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Emotional blackmail? Or what?

(33 Posts)
imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 06:58:59

My DH will almost always justify his behavior by saying that I clearly don't have the first clue what he's going through or I wouldn't say what I've said/object as I have.
For example, if he is stressed because of work (which is a lot - in fact, it feels like a good proportion of our relationship), he will storm about, snap at any suggestion I may make to try and support, tell me he's "struggling, feels on the edge of a breakdown". If I object to any of his behavior, he will say I have no idea what he's dealing with or I wouldn't say that.
Or, he will justify being cross/angry by saying that he has terrible parents and suffered as a child (true) and that I don't have any idea how that feels.
He gets pissed off that I am anxious around him during an episode, but if I object to any of it, then he brings up work stress/financial responsibility, upbringing and says I am demonstrating that I have no idea about what he is dealing with.

Is this emotional blackmail? I never know how to respond, even when I feel sure I am right. Because he is correct in that I do have lovely parents (despite a difficult divorce situation) and I'm not current;y working but looking after toddler and baby.

I'm not confrontational and quick to anger, and I don't think it's ok to be demonstrably angry as often as he is. (Nor do I think it's ok to throw things, etc). It makes me anxious and feel like I'm walking on eggshells. DH says that I'm in a minority here.

DH tends to get his own way.

Breakfast time so must go.

Vivacia Fri 17-Oct-14 07:05:00

I think it's reasonable for him to have these feelings and to also feel that you don't understand. However. He needs to take responsibility for dealing with his baggage. He isn't allowed to continue indefinitely like this. He needs to go to his GP for help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Oct-14 07:06:39

It's bullying and it's a deliberate way to exert control and get his own way. If he's stressed he needs to find ways to deal with it... see a doctor, get a different job, seek counselling, go for long walks, whatever. He must take responsibility for his behaviour. It is not acceptable to blame you for his bad luck, bad mood or bad attitude. Throwing things is aggression and designed to intimidate. It is classed as domestic abuse. If you are anxious around him, it's because you are being bullied.

The only solutions to bullying are to either stand up to it forcefully, refuse to be intimidated and not let the bully have all their own way. The more you give in, the worse a bully will get.


Reject the bully out of hand. i.e. 'LTB'

whatdoesittake48 Fri 17-Oct-14 07:07:49

You are in an abusive relationship. He is training you not to question his behaviour by getting angry every time you do.
One thing to remember is that you have no control over his behaviour. You can only control what you do and that means not accepting this.
Don't placate or sympathise. Tell him his behaviour is unacceptable and that you won't stands for it. He needs therapy to deal with his childhood and it really would be ideal if that was done when he was away from you and the children.
Throwing things is domestic violence. ... The rest is emotional abuse. Don't accept it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Oct-14 07:08:47

Does he behave the same way to other people as he does to you? Does he get angry and throw things at others?

It is not reasonable

knittingdad Fri 17-Oct-14 07:23:29

"It makes me anxious and feel like I'm walking on eggshells."

This is a classic warning sign. I had this with my ex-wife. I was always trying to anticipate what the next disaster might be.

If he is not capable of understanding how his behaviour is affecting you, now, and of changing his behaviour to stop doing so, then he is simply perpetuating the abuse he felt he has/is suffering from. That's not fair to you.

hesterton Fri 17-Oct-14 07:31:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 07:51:47

Gosh - thank you for your responses. I can't reply right now because I have to us ready to leave, but will get back later on. I'm finding these issues all consuming at the moment, so it's good to get other perspectives.

Just to clarify - throwing things isn't regular, and nothing has ever been thrown at me. It would be in another room, but when I am in the house, so I think that may be a red herring. I just don't think it's the right way to express anger and we disagree on this. I don;t let my toddler do it!

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Oct-14 08:06:57

Destructive behaviour such as throwing objects, is aggressive and intimidating whether the things are sent in your direction or not. He is wrong and you are right. I'm glad you don't let your toddler do it but please be aware that, by seeing Dad behaving in this way, your toddler will grow up believing it is OK... despite what Mum says.


It describes how my dh was for a couple of years. I think it was underlying depression but of course as with any illness its not an excuse for emotional abuse. If you are getting to a point you cannot feel safe or unsure of his reaction you need to consider a trial seperation or counselling. I sorry its like this for you i hope it doesnt last as long as it did for me. He's changed alot since i said i was filling for a trial seperation. Alot better.

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 12:38:32

DH is quite convinced that expressing anger in the way he does is normal and that I am an anomaly. He never, ever puts his feelings or needs to one side for my sake. For example, he always goes on and on about how tired he is and while he may occasionally acknowledge that I may be tired too, I can count on one hand over the last 3 years the times when he has given our now-toddler breakfast. This includes when I have been feeding a newborn throughout the night. I have fallen into the classic trap of finding it easier to cope with being tired than dealing with the miserableness that will ensue if he were to get up.

However, what I really find very difficult is that what he is feeling will determine the atmosphere of the household. I don't suggest he should;t feel as he does, but I do think he needs to be able to manage it so that it doesn't always take over. There are times when he will walk into a room in a perfectly reasonable mood, and then emerge pissed off and angry. Something will have triggered it.

I feel like I'm scurrying around to cover up what may be going on sometimes. Not sure where to go, not sure what to say, all of a dither. Chatting animatedly to my little ones to cover up the sullen silence. Because what's the alternative? I hate it.

