Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Is my partner passive aggressive , depressed or just doesn't care?

(42 Posts)
EdithBond Tue 30-May-17 22:09:11

I've never posted on here before but desperate and really hope someone can help.

My partner of 18 years (father of my 3 kids) has been making me miserable for years. Two years ago I went to my GP for help with depression and had 12 x CBT, conclusion of which was couples' counselling. Partner said he'd only attend if it helped me as he didn't need counselling. The couples counsellor was awful and it made me very distressed, so I decided not to carry on. My partner's self-reporting concluded that he was fine.

He won't talk to me about anything important (feelings, finances, holidays, birthdays, Xmas etc.). He doesn't make any plans. He's got us into serious financial problems and won't talk about or address it. I have to start every serious conversation. His usual response is silence or he says he doesn't understand, even when I've patiently explained how I feel and the logic for something. Even if I think we've got somewhere, he then takes no action.

When I was depressed he made me food and saw to the kids but gave me no reassurance or encouragement to feel better, which would have helped enormously. The house got in a mess and I've spent the past 2 years trying to get things sorted out. He's never tried to help, even when asked, or said 'well done' when I've worked hard to get things back to rights. He doesn't seem to notice.

He's constantly forgetting things, even when I've reminded him numerous times. I've suggested ways to make sure he remembers (lists, notebooks, chalkboard for shopping) but he won't use them. I have shelves and knobs for the kitchen units which have sat there for years (in his eyeline) without him fitting them. I do most things myself but feel quite anxious having to remember everything myself.

He's in the same job he had when I met him. I've had several promotions in between having the kids. We're really struggling financially (still renting a home) but, despite my asking on numerous occasions, he's applied for one job (which he was unlikely to get) in 18 years. When I ask him why he doesn't want to earn more to support the kids, he says we'll have to cut back on spending. I've paid for every family holiday we've had from my own savings, which are now totally used up. I didn't want to touch the savings, which he knows, but he's never offered to pay me back.

He has no hobbies, sees no friends, never goes out. He's always at home. He doesn't have a close relationship with his parents or sibling. I've asked if they could help by calling him more often, but I've had no response. They say he knows where they are if he needs them.

In Jan, I told him it was over and he'd have to move out (even though I can't afford the rent on my own). He said he had nowhere to go and couldn't afford to rent a place on his own. Since then, he's slept downstairs. He gets the sofa-bed out as soon as the kids are in bed (9pm) and listens to the radio. This has gone on for 6 months.

Every time I try to talk to him, he makes me get angry because he says he can't understand what the problem is. He often uses a whiny voice. He says the things that bother me wouldn't bother him and I'm always finding fault with him or that nothing's good enough. But I'm actually very laid back and by no means a perfectionist.

I feel so lonely and I really have felt at times like I'm losing my mind. He says he can't understand why I get angry and shout all the time. I'm fine when I'm at work or with friends. I have a very demanding job that people half my age struggle to cope with. Even when I had very bad depression, I only took a couple of weeks off work.

My partner is an attentive father and comes across to others as a nice man. So I'd be the homewrecker from his and kids point of view, not to mention family and friends, if I leave. I'd struggle to cope with that emotionally.

I just don't know what to do. My own parents had a very bitter divorce (never spoke to each other again), which badly affected me. I don't want to put my kids through separated parents. Apart from the emotional fall-out, If I move out with the kids, then I'd barely be able to rent a one bed flat, so it would be a nightmare and eldest has GCSEs next year.

I've asked him to see the GP. He's reluctantly agree but says he doesn't know what he'd say. Our GP's massively over-stretched so I'm not sure it'll result in anything.

I've recently stumbled across threads on here about passive aggressive partners - and suddenly felt sane. Any thoughts gratefully received.

Butterymuffin Tue 30-May-17 22:12:36

You need to get some advice on getting him to move out. It's clearly over between you but he won't accept it. Is the house tenancy in joint names?

