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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello there,

I'm not sure where to begin. I have been married to my husband now for 7 years, and we have a 5 year old son. When I first met my husband, we were having a great time, though we had fairly different personality styles.

Around 6 months of being together, my now husband fell into depression, and he took his anger out on my in what I now see as very passive-aggressive hostility: sarcasm, guilt trips, the silent treatment, insinuations about my character, and put downs disguised as "jokes." Or he would just straight up mock my feelings. Also, other passive aggressive behavior, such as eating things that I had specifically told him I was saving for the next meal.

In any case, I put up with all this nonsense (of course, I thought I was going nuts.), and for better or worse I married the guy and had a child. (yeah, I know.)

We had some very difficult years, but things have improved a lot over the years, to the point that most of those emotionally abusive behaviors don't happen with nearly the frequency that they used to--perhaps because I've called him out on it, I don't know. We've had a lot of wonderful times together, despite our obvious issues, and we both want to work it out--he keeps telling me that he wants to be a family, to be "in it," so to speak.

However, these passive-aggressive behaviors in the past have really undermined my ability to trust him on an emotional level.

I have ADHD, and while I am extrovertive, I have generalized anxiety and social anxiety. He has often treated me with "contempt" for these issues, and though his behavior has improved over the years greatly, these behaviors tend to re-appear when he is under a great deal of stress, such as now (major financial difficulties.)

For instance, just recently, something very embarrassing happened to me, and I've had a hard time getting over it. My husband talked to me about it a bit in the beginning, but when he saw that I wasn't getting over it after a few days, his sympathy turned to judgement.

He came home from work, and could see that I was upset. He asked me why and then when I didn't respond right away, he said, "oh, over the same thing, huh, well I guess I don't want to hear about it." To which I replied "fine, I know you don't agree with how I'm handling it, so let's not talk about it."

About 15 minutes later, I made a comment about not liking something he was doing, and in a very mocking tone of voice, he said "maybe I should just do what you do and cry over one little comment for a week."

I am... very confused and sad. While this is not the first time he has said or done anything like this, and it has been awhile, I feel sad that I am in a relationship with someone that doesn't or can't accept and support me.(and who obviously doesn't accept himself)

I'm not sure what to do. Like any relationship, it's had it's ups and downs, and for the last 6 months, mostly up. I know that some of you would tell me to not be in a marriage with some one who would put me down or be verbally abusive. However, as I've said, there has been much improvement, and this behavior of his seems more likely to come out when he's really stressed--and though I know that, it's very difficult for me blow off these put downs.

I mean, crap-- how sad is it that after years of being bullied in school and criticized by people, I wind up with someone with the same bullying behavior! Actually it's sadly predictable! However at this point in my life, I know that I truly, really, really am, a good person, and I don't deserve it (of course, no one does) and I don't have to accept this kind of behavior, I just don't know what that looks like at this point. Counseling? Leaving (scary idea financially for me.)? Other relationship strategies?

I would love to go to counseling, but we really, really, cannot afford it. The stress in our life is financial, and we had to borrow money to pay rent last month, and we are a month behind on all our bills. I don't know what I'm asking for here exactly, but any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for listening.
 

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For instance, just recently, something very embarrassing happened to me, and I've had a hard time getting over it. My husband talked to me about it a bit in the beginning, but when he saw that I wasn't getting over it after a few days, his sympathy turned to judgement.

He came home from work, and could see that I was upset. He asked me why and then when I didn't respond right away, he said, "oh, over the same thing, huh, well I guess I don't want to hear about it." To which I replied "fine, I know you don't agree with how I'm handling it, so let's not talk about it."

About 15 minutes later, I made a comment about not liking something he was doing, and in a very mocking tone of voice, he said "maybe I should just do what you do and cry over one little comment for a week."

