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H and I had heated and possibly over honest confrontation in counselling, now he is not speaking to me at all

(127 Posts)
feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 16:20:30

We have had two bad episodes like this before when he blanked me for a period of weeks following a bad argument. (Once up to 6 weeks, the other time a little less I think). When I bring this up in counselling he says yes but what was the argument about - as if what I did or said (which I don't agree with as on both occasions I was very angry with him about the way he behaved so it's kind of a swings and roundabouts situation) warranted him not speaking to me for six weeks hmm.

We have been in counselling for a few months now but we have probably been for a total of 6 sessions together so far as often we can't go for various reasons. What has happened is that I have finally been able to say what I find so difficult, and he has basically reiterated again and again that the state of the house is the main issue for him. In fact I think he went to counselling in the hope that the house would become minimalistic and since that hasn't happened he has said that there is no point to going.

However, though I have finally been able to externalise much of what I find difficult, it doesn't actually feel like anything has changed between us.
On Monday I was very honest about how I feel. I have mentioned the possibility of separating several times now but neither the counsellor nor h take it up. Things also got pretty heated and in the same way that h finds so many things so difficult about me (I am apparently childish, messy, a victim, etc... etc...) I have also said what I find difficult (I find h bad tempered, cynical, negative, he bears grudges etc....). At the point at which he was saying that I am such a VICTIM I got upset/angry and said that to stop behaving like a victim would mean telling him to Fxxx OFF, at which he said that I do, every day (not in so many ways but I suppose we are both often distant from each other, in my case because I find him overbearing, controlling, critical and yes bad tempered).

Anyway, sorry to go on, my question is... given that it did get very heated and "over" honest in counselling, do I now have to accept that h is not talking to me at all (I ask him questions face to face and he doesn't answer at all, I can sometimes get an answer out of him if on the phone - these are all logistics questions nothing more) - IS IT IN FACT MY FAULT?????

cestlavielife Thu 04-Oct-12 16:24:30

if the state of the hosue is the main isue why doesnt he keep it minimalistic?
do you ahve children? if so it would be v hard to keep it spartan unless you ahve lots of space and lots of saorage

but seriously - get a few sessions on your own and see how you feel then.

Opentooffers Thu 04-Oct-12 16:30:11

He is responsible for not talking, he is the one showing disrespect. I'm not quite sure why you are trying so hard to still be with your DH, he sounds horrible and desplays a few traits that my exP had - notice he is an ex and life is so much better without all that crap. I'm not the tidiest person either but the house looks far better since I kicked him out of it. It's hard to get the energy to do stuff when your levels get sapped by controlling EA people.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 16:52:17

Yes it's true, I often feel weighed down, especially at weekends when it is just dh, the kids and I.

I think if there were no kids we would probably no longer be together. On the other hand, I have done damage to the relationship as well. I suppose what I find hard is the complete lack of understanding between us.

I am very frightened of what it might be like to only see the dcs (now 6, 8 and 10) only half the time if we went the 50/50 route in the event of a separation. I also don't know why I can't upset the good stuff about h and try to ignore the stuff I don't like. I suppose I am worried that I might really regret any decision to separate. However there are things which I fundamentally don't like about h's attitude to some things and the way our relationship is set up. It's very difficult to know what to do.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 16:56:35

I meant ACCEPT the good stuff !!!

CheeseandPickledOnion Thu 04-Oct-12 16:59:49

Sounds to me like you might want to change your counsellor? Why aren't they helping you discuss these and look at ways to change both your behaviours? What are they doing?

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 17:06:26

I don't know, she seems very focused on trying to get us to think about what attracted us to each other in the first place (but that was almost 17 years ago and was partly a physical attraction so in some ways I don't see the relevance, people change a lot, or they come to realise that they don't need to put up with crap!) and trying to find the slightest positive thing which we might say about each other. I think as a counselling organisation they might be very much into keeping people together. In any case, a discussion about separation wouldn't necessarily mean separation itself, but I think it would help us think in a different way rather than going over and over the same ground to no avail.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 17:07:21

yes I think a change of counsellor might be a good thing but I don't think dh would agree, already last week he was saying there is no point in continuing....

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 18:49:04

Shamelessly bumping my own thread but also to say that in a way, I don't know where to go from here as we have done the whole not talking for weeks thing as well as the go to counselling and feel terribly traumatised by it as well as by a big argument we had about 6 weeks ago. Now that we are back to not talking I feel as if I have run out of options?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 18:54:25

Do you not think you're flogging a dead horse? How bad would it really be to not see your children every other weekend or whatever is the norm these days? The counselling just sounds tortured and pointless....

joblot Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:24

Does he want to split up? Can't imagine any counsellor would advocate not talking. If he won't talk, what on earth is the point of being in a relationship? You're a long time dead. Sounds miserable for you. Just my thoughts on reading your thread.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 18:59:07

It is tortured and repetitive it's true. The thing about not seeing the kids is that it would be more than every other weekend if it was 50 / 50. I suppose we could go down the one day with one parent and the next with the other but don't know what that would be like for the kids. Some people seem to go down the every other weekend and one week kids with one parent 2 days (between monday and friday) and the other 3, and the following week the reverse. What this would effectively mean is that the longest dh or I wouldn't see them is 5 days in a row which feels / seems like a VERY long time.

I suppose as a last resort I could totally empty the house of any of my stuff and see where that takes us. At the very least it would free some energy.

OneMoreChap Thu 04-Oct-12 18:59:39

XW went for weeks not talking to me often.
Combined with other EA it transpires I was suffering DV.
It wasn't my fault.

If you're unhappy, end it.

bushymcbush Thu 04-Oct-12 19:00:09

Not talking to you for 6 weeks is a form of emotional abuse. You clearly want to separate. What is this living situation doing to your children? They must understand at least some of what's going on between their parents (especially the not talking). Honestly I think you should separate, even if it's for a trial period.

Abitwobblynow Thu 04-Oct-12 19:01:00

1. change your counsellor and look for one who is trained, and has experience in, emotional abuse. Ask this question specifically.

2. Read Beverley Engels. FANTASTIC book. Not only does it explain emotional abuse very well, but it doesn't let you off the hook either and teaches you how to call him on every disrespectful thing, but respectfully. It also doesn't magically assume he will respond the way self-help books seem to expect.

3. Find some girlfriends and go for a girlie holiday for 10 days. Haven holiday, whatever, go. Make up some pretend girlfriends, still go. Walk out of the door, and don't worry about the children. He can find out exactly what hard work is when he is multitasking 15 hours/day. See how tidy the house is when you come back!

It is AMAZING how much this complaint (the house is a mess) is SO IMPORTANT to men? I literally got that reason too, for the M breakdown. The need for support, companionship....

riverboat Thu 04-Oct-12 19:08:03

God, 'not speaking to someone' is 10 year old behaviour as far as I'm concerned! I absolutely couldnt stand to live with that. It is in no way your fault!

Kundry Thu 04-Oct-12 19:49:11

Would he really want 50:50 split for the children? Really and truly or would he find it too much like hard work?

I suggest you go and have a few free half hours with some solicitors to see what your options really would be if you separated as they may not be as bad as you are imagining.

quietlysuggests Thu 04-Oct-12 19:54:46

Does he sulk and ignore the children?
I cannot imagine that grown man who is quite content acting like a gigantic arse actually thinking enough of anyone, even his children, to want to inconvenience himself in that regard.
Let him bugger off to a minimalistic apartment all to himself.

OrangeImperialGoldBlether Thu 04-Oct-12 20:14:19

Can you tell us about you and your husband's working life? What kind of hours do you work? Who earns more?

On a practical level, is there any way you could both pay for a cleaner?

ChooChooLaverne Thu 04-Oct-12 20:31:01

Does he do 50% of the childcare at the moment?

What did you do that caused damage to the relationship, apart from be messy? Is it as bad as punishing your OH by refusing to speak to them? I doubt it somehow.

ladyWordy Thu 04-Oct-12 20:38:02

This industrial grade sulking is emotional abuse. So is the criticism, controlling, turning things round to be your fault, and sneering at you (saying you are 'such a victim').

You would benefit from counselling just for you, OP. You don't need permission from H or the counsellor to separate (it's interesting that both parties simply disregarded this point, when you brought it up ).

In terms of access, I'm no expert at all, but haven't heard of a situation where each parent simply gets 50% of the childcare? Because you have to think about everyday continuity for the children, especially such young ones - it's not about fairness to the parents ( if that's the idea behind it).

