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Partner is "frightened" to communicate with me

(20 Posts)
NormanJacques Wed 21-Dec-16 09:07:03

DP and I have a DC together.
We've had a few ups and downs over the last few years and hurdles thrown our way but we've pulled through and have been very happy recently.
I attended counselling for some time and they pinpointed that miscommunication is a problem in our relationship. I've therefore sought to communicate better and it's been helping.
DP however is dreadful at communication and I struggle to get him to discuss anything significant at all, he just clams up. Over the last few days, things have been pretty miserable as it turns out that DP has not been honestly communicating with me over some extra work he's been doing. I've explained to him that I can deal with anything if he's honest with me from the outset, but yet again, he hasn't been honest and I've discovered that he's going to have to work over Christmas, its my first Christmas without one of my parents who died this year.
He's known this for a while but has argued in his defence that he's too "frightened" to communicate with me because of how I might react. I feel upset and hurt by what he's said as surely, if that's the case, he knows it will be far worse the longer he witholds information anyway? I feel like a real ogre and wonder how bad I must be if this is how he feels too.
It takes 2 to communicate and I can't force him to do so, yet I know it's the main thing getting in the way of our relationship.
How to deal with this one? Am I to blame? I do fly off the handle at times and usually because he's just not communicating!

SVJAA Wed 21-Dec-16 09:14:42

DP and I had a majorly rocky patch recently because we weren't communicating. Eventually I asked him to leave and that finally led to a massive heart to heart. I told him all the things I was struggling with and he told me all the things he was struggling with. I've had to take some things on the chin (as he has too) and realise that I wasn't behaving very well towards him and in fact was hurting him, and make an effort to change those things. He's also making an effort to change the things that were bothering me. It takes two to make things work, and hard as it is (unless it's an abusive relationship obviously) you need to look at your own faults too, not just his.

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 09:20:24

Do you think there is any chance there is something in this?
Seen as you now have a miserable atmosphere do you think that there is an element of fear here? Because are you now punishing him for this lack of communcation?
It's a complex situation but there could be elements you need to take on board. It takes 2 people to change the situation

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 09:21:37

It sounds like you worked to communicate better and he did not, the barrier to this could be your reaction to when he does/doesn't try to communicate with you?

scottishdiem Wed 21-Dec-16 09:25:32

Sometimes the method and the message get mixed up. I have had this problem in the past in a previous relationship. I had bad news to communicate but was wary of the response so didn't and then the issue became the fact that I didn't communicate it.

The fear of communicating bad news can very easily over-ride the logic of being better at communication. Can he really tell if the reason you fly off the handle isn't the actual topic but the poor communication. Perhaps they are not so clear cut in his mind. Try not flying off the handle and see if he gets better.

I've explained to him that I can deal with anything if he's honest with me from the outset

Do you have a solid track record of being able to point this out and show him this is the case? Or is this something that counselling has helped you with but is still new to him.

I think he also needs some counselling to help his communication skills and then also some joint work to build a better communicative relationship.

tribpot Wed 21-Dec-16 09:25:47

So how does he suggest resolving this kind of issue in future?

There seem to be two options here:
1. He knew that if he told you about the extra work early on, you would make life difficult for the weeks leading up to it and therefore it was less grief overall to drop it on you at the last minute.
2. He doesn't give a shit about how it affects you, so took the easy route and is now deflecting the blame on to you.

Let's assume 1 for now. How does he suggest the two of you deal with this kind of situation in the future? Not how do you suggest you modify your 'frightening' behaviour, what is his solution to it?

To be honest, him failing to notify you of a work commitment doesn't really sound like a communication issue so much as a cooperation issue. Presumably he would be quite surprised if you'd told him you were unavailable over Christmas due to a work commitment? And indeed likewise his work would have been surprised if he'd failed to indicate that he wasn't going to work over Christmas but spend time with his family instead? It's not how people behave in teams.

So how does he want to resolve this so that on a practical level everyone knows what everyone is doing?

Isetan Wed 21-Dec-16 09:42:00

Poor communication my arse. He lies to protect himself from his behaviour being challenged and he's a coward for blaming you.

You can't improve 'communication' on your own, if he won't participate (which he has shown no signs of), then you'll have to accept that his shitty behaviour is the price your willing to pay for being with him.

Bloopbleep Wed 21-Dec-16 09:48:32

I have an identical situation with my dp and I've come to the conclusion he's a wussy. As Isetan says he lies to cover himself but in my situation he also doesn't communicate because he's terrified of confrontation thanks to a dominating be seen and not heard mother. Does my head In. I have no useful advice to help but will be interested to see how others deal with it.

NormanJacques Wed 21-Dec-16 09:52:37

BloopBleep: DPs mother was also very dominating... makes me wonder if there's something in this.
I also find that my DP is not very forward thinking, doesn't plan, organise or think ahead at all really, I think he forgets to relay important information in advance of things happening.