I am... very confused and sad. While this is not the first time he has said or done anything like this, and it has been awhile, I feel sad that I am in a relationship with someone that doesn't or can't accept and support me.
Unless it's a regular thing, I'd try to let it slide. You're both stressed. Maybe he really needed to hear some good news that day too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Unless it's a regular thing, I'd try to let it slide. You're both stressed. Maybe he really needed to hear some good news that day too.
Part of me wants to do just that, but it nonetheless blows my trust. If I don't get over something or my reaction to something is beyond what he "thinks" it should be, he treats me with contempt--eye rolling, telling me to get over it, refusing to talk to me about it--and that is a regular thing.
Secondly, I didn't ask to talk to him about my feelings, so why the hostile put down disguised as a joke? I should let a put down slide?
I don't know.
 

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It's really hard to get over the old stuff when they keep "picking the scab off the wound" with similar behavior- really hard! Been there!

Bad news is he may never develop compassion; mine hasn't.

Good news is your wounds/"buttons" can heal so he can't push them like he does now and it won't take days but minutes to reject disrespectful crap.

I suggest self development. I went back to school and got a new career after being a SAHM for years. New hobbies, supportive friends, and doing things you enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is true that I am sensitive. It's true that I could learn to not let my big red buttons get pushed. But why, why does he "want" to push them? He is a real "goat getter," and I easily get my goat gotten.

However, it pains me that instead of a loving and supportive partner, I have a man who enjoys pushing my buttons. It pains me that I can't really expect emotional support from him. When I am having a hard time, I feel even lonelier, because I know I can't count on him to understand.

I don't know what to do about it. I know I can't change anyone--I've talked to him many times about this behavior and how I feel about it. So what does this leave me with? I believe that the one person in the world who should have your back should be your partner. If they don't have your back, and they don't want to understand you, why the hell are they even with you?????
 

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are you working, too, to help with the financial problems?

I recommend the book, "Dance of Anger" i think it's by Harriet Lerner. It seems like you two are locked in the same pattern of how you argue or deal with frustration with each other. You are locked in a dance step. The basic premise of the book is that you can't change the other person, but you can change yourself, and when you do that, you inevitably change the dance step. It can't be the same anymore.

If he can't recognize how hurtful he is being, and you continue to be bullied by him, even though it's cyclical with his stress, and this situation doesn't change, then you will have no choice but to leave.
You shouldn't put up with/tolerate/accept anyone treating you badly. That's not what happens in a loving relationship.
 

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It is true that I am sensitive. It's true that I could learn to not let my big red buttons get pushed. But why, why does he "want" to push them? He is a real "goat getter," and I easily get my goat gotten.
You can grow to where he doesn't get your goat.

My husband is a button pusher. His family calls it "agitator" and he has been that way for decades...

Now that he can rarely play his button pushing game with me, he spent some recent days pushing the buttons of our 20yod. He pushes, prods, provokes and then enjoys the game of seeing an emotional meltdown... So dd is "out of control" and he is in complete control. Don't let anyone control you like that!

Another dd age 24, has learned so well to take the high ground and preserve her own dignity in the midst of being bullied that she has handled in stellar professional manner a bully Dr where she is a PA. And she is moving on to a new job in a much nicer environment.

Don't know what motivates it but it is a control issue and it will be better for you (and him and your marriage) when he can't control and manipulate you emotionally anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
are you working, too, to help with the financial problems?

I recommend the book, "Dance of Anger" i think it's by Harriet Lerner. It seems like you two are locked in the same pattern of how you argue or deal with frustration with each other. You are locked in a dance step. The basic premise of the book is that you can't change the other person, but you can change yourself, and when you do that, you inevitably change the dance step. It can't be the same anymore.

If he can't recognize how hurtful he is being, and you continue to be bullied by him, even though it's cyclical with his stress, and this situation doesn't change, then you will have no choice but to leave.
You shouldn't put up with/tolerate/accept anyone treating you badly. That's not what happens in a loving relationship.
I'm not working right now because I can't legally here in Canada--He's Canadian, and through no fault of my own, I don't have my residency yet. Long story.

I actually have that book kicking around somewhere, but I speed read things and sort of completely forget the information. I'll dig it out again and give it an earnest re-read! I read a great relationship book a while ago about how one person can heal a relationship--I took the information in that book to heart, and because of it I've been able to let go of a lot of past resentment.

