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Can someone help me making sense of that?

(25 Posts)
WondersOfTheWorld Fri 19-Aug-11 16:34:38

Have been with H for 11 years, married 10, 2 dcs.
Things have been very difficult in these last few years (well the last 6 years really). H behaviour was totally unreasonnable. It took me quite a bit of time and sessions with a counsellor to realize that his behaviour was not on and abusive (but I still don't believe he is abusive iyswim).

Now, having told him I wanted to get divorced and becoming more amd more distant, H has started to realize he had to do something about it. Culminating a couple of weeks ago.
It was our wedding anniversary, something we have never celebrated. On that day, when he felt me stirring up at 5.30am, he switched the light on, giving me a card and a ring (last time he gave me some sort of jellewery was 10 years ago). I was still asleep, didn't know what to tell him. He didn't say a word either, switched the light off and turn round to go back to sleep...
In his card, he was saying how grateful he felt that we had spent 10 years together, that he was sorry I had been unhappy and that he hoped we could make things better so that I would not be as unhappy.

No I am torned apart between thinking it's fantastic, he is really willing to change. The other part of me is very cynical and is thinking that he never acknowledged some personnal responsability. He also doesn't say he wants me to be happy but that he would try to ensure I am not as unhappy.

I am totally lost as whether I can understand his behaviour or not. Or if I am just a very ungrateful cow....

Lights please?

HedleyLamarr Fri 19-Aug-11 17:08:50

Has his behaviour improved since as you don't mention it?
It could be that he is afraid of losing you. You have to remember men have to be told how you feel. Most of us are unable to read how you feel.
If his behaviour improves will your feelings for him pick up again?, 'cos if not, you're doomed as a couple.
Hope it all works out for you. smile

PhilipJFry Fri 19-Aug-11 17:19:49

I wouldn't say you were being an ungrateful cow at all. You've had SIX YEARS of unreasonable behaviour. That can't be washed away by a single gesture made when he finally realises you're not putting up with it anymore.

"In his card, he was saying how grateful he felt that we had spent 10 years together, that he was sorry I had been unhappy and that he hoped we could make things better so that I would not be as unhappy."

He seems to acknowledge your unhappiness but not his part in it. Fair enough, he says he's sorry you've been unhappy, but that isn't really the same as apologising for his behaviour.

SheCutOffTheirTails Fri 19-Aug-11 17:30:10

Philip is right - the card implies that your unhappiness is something you are both responsible for.

A proper apology would be more like "I'm sorry I've been such a crap husband, I hope from now on I can be a better one."

lydiamama Fri 19-Aug-11 19:48:38

If you think he is worthy of a try, why not just thank him for the card and mention that you really like getting a card for your anniversary and would like more similar gestures? He seems to be trying, I do not think you can ask him to become the perfect husband over night, I believe you will have to allow some time for him to change his behavior, step by step. Just acknowledge and encourage him when he takes a step in the right direction. Maybe next time you will get an apology, but try to focus on the possitive, you got something for you anniversary first time in so many years!!!! Best luck

bail Fri 19-Aug-11 20:03:12

Baby steps.

He has not behaved well for 6 years, I think it would be quite strange if he suddenly launched into a full-blown satisfactory apology. Instead he has made a decent first baby step.

I absolutely do not think you are ungrateful; you have clearly had a rotten time with H. However I think his action shows that there may, just may, be light at the end of the tunnel.

At the very least I think it is worth exploring. There is no screaming rush for the divorce, why don't you give him 3 months. Try as hard as you can not to mention the word divorce once, no matter what he does. Then at the 3 months, evaluate how he has been. Was the ring and the card an artificial one-off? Or has he really begun to shown signs of improvement.

Good luck x

WondersOfTheWorld Fri 19-Aug-11 21:06:02

Yes I got the feeling that he is very much in the mode of 'we are both responsible not just me' He actually told me before that 'we both need to try harder' when I said I didn't think our reationship was going anywhere.

The thing is I am unconfortable about the way he looks at things. I firmly believe that I am the one responsible of my own emotions, esp anger. He thinks that if he is angry then the person who made him angry is responsible. So at this game, he ends up with no responsability at all. (I's the same with the dcs btw. If he looses his temper then it's the dcs fault as they are not behaving well. Not his to have lost his temper).

Also I agree with baby steps. but how long would you wait for? one month, 3 months, a year, more than a year? I told him I wanted to get divorced about a year ago now. Since then he has made some changes, baby steps all the way. Happening each time we had a mini crisis like me going away on hols on my own with the dcs, an issue with the car, me saying we were going nowhere etc... I haven't mentioned divorce since a year ago and have waited for him to take steps, make amends, change his ways (He knows exactey what btw. Each and every single time, he changed something that I have been unhappy about for years). Is that sort of 'apology' not a bit short after a year?

