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Long-running issues with conflict- WWYD?

(19 Posts)
ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 08:05:45

Haven't bothered to name change for this. I just need some advice and somewhere to vent. DH and I have been married for seven years, have DS who's nearly two. DH is not a bad man, but in recent months some things have really annoyed me and I don't know what to do. He has always struggled to deal with conflict. Him getting angry about something usually results in him doing the 'silent' thing and refusing to engage until he has calmed down. At first I really struggled with this and would get angrier and angrier with him which made it worse, but in more recent years I have tended to leave him alone until it blows over. We have talked about it several times and he knows he is not great with conflict but did agree earlier in the year that he is getting better.

He has a busy, stressful job and this affects him quite a bit. In recent months he has been very stressed and a lot of this seems to have manifested in him sitting around saying how tired and run down he feels. He is a great dad and is not the sort of person to sit around all day doing nothing, but I feel as if it's whenever we're alone or have downtime together. It frustrates me. I'm permanently tired as well. We have a toddler and I also work FT. But I don't sit around moping about tiredness whenever I get the chance. I told him a couple of months ago that I often feel as if he doesn't want to speak to me. I feel as if me trying to have conversations with him annoys him. He did make the effort to be chatty for about a week but then things tailed off again. It stresses me out because I feel as if I'm constantly trying not to annoy him and when I do I really beat myself up about it. I feel as if I'm not allowed to get angry or show any rage. I don't really know why that is, I think it goes back to the early days of our marriage when he got really shocked and angry by me showing anger towards him.

Last night DS had a tantrum at dinner about not wanting to eat it. DH exacerbated the situation by getting stressed with him, before storming off. DS continued to cry and scream until I got cross with him, having spent time making a meal that he would usually love. Am not proud of this but I took him upstairs and plonked him in his room. I sometimes feel as if I have to be heard tl be disciplining him in case I get accused of beinf soft on him. DH stormed back in, got DS and tried to make him sit at thr table. DS wet himself and I got more stressed. DH scooped him up and took him upstairs to comfort him, completely shutting me out.

Once he was in bed I sat for ages trying to figure out how to broach the subject. Eventually I told DH I wasn't happy with how dinner had gone. I was in tears but was calmly trying to put my point of view across. I told him I felt as if I was being blamed. Sure enough, apparently it was my fault for a) not cooking the vegetables for long enough and b) taking DS to his room. I was pretty speechless tbh. I said something about the fact that I always try my best with him, and at this point DH stalked off to bed without another word.

I think this all sounds pathetic. I feel like such a doormat in situations like that because I feel totally unable to show anger and know that he won't engage. I know I won't get an apology. Sometimes all I want is for him to say sorry. He uses the fact we don't have a hugely active sex life as a weapon against me sometimes, but I struggle to muster up any sex drive most of the time. That has been an issue for years and he sees it as my issue but I think it goes both ways.

I am so angry and upset and don't know how to go about changing the way he deals with conflict. I don't even know where to start. I doubt he would want to talk to someone as a couple. I know what will happen - he will eventually go back to speaking to me (probably at some point today). This post makes him sound horrendous but the majority of the time he is a good husband and dad. I just don't know how to mkve forward on this. Any advice much appreciated. I feel as if I have no-one to talk to about it all.

How do you think he should deal with conflict? Why do you think you should change him?

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 08:18:20

I know that he has to change, not that I have to change him, but I want him to see that it makes me unhappy. I want him to be able to sit and talk about an issue, not do the silent treatment until he feels he wants to 'go back to normal' without an apology. On occasion he will talk about things, but it is very rare.

RandomMess Sat 29-Mar-14 08:21:30

I would suggest going to see a relationship therapist as they can help you unpick what is really going. Why he reacts the way he does may help he learn to react in a different way.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 29-Mar-14 08:38:20

What do you get out of this relationship now, what needs of yours are being met here?.

His problems are deeply rooted (likely going back to childhood and what btw was his like?. What example did his parents set him, I think you would find that one or both of them are the very same) and you are no therapist.

What's he like in the outside world towards other people?.

He does not sound like either a good dad or husband at all, women usually write that comment too when they can think of nothing positive to write about their man. Silent treatment as well can be seen as emotionally abusive; it also has you running around after him. I see too he never apologies.

What do you want to teach your son about relationships here?.
Is this really the example of a marriage you would want your child to emulate and to become his "normal".

If relationship counselling is considered I would attend on my own because I do not think he would attend anyway. He probably thinks he is not doing anything at all wrong here.

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 08:56:27

What do I get out of the relationship?

He wants a good family life, we will prioritise us above other things and sees it as important. He really is a good dad who does so much for DS. He works hard, he isn't lazy and pulls his weight when it comes to the house, DS, etc. He wants to do nice things for us and does try hard in that respect. He is very supportive of my career and my interests. He was hugely supportive of me through maternity leave, which I did not enjoy and made me very miserable.

His issues are deeply rooted and he knows that. His dad is very similar and, tbh, worse, for doing the silent treatment. His upbringing was quite strict and misbehaving, showing anger, displeasing his dad etc had consequences. Not physical etc, more a sense that he was a disappointment. His dad is also the type who doesn't easily accept blame. DH knows that there is baggage from his parents but also we both feel that in general, we try to model a different way of doing things.

The conflict stuff is absolutely not what I would want DS to emulate.

Linguini Sat 29-Mar-14 09:16:31

He sounds very unhappy. Expressing tiredness and stress and just wanting to sit around quiet is probably his way of dealing with his unhappiness (depression??).

