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.
ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.
Advice please on marriage issues(44 Posts)
I would be grateful for some honest opinions here, as is think I may be too close to see if I'm being unreasonable or note have been married for 8 years, 3 DC under the age of 5. Generally good marriage I would say. DH is lovely most of the time. Helpful around the house, takes his family commitments seriously and looks after us well (takes care of all bills etc) buys me thoughtful gifts for birthdays and anniversaries etc, loves the DC. However the issue I have is his reactions to things. He gets frustrated, angry, annoyed very easily. Eg, drops something on the floor and swears loudly in frustration. When we argue he can't express himself as well as me and so ends up swearing, shouting, resorting to childish tactics like point scoring. DS had a nightmare the other night and as DH couldn't settle him down he ended up walking out of the room swearing and kind of making a growling sound under his breath. I'm always the calm one, who says don't argue in front of kids. Always the one to calm the kids down, DH just gets frustrated with DC when they do something wrong, will raise voice and point in an aggressive way at them when telling them off.
It's very hard to describe it properly, but in a nutshell, he is just someone who massively over reacts to things, or rather reacts badly, in a frustrated and sometimes aggressive manner. My concerns are that he is teaching the DC to behave in this way, and also that, whilst I love him a lot, I'm not sure how I will feel about being on the brunt of this in another 10 years, it's getting to me al lot, not sure if I can stand it for the rest of my life. He always talks about it afterwards and says that his behaviour was unacceptable and unfair, but he doesn't seem to be able to change.
Given that he is a great husband and father otherwise, am I making too much of this do you think? It is wearing me down and often when we argue, we go to bed not speaking, affects our relationship for a few days afterwards. I can't see the wood for the trees now and not sure if I am making a big deal out of it, after all, no one is perfect. Thanks
Ps sorry for dreadful typos, just got an iPad and this autocorrect thing is driving me crazy.
We had a long talk last night. He came home and said that he had agreed that he needed to sort his anger issues before he had read my email. He had looked up some counsel lord online and said that he will contact one next week. He said that he will find it hard to talk to someone about it, which I understand. Men aren't the best at this kind of thing sometimes and DH is a good example of this. However he said that he thinks a lot of it comes from being so shy as a child and feeling walked over or completely unassertive. He admitted that he can't stand to be corrected or to be told what to do and says he even hates this at work, can't stand it when his boss tells him what to do!! This to me is crazy because that's what bosses are for, but DH doesn't like it. Having said that, He always gets on well in jobs and has no real issues apart from people thinking he is a bit bolshy. He said he knows that he is hard to be around and doesn't want to set this example to the DC. He said that he knows my tidiness or lack thereof is a completely separate issue and accepts that the problem is the way he reacts to things.
Fairly positive really, just have to see if he delivers on it. One thing that did concern me is that he doesn't seem to realise how difficult this counselling might be, I think he thinks it will be easy, but we will see from here on.
Thanks again for your support, it was only through this thread that I had the courage to really address it.
He will 'look into it' doesn't sound hugely encouraging. Please remain vigilent and keep posting. Good luck
Someone posted above that burping is considered abuse by some people... and of course that's true! It's not the specific act itself, it's about respect for someone and their boundaries.
If I've told you I don't like something, and you do it anyway, that's abusive. You're deliberately doing something to upset me. A quick Google of the definition will prove that.
OP - I'm sorry you're going through this but you're doing really well. You're perfectly entitled to live in peace in your home and not in fear of his mood swings.
Your most recent update says to me that he's acting defensive and trying to deflect it. He still doesn't (in my opinion) see this as something serious he needs to deal with (like you telling him he hasn't folded the laundry). He is probably hoping you forget about it and he can continue just living his life.
I truly believe until he has consequences, until he hits bottom, he won't realise this is a big deal. Even if you did LTB I believe he'll just think it's you over-reacting (just as one particular poster implied above). You're NOT over-reacting. You do not HAVE to live like that. The kids don't have to either. It's your responsibility to protect yourself and the kids. He's an adult and can look after himself.
He replied saying he didn't think I needed a response to each question, he said that he agrees he needs to sort out his anger problems and will look into it.
We'll see what he says when he gets home later I suppose. He does often say the right things after a situation has blown over though, what will be really telling is if he actually does something about it and books some counselling.
That's a brave email you sent. Gosh. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts to it.
