Why Do I try soo hard?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mog, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. mog

    mog Member

    WEll today was fathers day and well we slept in cause we went to church last night and husband and I stayed up watching a movie until 4 this morning which is a big deal since over the 13 years we've been together he has watched 4(well now 5) and yesterday we had a good day for a change but gee today he was up to his old self. I am so tired of being beat over the head and treated bad because his kids don't call him for fathers day. Me and my kids invited him to dinner since easy child had a full day at the church and difficult child slept in and had to go to the 6 pm mass. Anyway, I've been trying to hug and kiss husband and just getting the brush off and when I asked him where he wanted to go to dinner he mumbled Chiles I guess. That is the closest to our house and I told him that it was his day and could go anywhere since we were just talking that we always go to the same place but he was acting like a child. We went to pick up difficult child to go to the restuarant and him and difficult child get in a fight and difficult child tells him he is acting like an a** and I tell difficult child that he can't talk to husband that way and it starts a big thing so we are driving home and husband says to me just go to Sonic it will be cheaper and I ignore him and go to Chiles. We sit down and when the waiter comes I order both of us a beer later when he comes back to the the table to take Our order I tell the waiter that Dad goes first it's his day and he tells the waiter I don't know and looks at me and says what am I having and I say I don't know and like a little kid he tells the waiter well she ordered my drink I thought she was going to order my food. Then husband starts being a jerk to the waiter. He threw a crayon at him. easy child and her boyfriend met us there and as soon as they left husband and difficult child get into another argument in public. come on --when does husband grow up. I tried to make it a nice day for him but he was a jerk to me all day. So now we are home and difficult child took medications and went to bed (thank GOD I didn't have to fight with him) and husband is in the bedroom sulking that HIS son didn't call him. I am tired of this behavior from husband because of his kids even though me and my kids are trying to do something nice for him, I feel like he jst kicks me in the face. Honestly am not sure that this is going to last too much longer. difficult child says he wants to live with husband if we split but husband doesn't want him now and if he is forced to stay with me it is just going to make things harder for me AGAIN. How SAD!!!!
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You and husband ne3ed to talk and tell it like it is - husband has to accept that he is behaving liek a jerk to people who love him, because other people (not related yo you in any way) have upset him. It's like being mean to Person A because Person B has not been polite. Totally childish.

    The BIG thing - it is passive aggressive behaviour, and you are enabling it. You are almost soliciting it in your own behaviour. You try to sweet-talk husband, you try to soothe him to make him feel happy - YOU are not responsible for husband's happiness! And he is behaving like this purely to get you to do this. It's like he's lying there saying, "I am unhappy (not your fault) but I want you to make me feel happy, it is your job."
    And you respond with, "Yes, of course, how can I help? Oh, this isn't good enough? Then I'll try this instead. Oh, still not right? Not to worry, I'll keep defending you even though you're being a jerk and even a socially inept difficult child can see it."

    My father did this sometimes. I learned how to handle people like this, by watching my mother's reaction. Dad learned it form his parents - he was a spoiled youngest child who always got his own way, but my mother was a very capable eldest child of an eldest child, she simply wouldn't stand for it. She didn't argue with him over it, though - instead, she ignored him when he was moping around sighing heavily and trying (without actually saying) to make people feel sorry for him.

    Classic passive aggressive behaviour is to make you play guessing games - they sigh, they mope, they act sad and miserable but DON'T tell you up front what is wrong. YOU are supposed to not only guess, but swing into rescue mode to make him feel better. And because he never told you exactly what is wrong, it's easy for him to never be satisfied, because he can always claim you didn't get it right (because how couldyou if you are only guessing?)

    Once he can blame you for failing to cheer him up, his hostility to the main people responsible can get transferred form them, to you. Now YOU are the reason for his misery. You walked right into it.

    Back to my mother's technique - an example. My father (for some reason) was feeling hard done by and instead of coming inside to talk to Mum about it, he stayed in the backyard and slaved away in the heat. He said nothing but sent out vibes of "I am miserable; here I am working hard for my family and what thanks do I get? So I'm going to keep working away harder than is good for me, in this heat, until you notice how I am suffering and come rescue me to cool my fevered brow."

    I was in my late teens and perceptive enoguh to work this out. Mum said to me, "Dad's in a snit. I am not buying into it, but neither will I neglect him. He can choose when to come in and be sociable. I've made salad for us all for lunch, will you please go let him know that lunch is ready for him now?"

    I went to the workshop to let him know. Mum had already called out to him, "Lunch is ready!" about 15 minutes earleir. My message was brief (according to Mum's strict instructions) - "We're about to sit down and eat lunch. It's salad. Your lunch is on the table too. Will you be in soon?"

    WHat I got form Dad was a grunt with his back turned (hoping he could later on say that he hadn't heard me properly) so I pinned him down and said again, "We're about to eat our salad. Yours is ready on the table when you com in. OK?"
    He grunted what could only be a yes, still with his back turned. Now remember, he was definitely NOT angry with me, but was being rude to me. Even by asking him again, I risked pandering to his bad temper.

    So I went inside and reported to Mum. I expected her to go outside to talk to him, to ask him to please come inside so we could all sit down to lunch together. I had gone to some trouble to make a special carrot jelly as part of the salad platter and I wanted him to taste it. But Mum wouldn't let me go out to plead with him.

    we waited half an hour, then without calling him again, we sat down to eat our lunch. Sitting down without him was unheard of, we ALWAYS ate our meals together when we were home at the same time. But Mum insisted and also said we had to act carefree and happy. She asked me about my uni studies and did her best to sound interested. We talked about family, about people and I know Mum was doing her best to make the scene at the table look completely normal.
    Meanwhile dad was still slaving away outside in the summer heat. He was carrying fence posts past the window and glancing at us sideways to see if we could see how hard he was working. Mum said, "Don't look at him, don't look worried, don't notice him. Just carry on as if he's not there. He's being a big baby and has to work it out of his system for himself. Don't worry, he'll be in soon. Very soon now."

    She was right. Dad had seen that we were sitting down and eating lunch, we had started without him and somewhere inside he was horrified. He had been hoping thta we would be forced to wait (and go hungry) until HE chose to come inside and let us all eat. But we had shown him that we were not buyying into his personal drama, nor were we going to let his drama dictate to our stomachs.

    Within five minutes of him walking past the window and seeing us, he was inside and washing up for lunch. Mum & I were still finishing ours so we were still sitting at the table when he came in to eat. Mum had warned me - say nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing is wrong until HE says something.

    My dad never wouldapologise, nor admit to being wrong. The closest we could get to it was for him to switch back to normal beahviour and never mention any problem again.

    I never did find out what it was all about. But he turned it off like a tap and later that afternoon he and Mum were laughing together over something, sitting together and enjoying afternoon tea.

    My mother always made sure it was a balanced equal relationship. Yes, we had to respect our parents (and show respect) and even if one was wrong, they presented a united front. My mother never allowed herself to be a slave to my father's bad temper.

    I've encountered passive aggressive since then, frequently. I won't stand for it. But I remember my mother's technique and it works. It's like a bucket of cold water in the face of a child who is holding his breath in bad temper.

    Mog, your difficult child was right to be critical of husband's behaviour. He also was shrewd enough to anticipate a spoiled evening, if husband didn't wake up to himself.

    Also, chances are your husband wanted to snap out of his mood, he probably felt wretched about being such a twerp but especially if it's an old habit, didn't know how to stop. He wanted you at some stage to say, "For pete's sake, stop this stupid act!" even it it gave him an excuse to be angry with you.

    YOU are not responsible for his kids not calling him. And if his kids don't call him - why is that? First he needs to examin himself for possible reasons. Is he difficult to talk to over the phone? Do they resent him? Or do they just not think? How good is he, in calling them for their birthdays?

    Kids do forget. I just had my birthday. easy child 2/difficult child 2 was visiting that day but forgot it was my birthday until she got reminded later in the afternoon. difficult child 3 also forgot until he saw a DVD thta husband gave me for my birthday. easy child rang to wish me happy birthday and asked if any of the other kids remembered. WHen she lived at home she would often remind the others.
    So on my birthday, everybody had remembered (except difficult child 1) by the time mother in law dropped in with a card for me.

    A week later difficult child 1 still hadn't telephoned, not about anything. So I figured it was time for me to do something. I rang to talk to him and ended up talking to daughter in law (difficult child 1 had gone out with friends). I told daughter in law that difficult child 1 had forgotten my birthday, but I didn't want to make a big fuss. However, would they please come to dinner the next night? I wanted to have a pleasant evening with them independent of it being my birthday so recently.

    So they came to dinner. difficult child 1 met me with, "Happy birthday for last week, Mum. Sorry I forgot. What do you want for your bithday?"
    I gave him the fairly unimportant list, and we got on with having a great evening.

    Years ago I stopped fussing about important special occasions. I learned thta if you have to remind them, then it's not worth fussing about. Occasions are what you make them into, and if someone doesn't want to celebrate, you can't force them to. Similarly - if you want to celebrate - then go right ahead, you don't need a reason. call it an unbirthday, or "happy non-specific day" or whatever you choose. Keep perspective and remember who is supposed to be the mature one.

    It's difficult to make large changes in how you get on with one another. But always remember - however you and husband relate to one another, your kids are watching. How you treat one another teaches them how to live in a mature relationship. So the best thing you cna do for your kids is NOT run around after him to keep the peace, but in fact make him be responsible in the relationship too. Teach your son how to treat the women in his life. Teach your daughter how women deserve to be treated.

    I am so glad my mother taught me.

  3. mog

    mog Member

    Wow, your right that's hard to swallow. I didn't always allow people to do that to me. I was in a very abusive relationship right out of college and did not even see things like that now. husband is always complaining how difficult child is treating me but he treats me bad too. I don;t always do that sometimes I do tell the kids that he is acting up and to just ignore him and if he wants to eat or participate in whatever we are doing he will have to "man up" in order to do things with us(not in those words).
    I think that now I am trying so hard to keep the peace because I don't have much time left with easy child since she is leaving for college (sad and happy) and difficult child is all we have left at home but I know that husband doesn't like the way that difficult child treats me but he doesn't treat me any better. I have always had to be the bad guy while they were growing up. WE got "his" kids at age 5and 6 and thought I had raised a nice little family until his bio kids starting acting up. They did sooooo much damage to our marriage and now I am the only one trying to fix our family. So much of what you said happened to me at one time in one way or another.
    Every one of difficult child's therapists has told us that we need marriage counseling but he will not go --we have an mst now but he walks out of session any time he soen't like what is being said but I am really tired of being bashed by so many people that i am ready to give up. OHHH it took husband six years to convince me to marry him even though we had gotten custody of "his" kids and were all living together and another two to convince me to give u[ the house I had to buy a house together so that all of the kids would have there own rooms (not that they appreaciated it) because I had been screwed over before with husband 1 and DH2 and was not willing to put myself on the line again--so now all these years later, his kids are gone , mine are here and he acts like he wants out BUT says he doesn't. Sorry took the side train.
    Thanks for the hard to accept truth!!! Now what?
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry your husband punished all of you for what his kids didn't do. have you asked him why he is so horrid to you and the children at home when you are trying to be nice, to celebrate him?

    Does he know he is doing this? I think he may, though he may never actually admit to it.

    I wonder what would happen if you treated him the way you would treat the kids if they behaved that way?

    I think Marg's mom handled that beautifully. It seems your husband got even MORE attention by acting increasingly rude no matter how nice you were. Sort of like he was trying to cause a fight so he could blow up and let his resentment and hurt feelings out in a pseudo-manly way.

    The bit with the ordering was just childish. If you hadn't ordered the beer he would have accused you of not caring and letting him die of thirst because you should "know" he wanted a beer, and what kind of beer at that.

    It sort of reminds me of talking with my mom and a family friend who is a few years younger than she is. The friend, A, was having troubles with her husband,B. Each time something happened at work, or with the kids or whatever B would get all upset and be rude to everyone. If she asked him to stop, or had the kids leave the table or whatever, then he would mope and pout and refuse to speak to her (sometimes for days).

    B would not ever come out and ask her not to do something. Nor would he tell her something bugged him.

    My mom's response to A's worry about the times B didn't talk to her shocked A. My mom asked, "Having him give you the silent treatment is a problem How? A used to push and poke and prod and pamper B every time he did the silent treatment. My mom figured that if he was quiet, then surely nothing could be wrong. If something was wrong wouldn't he come to her like an adult to work it out?

    Not only did this change how A saw things, it enlightened me and has made me a better wife.

    The first few times A treated B this way it was a major shock. It did help stop the silent treatment for them.

    I am NOT telling you what to do, just offering you a different perspective.

    Another thing that might be part of things is that sometimes guys like to go hole up in their man caves and lick their wounds rather than interact and be social. Even when the social stuff is to show appreciation of him it still may be just too much for him to handle.

    Maybe if you asked him if instead of trying to make him feel special that you should have let him go off alone to deal with the hurt? It might help you both figure out a healthier way to cope. I had to learn to give husband time and space if he was upset. I would want to talk and find solutions immediately while husband needed to have alone time to work things through on his own.

    I am sorry your day was not fun.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    He could very well mean it when he says he doesn't want to separate. Why would he? He's got a lot working the way he wants it. So take heart, he probably does still ove you, he justisn't behavingh in a responsible mature way. He's put you in the Mummy role and himself in the hurt child role, and you're supposed to be a mind-reader.

    If he won't go to marriage counselling, then go on your own.

    Some things for you to tattoo onto your forehead in letters of fire -

    1) Each person is responsible for their own happiness. Never take on board someone else's misery. You can sympathise, at most.

    2)) Communicate. Next time he's got the sulks, either totally ignore him (and act like it's any other day and get on with your own life for the time being) or come right out and say, "Talk to me. Tell me what is bugging you. I won't try to fix it unless you also ask me for help, but at least we can talk about why you are unhappy."
    If he responds with, "There's nothing wrong with me," then your response is, "I am so pleased. That means I can get on with what I was doing now I know you're quite content and everything is fine."
    If there is no problem, then he's not allowed to sulk. Be prepared to say this to him. If he says, "I'm not sulking!" then sit down and tell him the list of what he has said or done to make you think he IS sulking. Put it in "I" statements, not "you" statements. Along the lines of, "I felt hurt when you responded with ...". That way he can take it on board or not, and you can always say, "It is how I saw it. If I am wrong, I am glad. But if I perceive your mood this way, then there is generally a reason for it. Maybe my perceptions are faulty. That's just one more reason why I need you to tell me if you're upset about anything, even if it's something out of my control."
    It's the "put up or shut up" strategy.

    3) If you try to keep the peace at all costs, you lose out long term. All good relationships need conflict, as long as that conflict is healthily resolved. Think plate tectonics - pressures build up in the rocks, always. When those pressues are frequently released in small bursts without allowing them to build up dangerously, it is safe and healthy. Otherwise, it can be destructive and catastrophic. Trying to pretend there isn't the chance of an earthquake is asking for more trouble than you need.
    You want to enjoy your remaining time with easy child - then keep all other conflict to a minimum by dealing with it, otherwise it becomes the elephant in the room and nobody enjoys their time because of the unresolved and unadmitted tension.

    4) Learn to value yourself and respect yourself. You deserve respect. If difficult child is to ever learn to show respect to you, then he must see you respecting yourself. YOU set the standard that you want difficult child to follow. You don't have to be 'heavy' about it, no need to shout or get upset (that's husband's department!). Simply be polite but firm. "I'm not buying into that - cut out the sulks and either tell me honestly what is bugging you, or go take yourself off into your shed until you can be sociable. If I have done something to upset you, be man enough to tell me now, openly and honestly. And if I haven't - then get off my case."

    If he has decided he wants to separate, then there's not a lot you can do about it. You will need to be self-sufficient and independent. But if he wants to stay together - you will need to be self-sufficient and independent.

    In the meantime, go do some research on passive aggressive people and how to nip that stuff in the bud. Become an expert - after all, you have a head start!

    hugs, you need it.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    mog, you were trying to be great. You WERE great.

    My grown son forgets to call everyone for everything, but he loves us. When it's Father's Day or my ex's birthday, I remind his wife in advance to make sure he remembers to call and vice versa. Nobody pouts if he forgets--he's 31 and has always been this way and it's not personal. Nobody pouts.

    I would go to marriage counseling even if I had to go alone. Your hub sounds like he is another child you have to deal with and we have enough on our plates to have to worry about adults acting like kids. If it were me, next year I'd let him pout alone. He didn't appreciate your effort.

    There are a thousand reasons why his son may not have called, but no matter why it's not your fault.
  7. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Your husband is acting a lot like my difficult child Sis......she would always be "brewing" for a while underneath a layer of "I'm fine....*sulk*". One of the most important things we learned was not to force her into "mandatory fun". If she was really being a bear on Christmas morning, we didn't force her to come with the family - she'd only make us all miserable, and nothing we could do would pull her out of her funk. She'd come along (she rarely REFUSED to go), but it was like she expected everyone to figure out how to make her happy, and we never could. So she'd totally lose it (throwing crayons? i hear ya!) eventually. And in public. Agh. So we stopped forcing her to socialize when she was not able to do so politely.

    In this case, it was Father's Day, but he obviously was miserable about the fact that it really wasn't a good one for him, because his bio kids were being, well, difficult children. He'd been giving you the brush-off all day, indicating he might not have felt very social. He told you on the way to Chili's that he didn't feel up for it, and suggested just going to Sonic. You "ignored him" and went anyway, and then he acted like a giant 5-year-old.

    It's not your fault, because he's acting like one of our difficult children. His behavior is his responsibility alone. You don't deserve that treatment, because grown adults don't treat each other like that. Has going out with your difficult child and your easy child made him "perk up" in the past? If so, it definitely makes sense that you invited him along with you, despite his behavior all day. I'm just sad that you had such a disappointment. Would he have been worse if you'd just left him at home with some Sonic? (ie, mad at you guys for "abandoning" him on Father's Day?) Or would that have given him time to work it out of his system?
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Eeky- he would have bee worsewhatever Mog decided to do, simply because it's what such people do. They make you guess, and when they want to continue to be miserable they blame you for not guessing correctly (even if you did - but how would you ever know?)

    So what I suggest in these situations - if someone is determined to be miserable whatever choices YOU make, then go ahead and makr the choices tat will make YOU happy, until they communicate sufficiently with you to make it possible to include them in your plans also.

    Mog, it IS OK to love someone like this. And it can be done without having to buy into the psychodrama. Sometimes people need time and space to be miserable, by themselves. Remember that misery loves company but certainly shouldn't be given it.

    If you give him a payoff of attention, it trains him (like a puppy) to behave tis way even more. So instead, let him wallow in his misery if he chooses, but be available for him to interact with appropriately when he chooses.

    Hopefully he will learn, with consistent parenting!

  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Mog, I am so sorry.
    Definitely, go to counseling. Alone.
    You will become more assertive, and your husband will notice, and criticize you. Expect him to be critical no matter what, but just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
    Your husband sounds a lot like my mother.
    If you can continue in counseling alone and keep your chin up for 2 yrs, perhaps you can go out on your own when difficult child is 18.
    Just a thought. It's good to have long-term plans.

    Marg has some great ideas and advice!
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2009