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.
This genuinely might be just me...(51 Posts)
I might be losing some of my perspective here, as my judgement is starting to be a bit unreliable. There's a side to my partner of the last 4.5 years I find very hard. He has agreed to go and talk to someone about his "volatility" (he doesn't hit me - this is about his behaviour and the way he talks to me) which is really good, but I guess I'm wondering if I want him to stay anyway. This morning's little exchange ..small fry, but I don't think this is ok. Am I a bit mad? Both sitting at the table at laptops, listening to the news. He asks if he can turn the radio off as he wants to make a phone call. I ask if he can leave it for one minute, as I'm just listening to the item. He looks ticked off, and says he'll go and get changed. He comes back, and walks over and switches the radio off. I'm anxious but say that actually I was just listening to it. (it was still the same item). He ignores me, leaves it off, picks up his phone, and says "Well, you can go and listen to the radio in another room, how about that for an idea". I get up and go into the bedroom, and do as he says. I hate myself for this. I come back, with anger and humiliation boiling away. After a few minutes of phone calls, he says that it was a "bit abrasive" and apologises. I say it was more than that, that it's not ok to speak to me like that. Argument ensues. He blames it on my wanting to listen to the radio when we wants to make a phone call and I don't ask when I switch the radio off. (not true). I say it's the same as me coming up and switching his laptop off when he's using it, because I want to do something else. He doesn't agree with this. I feel half of me is a doormat, and make it worse by doing what he says at moments like that, and half of me is furious at being treated this way. But I think I'm making it worse. I'm sorry, this stuff happens all the time. I'm losing my judgement. I'm going to go and try and talk to someone too, quietly, to see if I can get clarity. I find him utterly horrible at times like this; rude, verbally aggressive, unpleasant to be with. Time to put up and shut up, or am I allowed to dream of punching him on the nose? (he's very tall so Id need a chair, but I'm sure I'd find a way!)
No, I think you're right to feel put out. That does sound like he's being unnecessarily aggressive in his approach.
You say you feel like you're making it worse, but really, has he given you a choice?
Don't punch him Can you talk to him at a calmer time or is he always like this even when he's supposedly not stressed etc?
You asked him to leave it for one minute. He went and got changed - presumably took more than a minute then came back and turned the radio off.
If his phone call was urgent then I don't blame him for being a bit tetchy.
Couldn't you both just go into another room if you want to make a phone call [which is what we would do]...
We don't know enough back story to know whether this is just you or a culmination of tit for tat.
Based on that one incident I think he sounds very bad tempered, rather selfish and verging on bullying. Asking 'is it OK?' was a good start but clearly you gave the wrong answer and it all went downhill from there.
Why were you 'anxious' when he turned the radio off? Why anxious rather than annoyed or indignant? Anxious suggests fear ... does he intimidate you? Is that why you did what he said and went to the bedroom?
Well I don't know.
He asked you if he could turn off the radio to make a phone call.
You asked if he could leave it for a minute, which he did willingly.
He returned (presumably) more than a minute later and turned it off.
You said something he replied a little 'abrasively'.
He returned following call, recognised that he'd been abrasive and apologised.
You didn't accept the apology and escalated it.
There must be more to this...
Couldn't he make his phone call in a different room?
IMO just turning the radio off when he knows you are listening to it is rude.
Um, I think you need to establish an understanding about what activities have priority in what rooms, that works for you both. If he cannot agree to that idea and always wants his activity to take priority, you'll know it's him.
Why didn't he leave the room to make his call? Did he need to be looking at his laptop at the same time? Couldn't he have taken both upstairs when he went to get changed?
It does seem odd that he wanted to do something different from the things you were both already doing but expected you to be the one to move. Unless the room you were in is primarily his office, that seems weird and he should just have moved.
Does he generally expect things to go his way and see you as a second class family member? Was his dad like that at home?
Yes surely he should be the one to go into another room if you were already doing something in there. You said "his phone" not "the phone" so I'm guessing mobile. Unless he can only get signal in that one room or something.
