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Has DH got problems or is he just an arsehole? Help with how to help him (and me)

(117 Posts)
thepandastortilla Sat 23-Jul-16 22:38:50

I'll start by saying H is very successful, despite his qualities (listed below.) He has worked for decades in international companies and according to ex colleagues, miraculously stopped just short of getting fired for his behaviour most days. Now he works for himself and still miraculously manages to keep the money coming in. I believe this is because he has a strong support network of people, especially me, his parents, his brother and a few loyal friends, who absorb his behaviour.

People have told me he displays all the qualities of someone with ADHD. Others have told me that he is potentially on the spectrum. Sometimes I feel that he is just a total arsehole. But I am exhausted from it all. Please tell me what you think - these are some of the things that happen:

He gets severe and sudden sensory problems: hunger, tiredness and thirst that must be immediately dealt with. Everyone has to stop what they are doing and help him. The same with changes of temperature, loud or quiet sounds, or smells. He gets very affected in a v short time, so can go from totally fine to freaking out unable to breathe from frustration the next. It can change an entire day or turn a whole situation that is supposed to be focused on someone or something else (a DC's birthday for example) on to him. I have been on a plane with him and the plane has had to be landed because he freaked out about a sound and was worrying people with his erratic behaviour. But he does not seem to foresee or prepare for these scenarios. Like he will not eat breakfast. Or he will wear the wrong clothes. Or he will not take any steps, away from the environments situations to tackle his reactions.

He has daily meltdowns, sometimes several a day. His emotions are so fragile that someone says or does something minor and he cannot let it go, deal with it or be talked down. It can mean hours of shouting, violence (towards objects) furious correspondence, phonecalls, in extreme cases doorstepping people, wild accusations, threatening litigation and massive escalations of the original problem. He forgets to eat/drink he is so upset and then has one of his sensory episodes (like above.) These dramas always trump everything else in our family life and render him totally useless. If I comment on this and how frequently it happens or ask him how he thinks he can prepare for it in the future I get accused of not caring about him and the things that "happen" to him.

He finds it impossible to judge any social situation. He walks into a room of people, talking very loudly at them upon entry about whatever is going round in his brain. No gauging the room, no reading the atmosphere, no seeing whether there were already other conversations going on. He just steers everything on to his present obsession. If he comes up against an equally dominant personality or is uncomfortable he will come to me, announce he wants to leave and have a meltdown (like above) if I don't want to leave with him, or tell him to go home alone.

He has no sense of the noise he makes and can't do anything quietly. Ironic considering his problems with sounds other people make. He will slam doors and crash around at 4am when everyone is asleep. He will speak loudly outside the DC's rooms when I've just got them off to bed. He will walk into a room of people having a conversation and start to play a video on his phone. I will be asleep and suddenly realise i am awake, because he is playing a news video (he follows the news obsessively). If I tell him it is not acceptable he says I do not understand how important this news story is and how this news story effects me as much as it effects him. He has an Armageddon mentality sometimes, believing the world is about to go to war which he uses to justify his insistence on his view. The latest obsession was the coup in Turkey which he was checking on every 1-2 minutes through the night.

He is forgetful and careless. He is always the person whose phone goes off in a funeral, at a wedding or at the cinema. When he gets the inevitable "looks" from fellow audience members he perceives them as a threat, confrontational or hostile and has a meltdown (like above), escalating the problem. He doesn't notice if the fuss he makes ruins the ceremony or performance.

For any event outside of the house, he will ignore any instructions about timings, routes or customs, then find he is blocked or gets lost, or goes the wrong way despite everyone's attempts at preparing him for the process, providing instructions, issuing maps, for months beforehand (which he denies they ever did.) My chest tightens whenever he or we receive invitations with complicated instructions or important timescales because i know despite my efforts to prepare him we will not make it.

He disobeys or does not "see" signs or rules. I can guarantee if a sign says "this way" with an arrow, he will go in the opposite direction. Or if it says an area is out of bounds, he will deliberately walk into it. When he gets caught he says he didn't know. He gets away with a lot of "one-offs," because people only see that one time. Only I know that they are not one offs and he habitually breaks rules. I just don't know if he notices the rules in the first place.

