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I don't know if I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship or whether its just me being highly strung

(60 Posts)
Pleasefiveminutesforme Sat 24-Aug-13 23:43:58

I feel like my husband is constantly criticising me. We have two kids, age 3 and 1. So I have a lot on my plate. And I do a hell of a lot. But I always seem to forget something, or get so something wrong. The house is always too messy for his liking, too cluttered. And he is always picking me up on it.. even though he claims that he actually lets so many things go and that he is constantly having to hold his tongue and say nothing and make allowances. He says that i am so so sensitive that i cannot take advice on how to do things better or more efficiently, and that what he said under his breath wasnt for my hearing anyway. And he is so so good at arguing his point that I am always the one apologising, even if we are bickering about something I really believed not to be my fault.

I'm so lonely about this as I don't want to be unfaithful to him by talking to my friends about it but most of my closest friends have seen me in tears at one point or other over something he has been angry with me about. I feel like I am always in the wrong in his eyes and he always claims to not remember examples of him previously putting me down, so much so that I've threatened to start writing everything down as annoyingly I can remember the put-downs but am unable to repeat the whole circumstances that lead to it. He huffs and puffs when I've annoyed him and then when I get frustrated he claims that I'm being unreasonable for attacking him for breathing.

We have always had an argumentative relationship. I think I have always felt put down by him but its worse since I had kids. I have never argued in previous relationships but most arguments come from me getting indignant or answering back to criticisms he makes. And he is so so good with words he can argue me in to a corner. He has such courage in his convictions that I am always the one who ends up apologising. He is also an only child so I wonder if that is why he is so convinced he is always right.

I have ended l on anti anxiety tablets for the past year. But I feel like its him that's causing my anxiety. When he is away for work I don't miss him. I get stressed with the kids but not anxious which is how I am around him, I feel like I am constantly watching what I say when he's therre. i do jobs for fear of being told off. i darent ask him to do anything round the house as he will discover my way of doing it is flawed and that it needs changing or that i hadnt done it properly the time before. If he thinks any of those things he will have a go at me or there will be a big argument. He says its been loads better between us of late as we haven't argued so much but that's because I keep my mouth shut most of the time when he offends me now.

I dn't know what to do. He is an amazing father and has a sweet heart but he is so critical and gets angry with me. He has banged doors and walls but never ever raised a hand to me. Once in the middle of the night when he was having go at me for how I was dealing with our son screaming in the night I lashed out at him in the bed out of pure frustration and he had to pin me back, so now he likes to remind me of how I was physically abusive to him once and has even brought it up in front of our three year old.

On the other hand I am an emotional person and I think maybe it is all me and that I am being unreasonable. I like getting my own way so maybe its just that I don't like being told. My family laugh and joke and say that I was a handful and that he has calmed me down. (I changed career 6months before I met him and I actually think it was partly being more fulfilled that may have done that too). I just thought relationships were supposed to be teamwork and the only way that has materialised in our relationship is that he works really really hard and I do the kids and house. But I don't criticise his job, although he is constantly critisising mine. Is feeling this way normal?? I just don't know! All I know is I am mostly miserable with him and that although I love him loads I am getting to the point where I almostwould rather walk away.

Please your advice would be really welcome, is it just me being a little princess and expecting too much??

TerribleTantrums Sun 25-Aug-13 00:03:09

Yes, that is an EA relationship. You should read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft because your H is in there. I think it will be helpful to you to at least recognise the classic control techniques that he is using, so that you know it's him and not you. Then, when you have a clear picture, you will be better able to make decisions about your future and how to take back control of your own life and emotions.

HopeClearwater Sun 25-Aug-13 00:06:20

It's not you... the answer is in your fourth paragraph. This is a heartbreaking post. It sounds as if you have put up with a lot, too much. Can you continue to live like this indefinitely? Do you want your children to see their Mummy being put down and criticised?
I'm sure someone will be along in a minute with more advice.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sun 25-Aug-13 00:11:46

This is abusive, yes. Sorry but it is.

Ask yourself why, if you are so awful to be with, messy, anger-inducing etc, does he stay? What is he getting out of this? The answer is not a nice one. He gets something out of the constant criticism. Decent husbands do not like their wives to feel bad all the time. Yet he evidently does. He wants you to be constantly in the wrong and apologising. Why?

Have you ever discussed separating with him? If so, what does he say?

LemonDrizzled Sun 25-Aug-13 00:12:25

Oh love it is him not you! Come over and read some links on the EA support thread and we will
sort out your spaghetti head mess

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 00:14:24

That has made me cry. I wanted to be told it was just me and to pull myself together and get on with it. I think it will break him if I were to have to confront him and tell him he is being abusive.. I will get the book. But I hope I can learn to deal with it as I do love him, I am just beginning to get concerned for our son as my husband does not hold back in front of him and I feel that it will cause my son to treat future partners in the same way. Thankyou for taking the time to reply.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sun 25-Aug-13 00:20:17

Ah, OP, don't try to get yourself to put up with it. Why should it be you who has to change and learn to live with things and not him? Why shouldn't he be able to cope with some mess and some stuff not done the way he'd do it? Because he is wrong; wrong to treat you this way. Don't 'learn to deal with it'. Instead put your energy into building up your strength to tell him this is not on, and if it continues, he will have killed your marriage.

