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Feeling objectified and criticised

(33 Posts)
theeyeofthestorm Thu 31-Jul-14 12:58:25

Name changed for this - but am a long time lurker on the relationships board, trying to learn whether I'm capable of a LTR. This situation isn't as bad as many, but I need some help to get my thoughts in order.

I'm in my 30s, DH is 50, married a year and together for 3. It's his 2nd marriage; he has 3 children in their 20s. When we met, we had a casual sexual relationship. My life was going badly, I was self harming (including using sex tbh). Since we've been together I've done a lot of work on myself, through a year of individual counselling, good female friends and making my life worth something again. When we first got together I was really broken - I'd given a baby up for adoption believing I'd never make a fit mother, and I thought I'd never get back to my career. DH was supportive, caring and we have had brilliant times together. I feel disloyal writing this. When we argue he gets angry and won't believe he is wrong, ever, I always make the first move towards compromise. I need to get my head straight before I talk to him.

The first issue is sex - I feel really objectified. When we met I was doing all sorts with DH, dogging/ webcams/ other people. I now see this as an extension of my self harm, making myself feel worthless. We've not done anything like that for 18 months - but DH brings it up every time we have sex - and often at other times, eg. Every time we go away. For a weekend or holiday he looks up all the dogging sites and if I'm wearing a skirt, he suggests we could always have sex in the back of the car somewhere. Also when I'm getting dressed he'll look at me with this smile/growl that he says is him fantasising what he'd like to do to me.

It means we only have sex about once a week, although if he didn't always talk about how other men would have me while he watches, I would want it more often. I've told him this, and that I've changed and that those things were emotionally damaging to me - he's stopped pushing me to do it, to be fair, but doesn't seem to be able to not fantasise out loud and it's reinforcing my negative views of myself.

Secondly, since I've returned to work in my previous professional training job, he's changed from supportive to always having digs at me. Previously I was a driven high achiever with high standards and I burned myself out and ended up in a psychiatric unit and with permanent effects of self harm. Since coming back I'm taking it steadier, going home early if I'm finished and allowed, and it's helping as I've been really tired. He's making digs about my work ethic and professionalism, and how he'd work much harder to make a good impression in a new job. But he is self employed, in commission only sales, with limited initiative. I out earn him, pay the rent and almost all the bills, whilst he runs the car. I've been grateful as his flexibility has enabled him to support me through appointments and my recovery. I feel like battling my own guilt and self esteem. Issues is tough enough without being kicked when I'm down. Maybe it's a storm in a teacup that will settle down.
When I've mentioned finances to him he's accused me of 'using' him to look after me, in an "after all I've done for you" way. Maybe I have.

I feel lost and confused, hence posting. Should I suggest couples counselling? Or will things settle down and change, are these minor issues that occur in every marriage, am I being a drama queen??

Thank you if you have read this far!

Quitelikely Thu 31-Jul-14 13:07:11

Firstly well done for turning your life around. You achieved that, no one else.

I think that he is struggling to come to terms with who you were then and who you are now. I like the sound of who you are now and your progress should be an inspiration to others.

I wonder if you should tell him LOUD and CLEAR one more time that you aren't interested in going back to your old ways and want to leave them in the PAST. If he refuses, well you might have some hard choices to make.

You're only young and I wonder if he feels threatened by your success and age. Either way I don't feel his behaviour is the norm within a marriage, your strong now, assert yourself and if he doesn't like it he knows what he can do! Go girl

Jan45 Thu 31-Jul-14 13:10:02

Honestly? He sounds like a sleazy abusive arsehole and I am struggling to work out what you actually see in him or get out of the relationship - sorry but I think he's been using and is still trying to use you.

Wrapdress Thu 31-Jul-14 13:11:08

It makes sense that when you first got together with him you were in a bad place and you picked a guy that really wasn't that great.

Now, you are getting healthier and stable and this guy is no longer the right guy. Your new and improved self recognizes this and would never get together would such a guy now.

Y0rkshirePudding Thu 31-Jul-14 13:22:20

Wow, I really feel for you. Having had similar issues (although not a partner who includes other people in our sex life) I understand what its like to come out the other side from very low self-esteem and mental health issues as a result of other people (family, friends and partners) using my soft nature against me to abuse and bully me.

I ended up in physically and abusive relationship after leaving home at a young age, my family and friends disowned me because of his actions and attitude towards them so I was alone (obviously manipulated and planned by him to get me on my own). He put me down, accused me of doing things I'd never done, criticised my job, earnings and achievements, criticised my appearance, compared my body to that of other celebrity women, compared my sexual abilities against porn stars and making me do things in bed I didn't want to really do, hit me, went missing for days on end, slept with other women, threatened suicide if I challenged him.... and then I fell pregnant to him (not planned!). On discovering the pregnancy and evaluating what I wanted from the future I ended the relationship and the pregnancy, and then I had a mental breakdown.

The reason I got back on track is because I finally realised I was letting people do this to me because I believed I was worthless. I was ultimately my own worst enemy. I decided to spend some time on my own, out of a relationship, to get my own life as an individual back on track. To learn to some self respect and personal strength. To learn who I really was and what I was capable of on my own.

Then eventually I met a wonderful man who took all my issues on board, respected me and would never do anything except build me up, help and encourage me. Where my needs are met equally as much as his without being pushed or bullied into doing things Im not comfortable with.

It seems you are on the path to recovery, getting over your once harmful past. Seeing that this man was part if that past and continues to see as the person you once were, and not who you are now, can this relationship continue to work???

I guess theres no harm in relationship counselling if you still love him and really do want the relationship to continue. But if that fails I would put yourself first because being objectified and criticised is never going to help you.... good luck x

AMumInScotland Thu 31-Jul-14 13:46:43

You feel objectified and criticised because you are being objectified and criticised.

He is 50 and chose to have a LTR and now marriage with a woman 15 or so years younger, who would let him talk her into doing every slutty thing he could think of.

He still wants to be with her.

You are not her any longer, and there is a clash between how you now want to be treated (like an actual human being who is worth something) and the way she let him treat her (like a piece of meat).

Be strong. Tell him how it is going to be, and don't feel that you 'owe' him something for having been there for you at a bad time. You repaid him all that time, by giving him what he wanted out of the relationship.

If what you want and what he wants are now incompatible, and he is not prepared to change to be with the woman you have become (through hard work and effort on your part - well done, by the way!) then you have to part, either on decent terms or on bad ones.

Seriouslyffs Thu 31-Jul-14 13:50:17

He's the problem, not you. However the relationship started you should be happy now, I'd leave.

CleanLinesSharpEdges Thu 31-Jul-14 14:01:23

He prefers you broken and vulnerable and pliable. He's sabotaging your return to work. He doesn't like the new you.

You could try counselling, but I'd suggest on your own and not with him.

The 'new you' is almost fully emerged and I'll bet you won't want or need him, and he knows this.

zukkermaus Thu 31-Jul-14 14:05:27

Congratulations on rebuilding your life after what must have been a traumatic time. As someone else has already said, you did it yourself so should be immensely proud.

Nice of your oh to slag off your work ethic etc when you out earn him and, car aside, keep him.

You've told him the sleaze has to stop but it's still there. I suspect it will always be there as long as he remains. He wants the victim you were and fears and resents the success you have become. This man is not good for you and I suspect you already know that.

4seasons Thu 31-Jul-14 14:07:15

I agree with AMuminscotland . He married the woman you used to be and still wants that . What 50 year old man wouldn't want a younger woman who not only earns good money but fulfils every sexual fantasy he has ?

You are not that woman any longer. By your own efforts and hard work you have changed into the woman you prefer and he just can't hack it . Yes, he helped you through the bad times but he got plenty out of you in return . Personally I don't think he will change ... why would he ? He had everything he wanted before the change and now it sounds as though he is digging away at your self esteem to get you back to the way you were before . I would be making plans to move on without him . He is using you , not the other way round . You are still young and sound as if you are well on the way to total recovery . You don't need him .... he needs you ( and not in a good way ) . Escape as soon as possible is my advice .

theeyeofthestorm Thu 31-Jul-14 14:48:56

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

Jan Abusive - really?? Am I that in denial?
And you asked what do I get out of the relationship? I guess initially I didn't want to be on my own. I now am starting to feel that I'd quite like it. We have some really good times. He listens to me, I do think out loud and talk a lot. I have felt I could talk to him about anything. He does his share in the house, I get really tired, although I don't have any sort of fatigue-related diagnosis, and he does all the more energetic cleaning, I just cook and shop and do the laundry/ ironing. I love travelling and being away - maybe that's not real life though. I'm starting to feel that some of the things he does - he takes me to work and collects me etc. - is maybe not so caring and a little controlling instead.

I thought I was stronger than this - that I wouldn't be scared of bringing things up. I still hate conflict - that's very deeply rooted in childhood and even counselling hasn't got me past it. I feel like I just need some space to think and talk to my friends - most of whom have children and so private chats in the holidays are hard.

The other big deal is that I've come back to my faith in my recovery - and marriage vows are for life - I can't believe I'm even contemplating potentially the end before we've even quite passed our first wedding anniversary. Would he be entitled to any of my money/ savings/ salary?

Sorry to just have such a stream of consciousness. Facing this seems huge.

MargotThreadbetter Thu 31-Jul-14 17:37:50

You met him when you were at your most vulnerable OP, and it sounds as if he took advantage of this.
He sounds quite manipulative and personally I'd be looking to end this relationship unless he is really willing to change.
He gets a lot from being with you. What do you get from this marriage? Someone who shares the housework and lives off you hmm

zukkermaus Thu 31-Jul-14 18:31:39

I dont know about sharing stuff out etc, best take legal advice on that one.

Regarding faith and vows, well any binding solemn vow is only worth the value that those party to it place on it. You take yours seriously. He doesn't seem to honour you and that looks like violating his vows to me.

