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Don't like the way dh speaks to me

(22 Posts)
Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 11:33:53

I have problem with dh that I don't know how to deal with. When we're alone we generally get along well but the thing that really bothers me is that sometimes when we're with other people, particularly MY family, dh can speak to me in a very condescending way. He doesn’t particularly like family gatherings as it is, and sometimes he makes it obvious that he’s not enjoying himself, but the comments he directs at me just seem to come out of the blue. I’ve told him before that it upsets me when he speaks to me like that for no reason, particularly when family members are there and in most cases I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve it. He has apologised afterwards when I’ve brought it to his attention but says he doesn’t know why he does it.

Yesterday afternoon my parents came over to visit. We were all sitting around talking and then my mother got up to go to the kitchen, and ds (4 ½) followed her. I didn’t see what happened, but for some reason ds tried to close the door behind him and got his finger caught in the door. He cried out and I saw my mother rush over to him, and as I stood up to see what was happening, my father told me that ds had somehow caught his finger in the door. Then dh says to me “NEVERMIND HOW IT HAPPENED, YOU SHOULD BE SEEING TO HIM”, in a very condescending tone. Meanwhile dh sat there the whole time and never moved – why the hell couldn’t HE get up and see to his own son????!!! I felt so angry. I knew my mother was right there with ds which is why I didn’t leap up immediately and run over to him, but I was getting up out of my chair when dh spoke to me like this. Turns out ds was perfectly all right after a few minutes – thankfully. I’ve mentioned this problem to dh several times and always hope that it won’t happen again, but it does. Some people have commented to me over the years that dh seems aloof and condescending at times, which I am painfully aware of. Apart from rehashing the same old thing, I don’t know how to get him to stop doing it, and I really dislike him for it when it happens. It makes me feel like he is purposely belittling me, and yet when we’re alone he can be very loving towards me so I really don’t understand. It makes me despise him sometimes actually.

hunkermunker Sun 02-Jan-05 11:38:37

Can you talk to him about it away from these situations (he does sound like he's able to be reasoned with) and agree that if you're upset about the way he's spoken to you, you have a codeword for drawing his attention to it?

Something relatively harmless but not everyday so you don't say it when he's not upset you - might lighten the mood if it's a comical word too?

acnebride Sun 02-Jan-05 11:47:41

This sounds extremely unpleasant Lethal. Great that he's loving towards you when alone, but if he doesn't know why he does it then he can stop it, frankly.

My guess would be that it's a childish thing - he loves you so he feels 'safe' to take out unpleasant emotions on you, in the same way that small children will scream blue murder with their parents but will be fine immediately afterwards with a teacher or nanny. he is uncomfortable when your parents are there, either because he finds them difficult or because he doesn't like sharing you, so he takes out that nasty insecure feeling on you.

This kind of explanation, if anywhere near the truth, doesn't excuse him - he's an adult and he's supposed to love you. I would take him up on it next time, very loudly and publicly. It perhaps upsets you not to seem happy together in front of people, when you are while alone, but you might find it liberating.

I'm saying all this because I had an xh who did this - he ruined a couple of family parties for me with this kind of behaviour. I am not suggesting at all that you need to split up, but I do think you need to get it across to him good and loud that you won't take it and you don't have to.

sallystrawberry Sun 02-Jan-05 12:14:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 12:14:45

acnebride did you ever find out why your ex did this to you? Your second paragraph kind of sums it up for me - at least that's the only likely explanation I can think of. That he's threatened or uncomfortable around my family and perhaps possessive of me or something, and feels that he needs to make some kind of a 'statement'. Perhaps he likes to give people the impression that he's in control... although I'm just really guessing as to what causes him to do it.

Normally I would've kept quiet and then had a go at him afterwards, but yesterday I stopped in my tracks and said "I beg your pardon?!!" When he spoke to me like that. My father was sitting there and I didn't want any unpleasantness but I was so annoyed with dh, & I think I made it very obvious. There is just no excuse for it and I'm so confused because he professes his love for me quite easily at other times.

