September 2, 2016 at 5:11 am #113990
Where to start. I have been in a relationship with my fiancé since I was 17 (he was 24 when we met), 21 years in total. We have 2 beautiful boys together aged 5 and 8. While our relationship has sometimes been rocky, as he has issues with his mood and is quick to anger, but we always had the resolve and desire to move through them and deal with it. I always wanted to make things work. When we were younger, before kids, I always thought it was our circumstances that caused some unhappiness with him. He is generally a negative pessimistic person, while I am the opposite. It worked well, we balanced each other. Now he is a good dad, and we have similar values, sense of humour, shared interests. We have a good sex life. When his mood is even I like spending time with him. I will also add he likes to drink, he is alcohol dependent without a doubt and despite me trying to suggest he changes his behaviour, he hasn’t really addressed this. I think he has borderline OCD and social anxiety, which he medicates with alcohol. He doesn’t drink during the day, but at night he will easily drink a bottle of wine or more to himself, and he visably relaxes after a drink.
5 years ago, he was unhappy with his job and life, and we decided to relocate to another country with a 3 ½ year old and a 3 month old baby (I left a very good career to do this). We had plans to build a house and start our own business. The whole process was incredibly stressful. He started drinking more, his moods got worse, he was very stressed. About 3 years ago, before we moved into the new house, I remember him saying to me after a row, in public “ Drop dead of cancer”. It mortified me, and I started for the first time to question what our relationship was about, if he loved me like he said he did, why would he be so cruel? It hit me hard, because a year before I lost my best friend to breast cancer at the age of 34. But I forgive easy and vowed to try and make it work. Bear in mind I had a small baby and a toddler to deal with so I was very much focused on them, and didn’t think about myself too much.
I always had a good career in the UK, and our plans fell through overseas so we had to look for alternatives. It was clear he had no desire to be the one to step up to the plate, so I worked hard, and found a good job working from home, with occasional travel away from home. He said he would take care of the kids etc and the house and I would work. Now I am happy in this role (well not totally because I feel I miss out on time with the kids) but he isn’t and he became so miserable, I feel he resents me and the situation. He complains literally about everything and it is so draining. If he went about his day with a degree of happiness, it wouldn’t bother me at all. I put no pressure on him in his role, while the kids are at school I tell him to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t and finds jobs to do that don’t need doing around the house all day and getting more and more miserable. Nothing would make me happier than him to go to the beach and read a book, do anything but do it with happiness. I understand as the man he has feelings of feeling worthless as he isn’t the breadwinner, but again, he has done nothing to change this.
18 months ago now the kids are less dependent, I started to want to “live” my life a little. I went out one night, and he left lots of abusive messages on my phone saying I was taking the piss, and making him look like a fool, because I was out later than he thought was acceptable. In the past me going out with friends was never an issue. It started to go very downhill from here. I had been in a child bubble for years and wanted us both to start living more. His moods got worse and after me persuading him he went to see the doctor who started him on anti depressants. Nothing has really changed. He nags at me about everything, shows so much resentment for our situation, critizes everything I do, I feel he blames me for everything that doesn’t go according to plan. I know he feels insecure and he is pushing me for more and more. But the more his behaviour hurts me the more I can’t reassure him in the way he wants me too. It feels like he just wants more and more from me, nothing is good enough. 6 months ago I joined a gym, that has led to more insecurity. I feel I can’t breathe. I can’t do anything without questioning my motives.
There is no-one else involved but I started looking at our relationship and questioning if it is normal. I love him so much, care so much. But I cannot keep arguing like this or walking around on egg shells all the time. The goal posts constantly change, it’s very unpredicatble. Silly example but once he complained because dinner was going to be late (because the kids were at a Karate class, he got so moody saying he doesn’t like to eat late) but the next night he cooked dinner which was ready later than the night before. Or one day he makes a shitty comment about “well you manage to make time to go to the gym” then the next day he is telling me that I should enter some competitions. I don’t know where I am half the time. Recently he accused me of flirting with other men (I wasn’t) and for the first time we had a physical fight. I know he has emotionally abused me for years, now its moved into a different territory. I told him it is over. But the problem I have is I worry so much about him, I am going to find it almost impossible to break it off.