You had a bad argument over the dinner, and he blamed you for your toddlers tantrum, and then totally undermined your decision to discipline your child. That is not fair on you, and no wonder you are seething.

All couples have arguments once in a while so it's up to you if you want to make this one into something of high significance, i.e pushing you to re-considering your relationship over this one.

Do arguments like this happen all the time? It sounds like normally he will sit around do the silent thing and mope. Then when it does come out he clearly blames you...

I would say he is a very unhappy person, there may be some hope but it will be a tremendous amount of work, and do you really have the energy?

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 09:33:16

No, they don't happen all the time. Probably a small handful of times a year. I think he is unhappy about work stress etc and it is hard to get him to open up about it. When he does you can tell he feels better for talking about it. But it rarely happens. I really do want to work to help make things better. It's just so hard to not push everything under the carpet until the next time it happens. It took a lot of courage for me to bring up feeling as if he doesn't want to talk to me, constantly worrying about making him upset etc, a couple of months ago, and although he seemed surprised and concerned it all ended up coming back round to my perceived disinterest in sex/physical closeness.

Linguini Sat 29-Mar-14 09:50:07

You obviously care about him, stepping on eggshells trying not to annoy him etc, and sounds like you do want to try to make things work. It takes two though!

it could easily be a bad phase, related to stresses at work and other things... It'll be hard, but explain things just aren't working the way they are at the moment, and changes need to be made. If he admits is feeling down suggest a chancellor, suggest rel therapy together, once you are both actively engaged in making improvements things should get better...

Assert that you don't accept that problems are your fault if he tries pushing blame onto you again.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 29-Mar-14 09:50:51

So he avoids conflict unless the conflict involves a toddler and then he's quite OK meting out the strong-arm stuff? If you want to raise a problem he stonewalls you and so you end up keeping quiet for fear of provoking the silent treatment? This 'stressful job' does he avoid conflict there or is he quite capable of dealing with disagreements constructively? And you don't feel like being intimate with this charmer?.... don't blame you.

All I'm seeing is a great big bully. Sulks when he doesn't get his own way. Picks on little kids. Unhappy my arse. Appalling behaviour and I suggest you stop making excuses for it.

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 11:09:04

No, he's not like that with DS. He was angry but left the room rather than take it out in him. But then it got taken out on me instead. I do want to talk to him about it, Linguini, and I do feel it's not normal that he is incessantly so 'tired' and lethargic. I feel that as a parent you just have to deal with tiredness. You're stuck with it.

Cogito, at work he has to deal with quite a lot of conflict. It makes him stressed and sometimes worried if it is a difficult situation.

RandomMess Sat 29-Mar-14 11:24:43

IMHO the lack of emotional closeness - him discussing how he his feeling about life, work etc. is part of the cause of the lack of sexual closeness.

I need to have that emotional involvement to want to have sex with someone - don't know if that is the same for you?

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 11:44:41

Oh yeah, absolutely, Random. I can't just be expected to be up for sex without that side of things. And I think that's a vicious circle because if I say that he will probably talk about how he neess the sexual sise of things to feel emotionally close.

RandomMess Sat 29-Mar-14 12:12:16

Hence worth going to see a relationship therapist to try and find a way to work through it.

He will need to make the commitment and effort to talk daily and you will need to make the effort to have sex. It has to be a 2 way commitment though and obviously there is a lot else going on that he should look at resolving with help.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 29-Mar-14 12:34:10

I asked you what you get out of the relationship?. This was your reply:-

"He wants a good family life, we will prioritise us above other things and sees it as important. He really is a good dad who does so much for DS. He works hard, he isn't lazy and pulls his weight when it comes to the house, DS, etc. He wants to do nice things for us and does try hard in that respect. He is very supportive of my career and my interests. He was hugely supportive of me through maternity leave, which I did not enjoy and made me very miserable".

None of the above is actually about YOU directly (its all about his supposed needs and wants) and how he has and continues to meet any of your emotional needs.

Your H is basically replicating what his own dad taught him and you two are feeling the brunt of it. Pressures at work are no excuse; he's always been this way inclined.

Does he really do a lot for your son really or would you like to think that he does?. He is a bullying man to you and your son picks up on all the unspoken vibes as well. Is this really what you want to teach your son about relationships because you're leaving him a pretty poor legacy here.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 29-Mar-14 12:36:05

Would such a person actually consider counselling though?. He may well refuse and then what?. If he does refuse then go on your own.

Swoosg Sat 29-Mar-14 12:41:04

This is very hard but I'm not sure it's easy to have a relationship without sex - when one partner wants to and the other doesn't. Your dh sounds like he has slightly given up on your relationship, and do do you. It really seems like you need to re-engage with each other. And although this is a cliche, I would try regular date nights. There was an interesting C4 programme about 2 women who'd gone off sex... One was in a similar situation to you. The therapist advised erotic novels and date night as well as therapy to unpick her attitude to it. Worked very well!

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 29-Mar-14 12:45:45

" He was angry but left the room rather than take it out in him"

He stressed your child out so much with his 'storming' that the poor kid wet himself... hmm That's a bully.

ballroompink Sat 29-Mar-14 13:04:05

Attila, he really does do a lot. Plays with him, takes him out for the day, does activities with him, gets up in the night with him, loves spending time with him. I agree that DH is not meeting many of my emotional needs atm but then like swoosg says, there is the sex thing as well (I would say it happens 1-2 times a month). I think re-engaging with each other is very important.

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