Enabling triggered behaviours and how to leave
Hi, Married for 20 years. We have two kids, 11 and 7. My husband has always had depression and anxiety, but it’s now worse. He’s not on meds due to side effects (apart from medication for adhd) but exercises daily and sees a psychiatrist weekly.
He is unable to move past a period where I didn’t provide support he needed. I’ve acknowledged I would do things differently now. But I did the best I could. My mum had just died, we had two small kids, he was away 12 hrs/day studying and I was working 4 days a week.
He developed issues with my dad. I thought they’d pass, but in not doing anything he feels I chose my dad over him. Now if I mention dad, it triggers my husband. He calls dad a monster; he’s not. I rarely see dad because it makes things easier at home. Last time I said I want to see dad, my husband said fine it’s over.
My husband is insecure. He asked me to ‘help’ by showing love. He needs ALL text exchanges to include ‘love you’ even if I said it 10 mins ago. I’ve tried to meet these needs; if I forget, I’m met with anger. I’ve dropped the kids at school, a block away, texted they’re ok (since Covid he has anxiety re them) but forgotten to say love you. When I get home, my husband is striding down the street angrily. At night, If I go past him without a kiss and ‘I love you’, I’m met with sighs and anger. This is dysfunctional behaviour, right? Even if he has been triggered?
I think I should leave him, but am not strong enough. I’ve seen a psychologist who was awesome in validating my feelings but I don’t feel like she gave me more than moral support.
I’m unable to take that final step. I don’t want to do that to the kids (he generally is a good father, esp. to our daughter). I don’t want the financial implications. I’ve always been the breadwinner. He’s worked casually at times but since completing his degree he doesn’t get much paid work (he’s in the arts). All we have is because of me; I’ve also done almost all the chores and child rearing.
But moreover I don’t know how to hurt someone I care about. He thinks about suicide frequently. He says he should leave, but on the few occasions I agreed he’s gotten so angry. And I tell him I love him and don’t want him to leave. It’s not a healthy relationship. I keep triggering him despite trying to please him. He feels like he doesn’t belong and unable to trust me because I apparently chose my dad.
should I be more understanding of his childhood trauma? How do you hurt someone vulnerable, whom you love?
Welcome to the forum, it is so lovely to have you join our warm and caring community. Were sorry to hear that you are struggling so much with your relationship with your husband. It sounds very difficult as you appear to be doing all that you can to reassure your husband, yet at times it may in vain. It must be extra challenging to deal with as your mother has passed and we get the impression that mum offered you some support while she was around. Indeed, dealing with your husband's mental illness can be tough and it seems that you have really reach the end of your tether if you are contemplating leaving this person that you love and have loved for many years. Sometimes we need to speak to different professionals and get different perspectives and to obtain more strategies in how to move forward. Sorry to hear that your psychologist was not able to provide this for you.
We would recommend that you get in touch with an organisation called Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. They provide relationship support services for individuals, families and communities and aim to support all people in Australia to achieve positive and respectful relationships. It may also be beneficial in discussing your situation with your husband currently.
If you would like some help finding mental health support, we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. You can also speak to them about what is happening for you and gain some strategies to support you during these decisions. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals.
You are not alone and the community is here to support you. Welcome again and we hope to see you soon.
Frankly I admire you for lasting so long in your marriage. But that doesnt help you.
Re: "Last time I said I want to see dad, my husband said fine it’s over." That is unnacceptable behaviour. You dad is not his dad and you have a basic human right to freedom of such decisions regardless of his perceptions of him or past conflicts. I would never do such a thing to my wife.
Re: "He needs ALL text exchanges to include ‘love you’ even if I said it 10 mins ago. I’ve tried to meet these needs; if I forget, I’m met with anger. I’ve dropped the kids at school, a block away, texted they’re ok (since Covid he has anxiety re them) but forgotten to say love you. When I get home, my husband is striding down the street angrily. At night, If I go past him without a kiss and ‘I love you’, I’m met with sighs and anger. This is dysfunctional behaviour, right? Even if he has been triggered?"
Bazaar but there is usually a good reason for this like- insecurity?. But we cant diagnose but it certainly deserves further attention be it his GP or his psych. The problem is there is often a victim with odd behaviour and in this case its you. That in the least deserves some sympathy from him, but insight isnt in everyone so thats where the battle is.
I dont think its ideal that he isnt earning the potential income he can give. I've seen this on other occasions and the cause is anywhere from general laziness to mental barriers, some excuses reasonable and others just plain opportunistic. Overall the lack of respect towards you and this situation has taken its toll and thats why you've ended up here.
In terms of your children and the ramifications of a separation, remember this- the school principle of my kids when I had to leave the family home were- "children are resilient, more so than the adults". They'll adapt and as he is a good dad, they'll still enjoy him.
I hope I've helped. Repost anytime.
Hello Mrs1979, and a warm welcome.
I agree with Tony, this is a situation where it would be so difficult to have a normal family life together, you can't be subjected to the way he is controlling you, it's not healthy for you and maybe passed onto the kids.
From what you've told us it does take incredible strength to live like this, although it's not acceptable at all, simply because you shouldn't have to walk around the house saying you love him every few moments, that's not healthy and becomes very monotonous for you hoping you've done what he wants.
The trouble is whether or not he's been honest and open to his psychiatrist because that's what he needs to do and the reason why people have counselling so they can overcome what they're suffering from.
You do everything, work, chores and child-rearing, so that's an enormous load on you, and then you have to appease your husband, and if you want to separate or leave is a choice you need to make.
I can't tell you what to do, only suggest, but you need to think about yourself and the kids first and foremost and again as Tony has said, your kids are resilient, they will adapt to what happens.
Hope you can get back to us, as there may be questions you want to ask us, so please do.
Some really good advice above.
If I can offer some experience, from someone who has left, a difficult situation. It is no doubt very hard to leave (it took me 2 years to get there once I made the decision) but that acute time passes and then the other side can be so much better. I wont say it is all a bed of roses (nothing ever is), but it gets better, the more time that passes and a lot of hard work ourselves. What you are talking about is some really problematic behaviour. This is okay if your managing this okay but if not remember there is a lot of life left to live where you deserve to be happy. No matter what, just provide love to yourself and keep remembering how awesome you are and the right path, will come.
In my experience with kids, as long as they know they are loved and it is not their fault, then they often deal with change a lot better than we do. They do absolutely adapt. Yes, it may not be what we imagined for them but kids thrive in a safe and loving environment, no matter what that looks like.
Good luck and keep reaching out.
You are strong and courageous for reaching out for assistance with your matter of concerns. I understand that your partner is experiencing some mental health difficulties, have you take him to a GP to get a health check and care plan?
I imagine that you are feeling over whelmed with your relationship so I would also suggest that you seek assistance for how you feel. Sometimes we become to overwhelmed in our own feelings that we may forget to understand that he might be crying out for support from you which is totally common.
It sounds like he has been traumatized by your father - if this is the case, he has every right to feel this way - it isn't his fault that this has happened and he is asking for your support.
Also, we all have different love languages, no one are the same, we are all different and it does sound like he is more verbal and affirmation - they are his boundaries. This might be an opportunity for you to look up Dr John Grey - YouTube - he wrote the book: Men are from Mars, Woman are form Venus.
Your husband does not have the right to dictate to you if you see your Dad or not. If he has an issue with him it’s up to him to manage it. That’s very controlling of him.
Also being forced to say I love you with every text is just ridiculous. He needs to take responsibility for his own insecurity.
Keep getting outside help, change therapists if you have to. The answers will come.