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How do i work out whether my relationship is ok ...

(35 Posts)
Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 11:34:33

... or not?

DH and I have been together for a long time, and while many things are positive, some are not. In the main, these have been worse in the past, and are not as bad at the moment, although we are currently experiencing a lot of stress and some of the issues are appearing again. The more extreme moments and conversations are (mostly?) in the distant past.
How do I figure out whether the things I am not comfortable with are part of the give&take of a relationship (especially as stressed)? or my fault ('I create the problems')? or unacceptable / abusive?
And how do I understand what to do about that?

I've been reading / lurking on GettingBig's threads - with enormous admiration - and while I do not experience the things she does, and I am appalled that she does, I do wonder how my situation would appear to an outsider.

Thank you!

Lueji Tue 19-Mar-13 11:37:03

Maybe you'll care to be more specific?

I guess the ultimate test is how does it make you feel?
Do you feel reasonably happy, safe, secure?
Do you trust him?
Do you feel you can share your feelings?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 11:41:17

Here's a checklist you might find useful ...

Does this relationship offer both parties optimal growth? _
Can you both develop into the greatest persons you can be? _
Does your partner fully accept that you have thoughts, beliefs, preferences, and feelings that differ from his? _
Does he respect those differences? _
Does he cherish you despite them? _
Does he accept your differences without trying to change you? _
Do you want to accept that your partner has thoughts, beliefs, preferences, and feelings that differ from yours? _
Can you respect those differences? _
Can you cherish your partner despite them? _
Can you accept them without trying to change them? _

SoHHKB Tue 19-Mar-13 11:41:50

Can you be 'yourself'? In all your beautiful, moody, helpful, distracted glory?

AnyFucker Tue 19-Mar-13 11:41:52

what lueji said

if you feel safe and secure, then you are probably ok

what are these "extreme moments"...that doesn't sound too good

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 11:42:37

I'm not even sure what to be specific about, and when I'm dragging issues from the past into the present.

I don't know how it makes me feel.
I sometimes feel happy / safe / secure.
I trust him absolutely with some things (he wouldn't have an affair, he's solid with money) but not with others (his anger and reactions to me, his stress and exhaustion*).
I have recently begun to share my feelings and sometimes this is ok, and sometimes he is cross.
(*I completely understand why he is stressed and tired. I am too.)

AnyFucker Tue 19-Mar-13 11:45:20

what form do his "anger and reactions to you" take ?

My DH is rarely angry, sometimes stressed but never, ever "reacts to me"

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 12:00:52

"I have recently begun to share my feelings and sometimes this is ok, and sometimes he is cross."

If you mean you don't feel able to talk about things that matter to you because he gets angry about it..... then it's not a good relationship.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 12:10:04

Cogito: I might have picked a bad time, or phrased it badly, or inadvertently made it sound as if I'm blaming / cross with him, or sounded like I was suggesting he could have done something differently. I don't always (don't often) understand why things get so heated when they do.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 13:03:47

AF: The extreme points are ones where I look back on my younger self and think: "why the fuck did you stay there?" Really not good.
Anger and reactions are scary shouting followed by walking out (I'd assumed that this was normal, but I'm wondering whether it's less ok than I thought), generally followed by a lot of simmering anger and upset and exhaustion that I end up apologising for. At length. He wishes I didn't row with him. I don't think I do argue / row, at most to say "I didn't mean it like that" or "OK, I agree with you, sorry I got it wrong" or "I'd rather you didn't talk to me like that." He feels I create all the arguments and cause him to shout. I don't really know what I do wrong.

hello, don't want to highjack thread, but my advice after very recent experience is : it's most likely best to get out. If you try to be as considerate as poss, and still it is cery often a bad time or badly put...then that does not sound right. You do not cause him to shout. you do not cause him to be angry, he does this by himself.
Last week my similar situation came to a crashing end when my now exP took stranglehold on me when I was in the stairs holding our youngest.
If you don't know what it is you do that constantly make you feel you've done something wrong, it is him not you. It is not you. it is not you.
just repeat that until you believe it.

do you have children?

