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That's terrific, Alison. I would try my best to keep it up even if it doesn't work out quite so perfectly the next time. These are well-worn behavioral grooves, especially for him. It is probably much, much easier to get angry with you than it is to examine what is going on inside and figure out what is really going on. Picking a fight and blaming it on you has served him for a long time and it is very possible that this may be two steps forward, one step back for a bit. But, I also think the more you can work on not taking it personally when it does happen, it both helps him by taking the wind out of his sails and helps you to not get knocked off balance by his emotional turmoil.

And it is awful that his colleague is sick. Is it Covid? We brought in grief counselors to my work after the death of my colleague a couple of months ago, and one said something that really stuck with me (I don't know if I mentioned it here or not, but I will because I think it is relevant to how your husband may be feeling). That usually if someone passes or is very ill, it is something that happened to them. You can imagine also getting cancer or in a car accident, or that happening to a family member, but it is still not a shared experience. In this pandemic, Covid is happening to all of us. We are not only sad or concerned about our friends who are impacted most severely, but the anxiety for ourselves, our children, our parents, etc. is very real and gets more intense the closer it gets. So there is a lot to process with the pandemic and friends getting ill, beyond the usual. (And even if it isn't Covid, someone being sick right now with anything could probably trigger a similar set of feelings.)


Me (46) H (42)
M:14 T:18, D9 & D11
4/19 - 12/19: series of escalating BDs
9/20 - present: R and piecing
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It is covid, yes. H is in medicine, front line with sick people - and it's been pretty awful for him these last few months. So when I talk about him being tired and crabby - well - he's often a total arse, but I think he should get a LOT of slack right now. I'm in medicine too, but in education, so there's no health risk to my work and I am mainly at home but I understand his role. This is the first time H has mentioned to me that one of his colleagues is sick - I am sure there have been other cases, but not that have required this degree of medical intervention. And I also know he is AWFUL at dealing with fear and anxiety, so I am going to be very gentle in the way he likes it - which is me giving him lots of space.

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This sounds pretty positive Alison, you not taking his stuff personally and giving him what he needs. It must be really tough for him, though sometimes after years of negative behaviour you wonder how many excuses a person can need...
Hugs for lockdown 2, I suppose at least your kids are at school now so you don't have so much time to spend on educating them or nagging them to do work? It's kind of a relief having schools open, and part of me feels jealous of people like teachers who can go see PEOPLE and talk in real life! Working from home is tough even if it has its compensations, I hope you are managing to go for walks with the odd friend to keep some semblance of social life going xx

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Hello Dilly! It is nice to hear from you again.

yes - kids at school, and both of them getting themselves there and back now, which means my working day is a bit less interrupted. I am finding it tough working from home - I need more people around me - but you know, we have our health, are quite stable financially and it is extremely unlikely either of us will lose our jobs so I can't complain too much (though I do).

I know what you mean about excuses. Though I think I disagree. I don't like how he deals with his bad feelings, but he's entitled to them - his work is pretty traumatic and has been all year. He's often 2-3 hours late home on a shift (and yes, I do know he is actually at work and not with an OW) and is physically and emotionally exhausted. None of which excuses him being mean to me, but it does give him a really really good reason for needing more recharge time than he generally gets. And I can choose how involved I get in his bad feelings. I wish he'd turn to me rather than away, but that is how he's made and isn't something he's doing to be cruel.

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Here is my weekly update.

It has been mainly a good week - the kids are very happy and the atmosphere in the house is good. We've not done much together as a couple or a family other than dog walks or film nights - but that's because of lockdown and I think just getting through these dark and rainy days is enough right now. We're still slowly getting the house ready - some DIY and painting and similar - and all that is going well too.

There was a difficult moment early last week - we were in bed, H had tried to initiate but it really was not going well - I don't think either of us were remotely into it, and I felt (this might be mind reading) that he was just doing his duty, and I find his utter lack of desire a real turn-off, so I wasn't really responsive either. He kind of turned away from me and turned the light out and I said, 'can you just hold me and say that you love me?' - there was this very very long silence, and in the end he came out with an extremely personal, nasty thing related to sex that just took my breath away. It really really hurt. I know he felt inadequate and anxious and he was on the defensive, lashing out because he felt criticised, all the usual stuff, but it was really horrible. He hasn't hurt me like that in a long time. I told him that it hurt, that it was unacceptable, and that was no way to treat someone you loved, and if he didn't love me he had no business getting physical with me. And I went to sleep.

The next day he was extremely apologetic, which is new: he will apologise now and again, grudgingly (he actually apologised to Eldest for being sharp with him the other day - which is UNHEARD OF) but it's never really heart felt. I could actually tell the next day that he did feel pretty terrible. He said he felt anxious, criticised, never good enough in bed, etc etc. I said I could empathise with that, and I wanted to do my part in sorting this out - whatever that took - but him lashing out was hurting our marriage and making it even more difficult for me to feel trusting in him. I really really hate his nasty streak, and it's been a while since I've seen it and that unpleasant reminder that it is there was pretty sad for me this week. But he's been affectionate and kind and patient since then, and not made any excuses, and that helps a bit.

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hi Alison,

Wondering how the incident and his apology are sitting now, a few days later. I know it has been some time since you've seen that side of him and it has to really feel terrible. But.... I also wonder if it had to happen again for him both to experience true remorse and field a real apology to you, and for him to see that even though it happened, you were able to handle it with maturity (I love that you just told him what was what and then rolled over and went to sleep), and that you two could repair. maybe this was the last gasp of that kind of behavior.

Hope you are well,

M


Me (46) H (42)
M:14 T:18, D9 & D11
4/19 - 12/19: series of escalating BDs
9/20 - present: R and piecing
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Hello May

thank you for asking! And yes, I do feel a bit better about it than I did. On balance, I can see how much effort he is making and I do understand why he'd feel so easily criticised and so sensitive about sex. I wish he understood that if he prefers me to be direct, but also experiences me asking for what I want as criticism and responds to what be believes as criticism by lashing out or withdrawing, it leaves me absolutely nowhere to go - but he just can't get there yet. I can't help but feel taking the whole sexual relationship off the table for a while and getting some therapy would help us more than keep trying and getting bruised. I was extremely firm with him the next day - I said something like 'the days when you get to be nasty because you feel hurt are over - you damaged our marriage nearly beyond repair with that behaviour and I won't tolerate it again - find another strategy' and he was more receptive than I thought he'd be to that.

I do find his relentless sensitivity to perceived criticism exhausting though. I really do. I was reading something online last night about how friendship and the way we do friendship has changed over lockdown. I said, just out of the blue 'hey, who is your best friend these days' and he got really weird and evasive with me, refused to engage in the conversation (I was chatting to him about how strange it was to be WhatsApping my friend when she was in hospital with her new baby - that I'd never have expected to talk to her so soon after the birth in normal times...) and got really snappy. Later, he came to me and said I'd hurt his feelings by deliberately mocking, humiliating and teasing him in front of the children about his difficulty in making friends. I guess as I am noting the positive, it is new and positive that he would actually come to me and tell me directly how he felt and what was wrong, rather than just lashing out, or sulking for several days, or going on some random tirade about how often or not I was cleaning the bathroom sink.

I know for a fact I had no such intention at all - I was just idly chit-chatting with him about something I'd been reading. I said 'I understand how you feel, but what you think I was doing, I was not doing and I had no intention of doing - it wasn't even remotely in my mind,' and now I wonder if I should have just validated? I basically made a conscious decision to stop validating that nonsense as it seemed to reinforce all the fictions he had about my feelings views and intentions, and while that might be good as an emergency move during separation, we're in piecing and I refuse to live in a marriage where I am not able to say 'no, you are making assumptions about me and my motivations that are wrong, and come more from your own issues than my behaviour, and I won't adjust my behaviour to make room for your neuroses.'

I don't know what the right thing to do is here. It's less common than it was, but he still seems to have this really deep seated persecution anxiety that must come from a low self esteem, and it comes out as him assuming that every time he feels bad, I must have done something to cause it. It is showing up more regularly in our sex life - if I don't ask for what I want, he presumes I am not interested, and if i do ask for what I want, he presumes his performance is being criticised. But the same dynamic is at play, I think, in the weird conversation we had about friendship and his reaction to it. It is all about his anxiety and sensitivity to criticism. I don't want to pander to that, because it is toxic, involves assumptions about me and my motivations that are totally untrue and for me, just exhausting. It also gets in the way of closeness when he's so suspicious and defensive and, if I am being honest, it makes him very difficult to respect. The victim mentality is massively unattractive, and the occasional nastiness that it seems to result in makes me want to be nowhere near him.

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Hi Alison,

Thinking about your sitch a bit... I still think that taking sex off the table for awhile wouldn't be a bad thing for either of you and could clear the decks for you two to build up something new without all the ghosts of these interactions right there. maybe you could consider it like a partial separation just within this particularly difficult context? I know it helped you both a lot to physically separate, and I wonder (as long as he didn't feel like you didn't want to sleep with him anymore because he was no good in bed, or something) if just taking a break for a while could help here in a similar way.

It does seem like your H has some pretty significant self-esteem issues. That has to be difficult for him, and also difficult to tamp down his familiar behavior of just lashing out at you and instead going to you to say how he feels, even if it seems ridiculous to you. So I guess I do think it would be helpful to reinforce him for taking that step and talking to you about it, and validating him is probably the very best way to do that.

Regardless of whether his feelings are rooted in his own insecurities and really have nothing to do with you, or if he thinks there is any validity to his complaints... I think letting him be heard and feeling that you understand how he feels is an important step to him ever getting past this behavior with you. I'm not a psychologist, but I wonder if he started to voice his fears to you, put them out there in the real world, feel that you empathize and understand him-- if that might start to bleed the fear and anxiety that live within him of some of its power. And feeling that you're in his corner 100% would probably also help him to tamp down those fears as well.

