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aibu? i'm just so tired (v v long)

(236 Posts)
thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 18:42:03

my husband has a few complaints about me, and has for years.

some of them are probably founded. others may be blown out of proportion. all of them are based on me and my very real strengths and weaknesses... things i have worked on for years but that can only be changed so much.

i love him and want it to work but he is just so unhappy and i feel like no matter what he always will be.

we have been together for over 10 years now, from when i was a teenager. back then i was gobby and immature and generally flirty and not a particularly amazing gf - but i always loved him and was devoted to him in my own silly teenage way. and i never cheated on him, hand on heart - but a few times, he very much thought that i did.

we were really tempestuous but we learned a lot in the early years and i thought we had a really good thing. we got married in our mid 20s. we have so many good times. we have wonderful dcs. we think the same way about money, managed to build up great careers, etc. etc. and have a great sex life.

but every few months, no matter what, it will come up again that he thinks i am going to "humiliate" him - cheat on him, gossip maliciously about him, something like that. embarrass him, disrespect him.

he says that it is because i have regularly (a few times a year) humiliated him, including the time he thought that i had cheated on him, 8 years ago. (i stayed on at a bar, without him, until closing time with one of his friends - was v drunk and was having one of those philosophical convos that seemed v important at the time. it was stupid and i didn't so much as kiss the boy. and i was 21, so also an idiot. dh seems 50% sure that i actually cheated on him with this boy)

other much more recent example: we were out with my work mates and he and another person were talking to me at once, one in each ear, not realising they were talking over each other, so i put my hands up and snapped loudly (pretty rudely i think) that i couldn't hear because everyone was talking to me ("aaagh stop it everyone is talking to me at once!!"). dh took this as me humiliating him and trying to embarrass/dismiss him in front of my friends, as a sign of my basic disrespect for him. i see it as me being impulsively rude, not thinking before i reacted, which i apologised for. this happened almost a year ago now but has been regularly brought up as a reason for him feeling down about our relationship. he will now not socialise with me when i am with my work mates.

(note, i realise alcohol was involved in both of these instances! in response, i rarely have more than 2 drinks when out with my dh because i recognise the trigger for my rudeness/thoughtlessness.)

there are assorted other instances that, to him, are a huge pile of things that add up to a big, bad feeling that he can never trust me.

i can see where he is coming from, to an extent. i would be hurt if my dh did and said hurtful things to me on nights out. at the same time, i know that i have never cheated on him and that my life pretty much revolves around him. i speak highly of him to others. i rarely if ever moan about him to friends (which is unusual in my group of friends!). i keep so much to myself because i want to do right by him.

whenever i say something like "i know that you feel this way but my rudeness is a reflection of my character flaws - i can be impulsive, snappy, rude, inconsiderate - not a reflection on my feelings for you" he will answer something like "but if you really respected me you would never treat me that way". to which i respond "but everyone says and does stupid things to their partner sometimes! it's part of life".

which he disagrees with. tbf he rarely upsets me. he is generally a stellar husband. really. the bad news is that when i do confront him about something, it WILL end up with him basically saying that he's done it because he has been affected by my long term disrespect for him. so i almost always end up apologising, even when it's me that was wanting an apology from him to start with. that part really tires me out.

i am so tired of being the bad guy. 10 years of being the bad guy is really wearing me down.

i can see where he is coming from but i am starting to ask myself, why did he marry me when he is so unhappy with me? he has said himself that he never trusted me so why even propose? why has he bought a house with me, started a business with me, had children with me, when he can't trust me? i have asked him and he has basically said "well i love you" and in less happy moments "well i just followed along with what you wanted".

sigh.

what does one do in this situation?

i was his first serious gf and i do think that he thinks there are women out there who are much more respectful and loving than me. from my perspective, i think he has got a good wife in me and i'm not actually sure he could find someone else who would try so hard to do right by him. aibu to think that?

of course i do stupid, really thoughtless things sometimes - things that can seem cruel even though they're not intended in that way - a few times a year say. aibu to think everyone does?

i tend to be a leader, he tends to follow me. this has led to many happy things for him but i feel he hasn't always been true to himself. but now, i have this dread that he actually SHOULD leave me, that he actually wants to, but never will because he struggles to take decisive action.

i just feel so so tired thinking about another 50+ years married to someone who is offended by things that i can't change. i want desperately for him to be happy.

he won't go to counselling.