Also, I think a critical man who gets worked up at the state of the house may not have the patience for long periods of childcare.

Anyway, very wise advice from Kundry above - best to have a brief talk with a solicitor to go through your options. And keep posting here if it helps brew

Fairenuff Thu 04-Oct-12 20:47:14

His ignoring behaviour is abusive, designed to control you. You should not be having joint counselling with this man.

Stop the counselling, find a different counsellor and go on your own. They will help you see how manipulative and controlling he is being. You can then start to think about where you go from here.

garlicbutty Thu 04-Oct-12 20:54:13

Have I got this right? You're in counselling because your husband doesn't like the state of his house? confused

Normal people don't go to relationship counselling about this, they sort out the house.

And what everyone else said about emotional abuse. It's pretty bad for your children to be around this sort of bullying behaviour - as it is for you. He'll be a million times happier as a single man with uninterrupted views of his floor. You and the kids will be happier living like a normal family. Get pragmatic advice.
Good luck!

WorriedBetty Thu 04-Oct-12 21:17:13

Its a bit weird all this - the minimalist/tidy house thing should be examined - what need is that fulfilling? does he get stressed by untidiness/clutter? Was his house at home minimalist and he expected adult life to be like that and is resentful it isn't? is he rejecting an untidy parent?, does he read too many magazines and associate minimalist photo-ready houses as badges of success? Does he see minimalism as 'success' or tidiness as 'success' etc and if so, what is blocking him from working to achieve that? Does he view the house as 'yours' and so is whinging impotently without realising the house is 'ours' and he can get involved in it (and if so why does he feel like this etc etc)

IMHO he is fixing on 'minimalist house' as his expression of what's wrong without explaining how he has come to that conclusion or what affects him about non-minimalist housing, and that is what good counselling should be sseking to unpack.

I would also guess that his silence (if it isn't just angry punishment) could be that because the 'minimalist house' statement is never unpacked and examined he goes away from each session feeling blamed and unheard. Silence could also mean that what he wants to express makes him afraid or that he can't deal with the emotions that will surface if he speaks openly (or that your reaction will be something that he can't handle - eg serious upset, or serious disapproval from you).

That's a bit 'venus/mars' but men do find being constructively negative very difficult

Also dont' forget that hearing 'we must split up' particularly when his grievances he might feel are being unheard is a pretty nuclear hurtful thing to hear and it may be that he finds it diffucult to express his hurt without seemingly increasing the nuclear threat.

That said, he could be being a 'I'm going to make her suffer until she cracks' type - only you will know if that is the case, and whether if you think it is the case you are being realistic or jsut seeking that idea because it blames him the most.

Out of interest, what was the last big emotional thing that happened to you as a couple?

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:41:54

Thank you so much for all your messages.

I went through a phase of spending too much money which H is/was upset about. In my defense this was around the time that my mother was very ill and then died, now six years ago as well as the years that followed when my relationship with h became increasingly distant and unaffectionate, so I do think that I was trying to comfort myself by shopping. I did not get us into debt, I spent some my savings. Not huge amounts but yes, now I think I was an idiot and though I have spent my savings on good things like holidays for us as a family, furniture for the house, hoovers, the fridge, music lessons for the kids etc.... I have also wasted some of it on magazines, accessories for me etc....

I am a little bit of a hoarder and some of the corners in some rooms reflect this. For example the front room has piles of school papers and kids drawings on the floor along one part of a wall which have yet to be sorted. I find it difficult to get rid of some things linked to the past. Our dining room table often has things on it relating to the kids' schoolwork etc and he is very resentful of this saying he cannot tidy it because I get cross. I only get cross because of the way he does this, saying everything is junk and pushing it all aside.

Dh's mother is very tidy and organised and this is definitely his benchmark. He is also divorced and his first wife was apparently very tidy. When I met h his flat was very tidy. On the other hand, he himself has things he hangs onto and parts of the house which are disorganised due to him so he is not minimalistic himself. I think, however, that he can get rid of stuff much more easily than I can.

The issue of him seeing the house as mine is an interesting one as I am convinced that he sees it as only his and there is definitely a power struggle between us over this. Indeed on paper the house is completely his and I find this difficult. I think some of my "stuff" is me trying to lay claim to some of the territory. H is very proud and very convinced of his opinions which I often find over cynical and negative, judgmental and critical. He also bears grudges against people for a long time. I feel that in this relationship I can only ever be the told off child and this is difficult. I find it difficult to operate with the weight of his resentment and disapproval on my back. Being untidy is something he really disparages and feels ashamed of. I do feel however that there will always be something wrong and this is very discouraging.

I am a SAHM at the moment which I suppose is linked to everything as I feel quite powerless.

I agree that my telling me I have been thinking of the issue of separating is pretty explosive stuff.

There haven't been many emotional things that have happened to us as a couple I don't think as h is very self contained and does not really need me emotionally. We had a massive argument a few weeks ago in which we did explore some issues buy h is always sarcastic and scornful in these situations so though it kind of clears the air, it also creates more hurt.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:44:43

"but" not buy! and my telling him not "me"

If he thinks the house is messy, how much is he doing to tidy it up? He sounds like a sexist, abusive prick that you would be best advised to get rid of, really.

Though I suppose it's ony fair to ask: are you a hoarder?

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:46:55

He does definitely get stressed by clutter. Very easily. To the extent that he said he hated the dvd shelves because there are things in front of them on the shelves and some of the dvds are piled sideways and not put back properly. I think stuff stresses his brain.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:48:07

I am a little bit of a hoarder but nothing like the people on TV !! A little nostalgic about and too attached to the past but nothing that couldn't be sorted out.

ChooChooLaverne Thu 04-Oct-12 21:48:22

How is he with your children? Does he punish them in the same way? Does he talk to them/listen to them or is it 'my way or the highway'? Does he have fun with them? Do they like spending time with him?

How much caring for them does he do? I'm curious as to why you assume if you split they would divide their time between the two of you 50/50. Is this how it is currently?

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:49:01

I think he would tidy it up but by throwing everything away which of course would cause fireworks between us.

AbigailAdams Thu 04-Oct-12 21:51:08

OK he sounds horrible and emotionally abusive. Counselling is not a good thing with him as he will turn everything on to you as your fault. He will use it as a weapon against you. As you are an SAHM it wouldn't necessarily be 50/50 custody as they would want to maintain the status quo with you as the primary cared. So it would more be 70/30 to you I would think. A solicitor would be best to advise.

Sorry for such a brief post I am off to bed. But he sounds like a nightmare and you have my sympathy. Btw my husband sounds about as untidy as you are and I don't treat him like he treats you. It isn't normal.

feelokaboutit Thu 04-Oct-12 21:51:44

He loves the children very much and is very affectionate with them. He does spend time with them. Occasionally he loses his temper irrationally I feel (and the elder 2 will tell him straight away and don't take any crap, he doesn't often get cross with the youngest) but then gets over it pretty quickly.
I think 50/50 would be the fairest thing as both of us would be devastated to have less than that, in fact 50/50 would be pretty devastating!

AnyFucker Thu 04-Oct-12 21:54:52

Joint counselling is a bad idea when there is any abuse within the relationship

As illustrated by this scenario

OP, I agree with your prick of a husband. The counselling is a waste of time.

I think you should end this farce.

SorryMyLollipop Thu 04-Oct-12 22:17:10

My H was like this. He used to get very angry about the state of the house, would threaten to throw all the dc's toys away etc. I got rid 7 months ago. Never been happier.

Would his job make 50:50 childcare an option for him?

amillionyears Thu 04-Oct-12 22:29:43

Could you put some of your stuff that you dont want to throw intp say a spare bedroom?
Are you both about the same age?
Why is the house in his name only.Did he live in it with his ex wife?
By not talking to you,he is emotionally controlling you.
You say he does not need you emotionally,but I tend to think that all adults need another adult emotionally. It is possible that he doesnt properly realise that himself.
What is he saying about the seperating?

allthefun Thu 04-Oct-12 22:30:40

Do you know why he hasn't ended it?

He seems to be the one that is most unhappy with you and the house so what's stopping him leaving?

thetrackisback Thu 04-Oct-12 22:30:52

Oh dear it sounds like torture. I definitely think you need to go to counselling. You have lost your mum and the hoarding may be symptomatic of that. I also think you need to get practical. Get a plan together of what you would do if you we're to separate. Also I think you need to explore with your partner about moving. You've moved into his house you need your house. You might want to hoard less and it might give you a fresh start and a clean slate! I lost my mum six years ago and I recognise in myself I splash the cash to over compensate. The latest example was to go to euro Disney this Christmas to stop feeling hurt about missing my parents. We can't afford it so it was madness but I'm lucky my husband recognised this and either supports my spending ie what the hell or tells me to look at what I'm doing!!