I don't think him buying a book will help here - he obviously is not very tolerant and dislikes being challenged. He would need intensive therapy/CBT on his OWN, not with you to help him to change his behaviour responses.
Just agreeing something is wrong is his way of fobbing you off and not dealing with it; if he was serious about it, he would have done something - it is hard and it is very likely he will need help to change his behaviours/attitudes.
"Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft describes the behaviours of angry men and the possible causes. He also stresses that the receivers of the anger cannot help the person - the person themselves need to want to change. He also says joint therapy is useless when one person is angry.
Reading the book may help you cope with the situation better.
Ultimately the anger is likely to get worse, especially when the children are older and really start fighting back.
My dad had anger issues when we were growing up and it makes the kids nervous wrecks for no reason. In fact my dad who is now late 70s barked at me three times the other day so I walked out, I know you can't do this but I was letting him know it isn't acceptable, he doesn't speak to my brothers that way but me and my sister get it so he's choosing, just like your OH is.
Will be interesting to see his replies.
Galvanised, I try not to talk abou this anymore with real life friends. I don't always find it helpful for a few reasons, but I am finding it helpful to canvas opinions from a range of different people on here, thank you.
I am hoping that if he can answer these questions honestly, then he will see that he does need to get anger management help. Fingers crossed.
I have sent him an email asking him to consider the following questions, see what you think. Thanks for your continuing advice by the way, it helps.
Do you think the way you deal with frustration is normal or acceptable?
Do you accept that there will always be frustrations is life?
Do you accept that the way you deal with things is your own issue and only in your control rather than anyone else's?
Do you think the children should see you react like you do, or be on the brunt of it?
Do you accept that being like this around the children is damaging for them?
Do you accept that it is damaging for our marriage?
Do you think that you have or can manage to control this?
On the cheek, is your fault he gets angry, no way it is! As I thought, he's got no intentions of actually accepting his behaviour is not on, I;m glad you stood your ground and told him you're not accepting his shit anymore, he sounds an ogre.
Hopefully you've given him plenty to think about and how he can start to make positive changes to how he is reacting to stuff, bloody ridiculous the way he reacted to what you said.
OP I think you are handling this brilliantly. It's all ringing bells from my own marriage (which ended last summer). Sounds like your H like mine, took 'disagreement' to mean the same as 'being unsupportive'. This shows where one boundary is being crossed. This is oppressive/bullying/abusive. Call it what you will. Another boundary he is crossing is the aggressive verbal and non verbal behaviour. You have told him this is a boundary. Well done. Stick to it. Detach and observe. Garner RL support, get counselling, read 'why does he do that' Ignore quitelikely and keep posting.
Honestly. Burping is classed as abuse by some people on here.
I think you are coming round to accepting that his behaviour is his responsibility.
And you are right, if the house was tidier, there would be something else to get frustrated about.
It's ok to get angry, or to get frustrated. It's not ok to scare others, or to behave in a way that is upsetting like sulking.
Anger is often a response to feeling deeply unhappy about something else. Counselling or therapy would help him work out what that other thing is. You can't do that for him.
I hope you are ok, do you have anyone that you could talk to irl? Someone who would not minimise his behaviour and the effects on you?
As an update, I've decided you are right.
We had an argument this morning which started because of something DH said about catchments for schools, I told him it didn't work like he thought it did which triggered him going off upstairs in a bit of a mood. He hates it when I do this, he sees is as me correcting him like a child. I try very hard not to make it this way, I was just telling him something which I thought was perfectly reasonable. Anyway, it escalated to him raising his voice in front of the kids and bringing his hand down on the sofa, not so much a punch, but a physical expression of his frustration. I pulled him up on it and he said I was being high and mighty and it was like being at school. I ended up telling him that the way he deals with situations is unacceptable and he needed to go to anger manager meant counselling to deal with it. He said definitely no. he said discussion closed. I said that I wouldn't be silenced in my own home and that just because he had given his explanation, doesn't mean that an argument is sorted or a discussion is over. I told him that a refusal to go to anger management said a lot about his commitment and that I wouldn't have the children brought up seeing this kind of thing. He said Or what? I said that I would do anything to keep the family together but that I couldn't have this forever as when the kids are a bit older, he would be doing the same to them that he does with me. He said that I am right that his reactions to things is unacceptable. But that it is my fault that he is frustrated all the time, he said that the way I am scruffy around the house and he does everything to keep the house tidy and to help me, when I do nothing is what makes him this way. (Background in this is that he is a lot tidier than I am naturally and he does do an awful lot round the house. I have 3 kids to look after and sometimes they take my priority over tidying so the house isn't as tidy as he would like) to a small extent this is true as I can be a bit lazy, but honestly and truly, he would be like this even if we had a cleaner in every day.
