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Hw to deal with a DP who sulks?

(90 Posts)
Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 14:50:13

A bit of background: DH is 34, we've been together 4.5 years, married for 1.5. FIL sulks massively whenever he doesn't get his own way and MIL always justifies his behaviour and encourages their dcs to do the same. DH used to be as bad as his dad but through the course of our relationship has improved and now only has one minor sulk every 2-3 months.

He is in one today and it is very minor but its there and its annoying. He's at work today but last night he turned his back on me in bed and wouldn't show any affection (which is always a sign he's sulking) and when he left for work he wouldn't hug or kiss me properly. It might not sound much but for him this is quite cold. I've asked him if there is anything wrong and he's said no, but in a way that its obvious there is something wrong. I think I know the reason why he is upset but its, imo, nothing to get this worked up about and certainly not my fault, more to do with his own insecurities.

So, where do I go from here? Normally when he sulks I ignore his behaviour and do my own thing, but I just cba anymore. His problems stem from his parents putting him down, treating his feelings as though they were worthless and encouraging him to hide his problems. He is committed to changing and has matured so much since I met him. But after putting in so much effort to support him in making these changes I'm exhausted now and just wish he would stop behaving like this.

What do you think?

badinage Sun 17-Mar-13 18:36:05


Miggsie Sun 17-Mar-13 18:45:33

Sounds like he learned some terrible behaviour patterns when young and those are very very difficult to break - he probably wishes he didn't feel so shit but can't work out what to do.

I'd recommend he reads something like the transactional analysis books "I'm ok, you're ok". He obviously has made some progress but seems stuck again - he may need some therapy or CBT or something to replace his old crappy behaviours with newer ones.

It also appears his parents made him feel bad for having feelings, this makes someone really down and depressed - and makes you feel unworthy, so he's feels bad for feeling bad...which makes him feel worse. It may also be that he has realised his low feelings are due to his parents - that gives you guilt for thinking your parents are bad - coming to terms with your parent's terrible behaviour is very difficult - it feels like disloyalty.

I'd minimise contact with the parents.

Interestingly I was reading the "how to talk so a child will listen and listen so kids will talk" and it discusses the effect of heavy blame and criticism on children - your DH sounds like he has always been picked on for not toeing the line with his dad.

BeCool Sun 17-Mar-13 18:57:05

ExP was a sulker. It's unbearable. I doubt he will really change. Sorry you have this problem OP.

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 19:13:02

You all speak a lot of sense. I do feel like his therapist. He uses his best mate like she's his therapist too and I'm surprised she isn't sick of it by now.

We do hope to have children and you're right that this needs to be dealt with before then.

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 19:24:45

Miggsie thanks for the book recommendation. We have recently agreed that we would cut down on the number of times we visited his parents because we were spending hundreds on trips to see them (they live abroad) and we just can't afford it. Most phonecalls end with his dad hanging up on him and he's now learning that when this happens its better to distance himself rather than calling/e-mailing his dad straight away.

ImperialBlether Sun 17-Mar-13 19:38:53

I'm sure his best mate IS sick of him, but is too polite to tell him. Like you, she's living for the times when he's not like that.

Personally I wouldn't be in if a sulker was coming home. I'd leave a note saying "Decided to go out with X for the night. You have ignored me since X o'clock yesterday and to be honest I can't face that tonight. I'll be back at X o'clock tomorrow and if you're still sulking, please stay away until you are over it."

FairPhyllis Sun 17-Mar-13 20:00:49

Tbh I think one of the best things he could do for himself would be not to have contact with his parents. If he gets sucked into reenacting this relationship dynamic every time he talks with them - which then gets taken out on you - then it is not worth it.

And as for you OP I would be seriously considering the future of the relationship. Tbh if I met someone who obviously didn't understand what a normal relationship looked like, was a terrible sulker, 'attacked' my possessions (that's the thing that really worries me here) and made me endlessly talk through his sulking, that would be a non-starter for me. So I don't really understand why you wanted a relationship with him in the first place.

The sulking thing and the making you talk about it afterwards is about control, and controlling men often get worse in pregnancy or after having children, so there is no way I would be having children with someone like this unless he had done some heavy duty therapy to address his patterns of behaviour. At the minimum I would make therapy for this a non-negotiable part of having an ongoing relationship. But I think the chances of him changing are slim. Oh - and don't become financially dependent on him.

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 20:26:04

Normally when he's like this I go out for the day, see my friends or spend some time by myself. Buuut..I just cba with that anymore. I'm staying in tonight smile.

When we first started dating I didn't realise he was like this. By the time I did I was already in a relationship with him, loved him, etc. After the stonewalling incident he said he couldn't believe what a twat he'd been and he promised he would never do that to me again. And he hasn't.

Does not seem likely that I will become pregnant anytime soon. And I control all household finances because he is crap at them, so will never become finacially dependent.

Right, so he's home about 10pm. What do I say to him??

FairPhyllis Sun 17-Mar-13 22:09:23

Well I don't know that 10pm is a good time to have a serious relationship chat with anyone. So I don't have any immediate advice. Although I would refuse to go through the ritual of talking it all through when he comes out of the sulk, and also make that the time when you make it clear the pattern has to stop. It is perfectly OK for you to decide you are no longer willing to put up with this.

If he won't change, you have to ask yourself, is this something that you're going to be completely sick of in a few years' time? Is this something you want him to teach children to do? Will it eventually erode your respect for him? What are the chances he may become more controlling if you have children?

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 22:24:45

Oh my god. Reading back through these replies, I'm having a horrible realisation. Now I think about it, I realise the only reason he comes out of these sulks is because I make him. Because I really can't stand it when he's like this so I'm always the one trying to make things better. He's only managed to apologise without my prompting a handful of times. So how can I say he's changed? He's never had to because I changed to fit around him.

Oh god I'm as bad as my mil, aren't I? I've been enabling him to carry on with this behaviour. I can't believe I've only just figured this out now.

He's still not home.

badinage Sun 17-Mar-13 22:28:28

Yes that's exactly what's been happening.

So time for a change in behaviour from you and to point out the consequences if he doesn't change his. And mean them.

ivegotaniphone Sun 17-Mar-13 22:30:08

Op, if someone upsets him at work does he sulk with them too? Because if he doesn't, then you have your answer.

ivegotaniphone Sun 17-Mar-13 22:32:38

My H has always been a bit of a sulker and this escalated into all sort of unpleasant behaviour almost as soon as DS was born.

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 23:02:16

I don't know whether he is like this with other people. He's still not home so I'm going to text him and find out where he is.

FairPhyllis Sun 17-Mar-13 23:07:22

Better to realise it now than 10 years down the road with DC and no income having become a SAHM, OP.

Pretty much the only thing I thought the relationship had going for it as you described it was that he'd improved a bit. But it turns out he hasn't at all. If you leave him to it, OP, and don't make him come out of it, how long will the sulk go on? Will you be back to being stonewalled for a week?

This is no way to live, OP. Take a look at his father. That is what you have married. Do you want your life to be like that?

Trinpy Sun 17-Mar-13 23:21:43

Well he's come home. He was late because he was helping a woman who'd been in a car accident. No idea why he didn't text or call to let me know.

He's acting like nothing's happened hmm.

badinage Mon 18-Mar-13 01:07:34

Do you believe that's why he was late home Trinpy?

SquinkiesRule Mon 18-Mar-13 03:33:46

My Dh tried the sulk thing on me when we first married, it used to make me feel very uneasy and insecure.
After tiptoeing about him for what seemed like forever I had enough. I didn't want to live that way forever.
When he'd go into a sulk for who the hell knows why and I didn't care, I used to make myself watch something funny on TV, I'd make myself a drink, get a snack and have fun watching right there in front of him and ignore his sulk, and laugh out loud. It used to piss him off something terrible and he'd hide out in the bedroom or garage. Finally he stopped bothering trying to control me with the sulking as I didn't buy into it and carried on my merry little way like it wasn't happening.

yellowbrickrd Mon 18-Mar-13 06:52:26

He's sounding more dodgy with every new post.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 18-Mar-13 07:54:33

"We do hope to have children and you're right that this needs to be dealt with before then."

It won't be dealt with because it gets him several hours/days of undivided attention. He's selfish/childish rather than working through his feelings. Makes perfect sense that he's no good with money. I'm glad you've realised that you're being used and that all your cajoling and persuading and offers to listen to his problems are counter-productive

This man won't change, unfortunately. If you stop giving him the attention he craves he'll find someone else's ear to bend. He already has a willing friend

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 18-Mar-13 08:09:16

And I really wouldn't blame his parents. He may have learned at some stage that the way to get mater and pater to pay him attention is to go into a mood and wait for them... like you... to jolly him out of it. He may regress to that behaviour when he visits them but it's neither an excuse for the behaviour or a good reason to drop contact. They probably find it as irritating as you do

Trinpy Mon 18-Mar-13 12:33:59

He was still denying there was anything wrong, trying to pretend nothing had happened until eventually he admitted that yes, he was upset. I told him everything I've said on here about how I don't think anything's changed and how its always me making the effort. How its emotionally exhausting for me to keep doing this and it can't go on. He kept blocking me out, changing the subject and generally making it all about him, which I realise now he does everytime I try to tell him I'm unhappy with something. So I let him finish and didn't say anything, then made my point again. I've condensed the rest of the conversation and made it like a script because its easier than saying he said/I said over and over.

me: but what I'm talking about isn't anything to do with what you're going on about. I feel like you're not even listening to me.
him: Ok, what's your point?
me: That I can't deal with you behaving like this anymore. You can't just keep withdrawing affection from me and sulking about everything that upsets you - its not normal and its exhausting for me. I need you to tell me if something is on your mind without me having to drag it out from you. If you can't do that then I think we should seperate.
him: So now you're threatening me?
me: No its not a threat, but I can't cope with this anymore. All day you've been at work, without a care in the world and I've been left stressing about this situation. How is that fair?
him: Ok, I'll try harder to change. But you need to change some things to. Lets make a pact.
me: No, I'm not changing anything this time.
him: But you know the things that upset me. If you stop doing them then I wouldn't get upset and I wouldn't behave like this.
me: That doesn't make any sense. Your behaviour is your fault, not mine. Something is always going to upset you. You can't expect me to tiptoe around you just in case I upset you. I can't live like that. And what if we have dcs one day? Do you expect them to be like that to? Everytime we argue about anything, I'm always the one who has to change. I'ev been walking on eggshells since we've moved in.
him: you make me sound like an ogre. When was the last time I even threw anything?
me: Isn't the fact you've thrown anything enough? I didn't want this conversation to go this way. I hoped you would listen to me. But from the start you have ignored me, interrupted me, talked over me and made it clear that you don't really care what I have to say. That's why I'm saying you have to change or we will seperate. Thats not a threat thats just what has to happen.
him: Ok, I understand. I'll change. But what do you expect me to say 'I'm hurt'. I'll sound like a girl. What if you laugh at me?
me: I won't laugh at you. If you want to think things over on your own then thats ok, but you need to let me know. Its never ok for you to punish me by withdrawing all affection and not telling me anything.

Trinpy Mon 18-Mar-13 12:38:58

Sorry for yet another epic post.

He said his mum has called him up on his behaviour before and told him he's becoming like his dad.

But the PIL are manipulative and controlling and have a load of their own issues. They have tried to manipulate me as well as dh.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Mon 18-Mar-13 12:58:45

You handled that really, really well, OP. flowers

laptopwieldingharpy Mon 18-Mar-13 13:03:47

send the child back to his mother

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