My abusive relationship - both ways?
this is my first time posting here, or anywhere about this issue. I've come here because I feel that I have no other options at this time and I want to get genuine honest advice about whats going on in my relationship.
Firstly, I would like to apologise in advance for how long this post is going to be. I have a lot to say, although I will try to shorten things as much as possible.
I left Scotland in 2004 (age 24) to start a new job/life in New Zealand. I was single, not very happy in Scotland. (mostly because of the fact my parents had split and my friends were all bad influences on me and I was stuck in a drinking culture that I wanted to escape from) So I decided I was going to leave to start a new life in New Zealand. Hopefully this would help me become a better person who doesn't rely on Alcohol and a drinking culture to live a normal life.
So shortly before I came to New Zealand, I signed up to a Chat forum where you could meet/talk to other people from NZ to ask questions etc on the city you would be moving to. So I met this Girl who I will call 'D' (age 20 at the time in 2004) throughout this post. We instantly clicked and spoke often before I came to NZ. We arranged to meet up when I arrived so she could show me around the city.
Shortly after arriving we met up and we more or less fell in love with each other instantly. We had similar musical interests etc and we started dating after me only being here for a few months. The relationship just kind of happened naturally.
Fast forward 14yrs and we are still together and we have 4 beautiful children ages 10,5, and 3yr old twins.
The problem is that in the last few years (mostly since our twins were born 3yrs ago) things have gotten steadily worse and we often have bad arguments that can cause us not to talk for days on end. I feel that 'D' has changed so much in the last few years. She has gone from what was a loving caring partner, to someone who is very Jeckyll/Hyde. One day I see her natural smile at me and I feel loved like everything is ok, the next day she can act and feel like someone who actually doesn't like me at all and that feels terrible.
Ive told her many times in the past year or so that she is like this and that I often feel unimportant and unloved by her, and she keeps saying, "well I have changed, I stand up for myself now whereas I never used to"
I often say to her that its good to stand up for yourself, but not act like a total bitch to someone.
So recently as things have gotten steadily worse, we have started to do things about it. Firstly we tried to figure out why our arguments happen and what was really going on underneath it all. 'D' brought up the fact that I have been an abusive partner and that she now lives with this realisation and this makes her not be able to trust me in many ways. I have researched this and came to the conclusion that to some degree I have been abusive. Not physically, but in a controlling sense. I've often felt jealous or inferior when she has arranged to meet friends or go places and have given her silent treatment or become depressed when these things happen.
I often shout during arguments and occasionally call her names that I shouldn't that have nothing to do with what we are arguing about.
Many of these things was years ago when I was a very different person. I still drank a lot, socialised through alcohol, didn't feel good about myself, my past, my family or my lack of friends etc.
But in recent years I have changed lots.
I hardly drink anymore and haven't for almost 8yrs now. Occasionally I will go to a xmas function for work and have a few beers, but ive never been out of control for a long time with the drink. I help a lot more around the house these days with day to day chores and I help with the children much more. When we had the twins, I possibly had some post natal depression(yes men get it) as I felt embarrassed by the fact I had twins and had 4 kids. I would not go out in public with them for the first 1.5yrs as I felt terrible like people were all staring at me thinking the worst.
I didn't help with the twins as much as I could have. 'D' had to do a lot where I should have helped too. I did help with some things though, and it was extremely stressful, like bedtimes. We would take 1 twin each and walk around with them from 6.30pm until 9.30pm every night to try and get them to sleep. It was a living hell for a long time.
But in the last 1.5yrs until now, things have gotten easier in many ways with the kids. The twins are 3.5yrs old and my oldest 2 kids (10 and 5) are awesome helpers around the house which makes things easier for us. I feel as a family we have gotten over some big humps, but instead of getting easier and being less stressed, we seem to be getting worse.
Another big factor in the past few years was the fact that I was working in a very toxic workplace for 6 whole years. This was throughout the time we had the twins and I was in a very depressed and negative headspace, so again, I didn't do as much as a could have, but I just wasn't able to. Im not making excuses, just trying to remember all the things that were going on in my life throughout the past few years.
So around 6 months ago, I started a new job, which is the best place ive worked since I left Scotland 14yrs ago. I no longer have any work stress, or any toxic stuff going on from work. No workplace bullying and I feel so happy with this. I honestly thought that with me being in this positive work environment that this would help with the bad stuff that was going on at home, but it hasn't.
