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'D'H away - so peaceful but it's an illusion

(90 Posts)
MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 09:35:51

‘D’H is a self-absorbed workaholic and (I think) EA – usually manifesting as an entitled attitude and lots of sly and/or passive–aggressive verbal digs. For the past 2 weeks he has been away travelling for work. It has been so restful, mentally and emotionally.

I haven’t caught myself watching the door, wondering what ridiculously late hour of the evening he’ll come home and make a face because his dinner is in the fridge to be heated up. I haven’t had that vaguely apprehensive feeling, wondering what sort of mood he’ll be in when he walks in or what has gone wrong for him that day. DCs and I have spent time at home without his perpetual presence at the computer ignoring us. I have planned outings with the DCs without that nagging feeling of resentment that I’m the only one that ever does organise things, and without anyone huffing and puffing or making little pointed comments about our plans. I have had more energy and have got a few outstanding household jobs out of the way. I have felt happy in my own company, relaxed, contented. DCs and I have been carrying on our lives as normal, just without him in it. It’s so tempting to think this is how it would be if we separated.

But it’s not, it’s an illusion. The reality of separation would be him being difficult, trying to manipulate the children, accusing me of all sorts. I know because I’ve had a taste of it when we’ve been close to the brink before. The reality would be cajoling DC1, who doesn’t like spending time with H, and DC2, who just wants to be with me, into going off to him for contact, and being accused of turning the DCs against him of they are reluctant to go. The reality would be major upheaval, a house move, new schools - we couldn’t afford for me and DCs to remain in our home, or even in the same area.

Don’t know why I’m posting, really. I think I just need to vent - it’s the sadness of realising that the past couple of weeks is how I’d really like my life to be, but I won’t have that even if I do screw up enough courage to ltb.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 09-Dec-14 09:40:04

Your life sounds hell with him around and given that you don't seem ready to leave him yet I think we should all come up with suggestions to make your daily life easier (until you leave):

Here's mine:
1. Don't look at his face when he comes in to his fridge dinner. Leave the room, breezily saying that tea is in the fridge. In fact look at his face as little as possible. Detach, detach, detach.

Vivacia Tue 09-Dec-14 09:44:00

I think you should get professional advice on exactly what the situation would be, so that you have facts about the things that worry you, such as moving house, access etc.

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 09:44:42

Thanks Laurie. Detach is my mantra. In fact it is one of the things he accuses me of - "You don't care about me any more". No shit, Sherlock, and I wonder why?

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 09:46:03

Vivacia, have done that already. Not enough money to go round, unfortunately, so some sort of upheaval is unavoidable. I am working on a plan but it is slow progress.

Tobyjugg Tue 09-Dec-14 09:55:34

I assume you have started your LTB fund?

CogitOIOIO Tue 09-Dec-14 10:15:46

"The reality of separation would be him being difficult, trying to manipulate the children, accusing me of all sorts. "

That might well be the case and of course it's daunting, but what freedom from persistent bad behaviour also gives you is restored self-esteem and the confidence to a) manage life much more easily and b) go on the attack when necessary. It's easier to cope when you're not being constantly dragged down.

Joysmum Tue 09-Dec-14 10:18:05

If you LTB it won't be like it was when he was away but do you think it'll be any worse than how things are now? Imagine another 10, 20, 30 years of this. I'd really hope you could plan to get rid.

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 10:29:59

do you think it'll be any worse than how things are now?

Yes, Joysmum, I do. That's one of the things that stops me from leaving. At the moment, things are pretty manageable because he can no longer push my buttons like he used to, so he's stopped trying so much. There is relatively little conflict for the DCs to see, though admittedly not much affection either. If I left he would go ballistic. We've been on the point of separating before and when I started to calmly have the "OK, how are we going to arrange the practicalities?" talk he went batshit, accused me of only wanting his money, of using him as a sperm donor (yeah, that's why we waited 6 years after we were married to have DC hmm). He already accuses me of trying to turn the DCs against him (no dear, you've managed that one all on your own). Things would get very much worse for the DC before they got better.

Cogito, I think it's hit me that even if I leave, I'll always be watching for next bit of crap coming the way of me or DCs. Unless he has a personality transplant or goes under a bus, I'm never going to be free of it.

