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do men not understand how hard it is or am i not cut out to be a mum?

(29 Posts)
namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 17:53:58

I am really struggling - sorry this is long. My DH has been exemplary in helping me in physical ways (getting up at night etc) but he has been working hard and doing long hours whch has meant that he often (three nights a week usually) sleeps in a different bed and doesnt do nights. I am exhausted. Our baby (6 mo) is not a good sleeper and I am often up three times a night or more. She wont take a bottle readily (only tiny volumes) so I havent been away from her for more than 8 hours since she ws born (that only on a couple of occassions). I confess I am struggling, but I cant believe how nasty my DH can be when we argue (which is frequently at the moment). He fits every single definition I can find of an emotional abuser. He berates and belittles me and his rants (in which he talks or shouts at me as if I were a child) can go on and on and he wilfully pushes every button he can find to get me to react. Of course if I do, its open season and fireworks really begin. When I try to talk to him though, he turns the mirror on me and says that I am doing these things. It really frustrates me and makes me feel like I am going genuinely insane. Occasionally I have self harmed (head hitting) during these rows and often end up in tears. He says this is a form of emotional blackmail and abuse against him. He often denies flatly what he has done. But he is so manipulative and clever that I end up doubting myself. I hesitated to write this as I know lots of people will say "just leave" but I don't want that. I think its entirely possible that I am like he says (selfish and self-centred). I feel like if we were in court being cross examined I would or could be found wanting in all the ways he says I am. I am rubbish at housework and I struggle with my time keeping. I probably dont give him the support he gives me. When he throws questions at me like "when did you last do something for me" i cant think clearly. i try to keep good house and look after the baby but i seem to annoy him no matter what. recently i came back from staying with family for six days. although it was a holiday it did mean i was with the baby every night myself and i am just exhausted. when she woke two nights ago (first night back) and i couldhear her in the monitor and through the door i said i couldnt take it and went dowbstairs, he accused me of throwing a tantrum and i told him to piss off. i concede i got angry but it wasnt aimed at him, but he takes it that way. then last night when the baby wouldnt go down i said an exasperated "ffs" which he heard on the monitor and now he excuses me of swearing at her and saying I had lost my temper within minutes. I am just so tired. He had six nights off while I was away but when I point this out he just says it was my choice to stay away that long. I just cant win. Is there any way to make him listen to me? I don't want to split up but he essentially says we can only stay together if I become a better person. Surely there must be a way of making men on their high horses like this just talk normally, instead of as if they were trying to win a playground argument?

BitOfFun Fri 05-Jun-09 18:20:16

You poor darling! I just want to sweep you up, get you out of there and tuck you up in bed!

Firstly, all men do not act like this. Selfish men act like this.

Secondly, I could have written your post, almost every word of it, when I was with dd2's father. He just about broke my spirit. I also remember the twisting your words, putting you on the spot, being needlessly cruel and never ever hearing the night wakings...while being "stressed" and upset by my selfishness (ie not anticipating and providing his every need). I understand the self-harm thing too, and just feeling fucking miserable and exhausted.

I wish I could tell you how to make him different and stay with him, because that's what you asked for.

I can't.

His behaviour is abusive...have you read the thread about emotional abuse? You should. And RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion started a thread in relationships a few months ago called Listen Up or something similar which I beg you to read.

I left in the end, because he was never going to change. And do you know what? It turns out I'm a pretty good mother afterall, he was just a shitbag. Even though the baby I had with him will likely wake through the night and need Nappies forever because she is severely disabled by autism (and I wonder if my misery with him while pregnant somehow affected her development), I do get a good break and quality sleep for part of every week because he has to take her! On his own! It's not so bloody easy as he made out either, but tough shit.

Breaking up with him was the single biggest thing I have ever done to ensure my own health and happiness. I sincerely believe I would have committed suicide if I'd stayed with him.

You will find your own path, and maybe you're not ready to leave at this point, but I do really feel for you and I hope you find some comfort here. << a hug for you >>

nametaken Fri 05-Jun-09 18:22:26

You both sound absolutely exhausted to me sad. Do you have any family nearby?

HumphreyCobbler Fri 05-Jun-09 18:25:12

BitOfFun has said it all better than I could, but just wanted to add my support.

You deserve better.

shootfromthehip Fri 05-Jun-09 18:29:08

I am so sorry that you are going through this- my DH and I went through a very similar time after our first LO was born and it was the worst period of my life.

We argued constantly about everything and it became a competition in the end- who was mmore tired/ had the right attitude to our DD, to our relationship and to life. I have to admit though that I was the berater and he was the silent angry or nast one-liner that were so out of character that they stung even more.

