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Is this gaslighting? Please help me understand

(53 Posts)
BellarinatheCAG Thu 09-Feb-17 09:25:08


I've been a lurker for about a year, first post and unfortunately its in relationships.

Brief background: 35yrs, female, married 14.5yrs, on brink of divorce (just started marriage counselling), not british, no children, living as an expat "trailing spouse" so away from any family and support system.
Husband: 43yrs old, British/German and married once before.

So about 3 weeks ago, H comes home and very casually says the marriage is over for him. Now we haven't had a always smooth sailing marriage but I always believed there was a good foundation and shared principles and beliefs. We always had a good laugh together, agreed on stuff like politics, mutual love of our pets etc.

The problems in the marriage that have always been highlighted have always been laid squarely at my doorstep. Namely my health (undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism/ Hashimoto's, PCOS, Endometriosis, possibly CFS and chronic insomnia); our sporadic sex life; me not getting along with his mother/family; my temper and my moods.

I have always felt like he's not as committed to me and the relationship as I am, not as supportive or understanding and not as loving and giving as I think a husband should be. I have constantly been made to feel that the feelings Im feeling are not real. It's either he didn't say what I'm claiming he did or I misunderstood him, or I've jumped to the wrong conclusion or its all in my head or im projecting my insecurities at him or I'm probably depressed and need to get help because im acting crazy/irrational.

Because I already had self confidence issues and because I came into the marriage with a open heart and because I shared all my fears with him in hindsight it was easy for him to play on them.
I've been fighting and internal battle for so long suppressing and convincing myself that its all me and fighting to keep the relationship by continually bending and giving in because after all the problems are all with me.

I have gone from a 47kg active person full of life to a 76kg creature that can't even get out of bed! My health struggles have been my own problem to deal with, I've had to lean on friends to support me in my darkest time, get me to hospital, be at my side through procedures etc. I've had to put up with his totaly lack of empathy, demands about why I'm not doing xyz, looks of disgust etc

I've been subjected to racial abuse from his mother, systemic starvation while in the UK visiting them (long story), humiliated publicly because I'm "poor", invasion of my privacy (go through my stuff, walk into the room when im asleep etc), ridiculed for my illnesses (apparently yoghurt cures endometriosis) and a mockery made of my religious beliefs but it must not be true because his mother is a kind and loving person and I'm sure didn't mean it that way.

In the last year I've really fought hard to get the medical treatment I need, to support my body and eat nourishing food (he doesn't/can't cook so if I'm too sick to cook, I dont get to eat bse where we live is so remote and no takeaways or online supermarkets/convenience food). I've been working on my spiritual side because that brings me comfort. I finally feel like I can see life in colour and not dark and grey.
Obviously with this has come my ability to question the state of things, to voice and stand by my feelings opinions. I would like to start a family and i definitively need to move from where we live now as it's not ideal for me for many many reasons (weather, no fresh fruits and veg, medical services, support system).

I thought we were on the same page, we had what I thought was a lets get rid of all the venom and anger and start afresh and commit to doing what the other person needs talk. I threw myself into it and was really pleased about how i was feeling and what we were achieving until 3 weeks ago when he just says "I want a divorce". Despite my shock I did try to ask what is the reason, how can i change, what can i do. Give him the benefit of doubt he's frustrated, its a phase/mid-life crisis, I need to be more loving and supportive etc
He has spent the last 3 weeks shredding everything i believed in and basically affirming my feelings were correct all along to the point that last week something inside me just clicked into place.

I began to see him for who is actually really is and not who I thought he was. All these incidences and events came flooding back, all his comments and actions now make sense. His attitude to me and what he thinks of me.
I believe he has been gaslighting me (or is it I've been gaslit??!) for so long and so subtly. I feel a lot of damage has been done and i feel like i need to heal and forgive him and move on.

I got us an apppointment with a marriage counsellor (this was made when he first told me about the divorce and i thought we could work on the marriage) but as there was no availability at the time the appointments have just taken place yesterday.

The marriage counsellor met with him first and he has lied through his teeth about everything that has led the marriage counsellor to believe that the issues are solvable.
He has still maintained he wants out but the reasons he has given are "my wife doesnt meet me at the door when i come home, she's always in her pyjamas, never wants to go out"...which out of context are true but haven't been the case for the last year or so. No mention that this was during a period of time when I was so ill my TSH levels were 0.0000 not registering on the scale, vitamin D was 2, my hair was falling out, i could go 48hours without sleep, every bone, muscle and joint hurt.

The marriage counsellor wants me to give it one more try (despite him not commiting), has never heard of the term gaslighting and seems to think I'm being egotistical and stubborn which has lead me to question myself again...was I/am I being gaslighted?

All I want is to heal and forgive and not have to carry this emotional baggage anymore but I'm been made to feel im being unreasonable.

I would just like some unbiased opinions because I feel like getting drawn back into the cycle of questioning the validity of my feelings.

I have to say I have not been a perfect wife, I have my fair share of faults and reactions im not proud of. I swear a lot when im angry and have broken stuff and find it very hard to forgive and forget and move on from betrayal and hurt. So I have also contributed negatively to this marriage though never maliciously and with harmful intent or plotting and planning. Just bad and wrong reactions to situations and those overwhelming emotions.

Apologies for the very long post, I've tried not to leave out important details but keep it brief. I hope someone will respond.

RacoonBandit Thu 09-Feb-17 09:33:36

Its emotional abuse/gaslighting/fucking awful.

Call it what you need to but what it actually means is you need to get out.

This is a very unhealthy relationship and you will not be able to fix it because you H takes no responsibility for the problems so everything will always be your fault.

You deserve so much better. Please dont try to rescue your marriage it will destroy you.

Can you leave him?

Stormtreader Thu 09-Feb-17 09:52:34

Bearing in mind the person you now know he is - why do you even want to stay married?
Theres no combination of things you can say or do that will magically change him back into the person you thought he was so let any feelings of responsibility for that go, he is who he is and it sounds like who he is is a nasty piece of work you'd be better off without.

OneLumpOrSeven Thu 09-Feb-17 09:56:27

Counselling isn't recommended in abusive relationships for exactly the reasons you've listed. The abusive partner gets the counsellor on side.

You really do deserve better than him.

HughJarss Thu 09-Feb-17 10:02:50

You really do deserve better than this. It sounds awful. Can you see the rest of your life continuing like this? Can you imagine still being in this situation in five years and would you want to be? Also, do you want kids with this man and do you think he'd be a good father? These are all questions to consider.

In your shoes I hope I'd be brave enough to gather strength and put plans in place to leave. Can you return to your home country? Is there any support for you in real life? flowers

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 10:06:59

I didn't finish the thread - it was very self-indulgent, sorry. I dont know if he is gaslighting you or if the problems are your own - you certainly highlight an awful lot of issues that you have. Either way you are clearly unhappy and should probably go along with ending it.

RacoonBandit Thu 09-Feb-17 10:08:52

Why bother commenting if you cant be arsed to read the OP hmm

SandyY2K Thu 09-Feb-17 10:12:57

I wouldn't call it gaslighting, but he sounds manipulative and he's given the counselor an edited version of the facts to suit him.

I don't see the point of counselling when he's not interested in the marriage. A man who allows you to be racially abused by his mother is spineless IMO.

It's an unhealthy relationship and you need it to end, so let the divorce happen and decide what you're going to do moving forward.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 10:13:06

I've read it all now Racoon , I still feel the same.

BellarinatheCAG Thu 09-Feb-17 10:25:45

Thank you for replying.

That's the point I don't believe I want to continue with the relationship. I want to move on from the marriage.
I'm attending the counselling to gain closure and deal with these emotions and to learn to forgive for my own benefit.
I left the meeting with the counsellor feeling so confused and very angry because she minimised what I'm saying has been happening with "I hear you and I get that you are frustrated" whilst I feel like screaming it's not frustration its psychological warfare!

Due to the length of time I've been feeling like I'm not confident in myself. This it has left me questioning myself and my feelings again i.e. maybe it is me overreacting, maybe I've missed something but a part of me is fighting those thoughts too.

Counsellor's opinion is I should give it one more try (despite what H is saying...he's not interested in trying, he's done and wants out) that I should be the better person and do the simple things that would make him happy and his ideal day (note no one has asked me about what I want or need) and see if it works/makes a difference.
Because according to the counsellor what is the worst thing that could happen? Divorce?
I'm thinking the worst thing that could happen is I completely break down and can't function because he is still the same and won't change but will probably relish the thought of me working hard to gain his approval all the while he has no intention of changing anything about himself bse ofcourse he's perfect.

Is the counsellor just not right for me? Bse how can she be so easily taken in by H and his lies. Why am I being pressured to do all the work with the fleeting chance of maybe it'll work? Why is it up to me to "win" him back? Who is looking out for me?

The constant counsellor's conflicting advice vs my feelings vs what I see/hear/experience from him is overwhelming me to the point I feel paralysed with confusion because I really want to do what is right but I just don't know what that is or how to get there.

I'm all alone physically, can go days without talking to another human being.

I gave up my business and career (just as i had qualified) to support him and his career so I have financial worries and worries about my employability. Old and Sick parents who need my support. All on top of trying to get myself out of this mess.

Easiest option is to give up and crawl under some rock and wait for death but that won't stop or change anything. The issues still will remain to be dealth with.
I thought seeking counselling would help me, but I feel worse and don't know what to do.

HughJarss Thu 09-Feb-17 10:29:49

Les I think you're absolutely horrid. This woman is pouring her heart out and you say she is self-indulgent. Appalling.

OP, I'm not sure this is the right counsellor for you, but to my mind it doesn't sound like the marriage is worth saving and I can't see how you giving it another shot will even factor in, if he wants out. Things might get worse before they get better, but this is no way to live. By leaving this situation you can focus on your health and getting well again.

RacoonBandit Thu 09-Feb-17 10:34:01

Les I think you're absolutely horrid.

Quite Hugh

I agree OP this counsellor is not right for you. Read you OP again. You have written exactly how you feel and how he has treated you. Do not dismiss your own feelings and thoughts. Listen to yourself.

Start making plans to get out. Focus on that and not on you being wrong or at fault that is just a distraction.

BellarinatheCAG Thu 09-Feb-17 10:38:49

Thank you so much Racoon and HughJ.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 10:44:37

It's pragmatic not horrid. Grow up. The OP states all her own issues and also his - she know's she's not blameless, she says it herself - you are doing her no favours at all for the future of this or any other relationship she may have to indulge her to paper over her own responsibilities for the success of the relationship particularly when she is the one that has pointed out her own fallibilites. Did you not read the thread properly?

You're not helping, you're really not.

AshesandDust Thu 09-Feb-17 10:48:47

It's clear you're in an awful situation - the main points that have jumped out to me are your illnesses, your hypothyroidism/fatigue and you mention you get angry. These are all symptoms of hypothyroidism - long standing untreated/inadequatly hypothyroidism is known to cause lots of these symptoms. I'd suggest you do a lot of research on this and get your health on track so you're better prepared to take on what ever path you choose to take.
Have a look at for starters.

empirerecordsrocked Thu 09-Feb-17 10:52:39

First of all why do you have medical conditions that are undiagnosed - if you can get on top of all that it would be a start.

Then I'd be making plans to leave.

Hissy Thu 09-Feb-17 10:53:05

EVERYONE who starts a thread is being self-indulgent if you want to be brutal... it's all about me, me me... that's the whole point! ffs

Ops have an issue they want help with and they are only in control of the way they think/feel/act.

Bella For whatever reason your life is miserable, and he has finally totally checked out. I wonder how much of his abuse of you is responsible for your general health condition? I wonder too how much you would improve without this carcinogenic presence in your life

I absolutely would stop the counsellor, abusers get untrained counsellors on side very quickly and use them to batter you further. you have suffered enough.

Call the whole thing off, call it a day on your marriage and life the best life you can.

You made vows to love one another in sickness and in health. he has failed you miserably in this aspect and is using your ill health to further punish you.

a good man would not do this. he's not a good man.

Why did his last marriage fail?

RacoonBandit Thu 09-Feb-17 11:00:25

Not one of your posts are helpful Les maybe its time you found another thread to impart your wisdom on hmm

Any man who states He has still maintained he wants out but the reasons he has give me "my wife doesnt meet me at the door when i come home, as a reason he wants to end the marriage is an arsehole.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 11:02:40

Nope sorry. If the man acts badly its because he's an unfeeling arsehole. If the woman acts badly (admitted by the OP herself) there are extenuating circumstances to excuse it or they are simply a reaction to their partner. You are making excuses when even the OP herself is not. She should be encouraged to not only acknowledge her weaknesses (undiagnosed illnesses aside) - which she fully has - but act on working on them regardless of this relationship but for her own good.

If we go through life blaming everyone else for our own questionable behaviour we never grow or learn or better our own lives let alone enrich anyone else's.

Whether the OP's husband chooses to self reflect in that way is a matter for him, but the OP asked for unbiased opinions and that is mine. I applaud her for saying 'some of this is my fault'. You do her a massive disservice by trying to talk her out of that stance and undermining even further her own judgement which she is already questioning!

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 11:03:38

Racoon , no.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 11:06:10

Maybe the OP's husband vision of marriage was that he would have a lovely welcoming wife waiting at the door for him as he came home from work, is that wrong? Is he wrong to want that? Is that not what marriage is all about, love, sex, support, companionship? Why are his feelings less valid than the OP's?

Yes I know the next thing is going to be that he isn't giving that to OP either, which is quite true - which takes me back to my original point - neither are happy and both seem entrenched so a split is actually a positive not a negative proposition.

BellarinatheCAG Thu 09-Feb-17 11:06:42

LesisMiserable...thank you for your input. It must be nice knowing that you are perfect and without faults.

It's a shame you feel other poster's giving me advice is "indulging me to paper over my responsibilities".

I've reached out for help/advice not any favours for the situation I'm in. I'm not blind to my faults and I have tried to give as fair and accurate an account of what I have been living with and experiencing. If thats rubs you the wrong way there's nothing I can do about it.

I do hope if you should ever find yourself in a tough situation like I have, you have decent folk like HughJ, Racoon and Sandy to provide some perspective/advice/support/encouragement.

RacoonBandit Thu 09-Feb-17 11:10:44

The 1950s called Les they want their opinions back hmm

The OP is ill. Her lack of being a good wife in your eyes is down to illness. I suppose in sickness and in health is a vow you ignore as it only matters that the wife is a good little women regardless of her health.

Please dont listen to Les OP. This posters has failed to read anyting you have posted about how your illness affects you and how your husband has treated you.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 11:13:08

You asked for unbiased opinions OP did you not?

I'm not perfect and never stated I was. I applauded you for acknowledging your faults which is a big thing. It doesn't rub me the wrong way, I can honestly say I'm completely uninvested really, I'm just waiting for the kettle to boil and trying to give you an honest viewpoint. I'll shut down the computer and forget about it completely. But this is your life and I fear though that you're only listening to voices that agree with you so in fact wanted biased opinions.

So, you're amazing, he's a twat etc etc etc etc .

All good.

LesisMiserable Thu 09-Feb-17 11:16:02

racoon do you actually read my posts or just project? I think it's the latter you know.

So her needs from a relationship are more important than his? Well clearly he doesn't think so which he's why he's off. That's his prerogative.

Relationships are equal or they are not relationships and should. Simple.

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