husband inappropriate response?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by TerryJ2, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I've been in counseling due to my husband, difficult child and my own "down" moods for about 4 mo's. Part of it was anger and anxiety due to difficult child--you know how you dread the weekends when they're all home? And then husband would go out of town and leave us and that made me resentful, and then when I'd finally get time to myself, I'd be too frazzled to do my own work and it would just sit. The counselor said it was situation induced depression, or some such phrase, that indicated it was caused by something(several things) rather than something physiological or innate.

    Anyway, I can't recall what prompted it, but I finally told husband about the counseling and you know what he did? He got all angry and then teary eyed. I was hoping he'd say, "I'm so sorry you're going through this, what can I do to help?" But said, "So, you didn't trust me enough to tell me. Blah blah."
    Just like my mother used to do.
    It suddenly became all about him and his needs.

    I told him, "That is exactly why I didn't tell you. These were my issues--and you made it clear that you thought difficult child and I had our own issues--so I went to take care of my needs and get some instruction and tools."

    "Now I feel like a failure."
    "You're not a professional psychologist."
    "I know that but ... I can't believe you didn't tell me."
    He got very whiny and personalized everything, and I got upset and said, "This isn't about you. I was hoping you'd support me."

    Then he got angry and said that's why he doesn't like to say anything to me because it's always the wrong thing.
    I told him that was definitely the wrong thing, and he could easily learn to simply say, "How can I help?" but he got even angrier and clammed up and it turned into an argument.

    He is always high on caffeine and spins around like a top. I told him that, and that it makes me nervous. For awhile, he slowed down his speech and waited for me to indicate I could talk (I wasn't holding a kettle of boiling water for dinner and couldn't stop to talk at that exact moment) but now he's back to his normal pattern. It exhausts me to be around him.

    We went to counseling yrs ago for marriage issues. He changes for 6 wks and then backslides, so over 28 yrs, nothing has changed. He's still a workaholic.
    He was raised to think you provide the $ and house and that's all you have to do.
    It's not like he hasn't been "taught" or that we haven't done role playing.

    The counselor said to build myself an invisible plexiglass wall so that his neediness and excitement, and difficult child's anger don't get under my skin. Just let it bounce off. Easier said than done! But I'm a visual person, so sometimes I can really pretend there's a plexi wall there and it really does help ... sort of like watching TV. She also said I should stay calm and and hold my ground, by repling, "That is your opinion. I disagree." No extended conversation, just a simple statement.
    She told me I need to be more assertive when it comes to our schedules and try to rein husband in when he comes home with-a list of outside activities. (Actually, when he gets umpteen gazillion political invitations in the mail, I sometimes accidentally make them disappear, and then find out he's gotten duplicate mailings at his office.)

    She has lots of other ideas which are very good, but they are, of course, hard work and take practice, as you all know, since most of you have been through it.

    Anyway, my main thing is, what would you want your husband to say if you told him you'd been going to counseling?
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This sounds like a dysfunctional/co-dependent type relationship to me. Probably common to a lot of us with difficult child's who have tried to find ways to cope with everything and maintain some stability with each other- in my humble opinion. I don't blame you for feeling the way you do- this sounds like my mother/family, too. Can you get husband back into counseling with you? I was told by a therapist once that my mom was that way because she looked to other people to fill her emotional needs and to remind myself that I was responsible for taking care of myself emotionally, not her. I've tried to find gentle ways to let her know that she should take steps to take care of her own emotions, but this hasn't gotten very far!


    Good luck! At least you're going to a counselor and it sounds like that is going well- keep us posted!
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I go to therapy but my situation may be a bit different since I have such different issues.

    My husband has known since the day I started therapy. The big challenge was when my therapist wanted me to invite him to join us for some sessions because of some issues involving "family" ie him. There are things that arise in our lives simply because either my diagnosis's get in the way or he blames things on my diagnosis's. We need to work these things out.

    I have sat in therapy with him and cried while he stared at me and said things like he cant believe that I didnt trust him enough to tell him how I was feeling about situations. Well...thats just me. I dont trust anyone that much. It took an outside person to mediate the situation.