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 10:07:46

But it is important how someone reacts to this - having been on the receiving end of someone always angry about what/when I tell them things, over time it does become easier to omit or delay things. It isn't ideal but it's also unfair to blame someone for being a 'wussy' when clearly 'blowing your top' is a reaction they HAVE received in the past, and it isn't always a negative trait to try to avoid conflict with someone who triggers conflict easily. In this scenario neither party are right or wrong - they are not very compatible communication wise. There are many people I have met in my life who I find communicating with frustrating and difficult. This is not because they are a bad person or have deep psychological issues - we aren't compatible. You can learn and should learn in a relationship to to do this better so I am with OP on the effort they have invested so far, but instead of looking at all their failings you won't get very far unless you look at how to move forward next time, if this means creating a neutral environment for them to bring forward 'bad news' and being able to discuss it sensibly.

The issue here is why is he working Christmas? Do you need the money? Does he have no choice in this? Is this a one off or just this year that is an issue? I understand being hurt by not being informed but without the background it's hard to tell whether this is a case of gone behind your back to work xmas on purpose or usually works xmas and avoided telling you he had not booked this off

NormanJacques Wed 21-Dec-16 10:25:23

It is because he has taken on more work than he had previously realised, he works for himself. He under-estimated his time scales and therefore now has to work over Christmas to get the job done in time for the next contractors who begin straight after boxing day. Its also an extra job that he's doing on top of his normal day to day work so it is using up evenings and weekends.
I'd asked him to delegate the work originally as I thought it would be too big a job to take on so close to Christmas and I wanTed to spend some time with him. We have probably gained around £1000 in him doing the work, but in my opinion it was just not worth doing extra work so close to Christmas. He now agrees with me and has said he has bitten off more than he can chew. But he has underestimated the work and timescales 3 times now, this is the 3rd time he has changed his story, so I guess he was right to be frightened about my response. It's actually quite clear now that I've written it!

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 10:49:58

Ok, so he's admitting he's made errors, that's a good start. I think rather than continually persecuting him for it wink it's time to move on. Move xmas to Boxing Day? Many nurses and doctors have to do this. Look at the bigger picture? He's a hard working man who loves you. He's messed up out of bad timing or organisation not because he's a twat. You will have extra money. Does he need help with running his business?

NormanJacques Wed 21-Dec-16 10:55:31

I'd say the issue really is the lack of communication, which is a common theme which runs through our relationship in many guises. This is just one of many. I can fully appreciate how hard working he is and Im happy to re-jig christmas. I dont really want to lose track of what the thread is predominantly about, which is his fear of communication for whatever reason.

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 11:00:39

I think you have to give him the chance to tell you what this fear means. He knows he should be telling you things but is this generally whenever it's bad news or ALL types of communicating - does he just avoid things you don't want to hear/difficult subjects or is he generally a disorganised type

BumDNC Wed 21-Dec-16 11:02:22

Also when he clams up, what happens then? He shuts down, you want the information etc?

tribpot Wed 21-Dec-16 11:14:42

this is the 3rd time he has changed his story, so I guess he was right to be frightened about my response.

Or he's cornered and lying to cover his arse.

I think in the case of issues like this, the two of you need to agree the ground rules up front.

You discussed whether or not he should take on the additional work (good). You offered your opinion that it would impact on family time over Christmas (good). He appears not to have told you he was doing the work anyway (bad) preventing you from negotiating a reasonable compromise, such as 'fine but the work must be completed by 23rd December so we can enjoy the weekend of Christmas as a family'. He could then agree to that, or not, and you could negotiate something that worked for you both.

By not telling you, he has taken away choice and compromise. He's got his 'own way', which is to do this piece of work.

You've noted that he doesn't plan, organise or think ahead at all really - not sure how he manages his own business successfully, does he think about tax return season? Or the dreaded quarterly VAT returns? How does he manage not to book himself on two jobs simultaneously?

How would he suggest he lets you know about upcoming commitments? A shared calendar seems like an obvious one. Not all communication needs to be verbal.

EssentialHummus Wed 21-Dec-16 11:30:35

You need to consistently show him that you won't explode. I had this with DH, who I met after he'd been through a bitter divorce. It took a long time, particularly since I can be quick to get angry.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 21-Dec-16 11:38:43

but yet again, he hasn't been honest
Is he dishonest a lot of the time?
That just really jumped out at me.

Pickanameanyoldname Wed 21-Dec-16 11:44:46

I think a lot of people are underestimating how difficult it is to deal with people who, by the OP's own admission, "fly off the handle".

It's like walking on eggshells waiting for the inevitable kick off, and for someone that's extremely conflict averse it's terrifying and you can tie yourself up in knots trying to lessen or manage the "flying off".

I feel sorry for the guy.

Naicehamshop Wed 21-Dec-16 13:52:45

He strikes me as being a rather ineffectual person - sorry if that sounds unkind.

He doesn't tell you the truth about things (I accept this might be at least partly due to you kicking off) and he doesn't organise his work properly. It seems to me that he just tries to take the easiest option whenever things go wrong ... lie, lie again, blame someone else. Unless you are absolutely terrifying when he tells you stuff, I think he needs to massively get a grip.

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