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Husband cannot cope with criticism.

(79 Posts)
Eddie900 Thu 09-Feb-17 10:42:52

Marriage is pretty good. One (major) problem. Husband cannot cope with criticism.

If I raise an issue, he point blank refuses to discuss. Gets really annoyed very quickly.
He's fine if I bring up every day, minor 'issues'...(e.g. Please don't walk on the clean floor with your dirty work boots on when I've just cleaned!) but cannot handle me saying he's let me down/ I'm hurt by something he's said/ he's upset me. He gets annoyed, won't acknowledge what I've said and walks away. Avoids me for a while!
It makes no difference how I raise the 'issue'. I've tried discussin as soon as there's an issue, tried discussin it a while later when we are both calm...Doesn't help.
Anyone else in same situation?
Drives me insane.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 09-Feb-17 11:20:15

Well my immediate response is, he doesn't have the inclination and refuses to take personal responsibility to address your relationship issues and work out problems with you. It must be pretty miserable not getting through to him.
Walking away is very dismissive.
From what you know of his background is it possible this avoidance of conflict has to do with a previous dp or maybe parental conflict he dealt with? He's giving off a powerful signal he doesn't care about your concerns.

Does he sulk and/or wait for you to break the ice afterwards, or keep his distance then act as if nothing happened?

Freddorika Thu 09-Feb-17 11:22:04

How often do you say these things? I think in 25 years I have said a couple of times that dh has done something hurtful and I've never said that he's let me down.

Eddie900 Thu 09-Feb-17 11:31:06

Thanks for your reply.

HIs parents are exactly the same. He's never been 'taught' how to deal with a difference of opinion/ what to do if he's hurt someone. If he ever suggests to his parents that they have upset him, they get angry and /or blank him for ages (can be 6-8 weeks!!). So yes, he definitely learnt this from his parents.

After i raise an issue, sometimes he sulks and waits for me to break the ice, other times he keeps his distance then pretends nothing has happened. THe problem is that I won't let him pretend nothing has happened. When he sulks, I don't think he's consciously waiting for me to sort everything out, he just doesn't seem to know what to do.

He seems to panic if I raise an issue. Gets really distressed (nasty).

Eddie900 Thu 09-Feb-17 11:39:05

Freddorika- I don't think i raise issues that often (but more than you!!) the problem is that if I do, he reacts really badly. I don't say the words 'you've let me down' usually (can't ever remember saying those exact words)...I guess I might imply that though. Basically, If I ever want to talk about something in the relationship...he gets upset. He doesn't ever want to know that his words/actions have hurt me. I don't expect him to immediately agree with me, just to say a few words about it/ acknowledge how I'm feeling, maybe, anything other than getting angry and walking away.

Shelly69 Thu 09-Feb-17 11:55:44

I know what you mean. A deep discussion is the last thing my husband wants. He will talk about most things but if i put any blame his way he will avoid the situation. I find that he cannot talk about feelings as easily as i can and has no real interest in spending time on a problem he doest see. Over the years i have learned that if you want to let him know something has hurt me, i have to keep the words i use basic and only say how it makes me feel and not how or what he has done.Not begin by pushing the blame his way. Just try saying...i feel unhappy because...and i would like it if you .....next time. Plain talk, not too much. Then afterwards you offer to make the tea and coffee ending it positive and giving him time to think. I used to corner him for answeres but it only made me feel worse because i wouldn't getting any satisfaction. Ever read the book men are from mars and women are from Venus. Definitely dont think your alone. Most men are not talkers but more practical. Try to give him the solution ,somthing he can work on and not feel like a failure. Good luck and keep your chin up...keep smiling

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 09-Feb-17 12:09:56

He can handle some things but his defences go up as soon as something's triggered, that's ingrained in him.
It's become a doomsday scenario in his head, any strife and you are instantly at loggerheads, so he panics and wants out.
I don't think you can unpick that overnight but can you look into local options for counselling?
Try saying to him, "Look, I love you. We're discussing not arguing. Let's say what's on our minds. We as a couple are more important than {whatever the topic is}".

Hermonie2016 Thu 09-Feb-17 12:19:41

How long have you been together?

I had this in my marriage and after 15 years it wore me down. I would just want my feelings to be validated and perhaps an apology. If I had hurt a loved one I'm happy to try and make them feel better. My stbxh was highly defensive, due to his upbringing and also I suspect aspergers.

If you are raising issues on a regular basis then is there some incompatibility or over sensitivity? It's also important to ensure there is a ratio of positive acknowledgements to negative comments i.e making sure you also acknowledge when he has been lovely to you.

Lottapianos Thu 09-Feb-17 12:30:04

'Ever read the book men are from mars and women are from Venus.'

This behaviour is nothing to do with being a man, and everything to do with having grown up in a house where he saw his parents deal with conflict in this way. My parents were the same - my mother in particular can never handle anything negative whatsoever. She reacts in the same way as your man's parents did - rage followed by silent treatment, for weeks on end maybe. It's frightening, hurtful and abusive behaviour. You're spot on when you say that he has never been 'taught' how to handle conflict in a healthy way - this is stuff that you actually need to learn, and if you grow up with a very unhealthy model of how to do it, its hard not to replicate it in your adult life.

That said, I know how you feel and its truly horrible. Have you asked him to tell you how he feels when he hears what he perceives as criticism? Being able to verbalise his feelings would be a good way to start addressing them - although that's far from easy for some people, especially if you've grown up in an environment where the silent treatment was the response to conflict. Also let him know how you feel when he walks off and freezes you out. It won't be easy for him to change this but it can be done.

Lottapianos Thu 09-Feb-17 12:31:05

Forgot to mention that counselling sounds like a good way forward here, as suggested by Donkeys

Eddie900 Thu 09-Feb-17 22:31:04

Thanks for all the responses. Given me lots to think about.

We've been together almost ten years.

I asked him tonight how he feels when I criticize him, he told me it makes him angry
His only thought is ' I don't want this to turn into a big long discussion'.

He agrees that the way he acts when I raise an issue is not ok. I'm going to read 'Men are from Mars'.

It's so strange, we can be so close yet the second I raise an issue with him, he acts like he hates me.

PossibiliTea Thu 09-Feb-17 23:38:13

Sorry no advice but other posts have helped me too! In the same situation, however I also get that reaction when I'll tell him not to walk on the clean floor in muddy shoes... he hates the thought that he can do any wrong no matter how small. I somehow feel like I'm the one that has to apologise? How does that work?

I've talked to friends about it but I don't know if they are just saying what I want to hear, especially when he genuinely has done something wrong. This has helped thank you. You are not alone!

iamconfusd Fri 10-Feb-17 01:54:06

Eddie900, I have the same problem. dh can't cope with even the slightest complain, and perceives it as a personal attack. I have noticed dh's family never complain to each other or have disagreements with each other. Few times I noticed SIL completely changed her point of view to support dh's point. She had earlier told me opposite of what she said to dh. I was very confused at that time. Now I have realised they like to agree with each other. Also, they avoid discussing issues about feelings. I think, as a result, dh did not learn how to handle any conflict or a 'I felt hurt' conversations. He gets so overwhelmed. Is it the same with your dh too? Do you think it is something to do with ego/self esteem? I know how frustrating it can get. It has led to so many misunderstandings. My problem is if I bring up an issue and dh says just ok with a blank face, I get further hurt that he didn't care for my concern and I complain further. This has led to dh getting blowing up. Thank you for this thread. I felt you were describing my problem.

Eddie900 Fri 10-Feb-17 02:57:07

It really helps knowing other people have the same problem. Glad this thread has helped you both too.

I think for my husband it is linked to his self esteem. I think when I criticise him/ raise an issue, he sees it as a slight on his whole person. He thinks I'm saying he isn't good enough when I'm simply raising a small problem that I just want to be acknowledged so we can both move forward. He will sometimes do as you've said iamconfused and agree with me with a blank face. Makes me so mad. Doesn't feel like he cares. I HATE it when he walks out when I've raised an issue. Often the issue isn't anything huge, the way he has reacted is!! We've discussed this so many times and it doesn't seem to make a difference.

I am going to try and make sure I give him lots of praise at other times and try focusing on how I feel, what I want him to do next time...as Shelley69 said 'keep it basic'.

When he disregards me when I've got a problem, I feel so empty...alone. It really, really hurts me. I just don't really understand how he can care about me as much as I care about him but act like that.

Possibilitea and Iamconfusd....how do you both cope? Does anything help?

Lottapianos Fri 10-Feb-17 06:33:58

OP, 'Men Are From Mars' will not help you. It's a book that suggests that men and women are fundamentally different, have different brains and approach everything in a different way. None of this is true.

The behaviour you describe is not 'a man thing'. I'm a woman and I used to behave in the same way because it was how I learned to handle conflict. It was how my parents handled conflict. It's an unhealthy behaviour that leaves you feeling miserable. It's your man who needs to learn to change that

Eddie900 Fri 10-Feb-17 09:08:16

Thanks Lottapianos. If you don't mind me asking, how did you learn to act differently? What made you realise that what you were doing was not right?

Hermonie2016 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:00:16

Eddie, how do you react when your H gets 'nasty' towards you? My stbxh had this behaviour and after a while I found it wore me down and left our marriage feeling unsafe.
A couple should be able raise issues with each other without fear of the other one getting nasty.

BantyCustards Fri 10-Feb-17 10:13:41

I had exactly the same with complete rages at me on regular occassions.

I became anxious, snappy, sleep-deprived and hugely resentful as a result.

It did not end well.

I refuse to ever again have to deal with someone who will just go ahead and use every emotionally abusive trick in the book to turn the conversation around to me needing to apologise for XYZ I did sometime around the dawn of time just to appease a man-child.

IME these people are completely unwilling to change and self-reflect and leaving them is a nightmare where they will try their best to destroy the person they supposedly live by any means possible just to bolster their false sense of being a Perfect and unimpeachable human being.

JontyDoggle37 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:24:04

OP something I've learnt to do with my DH is turn it into his perspective, as if the hurt had been done to him. So rather than saying 'you hurt me' I will say to him 'how would you feel if I did/said xyz'. Then it's not an accusation, and as soon as he thinks about how it would affect him, he understands why I'm upset. It doesn't happen often, but particularly in the first years together when we were figuring out how to be a couple, we'd hit some more disagreements. It seems to work for us...

SugarLoveHeart Fri 10-Feb-17 10:31:38

DH is the same. Can't say anything! In his family they resolve conflict by kicking off, shouting, general madness. Nothing ever gets sorted.
If I bring something up, he says "oh don't start", even though I'm not a nag at all. He regards any comment or request as a criticism of him.

Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 10:42:51

This behaviour ended my marriage . My ex would behave in a really selfish way and I would ask drop small hints and ask, very gently and politely , for him to stop it. Then I'd wait patiently for years for him to change. Because he was so difficult about it.

Then once I actually sat him down and said that he had been promising to change x for years and he'd done nothing about it and I was really unhappy.

A few days later he came in on a Saturday night and said he was leaving " because that's what I wanted " . He had it all planned out and he'd found somewhere to stay . He tried to get me to sign paperwork there and then - about 5 minutes after he had told me.

So we separated immediately .

And then six months later he said " I didn't really mean it, it was just a game, I wanted to punish you for complaining about me. I wanted you to stare into the abyss and see how awful life would be without me. Now I feel you have suffered enough, I'm prepared to move back in " .

But of course, what had happened was that I'd had 6 months of realising how hard it was to live with someone who was 100% selfish and who took no acount of anyone else or their feelings. And I didn't want him back. I had moved through the shock and the grief , I'd been to cousellling and was enjoying having so much time to myself.

For him everything was black and white, it was " if you love me then yOu must be 100% happy with everything I do all the time " . The slightest complaint was the end of the world to him. I had no right to any opinions or feelings about anything.

It was no way to live.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 10-Feb-17 10:43:09

I might be totally off but perhaps from the moment you utter a criticism, your DH has 2 things to deal with:
Is the criticism valid?
How far do you intend to push him to correct that behaviour and comply?
If he doubts himself, if he has that imposter feeling whereby he doesn't dare believe your love is permanent because he doesn't truly deserve it, he will dread getting told off, or being 'found out'.
Admitting flaws is risky so he makes a decision not to stay and listen. Because he feels on the back foot.

If otoh he freely dishes out criticism to you then it could just be he has an aversion to you having an opinion and wants it all his own way. Which would set red flags waving.

I don't know if that makes sense or if it applies to this situation.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Fri 10-Feb-17 10:49:51

What kind of things are you criticising? Is it him or his behaviours?

Lottapianos Fri 10-Feb-17 11:34:18

OP, I saw a psychotherapist for a long time. I slowly became aware of the impact my behaviour had on my partner, and on me too. I hated storming off and going silent - it made me feel scared and confused and overwhelmed. Therapy helped me to understand where this behaviour came from and how to (slowly) change it

In your man's defense, it's not easy to reflect on your behaviour or to realise that what you're doing is toxic. When you have known no other way to manage conflict , reacting that way becomes a reflex - you don't plan to do it, it just happens. He probably doesn't understand it himself. That's not an excuse though and I'm not suggesting for a second that you should put up with it. You have every right to feel hurt and frustrated. Your man needs to take responsibility for changing this aspect of his behaviour and he may well need professional support with it, like we all do in some way or another when learning a new skill

Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 11:48:23

I might be totally off but perhaps from the moment you utter a criticism, your DH has 2 things to deal with:Is the criticism valid? How far do you intend to push him to correct that behaviour and comply?

I find this very interesting. Because if my partner said to me eg " I get upset when you come home late and don't phone go let me know " , I wouldn't be thinking " how far does he intend to push to to get me to comply " .

I would be thinking " is that right ? Do I not let him know ? I didn't think he would worry, I thought he would know I was working late /had gone for a few drinks with the girls . Oh dear I can see he's upset , that was a bit thoughtless of me. "

I wouldn't think it was about correction and compliance, which sound like very controlling words to me. I would think it was about someone I love sharing their feelings with me and my getting the chance to do something small i.e. Send a text, that would make someone I love happier.

It's fascinating to see how everyone thinks differently in this situation. Because it sounds so much like my ex . What I thought was asking him to do a relatively small thing, he saw as my trying to control him and dominate him.

I guess it's down to your fundemenatl beliefs about how relationships work. It you see it about control and you doing what you want when you want, any request from someone else to consider them is completely unreasonable and a sign that you must fight to protect yourself.

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