You say most of your close friends have seen you in tears over this. Is there one of them you could talk to? I bet at least some of them feel you get a really hard time but don't want to say.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 00:44:53

Book ordered. Thanks all for your thoughts. I think we have a rocky few months ahead of us. Hopefully he will accept the problem and perhaps come to relate or something. He once agreed to it because i was miserable and told him he bullied me but he backed out again. I will read the book and if I think there is much point I will attempt to get him to read it himself. He starts a new job next week so he will feel as if everything is hitting him at once but as he is going to be in a managerial role I think it will be important for him to address this ASAP.

Helpforthehopeless Sun 25-Aug-13 00:45:43

He is a bully - been there, done that. No more! You're right, your son will learn that it's acceptable to behave this way and it will be a vicious circle. You say you love him but his behaviour will kill any love you have if this carries on. Be strong for the sake of yourself and your children. x

MariaLuna Sun 25-Aug-13 01:02:43

Don't give him the book - he will use it against you - and don't go to counselling with him but go by yourself.

He bangs walls and doors and has "pinned you back". This will only escalate.

He is already starting to damage your children (how scary at those ages to live with daddy banging his way around the house). He is terribly abusive.

He is always criticising your housework? Even the people I know who have a cleaner treat them with kindness and gratitude. (as they should!).

WhiteandGreen Sun 25-Aug-13 01:58:06

Go to councelling by yourself, not with him. The book explains that abusive people will use things you've said in councelling (where you're likely to be open and honest) against you.

Jux Sun 25-Aug-13 01:58:11

Please, please don't put up with it. You will get more and more demoralised and miserable.

Don't go to joint counselling, he'll use it against you. It will help him find more ways to torment you, more subtle ways that will make you think you've lost your mind.

Find some individual counselling for you, to help you stay strong until you are ready to change your situation.

He is horribly abusive and will get worse. Your son will copy him and show no respect for you.

Can you phone Women's Aid? Chat to them about him, they have so much expertise and support you through it all.

YvyB Sun 25-Aug-13 06:22:48

An Emotional Abuser doesn't change. They don't want to. Joint counselling gives them even more power PLUS an audience. My stbxh said some appalling things in front of our relate counsellor and used the moral highground of "well, it's important to be honest, otherwise what's the point?" as his excuse to publicly humiliate me even more. I am an extremely experienced professional in a demanding career, have coped with the death of a child, have a lot of friends who all seem to genuinely like spending time with me yet this man had me so convinced there was something Wrong with me I ended up taking 2 lots of antidepressants in a bid to make myself "better" in his eyes.

There's nothing wrong with me! I have a lot of friends and a thriving career because I'm decent, kind, reliable and graft like a racehorse. BUT if I had not read Lundy's book, I still wouldnt know what the hell was happening to me.

EA is horrific. I didnt know it existed before so I had no armoury against it. It is not you. These people don't want an equal relationship. They don't get pleasure out of seeing their loved ones happy. They don't recognise anybody else's needs as valid and important. You can't make this better. You must prioritise taking care of you now. You deserve to be looked after - and you can make a start by doing it for yourself. Stay strong.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 08:59:31

Oh sorry that I wasn't clear- it wasn't that he chose to pin me down- I went a bit like a banshee out of pure frustration of being criticised for doing it wrong and was hitting and kicking- he has never ever laid a finger on me apart from that. He has hit a wall or door three times out of frustration with me- one of which was after I had slammed my food across the table out of frustration with him. He is definitely not a physical abuser.

But every day the critisisms, the being 'told off', the way of finding fault with me for everything that happens... Ie our son wet the bed this morning, it was my fault that I'd mucked up the clock in his room and let him sleep in too late (I think that our son had played with the clock and changed the time).

I asked him this morning if we could have a talk as last night I slept in the spare bed after stormingout when he was annoyed that I had put subtitles on the tv for him to watch ( he always wants to watch tv to get to sleep and I hate it, when I went to bed he asked if he could watch tv on silent but then once in bed huffed and puffed when I asked him to put it on mute, so I put subtitles on for him. And he was indignant that I hadn't asked him if he wanted them, at which point I headed for the spare bed and said I'd just had enough). Anyway his response this morning to my suggestion of having a talk about things was that he didn't want to, it would be more nagging, I only ever see the bad things and nothing is ever good enough for me (he is referring to the fact that he cooked for me last night- whenever he does anything nice like that he wants about a week of me fawning with gratitude). Nothingis ever good enough for me is one of his mantras... He is a good provider, we have a nice house and money to spend, so i should be grateful, not complain, and i should keep the place properly. He rarely helps out on his time off, apart from helping out with our son, both with disciplining him and taking him out for an hour or so. I know what he means about not seeing the good things and that's because if he is not annoyed or frustrated with me he will compliment me that I am amazing with the kids, but I am not sure how he thinks I can have a spotless house and pay with/entertain them as well. I think he may have had them both a handful of times in the past 18 months and he always tells me how easy it was afterwards.

