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I need to talk to someone normal about my husband.

(164 Posts)
FeelingLousyAgain Fri 11-Jan-13 20:28:33

Normal people over here please! grin (tongue in cheek)

I am in a bad place with my husband. Basic story: married 15 years, 2 dc aged 10 and 9. I have been, at various times in our marriage, in full time work, part time work, voluntary unpaid work and as a SAHM (the last two overlap). We spent the last three years with me re-training for a new career, and I qualified this year. I'm now working f / t (flexible hours). New job meant a move of house, so moved to a new area in my home county and the county that DH knows best. DH has long term clinical depression, but says it's fine and under contro lwithmeds at the moment.

So far so good (except the depression). Except that, since we moved and I started my new job, dh has been mostly v. emotionally distant - he says he feels 'numb'. He had a big depressive episode in Sept-Oct, and it was absolutely horrible. He talked then about leaving me. He withdrew a lot over Christmas and I got quite worried about him from a MN POV, and started thinking about whether his meds were enough etc.

On New Year's Day I mentioned that, now that we are living in a nice big house with a big garden, we might think about getting a dog. His response was that he didn't want to complicate our lives with a dog. I asked if he felt that life was too complicated, and he responded by saying that for weeks, he'd been thinking about whether he still wanted to be with me. He said 'We'll always have a good relationship, even if the marriage fails', and 'I don't want you to think that I haven't thought of the kids in all of this.' His reason that he gave was that he didn't feel as though he has a role in our relationship any more, he's seen how capqable I am and he doesn't feel needed.

I was really shocked as I had no idea that he'd think this - I had thought that the October episode was an abberation. I was really upset and cuoldn't sleep that night. Next day, I went back to bed for a bit to catch up on sleep and he came in, and we talked - he ended up saying that he is committed to our relationship.

Then last night something sparked another conversation - I am struggling with my workload and have been ill over the last few weeks. He started off by responding positively, but then started saying that my workload is affecting our relationship and I' dbetter sort it out soon, before there's no mariage left to save. (I work about 45 hours a week). I said that sounded like a threat and he didn't really respond.

I have access to counselling through my work, and last night dh agreed to counselling, so I emailed the counsellor today but I haven't heard back yet.

The reality of dh's feelings (or lack) has hit me hard, and I've felt v. down today. Dh got home from work, tookone look at me, said 'You're not right'. Aftre a bit of chat I told him how hurt and upset I am with him. He ate his dinner in silence then went to bed at 7.30pm. We had talked about having sex tonight. sad

Sorry it's so long. I just need to talk to someone who is normal and not me, or dh. My friends are all too far away (because we moved). What do I do? Dh has said I haven't done anything wrong. I'm more or less 100% sure that there isn't anyone else involved.

SugarPasteSnowflake Fri 18-Jan-13 19:20:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FeelingLousyAgain Tue 29-Jan-13 09:26:18

Hello again, thank you everyone who posted earlier this month. I truly appreciate your taking the time to post! thanks

So, DH and I have more or less decided to split. Now that we are here, DH is being lovely and sensitive and saying (I'm sure he really means it) that he wants to split in as amicable way as possible. I think now that the depression wasn't / isn't the root issue, but probably made / makes things worse - the root issue is that we have both changed so much since we got married, and have grown into people who really aren't compatible in some major areas of our lives. This has been / is very hard to face up to, but we both think it's true, and we've had some very honest, long conversations about what's gone wrong etc. We both feel that if we split now, we can stay on good terms, but if we stay together, we'll end up hating each other.

I had a week of absolute hell when I just cried so much and mourned. I'm feeling a bit stronger now, but still very vulnerable and slightly caved-in inside. I also think that in a practical sense, the reality of it has yet to hit, I think - he's not moved out yet, and in the meantime we are being very gentle with each other. I'm taking each day at a time, but the support of MN is very helpful. So thank you! smile

MarinaIvy Thu 07-Feb-13 15:52:17

FeelingBetterNow (you see what I did there - you've got to change your name!) - good to hear things are being resolved. It's still going to hurt, and even though you're parting, he'll still have plenty of opportunity to continue the manipulation. I've been reading a lot lately about the emotional abuse both present and EX-husbands put their wives through, and I guess all I'm saying is combination of keep treating yourself well and staying alert.

garlicblocks Thu 07-Feb-13 16:04:58

I will read your thread in more depth later. I wanted to pile in before doing so. I have severe clinical depression and am far from unsympathetic to sufferers, or to people close to them. But I am very cross with your husband - he's giving the rest of us a bad name!