Look this guy's no good. Get rid and get with someone who respects you.

zukkermaus Thu 31-Jul-14 18:34:18

I get the huge. Of course it's scary. I'm in a similar boat myself and I'm bricking it. If your recent past has shown anything its that you rock at turning mountains into molehills and setbacks into opportunity. You'll be ok

Twinklestein Thu 31-Jul-14 18:59:21

There's no faith on earth that requires you to stay married to someone who undermines you and pressures you to go dogging.

Don't confuse spiritual beliefs with social mores that cluster around religion.

Your faith will give you the strength that will enable you to get free of a man got involved with in a period of self harm, low confidence and vulnerability. The relationship worked at a certain period of your life but you have now out-grown it. To stay with him now will endanger your recovery and risks pulling you back down.

He liked the girl with risky sexual behaviour and low self esteem who was no threat to him. Now he's intimidated by your job. Some men can cope with being out-earned but he obviously can't. It won't change, the jibes will get worse as you progress.

He's trying to manipulate you by saying you're using him for support, in fact, he's using you as you're supporting him financially.

This relationship has now turned into an abusive scenario, it always was in fact as he encouraged your risky sexual activities, but I can see he did give you a certain amount of support that you needed at the time. This is the last vestige of abuse you need to cut from your life in order to progress to a strong, confident future and a proper relationship.

hamptoncourt Thu 31-Jul-14 19:07:25

You have outgrown him, it's as simple as that.

Seriouslyffs Thu 31-Jul-14 19:22:00

Dear OP, I'm a Christian in recovery, Catholic to boot and with lots of very traditional evangelical friends. I would be running for the hills with my friends egging me on if my DH behaved like yours- and that's from a 20 year marriage. Who you are, your recovery and your faith have nothing to do with this marriage.

thestamp Thu 31-Jul-14 19:36:46

Oh darling you need to end this, he sounds so so dreadful and you could have a lovely life if you got rid of him. He took advantage of you. I actually feel sick on your behalf.

Once you have been married a year, he will be entitled to half your assets/money, unless you ring-fenced them in an antenuptial contract.

If I were you I would file for divorce ASAP. Before the first year is up. Just end it before you become even more legally entwined.

Castlemilk Thu 31-Jul-14 19:42:58

Get away from him.

He preyed on you while you were vulnerable; if he could, he'd make you stay vulnerable. He's a user and abuser.

You've done well to come this far, to go further, you need to get rid of the monkey on your back... because from here on in, it's going to try harder and harder to strangle you. Leave!!!!

Branleuse Thu 31-Jul-14 19:48:45

if you both liked all the alt sex stuff originally, then its not surprising that he hasnt just stopped liking it just because you have.
feeling objectified by it - well it is what it is. All that stuff is objectifying. Pretty much any sex except for gentle lovemaking involves objectification i think. I think its making you nervous though which is understandable
He doesnt sound particularly awful to me, but it does sound as if hes insecure with the new you and i wonder if some couples therapy might be the way forward

Twinklestein Thu 31-Jul-14 20:14:28

He doesnt sound particularly awful to me


theeyeofthestorm Thu 31-Jul-14 20:15:31

See, it's so confusing, different points of view from the same post.
My head says maybe it's not that bad, maybe I've moved the goalposts on him and that's difficult to cope with. And I do believe that people can change - surely I prove that.

seriously I guess I need to be talking honestly with friends - the stuff with work I've mentioned to a friend but not shown how upset I was.

I need to talk to my close friends. I can't bear to contemplate that it might be wise to see a solicitor.

I'm shattered and have crampy loose bowels - always did show stress physically. If I don't come back to the thread til the morning it's because I've managed to have an early night. Thank you all for letting me feel heard.

Twinklestein Thu 31-Jul-14 20:23:25

Sleep well OP.

I don't think you moved goalposts so much as sorted your life out. You've changed, he hasn't. You wanted to change, does he?

People don't tend to change when their behaviour doesn't penalise them directly. If he likes dogging, and doesn't feel bad doing it, why would he want to change that? He just needs to find someone who enjoys it equally. He also needs to find someone whose job doesn't intimidate him.

Meerka Thu 31-Jul-14 21:09:46

sounds like he was good for you at that stage in your life but you've changed and want different things. He doesn't and is struggling, seeing you develop, and is finding it hard to support you and to encourage you. He's trying to hold you back. Maybe because he senses he's loosing you.

fwiw, I think this way of life now is better than the one you used to live. But it's not my opinion but yours that matters!

About using you - I suspect that he tried to be there for you whne you were at a bad time and that you both had a lot of fun. Maybe you and the people who were living that lifestyle were sort of using each other. But it's not what you want now.

theeyeofthestorm Fri 01-Aug-14 07:47:08

I think he can tell that something isn't right and I can't pretend all is well. After Tues/Wed when he left me at work in tears with criticisms, he's now all over me, all back to normal. I want to get through today, and am seeing a friend tomorrow and trying to make sure I see her by myself, as I think I really need to talk about how I feel out loud and have support from those who I really trust.

Meerka I think he would see it as meeting me part way, and giving up a lot. So if this is compromise, how can I now threaten to end the marriage instead? Sorry if I'm going round in circles.

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