HissyByName Thu 04-Oct-12 22:43:11

I don't know your H, but I do know this:

Not speaking to someone, for any period at all let alone weeks at a time is called STONEWALLING. It is one of the WORST forms of abuse/torture you can inflict on a relationship/partner.

You mentioned he was controlling, critical and derogatory of you.

To me he sounds as if he is abusive.

Counselling where there is Domestic Abuse is always discouraged, the perpetrators use the counselling to get at their victim, and make things worse.

IMVHO, you need to STOP the counselling as a couple and just YOU go, talk about you, your feelings, your anger, your sadness and work out what you are doing in life, why and what you could be doing

olgaga Thu 04-Oct-12 22:58:21

I really don't know where this assumption that children should be shared 50/50 comes from. Does he do 50% of the caring now? If not, why are you even thinking along those lines?

I think you would be better off seeing a family lawyer than another counsellor to be honest.

You might find it helpful to start reading during these long silences:

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.


If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:

You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.


You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:

DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:

Legal Rights and issues around contact are further explained here:

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:


Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:

Handy tax credits calculator:

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:

Parenting issues:

Other Support for Women – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence and - Helpline 0808 2000 247 - Helpline 0844 8044 999 - Helpline 0808 802 0925
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ.

garlicbutty Thu 04-Oct-12 23:47:17

Isn't olga great smile

Feel, I don't think you are a hoarder. You've described keeping things of sentimental importance, like children's pictures & writing, and putting stuff in 'nearly' the right place before determining where it should live. I also don't find your feelgood spending particularly irrational. You spent funds that were yours to spend, at a time when life seemed bleak, on things that genuinely did make life better. If anything, I'd suggest you weren't selfish enough for such a time: magazines and accessories are just everyday treats (or should be) unless you mean you bought the company!

I'm very worried that you're so ready to do yourself down. You seem remarkably dis-entitled, even to the point of calling your family home 'his'.

Perhaps your counsellor's inexperienced and takes you at your own evaluation ... which is really his. It's rather sad to read.

Charbon Fri 05-Oct-12 01:44:44

Stop the counselling, because this relationship sounds abusive and couples counselling is never recommended in those cases. Plus, the way you describe it sounds like 'counselling by numbers' where the therapist stays in a comfort zone around initial couple-fit and runs scared of anything outside it, such as requests to separate, or emotions like anger and sadness. In fairness to the therapist however, your failure to keep weekly appointments has probably made the therapeutic experience extremely disjointed and unsatisfactory for all involved.

Stonewalling and silence are recognised bullying, punitive tactics, but victim-like behaviour and childish responses in adult interactions are also relationship breakers. You might both argue about what came first, or whether one set of behaviours breeds the other in response.

From how you describe your marriage, it sounds like it's time to call it quits and agree on residence for the children and the division of assets. If married, the latter is usually much more straightforward and it matters not whose name is on the property deeds. You say he is a very involved parent and so shared residence might be best for the children, but as has been said this is about their rights, not yours or your husband's. If it's deemed suitable for them to reside with both of you (and many couples manage this by rotating a 4:3, alternate weekend arrangement, with reasonably proximate housing) then you will both have to accept some separation from them.

piprabbit Fri 05-Oct-12 02:08:04

I'm so sorry that you are struggling in such a difficult relationship. It is awful that the counsellor you hoped would help you, seems to be failing you ATM.

There is one tiny thing that you said in your earlier post when you talked about spending your savings. When you talked about buying "good" things, you listed practical household goods, things that would benefit the whole family. When you talked about buying things for yourself, you said it was "wasted" money. It almost sounds as though you feel you didn't deserve to have the things you bought yourself. I'm not sure if that is what you have always believed yourself, or if you are reflecting your Hs views on the matter.

Sorry for rambling, I was just really struck by your distinction between "good things" (for the family as a whole - including vacuum cleaners to help keep your home spick and span for your H hmm) and "wasted things" (for yourself).

FairPhyllis Fri 05-Oct-12 02:20:52

If I were one of your children I would be very confused and distressed that my father was not talking to my mother for periods of up to six weeks. You need to end this marriage for the sake of your children.

WorriedBetty Fri 05-Oct-12 02:24:03

Can I just say that my dad is a crazed minimalist/controller of space and my mum a bit hoardery (or a bit 'house should be interestery' - i used to love going into the houses of friends who were really 'into' something and had either paintings everywhere, or books everywhere or records everywhere. i don't like people who have everything blank and empty but who try to make everyone else live like them (Its a truism in my world that the people who have the emptiest tidiest houses want to make everyone be like them.. isn't that sinister in itself??)

My dad sees my mum as personality deficient as he cannot understand why anyone would want to have things they are not going to use in the next five minutes anywhere in the house. He has convinced my mum that she is personality deficient (as so many 'clear desk' people do) because she likes bookshelves, stuff she might use soon and objet d'art around. that to me is really a lack of acceptance that others are different from you.

I see my dad as personality deficient, because he seeks to sweep away personality away from every aspect of his life, and from every room so that it feels like a municipal waiting room (now if that was a style statement I would get it, but its more like a 'airbrush away what makes you you' approach). I see his house as soulless and personality-less.

the point is that he seems to see ways of looking at the world that differ from his as being 'lesser' and that really needs to be gotten to the bottom of.

garlicbutty Fri 05-Oct-12 02:26:32

Pip, I was distressed to read that, too.

Markingthehours Fri 05-Oct-12 02:36:52

If you are married the 'his' house is yours too 50/50 no matter what it says on the title deeds/mortgage

Markingthehours Fri 05-Oct-12 02:37:17


Flimflammery Fri 05-Oct-12 03:16:37

There is a big difference between a marriage guidance type counsellor and a properly-trained therapist. It sounds like your counsellor is out of their depth here and you would do better with someone else, just for yourself.

Also, having the children's homework and drawings etc on the dining table is not being a hoarder - if that were true I think 90% of families would be hoarders!

feelokaboutit Fri 05-Oct-12 07:44:32

So many interesting posts. Thank you very much. I have read all of them and have lots to say / ask / answer but no time now so will be able to respond after home time this afternoon as am going on middle daughter's school trip. Thanks again.

GlesgaRocket Fri 05-Oct-12 07:54:20

Your poor kids.
I grew up with a father who did the whole sulking and not talking to my mother thing for weeks at a time, and it was HELL.
The atmosphere was horrendous, despite my mother trying to act normally, and my 3 siblings and i have still not completely forgiven him for the emotional abuse, and her for putting up with it and making us live that way.
We walked on egg shells around him, and it has affected all of us as adults.

Your husband sounds like an abusive twat, and i'm sorry that you are going through this, but no-one should put up with being ignored and dis-respected and treated like shit. Not you, and not your innocent kids.

Good luck.

My father in law does this sort of sulking thing. It affected my dh terribly and still does as an adult. He spends a disproportionate amount of time and energy trying to break the negative thought patterns instilled in him by his dad so that he didn't act the same way around our son. My heart breaks for you. Being stonewalled by the person who's supposed to love and care fort you most is just horrible

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 09:47:23

To talk about separating without actually doing it is very emotionally abusive, and it backfires in that the other person gets even more defensive.

So take a deep breath and start to unpack those issues (well done for owning it). If you take responsibility for stuff you KNOW you do, you are growing as a person irrespective of him. I recognise the paper thing, and think depression has a lot to do with it.
I would definitely explore a different counsellor, and do buy that Beverley Engels book.

I think coming to terms with the fact that you are not heard and you are devalued, takes much longer than people think. It is so drip drip drip that people get lost. And you can only take steps (job, courses, separation) when you have taken the focus off trying to get him to [do stuff, change] and back onto yourself, to develop a sense of self and work out what he is doing (dismissing devalueing, criticising) and holding onto the knowledge that that is his stuff, not yours. This is hard work and it takes time.

MadBusLady Fri 05-Oct-12 10:33:28

There are two totally separate issues here for me.

The sulking/silent treatment is just awful and destructive and I wouldn't stay around it for five minutes now. I once lived with someone very like you describe your DH - sulky, negative, cynical, contemptuous towards me - and it was shit. I should have got out sooner. He's probably making someone else miserable now and I feel sorry for them, I really do. These pathetic miserabalist types never change, there's always stuff wrong with them, their partners, the universe... I also think someone who goes to counselling believing its purpose is to "fix" the other person's faults is probably beyond hope. It's a repellant, self-absorbed attitude and I'd be reconsidering the future for that reason alone.

The second issue. The man I mention just happened to also to be slightly hoardy. And it did stress me out, and I hated it. He would freak out if I tried to tidy up and have a go at me for doing it "wrong" and that was one of the many things he did that made me feel shit. Before anyone starts on me for being a soulless neat-freak, my homes have always been crammed with pictures, books, colourful furniture, plates and ornaments (some of them, gulp, in front of other things) - all that is fine. I just hate "temporary" clusters of more random stuff that should have somewhere to belong, and I would really start to get uneasy if things were being "kept" on the floor. Homework on the dining table is obviously totally normal, but things like "piles of school papers and kids drawings on the floor along one part of a wall which have yet to be sorted" would bother me, I'm afraid, if repeated in all the rooms and never tackled. So I wouldn't see someone as necessarily being a "minimalist" for not wanting to live like that.

I've hesitated about writing this, because I am NOT defending the stonewalling, but I do think I know where he's coming from just on the clutter issue. From what you say about the rest of his attributes, however, it might be irrelevant now. He's reacted so poorly to the perceived problem that I'm not surprised you're not disposed to be sympathetic about it. There's not really anything you can do with someone who has a problem and isn't prepared to be constructive about asking for help with it.

Twitterqueen Fri 05-Oct-12 10:45:10

Where to start....
I have also wasted some of it on magazines, accessories for me etc....

Why is it a 'waste' to buy yourself something nice? A little more self-esteem is required methinks.

He sounds exactly like my ex - and that's why he is my ex. It's all about power and control.

Mayisout Fri 05-Oct-12 14:34:45

I kept the DCs paintings and drawings but only say one or two each year. They are adult now and not really interested in them! But they only take up one small box. You only need the odd one to look back on and laugh.

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 14:59:05

How about that, OP? Spend 1 hour tomorrow going through 1 pile - and keeping the two best?

How do you eat an elephant? 1 bite at a time. So break it down into small chunks, feel the fear and do it anyway. Just one hour, tomorrow, on one pile. Even if it is choosing definite chuck outs!

MadBusLady Fri 05-Oct-12 15:07:32

I don't think the possible slight hoarding tendency is really the OP's main problem at the moment. Her main problem is she's living with a twat who won't be constructive and nice about something he wants changed.

Mayisout Fri 05-Oct-12 15:10:19

No, it's not her main problem but it's hard to deal with the main problem if your mind is being distracted by loads of lesser stuff.

MadBusLady Fri 05-Oct-12 15:13:14

I'm not sure the OP's mind really is being distracted by this though. He's the one who has a problem with it.

BalloonSlayer Fri 05-Oct-12 17:47:41

Interesting that you write: "we are back to not talking."

"WE" are not back to not talking, HE is back to not talking.

It's not you doing this.

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 20:17:42

I know MB, but she very bravely and honestly admitted is was a bit of an issue - showing instantly she is more prepared than her H to deal with stuff, and this (not him) is the key to the rest of her life.

Bubblegum78 Fri 05-Oct-12 20:31:14

The thing that strikes me about this is the unwillingness on both sides to simply DO SOMETHING proactive to sort this out?
If he needs a tidy house, why can't you do it? You are a SAHM, I know you are busy but I work full time, and I keep a tidy house aswell as cooking, washing, homework ect... are you struggling because of depression? If so, maybe a GP's visit is in order?
Why is he not helping you? If you are struggling and have voiced this in therapy why is he ignoring you?
Not speaking to you for 6 weeks is appalling for both your self esteem and your children's.
You both need to sit down and work out if you actually WANT to be together anymore? It sounds as if you are only together because neither of you want to be alone?
The therapy is clearly not working, I would suggest you find another therapist and go alone, one you can effectively communicate with, someone who will work with you on working out what you really want, what your fears are and work on building up your self esteem so you can make some clear choices.
Neither of you are happy, that much is clear.
I hope I have understood your situation correctly, appologies if I have mis read the situation. xx

garlicbutty Fri 05-Oct-12 23:39:03

You know, the tidy/untidy thing isn't the issue at all. It's a symbol of the battle for power this marriage has, sadly, become. If feel suddenly became The Neatest Housewife In The World, her husband would find some fault to keep justifying his tragic need to keep his wife subservient. I should imagine OP maintains her little pockets of sentimental disorder out of mild desperation not to give in entirely. It's all symbolic. Even your paper stacks, Feel, are representative of the family life you hold so dear and which your small-time dictator of a husband wants to keep ranged on a shelf, for display purposes only.

As so many respondents have felt a need to advise on domestic order, I'm going to damn well have my say. This is one area in which I'm perfectly well-adjusted, thank you very much, and I'm speaking up for the non-obsessed masses! You're all bonkers! Yes, all of you. I currently live in what some would call squalor. I've also lived, at other times, in pure expanses of white and glass. Both - and many others in between - have been of my own choosing. I fit in with what's available, affordable and achievable. I feel happy to come home, no matter which state of dis/array my home is in. If any partner saw fit to tell me how to live, I'd refer him to the Serenity Prayer.

Please do not focus on poor Feel's filing techniques, when this is only a symptom of a symptom of the real problem.

toptramp Fri 05-Oct-12 23:47:43

He sounds like a sexist mysoginistic wanker; he thinks you are a domestic appliance. Why the fuck is a minimalistic home all down to you anyway? If he's that fussed get him down to the dump/ Ikea pronto. What a cock.

garlicbutty Fri 05-Oct-12 23:50:11

Beautifully summarised. toptramp grin

toptramp Sat 06-Oct-12 00:05:48

I mean why the fuck is it up to us to keep a tidy house. This is why I count myself lucky living alone; there is noone to tell me what an untidy slut I am. Like I said; he's a cock. If he has standards he should bloody well pull his finger out and help you to sort out YOUR space togather. I would dump op. Not that easy I know.

toptramp Sat 06-Oct-12 00:07:55

I personally couldn't bring up kids in a sterile envirnoment; not possible. I love a clean house but with kids; standards have to be lowered.

Mayisout Sat 06-Oct-12 00:22:00

If feel suddenly became The Neatest Housewife In The World, her husband would find some fault to keep justifying his tragic need to keep his wife subservient

Absolutely, but while he can whinge about this, and Feel has some emotional issues attached to the tidying issue and is being made to believe that this is the issue, if she (with his help - why not?) tidied up, that would be out of the way and, assuming he found another reason to flagellate poor Feel she would be quick to realise that the relationship is unsaveable and be more motivated to move on.

But meanwhile it is an issue which can be dealt with much easier than the real issues and there is no harm in the OP moving forward slowly while she finds her feet and unravels the problems.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 10:55:25

Hi again. Thanks for all your thoughts and information.

I think I do need to clear the decks of all clutter as that will release energy into my situation and will help me / us to see more clearly. The problem with this is that I spend a lot of time feeling hopeless / without energy or worrying. My Dad told me I have lots of "potential" but am distracted by "emotion", I kind of know what he means!

I am sure the dynamics between h and I relate not only to the present but to both of our pasts. Not sure there is any point in trying to go down this road with h though.

I didn't exactly say that I wanted to split up in the last session but I did say that I thought that if we didn't have kids we would probably no longer be together and so in this case, how could we go on to make a relationship from this point? I also said that it was possible that if we lived separately without the "burden" of blame and who does what etc.. etc.. we might actually discover that we wanted to spend time together for the sake of just that: spending time together. I wanted to open the discussion to include these sorts of things but the counsellor concentrated on other stuff and h made a comment about me "analysing" too much.

Anyway, I think we have both damaged our relationship but I do find h difficult in lots of ways. I think I want a touchy feely communicative relationship and he wants me to do certain things. Even if I did all of them I think he would still sit on the sofa every night not communicating. I know why we got together but there are also lots of ways in which we are incompatible. He is 12 years older than me and kind of had his life totally set up when I met him. I on the other hand have never been completely independent and have this yearning to prove to myself and others that I could manage.

H probably feels betrayed. He is very annoyed that I have talked about him to friends and family members and on here. When I point out that all this started in the other long periods of being ostracised (of which there have been two), he then says but yes what was the initial argument about ??? I think in a way there are few points of emotional agreement between us. Again my Dad said that he thinks he is not the kind of person who is particularly interested in how other people feel but that he is not a bad person. I do agree with this to an extent. He (h) has always worked hard and is very much a doing kind of person. He is also very proud and at some point will decide that he no longer wants anything to do with certain people because of x, y and z which is what I think has happened between us.

So my question now is, how do I pull myself out of this weirdly humiliating state of not being spoken to and to feeling like a very naughty child, to having enough energy to get rid of clutter and really look after the house?

I suppose the counselling hasn't taken us where I wanted to be - both of us more honest and open, but at least I have had a chance to voice the things I find really difficult...

Fairenuff Sat 06-Oct-12 11:05:42

Ask yourself this question. What does he get out of ignoring you? What is motivating him?

It's difficult to maintain anger, resentment, whatever for six weeks. It's not natural. As humans we experience feelings as a continual momentum. Emotions come and go. No-one stays excited for six weeks, or disappointed for six weeks, or angry for six weeks. It would be exhausting.

He is manufacturing this. Doing it on purpose. Working hard to keep it up.

But for what? Why is he choosing this behavioiur? What's in it for him?

I know why, but I'm wondering if you do.

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 11:21:18

Your dad and your H sound all of a piece in some sense. YOur dad's view that you 'have lots of potential' - well, I was going to say 'is he your dad?' LOL but you're not a kid and it sounds like a school report, an evaluation. The implication is that you're not up to scratch, there is an inherent fault in you, and Need To Try Harder. Just a thought.

Your husband stonewalling you is to get you to behave. When you talk to him about why he is stonewalling you, why you spoke to other people when he was stonewalling you, he refers you back to the original argument ie he justifies punishing you until you learn to behave.

I would suggest you do The Freedom Programme , just to get an idea of how controlling men work and what is going on in their heads (you will also meet other women in the same situation which is in itself a great help and breaks the isolation of being on the end of a relationship like this). It's good to have this invaluable info in your armoury.

Go to counselling alone - the counsellor is not adequately trained to deal with what is presenting itself between you both by the sound of it and, anyway, you are being abused in the sessions by your H.

Its impossible to tell what is really going on with the 'mess' in your home because the view you are presenting in your posts may be the view he has, or it may not - impossible to tell. I would find a messy housemate very difficult to live with as I need things to be ordered, but I'm not mrs cleany and you wouldn't know I like things ordered to look at my house <arf> . Standards are different with different people but I don't think this is the central issue.

What is clear though is that your poor, poor children are living in this hell-hole. Please don't underestimate how appalling this is for your kids, a living hell. (I'm not going to hold back on how awful, awful, awful it is for them, I'm sorry). Please get them out of it as soon as possible. YOur husband's stonewalling of you will be creating unbearable pressure on them and, as he feels perfectly justified in doing it (though probably quite surprised how long it takes to get you to heel), it's up to you to rescue them.

just as an aside, get some work outside the home if you can - paid or unpaid. It helps to bring some balance into your life when you've got him going to great lengths to define your life and who you are.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:36:05

Yes, I do sometimes think that there are similarities between h and my Dad. My Dad was definitely of the "you could always do better" variety when my sister and I were growning up, and I probably subconsciously chose h because the feeling I get from him is a similar one.

In the past h has said that when he stopped talking the other times it's because he no longer knew how to deal with me (or words to that effect). I suppose that if things have got so bad between us that thoughts of separation are being bandied about, h might have got to the point where he no longer feels there is anything to say. I suppose that what I am trying to say is that if I were to now say, okay, let's start some kind of separation procedure, he would in no way meet me half way, I anticipate that he would probably not say another proper word to me for the rest of my life (apart from what he might have to say because of the kids).

I think he thinks I have been disrespectful because he does work very hard and shoulders money problems. I on the other hand, living the life of the "child", never see any paperwork (h is not mean with money so I don't mean it in this way) so am not in charge of any knowledge, iyswim. I would definitely like to be more in control but somehow h and I are not able to do this together.

Anyway, rambling on now. I think in a way, the way he wants things to be and the way I want things to be are somehow incompatible.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:37:00

Agree about the work outside the home. I already do / have done quite a lot of volunteering at my kids' school but the step from there to getting paid work seems to be a big / difficult one.

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 13:39:10

Very wise post, springy.

Feel, your last post shows quite a bit of clarity on where your husband's coming from and why you put up with him (willingness to believe your father's assessments of emotions as a nuisance). I agree with Springy that the Freedom Programme will open doors for you, especially in terms of your manner of thinking about these issues, and that a job or something similar will likewise enhance your perspective.

Have you heard the saying "You're down a hole and growing flowers in it"? It refers to the tendency some people have (me, too,) to work harder on making an intolerable situation more palatable than on getting out of it! I don't think tidying your clutter will release energy; I think it will sink yet more energy into the minutiae of H's complaint. If the stuff's bothering you too much nowadays, how about getting some nice, big boxes and labelling them broadly: something like "Children's artwork"; "Mummy's Stuff"; "Guarantees & Manuals" (whatever each pile represents) and tidying them away wholesale? Put the boxes in a cupboard for incremental filling as time goes on.

Then clear your mind by following Springy's advice.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:40:55

Sorry, also forgot to say that I have been seeing a one to one counsellor for a year now but am due to stop at the end of October. This is what helped me feel strong enough to try to get h to come to joint counselling, and I definitely feel stronger in general than I did a year ago.
On Monday I will go to the joint counsellor by myself and tell her that I can't go anymore. In any case I don't think h will come again which is sad really (also am too "scared" to ask him when he is being so cold) as it is just at this point, when the not talking has started again, that we would benefit from going together.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:42:24

Yes garlicbutty, have been thinking of doing just that but possible even putting it into storage for a short while if I can find something which isn't extortionate.

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 13:42:49

Cross-posted with your last.

No wonder you feel somehow helpless! He's infantilised you quite thoroughly. What kind of volunteering do you do at school? Have you ever been into a temp agency to discuss which of your skills are marketable?

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:42:55

Then at least the decks would be cleared without me having to go through months of painful sorting while feeling anxious anyway.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:44:35

Teaching assistant kind of stuff. In fact there is an agency which my kids' school does use but for various reasons haven't put myself on their books. I think I would be more likely to do teaching assistant work through them at the beginning. I suppose that at 43 I feel I don't want to be judged to be "too old"....

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 13:47:29

It's really good to see that your individual counselling has given you back some of your strength smile Congrats on deciding to stop the "joint" counselling!

Dependent on where you live, it can be cheaper to rent a garage than a storage facility. Storage rentals are going down all the time, though.

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 13:49:24

I have no idea whether ageism kicks in at 43 for teaching assistants ... How about asking the agency?!

Have you thought about studying for teaching qualifications?

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:50:54

Thank you for your support.

I suppose part of me feels guilty that in fact I might be so desperate for the independence that I have never had (not anyone's fault but mine this) that I am willing to sacrifice family life in order to get it.

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 13:54:41

Well, I have definitely seen TAs who are older than me working at the school. I don't think it's ageism exactly but more that they might feel more comfortable employing people of their own generation (generally in their 20s) for jobs which they might do for 2, 3 or 4 years before leaving to do something else or indeed training to be teachers. I can seen from the way that some people approach me that I am no longer a "girl" (obviously grin) and so they would assume that I am all sorted, in fact, what they don't realise, is that I need to start at the so called "bottom" somewhere.
I am scared of the whole getting into teaching thing for different reasons, but I have thought about it. I suppose becoming a TA might be a slow route into teaching. I definitely am very happy being in school.

Fairenuff Sat 06-Oct-12 13:59:01

Not too old. As long as you are kind, patient, personable and like children, you will be the sort of person they look for. I would recommend an NVQ 2 teching assistant qualification as a minimum.

Personally, I would not do anything about the clutter whilst he is stonewalling, simply because it's a bit like 'giving in' to his behaviour. It will only encourage him.

Instead, I would pointedly sit in front of him reading 'Divorce for dummies' or 'Living with an abusive man' or some other such material which will give him a message and prompt him to break his stonewalling.

But ultimately, it doesn't sound as if this relationship is going to work out well for you.

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 14:02:23

No, listen to what everyone else has said. Refer to what you know about child development and family life: this model of withdrawal as control, and of blaming others for problems caused by one's own withholding, is very damaging to your children's future and to your own development (which has, to an extent, been arrested by H's rigid management).

