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dh's 'counsellor' has apparently called me 'abusive'. Is this really professional?

(48 Posts)
jobchanger Mon 08-Dec-14 11:07:39

Some background:

I've had years of passive aggressive behaviour from dh. He invests nothing into our relationship really, nor contributes to 'the family' (the usual complaint of me doing all the thinking/kids' birthdays/xmas/holidays etc) though he does get on with dds okay and will ferry them to various activities. He's been spectacularly unsupportive over a few big things that mattered to me in the past which I find hard to forgive him for, tbh.

This past year I decided not to invest in the relationship either (not to be the one who organises the social occasions to which he'd happily come along for the jolly; not to be one to hire the babysitter so we could go out or book a restaurant etc etc) to see if he'd bother doing it. He didn't. So I stopped too. Prior to this, I had made it crystal clear that a relationship, in my mind, was something that both partners had to work at. It didn't just 'happen'.

Over the past 2 years, he's also thrown tantrums and shouted alot, losing his temper disproportionately at quite minor things. To his credit, he decided to eventually access a counsellor at work and went for about 6 weeks. I encouraged this. I thought it would help him resolve and understand the dynamics of relationships and how they work.

However, all it seems to have done is to legitimate his own behaviour really. In a row a few weeks ago he retaliated to something I said with 'well my counsellor has said that you'd been abusive!'. I was gobsmacked and once over the shock wondered if counsellors can/should label whatever it was I was supposed to have done as 'abusive' without knowing all the facts, all the context from both sides (I am pretty sure I haven't been 'abusive'). It seems unprofessional to me and more destructive than constructive in terms of helping our situation.

Is this sort of value judgement within a counsellor's remit when they only have half a narrative?

NotQuiteCockney Mon 08-Dec-14 11:09:37

I think it's tricky. But it's worth remembering that your D(?)H may not be telling the truth to you, either.

CogitOIOIO Mon 08-Dec-14 11:10:23

Surely he's lying? The counsellor probably said nothing of the sort. Were you present at the meetings?

TaliZorahVasNormandy Mon 08-Dec-14 11:12:00

Hes probably lying, it seems a common lie from abusive people.

Miggsie Mon 08-Dec-14 11:14:38

I'd be surprised if his counselor said this - having never met you - however your DH might be lying to the counselor and making out that you are..
My guess is your DH is projecting and the counselling seems to be making no difference.

Sounds like your DH used the counselling to convince himself he is right and to take no responsibility for his actions.

Your relationship won't improve if this is the case.

I suspect he saw the counselor only to shut you up.

Docmartensanddungarees Mon 08-Dec-14 11:16:11

I had an ex who would tell me that her counseller/psychologist/GP/friends/family had said that her issues were all my fault.

I was never there with her when people supposedly told her that, but she would only throw this at me when trying to hurt me. She was either lying to them or lying to me (or both).

jobchanger Mon 08-Dec-14 11:17:53

No I wasn't present. I'm not sure why I have an uncomfortable feeling about this. I noticed he'd bought her a card after the 6 weeks (am assuming to say 'thank-you' which I guess is okay. Is that what clients do? I have no idea but I suppose it might just be a nice gesture) but then noticed an email from her which opened 'hey! 'Jobchanger'sdh'. I just caught the opening line walking past as his a/c was left open on his laptop and didn't see the rest.

CogitOIOIO Mon 08-Dec-14 11:20:38

I suppose you realise that it's a vain hope trying to get a passive aggressive/emotionally abusive/verbally abusive man to 'understand' relationships and then miraculously change personality?

Sounds like you should forget analysis and cut to the chase. See a lawyer, get the divorce underway and make him someone else's problem. What's stopping you from calling time?

jobchanger Mon 08-Dec-14 11:23:52

Two dds and no job / money. I'm starting a course in Jan to retrain but that will take 2 years and am in my 50s already

dyslexicdespot Mon 08-Dec-14 11:24:27

I'm sorry you are going through this. It does sound like you and your DH have problems that go above and beyond his counsellor and what she might or might not have said to him.

Are you invested in trying to save the relationship? If so, perhaps relationship counselling (with a different counsellor) should be your next step. If you are not, I'd follow Cogito's advice and get out asap!

Good luck!

StrangeGlue Mon 08-Dec-14 11:24:51

It seems unlikely that she said it but obviously not impossible. Buying a card is fairly normal behaviour. It'll depend in part on what kind of therapy he's had as to whether it was appropriate for him (as in going to help him) and whether her emailing him subsequently is appropriate. For example if he's actually had so etching which is more like support than therapy then she may well email with further resources for self-help and may not have challenged him saying you're abusive as she's seeing her role as support rather than actual therapy.

He may also misconstrued what she said, for example: him 'she's so abusive she does xyz' counsellor: 'hmmm' him: in his head - she agrees!

Or maybe she said it...

It's almost impossible to know.

cestlavielife Mon 08-Dec-14 11:25:14

you have no idea what the counsellor actually said as you were not there. he is telling you what he wanted the counsellor to say. not worth fighting it out or arguing - clearly the relationship isn't working and wont work. quit.

CogitOIOIO Mon 08-Dec-14 11:26:55

If you have no job and no money, it doesn't mean you have to tolerate an abusive relationship. Have you ever spoken to a lawyer? CAB? Done some research on what your rights and responsibilities would be as a divorced woman with children? Information in this kind of situation can open doors that assumptions keep closed.

Donkeysleighbellsringing Mon 08-Dec-14 11:40:06

I don't know why you'd believe DH that this counsellor said any such thing.

