Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Would this bother you?

(36 Posts)
compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 14:00:09

If you and your DH (or equivalent) had planned on having a conversation about something sensitive - something that your couple therapist had suggested you talk about - and you agreed to take your coffee upstairs to bed to talk about it there, would you be annoyed if, on the way upstairs, your DH just disappeared off to sort out the laundry without telling you, finished his coffee, then wanted to go to the bathroom to get ready for bed, all while you were waiting for him to have an already delayed and difficult discussion?

Aislingorla Wed 29-Jun-11 14:02:57

Yes, he is avoiding having the discussion, isn't he?

nomedoit Wed 29-Jun-11 14:03:08

I would be bothered but not very surprised. Did you have the conversation or were you totally pissed off by then?

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 14:05:17

I'd take it as a neon-lit message that: [a] he's actively against doing your couples' homework; [b] he gets a kick out of leaving you sitting there like a lemon.

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 14:09:00

No, we didn't have the discussion.

I was very pissed off.

I said he was doing his usual thing of delaying talking about stuff, and also trying to control when we did it, and not prioritising communicating with me.

He defended his actions - the laundry needed to be talking out of the machine, he didn't realise we'd drink the coffee TOGETHER, he thought he'd just do the laundry while I was in the bathroom (even though I hadn't gone to the bathroom at that point), he would wait to go to the toilet until after we'd talked then ... yada yada.

So we got into an argument. I didn't want to have the discussion - it was something a bit difficult from my childhood the therapist knows but DH doesn't (I swear I've told him before, he swears I haven't), and I was going to talk to him about it as it had come up in our therapy session earlier.

I then asked him to sleep in the spare room, and he accused me of being a bully and 'throwing my weight around'. Which I feel v upset about, particularly as I am overweight (I know I am probably being irrational here as he was speaking metaphorically, but I wondered if it was a dig)

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 14:13:21

He did apologise and want to talk, but I was so fed up.

he said he wasn't avoiding, just doing stuff that needed to be done (laundry taken out of washing machine and hung up) and he wasn't going to be long.

My point was, he could have said to me 'do you mind if I just do this'.

I'm fed up of him making unilateral decisions about our communication.

It's difficult enough to get him to give me his full attention as it is.

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 14:23:37

Tbh, that probably wasn't a dig about your weight, unless he said something like "throwing your huge weight around".
What he did there was:
1. passive-aggressive - making you wait
2. dishonest - he did realise you were waiting, and why
3. manipulative - he did know you were in a stew about revealing this info
4. blaming - he made you upset, then criticised you for being upset
5. controlling - as you have realised
6. projecting - calling you the bully

'Forgetting' and 'misunderstanding' important matters are abusive tactics - he 'forgot' the important info you've already told him; he 'misunderstood' the terms of the important conversation you were to have.

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 14:24:28

I'm fed up of him making unilateral decisions about our communication.

Not fed up enough, in my opinion.

omaoma Wed 29-Jun-11 14:26:04

Of course it's avoidance! Text book. But clearly he is very unready to acknowledge the avoidance, and also I suggest to have the conversation.

Interesting that you think you already told him this issue and he has 'forgotten' it. Whether consciously or subconsciously, he very much doesn't want to hear it again.

If it's any help, I think the fact this is really bringing matters to a head shows you two are on the right track in terms of your therapy - there's a lot of fear and anger going on here, lots of attempts to assert control and passive aggression, that it looks like both of you need to confront.

I would like to point out gently that both of you failed to be open and verbalise what was on your minds, not just your partner. While he didn't say ' i want to do the laundry' (or more honestly: 'i'm having a problem with this'), you didn't ask what was going on or let him know you were getting upset and anxious by his not coming up. First he 'wasn't ready', then it was 'too late' for you. There seems to be something here about wanting rules vs wanting flexibility, and also being 'right' or in control of how things happen.

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 14:29:30

That's a good point, omaoma. Compendium, is there a reason why you didn't go to the laundry room and tell him to get his arse upstairs?

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 14:40:52

Interesting points, thank you very much.

I did see him go into the laundry room, and I was just about OK with that.

