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Exhausted and depleted (long post!)(53 Posts)
I've changed for this post as it's pretty outing.
It's a long one...please bear with!
DH and I have been married 22 years (with DD17 at home & DS19 in uni) we've had a fairly good life, but some very hard at times. We've emigrated countries, it was challenging. We've lost parents (mine particularly traumatically) had job challenges and at times things have been very tough financially, a health scare...all the types of things that weigh heavily on people and cause stress. We allowed the struggles of life to distract us, the DC got older, we both became unhappy, I feel I was suffering with my mental health after losing my parents the way I did, DH was having his own struggles. Instead of pulling together we drifted apart, we didn't support each other or even recognise the each other's feelings, we both carry blame. Our sex life suffered and during that time there was lots of bickering and a few huge fall outs, we felt bitterness to each other instead of kindness.
I had my head in the sand, I felt we were rock solid, I was still devoted and in love, I chose not to really accept our problems and if I was forced to do so I told myself we were in a 'rough patch' and we'd get through like we always had. There were always enough great times peppered in amongst the bad for me to cling to the hope that our foundation was still really solid and the love was still there.
DH on the other hand began to decide he was leaving me, the marriage was over for him. He never once talked to me about this decision or thought. He started a new all consuming hobby, started going out more, spending family money on his hobby, he stopped helping me out with things, was grumpy and unkind, picking arguments, but generally very selfish. Eventually he went to see a counsellor and poured his unhappiness out to her, told her it was over for him. She told him to tell his wife how he felt.
After some time, in another big argument he finally blurted it out, he wasn't in love with me, he couldn't bear the thought of growing old with me, he wanted out. I was absolutely blindsided I didn't see it coming.
I came out fighting for our marriage, I loved him I wanted to work on us, get counselling and see if we could fix it. He says he recognised in me that night a love and passion for our marriage he hadn't felt in a long time.
He immediately agreed, it seems when he saw a flicker of hope he wanted to save us.
Since then we have been on a rollercoaster for two years, and working very hard on our relationship. There have been stages throughout that time of happiness and progress, but with some more details unfolding and more honest revelations in counselling our progress hasn't been smooth, there have been some awful bad patches too. He has moved out twice, but soon returned.
I feel like we are always get back to square one though.
His idea of working hard is spending lots of time together, we do so many lovely things as a couple (mostly the things we do are his idea of fun, I enjoy them too but we'd never do something I'd like, I feel I've made a lot of concessions, by his own admission he is a selfish person)
There are lots of things about my personality he doesn't like, he's very judgemental about the way I perform tasks. I have tried very hard to cause less conflict and give in more, his life has become a lot easier and the home is much happier (but I feel I'm always on eggshells to be a better person and help keep him happy, he openly compares me to the women in his family and I am not like them)
The main issue that keeps damaging us is in many disagreement or upsets (sometimes even something small unrelated disagreement) he will escalate things to a whole different level...he will shout and scream uncontrollably at me, that he can't live with me, his feelings have changed, he still wants to leave, he's still unhappy. He seems to have a personality transplant in these moments. He will cry and sob like a little child, he will apologise for his feelings about me changing and be inconsolable or he will rage and call me mean, manipulative, sneer at me, mock me and say awful things about my parents death or my job (both things that are my biggest hurts and insecurities) and ALWAYS tells me the marriage is over. In the heat of the moment He'll say I make him this way and it's my fault (he's never lost his temper with another single human being - ever. It must all be my fault)
When he finally comes down from the outburst he is mortified, regretful and begs for another chance, professes undying love for me, complete commitment. Takes all the blame. The next while is filled with grand gestures of love, words of kindness and promises of a brighter future. I can tell he's under great pressure to fix what the hurt he's caused, he always promises it will never happen again. It always does.
In these moments he will act as destructively towards our marriage as he possibly can, he has no regard for who witnesses the outburst and our DD is damaged by witnessing some of these.
But I am always left damaged and hurt, my mental health has suffered greatly, I feel useless and unlovable and I have had thoughts of self harm and suicide. I feel he's chosen the wrong life partner, and I've failed to live up to his idea of a wife. Anything other than complete serenity in the home takes him back to thoughts that the marriage is broken.
He has admitted (with shame) that when saying those hurtful things to me in an argument he us trying to break me. (I feel he only stops when I have no fight left in me, and then agree that the marriage is over and I am the cause). The 'about turn' he then does would make your head spin! Begging to hug me and wanting assurances that I still love him etc
I am exhausted, I love him very much and I hate seeing him so distressed and tormented, but I'm losing faith in our marriage and relationships in general, I can't see myself ever feeling strong enough to ever leave, and I'd worry too much about him without me anyway as he needs me to navigate his emotions, he doesn't have anyone, no friends he isn't close to his family. I just don't want to leave, I want to find a way to fix him.
Re-reading this i worry I've made myself sound like an innocent victim. Please rest assured, dear reader, I can be very fiery and opinionated and very stubborn too! I am a good person, fiercely loyal and competent devoted and committed. I have had my fair share of blue ups and melt downs. I am flawed and have been rather difficult over the years. Less so now, but I feel my past mistakes are always hanging over me and used against me regularly.
I'd be very interested in peoples opinions, I know MN are a harsh jury and I don't want to just hear LTB. He's a good man, but obviously quite troubled. I'm just so exhausted by this....
You cannot fix him. He's forcing you to do the pick me dance and hes emotionally abusing you . I also want to point out its likely you've been very intense too. Im not surprised you are exhausted . Other people will be along with better advice . You said you dont want to hear LTB but are you really willing to spend the next 40 yrs doing the same dance over and over? Let him go and find some peace for yourself you are worth that at least.
Thank you @Feilin you are spot on when you say I've been intense too! I can be very emotionally charged (which is probably why I'm also so fiercely committed) I have exhausted myself too. I appreciate the time to read all that and respond!
He's actually pretty emotionally abusive towards you. You describe the classic pattern of the build-up, the outburst, the reconciliation en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_of_abuse#/media/File:Cycle_of_Abuse.png
Now, maybe he has a mental health problem alongside this, but unless he's willing to get help, take medication, engage with therapy - it really doesn't matter if he does, because the effect on you is the same.
Have you had counselling for yourself? That may help you to see the situation more clearly, although you can’t change him.
I haven't had individual counselling, we abandoned marriage counselling (twice!) although the sessions were helpful the fall outs between sessions were upsetting - I was getting particularly fraught before sessions, I found it hard to talk about how embarrassingly awful things get at times.
We were calmer when not in the throes of counselling.
He sounds really horrible to you. Wouldn’t life be calmer without him?
I acknowledge there are abusive tendencies here (when I look at the pattern).
But we've had 20 years of marriage (26 years together) before this pattern started. He was kind, sensible and stable, committed to me and the DC and put us first always. He was my rock.
This toxic pattern is relatively new (two years or so)
Is there another woman?
It's really quite common for this kind of change in behaviour alongside the guy having his head turned. All the "terrible marriage I'm so unhappy" can be a smokescreen for what's really going on.
There isn't another woman.
I believe he was on track for an affair though....before this all came out.
One of the revelations he made was during his unhappiest time he took a woman he met through work to coffee. This prompted him seeking counselling and acknowledging his unhappy he was.
He says he was shocked by feeling those feelings for someone and cut contact with her.
This caused me a lot of hurt / anger. I have demanded open honesty and access to phone etc. Since then, he has been very willing and not undermined the severity of what he did. Furnished me with every exhausting detail etc.
He also works from home atm and doesn't really have much opportunity. I really don't believe there is someone.
But, I do believe in his hurtful and destructive times he would be capable, I also feel when raging at me and trying to hurt me he would admit to something like this just to punish me. So I feel I have the truth about that.
You are just repeatedly playing the same script out and thus you get the same result..
You can't fix him or train him, he's not a dog, he's a grown man ffs..tell him to treat you like the dedicated supportive partner you are or to get out.
Personally, I would push him out of the door but I guess everyone has different levels of tolerance for how badly they allow themselves to be treated
Maybe a trial separation would crystallise things for him. I don't think you should go on like this indefinitely.
I think your relationship has run its course. You've spent the last two years in turmoil trying to fix it. You're exhausted, he's behaving like someone trapped. You're intense, he's horrible.
I want to find a way to fix him
Impossible for a start.
he wasn't in love with me, he couldn't bear the thought of growing old with me, he wanted out
He still wants out, his behaviour is shouting this from the rooftops.
What about individual counseling instead of marriage counseling?
