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how do you know when to call it a day?

(46 Posts)
youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 21:45:01

feel like I am struggling with some things that are not quite enough to end up a relationship but also feel utterly miserable. we have 2 young children and I feel really sad at the thought of breaking up their home. And losing my once-best-friend. Please look at this and tell me what you think

- we row all the time. Recently. I have lost all patience with him (and pretty much everything else to be fair. I am exhausted) and do not pander. I believe that a lot of our problems are down to me not pandering to him (right now) but he would never see it that way.

- he does not respect me. I work very hard (I think) and am very tired, isolated and sad. He can see that I am very tired but regards me as more a bit flaky than someone who is really putting the hours in. I have often been quite sad that I don't have a cheer leader at home. No matter what I do I never get "well done". Maybe - I am sure - others do more. but I do my best. I am not robust and feel like I am being judged against some hypothetical others who are, rather than against my limitations.

- I can't talk to him. I gave up booze because I had a drink problem and did not talk to him about this. I can't talk about work problems, or my many millions of utterly tedious health problems. I tried to open a conversation about whether I could work less - thinking it might be an open ended thing about money, practicalities, long term goals, etc and got "well that is a question for you, isn't it" and he just changed the subject. I don't think it is a question just for me. I can't even talk about the basic business of household practicalities. He hates me talking about them.

- I am irrationally furious that he thinks he is a domestic and parenting god but there are many things he never actually does properly and I have to finish them. I am not allowed to mention these (see point above)

- he thinks that all our problems are to do with my mental health issues

- when I have, or get close to, a nervous breakdown I feel very guilty and isolated as I do not feel he is on my side. I do realise that this is not an objective point about him but about how I feel

- he has absolutely refused to talk to me at all now for 2 evenings although he knows I am very upset

- I do not watch anything I choose or listen to anything I choose except in a room on my own with headphones or when he is out. I feel stupid and exposed choosing TV or movies or music and will never do this. He does not realise this. He has never noticed I do not choose anything except when he is slagging me off for making him choose all the entertainment. Which I appreciate because he puts on really good stuff. But I do worry that I am basically extremely inhibited with him because he is so superior. I love my kindle because he never knows what I am reading

- we do not have sex. We used to have an implicit understanding that it was because I was too tired post dcs. I challenged this and it is actually because he can't be arsed. We do not sleep together. I do not like his snoring and I don't like being unsure whether we are going to have sex because I will usually be rejected and in a state of frustration. I find it easier to switch the whole thing off.

Things I like:

he is clever
he used to be nice to me
he brings loads of cool music and films and tv into the house, for me and the dcs
he spends a lot of time with the dcs and I could not do my commute / work without him
we used to get on really well and he was the person I most enjoyed spending time with
he is the father of my lovely children and they love him

Of the whole list of things I put that I don't like, the ones that really bug me are the ones that amount to a lack of respect for me. that is what I can't bear.
I feel like he is contemptuous of me for things I can't help, and doesn't notice so many things about me that are good

Is this come-backable? or not?

I feel so sad

youretoastmildred Tue 22-Oct-13 21:59:55

update.

Last week we made up following the rows of the weekend. He stayed out of the way while things were bad between us so I could have nice tension-free time with the dcs. Then (partly because I appreciated this, his accommodating me) we made up.

Then I went to the dr today. I was supposed to be talking about all my MH ishoos but I couldn't get to it and felt stupid and got referred for some blood tests instead (talked vaguely about tiredness and low mood and am being tested for anaemia, thyroxine etc). Felt a dick saying I have BPD basically.

Really hacked off with life and don't think it is DP's fault. Don't think I have actual problems other than tiredness and boredom. Long to do a course. The thought of doing something new and interesting makes me hunger like ... a hungry person

Still need to arrange counselling

Glenshee Fri 18-Oct-13 22:21:05

Great advice from Twinklestein and crazyhead!

crazyhead Fri 18-Oct-13 21:36:14

Personally, I'd go to Relate or similar. I'd go first for a few sessions on my own (which will help you work out if he is controlling in a way that means couples counselling couldn't work) then couples sessions if possible.