Oh I am being a right droaner, but nice to have an outlet for this! Thanks for all your messages.

alarkthatcouldpray Sun 25-Aug-13 09:25:50

He always tells me how easy it was

What a dick. I would be livid. Looking after your own children for an hr or two occasionally is totally different from day in day out parenting plus housework, cooking, grocery shopping & all the other tasks & appointments which need fitted in.

Any partner who WOH & does not respect the work that happens at home in their absence would have their coat on a very shoogly peg as far as I am concerned.

If you feel less anxious when he is not about that speaks volumes sad

bragmatic Sun 25-Aug-13 09:29:26

It is not you.

It. Is. NOT. you.

RhondaJean Sun 25-Aug-13 09:34:43

Is he two???? Throwing a strop over subtitles????

This is not normal. People with small children do find it hard, and they do have arguments, but this is not normal.

How do you work your finances? Do you work at all at the moment? Do you have access to all money if you need it?

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 10:17:58

I am starting back at work two days a week the week after next (I am a teacher). I am such a different person at work!

So we just had a big chat about things. I Forced him to talk to me as he as being sulky that I was still upset about last night.

His side of things is that whatever he does, we always end up in the same place, with me making him feel like an arsehole. That nothing he does is never good enough for me. He reminded me that we've had an expensive summer holiday, that he's helped out with the kids etc. It was an amazing holiday. He went off and did sport all day and I was happy!

I told him I don't need money, expensive holidays etc, I just need him to stop having a go at me for things... He quite rightly said that I am overly sensitive, he will harrumph about something nothing to do with me and I will be asking what I've done... But that's because 9 out of 10 times its something that was my fault... Like if he goes to make tea there are no tea bags in the caddy because I forgot to fill it (not an actual example but couldn't think of an exact one). So I think I have got in a rut with being overly sensitive because he has been angry with me for things in the past and now I am being paranoid. He claims he has been making a real effort all year trying to let things go... And thinking about it he is loads loads better, he doesn't lose his rag with me much any more so maybe I need to stop being paranoid that he is going to. Mostly nowadays it is just mini grumps with me rather than shouting and banging things (last wall bang was over a year ago).

I have realised he gets grumpy about other things and I always assume it is about me- another of his mantras is that is not all about me!

I am going to read the book but I don't want to walk away from my marriage, I just want to learn to understand that it isn't me!!

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 10:20:19

I will get the counselling too. Thanks. I got offered CBT when I got the anti anxiety meds. Do I need to go to relate or something or will the CBT do?

myroomisatip Sun 25-Aug-13 10:22:20

Please OP, you are right to worry about your son. I speak from experience sad My son bases his own relationships on the example of his father and more often than not his GF's end up in tears and I feel as if I am watching a re-run of my own life when watching his.

Please get away from this man.

RhondaJean Sun 25-Aug-13 10:40:15

He doesn't get angry so much any more because most of his conditioning is done, he has you walking on eggshells and worrying about whether the tea bag caddy is full, you are right where he wants you.

You haven't answered about access to money? Sorry but I don't think from your posts you are ready to look at what is really going on here, but please, remember that IT ISN'T YOU.

colafrosties Sun 25-Aug-13 10:41:30

I'm sorry OP, his behaviour towards you sounds horrible.

You said you're such a different person at work. Is that because at work you're the "real you" and at home you can't be that?

Jux Sun 25-Aug-13 11:04:45

Take the tea caddy example. If dh makes tea and the caddy is empty, he walks to the cupboard, gets a box of tea bag from it, opens the box and empties the tea bags into the caddy. Amazingly, he can do this all by himself and without moaning. He has legs which work. He has arms and hands which do what he wants them to. It would appear your h does not.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 11:15:40

Thankyou for all your posts.

RhondaJean, I do have access to money in the joint account and the savings account which is linked to the joint account. I am actually in charge of the finances, although I am not great at it as I keep going over budget on our food shopping, petrol etc. he used to get annoyed when he realised we were over budget and go though the statement totting up how much I had spent each month, but he hasn't done that for at least 2 years now. He claims I expect everything on a plate. I had a comfortable upbringing as my Dad had very very little as a child (lived in a 1 bed flat, shared a room with parents till he was 12 etc)so when he was successful he wanted his children not to worry about money and even if my parents were struggling for money they kept their children out of it.

Jux, thankyou for your comments. Would women's aid really want to talk to me? I think they have cases of physical abuse where children are at risk of physical harm to deal with. I feel as if I would be wasting their precious time.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer, I have mentioned separation to him. He reminds me how he will live a miserable existence and I will get the kids and that I hold all the cards. It came up in conversation this morning. It comes up every six months or so. I feel pretty uncomfortable talking to my friends about this. Eithr they are both our friends or they have their own issues which make it tricky. Either way I feel unfaithful to him for discussing it.