He still wants out, his behaviour is shouting this from the rooftops
This is exactly what I think. I tell myself it's not but I think you're right.
Yes I think he wants you to be the bad guy. The one who leaves.
The point is, does it matter who leaves.
This dynamic is so toxic and destructive to you, it’s sounds unbearable. It makes me feel sick reading it. And I don’t even have to live it.
Maybe it's time to let go, @unluckysunset. This seems to be getting worse, rather than better. Two years of rollercoaster, screaming, walking on eggshells negativity- it's hard to think you'll ever get back to your halcyon days..
Perhaps, before you finally decide to call "time" on this relationship, for your own sake, you should consider professional 1:1 counselling for yourself to clarify your thinking and emotions and help get you off this Ferris wheel you are on?
Also is your daughter hearing these arguments between you? Not good for her, if so - nor your 19yo daughter who she's likely to confide in?
I hope you can all get past this negative relationship and have a calmer future. 🌹
In your own words he admits to trying to break you when he's throwing his temper tantrums like a grown ass toddler. Why??? It only hurts you and then you always go back, so then he knows he can hurt/break you again because you will go back for more. That would be enough to set myself free of him. I wouldn't waste another ounce of energy fighting for someone like that. He sounds unhinged and like he has some personality disorder. Or maybe he's just a plain ol' prick.
@sunnyzweibrucken I think he's doing exactly that, throwing a toddler tantrum. By breaking me it stops me in my tracks, normally I'd be defending myself, defending us, being strong, talking sense into him....but once I'm upset enough to just agree with his catastrophizing and give up, defeated then he stops. Very soon thereafter the regret sets in.
He refers to me as being strong and solid very often, I think he's relying on me to fix us. I'm losing the energy for this though I'm beginning to feel I need to let go.
Thank you @Newestname001
Yes, my DD is far to aware of this, and it's affecting her. He is often wracked with guilt about that, but not enough to stop.
I agree I should seek out some individual counselling for myself, even just saying things on the anonymous forum and hearing others opinion is helping me.
You definitely need therapy. I didn’t realise your daughter was still there and having to witness and deal with this.
Op. He is abusing you, and you and your daughter are suffering, this will affect her life, and him being all “wracked with guilt” doesn’t stop him does it!
Email a therapist tonight.
we'd never do something I'd like
I have tried very hard to cause less conflict and give in more, his life has become a lot easier and the home is much happier (but I feel I'm always on eggshells to be a better person and help keep him happy
You're compromising a lot, OP. Is he compromising too, or does his idea of 'working on the marriage together' mean you changing and him staying the same?
Do you want to keep subsuming your wants/desires in favour his? Or would the next 40 years be happier by yourself / with someone else?
@LannieDuck he has put a lot of effort in, he plans weekends away, books sporting events (for the future post covid hopefully) that will be great fun (his favourite sport though!), he is thoughtful and used a recent works bonus to pay off my credit card, he's recently bought me a very fancy car. He is helpful around the house and supportive. He wants to buy a new home, something to fix up - he refers to it as a project for the two of us and a fresh start.
But in everyday life, he has a strong personality, like things his own way he organised and energetic and often it's just easier to go along with his plans. If I was more laid back it wouldn't bother me, I am aware that most of what we do it things he likes, and the way I do things around the house are often his way to keep the peace.
He really appears to want this marriage until he has a meltdown and destroys any progress we've made. It's at the point now that it's destroying me as a person now it's become too frequent and I feel he uses the marriage as his whipping boy, and I think this time (there was a blow up this weekend past) may have been the last time that broke us.
He told me he was leaving, that I was impossible to live with, that he wanted to live alone 'being a lonely old man would be better than living with me'...there was alcohol involved so this time was particularly hurtful. I was sober and recorded the conversation and listening back after the emotion subsided I recognised the same words and utter destruction he's been repeating for 2 years.
He's refusing to talk about separation again this week though, absolutely cannot live without me, he's booked us a romantic break in fact. And very apologetic, I asked if he could promise it would never happen again and he said he couldn't he's not in control of it.
What happens if you suggest that the two of you do something that you like rather than something that he likes?
I asked if he could promise it would never happen again and he said he couldn't he's not in control of it.
He could stop drinking for a start.
But he doesn't want to be in control of it - he's getting something out of behaving in this way.