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 13:19:28

We do.
I see you posted about this. May I read your threads?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 13:22:43

" I might have picked a bad time, or phrased it badly, or inadvertently made it sound as if I'm blaming / cross with him, or sounded like I was suggesting he could have done something differently. "

That makes it sound like it's your fault. In a good relationship you should be able to say what you feel at any time, phrased in any way, and you should be able to ask someone to make a change or even criticise them for something they've done wrong..... without them blowing up in your face.

If you are hanging back from expressing yourself freely because you fear the reaction, if you are treading on eggshells, then your behaviour is being manipulated by the other person. That's not a good or equal relationship that is a one-sided and unhealthy relationship.

If he's only calm or nicely behaved when you're submissive and making apologies then he's controlling you.

yes, read them. It's been going on for quite some time. with the wonderful gift of hindsight I wish I had left, or never come back the time I did leave, but alas. It was so bad he was arrested, charged and is considered a threat to the children by the police and Children's Services. As an example of his viewpoint, he has pleaded not guilty and is taking it to crown court. It's me making him want to strangle me, he has said this. So if yours is saying you make him angry etc, and you have no idea what sets him off...no. He is doing that nicely all by himself.

( I want to write go go go. Is that allowed?)

Even if it's "just" verbal or threatening posturing, that can easily change if he thinks it's all right to scare you. don't think it's not so bad, it does not have to go as far as you being attacked. it's more than bad enough already for you!

Lueji Tue 19-Mar-13 13:42:11

Pretty much what turbo and cogito said.

What you reported is not good.

There will always be good times, but it's in the bad times that relationships are really evaluated.
If partners are still respectful of each other when arguing, if they still feel safe, if they recognise their own contribution to the arguments, if they can listen to the other and respect their opinions even though they disagree.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 13:45:29

Is there some kind of frequency of blow-up that's acceptable? Or severity?
Why does he get cross with me for causing the rows when I can't really see what I've done / how I'm perpetuating it / why it was so serious?
How can I be sure it's NOT me that's in the wrong? He would be sure that he isn't at fault and that "If you only hadn't ...' or that "You should know that ... ".

Cogito: I think I am identifying with what you're saying, but it's taken a couple of decades to be able to begin to think like that, and while I can agree with what you say, I can't see whether it applies to me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 13:49:33

Glad you're beginning to see the light but it would be a crying shame to waste a few more decades before you actually did something about it... hmm You're a long time dead.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 13:54:42

So how do I see whether it applies to me? Or whether I am being as unreasonable as I am told?
And then WHAT do I do?
'Cos, you know, I do really think I agree with you....

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 13:55:55

... But I don't want to agree with you. I want it to be ok, and solvable, and a bad moment in time right now, and just a case of me managing to cope and deal a bit better.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 13:59:30

"Why does he get cross with me for causing the rows when I can't really see what I've done "

Precisely because it keeps you on the back foot, confused, doubting yourself and questioning your judgement. There's an expression in football.... 'playing the man, not the ball'.... i.e. taking out the opponent rather than going for a fair tackle. That's what he's doing to you. Rather than talk about the problem, debate the point, listen to criticism or accept that he has to change something about himself... he goes on the attack. It's bullying.

In conversation with a normal person who wants to engage
"I am unhappy about X"
"Sorry to hear that. How can we make X work better?"

In conversation with a bully who simply wants to attack
"I am unhappy about X"
"You're just a stupid bitch, you've no idea what you're talking about and you're never happy!"

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 14:05:39

" I want it to be ok, and solvable"

Bullies know this. Sorry. They realise that you'll never leave, never make them leave, don't want a fuss, want everything to be OK and nice everyone being friends and happy & so forth.... If pushed they can turn on the charm for short time until the dust settles but really they have no incentive to change behaviour because they're All Right Jack.

Like a dog trainer, he scared you into submission in the past with his shouting and walking out antics. Now he probably just has to give you a 'look' and you know you'd better shut up.... am I right?

