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Please Tell Me He's Not Abusive(16 Posts)
I've spent quite a lot of time on the relationship board here the last couple of weeks and it just so happens to have coincided with DH and I having a bit of a rocky patch. I don't think I'm in an abusive relationship but then so many posters on here also don't until they get outside perspective so I guess I wanted to make sure. I've also just changed antidepressants right now to ones that will treat anxiety, too, and I'm feeling a bit 'off' from the change so am a little all over the place.
I just want to check it's possible for someone to occasionally display behaviours that could be abusive if constant/combined with other things without actually being abusive. If that makes sense?
DH and I have been together for coming up for 12 years and have two young DCs. DH works full time and I'm a SAHM. We've generally had a good relationship and he's loving and respectful. When he's home he helps with the kids etc.
But when we argue (which isn't often) he tells me I always criticise him and make him feel like crap. I don't think I do, though I admit I can be a bit of a control freak with some things and should step back a bit and let him do things his way. It just feels like by him saying this it shuts down any discussion of problems I have because it just me criticising him again. I think it's because he actually has very low self esteem (though, he always appears confident). He used to self harm by burning himself when he was younger (before we were going out) and he currently has a sort of eating disorder. He'll binge eat loads and loads of crap then work out for hours/go to the gym before work and on his lunch break etc. (this is as well as cycling quite far to and from the station every weekday for work). I think he's convinced he's useless and sort of projects that if it makes sense? But I do wonder if it could be deliberate manipulation? I don't think so but am I naive?
Also, after an argument he'll shut down for hours or possibly days if it was a bad argument. Like I say, this isn't often but it's really hard when it happens and I know withholding affection can be 'abusive'. The thing is, DS1 is being assessed for ASD and the more I learn, the more I suspect DH is on the spectrum. That makes me think it's like a massive meltdown where he completely shuts down rather than abuse? When he notices it's upsetting me he will give me a hug etc. and it's not like he just does it with me, when he shuts down it's with everyone.
I know he'd like us to have sex more often than we do and it's a bit of an issue but no more than in any relationship with young children/awkward living situation (we're living with my parents whilst selling/buying a house)/slightly mismatched sex drives. There have been two occasions where there have been issues. Once was years ago before we were married and had kids we were both very stoned and very drunk and he tried to persuade me to do anal even though he knew I didn't like the idea of it. However, I don't think he remembers it now and any other time it was ever mentioned was more in a 'I know that's off-limits for you and it's fine' sort of way. Until recently when I told him I was becoming more open to the idea. After having said that (but making it clear I'd want to plan it in advance and wait until we weren't living with my parents) we had sex and when he was about to orgasm he asked if he could put his finger in my bum (he'd been massaging round it etc. during sex but I've never actually had anything penetrate before). I didn't hear what he said and stuck his finger in anyway. Now, as soon as he did it he orgasmed and immediately apologised, hugged me and then disappeared into the bathroom for quite a while where he may have even cried. After he came back through to the bedroom he said he thought we should take the whole idea of anal off the table completely because he didn't want to hurt me. The whole thing was quite weird, to be honest.
Okay, this is getting stupidly long so I just want to finish by saying he's not jealous or controlling. He tells me I'm beautiful, reassures me my figures great if I' worried about my weight, tells me I'm more intelligent than him etc. So, this isn't an abusive relationship, right? It's just a normal one with a few issues like any relationship?
I'm not sure, tbh. The withholding thing may be for the reasons you have said. I'd be a bit more concerned about his 'boundary issues', for want of a better phrase, over sex.
What matters is how happy you are in the relationship.
If you are unhappy, you are allowed to leave. Whether the relationship is 'abusive' or nt.
Speaking from experience: I think you should ask him directly if HE thinks he is on the autistic spectrum.
SpongeBob, I know what you mean about the 'boundary issues'. Those two times were not at all good but there have just been those two things in 12 years and he recognises he was completely in the wrong.
I don't want to leave. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't blinded by the fact we've been together since high school so I don't know any different.
He does think he is at least approaching the spectrum and possibly on it. It runs pretty heavily in my family so I know quite a lot about ASD but the diagnoses etc. have largely been quite recent (the last couple of years) so it's only just starting to occur to us he might be on the spectrum, too.
Sorry, those were sort of meant as separate replies. I have a grumpy toddler just up from a nap whinging on my lap.
I think that most relationships have a sticking point i.e. the way someone reacts when you argue or the fact that you may have differing sex drives, and IMO no relationship goes by without one or other party thinking that things are wrong at some stage iyswim. But this does not IMO make for an abusive relationship....
Ultimately, nobody is perfect.
Wrt his reactions when arguing, is it possible he just doesn't do well with confrontation? So when you raise your voice during an argument it's the fight or flight response - he feels criticised and then hides away for a while to get past all of that? It's something which is worth talking about when you're not in the middle of an argument and emotions are running high and you can talk rationally about how you each feel.