    Did it help? We are working on it.
  4. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    If my significant other told me that he was in therapy for months, I would be hurt. That would indeed be my first reaction. I would not be upset at him going to therapy, I would be upset at him feeling the need to keep it from me. I do not believe that your husband's reaction was inappropriate.

  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I am with BBK.

    Although, I do understand your point about it seemingly becoming all about husband when he expressed his hurt feelings.

    If he was going to counseling for a problem you had no idea about, wouldn't that make you wonder what else you don't know?
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Another vote with BBK. First, I'd be hurt that I wasn't told. Then I'd be furious and hurt that I wasn't trusted enough to be told.

    Give it a little time and try to explain why you went without telling him. Don't use "you" words, use "I" words. If you become accusatory, you're going to get his walls right back up. I know you would if you did that to me. Sorry.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'd also be hurt about not being told. I'd wonder why I wasn't trusted with the info. That's me, though.

    But even with being told up front, my husband reacted the same way when I went to the psychiatrist and therapist for myself.

    My husband has a major problem making everything about HIM to begin with. Which was the primary reason I saught help elsewhere. When I tried to talk to him about anything he always got whiny and acting like he failed and then turned it all around so it was about HIM and not me. Ugh.

    The good thing was that by the time I went for help I was to the point of telling husband to just "get over himself". lol These were MY issues and unlike HIM I was facing mine head on.

    Then I ignored the following drama that ensued until he grew bored. And gave it up.:bloodshot:

    Sounds like you have a good therapist, though. I use alot of those practical methods in dealing with both husband and difficult children alot.

  8. fedup

    fedup New Member

    This is a timely post for me. I just had my first counseling session. I have not mentioned it to H, simply because he has so many of his own issues, and so far has refused counseling period. He thinks it is hocus pocus or something. At least I am dealing with my issues.

    I believe that H would probably feel slighted and be negative about it. He might possibly attempt to make it about him.

    I would be nearly ecstatic if H told me he was going to counseling. He has several issues that could be dealt with in counseling, and I think his frame of mind might just be altered if he would give in to the need.
  9. OTE

    OTE Guest

    No opinion on the topic. Individual therapy is great but for the kinds of things you're talking about, DBT class is better. DBT class is sort of teaching the same skills but in a structured way and a heck of a lot more of them. One therapist may give you 2 or 3 ideas but you'll come out of DBT class with 20 ideas written down with your own notes to self.
  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Marriages are a lot of work. Some periods my husband carries a bigger portion of the load and others I carry a bigger portion of the load.
    I do not want husband to fix my problems and I don't fix his. I will ask advice. I want him to listen make suggestions and talk to me like he would his good friends who ask advice. When he runs into a problem that is obviously of his own doing, my comment is "what are you going to do about that?".
    To say your relationship is dysfunctional co dependent is a unfair based on this one episode. Humans are flawed and marriages are not equal. I try for fair. Like I said different times require different strengths.
    Situational depression is a normal response to a difficult child. Your husband doesn't need to take it personally but to love you enough to reinforce that you are doing a wonderful job. Situational depression is normal when your spouse tends to think the world revolves around him and his "all important job". I don't make light of bringing home the bacon. I am grateful that I have options when it comes to working from home or going into a job. However making a home for husband and doing much of the home/family things so husband can be free to pursue his career is important and has value.

    Ask your husband to love you and to look at the big picture, stop being 100% self absorbed and work on being part of a team. His interests are important to him but there must be a list of priorities. He must contribute more than income in order to be in a loving relationship with his children and his wife. It's pretty simple.
    Good luck. Find your balance between the kids, the husband, the home and the work you want to do. At least that's what I think and what I try to work towards. My husband travels and works many hours. We struggle to find enough time to do what we need to stay connected but after 25yrs we are a work in progress.
  11. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    This is why I DON'T get counseling. I don't WANT to discuss it with husband and I don't want to listen to him telling me how he feels I don't go. I admire you for going for it! Ya know, whether you're married (joined at the hip) or not, some things should be just for YOU. We're adults and it seems like half the time we have to explain our actions. NOT!!!
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow. What a variety of responses. My head is spinning.

