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To expect DH to stick up for me and show respect?

(76 Posts)
ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 12:34:49

DH and I have this friend. This friend, Bob, would often have drinks or dinner with DH, usually without me being there - for reasons due to it being a guy's night, I didn't want to go to X venue or whatever.

Bob is known to be a bit of a schemer, smarmy and sometimes underhanded. All starts off well and good - Bob isn't Pinochet. You just have to roll your eyes at him and laugh at the pathetic nature of it all. Still, my DH likes shooting the superficial shit with him and allows him a chance to get out of the house and socialise etc.

It comes to my attention that Bob is saying unkind things about me and even my DH to DH's face! Bob once addressed me in an email as 'Dear blah blah blah'. A few off-colour comments are made by Bob about me. Now, I pointed these out to Dh and said that it was unacceptable and Bob was not only insulting me but also doubly-insulting us to do it to DH's face. Bob has also said somethings about Dh to DH which has annoyed DH.

Dh has Asperger's anyway, but usually takes the path of least resistance: he favoured just eye-rolling at Bob and letting it go as Bob is just like that with everyone.

AIBU to expect my DH to calmly say to Bob, 'errr, mate. That's my wife you're talking about. Please stop' or something along those lines? I don't ask for a fist-fight, but just some semblance of respect. After the insults got too much and DH was refusing to do anything/say anything to Bob, I wrote Bob an email that laid down the law. But, should DH have automatically stuck up for me after e.g. the 5th off-colour comment, or should I have just put up with it/let it lie?

Secondly, DH works with a female, Jane. Jane is perfectly friendly and nice, certainly not a bad person or anything. She's a little too hyperactive and flitty for me to want to be friends with her, but that's not the point. She is also very touchy-feely. She like that with everyone. DH hates people touching him and has said that he is not comfortable when she touches him. He thinks it's easier not to say something to her than to "cause a scene".

AIBU to want him to respect my position as his wife and to, at the least, take a step back from her when she does touch him or even have an informal, off-the-cuff, even jokey light-hearted conversation about how er touching him is not on.

When the three of us once met up, I ended up walking behind them and they were walking so close side-by-side that they were touching. I was really hurt.

Thanks for reading this far.

LabelsGalore Sun 27-Jan-13 08:36:48

You need to remember that your DH is happy to talk to you about Bob (and Jane!) and their attitudes make him feel.
Which is very good.

What you don't want is for your DH to find that telling you about it is making him uneasy/stressed and will prefer not to say anything because of your reaction.

Now I know you very probably have reacted calmly. But what I have learnt is that what I though was a calm response from me was actually interpreted as very emotional/angry/stressful by my DH who much much prefers the very calm and matter of fact approach (and then decided it was better not to try and discuss things with me). Something to keep in mind for you too.

amillionyears Sat 26-Jan-13 17:53:48

I also wonder whether Bob has one or two problems himself.

If he does, then saying Dear blah blah blah, he might just see as funny.

But if he doesnt have any problems himself, I think he is testing your boundaries. He can see that he can get away with quite a lot, while he and your DH are out together.
But he may also be seeing how much he can get away with , with you.

I agree with what you came to the conclusion of from what I said. Pick your battles with him

I think the biggest danger, in the long run, maybe that he manipulates your DH in some way. [For instance, and this is only a for instance, Bob asks your DH to lend him some money. Then some more..] DH knows something is wrong, but becomes too worried of your reaction to tell you about it.
So I would keep your eye on Bob, but very much keep your lines of communication open with your DH, about Bob. Just in case, and because Bob may very well have the upper hand in the relationship between himself and your DH.

I hope it all works out fine, and that your DH carries on enjoying his friendship, with no problems.

TheArbiter Sat 26-Jan-13 17:41:06


Confrontation is far more scary for someone without the appropriate tools to deal with it, so it should only happen if there's a very, very, very good reason. And, if I'm honest, a letter starting 'Dear blah blah blah' isn't exactly a very, very, very good reason. It's not great, but it's not 'Dear stupid interfering busybody', which is what someone whom I will thankfully never see again called my DW once.

Yes, there were other off-colour comments, but without knowing what they were, I would have to side with avoiding confrontation unless absolutely mission-critical.

amillionyears Sat 26-Jan-13 16:13:13

I agree with what Labels is saying. And she probably knows more about all this than I do.
And, yes, I think books and things online would help a lot, as well as joining a group or two.
Ultimately, I suspect that your DH can change somethings, and not others.

I dont think I would be bothered about Jane. She touches everyone, so it looks like she is not being any different to your DH, than she is being to anyone else.

WorraLiberty Sat 26-Jan-13 14:58:45

Well if that's the case re the Aspergers, you're being even more unreasonable to not let this go and concentrate on something else.

You can't force him to see this your way, so move on before you make him feel like shit and cause him distress.

Just take it on the chin...I'm sure you can do it.

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:58:43

Yes your DH just went into full panic mode with the 'rabbit caught into the headlights' mode.