Is that part of the reason you split with your ex, acnebride?

orangina Sun 02-Jan-05 12:19:04

Poor you Lethal. I do know how you feel, because although my dh is lovely and wouldn't go in for that kind of behaviour, my ex dp was very much like that.... I would see one side of him in private (loving, considerate), and another could/would come out in public. I used to find it both humiliating/demoralising (no-one wants to feel put down in public), but also, certainly to begin with, completely confusing, as this wasn't the person I knew in private. I don't think I ever got to the bottom of it completely, and I was more often enough too much of a wimp to directly confront him about it (well done you for being stronger than I was!), but I'm sure that his own insecurity was behind it all, on some level. Do your family unwittingly make him feel insecure in some way? Is it at all them against him, in his mind at least? Perhaps he feels that your behaviour reflects on him in some way (not that was anything wrong with your behaviour)? I do agree with HM about making a joke out of it, that seemed to be about the only thing that took the wind out of ex dp's sails (one thing he HATED was to feel that he might look foolish, and who wants to be seen to not be able to take a joke...), but that wouldn't really sort the problem, just get you through it without (hopefully) feeling too bad....
Good luck, and whatever you do, do NOT let him "win" these little power struggles, which is what they appear to be. Hold your own and stand firm....

orangina Sun 02-Jan-05 12:24:01

Sorry, another thought having read the latest posts, but do you think he is saying these things to you in what he considers a "safe" environment, ie: reasonably secure in the knowledge that you won't challenge him in front of these other people (won't want to make a scene etc)? In other words, he will be able to say what he wants to say (whether reasonable or not) unchallenged? My ex dp fancied himself as rather macho, independant etc, and liked things very much on his terms. I don't think he was able to really sit down and discuss those things he hadn't really worked out in his own mind, they would come out in stupid ways, like snode cdomments in front of others. He was also obsessed with his idea that I was cleverer than him, though he was the point scorer in the relationship, not me...

tigermoth Sun 02-Jan-05 12:24:12

whatever you do, you must show your dh how cross you are that he can say these thoughtless things that belittle you. Don't let him think his words wash over you. My dh can do this too sometimes. He is hpyer- critical of himself. When he is stressed ( ie when we have company or are running late) this can extend to critising me unreasonalby. TBH, if I realise he is stressed, I tend to keep quiet at the time as this stirrs up more angst. But I always voice my annoyoyance later, and aslo demand an full apology from him. To me, it's a blip in an otherwise good relationship. I don't bear any lasting grudge but neither do I let him get away with it, IYSWIM

orangina Sun 02-Jan-05 12:24:33

(should be snide comments!)

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 12:29:12

orangina it's probably something to do with insecurity on his part. He's a 'deep' kind of person but I do see another side of him when we're out. Strangely enough, when we're out with his workmates he always treats me as though he adores me and speaks very respectfully to me, but with both our families (and MY friends), he can be very condescending and even a bit anti-social. Sometimes if one of my friends ring and he answers the phone, he doesn't even try to be nice to them - which has embarrassed me a couple of times in the past but they are used to him now, so they take him with a grain of salt. Luckily.

My family are always extremely nice and welcoming to him, and my parents babysit for us quite regularly so he has no reason to dislike them. I really have no idea what his problem is but it certainly doesn't make me feel 'loved' or valued.

orangina Sun 02-Jan-05 12:38:18

I don't know Lethal, I found that there was usually SOMETHING at the bottom of his silly comments that he hadn't even worked out himself, so perhaps, having registered your displeasure at being spoken to like that (after an occasion), it's worth a chat to try and get to the bottom of it (easier said than done sometimes, I know...). As I said, my ex dp didn't like to admit that he didn't always have the answer to everything, even to me (the person who got closest to whatever was going on in that mind of his!). Back to that safety thing, can he feel safe enough to really let you (or anyone else) in to those deep dark areas of his mind? Perhaps he feels like he has to compete with your child(ren) for your attention? Good luck with it all.... men can be horribly difficult to work out sometimes... (not generalising or anything!)

orangina Sun 02-Jan-05 12:40:25

sorry, not formulating my thoughts v well this morning (26 wks pg, my brain is going v. funny!), but I think it's probably important for him to realise that you are trying to understand him, not just criticise him (sensitive creatures etc...). Though dammit it's not always easy to remember that yourself when you are/have been put down or humiliated!

hunkermunker Sun 02-Jan-05 12:40:41

I'd be tempted to treat it as though there was something wrong with him for talking to me like that, but in a sympathetic way (however unsympathetic and pissed off you're feeling).

So he flips his lid and you say 'What's the matter darling?' or whatever term of endearment you use (in fact, perhaps your 'word' could be a term of endearment you don't usually use - saying pumpkin to a fully grown man might just be the clue he needs that he has to grow up and treat you better!).

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 12:43:33

Your last post sounds very much like my dh too, orangina. Similar kind of person to your ex dp. He likes to think of himself as clever, independent, etc etc and would hate to ever make a fool of himself.

Thanks also tigermoth. Dh does get stressed quite easily but manages to hide it very well, which I think comes out in his aloofness. He could very well be feeling 'stressed' at the time and perhaps takes it out on me, in some form or another. Why he picks these particular times to have a go at me though - like at family gatherings - I'll never know.

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 12:54:54

Good idea hunkermunker - I might have to try that. I need to be able to say something to stop him in his tracks when it's actually happening. He knows I don't like to make a scene, but I can't let him get away with it either.

Strangely enough, his brother also talks to his wife in a similar way . It seems to be like water off a duck's back to her but I just can't accept it because I find it completely disrespectful, not to mention hurtful and humiliating.

porridge Sun 02-Jan-05 13:09:22

lethal, you are talking about my husband! its generally only with my friends and family that he does it. it is so very embarrassing and i think it bothers me more because i worry that my friends and family will dislike him. which i feel they do actually. i get those vibes from my mum but she would never say and my bf tells me outright that she doesnt like the way he speaks to me sometimes. i usually bite back at him actually in front of them, but probably in an equally childish way. he sometimes gives an embarrassed laugh like 'tee hee,(i was only joking)' or it only provokes him more. i'm totally fed up with it. it has reached the stage that i dread people being here when he is here and us going to them. he can be so rude and if he disagrees with someone he says right out, even if its members of my family he barely knows. i know just how you feel lethal. not too sure what to do about it myself though.

hunkermunker Sun 02-Jan-05 13:11:17

How did his dad talk to his mum? Sounds like a pattern repeating itself if your BIL does it to your SIL too.

JudgeFlounce Sun 02-Jan-05 14:41:39

Message deleted

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 23:05:31

My sympathies to you too porridge The thing is, dh sometimes worries that I don't feel the same about him anymore, but these 'outbursts' from him are part of the reason I feel as though I detest him sometimes. So he is shooting himself in the foot every time he does it, but that doesn't seem to stop it from happening the next time. I can't stand anyone who puts people down in front of other people, IME it's usually men who do it and it makes me think they're either a bully or have some kind of nasty or domineering streak. If only dh knew how much it was affecting me, but when I try to confront him about something it often turns into a big argument.

Hunkermunker, not sure about his dad - I don't know him that well because he lives overseas and dh doesn't talk about him much. He's quite an outspoken person but usually very nice, although I believe he does have a bit of a temper. So I really have no idea what's caused his sons to act this way.

hunkermunker Sun 02-Jan-05 23:08:09

Men can be silly bastards, can't they? I want to pick your DH up and shake him, Lethal! Tell him you still love him, adore him, he's the father of your children, the man you married and want to spend the rest of your life with. But (and this is a big but), if he speaks to you like that again, you will punch him in the nuts.

Lethal Sun 02-Jan-05 23:09:05

Obviously that was meant to be a , not a smiley face!

colditzmum Sun 02-Jan-05 23:54:18

next time hedoes this in front of his family, gather up the children and immediately walk out. Don't flounce, explain or stop. Just go. Then he will have to explain to his family that you have gone and he doesn't know where or why.

OR next time he does it in front of your family, say in a loud, piercing voice "I don*'*t know why you think I deserve to be spoken to like that, I am sure nobody else who loves me does!"

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