How can you leave someone you love and care about but that has depleted you so much of yourself you don’t know what to do anymore? I feel like especially over the last few years he has slowly chipped away at me, and I modify my behaviour to not have a fight or argue. That isn’t right is it? He is so dependent on me, I feel I will fuck him up completely if I leave.
Help and thoughts very welcome. My head is all over the place.September 2, 2016 at 5:20 am #113991NanParticipant
This appears to be classic emotional abuse. Abuse doesnt have to be physical, Emotional is much more hurtful mentally and emotionally. Google “Emotional Abuse” and Emotionally Abusine Relationships”. Wealth of information and I had found that it was a classic example in my case. Very subtle, but it worked on my mind and self esteem, until it ate away at my authentic self. Please do google this subject, it will be enlightening. It will name what you are experiencing and how to deal with it.September 2, 2016 at 5:31 am #113992
Thanks Nan for your reply. I have been looking at signs of emotional abuse. What I can’t seem to get my head round, is sometimes we get on well, and we enjoy each others company. Last night I gave him a letter saying about why I feel the way I do. And he doesn’t accept it was ever “that bad”. So now I am questioning if I have over exaggerated things. You see, I was so young when we got together I don;t really have an idea about what is normal and not in a loving relationship. Unfortunately my mother is still in a similar relationship with my father so I guess its learnt behaviour in a way too, that I tolerate it.
For the sake of the boys though, I know I have to break the cycle. But why does it feel like I am the one in the wrong?September 2, 2016 at 7:17 am #113995JoshuaParticipant
It’s interesting, because on the one hand you seem to know exactly what is going on with him but you can’t quite seem to figure out how to address the issue. The emotional abuse is a symptom of that pressure to change, which produces stress. You see, men can be nurturers, but it’s not the primary role of their physiology. It causes a great deal of stress and insecurity in a man, to fulfill a role opposite to his physiology. Working contrary to his desires to be a protector, a hunter, a leader and to establish order in a family. He begins to feel insignificant, to feel drained, and this produces a lot of negativity, and a lot of resentment directed at those around him and at you. The purpose of a relationship, is to not only help each other grow, but to be a solid foundation for the family, to provide for all of its needs and to reproduce that initial success in its offspring. You aren’t happy because you don’t get time with the kids and can’t fall into the role you desire, as a nurturer, a homemaker, to form lasting bonds throughout the family and maintain its cohesivity, to be a foundation of support. He’s not happy because he’s found himself in a role he’s not naturally proficient in. He can’t identify with his masculinity, because he is working against it, which hurts him in all aspects of his life, including friendships and family. The problem is, your natural inclinations to fulfill your role, by being supportive, caring, understanding, compassionate, helpful, are directed at the wrong objective. The objective being, him falling into a role his heart is not set in, which he has little proficiency in, and confidence in doing. So although you are doing everything right, its to accomplish the wrong goal, it’s alienating him from feeling masculine, from identifying with his married male friends, from being confident in accomplishing the tasks he sets out to do, from establishing order in the family, and from being a role model and a blanket of security for his family.
How do we fix this? Awareness helps, which you’ve got in spades. He needs to be supported in a leadership role, to gain control over the families course, to get a job and once again start providing for the family. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, but you can ease back on your hours so you have more time with the family. This will ease up on the pressure he feels, relieving stress, give him more time outside the relationship to focus on having fun and connect with other married men with good values to impress upon him. More time for you both to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Think back to what attracted the two of you together in the first place, what was it about him that you loved so much before the kids came along and all the stress of raising a family? What was it about you that he loved? Try to get back to that initial fire you had that brought you both together, because those flames are dying out.