My new job has been such a positive influence on me. Im more into fitness now, I speak positively about all my colleagues and it allows me to come home happy every day and focus my positive energy on my whole family. The problem is that my relationship with 'D' is getting worse.
I do still yell in arguments, I do occasionally say things I shouldn't to her during arguments, but on the whole im trying so hard to be a better person, a loving partner, and a helpful one. I agreed to see a couples counsellor with her which we have done twice. Im also reading a book about abusive partners to try and learn about any things ive been doing myself to 'D' without realising it. So im trying and I feel im winning.
The problem is that 'D' doesn't think so. I feel like she has a titanic amount of resentment towards me from the past, that she doesn't trust me, believe me, or even love me much most of the time. She always thinks the worst of my intentions, and she believes im out to sabotage any good things that are coming up in her life (as that's what abusers often do). Im honestly not, but its so draining always getting accused of these things.
Since reading this book on abuse, ive come to the conclusion that I have been an abuser and still am with a few things (that im working on fixing), but I also feel that 'D' is abusive too and does many things that this book says that abusers do. The problem is that she wont accept this and if I say it, she just says 'that's me being abusive by saying that'.
I'll give you all some examples from the past year or so of things 'D' has said or done. (I will also give examples of some things I have done too as I am happy to admit that I have been far from perfect as well)
1/ I was accused of having an affair with a female soccer player who joined my soccer 5-a-side team. (approx 1.5yrs ago)
This was crazy. This new girl who ad just moved to NZ joined our team. She didn't have a car and live directly on the route I drive to get there and back each week. I asked her if she would like a life until she got her own car, and she said that would be awesome. I made sure I told 'D' about it the first week as I had a feeling that she might be weird about it. So that was all good. The problem was that in the weeks after that 'D' wasn't told I had been giving her lifts to soccer, so 'D' went all quiet with me and during an argument she brought up the subject and accused me of seeing this girl.
'D' told me that because the other weeks hadn't been discussed with her, it meant I hadn't been honest and that I was being deceptive. I could believe it. I was shocked. There was nothing at all going on and I told 'D' this. She she ok, but I sensed she never really believed me.
2/ Accused of deleting her CV/Resume (1yr ago)
This one has been the source of so much argument and anger between us. 'D' hasn't worked for years with looking after the kids, but around 12months ago, she decided to go for a part time job which was a work from home type role for the local Homebirth Association Group. when she initially told me about it, I was very happy for her and was 100% supportive of her going for the job. I re-assured her so many times that she could get the job with her past admin skills etc. I could not have been happier or more supportive for her. So then she went onto the computer a few days later to edit her CV/Resume before applying for the job, but she couldn't find it.She looked for a whole hour but still couldn't find it. I then went on the computer and looked for ages and couldn't find it either. I put every USB stick we could find into the computer and still couldn't find it. After this she was very quiet with me and then proceeded to say that she thought that I had deleted the CV on purpose to sabotage her getting the job!
I was stunned and extremely hurt by this as I would never ever do such a thing to anyone. I said to her, "why would I do this after giving you all my support thus far??"
So the next day she started working on a new CV. I offered to help her word her sentences nicely and to make little edits to help her and she even let me help a little and took onboard some of my comments. But still, it came out again that she thought I had deleted it, and nothing I could say could convince her of the fact I never. I even would swear on my sons life etc, but still to this very day she doesn't believe me and openly says so which is like a knife being driven into me every time.
What made things even worse was that the very day of her interview, we had a big row about the fact the internet had gone down and I felt she hadn't done enough to call the company to fix it. She left for her interview angry because of our row, and she didn't end up getting the job either.
In hindsight it was unthoughtful of me to partake in an argument the night of her interview, but I honestly did not do this on purpose. The problem is that Debs feels 100% that I sabotaged her CV by deleting it, and sabotaged her interview by deliberately arguing before it to make her not get the job. she feels that I want to control where, and when she works, which is complete nonsense. I was so happy for her to be going for that job and had not one single doubt or jealous thought or anything negative at all about it.
Ive told her all this, but she doesn't believe me at all. The look of hate and disgust on her face when I bring it up is very sad for me.
3/Unthankful/Ungrateful for good things Ive done (ongoing)
I will start with the 'Yoga Retreat Day'
'D' does Yoga every week. She loves it. Its her 'night out' as my 'soccer' is mine. Its the little things we both do during the week to escape and we love this.
