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Self-help book recommendations - anxiety/communication type stuff

(9 Posts)
toomuchtooold Mon 31-Mar-14 07:27:49

I'm trying to help my OH find a self-help book that will help him with his communication.

This is the problem: when he's anxious about something he communicates this/lets off steam by getting angry about something else and having a fairly angry moan about it - usually something tangentially related, and usually something you can't do anything about.
I'm looking for a book that'll help him understand why he does that and find a more positive way of communicating his problems that will help us actually do something about them.

Let's see, what else can I tell you to avoid drip feeding? He's just been made redundant and has another job to go to but it's with a 6 month probation period, which neither of us (being old gimmers) is used to and it's unsettling. Also it was really hard for him to find anything, which surprised us both as he has a fairly shiny professional qualification that we both thought would make him pretty employable. OK so he is dealing with that shock to the system. We've not had the easiest few years: I changed career in 2009 just before finding out my dad was dying of cancer, and I also had recurrent miscarriage in the meantime and only had kids - twins - in 2012 after IVF and since then we've been you know, raising twins, so we are both a bit knackered and fed up. He is from Switzerland, I am from Scotland, we live in London, and for years he's wanted to move back to Switzerland. Though it's a lovely country to look at, I've never been keen - did a postdoc there in 2004/5 and couldn't find a job, and got sick of being asked about my family situation, it seems much less progressive than the UK as regards women and mothers working. In any case now it would be professional suicide for me as I've not been in my new career long enough to move jobs (let alone countries, with my shit German and no formal qualifications which the Swiss are very keen on) and I've been on mat leave/sabbatical for the last 2 years, just about to return to work now. If I couldn't find a job in 2005 in the career I trained for, before I had kids, will I be able to find a job in my new career with no qualifications, two toddlers in tow and a dodgy looking employment history behind me? Probably not.

The Switzerland thing is what comes up in his "I'm anxious about this thing so I'm going to complain about this other thing" complaints and so it forms a lot of our discussion but I think it is a red herring because he's done it with other things as well. We've just spent so fucking long talking about Switzerland, and I'm at the point I've said I will actually go to Switzerland and throw my career under a bus if only it will stop him complaining about it. I suspect it will solve nothing, he'll still feel anxious about things, he'll still express it indirectly, it'll just be something else we can't easily fix - so before it comes to that I'd like to find him something to read that will help him maybe understand why he does that and we can try and fix that problem in our communication first and see if that helps. Does that make sense? Sorry for the enormous post. Any ideas? For books, or just relationship advice?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 08:00:05

I don't think you need a book to recognise a blamer. By pinning all his woes on something that is very unlikely to happen, he dodges responsibility for fixing things himself. It's bloody miserable and you are quite right to assume that if you did up sticks and emigrate he'd find something else to moan about.

Tell him that you're not on this earth to listen to him 'letting off steam'. Whatever crap is going on in his life it is no excuse to take it out on you or make the atmosphere miserable. He is responsible for dealing with the crap in his life and, whilst you can potentially help him do that, Switzerland is not up for discussion and angry moaning stops now. Repeat and don't engage further.

FabULouse Mon 31-Mar-14 08:41:43

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 08:56:42

It's not sublimation.

toomuchtooold Mon 31-Mar-14 09:30:05

fab, thanks for the reply, but I think you're right cogito, it's not sublimation - what I've read about that suggests it makes people quite nice to live with! A blamer - yes. I didn't realise it was A Thing but google tells me he's in good company grin.

Anyway cogito thanks for sticking up for me! It is good just to know someone else thinks it's out of order. I think I might write down what you said as a script and repeat it each time. I've tried all sorts of responses and nothing seems to help but just repeating my position and then shutting up is something I've not tried. I know it works with the kids so...

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 10:00:17

As far as I know it's not 'a thing' it's just my word for someone who would rather blame anyone or anything and do nothing than take responsibility for their own inadequacies or take action. hmm They think others are deliberately out to make their life difficult and get a grim satisfaction from it. All their woes can either be traced back to some distant wrong or as a result of something that is never likely to happen. They love a self-indulgent wallow rather than rolling up their sleeves and making the best of it. All I know is that they're a PITA to live with.

toomuchtooold Mon 31-Mar-14 13:51:31

Thing is, he's not a loser by any means - it's more like a stress response than a habitual thing if that makes sense. I'm trying to think how to say this without sounding like a total patsy. Sometimes the stuff he is blaming things on is stuff it's hard not to take personally, mostly it's totally random and not really to the point at all, but what it has in common is that it's stuff you can't change. And it seems to really anger him - it's not like "oh, I can't change that so I'll just sit on the sofa" sort of thing it's more like "WHY is this thing that I totally can't change SO UTTERLY ANNOYING?" At the weekend it can form most of his conversation, getting angry at something about politics on the radio, or London traffic when we're out in the car - that's actually quite funny that one, if not tragic. I have endured countless rants about why certain traffic lights use the system they do i.e. why do we appear to wait longer than the other traffic queues, why don't they have a system that takes account of the amount of traffic etc etc. What do you say to that? And then I saw this TV programme about TFL where they showed you this supercomputer and explained that they take all this real-time traffic flow data and adjust the traffic light settings to keep the traffic moving but they prioritise buses and bikes. And I was like, wow! There is an answer! And I waited till the next time I was sitting next to him in the car and the question came WHY are the lights on this sequence etc and I was like there is a supercomputer! They do look at the traffic flow and adjust the lights accordingly! And there is a reason why they don't prioritise you, and that's that you're not a bus! But of course he wasn't happy to know there was a reason, he was miffed, and every time now he just incorporates the computer into the rant, these lights are shit, I don't know what that computer thinks it's doing etc. Anyway it does make me think there's no way of responding positively to this stuff, even if I wanted to, which I don't, because if you want something off someone why not act like an adult? Why not try and persuade? And then the ranting that isn't directed at me, it's always slightly directed at me, like it will be about this country or something and it's hard not to take it personally, and in any case it's a shit way of moaning because maybe I would like to moan along with him or sympathise or whatever but he does it in such a way as to include me in the group of people that are causing the problem. You know like if you're talking to a friend, moaning, letting off steam, and you go (for instance) "oh good god, these people who drive their kids to school every day" and then you remember your friend drives their kids to school so you go "I mean, around our way, because the schools are really nearby and there is good public transport so there's no reason to" and your friend will agree even though actually you both disagree? My OH would have no idea what was happening in that conversation. Oh god. And he wants to go back to Switzerland because he feels socially isolated here (and blames me for that, as if I have time for arranging a social diary with twin toddlers) and I wonder if it really is to do with people doing things differently in Switzerland? I don't think so. I don't remember people being like that.
Sorry, I'm just ranting here.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 13:59:35

Are you familiar with the expression 'tilting at windmills'? Railing at imaginary enemies. Thinking everything's out to get them. I'm not going to say he's abusive on the strength of what you've written so far but I would recommend you read this article. He's exhibiting a lot of the characteristics shared by abusive men

toomuchtooold Mon 31-Mar-14 17:57:18

There are some similarities with some of the behaviours mentioned in that article but he's not abusive, just grumpy. I think tbh more than anything else he is making himself unhappy with it (although having said that it also irritates me, and that bothers me more!) and my asking on here about books was sparked by a conversation we had about it yesterday. He said he'd like to go to therapy but there's no time - and there genuinely is no time for that, he's not just saying that! We have no time for anything which is half the problem. Having kids is a great opportunity to grow as a person but not if you can never reflect because you're always, always busy.

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