It seems to me that consistently telling him "these are your problems, not mine" was a very important step, in both helping you to be safe from his spew but also forcing him to look inward at what he's feeling. The fact that he's doing that now AND sharing how he feels with you seems a huge step to me. But if he continues to get the "this is your problem, not mine" response from you-- the same response he got when he spewed... I'm not sure he'll continue to share with you.

As someone who doesn't have to live the situation, it does seem like he's much, much better than he was a year ago. He's changed a lot. I'm especially impressed with his improved R with your eldest. Heartwarming.


Me (46) H (42)
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Hi May

this is really good food for thought. I struggle to see how I would suggest we take a break from sex without him taking it as a personal criticism - given that he takes pretty much everything as a personal criticism - but perhaps anticipating his feelings isn't really anything I need to or should do right now. I feel reluctant to do that without there being a next step involved - like seeing a therapist or reading something together and again, I can't think of anything that I'd be able to suggest that he wouldn't read as criticism or manipulation. You can see I am a bit weary with his attitude or sensitivity on this.

I get totally what you say - trying a different, more giving approach now we're in piecing and how he is articulating his feelings much better. I am feeling a bit bruised right now. We had a really nice night last night - he came to me and was keen and eager and very loving and while the sex itself didn't do that much for me - he really didn't bother to do anything other than please himself, to be honest - he was very affectionate and nice and I appreciated him being open about his needs and feeling close like that, so it was fine. This afternoon he snapped at me in irritation over something and nothing - I'd left the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard - and I told him not to speak to me that way - and he started one of his really really nasty rants, including references to sex, with gruesome, childish and pretty explicit hand gestures. It was his real nasty side, out in force again. I was really blind sided - tears came to my eyes immediately - and I asked him to be kind and gentle with me. This never ever works and I wish I hasn't bothered. He just carried on with his nasty tantrum, while I stood there crying and asking him to be nice. In the end I snapped and said, 'oh, so this is the real you - you can be kind and respectful to me when there's something you want from me' (he knows i was referring to the sex) 'but once you've had that, you don't need to keep the act up anymore?' and he laughed at me then I went into another room.

I am trying to note the positive here, and it does exist, and in all kinds of ways things have improved - and you're right, with Eldest and him it is like a totally different relationship the vast majority of the time, and I really appreciate that. But there's still this nastiness in him - a really vile, vindictive and horrible part of his personality. I try to tell myself it's a defense mechanism he uses when he's feeling threatened, but I can't seem to exist in the same place as him without threatening him some days, and I don't want to be vulnerable to his nastiness ever again, and quite a lot of the time he feels utterly justified in it.

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Originally Posted by AlisonUK
Hi May

this is really good food for thought. I struggle to see how I would suggest we take a break from sex without him taking it as a personal criticism - given that he takes pretty much everything as a personal criticism - but perhaps anticipating his feelings isn't really anything I need to or should do right now. I feel reluctant to do that without there being a next step involved - like seeing a therapist or reading something together and again, I can't think of anything that I'd be able to suggest that he wouldn't read as criticism or manipulation. You can see I am a bit weary with his attitude or sensitivity on this.

I get totally what you say - trying a different, more giving approach now we're in piecing and how he is articulating his feelings much better. I am feeling a bit bruised right now. We had a really nice night last night - he came to me and was keen and eager and very loving and while the sex itself didn't do that much for me - he really didn't bother to do anything other than please himself, to be honest - he was very affectionate and nice and I appreciated him being open about his needs and feeling close like that, so it was fine. This afternoon he snapped at me in irritation over something and nothing - I'd left the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard - and I told him not to speak to me that way - and he started one of his really really nasty rants, including references to sex, with gruesome, childish and pretty explicit hand gestures. It was his real nasty side, out in force again. I was really blind sided - tears came to my eyes immediately - and I asked him to be kind and gentle with me. This never ever works and I wish I hasn't bothered. He just carried on with his nasty tantrum, while I stood there crying and asking him to be nice. In the end I snapped and said, 'oh, so this is the real you - you can be kind and respectful to me when there's something you want from me' (he knows i was referring to the sex) 'but once you've had that, you don't need to keep the act up anymore?' and he laughed at me then I went into another room.

I am trying to note the positive here, and it does exist, and in all kinds of ways things have improved - and you're right, with Eldest and him it is like a totally different relationship the vast majority of the time, and I really appreciate that. But there's still this nastiness in him - a really vile, vindictive and horrible part of his personality. I try to tell myself it's a defense mechanism he uses when he's feeling threatened, but I can't seem to exist in the same place as him without threatening him some days, and I don't want to be vulnerable to his nastiness ever again, and quite a lot of the time he feels utterly justified in it.


WTF you women on here driving me fuching nuts. In what world do live in when the most important person in your life other then you kids verbally assaults until you’re in tears and it is viewed as progress????????


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S:15 D:11

�Happiness equals reality minus expectations�- Magliozzi
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