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    • #169375

      Hi everyone, sad to be on here again. I joined around six months ago and then things seemed to sort themselves out. My partner is not physically abusive, but has been controlling to various levels for a long time now and we have a child together. Basically I can spot the cycles coming, he feels under-valued or not getting enough attention and things then blow up with me being accused of not caring about him or putting things before him. I’m expected to make all the plans for us to spend time together, and if I spend time with others, my family or any friends, or don’t rearrange my work to fit around him e.g if I go to work on a typical ‘non-office day’ when I would otherwise be wfh then I am ‘choosing’ them over him and he sulks or makes snide comments. Our child is disabled and requires a lot of support, and this puts added strain which of course is difficult for us both, but I resent the fact (if I am honest) that I get all the chores and he sweeps in and does ‘fun’stuff. He also makes comments to our child about mummy ‘prioritising’ work over them if I send a quick email or ask him to pick them up if I am in a meeting. He says he is ‘happy to help’ but I have to tell him what needs doing all the time which is mentally exhausting. When I have asked for help, I get told it is my own fault because I insist on being in control of everything and I treat him like an employee. Yet the things I do ask for, which he doesn’t want to do get conveniently left, so I’ve just stopped asking. Recently I have been very resentful about limitations on me seeing my family and the expectation that if we are both working and there is childcare required, then it is me who should apparently just tell work I ‘can’t go to work’. The trouble is, once I saw his pattern of behaviour I can’t unsee it and now it makes me angry and distant. Of course, this distance then makes things worse because I am not engaging with him enough to make him feel good about himself (I am beginning to wonder if I am the one exhibiting the n**********c tactics). (detail removed by Moderator) I was mentally exhausted due to a very difficult time with our child emotionally, and his solution was that I should take time off work. I tried to explain I didn’t want time off work, work is my escape, where I have adult company and can make my own choices, instead I want time and help to do things for myself outside work, meet a friend for a coffee or go for a walk, but this turned into an awful row and I went right out and told him that his behaviour is coercive and controlling. He is now barely talking to me, and because I have said I am moving my office days (detail removed by Moderator) (apparently I should have asked him if I can do so out of common courtesy) even though I offered to still do the childcare around it so it should make no difference to him at all, I have no consideration for him and he doesn’t want this relationship anymore. He has said he is leaving and has a flat in mind. He is (apparently) hurt at my accusations and the only person that stops me from doing anything is me, not him. I don’t think I give a d**n for myself but it will break our child’s heart and she already suffers with anxiety and is at a very unsettling time anyway with other things in their life changing – I feel like it will ruin her life and she adores him. I feel more than anything that I have let my child down, maybe he doesn’t mean to be controlling, and I have caused all this somehow. I would put up with anything to protect our child from this right now. Don’t expect any answers, just needed to put this somewhere.

    • #169377

      To add to this, so (detail removed by Moderator) I was being disrespectful and treating him like an employee because I said I had to go into the office (detail removed by Moderator) so could he do school pick up (I also said if he couldn’t I’d leave work early to do so). By saying ‘I was going in’ rather than saying ‘is it ok if I go in?’ (btw I don’t have a choice about this, I am required in person and this is a normal working day for me) I am being selfish and rude and have no courtesy and should have asked him if it was ok, not told him I am doing it – I have railed (sadly) against this saying that as a grown woman I should not have to ask permission to go to do my job or move my days in the office. (detail removed by Moderator) he is leaving for work early to see a friend on the way (detail removed by Moderator) and he has only just told me, I don’t mind particularly, I don’t expect him to ask my permission – but he can’t see that he is therefore assuming I am going to be here when he leaves (I will be of course as I can’t go anywhere) and also he now doesn’t need the meal I have prepared. If I try and highlight the discrepancy and unfairness of him being able to make these decisions without asking my permission- I am accused of ‘always having to be right’ and ‘having to have the last word’ on everything. It is not me is it? This is not an unrealistic expectation? I know with childcare we need to work together, but if I say I can still cover it, why do I need to check it is ‘ok’ with him if I not working at home?

    • #169396
      Main Moderator

      Hello Whiteroses,

      Thank you for sharing your situation and what you are going through.

      No, it is not you.

      I can really hear how confusing and frustrating your partners hypocritical and contradictory ‘rules’ and behaviours must feel. It’s not okay for him to enforce all of these unfair and unrealistic expectations, it sounds exhausting and overwhelming.

      Quite often psychological abuse and coercive control can be very subtle and insidious. It can begin with small behaviours and escalates gradually over time. The result of this is that we are left questioning ourselves and loosing sight of our boundaries – what is okay and what isn’t.

      The core of domestic abuse is about power and control. When we unpick the elements of an abusive relationship, we often find that many abusive behaviours come down to this. By laying out these expectations of you, he is acquiring power in the relationship. His needs, opinions and feelings seem (and become) more important, and we begin to alter our behaviour to avoid arguments or consequences from them. This is where control begins – when we feel the need to change our behaviour based on ‘keeping the peace’ or pacifying someone, or we feel that we have to walk on eggshells around them, we are being controlled. This is very often the foundation of domestic abuse.