For a long time, I though he didn't want to talk to me or that he didn't care/value me.

If the last 18 months have been chaos, then I would let that go even more.
I would concentrate into finding some sort of stability again. that will help a lot.
I would be surprised that knowing about the diagnosis made think he can now act 'oddly'. It's more likely that the whole process pout a big strain on him. And now that the pressure is off, a lot of the stress is coming out (Just like an NT person who is stressed and becomes ill/gets headaches as soon as they are on hols)

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:56:19

I have to be away from the internet for a bit, but will be back! Thanks for all the replies so far - especially from amillion and Labels. Support groups certainly look like the way forward! Or maybe someone could invent a pocket translator for Aspergers into NT and NT into Aspergers. Christ, I'd buy a million of them!

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:54:21

LAbels - great advice. Reckon a sit down with DH to figure out ways he thinks/tries to show me my worth to him are probably necessary. Ironic really - communication would fix so many problems with Aspergers and yet Aspergers and communication don't gel too easily!

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:51:54

Oh no, not at all. Once on the Underground some man banged into me and didn't apologise or flinch, just kept walking. DH was outraged! He asked me if I wanted to go and tell the man off. I declined.

We think the change is because since then and now, his life has been thrown into chaos, which, as I'm sure you know, can be immensely disturbing for someone with ASD. In essence, he's gone into a panic mode for the last 18 months and it's all very much 'doom and gloom', panic and fear on his part. So, I can see why he'd want to retreat into himself more.

Also, as he was diagnosed a few months ago, I think his symptoms have worsened. Possibly because he understands now why he felt 'off' his entire life and can now 'let them out the bag because there's a name for it' or maybe for some other reason.

Worra - with all respect, I think you can't see some of the hidden aspects here i.e. the Aspergers. The other day I was knocked over i nthe road. When I told DH his reaction...nothing. He didn't say 'are you ok?' or 'holy shit! oh my god'. Just silence. His body didn't even move. His face was just blank. Now, that coupled with the Bob stuff, someone esteem takes a battering. I know DH doesn't do it deliberately and I try to meet him half way. I would just like him to meet me halfway when it comes to Bob.

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:50:15

Marriages are partnerships, right? I want to feel like a valued partner and I would feel that way if DH just stuck up for me sometimes.

Ok I know I am going to be a bit brutal here but...
yes marriage are about partnership
yes you should feel valued
yes you should also feel respected
however, expecting your DH to show it exactly in the same way than an NT partner would do will be a disaster (Talks from experience here).
The rules are different.
Your DH will be showing he values you by doing things that are important for you even though he finds them difficult. These might be things that most of us NT would take for granted but will be a challenge for him (eg going with you to the party of one of your friends).
Sure you can 'teach' him that there are some things that are important for you (eg holding hands when you have a walk) but you will have to keep in my mind his difficulties to evaluate how much effort he will have put into it iyswim.

amillionyears Sat 26-Jan-13 14:45:38

I am slightly cross posting now.
I think your DH could manage to put his arm around you when you are all out together.

The thing I am wondering in all this, is what were things like before you married him.
Did these sorts of things come up then?
Mind you, all sorts of things can come up after marriage or say moving in together,, that for one reason or another, were not apparent before.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 26-Jan-13 14:45:14

Both of these would annoy me greatly and my DP would definitely stand up for me. YANBU.

WorraLiberty Sat 26-Jan-13 14:43:15

No it doesn't change my opinion and I'll tell you why.

I honestly think your DH is fed up of this whole silly, dramatic, childish thing between you and Bob and I don't think your DH feels able to tell you he just agrees with you to keep the peace...have you considered this might be the case?

If you dislike Bob so much, why on earth would you be going out for a coffee with him anyway?

Why not just leave him and your DH alone to be friends and find something else to concentrate on.

Honestly, I can see why you're a bit peeved but just chill out and let it go.

amillionyears Sat 26-Jan-13 14:41:18

Worra, I am of the opinion, that we all have words or flashpoints that can set us off, that wouldnt set off someone else. [not telling you what my word is. not that anyone would say that about me on here, as they would have to see me to say it, iyswim].
The ops word may be, being called something disrespectfully.

op, yes, I expect your DH could manage that. He could also probably manage saying "try to be nice to my wife for once, haha".

WorraLiberty Sat 26-Jan-13 14:39:59

If you're not feeling 'valued as a partner', surely it has to go deeper than this Bob thing?

So he says, "Oh come on now mate...that's my wife" and then does a little guffaw (as you suggested).

Will that be the end to your problems of not being valued by him?

I can't see it myself.

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:38:45

Worra - no, not quite. Due to the nature of Aspergers, it's harder for DH to confront people actively. So, instead I propose that if DH finds active confrontation hard then an alternative that could work with his AS and solve the problem on my end would be to show me solidarity in other ways e.g. a literal united front when in the company of Bob.

Does that change your opinion or is your view still the same?

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:37:23


Yes that sounds a fantastic way to look at it!

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:36:47

amillionyears - so, basically, pick my battles, right?

That's agreeable. It's just that the really bad stuff Bob does, I would like DH to just do something pro-active and just not always turn a blind eye. I don't expect DH to go to war on anything and everything, just a smattering of action when it is really needed. I only got so het up that DH do something because DH had turned a blind eye for 9 months, and I was at the end of my tether.

I have zero problem with DH socialising with this guy - it makes him happy to get through a social situation with no fear of an emotional minefield to navigate. I would just like a little bit of consideration for my feelings.

Worra, I agree: the whole 'Bob said this to me! Wahhhh!' is ridiculous. As I said, it's not that I have a problem with what Bob did/does; I have the problem with feeling like I'm not being considered by DH, and I'm not sure that this latter point is childish. Marriages are partnerships, right? I want to feel like a valued partner and I would feel that way if DH just stuck up for me sometimes.

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:36:28

@Thunder, I would expect that he would very much struggle with the light hearted version because for it to work, you must pitch it exactly right. And that's very much the thing people with AS are struggling with.
I think you have to remember the most important bit. Your DH doesn't think it's OK or that Bob is right. He actually think it's crap.

And just think about it, how would feel if the only people you socialise with are people you don't particularly like. Mainly because otherwise you wouldn't be socializing at all. Because this is something you find so hard to do...

But yes I agree this can be very hard as a partner too. That's why a support group can be invaluable.

WorraLiberty Sat 26-Jan-13 14:34:25

Have you always been this insecure?

You want your DH to make public displays of affection, like a teenager just because Bob called you blah blah in an email? confused

Think about it really...

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:31:50

Labels - or, I could deal and be happy with the following:

DH doesn't say a thing to Bob. DH does just ignore and turn a blind eye...but DH does other things to make me feel respected and that he cares about my standing and feelings e.g. if we're out for coffee with Bob, then DH puts his arms around me (he has no problem with PDAs, despite the Aspergers) and is very attentive and loving, showing Bob that I matter to DH and that he's protective of me.

Do you think that's realistic to ask of him?

ThunderInMyHeart Sat 26-Jan-13 14:28:23

amillionyears - no, not many close friends. He has social anxiety due to the Aspergers. He socialises with Bob because, as he explained to me, it's not that he likes Bob per se, but he likes the company that Bob provides because Bob will talk factually. There's no emotional field to navigate. It's very much 'I saw this in the news. What do you think about Palestine?' DH said he finds the conversation uncomplicated and, thus, a relief from the challenged Aspies deal with every day. That I don't want to prevent him having.

Labels - omg, yes. It's so nice to hear the views of those who have had the same experiences. He's spent his whole life feeling alienated socially and emotionally and certainly has even more anxiety over social settings and relationships, so I can see why he'd rather ignore what was going on for the sake of a simpler quieter life. However, I'm not asking him to look the guy in the eye and say 'how dare you! I must protect my lady!' I'd be satisfied if he light-heartedly just said 'oh, Bob...trying being nice to my wife for once! [ha ha! guffaw etc]'

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:24:02

But you may need to tread carefully, unfortunatly, because, ultimately, I think I would like my DH to have a friend.

YY to that too. As much as possible, You need to support him in keeping the friend he has.

LabelsGalore Sat 26-Jan-13 14:22:08

Surely there should be give and take both ways? I don't sledgehammer him into having a jousting match to defend my honour; but he makes some gesture to show me some respect or that shows he appreciates my point of view? Or am I being nuts?

No you are just expecting him to react as an NT person which he can't do.
It has nothing to do with his respect towards you. More to do with the fact that he probably struggles to express his pov in an adequate way so would find it extremely hard to bring the subject to his friend and then tell him it's not acceptable. Just think about how you would feel if you had to tell someone you know well but aren't very close to that they are rude. Then multiply that by 1.000.
Also you need to remember he will have accumulate lots of situation where he tried to say things with as much tact as possible and failed. So it is very likely that he has decided/learnt the safest way for him was to smile gently and 'forget'. A survival mechanism.
In the same way my DH 'freezes' when I broach a subject he is uncomfortable about or 'make a complain' (such as asking him to tell one of his friends that he had been rude to me). And when my MIL one day did something we weren't happy with, he didn't say a word but carried on as if she hadn't said a word. And then told me, yes she was wrong but there is no point having a fight about it because 'having a fight' is one of the hardest things for him

Agree with amillion, support group is an excellent idea as well as the group you mentioned.

Have you done some reading about AS in adults?

WorraLiberty Sat 26-Jan-13 14:21:38

I don't know

I just genuinely think the whole thing is so childish that your DH probably doesn't want to involve himself in it.

If you want to pull Bob up then do it...but I wouldn't get upset with your DH for not pulling someone up when (I believe) he genuinely thinks there's nothing to pull him up upon.

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