    So, for the sake of argument :smile: assuming this is a co-dependent relationship, he's supposed to take care of his feelings and I'm supposed to take care of mine ... but how to express sympathy and even empathy with-o taking on the other person's stuff?

    Klmno, do you see that we are both doing the same thing? Just curious, because I can't see anything right now!

    In regard to not trusting him enough to tell him, my husband doesn't "Get it" and never will... I haven't posted anything specific, but heck, here goes ... my mom was an alcoholic and 3-4 nights a wk, we 5 kids were subjected to screaming, yelling, slamming doors, breaking things, sobbing, emotional scenes, getting no sleep (and consequently, falling asleep in class the next day) and a dad who told us to cooperate to "keep the peace." All of her emotions were legit. Ours were garbage. She needed help and didn't get it. Back in "Those Days" you never whispered a word to anyone about anything.

    My husband's family swept everything under the rug. His parents didn't drink, they worked and did the corporate family thing. Everything was about education, intellect, and community service. If there was a serious issue at home, you ignored it. Everything was called a "chemical imbalance" and science would provide the answers. Period.

    Imagine the two of us, married. What a combination!

    Add a difficult child to that.

  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    If he was going to counseling for a problem you had no idea about, wouldn't that make you wonder what else you don't know?

    Wendy, yes. But he knows I've been depressed. HE's the one who told me to go on medications (and a few people on this bb) and HE's the one who told me that the issues with-difficult child were just between us.

    So, how surprised could he be that I actually followed through?
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I guess I need to understand the situation a little more. Are you going to counseling BECAUSE of some of the behaviors of husband? Or did you start off going for difficult child reasons and it sorta smeared the line and went to husband? (No answer necessary to me, just think about it)

    I think a mature response on your DF's part could have been; "Wow, I wish you would have told me, what can I do to help?" or even "Honey, what's going on that's so out of whack you didn't want to tell me?" Not "Oh you don't trust me, whine, whine."

    I don't think it's his shock that got you, otherwise you would have just kept going and not told him at all. I think what got you was his whining? Maybe like "Great I tell him something about ME and he makes it a federal issue about him as USUAL." If THAT is what you were thinking, then I'd explore it in counseling.

    You can't go back 8 weeks and tell him what you've been doing and why. You told him today. For whatever reason you felt the need to keep it from him makes me think that there is more to be dug through on YOUR thoughts about him. It's nothing against him in your mind, you just needed time to sort things out without the reaction maybe you KNEW he would give you.

    Yes, I think that you should have told him up front that you were going. But maybe you didn't JUST for this exact reason of how he reacted to your telling him now. If that's the case then maybe you both should go to counseling. Your last lines say most of what I think is why you didn't tell him about your need to talk to someone - you said you went 28 years ago, he changed for 6 weeks and then became the same person he was. You called it backsliding - I call it the way he was when you married him and he ain't gonna change. (maybe)

    When I went to family counseling it was to keep my family together so that everyone had an equal share to blow it out of their blow hole and get things off our chests so we wouldn't fume longer than 6 days over a behavior. If you continue to fume over time you get resentful, resentfulness turns to anger, anger turns to hate, hate to loathe and loathe to separation. (in my humble opinion)

    If things have been building up for that long there are choices your psychiatric will explore with you I'm sure. I was told my choices were cope or leave. I chose to stay and work at it and there are days when I walk away from him with my mouth open doing a silent scream (but I'm sure he does the same with me) we just don't say ugly things to hurt the other. could invite him to your session. I did. And he ended up coming with me for the last 2 years. For a man who had NOTHING TO SAY....he sure took up his 1/2 of 60 minutes each week, and felt better for it. (honest)

    This too shall pas
    Hugs Star
  15. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    I saw a therapist last year, and I didn't tell my husband, either, at first. I think I finally told him around the third visit. I didn't tell him at first, because whenever I brought up the subject (that I thought I might be depressed), he thought it meant I was unhappy with him, which was far from the truth. I think a lot of men think if their wives/so's are unhappy, it's their fault and they have to try and fix things.