Encourage him to make more decisions which will result in him being more outspoken, nurture his confidence by building him up, allow him to guide the conversations with others, he will feel uncomfortable because he isn’t used to this. Repetition produces perfection and encourages confidence. Wherever there are opportunities, allow him to take the lead, even if he doesn’t want to. This will pressure him to grow into the role he wants in the family unit.
September 2, 2016 at 7:59 am #114000
- This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by Joshua.
Thanks for your reply. The issue is he has no desire to want to fulfil the role you talk about, but at the same time isn’t happy with the role he is doing now. I am content with the situation, although I do miss having the kids on my own, like I did in the past. However I am still very much present in the kids day to day lives, I get them up and ready for school, makes breakfast, dinner and give them baths and put them to bed. i work form home which means i am here for them if they need me. I still maintain a very strong maternal bond with them.
I appreciate what you are saying, but he also has no desire to make bonds or friendships of his own. He has virtually cut all contact off with his family, and says me and the boys are his life. But then shouts, calls me names and fires off for no reason.
I have been trying for ages to improve the situation, he doesn’t seem to want too. i care about him deeply, which is why I put up with so much.
September 2, 2016 at 8:13 am #114004NanParticipant
- This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by jlo5.
Classic response from the abuser: ” It’s not that bad…”. If it gives you pain. anxiety and hurt, it is that bad. It is all about him, and not you. There will always be some pleasant times, that’s wha
t keeps you second-guessing yourself. Just enough niceness, when you are at your breaking point, to reel you back in.September 2, 2016 at 8:36 am #114005AnonymousInactive
“I feel I will fuck him up completely if I leave.”
No, listen: he will f*** himself up completely when he drives you away. His actions, his responsibility.
He is not your son. He is a grown man, responsible for his own choices and his own happiness. It’s not your responsibility to keep him afloat. He seems pretty determined to be miserable anyway, so there’s little you can do to help.
For your own sake, and your sons, you should go. You can’t hang around just because he feels he needs a punching bag – an emotional or a literal one. It’s going to be hard as hell but start taking the steps: talk to people who are on your side, family, friends, colleagues. Work out what needs to happen for a physical separation. Talk the plan over with your allies, and then do it.September 2, 2016 at 8:47 am #114007AnonymousGuest
Your husband has been troubled most likely ever since he was a child. The trouble is located in between his ears and this is why changing anything external will not do. At one point, in his trouble, distress he started turning against you. If he turned toward you, then there would be a chance for the two of you to help each other, so it would be a Win-Win relationship. Unfortunately he turned and continues, progressively, to turn against you.
Psychotherapy with a competent, empathetic therapist would be best: first attend as a couple and first thing to attend to would be him being taught to turn toward you and not against you. Abusive behavior on his part must stop. The therapist will teach the two of you how to communicate with EAR: Empathy, Assertiveness, Respect. He would need to learn and practice the E and the R of the EAR and you, the A (Assertiveness).
Unless he is willing to attend such, he will continue to be troubled, maybe progressively so. You will as well, walking on eggshells, being abused and the children will continue to suffer because there is no way that they don’t sense the tension and misery.
You may need to consider separation from him for the sake of the children.
anitaSeptember 2, 2016 at 8:57 am #114009
Monklet80-Thanks for the words. i know in my heart what I need to do, but I feel responsible for his happiness which is why I stuck around for so long. I am a very caring person, always trying to understand why people act like they do and put my needs last, so that is the difficulty. I need to learn to put myself first. And I will, for the sake of the boys as well. Thanks.
September 2, 2016 at 8:59 am #114010
- This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by jlo5.
Anita: thanks for the suggestions. I have suggested therapy before, but we live in a foreign country and he isn’t that keen on the whole idea. I speak the language, he hasn’t made much of an effort to learn. i will take a look and suggest it again. Even if it only helps him and not the relationship. I don;t want him to be alone, and he will be very much alone if I leave. I sound like such a victim, if a friend was telling me what i experience I would be packing the bags for them.September 2, 2016 at 9:07 am #114016AnonymousInactive
Yep. Mentally packing your bags for you right here. 🙂
I really hope you find your way out.September 2, 2016 at 9:22 am #114020AnonymousGuest
Your emotions are telling you that he is hurting and he needs help and … like he is a young boy in need of help. And it is true in the sense that much of him is that young boy that he was. Problem is, that young boy is stuck in a stubborn man who turned against you and in so doing, against his own children.
