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Anyone here? Just had argument with DH :(

(43 Posts)
Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:03:51

I really don't know if I'm blowing things out of proportion here and just need a friendly ear.

Bit of background. IMO DH has (or has had) anger issues (never physical but tends to react to stressful incidents rarely by getting cross and letting ff steam as his way of coping. He is completely fine afterwards but it upsets me and he thinks it's my issue that I get upset).

He finally admitted he had a problem (possibly because we debated it alot on my insistence (he wants to put his head in the sand about it). He bought an anger management book, did some exercises and seemed to have different strategies to help me.

Just now we were both in the kitchen. He couldn't find a piece of paper I had tidied away earlier, when I told him where I had put it I could feel him getting annoyed I had moved it when he needed (didn't say anything, just a vibe) and as he shut the tupperware (gosh this sounds pathetic) he did it in a forceful way like he was irritated. So I questioned him about it and he spoke in an aggressive tone to me about how he needed it which is why he left it out and it was important. Me replying if it was so important why was it under bits and pieces of junk. I could tell he was angry about it, he had a cross look and he started huffing a bit. He then started telling me I was provoking him and he wasn't angry until I started talking and going on and on (speaking in aggressive tone) and that he was fine but he knew that I'd be upset by our conversation so why do I always go on about things (I try to talk about things/make DH realise the effect his behaviour has on me and DH isn't interested). We ended out having a full on row. Him not taking me seriously at all and saying he's fine thank you very much he's got it out of his system but it's all my fault that I get upset by this and I have the issue and I should just leave it alone and everyone would be fine. Me then trying to explain that his behaviour has an effect on me and if I'm not important enough to him that he's not bothered that his behaviour upsets me to the point of wanting to do something about it then something is wrong.

We left it at that. He seems not bothered at all that I'm upset. He sees it as all being my issue.

A side issue but one I've been thinking alot about recently. His DM was abused as a child, she has a needy personality and FIL seems from what I gather to have a temper and anger on him. I think DH is the same in this respect as FIL. MIL just accepts this and so I think DH has learnt this behaviour is normal so me challenging it is difficult as he doesn't see there as being an issue and it's very hard to make him realise IMO there is. But that's by the by.

Anyway, I realise this reinactment of our argument is very dull reading to anyone out there, so thanks if you did read it. I am questioning whether to post it but I think it useful to have an outside perspective on this (and bear in mind you don't get DHs side and I am one hormonal and tearful lady so maybe I'm just making a big thing of nothing, but it helps to get a bit of perspective).

This issue comes up in our relationship every few months confused

AFishWithoutABicycle Mon 02-Sep-13 21:11:03

Sounds like he's being a bit of a nob. But maybe if he posted you'd come off as the one in the wrong.
It's hard to know from what you've said if its just a normal grumpy couple thing or something that really needs to be addressed.
If its really getting you down could you suggest relate to get a 3rd party perspective.

Cailinsalach Mon 02-Sep-13 21:16:36

He should understand that how he interreacts with you ( and others ) colours the relationship. Stresses are big indicators of the health of a relationship. Everyone can say how difficult or stressful they are finding a situation and ask for help to deal with it. We all are entitled to courtesy at a minimum level and some respect.

colafrosties Mon 02-Sep-13 21:21:01

He sounds very cold hearted if he doesn't care that you're upset after he's been speaking aggressively to you.

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:22:58

AFish I have suggested counselling before. He was shock and dismissive.

That's exaclty it cail it's the fact he doesn't care that he's made me upset/that I'm alone and crying as he's OK now thank you as he's got it out of his system. Maybe I need to change how I deal with it...but on the same token I don't think I should accept someone being rude to me like that as the norm. It needs compromise but I'm the only one willing.

