Those of you with less than great marriages who have decided to stay in the marriage..(21 Posts)
.. can you tell me how you do it?
I have been married for 5 years to a mostly great dh and we have 2 lovely boys. Most of the time the relationship ticks along quite well, and dh is very good with the children. I know he loves me and he tries hard, in his way, to make me happy. Usually this involves practical things as he's not, by his own admission, that good at the emotional support stuff. Ok it may not be the deep conversations/gazing into each others eyes stuff that I once fantasised about but I can happily live with that.
However, he regularly suffers from what I think are essentially confidence crises and these are affecting me too, quite badly. He goes into dark moods, or very suddenly gets quite angry (not so much what he says but the way he says it) often over apparently trivial things, and usually out of the blue. (So we can be getting on quite well, laughing and joking, and suddenly he's very cross about something). When I analyse these later its usually because he is feeling insecure about something and maybe his feelings have been building up but Im not sure even he is aware of this. If however I've done something silly or cocked up he's pretty understanding towards me - its really unimportant things that seem to wind him up. Then he'll do the martyr act, going on about how he's hopeless at a, b and c etc etc. If I try to make things right between us its just hopeless as there's just no reasoning with him when he's in one of these moods (although he can talk about himself with a fair bit of insight at other times). It ends up with me getting very upset but powerless to make peace between us. Last night was one of those occasions and I was lying in bed silently crying (He gets more wound up when he knows he has upset me as I genuinely think this is not his intention) whilst he lay snoring away. He's now at work and I'm left here not knowing how he will be when he gets in tonight.
I have tried "laying down the law" but things never really change and I know deep down that they never will, as he seems to hardly be able to control these moods and outbursts. The thing is this - I don't want to end the marriage - I knew what he was like before we got married, and I really don't want to cause heartache to our boys. Besides which we work very well together for 75% of the time. What I need to do is toughen up, and treat him like the sulky little boy he is being at times like this, but I'm a sensitive soul and don't manage this very well. I am concerned about the impact all this will have on our children as they get older, but think that if I can toughen up a bit I will be a better role model.
All around me I see people whose dhs seem to be so wonderful and they all seem so happy together and i am so sad, and feel such a failure as I want to be a great mum and this is not how I planned it should be at all. My parents have a great marriage and I know would be horrified if they realised what I put up with sometimes (and yes, I do know I too have faults aplenty).
I would like some advice please, especially on how to reconcile myself to the fact that my relationship is not as good as I would like, and on how to deal with all this with me children around (when in one of these moods dh sometimes speaks unpleasantly to me in front of the kids)
Thanks for reading all this,
you are right that counselling would be a good idea but I don't think dh would go along with it. He went in the past (over similar issues with an ex gf I think) but left after 2 or 3 session cause it didnt make him better ! Typical male wanting everything fixed. I think he might feel threatened if we went together (although I would be willing to give it a go ) as I am more articulate than him and he might feel like I had the upper hand. He says that not being v articulate is one of his problems in dealing with his feelings (he is dyslexic and thinks this is connected, but sometimes uses it as an excuse for bad behaviour I think).
Thanks for your response, perhaps i am looking at others with rose tinted specs.
I agree with JustAbout - he needs counselling.
" have tried "laying down the law" but things never really change and I know deep down that they never will..."
But obviously you never have as part of laying down the law is saying, "if this happens, I will do that and you will have to live with that".
This reminds me a little of DH who can occassionally explode over silly things. it took me making it absolutely clear that if he didn't accept how unreasonable it was I would walk to make him start to deal with it. But I had to be willing to walk and he could see that I was.
He doesn't need to be articulate for counselling. He simply needs to accept that he has some behaviour issues that are unacceptable to you and go speak to someone about it. [does he accept, when he's calmer, that his behaviour is not on?]
Thank you for your replies. I guess you are right about the laying down of the law - there isnt much I could threaten (for want of a better word) him with other than leaving and I'm not sure I'm ready to say that yet. He does know his behaviour is not on, I've just had a text from him apologising, and he knows this behaviour is an issue for him, as it has been a problem in the past with other relationships.
I agree about not needing to be articulate to do counselling but the difficulty is getting dh to understand that!
But you have both made me feel a little better, and I will broach the counselling thing again with him. Blingdreaming, if its ok to ask, did your DH get some and if so, did it help? (You dont have to answer this!)
Yes and yes. Helped a lot. Had an 8 week "course". He wants to go back on a more general level and I support that completely.
On counselling, I think that men need to see it as a "course of 6" that will "fix" it. I know it is not as simple as that, but dressing it up that way worked for my DH. My DH likes targets, goals or whatever you want to call it. In wanky management speak he is "results driven" . Airy fairy talking was his idea of hell, but he was open to counselling that addressed his specific problem/need at the time.
The open ended idea of "going for counselling" means that if they don't see an improvement, they'll leave, but knowing he had to last the course meant he stuck with it and it worked for my DH.
In a nutshell, I'd say your DH sounds moody- and you overreact to that.
Have you discussed his irrational behaviour with him? Does he know his Jekyll and Hyde personality is hard to live with? Is he indulging his own rather selfish moods nad feelings with no consideration for the impact they have on you?
I do not think that counselling would necessarily help; counsellors are not "directive"- they will not tell him to stop, or what to do- they will listen and they often go back to childhod to find answers for behaviour.
Maybe CBT- cognitive behaviour therpay would bebetter, or even a coach (life coach) who specialises in relationships- www.associationforcoaching.com and www.gladeanamcmahon.com, she is a counsellor and a coach, they would give him targets and teach him behavioural strategies to help him NOT be moody- and understand what is behind his moods. Both these types of help tend to be short and sharp , which often appeals more to men.
I don't think you have a BAD marriage at all; i think you have a DH who is a bit moody and self-indulgent, and who needs to grow up and realise the impact his moods have on you.
Whatever triggers his anger , needs to be recognised, and then he needs to learn to behave in a constructive way that will make him feel better- rather than just "reacting" emotionally.
You also need to "fight back" and make him realsie that this upsets you. I am sure he does not mean it to hurt you, but he does need to get some control over his emotions.
and just to agree with others- I work in a therapy field, and it would amaze you how many people appear to be happy, but are really dealing with crappy lives/marriages all the time!
Howto: DH went for CBT. It was very helpful. I think of it as "counselling" but really it's more than that.
I had moods like this and it really was because I wasn't expressing myself verbally.
I had CBT with a psychologist and I haven't had to send any 'apology' texts in a long time.
Its not a quick cure, but it really helps A LOT!
I don't think you have a bad marriage, it sounds like a normal marriage, nothing is hunky dory all of the time.
thank you all so much for your helpful responses. howtotellmum, your first sentence sums it up nicely. I have had a quick look at the links, think it would be good to get some assertiveness coaching for myself actually, am not good at fighting back (although sometimes I do lose it with dh but thats not being assertive). Also I note that Gladeana has written books on managing both anxiety and anger so these might be helpful to us.
The comments about counselling are thought provoking, I don't think dh would go in for the talking about your childhood stuff very much, but CBT sounds like it might suit. lilaclaire, it is interesting what you say as dh does have difficulties expressing himself verbally. I think his difficulties lies partly with self esteem issues and partly with the fact that he cant seem to express himself except through blowing up.
I need to think through various options and then have a serious chat with dh. I'm still not sure about the "you need to go to therapy otherwise I'm out of here" line.
Thank you all.
Sorry about my last sentence, the behaviour isn't normal 'see im cured lol'.
It would seem that I was blowing up at little things as well, when in fact the little thing was the straw that broke the camels back in a culmination of events that annoyed me.
I now don't let things build up and say at the time if something is annoying me, or I say so and so is making me feel this way. This at least stops the build up and the explosion and can have a mini discussion about it.
It is hard to say sometimes as im really not verbal about my feelings (apart from when they came to a head) but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Its very hard to summon the courage to go to cbt, especially if you have self esteem issues (which I did as well).
I've come to realise, that although im not the bee's knees's, no-one else really is either and that really has reduced my anxiety and helped raise my self esteem.
Sorry for rambling, but it may help you understand your dh's moods a bit better.
Maybe suggest to him to say if there are little things annoying him at the time and that this can be done by talking about it and avoid the horrible argument, believe me he must be miserable feeling like that also.
Yes, he is miserable about it, he knows this behaviour causes problems and has been responsible for breaking up previous relationships. But I'm not sure he even knows when little things are annoying him IYSWIM, sometimes I think the first he knows about it is when he blows up.
I keep saying to him to speak to me nicely but he appears to find this v difficult. To be fair, he's much better than he was, sometimes he'll go out of the room for 5 mins and then come in when he has calmed down.
Do you think I should urge him to go to CBT or does he need to come to that conclusion himself?
Im not sure if he needs to realise it himself or not, if you can get him to go by urging him then that would be good enough.
I feel so much happier in general now, so it would definetly be worth getting him through the door if you can.
Ok, so after a few good weeks, him being great dad and husband, he had another outburst at the weekend. He was tired, ds was getting on his nerves and he ended up calling him a "stupid little boy" . I was furious with him, then got really upset. (I do have a tendency to think the worst and immediately picture ds as being psychologically damaged for life).
Once I had calmed down, I tried to talk to him calmly and said that I was worried that one day I would just have had enough and would walk out. I asked him to consider having counselling/anger management. He point blank refused. This is because he did have some kind of therapy for a few weeks years ago (when having problems in a previous relationship), and it didnt work, then they asked him to do more sessions and he thought they were just trying to get more money after him etc etc. You get the picture, he's a very black and white thinker. the conversation actually got quite unpleasant as he obviously felt under attack and got all defensive which included some unkind remarks. Luckily I know him well enough not to be unduly worried about this, as I know he says things that he does not mean in these circumstances. However, I AM very worried about his outbursts and how they will affect our ds1 and 2. At least I can take a step back and recognise that he's being a prat but they are too young to understand.
He did say that when he felt himself getting all wound up he would say "time out" and leave the situation, and if he manages this it will be helpful I think. But I still feel so powerless - I don't want to uproot the family and want my boys to have a stable life, plus most of the time things are good, but I just dont know how to deal with his anger outbursts. They distress me so much, and I just fall to pieces which I recognise is also not a good message to be sending to my kids. I'm also quite hurt that he is not sufficiently bothered by the fact I am so upset to seek help. So, anyone got any bright ideas?
Havent read replies yet just your op but could have written it word for word myself. I too am working on trying to treat him as i would one of the kids that was playing up rather than answering back and getting annoyed. Seems to me it is getting easier with each outburst as gets and more boring and repetitive and i can think of so many better things to do than listen!
i think by you being upset by his behaviour is not helping.
He called your son a silly boy - ok not good but in the heat of the moment maybe understandable.
But you then giving him a hard time and being upset about it will probably make him feel even more inadequate iyswim.
Is is always to do with the parenting that you have the issues? I ask because sometimes it is hard to 'allow' others to parent in there own way and if they make mistakes to just see them as that.
Your dh sees he has a problem - can you not accept that this may just be part of him?
I get very stressed when we are going on holiday and every year panic and threaten not to go as i have had no help with the packing (it does upset the dc too[blush[), but we have all learned that is how i am and so can now even have a bit of a laugh about it (although not whilst i am packing of course).
I wonder if relationship counselling is worth pursuing.
I think you've said that he won't entertain the idea, however...
Ask him again and if he says no, say you are going to go to couples counselling yourself for the sake of your relationship. Try Relate, they are very used to one half of a couple doing this. I suggest this for two reasons -
1. You may find it a support and comfort - his behaviour is having a big impact on you. And you would have someone to talk over ideas about how to handle his outbursts etc
2. Once you start going he may well decide he would rather be in on it and come with you; he may not be that keen that you are talking to someone else about you and him.
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