I said to him that frustrations always exist, if i was more tidy, there would be something else to frustrate him, he has always had this in his personality and is known for it and that he had to take reponibility for this and to change it. He said he would. I said that this hasn't worked in the past, he bought a book and tried to change but he didn't. He then said he didn't really try. I said, well either way, either you tried and it didn't work, or you didn't try, either way wee have a problem and you need to start to see that you need help. Then he left for work. I feel more upset today because I'm starting to see that you were all right yesterday, that I do have a husband who is verbally abusive and aggressive and I have a real problem.
Lots of food for thought. Thank you
Unfortunately I agree that his behavior is abuse. It's not a communication issue.
I would normally agree that he has an anger control problem but he DOES control it at work. The problem is his lack of respect for you and the children.
I think it's time you told him that you won't put up with the abuse anymore and neither should the children and that he needs to learn to control his temper.
I know you don't WANT to ltb but you need to do the right thing for the kids as well. Likely they will start living in fear of his "triggers" as well.
When you're afraid to express yourself because he might flip out.. you have to see that's abuse. He's definitely "changing" you, so the idea you can't change someone is wrong. It's just sad you are changing out of fear and he won't out of love.
Flofloflo, that's the perspective that relationship counselling takes. It just doesn't work when there is abuse.
And that's what you and your children are experiencing.
The approach you are taking is really to do with communication.
Communicating your feelings, having them heard and then being responded to appropriately.
You've done the communicating, he has heard and responded.
The problem is his response, not how you have been communicating.
He might not be able to behave differently right now.
This is how he was shown to behave from a young age, he thinks it's ok.
It's probably pretty complicated and it's not possible for you to change him by being 'supportive'.
He needs to accept his behaviour, the affect it has and look for ways of dealing with stresses/frustrations differently.
Is there any incentive for him to do this?
Not so far.
No didn't think he'd be like this at work or with friends, what a surprise.
He doesn't have to explain how his anger is affecting you, by having anger issues he will be affecting you, they will know that.
You can make all the excuses in the world but your situation isn't going to change because fundamentally he doesn't want to, or thinks he has to, he expects you to just `put up` with it. I also don't understand why you are making it a `we` problem when it isn't.
SICUT I hadn't viewed it like that. I was coming from the perspective of marriage being a partnership, trying to help each other be as good as we can, trying to find ways to support and help facilitate a change.
This is why I'm getting so massively confused though, one person's support is another person's avoidance of responsibility, one person's accepting people for their flaws is another person's unnacceptable behaviour that shouldn't be tolerated. it's so hard to see what the right thing to do is.
We have ... agreed that in the midst of an occasion where he was over reacting or being angry, that [I] would point it out calmly and ask him to count to 10 before he said anything. Seemed like a good idea but in the heat of the moment, he can't listen to me,
So he shifts the responsibility for managing his temper on to you, and then ignores you anyway? Mmmm.
Thanks jan. He can admit there's a problem but I don't think he woud be able to explain just how much of a problem it is for me. I think it's a fairly common trait not to want to address something for fear that you can't change it? But I do take your points on board and thank you for your advice. You are right, he does have to want to change and to do something to facilitate that.
WHO, he controls it at work I'm sure, as he's never been in any trouble for attitude issues, however I'm sure he's pretty bolshy and probably talks over people if he feels he's not being listened to. His family see this too, but it's not massively unusual for them to be angry and show frustration, which is partly why he feels it's normal. My upbringing was the opposite so I don't see it as normal. In public, he can be a bit road ragey for an example.
I read something a bit "facebooky" recently, some Chinese proverb where a lad has to hammer a nail in a wall every time he gets angry, then when he learns to control it, each time he stops himself being angry, he gets to take a nail out. In the end there is a wall with loads of holes in and the proverb is that anger and nasty comments etc, always leave a mark in the person on the receiving end. Exactly how I feel to be honest.
Join the discussion
Please login first.