It infuriates me that we have both now gone to bed (separate rooms, long story!) and he's happy to leave me here upset and in the morning will eye roll if I mention it as to him it's all done dusted and over and I'm the one making the fuss. How can I be all normal with him in the morning when he's left me crying at night and forgotten all about it.

tribpot Mon 02-Sep-13 21:23:43

It sounds from your description that this argument escalated at the point where you asked him why he'd shut the tupperware in an irritable way. At that point you both returned to an underlying cause of conflict and tried to debate it when you were angry and/or defensive.

I'm not saying that to condone either what he said or what it indicates about his feelings about you. But if this had been raised at a time when he was not already angry or stressed, would the outcome have been the same, or would he have been willing to discuss it (somewhat)? (My feeling is that he would have gone on the defensive as soon as the topic was raised, even if he was not already irritated, but it's not clear from your post).

Why did he not employ one of his anger management strategies in this situation? He seemed to be saying (whilst angry) that he didn't need to - because he wasn't angry? Or was justifiably angry which 'doesn't count'?

He appears to be minimising your feelings - possibly for the reasons you describe, where he has learnt that the less angry partner should be the appeaser, but it doesn't really matter why he does it, it's wrong that he refuses to acknowledge the validity of your feelings.

That said, it sounds like you could maybe both do more to maintain calm without it having to be you constantly biting your tongue or walking on eggshells. What would have happened if you'd just refused to engage when he'd shut the tupperware irritably?

It is not right for him to blame you for his anger issues. The books are not sinking in if he isn't owning his reactions.

That said, my DH sounds similar, but we have different coping strategies so things rarely blow up.

For example, I rarely if ever react when he's fuming. He will now that he's grown up always apologise later for overreacting and/or taking it out in the wrong direction. His fury blows over quickly with nothing to react against. And when he apologises I accept it and say little more than "yes, that was a bit much" and don't go on about it or use it as leverage.

He gets cross if he can't find things, so we are making sure that everything has a place it can live, including "to do" paperwork, shoes, cufflinks, keys, wallets, etc. This also makes my life easier and is a good idea in general.

These don't address the underlying anger response problem, but do reduce any chance of my being to blame and do reduce obvious flashpoints. It also means he uses my strategies in other situations (eg if I am being irrational/hormonal he gives me space to do so without mirroring my outburst, and he tries to Put Things Away Where They Live, but also using the strategies in other situations in life such as work) to reduce his own anger and avoid his response to it.

colafrosties Mon 02-Sep-13 21:29:21

Does he have anger issues with other people as well?

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:34:13

Tribpot OK, where to start. I often ignore this behaviour of his where he gets annoyed/speaks a bit aggresively/I can feel the anger. Sometimes I just get frustrated that I don't think it's fair or right to behave like that to another person so I bring it up with DH, either by asking him not to speak to me aggressively (or whatever) as I find it upsetting or by (I admit it) behaving in a way I know provokes it but I don't know what else to do and I desperately don't want him to be angry and want him to realise it's not acceptable (tbh when he's in a mood if I don't ignore it and mention/do anything to make him think I'm aware he's in a mood it gets worse and I get blamed for making it worse)

When I try to talk about it when he's calm he refuses. If he will talk about it it's usually that it's my issue as I react badly to it and I should leave him alone. I think he did employ one of his strategies after his snapped the tupperware as I was aware of him doing a deep breath, but I'm not sure if that was to try to calm down or because I was making him cross (apparently) so it was his way of telling me so. Previously he may have walked out of the room gone and kicked/punched something when he got angry so in a way this is better (and again, should he have done that and I have got upset/scared by it it was always put that this was my issue for getting upset and he's ok now).

It always ends that he says he's fine he's got it out of his system but he knows that I'm going to go away and cry and get upset but he doesn't care enough to 1) want to change this 2) come and check I'm OK after the event

Can you identify why it upsets you so much?

Are you afraid? unhappy? frustrated? ignored?

