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Married to a shift worker

Community Member

My husband just won't listen to me. Nothing I say is getting through. He is so aggressive when we fight and really attacks me instead of the issue. He is moody most of the time because of his job. I am moody at times because I'm pregnant and a young mum. He also had thyroid issues he is trying to resolve with diet as he doesn't want to take medications. 

We have been getting counselling this year. The psychologist recommended he sort out the thyroid first. We keep having the same old fight - he thinks I don't like his family and am unequal with how much they see my kid.

he doesn't see that each time he brings up this argument that he is choosing them over me. I like his family. I have always gotten along with them. Yes they are sarcastic and I don't really get that, but I get on fine with all of them. I have had multiple issues with his mum who has her own demons (Anxiety etc) and since marrying her son I am the new scapegoat for when she feels life is unfair. Her comments to my husband or father in law are fired like bullets by my husband.

I work 2-3 days a week and my mum takes care of my child. He is their first grandchild but 5th for my in-laws. My parents work minimal hours and are available most days/nights but the in-laws have full-time jobs (and MIL is a weekend working shift worker). This means they're just not available to babysit more often. Their home is also not equipped for our son's age, they are used to older children now. His MIL has admitted this to me. My parents have a dedicated nursery. 

I have struggled with depression in the past, and it's mostly because of being relocated by the police without support networks. I don't want to keep having the same fight over and over and I'm tired of feeling used by my husband when he decides to be nice because he wants something. He knows he needs to get out of the job but it won't happen for some time. He is looking to change departments into something more family friendly.

i am really struggling. While i love him, I hate being attacked so often and feeling so unheard. His claims are so ridiculous that it infuriates me and I ended up hitting him tonight with a toy in anger. I feel so bad about it but don't know how to be heard anymore. I wish he would realise how much he is hurting me. I really need advice because I'm too much of a coward to do anything drastic to get him to hear me. I can't do this anymore but divorce is not an option.

sorry for the essay!

8 Replies 8

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hugs Mrs Senior Constable. Thanks for reaching out and explaining how you feel. Your post wasn't an essay - it was a really good way for you to let us know how you feel and also express yourself. It's great you were able to do that.

I can hear the desperation in your post and can understand the frustration and hurt that is happening with your husband, I can also see that it's leading to anger. A pretty crappy situation at the moment 😞

My Dad had an overactive thyroid, that made him an absolute bastard to live with. He was like a different person because normally he's so loving and kind, it was like Dr Jekyll and Mr evil dad! So I reckon what your psychologist is saying about sorting the thyroid out first is very wise.

Has the psychologist given you both any tips on how to communicate to diffuse the tension?

Are you able to let his claims wash over you and when he has had his say, tell him you love him and that you love his family as well. 

Another approach might be that when he is being nice and wanting something, perhaps that's the time to be gentle and let him know how upset you are, explain how you feel, just as you did at the bottom of your post, that you feel so unheard, you love him so much and you don't know what to do to be able to reassure him that there's no problem with his family.

Your health, emotional and physical (and your baby's) is paramount at the moment. I wonder if a visit to your own psych might help as well. 

Stay in touch, take care.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Mrs Senior Constable

As I read your post I just thought "being heard" is such a common trait across all relationships, after all no two people are actually compatible its more to the degree of understanding by each that makes it work.

Families, mixed families previous kids relationships its all a bit of a recipe for over anxious feelings and stress if you ask me but your not!

working stress and being tired all the time without spending any rested, refreshed quality time together as is important as spending time alone doing things close you your heart but guess what there's no time! am I right?

back to being heard, when I was a gun sales coach with coca cola and I had to confront a customer/owner whom just wouldn't listen and run around silly all the time I would have to get them out of that environment to be heard! Comfortable environments that people have and will continue to act a certain way is very hard to break but changing the environment will evoke a different response. There's a great saying I love "if you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got" so from a 25+ year shift worker not out, its never just right but it can always be better.