He says he couldn't cope with living alone. And he can't cope with living with you. So what's he telling you, he wants to live with someone else or he wants you (and the kids) to radically change to suit him?

Fuck him. Either way.

I do agree that counselling on you own may be very helpful. I'm sorry you feel so isolated with this confusing problem; fortunately, we can hire counsellors to be very wise company.

garlicblocks Thu 07-Feb-13 16:09:17

Oh, gawd, things moved on while I wasn't looking blush I am sorry!

Miggsie Thu 07-Feb-13 16:21:30

The bottom line is, that if the boot were on the other foot and he was the one with the huge workload - would he expect you to be 100% supportive? I expect he would.

I assume he has an inner model where he sees women as inferior and defines himself as "not a woman" therefore you being more qualified and earning more has completely thrown his view of himself. He has no way of defining his role in life now he has become the secondary breadwinner - I assume this would be the root of his depression?

He will need to completely revise his world view, including how he values himself. If he sticks to his mental model of men being defined as "not a woman" then he can't ever get over this issue. He will need to rethink his own inner values.

The problem isn't what you are or do, it is how he views it in relation to himself.

He is basically wanting a woman who is lower than him in status and earning potential, this is why he thinks he can't remain married to you - I suppose he thinks it will be easier to put you back down below him than for him to acknowledge that the male/female gender construct he holds in his head is damaging your relationship. the next option for him is to ditch you and get a lower status spouse.
Both these options mean he doesn't have to challenge or deal with his inner mental model of the world.

I earn far more than DH - he is quite happy with that, I am also better qualified, he is happy with that, we take the view that if someone is best at something they should do it, regardless of whether it is supposedly "male" or "female" to do so.
DH cooks and irons and does woodwork.
I do household wiring, and anything technical - but I also sew.

We both get the benefits of this and we both benefit from our shared, earned income.

Logically it is totally unimportant who earns what if you are truly a partnership, it looks like your DH wants to stick to safe, defined roles, and he can't cope once the partnership has gone outside that territory. If he can't get over that then your marriage can't function. The issues, however, are his.

Miggsie Thu 07-Feb-13 16:22:50

Whoops - just saw your last post - looks like he does not want to change or grow, so it is over then, no question.
He will like you as a high status friend - just not as a partner - how sad.

Unfortunatlyanxious Thu 07-Feb-13 16:29:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Unfortunatlyanxious Thu 07-Feb-13 16:32:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicblocks Thu 07-Feb-13 16:39:27

I started a trend wink

Sorry you're on a down, Unfortunatly. Wishing you nice thoughts and gentleness.

FeelingLousyAgain Thu 07-Feb-13 16:45:37

Hello all smile. How weird that you both posted today, Garlic and Marina - I have just logged on to say 'Help!!!!' again. Tbh, I made it sound a bit too nice and sorted in my last post - it isn't, and I am still feeling terrible. I could really do with some advice. Warning: long!!!! smile

Here's what's happened: I went to see a counsellor in my own, and it was like the grand ripping off of a huge sticking plaster. After the session, loads of stuff came to mind that I'd stuffed down - his previous threats to leave (which started a month after our wedding), the three or four times he's said he never wants us to have sex again (over the years), all the rejection and moods and so on. I have never felt so low, or so vulnerable.

Then last week I could feel the emotional pressure building up inside me. H and I were having long, in-depth conversations every evening. Some really painful stuff came out. I said that I felt like he only sees me sexually in terms of what I can do for him; he agreed. He said that he feels that we are basically completely incompatible sexually, and that although he appreciates the effort I've made over the years to put his sexuality before mine, it's never really going to work. He said that if we'd slept / lived together before we got married (I came from a very strict religious background), he'd never have married me. I said that I think that even if we can get through this 'episode', we'll be facing the same issues three years down the line; he agreed. I said that he's always seen himself as the 'head of the house' and me as his subordinate; he agreed. I said that this scuppers any chance of being able to really communicate, as the default position that's hard-wired into him is that he's right and I'm wrong. sad

I'm reading a book at the moment - it's E. M. Forster's 'Howard's End', a beautiful novel, and there's one line in there about a character who has a short-lived fling which 'killed a nerve inside her', and tbh, that's how I feel about my marriage - as though the nerve that has kept me accommodating myself to h has been killed. sad

So, last weekend, I asked him to move in with a relative for a while. He did, and I've spoken to him on the phone a few times. He had a last-minute about-face, and having said that he couldn't give me any assurance of his commitment to me, he then said that he didn't want to go. But it felt too late - the ship in me has already sailed, it feels.

To complicate things, we had a marriage counselling session last week (different counsellor), that focused mainly on him, his depression, and his inability to deal with change. The counsellor said that she could really help him with all of this. He was obviously vulnerable; this is the first time ever he's seen a counsellor or talked properly about his depression. I spoke to her in the phone, and told her that he has temporarily moved out, and asked if we should still come - she said yes, and said she feels there's still hope yet. I felt annoyed, as she didn't even ask me how I was feeling - even then it was all about him. Our marriage counselling session is tonight, and I feel sick at the thought.

So I feel terrible - I feel like I'm being the baddie, chucking h out when he's saying he wants to try and save the marriage, and when he is genuinely within grasp of starting to address his depression. I feel cynical hearing the counsellor say there's hope, and thinking 'oh yeah?' hmm. I wish I had it in me to save him - to get him out of his depression and to re-programme his brain from all the patriarchal nonsense he grew up with and turn him into a nice guy to grow old with. But I'm not sure I have, or that I can. If it were only the depression, I could cope with that, I'm sure. But there is so much else going on in him.

The only person in RL who has heard quite a lot of the story is my sister (who is incredibly religious and conservative) and she understands why I've had enough. My parents keep trying to persuade me to have him back. They are lovely, but they aren't helping right now. My friends and colleagues are being lovely and sweet. The kids are happy as normal, and haven't really noticed. I'm quite enjoying being the sole adult of the house, tbh smile.

I don;t know where to go from here, tbh. WWYD? (Thanks for reading all this! thanks)

EldritchCleavage Thu 07-Feb-13 16:49:43

I think if your response to feeling numb is to push someone else's emotional buttons instead, that's a feature of character rather than illness

I agree wholeheartedly.

He said yesterday that I've been too down and that I need to cheer up, and that if I were happier, he'd be happier too

Fuck me! That's just proved the SGB 'cock' hypothesis for me.

You are responsible for his wellbeing, the children's wellbeing, the household, and none of your needs are being met. I expect he is depressed, but he is very probably a total cock as well.

I wouldn't actually ask him what he thinks/feels/wants, so much as explain to him what YOU think/feel/want, because it doesn't sound as though he is going to take your feelings and your interests into account unless you plonk them in front of him.

EldritchCleavage Thu 07-Feb-13 16:56:35

I'm so sorry, I hadn't read all the thread when I posted so my post is inappropriate. I do apologise.

FeelingLousyAgain Thu 07-Feb-13 17:00:21

No need to apologise, eldritch! FWIW, it didn't even cross my mind that your post was inappropriate! (Maybe I'm thick-skinned?) grin

CartedOff Thu 07-Feb-13 17:02:59

I feel like it needs to be pointed out that not all counsellors are good counsellors, and neither will all of them be the right fit. You don't have to keep going to see this person if you don't want to: you are under no obligation to see them. If you come away from this next session feeling like this person isn't right for you then you don't have to go again, your husband can see them on a one-to-one basis for his issues. I would be wary of going to joint counselling if the person leading it focused disproportionately on one of us and after one session felt free to tell me there was "still hope".

coppertop Thu 07-Feb-13 17:20:17

If your dh is genuinely interested in dealing with his mental health, there's no reason why he can't do that while he is living elsewhere. Why on earth should you and your children have to put your happier new lives on hold while he gets his act together?

This man has told you he can't promise to make any commitment to you, that you are not compatible, and that he shouldn't have married you. He drags you down at every opportunity, and still manages to make it all about him.