Regardless of whether the relationship ultimately stays together, I think that it will help you feel as though you've really tried to take control of the situation (v important with your low confidence right now) and done your best to find the right option for you and your family.

Twinklestein Fri 18-Oct-13 19:09:35

I'm sorry you feel so sad OP. I'm not surprised, given the detail you give about your relationship. To summarise:

1)Your dp does not 'respect' you. He does not support you. He is 'contemptuous' of you. He judges & criticises you. You feel 'powerless'.

2)He controls all discourse: you can't talk to him about anything: work problems, health problems, household practicalities.

3)He regards himself as 'a domestic & parenting God', if he doesn't do something properly, you are not allowed to mention it.

4)He controls what you watch, read & listen to.

5)If you stand up to him, (as your friend did to her dp) he stonewalls for up to a week.

6)You feel 'inhibited' because he's 'so superior'.

I think your partner's controlling behaviour is the key to the problems in this relationship. He is exerting an unhealthy level of power over you, to the point that is arguably abusive. He makes you feel despised and in the wrong.

You seem to accept this man's 'superiority'. Did you believe this when you first met him, or is this something he has persuaded you?

May I ask if you actually have mental health issues? Or has he told you that?

How was he in the past when he was nice & you got on well? What was the point at which he changed? Did he ever respect you?

Details about his behaviour suggest he may possibly be gaslighting you: first of all making out that you are 'flaky' and blaming your 'mental health' issues for the problems in the relationship. You may have mental health issues, but I don't believe they are the sole cause of the problems in the relationship.

Secondly, you say since moving house you sorted some of the children's stuff out & then he moves everything round 'in a way I don't understand'.. 'won't say why or where I should now be putting this or explain why it is better than you what I did'. And you 'can never find anything.'

You say it's 'not as if he's done nothing'. No: he's done worse than that: he's purposefully undone what you had done. For no other reason than to a) assert his authority & b) disorientate you.

I think he moves your stuff around for the same reason: so that you can't find it, so that it drives you mad. (It would drive anyone mad).

Chillingly, you say that in order to avoid rows, you feel you have no choice but either to a) avoid your children (which of course you will not do) b) inflict rows on them or c)
'be obliterated by this controlling behaviour'

These are three equally distressing options, no - I think the third is beyond distressing and into the realm of dangerous & unhealthy.

On the information that you have given here OP, I don't think joint counselling is at all a good idea.

He will continue his abuse of power in the sessions & he will use whatever you say against you.

I think it's vital that you have your own counselling sessions. You are obviously a lovely person, a great mum, trying to be a good partner to man who is irrational, implacable & impossible to negotiate with. I think you need to work on your self esteem, which has been eroded by this man, alone.

From what you have said, I do not think this relationship is salvageable because he is highly unlikely to change. You either have to accept his rule & be 'obliterated' or leave.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 18-Oct-13 11:14:35

I could have set boundaries about certain things and then maybe have ended up with someone much closer to me.

Going back to this I hope you bring this up in counselling. It's totally up to you what you raise here on MN in a thread (remembering it's on a forum in the public gaze) so I understand if you don't want to go into details. Suffice to say as you yourself put it, relationship tweaks early on or during a relationship can have a lasting impact.

If both partners can be honest and look back they stand a good chance of tracing a root of a current problem.

Whether one or both of you conclude you are flogging a dead horse remains to be seen. If one partner checks out emotionally, the other partner will have their work cut out to win them back.

Sorry, jut read that back and it sounds bossy blush

But it was this statement that jumped out at me in your op. Very unhealthy if you both truly believe that to be the case.

he is so superior

You say that as if it is a fact. It is not a fact. It is a belief.

Is this his belief? Or yours?

If you both believe that he is superior and you are inferior, therein lies the root of your problem. Perhaps you could start at counselling by addressing this.

Andy1964 Thu 17-Oct-13 15:51:00

Oh dear, you really are having a rough time of it.
I get it too. My DW suffered with depression for about two years and she was very much like you.