Besides I don't think it is the radio/phone call which is the main issue. The main issue is this:
- He recognises he is "volatile" (which I'm guessing means this happens quite often)
- He "looks ticked off" when you give him a perfectly reasonable reply to his perfectly reasonable question.
- He interrupts your program anyway without asking if you're done and implies that you should be the one to put yourself out.
- Later when you tell him you don't appreciate being spoken to in that way he gets angry and blames you. ("It's your fault for listening to the radio when I want to make a phone call"? Are you supposed to be psychic? Was it a call which was scheduled, concretely, in advance?)
It reads to me as though he expected you to say "Yes dear of course you can turn the radio off" and the fact that you "ruined" his plan made him angry. Plus he was going upstairs anyway - surely he could have taken his phone call up there. Then it seems that he's angry you haven't accepted his apology, he's not really listening to why you're upset, his argument seems to be "Well I've apologised, so what are you complaining about? And anyway it was your fault."
All this over a tiny issue such as the radio vs a phone call? What happens when you REALLY disagree over something?
Thanks for all these replies - that's amazing. He does do this sort of thing all the time. Yes, I was anxious when I asked if he could wait one minute (that's why I said one minute, to make it less of an ask, but I made it worse because the item lasted more than a minute - I should just have grasped the nettle - but then he looked ticked off when i did so maybe it was the right thing to do) and when he switched it off without asking first again and told me to leave the room if I wanted to keep listening so he could use his mobile I felt small and stupid and about six. There is no upstairs here; the bedroom is down the hall. I'm a grownup perfectly assertive enough female, but this happens about once a week at the moment. The last time I found myself walking behind him as that way I can feel more invisible from him, and when I realised I felt safer this way I was horrified. Maybe it's just me. Last night I was about to cut the cake for tea and he just took the knife out of my hand without saying anything in front of my family because it was the wrong one. My children look, I can feel them, and I just carry on as if nothing has happened, because it's humiliating and I don;t want them to know that. He walks away when we're having an argument but would go ballistic if I did that - that would mean I "didn't care" (the same as when I did the tiling wrong, or got a drop of paint on his shirt, or don't text enough, or make sure the tools are put away, or tidy things away that he wants left out). It's never his fault - it's always because I have caused him to respond this way, and I never take on the same criticism, he says. If I had switched off radio and someone was listening to the news, I would apologise straight away and switch it back on, and take my mobile out to make the call. I'm not sure what's ok now. I think I just need to go and talk to someone to see if I;m just getting this out of proportion. That should sort it.
BertieBotts...that makes a lot of sense. It's ridiculous to argue over this. I think it feels like a war inside me between the half that wants to avoid an argument again, and a half that thinks I have to stand up for myself or it'll get worse and he'll just carry on thinking he can speak like that to me. :/
You could write down some of his responses and try them back on him, even explain this, 'so if I was you, I'd now say....' If he reacts badly, point out this is how he responds, he'll say he doesn't, refer to notes or recording.
He sounds like an arsey bloke who thinks he's more important than you and doesn't care about you that much though - going from what you've said here.
Why couldn't he just go and make the call in another room why did any of it have to involve you that's what I don't understand
You are right to be worried this sounds like the situation is coming to ahead
Please get some advice and support women's aid whatever you do don't just leave it and hope that it will be ok
So you both had laptops there, he wasn't limited to a fixed landline, you have another radio in the bedroom. He wanted to make a call.
He asked and you said you were listening to an item for another minute so he went to do something else.
He came back and you hadn't moved so instead of asking if it was the same item he went ahead and switched off the radio. Abrupt - but you hadn't shown any sign of compromising.
He apologised and you didn't feel that made up for high handedness.
I believe you when you say he can be domineering and all the rest but with this example I am not sure it demonstrated that.
No, it's not you.
He's starting to control you. He's starting to treat you like a fool. And you feel as if you're losing your judgment.
I'm always concerned at the word 'volatile' too.
The last time I found myself walking behind him as that way I can feel more invisible from him, and when I realised I felt safer this way I was horrified.
If this is how you feel on a regular basis it must be time to call it a day.
Mixed feelings here. The radio/phonecall thing - you'd said wait a minute, it was more than a minute, so perhaps you should have moved to another room to finish listening if it was that important. However, if he was not tied to using a landline, he could have gone to another room to make the call. So on balance, both of you were BU.
With other issues, those are raising a few red flags:
"... I found myself walking behind him as that way I can feel more invisible from him, and when I realised I felt safer this way I was horrified."
"I was about to cut the cake for tea and he just took the knife out of my hand without saying anything in front of my family because it was the wrong one."
These sound like examples of controlling your behaviour or undermining you.
On the plus side, it sounds as though he is acknowledging this behaviour, but it is something you need to resolve. He needs not to be like this, you need to find strategies to 'face' it, or to move forward in other ways.
Even if it was you - you don't need anyone's permission to end a relationship. You can just call it a day if you aren't happy.
I was not criticising you being upset or "worked up" about this, I just meant that for such a little thing to be made into such a huge deal is characteristic of emotional abuse and it's actually bloody exhausting and also really hard to explain to anybody else.
As here, most people will say "What's all the fuss about? It's not worth arguing about." But he HAS made it into an argument, made you feel silly, and made you feel like you shouldn't stand up about it.
When you have a partner for whom every little tiny interaction becomes an opportunity to assert his authority and put you down, it's horrible because every interaction becomes like the way that you felt about this in the first place (anxious) and hedged your bets saying that it was a minute when it was longer is characteristic of being on eggshells constantly trying to avoid said arguments.
Just for contrast. In a healthy relationship the person who wanted to make a phone call would ask "Are you listening to this? I need to make a phone call." If the other person said "Yes, but only until the end of this item" then they would either make the phone call elsewhere or wait for the item to finish. That would be it. No anxiousness, no need to try and butter them up by estimating a shorter time.
Yes, BertieBotts, that's exactly it. I measure my words and my actions a lot to ensure that the end result is less likely to cause a problem, and don't make a fuss half the time when I think I should. Or wait until the children aren;t here (my children, here half the week) so if there's an argument as a result they won't be there.
Sometimes he's overwhelmingly loving (almost claustrophobic) and sometimes he's just absolutely horrible. It's like he works to different rules of engagement, and he is allowed to behave in a way that I would find unacceptable for me. I do try and explain saying that if we saw our exchanges in someone else's home, we would be horrified, and sometimes he agrees, but later and never ever at the time; he just gets angrier. When he does apologise after being horrid, I then find it very difficult to wamr to him again quickly, and remain wary and distant for a long time, sometimes all day - it just seems insane to get back close to him, as he just gets cross out of the blue, and I never expect it, and it always take my breath away. Then there's a problem as I take a long time to come round after each argument, and that makes him cross again. I think he thinks I'm sulking; I;m not, I just want to not be there, and have no way of knowing how to get back from the hurt he causes each time to be close to him again. My last relationship ended after 18 years, and the end was very difficult, but my ex wouldl never ever ever have spoken to me like this, and we would never ever have had an argument like this, so I do think I'm right in seeing that as a baseline for a normal way to expect things. I'm not going to go on about it here, as it's unfair on everyone, but I think I need to go see someone. I have to think about this carefully, as there are practical considerations (we live off grid and I am not able to manage all the electrics alone) but if need be I will find out and do it myself. Thank you, everyone.
There was no need for her to 'compromise' as he could have made the call elsewhere.
Personally, even if the radio wasn't on, I'd prefer (expect actually) that someone would leave the room to make a phone call, not intrude upon my aural space.
I know that incident isn't the issue but trying to give you different ideas of normal. I'd have no qualms about asking DP, or a guest, to take their call in another room. I'd only take on in a shared room myself if the other person there had an interest, wasn't being distracted and might want to chip in.
