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need perspective

(64 Posts)
smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:00:43

my partner and i are splitting up. We've been together 13 years. In many ways we get on amazingly well, but from the start, we've had these godawful rows. It's pretty much because he's angry with me, and I can understand many instances why. I know I've made many mistakes, but people do, and it's not been like I don't want to do what I can to help things be how he needs or even likes them to be (he's certainly done that for me). But the technicalities of the row are such that, when he explodes in a fit of temper, he's very verbally aggressive, and accuses me of having done/not done things on purpose, not giving a shit about him (this is obviously, how he feels by my not having done/not done the thing that upset him). When I tell him my side of the story, he dismisses it entirely. He tells me it's excuses/bullshit, and continues to what feels like verbally attack me – not let me speak, dismiss everything I say as crap, shout, be verbally abusive, call me horrid names, tell me again what my transgression is and how nasty I am. I get more and more upset because he won't let me say anything, and the row escalates until I manage to leave (he physically blocks me for a long while) because I feel I can't participate in the row. His feeling is that he has told me what he wants from me "nicely" many times. When he sees me not producing the goods over and over again (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't – I'm a working mum and the main carer for our offspring – but that isn't good enough), it makes him feel more and more not cared about, until he explodes. But the upshot is that, in the entire marriage, we have not resolved a single row.

The things he gets upset about were mostly practical things, but also, me "not noticing" what he needed and providing it for me.

He tells me I have never said the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, which is why he has never listened to me – and that I talk a load of crap.

I have tried to keep trying to say my side of the situation, to say it later that day, to bring it up the next day, the next week, the next month, a long time later. I've tried to change the language I use (until I get so upset at him not letting me into the conversation, I revert to classic "what not to say in a row" language). The only thing that has ever calmed him down when he's upset is if I don't say anything at all about my own feelings/my side of the story, but instead, simply focus on him and his feelings.

In other ways, he's been the perfect partner, and he feels that all he has done for me should be evidence that he loves me – I shouldn't need him to listen to me in a row – I should just shut up and do what he wants to prove I love him. But I have felt like I'm the baddie, I'm the crap one who doesn't care/do as much as the other person (for the other person), that I'm always letting the side down. And I have also always felt that it's not me he loves, but a "better" version of me that he's waiting for me to turn into. After all, if he loves me, why won't he listen to me?

We've been to 3 sets of counsellors. No joy.

Little bit more info – I'm messy, he's OCDish, I'm in the moment, he's a planner. In many ways, these opposites come together very well. But I know my lack of organisation really pisses him off.

Apparently, our splitting up is entirely my fault, and he hasn't let me down in any way at all.

What do you all think? Bear in mind that he has really worked hard in our lives together, and although I've worked to my full capacity (which is lesser than his – he's quicker, brighter, better than me at many things), he's felt throughout that I'm not pulling my weight, which he takes as proof that I don't care about him.

CartedOff Sun 10-Feb-13 22:06:06

He's a bully. That's about the long and short of it.

"The only thing that has ever calmed him down when he's upset is if I don't say anything at all about my own feelings/my side of the story, but instead, simply focus on him and his feelings."

He'd be happy if you applied this technique to the whole relationship (hell, to the whole life you share together) and simply did what he wanted. These rows have just been his rage at the fact that you're not changing your behaviour to fit his existence. He's angry that you're not doing what he wants.

Like I said: a bully. An abusive person.

yaimee Sun 10-Feb-13 22:06:43

Of course it isn't all your fault, as in every relationship, I'm sure there has been wrong on both sides.
It sounds like you have both tried hard to keep things together, but sometimes no matter how hard you try, things can't be worked out.
It's so sad and I'm so sorry, but try not to keep replaying things over and over, it won't help, only hurt!

NorksAreMessy Sun 10-Feb-13 22:07:28

He is blaming you for things that are nothing to do with you, but all to do with him.

Time to move to the next stage of your life when you are responsible for your own happiness and nobody tells you otherwise.

Tits and teeth!

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:07:35

Thanks CartedOff.

"These rows have just been his rage at the fact that you're not changing your behaviour to fit his existence."

That rings true.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:08:06

But should I change my behaviour to fit his existence. Isn't that what people do for one another?