Lueji Tue 19-Mar-13 14:07:33

I want it to be ok, and solvable, and a bad moment in time right now, and just a case of me managing to cope and deal a bit better.
We all did. sad
But at some point you stop hoping, and you realise that you should not be "coping" and "dealing with it", because he does fuck all to cope and deal with, or even work at the relationship.
(not sure if that's what happens in yours, BTW, but it does sound like it, as he always puts the blame on you)

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 14:19:26

Cogito
"I am unhappy about X"
"Well you shouldn't be. I work my arse off for you." (that's his job work, not housework). "What are we going to do with you? But you said you wanted X." (Whether I did or didn't.) And probably other stuff I can't remember.

I think we go through nice phases where he's trying and he's pleasant and he contributes to family life when he's around. And then it falls apart.

Yes, lueji I really want it to be trivial and solvable and not happening.

sallyfromthealley Tue 19-Mar-13 14:20:17

Can you give us an actual example? It's hard to understand as you are describing things generally.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 14:57:21

Sally, I feel uncomfortable to do so, in case it is too identifiable. I phrased my initial question as "how can I judge whether it's ok?" because I didn't really want to post details.
In general, he can loose his temper over something I say or do, and I generally don't know what it was or (if I can see the cause) why it was such a problem. Whether I say anything or nothing, it escalates quickly to red-faced shouting and physical posturing. It will be my fault. He will - with luck - leave, return at some point and it will likely simmer for hours. He'll then be stoney for days. I try not to do or say anything to cause him upset. Sometimes some of his anger is just wrong - so if he's angry he will include the fact that he's not had any time at the weekend without children, even if that's not the case. If I think of the last three outbursts, the causes feel so unreasonable / out-of-proportion, that I'm embarrassed to post them.
I have in the past also hoped that he would do more of the housework and childcare (including stuff I'd just expect anyone to do for themselves), but he is a bit better at that now and I am SAHM now, with much more time, so it's less of an issue.
Things are normally fine. I think my issues are his angry outbursts, how his long hours and high income dictate my role, and that I don't often feel that he thinks well of me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 15:13:16

"I try not to do or say anything to cause him upset"

Do you understand that your behaviour has become controlled because of this? You should be able to say or do anything you like within your own home and your own family. You cannnot do that. This is wrong

"I have in the past also hoped that he would do more of the housework "

Hoping achieves nothing. While he has you scared to speak out, constantly apologising, constantly wondering what you did to deserve another unreasonable row... he has no need to change anything. He wins. This is wrong

"I am SAHM now, with much more time, so it's less of an issue. "

You mean, fed up with the place being a mess, you had to give up a job, become financially dependent on him and take on the role of skivvy. Of course it's less of an issue now. Your life changed 100% and his nothing at all ... hmm This is wrong

He does not think well of you. If a stranger walked into your home this afternoon and subjected you to one of these outbursts, would you think that stranger was a nice person, that they loved you and thought well of you.... or would you be calling the police and having them forcibly removed?

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 16:10:04

Cogito Can you talk me through this, please?

You should be able to say or do anything you like That's not actually the case, is it? I mean, I wouldn't choose to say anything nasty to someone, in my home or not. He would say that I am winding him up / saying unacceptable things / "why do you think you can say such a nasty thing now?" Where do the boundaries lie? How do i know that I am not at fault causing him such upset with my selfish behaviour? (<- this is the crux of a lot of my uncertainty).

Hoping achieves nothing. OK, so I asked, I didn't just quietly hope. Sometimes he tells me that I'm unreasonable, and sometimes he says he'll do something, though it often doesn't get done (current stand-off regarding a specific weekly chore, which he says he'll do, doesn't do, I don't do because he said he'd do it, doesn't get done. If I commented on it or reminded him I fear he'd be cross). OTOH, Pre-children he would tell me he'd wash up, but not do so for days on end. Now he will either do it while I put the children to bed, or vice versa.

you had to give up a job I didn't really care about the mess. I gave up my career in order to support one of our children who has a complex condition. We still have a cleaner/ironer (yes, that's nice. He'd insist on it anyway as I don't clean well enough). His life became a bit easier. The house is still untidy. I don't mind spending a bit more of my daytime doing a bit more of the housework than him. It's ok at the moment (children all in school most of the time). It wouldn't be ok if I returned to work, which is an issue for me. This is a pattern modelled by his parents.

tessa6 Tue 19-Mar-13 16:25:37

You sound afraid of him. Is your relationship equal? If you are embarrassed to post some of the details this is really really not a good sign. He clearly has a temper problem at the very least. In answer to your original question, get a book called Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum.

