Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Feel like I can't have sex with or socialise around DH. Very long, but any replies appreciated.(66 Posts)
I could really do with a bit of feedback from some of you wise MNetters. It?s a very long story and I?m not good at being concise, but I will do my absolute best to make it as short as possible.
I started seeing my now DH at school when we were both 17 (we?re now in our early 20s). At the time, I was living alone with my dad, who was an alcoholic. It would take a long time to describe the many ways in which this was affecting my mental health, but in short, I was not very happy with my family situation: house was a tip, dad never spoke to me/was always drunk, etc.
When I started going out with DH (who obviously wasn?t my DH at that point), he was not particularly nice to me, but because I was very naive I just ignored the many ways in which he was disrespectful towards me, assuming that because he was willing to be in a relationship with me, he must deep down have thought a lot of me (yes, yes, I know. I have learnt my lesson). He was 17, very emotionally immature, socially unskilled, had zero actual close friends (although I didn?t realise this at the time because he hung around as part of a large group, and I just assumed at the time that he was closer to some of them than he actually was), had never been in a relationship before being with me, and, in retrospect, did not have a particularly healthy/respectful view of women. Terrible relationship with his own parents, especially his mum. There were a lot of warning signs that I just didn?t pick up on because I was so young.
Because the situation at my dad?s house was fairly dire, and DH and his family were willing for me to spend unlimited time at his house, I pretty much moved in within a few weeks of our relationship. I grew very emotionally dependent on DH in a way I had never been with anyone before ? I was used to family members ?deserting? me (my mum was also an alcoholic and had very little to do with me), and I became terrified of DH leaving me. I must, on the outside, have looked like a stereotypical clingy girlfriend, but in reality it was something stronger than that, like an anxiety disorder or something: I was constantly terrified that DH was going to get hit by a car or have some other horrible accident if I spent time away from him. I knew it was an unhealthy mindset but I didn?t know what to do ? I was just terrified of being left on my own again. My friends didn?t get it, thought I was just neglecting them because I couldn?t be bothered, didn?t like DH anyway (I can see why now), and drifted away. DH was not particularly nice to me, was actually horrible at times, but I just ignored it, thinking that deep down he must have cared about me.
I made sure we both applied to the same universities. I know, I know. We both got into the same one. In the summer before we left, DH became a born-again Christian (long story, but the only girl in the big group of ?friends? he hung out with was a committed Christian ? more on her later ? and she dragged him and others along to a Christian festival, where he ?found Jesus?).
When we got to university, he became very weird. In retrospect, I think he was possibly suffering from some sort of mental health problem as well. For example, he would convince himself that he had ?heard? God telling him to go and evangelise to random people ?for example, in the library at university. To be honest, it was humiliating to watch. He would insist on going out at about 1am on Friday and Saturday nights to hand out biscuits on a plate to drunk people coming out of clubs ? he would have gone alone, but because I was still suffering from this anxiety/attachment thing with him I insisted on coming with him because I was terrified he would get stabbed or something. I would feel the waves of condescension coming from the people he spoke to, I could tell how weird we both looked, but I couldn?t stop myself going for fear he would die if he went alone.
At one point, he told me that he would break up with me because I hadn?t Found Jesus and something about how ?light should not be yoked with darkness? or whatever, some scriptural thing. I had a panic attack, felt like I was going to die, and told him that I had Found Jesus as well. He believed me. I had actually started to hate Christianity for what it was doing to him (although I recognise now that it was not actually the religion?s fault, but some personal problem he was having), but I had to make a show of going to church (where I felt massively out of place and uncomfortable ? it was a huge one where people would routinely fall over due to being ?overcome with the spirit? and ?speak in tongues? and stuff during worship) and reading the Bible or else he would start telling me I needed to be spending more time with God.