    As far as what response I wanted from my husband, we did discuss some of the issues that came up in counseling (he never went with me, but I didn't ask him to, either), and I thought that was helpful. He's not into discussing feelings, so I didn't really expect him to be very helpful in this area. He wants things to be okay, the quicker, the better. I've come to realize that's a reaction to HIS childhood (he was a foster kid from age 8 to adulthood), and I accept that about him. It doesn't have anything to do with not caring about difficult child and/or me. It's just the way he is.

    One thing occurs to me now that I think back, though. I remember deciding to go into therapy because I was getting extremely angry with husband, and I couldn't really pinpoint why. He hadn't really done anything to deserve that kind of anger. For some reason, he was the target of my irritation with the things that were bothering me. Once the depression lifted somewhat (through medication, in my case-the therapist and I never really clicked), I wasn't so angry with husband.
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, all.

    I did invite husband to go to counseling with-me. Just thought I'd clarify that. But I just invited him this weekend, after I'd gone several times to pursue avenues he wouldn't "get" or which did not necessarily relate directly to difficult child.

    Yes, you are correct on many points.

    We did go to counseling, for a couple of yrs. This was b4 difficult child came to us. Our issues were in regard to our marriage, intimacy issues, just spending time together and being alone. husband doesn't like to be alone. The bigger the group, the better. Whenever we had problems, he always said I was stressed from work, or that I wasn't getting enough sleep. Now it's difficult child. It's always something else or someone else. Never us. He always avoided discussing us. If he asked me my goals in life, for example, and I'd think we were talking about dreams and fantasies, I'd name off some things, and he'd say they weren't specific enough and he'd turn it into a biz discussion. We're always on diff wavelengths.

    Does this help explain things?

    He does try to "fix" things. A very "guy" thing to do.

    In regard to his not getting it, up until a few yrs ago, I'd freak at a couple things he did that reminded me of my mother. Possible PTSD. He said, "I was robbed at gunpoint once in an alley. I got over it. Get over it."

    I would never dream of telling him to "get over" being robbed.

    In addition, how do you compare that to a mother who is supposed to nurture and care for you and does just the opposite, for 20 years? He went home to his mother after being robbed and she was the best mom in the whole world. We both still miss her.

    He sticks his head in the sand with-our difficult child. It's the way he was raised. But I have seen him change a bit because I have insisted on it. I just wish the changes would stick.

    It's for all of us, not just for me. But yes, I can and have explored some of these issues with-husband.

    Thank you.
  17. hope1990

    hope1990 New Member

    TerryJ2, sorry I don't have any advice as the last several weeks I myself am considering counseling, and I probably won't tell husband.

    Right now I feel nothing but empty. Some is from before difficult child and some since. husband was raised to work and provide, to him that meant for him to be home working and providing even when I was hospitalized, alone, having surgeries for ectopic pregnancies. Fast forward to a few weeks ago he came home in a huff acusing me of willing to walk all over anyone to help difficult child. Hello, difficult child spent 4 days in jail because I refused to bail him out,(husband was not going to discuss difficult child at all), difficult child's friends bailed him out. husband shut down about difficult child long ago, I have had to be the one to deal with it all.

    I just know that I am tired. He deals with alot of physical stuff outside, we farm/ranch (although I am out there also hauling grain, hay, helping with cattle, etc.) It seems that is where he thinks his job ends, he no longer goes to IEP meetings at school for second child, does nothing in the house to help, and is no help emotionaly or spiritualy.

    This isn't how I thought my life would be, and I don't think my expectations were that high, but I did think there would be more depth. I guess I just got the "depth" perception wrong! HA!!
  18. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    I haven't read all the responses, so forgive me if I'm being a bit redundant.

    husband didn't agree to marriage counseling until over a year ago. We had an intensive 7 months which helped our marriage in my humble opinion survive.

    Having said that, when I went to counseling before husband agreed I learned to use words that weren't "accusatory" when discussing therapy. Of course, husband knew I went - he had no interest in the whys or wherefores.