Is was when he then came upstairs and was going to go into the bathroom to get ready for bed that I got annoyed.

He is very resistant to suggestions that he doing something subconciously - i.e. avoiding a difficult discussion. His view is, he saw something that needed doing, and he went to do it.

I was cross because I'm fed up of forcing the issue of him giving me his undivided attention. We'd had an agreement about when we'd talk and I wanted him to honour that without having to be chased up.

He'd actually wanted to have the discussion today because after our therapy yesterday we were going to the cinema, and H said it would be late when we got back, he'd be tired and he wanted to give me enough time to talk and he wanted to give me his full attention and not be really tired. But I didn't want to wait until tonight, as I felt it would be me having to bring up the issue and say, look, you promised we'd talk about this. The thing I'm going to tell him isn't a massive deal in one sense, and I just wanted to get it over and done with.

When I got upset, he said it would be more healthy and helpful for our relationship if I didn't get so irritated with him. Which is rich.

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 14:43:46

When I got upset, he said it would be more healthy and helpful for our relationship if I didn't get so irritated with him

Oooh, patronising and dictatorial, as well!

I can see why you're so willing to work on this relationship hmm

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 14:53:39

He is frequently patronising IMO when cross

What do you suggest I do, garlicnutter? Leave him?

Or rather, ask him to leave as it would be better if the children stayed in this house and I was with him

I do know that our issues are not just him, and he is working on in it in many ways, but ...

omaoma Wed 29-Jun-11 14:57:27

Annoying that he doesn't like acknowledging anything subconscious, I agree. Uncaring that he didn't acknowledge he was being rude in not coming upstairs immediately, yes.

I'm a bit confused though. You both had reasons for wanting a different timing for the discussion. It sounds as if neither of them were particularly compelling reasons. You say the secret you were going to tell him was no big deal - it was about the need to have his undivided attention and prioritise communication. Then came a big power struggle over the timing of the discussion which was on an unimportant topic but it was vital you HAVE the discussion to show you were both committed to the therapy and each other. Neither of you were prepared to give in - he 'agreed' to your suggestion, then refused to take part in it by absenting himself; when you couldn't have it exactly as you'd planned it YOU then refused to take part in it even though he offered you another option. You're asking him to prioritise communication, but putting your anger/annoyance over the value of the discussion happening at all.

Now you're arguing over who gets to be annoyed about this... It could be said that his behaviour is saying 'I'll play this game but I won't join in properly and you certainly don't get to be right'. And what YOU are really saying is 'I'm so completely fed up I won't play any more unless you follow every single rule to the letter' (which clearly isn't going to work). Which might mean that one or both of you is seeing counselling as a competition and he's unwilling not to be in the 'winning' position.

Can you imagine a type of discussion with him that includes acknowledging how you are feeling, but allows you to express yourself anyway? What if you had had that discussion after he'd apologised and come to bed, even though you were angry? Would you feel anything had been resolved? Would it have changed any patterns?

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 15:14:41

In your account of this one incident, there's a high concentration of aggressive behaviour from your H, compendium. Going by your other comments, it seems this sort of thing is characteristic of your relationship. Living like this erodes your confidence and leaves you confused about what's normal & acceptable in adult relationships.

Therefore, I disagree with omaoma that your problem is all about mutual communication failures. To me, it looks as though you have been manipulated into a position where every meaningful interaction is a power struggle. I don't hink you caused it; perhaps it's the only way he knows how? Do you see similar patterns in the way he interacts with his birth family or close freinds, for example?

You cannot "win" a relationship: once you're trying to live like that, you've already lost. Only you know whether to call time, but I will remind you that you're free to end any adult relationship on the basis that it makes you unhappy.

Rather than plugging away at this disheartening issue, how about writing down what happened and who said what - in bullet points - to take to your next session? It might take a few tries if you feel confused: keep it as concise and fully factual as if you were writing a short, but important, memo. Do it by yourself, for yourself. he can have input when you're both in front of the counsellor.

It all sounds very wearing! I feel for you.

