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Being controlled or just compromising?

(30 Posts)
backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 09:44:32

Im trying to understand the breakdown of my relationship and have found myself questioning how much I have contributed to my situation. It would be easy for me to claim emotional abuse on the basis of how my H has behaved both to me and DCs. However, really it was me that allowed him to have his own way so surely I have just compromised.

When he wanted a particular kind of car and I wanted to buy another, I went with his decision because we couldn't agree. When he wants our DCs to be in bed at a particular time and I let them stay up because I would prefer them to go to bed happy, surely he has to compromise.

So when you "give in" to your partner is it compromise or do you see it as them being controlling?

anonacfr Tue 27-Sep-11 10:05:11

Compromise is essential in a relationship but has to work both ways.

However it is v difficult to judge in your case as the examples you've given are so 'un-balanceable'.
Buying a car (her picked the one he liked over your choice- you could argue that next time you have a big household purchase to make you get final say cos he got to chose the car) can't be compared to how you raise your children.

I agree with anon. It's about balance. If you always went with his choice, not because you agreed with it, but because you felt powerless then it sounds quite controlling. If sometimes you went with what he wanted and sometimes he went with what you wanted and, over time, it evened out to approx a 50/50 split, then it's just the give and take that a relationship must have.

However, if it goes something like
you "Let's do X"
him "No, I think we should do Y"
You "Oh, ok then"

then the other person has no way of knowing that you aren't actually in agreement, iyswim.

solidgoldbrass Tue 27-Sep-11 10:17:56

How many times did a disagreement end with you getting the result you wanted? A lot of women don't notice that their partners are basically selfish controlling pricks for a long time, as women are socialised to put men first, so women think, oh well it's not that big a deal, I don't really mind whether we eat Indian or Italian/see this film or that film/buy the big car or the small one, I'll let him have what he wants.
Then all of a sudden - often when the first baby comes along, or if something arises where what the woman wants is too important for her to give in to the man - the man doesn't get his own way. And the man promptly gets nasty. He sulks. He shouts. He says 'If you really loved me you would...' The woman is horrified. Sometimes she gives in, but feels resentful. And then it happens again - she doesn;t immediately indulge his whims or obey him, and this time he gets nastier. He threatens to leave. He tells the woman she is a bad partner and a bad woman for not obeying him. He might even beat her up to get his own way.
Of course sometimes you have to compromise in a relationship, if one of you wants to go for a curry and the other would prefer a burger/you've got two different social invites for the same night. But a red flag in any relationship is if one partner always gets the final say because otherwise there will be sulks and tantrums and nasty consequences.

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 10:34:29

I used to go with what he wanted because it was easier. When H wanted to cut our DSs hair with clippers even though he is hyper sensitive and he screamed throughout I either stayed and held his hand and tried to make him smile or H would do it when I was at work. H knew I would have preferred to take DS to the barber (or leave him with long hair!). When I wanted H to come to our DDs first Speech Day but he went to his boys weekend away early (because "we always get together the day before") I had no choice but to go on my own. When H insists on having the TV on at night which disturbs my sleep, I can't do anything about it. But if I could and he turned it off, or came with me, or took DS to the barber, surely it would be him that was compromising?

anonacfr Tue 27-Sep-11 10:47:59

Picture changes immediately.

Cutting your son's hair- unecessary and cruel. Why didn't he want to take him to the barber's? Why did he insist on doing it himself- a compromise (if he was that offended by his child's hair and didn't want to pay for the barber's) could have been you cutting your DS's hair. Making him scream and cry through a haircut is mean.

Speech day- v selfish.

TV- even more selfish, as well as disrespectful to you. If he really wants to watch TV can't he go downstairs? Lose the remote control!

