be fine. It will be hard for you all but you'll get through it and life can be so wonderful afterwards. Please keep us updated, I'm rooting for you xxx
jux thank you for posting, I will definitely look into the freedom program, I've seen a few people mention it. And thank you so much for your support, I will concentrate on me for now because as much as I love my friends and mum the other girls I can show this to by example are my girls. I have to get myself sorted to start a new way of living for them.
artemisia thank you for sharing your experience, that is very much how things have gone with me AMD DH. I wish he'd backed off years ago and given me the chance to enjoy sex when I wanted to. Maybe then by feeling cherished and understood things could have been different. What I have to accept though is he's not that man. He would never behave like that because that's not what he truly deep down believes. It's lovely to hear you're out and you're happier. Hopefully I'll be able to update positively but its going to take time, NOT forever! (!) but time to get organised and plan. Thanks to yoni yourself and lots of other lovely lovely posters on here I know that's ok and that it doesn't mean I'm giving in. I'm using time to make me strong, I'm not going to let myself fall back this time.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.