Lateness: if we have to be somewhere at 10 and it is an hour drive, the DC and I will be packed and ready at 9, call for him and he will start getting ready at 9. Shower, find clothes (where's his shirt? Tie? Clean trousers?) I will have reminded him about it the night before and the two days before that and begged him not to be late, but he will have forgotten. I will have set an alarm and woken him up but then he will have threatened a tiredness sensory episode and so I will have retreated. We normally arrive anywhere between 30 mins-1.5 hours late to anything we go to. Weddings are the worst because we usually miss the ceremony because he is not ready.

His emotionally volatile days ensure that he cannot interact with the DC in any meaningful way (3yo and 20 mo) nor meet their needs. They both find him emotionally unpredictable and will often not go to him and hide behind me when he calls them.

Driving: he has multiple speeding offenses. He was banned from driving once for a few years, now he's back on the road and losing points again. He doesn't indicate, doesn't obey traffic lights, doesn't keep his eyes on the road, he drifts into the layby or near to the barrier on a motorway. He drives over two lanes with the white line going down the middle of the car. He always misses turnoffs. He speeds up when the car in front's break lights go on. We (DC and I) no longer drive with him.

He is nocturnal. There is no night of sleep i have had in my life with him where I could safely say when I wake up he would be still in the bed next to me. He is usually watching the news (like I say, he is obsessed with the news and the potential end of the world,) eating or working. This means he gets episodes of tiredness and sleeps a lot during the day. As you can imagine, all the sensory circumstances have to be right for him to sleep in the daytime which is very hard on me with 2 DC who want to play. Again, i feel it is my responsibility to enable this to happen - otherwise he will have a meltdown creating an even bigger problem for me.

Why am I with him? He is brilliant at what he does. He is top in his field at it, and he is fascinating to talk to when he gets going. He's so intelligent, life with him is often quite exciting; travel, opportunities etc. He is very loyal. He tells me every day that I am the love of his life and he doesn't know what he would do without me.

His eccentricity was beguiling at first. Before DC we could both do our own thing with no responsibilities, and I wouldn't suffer any of the fall out from his issues because i could take a break and go off somewhere and do something else during his meltdowns. But having DC with someone, as I've learnt, changes everything and we are now in a dynamic where I am the rescuer.

Post DC, I have taken responsibility and he hasn't. I now wait from minute to minute wondering what is going to happen next on the roller coaster of our lives that I will have to absorb. I spend my time managing, enabling, containing and placating him to keep the DC's lives as normal as possible.

Also I find that I am filled with anxiety over what will cause the next meltdown and how it will affect my life. Will he accuse the next friend I have round of wearing perfume that is making him ill? Is he going to do something today that will get him in trouble because his meltdown gets out of control and I'm not there? Can I really go to that birthday lunch my friend asked me to reserve a date for months ago without him having a huge meltdown over something that day which requires me to completely stop what i'm doing and talk it over and solve it for him?

I know the obvious solution is to just not engage, to leave him to deal with it and take care of me and the DC. But if I do not step in as rescuer, it escalates until it becomes much worse to do nothing. Sometimes he can work himself up to a point where he is crying and banging his head against a wall. Or he is shouting at me and blaming me for not caring about him or not being on his side. I don't want the DC to have to see this, so it's always just easier to placate him and try to calm him. If I did just walk off with the DC when he started kicking off, things would escalate and he would probably perceive me as leaving him/taking the DC away and god knows what he would do.

After some recent extreme meltdowns I have asked him to take some kind of mental health/behaviour assessment after I've done my research. He has begrudgingly accepted. We will pay privately. What should I get him assessed for?

Deliadelia Sat 23-Jul-16 22:45:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LittleCandle Sat 23-Jul-16 22:52:06

I'm no expert, but this is shouting autism to me. However, I would give the doctor this list and then let them decide. It must be incredibly tough and my heart goes out to you.

MatchsticksForMyEyes Sat 23-Jul-16 22:52:07

It sounds very much like ASD to me.

Doinmummy Sat 23-Jul-16 22:53:26

Whatever it is , it sounds exhausting and very very dangerous . Should he be allowed behind the wheel of a car ?

Cabrinha Sat 23-Jul-16 22:55:46

You get him assessed for nothing.

Bloody hell that was exhausting reading, and right up until you explained about life before kids I was thinking "how the hell did she ever fall in love with this man?"

Back to the assessment... You don't get him assessed. He takes respinsibility and goes to a doctor and takes it from there.

This may be hard to hear, but this is a terrible environment for your children, and I think you should remove him from it.

Even if you really love him, I would tell him that it is a terrible environment for the children and for you, and that you need to live apart. He can go and get assessed and see if he can be bothered to manage his behaviour as far as it is possible.

Maybe I'll get shouted down for not understanding MH issues, but I think that a man who can work, get a wife, make a decision to have a child, drive etc can manage to have a routine that includes eating every morning.

Get a calm happy home without him for your children. Support him in his diagnosis and treatment from another home.

And whilst that's happening, enjoy having your friends round, and being on time for their weddings.

As to whether it's an MH issue or an arsehole issue...

Both, I think.

Because not once in your exhausting post did you say that he is remotely apologetic about any of this. And that's the arsehole.

It's OK to decide to leave an arsehole.

gamerchick Sat 23-Jul-16 22:55:53

You can't fix him and yes he needs assessing but I doubt it'll help, merely provide an excuse.

This stood out

His emotionally volatile days ensure that he cannot interact with the DC in any meaningful way (3yo and 20 mo) nor meet their needs. They both find him emotionally unpredictable and will often not go to him and hide behind me when he calls them

See this is the only thing that is important, not you, not him or how in other ways he's brilliant or even how much you love him. Allowing your kids to stay and grow up in this environment is wrong. They didn't ask to be born and they shouldn't have to grow up learning how to placate daddy autism or whatever or not. You need to think of them.

AnyFucker Sat 23-Jul-16 22:58:54

He sounds like a psychopath

He has zero empathy for others

I don't care what the "explanation" is, there is absolutely no way I would compromise my own needs to this extreme for anyone

Do you see this is how your life will always be...or do you think you deserve to live by your own rules ?

SkydivingFerret Sat 23-Jul-16 23:00:05

Whatever his issues are he certainly shouldn't be driving he sounds like an absolute menace

Fairylea Sat 23-Jul-16 23:00:11

To me he sounds like an adult version of my son who has asd. IF he does have asd there won't be any magic cures but a lot can be improved by learning to recognise when he is on the verge of a meltdown and finding ways to break the meltdown cycle before it begins. For many on the spectrum this means having a safe space away from everyone else in which to calm down. Clearly as an adult with various responsibilities this isn't always possible. As his partner you have to decide how much you can cope with too. It's very difficult - I feel for you both actually. He sounds very anxious and distressed and it's very difficult caring for someone with asd no matter how much you love them (and I love my son so much it hurts).

waddleandtoddle Sat 23-Jul-16 23:06:15

There isn't anything you can do, but work out what you and your children need and how to achieve that.

CBT would be what I'd suggest. My DH never quite made it - he's very much like your DH - as he's petrified of it coming up on his medical records, like the whole world is against him.

I've supported DH on his way up and now he earns a small fortune. But I've not long left him because I couldn't tolerate the selfishness of his behaviour in front of DS. I'm now incredibly happy and for the first time, not worried about silly outbursts on DHs side.

I learnt there's nothing to change - he will always be the above, it's about working out how you are going to fit your life around it. For example, now DH and I aren't living together and have organised meets, my DH is actually addressing his family relationships and trying to work out how to build those relationships - he had DS today. He spent their time washing clothes, doing the garden and let DS play with the children next door. We met up and it clicked - he'd spent no time with the DS he hasn't seen for a week. Long story short, I've been enabling behaviours and never given him the opportunity to judge his behaviour because I made excuses on his behalf. He's now reflecting and for me, nice to see him question his social imprint.

Wallywobbles Sat 23-Jul-16 23:06:36

Unfortunately I don't think you can really bring kids up in this environment. I think even though it is going to be hideous you need to work out how to live apart from him. I've no idea how.

Your life will be brilliant apart from him, but his will not.

Your kids will bloom without him, but will have a whole host of issues if they are brought up being required to deal with him.

I'm afraid you know the answer, but how to get there? You will find your friends flocking back to you when they know they won't be required to deal with him.

Finola1step Sat 23-Jul-16 23:08:30

My dsis has ASD/ HFA. Your description of your husband is incredibly similar.

It is right that he has an assessment but it will be up to him to engage fully in the process.

If it isn't ASD, it will be something else. His behaviour and especially his reactions are so outside of the norm.

But you have now come to a point where he can no longer be your priority. Your very small dc are scared of him. It doesn't matter why, the are scared. Get them out.

If there is a diagnosis and appropriate treatment which improves his situation then the marriage may survive long term. Right now, your dc have one functioning parent. Do what you need to do to shield them from this.

deathtoheadlice Sat 23-Jul-16 23:11:34

You can't live like this. Perhaps with support he might one day learn to manage his behaviour and work to get his own needs meet, including by planning the eating, clothing and timing etc. But a major barrier seems to be that he doesn't acknowledge that any of that is necessary, and so he's not going to be able to do it.
It can't all be your job, and you can't take responsibility for all these outcomes when you don't have any control!
Sounds like he is either trying to isolate and control you, maybe because he's a dick, or maybe because other things aren't in his control so it's reassuring if he controls you, at some level.
But whatever it is, you can't have your DC growing up thinking this is OK and in such an unstable environment without the emotional support they need. Good luck.sounds very hard.

AyeAmarok Sat 23-Jul-16 23:16:19

Even reading about what you like about home, I really don't understand why you married and had children with someone like that.

Has he got worse since DC? Or was he actually always this bad?

MH issues or arsehole... I also think a bit of both.

AyeAmarok Sat 23-Jul-16 23:17:35

How on earth did he pass his driving test for example? He must be able to switch it on and off.

Footle Sat 23-Jul-16 23:18:36

What the others said. You write eloquently about your barely tolerable life with him, but it's not tolerable by any stretch of goodwill or obligation to subject the children to such a life.

Capricornandproud Sat 23-Jul-16 23:20:43

Fuck this for a lark, I'd be off. You seem very loyal and understanding OP - hats off to you xx

Mellifera Sat 23-Jul-16 23:22:11

God, just reading about your daily life is exhausting.

I'd be long gone I'm afraid. A lot of it sounds like autism and adhd/ads but an intelligent man can learn to obey traffic rules. He should not be allowed on the roads. It sounds extremely dangerous.

No advice from me, sorry. But some flowers and sending you strength to do what's right for your children.

WellErrr Sat 23-Jul-16 23:26:05

Goodness.

Your poor children. How can you live like this OP?

Doinmummy Sat 23-Jul-16 23:32:28

Does he drive the car with the children in it ? I sincerely hope not.

glad2016 Sat 23-Jul-16 23:32:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CocktailQueen Sat 23-Jul-16 23:34:18

Fuck's sake. No wonder he says he needs you - but you certainly don't need him and neither do your poor DC. Who have no choice in the matter.

The driving? He will kill someone. He must have been able to drive safely to pass his test, so wtf is going in there?

The meltdowns, complete selfishness, inability to parent his DC or be any sort of decent husband to you ... They'd all be deal breakers for me,

Can he move out while you and the DC get on with living your lives on an even keel, while he gets assessed and sorts his life out?

He sounds appalling. Hard to tell if he's just an abusive arsehole our if he has mental issues. But does it really matter? Can you live like this forever?

OrlandaFuriosa Sat 23-Jul-16 23:37:44

Going to PM you.

thepandastortilla Sat 23-Jul-16 23:39:23

Thank you for all replies.

The DCs are not scared of him, they just find him quite baffling. They treat him like they would treat someone they didn't know well wanting to pick them up. I'm not belittling how this is affecting them though, because I know from my own childhood, even living in an atmosphere of anxiety where one parent is placating the other, is very harmful.

I don;t even know how to start tackling this. His family, friends and I talk about him a lot and the way he is. I get a lot of support from them, but I don't know how much support I would get for leaving without even trying to fix things or having an intervention. But anything I do causes a massive ripple counter-reaction. Even expressing the way this makes me feel will cause a panic/meltdown in him. And the more I pursue it, the more I don't let him get away with fobbing me off, I get a reaction that is x1000 my own.

He can create "extreme" circumstances very quickly. Eg if I said I wanted to live apart, he would probably have a huge episode and harm himself. There are no circumstances in which I can get him to listen to me. He hears the action and never the reasons or the thoughts behind them.

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