One valuable lesson you can teach your children is that grown-ups are able to assert their independence and take charge of their own lives. I bet they'll really enjoy life without a silent storm hovering round every corner! You wouldn't be sacrificing family life so much as improving it ...

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 14:02:29

I have got a qualification which is apparently (according to the OU which is where I did it) equivalent to an NVQ4 - the course lasted 9 months and was called "Supporting Learning in Primary Schools" - I had to volunteer in school and write some of my essays in relation to the children I was volunteering with. I did have an interview for a TA position at my kids' school last term but was told that, though I knew my stuff, I didn't have enough experience. Which is I suppose where the getting a job through the agency comes in. Thanks for your reassurance that I am not too old! smile

feelokaboutit Sat 06-Oct-12 14:05:19

Well, to his credit, he doesn't ignore the kids and they generally love him and get on with him though he can lose his temper unreasonably sometimes. I totally agree, though, that the model of a relationship we are providing them is pretty dire sad. Definitely agree that h has a rigid side to him!

Fairenuff Sat 06-Oct-12 14:09:07

I'm not even sure how the ignoring works though. Do you still cook for him and stuff? Does he never feel he needs to speak to you about anything? If you hid his car keys, would he ask you if you'd seen them, for example?

It all sounds extremely tiring and childish.

garlicbutty Sat 06-Oct-12 14:14:46

smile It's all looking positive on the teaching front smile

I thought you might like to know about my sister who is a librarian. Her house is brim-full of paper; it's everywhere. She says she'd like to live in a library! What she means is that her ideal house would be ranged with shelves and cubbyholes. Paper is not clutter to her: it's thoughts and ideas. Of course she won't throw them away! She's right to keep them ... and is, very gradually, creating an utterly unique library of her own smile

I'm quite envious, actually. I'm a chucker-outer but I love the sense of having all one's memories around in tangible form.

Doha Sat 06-Oct-12 15:42:55

If my DH was ignoring me l would not be doing any of his washing or cooking.
Until he treats you with common courtesy and respect he cannot expect to be considered or looked after at home.
This in no way fro you and your DC's to live. As hard as you may try there is no way that they annot be affected by the atmosphere around them.

Tell him to grow up or ship out, you don't need another child in the family

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 18:34:39

You seem to have got the message that you are a bad girl, and you feel guilty for not being able, quite, to pull off being a good girl; to the point that you want to break away to be happy because you can't attain the standards that are presented to you. Have you thought that maybe the standards presented to you are absurd? You'd think the men in your life were training a horse. It is absurd that at 43 your father is pronouncing that you 'have potential'. 13, maybe, but not 43.

Perhaps you underestimate the appalling model your marriage is presenting to your children - it is not 'pretty bad' but truly dire: your children will go on to replicate what you are modelling (as you have done, if you think about it..); the girls, most likely, desperately unhappy with controlling men; the boys, in all probability, training their women to behave. It is no life.

I'm afraid I don't 'give him his due' for talking to the children. He is modelling loud and clear that their mother is an idiot who needs to behave. They will be taking that on at a deep level.

Abitwobblynow Sun 07-Oct-12 18:55:47

Feel I am in your position at 50...

I also need to warn you that once your children start asserting themselves, they too will be treated this way. My children are teenagers, so are starting to have some adult opinions? They go down as well as mine do.

So do their more adult needs. I paid for my DD's first car, out of my benefits. Not ££££££ him, who had just bought HIMSELF a snazzy set of wheels.

I would agree to sectioning, submit to ECT if it meant I stopped mistreating my children and became a better parent. I would. They didn't ask for life, I brought them into this world and I have a duty of care towards their soul 'formation' that is flipping sacred.
I will never get how people cling onto their defenses before anything else.

redadmiralsinthegarden Mon 08-Oct-12 09:33:52

my xh has very unrealsitic expectations of everyone - but especially me. i think he wanted to have married his mother, or a Stepford wife! Nothing I did was ever 'quite right'. he wasn't massively controlling, but it was the little things that wore me down, and i ended up feeling very uncertain about my own abilities.
we split, and share the dcs. it was such a relief - i have regained my confidence! and i see very clearly now how wrong our reltationship was.
feel, i think you may feel the same, if you made the move and split.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 15:40:15

Abit - please tell me you're not still with him.... sad sad . I find your reference to sectioning/ECT very upsetting..

With my teenage kids, it went two ways: he started on them - particularly my daughter (woman, you see; needs to know her place). He also got them to come around to his way of thinking: that mother was an idiot who needed training. Kids don't necessarily go with wisdom when the pressure is on. He was the powerful one, they went with him (for the timebeing......)

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 19:15:29

op,try reading the book Why Women Talk and Men Walk.
It may not solve all your problems,but it should help shed some light on why your husband is acting in this way.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 19:18:49

Do you think he is right when he says he doesnt know what to say when you have had arguments.
My DH is rather like that,especially when we first got married.
I realised after a few years that I was always the one to try and fix a row.It took me a few more years to realise that was because he had no idea how to fix them. He was willing to fix it, but just didnt know how.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 19:23:54

million, this is an entirely different ball game to the one you describe I think sad

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 19:42:18

Do you think so?
I am not sure.

Her DH has not left her,or as far as I can make out,has not asked for a seperation.
I dont actually think he wants one.
I think they have lost their way along the marriage.

op,what were things like when you first got married. Was it hearts and flowers? Did you both kiss and cuddle?

Abitwobblynow Mon 08-Oct-12 20:11:23

Sorry Springy, I was being silly and dramatic and shouldn't have used that imagery. Sorry blush

Million does have a point, in that when people do not feel safe, their defenses absolutely rise and conflict is inevitable.

springyhope Tue 09-Oct-12 08:12:01

Out of the heart the mouth speaks, Abit. I don't think you were being 'silly' - it indicates how far out you are in your head iyswim? sad

No, this man is controlling you OP. Nothing to do with general dysfunctions that go on in a marriage - your husband specifically aims to control you and is not 'distressed' about it but entirely convinced you (and women) need controlling.

ChooChooLaverne Tue 09-Oct-12 10:35:50

feelok Forgive me if I have misunderstood, but it seems to me that you are deliberately ignoring any comments that address the controlling abusive bullying nature of your husband - even though from your descriptions of his behaviour it seems obvious that is how he is.

You appear to want to take responsibility for the problems in your marriage which seem to be entirely caused by him. You are still talking about you have BOTH damaged your marriage but when asked what damage you've caused you've mentioned spending some of your money and being a bit messy. Seriously, you need to think about why you are so willing to see him as being a good man when it seems blatantly obvious that he is anything but.

Do you think in some way you are choosing to be messy so he's got a reason to be cross with you because after all if you tidied away the mess and he still was cross with you then you might have to admit that your problems go deeper? (I am a self-confessed messy person and I don't think that has anything to do with your situation)

He is choosing to punish you. That is not nice behaviour.

When you talked about separating you said you think he deserves 50% of your children's time, when it doesn't seem as though he cares for them 50% of the time and you said he gets unreasonably angry with them. I think you should be thinking about any split solely from your children's perspective and what is best for them, not what is best for your husband. How would you feel if he starts stonewalling them because they're not complying with whatever he wants them to do, no matter how unreasonable his demands? Do you think that is good parenting? Would being with him 50% of the time be good for them if you were to separate?

I think you are desperate to believe he is the person you would like him to be and are refusing to hear anything different. Am I completely wrong?

Abitwobblynow Tue 09-Oct-12 11:36:23

I really think that Choo Choo has got a good point here.

However: I got told by IC yesterday, that I AM 50% to blame for the problems in the marriage.

Why? Because, (like OP and like wives everywhere who are desperately trying to manage something they have no control over,)

I allowed it. There is ALWAYS the complementary position.

So basically, when MN says 'leave the bastard' they, according to my IC (not that he knows about my addiction to MN), have a very good point!

feelokaboutit Tue 09-Oct-12 12:38:04

Hi all
Redadmirals - can I ask you how old your children were when you split up with your husband, and how access works for you? And whether you find it very difficult to be apart from your children? I reallly wonder how that would work. The counsellor (when I went by myself yesterday) was being very negative about divorce saying, in parts, that it changes the children's relationship with both their mother and father - I am not totally sure what she meant by this but I also suppose that she has an agenda! Criticism certainly wears you down and I understand that you must feel much more empowered and confident now.
Amillionyears - you are right - h hasn't asked us to separate etc... I had a look at the book you mentioned on amazon. Last week's counselling session did get very heated and I did tell him to F off which he may have taken at face value, hence the not talking to me at all. I would have like the counselling to be a place where we could really express ourselves without it devastating our daily lives but maybe I was unrealistic, especially given h's fragile ego.
springy - I really appreciated your post about the similarities between my h and my dad and me wanting to be a "good girl"... I have thought this before as well and it's certainly food for thought.
choo choo, h's two lots of really long silences in the past were definitely emotionally abusive, which I tried to point out to the counsellor yesterday (when I went by myself).... His silence now is an extremely hurt reaction, I think, at some of the things I was saying. I don't think he has the emotional tools to deal with our issues. The counsellor reckons he has a lot of issues of his own relating to parts of his childhood and that it is easier for him to attack me than to think about these. I recognise that these issues are there but does this mean that I have to live with someone who is essentially very critical and on a short fuse? She did admit that criticism really erodes relationships. I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said that it is easier for me not to tidy up than it is to face up to the fact that our problems might go deeper.
Abit I am sorry to hear you are having a difficult time... what is the IC?

I think the crux of my issue with dh is how critical he has been in the past and how negative, blaming and short tempered he can be. Basically I would like to be liked just because I am me, and the rest we could sort out afterwards together iyswim.

Also, we are still not talking AT ALL. There is no point in my trying to address h as I will either get no response or a very curt / cold one. Obviously we cannot continue to live together in this ridiculous way but I am not sure what to do. The counselling itself was to try and help me address such issues but it seems that I have done that and yet here we are again. Maybe a trial separation would be a good idea for us?

I just don't know where to start and part of me does feel I should stop being ridiculous, accept what's good, do my best with regards to my responsibilities and see where that gets me. Maybe when h seems me caring more about certain things he will have to climb down from his isolated rock and start communicating. One thing is for sure however, I don't think we are ever going to have a close intimate emotional relationship. It will always be difficult for us / me to discuss issues.... I suppose it's whether getting the relationship back on to an even keel where we can talk and laugh about the kids (but not much else) is worth it???

redadmiralsinthegarden Tue 09-Oct-12 12:49:56

have pm'd you, feel!

springyhope Tue 09-Oct-12 13:03:14

she has an agenda!
She certainly does - and should be struck off for giving advice, for a start. What are her qualifications? (does she have any....)

I would have like the counselling to be a place where we could really express ourselves without it devastating our daily lives but maybe I was unrealistic, especially given h's fragile ego.
It is a place where you should be able to really express yourself without being punished devastating your daily life - not his, notice. As for 'fragile ego' - he's a bully. Fragile ego doesn't come into it.

His silence now is an extremely hurt reaction, I think
I give up OP. And you? You are seriously considering perching yourself on a tiny cleft on a windswept mountainside in order to accommodate said husband's tantrums because you are slow to obey . Please do get that!

You didn't mention the Freedom Programme. You'll get a lot of info here about what is going on in your husband's head. 1.5 hours once a week. Or read it online (I posted the link upthread), though it's better to meet f2f with others in the same position. At least have a go and facing that you can't sweep it all under the carpet, that you don't have to be the fall guy, pinning yourself to the cross for 'peace'. Please?

redadmiralsinthegarden Tue 09-Oct-12 13:15:17

i think choo choo has a point. my xh was always v critical about my housework. I heard him tell ds2 that mummy 'couldn't be bothered' to tidy up. (This was after I'd spent all morning deep cleaning the hall and stairway. but in doing so had failed to notice the ds's pyjamas lurking behind the bathroom door!).
i think that after a while i deliberately failed to do housework, a to piss him off! and b because i just couldn't 'do' it - i would feel overwhelmed.
perhaps some of that resonates with you?

amillionyears Tue 09-Oct-12 13:23:15

This is coming across as a very sad situation.
I think you want to stay with him.
I think he wants to stay with you.

But he has things that went on in his childhood that he is not willing to face.
And he sounds a tricky person to be able to understand and unravel.

I think you were right to get counselling for yourself,and jointly. I agree that your consellor also seems unable to handle the situation properly.

The 3 things I can think of,short of seperating are
1.change to a different counsellor
2.I would advise you to buy a copy of the book I recommended and read it,or else borrow a copy of the book from the library and read it.
3.Basically,give him an ultimatum. He has to start opening up. He can write down all his worries,woes etc.[And give him a few days as sounds like he has quite a list].....because you cannot take the situation as it is.


springyhope Tue 09-Oct-12 13:38:12

erm I wouldn't make it all about him tbh. He's already had centre-stage for the n years you've been married - and look how he punishes you if you take up some of his space? I don't think now is the time to lavish him with time and attention tbh. Sounds like you've been doing that all your married life (no-one understands him quite like you, huh?)

there are worse things than divorce. Divorce is vile, tis true, but a slow and agonising 'death' is worse, particularly when it profoundly impacts the kids of that marriage, who go on to replicate it. so bleak.

ChooChooLaverne Tue 09-Oct-12 14:08:31

"The counsellor reckons he has a lot of issues of his own relating to parts of his childhood and that it is easier for him to attack me than to think about these. I recognise that these issues are there but does this mean that I have to live with someone who is essentially very critical and on a short fuse?"

No, you don't. You are choosing to live with him even though this is how he treats you.

No matter his childhood issues, he is a grown man and can choose to deal with them in a productive way. He isn't, he is choosing to punish you instead.

I think you would be much better off reading Lundy Bancroft's 'Why does he do that?' and accepting that this is who he is. He isn't likely to change - after all just a few sessions of counselling and you end up being ignored as punishment. IMHO you would be much better off accepting the truth about this man than trying to get him to treat you half decently.

"The counsellor (when I went by myself yesterday) was being very negative about divorce saying, in parts, that it changes the children's relationship with both their mother and father"

Of course divorce means change, but change doesn't have to be bad. I left my emotionally abusive XH over a year ago and while there have been some tricky patches DS is now blossoming into a happy confident child. I think it is much better for him to see his parents separately than to live with us together miserably. We have a good relationship and I think the one he has with his father is much better than it was now he seems him on his own and doesn't have to listen to him criticising me or shouting at me.

Abitwobblynow Tue 09-Oct-12 15:30:51

You, me and RedAdmiral all live with the same man!

I also ended up refusing to tidy up/do any house work, because although it was the wrong passive aggressive thing to do, in a way it was quite honest because I was protesting to only being seen as 'housekeeper' and 'nanny'. I also got the 'this house is so messy' as a 'sign of his very deep distress'

IC means individual counsellor.

IC told me yesterday that he was never ever going to change, and my problem was that I kept hoping and wishing and trying to change him. All the time I did this I absorbed a lot of pain and suffering. I really need to take this on board.
He also said that he would never leave. He said the only thing that would change him is not me or even the hurt of the children, but something catastrophic like a death or (he is a workaholic) losing his job and being unable to find another one.

Nice to know I am part of the fixtures and fittings!

So similar boat to you, and like you I take all the sh*t to keep the family unit intact. But why are we doing this? What are we modelling, really?

spookytoo Tue 09-Oct-12 15:42:23

I don't think you have done this so if not you should get things into place so you can leave. Plan your finances, where you will live, how kids get to school etc. Have it all decided.

Then treat your husband with sad pity as you know, assuming you haven't told him yet, that if he doesn't change you will go.

At the moment he is, in his eyes, the powerful one who has to force you into following his will, or if you don't you get the silent treatment. Perhaps the dynamics will change when he sees you pity him, it is now you who has the power, and he might decide he wantst to behave differently.

My DH is a bit like this to a much lesser degree, and I always turned a blind eye, knowing it was his problem and due most likely to his upbringing, but it doesn't make for a happy equal relationship and I need to change it for my sake. Am making improvements thanks to info on mumsnet. But I found out first how easy it would be to leave if I had to which gives me the confidence to take it on.

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 16:16:33

It's very common for women to see themselves as magical healers. Men do it, too, but women really hold all the trophies for this. We see a man who is an arse, and we understand he's that way because something damaged him in the past. So far, we are correct. Going further, we feel that we can repair this damage - still further; we feel we must. Unasked, uninvited, unqualified, unprepared and unsupported, we embark on our projects to heal their invisible wounds. "I'm OK!" they say, and we murmur "No, you're not."

I didn't stop doing this until I saw what a gross insult it is. Who was I to tell a man, who finds himself OK, that he's a wounded fuck-up? Why was I trying to change the person I'd married? He didn't ask me to change him (well, actually mine did, but it was clear he hadn't meant it.) As far as he was concerned, he was OK. Why was I insisting he wasn't? What right did I have? Answer: none.

He is who he is. He's OK. I didn't like being married to him and that's OK, too. It's okay to make a mistake and admit it. It's really, really not okay to be in the wrong marriage and try to alter the spouse. It's disgusting when you think about it. Who did I think I was, Doctor Frankenstein?

"Healing" an arse is not a kind or respectful thing to do, and it's far from loving. Turns out I was an arse, too, for trying to change him. So I did the rational thing at last. I turned my healing powers on myself.

spookytoo Tue 09-Oct-12 16:49:19

In my case DH was a kind, thoughtful, disciplined, hard working man when we met. I liked that he was knowledgeable and able. He is very popular with workmates but can take a dislike to some people.

So in fact he was normal. (except he and his siblings had a demeaning attitude to his mother confused )

And I don't remember any snidey comments when DCs were small, I made all teh decisions regarding them. It's just more recently, and I put it down partly to seeing himself getting old, and, true I am no perfect angel, always a delight to be with, but I don't like the digs and snidey criticisms (passive aggressive I think).

So in my case he wasn't a basket case when I married him but life changes, eg his status at work is less important to him , kids leave home, and I have allowed criticism to become too common and need to call him on it.

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 18:06:26

So the best-known red flag was there, Spooky: contempt of the mother. Is he turning into his father? Would you want to have been married to FIL?

Renegotiating a relationship is normal and necessary at times, of course. We need to remember that negotiations are transactions. You need to know what you're offering and what you'll comfortably accept in exchange. Wishing you luck with yours smile

spookytoo Tue 09-Oct-12 19:39:42

Apologies for side lining thread OP.
Well it's not that clear cut garlic. His DM seems/ed to laugh along with the 'daft old trout' image, maybe she liked the 'being looked after' that resulted from that, and his DF died youngish and was v sorely missed by all the family so I imagine he was a nice chap. DM can be pretty critical of others.
Family relationships are never simple

feelokaboutit Tue 09-Oct-12 21:52:39

Have answered your pm redadmirals.

I agree with you garlicbutty when you say that we can't force people to be a certain way. I think h is perfectly happy with a non emotional, non intimate who am I to say that he has to open up to me... Ideally that is what I would like with someone, a safe environment to just talk about anything without fearing blame, shutting down, defensiveness or anger.

Thanks for everyone else's messages - lots of different opinions. Don't know what I am going to do - am feeling totally stuck and unable to do anything sad

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 22:27:38

I know, it is really hard. I feel for you. It would be so nice if we could see our various potential futures before making the choices that shape them, wouldn't it?! Back in the real world, I guess all we can do is aim for self-honesty and what feels right. Talking helps a lot, as other people's views can illuminate things for us even when we disagree with them. Keep posting if you can stand it smile

Do you have the possibility to continue with your personal counsellor for a while longer? He seems to be doing you good.

springyhope Tue 09-Oct-12 22:39:56

The non-emotional, non-intimate 'relationship' is one thing, but the put-downs are another - they are two different things. Actually, imo related: perhaps he won't be intimate with you unless you learn to behave the way he deems you should - so it's stalemate. You've tried complying, that hasn't worked, his standards are specific and not possible for you to pull off (because they're unrealistic imo). He won't accept a half-way house, he expects total compliance. You can't do that (and neither should you imo).

Freedom Programme? That would be a start, a way to get the ball rolling, a way to explore your options.

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 23:03:50

I agree with Springy, yet again. When I said I realised I was wrong to try and change my ex, I was telling the truth ... While we were divorcing, I asked him what single thing he would have wanted from me, that he didn't get. He said "more distance" sad My entire premise, in the way I loved him, was mistaken. He was a weirdo, though - still is, I'm sure. With hindsight, I reckon he actually is a psychopath. This does not change the simple fact that I was in the wrong marriage and should have accepted that instead of trying to "fix" it by reshaping him and myself. People either fit together or they don't. Even if they fit to begin with, life goes on and they can develop into a poor fit.

There's no shame in saying "You're OK; I'm OK; this marriage isn't okay for the two of us." There's quite a lot of wisdom in it, actually. Your husband seems to be taking a very strong stance that YOU are not OK. He wants to reshape you - and, it seems, won't ever be satisfied with your 'shape'. He's labelled you faulty, and that's the way he wants it. Perhaps it makes him feel OK, but it sure as hell ain't doing you any good! You can't spend your life being crap just to make him feel better. So the question is: What will it take for you to feel OK (apart from your username, that is grin) and how to get there?

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 23:06:05

God, that was rambly shock I need an early night.

springyhope Tue 09-Oct-12 23:55:54

Not too rambly at all imo but whatev, it's good to ramble now and again <serial rambler>

I rarely admit this but in the early days when I met my 'change springy into an obedient wife' husband, I went to see The Taming of the Shrew. I honestly did think that I had at last found someone who loved me enough to 'tame' me (as I had had similar messages from my father as you have had from yours OP: re 'faulty').

I so learnt the hard way. So bloody sad that I thought that about that play [sob]

ChooChooLaverne Wed 10-Oct-12 11:16:31

"I think the crux of my issue with dh is how critical he has been in the past and how negative, blaming and short tempered he can be. Basically I would like to be liked just because I am me, and the rest we could sort out afterwards together iyswim."

The way he has been is the real him - you can't change this but you can accept it as the truth. Of course you want to be liked just because you are you. That is your entitlement. Only I don't think you will ever feel that from your husband. "The rest you can sort out afterwards" - I think this is where you are in denial about him and what he wants to do or is capable of doing (I would go with wants to personally as he chooses to behave in this negative blaming way)

"Ideally that is what I would like with someone, a safe environment to just talk about anything without fearing blame, shutting down, defensiveness or anger."

I know you feel stuck and I do understand how difficult it is making a decision about what to do next. But if I were you I would focus on what you've said here and try and work towards that. And I don't mean by trying to change your husband into someone who is capable of being that person, but by focusing on yourself (carry on with your own personal counselling) so that you can believe you are worth having a relationship where you are treated like this - even if just with yourself IYSWIM.

If you feel overwhelmed by the practicalities of splitting up, why not have a session with a solicitor or CAB to find out your financial options and look at the different parenting options open to you? I don't think you have to have a 50/50 parenting split and while it is becoming more common it certainly isn't the norm for all divorcing couples (I wonder if you think this is how it should be because your H believes he has to have his fair share in everything?).

FWIW in my situation my DS stays with his father every other weekend and he seems happy with this. I don't think 50/50 care would work in our case and my ex certainly wouldn't be interested in this level of commitment.

feelokaboutit Wed 10-Oct-12 13:55:33

Hello all. Thanks again for all your messages. I am thinking about all of it. My sessions with my individual counsellor were going to finish at the end of October but I am going to ask her if she can continue to see me (my slot may already have gone to someone else). With regards to the joint counsellor, she is going to phone h this week to see if he is going to come next week. I will go along next week and see if he comes (which I doubt). However, unless h comes and we make significant progress of some kind, I think I definitely have to call it a day with her.

I think all her dire warnings about divorce are her way of saying how difficult the reality of it might be - a bit like a protective mother. Not sure this is what I need though.

I started another thread because h did not come home last night. He is away for work which he sometimes does but this time did not let me know. I know he is deeply not talking (and me too) but I would at least have expected him to let the kids know. I phoned him this morning after wondering where he was all night and we had a very brief conversation where I said he hadn't told kids or me and then hung up.

I think I am going to work on being my own best friend and giving myself credit for all the things I do like about myself and which I think I do well!! Maybe along the way I will also manage to resolve my issues with clutter!!!

Thanks again.

willyoulistentome Wed 10-Oct-12 14:01:31

Leeokaboutit - How did you go about finding a counsellor?

feelokaboutit Wed 10-Oct-12 14:07:17

Hi willyoulisten - I googled counsellors in my area and a website popped up called and I found her on there (I think that's where I found her anyway - she's certainly still there). You can look up someone in your area and see their description of what they do, and what their qualifications are.

ChooChooLaverne Wed 10-Oct-12 14:36:07

feelok sounds like he's escalating your punishment. Good luck with it all. Keep on posting here if it helps.

willyou I would recommend looking at BACP. Also it might be worth going to your GP if you can wait but how long you have to wait will depend on where you live.

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