Thanks, Lottie, that's my take too. It's the living room and kitchen area, kitchen table. It was a news item, not a long programme. Perhaps three or four minutes. He has mobile phone signal everywhere. The incident doesn't matter; it's just about how he thinks he can take control of a situation. He's six foot six and reminds me of a panzer tank - just moves into a room and takes over. Stuff in the way gets squished. His sense of entitlement, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, is extraordinary. As a female, and a mum, you tend to do the opposite - see who's there in the metaphorical room first and accommodate accordingly. I'm still angry (and glad I'm angry - if this were my daughter I'd have been furious at the man) but calmer. And hunting down a counsellor.
"I measure my words and my actions a lot to ensure that the end result is less likely to cause a problem, and don't make a fuss half the time when I think I should. Or wait until the children aren;t here (my children, here half the week) so if there's an argument as a result they won't be there."
This reaction is called 'walking on eggshells' and unfortunately it's very common in an emotionally abusive situation. Your behaviour is being modified... subtly at first, no doubt... by his alternating good and bad behaviour and therefore keeping you nervous, frightened and on the back foot. You end up being unable to think, say or do anything naturally but always second-guessing his reaction. It's controlling, bullying and it's completely unacceptable. It's also no reflection on your strength or assertiveness as an individual. Emotionally abusive men seem to take particular delight in crushing strong women...
I'm very glad you're angry. It'll focus your energy.
I too think it sounds like EA. death by a thousand cuts. incidents by themselves don't seem that big a deal but when it is a pattern of pushing for control it is easy to become very resentful but also confused.
I notice he also did the classic thing of saying you do x all the time or that is what you do. you were not discussing past incidents you were discussing what had just happened and he was deflecting you.
This sounds maddening.
You say you are looking for a counsellor? Is this just for you? Or couples counselling?
Thank you both! So moved by the wisdom here....yes, Cogito, in that case I have become the Queen of the Eggshells. I realised the other morning that I can walk round the bedroom and each part has a "moment memory". Opening the curtains without checking with him first was "arrogant"; using the wrong switch for the electrics at the end of the bed made him tell me off for "using it as a toy" (I'm HOW old?); putting the sheets on and not pulling them down straight enough gave me the most patronising look I have ever had in my life (and I just capitulated...where did my own sense of self go?!); not arranging the basket on the shelf well enough so he doens;t hit himself on it as he walks past was proof again that "I just don't care about him". And that's just one room. Hmmm. Some things we can talk about; some things I ensure we laugh about. The arrogance thing - I make a joke of that although it caused an argument at the time, (actually he jumped out of bed, walked out and left the house for the day, not telling me when and how he would be back, and leaving me having to make excuses to my mum who was expecting us that day) - that way I have reclaimed the moment, and have decided I will make a joke of it, and therefore not be diminished by it...does that make any sense?
Yes, mink, he "deflects" all the time. I didn't realise it had a name. All the time. It's always about me, and it;s always about me criticising him. Well, that's because it's always him who behaves so horribly. I would never ever talk to him the way he talks to me. I would see it as unacceptable, but I wouldn;t dare, even if I thought it ok.
And the counsellor - we did go to relate for two sessions, but we stopped; he has agreed to go to a counsellor alone to try and find out why he behaves this way; I am going to do the same, ostensibly to look at my "issues" but in fact to try and get some clarity about why I feel so angry and disconnected from the world, and what I need to do next about my and the children's lives in relation to him. He doesn't know that, needless to say. I'm seeing her for the first time on Friday. Fingers crossed. I'm a strong woman, more likely to get into trouble for being over assertive than under, and I'm shrinking here, in front of a six foot six of strop - and what's worse, in front of my children. They're old enough (14 and 17) to have some resilience and common sense about what's ok, but I know they know he's unreasonable at time.
Anyway - apologies. Huge post. I'm sorry. I appear to be letting loose so much stuff on here.
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.