Tbh, if the thought of the joint counselling makes you feel ill, cancel it. I would guess that it's a reminder of the bad old days where everything is about dancing to your dh's tune.

Let him play at being lord and master elsewhere.

LittleEdie Thu 07-Feb-13 17:27:08

"Still hope" WTF?!

FeelingLousyAgain Thu 07-Feb-13 17:28:51

Thanks, Coppertop. One thing he said that made me a bit confused was that he'd only address his MH issues if it meant that we might be able to stay together - he said there was no point in him getting help if the marriage is over.

I felt instinctively a bit cross at this, as it puts all the responsibility for his wellbeing on my shoulders (it makes it my fault if he stays unwell) and it seems a bit weird to me, for him not to want to be better for his own sake. I have a long term health condition and there's no way I'd think or say that it's only worth taking my medication if h stays with me.

Am I over-reacting, or was that a weird thing for him to say? It felt coercive in an underhand, almost subconscious way.

I am going to go tonight, if only to clarify where he's at now, and what my next steps should be. CartedOff, you're right - this might not be the right counsellor for me, so maybe tonight might clarify that too.

mummytime Thu 07-Feb-13 17:33:40

Don't go to the marriage counselling session. He sound manipulative, and joint counselling is a good way for someone to control their partner if they can get the counsellor on their side.

He probably targeted (maybe subconciously) you because you came from a religious background, as therefore he had you "trapped" in marriage before he revieled the real him.

CartedOff Thu 07-Feb-13 17:34:35

" he'd only address his MH issues if it meant that we might be able to stay together"

Manipulative as hell. If you stayed with him I'm sure there'd be a fair few "Look at all I've done for you" and "I've put so much work in, why are you still complaining?" style comments thrown in your direction as he uses it against you. If he truly acknowledged that he had issues he'd want to deal with them for his own sake, not as a way of guaranteeing that you remained a couple.

It is coercive.

garlicblocks Thu 07-Feb-13 17:44:27

Nooo, FLA, you're under-reacting if anything! He absolutely was attempting to put all the responsibility for HIS wellness on YOUR shoulders. How absurd. I'm afraid he really is the selfish, self-serving, condescending user you acknowledged in your counselling session. Without for one second underestimating how difficult this is for you - to finally cast a clear light on the power imbalance in your marriage - I'm pleased for you, that you now recognise his blame game for what it is. Truth is strengthening, as you have found while running your household by yourself smile

Your relationship counsellor's rubbish. She should never have assumed she knew what you wanted from the process. I'm rather shocked that she hadn't asked. Offering you "hope" is unprofessional, even if you'd been looking for it.

It must be reassuring to have the support of your sister and friends. Have they said anything specific yet? (They will!)

FeelingLousyAgain Thu 07-Feb-13 18:26:16

The thing is, I really don't think he realises he is being coercive. His parents stayed together 'for the children' and his mother was eaten up with resentment for his father. She was the main influence on him. He grew up in such toxic environment, and I think these things are hard- wired into him, and when he's stressed or depressed, it's the way he responds. I think he thinks it is normal to be like this.

Thanks for your support, everyone. You are really helping me! smile

FeelingLousyAgain Thu 07-Feb-13 18:27:35

My sister was very understanding and didn't lambast him but didn't excuse him either. Friends are all much the same; although I haven't gone into as much detail with them as I have on here.

garlicblocks Thu 07-Feb-13 18:44:20

I really don't think he realises he is being coercive ... He grew up in such toxic environment ... these things are hard-wired into him

Yes. That's how it works sad He wouldn't be able to 'just' change, even if he wanted to. It takes years of pretty unpleasant therapy. It's possible his emotional numbness came from tensions between his desired self and the one he grew up to be. Any such thoughts, however, are for him alone should he choose to think them. You simply can't do this stuff for somebody else and it's damaging to try.

Because that is how it works, it's better for your children to see that relationships based on power games don't work, and to learn that one doesn't put up with it.

It's great to hear about your sister. Support like that must be helpful smile

flippingflup Thu 07-Feb-13 18:47:29

You are certainly not 'the baddie'! After all he has said, how can there be hope for the marriage? You need to tell the counsellor what you want. They can help towards an amicable split.
Only going to seek help if you stay together- very controlling, very unfair.
Good luck xx

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