All I can say is that our situation came to a head last yr and we nearly split up. It was ugly and I was miserable but the toing and froing could go on any longer.

You have a breastfeed 6 mth old and it is horribly hard work. You love them but can't ever get away from them. To add insult to injury they (the LO) will then keep you up half the night and that continual broken sleep is torturous (and is used as a form of torture for that reason). You CANNOT make him understand what that is like. You CANNOT make him realise that it is tearing you apart because you are contradicting yourself in his eyes: you are telling him that you can't cope but you are doing just that because your pride won't let you do anything other than make the house tidy, the washing done and the food on the table.

It's a horrible situation where your DH should meet your emotional needs and they aren't and very often it is the first time in your relationship that you realise that he can't give you what you want. And that's horrible and makes you feel like your relationship is hollow.

Well that's how I felt.

Anyway, solutions.

You could go to Relate- you sound like you are in an argument rut and you need a referee.

You could change your approach and accept that he just will not get it. That may take some of the fire out of the fights and stop some of the inevitable resentment that can build.

I hope that this helps. I know how hard it is and wish you all the best. x

screamingabdab Fri 05-Jun-09 18:44:47

Sending my good thoughts. I don't know what to add except that if you are doubting yourself, then understand that tiredness alone (never mind the way your DH is being) is enough to drive a sane person loopy.

You are doing the best you can, with very little support.

When DCs are little, men just have to understand that your whole life has changed, and that you (the mum) are physically and emotionally drained. Your reserves need to be kept going by physical help and emotional support. He sounds like he doesn't understand this, or he can't cope with the way things are.

As I type this I see shootfromthehip has written much of what I wanted to say.

willowthewispa Fri 05-Jun-09 18:50:03

Could you maybe work on your DDs sleep a bit? If you can afford it maybe get a night nanny in for a few nights to get her sleeping through (or even just let you both get an uninterrupted night's sleep)?

namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 18:50:42

thanks so much for yor replies (and just for getting to the end!). It is heartening to know at least that it may be possible to get through it, (he wasnt always like this), but if its not, then there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know i am not a completely crap mum, but sometimes i doubt myself.

I live in london so my support network is pretty sporadic and spread all over.

I want to go to counselling but we went once before and it came out looking like everything really was my fault. He just quotes this and says why would it be any different now?

Looking back i can see that he manipulated the counselling and the counsellor and me so that we never really addressed most of our main problems. He stayed on best behaviour during the 9 weeks and was
a)so grateful he had gone along i wasnt really honest about what happened as did not want to rock the boat
b)took everythng onboard my own shoulders as had no insight then to his manipulation
c)ticked boxes easily for counsellor myself(alcoholic dad, history of anxiety/depression) so staved off questioning into his history (now, this was me being "selfish" apparently, because it was all me me me)

i still find it difficult to believe that a counsellor wouldnt see the truth though - maybe i am just a self centred cow who has gradually driven dh to being like he is now, esp. if relate counsellor also seemed to think so?

screamingabdab Fri 05-Jun-09 18:56:10

If you want to go to counselling, then I think it's a pretty good idea for you to go on your own. I'd say you are serious risk of becoming depressed - you sound so down on yourself.

I also live in (NE) London and can give you the number of a sleep counsellor a friend used with her 3rd DC.

macdoodle Fri 05-Jun-09 18:57:00

He IS abusive, this IS emotional abuse, NORMAL men do NOT behave like this they just dont
Your experience of Relate is very typical of abusive men, I very much doubt he can change or even wants to, but only you can realise this
Pop over to the emotional abuse thread, have read and check out some of the very excellent links!
I feel so sad for you

screamingabdab Fri 05-Jun-09 18:57:47

Sorry, realised last post was a bit unclear - Counselling for you (maybe go to your GP and lay on the line how exhausted you are),

Sleep nurse/counsellor for addressing DDs sleep

BitOfFun Fri 05-Jun-09 19:12:48

Yes, couple counselling apparently doesn't work for abusive men, precisely because they are too manipulative to look at their own flaws, and flip every challenge put to them. A lot of counselling training (and I am fully qualified myself) tends to over-emphasize the usefulness of counselling in every situation, when good practice should actually be to recognize that in certain situations it can do more harm than good. It sounds like your situation was one of them.

Counselling for yourself would be a really good move though, I think.

NancysGarden Fri 05-Jun-09 19:53:41

Sounds a lot like my ex tbh. We never had any children (thank goodness) but if we had then I imagine it would have ended in disaster.

As it stands, after a few years with him my confidence was completely shaken (and probably still is a bit 7 years on).

It's your choice and so much harder with DC in tow, but if he is making you doubt yourself, can that really be healthy?

namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 21:21:02

thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply. i think i will definitely seek counselling for myself and see where that takes me. I am so sad though. I didn't want it to be like this. I feel so sane here, yet so out of control when I try to say the same things to him.
Thanks all anyway. I will read the other threads also.

shhhh Fri 05-Jun-09 22:51:31

right, reading your post and some responses..I don't think your dh is abusive or even a threat BUT what it sounds like' to me is that you are both tired.

In don't think alot of men understand about being parents and how hard it can be.

Dh & I are fab parents BUT we find it so hard. After x2 mc's dd was so very wanted BUT I remember the arguments when she arrived..even within days of her arriving sad. BUT it was to be expected. We had never had kids and here we had this gorgeous pink thing which relied entirly on us..oh and she kept waking us when we wanted to sleep hmm...funny that..hmm wink.

Then things got harder when everyone wanted to visit and stay for hours and gp's wanted to be here 24/7 when all we wanted was our little family and as 1st time parents we didn't know we could say anything. Oh and on top of it I got PND..GREAT!

Then we got into a routine and thats when ds was conceived..grin.

DD was actually a good baby..well compared to ds..who at 2 still wakes 6-8 times a night hmm demands milk feed's, was born with a bowel disorder, had x3 op's and is a constant worry to us........oh and I got PND AGAIN!

Everything we all experience as parents is new, noone tell's us how to be parents and we are expected to teach ourselves.
Its hard, bloody hard but you have to do your best.

My dh also works away lots and we argue now that while he has x2-4 nights a week away from home I get 0. Im a sahm so get little time kids free...dh still now doesn't agree that its a break when he's away with work hmm. So we sound similar to you...also at times I have been on the verge of walking out and it takes these times for dh to realise I need more support.

I guess men do help where they feel they need to but sometimes we need more and they need it pointing out.I remember arguing with dh about ds being in hospital, crazy I know but it was due to stress and lack of sleep.

Thats all I think is wrong with your situation. You both have different stresses and you are both exhaused. Its will get better but you need to hold tight.

It may help you to seek councelling, to talk to someone else and to get coping stratergies. You are NOT mad or insane etc. You are a new mum who is trying to adapt to life as a mummy.

Give yourself a break and don't be so hard on yourself. Sit you dh down and talk. Take time out for you. Just to grab time to remember you are still a person.

Keep smiling and big {{{hugs}}} xxx

BitOfFun Fri 05-Jun-09 23:44:06

The ranting, manipulating and pushing your buttons to the point where you feel so frustrated and distressed that you literally are banging your head on the wall flag up emotional abuse to me rather than exhaustion. I think that saying this is just adjusting to parenthood doesn't cut it to me. I think anybody who has had kids can understand the stress and exhaustion, but if you've been at the sharp end of emotional abuse, the other stuff you mention in your OP rings huge alarm bells.

namechangersad Sat 06-Jun-09 00:43:05

thats what worries me BoF. I really don't want it to be that - I have one failed marriage behind me already and I never ever would have remarried had I thought I would fail again (and that pride is something that will keep me trying) but he is bloody textbook. (expect that I am the textbook abuser if you hear it from him. do you know? In the end of the day it only ever comes down to one person's word against the other. According to him I am the biggest nastiest abuser in christendom, How do I know its not me being a difficult needy self centred individual, because I am not convinced I can tell? (I know that probably sounds pathetic, but imagine if he was posting - things would look very much different from his POV.

PS - hopeful - i got the bancroft book. Its hiding in the knicker drawer. He is a water torturer.

Gemzooks Sat 06-Jun-09 02:56:04

I would just hang in till your DD sleeps more,get her on a routine, then when you getting enough sleep on a regular basis, then is the time to assess your relationship and make any decisions. For now, try to treat your DH as a flatmate: as politely as you can, just try to act as a team and don't play the 'who's the most hard done by' game. The best of relationships is turned upside down by a baby, especially if they don't sleep. there's a reason they use sleep deprivation as torture, you know! I'm not saying kowtow to him or whatever, I'm just saying that this is not the time for decisions about the future of the relationship, it's the time for just trying to balance your life so you're not feeling knackered and down (I have 2 small DCs and really sympathise with you, it is bloody awful at times!)

so in a nutshell, my advice is to:

- try not to get into arguments and just don't rise to it so then DH has nothing to fan the flames with
- do some things to boost your own self esteem, whatever it is, like getting in a walk round the block, a bath, just an hour or two to yourself, be nice to yourself so that you can feel good about yourself and aren't as liable to be upset by your DH's put-downs. Think 'water off a duck's back', also meet friends for a coffee or whatever, anything which gets you out and about
- get a bit of babysitting for DD, get her in a routine so she's sleeping at least say 6 hour stretches, these routines do work fine with bf

hope you feel better, just hang in there, see if DH gets nicer if you refuse to get into arguments and do nice things for yourself, keep posting!

sunfleurs Sat 06-Jun-09 10:23:01

It is emotional abuse if you cannot even express a normal sentiment such as saying "FFS" when your baby refuses to go down for the 100th time without it being used as evidence of what a horrible person you are. If your normal emotions are used against you I am not surprised you are banging your head against walls or hitting yourself.