I am sure you work at making the atmosphere at home as pleasant as possible for your DDs but it sounds like you have your work cut out. Even if they don't appear fazed by it the girls will pick up on any tension between you two.

I would be concerned that, having seen a counsellor, he will now feel he has done his bit and the ball is back in your court.

A lot can happen in two years. You still have your health and the drive to do a course. It's up to you of course but treading water with man for whom you feel less respect and affection with each passing year seems a sad waste of time.

jobchanger Mon 08-Dec-14 11:44:14

Thanks for all your replies. A friend asked me: 'if you had lots of money - say you won the lottery - would you stay?' I said 'no', which says it all really. The actual process of 'getting out' is very difficult though. I think it would be helpful to get an appt at CAB. Why haven't I done it already? Things like, my sensitive, shy dd2 who's just 9 and seemingly so insecure at the moment, is one reason. Another is my own overwhelming sadness at the irreparable breakdown of the (overly?) romanticised ideal of marriage being forever. I need to work on myself with that one, I do know that - which is a start I guess

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 08-Dec-14 11:45:50

Who told you this ? Your dickhead husband ? Says it all really.

longtallsally2 Mon 08-Dec-14 11:46:30

Scary thing is that he may really believe that that is what the counsellor said. IME a counsellor will have asked him to talk about the situation at home and his reactions, and will have echoed back what your husband said to them - something like "So you believe that her behaviour is abusive. How does that make you feel?" The aim of the counselling is to enable the client to reflect on their own behaviour and reactions. If he has convinced himself that you are behaving abusively he may end up validating his own world view. Counselling provides the opportunity to reflect but

If you can detach even further, can you turn the accusations back on him: Is that really what you believe? Do you think that you might have contributed to the situation? Have you got any insight into how you have been behaving from your counselling, or has it all been talking about me?"

Best of luck

JaceyBee Mon 08-Dec-14 11:48:16

Actually, I'm a counsellor and if someone is describing their partners behaviour and it sounds as though the partner is behaving abusively then I will say so. I have read a lot of literature on counselling people in abusive relationships as it is the subject of my MA and it is important to name abuse as often the client doesn't recognise it and blames themself/thinks they are going crazy, experiences which I'm sure people on here can recognise.

However, whether his counsellor said it and whether it's actually true are different things. We are not mind readers and can only work with what the client is telling us (to a point). Personally, I am always rather sceptical if a male client tells me his partner is abusive as it often (but not always) suggests that actually he is.

It's not really the relevant issue though is it, what he/she did/didn't say? The marriage sounds crappy and maybe you would be better off getting out?

JaceyBee Mon 08-Dec-14 11:55:36

Also, buying a card is normal. I've had cards/flowers/chocolates from clients many times. We have a policy on what we can/can't accept (no cash/expensive gifts etc) but all the above are fine.

Can't comment on her starting the email 'hey! X' really. I don't currently work in EAP or private practice so don't know what the polices are around email contact with clients there, in the NHS it is minimal and avoided if possible though.

Gen35 Mon 08-Dec-14 12:03:09

It just sounds like there is no relationship left - who cares who is to blame for the state of it? It's hardly helping resolve anything. Getting out may be hard but you'd be better off planning that and studying harder than giving this rubbish oxygen.

CogitOIOIO Mon 08-Dec-14 12:08:41

A sensitive, shy DD will not benefit from being hostage in a home where there is abuse present. Away from his malign influence both you and she may find you are really quite confident and self-assured.

Wrapdress Mon 08-Dec-14 12:09:36

My dad was so brilliantly manipulative he could get counselors to do or say anything he wanted - including persuading a marriage counselor to tell him he's entitled to have a mistress - with my mother sitting right there. He should have been cult leader.

Is your DH like this? Does he mess with her head?

GoatsDoRoam Mon 08-Dec-14 12:17:55

Counsellors can absolutely label behaviour as abusive: it helped me no end when my counsellor did, as it was the first time that somebody had labelled my husband's behaviour what it was, and it shocked me out of my denial.

However, it is also very standard for inadequate and controlling partners to use their own counselling sessions to find fresh new ways to blame their partner for their own behaviour.

I suspect in your case that it is this second scenario that is playing out.

You CAN leave if you want to.
Get that appointment with CAB.
Find out what benefits you would be entitled to.
You are not trapped.

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Mon 08-Dec-14 12:21:44

Im currently seeing a counsellor and as someone else said up thread she will echo back what ive said if its something she wants me to focus on.

so if I said "dp is being abusive he does x, y, z. She will say "so you think doing x, y, z makes him abusive, why?"

it makes me discuss it and come to my own conclusion, she very rarely agrees or disagrees with me but gives me strategies to cope with situations (I should add my dp isnt abusive in any way so I havent had this exact conversation).

My guess is your DP is hearing what he wants to hear rather than reflecting on his own behaviour.

she does also text me, if she needs to change appointment times or on the day dd was due (counselling is because of miscarriage) to say she was thinking of me and to call if I needed to talk, so I dont think the email is strange and when I decide to stop counselling I will give her a card to say thank you.

OTheHugeManatee Mon 08-Dec-14 12:23:42

We don't know anything about this relationship as - like the counsellor - we're only hearing one side of the story. It could very well be that the OP is abusive to her husband - if she were, do you think she'd be describing it like that to us? Or it could be him looking for ways to blame her for his being an arse. The point is we don't know.

To me, OP, your DH sounds pretty depressed and acting out, and your relationship sounds miserable. Whether or not one of you is being abusive, it sound as though you would both be better off out of it. Whether the counsellor should have said what they said is beside the point.

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