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Can a 49 yr old DH change after 15 years

(13 Posts)
Podders Wed 27-Jul-11 15:01:45

After finding text messages on DH phone (with a woman he had an affair with in his first marriage) my eyes were opened to his controlling and suppressing ways. He didn't like me seeing friends, excersing, smoking (since the messagaes I started again after 14 years !) etc, infact anything that didn't involve me DH and DS (age 10). He saw it as me not wanting to be with him. I went to conselling as he thought I had a problem and was still angry from the text messages. He was invited to come but wouldnt. My counsellor said I should read Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
We are in separate bedrooms, and got to the stage 3 wks ago that I told him I can't take anymore and was going to see a solicitor. He then wanted to read the book, which he is currently doing. DH now says he understands why all these things are important, and can now appreciate why I need to do them. Can I give him time to show he can change.
Things are still awkward, I'm not sure I still love him as the last 2 years have been hell (since finding the texts) alot of damage has been caused and I cannot see how I am going to get my feelings back for him.
The question is Can he change, because at the moment it feels very unnatural that I am now allowed to do these things and it not bother him.
Any exeriences, advice appreciated ...Thanks ladies and or men out there.

KRIKRI Wed 27-Jul-11 15:13:44

Your counsellor suggested reading Venus and Mars? I'd suggest getting a new counsellor! There is nothing scientific about it, it's way too generalised and basically recommends that women change the way they think and feel about things because you know, men are just "like that" and you can't do anything about it. What tripe!

Okay, maybe it wasn't noble of you to check DH's phone (unless of course you had his permission,) but it was far from noble of him to carry on contact with the previous OW, particularly in secret. The controlling and isolating behaviour, and the fact he said YOU should go to counselling because YOU had a problem sets off alarm bells, imho.

You ask whether a 49 year old can change, and perhaps by extension, whether the relationship has a future. Here are some of the points you've made in your post:

* you are in separate bedrooms because you feel you can't "take it anymore."
* you've considered seeing a solicitor.
* he's agreed to read a book and "says" he understands why you feel as you do (but hasn't given any undertaking that he will do anything else differently.)
* you aren't sure you still love him.
* the last two years have been hell.

Whether or not he changes for the better (which is by no means guaranteed just because he's read bits of a crap pop psychology book,) is perhaps not the most important factor in whether the relationship has a future.

Best of luck.

Pandemoniaa Wed 27-Jul-11 15:16:06

I hate to burst the bubble but people can't actually change. They can, however, modify their behaviour in the face of intolerance But only if they genuinely want to. Unfortunately, controlling people often use the technique of "changing" when what they want to see is a decision reversed. Once this has happened, they revert to their old ways.

I also hate to say that "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" really is an awful book. It encourages the sort of stereotypical gender division that can easily reinforce unacceptable behaviour on the grounds that "Men Are Different".

Be brave though and stick to your guns. If you don't feel that you can love your husband again, act on those feelings.

Landedgentry Wed 27-Jul-11 15:52:53

There are no words to descibe the sheer lunacy of a counsellor recommending this absolute tripe - and it's terrifying that your partner is reading this, because it will give him all the ammunition in the world to say that men are men, driven by primal urges and the need to escape - and that you should just get the fuck over it. Switch counsellors, for goodness sake.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 27-Jul-11 16:20:15

Your H has done a real number on you hasn;t he?. And he won't let go of you easily now you potentially want out either. Controlling men do not let go of their victims easily so you will need a plan to get out.

I would also suggest you contact Womens Aid as they could be of some use to you here as well.

Would agree with the others re the counsellor - i.e you need to see someone else pronto as this one you're currently seeing is crud. Your H suggesting that you go to counselling as "you're the one with the problem" is yet another time honoured tactic used by such inherently damaged and controlling men. You note too that he refused to go ergo he thinks he does not have a problem.

The root causes of his controlling behaviours are deeply rooted and often learnt. It may well be that he learnt this from either one or both of his parents.

Controlling behaviour too is abusive behaviour; did you realise this?.

And if I may recommend a book for you to solely read it would be "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft. It is all about controlling men and how they operate.

These men do not change their ways; they continue to up the control ante and as you write yourself the last 2 years have been hell. The next year, 2, 5 won't be any easier for you and your child either.

On a wider level you also need to think about what your 10 year old DS is learning from the two of you about relationships because I can tell you now damaging lessons are currently being imparted to him particularly from his Dad.

It may be that when you have left the relationship altogether will you then look back and see properly how truly abusive and awful this whole sorry episode has been. Womens Aid "Freedom" programme would be something I would recommend to you in the longer term as this types of abuser take years to recover from.

RabbitPie Wed 27-Jul-11 16:21:49

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Podders Thu 28-Jul-11 12:20:06

Thank you all so much... As I read all you comments ... they stike a cord with me as they are all the thoughts I have had, in terms of him now trying to control me in not letting me go. When he talks now it is all full of apologies for is behaviour over the years and for me to give him time to show he can be appreciative of things in my life. My head and heart says this is all just another circle we are going in but on the back of him reading a book and him now saying he understands me now.

I am very scared for what my DS is learning from our relationship and am aware I am causing more damage in letting him see us like this than getting out.

The counsellor, in fairness, rightly or wrongly, (I'm not going anymore, only went for about 8 sessions - DH said it was a waste of money) suggested the book on my last session - I didn't get anything from it to be honest, but he now says he is inspired and finds it very powerful in highlighting how he is and has been wrong all these years. She said he was mentally abusive and that I needed to learn to be more assertive - which isn't easy as he talks rings round me.

None of it is easy - DH and DS have gone away tonight on a 2 day golf break so I have a bit of time to think - in peace - without more indepth talks about how positive he is on the back of the book !!!!

I have explained that I cannot see how the damage caused over the years and the awful things he has said / done can be erased from my mind for me to get my feelings back.

I know I need strength to go to the Solicitors.

Thanks re tip for Womens Aid - a friend of mine has used them and said they were ace.

garlicbutter Thu 28-Jul-11 13:53:59

Aha smile I think I see what your counsellor was up to. Assertiveness isn't about winning arguments, it's all about self-respect and boundaries. She knew you weren't coming back - so she wouldn't have time to teach you, and hadn't accepted the full reality of abuse in your life - so she wouldn't have time to help you deal with it. I reckon she was hoping you'd take the core message of that stupid book, which is "Women are waves, men go to their caves" (!) and use it to understand that it's okay to let him get on with his own crap while you live your life for yourself.

You're moving along much faster than she expected! Well done you smile
Yes, talk to Women's Aid.

Here's an assertiveness primer:

Podders Thu 28-Jul-11 15:55:24

Thanks Garlic Butter - just read the link and yeah I too think that it was the Counsellor was doing.
But when I look back it was his controlling ways that stopped me from going to any further sessions due to money (we could afford it, but he said it was a waste of money) and he said it was not working. But it was. Just not the way in which he wanted. She wrote to him to invite him, saying we had got to the point that it would help us to attend together but he wouldn't go.
Pretty sure I need to get out but fear of the unkown and the journey getting there frightens me. I know I'm not alone, so any tips appreciated. I take it I just go to a Solicitor and just get the ball rolling.
Thanks guys

janajos Thu 28-Jul-11 16:07:20

Actually you can change someone, but only yourself I am afraid. You can change the way you deal with him, the way you allow him to be with you. It takes courage, but I have done it myself and now, nearly 10 years on, my DC and I have no contact with him but I am happily remarried and we are now a family of 5 (one more DS, now aged 2!). YOU CAN change things for the better too.

janajos Thu 28-Jul-11 16:08:39

Actually if you want tips for getting out, pm me, I have a whole back story to share if you think it might help.

Podders Thu 28-Jul-11 16:28:05

thanks janajos - I am dealing with him different and standing up for myself and things I want to do - but his current reactions are a far cry from what they used to be (thanks to the book!!!) but it doesn't seem real and I cannot see him keeping it up for long going by past history.

Im new on here what does 'pm me' mean - what do i need to do ? Thanks any help greatly received.

garlicbutter Thu 28-Jul-11 16:43:11

Private Message. Click on the "message poster" link to the right of the poster's name. When you get a message, the inbox at the top of your screen will light up smile

It's a good idea to work on your emotional detachment. Gives you balance and allows you to think more clearly - try watching him as if he's on a TV programme (sounds weird but it helped me.) You might consider joining the "emotionally abusive relationships" thread on here - lovely women at various stages of exiting relationships with confusing people.

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