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:40:06

horry that's interesting you see DH doesn't really apologise or think he does anything wrong in this type of situ. I think I am quite sensitive and maybe pick up on things alot but I could say I'm sensitive in the same way he says I'm angry

cola his anger issues are relatively rare but I have known him have to walk away from one of my family members as he got so annoyed. He's not very sociable though and we only really see family together.

cloudskitchen Mon 02-Sep-13 21:41:16

I wonder if you hadn't drawn attention to it, if his annoyance might have blown over without discussion. Have you got to the point where you are watching out for it and waiting to be irritated by it?

This is not a criticism of you btw as can see there's a bigger back story, just a comment on this particular incident thanks

CookieDoughKid Mon 02-Sep-13 21:42:24

IMO he no longer respects your feelings and he sounds rather self centered. He needs to be made aware that this is upsetting you and he needs to apply a mechanism to release his anger appropriately and away from you. Would be do the same in the presence of his boss? No. So why should be with you? I suggest you to present our responses to him and have him read them.

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:43:16

horry it upsets me because i am afraid, I feel he's out of control. I also feel like I don't deserve to be spoken to/treated like that and it's infuriating he can't understand or see that. I don't like arguments/confrontation/aggression in general.The first few times he lost his temper that I knew him (not anything to do with me) I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed for ages as I'm just not used to this behaviour or finding it normal. I find it frustrating that he won't talk about it and can't engage in his emotions or have any empathy to see my point of view. I hope I don't sound to selfish there as it's very me me me blush

CookieDoughKid Mon 02-Sep-13 21:43:27

He not 'be'! Sorry!

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:45:37

cloud he does this a fair bit and I ignore it. Sometimes I just feel like 'no, I'm not being spoken to like that it's not on' and I'll challenge him. Sometimes he takes it (but thinks I'm making a deal of nothing) and sometimes it makes him worse)

cookie he doesn't have a boss, he's self employed!

I don't want this all to come across as me being perfect though, we must both be at fault...

Reastie Mon 02-Sep-13 21:48:11

off to bed to try to sleep, will catch up in the morning

ageofgrandillusion Mon 02-Sep-13 21:51:56

Being angry, having a short fuse etc is often a big marker for mild to moderate depression. I bet prosac or something would solve this problem over night.

You're right, you don't deserve to be spoken to like that, and you shouldn't be afraid in your relationship.

If he doesn't apologise then he thinks you do deserve to be spoken to like that, and he doesn't care that you are unhappy or afraid. This is bad.

You've said that he will never tall to you about it calmly. Do you think he would read an email or letter if you set out briefly how his actions affect you?

Something along the lines of:

I hate it when we argue and when you are angry. I feel threatened and frightened and alone.

I want us to speak kindly and respectfully to one another. If we can't even do that then I am worried our marriage is over.

Cross posted but agree about depression or anxiety.

aurynne Mon 02-Sep-13 21:57:46

To be honest, I can't think of anything more irritating than a person going on and on about it when I am getting slightly annoyed at something (like not finding something I left somewhere). Reading about your incident with the piece of paper and the tupperware, it just sounds to me like you were making a mountain out of a molehill and he would have been fine if you had just told him where the piece of paper was, and ignore whether or not he was "closing the tupperware lid in a forceful way".

About "not engaging in his emotions", there are very, very few guys who are happy "engaging with their emotions". Sorry, but reading your posts does not give me the impression that he is "out of control" or anything such, just that perhaps he has a way of reacting to things that you don't like, and as a result you keep nagging at him about it, and it makes him cross in the end. To be honest, I would behave the same way if I had someone over-analysing every movement I make, or the way I shut a lid.

ageofgrandillusion Mon 02-Sep-13 22:00:15

Agree with aur a bit also if the example you gave is typical.

Smartiepants79 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:01:03

As an isolated incident the OP reads a little like you were picking for a fight. You knew he was frustrated and trying to keep his negative emotions in check and yet you pushed him into a confrontation about a very minor issue. Why?
However there is a bigger picture. Not dealing with his impact on your well being is not very mature. Even if he disagrees with how you react to his outbursts an apology and cuddle once he has calmed down is not a lot to ask.
My DH is similar in some ways. Has random outbursts (maybe 4 times a year) of verbal anger that often leave me in tears. It is not necessarily directed at me but I find I shocking and distressing. It is quite immature. Comments such as "i'll just leave then". But it never lasts very long and he forgets it within an hour. He hates my tears and always comes to apologise but the whole thing affects me for longer than him!

Wellwobbly Mon 02-Sep-13 22:03:47

Well, the reason he is nice and calm afterwards is that he has discharged all his emotions and you are now carrying them.

So your task is to learn to NOT take those on - good luck with that!

BiscuitMillionaire Mon 02-Sep-13 22:04:40

It's hard to tell from your description whether his anger is out of proportion or out of control, but it struck me that there is a big difference between being aggressive towards someone and just being angry. It seems as if you don't allow him to be angry. If I can't find something it drives me crazy too, and I might slam something down in an angry way. I wouldn't take it out on my partner, though. Getting angry sometimes is a normal part of being human - do you ever get angry? How do you show it?

Bumply Mon 02-Sep-13 22:15:17

I used to have behaviour where I'd deal with a frustrating situation (usually related to my inability to do something the way I wanted) by reacting on a volatile way: shouting at myself of flinging a book around.
My partner found this astounding as it wasn't something he was used to or willing to accept. I did modify my behaviour, but now we're separated I have gone back to it at times as for me it's a way of releasing tension and I'm then sorted and can quite often sit back and do the task.
I wouldn't automatically assume depression/anger management issues

Smartiepants79 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:18:35

Interesting bumply I do that too but only when I'm alone! Broke the front door once in a fit of temper! blush

aurynne Mon 02-Sep-13 22:21:40

Hallelujah, I thought I was the only temperamental person who can't see anything wrong with showing some character from time to time! Buy hey, it may be just that I am Spanish. I actually find people who are always nice, calm and controlled highly irritating. Let your hair down and scream for once, I say! :P

colafrosties Mon 02-Sep-13 22:24:40

Reastie, you don't come across as selfish or me me me at all. It's not selfish to want to be spoken to with respect and not to have your emotions belittled sad

I am reading this the same way as a few other people on this thread. I come from a pretty demonstrative family. Being angry is OK. It is a normal, human emotion. Some of the associated behaviours are not OK. So, being angry and annoyed at not finding something would be fine, harrumphing to oneself, snapping Tupperware noisily, all fine.

Shouting at someone, talking meanly or belittling, throwing things, any kind of violence, all very much NOT OK.

I have to say that if I was pissed off, having tried to find something that DH put away and he questioned me about it, then we had an argument, I would think he had been petty. Also, unless he is exhibiting aggressive/violent behaviour you ending up in tears might seem a bit passive aggressive.

It's very hard to know from your description.

SlangKing Tue 03-Sep-13 01:31:05

Bravo MsTP,, finally somebody mentioned the OP's passive aggression.

OP? You really need to acknowledge how your own behaviour exacerbated the situation you describe. Your tidying his bit of paper could be deemed a show of dominance. Was it really necessary? If so, after moving it could you not've told him immediately? In both instances you could've picked less provocational options and the huffy Tupperware snapping, your upset, his increased aggression might never have occurred. Then, you punish him for his behaviour and not apologising by crying (and making sure he knows about it). You want him to change but seem oblivious to your own imperfection(s).

He's probably reluctant to discuss his behaviour with you precisely because you see no fault in your own. Until you do, there can be no rational discussion that begins with the premise that it's all his fault, because it isn't. Did you apologise for moving his paper and not telling him.

You are part-responsible for the unfortunate situation you describe. If you recognize and change those aggressive/manipulative aspects of your own behaviour perhaps his'll diminish accordingly.

Good luck.