HerbaRoberta Wed 31-May-17 00:34:48

edith you don't need to label him depressed, passive aggressive or anything else - read what you've written, you can't spend the rest of your life with him, he is taking up your energy and adding nothing to you or your DCs lives. You've tried counselling, forget about the doctor, you can't make this man child better . Like the PP said, you need to look into getting him out of your house. The kids will be ok, and certainly it is better for them to see their mum taking action to make herself happy rather than their mum cowed under in an awful atmosphere of depression and repression. Keep posting on here, you can find a way forward. I'm thinking you're young (18 years with him) - a whole other life lies ahead, where you can flourish and grow and still be a great mum to your children.

scottishdiem Wed 31-May-17 00:46:29

I think he is depressed to be honest but also a large does of apathy. If he wont do anything to help himself and you then you do need to look at leaving. You need to get advice about your tenancy and how to get him to recognise he needs to move out. You also need advice on your finances as paying for things like holidays when you cant afford them or expect to get money back into your savings isnt going to be a useful mindset when you do split up.

HerbaRoberta Wed 31-May-17 00:56:44

Ah - the notebooks, chalkboard, lists - remind me of this great thread

Shoxfordian Wed 31-May-17 05:46:33

Yeah you should speak to a solicitor about getting him out of the house
Make it very clear to him that it's over

TheNaze73 Wed 31-May-17 06:48:18

I don't think he cares

AddToBasket Wed 31-May-17 06:51:42

He's controlling you by inactivity.

However, I think you should go back to couples counselling with a better counsellor.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 31-May-17 07:21:27


What use is he to you?. What do you get out of this relationship now? He is really neither of use nor ornament; just useless window dressing along with being the root cause of your own depressed state. He is also passive aggressive personified and you do need to get him out of the property now. What is the situation re the property?. I would seek advice from the likes of Shelter re your own legal rights.

You would be saving your own self and your children if you can get him out; he is the home wrecker here through his own abusive nature, innate selfishness and overblown sense of entitlement.

I would argue that he does not need to see the GP and even if he did he would not go. Abusive men are often plausible to those in the outside world; it is behind closed doors that their true nature emerges and this is also what your children are seeing.

Couples counselling is NEVER recommended in such circumstances; he is controlling you and in turn your children by acting as he does. I am not surprised that it did not work out last time, he basically manipulated the counsellor. If you have counselling go on your own to work out exactly why you have put up with him at all.

He has you all really tiptoeing around him by his very nature and deliberate incompetence which also stems from power and control. All this with clipboards and stuff is nonsense; he simply sees all the housework and any other work as yours and yours alone to do because he in his head is above all that. His own deliberate incompetence when it has come to that has made you end up doing it all.

Do not continue to keep on showing your children this dysfunctional model of a relationship for them to potentially repeat themselves as adults. Your relationship with them as adults could also be under strain because they will look at you and wonder why you did not leave. They will also leave home sooner than later and not return very often. If you tell them that you stayed because of them or your experiences through your parents divorce (they let you down very badly and also taught you a lot of damaging lessons on relationships), they will call you daft.

tribpot Wed 31-May-17 07:26:24

As you're in a rented house now, it seems like one way to force the issue is to give notice. I appreciate that ideally you don't want to uproot the kids but it may come to that.

Walkacrossthesand Wed 31-May-17 07:48:31

To what extent are your finances merged? You say he has got you both into serious financial problems, and, (presumably by him refusing to contribute to costs like holidays) your savings have gone. But otoh you can't afford to rent more than a 1bed flat on your own.

Have you looked at income/expenditure and separated out yours and his, to see what your disposable income would be if you go it alone? It doesn't sound like you're married - what's in your name/his name/joint?

Privately review it all with you as 2 separate people, see how it looks. Look at flats in a neighbouring area, might be able to get more for your money. Stop subbing him for extras straight away if that's still going on. When you have a plan, tell him about it.

