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Recently separated from EA H but he has MH issues. Do I give him another chance? (LONG)

(18 Posts)
BusyHomemaker Thu 18-Apr-13 20:25:11

I left my EA H at the beginning of Feb, with our now 18mo daughter and dog. I have organised a home for us (which I love) and am starting to apply for full time jobs. My H has supervised (by his family) access with DD for 3 hours a week. The first few times DD was quite subdued after these sessions and I fear that H was quite emotional in front of her. Recently the visits have gone well and last time he even took her to the park. It is clear that their relationship is improving, which is a relief.

We were together for 4 1/2 years, married for 2 1/1 of those. H has a history of depression, however, I only discovered in December that this goes back at least 12 years... pretty much his whole adult life. He has never completed a course of antidepressants nor talking therapy, in fact, he has confided in me in the past that he never properly engaged with his counsellors. Having researched severe depression I have discovered that it runs in cycles but is curable if therapy is seen through to the end of it's course. Starting and stopping antidepressants (which my H has done intermittently throughout his adult life) can make the condition much worse.

My H was incredibly angry after separating and I was afraid to be in direct contact of him. A few weeks ago we ended up having to speak on the phone and he was much calmer and rational. Since then we have communicated via email to discuss the grounds for separation - I felt he was ready for a proper explanation and so I told him why I felt he drove us away. (Without going into too much detail, he had become increasingly abusive and I was afraid he was going to start hitting me) He was incredibly apologetic. We have arranged to go to mediation to become better co-parents. I have told him I would be willing to go to Relate in the future to work on our relationship as separated parents and also to explore the possibility of reconciliation, although I am still unsure of how I feel about this.

A couple of days ago I was in town with DD and she had lost her favourite toy. I was searching for it when we bumped into H. I burst into tears (not floods!) and explained we'd lost the toy so he helped us look for it. We then went for a coffee, the three of us. It felt natural to be together and H was fairly calm and rational. We talked a bit about our separation and he told me he wants us to get back together (he's still wearing his wedding band) and he wants to make it better than it was before. He told me that he's realised that he has to take responsibility for his mental health and for his actions. He has been reading a lot on the subject and has been taking steps towards self help, eg, regular exercise, continuing smoking (he used to stop and start, which effected his moods and his psychiatrist advised him to continue smoking but he ignored his advice). His psychiatrist has changed his medication and it appears to be working for him. He is waiting for therapy and is being visited every couple of days by the crisis team.

I really do believe that his abusive behaviour has been due to his depression.

Up until a couple of weeks ago I was sure that I wanted to file for divorce but now I am unsure. I feel confused as I have found that I have started to miss him and am looking out for his emails. I don't want to get back together and I don't want to file for divorce - I feel comfortable being separated for now. But still, I feel confusion.

My initial plan was to separate for up to a year and give H a chance to sort his mental health out and to support him from a distance. This may seem an odd perspective for a wife but the atmosphere at home was dreadful and I could tell it was beginning to effect DD. H also lost his temper and hit our dog, she used to tremble when he yelled at me. It was just awful, so I knew we had to leave. I also suffered many physical symptoms of stress, which are starting to subside now I've had some space.

Anyway... I had my initial plan which was to separate for up to a year but when I separated (staying at my parents for a couple of weeks) I spoke with someone at women's aid who advised me that his behaviour was abusive and I had to leave him and start my life again. I went to see a solicitor who told me I had grounds for divorce... it all seemed to happen so fast!

It was actually easier a few weeks ago when H was being angry and hostile but now he seems to be on the path to recovery I feel I owe it to our family to give him a chance to sort himself out.

I had real issues with anxiety before separating, which eased off after leaving but they've started to come back. I don't know if this is because I don't know what to do or because of the stress of having to make the decision, iyswim?

What do people think I should do?

