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Did I over react? **warning, may seem petty**

(12 Posts)
filletofafannysnake Wed 29-Oct-14 19:00:43

My DP and I have a lot of negative history because of his very toxic family. They are very emotionally and psychologically abusive and it pushed us to the brink and I had a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, though he is a lovely person, there are some 'habits' that he inevitably picked up from his family that he transferred to our relationship. I have stood by him through a lot and not long ago I reached my breaking point. Now, if he does something even remotely like the way he used to behave, I will simply not stand for it and tell him to shove off, for want of a better term.

So yesterday he was helping me clean the house and there was a velcro hair roller on the floor. My dd uses it as a toy and so it languishes around the house turning up in unexpected places. To DP it is not a toy as he never sees DD playing with it. He was sweeping it into a dust pan and as I saw him I asked him not to as it is DD's toy. He ignored me and continued sweeping as if I hadn't spoken. I repeated myself and again he continued as if I hadn't spoken. I was a half meter away and facing him so he definitely heard me. At this point I got very angry and called him up on the fact that he had purposefully ignored me and that it was not respectful or well mannered to behave that way to his partner. I raised my voice when saying it. He started making his case about the fact that it was a piece of rubbish and dd never plays with it and that I am simply hoarding. Bear in mind that I am the one who looks after dd, not him, so I am very aware that she plays with it even if he doesn't see that himself.

I asked him to leave. I just can't take what I feel is his inability to communicate properly on even the stupidest and pettiest things. I'm at a point in my life where I just feel like I can't live with someone like that. I don't hoard, it is just his perception of things based on incidents from the past. I used to hate throwing anything away and would hold on to a lot of needless stuff but those days are long gone. What annoys me is that he uses things from a long time ago to judge and criticize me and behave in this way, yet he has actually fucked up in very major ways in the past and I have worked very hard to let a lot of those things go, and clearly I'm still working on it.

After the whole incident was over with he kept insisting that the reason I was asking him to leave was petty because it was over him throwing away a 'trivial item'. I kept explaining to him that it was not the fact that he was going to throw the item away but rather his behaviour when I asked him not to that was the issue, but he seems to refuse to accept that that is the cause of my upset.

It all sounds so stupid but there is a lot of history behind this.

SelfLoathing Wed 29-Oct-14 19:21:15

Sounds to me like a situation where you both reacting in a different way than you otherwise would because of your history. The argument wasn't really about the roller; it is about a shared two-way resentment.

If either of you had been in exactly the same situation with a stranger doing the same thing, the response would have been different.

Ignoring someone is always rude though. Always. So in that sense, no I don't think you were over reacting.

But that's not really the issue is it. It's really about whether the history means your possibility of a happy future together is a real possibility or whether it isn't and time to call it quits.

ChillingGrinBloodLover Wed 29-Oct-14 19:32:35

It is the straw that broke the camels back.

It sounds to me as if you would be much happier on your own with your DD than with him. He's hanging onto his baggage as well as some of yours, he wont change sad

magoria Wed 29-Oct-14 19:54:43

What Chilling says. It soulds like the final straw.

He gets to beat you with trivial things from when ever ago. You have to let major stuff slide.

DrCarolineTodd Wed 29-Oct-14 20:49:45

Well it sounds like you were losing your temper and he didn't join you.

I think you did overreact a bit but I also get why you did.

MrBusterIPresume Wed 29-Oct-14 23:44:03

So he:

1. Deliberately ignored your attempts to communicate with him.
2. Discounted your opinion on an issue that you were better informed about than he was (DD's toy).
3. Tried to divert attention from his behaviour by accusing you of doing something unacceptable (hoarding).
4. Trivialised and invalidated your reasons for being upset with him, thereby denying you the right to react to his behaviour.
5. Rewrote history by imposing his own motives for your upset, again denying you the right to your reaction.

No, I don't think you are being petty or unreasonable. I think he has learned too many lessons from his toxic family and is very controlling.sad

AbbieHoffmansAfro Wed 29-Oct-14 23:49:53

Is it just a minor row, or is it actually your breaking point based on years of difficulty? Only you can tell. But if it is your breaking point, act on it. Don't dismiss it because the subject-matter of the falling out seems petty.

Joysmum Thu 30-Oct-14 02:04:27

MrBusterIPresume said it beautifully. If this were a one off incident I'd think you were over-reacting, but if this is an ongoing pattern of behaviour I think you're being disrespected and controlled and I'd not want any child to see that as normal in a relationship.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 30-Oct-14 08:45:20

I'm never that comfortable with the idea that people from dodgy families are automatically going to behave the same way, or that this excuses it at all. I've seen DCs of unbelievably violent parents turn out like chalk and cheese... one copying the behaviour to the letter and being a monster, one rejecting it wholesale and being a beautiful human being. I'm also not comfortable with the idea of standing by someone in the face of ill treatment or that it's for one partner to try to mould and modify the bad behaviour of the other. Total waste of time.

Ultimately, he's a grown-up with free will and he is as capable of choosing how to behave as the rest of us. If you don't like his choices, you've done the right thing. ... and probably should have done it years ago.

filletofafannysnake Thu 30-Oct-14 13:53:47

Thanks all, I couldn't reply sooner as he came over yesterday evening and I didn't want to look like I was rubbing the situation in his face with this thread.

I think all points made are very valid. Cogito I totally agree with you. I also grew up in a toxic environment as my mother suffered terrible depression that affected the whole family. The difference is that I grew up and recognise the toxic behaviours from my past and choose to make sure they are not repeated in my present. I am very aware of my own faults and my family work together to overcome the past and strengthen each other. DP has tried in some ways but in others he just doesn't see a problem. It is so woven into the fabric of his families day to day life that he doesn't see the problem and it is very difficult to live with. He has been for counseling as have I, and though improvements have been made, there is still a lot more to get through. He really isn't a bad person and considering his family background its surprising he isn't more fucked up. That sounds weird to say but its just the truth sadly. He is a loving, generous and kind person but he really just has this other side to him that clearly stems from his family and the way he has learnt to communicate and deal with immediate family members.

It would take me the whole day to explain about his family but to give you an idea of what has gone on, they were verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive to him and especially me all through my pregancy and after my daughter was born. They are the most controlling group of people I have ever encountered! I never knew a family could collectively be as fucked up as they are. DP has actually distanced himself from them over the last few years in order to improve himself and keep them away from us as we try to get ourselves back on track after my nervous breakdown. He didn't speak to his mother for 6 months at one point and still doesn't speak to one of his siblings almost two years later. There are a lot of problems there.

If he hadn't made efforts to improve himself then I doubt we would have made it this far. But there is only so much I can take as a person before I just don't have the patience to tolerate any more of this behaviour. I don't want to give up because we have been through so much and come so far, but I feel like he just doesn't see his own behaviour as he sees it as totally normal because of the environment he grew up in being so extreme. Because it isn't as bad as what goes on within the rest of his family, he thinks he doesn't behave the way they do. To me it is obvious that he has made improvements but still has some way to go. As if it is now simply watered down. I don't know if that makes sense blush

MrBuster you have summarised the problem very well. I have been through this same thing with him a hundred times before but he just doesn't get it. Sometimes I shout till I'm blue in the face trying to get through to him the reason I am upset and that it is not the reason he has decided upon by himself. It is beyond frustrating and I am at my wits end.

MrBusterIPresume Thu 30-Oct-14 15:42:28

fillet, unfortunately I recognise the behaviour because I have experienced similar (plus it is always easier to analyse someone's actions when you're not in the thick of dealing with it emotionally).

You say your DP is loving, kind and generous, not a bad person, but has this other side to him. I get the sense from your posts that you feel that there is something that you could do, some way of explaining how you feel, that would mean that your DP showed less of his bad side. I said and thought similar things about my DH until fairly recently. Like your DP, my DH has a toxic family, though it's mostly his mother so doesn't sound as bad as what you've experienced. Like your DP, my DH thinks that because he doesn't do the same things his toxic relatives do, then there is nothing wrong with his behaviour.

I don't really have any answers, because I no longer think my DH is a fundamentally good man who's learned bad behaviour from his family. Because of various events in our marriage I now think he is a fundamentallly selfish man who uses behaviour that he has learned from MIL to keep our relationship in a state of perpetual imbalance in his favour. But for a long time I defended him - to myself and to others. I don't know which is true for your DP but I do think that it is possible to blind yourself to what someone is really like because we don't want to believe the worst of them, or that we ourselves could have been such poor judges of character.

You can't change how your DP behaves, but you can change your own reactions to his behaviour. You say that you shout til you're blue in the face trying to explain why you're upset, but he won't believe you and insists his own explanation is correct? He is setting up a power imbalance by "refusing" to credit your point of view. It immediately puts you on the back foot, on the defensive, trying to justify yourself - not a position of strength. Also, the minute you defend yourself you send the implicit message that a defence is needed, that his point of view is valid, that it is reasonable for him to want you to convince him. If his family's interactions are built on conflict, he may have learned that a conversation like this is essentially a battle that he has to win rather than an respectful exchange of opinions.

My advice? Stop shouting. Stop getting upset. Stop trying to convince him that your reasons for being upset are true. Try other ways of responding that don't involve going on the defensive. You could look at him with a puzzled expression and ask "Why do you insist that you know what I'm thinking and I don't?". You could just shrug and say "Well, I'm sorry you don't believe me, but I'm not going to waste my breath trying to convince you." You could call him on his behaviour and say "There you go again, telling me what I am thinking instead of listening to me." None of this needs to be hostile, you can be polite and pleasant but make it clear that you're not going to buy into manipulative mind games.

(Sorry, that was long! blush)

EverythingIsChanging Thu 30-Oct-14 16:10:18

I also wonder if you are trying to 'fix' him in some way to compensate for not 'fixing' your mum? If you spent your childhood trying to support your mum, you may have got stuck in this kind of role? You have to ask yourself why you were attracted to someone with so many issues - they must have been apparent reasonably early on?

He won't ever 'get' it, because he has a fundamentally different framework of operating. He believes ignoring you / your views is OK. He believes in only his own view. Whether this is because of his background or who he is, who knows, but it does seem pretty hard-wired into his personality.

This is not a healthy environment for your DD, what kind of messages will she learn from his behaviour? Why would anyone want to live with the way he is? You may stay on the hope of change but its highly unlikely and what about the effect on you / your dd in the meantime? You can't change him and he seems very unmotivated to change from your account. Its not your responsibility to inspire that in him.

You have to choose - is this what you want your life to be or do you want something different for you/your DD?

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