CatsClaus Tue 09-Dec-14 10:33:56

do you ever tell him these home truths?

Counter his nonsense with the facts and leave him to think how he has played out his part?

CogitOIOIO Tue 09-Dec-14 10:34:13

It may be true what you say about the 'next bit of crap' but the reality would be that you'd be independent. You'd have your own life, your own place, your own income stream and - with the exception of contact arrangements for your DCs - you could choose to exclude him from the lot.

Littleturkish Tue 09-Dec-14 10:37:48

Could you suggest living separately but 'staying together' as a way to get him out the house?

Can you afford the mortgage yourself? Would you need to sell to buy him out?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Dec-14 10:40:21

What do you think your children are learning about relationships here?.

Raising your children within such an environment will simply teach them that this type of marriage is their "norm". They could well go onto repeat the same patterns in their own adult relationships and they see that currently at least this is acceptable to you.

Having a fund is good but that takes time to build up and the longer you all stay within this, the longer it will take all of you to recover from him. Men like your H can and do take many years to recover from. But you can and will be free of him in your day to day lives and that is now something worth taking even thought the way out is a long and demanding one. A new start in a new area could be the very making of you all.

You need very good legal advice now re separating from your H. He is never going to be at all reasonable if you separate and will likely make every step of that process extremely difficult for you. He will do this as punishment aimed at you for having the gall to actually leave him. Such men only care for their own self, the children do not come into it and he will not care about them. I would not enter into any mediation process with him either because he will use that simply as another stick to beat you with.

GoodtoBetter Tue 09-Dec-14 10:42:07

If he works away and isn't fussed about family life and being involved and often works long hours, you might find that even after a bit of stropping and making life difficult that he wouldn't bother as much as you think with contact. And even if he did you could communicate only via e mail and not see him apart from drop off/pick up.
It's daunting and scary to leave and create upheaval, that doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do or wouldn't be better for all concerned and perhaps sooner than you think.
Wishing you strength.

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 10:53:47

Cogito I can just about see that independence might be better for me. I'm struggling to see it will be better for the DCs. At the moment he does very little with them on his own, so I'm always on hand if he starts trying to guilt-trip them or be manipulative, unfair or dismissive in other ways. I'd lose all control over protecting them from that if we separated and he had them on his own.

CatsClaus I have told him these things many times over the years. It is pointless. He thinks he is right, he is very entitled and is very good at twisting anything I say so that it loses any impact. He is never going to understand, to the point of wanting sincerely to make big changes, how his behaviour impacts upon me and DCs.

Littleturkish, I couldn't afford the mortgage by myself, we'd have to sell in order to fund 2 separate homes.

Attila, I do worry about the effects of staying in the relationship on the children. But I also worry about the effects of having their world turned upside down if I leave. They do see me standing up for myself and them, because I call H on any EA behaviour as it happens. But it's true that they don't see me standing up for myself to the point of leaving.

Good unfortunately the work trip was a one-off. He isn't fussed about family life in the sense that he rarely instigates any family activities. But he gets very huffy if I try to do things with DCs on my own. Lots of sulky PA comments.

I feel like this is a process and I'm gradually moving towards separation. I'm certainly a lot less terrified of the prospect than I was a year ago. But I do feel like I am wasting your time by posting because, really, if I'm honest I know deep down what I need to do. I just lack the courage to get on and do it.

CogitOIOIO Tue 09-Dec-14 11:09:36

If he treats your DCs so badly that you cannot leave them alone with him then start building evidence of his behaviour so that you can argue for supervised access. My suspicion, however, is that he winds them up in your presence as a way to keep you intimidated & under control. If you weren't there, it wouldn't be half as much fun for him....

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 11:22:24

He is often short-tempered, but he doesn't treat them badly in a way that would be obvious to an external observer. It is very hard to describe what he does. He never really has a proper conversation with the DCs, as in asking them about themselves and what is going on in their lives, or about their opinions. His conversations with them consist of him telling them facts, or his own opinions, and expecting them to swallow them whole. He is very pleased when one of the DCs regurgitates one of his opinions. Some of it is more obvious. like guilt-tripping them, or actually just ignoring them when they try to talk to him or ask him to do something for them.