So anyway, 'D' has a Cousin that lives in a beautiful city amongst the mountains and she is a yoga instructor. I noticed on facebook that she was running these yoga retreat days/weekends where you could pay some cash and do yoga by the lakeside in beautiful surroundings.
So I thought, 'D' could visit her cousin as well as get a days yoga in y the lakeside. I turned around to her one evening and said to her that I could pay for a flight there and back the same day so she could fly down there early morning (1.5hr flight) and fly back the same night. She just looked at me and said 'why would I want to do that, if I was ever wanting to do that, I would go on the 3 day retreat'.
She said it in such a hurtful way. I couldn't believe it that there was not even a , 'thanks for thinking of me, but its not ideal'. Nothing like that at all. she just threw it in my face and did not even grasp how hurtful it had been. I explained to her that I felt the 1 day thing would work better with our kids etc, especially the first time and that surely its the thought that counts, but she just repeated the same hurtful stuff to me over and over. I was so hurt by her lack of thanks for the fact I was thinking of her and trying to do something that was a loving surprise for her, but all I got was hurt, felt unloved and had a big row.
So for xmas we normally just buy each other a small thing as we spend so much on the children. I saw this awesome little book that was for a mother to fill out info about her childhood so her children could read it and learn about their mums childhood. 'D' normally loves this kind of stuff as she often talks to the kids about where she came from and what her childhood was like. So I gave it to her and there was very little response at all and it was quite hurtful.
The worst thing was that my mum phoned from Scotland on Xmas night and 'D' even openly said to her, in front of me, 'that she got a book from me that was quite strange'. I was so hurt by what she said to my mum!!
Currently this book has been thrown in with a pile of old junk in the corner of our bedroom and its not been touched.
4/ Silent Treatment/ignoring me or my texts (often)
I totally understand that when people are angry they often need time by themselves, but especially lately there has been some really nasty silent treatment from 'D'. Just the other day, I text her from work and there was no reply for 2.5hrs (which is unusual from her, especially when we haven't fallen out). Not only once, but twice it happened in the same day. I had to text her again to get her to finally answer me. Then I got home from work and I greeted her with a smile, open arms and a hug/kiss, but she was stone cold from the minute I walked in.
I said to her 'are you ok?' and she said that she had just gotten in from the school pickups and that she had had a stressful day with the kids.
Usually when she has these days, she wants me closer, wants my attention, wants my hugs and kisses, but today she just pretended I wasn't even there. I felt awful. I had just biked 11km that day to and from work and was gutted by her coldness towards me when I got home. So I went along to my bedroom for an escape as the atmosphere was so bad.
Leyer she came over to me when I was washing the dishes after dinner and asked me if I was ok, and I said I was really upset by her behaviour, and she just turned it around on me saying that I was the one who created this 'event' because I was blaming her for doing stuff she wasn't.
She told me about 3 different excuses for not answering my text within 2.5hrs ranging from the fact she had a sore head, had a day for herself, could hear her phone, busy with the kids etc
I know it may seem like im the one whos controlling here by expecting a reply within a certain timeframe, but please understand that in out relationship we have always text each other back quickly, unless we were angry with one another.
So I was totally shocked to be the one blamed for the 'event' that day. My texts were all caring messages from the heart, and I came home with smiles and love, to none from here.
I told her that any normal relationship or partner would surely be very happy when their partner came home from a days work and would want even more to be with them if their day had been hard like it was for her. But her reponse to this was -
"well we don't have a normal relationship do we, we have an abusive one"
5/ Games of intimacy (ongoing)
Often 'D' will totally shut me out from any intimacy after arguments or after I have done anything to upset her. Even though she knows that sex often brings us closer together and helps us talk and get the love back, she very often, expecially lately uses this as a pawn I feel.
So after the above event regarding the texts and me coming home from work that evening. It was the next night and things were still awful between us. I told her I was off to bed (about 9.30pm - early for me, as I was so drained from all this nonsense). So at 12.30am, (which is highly unusual for to stay up this late) she wakes me up, snuggles into me and begins to sexually touch me and masturbate me. She whispered to me that we cant give up and we have to get past this hurdle and she asked if I could talk about it. I told her I would rather move on than dwell on it and make things worse. She was still masturbating me at this point and she said that I should talk about it and let her know my feelings. So I told her again how hurt I was by the way she had been on the Monday night.
