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Living with past relationships....

(27 Posts)
KittyVonCatsworth Mon 26-Aug-13 00:42:45

Ok, so me an DP have been together for over a year, no doubt, we absolutely adore one another. One thing we've always insisted on is honest, fairness and integrity from day dot.

This is exactly what we are. He was married before for 13 years, which was an abusive relationship towards him. Confirmed by his family and hers. She had MH issues, was violent, tried to kill him twice and he woke up with a knife to his throat. Last straw was when she dove them both off the road, almost killing herself and him. She also cheated on him on numerous occasions.

He is undoubtedly the most warmest, generously spirited person I know, but he does get incredibly wobbly, especially if we're apart. We haven't spent much time together this weekend and I'm away tonight. I sent a text to say goodnight and he randomly asked me if there was or ever has been anything going on between me and my ex boss who I've been close friends with for 4 years. Of course, no, never has been. I immediately called him, rallied off the FB messages and texts exchanged since 2012 (weren't that many), and he immediately knew he was being irrational.

We've had this conversation once before where he IMed me at work saying that a text I'd sent him was obviously not for him, so who was it for. I looked back at the text again and again and couldn't get it, so we met up for coffee and sorted it out.

He can be terribly insecure. He says how much he loves me, how he's so scared about how much he loves me because he's only ever loved one person and she turned out not to be what he thought.

We talk through this, try and work through his issues. I've suggested he goes for therapy but he says he just wants forget and move on from that time of his life.

I suppose I'm asking, what else can I do or suggest? It's not a constant thing and I've explained that I will be patient with this as long as he's always honest and tells me how he's feeling, about the wobbles, early on so they not manifest into something bigger. He says he's terrified of losing me.

I just find it hard that this beautiful, warm, funny caring man can feel so insecure. It makes me sad at times.

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 01:14:56

OK... I speak as someone who has survived his own issues with his ex.

Mumsnet was/is my refuge... a place I go to almost share others pain and grief. Oddly it's such an emasculating experience your DP has gone through (from societies perspective) and I guess it makes sense that women who have been subjected to this are in the best position to understand.

He cannot just pack it down/keep it in or whatever coping mechanism he thinks he can undergo.
He will lose you. Eventually this will wear you down and as you become more guarded with time he will read this as you becoming distant and it will just become a cycle.

So here's a really odd suggestion - get him using MN!

I know how bizarre, but it's sharing his story and hearing that he's not alone that will help. He has dark corners and he need to let some light in. and the anonymity MN offers will help him heal without exposing himself to a sense of ridicule or further emasculation.

But to do nothing will be to let his ex win.

TheSecondComing Mon 26-Aug-13 01:18:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 01:23:45

And to you OP... listen carefully -

You cannot fix him.
to attempt to do so will only mean you will become a shadow of yourself.

You need to have a serious talk

DP you will lose me. you will drive me away from you. Trust in me. I am not your ex.

To Love is to trust - and if he cannot trust you regardless of his past then he cannot love you the way you deserve. then he is no longer the man you hope he will become - a healthy addition to your life.

Let him read this if you must.

I had objects at the door so I could hear her walk into the room where the DC and I slept. thankfully I never woke up to a knife and never had the off road incident, but my scars are healing.

The day he left her was time to move on.

Good luck to you both.
and be ready to walk away if he cannot work at this.
Hurt people Hurt.

KittyVonCatsworth Mon 26-Aug-13 01:27:51

Thanks ofmiceandmen, I may send a link to Dadsnet, or even a link to this post. The part about him losing me is very scary, but more so because I think there's something to that. I've said I can't constantly walk on eggshells, not that I do at the moment, but I feel if this were to keep happening, I could become more guarded and wary. I don't want this to be a reason for him not to be honest with me about how he's feeling.

Secondcoming, I understand the 'problem' is not mine per se, but he's my partner, of course I want to help him sort it, and it impacts on us, so it is my 'problem' but just at a loss on how else to help.

KittyVonCatsworth Mon 26-Aug-13 01:32:47

Miceandmen, I'm so so sorry you went through that with your ex wife. I hope you've finally found a bit of peace.

Sadly, I'm hearing exactly what you're saying, I can maybe just wait and hope that his fear diminishes over a bit of time.

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 01:44:51

Thank you Kitty - working on finding my peace.

The thread below helps remind us what healthy relationships look like. we often forget after all those years in darkness

Read it to each other [[ ]]
define what each of you want out of this. don't take it for granted that he understands what a healthy relationship is anymore. and maybe you also need to remind yourself.