Do I really need to leave?? Is there no other option??. He is a wonderful father. But I have to admit I always imagined I would marry my best friend. He doesn't seem to be that person. Although he says I am his.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 11:19:43

Cola frosties, I think I'm the real me at home as well as at work. I just don't worry so much about to consequences of everything I do in the same way. And I am pretty professional and confident that I am good at my job as no one is critisising me!

paperlantern Sun 25-Aug-13 11:33:08

please call woman's aid yes they will talk to you you are in a very abusive relationship.

also you are not shit with money. he's making you think you are

RhondaJean Sun 25-Aug-13 11:35:02

I'm glad at least you have access to money. I was just trying to paint a full picture as often men like this keep their wives on a very short financial leaf too.

Sweetheart, he is not a wonderful father though. No wonderful father makes their child's mother feel like that or gives them a role model like this. Whether you leave or not we cannot tell you but get advice, support, counselling, work through who you are.'
He's so far on this thread told you you can't handle money, can't parent properly, can't housekeep properly, and can't leave him because he will suffer. Does he say anything about your work ( don't know how you manage that when you can't cope here type thing?
And I'm sure he is not all bad - noone is.

paperlantern Sun 25-Aug-13 11:37:44

also you are not oversensitive he is using that to dismiss your feeling

your memory isn't wrong he keeps rewriting history for jis own ends.

he has taught you to be dependent on what he says as opposed to trusting what you see, hear, feel, think. that is horrendous abuse.

speaking from my own experience here

TerribleTantrums Sun 25-Aug-13 11:51:33

Read the book, have some counselling on your own, try and work out what the dynamic currently is before you start working out what you want to do. Don't let him know you are reading the book or give it to him to read. Don't do joint counselling, he will use it to reinforce his version of your relationship.

If you want to save the marriage (and you may not want to once you work out what he's doing to you and your DC) then wait until you are clear in your own mind what is and isn't acceptable, respectful behaviour, and are strong enough to state your requirements and not back down in the face of his bullying.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 12:14:14

Thank you all for your responses. I will do exactly that, TerribleTantrums, I will take the counselling, read the book in secret and then take it from there.

I am really overwhelmed by everyone's responses. I am glad I posted last night as I felt like I couldn't take any more, in fact I said so to him.

I have long been feeling that this is not right. But I had no idea that people would feel so strongly that this is an abusive relationship. He cites other people's argumentative relationships and says it is normal but our arguments almost always come from his getting annoyed with me for one reason or other or me standing up to his critisising me. I have started arguments but usually that's because he has undermined me in some way and I am angry about it.

After the discussion with him this morning he has promised to harrumph less (although I do not believe he will, or that he will stop criticising me). He has taken the kids to the supermarket. He was only going to take the boy but I convinced him to take the baby too. As I mentions previously heras only had the both of them a handful of times so its a rare moment for me- he must be feeling guilty for the argument!, but I will need to show gratitude for the rest of the day or he will get annoyed that nothing is good enough for me again!!

paperlantern Sun 25-Aug-13 12:24:45

fuck me that's awful, he takes the kids to the supermarket (a perfectly normal occurrence) and you have to be super nice or "nothing he doss woll be good enough". does he do the same every time you take the kids to the supermarket.

im not getting at you, it my cack handed way I'm trying to show you how he has taught you that you, your time, your effort is less valuable than him and his.

AnotherRandom Sun 25-Aug-13 12:41:37

This is like my life. I feel for you. My husband is an only child and we argue over stupid things, VERY often. When at work teaching I feel so happy and myself. At home when he is not around I feel happy and in control but the minute he is home the mood can change so quickly sad he is quite controlling of me and I try to stick up for myself but he is very smart with his words and I feel so stupid.

I know I do a lot around the house and when I ask him to help or pull his weight he gets really mad at how I've asked him and starts to belittle the things I do and makes it out as if I don't do much really angry I can't even wear certain clothes because he thinks they are too revealing sad

He makes me feel like I'm making a big deal out of things, he makes me feel like I always start the arguments, that I press his buttons, I make him angry on purpose, I nag at him.

I feel as though you are DEFINATELY not to blame here. Your husband is controlling you and belittling you and eventually this will wear you down. It makes you second guess yourself even though you are a strong minded woman! You know your mind, your way of doing things. He is an arsehole for making you feel this way!!! Being at home is hard, especially with no adult conversation and then to have to worry about arguments when your husband gets home is just crap.

I will be following your post with interest.

WhiteandGreen Sun 25-Aug-13 12:47:33

He sounds like my ex DH. I read the book to see if he was abusive in order to give myself 'permission' to leave.

In the end I decided that it didn't really matter if he was abusive. Nor did it matter if it wasn't all him and was my fault.

The fact is that there was something about our relationship, the dynamics of it, that meant that I was very unhappy. And despite much effort we couldn't seem to change it.

I also realised that I didn't need permission from a book or my husband, to leave.

bragmatic Sun 25-Aug-13 13:29:58

Darling, have you heard of the term gaslighting?

Does it sound familiar?

Jux Sun 25-Aug-13 14:08:37

Yes yes yes! Talk to Women's Aid. You are not wasting their time. You are in an abusive relationship and they do not require people to be hit in order to qualify for their help. EA is horrible, worse than being hit in a way, as it's so subtle and there's nothing much you can point at and say "Enough!" about. EA is insidious, creeps very subtly, and does so much emotional damage.

Please phone them.

wordyBird Sun 25-Aug-13 14:27:18

Yes - Women's Aid would talk with you. You are in a textbook abusive relationship.

BTW when he says he's letting a lot of things go, that tells you just how much he wants control, and how much he thinks you should make life easy for him! I mean, no tea bags in the caddy? I know that was hypothetical: but if it's typical, it shows just how much he expects you to wait on him, smooth his life out for him, and take the blame for everything that goes wrong - even if it has nothing to do with you.

Don't buy into that 'I'm overly sensitive' belief either. Controlling people foster that belief because they think they should be allowed to criticise you freely, without response from you. On the other hand, if you criticise them, it's a major event.

They also train you into sensitivity, because you're constant checking what you say and do so that you don't have an argument.

It's no way to live.

evaeoin Sun 25-Aug-13 14:54:15

So sorry you are going throught this. Yes it is EA and i like alot of others on here i understand COMPLETELY what you are saying.

I just want to say one thing to you first and that is the idea that you have been physically abusive towards him. Of course he is loving the idea that you have but you havent. You may have lost the rag and he may have pinned you down to get you to stop BUT he wast remotely scared or intimidated by you (i bet my life on it). He just wanted you to stop cause you were irritating him. Its like two people having a shouting match/arguement - it isnt realy abusive as such unless one person is afraid, intimidated etc. Lundys book will expalin it much beter than me.

I was exactly like you and one night i too lost the rag and put my hand over H mouth and told him to shut up. I just could take any more of his sh*t. He swatted me off like a fly and then like your H made out i was the agressive one. He was so delighted.

So please please put that out of your head and concentrate on all that he is guilty of not what he has very cleverly made you feel guilty about. And i know its not just him that has made you feel guilty becuase you are a lovely person you feel awful yourself about this misdemeanor but take a step back - he drove you to it and like i said it hasnt knocked a feather out of him it has just given him something else to make you feel bad about. Put if out of your head.

Also, listen to some of these very clever posters on here - they really do know what they are talking about - i know from experience........

Anniegetyourgun Sun 25-Aug-13 14:57:51

Just idle curiosity really, but I wonder how you say he is a good provider, you have a nice house, money to spend, expensive holidays, and yet you always go over budget on the shopping. Just how much of a spendthrift are you on groceries? Does he have any suggestions on how you could do it more economically, and do you ignore those suggestions? (And how do you even overspend on petrol, surely the car only has one tank?!) What I'm getting at is, is it definitely you being rubbish with money or is the budget unnecessarily tight?

If you don't feel like answering, just give it some thought.

NomChangeroo Sun 25-Aug-13 15:02:22

I've name changed for this but couldn't not respond to your post.

It ABSOLUTELY is NOT your fault what is happening here.
Your DH is abusing you.
I could have written your post word for word a year or two ago.
From the age gaps of your children to him gas lighting you, your family thinking he's 'sorted you out' and that you were a bit 'wild' and your constant state of anxiety.
I still suffer a bit from anxiety but, guess what? Now I'm not with him I haven't had to take medication for it because it is nowhere near as bad.

I believe, from your OP that he could become physically violent towards you - he's already shown violent tendencies, even though it's been towards inanimate objects.
My ex DP started with little things like punching walls, then holding my wrists so I couldn't get away when he was making a 'point' and even though the violence was infrequent (I learnt how to toe the line but then he'd change the boundaries) he ended up strangling me on more than one occasion and punched me repeatedly in front of our DD.
He only did it in front of her once because I called the police. I left the phone on where he couldn't see it and they traced the call - all the while hearing the vile things he was saying to me.
This board is an excellent place for support and there are a lot of people with really great advice.
For me the best advice was contact womens aid.
Even if you just speak over the phone for support initially they'll let you know you're not crazy (here is good for that too).

Nothing you change will be good enough - as I said, my ex just randomly changed the boundaries. So, for example, he would have a go at me if I didn't buy him beer in the shopping. Then one day he had a to at me for buying it because he said I wanted to make him fat and 'take advantage of him financially' by getting him drunk. It sounds ludicrous but meant I didn't know whether to get it next time or not and of course whatever I decided would be wrong.

Get a counsellor. They will listen to you (I never felt listened to before) and will work through things without you feeling the need to justify yourself for anything.

If you want to leave him then get all your important stuff stashed away and try and squirrel away money.
My ex used to shout at me for being 'irresponsible' with money (I wasn't) but I had the last laugh as I'd been putting away money into an account - not lots, but enough to move house and be ok for a little while)

Try and find a friend or family member you can confide in. I was able to speak to one of my best friends and although she lives abroad her support meant a great deal to me.

You might try and write off what he's doing as 'only words' or 'I'm over sensitive' but for me the lasting effect of this behaviour was worse than the physical stuff. I was anxious and had started to doubt everything. I couldn't decide what to buy down the shop for dinner for fear it'd be 'wrong' or too expensive. I'd lost my confidence in my parenting ability too.
Now I look back and realise it was because of him.

Wishing you all the best.

NomChangeroo Sun 25-Aug-13 15:12:20

Another thing, OP my ex had a great job.
Earned loads of money but was still tight as anything and expected me to account for every penny. I paid my way through my maternity leaves but he never let me forget that I wasn't earning and he was paying the rent.

What I'm saying is that it's just another way of controlling you. We were well off but I was still not allowed to make any decisions really, not even on groceries without him interfering and questioning it. He still thinks I am a spendthrift (I'm not in the slightest) and used to use the fact I was in debt when I met him as evidence for this. (I'd taken a loan out for a masters so not exactly spending money on a luxurious lifestyle!)

He still tries to use money to control me (eg threatening to stop paying the rent - the only money he pays for upkeep and promising to send the DC to private school, choosing a school then telling me he's changed his mind)

Even though I don't have all the material things any more my quality of life is much better. It was worth it to get my confidence back.

Kundry Sun 25-Aug-13 15:35:28

So your DH is 'a good father' on the basis of having looked after all the kids alone, 3-4 times in their entire lives? For which you had to be grateful?

Sorry but he's a shit father.

On no account let him even know about the book. If he doesn't know you go on mumsnet, don't let him know that either. Start using private browsing as of now.

And definitely Womensaid and counselling - but never ever with him.

oldgrandmama Sun 25-Aug-13 15:48:13

Been quickly through the posts and my heart breaks for you. He IS a bully, emotionally abusive and I'm so glad you're beginning to take steps to sort it out. I'm pretty old, been round the block a lot, been involved with emotional and physical bullies, control freaks and men who generally play with your head. I think you have to do some very serious thinking about where you go now. Excellent advice from the other MN ladies. Fingers crossed for you.

Kernowgal Sun 25-Aug-13 18:04:23

I am here wondering if the budget he has agreed for your groceries is actually one that is impossible to achieve and therefore makes you overspend each month, so he can have a go at you for it, if you see what I mean.

I was where you were, OP, and it was exhausting. Trying to anticipate every little thing that might wind him up and dealing with it before he had the chance to shout at me. But then the goalposts would move, and I'd get a telling off for something else, usually quite random and usually quite ridiculous. I looked forward to the days when he would be out for the day, or away for the night, because I could just be myself. It was horrible. He would call me something horrible, then when I picked him up on it, he would angrily deny he'd said it and force me to apologise, even though I knew he'd said it. Then later on he'd be all jokey about it and basically say he had said it, but I would never get an apology, because he didn't do apologies.

The day he left (because I was cold and selfish, apparently), I didn't cry. I felt numb for an hour or so, and then just felt complete and utter relief. I no longer had to dread his key in the door. It was wonderful. Friends commented on how I no longer seemed stooped, like I was carrying the weight of the world. One of the happiest days of my life so far.

Pleasefiveminutesforme Sun 25-Aug-13 20:33:26

Thank you all so much for all the advice.

To be honest I am rather overwhelmed as I really expected only one or two replies telling me to stop being so highly strung and that its real life, just get over it. I certainly didn't expect so many posts saying you do think it is EA. I feel as if I am just peeking out of the sand at the moment, although perhaps not completely removing my head!

Thank you all for sharing your stories with me. It is a great help to no longer feel completely alone in this. Evaoin, thank you especially for sharing your story about the physical stuff, you are right, I have felt terrible about it. He told his friend that I hit him, then told me he had done so, so I can no longer actually look that friend in the eye any more.

Writing that makes me realise how he will exaggerate how badly I have done something. He told me off for something I had done when we were at a family gathering. At the time I needed support, not to be told off, so I flipped and yelled at him. The only person in the room with him was my niece. But he stormed out and whenever he refers to it, his storming out was because I had laid into him in front of my entire family.

He claims I am never happy with what I have. Whenever I say its hard to keep the house in order with two small children he reminds me that we have a cleaner. Who does his ironing. And that he is always happy to graze on something small for his evening meal so he doesn't expect me to cook for him nowadays. He says he is frustrated with the number of unfinished jobs in the house. I can empathise with that though because I hate it too but if one of the kids has pulled me away from hanging the washing I often do forget to go back and finish it. Or to put away the breakfast things, or the colouring in were doing, or finish emptying the dishwasher, even though the dirty things are stacking up on the side etc etc

Kernowgal and Anniegetyourgun, Maybe you are right about the low budget- I am always so shocked when I find out how much some of my friends spend at the supermarket. We did up my budget about six months ago when we went through the typical shop for a week and I gave him approximate prices, he was pretty out of tune with how much things cost nowadays (He never goes to the supermarket except to buy a few bits and bobs and I am sure he never looks at the prices). However I did agree the budget. I, like NomChangeroo had debt when we first got together, and we were extremely frugal in the period where we paid it off, so I got used to keeping the budget low. Trouble is, we really enjoy being sociable and entertaining and as the budget had no room for that, we always go over. (By the way he does use the fact that I was in debt as a point in arguments a lot, like how I expect the road to rise before me, how I want everything on a plate, how I have no concept of the value of money).

NomChangeroo, I had a hard time on maternity leave too, I felt like a limpet living off his money. My own money went into paying for childcare for our son so that I could have time with the baby and do the house etc.

He has been really good about money recently and has not questioned things, but that is possibly because he is also spending over budget. I still worry because he used to be on my back about it. But he asks for more expensive things fro. The supermarket now and says we will start to be frugal again after the summer.

On the plus side he does give me an allowance each month which is really generous. It's money I don't have to justify and can spend just on myself, for clothes, meals out with friends etc. I often just use it to buy things for the kids though because I'm concerned that the joint account is not looking healthy. But as i get it, I really don't feel that he is financially controlling me. It was an idea his parents gave him As they do the same thing.

His parents do seem to be aware of how he is because they have made several comments to him that he is controlling. I try not to see them too often, partly because he gets annoyed with them and takes his annoyance out on me by being grumpy. I Wonder if behind closed doors their relationship is just like ours. Recently his mother confided to me when she realised we'd been arguing that she and his dad had rowed that morning as well. It depressed me so much as my own parents don't really row at all (but then my husband reminds me that that's not so great either as they've both had affairs at one time or other!).

So the way today has gone is that after our discussion this morning where he outright denied asking to watch the tv on silent last night and accused me of making the silent bit up, he then went the supermarket with both kids and when he returned our son was having a strop about my husband carrying his shoes and would not come in the house. Our 1 year old was still toddling around outside too. My husband told me I could deal with our son and walked into the house. So I said I would get the baby first. So I brought her in to the house, shut her in and went back out to our son, but she stood by the front door and screamed for me the whole time and he just ignored her. When I came back in he made a sarcastic comment about not knowing I was going to bring her back into the house and just leave her.. Although I was totally confused as he had told me to deal with our son so I didn't know how I was supposed to look after her as well... Anyway that made an atmosphere ovr lunch and after lunch he wanted to know what was bugging me and when I told him he seemed quite surprised. I took myself off for a lie down whilst the baby slept and then afterwards he refused to come swimming with the rest of us for the afternoon and has been sulking/sleeping ever since. He says I've made him Feel like an arsehole. He's now gone out for a run. He does seem genuinely melancholy.

I really didn't think I was going to have to leave him to get this to stop. But that seems to be the common theme in everyone's advice or experience. It's so weird as he really has been so so much better over the past year but its almost like the damage has been done as I no longer trust him not to have a go at me for things. Which is what I guess posters are referring to when you say he's got me where he wants with the control thing. I am right in thinking this is all subconsciously though, right? As I don't believe for one second that he is purposely controlling me... As I know he is a really sensitive guy and would probably be outright depressed if he read all this.

Kernowgal Sun 25-Aug-13 21:39:35

Is he like this with workmates? Does he treat his friends like this? If the answer is no, then you have to realise that he actively chooses to treat you like this. If he can rein in his moodiness while at work or with friends, then he should also be able to do so with you. That was the eye opener for me - my ex was sociable and friendly with friends but at home he was the classic Jekyll and Hyde, and it always kept me on the back foot. I never knew where I stood.

However, since we split, friends seem relieved that they don't have to spend time with him any more.

I thought my ex was depressed and miserable and couldn't help himself. The reality was that he was a nasty piece of work.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 25-Aug-13 22:15:12

Well he IS behaving like an arsehole, that would be why he feels like one.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 25-Aug-13 22:42:29

Oh he's totally done a number on you op and he sounds like a twat. Have you tried Women's Aid? I think you should contact them for some advice too.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 25-Aug-13 22:45:31

You honestly shouldn't have to live like this. can't do anything without being micro managed by him. Plan ylour escape.

rivellarot Sun 25-Aug-13 22:48:47

wow are you married to mr rivella? our dhs sound like twins. I now realised that the 'problem' which dh picks up isn't actually the problem, I'm the problem (in dh's eyes). Sounds like your dh is the same- nothing will ever be good enough (even though in the real world of course it's good enough). do you still have a physical relationship with your dh? tbh though, I don't think that matters. I read your post, with cool objective eyes, and thought 'why the hell is someone as smart as that with someone who treats her like dirt'? My dh can be very sensitive and emotionally literate, and in fact that makes it worse, because he knows exactly how he should behave..he just chooses to behave like a prick [admitted that he stonewalls when i'm upset because it upsets me more..]. good luck with whatever you decide to do, it's much harder to leave than it appears..

WhiteandGreen Sun 25-Aug-13 22:51:15

rivella I thought it was really really hard to leave, before I did so. It was actually really easy. It was making the decision that was hard. It starts to feel impossible, you feel trapped.

rivellarot Sun 25-Aug-13 23:04:43

thanks whiteand green and sorry for the hijack 5 minutes. Will be watching this thread with interest. i hope you make the right decision.

LemonDrizzled Mon 26-Aug-13 00:02:43

Yes to that! Deciding to leave took years. Actually leaving was easy and made everything better

bragmatic Mon 26-Aug-13 01:32:17

You made him feel like an arsehole? Well, if it looks like a duck....

I promise you, when he cottons on to the fact that you're starting to see through him, he'll be a whole lot nicer. Don't fall for it. He won't change.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Mon 26-Aug-13 10:04:34

Notice that his responses are all about him. You've told him you feel desperately unhappy and in return he sulks and says you've made him feel like an arsehole (if the cap fits..) And you worry that he says ill be really depressed if you leave. It's not your responsibility to make him happy, you know. He has to do that himself. If he's not happy then he has to fix it, not blame it on what you do.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Mon 26-Aug-13 10:07:40

And next time he lies about something not happening when it did, look him in the eye and say 'You can keep lying all day if you like, but don't imagine it fools me because I know exactly what you said, and lying only makes it worse' Then refuse to argue the toss about whether he did or didn't anymore 'I'm not going to argue anymore because as I said..'

colafrosties Mon 26-Aug-13 10:51:14

Just wondering, do you know anything about his previous relationships?

treadpattern Mon 26-Aug-13 11:13:47

Hi, this sounds v familiar to me, you end up on eggshells worrying about getting it wrong more than you get it right. I had partner who got me in to this state over period of time, partly becuause I am forgetful and can be easily distracted tbh, but her frustration was just too much, over the top. I would worry about the shopping all the time and whether my kids had picked up their socks or not. This was all a front for the fact that she and I ultimately had different views on things.

It is hard to say if he can change I hope so but if you are already talking about seperation then it seems like maybe you two just don't fit.

clam Mon 26-Aug-13 12:29:44

DO NOT show him the book! Another poster did this once, and her h twisted it all round to accuse her of being the controlling one. Also, if you share a computer, be aware that if you bought it from, say, Amazon, you will get pop-ups on screen detailing the book. You might want to look into how to remove them.

bibliomania Mon 26-Aug-13 12:46:00

Although I was totally confused as he had told me to deal with our son so I didn't know how I was supposed to look after her as well...

Oh, he's good at this. Whatever you did would have been wrong. That's how he gets his sense of power - you running around trying to please him, while he changes to goalposts so it would be impossible ever to do so.

So glad you're reading Lundy Bancroft. I'm another veteran of such a relationship (I like to think that it's like being a war vet, rather than a "victim"). It's horrible when you realize that someone who is meant to love you quite deliberately sets out to make your life unpleasant.

The fact that you enjoyed your holiday more because he was out doing sport all the time should tell you quite a lot about what he contributes to your everyday happiness....

Pleasefiveminutesforme Fri 20-Sep-13 23:53:15

A bit of an update as we are nearly a month on from my first post. I did post a reply back in August but the iPad ate it, and I found it too difficult to find the words for a second time. However things have changed since then anyway.

With the confidence I found from posting and receiving all this fabulous support, I started to stand up to the way he was speaking to me. It was as if he genuinely had no idea he was being that foul to me... And as for the constant criticisms he really believed that he was just giving me advice. But wîth my newfound confidence I essentially gave him an ultimatum. You can keep treating me like this where I feel unrespected, or I can take the kids and move in with my parents who live over an hour and a half away.

He initially seemed shocked that I should feel that way but as I started to give him examples he started to act more sheepish as there was no denying that the way he had spoken to me on several recent occasions was disrespectful and unkind.

Who knows if it will last but he seems to be making much more of an effort to speak to me respectfully. Don't get me wrong, he's still pretty selfish and I understand that that's never going to change, he's an only child who had suspected spina bifida during the pregnancy who miracously came out strong and healthy, but whose mother sadly had to have a hysterectomy whilst he was very young. No surprise that he was doted upon and praised for evrything he did, especially when it was discovered he was super-bright, got offered a scholarship to a fancy school and was the first person from his family to go to University, let alone Oxbridge. But I can cope with a little selfishness. As long as the person is going to indulge a little of my own selfishness in return!

Most importantly though, I no longer feel as anxious as I did. I still make the effort to make the place nice at the end of the day but that's because it's pleasant to have a tidy house in the evening without toys strewn all over the place and the laundry half done and dishes piled up on the side, not because I am scared that he is going to stomp around the house sighing loudly on his return from work if he finds it that way, or criticise that I haven't done something properly.

I also bought the Lundy book on the recommendations and although I have found little time to read it where I will not be spotted, what I have read already has given me validation that I was not just being highly strung. It has also given me the confidence to open up to two of my best and oldest friends about how controlling he is, telling them that I am reading a book that is helping me deal with him... As if they needed telling that he were controlling after some of the scenes they have witnessed in the past!

I get that these are only steps in the right direction and that they are not necessarily indicative if how things will continue but they are giving me confidence. We have rowed since and he has said some horrid things in the heat of the moment but I have been able to stand up to myself in a way I wasn't really capable of a few months ago, so thanks so much for your support, mumsnetters!

A return to work just two days a week has also done a great deal for my confidence as I am suddenly being seen in a different, more competent light (i am pretty good at my job and i love it to boot) also I remember how normal people interact without putting one another down!

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