The sex thing - well, the two instances you mentioned don't sound like a big deal to me. The once he asked and didn't push it when you said no, the other time he tried something after you'd sort of tentatively talked about it and then instantly regretted it. It doesn't sound as if he really has boundary issues, more that he experimented a bit and then regretted it afterwards.
The sex thing doesn't sound particularly problematic as you had expressed curiosity, but by God he beats himself up a lot. Crying in the loo afterwards? I don't think you're in an abusive relationship but I think he certainly needs counselling. It sounds like he has very deep self-loathing which is triggered far too easily.
WannaBe, he can be quite confrontational when it comes to other people. If he sees some lads giving the ticket inspector on the train trouble, he'd be the first to step in. Or if a work colleague was out of line in how he/she spoke to someone he'd tell them etc. It's when it comes to people he's close to that he'll argue and raise his voice then just shut down. It happens after he's spoken to his parents (especially his dad) quite often. They weren't abusive or anything but maybe...neglectful when he was growing up. He was treated pretty badly by his older siblings (they told him he wasn't wanted and ruined the family, his brother rolled him in a blanket and threw him down the stairs etc.) and his parents just didn't notice. So, he has a lot of resentment there.
Annarose, he has a huge amount of self loathing. After we'd started talking again last week he asked if I wanted to leave him. I said I didn't and asked if he wanted to leave (since it seemed really extreme for him to jump to that conclusion) he emphatically said 'no' but said if he was married to someone like him, he'd want to leave them.
We also spoke about my sisters (I have two teenage sisters so they're also living here) as it was because of something he'd said about one of them that we'd started arguing in the first place. He said he resented them a bit because they have had all the help and support he needed growing up (one has ASD, anxiety and depression and the other...who knows - they both self harm) but were so entitled and selfish. I told him they're both very young (14 and 16) and asked if he'd like himself at that age and his reply was he doesn't like himself at this age.
He has admitted he thinks he's depressed but won't get any help for it (he's not even registered with a GP here). He claims he 'self medicates' with exercise but I think they're both just symptoms of a wider problem. If he doesn't exercise for more than a couple of days he gets quite irritable (like people who get snappy when they're hungry). It's like an addiction for him.
Sorry if that's a bit incoherent! I'm feel very spaced with the change in medication.
I don't think he sounds particularly abusive but he has a swathe of mental health problems (separate to any ASD diagnosis) which need addressing.
That he won't go to the GP to access any help is very worrying, given hat MH problems rarely improve if left unchecked. Quite the opposite.
Are either of your DC boys? If so he's likely to re-experience the verbal abuse and neglect he suffered as a child, once your children reach that age where things happened to him. His existing eating disorder could worsen, or he might start to self-harm again. I don't want to alarm you unduly but I have seen this happen a lot with survivors of childhood abuse.
PocketSaviour, both are boys. DH already really struggles with them and struggles to hold his temper but, to be honest, so do I. They are both pretty hard work but DS1 (3) is particularly difficult. Like I said, he's being assessed for ASD and even my mum (who worked as a childminder for years, then ran a playgroup and has four kids (one with diagnosed Asperger's) so is very used to dealing with young children and also sees him through rose-tinted glasses because she's his GM) admits he's incredibly hard to deal with. He makes noise all the time (humming, shouting, screaming, asking the same question over and over even after you answer him) and DH is very noise-sensitive (another one of many ASD traits he has) so this puts DH on edge, too.
I don't want to push him to hard about going to see a doctor but I really think he should. I have mentioned it more than once but he just doesn't ever go to the doctor for anything, really (except right near the beginning of our relationship when he was 17 and thought he had cancer but then he didn't tell anyone - including his parents). He wants to get a vasectomy (neither of us want to have more children) but I can't see it happening due to him not even being registered with a GP.
Coherent enough Henry Second the counselling option. He doesn't, and by extension you, need to live like this.
Doesn't sound abusive tbh.
Perhaps he was ages in the bathroom scrubbing under his fingernail.
How do you convince someone who's totally against getting help to get help??
I think you have to use what you've got for leverage, which is his love for you.
You tell him that his health is a major worry for you and that even if he doesn't feel he deserves to get better, if he loves you and the DC that he will get himself healthier for your sakes.
You offer him all of the support that you can reasonably give: that you will go with him, you'll make the appointment for him, you'll tell the doctor what's wrong; you'll drive him to appointments; whatever you can do.
It may be that he has an actual phobia of doctors and it might be worth exploring this a bit in order to try to lessen his anxiety about seeing a GP. Would he, for example, feel more comfortable with a female doctor? If he hasn't been to the doctors since he was a child - did he have a painful or traumatic visit at some point, and has associated doctors with that pain ever since? It might reassure him if you explain to him exactly what happens when you go into the GP surgery, and that he's allowed to have you there for the whole appointment.
If he won't consider a GP, would be perhaps consider seeking a therapist who could help him explore his low self-esteem and destructive tendencies?
You are in a difficult position, I feel for you. Take care of yourself at the same time, too.
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