PoundingTheStreets Mon 26-Oct-15 19:03:29

If it's not probing too far into your life, do you think you could tell us the worst things you've done to your DH that signify your disrespect/cruelty towards him?

The reason I ask is because if the two examples you've given are typical then he is very much the one with the problem, not you. The constant lack of faith in you when you've never been unfaithful is a big red flag. sad

Suddenlyseymour Mon 26-Oct-15 19:32:51

Um, is it at all possible taht you have behaved actually utterly normally throughout your relationship; but he has gaslighted you to such an extent that even you believe that you have behaved badly. The examples you give are just nothing.....and yet he goes through these phases of really trying to control your behaviour and make YOU feel humiliated and moreover that you deserve it. He sounds really really manipulative

thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 19:33:16

Streets, he gives those two examples as key cruelties that really shook him. maybe i am understating them so i'll try to be more complete.

1. The bar - the boy in question was an untrustworthy type who, in retrospect, probably had a bit of a crush on me. we stayed until closing and then got a lift home with a random person (i was very drunk!). person dropped us both at my flat, the boy walked me to the gate of the flats, and then walked himself home. i'm sure if i had invited boy in, something might have happened, but i didn't do that because obv i didn't want that. that was it. i told DH every step of it the next morning because he was furious about it and was convinced i had cheated on him. after we got married dh confronted me about it again and asked me what really happened and, of course, i told him every word again, but i think he still goes back and forth on it.

2. the work do - dh was asking if i wanted a drink in one ear. the colleague i was talking to was male. both of them sort of recoiled when i snapped at them. i was probably really rude.

another example, once we were on holiday and i was standing with my dh, my hand on his knee (he was sitting), at a bar (we were 2-3 drinks in so nothing debaucherous). an american man next to me couldn't get the barmaid's attention so i waved and got her attention. i then had a conversation with the american man, still standing with my dh, still touching him. i tried to include my dh, kept looking over at dh to see if he was ok, dh was smiling and so on so i thought it was ok to talk to the man. later that evening dh was really sad and said it had been unkind for me to talk to the american man and exclude him. i felt terrible because i had literally been trying so hard to include him/check on him! i love to talk to people, especially on holiday. but i have yet to find a way to do it that doesn't cause upset.

dh is an introvert and i am an extrovert. many of the incidents happen when we are socialising. usually there is some alcohol involved, which obv makes me more likely to be thoughtless/impulsive, which is why i severely limit my drinking nowadays. not sure what else i can do.

he also gets very very upset when i don't answer my phone. there have been a few occasions (2-3?) in the past when, on girls nights, i will say i'll be home around 10:30 but then come in at midnight. i feel like that's something that happens sometimes when you're out and having fun, he feels it's completely unacceptable and disrespectful. i am much more vigilant now, or try not to give times anymore.

i long to go out and socialise more. just once a week would be amazing (currently it's every 4-6 weeks). but even on girls nights, there will be hints of clock watching and "take a picture of where you are and send it to me!". he tries to be subtle about it but i can tell it is eating him up and it makes me so sad for him sad i just want everyone to be happy.

Suddenlyseymour Mon 26-Oct-15 19:40:59

Ok, so your further post really suggests he is massively untrusting, has you walking on eggshells to appease him, is threatened by you talking to any man and really doesn't seem to have much respect for you at all; those incidents you expand further on really are absolutely nothing and yet "they shook him to the core"? I think it's like you don't realise what a number he's done on you here; you are apologising for yourself and your tone is almost "well i can see where he's coming from to be honest". Er no. This really isn't normal, and it's really not you. It's all him.....tin hat is the not liking you not answering your phone....

Suddenlyseymour Mon 26-Oct-15 19:44:31

And i've only just seen your last paragraph about how he behaves when you go out .... Dear lord! So how long will it be before heales you feel going out isn't "worth the hassle"? Asking you to take pictures of where you are? And you feel sad for him? I feel sad for you having to deal with all this xx

WorkingBling Mon 26-Oct-15 19:52:08

He has the problem. Not you. Clearly he is very insecure. And that presents as him accusing you of things. He doesn't like you speaking or interacting with other men. And he is threatened by every man you have any kind of contact with. He also can't seem to let go of real or imagined slights while talking with other men.

All these examples of you being "thoughtless" - I bet they all involve other men?!

If you are flirty and inappropriate with others then perhaps he would have a point. But doesn't sound like it. As a rule, I never found holding someone else's knee was a good flirt technique ...

