Saturday, 5 June 2010

Daughter in tears

An example: My 14 yo is beautiful – inside and out. Overly sensitive sometimes, she’s a joy to be with and I love spending time with her.

Then she got a boyfriend who was messing her around. I watched, not wanting to interfere but worried for her.

One evening, she was on Messenger Chat, clearly trying to solve an argument (never a good idea online, it’s true) and she was getting upset. She was actually typing with little tears running down her cheeks. Step-dad asked her to switch it off and go finish her chore. She asked him for more time. He said no. I was witnessing all this feeling really sad for her. I whispered to him to allow her more time, but he refused. Eventually, he shouted at her and took her laptop away. Now in floods of tears, she ran out of the room and slammed the door. What did he do? Called her back and made her apologise for slamming the door. When she had been in her room for half an hour, I said I might go up and make sure she was alright. He said no. He told me I was being too soft with her and making a rod for my own back. I went up anyway, and gave her a big hug so she could go to sleep knowing her Mum cared about her feelings.

I came downstairs to a hostile husband, ready for a row. I went to bed, but he followed, shouting at me that I was a bad parent, that my daughters would go off the rails without him there to discipline them. Same old same old.

I’m still glad I did it.

Counselling Session #3

The other two counselling sessions have gone ok; neither of us has really got cross, or said anything the other didn't know about.

Tonight was different.

We discussed in depth, that sticky subject – parenting. It’s where all the problems originate. In a nutshell, he wants to parent my daughters, and I don’t want him to. They have a lovely (if too soft) Dad and a very strong Mum; they don’t need an overbearing step-dad. They need a friendly step-dad. I know the role of step-dad is not an easy one; but I think I’m doing ok as a step-mum – I don’t try to parent his daughter; instead, I take the role of big sister, or aunt. After all, she already has a Mum.

Coupled with this, our parenting styles are very different. I think I’m firm but fair. He’s firm but firm. I love to spend time with my daughters, talking about their day and listening to their chatter at mealtimes. He likes peace and quiet, and mealtimes for grown-ups only. Weekends are a constant battle between time for us, and time with them. I like to divide my time equally; he wants me all to himself for the weekend with no kids at all (except his of course).

I have asked him repeatedly over all the years we’ve been together, NOT to try to parent my daughters. He persists in doing so, making us all (including him) miserable. Now it was the counsellor’s turn. She told him to try not to parent them unless it affected him directly, for example if they were being noisy. He said he didn’t want to stop parenting them. I said I would never accept his style of parenting and I wanted him to stop. She told him again to stop, but he said he would find it too difficult. She asked me which I would prefer – him to carry on parenting and us all live together, or would I be happier if he moved out. I replied without hesitation: “If he does not stop trying to parent my daughters I don’t want to live with him”.

As we drove away, he said “well done – you’ve won”. He packed the car and left. Only for the weekend, but it’s a start. A weekend of freedom is ahead of me and it feels great.

Small price to pay

On Wednesday, I had a dreadful shock. The awful shootings in Cumbria were horrific enough, but upon phoning my ex in South Lakes to check he knew (he didn't), he then told me in a very shaky voice that my 12 yo was with friends on the coast, about 10 miles from Whitehaven. The next few hours were some of the worst of my life, as he located her, had her taken to someplace safe, and then finally, we were told that the gunman had been found dead. I was weak with relief. Somehow, I got through the next three hours trying to catch up with the work that I had missed, until eventually at 5.30pm, I was spent - emotionally and mentally. I switched off my computer, grabbed my dog, and headed out into the sunshine for a walk.

I had been trying to call my husband all day to appraise him of the situation (he told me later I was overreacting) and called him again as I was leaving the house to check when he'd be home, but there was no answer. Half an hour later, when I was sitting with my dog admiring the view, he called me to tell me he was home. Clearly annoyed I wasn't there to greet him, so I invited him to join me, but he declined, saying he was too tired. I finished my walk, and headed home with some trepidation about what mood I would find him in....

When I got home, he was clearly not happy with me. I tried to keep things light. "What would you like for supper darling?" I asked him in a bright voice. We had little fresh in the fridge (mea culpa) so I offered to pop out to the local supermarket to pick some things up. I then got back, unpacked it all, cooked him a lovely meal and served it to him on his knee in front of the tv.

At 9.30pm, my lovely 14 yo waltzes through the door, just back from a school trip to Disneyland. Tired, but full of news to tell me about what they'd got up to, where they'd been, who had done what to whom, etc. Sensing my husband's displeasure, I took her into the kitchen where she told me all about it. I put on a pizza for her, and we had a lovely girly chat. When she'd finished, I invited her into the living room, but realised my mistake straight away by the look on his face. He didn't want her there. Within ten minutes, he'd gone to bed in a mood.

