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Please help me decide how to handle this

(13 Posts)
GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 13:36:13

NC as regular poster. Where to begin confused

DP and I met on the internet just over 12 years ago. Three months later we'd moved in together, and are still together. On the whole things are pretty good, with just the occasional blazing row. Over the years we have been through so much together, but we have always dusted each other down and are a good team. We have been trying for a child for a long time. He has two, now grown, from a previous relationship. I have none.

In the time we have been together, DP has developed some progressive, longterm health issues. I have stood by him through these, helped in every way I could and supported him (and continue to do so) when it all gets a bit much for him.

Jobwise, we were both out of work when we met. He had told me he had recently left the army, but was desperate to get back in so joined the local TA. We both worked hard to turn the work situation around, and have both ended up in decent jobs with decent wages. That said, work isn't a breeze for him and he constantly feels under threat due to time he needs to take off for his disabilities and related appointments.

When we met, he was very depressed and refused to see anyone about it. He had nightmares every night. They were bad, related to a warzone tour he did. After about two years, they began to taper off. He hasn't had one now for about 6 or 7 years.

Absolutely everything DP does, or experiences, gets compared back to the military, and how civvy street fails to live up to military life. His memories and anecdotes all relate to the military, the people he worked with, the places he went. His photos are, likewise, all military related. He never really talks anymore about the other jobs he says he held down while he was in the military, but they were never a secret.

Sorry, this is turning out to be a lot longer than I intended. Thank you if you have read this far.

About two months ago I was unpacking some boxes left over from last year's house move <slattern emoticon> and found some papers that proved DP was in the army for the time he said (over 22 years), but as a TA reservist, not as a regular. He had a regular 9-5 job in the manufacturing industry. He stayed there for over 20 years, was made redundant, got another job, was made redundant from that, and got a job as a security officer at a military establishment. I haven't seen how or why that ended. It was just before we met.

Everything he ever told me about his time in the military has been confirmed by the paperwork I have found. He hasn't lied about anything other than whether it was his full time job or not.

He's not the kind of person you can just sit down and say 'we need to talk'. I have tried probing by asking questions about his time in manufacturing, how that worked with military service, even asked him details on why he won't get an army pension. He doesn't even need to think twice about answering them, he has answers for everything that fit in with his original story (but that I know to be untrue based on the papers I found). He seems to desperately need to cling on to this manufactured history. Since I started asking the questions though, he has started picking fights every weekend. He is a very insecure person, always has been, and whenever he feels threatened his first course of action is attack (not physically, just verbal - rows, interrogative questioning etc).

Ok, down to my question oh wise and long suffering MNers - the difference between DP's real history and that which he has told me is not any kind of a deal breaker to me. He is who he is, I have had 12 years to get to know him. So, is it worth pushing him into admitting the past, and hoping this will be good for him and help him to feel less insecure because he won't always be worrying about me finding out, or do I let it rest, and give him the dignity of his reinvention?

BeingBooyhoo Mon 15-Oct-12 13:44:51

i would tell him straight what i knew and that you are upset about having been lied to. tell him it isn't any sort of deal breaker and that if he still feels he cant talk about it with you then that's fine and just agree to forget about it and move forward with this fact now out in the open, dont go along with anymore pretence.

however for me i would struggle with trusting what else he may have lied about and i think i would need for him to come clean and talk about why he did lie. maybe you dont need this and can forget about it. i couldn't.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Oct-12 13:46:26

My first instinct is to say that it can't be healthy for someone to live in a perpetual state of mild delusion. My second is to say that if this is his coping mechanism, don't pop the bubble. Which would be my recommendation only he doesn't sound like a man at peace with himself or you for that matter. So, as a coping mechanism, maybe it's not actually working but instead a source of more problems. If he knows at some level that he's being dishonest there must be that constant fear that he'll be outed... hence the aggression.

He probably ought to seek some counselling or other therapy because this is sounds like a knock-on from the depression you mention. Certainly before you introduce any children to the mix. His anger is far too close to the surface at present.

GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 14:09:52

cogito you have hit my dilemma square on the head. No, he is not a man at peace. He would never in a million years agree to counselling though. This is something we would have to work through just the two of us. I am very concerned that it is indeed a source of more problems otherwise I wouldn't even need to question what to do.