      It’s not you and you do not deserve to feel this way, we know abusers very rarely acknowledge or take accountability for their abusive behaviour. More often they will deflect and blame us, accuse us of being the abuser – this can be really confusing.

      It’s good that you are reaching out to talk about this, if you’d like additional support you might want to consider connecting with your local specialist domestic abuse service. You can find your nearest service, here:

      Take care and keep posting,

    • #169416

      Oh, this all sounds so familiar! I too have a disabled child at home and their care – and how it should be shared/divided between us – has often been used as a way to control me. The fact that life is extra hard and (like us) your partner and you have both been suffering more than the average person because of your child’s care needs can be used as a way to excuse abusive behaviour, especially when it is so subtle.

      When you told me your partner had decided to leave, I was actually rejoicing for you for a moment until I read how hard you said this was for you, especially in terms of the guilt you feel for your daughter. But, I think the way to think about this is that, understandably, you are stuck in a moment right now. It is so hard now but in a few year’s time, with some distance and reflection, and a whole lot of peace, quiet and healing, you will probably think that this is the best thing that could have happened to you and your child.

      You are in an abusive relationship, I am too, even though writing this so confidently does not mean I still always believe it about myself either. I have given my husband an ultimatum to change and since then he has by and large become more pleasant to me and our children, but there is not enough change and I can see what he says and does is just to appease me, to win me back, not because he regrets his behaviour. I am still with him because of our children, and because I am afraid of how he might turn again once I tell him I am leaving. But I have made up my mind that I have to go and that, not matter how hard this will be for my child, and how they may blame me for a while and idealise him (which is what he is working on), the truth will prevail and time will form clarity for them as well as me.

      Good luck with it all, but believe in yourself, your ability and your love for your child.

      • #169434

        So good to read this, thank you for taking the time to reply and sorry to hear how much you relate. I too will be the villain if he carries this through and leaves. We had a (calm) conversation yesterday but it’s all been flipped on me….he only gets upset / sulky / mean about me seeing other people because he is so far down my priority list. This would be valid I think if I saw other people all the time, I have 2 friends locally (detail removed by moderator) I only visit my family who live a long way away when he is working – he wont’ come with me, but if I go when he is off I am ‘choosing them’ over him on his time off. I now see them about 4 times a year. He also wouldn’t mind me seeing my family if I wanted to ring him while I was there (detail removed by moderator). He feels disregarded and unloved, and I am treating him like glorified childcare if I want him to look after our daughter while I spend time with other people. He also consistently says I put my job before him, because of his working pattern he is home in the day – but because I am working I am putting my meetings before him. I don’t actually do my full contracted hours because of him needing to leave to do his job, and so I can’t concede this is true. I don’t believe I should have to not do my job, in the hours I’m expected to to prove to him I love him more and I have told him this. By not doing so, I am not prepared to save my marriage he says. On the flip side, he works lots of overtime but that is not him putting work first because he gets paid for it, it also restricts my ability to do anything as I have no other childcare. When I mentioned this, again it got flipped that (detail removed by moderator). I don’t ‘dress up’ for him at home, but I get dolled up to go to the office, yet if I wear jeans to the office, he questions if I am really going to work (he has done this for years even though I have repeatedly told him many people wear jeans on days where they have no important meetings). I have also explained to him I don’t get dressed up for anyone, I wear what I wear for me, either to feel good or be comfy or just because I saw it in the wardrobe and fancied putting it on, but everything I do is as reflection on how I ‘feel’ about him – it isn’t. If I am quiet – maybe I’ve had a hard few days dealing with our daughter, if I want to got to bed early, maybe I am just tired. I can’t read a book in the house if he is here because then a book is more interesting than he is, and he will say these things in front or our daughter. He sat in front of me and cried because he loves me above anything but he is just so far down my list of things I care about. I can see, clear as day that his demands are unreasonable and stem from a massive feeling of insecurity, and I have for years been the one to feed it. I now see him relying on our daughter in the same way – do you love daddy? is a question she is often asked, or saying she must prefer other people to him if she says she’s had a good time with family or relatives, it’s all these self pitying comments that are so draining and I can’t keep giving to him , or denying what I want to do to ‘prove’ he matters. Bu then he is the perfect fun dad, and makes her laugh more than I can, and everyone tells me how great he is because they see him entertaining her. He seems adamant this time he is leaving – part of it I know is his cry for help for me to beg him to stay, so far I haven’t done so, I don’t know if I will……yet in my head there is still a “if I can only make him feel more wanted it will be all be ok”.

    • #169420

      I can relate a lot to this post especially when you say they need attention to be happy. I have distanced myself from my partner and he basically says in a round about way if I was to have a high sex drive and give him attention we would be ok. It honestly makes me so mad I said to him right ok but put that aside respect show me that and maybee I would want to. He says I put a roof over your head. Seriously how sad is it that he sees that as respect for someone and I work and pay my whole wage into this family home. My oldest has anxiety and pleases his dad a lot I always thought I couldn’t leave because of this but honestly in long run your child will thrive in an environment that your are more happy in. I think that you are so lucky that would be my dream come true right now I just feel trapped as he won’t go. I need to be the one and I don’t know were I will end up. There are no social houses in my area. I hope you are ok

      • #169440

        Hey thank you for your reply and yes, it sounds very similar. Affection is based on sex, and I am expected (through passive means never aggressive) to be on tap. He will lie down on our bed in the middle of the day when I’m working and it’s an unwritten need for me to go join him to ‘prove’ he means more to me than the job I am supposed to be doing, he sulks if I don’t. His shifts mean he is at home during my working hours and there is no recognition that I am left at home with our daughter most evenings when he works extra, but I care more about work because I won’t decline a meeting to spend the middle of my working day with him. This neediness has been there for a long time, but really exacerbated with my now working at home more. He is always very complimentary about me looks wise, but affection is always based around sex, and it makes me feel like an trophy not a partner. I have not quite dared to say yet that I might be more interested if he were kinder to me, because his idea of kind is saying I have a great body, not pouring me a glass of wine or cooking dinner one evening, everything is fuelled by this need for me to prove I ‘want’ him above anything else. I earn good money myself so am not dependent on him, but can’t leave and would not take my daughter away from him or her home, especially as it is set up for her additional needs. Much of the time I feel strong as I have a secure sense of self still, and know I am being manipulated and coerced, but at times like this is is difficult, but I also know the more I don’t pander to his needs, the more desperate he gets and the more extreme the behaviour. Last year he went so far to announce to our daughter that daddy was leaving us as a way to ‘get me to notice him’ because I refused to react or give in to the suggestion I should take time out of my working day for him. There are two sides to every story I know, and I have no doubt not helped at times or take him for granted, but I am not sure if I can be who he needs, but so worried if I don’t give him this feeling of love, it is all on our daughter to validate him constantly.

    • #169456

      In a relationship, sometimes we were made to be responsible for others’ happiness and thought, and when you don’t do what they want, or don’t adjust your schedules for them, you will be accused of being not ‘considerate’ or selfish since you ‘prioritise’ your own stuff. But remember, your life does not only have family, although it plays a huge part, there’s no wrong to not being able to adjust your work for him, you work to pay the bills and help with the living expenses of the family and your life, aren’t you? So you’re contributing to the family, and you’re a responsible family member. Remember that, you are trying your best, and you’re amazing. Don’t let anyone, even your own partner, change your view towards yourself. You can’t control your partner’s behaviours or decisions, but you can control your love and actions towards your children. As long as you try your best, things will work out eventually, although it may not seem like the way you want. Trust yourself, and trust your children. And remember to reach out, either talking to ppl you trust, or post here! Don’t isolate yourself!

      • #169464

        Thank you – I do know in my self that I am not being unreasonable, and this in itself is causing these periodic meltdowns and more extreme behaviours on his part as I’m no longer altering my behaviour in a way I perhaps used to, and refusing to accept that I am ‘selfish’ or not caring if I do my job or want to see a friend. Most recently I did behave quite pettily if I am honest, but I still believe his reactions are extreme. (detail removed by Moderator) I was ignored for (detail removed by Moderator) weeks including over (detail removed by Moderator) because I had family visiting and had arranged a meal for all of us, including him – and he was furious because I should have ‘wanted’ to just spend time with him and should have instead used my family to babysit – (I should have arranged however for us to go out for (detail removed by Moderator)- he never asked if I wanted to, or offered to arrange anything – he also went out both weekends on his social plans around (detail removed by Moderator) anyway). Once I knew he was so angry about it, I did arrange for a babysitter for a later date, and he flat refused to go out when she arrived and disappeared to the spare room for the evening. (I actually had a pleasant evening with a glass of wine and watched a movie as a refused to let him spoil it for me). It took nearly (detail removed by Moderator) for him to talk to me properly again and then he juts suddenly asked one day why I was being so ‘off’ with him and it was apparently all down to me somehow????So (detail removed by Moderator), on (detail removed by Moderator) I made sure we went out just myself, he and my daughter (which was also what I wanted) and I took (detail removed by Moderator) so just he and I could go for a meal together. I was however really annoyed that he arranged to work extra (detail removed by Moderator) meaning I couldn’t go for a meal with a friend as well. I was really upset about this, and should have said something but I didn’t, I sulked to be honest and was moody, because I felt he had done it on purpose, and I also am quite honestly too scared to say I want to see someone else for (detail removed by Moderator) as well – ridiculous right – and I hate myself for being so weak. I have since said my moody behaviour was wrong, but explained that I was annoyed that I was prevented from seeing anyone else, and what was the response? First, that no-one is stopping me from going anywhere and it is all in my head. and then , (detail removed by Moderator) – he tells me he has been thinking about what I said, and that it just shows how little I want him, because what I should have wanted was for him to not work extra so that my friend can babysit and me and him go out – not that I can see her. How is that not coercive behaviour?

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