However, my sensitivity to having my buttons pushed or being "mocked" runs reaalllly deep. I was bullied in school and criticized often as an adult by others--I only found out that I have A.D.H.D when I was 24. I am 42 now.

While my self-esteem is much higher now than it's ever been, my reactions to his put downs/hostility, sarcasm, cuts right to the core: my reactions are just automatic. I would love nothing more than to be in therapy, but we can't afford it. It's quite a pickle.
 

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He is emotionally abusive. Canada is full of free counseling for abuse victims. At least in big cities.
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What happens if you fight back?
We had some very difficult years, but things have improved a lot over the years, to the point that most of those emotionally abusive behaviors don't happen with nearly the frequency that they used to--perhaps because I've called him out on it, I don't know. We've had a lot of wonderful times together, despite our obvious issues, and we both want to work it out--he keeps telling me that he wants to be a family, to be "in it," so to speak.
Sounds like pretty good results.
 

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Counseling helped me. I was in early 40's too. I still remember the counselor asking me "Why do his judgements of you matter so much?"

Now it's like water off a duck's back.

You could be perimenopausal too. I was very emotionallly labile during those days. It was good for my marriage in a way because I put my foot down,
very firmly :FIREdevil:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
His judgements matter to me because I want and need to feel accepted by my partner. That can't possibly be a strange need in a marriage! I guess I need to learn even more self acceptance of myself, but surely I would still want to be accepted by my partner!?

However, It's been this way since the beginning, so it might possibly be that that need never gets met, and then I have a decision to make, I guess.

Also, mood 'lability' comes with the A.D.H.D territory. I was born sensitive. Kids targeted me for it from the moment I started school. I was bullied for years because I was completely incapable of shedding mean comments off my back like water off a ducks back. I couldn't do it, and eventually the teasing turned in to physical violence--kids pushing me down, punching me on the way home from school etc. So, this reactivity is just a part of me. I have to learn to manage it somehow, because at times I am a slave to it.

What's ironic and sad, is at the beginning of our relationship, I was telling him a bit about that, and he said "I wish I had been there, I wouldn't have let them treat you like that!"

All that being said, though I shouldn't "need" any ones acceptance but my own, I still have a desire to be accepted by him. If I can't ever have that than what's the point of the marriage?
 

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You saw these red flags and married him and had a kid.

You need your man's acceptance and approval. You need him to validate your feelings. These are not flaws you have. These are your emotional needs.

What are his emotional needs? Are they being met by you? This sounds strange by to help your marriage if you are not meeting his needs you have to start, and you are meeting his needs you have to stop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You saw these red flags and married him and had a kid.

You need your man's acceptance and approval. You need him to validate your feelings. These are not flaws you have. These are your emotional needs.

What are his emotional needs? Are they being met by you? This sounds strange by to help your marriage if you are not meeting his needs you have to start, and you are meeting his needs you have to stop.
Yes, I did see them and I married him anyway--I take responsibility for that, and I am not blaming all of our problems soley on him. However, his behavior from the start really undermined my trust towards him, and I stopped having much desire for sex with the man--and he is damn handsome. It wasn't something that I did to "punish" him, I just completely lost my desire--who wants to have sex with someone that holds you in contempt? So, in terms of meeting his need for sex--not always great.

It feels like a catch 22. I need to feel accepted and respected to have sex, and he needs sex to feel better about me. What can be done here?

It seems like when ever we've moving toward a better relationship and things start to turn around for a while, we get hit with some stress in our lives and this behavior comes out again, and whatever good feelings I had towards him up to that point are toast.

I see that he has tried to be a different guy over the years. He has never, ever, been physical with me. He suffers from depression, and is really struggling with himself. We've had some really good close times as a family over the last year, and we have both been committed to being a family and making it work. I just don't know what the solution is to this seemingly intractable problem is--really the "theme" of our relationship.

I wish we could afford counseling. I really, really do.
 