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:11:14

NorksAreMessy and Yaimee – Yaimee's right. It does hurt, replaying. But I want to know if I'm "the kind of person no one can live with because I'm so "fucking selfish", as I've been told over and over again. I don't want to feel I should just give up on love forever.

yaimee Sun 10-Feb-13 22:11:27

Does he change his to fit yours?
People comprise, it's not up to one person to change to fit in with the other, its about meeting half way. Is he willing to do this for you?

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:13:18

Well, he doesn't change things about him that are "him" (ie, worrying endlessly about things so not letting anyone else relax if he's wound up), but he has done a lot for "us" and me – realised things that made my life easier.

He feels he has gone past half way, and I have not come close. But like I said, I'm working at full capacity. If I was how he wants me to be, I'd live every moment with a board and checklist and could think of nothing else.

CartedOff Sun 10-Feb-13 22:16:18

"But should I change my behaviour to fit his existence. Isn't that what people do for one another?"

Not in a situation like this, no.

I was once in a relationship with someone with similar behaviour. It was years ago but I remember very clearly the semi-amused bewilderment that came when listening to this guy rant about something I'd done wrong, that I had no clue about. I'd just be going about my life and then bam, fury. Once, he had a massive go at me about the fact that I was coming back to his house, despite the fact that he'd been hinting at it all evening. Eventually you realise that there is no way to make them happy! It can't be done. There will always be something that you're doing wrong!

There just isn't any way to change your behaviour to make him happy without sacrificing yourself in the process, second-guessing everything and becoming downtrodden.

He has had you put into some tiny little category at selfish girlfriend/eventual partner since Day one, by the sounds of it. Not because that's what you are but because that's what he needs to believe to justify his shitty, awful behaviour. He has perpetually made himself out to be the victim when it's you who has become the victim of his manipulations.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:19:20

Carted, Everying you are saying makes sense.

"He has had you put into some tiny little category at selfish girlfriend/eventual partner since Day one" He thought of me as selfish since before we were together. He's very critical, of lots of people. Was your mad ex always criticising others, too?

yaimee Sun 10-Feb-13 22:19:55

Well to me, having that kind of expectation isn't meeting half way at all, it's expecting you to change entirely.
Making you feel as though you haven't tried hard enough is a big issue too, you can only do your best, if this isn't good enough, realistically what more can you do.
He may have done a lot for you but I'm sure you've done a lot too, all you owe him is your best effort, it sounds like you've given him that and more. It sounds like it's time to draw a line now.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:24:12

Yaimee – I've hit a brick wall and that's why I ended it. I actually feel I can't do more, and I'm feeling very exhausted and have very little emotional energy. I live in fear of rows starting because, when his temper flares, I know there is nothing I can do to avoid the row except "give in" – sooner or later.

I'm so relieved to hear all this from you and CartedOff. My friends say similar things, but when strangers tell you the same, that is good perspective.

Thanks so much.

LemonDrizzled Sun 10-Feb-13 22:26:00

smells I lived with a man like yours for 28 years. He was cleverer and kinder and harder working than me, and I always felt I wasn't good enough. Eventually I was so miserable I behaved really badly and decided to leave. Guess what? It wasn't me at all. I am actually a capable kind fun person in my own right.

Your H is being impossible demanding trying to make you into something you are not. A lot of what you say about him resonates with me. Have a look at the links on the EA support thread as you will recognise a lot of his behaviour.

It maybe that despite your best efforts you would both be happier apart. You could find someone who appreciates you for who you are and doesn't want to change you, and he could find the paragon Stepford wife who would put up with him and live up to his standards!

CartedOff Sun 10-Feb-13 22:26:48

It was mostly me. But he'd go off on other people occasionally and in childish ways for doing something wrong. The worst was saved for me though, especially when he'd been drinking: the criticisms were ridiculous and impossible to negotiate with. I was mostly "rude" and "immature." I never realised just how fucked up it all was until a long time afterwards. I think what you'll probably find hardest to accept is that actually you are quite a giving and caring person who for a long time has tried to make your partner happy but not sacrifice the children's happiness/care in the process. You're not selfish at all. But 17 years under that label has probably filled you with doubt.

Have you noticed yourself over the years becoming more and more giving in certain ways in order to fend off this crime of "selfishness" and prove yourself to him?

yaimee Sun 10-Feb-13 22:29:27

Be brave op and keep your chin up, don't allow him to make you feel as though this will happen in every subsequent relationship, it won't.
Sometimes relationships don't work, sometimes people are incompatible, sometimes men are bastards
It isn't all you, you aren't selfish and you will be happy again!

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:34:32


I feel I am a kind and capable person, but him telling me otherwise for such a long time has really made me doubt myself. But when he shouts, I don't even understand what he is telling me about me. Yet I wonder if he's right – I am inherently selfish (I always felt there was something wrong with me as a child, which would explain why I was ostracised) and no one will ever want anything to do with me again.

What is EA – emotional abuse? It's difficult to think of him as an emotionally abusive person (am I a typically emotionally abused person for thinking this way?). But I can imagine him with a stepford wife!!!

tallwivglasses Sun 10-Feb-13 22:35:13

He's done a great job on you, hasn't he. You actually believe this bully is better than you shock

Let him blame you for the break up. Smile sweetly. Tell him you're setting him free to find little miss doormat perfect.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:36:07

Carted, What a fucking wanker.

Perhaps I will also realise how fucked up it has been later. I am finding it hard to accept I'm not what he says I am... Yes, filled with doubt. Trying to get perspective.

Yes, I've tried to do all sorts of things to "prove" myself, but it turns out they were never the right things!

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:36:53

Yaimee – thanks

I need to hear this.

Thank you.

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:38:22

Tallwivglasses, yes, I suspect he's done a fantastic job on me.

But I really think he actually believes what he says about me. In that moment, and then forever after, he believes it truly, I feel. I don't think this is calculated. I think he NEEDS to feel like that.

zcos Sun 10-Feb-13 22:45:51

I was in a similar situation some years ago ... the ocd thing rings true for me ... I used to disorganised his cds when I got angry with him. We split and it wasn't until I was with my now dh that I realised it doesn't need to be that hard! yes relationships need to be worked at its not all smooth sailing but it doesn't need to be sooo hard either just because you love them. I felt traumaticised for years after and it took me a lot to trust dh and believe he wouldn't let me down too. but I'm so glad I moved on I felt like a cloud had lifted 2 weeks after I managed to stop seeing was hard even after we moved out of the flat we shared!
this won't be easy but take courage!

OxfordBags Sun 10-Feb-13 22:57:50

The reason why you felt like that as a child is because there was some sort of abusive element to your childhood, even if it is not immediately apparent or obvious to you if you casually cast your mind back. This abusive element that created that thought in your mind also pre-disposed you to doubt yourself when a partner emotionally abuses you and to believe him.

Everything you say about him is classic EA stuff. All your reactions, beliefs and questions about shouldn't you change, perhaps it is your fault, magnifying trivial flaws in your personality to blame yourself instead of him, etc., etc., are classic reactions to EA.

What you need to realise is what he says, how he talks and acts and reacts, are not actually anything to do with you, they are to do with the object he calls My Woman. He would be this way, say these things, accuse such crap to any woman in a relationship. Any sort of response, behaviour, personality would get the same treatment. He needs to be like this to feed some sort of need within himself, to heal some inadequacy of personality that makes him need to diminish and punish the person closest to him to make himself feel bigger and better than them. His criticism of others too is merely him trying to make himself feel better. He does not want to hear your side of things because he doesn't care and nothing will stop him being like this or alter the victim dialogue of him good, you bad that he has fixated upon. You are not a real person to him, merely something that allows him to act out this pathetic need within him. Everything you write screams that about him.

You are well rid of him. Well done for getting out. You could do with some counselling/therapy to repair the battering to your self-esteem that this bastard has wrought.

AnyFucker Sun 10-Feb-13 22:57:54

oh yes, he's worked hard all right

at emotionally abusing and bullying you until you question what is right and wrong

love, it's him not you and I really hope you keep this dysfunctional relationship in the past

smellslikemiddleagedspirit Sun 10-Feb-13 22:59:08

zcos, thanks for your post.

I don't think my ex has packed his CDs yet wink

I've felt from the start that it shouldn't be so hard, but he's made me feel that I am, without my knowing it, because I'm so utterly selfish, the one that's making it hard.

I'm scared of having 2 dependents on my own, after years of being told how crap i am. But something in me knows I can do it. Just got to keep going.

I'm so happy to hear that you've found someone that loves you right, and that you've managed to trust him. I can't imagine getting there, but I'll keep reading this thread...

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