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Given DP ultimatum

(39 Posts)
TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 11:44:01

I've reached the end of my tether and given DP an ultimatum this morning to get counselling, or it's over. I'm scared he will refuse, but there is literally nothing else I can do. We've been together 15 years and have small DC. We have the same arguments over and over again - if I try and bring up an issue I have in the most gentle, considered and reasonable way, looking for a discussion, he will become instantly defensive, indignant, and inflame the situation to an argument ... flounce off and leave me in silence, often for several days. I can't take any more of it. I can't live with a sulky child any longer. The DC are starting to notice the silences. He witnessed horrible arguments between his parents when he was growing up, and I'm convinced that his experiences then have been spilling into our relationship now, and ruining it. It's as though he feels compelled to sabotage his own happiness.

Not sure why I'm posting. I think I'm doing the right thing and am totally prepared to go through with it, of course. But I don't want to. I don't want our little family to fall apart. sad

Brightlydoesit Wed 10-Apr-13 12:17:23

Don't really have any advice for you but just to say you are not alone. My ex DP was exactly like this and in the end I was so frustrated and resentful that I felt I simply couldn't raise any issues without it turning into a blame game and then the type of behaviour you have to deal with

It's horrible. We split a couple of days ago and I'm struggling to get over him but it couldn't go on like that. I hope you are able to sort it, at least I was lucky and no DC involved. Take care

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 12:23:41

Thanks, Brightly. I'm glad you feel you've made the right decision. He's texted back (yes, I did it by text but it was in reply to something else) saying "Thank you for that. I think that's what's called 'defensively inflaming the situation'" (which I had accused him of doing whenever I try and discuss an issue with him).

Can he not see that I'm desperate and this is the only option I have left??

Brightlydoesit Wed 10-Apr-13 12:32:44

Has he always been like that? 15yrs is a long time to be with someone like this. I managed just over 3. In the end mine had me convinced it was all me and I started to believe him. How does he react if you apologise not that I'm suggesting you should but I know mine still had the huff or worse even then

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 12:46:41

I used to apologise a lot more than I do now, just to smooth things over or, as you say, because he had me convinced that I was the one with the problem. I won't apologise now just for the sake of it. So I guess that's why things have been getting worse.

He's just sent another long text about "my sense of justice" being "easily bruised" and I'm not "robust" - which I've given a terse reply to. Not going to continue this by text. He's often come out with this term "robust debate", which he feels is a normal part of a relationship, but is a euphemism for "arguing, being mildly abusive and trying to gaslight.". He claims that if I had my way there would be no disagreements in our relationship at all, ever, which is completely untrue. It's the way he disagrees with me - his tone, manner, dismissive, belitting words - that I can no longer deal with.

cheapskatemum Wed 10-Apr-13 12:46:54

Hi TT, I'm posting because I recently gave DH an ultimatum too. It's on AIBU & no one who replied thought I was being unreasonable. It was about something completely different - he's worked abroad for the last 4 years or so, all through our 4 DSs teenage years & now his latest job's come to an end I asked him to come home & work from UK, otherwise marriage (got married 18 years ago, but together much longer) over.

I thought he'd see how desperate I was, but he just really resented the ultimatum. I capitulated & it became a request. I have good male friends and one of them has told me that you must always leave a man a way out. I empathise with your post and I guess you've tried persuading him to go to counselling in less confrontational ways. Why do you think he is so against the idea of it?

TheOrchardKeeper Wed 10-Apr-13 12:48:47

He's clutching at straws because you've stood up to him.

At least that's how it reads.

I mean, how dare you want to have a healthy relationship with him hmm

Sorry you're in this mess OP. It must feel rotten but you've done the right thing thanks

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 12:56:04

Thanks - yes I have tried requesting/persuading him before, cheapskate. I wouldn't just give him an ultimatum about it out of the blue. We briefly went to joint counselling last summer, it didn't really make much difference in itself, though since then things have for some reason been on a better track, until recently. But I know they're not just going to magically fix themselves somehow. We need outside input imo.

Money is a big issue for why he doesn't want to go ... think he is also resentful that I see him as the one with the problem and the one who needs to change. I honestly believe I'm a nice person, generally easy to live with.

My great hope is that he'll go to counselling, finally realise how much his childhood experiences are affecting him now, how utterly unfair it is on me that his pain and resentment from then affects me/us now and that I bear the brunt of it.

But I'm well aware I might be being totally naive and unrealistic here, and that he'll just never change. sad

TheOrchardKeeper Wed 10-Apr-13 12:59:53

if he's been like that for 15 years the chances don't look great, especially if he's reacting this way to the mere suggestion.

You could just leave him to it, with the ultimatum on the table & let him either carry on (in which case you know it's a lost cause) or he'll come to his senses.

cheapskatemum Wed 10-Apr-13 13:36:22

Are you sure it's just coincidental that things went on a better track post counselling? Could you point this out to him? If your GP refers you, you are entitled to 6 counselling sessions free of charge. I don't know whether this applies to couples, but you could enquire as this would alleviate the money difficulty side of things. Also, some Christian charities offer marriage counselling at vastly reduced rates, sometimes a voluntary contribution of what you feel you can afford.

Lueji Wed 10-Apr-13 14:48:30

I think even counselling is a dead horse.
He got better and then worse again.
At this point he doesn't recognise his role in the marriage problems, or that being confrontational is a problem at all.
First, he has to be aware he has a problem.

bobbywash Wed 10-Apr-13 15:15:12

Just a thought, but if the joint worked a bit, try giving it another go. If he sees himself as being nagged or blamed, he will be defensive (which is normal for anyone) and therefore less likely to help or see it as "his" problem

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 15:52:31

Cheapskate, I didn't know you could get referred for free counselling - that is really interesting and I'll investigate. Thanks. But also, would the Christian charities you mention be interested in counselling heathens such as DP and I?! grinHope we wouldn't have to pledge on the bible first ...

Lueji, he does admit he has a problem to some extent. When we make up after an argument he says things like "I don't know why you put up with me" ..."Sorry I'm the way that I am" "I know I'm hell to live with", etc etc. He said today that he feels depressed because he "knows what's at stake here" - i.e. seeing his kids rarely, and possibly having to move away to get work. So if he knows what's at stake, why the hell can't he stop being rude to me? Stop jumping to put blame on people so quickly (both me and the DCs). I've suggested in the past that maybe he was unfairly blamed for something in his childhood because he sometimes seem to go to any lengths these days to ensure the finger is not pointing at him - even when there's really nobody to blame for a situation. He pretty much dismissed that idea, but I would hope a skilled counsellor could get to the bottom of stuff like that ... I know, I know, I am trying to "fix" him, and the only person who can do that is him.

bobby, the joint counselling was unbelievably hard to get to, with childcare issues- part of the reason why we only managed 6 sessions. So many favours had to be called in and I'd be worried about depending on other people like that again. I am willing to go to individual counselling too if that's what he wants, but with horribly meagre funds and the fact that he's the one with the dodgy childhood full of nasty incidents, the patterns from which he seems to be repeating now, it makes common sense to me that he should be the one to go first ...

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Apr-13 16:36:28

Does he just argue with you or is he generally quarrelsome with others? Does he flounce off just for you or does he do the same thing with his workmates, boss or other people? Does he only give the silent treatment to you or does he blank other people who he's annoyed with?

If, as I'd suspect, it's the former each time, then he's choosing to behave the way he does and the behaviour probably has very little to do with his parents or any desire to self-sabotage. BTW the 'I'm hell to live with' get-out is not a sincere apology.... it's a version of 'this is me, I'm not changing, so lump it'....

Koyangwuti Wed 10-Apr-13 16:39:02

Being as everyone else is taking the same side, which is the easy side to take, and may well be the right one, I will play a little devil's advocate.

I do think that in a healthy relationship people need to be able to disagree, and be content that the other person believes differently on any given issue. Anything short of that is an act of control and nobody likes to feel controlled, either aggressively or passively. With that in mind I think it really depends on what the disagreements are about. Is it a big enough deal to end things over or not? Personally I have a fairly short list of serious things that I require my spouse to be in agreement on--the sorts of things we all expect a husband to agree on or we would not be with them in the first place, like being faithful, good to the children, not ruling with violence, and so on. The other stuff can be ignored and here is why: no two people are without loads of things with which they will disagree. If you are always busy arguing I do not think it is that you do not have enough in common so much as the conversations are always focusing on the wrong topics. Focus on the good and what you have in common, because it is that which brought you together in the first place and it is that which will bring you closer. Any couple could find an inexhaustible supply of things to argue about if they wanted to do that.

Men will defend their positions, and why shouldn't they? If it is something so big that you will never be able to handle it, then you'll have to break up. If not, the fighting, the belittling words, the uncomfortable tones and so on tends to stop when the insistence on debating the topic of disagreement stops. He doesn't want to have to fight tooth and nail for his view, and in getting tired of it he gets sloppy, and becomes a jerk. I don't excuse him for that, but I also do not excuse a woman for putting him in that position. Counseling. Hmm. I've heard of times when it has worked. But I think if we are honest with ourselves, when we decide we want to go to counseling it tends to be because we are hoping the counselor will take our side and thereby convince him we are right by his being outnumbered. More often than not counseling does not work as the man feels entitled to have a different view than his partner and efforts that dig in further to change it only make him dig in further to resist what he sees as the woman being controlling.

If he's bad for you, he is bad for you, and you need to find your way out. But a huge part of me hates to see relationships go bad, especially after fifteen years.

ScarletWomanoftheVillage Wed 10-Apr-13 16:56:45

Joint counselling, though, would ensure you were both listened to and heard. And you both would have to listen to, and hear, each other. So you could say, in that structured environment, what bothers you about his behaviour and he would have to hear you, and he could say what he wants to say about robustness etc.

It could then be decided if you would both benefit from him having counselling, or if you need to continue to address it as a marriage problem, which it may be, or if you each need individual counselling.

Your ultimatum is really saying to him you have had enough of things the way they are and you need him to commit to something which will change things for the better. You are giving him the ultimatum to see if your marriage means enough to him to do as you have asked and take notice.

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 17:21:46

Cogito, me, his mother, and his father. That's about it. They've always had problems and long periods of not speaking to each other. He has had problems with colleagues/bosses, though not to the same extent.

Koyang, your post was thoughtful and considered and made me smile. Thank you. smile (You're American, right?! grin)

I agree absolutely that couples need to be able to disagree - it's a normal part of a relationship, despite DP maintaining that I must want total peace and calm all the time - this is rubbish. But those disagreements don't have to turn into nasty arguments, which is what he seems to think has to happen! He can't seem to argue respectfully. But yes, the things we argue about are generally trivial.

I know it might sound patronising that I want to pack him off to counselling to fix him, but I really don't think it's because I want the counsellor to tell him that I'm right and he's wrong. Honestly. He had some really nasty experiences in his childhood - for example, his parents were arguing when they were all out in the car, he was maybe 10, and his father said he was going to kill them all, indicating a brick wall just ahead which he shouted that he was about to drive into - and DP said not long ago that not a day goes by that he doesn't think about bad things that happened 30+ years ago. This really stunned me. Do you not think it could benefit him to talk about them with a professional, and hopefully realise just how much these events have shaped his life?

"Focus on the good" - I do try and do this and let things go - for example, the way he talks to the kids quite often drives me nuts. He has the default view sometimes that they're just trying to be manipulative and is always talks in a kind of jokey authoritarian way, trying to establish who is at fault ... I want to scream at him "Why can't you just talk to them normally?? About normal things?" But I generally back off from stuff like that, as the DC have two parents and I believe he's entitled to parent his own way, within reason. So I'm not constantly picking him up over tiny things ... He'll be home soon, so I might not get to update for a while ... but thank you. thanks

TheTiler Wed 10-Apr-13 17:43:31

Cogito, I should maybe add that he also has problems with DS1, who's 7, far in excess of any I have with him.

DS1 can be stubborn and a bit sullen sometimes, but DP thinks their arguments are purely a result of DS's personality, rather than the way he may have spoken to DS in asking him to do something ... Read "barked orders at him". He really doesn't seem to see the connection.

Lueji Wed 10-Apr-13 20:38:28

Tbh, I agree with Cogito.
Those don't sound like apologies or even a vague will to change.
He's looking for validation, for you to console him and say he's not that bad.

The same for his "depression" now. It's him looking for your sympathy.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Apr-13 09:01:41

"Cogito, I should maybe add that he also has problems with DS1, who's 7, far in excess of any I have with him."

So what you're saying is that he generally picks on people who he perceives to be smaller and weaker than him.... child, partner, old people... . but when it comes to problems with colleagues/boss i.e. people who are superior or equal to him, he backs off. Classic bully

Another crisp tenner here says that, when he doesn't stand up to bosses/colleagues etc, he comes home and complains like stink how they're 'all out to get him', 'standing in his way' or similar. A thwarted bully tends to hurl blame...

TheTiler Thu 11-Apr-13 09:09:14

No, Cogito, he's not as bad as that. You're extrapolating. I know that many men do follow similar patterns, but they're not identical. He's never come out with any phrases like those ones, for example. He doesn't play the victim like that, or look for pity. And "Old people"?? His parents are barely 60.

It doesn't always help to assume the worst-case scenario. I'm not trying to defend him - just stating facts here. But thank you for giving your view, I do see where you're coming from.

Nothing happened last night, nothing at all. He dealt with the kids, holed himself away in his office and I went up to bed early to read. I was asleep by the time he came up. Yes, I could have gone and confronted him, but I was of the opinion that the ball is in his court at the moment. So another day of limbo.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Apr-13 09:17:53

"DP said not long ago that not a day goes by that he doesn't think about bad things that happened 30+ years ago. This really stunned me. Do you not think it could benefit him to talk about them with a professional, and hopefully realise just how much these events have shaped his life?"

.... you are defending him. When someone has behavioural problems that are negatively affecting their family is their personal responsibility to recognise they have a problem and then fix it. At the moment, he is doing neither. You say you've given him an ultimatum but nothing is happening, you're in 'limbo' and there are zero consequences to his inaction.

celerysalz Thu 11-Apr-13 09:21:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheTiler Thu 11-Apr-13 09:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

olivertheoctopus Thu 11-Apr-13 09:23:58

Oh your poor thing. I got liked this with my DH last year and booked an initial session with Relate and told him he either went or he didn't but if he didn't that was it. The sessions were brilliant and really helped open up the lines of communication and understandign as to why we both behave/respond the way we do and what we can do to change that. I'd love to say that he's been a paragon of virtue since then but he hasn't although a short sharp talking to (and the threat of having to fork out for more £50 session) has got him back on track. I'm not saying things are perfect (when are they ever?) but it did help enormously and give us a sensible platform to move forwards. A lot of the issues with us as to do with his childhood and upbringing shaping his arguably a tad dysfunctional personality and I think those are things he needs to address with a counsellor on his own but one step at a time...

My DH also better to written 'complaints' than oral ones (which descend into rows) and the odd email/handwritten letter has been required to re-focus him. I def recommend booking a session with Relate. Hopefully he will care enough to want to go but if not, you going alone will still be of huge benefit to him. Hugs. It sucks and I hope you get it sorted.

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