Hoping the best for you.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 26-Aug-13 01:49:52

It doesn't sound, to me, like he is ready to be in a relationship.

It is really awful what he has been through obviously and I feel for him, but - the others are right. This is not your problem to solve. Now I know that might sound really flippant and cold, but you've already identified the problem yourself: "if this were to keep happening, I could become more guarded and wary. I don't want this to be a reason for him not to be honest with me about how he's feeling." It's a vicious cycle.

Can you see it working long term really? With only you "helping" him? I can totally understand why you want to make it right for him, and perhaps you feel that in time he will learn to trust and relax around you. But 13 years is a long time to undo, to heal from - he needs real specialist help with this, and above all, time. You being there and being trustworthy isn't enough, however much you want it to be.

If he is really committed to you and the relationship and he recognises it is his issue then he really needs to seek help with it - try looking at for a start. It is difficult for any victim of domestic violence to speak out and ask for help, and he needs to want to do it for himself really as well.

Just for a moment sharing my own experience of a relationship after suffering abuse - I am aware I have my own issues from past things which could come in and affect this relationship, but I am aware of them and try to keep them in check, I have had counselling - twice - I come on mumsnet and read things all the time about healthy relationships (the most helpful thing for me) and although I still have my moments overall the relationship is stable and my issues aren't making any huge waves into it at all, it's a separate thing, sometimes I ask DP to clarify something that a normal person wouldn't need clarified, that kind of thing.

But really if it's been over a year and no improvement then you cannot sit tight and hope that this will go away on its own. No, it's not his fault that he is insecure, but having a relationship with someone who is insecure to that degree is not healthy for either of you.

ItsNotATest Mon 26-Aug-13 02:26:23

What TSC said.
Personally I couldn't/wouldn't deal with that. He needs to address his problems. This is to do with him, not you, you should not be contemplating adjusting your own behaviour to pander to this.

KittyVonCatsworth Mon 26-Aug-13 02:41:33

Thank you guys, for the MN link and abuse link.

This has only been the 2nd time, so I don't want to catastrophise it, or bow it out of proportion (not minimising btw!). I've just got to be very clear with him that he needs to address this otherwise it could spell trouble for us. I absolutely adore him, I really do, and do you, he really is the most caring, loving soul to me and his family. Im not ready to throw in the towel, but I need to be clear that me living in his XW shadow is not on.

YvyB Mon 26-Aug-13 08:01:06

PLEASE listen to the advice here, OP. Different situation for me but I too fell for one who I thought could "make better". Four agonising years later, I've finally conceded that as he refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions, I need to abandon ship, for my own sake as well as my dc.

Relationships are meant to be equal. If they need propping up they should get a crutch not a partner. If they can't even get that bit sorted for themselves they'll never be strong enough to give anyone else support. Your dp has had a dreadful time, without doubt, but unless HE decides he needs to deal and move on once and for all, he will always be where he is, sucking the life out of you.

You are not his free therapist. Tell him so, request that he makes an appointment with his gp, and explain that his refusal to do so is actually causing him to abuse your generous nature. Sounds harsh, but perhaps hearing his own behaviour described in those terms will give him the motivation to take responsibility for his own welfare. If not, don't wait. He doesnt want to because he's happy where he is, your honesty and kindness gives him a feeling of power that has no place in a healthy relationship. I wish I'd left when I'd seen the signs instead of being sucked in by the flattering idea that I was making everything all better now.

TheSecondComing Mon 26-Aug-13 08:21:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 26-Aug-13 08:35:34

My spidey-senses would be twitching like hell.

His actions (even if only twice) are likely to make you adjust your behaviour in order to fit with what he does find 'acceptable'.

I think its also telling that he has refused counselling and I'd wonder why.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 26-Aug-13 08:36:49

Also, whatever you say you ARE minimising shitty behaviour from him.

paperlantern Mon 26-Aug-13 08:45:30

second all the counselling advice.

Actually a little thing that might help is saying when we are apart I will text you when I wake up to remind you that I am thinking of you and love you.

I will probably be pilloried for saying that because others are right it's his problem not yours and there is no way you should be treading on eggshell s. but sometimes it's so much harder to remember how much someone loves you when they are away compared to when they are with you.

Fraxinus Mon 26-Aug-13 09:39:24

Duff advice, paper lantern. What happens when you forget?

paperlantern Mon 26-Aug-13 09:48:48

I wasn't saying it was great advice but when I have been a little wobbly and insecure, whilst knowing I needed to work on that it really helped!!!!

trust me it doesn't take much effort to remember.

paperlantern Mon 26-Aug-13 09:57:42

actually whilst I agree it's shit advice from the point of view that it's taking responsibility for something that isn't your responsibility,
But I think someone who can't remember once a day to message their partner is pretty shitty. my dad managed that at lunchtime every day for all his working life, he had a very high level job but mum was a priority for him.

TheSecondComing Mon 26-Aug-13 10:07:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

paperlantern Mon 26-Aug-13 10:37:28

ok I'm really going to wade into the debate......

people aren't perfect. they come into a relationship with their own issues and problems.

the op says this isn't a constant thing. if it does become a constant thing that obviously is a problem, if she decides she can't go away for fear of upsetting the other person that is a problem.

However IF it really is an occasional thing is it worth throwing that away for something that was able to be talking out when it occurred.

frankly with his history I'm not surprised that he is insecure. for me the real litmus test is if when the insecure behaviour occurred you can point it out, tell him it's making you feel uncomfortable, and he sorts it out.

I'm aware coming into a relationship because of horrendous treatment from a past partner, certain thing will make me feel insecure. I actually know I can manage that but sometimes I need reminding im loved to do that.

counselling is not a catchall solution. for me it helped tremendously with some issues, made some worse and made me realise some I could work round with the help of an understanding partner (eg text once a day when apart). not all my trust issues will vaporise. should I write myself off now?

beaglesaresweet Mon 26-Aug-13 12:33:49

absolutely agree with paperlantern. Life is tough and people with unfortunate history (not even of their choice!) do come with some issues, so are they just to be written off?

Kindness can heal faster than turning away from someone andsaying to them 'deal with it', where as some support from the patner can make a world of difference and MOTIVATION for the person to work on his issues fast. If she just drops him, what mptivation this rejection would give him? He is not a nasty case, but a good generous kind man who's been abused previously, surely the fact that he is honest, and the ONE explanation works for him, is vey envouraging?

Lots of people with trust issues are never satisfied with one chat each time, they go on torturing themselves and the partners to explain again and again. So given his past, I'd say he's far from a hopeless case, if it's occasional wobbles.

Of course he must seek therapy, but to advise OP to just drop him is so cruel, we shoulds all give each other a chance! If he refuses therapy, and if after another year it's worse or even the same, then she should reconsider, but it's nearly impossible to find a new partner without any issues, much worse ones at that, so not giving people a chance is not just unkind but also completely unrealistic in terns of finding a partner. If he improves, they will treasure each other even more, and get even closer.

beaglesaresweet Mon 26-Aug-13 12:36:30

Of course what I say about kindness applies to people who are essentially good (which OP's partner is), not those who enjoy using or hurting a partner.

It comes across to me as a tiny bit manipulative TBH.

I am very needy and insecure - you must reassure me a lot - no I won't seek any counselling to sort things out in my head.

Yes, by all means support him. But if he is unwilling to try to get a more realistic perspective on how he reacts/overreacts then it is going to be shit.

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 14:19:38

I think OP the thing here is this. when he looks at you, does he see YOU or does he just see another woman who could be his ex wife.

As simple as that question is, it is what separates an abuser from a person with fixable issues.

Because if he cannot see that you are a separate individual with your own worries, concerns and weaknesses, then his actions will only be a form of manipulating an object that sits in the place of his ex.

and this is the sad part - if he cannot see a difference, then he doesn't love you. he loves this perfect image in his head of what you should be like. and no one can live up to that. No amount of love of affection can keep you on that pedestal.

This is what abusers do. they get you dancing to their tune and when you cannot keep up or make a mis step, they wrap your knuckles - emotionally or physically.

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 14:28:31

I think we all should define what we expect from a relationship.

for some it's - "i want to hear 'I love you'", for others it's " I want cuddles" and others it would be "I need my own space". None is wrong or right- it's just what people need to feel loved.

for him it could be - "dear I expect access to each others FB" or "I expect calls if you're coming home after midnight" etc etc

and if they do not match with your expectations or there is no compromise then you are incompatible.

There's a woman out there who would have shown him her FB page and called him every 10 seconds till he went all fuzzy in the head without being prompted from day one - not because he would ask but because it is who she is. that may be who he is more compatible with.

and you may be more compatible with a secure man with all the warmth and affection of your current DP. (or at least more secure and just a bit less perfect in other areas).

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