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How to manage a partner who consistently blames
My partner of over 12 years has quite severe mental illness. In his early 20's he was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar. (Now in his 40's) In my experience, I don't feel that he suffers from Bipolar disorder, but possibly BPD. We have 2 kids together. The reason for my post is due to the consistent theme throughout our relationship, being blame and lack of personal accountability. He has very intense emotions that can last hours at a time (when things don't go the way he thinks they should) and he doesn't manage these emotions effectively. He has a very hard time empathising with anyone else's perspective/feelings and in turn, he blames. Huge long story that I couldn't possibly fit in a post, but to bring it to the present day, I keep getting blamed for his unhappiness, his struggling relationship with the kids and also our relationship problems. He feels lonely and his self esteem is very low. He keeps pushing me further away by blaming me, yelling at me and trying to solve problems using anger to get his message across (he says he does this because if he asks nicely, nothing changes, even though in reality that is not the case) I have been reading and trying to learn how to respond to his intense emotions, using empathy and understanding, to set boundaries for myself by letting him know that I feel that he is blaming me and it hurts my feelings, that I understand why he feels a certain way. He automatically gets angrier and insists he is not blaming me and I'm just trying to blame him and make everything all his fault. But when he says "if you just stayed out later that wouldn't have happened, if you'd just went to bed instead of getting in the way, I would have more time with ....., if you'd just send the kids to bed earlier, we wouldn't have these problems, if you'd just do this, this wouldn't happen. It is clear blame and his way of trying to understand why things are the way they are. He tends to come around eventually and apologise. I want to work on breaking this cycle, but don't know how best to respond. So much more to the situation, but I'm hoping to hear some suggestions on the best way to respond to this consistent blame. He also blames the kids when they don't behave in a way he would like or they don't want to do/enjoy what he wants them to and it greatly affects their self esteem. I want to better learn how to respond in a calm effective way. FYI He sees a psych and I'm waiting for my appointment. Seen them in the past also.
A well written post.
Sometimes you can reverse comments to suit the situation. EG "if you had put the children to bed earlier...." can be met with "if you knew that then you could have suggested it earlier of put them to bed earlier yourself"
Also you can say
- there is many people lonely that join groups like mens shed, rotary or sporting groups to find company
- I'm not raising my voice so why are you?
- Your anger appears to me as dominance....please stop and be calm
- (if you are seated and he stands) Please stop towering over me, take a seat
- "if you just went to bed..." - I'll go to bed when I feel I want to
- Please dont start any sentence with "if".
I have bipolar. Life has extreme frustrations, my main enemy. Such frustrations can easily and instantly overflow, thats when the blame game comes about, its a feeling like the world is to blame for being this way, you being the closest person to him cops it, unfortunately. This cycle does have to stop. Even though mostly it has in my relationship with my wife, it still lingers. It's inground. So any improvement is a plus. What we dont have is any dominance over either of us. That's is crucial to happiness. Equality.
When my wife and I first dated 11 years ago we came up with a strategy with arguments. We hated them going on and on. You can read it below, if both of you commit to those rules then you could settle arguments quickly.
The following would be of benefit to you. You only need to read the first post of each.
I hope that helps
Thank you for your response.
I have had a read of the threads.
Your suggestions are helpful.
I find that when I respond, my partner will just keep going with the blame, stuck in a cycle of thought and cannot see anything wrong with the way he is thinking.
I am very empathetic, buy do lose my cool when he keeps going on and on and on.
I'm trying to keep home a calm happy place, but find it very difficult to do so, when my partner always seems to be upset.
He doesn't see me as his carer, but in reality I often feel like I have 3 children, one with a severe mental illness. My eldest pre-teen child suffers anxiety also.
He can function pretty well when he is feeling good, but it is usually short lived. Walking on eggshells often and a trigger can happen at anytime without warning.
He also makes threats of suicide when I set personal boundaries, if it is in protection of his bad behaviour.
I often let him know that I care for him and love him and I understand that his behaviour isn't intentional and acknowledge his positive steps towards change.
It feel like it doesn't make a difference and find myself in the same predicament over and over again.
We will be attending couples counselling. I feel this is a last resort for our relationship, as I know that I can't live with the frequent stress anymore. It affects me greatly.
Sorry if my reply is a bit disjointed. I'm typing on my phone and my children are seeking my attention in between writing.
Thanks again for your response.
Counseling can help, essentially all of your concerns must be raised.
Threatening suicide is unacceptable and very harmful. His temperamental persona is making your household unpleasant. Your eldest anxiety is the result.