After I told her, she just argued again saying that it was me who caused it and that she had apologised (actually she said, "im sorry for the way you feel but what what you have to realise is that I didn't do it on purpose" and "you create these events all the time, its what you do" Then she turned over angrily and let go of me.
I laid there for 5 minutes stunned by what had just happened. So she had awoken me at 12.30am, masturbated me, coaxed me into talking, then got angry and had turned over away from me. I then thought , well maybe I should hug her and show her some affection, but when I did, she moved away, pushed my arm away and told me she didn't want intimacy because of what I had just told her.
6/Double standards - this happens a lot (ongoing)
a/ she says that one can never say sorry and then say "BUT" as it means youre not actually sorry and you are heaping it all back onto the other person. I have been shot down for this so many times in the past few months by "D" but in the above situation, she did exactly the same
when I tell her, she goes silent and says nothing, or says its not the same. it makes me feel hopeless, as how can I allow this to continue so its completely unbalanced. I can get called out on things all the time, but she never does.
7/ The sexual double standard/ shutdown
Often, I feel like when I really hit a raw nerve with 'D' she immediately shuts down and says she cant continue the discussion. she will literally just take off out the room and drive away or go outside or go to another room.
So when I said this to her about the masturbation incident she didn't like it -
ME - how would you feel if I wakened you in the early hours of the morning, with my fingers on/in your vagina knowing full well your were angry with me. How would you feel if I did this to get you to talk, then I just pushed you away when you try and show me affection back. Is that acceptable?
'D'- im not listening to this,.... (she then takes off through to the couch to sleep for the night)
These are some of the main things. Im feeling so unloved, hurt, confused and worried for her too, because I love her and my children very much. I feel like a punching bag with no energy left in me to continue. Ive tried to suggest she sees a psychiatrist as I think she may have depression or pms or something, but she is furious when I suggest this and she just says its me being abusive to her, which I feel its not.
No one else sees this side of her. Not even her mum who she sees often will notice it at all. She only does this in the confines of this house.
she has even put me on restricted list on facebook so that I cant tag her in anything. she said that its because she gets annoyed when I tag her. Deep down I feel that she has been building up a case to all her friends and family about what a bastard I am and she doenst want any of them to see any nice things I would say to her on facebook as I often say nice compliments to her. She will not even respond to my post on facebook if I post a loving thing about her.
Im lost, at a complete loose end and I don't know what to do. We have seen a couples counsellor a few times and it all seems good for a day or two, and 'D' is her old self, but then she just shifts back within days to what I fear.
She is also seeing a counsellor by herself, and the first time she went it seemed to do lots of good, but at the other 2 meetings she has had, things have maybe even gotten worse between us. Im not sure I even trust her to be honest with the counsellor.
Im off work today as we argued at 1.30am (when 'D' finally came to bed). I told her she should tell her counsellor about the sexual incident, and she said that I could come with her and tell her myself, and I said ok.
So I came through this morning and said, ok are we going to see counsellor then, and she said , acutally you cant come because its for me only, but I could tell our couple counsellor if I wanted (our appointment is not for another 4wks though with this lady)
So I said to 'D' , well can you please at least tell your counsellor what happened and get her take on it. 'D' did not respond.
This make me worried that she may well be telling her counsellor only one side of the story, which ive read is very common with counsellor sessions. Its only when they speak to the partner too, that they realise things are very different from what they have been told!
So I want to also be honest about my part in all this too. I have been a lousy partner in many ways for many years, although, more recently I have changed lots and am now putting in lots of work to improve things (which seems to make "d" even more annoyed with me)
1/ Shouter/Verbal abuse - I often shout in arguments. I often say things like "stop acting like a fucking asshole"
this is something im working on to fix and I haven't called her any bad names for a while now, although I do gave still to work on my volume during arguments which is hard for me as im so frustrated by her right now.
2/ manipulate/control - I have, especially in our early years been very jealous about her hanging around certain people or places that I feel uncomfortable with. I often would say I was sick so she would cancel too. Or I would speak my mind about a friend of hers then she would not really want to see them as she knew I didn't like them.
I like to think ive changed heaps with this over the part year or so. 'D' sees friends now and sees her family way more and it doesn't bother me as much. I admit I don't know her friends, and that does play on my mind, but ive never let it be an issue lately. Ive also been open to going to much more social things with her and the kids whereas before Id always try and control these situations.
