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But what if it is the other way round?

(177 Posts)
sufferingtoo Wed 26-Feb-14 10:00:27

Namechanged as my DP knows my username. Long time lurker, occasional poster and definitely don't live under a bridge!

Finally got up the courage to post whilst reading a current thread about anger management and did not want to hijack it.

My current situation is almost exactly the same as the OP in that thread. When my DP gets annoyed or something is not going their way they get consumed with rage - there is no violence - just rage and then an extended period of sniping and comments to belittle me.

Our DC is only 4 and I am worried how this will affect him in the future.

The real sting in the tail is that I am DH and the problem is with DW.

For instance we had a very minor disagreement on Sat night that should have resulted in a 5 min husband/wife row at most.

For me it resulted in the standard intensely angry tirade of abuse about how rubbish I am, how she had wasted her life with me, etc. She literally looked like she is going to explode with anger. Sunday was complete scilence except for continued snide comments, Monday not much better and we almost had a civil conversation last night. I did asked "how am I meant to live like this" and got told "don't! just leave!".

Going on past form she will be nice as pie by this evening or tomorrow morning and it will be like it never happened.

Don't get me wrong - I have my failings (as we all do) but I don't think I deserve this.

The advice on here about taking the DC's and getting a better life is all well and good when aimed at the female partner but what can the father do? My plan seems to be to suck it up, protect my DC from it and get us both through this, while trying to get her to realise what she is doing and hopefully improve the situation.

Before you ask - it does seem she was treated much like this as a child - talks about how her parents always put her down etc.

Any advice on how to manage the situation would be gratefully appreciated.

Aussiemum78 Wed 05-Mar-14 05:20:33

Personally next time she says leave, instead of trying to appease her id call her bluff. Leave or ask her to leave. Separate for a period.

She either wants that deep down but is staying for the children, or is using the threat as leverage. Leaving, or planning to us about the only way to find out and stop it.

Hissy Wed 05-Mar-14 00:07:32

Light i'd like to see a thread here either for you personally, or eventually a support thread for men suffering from spousal abuse.

I'll look out for it.

Hissy Wed 05-Mar-14 00:04:52

That's what I suggested would have to happen, op and light in fact are seemingly aware of that.

In terms of the abuse here, it's absolutely what should happen.

Loopytiles Tue 04-Mar-14 22:41:13

Custody of DC will be a problem for OP since he works FT and wife is primary care-giver, unless he changes the status quo in terms of who does the childcare.

Hissy Tue 04-Mar-14 21:46:59

Mumsnet was the only place I had support in the beginning.

Early thread s that became the Emotional Abuse threads are proof of that.

You're safe here, we'll keep you focused!

Hissy Tue 04-Mar-14 21:43:12

Light every victim of domestic abuse thinks other people's situations are worse than hours.

You think what I endured was bad, yeah it was in many ways, but my abuser never mistreated my son; only me.

Your situation IS worse than mine was somehow, smd means that she'll destroy your DC directly.

What happens when his teen hormones hit? He doesn't stand a chance, and you know it. Look what she's doneto you, and you were an adult when you met her.

Do what you have to do, putting the emotions to one side, and we'll help you put yourself back together when it's done.

LightFromADeadStar Tue 04-Mar-14 18:44:49

That should be "Casual cruelty"...

LightFromADeadStar Tue 04-Mar-14 18:43:46

Attila \ Hissy - Many thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

Looking back now after having read lots on this subject on this forum it is disturbing to see the well described script and timescales being played out: the rare odd comment before getting married and the barely noticeable increase in the years after the first child until you reach the point where you are asking yourself “Hang on, how did I get here? How did I marry someone who says thing like that?”

I have read your posts through a few times now and absorbed what you have to say. I will read Lundy for that perspective, though the NPD threads and references have been very enlightening so far. “Causal cruelty” is the phrase that sticks in my mind from the halcyon pages when thinking of little comments thrown in to conversations.