When you do want to say something to anyone, and you want to be heard you need to connect - we have a body, mind and soul - physically we connect touch them, mind is intellect so listen and acknowledge find someone else thoughts interesting and they can ignore yours and the emotional side can connect also by general caring and nurturing doing something you know means a lot to them will also make them look like a dick if they don't listen to you!

anyway I'm no expert just had to much experience and 78 jobs in 41 years and I like counselling but it's like a good GP you don't realise a good one till you get one and they make a big difference in your life! I spoke with different therapists of the psychologists type from Darwin, FNQ, Melbourne and Adelaide and only one helped the problem and I know thats because they are very good at what they do! funny world huh?

another great exercise I was given was to list ten things each day that I am grateful about my partner and what you love about them, try this what I and others found was nothing short of a mini miracle.

 Take care, let me know how you went?

Cheers Aaron

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Mrs Senior Constable, welcome here.

Paul has highlighted some things I also thought of so well done Paul. Like him I didn't think your post was an "essay".

I have worked in many law enforcements jobs but none were police work. Security, council laws officer, dog ranger and private investigations. Many were shift work and I can honestly say that now I'm no longer working shift work I'd never ever do it again. The effect on my moods were dramatic. However I also had a number of mental illnesses I was then unaware of, like anxiety, depression and bipolar 2.

I've often imagined the stress levels on members of the police. Unaware of the nature of their next radio call for a job/assisting other members, drugs, violence along with (I'm guessing) friction among their ranks. Frankly, it is a way of life- no less. They are among their own even after hours, for few of us commoners accept them. Pity, they do such a great job. But you know all this.

I've explained that because this heavy personal burden they carry downloads to their partners, kids and so on. Everyone in the family pays a price. That's no his fault its just fact.

Ground rules. Most important. Both of you need to come to agreement on these when you are in the right mindset, calm and relaxed, preferably alone together.

1st ground rule- during an argument neither person leaves the property. time out is a basic right. After say 30 minutes the first person to feel they want to make contact approaches the other to offer them a drink. If accepted then calmly try to talk. If it isn't then it then becomes the other persons turn to ask to first one for a drink when they are ready and so on. But neither person should follow the other during an argument. This has worked well with my wife and I. 20-30 minutes is often enough to calm down and regroup our emotions.

2nd - faith. Faith that your partner is telling the truth. They see things differently but their honesty should never be questioned.

3rd- throwing a toy at him was wrong, in fact it is abuse. It is also humiliating for him. There is no justification for any violence on either side.

4th- Paul touched on reassurance. During the quiet calm times, reassure your love for him. You can never tell him too many times.

5th - Passion. Hobbies. Things to do outside his profession. Better still, that you can do together. eg Friends of mine bought a boat and they go fishing.

I hope this helps. Take care.  Tony WK

Community Member

Hi Mrs S.C.  Boy, you and I could be twins except you're married to a policeman, mine was a prison officer.  The amount of problems they face are unbelievable.  Your husband faces the criminal element in all their aggression, so did mine.  Mine has left the job after 25 years (we're not together either, just for the record).  Also problems with in-laws don't help.  Has your husband explored the possibility of leaving the job, that's the first thing to look at.  With his job (as with my ex) it's so full-on, it's mentally challenging, my ex wasn't allowed to exercise much in the way of discipline, I don't know much about how far the police are allowed to go dealing with unsavoury types. He would come home after a 12 hour stint, that uptight I couldn't speak to him.  That coupled with dissention in the family i.e me and his m/d made for a very unpleasant home life.  Like my ex, every time you have an argument over his family, you are forcing him to make a decision that he can't make.  My ex is so emotionally dependant on his parents for their approval in everything he does.  You're right in that every time he visits his parents, he is giving them permission to continue their nastiness.  If you read some of my posts entitled frustrated, you will see how similar you and I are.  I've been forced to leave my ex because of this.  While I don't advocate leaving as a way of dealing with an impossible situation, with me, this decision was made after years of this treatment.  I did not give him an ultimatum, I just said that all the hurt I'd been dished out, I was giving back.  Because of his choices re: m/d I had to make an unpleasant decision.  I had always said m/d would NOT drive me away.  There's no winners, no losers, just impossible living.  We don't have children, but are you doing yours any favours watching you and their father fight.  You have your children to consider.  They love you both, whatever happens don't put them in the firing line.

All the best.  Sorry there's no easy answer to your situation.  It took me years to get up the courage to leave. 

BB helped me tremendously with their unwavering support.

Community Member

I would suggest you take some time out to gather your thoughts and work out a plan to resolve these conflicts. You sound tired and depressed. Could you go to your parents for a few days? During this time you could arrange to get some counselling to decide how you want to resolve this. You could also rest and let your parents help you with your child. Your husband is not listening to you and things are further complicated by your in laws. You need some boundaries around yourself about what you will and will not tolerate. If your husband is committed to making your marriage work, he will need to understand that you need this time. Your husband also needs to take responsibility for his thyroid problem, see a specialist and take the appropriate medication. It rarely gets fixed with diet. This is not fair to you and you sound as though you can't take much more. Please take a break to gather your energy.

Hey Paul,

thanks for such a kind reply,  brought me to tears. I realised today the black dog is definitely back and I need to get some help for me too. I'm going to the GP next week. She is awesome and hopefully I will get it sorted. A long letter outlining my feelings really helped my husband hear me better but he still won't do anything about the thyroid.

To someone today he said how grateful he was for all that I do for our child and how he should show more appreciation. I really hope this happens because I'm tired of feeling guilty for asking him to help with chores around the house and getting a sullen refusal. I don't like living with a teenager in a man's body.

The Psych gave us lots of communication strategies and  they work well when we both use them; not so well when I am the only one using them.

I guess it's just about slogging through the hard stuff. It's supposed to be worth it in the end, right?

Hey Mrs SC,

Thanks for the update, nice to hear from you. I'm really glad you've realised that mutt black dog is back and have booked in to see your GP. Good stuff!

It's awesome you were able to write your feelings down and have your hubby read and process it. Sometimes communication is such a bloody art, especially with someone who can be a bit off or distant. I guess we get a bit like this too when the black dog visits. My mode is to hide in my bed and not really talk to many people unless it's via text. I guess your hubby has his way of dealing, especially with the thyroid out of whack, but the letter and his acknowledgement is definitely a really positive thing.

I wonder if when there's a good moment with your hubby and the communication strategies are working if it would be ideal to let him know how upset you feel about his thyroid. Maybe telling him you love him too much to let some stupid thyroid problem get in the way. It could be a topic to broach once you've seen your GP and you have some strategies in place to kick the black dog.

It sounds like you've had some small victories and are taking it step by step. This stuff is hard and sometimes it's a tough slog  having our own black dog to deal with and also other things that challenge us. Perhaps the question of whether it's worth is will be so much easier to answer once you've seen your GP and the black dog is tamed.

Hugs - bring on the small victories! I think it's key, they add up quickly!


Hi Mrs SC,

I'm glad you are progressing even slowly. We often get here situations that present the comment "you can lead a horse to water but cant make hi drink". You husband not doing anything for his thyroid is yet another example.

I hope you stay with him. We all however have our limits and you will know when your buttons have been pushed beyond your toleration levels. But an auntie many years ago commented on her husbands chain smoking and grunting at her rather than answering normally. "Well that's just your uncle Trevor and he'll never change so I don't worry about it anymore". Clearly it used to worry her. But when she said that it was 1971 and she had 7 kids to him....little options then. I'm highlighting the "easy goingness" that some people adopt to survive in their relationships. Not easy but worth adapting for peace of mind if you can

Tony WK