Pay attention to your children: are they affected by the dynamics between you and their father? Are they suffering? If your children need you to rescue them, do so.
Did you, by the way, talk to him about the origin of his trouble, his childhood, most likely? Did he share with you about it? With therapy not being likely for the two of you, it is possible for two people to help each other, for as long as each turns toward the other and not against the other. Is there a chance for such communication between the two of you?
anitaSeptember 2, 2016 at 9:42 am #114024
In all honesty I think the older one is tuning in to things and he feels it. The youngest one is such a happy little soul in his own world, i don’t think it affects him, but it could do of course. I try really hard not to argue in front of them, but there is a lot of tension in the household in terms of his mood swings. They are both very caring sweet boys. He is a good dad, but he isn’t patient, I know he loves them dearly but he is quick to get irritated. The boys look up to him a lot, and give him a lot of affection and he is super proud of them.
I know where a lot of his anger comes from. His dad was an alcoholic (he died in November after being sober for 7 years, they were not close), and his mother is a cold hearted woman who although I know loves him, does not have a maternal bone in her body. He has very little contact with his mother or his brother (who has alcohol issues too). His parents only seemed to care about each other, and was an equally toxic relationship. She left him just before he got sober, they lived apart but remained friends. I have tried to help him, but he doesn’t really want to talk about it. Apart from tears the day we buried his father he has hardly mentioned it, despite my oldest son talking about it and me trying to engage in conversations with him too. He knows i would sit and talk to him for hours if he would just open up. Maybe its too painful for him.
One thing he has an issue with is the contact my parents have with the kids, who are very loving grandparents, whereas his mother is very distant. Which in turn leads to him trying to control the time my parents spend with the kids. Just writing it down, makes me realise this is more complicated than I think……..September 2, 2016 at 9:57 am #114025AnonymousGuest
Keep noticing your children. See how affected your fiancé (are you planning on getting married..?) by his parents- parents have a huge affect on children’s lives way into adulthood, as you see.
And as a mother, your first responsibility is the welfare of your children.
In regard to your fiancé, you wrote in your original post: ” It feels like he just wants more and more from me, nothing is good enough”- he is likely suffering still from his cold, cold mother and although you are very warm toward him, unlike his mother, placing him in the center of your life, nothing you do is good enough for him because he is STILL suffering from his mother’s coldness. That pain still circulates in his brain, the hurt and fear of being unloved and alone as a child.
And so, unless he addresses that old hurt and fear, it will keep clouding his evaluation of the present. He can’t … feel your warmth because he is still feeling the coldness of his childhood.
It is too painful for him to be aware of this but keeping his past away from his awareness does not seal it off- the past leaks into his present again and again and yet again.
anitaSeptember 4, 2016 at 8:36 am #114193JoshuaParticipant
Some questions to ponder, Why do you think he was unhappy with his job and life? Why did you leave the country? Why did you decide to start a business together? Why did that business fail? Why did he fall into the role he is now playing? Why was he so miserable in this role? What role does he want to play in the relationship? Do you appreciate the role he has taken on in the relationship? Are you supportive in the role he has taken on in the relationship? Do you criticize him in the role he has taken on in the relationship? Why won’t he take time for himself? Why is he becoming more controlling, more jealous, more fearful? Why do you feel so tired and drained in a relationship that is supposed to be the opposite? Why does he also feel tired, miserable and drained in this relationship? Why don’t you both communicate what you are both feeling, thinking and desiring to one another? What is causing this separation? Why is he lacking motivation? Why is he so dependent upon you? Why does he want to limit the contact his children have with their grandparents?