    I started using some of the things I learned in therapy; however I never ever made "you" statements. It's hard to relearn your pattern of speech, but I had to do it, knowing that my husband has/had issues of his own that he was working on.

    It helped the situation when I went from "You" to "I feel" when expressing concerns about our relationship or something that was on my mind about husband. So when husband expressed something in a tone of voice or tried to avoid a topic I learned to respond "I feel that something I've said has made you angry - help me to understand" or something to that effect. Instead of "you make me so angry"....."I'm angry over what you said; help me figure this out please." It was an invitation for discussion in a calm manner.

    It really helped - especially when husband wasn't attending counseling with me.

    I know this may sound goofy - it works though. husband is using the same tone of voice & wording with me. Otherwise, many conversations come out in a very angry or bitter tone of voice.

    Terry - hope things settle down between you & husband. There's a lot on your plate right now.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, he really sounds confused. It really sounds like everything he says or does is designed to come back to being about him and his needs.

    He's upset you didn't tell him; but you ARE telling him. Then when you try to bring it back to why you took yourself to counselling, because he felt you had your own problems, he then says, "See - that's why I don't like telling you anything."
    So it's alright for HIM to not tell you things, but it's deeply wounding for you to not tell HIM? Sorry, this doesn't wash.

    The counsellor's advice is probably about the best thing you could do - don't let yourself buy into husband's dramas - but you have to know it takes a lot of effort to break old habits. You've already said husband has never changed despite many attempts in the past to get through to him; what about you? Are you also as unable to make changes? I do think her suggestion is a good target. You don't have to instantly achieve total detachment, just aim for it. With a man who keeps trying to make it always all about him, it's probably the best defence you have, to not take on board the negativity he keeps throwing at you. And by not taking it on board, eventually he must realise that the ball is still in his court, you haven't accepted ownership of anything he's thrown at you, so he has to acknowledge it at some level.

    My husband HAS known about my going to counselling in the past. But I know I'm lucky, he has always accepted that I make these decisions for a good reason. He MIGHT say, "Why didn't you tell me before?" and if I hadn't, I might say, "I just needed to do this as a private thing; I was afraid that if I discussed it too much I might chicken out, and this is something I feel I need to do, in order to be more available emotionally for you." And with my husband, he probably would be upset I didn't tell him before, because he knows we don't have problems on this issue. But even if he did - we should be able to get past the "you didn't tell me," and onto "Why did you feel so bad that you went to a counsellor without even feeling you could tell me? Is it something I've been doing?"
    Your husband knows, deep down, that it probably IS something to do with him as to why you didn't tell him before. But this denial thing of his is getting in the way of so much appropriate communication.

    A friend of mine was brought up in a household of denial. She has A LOT of emotional problems and finally plucked up the courage to see a counsellor, especially when her doctor insisted. She came home from hr first counselling session and her husband said, "So - are you cured now?"
    He's a nice bloke, but always making jokes. But because he felt uncomfortable about the counselling and felt he HAD to make a joke of it to cover his discomfort, she never went back.

    Such a pity.

    Your husband sounds like he's put you in a parental role and is now behaving like a spoilt child who can't get his own way, and is now trying to make YOU feel bad for his tantrum.

    In any relationship, there is a degree of interdependence. This is healthy. And perhaps the term "co-dependent" is a bit ambiguous, you would think that having this connection with each other where you do the shopping and he picks up the dry cleaning, for example, would be a good thing.

    But that's not what co-dependent means. From my own observations ( my friend's parents - same friend I just mentioned who only saw her counsellor once) - "co-dependent" is refusing to let any health team people near your husband, to assess the degree of severity of his Alzheimer's, because you need him at home with you so you feel wanted. The wife's increasing blindness, loss of sense of smell so she often served up decayed leftovers, her alcoholism and severe degenerative osteoarthritis should have had her in a nursing home. Her husband's dementia was progressing rapidly, he was going deaf and getting paranoid. He was often physically violent to his wife and threatened his daughter. He would cook the meals but often leave the stove on and food out to rot. Due to his paranoia and her pride, all home help was denied - "I won't have strangers in my house" and "I won't eat packaged meals from the hospital, we haven't sunk THAT low" (they had).
    Individually they both needed to be in care. Collectively, they covered up for each other and refused any medical treatment that risked separating them. because of this refusal, both deteriorated in health and other areas.