I think you're on the right track to self preserve and install boundaries.
Although you are a team you have individual rights that should not be violated.
welcome to the forum and thanks for starting this thread which many reading will relate to.
Tony has sensible and useful suggestions.
I was in a relationship where my partner was always right and as I didnt wnat conflict I would sgree I was to blame. If I pointed out some of the alternatives Tony did, he would say its because of your condition( I have bipolar) and then say I think you need more medication. I dint but it made me not stand up for myself as I felt patronised.
I sometimes think if people are struggling whether socilaly emotionally or mentally they may find it easier to find fault in another.
If your partner does aplogise eventually that is more than mine ever did, Even if there was evidence he needed to apologize he would just sulk for hours and not talk to me.
I hope the counselling helps and you may also consider seeing someone on your own what ever you decide to do.
Thanks again for your feedback
It is such an awkward position to be on the receiving end.
Reaching out again, as I am extremely frustrated with my partner.
I find that anytime I try to bring up working together as a team with household chores, finances etc. he ends up feeling depressed. I am more than reasonable and understand his illness will at times affect his ability to function. I make this understanding very clear.
It doesn't seem to make a difference.
He gets annoyed at me, says that he has enough to deal with and doesn't need extra things to do.
He even stated that I was high maintenance because I expected that we both do a reasonable share of house work, financial contribution to family expenses and care of our children.
It makes me feel like I'd be better off if we separated.
I am very over his lack of personal responsibility.
Even though he does try hard to work on change, he often complains about it and I'm left dealing with everything more than I should (been like this for over 11 years)
I end up avoiding talking to him about anything that requires discussing partnership responsibilities, because I get the same negative, overwhelmed reaction every time.
I'm over feeling alone in our relationship and taking the brunt of the family responsibilities.
Any suggestions on how to manage this? Or just some 'I feel you' responses from people in a similar situation.
No resolve/change, in your partner will fester the issues. I see two options
1. Plan to leave in the most agreeable friendly caring manner
2. Continue with your insistence of 50% chores with a new approach e.g. ignore his reactions. Regular mentions of your desire to separate if things don't improve. Give it a few weeks.
Sometimes we can't change people's attitudes enough to satisfactory levels.
Hello OWO, and a warm welcome to the site.
I agree with Tony, suffering like this for 11 years with your partner, exhausts your ability to get any help from him and you need to decide how to approach this situation as suggested, as it's only reasonable that the workload should be shared 50/50 to ease the burden.
Whether or not you feel as though he might be in need of seeing his doctor, then you could suggest this to him, a chat with them will decide if he is in need of some counselling, if, however, he doesn't agree then perhaps as you have suggested a separation may change the situation.
It's never an easy decision to make because it involves financial expenses in regards to your relationship, but we can certainly help you out in regards to this if that's your decision, so please can you get back to us when you're available.
I can see how exhausting and frustrating for you. As I wrote in a previous post it is so difficult. I also found that friends and family thought he was so wonderful and didn’t see the other side of him that blamed me for everything.
Geoff and Tony have given you supportive suggestions. We are listening and we do care..
I wonder have you had the couples counselling session and how did it go?
You are very understanding of your husband but also you need to look after yourself and your health.
If you can let us know how you are going .
Thank you all for your responses. Much appreciated.
I am setting personal boundaries to protect my mental health and have also started seeing a psychologist again to assist with managing the situation.
My partner has a lot of hard work ahead of him in order for our relationship to continue.
He doesn't have any coping strategies for dealing with life's stresses at all. He gave them up (Alchohol, cigarettes and marijuarna) which is a huge accomplishment. But as he has never learnt to cope with life stress, just used substances to mask them, he is left in a near constant state of feeling overwhelmed, depressed and irritable.
Myself and his mother feel that he has undiagnosed autism, which I feel is why he has always struggled and has lead to the depression, anxiety and possibly BPD.
He has been seeing a Psych now for about 4 months. 2nd time since we've been together. Last time was 4 years ago for 6 months
Due to the waiting list, we have had to wait 2 months for our couples sessions. The first appointment is late in May, which will be an initial assessment, followed by a treatment session the following week.
I'm wondering how he will cope, as he is easily overwhelmed and any time he feels that he is the cause of a problem, he starts self loathing and having suicidal thoughts.
I personally think he needs more professional support.
I honestly don't really know what more I can do. All I do know is that I can't continue with the way it has been. I need respite and so do my children.
I'll make sure I check back here after the couples counselling session. I'm hoping it will be a positive experience and provide some clarity for a way forward.