BetterEatCheese Wed 31-May-17 08:08:06

Have you considered it may be ADHD or ADD - this often goes alongside other illnesses such as depression, dyslexia etc

Your post lists a lot of the symptoms

EdithBond Wed 31-May-17 10:07:11

Thank you all so, so much for taking the time to reply. I've felt so lonely for so long. Herba - I'm not so young - 49 years. He is a very good father - spends as much time with kids as I do. We both love them dearly and they would be devastated if he left. But they are being affected by atmosphere. Attila - I don't tiptoe around him - he'd probably say the opposite as I'm shouting at him so much (which I know I must stop but it's the utter frustration). He's always doing things around the house - cooking, washing up, laundry. But doesn't plan, discuss or tackle anything other than day-to-day. Walk - Rents for a 1 bed in my area and all neighbouring ones are £1,200 min. We aren't paying much more for 3 bed. Joint tenancy. Not married and no joint finances - separate bank accounts. But I'm jointly liable for financial prob, which I didn't know about until it was serious. I've no other debts and live very frugally - buy clothes/furniture second-hand, no car etc. Scottishdiem - We didn't have a holiday for about 5 years but didn't want kids to go through most of childhood without one or two to look back on. Only go to SW in a chalet. Better - a friend had suggested ADD, so I'll look into this. So grateful to you all. It's made me feel a bit stronger, after it's sapped so much energy for so long.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 31-May-17 12:06:13


re your comment:-
"He is a very good father - spends as much time with kids as I do. We both love them dearly and they would be devastated if he left".

You would like to think that he loves them as well but he truly does not. Women in poor relationships like you describe often write similar when they themselves can write nothing positive about their man. You have done the same as they have.

If he is always at home because he has no friends (there's good reason why that is) and never goes out then he will see and in turn use the children. Would you want your children as adults to have a relationship like yours is?.

Do not kid yourself Edith; if he is treating you this badly then he is a poor example of a father to his children. This is not the legacy you want to be leaving them. I also think your children would be more relieved than so called devastated if he left; just what lessons on relationships is he imparting to them?. A shedload of damaging ones that is what.

It makes me wonder what sort of an example your own parents showed you in their relationship, was it this bad too?.

I do things around the house too like cooking, washing up and laundry as do you. He does not deserve a medal for that and likely as well opts out of much of the scutwork or anything he does not want to do for you by being deliberately incompetent. You end up doing far more than he ever does.

He made a deliberate decision I think not to marry you either. He knows you would then have far more rights than you have now. Ultimately he is financially responsible for his children.

I would also think that he has always been out and out abusive and has nothing like ADD at all. Anyway even if he did that is not your problem to at all investigate now. You can only help your own self ultimately and a man like this hates women, all of them starting in particular with his own mother.

gamerchick Wed 31-May-17 12:16:21

Wouldn't your kids prefer a mother who doesn't shout all the time? I'm pretty sure they would.

I speak from experience that you and the kids will be a lot happier when you have split up from this man. You need a plan it looks like rather than looking for a label so you can cope with being with him.

EdithBond Wed 31-May-17 12:53:44

Forgive me, I think I may have misled you by appearing to have nothing positive to say about him. I wanted to explain how I'm feeling, which was very hard to do. He's a very interesting and gentle man who shares my views on life. I think he's very daunted by our situation and it's crippled him. He had a few good friends but one (who was like a big brother) died a few years back and the others have all moved away and so he can't see them regularly. His family don't talk intimately about feelings, tell each other they love each other etc. One of the kids as a toddler said to his dad "I love you grandad" and he didn't know how to respond. His wife does everything apart from fixing stuff. My partner plays with the kids, reads to them, talks to them about the world. But, yes, they are his whole world. I certainly wouldn't say he's using them, though. He's increasingly withdrawn and reclusive. He has very little confidence. But people think he's jolly and kind. I don't think he deserves a medal for day-to-day housework. I expect us to share it equally. But he certainly does his share of d2d stuff. In terms of marriage, I don't want to be married. I'm not religious and don't see a need to legally register a relationship. He shares my views, although I think would marry me if I really wanted to. None of my good friends are married. My parents were early 20s when they married and had me. I think they were just too young and unable to communicate properly. My dad left my mum for another woman who she knew but that broke down too. I didn't see him for 15 years and when I tried to form a relationship again when I had my eldest, he died very suddenly. My mum is a very difficult person to deal with. People who meet her think she's wonderful as she's lots of fun, but she has a vicious tongue and has been very hurtful to me and my sibling - who now lives on the other side of the world. I try to maintain a relationship with her, but it's got more difficult lately. She was very unkind when I was depressed - she has the 'get on with it' approach - and has never really tried to talk to me about how I'm feeling.