3/ I don't take time to think about her ideas/plans and I instantly shoot them down and cause arguments
This happens often and im working on this as we speak. Even a few weeks ago she suggested that I bike to work to ease the stress for her. (currently we only have one car and out of habit we have always just dropped me off to work and picked me up)and I instantly said that theres no reason for me to bike if she could drop me off to work. This cause a huge bustup that lasted a whole week or so.
Later when I had thought about it and she had explained things in more detail, I realised that it would be doable and that it would lighten her load on a day to day basis and that was a good thing. But I messed up here big time.
This happens often and its one of my main areas im working on. I need to take time to think about things from all avenues before committing to an instant response which can cause arguments with us.
4/ Silent treatment -
im very guilty of this too. If im upset by her, then I often will go quiet for days and things just get worse and worse between us.
Overall, I have become a hugely better person. I help out with many house chores, I spend more time with my kids. I suggest more things for us to do as a couple, which has been working up until now too.
I rarely drink alcohol anymore. I compliment her more on many things. I tell her I love her heaps. etc etc.
Problem is I feel like her resentment to me outweighs her love. Its like a seesaw out of balance and I don't know how to get her trust and love like it was before or if its even possible.
She seems deeply hurt and her recent realisations of my past behaviours/abuses have made her seem very distant from me and makes her very quick to call "ABUSE" whenever I step out of line one little bit, or try and call her out on anything she does to upset me.
How can I deal with the fact that no one is seeing the awful, hurtful "D" that I see apart from from myself?
How can I deal with the fact she doesn't believe things I say and always sees my intentions of having a darka nd devious intent to them, which is so far from the truth?
Am I the abuser here, is she, or are we both?
How do I get her to admit she is also abusing, if indeed she is?
Im lost at sea, tired, sad, lonely, hurt, angry and I don't know what to say or to do to make things better. Ive re-assured her many times lately that I love her and want things to work, but her hurt seems so deep that my words and even my actions of love don't seems to mean anything to her.
thankyou so much for reading. I think I could have written on for hours about so many things, but its hard to remember things that have happened as there are so many. I just hope that someone out there can relate to my story and possibly help me.
I have many questions, but I'm only going to ask two.
1) Why, since you are their FATHER, do you consider it to be "helping" when you actively parent? Why is it somehow a favor to her, to parent your own children?? Four children is a LOT, as you know. It's incredibly unfair to not VOLUNTARILY assume the stresses and obligations as a father, and instead expect someone else to shoulder it all with your occasional "help". You don't get to pretend you're some kind of hero offering to "help" with your own children. You also don't get to keep score of how much she "owes" you for that "help". Same question for the household chores. Do you not live there too? Why do you consider taking care of yourself and your property as "helping" her? Do you think that having a job is somehow more demanding than running a household and raising four kids? Because it is not. Not by a wide margin. When was the last time you gave her a break of any kind, and took care of your kids and house for a couple of days? On your own? She's exhausted, unappreciated, and has nothing left for you, or even herself. That builds an insane amount of resentment over time. You may not ever be able to undo that. And you have to accept that. She doesn't owe you her instant or complete forgiveness. You have to want that, then earn it. Over time.
2) Why, instead of seeing a counselor yourself, are you resenting your wife for not stating YOUR case to HER counselor? She's doing her best to get herself some help to move forward in life in a healthier way. For herself, her children, and her relationship. You want things to change, but aren't seeing a counselor yourself? Why is that??
I ask these questions, because it seems that you are taking the approach that your life is somehow her responsibility, and you're just tagging along, "helping" when you want/can?
If you're wondering why she's withdrawn and doesn't seem to be easily reached, it's because she's been acutely aware of the core discourse in this relationship for a lot of years. She's felt unappreciated, unsupported, and alone in all the ways that matter. She's felt that, because that's the reality for her. Until you take responsibility for your own life, and your own children, and your own relationship woes, life will only continue to go downhill for you, and your family.
I'd love to talk more about this, but I need to understand why you haven't asked yourself the above two questions already? None of the rest of it matters, really. Because it seems the same issue runs throughout and underlies every issue between you two. Your children, household, and relationship are not her sole responsibility to maintain. Over time, why would she not start to see you as just a larger, more demanding child? I realize you've already made some positive changes, but there is still that deep-seated belief that she should just be grateful for all the "help" you give her with YOUR responsibilities. Until you address that, she'll only get further and further away from you, in favor of her own sanity and self respect.