I think you are probably right about one of his motives being to wind me up. He delights in telling the DCs violent or unpleasant details about the plots of adult films (as in for an adult audience, not X-rated) and teaching them inappropriate quotations. He ignores me when I ask him to stop because the things he's talking about are not age-appropriate - in fact often he will quite deliberately continue in a "look, you can't stop me" way. I just stick to saying, a la broken record, that the things he is telling them are not age-appropriate.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Dec-14 11:29:46

"I do worry about the effects of staying in the relationship on the children. But I also worry about the effects of having their world turned upside down if I leave. They do see me standing up for myself and them, because I call H on any EA behaviour as it happens. But it's true that they don't see me standing up for myself to the point of leaving".

Do not fall into the sunken costs trap in relationships because that causes you to make poor relationship decisions.

Why do you think their world will turn upside down if you leave your abusive H?. I think it would actually be the making of your children and you.

What you are also doing currently is showing your children very mixed messages; the last two sentences of yours illustrate that point completely. Staying within this shows them that you are tolerating this on some level. You cannot even begin to fully protect them from the abuse of you all; he is saying all this age inappropriate crap to them right in front of you and you're not stopping that.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Dec-14 11:32:30

If you've never read "Living with the Dominator" by Pat Craven I would suggest you start to read this.

It will damage your children in ways you have not considered to keep them at all within such a toxic environment; they are learning about relationships here from the two of you and they are being taught a whole shedload of damaging lessons.

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 11:33:08

Attila their world will turn upside down because they will almost certainly need to move schools as well as move house. So they will lose their home, their school where they are happy and thriving, their friends that they see every day. The only constant will be me. I also have no doubt that although they don't get on particularly well with their father, they will be upset and conflicted about him moving out.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Dec-14 11:38:51

A new home, set of friends and new school will not affect their overall life chances; staying within this will and will affect them in ways you may not have yet thought about. Your own relationship with your children as teens let along adults may well be affected detrimentally if you stayed because they may well accuse you of putting your H before them. How would you respond to that?. What do you want them to remember about their childhoods?. They are not exactly going to say "thanks mum" to you for staying.

It is better to have two parents apart and happier than to be together and miserable. It is not your fault nor theirs that your DH has chosen to embark on his own private war with you; he would have acted the same regardless of whom he married.

cestlavielife Tue 09-Dec-14 11:39:39

why will they have to move house and school?
why couldn't h move?
or why couldn't you get initially a smaller cheaper property locally?

have you actually asked them how they felling now without dad in the house?
the conflict and upset may be your projection...

you making excuses really and they are not valid...this life is no way to live.
it is far better to be able to shut the door and have peace knowing this man cannot come in.

your dc will thrive having to have contact with him only in small doses and a safe haven to come back to.

ask them to draw a picture of how family life is today...and what it will be like when dad comes home.

MrBusterIPresume Tue 09-Dec-14 11:40:54

I am very aware of the potential impact of a toxic environment on DCs, because H is the product of one. However in his case the toxic parent was the dominant influence in his life, his mother. In my DCs case I hope that the effects of one rather distant dysfunctional parent will be offset by the fact that they have a far closer relationship with the (relatively!) non-dysfunctional parent. It does concern me that H might end up spending more time one-to-one with DCs post-separation than he does now, in terms of the influence he might have over what they learn.

I have read Lundy and various others and found them very helpful. Haven't read the Craven book, so thank you for recommending. The title doesn't seem to "fit" though, because he doesn't really dominate me. I don't even think his motivation is to dominate, it's self-preservation, protecting his own interests and meeting his own needs at the expense of others.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Dec-14 11:42:07

I doubt if such a man would want to maintain any contact with his children once separated particularly after you and he have been separated for a number of years. I doubt if your children would want to see him. Infact he would want to use his children to get back at you as punishment for leaving him; he feels that entitled.

Your children do not readily want to see him now, their views will be taken into account.

cestlavielife Tue 09-Dec-14 11:44:12

"DC1, who doesn’t like spending time with H, and DC2, who just wants to be with me"

says it all really doesn't it - they don't like being with dad and having majority of time in peaceful home without him - even if it means smaller home or moving school - may well be more positive all round.

and who knows, without you around, dad may even step up....

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