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How do you show sympathy/support?

(21 Posts)
emess Thu 09-Aug-12 22:53:38

When DH is down (which is often) he will come home from work and the first sign is often that he says he doesn't want to eat anything. He then goes off and does his own thing for a bit (ie several hours). Mostly this involves him ignoring me completely for the rest of the evening - he will lie on the bed and may doze off and/or actually go to bed. I eventually ask him why he's upset though he's often reluctant to talk about it (not a good sign, I know that). in many cases he starts talking in riddles : "My career is over"; "I'm finished" etc, and I have to ask loads of questions to get to the bottom of who actually said or did something that particularly upset him. Tonight was a case in point: he's applying for other jobs and was told he hadn't been called for interview. My usual response used to be to commiserate but try to assure him another job will be along soon, but he really rejects this approach, insisting angrily "there won't be other jobs", and "nobody wants me". So I tried saying very little instead, to avoid upsetting him further (failed!). He finished tonight (again) with him accusing me of "not caring" why he was upset and "not showing any sympathy".

What am I doing wrong?

lowercase Thu 09-Aug-12 23:03:38

he is catastrophising.
you could say ' ok , i wont mention it anymore but if you want to talk im here'

i wouldnt get in the ring, but would try to end the convesration myself if they are just looking for a free argument.

dequoisagitil Thu 09-Aug-12 23:13:24

You're not doing anything wrong.

It sounds like he almost enjoys having you run round trying to help so he can bite your head off. That he does this a lot is worrying. Once in a while everyone has genuine problems and can fairly go off the rails and sulk and wail, but if it's a regular occurrence then either he's having an unusually awful life, or he likes a drama.

I would stop responding in the ways you normally do, but let him go off and pine or whatever. He has to be responsible for his own mental health and happiness - no-one can do that for another person.

emess Thu 09-Aug-12 23:21:16

lowercase & dequoisagitil, thank you , you've both made me cry - with relief!

dequoisagitil Thu 09-Aug-12 23:25:30


I think he likes to have you dance for him to make him feel better. Don't dance anymore.

ThePhantomDeregisterer Thu 09-Aug-12 23:26:09

WTF?! I would probably lose my rag after 5 minutes of that! My response would probably be that he could either tell me what's wrong and get support/sympathy or continue with the teenage behaviour by himself while I got on with being an adult!

thixotropic Thu 09-Aug-12 23:35:18

Oooh I get this one at home frequently.

Are you both robust enough for you to say something really outrageously harsh and obviosly untrue like ' well of course you got rejected, no one will ever ever employ or marry you ,you have the brain of a haddock '

I find that in my situation, they either realize what a nob they sound, and get a grip, or they argue with you which they would have anyway. So when they accuse you of not caring about them you say 'about who? Etc.

The trick is you have to be really really outrageous otherwise there is a danger they will believe you.

Disclaimer - not to be used on the genuinely depressed or low self esteem, only use on a catastrophiser angling for sympathy.

emess Fri 10-Aug-12 17:24:08

Oh dear, thixotropic, he's both ie diagnosed depressed and angling for sympathy. I have however resolved to stop dancing round him. Same behaviour tonight so I'll get some practice.

emess Fri 10-Aug-12 22:38:31

Tonight he is still enraged about various things in the past, going back about 15 years (all of them are my fault, apparently). I have been doing the 'broken record' thing of saying "when you have calmed down we can talk calmly about this", His reply? "I'll never be calm". Followed by another rant including telling me he will kill himself (he has attempted suicide before) while DD is studying abroad, and that I should prepare her for this. Twisted or what? He now hasn't spoken to me for several hours. This is what happens when I stop dancing to his tune. But I'll tough it out.

dequoisagitil Fri 10-Aug-12 23:06:39

I think toughing it out is good as a start... Have you considered leaving? It sounds a horrible relationship to be in.

If he threatens suicide and does these sorts of things, then he is emotionally abusing you really (and potentially your dc, depending how much they see/know about).

Are mental health professionals involved? If not, perhaps they should be.

I think if he threatened suicide, I'd threaten to have him sectioned. (Actually I have done that blush).

emess Sat 11-Aug-12 11:31:56

Thanks, dequoisagitil. Hadn't considered that his threats of suicide etc constitute EA towards me. Will consider, thanks.

emess Sat 11-Aug-12 12:06:29

So, this morning he tells me that he's only staying alive so that I will get more money when he dies (he's being forced into early retirement). He's laying all the blame on me - blaming me that he's stuck in a job he hates, that he can't get another job and is about to be made redundant is all my fault (apparently) because - among other reasons - about 10 years ago I was made redundant, had a spell unemployed and then had a series of short term contracts which eventually led to the permanent job I have now: he claims I "just sat there" not looking for a permanent job, and if I had, this would have allowed him to change jobs. I've told him I'm sorry about his knock backs (CV submitted to 3 jobs over a few weeks, all 3 rejected without interview in a few days), and tried to encourage him there will be other openings, but he's not having any of it. He's now bringing up some petty issues - he can barely speak to me without shouting at the moment. But he spoke to DD in an even tone - ha! It feels like he hates me.

TheWonderfulFanny Sat 11-Aug-12 12:13:09

Sorry but he sounds like an arse. Id be seeing a solicitor and working out the practicalities of a split - it doesn't sound like a healthy relationship for any of you.

What support do you have in RL?

dequoisagitil Sat 11-Aug-12 12:27:05

He's using you as an emotional punch-bag.

I wouldn't stick around to listen to it, it's garbage. Do you try to discuss it with him, argue back, or what? What happens if you leave the room/go out?

emess Sat 11-Aug-12 12:47:05

dequoisagitil, I've tried them all. None feel like they are achieving anything. I get annoyed that I do sometimes shout back - I wish I could stay calm and ignore it (like you would if he was a toddler having a tantrum) and rise above it. I spend a lot of time trying to gues what he's trying to achieve - I can't think of anything I can do now that will "make it up to him" (I don't believe I have anything to make up to him in the first place - things turned out they way they did, with hindsight we can see how we could have done things differently but we'll never know what the consequences would have been, but in any case we can't do anything about it now); I wonder if he is trying toprovoke me into leaving him or something so that he can kill himself and blame me for driving him to it. I just don't know.

He's been receiving treatment by mental health professionals for over 4 years; he takes various ADs & sedatives and has regular counselling. He says they've told him there's no help for him and says "even they want rid of me". Sigh.

dequoisagitil Sat 11-Aug-12 13:00:44

Do you stay because of the potential for him to commit suicide? What is left between you?

You have a responsibility to yourself, you know. Over four years of this and no sign of improvement?

whatthewhatthebleep Sat 11-Aug-12 13:42:34

there has probably been suggestion's about help for him but maybe he prefer's the drama and the wallowing....

it's like the child realising that the bad behaviour can get more attention from people so they keep doing that to keep getting it....cycle and habit...and incredibly selfish as he has never considered how it all impacts on you or DC's and how difficult that must have been for you all this time...

maybe you should be brutal and the next time he is spouting about having nothing, nobody cares, I'll just go and kill myself....say...fucking go on then...if you're so fucking miserable and your life is so fucking bad and we are all fucking horrible and you hate us so much,'re right...go on...just bloody do it then and stop whining and going on about it....I'm done trying to help you and you keep this going's fucking boring now....get over it or go do whatever you want to continue being a miserable person then go and be that....just don't expect me to buy into it anymore...I've done and said all I ever could for you....
If you choose to have a different conversation...I'm listening and I'm here.

emess Sat 11-Aug-12 14:50:59

Yes I think I do stay because of his threats. If he does it he will blame me and I will feel that I have failed my DCs.

As for helping himself vs drama - yes I agree. And as for being brutal: I've tried. I told him a while back I couldn't cope with his anger and that something had to change. He apologised - but then tried to justify it with "you'd be angry it all this had happened to you" (basically he has had a disappointing career). Thus turning it all back to me, me, me. A few weeks back he behaved appallingly in front of a friend of mine. It freaked her out because she said it reminded her of her violent ex. Anyway rather then her offering any comfort to me, I ended up apologising to her that DH's behaviour had upset her (he's been her ex for over 30 years - did I expect too much of her?). I spoke to him frankly about his behaviour on that occasion and he then went back to the dr at the clinic who doubled his sedatives. Oh and that's another thing that makes him angry - all the pills he has to take ...

Thanks guys you are all helping greatly.

caramel1 Sat 11-Aug-12 15:51:06

My XH was a HUGE drama queen, I left him when his emotional abuse affected my mental health.

He did try and commit suicide but unfortunately I found him. It did make me feel sorry for him, but by that time he'd pissed me off so much that there was no way I would go back to him. My oldest son was deeply traumatised because I had both my boys with me.

The recommended course of action with someone who threatens suicide, is to call the police and let them deal with it, it's better for you that way.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Sat 11-Aug-12 16:02:49

You poor woman. That is awful behaviour.

His threatening suicide (and blaming you for 15 years of his ills) is indeed emotional abuse.

I hope you can stop trying to take care of him and focus instead on taking care of yourself: you deserve it. Furthermore, only you are responsible for your own well-being -- exactly in the same way as he is responsible for his own well-being.

You might find some of the links at the start of this thread useful.

Anifrangapani Sat 11-Aug-12 16:12:14

I typed out a really long reply. Then I deleted it because it can be summed up along the lines of he is behaving like a toddler. Depresion does not cause or excuse bad behaviour or responsability. He needs to grow up.

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