I really really think you need to talk, either between yourselves or with a professionals help.
You both need to be honest though wether you like it or not. I know the truth sometimes hurts but I think its best to get it all out there.

Maybe he's not interested in talking because he does not want to hear the truth.

Tell him this as a starter;

'he is clever
he used to be nice to me
he brings loads of cool music and films and tv into the house, for me and the dcs
he spends a lot of time with the dcs and I could not do my commute / work without him
we used to get on really well and he was the person I most enjoyed spending time with
he is the father of my lovely children and they love him'

I hope you can find a way through this.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 17-Oct-13 15:10:50

Also don't give up if he gets cold feet last minute. Go on your own anyway!

^^ This.
You were right earlier, when you said you can't make him feel about you or act towards you as you'd wish. If he has any real intention of making resolving anything, he has to put some effort in too.

If it is putting a sticking plaster on a festering wound you'll soon see.

cjel Wed 16-Oct-13 22:48:24

thats funny Mildred, I like the idea that the happy couple sharing a hobby were actually in counsellingsmile Its lovely being 17 and innocent isn't it?

Glenshee Wed 16-Oct-13 22:41:53

Also don't give up if he gets cold feet last minute. Go on your own anyway!

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 22:11:58

ok well the priority is to find a babysitter. I am going to get onto that tomorrow, I think a tame teenager is called for - I loved a regular gig like this when I was 17 (it suddenly occurs to me that perhaps that couple were not having evening classes but counselling in 1989)

cjel Wed 16-Oct-13 21:47:55

I'm glad hes listening at last, but don't just think you are going to get it, make it a prioritysmile

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 21:26:33

thanks
I think we are going to get some counselling, he is upset and taking me seriously

cjel Wed 16-Oct-13 17:36:30

those few 'needs' you mentioned there are just basics of family life aren't they? I don't think he has an inability to see what you like but he just doesn't consider you worth thinking about.

You do deserve to live in a place where these things happen and if you feel a bit ocd about things I'd suggest thats because you are trying to cling on to a tiny bit of yourself.
Depression is quite often internalised anger, and I'd say you have a really good reason to feel the way you do, Trust in your instincts for looking after yourself.

wordyBird Wed 16-Oct-13 17:34:05

Toast, it's perfectly ok to want your stuff left alone so that it's where you left it, and not moved around in your absence! No one moves my things around. So truly, you can have this in real life.

OK, things might be moved by mistake, or children might mess things up sometimes, but it's not at all unreasonable to expect your personal things left alone.

wordyBird Wed 16-Oct-13 17:27:38

To be fair to you, toast, boundary setting does not usually change the behaviour of someone who doesn't respect you, won't support you, and consistently undermines you.

In other words, you aren't ultimately responsible for how he treats you. Behaviour like this tends to come from a fairly deep seated attitude towards you, and towards the self (eg, seeing himself as a domestic and parenting god).

We're not necessarily talking about monsters. But people showing these attitudes and behaviours can be exhausting and miserable to live with, at best, whatever good qualities they possess.

And as Donkeys points out, the behaviour can soon ratchet up into something much harsher. I do think it's worth your while to seek counselling or advice for yourself, to help you find a way forward.

Handywoman Wed 16-Oct-13 17:23:18

He just doesn't seem to regard you as an equal partner, or even as a person. Any chance you could get some thinking space by taking time off and staying with relatives? Will he not go to counselling?

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 17:21:09

I also struggle with being the only person who cleans the surfaces in the kitchen. I mean insanely. I get demented to an astonishing degree by this. And by being the only person who attempts to keep toys in sets (puzzle pieces in one place, so they can be used as puzzles, train sets, duplo, etc). If you don't do this, they aren't toys, they are just piles of rubbish. For some reason his inability to see this drives me absolutely up the fucking wall.

