16th October 2023 at 11:24 am #162396
Though most of your stories here on this forum resonate with me, deep down I feel my story is different, and less bad, and I can’t help questioning whether I will be doing something terrible by leaving my husband and breaking up my family.
I have been married for a long time and we have young children. For most of our married life (since years before we had children) my husband has slept badly, and has suffered from mood swings and depression. I have listened to him about how difficult life is for him, day after day, year after year. I’ve gone out of my way to take the pressure of him, to not make him feel worse or more on edge, by taking charge of everything. I have been the one working, cleaning, cooking, and generally running the household (including every aspect of the children’s life at home and school) pretty much on my own. I have created jobs for him within my business since he was made redundant and I have pushed (detail removed by Moderator) his way (he has not looked for work for years). In recent years he has looked after our children when I work ((detail removed by Moderator) days per week), but I am still the only one to get up (detail removed by Moderator) to help the children get up and get ready for school. He spends most of his time in his ‘office’, at home, spending every possible minute on his favourite hobby, in the hope it will become lucrative one day (he has tried this in vain for decades). He hardly ever leaves the house except for when picking the children up.
(detail removed by Moderator) we realised that one of our children had complex additional needs and out of necessity we have been caring for and educating (detail removed by moderator) at home. This job we share 50:50. It has put a strain on our marriage and my husband’s mental health has further declined. A while ago he first lost control with our child, but I just put it down to stress a the time and forgave him. Since then, he has used physical force with our child a handful of times, never so bad as to leave marks, but unacceptable nevertheless (pushing them, pressing his finger into their back, pushing them down to the ground, etc). He has also called them names. In addition, he has at times become tyrannical in his behaviour when we are all at home, very easily losing his rag, shouting and swearing, kicking doors and breaking toys, and commanding me and the children around and, above all, blaming me and them for everything afterwards. He cannot take any criticism, and as they get older the children are becoming more aware that they cannot talk to their dad about their feelings, that he doesn’t listen to their issues with him and always finds a way to blame them for everything that happens. I think the emotional side is taking a much bigger toll than the physical in our case.
Some time ago I started seeing a counsellor, after I got several health issues that I couldn’t seem to shake off, and I realised there may be some psychological cause for them. Initially I just wanted to get an objective opinion on how I could change, not just for my own health, but also to improve my communication with my husband, as he had told me repeatedly that I had become cold, was never there for him, did not listen to him, and was controlling. Over time my counsellor showed me that it may be him, rather than me, that needs to change. I admit I have been angry, frustrated and critical, increasingly so over the years, especially when he was not pulling his weight, time and time again. But that is not the same as his behaviour, which has been emotionally abusive (in addition to financially controlling). They taught me that his behaviour may not be the worst it could have been, but that it is certainly bad enough, not in the least because it does not just affect me, but also the children.
I tried to get my husband to see a marriage counsellor with me, but he refused. He always says he is working on himself, and the few times I have confronted him with his issues over the years he has bought some self-help books, but he has never talked to a professional about any of his issues. He cannot confront his issues.
(detail removed by Moderator) I called him out on his behaviour in very clear terms, and said I could not accept it anymore. Since then, although he has changed a little bit with regards to the children (he spends a lot more time with them now and is aware of not isolating himself all the time in his office), he continues to tell me he cannot believe how I accused him of mistreating his children in that conversation, that I am trying to put him in a bad light, that I have no empathy, that I am cold, damaged, gaslighting him, and never there for him.
Still, some part in me continues to see him as the very sweet, soft-natured man he used to be and still is often. When we first started going out I certainly felt I was lucky to have found him and for a good person like him to love me (yes, I have childhood-rooted trauma). He can still be incredibly charming, is very soft-natured, and is a great dad most of the time. Above all, I genuinely believe that he does not realise he is doing anything wrong, let alone hurting us, and especially our children, in ways that can have life-long consequences for them. He can go from bombarding me with accusations, to showering me loving words.
I have been trying to be honest with him about how I feel, or not feel anymore. I worry about him, care for him, and am concerned about his wellbeing so much. I am terrified of hurting him by leaving him. My counsellor has pointed out that I care for him and talk about him as if he is a child, not a partner. I feel terrible about the fact that I am seriously considering leaving him, but I am so tired, so overworked, so emotionally confused and oh so very concerned about the toxic example he is and, as a result, we are giving our children about what a man, or a relationship, should be like. I have learned to see that the whole situation has brought out the worst in me and that, although I believe I am a good mother, they deserve to have me at my best, and that can only happen when I leave their dad.
His narrative about himself (that he is a great guy, fantastic dad, works hard, has a perfect family, a nice house, has been hard done by, has been put through hell by everyone around him including me, that he means well, that no one understands him, that he tries so hard, etc.) has been the only thing he has to hold on to. If I leave him, what is he going to be like when his narrative falls apart? How is he going to react? (detail removed by Moderator)
ago he lost it again with our children (detail removed by Moderator), so it is likely we have something coming once he realises his life is actually falling apart? What do I do then? In any case I am convinced that, if I tell him I am leaving him, he will never understand or acknowledge his own part in why it has got this far, he will blame me for everything, tell himself this shows that he was right all along in thinking I was a terrible partner, and (as he has started to do since I have come to react less emotionally, and keep my distance from him, over recent months) use the kids to get back at me (which I know is one of the most damaging thing a child can go through). What do I do? I feel the children are going to suffer so much, whether I stay or whether I leave him? Is there a way I can help him understand and acknowledge he needs help, for the sake of the children?
16th October 2023 at 7:37 pm #162413BananaboatParticipant
Hello, my heart broke for you reading this. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to say this but you can’t ‘help’ him see his behaviour is wrong or accept he needs help:
– he knows what he’s doing
– that lovely guy you crave isn’t the real version, it’s the love bombing mask that he knows is the version that keeps you hooked & forgives the c****y version,
– knowing bad times are coming, and he’ll be nice again is all part & parcel of the cycle of abuse. This cycle releases chemicals into our bodies that we unconsciously become addicted to.
– Walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting him is intentional and he’s dimming out you & your kids personalities, and controlling you
– excusing his behaviour because of illness, stress, childhood, etc is our brain doing something called cognitive dissonance to justify the bad times
– his words do not match his actions – his narrative of being a great dad/partner/human being don’t match your/your kids experience. Just because he says it doesn’t make it true,
– he’s projecting his bad behaviour onto you, the gaslighting etc which makes you question yourself & forgive him
– you’ve tried talking to him and he doesn’t care, worse he twists it to make himself the victim and you the villain
This is all abuse. If you haven’t read Lundy Bancroft’s book ‘why does he do that’ I think you’ll find it really helpful. You sound like you’ve done so much to make it work but unfortunately nothing except full compliance is ever good enough in abuse, and even then they’d get bored and discard you. You deserve more, what advice would you be giving if your child had written this about their husband/wife? Looking at it like that might help xx
17th October 2023 at 8:11 am #162419EyeswideopenParticipant
Hi, I’m so sorry you are going through this. As the above answered, it is abuse and there is no hope of change.
My story is similar to yours as in I felt sorry for his childhood trauma and felt responsible for him, looking after his needs like a spoiled child. Things got increasingly bad, also me doing all at home, main bread earner, trying to get him to (detail removed by moderator), while he got further controlling, doing less and everyone walking on eggshells not to trigger him. Also more and more emotionally abusive towards kids. When I decided to leave, he at first seemed to acknowledge he made mistakes, then went on to promising change whilst using all sorts of tacticts to make me stay, from (detail removed by moderator), threatening suicide, extreme crying and then love bombing. When nothing changed my position, he strated to escalate into being physically aggressive towards me. It took me a long time to navigate the divorce alone, keeping everything under wraps as I knew the worst that could happen would be for his mask of being good to fall, these are very proud men who need external approval and respect to feel whole. He’s been out of the house now on his own for a few months and he absolutely hates me, blames me for destroying his life and family, thinks I betrayed him for not sticking with the promises I did when married, and continues to try to control me via kids. He says I’m the n**********c because now only care about me, and says I dont deserve (detail removed by moderator)… Sadly there’s no easy way out but even though life is still hard, it’s sooo much better as I don’t have to deal with him most of the time – it’s just the little I do, comes with tension, abuse and gaslighting.
I have finally opened up to more people about what happened and still does, and think I should have done it sooner. I felt embarassed and also still the need to protect him. I still fear for what he could do if something triggers him again so am extremely careful about what I do outside home (he has asked to have no contact with me as I am bad for him, but if we have to agree something for kids, he takes the opportunity to check where I am, with whom, doing what, and if he doesn’t like it, it can cause abuse etc). I now have a red flag at police, installed cameras, locks, and am with dv, mental health and solicitors support, plus family and friends aware so I can take my next steps carefully and making a plan B ready for non mol and childs order if things continue to escalate.
It’s not great, and people who havent experienced abuse don’t understand why I dont just shut him out completely and live freely, but things have to move slowly so he gradually gets used to a different life and finds alternative sources of supply. I still help him financially even if I carry all the kids expenses and day to day, as he only sees him when he feels like it and I cant plan ahead as its always last minute. My kids are teens so can manage most of the communication with him and that puts an extra burden on them but at least they are free from witnessing and suffering abuse most of the time. He is a bit better with kids since, as he fears losing them now, but kids are resentful of his attitudes and sometimes face up to him, which he then blames me for poisoning them against him…
I guess I’m sharing so you know what the future could be like, but hope it doesnt discourage you.
I’m a much much happier person and I am confident I will gradually earn more freedom until he is a faint memory.
I understand how it hurts as I also held on to the good and have so so many wonderful memories with him, but it cannot excuse the bad and just the fact we have a right to separate if things arent working for us anymore, abuse or not.
18th October 2023 at 3:30 pm #162460
Gosh, your story sounds so much like mine, also in terms of what’s to come. I am very concerned about his behaviour escalating when he realises there is no way back for me. This is why I started by telling him about my feelings a while back, as a first step, to ease him in gently, to get him used to there being a problem and preparing him for the next stage. So a bit like you, again.
I have started speaking to two very close friends though, because I need their support and because I know I might lose them otherwise as he is so convincing, comes across as such a great guy, such a catch, to everyone. No one would guess what is going on behind the scenes. Our whole life and how well we have done, and especially how well he has done, has been a lie, so waking him up and crashing the dream is bound to have consequences. I have an appointment with Fearless in a few weeks time, as I feel I need to know my options in case it all goes very bad…
18th October 2023 at 8:54 am #162452
Thank you so much, both of you, for taking the time to share your stories. They read as if they could have been (or will be, in future) written by me, in that they describe all my thought patterns, fears and predictions. I almost feel as if I need to wait for something worse to happen to be justified in making my decision, but you have made me realise that I am not the only one whose partner is not necessarily ultra-violent in actions, but certainly in words and that this is bad enough. This is terrifying, but extremely helpful, to read. I am so sorry that you have been and still are in this situation and I wish you all the best of luck…
18th October 2023 at 5:20 pm #162467wildandfreeParticipant
Your story is so similar to mine also. For a long time I hoped the ‘nice version’ would come back and I could keep my family together. I thought I didn’t matter as long as my children were happy. I was so wrong. I was a shell of a person, existing but not really living. I realised I was setting a terrible example for my children, I wanted them to see a mum who was actually living. Is this the kind of relationship you want them to have themselves? For their longterm futures, it sounds like you need to make that break. And for your future! You deserve happiness too!!
Bananboat above made some really good points. They are choosing this behaviour. If he is not like it to everyone else he comes into contact, then he knows what he is doing. If he is anything like mine, he will try everything in the book to guilt you into staying and put all the blame onto you for ‘breaking up the family’. Don’t believe him.
Good luck and stay strong. x
20th October 2023 at 11:50 am #162513
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond, and for your advice. I wish you all the best and hope that you are managing to get your life back.
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