I don't know what the answer is but I would be tempted to tell him what you have told us -that you are not sure you can face 59 more years of being constantly criticised and untrusted. He needs help to deal with his issues.

PoundingTheStreets Mon 26-Oct-15 20:05:38

thestamp - just flowers

I think you've just started the process of seeing your relationship through your own eyes instead of the filter your H is putting before you. It's not an easy process and sometimes on MN, where your H's gaslighting is so obvious to some, you can feel steamrollered.

You're going to feel pretty overwhelmed to start off with. Take it slowly. Read up about psychological abuse and gaslighting. Eventually I think sheer damn fury will bubble up through the hurt and bewilderment.

flowers

thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 20:09:28

ok i am trying to fully disclose as much as i can here because i REALLY want a balanced view.

when i was much younger (19-22) i was quite flirty. it was batting eyelashes and verbal flirting, the kind of thing that at the time i felt was "polite flirting" that made a night at the pub more fun.. not going off into alleys or anything remotely like that. but that was 10 years and many arguments ago. i'm not like that anymore. on the contrary i'm hypersensitive to things that might be construed as flirting because i know how my dh feels.

i dress well and take care of myself - i do attract attention from men sometimes (like - brief gazes. not anonymous love letters or anything).

dh thinks i'm very attractive but is unconcerned with the attention of other men - it's my interaction with other men that is the problem.

ImperialBlether Mon 26-Oct-15 20:12:59

He sounds like a bloody nightmare. You sound as though you're walking on eggshells. If you don't have children, I'd end it. Life is too short to deal with men like this.

Castrovalva Mon 26-Oct-15 20:14:18

OK in thE light of that last post ,this is easy.

YOU ARE A TOTALLY HUMAN BEING

He, otoh is a fucking gaslighting knob end.

Get the fuck outta there

RandomMess Mon 26-Oct-15 20:20:37

Blimey it's him not you.

He doesn't want you to have any contact with the male species at all ever, he wants you at home tied to the kitchen sink under his thumb.

mellowyellow1 Mon 26-Oct-15 20:24:57

Flirting is okay, isn't it? Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean you become invisible to the opposite sex.

If me and OH bought up everything we've done wrong in the past we'd never move on from anything. He sounds like hard work and very insecure sad

fearsomepixie Mon 26-Oct-15 20:26:30

You ARE getting a balanced view,from posters here,absolutely not from your husband. He's got you believing that you're some sort of wanton hussy based on the fact that you used to be flirty,and are attractive. Bullshit,absolute bullshit. He's controlling you and gas lighting you to the point where you are walking on eggshells around him so that you don't "upset" him. It actually seems like you think you have done something wrong? You really haven't.

Obviously my dh isn't every man but to put this in perspective it might help. The incident with the shouting might have miffed him very mildly at the time. But he would have forgotten about it by the time we got home,because it was NOT A BIG DEAL. He again,may have been a bit perturbed at me staying out later than planned. The fact it was with a male friend would not make any difference because he trusts me,because I have never cheated on him. As you never have with your husband .

This "disrespect" you're apparently showing is all in his head. He wants to keep you in line. If you (DON'T do this) were to stop going out entirely,stop drinking entirely,stop dressing nicely, stop talking to other men, a)you would be even more miserable and b)he would still find things to punish you for.

My ex was abusive. I never once cheated on him but he thought I did. At one point we split up, I had a brief fling with another man while we were split (AFTER we split) then I got back together with ex. We were together several more years after that, and he never EVER let me forget it. He used to pull an argument with me on the rare occasions I was due to go out so I wasn't in the mood anyway. Then we would make up,but he would mope about and say he was "scared because of what happened before" so I ended up not going, which was of course exactly what he wanted. Sound familiar?

YOU are not the problem, HE is .

AnyFucker Mon 26-Oct-15 20:32:05

Your husband is a FUCKING LOSER and you are being abused by him.

ImperialBlether Mon 26-Oct-15 20:43:39

I don't think I've ever read a thread that starts with "My husband has a few complaints about me..." that haven't led every single poster to say the problem is with the husband.

fearsomepixie Mon 26-Oct-15 20:50:34

You said very well, if he's that unhappy why is he with you? The "it was what YOU wanted" is more gaslighting crap, designed to make you feel guilty. Ignore it. It's because he enjoys controlling you because he can see how well it works.

thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 20:51:33

see, i thought already that his perceptions were a little out of proportion. i have mentioned this to him before, but his response has been, "great, another person in my life telling me that i'm overreacting" - his parents were/are very dismissive and shaming of him and they are NC now. i feel that he is seeing in me what he actually did experience with his parents... that he sees the ordinary stupid thoughtless things that i do sometimes, as signs that i feel about him as his parents did.

i have said that to him to - last night, in fact - and he said that he can't see it that way, because the facts are that i stayed out with his friend that evening, that i was flirtatious, that i shouted at him in front of my colleague, that i don't answer my phone when he calls, that i sometimes shower immediately when i get home from work without even hugging him, that i go out for lunch with colleagues, that i sometimes come home later than planned, etc. and that all those things together obviously "point to something bad" when he puts them all together.

i can sort of see what he means but i struggle to fully accept that most people/men would see it that way. i said that and obviously it didn't go down well. if i felt as he did, i wouldn't appreciate being told i was seeing it all wrong. i get that. but i can't nod and say "yes you're right i'm cheating on you" can i?? it's just gone on for too long now.

the sad part is that i feel he doesn't mean any of this with malice. i think he genuinely feels he is being reasonable. but i genuinely feel i can't help with this anymore. and i don't know what to do.

we have dcs. i'm extremely concerned about what he might say to our son in particular about me if we were ever to split up.

i don't want to split up. but i don't know what to do. i really don't. sad

RandomMess Mon 26-Oct-15 21:02:28

Find a GOOD therapist and go together so he can realise that he is projecting his childhood experiences onto your relationship.

He needs to hear that you are innocent of what he is accusing you of! Then he needs to either get over it or decide he refuses to and tell you so.

This is going to limp along forever otherwise.

goddessofsmallthings Mon 26-Oct-15 21:07:47

I agree with AF. He'd have you under lock and key if he could but, as it is, he's caused you to suppress your personality and has got you constantly on edge whenever you're out with him or with your friends.

He's jealous of your easygoing affability; the quality that draws people to you and enables you to converse with all and sundry. He's a very pale moon that's outshone by
your dazzlight sunlight - and he knows it.

Staying with him will permanently extinguish your spark and you'll become a timid shadow of what you were; a meek 'yes dear' woman who's scared to do anything that may invoke his disapproval.

It's highly unlikely that couples counselling can alter this destructive dynamic and while individual counselling may enable you to see the extent to which you are being controlled by him, it could take very many years of therapy before he's able curb his desire to own and possess the significant others in his life - and I say 'others' because I can't see you staying with him and he'll behave exactly the same to your successors.

If you have dc with this man I can only feel extremely sorry for them as they'll struggle to please him in the same way that you're doing,

.

thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 21:08:00

he refuses point blank to go to therapy. i've suggested, even begged for him to go, even if it's without me, hundreds of times.

i've gone on my own for years so i am more than open to it.

years and years ago, we went to a couples therapist together and after 2 sessions, she told him he was in the wrong (and personally i think she made a huge error in how she went about it, regardless of whether she was right or wrong). he refused to ever go again. again... another person telling him he's overreacting, which made him shut down. and i understand why. but again... i don't know what i can do to help...

RandomMess Mon 26-Oct-15 21:13:22

Then I think it's ultimatum time I'm afraid.

Either he goes to therapy or it's over, because you can't carry on as you are.

You need to draw a line in the sand that you are not prepared for him to continually do this to you.

AnyFucker Mon 26-Oct-15 21:18:04

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Kacie123 Mon 26-Oct-15 21:27:24

He's got major issues and loving him is only going to keep exhausting you. You can't fix him just by keeping going on, he's going to feel worse and worse and take it out on you more and more. In time you will feel totally suffocated by this.

Meanwhile your kids are learning patterns of trust and what relationships should be like from you both. You need to show them that they never have to be stuck or abused like this, and that it's not ok to treat people you love in this way.

thestamp Mon 26-Oct-15 21:27:52

AF, the children are the very thing slowing my reaction to all this. i am generally very very decisive, and brave. but i am very concerned about leaving them alone with him - not because of any physical danger, but because of poison dripped in little ears when custody arrangement keep me apart from them. my children are very small and are completely defenceless.

don't beat me around the head too hard. i am much more than this situation. but i am trying to pull everyone out of it with the least possible damage, and the strain is enormous.

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