Hissy - brought a tear to my eye reading your post. You have somehow found the strength to get yourself out of an unbearable situation. I understand very well what you say and without in any way wishing to compare my situation with what you have endured recognize much in it. I am going to make arrangements to get some legal advice and take next steps from there.

Thanks for giving your time to share your experiences and guidance. I hope OP reads this and can act in good time, so he doesn’t end up in this mess. I will leave this thread for the OP now and if needed start separate one…thanks.

WarmFuzzyFuture Mon 03-Mar-14 21:19:52

Hissy I think yours is a valuable and intelligent contribution.

OP, there is a lot of good advice (and sadly some really hmm viewpoints).

Essentially Attila et al have nailed it.

Deal with the reality of what is going on and the damage it is doing to both you and your DS.

If your DS came home after going to a friend's house and recounted being present during a tirade similar to what you have described in your original post, what would be your thoughts/feelings?

Hissy Mon 03-Mar-14 16:13:35

I know how long that was blush I'm sorry for going on so much.

Hissy Mon 03-Mar-14 16:13:00

Ooh yes - what Attila said about counselling. that's a HUGE NO, it will tear whatever strength you have from you and give her an ally in your destruction.

once is too much isn't it


yes love it is. it really is. I know how hard this is, I have climbed out of a hideous relationship myself and while it's a long haul, it is SO worth it.

Within 3 days I didn't feel quite so awful and within a week my son was showing strong signs of feeling stronger (little fear/stress-based developmental issues he has calmed RIGHT down) Seeing HIS improvement was what kept me going, enabled me to dig deep and ride over the pain, hurt and shame of having 'failed'.

I could see - very quickly - that I wasn't failing my DS.

Let me tell you this. You taking them away from an abuser will NOT turn their lives upside down. It will be the best and kindest thing you can do for them. You will NEVER, ever EVER regret this decision. You will see your girls grow up healthy, with boundaries and in safe, equal partnerships. If they grow up raised by her, they will become mini (and often WORSE) versions of her. That would kill you. I know it would me, and was another point that drove me onwards.

Better parents that live in separate houses than being raised by an abusive parent.

I know that I made the best decision of my life in getting my DS away from his abusive ex. Actually (although he's thousands of miles away) he sounds as if he's actually learned that he has burnt his bridges with me and some of the things he has said lead me to believe that he might have really reevaluated the way he used to think/treat me. I will never, ever EVER give him another chance. i don't need to. I know I can have normal, healthy, happy loving relationships; ones where I don't need to walk on broken glass, or looking over my shoulder for the big bad bully to kick off again.

In his book Why Does He Do That Lundy Bancroft describes the chances of an abuser changing, and STOPPING their abuse of their partners.

The Snowball's chance in Hell is as near as you are going to get to a one sentence answer here.

In order for an abusive person to change, they have to see the cold hard facts. They have to lose everything: family, children, friends, partners everyone anyone connected to them must NOT condone their behaviour in any way shape or form. Only this complete lack of support may prompt them into self-examination.

Doesn't guarantee they will change, most will even then, dismiss ALL of that wealth of negative reaction to their behaviour, tell all of them to FTFO and find other victims to fall for it.

Rather than 'give it one more chance' you need to go in hard, and fast and decisive. Take no prisoners and accept no shit.

THEN you may have a chance in getting her to change, but please don't hold out any hope. Get HER to make the changes to enable her to be considered good enough to occupy your lives.

You can't FIX this. You HAVE to break it all to pieces to have any chance of making anything positive come out of it.

PS - The book I mention above was one of the biggest keys for me to find myself after ending the relationship with DS dad, it really was liberating. I don't know if there is a FEMALE on male abuser version. Mankind might help you here.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 03-Mar-14 14:01:18


You should be aware that joint counselling is NEVER recommended where there is abuse within the relationship. Is the counsellor from a recognised body?. What happened at the initial session; I would think the initial session did not go at all well. There should be no more joint sessions. Apart from anything else, no decent counsellor worth their salt would have ever countenanced seeing the two of you together in the first place.

Again you are falling into the trap that many women in abusive themselves fall into; they want to in their minds still try everything before ending the relationship. This is already over and was over the first time she was violent towards you and by turn the children. I was not at all surprised to see that your wife herself had a violent and abusive childhood; she is basically carrying all that into her adult relationships now. That is what she learnt about relationships first and foremost from her parents. She would have behaved the same regardless of whom she married. The only way this whole sorry situation is going to get better is for both you and the children to be apart from her.

If abusers were nasty all the time no-one would want to be with them at all. Abusers can be nice sometimes but they do the nice/nasty cycle very well and it is a continuous one.

Put you and your children first now because they only get one childhood after all.

LightFromADeadStar Mon 03-Mar-14 13:46:12

Sneezecakes - very true. If the behaviour was constant, the decision would be easier. Nevertheless, I have a clear plan, so will follow that.

OP, Apologies for late hijack of your thread. Did you write that letter?

Sneezecakesmum Mon 03-Mar-14 11:49:28

It IS the Jekyll and Hyde nature of people with this type of behaviour that makes it so difficult to understand what's going on and how to deal with it.

LightFromADeadStar Mon 03-Mar-14 00:30:26

Unlucky, Atilla & Hissy - thanks for your comments; thoughtful and clear sighted as usual.

You are right in saying any exposure kids have to this type of behaviour is unacceptable and can be immensely damaging, so I have no illusions about that.

Atilla - I appreciate you note the element of risk involved in any decision about leaving because that is the difficult part insofar as acting so the the kids end up in the best and safest situation possible. There is no argument from me that this is a crappy example for them to model adult relationships on as they grow up, so something has to change. Again, I accept that the responsibility to protect them lies with me.

Hissy - you have identified correctly that a complete restructuring of my\our lives would be needed to make this happen and this is where the prevarication has been on my part: these episodes don't happen often; maybe I can make it better, if it happens one more time, then...

- but once is too much isn't it.

That said, I am going to go through counselling process - we have had initial session - spell everything out along with consequences and give it final shot. My partner witnessed much physical and other abuse in her childhood and does not get the significance of the impact of these episodes or even of phrasing and tone of voice on those around her. I know I can't fix her nor is it my job, but if I am going to turn DCs lives upside down, I need to know I have exhausted all other possibilities. The Jekyll\Hyde nature of her behaviour is hard to take because I do see the person I married and was delighted to marry a lot of the time. However, that's neither here nor there when it comes to thinking of the DCs is it.

Thanks for taking time to respond to this.

Hissy Sat 01-Mar-14 18:01:00

What worries me most by your situation light is that she already started tearing your ds to pieces.

You really do have to get your dc out of that situation.

Restructure your life to be able to be the primary caregiver. You can't leave them with her.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Mar-14 08:40:44


I would ask you what you get out of this relationship now, what needs of yours are being met here?.

There are certainly women out there who are violent in all sorts of ways towards men.

In your case I would take a chance and leave; this is misery for all concerned particularly your children who frankly deserve better from their childhoods.

Re this comment:-
"The problem here clearly is that the kids witness the big arguments, but they do see me defending them against unreasonable behaviour and saying this is not how adults should behave".

No they do not, all your children see of their parents is two people arguing and shouting at each other (and perhaps even blaming themselves for their parents problems). At 9 and 5 as well they are not in any way emotionally mature enough to realise that you're actually trying to protect them from their mother's mad outbursts; they just hear noise from the two of you. Also sounds travels so they do not even have to be in the same room to hear it all. Are your children becoming more people pleasing themselves, becoming quiet and responsive to their mother's moods. Look at the myriad of emotional effects this is having on them properly.

