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I would love your opinion on my very tricky relationship...

(89 Posts)
Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 08:35:28

My husband and I were together and happy for 11 years, we lived & worked together, travelled lots and were hardly separate. We had 2 beautiful children in the past 3 years... now aged 1 and 3 and everything changed after the 2nd child’s birth.

I had a c section and had a difficult birth so I probably had baby blues which I feel guilty about as my not being my strong capable self probably started things going wrong. We just started living in a new place (we knew it well, but were away from both sides of the family). I wanted to stay closer to my parents for the first year but my husband dislikes them intensely and feels they are too intrusive so I agreed with him and decided to set up a new family life in a new place).

Throughout the first year after our 2nd child was born my husband started to behave in a strange way which may be because I was feeling down and overwhelmed. We work from home and share 2 businesses together. After the birth of my second child he told me he was the man and should do all the work, and as the mother I would do all the childcare & housework. I felt this was a strange approach and not typical of my husband as the business depended on both our skills to succeed and he had been quite helpful and involved with our first child in her first year.

I told him I thought it made more sense if we shared all tasks - children, work and chores more evenly like we always had done eg I work 2 mornings a week and deal with the children every afternoon and he would work 3 mornings and every afternoon and take the girls 2 mornings a week, however he did not think this was the way to go and I was a ”reluctant mother” to suggest this.

I thought I would avoid conflict and agreed to do the majority of the childcare, house chores and kept up with my work in the evening when the children slept. I made new friends, networked in our new pretty village and was happy outside the house (I didn’t enjoy the chores particularly but on with the chores) however at home my husband started getting nasty and I always felt down at home.

The criticism never ceased. Every time I did a shopping spree with both children, it was not big enough, when I cooked dinner it was not varied enough and always boring, if I cleaned the house and did a wash load every day with all the kids dirty clothes I had an “ocd mental illness”, if I allowed the children to watch TV whilst I cooked dinner he would say children should not watch TV and I was not a capable mum but a reluctant mum to allow this.

When the older child started going to preschool, there were rainy cold days when I asked him to keep the baby to avoid going out into the cold and he said I was being a reluctant mum not taking them both and letting him work. Also he said I should stay out of the house for a long as possible so I would roam around swing parks and cafes and go home at 12. He would then say how early it was and I was interrupting him when I opened his office door to say hi. I started staying out at friends houses in the afternoons to give him more peace to work. I did have a tough time juggling the 2 children under 2, doing all the house chores, networking in our new community, finding out about the schools, etc but I was happy and positive and happy outside the house. Every time I would get criticised and therefore I would feel down.

We saw a counsellor to try and help our relationship but I did not discuss my husband’s attitude, instead we blamed me and the difficult birth, so we focussed on this in our sessions-which did not really help. I never mentioned his mental and physical abusive nature my husband had. I am not sure why. Maybe it was because we were always together for the sessions, maybe I did not realise and want to admit there was a problem. So I blamed myself and my PND for the situation and it got worse.

When I was really feeling low and approached my husband and discussed topics he did not want to discuss he would sometimes hit me, put a pillow to my face and verbally abuse me. Everything I did was wrong. He always had an anger problem but because we were happy and never argued in the past 12 years of our relationship it rarely came out previously.

So to avoid confrontation I continued doing most childcare, house work, cooking etc and when the children slept I would do work as he was not doing my tasks in the business and it was beginning to suffer.

12 Months went by like this, until I some good friends I had made over the year began commenting. I slowly opened up and they were quite furious with the situation and apparently I was the opposite of an “incapable, reluctant mum”. I slowly got my confidence back and became strong and I realised the situation could not be right.

Many instances, such as my husband getting very angry with the children and shaking them on 2 occasions, my father visiting, friends commenting and then everything fell into place I realised I wasn’t the only one to blame. I took a 2 week break and went to my parents and felt the best I have in months. I was happy, I travelled easily and dealt with both children easily as I was so used to being alone. I did not realise I was not only living like a single mum but I had been dealing with lots of other criticism on top.

Now my “baby” is soon 2, my husband has accepted his behaviour was completely inappropriate and has started to help and get involved. He still gets angry and loses his temper but is seeing an anger management specialist (I am not sure it is helping as he seemed to be justifying his anger after a session the other day)

We have so much positive history together in the past before the children were born, it seems silly to let it go. I am happy to work on our relationship and we have been trying for 3 months but it feels futile. I know that his “help” and “involvement” is because he feels he should not because he wants to.

Has the relationship ended? Can I ever love him again? Will he ever respect me?

MadBusLady Sun 30-Jun-13 10:34:31

Has he ever tried to hit, smother or shake a client? Or someone who's annoyed him outside the house? I didn't think so. He's not got an anger management problem; he's got a problem where he believes his wife and children are inferior to him.


Please think about how scared your children must have been to have an angry full-grown man shaking them. They are not adults, they can't decide to put up with abuse in exchange for whatever you felt you were getting in return. They are trapped, they have no choice. You are the only protection they have.

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 10:40:53

As the saying goes. He is not abusive because he is angry....he is angry because he is abusive.

In other words...his anger problem does not cause him to behave abusively. Abuse is not the unfortunate symptom of his anger problem.
Rather, he feels entitled to behave angrily, because he is an abusive person.
Anger serves his need to control wonderfully.

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 10:47:35

The 'reluctant mum' comment was deeply manipulative and poisonous btw.
He is attempting to make you question your abilities. If you are confident as a mother, he will see that as a threat to his control.
He would prefer you remain unsure of yourself. It makes you easier to intimidate.

To put it bluntly. Imho.

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 11:13:20

pictish, I think you have summed him up! I got goosebumps reading your post ... now I think about it he always criticized my family and friends and without me noticing he pulled me away from them. I began to believe his judgement on them too!

Maybe that is why he has always wanted to live so far away, and to set up an online business together.

I am so scared - I do love him but I am beginning to see a side to him which I never realized was there even though there were some signs.

We were so close, people commented on what an ideal couple and ideal life we had - and we did. which is why I have been finding it so hard to address what was happening.

I feel I have to do something about it for the children but on the other hand I feel if they grow up without a father (when he does spend time with them he is actually engaging and they enjoy it) it may be worse for them.

Should I give him a chance and accept him and help him address his issues - he may be able to change? Is this naive thinking?

When you have known and loved someone for so long it is too hard to accept anything else!

Hissy Sun 30-Jun-13 11:18:13

He won't change.

Sorry, I wish I could say he will, but he won't.

He will only ever get worse.

There is literally nothing you can do. None of this was ever about you. It's all him.

The ONLY thin sliver of a shred of a chance you have of him changing is if he loses you, the family, and all of his friends/family too as a result of his treatment of you.

Even then, perhaps he'll say sod the lot of em, up sticks and make himself another life.

Have you read Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft? It'll explain it far better than I can.

LalyRawr Sun 30-Jun-13 11:23:13

Your children would rather grow up without a father then a father who shakes them, hits their mother and attempts to kill her (why else would he put a pillow over your face?) and basically treats them and you as if you are all shit on the bottom of his shoe.

I can pretty much guarantee that.

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 11:33:22

You can't help him.
He will tell you that you can. He will say you are the only person that can help him even...but all he'd really be doing is turning things around, and shoving them back to you, so his behaviour is somehow your responsibility.
Whether he achieves that by blaming you for his bad behaviour, or by making out you are special and the only person who can help him, it amounts to the same - he deflects responsibility, and therefore feeds his sense of entitlement to behave as he does. It's your fault now.

You can't help him. This can only be a solo mission. You must keep yourself and your children safe in the meanwhile, either way.

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 11:47:12

hissy, re: his own friends he hasn't got close friends (one or two from school who live away) the rest are all "my" friends who we share and enjoy together. RE: his family I recently informed his family about his behavior as it had all got too much and they behaved as though they were angry with me for telling them and said I was behaving like a victim when he was trying so hard to change (I only told them my side to the story when he started criticizing me to them).

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 11:51:05

But in everyday life he comes across as charming, intelligent and educated. He is a straight A student. When the kids are calm and he gives them time he is good with them. It is just his nasty streak, anger, control & projection onto me which worry me. He has now accepted his anger is out of order. He has not accepted his control and projection and says I am controlling!

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 11:56:34

Well, as far as he is concerned, you are controlling!
You have the audacity to question him doing what the fuck he likes! Your role is to do his's not to have an opinion or ideas of your own ffs. How dare you have an opinion on how you are treated? He'll treat you as he sees fit, and do what he wants. You're just trying to stop him from getting his own way! YOU are controlling!

You can't help this man.

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 11:58:30

Abusers see any challenge to their authority as a personal attack btw.

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 11:59:59

For example, he will think nothing of speaking to you like shit, and treating you to his temper, but if you should tentaively offer up that it displeases you, he will tell you that you have "started an argument".

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 12:10:00

I really thought I was to blame until recently.Our older child saying "daddy angry" and "daddy hit mummy" helped me address these issues in the open.

I experienced being at the complete edge. My family and friends all supported me and helped me pull myself back together and just being with the kids made me stronger.

HOWEVER all parents do support their children whatever they do and this is what my husband's parents did. This made the problem worse because each time he spoke to them he felt his behavior was justified [as an aside, his father has issues with his own family, he is divorced now, and his mother is still hurt about the break up so they all have their ways of suggesting to us what we should do].

Unfortunately their intrusions and reaction to our problems is having adverse effects (they are trying to help but come from a very different world, another generation and the advise they give actually hinders any progress). I have asked them to please stay out of it. Unfortunately because they are his only "friends" my husband keeps resorting back to them.

They feel we need counselling and as a result my husband has booked sessions with a Marriage Counselor. We went to 1 session which helped his behavior for a couple of days but I know in my heart of hearts this is not going to change anything.

The only way we can live together is if I am to give in to his controlling ways and accept disrespect. So isn't counselling a waste of time if I respect myself?

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 12:11:37

pictish you know so much about his behavior - have you experienced similar?

pictish Sun 30-Jun-13 12:15:09

Marriage guidance counselling is never recommended in a situation where abuse is present.
This is because MGC is for mutual problems.
This certainly isn't that. MGC often does more harm than good in an abusive situation, because the abuser is often inadvertantly justified, by the counsellor viewing it as a mutual problem...iyswim?

That's a fact btw. Womens Aid for example, never advocate MGC in an abusive situation.

ThereGoesTheYear Sun 30-Jun-13 12:25:05

Accepting him is telling him you accept his behaviour. So it will continue, and probably escalate. Shaking a baby is incredibly dangerous. Would you allow nursery staff to treat your DC like this? Even if they played with them sometimes? Or would you report to police and remove the children from their care?
No one is saying they wouldn't see their father regularly - even if you wanted that - but they wouldn't grow up thinking this is what a marriage looks like.

LadyLapsang Sun 30-Jun-13 12:27:37

Loveday, please read Lundy Bancroft and don't go to relationship counselling with him. I get the feeling you are not in the UK - am I right?

My advice is start to prepare yourself emotionally and practically for leaving. Make sure you have the children's passports and your own, if you don't already have your own bank accounts start to get a running away fund together, photocopy details of bank balances, assets etc. and get them out of your home. Don't tell him any of this, even when he seems really loving.

Please take care, when you end an abusive relationship like this you are at your most vulnerable when you take steps to leave. I would also look into his likely contact with the children when you leave. I would be really, really worried about a man like this having unsupervised access to the children. If you are in the UK there are contact centres and in some cases abusive fathers can be prevented from having contact.

Please get help from professionals that deal with abusive situations like this - Women's Aid in the UK - & do take care.

ThereGoesTheYear Sun 30-Jun-13 12:28:24

Relate won't counsel you if they know that there has been abuse. This is for very good reasons. I know from bitter experience that even if you try MGC the power imbalance means that you will focus on 'your issues' and not address his. This further reinforces his sense that the problem lies with you and the abuse gets worse.

unobtanium Sun 30-Jun-13 13:56:05

Oh dear, Loveday, a terrible situation and I am very sorry for the hole your relationship has descended into.

It seems you've been very strong so far -- that strength will stand you in good stead now I am sure. I have no experience or expertise but wanted to give you my support and best wishes...

onefewernow Sun 30-Jun-13 14:32:50

You are still on an abusive relationship and you need to get out.

Control is abuse.

By the way, he wanted you away from family so he could control you more effectively.

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 14:35:15

onefewernow you are right - I only realize this now. Do you think he is aware of this?

Loveday44 Sun 30-Jun-13 14:36:02

thanks for all your answers and support - it has made me stronger... I wish I had posted before x

Hissy Sun 30-Jun-13 14:45:58

If you accept his treatment of you today, to keep the peace today.

What will you have to accept tomorrow?

Because the control he has of you is a drug to him, he'll never be satisfied.

Seeing his parents actually hinder your position is precisely why he keeps going back to them.

Their réaction is typical. They made him. They created that monster.

When your child says 'Daddy angry, Daddy hit Mummy' you know it's game over.

The only way to stop this IS to leave.

IF it shocks him enough to take you seriously, who knows, he could seek help, he could resolve to stop controlling you. and flocks of pigs will be performing aerial acrobatics over your house

Protect yourself, protect your children,

springytats Sun 30-Jun-13 15:21:47

Yes, it's over.

Please contact Womens Aid to plan getting out of the relationship. Leaving is the most vulnerable time for victims, so please be sure to get a plan together, with their support. women's Aid 0808 2000 247 (24/7 support line - best to call between 7pm and 7am as lines are busy during the day, sadly). They will support you in all ways - practically, emotionally, legally.

Charming, educated - abusers are often these (especially charming). Mine was.

the first major red flag was that he 'detests' your parents. He has isolated you.

Read the Lundy Bancroft book - Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men.

Womens Aid will also point you in the direction of the Freedom Programme which is a fantastic course. As you are forced to spend so much time outside the home, you'll have plenty of time to attend the course - click the Search button, middle top row, to find a course near you (if you are in the UK. If not, you can do it online, but attending a course is better because you meet other women in similar relationships).

If you can't get out for you, get out for your kids. You MUST get out of this relationship as soon as possible. He is a frightening and dangerous man.

springytats Sun 30-Jun-13 15:24:00

HIde your internet history.

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