The way many people work out whether their relationship is healthy or optimal is by comparing it to others, sometimes even by having an affair. This normally causes more grief than it is worth. But if you are even thinking it is questionable, then I bet you it is at the very least problematic. There's also a few books by Lundy Bancroft worth getting too.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Mar-13 17:13:30

"ou should be able to say or do anything you like That's not actually the case, is it?"

In a loving relationship you should be able to say anything at all and not be verbally abused in return. In a loving relationship, even if one party is angry or provocative, the other should be able to say 'we'll talk later when you're calmer'... not yell in their face.

He - Mr Lord Almighty - is the only one deciding what is 'nasty' at the moment whereas you are having to second-guess everything that comes out of your mouth on the basis of 'will he get cross if I say this?'. It's just wrong.

You remind him about the housework and he blows up .... so you stop reminding. You 'don't clean well enough'... who decided that one I wonder?... so you're spending more and more of your day cleaning, despite paying someone else.

He's got you running around after him, you are being controlled and I don't think you even see it. These parents of his... wouldn't be asian origin would they?

Cairngorms, I had to leave the thread to call solicitors, children etc. Have now read many but not all of your posts. You sound similar to me. Am i just overreacting? If I wait it'll get better, for sure. This is just a bad patch. He's often nice too.
That you have to think like this to yourself to sort of justify his behaviour is what I now know (it's the hindsight bit that's so fucking handy. sorry about swearing) means that HE IS WRONG. AND YOU ARE RIGHT.
I bet you are scared of when he's going to blow up next, because you DON'T KNOW what will cause it. It could be slightly burnt dinner, or just something he's thought of...I mean, whatever, but you will not guess until he goes boom.

My psychologist friend explained to me: apart from normal things, the house is most likely untidy because you can't focus because YOU ARE LIVING IN A WARZONE. maybe I felt she exaggerated, but you know. It's a minefield, can blow up at anytime. A large portion of your brain is dealing with that, and the children and just ticking over.
Please excuse my capital letters.

Also he calls you selfish, which I find hard to believe, despite not knowing you in real life. I bet he is the selfish one. Yes, he works. BUt he doesn't want you to. Yes, he supports you, but I can bet this is pointed out as something you should be really grateful for.
Even if none of my guesses are right. He is wrong . YOU are right. If there is threatening words and threatening posturing and so forth, the police actually takes it very seriously, and so do the CHildren's services. You are in the right in their eyes. YOu can be sure of that.

AnyFucker Tue 19-Mar-13 17:31:32

OP, you are walking on eggshells because you are afraid of his reaction

he is controlling you by fear, and by gaslighting you (google gaslighting if you haven't heard of it)

you are modifying your behaviour so he doesn't use emotional abuse to bring you back into line

you are constantly questioning yourself, you have no peace of mind

peace of mind is priceless and cannot be worked on by you alone....he either instils it or he doesn't

your have 2 options

1) turn into a Stepford wife, accept all his criticism and become a cowed shadow of a woman living through the eyes of an inadequate man

2) decide this is not for you, and take steps to end your relationship

There is no middle ground, I am afraid, unless he went for very lengthy and intensive counselling to examine his own insecurities and inadequacies. He will never agree to that....bringing us back to point 2)

Please, Corgito puts it a whole lot better than me. The posturing may escalate. The children suffer from this, and I had it put to me that my boys may repeat what their father has been doing. If you feel that should your boys (if you have any) behave to anyone like their father is behaving to you, you would be very angry and disappointed in them, then that says it all really.
I will do anything I can to prevent them, and am aware I may be to late for it.

I'm certainly not trying to put more guilt on you. At all. But you know in your heart he is so wrong, it's just he has in fact brainwashed you to wonder what is wrong with you. There is nothing at all wrong with you. You are not selfish or such an annoying person that it's your fault he gets cross. He is just saying that. You are just a regular person, no angel, a human. And he is behaving in an unacceptable manner. I repeat: police and children's services are on your side.

Cairngorms Tue 19-Mar-13 18:05:53

turbochildren sad, but thank you.

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