NotYoda Wed 31-May-17 13:10:06

I don't think it really matters, for all practical purposes, why he is like this. It's just an untenable situation for you and he has no desire, or possibly ability, to change.
You are not partners.

He can be a good father, but not at your expense, which what you being with him, is

NotYoda Wed 31-May-17 13:13:32

I do see your tremendous desire to understand him, and it's totally understandable

But even of you were to understand where it comes from, your life would not be any better.

I would not be at all surprised if the depression were caused by the strain of living like this.

tribpot Wed 31-May-17 13:19:02

He's got us into serious financial problems and won't talk about or address it.

I think he's very daunted by our situation

The situation he caused that he won't address?

I think you want to be distracted by a possible diagnosis of ADD, but without his participation, nothing will change even if he is diagnosed. And without a major change in attitude towards planning and taking responsibility - being a grown-up, in other words - you will never be able to get out of a financial mess without him causing another one. What's the point of living like that?

aginghippy Wed 31-May-17 13:20:55

If he is a good father who loves his children, he will still be a good father who loves his children after you split. He can still care for them, play with them, read to them and talk to them about the world wherever he is living.

EdithBond Wed 31-May-17 13:51:25

Thank you NotYoda, I feel very sorry for him and just wish my kids could see us happy together. But I think you're right that he doesn't seem to have the desire or ability to change. I've actually used those words to him. Even if there were a diagnosis of something - or he really started to try to get on top of things - it would be a long hard road of giving him lots of support. And I'm just not sure I have the energy to do it. Plus I'm not sure I can trust him again - he knew how desperately ill I was with depression last year but seemed unable to help. At the point when I really needed him (I'm pretty independent and resourceful usually) he just wasn't there for me to give emotional support. I've lost a lot of respect for him and not sure I'll ever get it back. Just so, so sad.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 31-May-17 13:56:44

"People who meet her think she's wonderful as she's lots of fun, but she has a vicious tongue"

You could say that self same thing about your partner as well. Its still not the whole truth.

We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents and it seems to be that you basically partnered up with a male version of your mother who is herself abusive. You were taught a lot of damaging lessons about relationships when growing up and these have stayed with you. It is of no surprise to me at all that given your mother's behaviours your sibling upped and went to the other side of the world. She, like your partner, is toxic too.

Do not distract yourself with him possibility having ADD because he likely does not have this at all. Even if he was assessed would it change anything within him re his nature, no it would not. Instead ask yourself how much of this is actually due to him having an abusive nature instead. In the meantime of course you all continue to suffer at his hands, the damage being done to your children and you here is incalculable.

You have a choice here re him, they do not.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 31-May-17 14:02:27

You cannot act as a rescuer and or saviour in a relationship and to date you have been both. What you have tried to date, short of leaving him here, has not worked. Time for a different tack now.

Your man is happy as he is; he has no desire to change anything about his life. He just wants you to facilitate it all for him. You still do not have to spend the rest of your life with him.

Wormulonian Wed 31-May-17 20:29:01

If he left you may be entitled to bigger child tax credit, a council tax discount (single adult household) and perhaps housing benefit. Check it out on Turn2us or DirectGov and your council website (for the HB and CT discount). Is your rental with a HA - they may have a policy about abusive partners (which he is - emotional and probably financial).

You could get advice from CAB and Women's Aid. Get all your plans and figures ready - don't let on what you are up to. I bet your DC know what he is really like but work to be nice to him like you have also done in the past. You have tried everything to salvage this relationship - time to go.

rosabug Thu 01-Jun-17 10:11:43

As someone else said = passive aggressive personified. There is nothing you can do. Get out - you and your life will open up.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: