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Have i been emotionally abused my entire marriage?

(105 Posts)
Alipongo1 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:03:58

Hi, I discovered this site a few weeks ago and decided to tell you about how I've been treated in my marriage in the hope that you can help me. Before I begin, I must tell you that my DH acts in a normal, civil manner for most of the time. He can be very kind, for example, shortly after we met, he financially supported me through a one year training course and used his money to pay for a deposit on our first house. However, the trouble began when we were planning our wedding abroad. My parents and siblings said they would stay with us for a week, then go home so we could have our 'honeymoon'. My DP's mother insisted that it wasn't worth going for a week and was planning to stay with us for whole 2 weeks along with her husband, daughter and SIL. I wasn't happy with the situation, but DP said he wasn't prepared to say 'no' to his mother! After the wedding my DH was quite distant with me and was constantly fussing over his mum - she even sat with us in the horse-drawn carriage from the registry office! I feel we lost out on all the intimacy that should be built up at this time, and was made to feel like the unwanted addition to his family holiday.
When we returned home, my MIL announced that she wanted to leave city where she'd lived for 30 years and move to countryside. She and my DH came to agreement that she could have all our savings (14k) and she'd pay us back in her will! I wasn't even consulted! When I said 'no' they were both moody and sulky and I was made to feel selfish and mean. She eventually bought a new house - 4 doors down from DH and myself!!!!
When my husband was made redundant he got a new job 60 miles away from where we lived. He tried commuting, but eventually we decided that we'd have to move closer. My MIL started to make up stories about how she was becoming ill and hinting that she had cancer, I think to try and make us feel guilty. My DH, again, was cold and distant towards me, almost making it seem that I was 'making' him leave his mother.
We have 3 DD's (14,12 and 6) and he dotes on them. However, i feel that he speaks to me in a very derogatory way, for example when I said that i'd been 'stupid' at making a mistake about something, he replied "That's not stupid: it was idiotic". A few days ago I made a mistake on the computer and he was shouting "This isn't rocket science! Why don't you know this by now?" He does apologise afterwards, but says that I'm over sensitive. He also says I need to see all these things in isolation, and to stop drawing lines.
Can anyone help me make sense of this? I'd be very grateful. I also have lots more examples, should you need them.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Jul-13 10:08:29

Of course he's not right. Elton John was wrong i.e. sorry is the easiest, not the hardest word... and if he thinks a casual 'sorry' is all that is required and you should just forget all about it and put your head back in the sand, he's being extremely selfish and disrespectful. He doesn't want to address the problem, doesn't want to make your life better and of course he doesn't want to acknowledge he's abusive. His sort never do.

Please stay safe

cjel Wed 03-Jul-13 11:40:18

What he says about you is not the truth or reality. You are starting to realise this for yourself and no longer need to take notice of it. YOu may find that once he finds out you have the support of solicitors and aren't afraid to take it outside the home that he will lose his bite not get worse?
He may be so used to having his own way that hes forgotten that there is a world outside his thinking. Hope solicitor is helpfulx

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 15:18:27

Hi all, just back from the solicitors! This visit, along with all the helpful posts that I've received, has made me feel totally empowered. The solicitor said I would be treated as his equal by the courts (something that has never happened in our marriage) due to the length of our relationship. The solicitor also made comments like "It will be whatever you want it to be". Gosh! I've never felt so powerful! I now have to lead a double life for a little while as I need copies of a huge amount of paperwork, and I need to buy another computer etc. so that I can carry on working during the divorce (I'm pretty sure he'd 'accidently' break this one as soon as he knew I was going).
The only downside is that the solicitor recommended staying in this house while the divorce goes through. Can you imagine the atmosphere?!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Jul-13 15:37:20

The advice to stay in the house is pretty standard but, unless you've outlined the bullying behaviour in the relationship, the solicitor will be working on the assumption that you're both reasonable people. If you are at all worried about the prospect of living under the same roof from a safety or mental wellbeing angle, and if you don't think your STBXH will leave of his own volition, then consider making plans for alternative living arrangements. Your rights don't change.

DumSpiroSpero Wed 03-Jul-13 15:41:00

Wow! You've done an incredible job so far already - don't doubt yourself, you're obviously more than capable!

Re the house situation - it maybe worth speaking to the solicitor about this in more detail and also contacting 'Shelter' who advise on all sorts of housing issues, not just living on the streets type homelessness.

I came very close to leaving my DH a couple of years ago, and the advice they gave me was that I could claim housing benefit to rent a property for up to 12 months, even though I had an interest in the marital home, providing I could show I was taking legal steps to obtain my share of the equity during that period. You can protect your interest in the marital home by filing for 'matrimonial home rights', which will prevent your DH doing anything dishonest whilst a settlement is agreed.

Not sure what the current legal situation is but definitely worth asking about - good luck!

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 15:43:25

Thanks Cogito. That was the only strange thing about my meeting, when I started to tell the solicitor about my DH's behaviour, his face remained completely impassive and he didn't really make any comment. Is this because he hears this sort of thing day in day out or because he didn't think it was that bad?!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Jul-13 15:51:30

Solicitors deal in legalities rather than emotions. Divorces are very much on a 'no fault' basis so bad behaviour doesn't change things very much. Unless there is something strictly illegal going on in the marriage then your solicitor is not that interested.

crossparsley Wed 03-Jul-13 16:06:24

Also, solicitors and other professionals who hear about the bad side of life will try not to react while you're telling the story, because if they did what a layperson would do and said "shit, really?", "that's horrible", etc, the speaking person might often want to make the listener feel better -most normal people don't want to make others upset - by saying " oh it's not that bad" and telling less of the details. Your solicitor knows you thought it was bad enough for you to go and see him, and he sounds as if he thinks you were right.

You did a powerful thing, you deserve to feel empowered.

Bakingtins Wed 03-Jul-13 16:11:35

Maybe the solicitor didn't think it was that bad.

Your DH's relationship with his mother sounds seriously dysfunctional. The rest of it wouldn't raise my eyebrows. Sometimes your DH speaks without thinking and later he apologises.

You have three children and I'm guessing more than a decade of marriage to this man. I think people on here are far too quick to say LTB. It's not them that will have to deal with the fall out.

Have you made any attempt to repair the relationship? Asked him if he'll come to counselling sessions? Can you remember any of the things you loved about him enough to marry him?

Just be really really sure it's what you want and that the marriage is irredeemable before you chuck the hand grenade in.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Jul-13 16:13:54

" The rest of it wouldn't raise my eyebrows"

Really? Does your partner regularly tell you that you're stupid, idiotic, make you feel worthless and generally treat you in a derogatory way? If that doesn't raise your eyebrows I feel genuinely sorry for you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Jul-13 16:19:43

... and why should the OP be the one responsible for 'repairing'? Why should she be persuading him to go to counselling? Why should she be searching her memory banks trying to conjure up loving memories? Why, just because she's had the misfortune to produce three of this man's children, is it always the fucking victim that gets told 'try harder'..... angry

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 03-Jul-13 16:24:13

Joint counselling as well is never recommended when there is ongoing abuse as there is in the OPs marriage.

Well done OP as well for going to see the Solicitor today.

cjel Wed 03-Jul-13 17:25:05

The solicitor will have to be guarded in what they say about your marriage as it may be used by some. They are there for the legalities. You are telling them you want to leave and end marriage, they are there to assist you in that.

I also left family home and rented, your legal rights don't change whoever stays or goes.
Try and find out your options if you don't want to stay in the same house together. If he contests divorce it could take a while.

You have done brilliantly so far. well done. Have you tracked down counsellor?

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 18:34:06

I do understand where you're coming from, Bakingtins. I've been married for 15 yrs (together for 18 yrs) , it's such along time that I don't think I even know what normal is. Last night in an argument my husband said "all couples have rows, that's normal", but we actually rarely have an argument, it's more these outbursts of shouting at me like I was a disobedient child. I've repeatedly told him how much this upsets me, and he does say he's sorry, but he still continues to do it (or much later will deny it ever happened). I just wonder sometimes if I might have turned out to be a completely different person if I'd married someone else instead. I feel that his lack of respect for me has had a big impact on my self-confidence. Ironically, it was me that ended up having CBT! He would never see a counsellor because he doesn't think he has a problem!

cjel Wed 03-Jul-13 18:45:41

Ali - was 50 after 30 years married and I can tell you its never too late to be what you should have been!smile

jomaynard Wed 03-Jul-13 19:17:32

My DH did some training once on how to deal with "shocking" information in an interview. It was basically how to not react, they were given the example of someone admitting to murder in a job interview. (It involves making notes on the previous question.)
This is something that a Lawyer will also be trained and experienced in. They can't react too much as it could create prejudice.

However if you didn't jell with this lawyer, you can try another one. BTW any you have seen cannot then be used by your H.

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 19:24:01

Cjel, was your husband emotionally abusive? Are you glad that you left him? Did you have children? I'd love to know your story.

Bakingtins Wed 03-Jul-13 19:53:14

I'm not for a minute saying that OP should make all the effort, or stay if she really feels she is being abused, just that the mumsnet jury are awfully quick to say LTB.
I hope she doesn't in any sense think her children are a misfortune sad I imagine they will be just as shell shocked and devastated as her H if she suddenly decides to leave.
Monday OP is asking tentatively if her relationship is abusive, 2 days later on the advice of a bunch of total strangers she is seeing a solicitor and packing her bags. I guess it doesn't seem to me a very considered decision for something with such huge repercussions for the lives of at least five people.
OP, I wish you the very best whatever you choose to do.

Alipongo1 Wed 03-Jul-13 19:54:05

Thanks jomaynard, that's interesting. He also said as I was leaving "I hope you can sort things out", which I did find a little odd, given what I'd told him.

cjel Wed 03-Jul-13 21:35:22

Baking ime the fact that a woman gets to the point of wanting confirmation of the ea in her relationship would suggest that she knows what she wants to do any way. It is hard to consider leaving and it would n't be done on a whim because a couple of strangers are saying she should.

Ali, I had horrendous EA<PA and sexual abuse etc etc. we looked like a really successful couple to the outside. I had years of counselling to 'get over my issues' that he told me I had.I had endless breakdowns and felt really useless. about 8 years ago i finished counselling realising that my marriage wasn't right but not able to do anything about it. I started to train as a counsellor,(before i started it my dd said 'mum he won't like it he'll think you grow away from him and leave) he never even asked how my course was going and even said to one of my fellow students he thought it was good for me to have a little something to do. Slowly over a couple of years on the course | changed and then one day i found out he'd taken another woman out a couple of lunches. we agreed to try and make a go of out marriage and had the most wonderful 3 months like a honeymoon. I then found he was still txting her so within 3 weeks found, rented and moved out!!!
We have dd 30, ds 28 and 5 grandchildren from 13yrs to 18 months, we ran a business together and his family was his life. There were a lot of things going on for him and he is having a breakdownsad but I knew i was worth more than that and in a weird way although my heart was broken, she did me a favour.
18month on and I have sold a house, boght a house and renovated it. taken a year out of college and will be going back in september for another 2 years.

cjel Wed 03-Jul-13 21:49:58

ali. ave pm'd you.

zigzoo Wed 03-Jul-13 23:03:25

Have a look at dropbox as a way of backing up all the work information on your computer.

Changeasgoodas Wed 03-Jul-13 23:48:49

It sounds like your DH's mother has manipulated him to do her bidding through shaming him from a very young age. Thus making him lead his life in a way that avoids shame at all costs. Hence, it could be that something like the car alarm going off, which might make him look incompetent in front of neighbours absolutely sets him off. Criticising you, well that's a nice way for him to remind himself that he is alright really, project the shame outwards. Getting cross if you don't "get" something - again, reminders of fallibility, triggering shame which he quickly covers in anger.

Sounds like your CBT therapist only gave you half the story, and typical of the worrying way people are packed off too early from NHS limited session therapy. Yes, your need to do everything well may make you scared to start things or contribute to beliefs that you won't be able to run a house without him. It may help to loosen your standards in some areas BUT, when it comes to being treated well and with respect, your standards appear far too low and it is not perfectionist to expect to live your life without being insulted and shouted at. It is not perfectionist to expect to have your family photos and heirlooms respected rather than stolen and trashed.

Alipongo1 Thu 04-Jul-13 09:57:04

Thanks for all your thoughts, everyone.
Changeasgoodas I think you're absolutely right about the 'shame' thing, that's why I'm a bit worried about his reaction when he discovers that I am divorcing him. He is very good at appearing kind and jovial to people outside the family, but he makes sure that nobody gets too close to us. We don't really have any shared friends, in fact he doesn't have any friends at all, despite the fact that other men have invited him on various nights out.
Does anyone think he might actually change? The strange thing is that in the two years prior to getting married (when we lived together) there wasn't any sign of his bullying nature. I actually felt equal to him. I was excited about my training and prospective new career (funded mainly by him) and he seemed fairly relaxed and happy. I think I really did love him back then, I can clearly remember wanting to be with him all the time. He was my soulmate.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Jul-13 10:07:35

Sadly, the man you met & thought you knew two years prior to getting married was not the 'real him'. A lot of abusive men do this, he's nothing special. You say yourself that he can appear kind and jovial outside the family i.e. he can put on a convincing act when it suits his purposes. It clearly suited him to convince you that he was a regular guy that supported your training, saw women as equals and blah, blah, blah ... until the moment there's a ring on your finger, you're a 'done deal' and then, like the Child Catcher in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, away go the balloons and the streamers and the reality is that your kind, loving 'soul-mate' is just a nasty bloke that doesn't like women, but it's too late to complain.

This is the 'real him'.

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