You state as well that if it was not for the children you would have left years ago. That is itself damning. You have a choice re your wife; your children do not.

What do you want to teach them about relationships - your wife is certainly teach them a whole bunch of damaging crap and you're also doing your bit too currently.

I would also speak to Mankind in your case as well if you have not done so to date. They can advise you further.

savemefromrickets Sat 01-Mar-14 08:26:35

As well as the diary, I would suggest getting some counselling on your own so you have someone independent to talk to and bounce your feelings off.

I found the process less woolly and fluffy than I expected, it was a genuine help to me and I now realise what I am and am not willing to tolerate. I also have more confidence and self-worth.

As for being a male suffering EA, I've seen my DP recover from an ea relationship which ended before we met. His self-confidence was eroded and he had no idea about what was acceptable behaviour in a relationship. Very minor things, which would just be a niggle to most of us, used to cause massive one sides rows. Just a note of warning, the bad behaviour from the ex continued after the breakup and has resulted in some very difficult times for him. Be prepared that breaking up with an abuser, if it comes to that, does not automatically put you in a good place mentally to shrug off their abuse. It takes time to recover to the extent that you can stop being controlled.

unlucky83 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:50:18

light I know this may not be the case - and I hope you can understand where I am coming from -
but actually when I was always annoyed with DP I know I had less patience with my DC...
If you are seething inside and unhappy, you are more likely to overact to another annoyance... and DC can be very annoying...
Maybe a split is for the best, for everyone...
The best eg I can think of is a couple I know a little - the DH was really nice, laid back, cheerful and the DW always seemed bad tempered, miserable...once at a social event she shouted (unreasonably I thought) at one of her DC...I was shock
When I heard they had split I actually thought I am not surprised it must have been awful for him living with her... then the next time I saw her, a few months later, she was like a different person...obviously much much happier and relaxed...and that includes with her DCs too (and she still is).
The split was amicable - from what I know they do have shared childcare, pretty much 50:50 and pretty flexible (he works away) -they actually both seem so much happier.
(And actually you might also gain insight from reading Wifework - or maybe couple counseling?)

LightFromADeadStar Fri 28-Feb-14 18:07:15

OP, not sure you if you are still around, but wanted to say I understand the position you are in. A couple of the posters noted the dilemma peculiar to being the male in these cases, so I wanted to share some thoughts with you about my own situation; I hope it is of some small use.

My wife is a SAHM as was her wish and is the primary caregiver. With respect to the temper tantrums and moods my position is the same, though I should I say I do not receive overt abuse in terms of name calling or belittling. My self-esteem remains intact. However, the snide comments, minimising, denials, forgetting, telling me what I mean during arguments then telling my why that was wrong (!) are emotionally draining to say the least. Arguments never get resolved because she will divert all over the place while I am trying to defend myself against a specific criticism e.g. “Oh , there’s a lot of other stuff, “ “I have had ten years of this,” though these things remain unidentified. I am genuinely open-mouthed at the responses mid-argument as they do not seem to come from any contextual position; it’s like they are beamed into her from alien brain somewhere. She will shut the argument down by saying we clearly can’t communicate and should maybe get divorced. I have reversed this recently, saying that the children are not going to see these arguments anymore, whether it be with us both in the house or one of us out of it.

If there were no DCs, I’d have left years ago. But there are two young DCs (9 & 5), the older one being on the receiving end of this sometimes if he argues back about anything, usually over being made to re-do homework. The big arguments my wife and have are the occasions I am there to intervene (either “you should support me” or “don’t interfere”). I have made it clear that I will support (D)W if DCs need a telling off about something, but I will intervene if she is yelling at them – and this is not short and to the point (not good anyway) - but drags on afterwards restating the same thing again and again mixed in with “after all I do for you,” “you don’t show me any respect.” I can’t express how I feel when I see\hear her mimicking them or using sarcasm. The problem here clearly is that the kids witness the big arguments, but they do see me defending them against unreasonable behaviour and saying this is not how adults should behave.