Reastie Tue 03-Sep-13 07:27:16

After last post I went into DH and said I didn't want to leave it like we did. He apologised for making me upset but only with alot of uncomfortable pausing first. He gets annoyed about being reminded of it and wants to forget it. I could really do with some ideas to behave/deal with these situs???

age not sure about the depression thing - he's always been like this! (as has FIL from what I gather) It does get worse when he's tired or stressed though

horry let me rephrase what I said. Its not that he doesn't care that I get upset by it, it's that he thinks I shouldn't get upset and so it's my reaction to his behaviour that's the issue, not his behaviour. i try so hard to explain to him why this is unacceptable and he just doesn't understand as it always comes back to my reaction being the issue not his behaviour. I think this is what I need to focus on - thinking of a way to explain this to him in a way he'll understand the implications of his behaviour and not be able to fob it off onto my reaction. I've tried the type of sentences you suggest in the past. Any ideas?

aur you sound like my DH grin . But I take your point. I guess this is in the wider context of aggressive behaviour in the past ... Oh, and it sounds like you are a firery character in life in general (that's not a bad thing btw at all) so your temper sort of fits with your personality IYWKIM....DH is quiet and placid so it's a big digression to see this behaviour from his normal self.

Smartie I think I could deal with this alot better if he came an apologised/hugged me afterwards as it would show he realises I'm upset and he regrets this, but he just pretends like nothing happened and then when I bring it up gets annoyed I'm making him angry again as he got it out of his system IYKWIM.

Well that's EXACTLY it! How do I do that?

Biscuit the slamming the tupperware etc, yes, I see that's normal. I just don't personally see it as normal to tell me in a very aggressive way why I shouldn't have put it away and how important it was, that doesn't need to be aggressive. I've found since being with DH there's been a bit more door slamming/feeling angry from me, which scares me as it's rubbing off on me and I don't want it to rub off on DD. Tbh I usually just count to ten or something.

Slang I tidies away his bit of paper in to HIS drawer that contains his things he needs to do. It was lying on the kitchen counter under screws, magnets and blu tac (ie junk that needs putting away). If he had left it on the kitchen table I would have known he needed it left out but this wasn't his 'leave it out i need it' place. I was cleaning the kitchen as PIL are coming today so I wanted it tidy for his blinking PIL! There was absolutely no malace meant in tidying it up I assure you. I had no idea he wanted it out. I don't generally tell him where I've put everything as he knows where these things should be and I'd be here all day explaining where I've put things away! I am very aware of my own imperfections, infact I take alot of blame for things in general (things must be my fault). As I say, this isn't an isolated incident. If it was, I completely take on board that yes, my behaviour made things worse, I know that. It's just there's a limit to how much you can ignore it and take it. I know I'm oversensitive and cry and get upset easily. I've toughened up alot since being with DH believe it or not!

tribpot Tue 03-Sep-13 07:43:43

I think the minimising / dismissing / wanting to forget it is the actual problem behaviour. The angry bit isn't pleasant but over quickly and genuinely not intended to cause long lasting upset. But the minimising is highly destructive.

Would he be surprised to discover you were questioning the future of your marriage because of this?

Reastie Tue 03-Sep-13 07:58:26

Tri he knows I think, I've said it before confused

Merrylegs Tue 03-Sep-13 08:07:00

Were you perhaps already slightly stressed at the arrival of the PILs? When dh displays behaviours you 'recognise' from his parents you become extra tense because you don't like them very much so dh becomes 'one of them'. Honestly, the minute you let go of attributing or comparing his behaviour to his parents you will breathe easier. He is his own person.

And if he wants to put his piece of paper under the junk why not? If he snaps the tupperware lid so what? Leave him to it.

Do you feel like you always have to be in charge?

MorrisZapp Tue 03-Sep-13 08:10:28

My DP is a bit like this. I read somewhere that most arguments between couples aren't about the initial disagreement, but about the way the other person is arguing.

I have now reached a point where DP no longer swears at me in anger, I have finally managed to make him see that I won't accept it. But huffing, puffing, slamming things, eye rolling etc are all ways that he shows his annoyance.

Drives me mad, but I don't cry about it any more. To be honest I just can't be arsed these days.

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 03-Sep-13 08:35:30

I'm with your husband here, sorry. Of course, we are all different, but I don't see anything wrong with your husband expressing his annoyance or anger. If it was initially contained to snapping shut a tupperware box, and you turned it into something more by constantly questioning him, I am not surprised it turned into a full scale argument.

As others have said before me, it is perfectly acceptable to express emotions, whatever they may be. I am a 'fiery' person as you would describe it. I express my anger at the drop of a hat, but, once expressed, it usually fizzles out immediately. I regard that ability to express my anger as my effective anger management. It sounds to me as though your husband is similar to me - his lack of interest in talking about it afterwards is not a sign that he is not willing to engage with you but a sign that he has moved on from whatever thing was annoying him. So, to my mind, he manages his anger very well.

I don't want to offend, and a situation is never all that clear when you just read one person's account of an event, but I actually wonder if it is you who needs to examine why you react so sensitively to his small displays of anger, rather than he who needs to work on his anger management.

MorrisZapp Tue 03-Sep-13 08:41:29

I don't agree, DumbledoresGirl. Anger and frustration are part of everyday life, and we do need to express our feelings, but not at the expense of our loved ones.

It's not ok to have a go at somebody over something small, then say 'Im over it, move on' once the storm is over.

I get frustrated/ pissed off with everyday annoyances like everybody else, but I don't turn it towards whoever's next to me.

In what way do you discharge your anger?


I have read about your H before now, nothing has really changed here has it?.

He is still refusing to take any responsibility for his actions by making it all out to be your fault again and you are still castigating yourself for him being like this.

No amount of books etc will help him because he does not want your help and such types hate women, all women. You can only help your own self ultimately and you are currently choosing the path of least resistance.

You and your DD are still his emotional punchbags. What on earth is she learning from the two of you about relationships?.

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 03-Sep-13 08:49:23

But he didn't 'have a go' at her. His initial response, before Reastie started questioning him, was to shut the tupperware in a forceful way.

You see, if that had been my husband, I would have preferred him to say 'oh bloody hell DG, what have you done with that bit of paper?' rather than snapping shut a tupperware box and giving off a vibe of being annoyed, but clearly, Reastie would find that upsetting.

My response? I would swear and shout, and within 2 minutes would have forgotten all about it. Hey, I know I am not everyone's cup of tea! grin

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 03-Sep-13 08:51:32

My last post was in response to MorrisZapp.

Having read Attila's post, I am now wondering if there is more to this than can be read in this thread alone.

Reastie Tue 03-Sep-13 17:05:21

Hello all,

Sorry for being quiet, have been at work today.

Having had time to mull it over I think the issue is wider than the isolated argument last night (well remembered attila). I isolation this OP does indeed make me look very much like I could be unreasonable/provoking/making a fuss of nothing but there is a wider context of DHs aggression/tone of speech/anger in the long term (although reading those of you who are more fiery I wonder maybe if we're just incompatible in the way we react confused ).

Even if I can't make DH understand how he upsets me and this should be important enough for him to care about his behaviour, hopefully he might realise it's important enough to check I'm Ok afterwards to bring an end to whatever happened so there is closure to it (don't I sound all American?!) and I'm not left sobbing to sleep again . He is not a people person, he is not good with things like this. I dont' think he knows what to do or say so maybe I need to try to point him in the right direction.

On the other hand, I have a CBT therapist I've been seeing about other issues, I'm wondering if it would be useful to talk to her about it and see what she thinks I could do/whether we have an issue here to deal with together or how I can work to get over myself being upset (if that's appropriate in the context) hmm

colafrosties Tue 03-Sep-13 21:16:33

As you already have a therapist I think it would be good to speak to him/her about this incident and what you refer to above as the wider context of DHs aggression/tone of speech/anger in the long term.

Having a partner who frequently uses aggression on you must be horrible, and must be wearing you down. Why should you have to work to get over being upset?? If he was playing fairly in the first place it would never come to that.

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