WondersOfTheWorld Fri 19-Aug-11 21:18:25

Btw I actually believe we both need to change. I need to change so that I am not accepting any abusive behaviour from him. He needs to change his own behaviour to stop being so angry and sulky.

I suppose the issue is that I don't believe he has really changed. What has changed is my attitude. by taking a lot of distance and not eacting to his behaviour, he had to take some responsabilities he didn't want. but he also has avoided conflicts (which we would need to deal with if we were to stay together).
Eg this evening, he suddeny had a go at one of the dcs. The shouting was sudden enough that it made me jump. So I just said 'H, gently'. He went into a huff and didn't talk to me again until the dcs were in bed, 3 hours later.. (and yes that is much better than it was before....).

lydiamama Fri 19-Aug-11 21:53:01

Wonderoftheworld, great for you stopping acting to his behavior, that is a huge step, it shows to your hubby a lot of stability and self respect not to jump into a fight every time he is in a mood, powerful message.
For the particular example you mention, may I suggest you a different approach if he shouts at the children? I think you should never undermine your partners authority in front of your children, never, ever, at least they are actually about to slap the child. Just send an evil look to your partner without the child seeing you, or back up your partner (example, DD listen to your father, he just wants the best for you). Then when in private, mention to your partner you felt that reaction was too angry, sudden, excessive, and state what you think is best. But you are together in the bringing up of the children, so you should not critizice each other in front of them, they should see you as a unit, they will behave better.

Anger and sulking are definitively issues he should be dealing with, with professional help if neccessary.
He is definitively slow in his reactions, you had 5 years of bad marriage, and one of little improvements, and you are understandably frustrated and tired, but do you still hold feelings for him? Can you love him? You are the only one who knows that, and if the relationship is worthy to save. If the answer is yes, hun, you will have to pattience a lot more, and be strong, and hopefull.

HerHissyness Fri 19-Aug-11 21:57:33

I think you have cracked it! You do need to stop allowing him to abuse you, call him out on everything and anything he does that is abusive, upsetting or harmful.

It won't stop him doing it, <shrugs>, but it will demonstrate to HIM that you are not going to allow it, and it will show YOU just how often he is belittling you.

As I said, it won't stop him, it won't make a difference, nothing will... unless HE wants to make the change, but that is asking him to give up his right to be superior to you, by oppressing and dominating you. Can you ever see him allowing you to be a full equal in your relationship, in the house, your life etc?

If he was serious about saving his marriage, he'd pull out all the stops, not baby steps, not doing the bare minimum to get you off his back?!

Tell him you need HIM to leave, you need a trial separation, for you both to realise what you want, need and enjoy about your lives, and to see where you both fit in to each others life in the future.

It's a crock of shite, but it'll get you the peace you need to start to recover and recuperate. Read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft and understand that his abuse of you is his choice, and you did nothing to cause it, nor can you do anything to prevent it. You can't mediate this away, you can't negotiate back to normality. Normality was a smoke screen, never really existed. Trust me.

These abusive men take no responsibility for their own anger, happiness, feelings or fall out, it's always someone elses fault. the only way you have of improving your life is to detach from his, release yourself from his control, misery and emotional terrorism. The sooner the better.


If you fancy popping along to the Emotional Abuse Support Thread, you can talk through your issues there with lots of us that have been there, and got out, or are still in the thick of it. Regardless of your stage in an abusive relationship, you need a support network, and need to know you are not alone.

HerHissyness Fri 19-Aug-11 22:06:15

lydia " they should see you as a unit, they will behave better"

Op and her H are not a unit. He is an abusive H, he is toxic, harmful and is a very poor example as a father. If he is scaring them, he needs to be stopped, no matter the fall out. OP needs her DC to know that they will not be bullied, shouted at by someone for no reason apart from a desire to upset/hurt or control them. H needs to learn, and pretty bloody fast, that he has no place in scaring the DC, EVER!

If the DC see these parents as a unit, they will be frightened and scared of BOTH of them. a H that does this to DC needs to stop it right NOW, or leave, full stop.

the H here doesn't have an anger management problem, he has a problem managing his anger towards his DW and his DC. Abusive men can not be counselled. It's the worst thing you can suggest for such a creature. They just end up learning new tricks to abuse and control their victims with.

They don't see what they are doing as wrong, they see it as their right to oppress, scare and intimidate. You can't treat an abusive man with the same methods as you would a regular man. They don't play by normal rules.

To summarise, there is NO POINT in negotiating, pleading, begging, asking, or imploring them to be NICE. They won't be.... unless it's a way for THEM to get something THEY want, or to keep some poor sap hooked.