    This is co-dependence.

    Co-dependent is when the interconnectedness of your combined dysfunctions is designed to keep each other malfunctioning in order to be able to maintain some faulty status quo. While the old woman COULD have asked for help, it would have meant being separated from her husband and she couldn't get past her fear of what he would do to her when any enforced separation ended. Everything in this old woman's life was designed to keep her husband happy. "Keep the peace at all costs". And for her towards the end, the cost was her own physical health and sanity. Eventually he fell and broke his hip. Both went into hospital. He never came out. She was treated for alcoholism and malnutrition and is now in a nursing home under strict supervision. But I digress...

    Terry, I think your own self-analysis is spot-on. You were raised to "cooperate to keep the peace". "Peace at any cost" is a heavy burden for a child, when any yelling then seems to be all your fault for doing SOMETHING wrong, because the peace has been shattered and you failed to keep it.
    Throw in husband's denial and you have problems. You constantly will try to placate him; he will constantly avoid taking responsibility or even accepting any painful truths. And if he gets upset at being made to see anything he doesn't want to see, your early training snaps in to protect him. No wonder you're now in a parental role! How could you avoid it? Add in his insistence that science will fix it and you have someone innately scared of counselling or any similar "mumbo jumbo". (My in-laws felt the same about counselling - I was scared they'd find out I was seeing a counsellor but deliberately chose to not tell them. They would have reacted like your husband). Your husband said issues with difficult child were just between you two - and now you're spilling your guts to a counsellor. What could you be revealing, about you both, about him... about all sorts of things he doesn't want out in the open. Denial is about making sure anything unpleasant never sees the light of day again, and you're dragging it all out for everyone to see the dirty laundry (in his mind).

    You mentioned intimacy issues - this can also happen when you find yourself in a parental role. It happened with easy child 2/difficult child 2 and e-boyfriend. Kfld has mentioned similar issues coming to the surface in her counselling (posted in Watercooler). It's a genuine problem and maybe if you can successfully detach (and leave the parental role) you may find intimacy problems improving.

    Linda's advice on moderating your language is very good - by changing "you" statements to "I" statements, you then leave it entirely up to the listener, to either get upset or not, at what you've said. When you say something like, "You are a lazy, dirty slob for not wiping your boots off before you walk in the house," the person you're speaking to is very likely to get upset - you just called them a lazy slob. But when you say, "I would like you to please wipe your boots off before you come into the house, I really don't like having to keep cleaning the floor when I shouldn't have to," the person COULD get upset, but doesn't have to.

    Terry, I think you did what you have to do. And I think you have more that you have to do, purely for your own healing. This is going to then challenge husband's way of relating to you, simply because of your changes. Don't be put off by this, I suspect husband is more adaptable than you think. Once he realises you are no longer going to pamper his every whim, he WILL adapt, I'm sure. But it might be difficult for you.

    Hang in there - it can only get better in the long run. And hopefully this will break the cycle for difficult child, too.

  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Depth perception Hope? I love it!

    Thank you Timer Lady and Marg, and all.

    This is going to then challenge husband's way of relating to you, simply because of your changes.

    This is true. He's already upset because he says I'm still angry all the time. But I'm just asserting myself. Now when I don't give up, he says, "You're are SUCH a pit bull!"

    I guess I should take that as a compliment, considering how many yrs I gave in to things!

    As per the counselor, I told him that yes, I am angry and I have a right to be. Everyone has a right to be angry sometimes. To put it in perspective, I said, "What's going to happen if I get angry? Is the car going to blow up? Why can't we tell one another we're angry?"
    Clearly, he doesn't like anything that's uncomfortable emotionally. That's a typical guy thing.

    I will be more careful to use "I" intead of "You." We are both aware of all that psycho-syntax but don't always use it. :smile: