Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
I love my husband but can't cope with the constant negativity(34 Posts)
Bit of background: Married for almost 2 years, bought a house together 2 1/2 years ago, 16 month old DS. So a lot happening putting a strain on time (we're both working full time) and money. Plus, the house needs a lot of work and husband generally works on it all weekend and spends little time with DS. We have very little time "off" as a family.
DH comes from a working background, always very little money, dad out of job for a while in the 90s. Little prospects when growing up, but managed to work his way up to a good, office based position as an engineer, without holding any university qualifications. I am mentioning this because I know this makes him feel inferior to many of his 'higher qualified' colleagues. Also grew up as a bit of a loner. Was quite social and open when we met, but due to being bound to the house to do work on it has fallen back into isolation and doesn't really have any close friends that he talks to regularly.
I come from a 'comfortably-off' middle-class family, have a PhD and am, compared to his whole family, more of a "glass half full" person, which is probably understandable because I've been quite fortunate in my life.
What I can't cope with his my DH's constant negativity towards life, which sometimes unloads itself in quite irrational outbursts (I would like to add in big letters: NO VIOLENCE!). He hates mess (grew up in a house that he considered messy because his mum and dad worked long hours when work was available, meaning that housework and DIY was neglected). Just as an example: a few weeks ago, I took a bowl from the kitchen table to pour some pasta from it onto my plate and happened to touch some food already on my plate with it... cue 'look what mess you've made' etc.). He can also be very tense when things are not properly cleaned. I have to add that, despite all the work we're doing on our house, nobody in their right mind would see it as messy... we are managing to hold it together.
Add to this that DH changed jobs twice last year and is now in thread of redundancy from the third. Cue more worries and annoyance about having to go back to sending out CVs. Also, we won't be able to finish up the work in our bathroom that we have started (current big project) due to money worries), so it will be a patch up job. Cue DH feeling down about this as well and thrown back to his childhood again...
I totally understand his worries and where he is coming from, given all that life has thrown at him. He is an amazing father and a good husband and I do love him, but I am finding it so difficult to cope his constant negativity. At the moment, he just doesn't seem to seem to be able to see that there are good things in this life as well, that he isn't redundant yet, and that, in the grand scheme of things, living with a half finished bathroom isn't the end of the world. I've suggested going back to the gymn, swimming, programming, anything to get his mind off his constant worries, but this is only met with 'I've got no time for this'.... which is not quite true.
I just don't know what to do. The whole situation drags me down as well and I'd like to help him, but, uff, it's hard work.
Any advice at all? I always get upset when trying to speak to him, so that doesn't help as he can't cope well with displays of emotions.
I'm not sure what advice I could give as, essentially, you're asking him to change his personality from 'glass half empty' to 'glass half full' and unless he has the motivation to do that himself, it's unlikely to happen.
You have my sympathy, though, I would regard myself as a positive person and try to surround myself with people with a similar outlook.
Jesus, its all on his terms isn't it? You're not allowed to touch food with other food, you're not allowed to have any mess in thenhouse, and now you're not even allowed to show any negative emotion?
Yet he has given himself plentiful permission to show negative emotion. This is bullshit.
Oh dear, that sounds tough. But he is under threat of redundancy and that is, you know, very worrying. Maybe give him a chance to find out about his job security before talking to him about cheering up.
However him being controlling about dirty crockery etc isn't ok, perhaps you could find a way to calmly rebuff those criticisms without referencing the whole context/problem?
"I haven't made a mess, and I will tidy these things when I am finished." Said in a bright, firm, calm voice - then no more discussion?
He wasn't like that when we met... I really admired him because he's managed to make something of his life, despite his tough start. The lack of formal qualifications and the job situation seem to bring it all back now.
I take the view that everyone's life has ups and downs and, as a partners, we support each other through the various challenges knowing it'll be a) temporary and b) reciprocated. What I think is unacceptable is when one person decides their life is crap and then goes around taking their bad mood out on others with no end in sight, refusing offers of help and being generally unpleasant. To me that's just self-indulgent, selfish and not teamwork. Blaming a bad childhood.... that's an excuse, I'm sorry. By the same token, plenty of people come out of comfortably off middle class families without an optimistic disposition.
If he's depressed, he needs a doctor. If his work is insecure, he needs to throw his energy into getting something new. If he's in a bad mood, he should acknowledge it or ask for help but apologise rather than drag others down and getting snappy. In short... he has to take some responsibility for his effect on the family.
If you tend to cry when you bring this stuff up, try writing it down and reading it instead. If he dismisses your concerns or goes off on another 'irrational outburst' then you have serious problems. Living with this kind of drip, drip, negative behaviour can be worse than VIOLENCE.
you are right in saying that there is a slight issue with him being controlling. The firm, calm voice sometimes does the trick, and I've decided that I won't react at all if he can't manage to say things politely.
We actually had a conversation about this incident (and a few others) a few weeks ago and he is aware of it, even said that he'd leave if it got too bad for me. And I believe him in that. Apparently his dad, giving his own difficult situation, apparently showed similar traits when he was younger, and he didn't have a good relationship with him. He doesn't want to be that kind of guy, yet I think these sorts of little things are the only thing in his life which he currently has control over.
Blimey, so his solution is threatening to leave? He really is in a negative mind state.
When is the redundancy process due to finish?
I am sure the threat of redundancy - again, will be affecting him deeply, especially if he is ashamed of his upbringing and has made enormous efforts to escape the same situation that his father had.
If you think his behaviour is situational, then there might be some strategies for him. Could he go self employed and be a master of his own destiny? He has the drive.
I am not discounting at all your experience of living with somebody so negative. It is totally draining. It must change.
If he can't see how his behaviour is affecting you then I would say he is selfish.
He may be generous in other ways (and thinks that is good enough) - but not where self control comes to it.
He expects that by controlling others and his environment he will be in contorl of his emotions.
I would say - mindfulness should help, yoga or some kind of meditation as well - but only he can make that step if he realizes how VVVU he is. He may have lots of hangovers from his childhood and he ought to work through it.
Has the job situation made him worse?
Would training for a formal qualification help?
It sounds like he needs to get a bit of a life - something to take his mind off his problems
Also perhaps you should split the weekend between working on the house and having family time
You say he is a good husband and an amazing dad. However you also say he spends little time with DS and is negative towards you
You need to sit him down and have a really big conversation with him. Make a list (both of you) of all the good and bad things. You will never change his negativity (just as you will never change you positivity) but you will have to find some way to deal with it. You need to deal with it asap, otherwise he will continue to grind you down and become ever more controlling.
I was in a similar situation - me from comfortably-off background, he from not so well-off, he no qualifications but good job which he was permanently saying he was going to be made redundant (same employer over 30 yrs now!), extremely negative, me positive etc (I don't have a PhD though!)
With hindsight I should have recognised the situation way earlier than I did and done something about it. In my case he didn't want to make the effort. However if your DH really loves you and DS he should be able to understand that he is making you miserable and take steps to do something about it
The current redundancy process is already over, and he hasn't been part of the cull, but he doesn't consider his job safe as the company's products are not very good (I just have to believe him that). Apparently, there are lots of contracting jobs around, but they only offer good money if you put in lots of hours, making working on the house almost impossible.
Mindfulness or yoga... he would never do that.
I'm considering writing him a letter today to say how I feel. I just don't want it to sound accusing, because he is a thousand times better than most of the guys discussed on this relationship board. He is not lazy, he is caring, he is a good dad.
He did study for a BA with the Open University when we met, but had to give it up because it was impossible to sustain with all the work on the house. Made me feel incredibly guilty!
I fully agree we need more family time (and I actually think that if we had a weekend on and a weekend off, he would work more effectively on the house and be happier altogether), but I can't get through to him with that suggestion.
I have also suggested he needs to have an activity for himself (gymn, swimming etc.), but this is constantly met with the same moan of "I have no time...". I think it needs to come from him, but how to make him see it?
Even if someone isn't lazy or uncaring, criticism and negativity can really drive a wedge between you over time. It's all about compatibility.
It sounds as though both of you feel like you don't get much niceness and its all relentless bad signals and criticism. Someone has to break the cycle. or both and start saying lots of nice appreciative things .. or understanding things. . its awful to feel constantly vulnerable but what makes you resistant to it is either digging in and being resiliant or being buoyant by feeling ok about yourself and that sometimes takes a lot of outside feedback and support. Have you tried saying positive things to each other
If he isn't willing to change, explore possibilities of understanding his behaviour you are going to resent him more and more every year.
Both of you have to keep that in mind.
50% of who we are is genetics but also 50% is our environment - and that can be altered if we want to.
Saying - oh, this is my character, I am not going to change is an easy way out.
When I was younger I also thought people can't change at all. Now seeing how I changed I can say - yes, we can modify our responses if we really want to. Not an easy task though.
" how to make him see it?"
You can't. You have to take a big step back from this. You're not his parent or his carer, you're his DW. It's not your job to try to make him happy. You have your own life to lead, work to do, and people to consider. If he doesn't like being this person he can do something about it. If he does nothing about it you have to assume he's not as unhappy as he lets on. Nip any tetchiness over pasta bowls or irrational outbursts in the bud as totally unacceptable obviously. Otherwise, live how you want to live, develop a social life, depend on him less etc.
I know this often gets trotted out on these kind of threads, but could he be depressed? If he's generally anxious anyway, the additional stress he's under could tip him into depression. Would he consider taking anti-depressants?
It would concern me that your partner isn't spending time with your son. It sounds as though his own relationship with his father is a distant one, and that he's reproducing that behaviour.
It does sound as if there are a lot of pressures, but unless he can spend some time enjoying being a parent, and unless you can do things as a family, everything sounds very joyless.
It sounds as if there is a very traditional model of masculinity - being a provider, ensuring that there's a good roof over your head. But not much caring and sharing. Who does he want to be?
Why do you feel guilty when he hasn't got a degree.
That's like you feeling guilty for your hair colour.
Life's shit sometimes and it's no ones fault. Life's good and it's no ones fault either.
Fwiw I think your DH sounds clinically depressed, and could do with a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, and anti depressives. Moving jobs so often is waving red flags to me that something is wrong, also the lack of social relationships is a bad sign.
He's obviously being triggered by a lot of things. You are collateral damage to his bad mental state.
You need therapy also, and I would book myself in pronto. No way on earth would I continue to live walking on eggshells with him- get help. Feeling guilty for your accomplishments because he hasn't got the ones you've got is bullshit.
You deserve better, and so does your DS, and also so does your dp.
I think he could be depressed, actually, but again, being a man-man, he would never go to the doctor for it.
I'm a great believer in writing things down. It puts things in perspective and means you don't go off at a tangent. I would be aiming for Sunday afternoons as family time!
So there must be other ways to help overcome depression. I'm sure the first is to realise it. The next is to do something about it - physical exercise, fresh air (i.e. walks to the park with DS?) eating properly, multivitamins etc
I am actually writing a letter as we speak, reading your suggestions as I go along.
I wonder though what he would write about me if he wrote a similar letter.
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.