I have 10 years experience of this.

lydiamama Fri 19-Aug-11 22:20:08

Hi Herhissiness, you may know the op or her husband from previous posts or personally, I am not here often and do know nothing but this post. it id not seem to me by the op post that her husband was SO abussive.
I have not much experience dealing with extreme emotional abuse, only small sharp corners that may be polished, but I strongly believe that you can always negotiate with everyone on this earth, defenitively never pleading, begging or imploring, no no.

HerHissyness Fri 19-Aug-11 23:52:39

OP's first paragraph said she and her counsellor both agreed on his abusiveness. Him screaming at the DC, and stonewalling her for 3 hours afterwards is text book abuser.

You are lucky enough not to know what abuse is. I am genuinely pleased for you! smile

When you ask a normal, non-abusive male to stop doing X, Y or Z as it upsets you, offends you or makes you feel bad, they stop. When you ask the same of an abusive man, they don't. They may pause for a while, but they go back to it, cos it works!

You can believe all you like that you can always negotiate with everyone on this earth, and so far you have been lucky enough not to have this schema challenged.

Very often victims of abusers are naturally sunny, cheerful, happy souls that always see the best in everyone. This is IMHO what I think abusers lack, what they envy and what they seek to steal by trapping it, oppressing it, controlling it and diminishing it until THEY look better.

Lundy Bancroft's Why Does He Do That is very clear on the matter, that counselling for an abusive male is often detrimental and usually pointless.

You can appeal to the better nature of a non-abusive partner. An abusive partner doesn't have a better nature. Only a façade that they use to connive and reel people in. They are only nice for a reason, it's usually for effect, for show or for their own gain.

You start asking an abusive man nicely to just be nice, to stop doing whatever torture he's concocted to make you feel uneasy, sad, hurt or fearful. You think that perhaps (as you are told you are dim, worthless and a PITA) you are not able to express yourself correctly, so you find more and more expressive, elaborate, softer, sweeter ways to get your point across. You feel sure that if he could only understand how unhappy you are, he'll stop. he'll return to being the truly wonderful man you met, the one that swept you off your feet and turned your world upside down. You spend your life chasing that particular dragon, never to find it.

There really IS no point in negotiating with these emotional terrorists. Trust me. If they want to change, they can. Thing is, they feel so entitled to behave as they do, they won't change in the hugest of vast majorities.

Lundy Bancroft states that there ARE men that do change, but they are rarer than hens' teeth. Usually only when the abuser's entire family/friend/network have rejected him due to his treatment of his victims will he change, but even then with huge amounts of effort, time and a real desire to want to be a better person. Most of these guys don't care about others enough to want to be a better person.

garlicbutter Sat 20-Aug-11 01:14:20

I absolutely cannot better Hissy's posts here. Wonders, yours really upset me because I have known so many men like this - colleagues and my second husband. They bank on your loving and hoping, then issue a gesture when they finally get that you're moving away. Yours didn't even bother with the candlelit dinner, he just got it over with as soon as possible angry I'm so sorry.

It sounds like a cliché to say "You're worth better than this." The real point, even though you may not feel it now, is that you can treat yourself better than this ... insulting, minimum-hassle, get-out-of-my-face gesture.

If you like the ring and/or it's worth anything, keep it. But attach to it the emotional significance it deserves. It's a piece of metal, given not as a gift but as a penance. I feel for you. Very glad you have a good counsellor! Good luck.

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 16:22:43

lydiamama you know what I actually agree with most of what you said.
You shouldn't argue in front of the dcs and support each other for example is one thing that I have tried to abide. but then when most of the interactions between H and the dcs is a negative put down type, I have to do something. Most of the time, I use my 'evil look'. I've also told him (in a non threatening way, along the lines 'We need to be careful to ...') what I wasn't happy about. But to no avail. That time, we wern't in the same room. When he shouted ne made me jump so I did automatically, what I would do with the dcs. Just saying calmly 'Calm down'. Surely that doesn't warrant 3 hours sulking?
I also agree that you should be able to talk about what is going wrong.but to do that you need someone happy to talk with you. And he isn't. Each time I have raised an issue, he has been looking at me with out saying a word (or something in a similar line like 'I don't know' or 'I've never thought about it')

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 16:45:28

HerHissyness wanted to say thank you for your post. Can I take all the nice things you said about people being abused (nice, loving people...) as a compliment about myself?
Joking apart, I am still trying to find the old 'me'.The one who was happy and smiling. The one who was there for other people, ready to be there for them, giving a hand for a move or listening to the one who had problems with their bf. I have realized sometime ago that helping people isn't coming automatically for me. That there was no joy at all in my life. So much time lost....

And too much time hoping that things would change if I was able to communicate with him in a different way, if I wasn't so grumpy/tired/wanted sex more often etc...

I wanted to give him the opportunity to change things around. I wanted things to be OK. Baby steps and all that (actually I got more upset seeing he had been able to stop some behaviours just like this as - to me - it shows he was always able to do so in the first place). but after a year, he surely should have done better than sulking for 'only' 3 hours after a non agressive calm comment?

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 16:48:04

garlicbutter I have been wondering why the heck giving this present like this. I mean 5.30 in the morning isn't the normal time to give a present that is supposed to mean so much?

HerHissyness Sat 20-Aug-11 16:52:06

It's true!

You shouldn't argue in front of the DC. If an argument arises, it needs to stop and be discussed at a later time when little ears can't hear. any reasonable partner would agree to this.

You shouldn't undermine the other parent, true, but by behaving in such a way as to scare the DC, or behave so outrageously, intervention IS necessary.

You should discuss issues you have with anything out of earshot of the DC, and calmly and rationally.

When you do have disagreements, one side should always give the other side the opportunity to leave the discussion with dignity, even when they are wrong.

All of the above points are possible with a normal partner.

NONE of them are possible with a partner who is abusive. He feels entitled to behave however the HELL he likes and who the hell are you to even think of questioning his behaviour.

All partners can be total arses at times. The difference between an ARSE and an ABUSER is that the ARSE stops when it's explained to him that what he's doing is harmful. An abuser won't stop.

HerHissyness Sat 20-Aug-11 16:55:41

The present is given to you passively agressively. If you aren't thrilled beyond belief YOU are ungrateful.

BUT by just kind of dumping it on you and then going back to sleep, he's diminished any niceness in the act of the gift giving.

Do you see that? If he'd have made you a cup of tea even, and brought it to you and smiled and handed you the box, would it not have been jaw droppingly special? would you not have dined out on that story for ages?

instead he pretty much slung it at you when you were half asleep, as your reaction wasn't important. If asked what you got for your anniversary, you show the piece of jewellery and everyone goes WOW, what a lucky girl, he gets maximum kudos, but you are totally denied the experience of being given a gift!

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 16:55:52

I think I have forgotten what it means to live with a 'normal' person. So much so that, sometimes, I am meeting people at work who behave normally and I am surprised that they are so reasonnable....

Humm more work required on my part

HerHissyness Sat 20-Aug-11 16:59:24

Men like these don't target harridans, they don't target mean, dark sorry little people. They target happy, smiling, giving, independent, caring and warm people and turn them into sad, withered, lonely, wasted little people. They chase all the joy out of our lives.

Yes, take all the compliments you can out of what I say, you ARE a sunny person, you CAN smile and laugh, care and love, help and support, but not with this millstone around your throat.

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 17:14:02

He is certainly passive aggressive. All the put downs, etc.. are never done in a direct way but always in a more 'sneaky' way.
But I wouldn't have seen this incident as being passive aggressive. Something to think about.

HerHissyness Sat 20-Aug-11 17:29:09

More work on ALL of our parts tbh...

Some of the things I hear people on here say about their (normal) partners makes my blood run cold with fear. Fear about what would have happened if I had done/said that. Then I remind myself that I had a very unhealthy relationship, and I now have a right to opinions, to happiness, to strength, to love and to joy. It's my right to laugh!

Keep looking around, keep referencing normal. NORMAL is the truth, you will need to hang onto the truth for dear life to get yourself through this all. It's your key to your future, a happy future, full of joy.

WondersOfTheWorld Sat 20-Aug-11 17:49:38

HerHissyness can I say a very big THANK YOU!
I've just read more about passive aggressive behaviour. I thought I knew what it is and sort of was. Just hadn't realize the deapth of it and all the consequences!

Having read a few descriptions of what is a passive aggressive behaviour, I now have the exact description of H! Add to that a few abusive behaviour like stonewalling and withdrawing emotions/affection and you have it!
Very interresting because I have never been able to see how he could be abusive (as he has never being aggressive as such) and felt the issue was about what he isn't doing rather than what he is doing. But that IS the right description of his behaviour.

It also matches the idea that I have about his parents parenting (very old fashion to say the least and the fact his mum has always said that 'H has always being the nicest child possible. Never a bother' [humm]).

Probably need to check what is co-dependency now as I have never come across this word before.

HerHissyness Sat 20-Aug-11 17:55:56

I object to co-dependency in abusive situations tbh, I personally think it an unhelpful term.

the abuser whittles away at his victim so she has no other alternative than to cling to the familiar. All her friends/family/support are either kept away from her, or criticised and diminished so that they hold no sway....

Yes she is dependent on him, but not for the same reasons as HE is dependent on HER - i.e she is his supply, his destruction of her bliss is what feeds his ego.

does that make sense?

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