So, same position as you: do I stay to try and stand between (D)W and them when we have these episodes (not regular – but I am well aware of the cycle having lurked here for sometime and read all the links on the long-running emotional abuse threads); or do I take a chance and leave and go for 50:50 care of the children at the risk of ending up with every other weekend contact? The thought of not being in the same house as my DSs every day and chatting to them and tucking them into bed is mortifying. Worse than that.

Two big episodes in Dec have, I think, pushed me over the threshold now into thinking we should separate and that any time the DCs would have with me in calm environment would be better that than things continuing as they are. It’s still difficult get one’s head around as the kid’s will get told off time to time when I am not there. Thing is, it’s not just the telling off, it’s the warped world-view. FFS.

My thoughts are with you. It’s an utterly horrible position to be in.

Hissy Thu 27-Feb-14 13:33:16

writing the letter will help YOU see what the situation is, but it won't make a dent on her behaviour.


It may even give her something to hold on to, and point while she twists the words you have written and FURTHER bash you to bits about. Be careful. Write it, and put it to one side for a while, re-read it and really weigh up if you think this could be used as a weapon against you.

She may refuse to read it. Simply because it's important to you and that you'd like her to read it to make your life better. Quite simply, she is invested in the exact opposite.

IF you write the letter, it'd be best off if you actually said, read this, make the changes TODAY, or pack your shit and leave.

I'm of the belief that No Evidence of your complaints against people like this is the best.

There are a gazillion people in the world who WON'T abuse you and your children.

Lundy Bancroft says that it's possible that abusers can change. BUT... ONLY when they have lost EVERYTHING - no support from spouse, no support from friends, family, anyone they know. Then and only then does a sneaking doubt begin to creep into their minds that treating you like shit for their own emotional hard on is perhaps not the best idea.

Even then it's a very slim chance that they don't STILL feel entitled to treat you like shit.

Your children are suffering, you are suffering. You can't do anything at all to make her change, only she can. She WANTS to be like this, or she would have changed the first time you disagreed.

I'm sorry, I know this sounds so defeatist, but until you realise that the ONLY thing you can influence is whether or not you choose to accept this, then you will be banging your head against a brick wall.

Sneezecakesmum Thu 27-Feb-14 13:24:31

That should be leave the letter for her to take time to read, not leave the letter!

Talking things through is always good but not with an explosive person. They need time to read through and really think about the affect their behaviour has. Also a letter can be written with care, outlining all the points and being non confrontational.

Sneezecakesmum Thu 27-Feb-14 13:21:04

Leave the letter and go out for an hour or two so that she has time to really think things through. If she is explosive and abusive then her instant reaction will be to tear it up in front of you. Otherwise sounds like a good plan.

MistressDeeCee Thu 27-Feb-14 11:03:34

Also - if you are thinking of leaving I wouldnt outline plans to her, as yet. Seek full advice 1st. Don't go to her with 'Im Leaving'. Its far better to keep your own counsel, at least for a time. To put it bluntly, you are a man so I think you have to be more careful about these matters

MistressDeeCee Thu 27-Feb-14 10:57:36

OP - I would say sit down and talk clearly and firmly with your DW regarding her behaviour - its a serious issue. If she can't or won't take steps to change her behaviour then you have to contemplate leaving. What this will mean for your son, I don't know..get advice on taking him with you. You will do your son absolutely no favours by remaining in a toxic environment, all the shouting and screaming and boiling rage, the watching and hearing you belittled by his mother, will very probably leave him a nervous wreck and prevent him from functioning normally in relationships when he grows up. Its very probable that he will have zero respect for you in years to come, and that will also blight the father-son relationship. He doesnt deserve that legacy. A parent's job is to protect a child and enable that within a safe environment, not to enable a person who's behaviour is causing acute distress, particularly in the presence of a child. This must be awful to live with. Please seek further advice.

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