(Apologies for the long post and thank you so much if you've got this far!)

meiisme Thu 18-Apr-13 20:46:07

Just because he's making the right moves doesn't mean he's on the road to recovery. And although MH issues may make abuse more dangerous or serious, they do not make someone an abuser. Some things are not okay to do to your partner, whatever it is you are struggling with.

Give yourself time to see if he's really changing before you make any steps towards reconciliation. If he is serious about getting better, he will want to do that anyway for his relationship with your DD. And I'm talking years here rather than months.

Abusers try different tactics to keep you hooked in. If the anger isn't working, they switch on the charm. Or the tears. Or the medication. So while it may look now he is doing his best, how do you know it is not just to convince you to take him back? Or even if he's serious, curing/learning to manage severe depression takes a lot of time. Wait and see, and don't give him hope until you are 100% sure he is better.

My two cents anyway.

hopkinette Thu 18-Apr-13 20:52:20

My initial plan was to separate for up to a year and give H a chance to sort his mental health out and to support him from a distance. This may seem an odd perspective for a wife

In my opinion the only odd thing about this is how generous it is (and I have a mental illness). Given that the relationship had become abusive and was affecting every member of the household, I think you did exactly the right thing and I think you should stick to your original plan.

You only separated a very short while ago and although it is laudable that he is taking steps to strengthen his mental health, it will take time. Wait and see how things look in a year and how you feel about it. Apart from anything else, if the relationship had become abusive you absolutely need to re-set the dynamic and you cannot do that while you're together.

hopkinette Thu 18-Apr-13 20:53:32

And I agree with what meiisme has said, too.

neontetra Thu 18-Apr-13 21:09:53

My ex-h's mental-health issues were a factor in my divorcing him, but essentially I didn't love him anyway. If my current dh developed similar issues I would, as you have described, seperate but work towards reconciliation in the future, if and when that became safe and appropriate, because I do love him. If you still love your h, then I would keep reconcilliation in mind, but your own safety and that of your child must be paramount. Also it is possible that, in the months or years you are not together, you may feel the need to move on, maybe even meet someone else, which is also valid. Rush no decisions, and above all else stay safe.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 18-Apr-13 21:19:01

Hi BusyHomemaker,
Sorry, but imho don't go back. You are still in recovery from the years of abuse he subjected you to. Can you get into counselling for yourself to resolve why you would do this to yourself again?

I am glad you had a nice coffee with him and felt comfortable and that was good for that short period of time -an hour or two? I can pretty much guess it wouldn't be like that 24/7 if you reconciled based on one afternoon.

I think your anxiety resurfacing is your gut's reaction to your brain's contemplation of returning to the abusive relationship.

I agree with meiisme. I do not believe that there is a connection between depression and the choice to be abusive. Please read "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft, available on Amazon.

It is a dilemma. Getting back with you is a goal for him and he appears to be doing (or saying that he is doing ((cynical- moi? wink))) what is necessary to manage his issues to do that. But deep down, I can only feel that as soon as you do get back with him, he'll stop all these efforts and revert to previous form.

It might be best to wait wait wait. Enjoy these peaceful interludes with him, but don't bank on them. It is a facade.

Congratulations on separating from him, btw. I know that was a hard thing to do! Don't undo all of that.

cestlavielife Thu 18-Apr-13 22:26:37

One swallow does not a summer make.... Please don't make a decision ne one coffee !
Or a few weeks.
Stay apart for one year let him pursue therapy etc and build good relation with dd.m

Have nice coffees to discuss dd but don't let yourself be lulled... Understanding his depression is one thing, understanding which behaviours were abusive is another.

Each time my ex has seemed "stable" it.s been less than a year before the anger etc resurfaces and his behaviour falls...

Give it a year.

cestlavielife Thu 18-Apr-13 22:30:20

And also don't jump on contact..After some six. On this of contact slowly rebuilding yet again . I began planning my chid free weekends as I thought things were going ok... Ha it went even worse than before... ... Don't for one.moment think that one coffee one park outing is proof... You needc months if not years of consistent changed behaviour

Yes enjoy that on tact going well and it settlinhg but keep things at arms length

Hopasholic Thu 18-Apr-13 22:42:03

Well of course he's being all sweetness and light now. He wants you back.

I suspect that if you stand firm and tell him you're not willing to reconcile, his behaviour will revert to type. Give it a try and if he starts being an arse.

He chose how to treat you, now you have a choice.

OhLori Thu 18-Apr-13 22:53:40

He hit your dog. He shouted at you. You've been frightened of him. You suffered physical symptoms of stress. It was beginning to affect your daughter and so on ...

Well I would be vary wary of getting back together with someone like that, whatever their issues were. Its your decision, but it sounds like you could be taking on a whole heap of trouble.

And I have often read on MN that MH issues can be used as an excuse - that most depressed people do not abuse and frighten people and animals around them.

BusyHomemaker Fri 19-Apr-13 12:00:28

Thank you for your replies.

I think seeing H acting calmly and rationally has really thrown me into thinking there is hope for us as a couple. Although, if I'm being honest with myself, I think that deep down I feel reconciliation is unlikely. I still care for him and this has confused matters for me. I feel so desperately sad that the man I married and father of my child is not who I thought he was.

I have been seeing a counsellor and this has helped me to focus on myself and creating a new life for DD and I but I agree I should really explore why I feel compelled to give him another chance.

I have been so focused on leaving H and creating a happy home life for DD that I haven't really had time to consider the fact that the relationship is over. Now that the dust has settled I have more time to think. I haven't really cried and this really bothers me!

I agree, I need to let time pass and not rush any decisions.

It's been really helpful to gain other people's perspectives.

cestlavielife Fri 19-Apr-13 14:25:23

what you seeing now is probably some of what attracted you to him, led you to marry him and ahave a child together...but remind yourself that is just one side of him.

the other, equally real side is angry EA etcetc.

you dont get one with out the other with him. you know that now...

BusyHomemaker Fri 19-Apr-13 14:59:02

I do... classic Jekyll and Hyde!

irokurok Fri 19-Apr-13 15:00:41

Keep up with your counselling, and I would try to keep a distance from ex so you have space to move on.

It will hurt for a while, but going back is only a short term solution to the pain of splitting up. Soon you would most likely find yourself back where you started and facing the prospect of separation all over again. Let your ex sort himself out (if he can), be happy for him if he does, but sounds to me like you need to move on either way.

Mumsyblouse Fri 19-Apr-13 15:10:56

The short answer: No.

Your dog cowers when she hears him shouting, your child is subdued even now after 3 hours a week and you are in counselling partly to help with the anxiety of living with this man has caused. Why would you go for a repeat when you have broken free?!

Depression does NOT cause emotional abuse like this, and given that he has never lived without being depressed or EA for any period of time, for goodness sake don't experiment with yours and your child's happiness just in case by some miracle he recovers entirely.

Of course he was nice in the street and calm and rational, he's hardly likely to terrorise you in front of members of the public and perhaps his meds have been upped. What would happen if you go back and he stops the meds, or behind closed doors? I think you do know the answer deep down.

But you are not wrong to have feelings, even ones of hope and wishing things were different, you did love him, perhaps you still do. You have to process that and counselling is the ideal place to vent and let it all out. But please don't go back into a terrible situation, both for your own sake and your child (and your dogs!)

BusyHomemaker Sun 12-May-13 19:56:37

Like a fool I agreed to work towards reconciliation. We attended mediation and arranged that H would join DD and I to one of her weekly groups and for dinner at my home one evening a week so H could bath DD and put her to bed. This is in addition to his 3 hours each Saturday, supervised by his family. We arranged counselling with relate to start in a couple of weeks. For the past 3 weeks H has been in our lives almost daily, we even took a trip to the beach. Had a lovely time but deep down I wasn't comfortable. I couldn't shake the feeling that H was more focused on seeing me than DD and I have also reached the conclusion that he doesn't love me but rather wants to control me. Despite knowing I no longer want to stay married to this man I still made a huge effort towards reconciliation as I felt guilty for ending the marriage. Silly, I know. I distanced myself from him emotionally last week and he called me up on Thursday eve and shouted, ranted, swore at me for leading him on, I'm killing him etc... he came round, hammered on the door so I let him in and told him I just didn't feel it was going to work. He started crying and asked what was I trying to do to him. I asked him to leave. Later I received some very odd (angry) texts. He texted on Friday to cancel his contact visit with DD as he wasn't in the right frame of mind. Then today he has emailed, clearly trying to take control of the situation suggesting that we still attend relate to work on our relationship as separated parents. He has also ranted about how I've treated him with such little respect and has accused me of not honouring our contact agreement purely because I no longer want him in my home and I have arranged another appointment for mediation to review our agreement. agreementS also stated he wants unsupervised access and has accused me of denying him it based on the fact he thinks I'm angry at him. He has accused me of trying to remove him from DD' s life which is just not the case.

On Friday my solicitor really gave my confidence a boost by telling me my behaviour has been commendable as I've clearly treated DD's needs as a priority and been fair to H. This reassurance meant so much but now, following today's emails, I am doubting myself again. It's so draining and I've been feeling anxious again these past few weeks.

Sorry for my ramblings. I just need to get it out. I feel like such a fool for trying to believe we could be a family unit. H is not the man I thought he was when I married him but it's worse than that as I worry he will always be able manipulate me/guilt me into trying to support him. How can I co-parent with this man when he makes me feel so uneasy?

I feel like I've taken one step forward and three steps back sad

ponygirlcurtis Sun 12-May-13 21:27:20

Busy - I know it's hard, but don't beat yourself up. You so desperately wanted to believe that he could be the man you loved again, so it was natural to you to give him another chance. I did exactly the same with my H after I left him, last May and ended up seeing him almost every single day of the summer holidays (he's a teacher) so he could see our DS. but an abusive man is an abusive man, and as soon as he was more elaxed around me (ie thought he'd hoovered me back in) the abuse started again, shouting, name calling, making me feel afraid.

You are not a fool. You are a normal, loving person who wanted to believe in someone. But he couldn't live up to it. As long as you keep thinking of DD first, you should be fine. I think you are right, he will always try to control you, whether it's into supporting him or into getting to see DD more, but you don't have to let him. That was an amazing breakthrough for me, when I realised that just because he said 'I want you do x' didn'd mean that I had to do it. Just because he demanded that I give him a reasonable explanation for not doing x, didn't mean that I had to give him any kind of explanation at all.

Listen to your solicitor, she sounds sensible - and good! Start again in your head, and decide how it will be. Go to mediation if you feel that will be helpful, but don't if you think he's manipulating it. Or request to sit in separate rooms due to his abuse. Keep all emails/texts as proof of abuse. Decide that handovers will be 15-second jobs with no chit-chat. It will be difficult at first as he will rail against you not subjecting yourself to his control, but it will get better in time (although I doubt he will ever truly stop trying).

There's a support thread for people who've experienced emotional abuse, although most of us have experienced a whole range of abuses in the relationship. There are lots of links to useful websites and resources. Have a read, see if you can spot any of your H's behaviours (they all tend to be reading from a strikingly similar abuse script...) and gain strength from seeing that it's not just you.

Honeybadgerdontgiveashit Sun 12-May-13 21:37:19

I felt compelled to answer you, i was in a very similar situation myself, my DP's behaviour was due to his drinking.
We parted for two years, in which time he sought the appropriate help.
For most of this time I was convinced we would not get back together, even though I loved & missed him terribly, but we did, and it's better than it ever was.

I would advise you to take it slowly, there is no rush.
Give him time, and if he does follow through with what he says, and you think it's worth a shot take it.

We are still not living together again, but we will soon, and all at a pace i was happy with.

Good luck x

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