BeingBooyHoo I love your first paragraph, it actually sounds achievable. I think the reason it doesn't bother me too much that he lied about this is because we met on the internet, he sent me a picture he was proudest of, I think I may have assumed that was his full time job and I think he may have gone along with that because he preferred to be that person than the one who suffered a string of redundancies. I also told him I weighed 15 pounds less than I did blush Some lies are harder to maintain in person!

BeingBooyhoo Mon 15-Oct-12 14:14:10

could you try something like, "i'm such an idiot, all this time i thought you were a full time soldier, i never realised you were a reservist. why didn't you correct me?" so as giving him the chance to 'own up' without having to feel caught out on a lie? or would he see straight through that?

GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 14:19:32

I think he might see through that BeingBooyhoo, I've started too many sentences recently with 'Was it the regs or the TA you were in?' hmm

<bangs head on desk> I am so useless at this, I really want to do the right thing and I'm just worried I'll make things worse.

claudedebussy Mon 15-Oct-12 14:21:24

i think he has low self esteem and this is a way for him to boost himself.

i think i would say that i saw this paperwork and that you know he was a reservist.

tbh from what i understand, being a reservist is still a huge commitment and really quite involved. not like being full time of course, but still i can see how he would be consumed by it.

so i would tell him that you respect what he did do with the ta, but that you'd rather know the truth and that you don't think any less of him.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Oct-12 14:23:05

If he's still depressed I'm sorry but it's not something you can work through as a couple.. He may need medication or treatment of some other kind. You see, at the moment, you're seriously contemplating placating him by ignoring what you've discovered and letting him carry on with the mild deception. You'd rather go this route of saying nothing than risk more fights.

In a good relationship there should be no subjects that you feel you cannot discuss for fear of a violent response.

BeingBooyhoo Mon 15-Oct-12 14:23:33

i think if the pretence is causing him more stress then i would take the pressure off him and tell him i know and how (so he knew you weren't testing him or snooping). as you said, it isn't a deal breaker and you seem pretty sure of why he did it so he wouldn't need to go into a big long confession about it. just tell him, "i found these papers, i know you were a reservist, there's no need to pretend anymore, do you want to talk about it?"

GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 14:33:13

claudedebussy thank you, I like that.

CogitoErgoSometimes Please don't for a minute think I am suggesting things will get violent. I just hate rows (even though I probably cause about 50% of the ones we do have). I'm also scared of him feeling he has to leave, when that's the last thing that I would want as a result of raising this with him. Regarding the counselling, I know from many years of experience that he simply won't go. Aside from anything else, he has enough trouble taking time off work for his disability-related appointments. That is simply a route he would not take. As you say, the deception is mild. It's gone on so long I imagine he almost believes it himself by now. It makes no difference to our future, but if it (the deception) is causing him stress and pressure I just want to take that off. my dilemma comes from not wanting to cause more stress and pressure than the deception itself is causing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Oct-12 16:04:06

Verbal abuse, rows and 'picking fights' is aggressive, if not actually violent. As you said earlier 'his first course of action is attack'.

My fear is this. Many men manipulate their partners by creating tension in the home which the partner tries to smooth over to keep the peace. Tends to start small with insignificant little things, but once you accept one no-go area for fear of getting an earful it is easy for them to add to the list. The same type of man will use illnesses & 'issues' as a way to exert control, knowing the partner will be forgiving, make allowances, try to find ways to make him happy. Talking about problems is not on the cards because they don't want to change their behaviour - they prefer things just as they are. Being challenged results in aggression. Eventually the partner finds they are doubting their own judgement, 'walking on eggshells' and trying to second-guess everything they say without really understanding how they got to this point.

If you strip away his insecurities & health problems, would you still say this was a reasonable man?

GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 16:23:14

Sorry CogitoErgoSometimes, yes he is a reasonable man. Having lived with him for almost 12 years I do know his character very well, better than he does sometimes. He made a small mistake at the start of our relationship, not knowing that (against all odds) we would survive. My question, given the situation, was simply whether I let him know or just conitnue as though I hadn't found the papers.

As claudedebussy says, he has very low self-esteem and I wanted to use MN as a sounding board for opinions as to whether it was worth dragging the whole thing into the open, in the hope of making him feel a little better, or just to let the whole thing lie since it seems an important illusion for him to maintain.

BeeingBooyhoo again, thanks for your advice. I like your idea of keeping it low-key, making it no big deal but letting him know I know and am happy to talk if he wants to.

GoneFishingWithNoBait Mon 15-Oct-12 16:23:51

*continue, damn fingers!

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