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can you retrain an emotionally abusive DH?

(36 Posts)
olderandbecomingwiser Mon 28-Oct-13 19:30:17

Hello

I fall into the trap of having married a grade 10 * and settled, after divorce, for a grade 4-8 one, depending on his mood of the day. He can be charming and lovely when not in a bad mood.

Our son is at university and we live in the country, so are quite isolated, apart from our dogs. I depend on him financially as my son is only in his first year - I work, unpaid, as my husband's secretary. When DH is cross, he makes jokes about our son's university fees.

DH used to air his Mr Hyde self regularly until he became ill last year. He was beaten as a child. On his recovery we had six months of Dr Jekyll friendliness.

Since June, Mr Hyde has resurfaced with increasing regularity.

One of the problems is the length of time that DH will sulk for, even when he is the one who started a row.

Today, for example, I had forgotten to remind him to deliver a package to his business, meaning that he had to repeat the 1-hour round journey today.

He stayed out in the pub until 4.00pm and then after a few insults went straight to bed, where he remains. I have my study door locked.

When I try to cajole him into coming out of his mood, it makes things worse. He says harsh things and his face contorts.

The problem is that I find it hard to get on with my normal life while these sulks - or punishment as I see it - continue.

I am trying to build a business as a proofreader, but my concentration during these periods is not up to the job.

I also am increasingly having to cancel visits - eg my yoga teacher - if on a day when DH is still in a sulk.

Has anyone been able to convert a Mr Hyde into a Dr Jekyll and if so, how?

All thoughts welcome.

olderandbecomingwiser Tue 29-Oct-13 20:10:30

Thank you for all your responses - I am touched by your replies, even if the overall message seems grim at first glance.

To give more background: I have a degree and an MBA but relocated at the request of my husband who has a family business in the country. I would be able to make a reasonable income as an editorial freelancer. Acting as a secretary/admin assistant was something I was happy to do given the situation. I assumed I would have been free to do my own work as well.

Technically, I should of course be able to combine a smaller-scale business such as proofreading with acting as my husband's secretary, admin assistant, credit controller or editor of his letters and documents.

What happens today is typical: while trying to do my work in the morning I must have had up to ten calls from him on my business mobile phone, asking for a cup of coffee, saying he had an urgent matter to discuss with me etc. The urgent matter turned out to be where I had put his ironed shirts.

I had booked a training session with a photographer to teach me how to take photographs and edit them in Photoshop. After an hour of this session my husband said he had an urgent matter and needed to see me. Although we continued for some ten minutes longer, it was not a relaxed setting. The urgent matter turned out not to be that urgent.

The reason I lock my study door is that my DH does not respect boundaries and will walk in on me if I am on the phone and then stay there, waiting for me to finish.

Re the fees, my son - my DH's stepson - is at university abroad so the fees are higher.

Yes I do still love my husband so am a sucker for when he says - as this morning - how mortified he is about his own behaviour.

We had lunch together but tonight are back to siege warfare under the same roof.

I agree with the advice theoretically but have a problem with the practicalities.

X

Lweji Tue 29-Oct-13 20:14:49

If he is supposedly mortified, what is he doing about it?

He doesn't seem too bothered if you are already at loggerheads tonight. hmm

quietlysuggests Tue 29-Oct-13 20:20:40

First thing - tell your husband you will be paid for your work from next week.
Second thing - get son to check out rules in whatever country hes in - if you divorce and he essentially then has a low or non earning mother what is the grant system?
Third thing - reconnect with your family and friends - I know you haven't specifically said you don't have contact with them but knowing pricks like your husband, I know he will have made this happen
Finally - tell your prick of a husband to go get help if he wants to as the very next time he sulks then you are out of there.

(I know you wont do any of the above. So maybe look up local services and see if you can get someone trained in motivational interviewing to do some counselling with you)

olderandbecomingwiser Tue 29-Oct-13 21:21:01

Many thanks for your post. I agree with what you say but knowing something is right does not make it easier to make changes.

If my husband's admin etc was my only job I would perhaps ask to be paid. However, given that I am helping my husband out while he finds somebody more suitable long-term I thought it a fair trade-off to work for free provided I were allowed to develop my own small business without interference.

I am keen to earn at least some money in my own right, no matter how small.

There is no grant system where my son is at university and if I waited for the legal process to take its effect he would be out of the country within a month.

This is not meant to sound feeble.

I know I need to build my own small business and will just have to be more rigorous in locking my study while I work on it.

Lweji Tue 29-Oct-13 22:02:10

However, given that I am helping my husband out while he finds somebody more suitable long-term I thought it a fair trade-off to work for free provided I were allowed to develop my own small business without interference.

Interesting sentence.
How long has he been looking for somebody?
"Allowed"?
Interference?

He's still interfering, isn't he? He's making it difficult for you while asking for cups of tea (!) and where his ironed shirts were.

He doesn't seem to want you to be financially independent.

You do need a plan to leave, even if you aren't going to do it tomorrow, next week, or next month. Maybe next year?
But I do think you will need to, or at the very least have leaving as a real option.

IamGluezilla Tue 29-Oct-13 22:55:33

"how mortified he is about his own behaviour."

I don't think he's a bit mortified. He just says blah blah blah whatever is needed to sway you. His actions show only two possibilities (a) he doesn't know what the word means- do you know what he actually means by mortified or (b) he was telling an expedient, for him, fib

ITCouldBeWorse Tue 29-Oct-13 23:00:25

Surely it would have made sense for you to be paid, as it is more tax efficient. The fact that you are unpaid suggests to me he likes it that way.