Do you know how I know this? It is because it was happening to me for about 5 years with my xh. I blamed myself all the time, it must be me, I am a horrible, difficult person, I made him like this etc etc etc. You did not make him like this. It is not possible to make someone like this unless it was there in the first place. The hitting your head thing being interpreted as abuse against him? My x used to say exactly the same thing after hours of berating me and saying awful, untrue, accusatory things to me that I had no way of countering. I used to be devastated that he could even think that way about me, I had no way to defend myself.

It sounds to me like when you "threw a tantrum" and went downstairs on the first night back from your time away, you did so because subconciously you felt it was "his turn" to get up with her as he had had 6 nights off and that was not an unreasonable thing to think really. If he was showing no signs of it and he sounds quite unapproachable for you to say "could you take a turn as I have been alone with her for 6 nights?" I can imagine you were more frustrated by that than your dd crying. You are reacting normally for someone as exhausted as you but it is being held against you, normal emotions being twisted to suit himself and make you feel like shit. My x used to do it because he was lazy and did not want to have to be involved in childcare - attack me so I would feel too guilty about being a terrible mother who did not want to care for her own child to ever ask him to do anything again.

He sounds exactly like my ex and he did not change. All that happened is that I grew stronger and began to see his horrible behaviour for what it was and learn to stand up to him.

My only advice is don't think so much about him, this takes his power away, don't think about the things he says about you, it is bollocks. Don't expect anything from him, then you can't be disappointed. One thing I used to say when he accused me of being "spiteful", "lazy", "dramatic", "selfish", "money-grabbing" etc was to say mildly, "well I KNOW I am not being that because I just don't FEEL that way myself inside my head" and keep repeating no matter what he said, defending myself never worked, because he didn't WANT to believe I was an OK person and that is when you KNOW it is verbal and emotional abuse, when no matter what you say the other person still wants to believe you are a nasty piece of work.

poshsinglemum Sat 06-Jun-09 12:49:12

He's a twat. I hope you find the strength to leave him.

BitOfFun Sat 06-Jun-09 13:02:55

Pride kept me going about six and a half years too long with my twatty ex (it was seven years we were together) because I had already "failed" by divorcing dd1's father.

I am enormously happy now with my DP of three and a half years- barely a cross word ever between us, a lot of laughs, affection and comfort. Ironically I could have met him exactly during the month I "should" have left my ex- we worked out that that was the only short period we would have both been single at the same time...I know why I struggled to make a go of it with my ex, but at the end of the day I was only hurting myself by trying to "prove" something. The rest of the world doesn't actually give that much of a shit how many frogs you have to kiss (or marry or live with or whatever)- so make sure you are staying because you want to, not because you wish you wanted to, or just think you should. You only get one life.

NellyNoKnicks Sat 06-Jun-09 17:20:58

BitOfFun, I think it's great that you too have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, it's absolutely amazing the abuse we are willing to put up with simply because we refuse to admit defeat.

I have had a similar experience and we were together 2.5 years when really we should have only lasted a couple of months.

We moved in together very quickly and I soon saw his other side, constantly criticising my cleaning skills (even though I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times he did the washing up - which was the only thing he did around the house), accusing me of cheating (when I never ever went out, even to the point I stopped doing my hair and makeup for work because it wasn't worth the aggro), belittling me, alienating me from friends and family, ignoring me and not speaking to me for days on end while refusing to tell me what his problem was, making me apologise constantly for his shortcomings (to name but a few).

Anyway, what I am trying to say is never think that it is you that is wrong, everyone has their faults (he should accept that he has some too) and that life is too short to constantly be walking on eggshells.

IME he only acts this way because he is insecure about his own accomplishments and the only person that can change this is him.

A relationship consists of 2 people and he needs to make the effort as well. If he wont accept it, then I'm sorry you need to walk away, you deserve better.

cat64 Sat 06-Jun-09 17:51:57

Message withdrawn

BitOfFun Sat 06-Jun-09 18:24:29

Nelly, I just sneaked a peek at your pics- what a scrummy little baby! [broody]grin

NellyNoKnicks Sat 06-Jun-09 18:40:44

Aw thank you BitOfFun

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