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 17:19:27

I don't think my needs will ever be met. I don't think they are reasonable. One of my needs, or so it feels to me, is not to have my stuff moved around so I can find things because they are where I left them. I actually really really struggle with this not happening. I think you just can't have this in real life

cjel Wed 16-Oct-13 17:09:59

I'm so sorry that this is going on and I also am a huge fan of counselling but I think you seem to be so worn down by him that I am really tempted to say what would happen if you said he had to leave because your mental health was suffering living with him?
I think he would tell you that you couldn't cope and hes the only one who keeps you going. I can't read much good about him at all. every time you dare to suggest something that would make your life better he dismisses you. You are worth having at least equal number of your needs met in this relationship.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Oct-13 16:57:20

Am sorry but he is cranking this up a notch. Never mind not cheerleading you he is now getting worked up.

I believe that a lot of our problems are down to me not pandering to him (right now) but he would never see it that way.

Like hellsbellsmelons said we are only getting a fraction of the story.

Seeking help now through counselling is worth a go surely before it reaches the point where you are splitting up and obliged to go to mediation. He didn't take kindly to the idea of a solicitor and you say you want to return to things as they were before, (although if this centred on 'pandering' to him I don't know how wise this is).

youretoastmildred perhaps I should have asked before, now I'm curious how do you define 'pandering'?

mammadiggingdeep summed it up earlier, this is a major crossroads.

Handywoman Wed 16-Oct-13 16:51:49

Very difficult to get an insight into this dynamic. But even if nobody is a monster (big deal: the bar is set pretty low here) the relationship sounds non functional : it has ground to a halt. I would say counselling is a must here to keep perspective and focus on the important issues (primarily the kids) and move forwards.sounds like the small issues have become pretty big.

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 15:44:35

I know, I have doubts about the waves of support I am getting here, he is not a monster. I feel like there are relationship tweaks that might have worked if they had happened sooner. I feel like there are really small things that set a trajectory that being only a fraction of a degree out mean that miles or years later you are radically zooming off in the wrong direction.... but 6 years ago you were only a smidge off beam....

No idea how to change it now though.

I think I could have set boundaries about certain things and then maybe ended up with someone much closer to me.

A friend of mine said her dh was snippy about something one evening when she had been slaving her guts out all day on mat leave with a baby and her line (on the way upstairs to do something) was: "you had better have a think about how you have been talking to me before I come back downstairs". 15 minutes later she came back and he apologised. I thought: nice and assertive. Could I learn something from this? Then I thought: no, if I talked to dp like this, he wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day / week.
In theory, it would be because "you can't talk to me like a toddler" or something. In practice there is no way, or no way that I have found, to talk to him.
I would like to think that it exists and I could find it. but I am feeling pretty past it at the moment.

Really struggling this afternoon. Have had a nasty email exchange. he is refusing to alternate childcare. I want us to stay out of each others' way because we can't stop rowing. he is basically saying no. I feel like I have no choice but to avoid my children (which I can't, can't, can't do), inflict rows on them (NO!) or be obliterated by controlling behaviour (trying to keep my cool but always in danger of losing it).
Why can't he just agree? why is he being so twisted?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Oct-13 15:30:27

I know we only hear one side of the story.

Perhaps he doesn't know how to live with you. From what you've said things used to be good between you, you called him your best friend. Did things deteriorate when the first baby came along? Was he reluctant to give up the role of breadwinner?

Sharing stuff with DP should be second nature. I find it striking you never discussed your concerns about drinking.

Half-heartedly with regard to domesticity sounds like a stroppy ten year old or sullen teen not a grown man. Certainly no domestic god.

I don't know the ages of your young DCs but they'll pick up on how Daddy treats Mummy and think is normal. Worse, as they get older there is a strong possibility he will get them onside and it'll be Us vs Mum. This sounds implausible but it happens. And if you shrink from counselling the scary thing is, you will start believing this is all your fault and deserve no better.

Hold onto friendships. If you have mutual friends be prepared for his version of what is happening. If you become solitary it is too easy for him to play victim, "See what I have to put up with".

The vast majority of people aren't one dimensional monsters. If someone is unhappy it can look to the outside world like a mountain or a molehill.He may be struggling too. But you wrote here so we're talking to you.

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