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 15:16:18

omaoma - wow, you're good

To clarify - I think I'm being disingenuious when I say the topic is 'no big deal'.

On one hand it's not - I've had a lot of bad stuff happen, and it's not something that is the worst or makes me feel ashamed (those things I've already told DH and he has been supportive, tbh).

On the other hand - well, it WAS a big deal. See, we were talking in therapy about how we both find it hard to give each other comfort, and that we both didn't get comfort from our parents as children, even when we'd suffered a physical or emotional trauma. DH is v reluctant to see parallels with his behaviour now with his mother's behaviour - he feels that was 30 odd years ago, he should take responsibility for himself - but he was beginning to see it. He sort of told an anecdote -which I elaborated on for the therapist's benefit - about his mother not giving him comfort, care or attention once when he'd suffered a severe physical trauma.

I and the therapist was both reminded of a conversation we'd had during a session when DH was away on business, when we'd talked about my parents not giving me comfort and instead blaming me for things. In particular, there was the time that a man tried to abduct me and when I ran home and told my parents, they blamed me.

DH said he didn't know about this, even though I was sure I'd told him ages ago. I said in the session that I will a little hurt that DH didn't seem shocked by the story, and the therapist said I should tell him properly about it so he had a chance to properly react. So I guess, in a long-winded way of addressing your point, there was a lot of pressure on the situation for DH to provide appropriate 'comfort'.

I find it hard to continue communication when I'm angry, and I'm working on this. But I think if I hadn't been so angry, DH might not have realised that he was in the wrong. Which I don't think he still fully has.

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 15:20:55

Sorry, garlicnutter, I hadn't seen your last post when I just wrote mine, so thank you to you too, as you have always 'got' stuff

You're right, it is very wearing, and if you were here now, I'd probably cry on your shoulder blush

The power point is one that keeps being brought up in therapy. I think the hterapist feels we are both competing, and I do feel I am now determined to 'win' things as a way of being noticed and feeling equal. But it is tiring. And I don't want to live like that.

I do think that DH is amenable to change - indeed has made big changes - and he does want to work on the relationship, but I think he is at the moment lacking quite a bit of self awareness.

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 15:21:08

So you had parents who ignored your needs and blamed you when you deserved comforting? And you've married a man who ...

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 15:21:43

sorry, 'always got stuff' should be 'also got stuff'

I will definitely be bringing last night's argument to the next therapy session

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 15:24:44

yes, garlicnutter sad

garlicnutter Wed 29-Jun-11 15:24:59

Thanks for reply smile

I can see that H is unfamiliar with the mechanisms of 'comfort' in an emotional context. Question is, how's he going to learn this (assuming he wants to)? You've got the hang of it - you understand your psyche and his; you know to help and support - but he hasn't. How did that come about, do you think?

fuzzpig Wed 29-Jun-11 15:41:02

Is there another reason you're having couple therapy? Are there a lot of other issues?

fuzzpig Wed 29-Jun-11 15:44:48

And yes it would annoy me. DH has the odd lapse like that - but he is the kind of person who sees a job that needs doing, and does it straight away - unlike me the procrastinator! So occasionally he will disappear off to the sink or whatever. The difference is though that if I say "oi, we were supposed to be talking/spending time together!" he will say "oh shit sorry" and stop what he was doing. He would certainly not get all defensive. That's quite manipulative of your DH sad

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 15:47:46

Do you mean how did it come about that he doesn't know how to give emotional comfort?

Is it too simplistic to blame his mother? wink

From what I can gather, she found DH needing her irritating. She is a very emotional person and I think DH finds that overwhelming.

DH can give emotional comfort - but not about everything -and I think he thinks I need too much.

He admits that he finds talking about difficult things ... well, difficult, so he tends to avoid doing that. He insists that if something is bothering him, the best strategy is to not think about it.

He is however fantastic at providing physical or practical support. So while I am working odd hours from home or elsewhere building up my business, he is v supportive, even sometimes doing the lion share of the household chores even though I'm at home more.

compendium Wed 29-Jun-11 17:12:51

I am feeling quite sad about this all now

Not sure whether to throw in the towel with H

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: