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Setting healthy boundaries - advice please(27 Posts)
Been with my husband for 9 years. He is a good, kind man but very lazy and he comes across at times as thinking he is superior to me. He is a GP and whilst I'm sure not all GPs are this way, he spends all day everyday with everyone running around after him, never being questioned, only called Dr by other staff, never first names unless by other GPs etc and i think he has a bit of a god complex. He has admitted on several occasions that he thinks he is better than someone else because he is richer/ more intelligent etc, though he says that he never thinks this about me, but i don't believe him. To give background: my mum is a narc (have recently gone NC) and my ex was a violent alcoholic, so had decades of abuse, game playing, my needs being none existant. Please help me establish healthy boundaries as i tend towards put up n shut up or getting upset and digging my heels in. I feel i have no perspective of the situation.
The last year i have worked in the same place as him, but just a part time admin post. We get along better now than we did before. He is a nice person and we have enjoy each others company. About 6 months ago i posted here for advice re him expecting me to be his maid/pa, constant arguing, lack of communication, etc and these things are much better than they were and we rarely argue. However, he still does very little in terms of housework, remembering/ organising things and i still feel like he doesn't really listen eg if i asked him to do/ not do something that affects me/ DIY etc he will usually do whatever he wants without taking my feelings into account.
I know he has been making more of an effort recently and so have i but some things just piss me off. He has a responsible job but is a complete man-child at home. I don't mind doing most of the housework cos he works long hours and i don't, but i resent picking up his stuff that he leaves on the floor/ surfaces etc eg dirty socks on the side table in lounge. I don't want to be constantly moving stuff before i can get round to actual cleaning. I also get constant demands like remind me..., asking me to repeat what i was saying cos he walked off into another room/ too busy watching tv, then getting upset if i don't repeat it once/several more times, generally micromanaging his life for him. Yesterday got annoyed cos as usual, he has left all the xmas cards, presents etc to me, so he begrudgingly helped wrap some stuff. His usual answer to everything is 'i was gonna do it' - there are things he was gonna do several years ago but are still left undone, but if i mention anything i am nagging him.
Anyway, today i behaved very stubborn in regards to a situation. I don't think i behaved correctly but was fed up of yet another typical ongoing situation. He often comes home for lunch and will have curry a couple times a week. He sticks it in the microwave uncovered and the sides and roof of the microwave is covered in the sauce. He then 'forgets' to clear it up, or 'was gonna do it.' He will usually leave his plate etc on the side or recently in the sink with a bit of water (that took a lot of work nagging). Whenever i go to use the microwave it is in a disgusting state so i either don't bother or have to clean it first. I have actually left it for over a month before now And he still hadn't cleaned it - food everywhere! As an added thing i absolutely hate curry. I often come home from work and genuinely feel nauseous/ get headaches from the smell, end up getting it on my hands when cleaning the pots etc. have tried reminding him, asking him etc, everything i can think of but no result. So yesterday i got angry and said mo more curry for lunches as i shouldn't have to feel ill/ clear up after him/ have a microwave festering in germs. Today, he brings home curry so i threw it out and went to work. childish but i was so annoyed as he never seems to consider my feelings.
Apart from split up, how should i deal with the endless frustrations in a healthy, assertive way without becoming a doormat/ bossy pants? Sorry this is so long just didn't want to drip feed and felt some of my history was relevant to understanding the context
I would say he should treat his wife at least as well as he treats his colleagues - ie not leaving his crap all over.
However, I suspect Dr God does that at work.
I would try to have a sensible and calm conversation about him needing to remember you are an adult and not a servant.
I found DH used to call me to a room if he wanted to talk to me. When it dawned on me what he was doing, I began to ignore it. He told me he was concerned about my hearing|!
When I explained I did not respond to summonses, it dawned on him what he was doing.
I think you have to challenge and challenge again to change his habits. If they do not improve, you may have to accept he is a wanker, and plan accordingly.
Microwave - I'd just leave it and never use it myself [they are evil anyway]. Certainly never wash it. Perhaps leave a slug or something in there to make the point.
Socks - don't pick them up, leave them be.
General housework - get a cleaner/maid.
Reminders - get a whiteboard and each time say 'don't tell me dear, put it on the board'.
Thanks for the quick reply. I obviously haven't listed all his good points here but he is a good guy honestly. It's just the man-child bit that pisses me off. And unfortunately whilst he is better at work, he does still leave his briefcase in the middle of the back office so other staff trip over it, and on the odd occasion he has left his dirty cup on the desk for someone else to clear. Other staff have mentioned his abrupt manner (tho not to him) and he can come across as selfish/ rude. A couple of weeks ago, he arrived 10 mins late, then stood chatting to a colleague for nearly five mins. His appointments had been waiting and complained to receptionist, who nicely said to him that the patient was waiting, then he bit her head off. An hour later a patient was five mins late for her appointment and he refused to see her cos she was late, even tho he wasn't busy at the time. Reading this back he seems like a complete wanker, but he really isn't, he just sometimes seems to think his opinions are the only ones that count.