I don't for a moment think that he hasn't had things hard and that he doesn't feel legitimately stressed over having financial responsibility for a family. I do, however, believe that we can choose how we deal with our stresses and emotional struggles.

You are right in that I feel like a whipping boy, an emotional punch bag at times.

My big concern, I think, is not so much that my children will copy things like throwing (DH is, interestingly, very keen that they don;t see him like that), but that they will pick up on my anxiety. Instead of being this strong female role model in their lives, I am pathetic. I can't bear the implications of that. It makes me want to cry and it is, I guess, the reason why I'm now starting to think seriously about what on earth to do.

You are, of course, correct. Stand up to it, or bugger off and leave it behind.

I don;t know why the idea of going worries me so much. I worry about the children not seeing their father, but mostly I think I worry about DH. I think it will be devastating for him.

In response to whether he is like this around other people .... interestingly, he always has fall-outs at work, and it is always the other person's fault.

Also, re: depression. I'm not completely convinced that he does suffer from this although I do accept he may feel overwhelmed sometimes. Please don;t think this is me dismissing this out of hand. I am very aware of depression and its devastating impact on individuals. I just don't think that DH has depression. I could, of course, be wrong.

Apologies for the length.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Oct-14 12:56:03

When you're in a committed relationship, especially where there are children, it is fully understandable that you're motivated to make allowances, rationalise and make compromises as part of some inbuilt obligation to keep the wheels on the bus. However a good marriage has to work as a team - a partnership of equals. Not as one man throwing his psychological or physical weight around and everyone else tiptoeing about trying to keep him sweet. That is not equality and - you're quite right - your DCs will notice if you're anxious or covering up. They may take it on themselves to make you happy or, in the worst cases, blame themselves for your unhappiness.

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 13:22:33

I don't feel part of a team, for sure. I imagined that I would feel cherished and respected in a marriage and I don't feel either of those things. Or only when DH is in a good mood.
The idea of my children trying to make me feel better, or joining in the charade, is awful. I know from my own childhood how much children try and make sure their parents are ok and how they may try and hide their own distress for the sake of their parents. And I certainly didn't live within this scenario - not even close.
I have been thinking about DH's behavior around others and while I imagine that some of his colleagues may recognize some of what I see, his friends and acquaintances wouldn't. He is the charming, charismatic, helpful guy - working hard for the sake of his family. He will even say that I am great/amazing mother/etc to people, but I'm afraid I don;t believe he really thinks this because the evidence behind closed doors is the opposite.
I know my family would be very supportive if I decided to call time on things because I have been very candid with my sister, and I think my mum was pretty shocked when she stayed with us after my second child was born.


I understand what you are saying. People have said really he behaves like that and then the blame has gone back to my behabiour many a time. In the end we know our own dh's yet despite all the advice from mn and friends we can only make a choice that leaves us happy in the end.


Excuse spelling errors on phone.

JaceyBee Fri 17-Oct-14 15:07:40

It sounds bloody awful living with him and yes his behaviour is abusive.

You're probably right that he's not depressed as such, just feeling sorry for himself that his life isn't as wonderful and amazing as he believes he is entitled for it to be.

I would be looking into your options legally at this stage and working out what's out there for you and the dcs.

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 15:16:08

Jaceybee - that's definitely true. He is never satisfied with what we have. Always wants more (and I am told I'm lacking in ambition because of seeking the joy in what I have right here, right now). He is extravagant when we can't afford to be. Likes the kudos attached to the exotic holiday, etc (which invariably sees me slogging away in a place unsuitable for children while he rests).

Thanks Round.

Jan45 Fri 17-Oct-14 15:19:14

Why are you letting him call all the shots, what happened to team work and being equal!

nrv0us Fri 17-Oct-14 15:26:22

He sounds very unhappy. Of course, you do too, but I do feel like he is in a lot of pain. He is totally unjustified in spreading it onto you, however. That really does come across as unfair and abusive.

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 17:30:39

I'm not sure, Jan45. I guess that's what I'm trying to figure out. I find it very difficult to stand up to him He out-argues me every time, it seems, or gets really angry/ shuts down if I'm sticking to my guns. But each time, he will present his trump cards of hard childhood and work stress. I can't argue against that. If I do, I'm a bitch. So I back down again and he gets his own way.

Nerv0s - he may be very unhappy and in pain. This is what he tells me if I object to any of his behavior.

nrv0us Fri 17-Oct-14 17:33:35

Yeah, it sounds like you are becoming collateral damage in his bad childhood. Not fun.

nrv0us Fri 17-Oct-14 17:34:42

Again, just to be clear, his behaviour is harmful and inexcusable

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Oct-14 17:36:47

"But each time, he will present his trump cards of hard childhood and work stress. I can't argue against that. If I do, I'm a bitch. "

Embrace your inner bitch. Be a bitch. If you're going to be labelled as a bitch anyway you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Anyone can pull out a hard luck trump card if they really want to. It's not pain, it's manipulation.

Glad you've seen through him

imaluckylady Fri 17-Oct-14 19:43:14

Ok - operation inner bitch. I have lived with this for a long time now and thought about it an awful lot, so I think I know what is going on. I just need the strength of character to fix it.

I have had more unkind things said to me by DH than by anyone in my life put together. It is (relatively) new territory and I have to adapt who I am and how I respond to situations to deal with it. Outside of my marriage, I think people see me as a pretty strong, capable person. But in it, I have become weak and passive.

ninetoone Fri 17-Oct-14 21:06:57

l've sent you a pm

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