In short, I don't think he sees you as an equal partner and no I don't think he could change :-(

larrygrylls Wed 30-Oct-13 09:09:09

This working "for free" is a complete red herring. Quite clearly, OP, you live very comfortably and this lifestyle is provided by your husband. In addition, he pays for your son to attend an expensive overseas university. If you are in the UK, I think ItCouldBeWorse has a point. Paying you would both be tax efficient and good for your self esteem. I thought, from your posts, that you don't live in the UK, though?

There seem to be some boundary issues re time. I think that when you are working for your husband, in a sense he "owns" your time, just like any employer. On the other hand, when you are meant to be doing your own thing, you clearly own your time and should be allowed to do what you want, undisturbed. For that reason, you need to agree on working hours, complete with breaks and lunches.

If you want to cease doing the secretarial work, you should probably inform your husband that you no longer wish to do it and give him notice, say 1-3 months. In that time, you could help him look for a paid replacement. In addition, it sounds like it might make sense to prioritise. Most people setting up their own businesses do not have the luxury of visiting yoga instructors! That money would be better spent on a housekeeper/au pair who could get your husband's shirts, coffees etc, leaving you free to build your business in peace.

All the above are things to talk about, not angrily but assertively. They are all non negotiable. However, you have to show that you are prepared to make some sacrifices to achieve what you want, not that you want to build a nice little hobby business but just as long as it does not eat into your leisure time.

Finally, Lweji, it is amazing that you are prepared to make inferences from words like "interfere" and "allowed" but ignore the elephant in the room: "retrain".

olderandbecomingwiser Wed 30-Oct-13 20:13:45

Thanks for the posts.

As you say, working for free is not the main issue: it is that I relocated from London at my husband's request on the promise that I would be able to combine his work with mine. I absolutely do not want a hobby business, but one that draws on my qualifications and experience. Were my husband to leave for a month I could have it running.

Part of the problem is the gap between what DH says he wants - me to earn money in my own right from my home-based proofreading/editing business - and how he acts.

When I work for his business or personal affairs I generally do not get interrupted.

When I try to work on the website needed for my business or have meetings related to it, the interruptions are constant, whether shouting down from the bedroom for a cup of coffee (my study is below) or walking in on me repeatedly when I am trying to draft something or am on the phone. I have a whiteboard where I list both my action points, and my DH's. Only one set gets struck off. I have stopped updating it. I agree it would make more financial sense for me to work at a higher-paid rate in my business and to find a secretary/admin assistant for my husband. He says he does not want this, confidentiality etc. Yet he then berates me for not contributing to the household.

I have tried to set boundaries but they do not work. This week I am trying to enforce them by turning away if my DH speaks to me in the usual hostile and querulous tone.

Yoga is - or used to be - a luxury only in the sense that I am able to afford a weekly session at home. But I believe that far from diluting my work, it helps it. As I work from home (or try to) I do not have traveling time, therefore Friday yoga was the one thing I tried to do as a positive way of learning how to detach myself from a difficult situation. It really helped concentration, self-esteem etc and I miss it.

This week has been the longest sulk I have experienced during our marriage, and I wonder whether this is because I have resisted my normal appeasement mode (cups of coffee etc) and have worked - with the door locked - on my business website.

Apart from sleeping apart, my DH has started going out for lunches by himself and eating by himself in the evening. I sometimes feel that he wants me to come to heel.

I am going away for a few days tomorrow, to see if some distance will help.

I would give anything for a husband who would wake up after a row and just say 'this is silly, I'm sorry, let's be friends again'. Not to keep up this hostility for 72 hours and counting.

olderandbecomingwiser Wed 30-Oct-13 20:18:38

Thanks for the posts.

As you say, working for free is not the main issue: it is that I relocated from London at my husband's request on the promise that I would be able to combine his work with mine. I absolutely do not want a hobby business, but one that draws on my qualifications and experience. Were my husband to leave for a month I could have it running.

Part of the problem is the gap between what DH says he wants - me to earn money in my own right from my home-based proofreading/editing business - and how he acts.

When I work for his business or personal affairs I generally do not get interrupted.

When I try to work on the website needed for my business or have meetings related to it, the interruptions are constant, whether shouting down from the bedroom for a cup of coffee (my study is below) or walking in on me repeatedly when I am trying to draft something or am on the phone. I have a whiteboard where I list both my action points, and my DH's. Only one set gets struck off. I have stopped updating it. I agree it would make more financial sense for me to work at a higher-paid rate in my business and to find a secretary/admin assistant for my husband. He says he does not want this, confidentiality etc. Yet he then berates me for not contributing to the household.

I have tried to set boundaries but they do not work. This week I am trying to enforce them by turning away if my DH speaks to me in the usual hostile and querulous tone.

Yoga is - or used to be - a luxury only in the sense that I am able to afford a weekly session at home. But I believe that far from diluting my work, it helps it. As I work from home (or try to) I do not have traveling time, therefore Friday yoga was the one thing I tried to do as a positive way of learning how to detach myself from a difficult situation. It really helped concentration, self-esteem etc and I miss it.

This week has been the longest sulk I have experienced during our marriage, and I wonder whether this is because I have resisted my normal appeasement mode (cups of coffee etc) and have worked - with the door locked - on my business website.

Apart from sleeping apart, my DH has started going out for lunches by himself and eating by himself in the evening. I sometimes feel that he wants me to come to heel.

I am going away for a few days tomorrow, to see if some distance will help.

I would give anything for a husband who would wake up after a row and just say 'this is silly, I'm sorry, let's be friends again'. Not to keep up this hostility for 72 hours and counting.

Lweji Wed 30-Oct-13 21:30:15

You are saving him a secretarial salary.
How is that not contributing?

BTW, grylls, I didnt ignore retrain. See my 1st post.

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