My head was a mess by this point. He was the only person I ever spent time with ? I had completely failed to make friends at uni because of how anxious I was when I wasn?t around DH, and other people didn?t like DH much, generally. Or me, any more, because I had become so withdrawn and lacking in confidence. Prior to this, I had been a relatively normal, happy person. Now I felt like I was going a bit mad. I felt completely alone.
He proposed to me (more on this later). I said yes. We were 19. If you had told me before I got into the relationship that I would marry at 19 then I would have laughed in your face. I had always wanted to travel, have different jobs, different relationships, be independent, etc, but my anxiety was destroying me.
Once, in a period of vague clarity, I had started making plans to apply for Camp America, thinking that I needed to some time away to clear my head. I told DH, who in turn told me that to go away for such a reason would be ?selfish?, and that the only reason I should go abroad was to do missionary work, preferably in war zones. I crumbled and deleted my application.
Some time before the marriage, I (stupidly, immaturely, I know) asked DH if he ever had crushes on other girls while he was with me. Something that needs explaining at this point is that DH is 100% completely against lying ? in spite of being very nasty to me at times, he always thought he was behaving according to the Bible/Jesus? teachings, and Jesus is apparently v clear on the morality of lying ? i.e., don?t do it. I had been hoping to hear, at worst, that he had had some mild crushes but that he was ultimately in love with me. I was told instead that he didn?t find me particularly attractive, was in fact in love with the girl from school who had taken him to the Christian festival, though she was absolutely beautiful, perfect etc. and wished I was more like her. (At some later date, post-wedding, it transpired that the only reason he had even proposed to me was to ?impress? her by making a show of how Christian he was, by ensuring he married me before having sex, etc (we had had sex before, but only prior to his Finding Jesus). It sounds ridiculous and illogical ? why get married if he wanted her? I know, I know - but knowing him as well as I do, I believe it entirely.)
He was also attracted to several other girls who went to the Christian Union at our uni, apparently, which we both also attended. But not me. He apparently wished I was more ?smiley? and ?chatty? and ?wore nice clothes? (i.e. girly clothes ? I?m a jeans and t-shirt person) like all the other Christian girls he knew. I tried wearing a dress after this, and he told me it looked bad on me.
Anyway, at this point I became suicidal. I actually wondered if I was going insane. Looking back, I don?t know why I continued to put up with his shit, because I could not have been more miserable being away from him than I was with him, but he was literally the only person in my life, and without him I would have been entirely alone. I also still loved him. God knows why. In a bid for some voice of rationality, I rang my mum (the alcoholic; I have since found out that she also has a personality disorder). I told her everything ? the first time I had ever done so with anyone. She told me to stop overreacting and changed the subject.
We got married. The wedding was horrendous. I was miserable. All my family and ?friends? were there telling me how ?happy they were for me? and how DH and I were ?brilliant together?. It was one of the worst days of my life. The honeymoon involved a lot of me hearing about how perfect the girl he was infatuated with is (he felt like he had to tell me in order to be honest ? I know it sounds insane but I think this was the truth as he genuinely seemed to hate telling me about it), and also about how he wasn?t attracted to me.
We came back. In a surprise twist, the girl he was infatuated with ended up at our uni and we ended up sharing a house with her and her boyfriend. This involved a lot of DH seeing her, and then telling me his exact thoughts on her appearance in relation to mine (in a bid to be honest). I stopped wanting to sleep with him, but he told me I had to because not doing to would make me a Bad Wife in the Eyes of God. So I slept with him. He then told me that we couldn?t use contraception anymore because God Didn?t Like It, and that if we weren?t ?supposed? to get pregnant then God would prevent it. I argued a bit, but I was so worn down. I was starting to genuinely believe that The Bible was true and God was real, but He just didn?t want me and that I was destined for hell. It sounds insane, and possibly was, because I honestly think I was on the verge of some actual madness. (I dropped out of uni because I couldn?t cope, and got a job in a fast food chain ? not the best job in the world, but in all honesty the people there were lovely, I was able to talk to them without DH there, and I think it was only because of the time I spent with them that I didn?t either go mad or kill myself.) I had sex with DH without contraception, and lo and behold, I became pregnant.