Have you tried talking to him? He does sound v controlling.

akaemmafrost Tue 27-Sep-11 10:59:30

He sounds like a fucking selfish, controlling, entitled prick! angry

"if one partner always gets the final say because otherwise there will be sulks and tantrums and nasty consequences." Sums it up exactly. I had one just like this. He got dumped.

amverytired Tue 27-Sep-11 11:03:53

I think if you are this confused then it is controlling rather than compromising.
Good relationships are not this hard. There is no need to have a battle about almost everything. I'm speaking from experience here. I too believed in compromise - that's why I put up with so much rubbish.
Instead of getting sucked into all the rational stuff about what's fair and what's not - think instead about how you are feeling. Do you feel appreciated, understood and listened to? Do you feel respected? Do you think an outsider would feel respected if they were treated like this?

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 11:08:37

The car one is interesting. When we had a similar quandry we did buy the car I wanted but then we had to take it back as it was broken - oh claimed that it was defective (arguably it may have been - bad mpg - but I would have put up with it as it went like a bomb smile would have lived with it ) and went on and on so much, so constantly, that it went back under the "have it for a month and see" agreement. So he let me have my way in his words but sadly we ended up with the boring economical car he wanted as my choice was "a disaster".
What woudl have happened if you'd chosen the car? Would he have lived with your choice?

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 11:15:59

He told me that if we got the car that I wanted then there was no way he was going to be seen driving it. it was a ford focus so hardly embarrassing. The car we got meant we had to take a loan of £7k out which seemed daft to me. But it was brand new and a lovely drive but very impractical with 2 DCs.

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 11:17:15

I did genuinely think at the time though that I was compromising as we needed a new car.

solidgoldbrass Tue 27-Sep-11 11:20:41

He's a prick and a bully and you are better off out of that relationship. Cutting your son's hair the way he did is abuse. There is no excuse for doing something that makes a child scream in fear and pain just to get your own way.

garlicnutty Tue 27-Sep-11 11:30:01

SGB, you're on fire today smile

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 11:31:27

We have always battled over things and I've been with him a long time so not sure what normal compromise is. Since I started being more determined he does seem to argue less but I'm not sure if he is actually compromising now or disengaging.

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 11:32:47

Actually although we have always battled I'm not sure I can remember when I have actually "won".

tabulahrasa Tue 27-Sep-11 11:37:56

Compromise is either both of you changing what you're getting/doing, one of you realising that you're wrong, one of you not really caring particularly or taking someone's opinion into account but not necessarily doing what they want...it's definitely not just giving in, surely?

I mean, I'll give in over what kind of food if we go out - in a, well I prefer Chinese, but I like Italian, I don't have to cook either way so have what you want kind of way, lol.

But when it comes to something big/important that involves you both deciding, if one of you is deciding despite the other not wanting that at all and they're doing it anyway - that's not you compromising, that's them just ignoring you at best and possibly being controlling.

I bought my car to suit me and DP had his own car - he no longer does and my car is the family car, it's not ideal, but we can't afford to change it at the moment. When we do, I'll still be the main driver, but I'll take DP's opinion into account as he also needs to use it. I wouldn't buy a mini when I know he occasionally has 4 other adults in it for instance, lol.

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 11:42:46

there was no way he was going to be seen driving it exactly how oh ruled out most of my choices of car.

I understand where you are coming from though. I keep thinking this - ie one of us has to "compromise" but I'm beginning to realize that actually oh sees everything as black or white and so there is no real compromise possible for him.

So in your case do you find that every attempt at compromise results in his moving back a step - eg you agree to find a car you both like but every car except his choice has some "major flaw" and he will not readjust his ideas to consider something that is different to what he originally wanted. Each time you agree to ditch one the next has a slightly lesser issue which he sees as just as "major" until you end up ruling out car for truly petty reasons as every deviation from his ideal is "too major a problem to compromise on" so you end up with his perfect car? If so then you are giving in. Ie do the goal posts keep moving in his favour as you seek to "compromise"?

I've realised (after the same arguments with myself) that what I saw as oh being a perfectionist is in fact oh being unwilling to compromise.

Am still struggling with the fact that he is a perfectionist - ie he really appears unhappy if things are no perfect - and so it is not necessarily his fault that he cannot compromise - just his personality.

After reading your second post - he sounds awful. Controlling and a bully. Your poor son.

Basically, it's his way or the highway and how you feel doesn't matter.

TheBride Tue 27-Sep-11 11:56:31

Compromise normally means meeting in the middle. In certain cases, it's not possible- i.e. do we have another child?, but if all decisions involve one of you having to completely back down, then there's a problem, especially if it's always the same person doing the backing down.

backtothedrawingboard Tue 27-Sep-11 12:01:28

I think the amount of control I have over the outcome of a decision ie whether we will end up agreeing or compromising depends on what kind of decision it is. So for major life decisions it is dependent on whether H has an opinion; having children was my decision as H didn't really show any desire/resistance, getting married was my idea which he went along happily with, our first house was his decision because he didnt like any I liked. Our second house was a "make do" for me because we were in a rush to sell. Smaller household decisions like colour of paint for the walls, kitchen design etc are very influenced by H and I would tend to defer to him. Parenting decisions are the hardest because he has a very determined view of how the DCs should behave and I like to have happiness over order! If we go out for dinner/book a bed and breakfast he will generally make me find somewhere first and then pick holes in my decision. We don't go out or on holiday very much.

anonacfr Tue 27-Sep-11 12:09:13

"Am still struggling with the fact that he is a perfectionist - ie he really appears unhappy if things are no perfect - and so it is not necessarily his fault that he cannot compromise - just his personality."

Perfect for him or perfect in general? Adults can and have to compromise. You can be a perfectionist at work but as far as family life goes it can't be all about one person's way the whole time.

Quite frankly regarding the example of the car that is not only controlling but childish. Who cares what the car looks like aside from shallow self-obsessed idiots? Fact is you need a car that - you can afford - is suitable for children.

In the OP's case the car they got was neither.

buzzskillington Tue 27-Sep-11 12:25:17

I'm just appalled about your poor son. That makes him a big bully.

You disagreed with what he was doing, you had better alternatives - but it ends up being: either comfort your son during or he'd do it in your absence? That's no compromise - that's giving in, that's his way or the high way.

tabulahrasa Tue 27-Sep-11 12:28:06

See I wouldn't buy a house unless we were both happy with it - decorating and parenting are mostly my decisions...I am the Queen of unimportant decisions hmm lol

But seriously, if we are decorating, anything I hate is vetoed, anything he hates is vetoed and if he's not particularly liking something, but I do, well I'm the one who has to spend the most time there - so I get the final say.

Parenting, well I do most of the childcare, tbh, we rarely disagree over major things, occasionally he'll object to something - we'll discuss it and then well, he's usually not in the next time it happens so ~I just do what I normally would.

Hmm, I'm not sure if that makes me controlling or some 1950's housewife, rofl.

Basically, with major decisions or purchases, if we aren't both happy about it - we don't do it until we are. With other stuff, whoever is affected the most gets a bigger say.

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 13:23:08

for minor things oh says that I can do it my way, refuses to discuss it and then moans about how "ridiculous" my enentual choice is. I ended up painting the living room 4 times until I got something that he liked sad but all "my choice" as he "didn't care" (until of course I painted it a colour that "no one could reasonably be expected to like" (4 times!) ).

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 27-Sep-11 14:01:35

My lightbulb moment regarding the "compromise" question came from stbxh himself. In a rare moment, he actually attempted to describe the shitstorm of anger and control in his head, thusly:

"I need to win."

For him, there was no compromise possible: any divergence of preference between us was, in his mind, only ever going to be a "win" if he got his own way, completely. Anything else -- whether it was meeting in the middle or agreeing to my preferred option, or anything in between -- were, in his mind, a "lose", and thus utterly unacceptable to him. It was his way or no way. No compromise. For a controlling person, compromise is a personal loss.

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