Anyway, how can i tell whether i am too heavy handed in my demands/ just being a doormat. How do i gauge? Is the curry thing me being controlling? How should i be handling this sort of thing? Is it fair of me asking him to do anything if he works full week plus over time?
As someone who thinks men and women, black people and white people etc are all equal, I can only suggest a lobotomy. Seriously, he sounds like an entitled arse who considers you his inferior. I wouldn't think that will change anytime soon
Sorry Funky, cross posted with you. The slug sounds tempting!
Socks etc - i have got a basket where i now dump all the stuff he leaves around. I tried just leaving them but it is unfair that i have to live in a pigsty when it makes me so miserable. The basket kind of works, but not when it comes to plates, cups etc.
Reminders - tried similar things eg i put everything on the kitchen calendar and he did the same for about a week then 'forgot' about the calendar despite reminders. He is also glued to his iphone/ ipad and puts reminders etc on both of these for work stuff but 'forgets'/ somehow can't cope with it for other stuff/ moans about how unfair I'm being/ why can't i just tell him etc
No, you'[re not being controlling. A grown adult cleans up after themselves, unless there are extenuating circumstances like illness. Thats got nothing to do with overtime or a week's work. It's simply being an adult.
Its fair enough for him to have curry now and then even if you don't like it, I reckon, but not like .. 3 times a week. But this is something where each side can compromise a bit, I think. You get the smells more than you like, he gets it less than he likes.
Trying to persuade someone who's a bit entitled that you are just as entitled to respectful treatment is a bit hard work. Good luck :/
Could you choose the most irritating three things he does. Then have a conversation with him at a quiet time (ie not when you are already annoyed) and say "look DH you do this, and it is really unreasonable. What would be a reasonable way to tackle this?" So for example with the microwave. You say: you heating curry really makes me ill and the microwave is unhygienic being left in this state. Can we agree what you will do about it? Then (like a toddler) lead him through the possibilities till he chooses one which is reasonable, e.g he takes responsibility for cleaning microwave and is welcome to have curry but only outside the house. Then maybe as he has decided on it, he won't kick off when you enforce it.
Or, like I did with my DH, put up a competitive tick chart for household chores. He absolutely had to be better than me and suddenly got really focussed on cleaning
Thank you Meera - he is back from work and has told me that i was bullying him re the curry.
"He has admitted on several occasions that he thinks he is better than someone else because he is richer/ more intelligent etc." And expects you to clear up after him, be his PA, maid and general dogsbody.
He sounds like a self-entitled, sexist arse.
Boundaries wise, given these issues, not at all sensible to work where he does, in addition to living together. Not sensible to do stuff for him that he should be doing for himself.
You mention issues some months ago. Why have things improved? Because he's made more effort, or because you've shut up about stuff that upsets you?
As an interim thing, get a cleaner.
As well as the dumping basket, you can easily leave plates and things for him to do. Student tip: get a plastic washing up bowl, put in there in kitchen, his study, wherever.
Urggh - so annoyed. Had stupid row where i was being quite horrid and he still maintains that i am bullying and out of order. The reason why things were better was actually cos i was shutting up about stuff AND he was doing more around the house.
I've noticed that people like this set up guilt trips for people like you (and me)!
Accusations like "you're nagging" or "controlling" vex me because I know such things are unhealthy and it is so important to me not to be this way. I am sure that is why such accusations are used when I try to push for equality.
I get the whole 'call me into the other room' scenario, or 'bring to computer over here so I can see' requests. But when the shoe is in the other foot I am the one to have to get up and do the moving.
I have to watch it and be so vigilant ad often I am caught unawares because I am in a rush or preoccupied and forgot to be vigilant. Also I don't want to have to be vigilant in my relationship in a monitoring way like that.
By the way I'm also married I someone medical and I've worked with him (it's how we met). I know how efficient and thoughtful he can be and I'm glad I've seen that because they way he can act like a man-child at home makes it almost unbelievable!
I personally don't hold out any hope of change though I'm afraid. At least not because of my complaint. If he ever changes it will be because he is on a personal journey of self improvement.
But that doesn't mean we have to be doormats either. However for my own
sanity peaceful life I try to pick my battles.
I am a GP and I certainly don't behave like your H. I clean up after myself and others and don't expect special treatment or deference. I hugely appreciate my lovely staff who work just as hard as I do for a quarter the pay or less. But I have known doctors like him who think they are a cut above the rest. I was married to one until I got fed up of being his skivvy and picking up his pants, dirty cups and remembering everything he couldn't be bothered to deal with.
Have you considered stopping running round after him for a while? Go away for a few days and let him look after himself and the house.
I'm not sure it is about boundaries as much as deciding if you want to provide the audience and support crew to the main act for the rest of your life. He has no reason to change does he?
Do you have children?
If you are doing this much housework and you don't even have children yet ...
Also, I read "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I think it was suggested by someone on here. It's very gentle. It is aimed at Christians in those America community churches. A consequence of this is that it is aimed very squarely at people who have a strong resistance to saying "no", and feel extreme guilt if they do. It may not be for you. My guess is that the book/approach that will work for you will implicitly address whatever structure it is that organises your boundaries (or lack of them).
Anyway, it might be an interesting starting-place.
Milly are you worried that your husband is a narc or potentially abusive (emotionally) because that's how your post comes across to me?
I know a lot of GPs, and other doctors, professionally. I get to essentially choose those I want to interact with (because I'm engaging them to do work). As a general rule I avoid those who come across as entitled wankers which is very much how your husband sounds from your posts.
It doesn't sound like you want to end your marriage though, and you say that he is a good, kind man. I think your first step really ought to be to disentangle your work and home lives. Get a job somewhere else if that's at all feasible and then you'll have a degree of financial independence. Then I think you have to sit down with him and say that his lack of respect is a deal breaker for you, you are not his fucking maid, and if he persists in treating you that way then there isn't a viable relationship.
I know it's hard though. My husband does a reasonable amount, but then I earn more than him and have a more stressful job so he has little excuse. But even so he has taken the laundry (towels) out of the dryer and left it on the kitchen bench. Because laundry magically takes itself up the stairs in our house if you leave it there long enough. (And also gets hung in the fucking cupboards if you leave it for a whole week and the cleaner's coming tomorrow).
The easy response is, tell him you are engaging a cleaner. If he thinks you are bullying him doesn't he realise he is being disrespectful and arrogant?
He seems to switch off as soon as he leaves the surgery and dump responsibilities in your lap so he can unwind. "I was gonna do it" would hardly cut it in his profession.
Did he live at his mother's before meeting you or was his previous partner a compulsive cleaner? Did you hope a civilised professional would protect you and be someone you could at last respect and admire - instead he makes you feel like a powerless child. A narc mother must have given you a lifetime of hoops to jump through, now DH is making your home life a misery.
You haven't mentioned DCs so what is to stop you suggesting you live apart?
I don't know what to suggest OP but if you hoped this man's good qualities made him a gentler soul than your abusive ex I am afraid he is showing something bordering on contempt.
Earn can you tell us the good points? He doesn't sound easy to love with. I don't think you should make excuses like him being a Gp to explain his attitude. My dh is a GP and is lovely at home. We work as a team to sort things out. This guy is taking advantage of you because you have let him. Well done for starting to stand up to him. It is tricky though because I don't think you should dictate what he eats etc. you need to sit down and discuss a plan of action.
Eating curry is one thing, leaving it splattered all over the microwave, pots, plates etc is another.
It's not unreasonable for him to eat it occasionally if he takes into consideration that it makes his DW physically ill and cleans it up afterwards.
But does he?
Of course not. He's too important.
Good, kind men are thoughtful as a rule. Kind men try not to make extra unneccessary work for others, in my experience.
I don't know if I'm going to say this properly but I read that he really isn't as clever and capable as he likes to think and sort of gets to a limit of what he can cope with. At work he 'has' to hold on and cope at his best, but other things he feels he is able to let go of.
He chooses to let go of the things at home because he feels safe enough to. I don't think he thinks like that but it is disrespectful to you and the value he puts on whats important to you.
I think a serious discussion needs to happen as it will only get worse .
We had a long discussion last night and he still maintains the curry thing was me being controling and bullying - he has a point re ordering him not to have certain foods etc. i agree my actions were ott, but felt i had tried everything else. But he did say we should make more of an effort to talk about things calmly when i have an issue.
I don't worry that he is a narc or abusive. He has actually done a lot to boost my self esteem over the years and supported me re mum. I know my post sounds very negative but it is because i was so frustrated. I have read so many posts on MN about life with a man-child but because of my history i find it hard to know when i should be more assertive/ sit back and not battle for control.
I actually thought i was going to get flamed on here for the curry thing which is partially why i tried to give the context to my actions.
My dh is an entitled wanker, too.
Fortunately he's also a pedant and once he's agreed on certain household chores will totally follow through.
After over 4 years together I realize he'll never change, but my attitude certainly has!
We employ a cleaner for 3 hours a week (it's our second marriage with dc from previous bouts) and all kids do own laundry (used to be me doing 90%).
If I have a problem I no longer seethe (with an ice pick behind my back) but approach dh about it directly.
And yes, I have to be MEGA vigilant because the bugger will relapse into man-child idiocy when my guard is down.
Have thought about leaving him but don't want to subject ds to another divorce, and - once I've calmed down again - do also see his good points.
... And then tell myself a marriage isn't a fairy tale, rather some kind of quest?!
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