Being pregnant gave me something to focus on. Eventually I mustered up the courage to tell DH I was no longer a Christian (didn?t have the courage to tell him I never had been in the first place). He let out some tortured cry (literally, like an animal dying) and then went completely cold, told me I was ?twisted and evil?, withdrew all physical affection. I tried to suppress how much this affected me because I was worried the stress would harm the baby. I considered separating from DH, and told him I was considering it, but he told me I would be an unfit parent on my own because I Didn?t Know Jesus, and that he would take me to court and win custody of our baby. I didn?t really understand how things worked at that point, and was too scared of this eventuality ? along with being homeless - to make a break for it.
Sorry, I know this is getting extremely long. I will try and speed up/cut it short.
Basically, I had the baby. In the hospital, DH kept trying to evangelise to the midwives etc, same with the Health Visitor, which made me extremely uncomfortable. But actually, he has become a lot milder since having our dd and has matured a lot, gained empathy skills and emotional intelligence. I really think he was mentally unwell before. DH is still a committed Christian, but no longer tells me when he thinks about other women, no longer pressures me to convert, and tells me he loves me and is glad he is with me. I know it sounds almost unbelievable, but he is actually now a very good husband. We have a good relationship, make each other laugh, etc. We are happy, and that includes our daughter. It has been a long road, but I have regained a lot of what I lost in terms of my mental health and am a lot stronger than before. If he was a bastard to me, I would leave, without doubt. The anxiety that I had about being apart from him has completely gone.
But there are problems. I really hate having sex with him. It brings back memories of feeling used, worthless, etc. It makes me feel awful, if I am honest. I have tried explaining this to him, but I don?t think he ?gets it?. I have pretty much stopped sleeping with him (and am strong enough now to tell him where to go if he pressures me) because of how awful it makes me feel, but he still makes me feel guilty about it. It really, really hurts my feelings that he can?t see how much he has affected me in this way. I have a high sex drive and would love to be able to have good, regular sex, but with him it is impossible. I cringe away from the thought of it, and though he doesn?t say it in so many words, I know he thinks I am being unreasonable. I feel guilty, because I know it must be hard for him, but I don?t know how to solve this.
The second problem is that at some point during the darker days of our relationship, I developed Social Anxiety Disorder. He was very critical of me at the time, and I suppose I thought that everyone else was seeing the same flaws in me that he was, and I became very self-conscious and unsociable, which was compounded by my complete isolation from family and old friends. I have since started coming out of my shell again, and have started making friends, which is amazing and something I never really expected to be able to do again... but I can only do it when he is not there. He isn?t critical of me any more ? I suppose he keeps any negative thoughts to himself, having stopped feeling the need to overshare in order to be honest ? but as soon as he arrives in any social situation, I start feeling nervous and something shuts off in my head. I had someone over the other day after DD came home from school, and we were having a good conversation; then DH came home from work early and unexpectedly, and I felt myself start to shake, I lost mental coherence, and I became very nervous.
DH has told me before that he doesn?t like how unsociable I am, he finds it disappointing that I don?t want to make mutual friends, etc. I would love for us to have mutual friends, to be honest, but like I said, there?s a block. I haven?t even tried explaining this to him because I know he wouldn?t understand.
This OP is huge and I still feel like it?s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of being a comprehensive explanation of my situation. Sorry it?s so long. I?m not sure anyone will get through it, but I?ll post it just in case because I really feel a need to discuss this in order to get completely past it all, and I still have nobody I?m close enough in RL to talk to. Thank you so much to anyone who actually reads it.
I tried to read this
I got to the part where you said you'd learned your lesson and then struggled through lots of horrible stuff to the end where it seems like you are still with him
I know how unbelievable (and maddening) it must sound. The crux of it is this:
But actually, he has become a lot milder since having our son, and has matured a lot, gained empathy skills and emotional intelligence. I really think he was mentally unwell before.
I would honestly, honestly leave him if he started treating me like he used to again. But I truly believe it was some sort of psychological problem that he has since recovered from, due to how altered he is now as a person.
I wish I had time to explain more, but time to pick DD up from school. Will be back later.
Are you happy with this man? Have you been happy in the relationship in the last year? If not, leave.
"I know it sounds almost unbelievable, but he is actually now a very good husband. We have a good relationship, make each other laugh, etc. We are happy, and that includes our daughter"
I don't know if you want to think this, but your post suggests this is absolutely not the case
"have pretty much stopped sleeping with him (and am strong enough now to tell him where to go if he pressures me) because of how awful it makes me feel, but he still makes me feel guilty about it."
In a good relationship, one person doesn't make the other person feel guilty about not having sex. In fact, in a good relationship you don't have to be 'strong' to stop the sex happening. There is no pressure.
I don't need to point out that you are not 'happy'.
Don't have any specific advice. Not enough knowledge or experience to give it. But you are probably a similiar age to me. You have been strong to get to this point. I don't know what I'd have done in your shoes but I would not be seeing a future with your DH...
He was not mentally unwell.
He has not recovered.
I have read the whole thing and my analysis is that he no longer needs to vocalise his abuse to the extent he did, although he is still sexually abusing you by the sounds of it, because his past vocalising has cowed you to the point that you behave exactly how he likes (not necessarily what he says he likes).
I think you are staying with him because you feel like you have no where else to go even though you know he's a bully.
Have you spoken to women's refuge?
Has he ever actually acknowledged the despicable way he treated you for all those years? If he really has gained empathy skills I would have thought he would feel so terrible for treating you, his dw who he loves, in that way, he would not be able to live with himself.
I didn't mean to make you feel bad. It sounds horrible, I hope you are out of there soon.
I think you know he's not a good guy and suspect that despite not being christian yourself what is keeping you there is a christian belief in sanctity if marriage.
I think you could have a much better life than the one you're living.
Have you told him what you've said in the OP? Has he apologised?
There are clearly still many issues. Counselling is an absolute necessity for both of you.
Sorry you've had such a negative experience of Christianity - I'm a Christian but am appalled by your DH's views and behaviour.
what is counselling likely to achieve? genuine q
Should have said, counselling only if OP is determined to stay with him. I think they need to deal with the past - there are so many issues here and OP sounds like she could do with some help in processing it all.
If your relationship with your (D)H is ever going to recover you are both going to need to want it to change and have counselling to work through the anger and resentment you feel for his past behaviour. Do you really want to stay in what sounds to me like an abusive relationship still? Apart from the security of having a roof over your head what are you getting from this? At your age you are still developing and growing as a person and he is stopping you from doing that because of his actions in the past. I can't give any advice other than to say you need to think about who you are now, what you want to be in the future and where, if anywhere, your husband may feature in your future other than as the father of your child. Go to your GP and ask them about access to counselling services. Don't try and be the perfect wife any more, just start trying to be true to yourself and look after your daughter. Take one day at a time. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
He is a cruel and selfish man. I have been with one, I recognise the signs. Just because it is not as bad as it was doesn't mean it is good by any means. Please look at your options.
Your husband seriously abused you for years. He drove you to the edge of sanity. Now on the surface he seems better although he still tries to control you sexually and you expend a lot of energy keeping him at bay. He appears ok but at the back of it all you know what he is capable of. He still criticises you and you don't feel able to talk to him about how you feel. This relationship has no future.
You still have mental health difficulties as a result of your abuse at his hands. You are still feeling the trauma (unable to have sex without reliving it) even if you have convinced yourself he's fine now.
Honestly, there is no way you should still be with him. He's horribly, awfully, extremely abusive. The fact that he's in a nice phase means nothing. He has severely traumatised you and you won't recover until you move on from him.
I am so sorry for the horrible times you have been through both from your parents and your husband. I would also recommend counselling, it sounds like you have done incredibly well to build up your self-confidence and start making friends but I think it sounds like you could do with some help on where to go from here and what your next steps are.
I wish you all the luck in the world, and I'm sorry for the version of Christianity you've been exposed to xx xx
I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation.
You sound like you have made great progress within yourself.
In my opinion you do not love him, or trust him to have your best interests at heart. If you did you would want to socialise with him and have sex with him. You have shut yourself off from this to stop him hurting you any further.
I personally think you haven't even begun to live a life without an abusive person taking centre stage in it.
You should, and I really hope you do.
I just want to let everyone know that I really appreciate these replies - I want to have time to think about them a bit more and then formulate a proper response so I am going to wait until dd is in bed. Thanks everyone
I did read it all and you write very well.
I think you are outgrowing this man.
You have been on a journey since leaving home and slowly (within a very unsupportive and unkind relationship) you are finding your own balance and strength. The scales of power are changing and you are becoming more comfortable about being you. He has clearly dominated everything throughout your time together and your anxiety has made you more vulnerable to it.
I am not sure that you will ever want to be with your dh sexually again. He never cherished you, his needs and desires always came before yours, he never gave you much to respect. He may have improved in his behaviour but he is still that man.
Also, the social thing. I think you are trying to disentangle from him and make friends for you. I am not sure you want people to meet you as a part of this partnership. Perhaps the idea that people will get a different impression of you if they see this 'part' of you.
You may feel you love him, or ought to, but I think pity for him may be coming to the surface and possibly revulsion. As you grow more independent and less desperate I think you are a little bit horrified at him and how he behaved, psychological problem or not.
Personally I think you will move on, perhaps not now but some time in the future.
Whatever you decide to do, keep nurturing your self esteem. If you need to socialize on your own for now then so be it. Don't feel guilty. Guilt can allow people to manipulate us to do what suits them (regardless of you). Put yourself and your daughter first by allowing yourself to have these feelings. Do or don't do the things that make you feel comfortable. Good luck. X
Your post is heartbreaking OP.
like one of the other posters has said, he may seem happier and less horrible, only because he has you firmly under control, especially as you now have DD. A lot of abusers never have to hit their victim, as they can get their needs met by mental and emotional abuse of the partner.
You may not be at the point you would want to leave yet, but do seek advice from women's aid or another DV agency. They can unpick the strategies he has used/is using, and his behaviour and way of acting and your response to it will make a lot more sense.
I'm not sure about counseling for you two, I don't think a counsellor can be of much help if one of the partners is abusive in this manner.
You can be free of all this if you chose OP. and begin a new life without all his constraints.
You sound as if you are moving away and recognizing some of his shit for what it is anyway.
I felt so deeply sad for you reading this. You have been manipulated and abused your entire adult life by a controlling and, by the sounds of it, very, very unwell man.
Womens Aid. Get out of this situation before your child grows up with such an awful, dysfunctional man in its life.
oh gosh, that was so very hard to read - you poor woman The men in your life had let you down so very badly and the posters above are right, you have to get out, his insane way of life is no way to bring up a child - i say this as a catholic.
Please please please, at the very least get some counselling, that will be a start for you - your GP and refer you.
We are all happy to read and offer support and advice but you really need RL help here. The good thing? you are in your early 20's and have your whole life ahead of you, if you get rid of this man and exorcise the demons that were the relationship wiht your father, then it will be a happy life with your child. you can move on, have a career and a decent, normal and loving relationship. Its not too late x
MitchyInge - counselling for the OP will be very useful to help her make sense of her feelings and move on. Counselling with her DH most definately NOT useful, dangerous even.
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.