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Having sex with him won't make him feel any better about you or treat you any better.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

You CAN change your resentment against him. You CAN'T change him. If you can stop taking the bullying personally and realize that he is a broken man (kinda like alcoholism as a disease) then you will be able to enjoy sex with him.

Do you have girlfriends you can vent to? Men like our husbands are unable to provide acceptance, approval, and validation of our feelings. My husband never will be. He knows how to talk that talk more now but it comes across very phony (even though he goes through the motions). I love him for trying, anyway...
 

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OP, one thing that I was surprised to learn in my counseling was that marital partners with an ADHD spouse frequently suffer from depression.

I don't know if this is at all true in your dynamic, but a simple example might be that a husband would try to warm her up for some time alone or a night out, but she will be preoccupied with her anxiety so she won't see it. In turn, she feels ignored when the husband won't listen to her bad day, and the husband feels disrespected because work is the topic and the intimacy is not on the map. As the struggle continues, the wife becomes more and more anxious about the topic, etc.

Please don't think that I'm blaming you for the situation, but just wanted to add to the discussion in case it was relevant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OP, one thing that I was surprised to learn in my counseling was that marital partners with an ADHD spouse frequently suffer from depression.

I don't know if this is at all true in your dynamic, but a simple example might be that a husband would try to warm her up for some time alone or a night out, but she will be preoccupied with her anxiety so she won't see it. In turn, she feels ignored when the husband won't listen to her bad day, and the husband feels disrespected because work is the topic and the intimacy is not on the map. As the struggle continues, the wife becomes more and more anxious about the topic, etc.

Please don't think that I'm blaming you for the situation, but just wanted to add to the discussion in case it was relevant.
Hi there, I don't think your blaming me. It could very well be part of our dynamic at this point--but he has a history of depression. We've talked about his life a lot. At one point several years before we met, he "gave away all his possessions" on the side of the road because he was going to "disappear."

He's always struggled to feel good and to feel motivated. Through out our relationship, his depressive episodes have always been about "what's wrong with me (him)." He has depression that was there long before I was. I've tried to get him to go see a doctor or a therapist, but he'll just tell me he needs to "toughen up."

Also, I am the extrovert in this situation. I'm the one that wants to go out and he, never, hardly ever, does. In fact when we finally do have plans to go out, he usually finds a way to start a fight, and ends up ditching the plan to go out.
I usually go out with out him if I feel like a night out to see music or go see friends. He is only comfortable in small groups where he knows people well. So if there is a dynamic that is depressing him between us, it might be that our needs for socializing are so different. I however, have accepted him for it, and if he takes me out for all the important dates, I'm happy.

He's home right now, and his energy has totally changed. The hostility is gone and I think I'm sensing some contrition. When I see him as actually being scared and vulnerable, I am much more able to forgive the crappy comments.

Also, Blondie, your right about the sex. I think if I can de-personalize his behavior, it actually might turn everything around. However, thinking about how to do this is like thinking about moving a mountain with my mental powers.

Interesting that you brought up the serenity prayer. I've just decided to go back to A.A, and went to my first meeting yesterday, so maybe if I stick with the program, it will help me in my endeavor to change my reactions.

Cheers.
 

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Would your hubby consider AlAnon? A good AlAnon group might your him process the depression and move to a healthier place emotionally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Would your hubby consider AlAnon? A good AlAnon group might your him process the depression and move to a healthier place emotionally.
You know, I'm not sure if he would. He's not much of a "group" kind of guy. He isn't really the one that thinks I have the problem with alcohol. I'm the one that thinks I have the problem. I'm a binge/ social drinker that just cannot for the life of me seem to moderate in social situations--so I'm not hiding bottles in my car or coat pocket, but I do come home blacked out and have hellish hangovers, and last week I had to take care of my terrible hungover state, which is why I decided to go back to A.A.

I think Alanon would be helpful for him, I don't know if he'd go. I could see him going to a "doctor." I've tried to get him to do that, but no luck so far. He's making an appointment for a physical soon and a blood pressure check up, so I'm hoping that if he builds some rapport with a doctor, they'll catch it.

It's a good suggestion though, I'll work on it after some alcohol-free time.
 
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