To think I'm emotionally abusive?(67 Posts)
An incident with my dad earlier this year (which I posted about at the time on here) finally made me realise he's emotionally abusive which explains a lot about my childhood, our family and our relationships with him.
I'm struggling a lot with my DH at the moment and have recognised some of my behaviour towards him is emotionally abusive. I feel sick thinking that I'm taking after my dad and potentially making someone I love very miserable.
We have a ds who's nearly 1 and I know many couples struggle after having a baby. I also know my behaviour is linked to my depression and often the first sign for me that I'm depressed is that I start acting very irritable with DH.
But it's so much more than that. I constantly dig at him, blame him for things that I know aren't his fault as I just feel the need to lash out, and make pointed criticisms. Nothing he does is ever good enough and I constantly pick apart little thing he's done or just redo it myself.
I am nice to him too - I'm very impressed by and proud of his musical talent and achievements, and always thank him for doing nice things or even just day to day things. I do my best to support him and make his life as comfortable as possible so he doesn't have to worry too much - I do most of the housework, all the finances, shopping etc. He's out of work right now and looking for work and I make sure I help him with his CVs and cover letters and try to make him feel better about himself when he's feeling down.
But is this just another aspect of emotional abuse? Am I controlling him too much and trying to mould him into the person I want to be rather than the person he is?
He's a very loving and caring man who thinks the world of me even when I'm being a total bitch to him. I have some valid reasons for being slightly frustrated with him on occasion but for the most part I know I'm annoyed at him because of something in my own head rather than anything he's done. All he wants is for me and our ds to be happy and I feel like all I do is make us miserable by constantly carping on about stuff.
How can I stop this behaviour? Am I just an awful person? I just read an article listing the signs of emotional abuse and I do so many of them. I feel terrible
big for you! I don't know you and so I don't know about your behaviour, but I think even the fact you're open to looking at your own behaviour and asking that question is not only so brave, but suggests you AREN'T taking after your dad. However if you are concerned then you're doing absolutely the right thing by taking the time to understand what's going on. I have absolutely no qualifications or knowledge of this area but FWIW I think you've got to do that in conjunction with loving yourself too - not from a place of shame or fear. Could you chat to your DH about this? Explain your concerns and see what his opinion is? He could give you another opinion on if some of your behaviour is concerning, and you could think of a way forwards together?
You noted that this can be a sign of depression for you - you've got a lot and presumably money is tight ATM and stress is higher than normal whilst he job hunts. That's a lot going on!! So perhaps it's worth chatting to your Dr about the potential for depression and seeing what they say?
Bottom line - don't panic, you sounds self aware strong and capable, so try to address each aspect of what you've said objectively and don't jump to conclusions about your behaviour without getting some outside perspectives from those who know you. There may be some truth to your concerns but if there is it's not the end of the world, and from my perspective the fact you're even open to the possibility suggests you would be able to address it if so!!
Sending more and too! Wishing you all the very best
You have taken a very important step... on a very long road. You have recognised in yourself something learned as a child that you want to change.
I don't know how to advise, but I think your DH needs to be part of the journey. Good luck and keep posting.
Yes, your behaviour would suggest that you are abusive.
Emotional abuse is insidious, it destroys self-esteem and is one of the most damaging behaviours a person can exhibit.
As you said yourself, your Husband can't do anything right. This is your opinion and is entirely subjective, I would suggest he simply does things differently, the rights and wrongs are academic.
From a male perspective, an emotionally abusive female partner is doubly damaging.
If your Husband stands up to you he's the abusive one. If he capitulates, (especially in public) he's whipped. He can't win.
You are playing at very dangerous game. Your husband will (if he doesn't already) resent you for what you have become and for forcing him into the corner he now finds himself in.
How can you stop it?
You just simply stop. Next time you feel critical of something he has done, and before you say or do anything in response, ask yourself this.
"Is it kind and is it necessary" ?
Because if it isn't either one, then you need to just stop.
If your words aren't kind, then they aren't necessary. If they aren't necessary, then you aren't being kind.
Believe me, for a man in your husband's position, a kind word from another woman is all it will take to grab his attention.
Life is tough enough without being abused by the one person who is supposed to be there to support us.
Mama and itsnoteasy thank you and you're right, I need to talk to him. He complains sometimes that I pick at him but overall seems happy - but this feels like a red flag in itself as I know a lot of my behaviour isn't acceptable.
Sparrowhawk yes, I work full time but have the weekend/bh off.
MrMan that phrase is exactly what I've told myself repeatedly I need to say in my head before saying anything. I'm a nice person to literally everyone else (and most of the time to him too!) but don't seem to be able to hold back from criticising and I'm obviously not trying hard enough to stop. I think I have a habit of pushing people away and probably unconsciously am pushing to see how much he'll take before snapping. It's disgusting behaviour. Thank you for your point of view.
So he doesn't work and you work full-time but you also do most of the housework, finances and shopping? What does he do?
Do you work? It does seem odd that you would do all of the housework, shopping and finances to try to make his life comfortable if he's not working. Martyring yourself in that way when it's not necessary will surely lead to resentment or bad feeling on both sides eventually.
Ultimately you are doing everything and he is doing nothing. Most people in your situation would feel resentful. It's not being emotionally abusive. Your feelings are as valid as his.
OP, a couple of instances of being snappy when you're working full time, have a one year old, do the majority of housework and have a partner out of work is not emotional abuse.
Please ignore any poster who claims that you are, simply based on your opened my post. You sound stressed and run down. What is your partner doing to actively support you ?
Maybe think about anger management coping strategies? There are tonnes of resources out there and some of the calming exercises might work x
Why on earth are you doing most of the housework etc? I also think your treatment of him could be born of resentment - not that that makes it right, of course, but there's no point tackling the way you speak to him if you're not tackling the root causes.
You know also that anxiety can make you snappy and irritable as well.
Plus maybe this is stemming largely from the inequity of who does what and how much.
Sounds like a proper sit down, very frank conversation, change some stuff and see if that makes things improve.
Good for you for recognising an issue that needs addressing and for being brave enough and responsible enough and honest enough to start trying to tackle it
It's good that you recognise that perhaps you don't like the way you speak to him or treat him sometimes but I wouldn't necessarily say you are being abusive - perhaps it's natural to feel resentful of someone if you feel you are doing much more than your fair share of things to raise the family and keep things together. Resentment causes so much damage in relationships it's important to understand why you feel like this and try and speak to him about this. Don't be too hard on yourself just yet, relationships are put under a lot of strain when you have very small children.
I think you sound very self blaming and maybe your depression is finding something to pick at in yourself. What you describe sounds fairly normal in husband/ wife relationships (you are often most relaxed with those closest to you, so you are bound to take out some of life's frustrations on them). It's not that kind and not ideal, and can be changed,but I don't think it's necessarily the result of you being emotionally abused.
Has your husband been abused in his past? If not, I think you need to trust that as a 'normal' person he knows what is/ is not acceptable and ok. Have a good chat and ask him how his parents treated each other. Look at how your friends treat/ talk about their husbands. It would definitely be good to improve on this aspect of yourself before your child gets older and you do it to them, or they copy you, but please don't allow it to overwhelm you or make you feel inadequate.
I'm not sure how helpful it is for us to diagnose your behaviour as abusive or not. Would it be accurate to say that you've identified an element of your behaviour that you would like to change?
If so, I would recommend keeping a journal of incidents - what happened, how you were feeling and what you were thinking at the time. Out of the heat of the moment, what do you think? I've also seen the Feeling Good Handbook recommended on here and I found it fascinating for challenging my thinking.
You are far, far better than your father because you are reflecting on your behaviour.
Could you also be tired and a little run down?
Whilst your are in the transition of turning your negatives in to positives (or not saying anything at all) could you ask your DH to help by doing a little more around the house (but explain why and how you are trying to change) so you can spend quality time together when you get home?
Thank you for your responses and thoughts.
I've always done more 'household' stuff, partly because I'm a bit of a control/clean freak so like things done certain ways and partly because I just make it part of my routine whereas it's less a part of his unless I make a point of it. He has interests outside work whereas I don't so will often be busier than me. But he does pull his weight and since being out of work has of course done more. Often he'll look after ds while I do housework and I actually enjoy having a 'break' as ds is very clingy with me so I'll insist on having it that way round!
I think I do feel resentful of a few things and I do talk to him about this. The main one is money and we're working on him being better with finances but again, I feel like I'm controlling this - because I am. Although in fairness he's happy for me to control that aspect (while he does occasionally complain he also recognises he's rubbish with money so it makes sense).
Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions wrt abusive behaviour but I sometimes just feel like I'm such a horrible person. I just got home after 5 hours out of the house with ds so DH could have a bit of time to himself
and recover from a hangover. He literally hadn't got dressed, and had only done one of the small household tasks that needed doing. I felt irritated the minute I walked in, but he knew he'd annoyed me and gave me a big hug as I started crying. I'm now going to get a nice bath while he cooks dinner so I feel a bit less annoyed - but why is that my first reaction? I should just be happy to see him and happy that he's had a bit of time to himself! I'm going to have a talk with him later to see what we can do to work on things.
RedMaple that's a good idea. I did some CBT a while back and am thinking I should return to some of those techniques to figure out what's really annoying me and why I'm reacting the way I do.
I also think your treatment of him could be born of resentment - not that that makes it right, of course, but there's no point tackling the way you speak to him if you're not tackling the root causes.
How often do you get 5 hours to yourself?
Chishand I think quality time might be the key - we haven't had any time together really since ds was born as he's a non-sleeper, so we don't even get an hour in the evenings just us. And our one day off together was ruined by DH getting a call to say he was being let go! Maybe we should plan another day together when ds is back at the childminder so we can spend some time without a screaming baby making tensions run high.
Sparrowhawk Not counting work? Probably 3 times since ds was born, 2 of those were afternoon lunch dates with a friend and the other I went shopping. I do have the odd hour to have a bath/do housework every now and then but otherwise our time off is generally spent together as a family. When DH gets a new job I'm planning on taking a day's holiday to just spend on myself!
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