We snuggled up on the sofa together and watched Junior Apprentice. Lovely.

But I would pay for it later.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Counselling 101

Originally refusing to even consider counselling, a couple of months ago he did a 360 and became an advocate. I'd been trying to persuade him for months, but he was very anti the idea; now, when I'm feeling "what's the point?" he suddenly decides it's our best chance. So we go.

She is just as I imagine - in a little council house on a slightly scruffy estate, in her front room with the tv covered up by a throw, she was wearing an eclectic outfit that wasn't quite smart, and had mannish sandals on. It didn't seem the most hopeful of starts. However, I have to admit that she did seem to ask the right questions of both of us, and encouraged some lively discussion, to say the least.

We talked about our pasts, then talked about how we met and the first 7 years of the relationship, and we were actually pretty generous with one another. Then we got onto current issues.

It's a fact that the arguments began in September last year, only two months in to our marriage. I have my own ideas about how they started; he has a slightly biased version - biased against me, of course. What was interesting, was that he didn't once mention his temper outbursts and violent episodes - he didn't even allude to them. I didn't want to bring it up as I feel that's really his confession, and as such it's more cathartic if it actually comes from him.

In the final part of the session, he played the wounded soldier a bit too much for my liking, until I got fed up with it and told her that I felt angry at him - angry that he's always so grumpy and miserable. And that he holds me accountable for that. I also said (bravely I thought) that I didn't trust his decisions any more and where me and my daughters are involved, I will be making my own decisions. He really did not like that one bit.

The session closed around then, and we drove home in silence. We've barely spoken since.

Our next session is on Friday...... watch this space.......

PS if anyone has any suggestions or tips to make sure I can get my points across without sounding petty or resentful, please let me know!!

It's been a while

Rubbish week, in bed with flu. Daughters did a fab job of looking after me; husband was grumpy and sulky at my inability to carry on. I tell a lie - one evening he did cook the meal - for me and him at least. Daughters had to fend for themselves.....

Wouldn't you think that when we're incapacitated, it would make our husbands better appreciate all that we do when we're working at usual speed? After all, I watch Wife Swap - the husbands on that seem very grateful to have their wives back...... Now that's an idea - I could go on Wife Swap to expose him and his irrational behaviours. He may agree - he thinks he's being perfectly rational and merely reactive to my 'bad behaviour'. He says that a lot, by the way: "you're behaving very badly" - like I'm a child. When actually, he's the one behaving like a child.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Basic needs in a relationship - an eyeopener

Thanks to one of my lovely Twitter friends, I came across this site: Needs in Relationships

Basic Needs in Relationships - This article really makes me think about what I'm putting up with right now. These are the needs I don't have in my marriage:
  • The need for emotional support.
  • The need to be heard by the other and to be responded to with respect and acceptance
  • The need to have your own view, even if others have a different view.
  • The need to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
  • The need to receive a sincere apology for any jokes or actions you find offensive.
  • The need to for freedom from accusation, interrogation and blame.
  • The need to live free from criticism and judgment.
  • The need to have your work and your interests respected.
  • The need for freedom from emotional and physical threat.
  • The need for freedom from from angry outburst and rage.
  • The need for freedom from labels which devalue you.
  • The need to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.
  • The need to have your final decisions accepted.
  • The need for privacy at times.
That's a very daunting list. To try to improve the marriage right now seems impossible.

I wonder what he'd do if I showed him this list?

Dysfunctional day out

So we visited a National Trust garden in the Cotswolds recently. We weren't exactly non-speaking, but we hadn't fallen out either, if you know what I mean. I opened the boot of the car to get my camera out, and he went to pass it to me, but instead turned on the viewing screen, and started looking through the images there. I had just photographed a young lady and it wasn't really appropriate for him to look at them, so I made a joke and popped out the memory card to replace it with a blank one.
First he accused me of snatching it, which I denied, then apologised for. I tried to make light of it, holding his hand and talking about the garden we were going to see, but he was clearly in a mood by this time. He shrugged off my hand, and I tried to explain calmly about the shoot on the card, and the reason I'd taken the card out, and stopped him looking at it. He got even crossed, and wouldn't be calm. After a few minutes of trying to placate him, in tears, he snapped at me that he wanted to look around the gardens on his own and started walking off. I called after him to ask him for the car keys so I could at least sit in the car, but he shouted 'no' and walked off out of sight.
I had no money, and my phone had no signal. All I could do was to sit on a bench to wait for him to return. It was very cold, and I started to shiver.
He came back an hour later. No apologies, and still mad with me.

This is my life now.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Double standards

(His, not mine.)

Eldest daughter (his, not mine) is at college, and not doing too well. We had a meet today with the course leader to find out what we could do to help her. She's apparently unmotivated and behind with her work. She's also not doing her chores at home, I wanted to say, but I didn't.
When we got home, littlest daughter (mine, not his) came home and was practically read the riot act, made to do her chore and found some homework to do, in spite of not having any. All at his instigation.
What did eldest daughter do then, I hear you ask? She went out to see her friends for the evening. No chore done; no college work done.
I don't mind, really I don't. But I do mind hypocrisy - I mind that a lot. I'm probably even more sensitive to it when it's my daughter who seems to bear the brunt.

This isn't the first time, and nor will it be the last. Trying to get him to see his double standards always results in either a blow-out (no thanks) or else a big sulk (we're experiencing this right now).

And so we battle on, my girls and me.

He'll change

He says he will. He says he'll go to counselling. Then he says it's my fault, that I made him like this. That he wasn't like this before he met me. That he is only like this because he's so scared of losing me. He says all this, and I listen.

Then, thanks to one of my lovely readers, I read this on

It’s possible for abusive people to change their behaviour. However, it’s very difficult to change and so isn’t very common. If your partner has promised to change before and then has resumed his abusive behaviour it’s likely that this pattern will continue to repeat itself.

Unfortunately what usually happens in an abusive relationship is that the abuse increases both in frequency and severity. If your partner is serious about changing his behaviour then he’ll need to seek help either through his GP or through a service specifically for abusive men.

It’s also important to remember that changing this type of behaviour will take time and effort. If he attends a few sessions and then announces that he’s ‘cured’, this is unlikely to really be the case. The best perpetrator programmes provide support for the partners and ex-partners of perpetrators, and they’ll be able to give you further information and support.

You might want to take a break from the relationship while he seeks help. During the time that he’s dealing with the reasons why he’s abusive, many issues will be brought to the surface. This could increase the intensity of the abuse for a period of time. For this reason, you may want to consider how to ensure your own safety, and that of any children you may have, during this period.

If your partner is still in any way blaming you for the abuse, then it’s clear that he hasn’t accepted full responsibility for what has happened, and while he’s still saying this, his behaviour is unlikely to change.

He is still blaming me. Therefore he can't change. What can I do but leave him?

The calm before the storm?

Last night, we got close. He wouldn't let me watch tv, and said he wanted to talk. After yesterday, I really didn't think we had much to talk about except for how we were going to go our separate ways with our three girls, but I tried to get across how I felt. Eventually, in frustration, I told him he had taken away my safe place - my home. He stopped shouting. He put his head in his hands, and started sobbing, asking me to forgive him. He said that he understood now, that he got it.

We held one another for a long time. He was inconsolable.

We went to bed and made love.

Things, for now, are good.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

I need a break

I told him today that I needed a few days away. He said he felt that I was trying to punish him. I just need to get away - just me and our little dog (who he hates) with no particular place to go, laptop and books in my case.
Just have to work out a plan for it to happen.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Today was not a good day

In fact, it was one of the worst of our relatively short marriage to date.
We were in the car, on the motorway. The argument had been going on - and off - all day. It was coming to a head. I had already insisted on driving as he was not in a fit state, I said. He acquiesced (unusually). But then he started getting mad - I mean REALLY mad. He began by shouting and swearing at me (I was doing 80mph) then insisting I pull off the motorway. I was scared and said I just wanted to get home. He started screaming at me to pull off, and threatening to yank on the wheel. Through my tears, I refused. He grabbed the handbrake, and I pleaded with him to get off it. I was shaking and the tears were flowing so fast I could hardly see. He screamed at me that he was going to kill me; held his hands out as they would be around my neck. I panicked, and pulled over. He got out of the car and lay on the grass beside the road. All was quiet.

We stayed like that for an hour. Then he got up, got back in the car, and we drove home.

First post

Hi there. No idea whether anyone is reading this, so in some ways, in kind of like a diary. An online diary. I need this diary - this medium - to share (with someone? Anyone?) the things that are happening in an everyday marriage but to me. You see, I've only been married a few months. I thought everything would be perfect - doesn't everyone? But it isn't. It's far from perfect. It's dark, and sad, and now I don't know what to do. This blog is to help me. To decide what to do. To decide how to do it. Because right now, Wife Wants Out.