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#1 of 153 Old 06-06-2013, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A few months back, my husband spanked our son with a belt. I let him know that this is not at all ok with me and gave the ultimatum that he promise to no longer use any form of physical punishment or I would take the kids and leave. It nearly resulted in separation-his choice- until he thought it through and agreed. I just noticed some occasions recently where I suspected he was showing DS the belt as a threat to get his cooperation. I asked DS, and he said "yes, he does show me the belt sometimes when he gets really mad."

I really want to believe DH is not actually considering use of the belt (or any physical punishment), but I strongly disagree with the threat of doing so.

Since this brought such a big turmoil to our family life last time, I am unsure how to approach this with him. I made it clear to DS that he should tell DH that hitting is not ok and to get me if that happens again. But I can't unknow what DS has told me, thus feel the need to discuss with DH.

What would you do? How would you go about discussing it? I want to be as loving and compassionate as possible while remaining firm against corporal punishment and threats of it.
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#2 of 153 Old 06-06-2013, 02:28 PM
 
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It sounds like you really want to see your husband in the best possible light and not react too harshly. While thats noble of you, he is choosing to go behind your back to threaten your son with the very thing you are the most against. He is doing it knowingly and with the objective of being able to use his preferred mode of control while making sure not to piss you off. He is being sneaky and devious and it's at your son's expense. When he agreed to not use his belt on your son anymore, in his mind he was calculating how he can get away with still using it as a threat. This is completely unacceptable to me, i would be livid if i were you. Threatening him is just as bad as using it, in my eyes, because the goal is the same: to make him obey his father out of fear of being hurt. You gave the man a second chance and he has walked all over your kindness. Its possible he doesnt know another way to discipine his son, if you want to still be nice then you can approach it from that angle. Like, whats the best way we can teach our son to be respectful? Open that up for discussion. If i were in your shoes i would leave. I have very low tolerance for sneaky, devious people because how will i know they're going to respect what i say or are they going to figure out how they can get away with it still? Thats an awful feeling to live with, especially when it comes to your own child. However, if you think he just doesnt understand what else to do then try having a conversation. If he's open to it then that could be a good sign, if he is in a hurry to just agree with you then he probably doesnt care that much. If he gets mad again then that is a clear cut sign he is aggressive and thats not going to change.
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#3 of 153 Old 06-06-2013, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hear and mostly agree with your points. It breaks my heart to think of him that way when he is 99% wonderful amazing gentle loving father. It's only that last 1% end of his rope trying to get DS to brush his teeth so they can go to bed already that this belt appears. This is, of course, as far as I am aware. I think I'll just flatly request that he come get me instead of going to get the belt. There's not much point in drawing out the hows and why of what I know. I think I need to keep it simple and see how he takes it. He has an aggressive ego, but keeps it in check until "threatened" by my words or by his exhaustion in the aforementioned scenario. Oh, this is hard. Thanks for your perspective. Any others?
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#4 of 153 Old 06-06-2013, 04:51 PM
 
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Hello Mama Amie, I moved your thread to Parents as Partners because it seemed like the perfect fit for this forum. Thank you, Pokey Mothering Moderator



Married to a wonderful woman since 2010. Baby boy C arrived in June 2013!

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#5 of 153 Old 06-07-2013, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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On a side note, DS saw daddy with belt in hand today- just takkng it to the closet- and said "dad, don't bring the belt into the bathroom anymore, please. It's rude." I was right there and smiled, maybe knowingly. It was a very short blip moment, but may have been powerful enough for DH to recognize his error. At least this will make for a good lead-in to that conversation we'll be having later today. I was mostly worried about the "out of nowhere" way I would likely bring it up.

I am still open to hearing others chime in, if any of you have advice or perspectives to share.
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#6 of 153 Old 06-13-2013, 11:01 AM
 
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In the situation you are describing, I agree with a PP that I would leave. It is clear that your husband's current personality relies on overt violence. Coercion is psychological and emotional abuse, which is violence; in addition to this behavior, the threats are of actual physical violence and are not "soft" intimidation.

 

It may be very hard for you and your son to accept this but my assessment is that your husband is an abuser. Abuse is the transgression of another person in order to maintain the abuser's personality coherence. This goes beyond whether or not he hits or merely threatens, or whether or not he seems to be a capable parent some of the time. The fear of personality disintegration which enables objectification of others to the point of trangressing them is a very serious problem and I don't think that such a person is capable of maintaining a relationship - unless their partner is codependent.

 

You may be helped to learn more about codependency. Enlisting your son's help in his self-protection is indicative of your codepndence to your spouse, IMO. You are basically teaching your son the same codependence: that the son is responsible for managing the father just as you have taken on the responsibility by "checking up" on him.

 

This is quite serious because codependency subverts self-respect and causes serious personality damage, especially to children. So please realize what this means for your child, as well as for you.

 

Best wishes to you

Puma

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#7 of 153 Old 06-13-2013, 11:18 AM
 
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From a mom who's (now ex) h had similar personality traits and tendencies, I am on a very very challenging path trying to recover personally, but more importantly and relevant here - I am on a very very challenging path of trying to re-wire my son's brain. While your son may be open and loving with you now and he may recognize that what his father does or threatens to do is not right, he is learning. And this learning get imprinted and is very very difficult to undo. While you live in the same house, your son does not have a 'safe' place free from threats of violence to escape to. The threats always hang in the air, even if H isn't around. This tension, too, gets imprinted on his precious little brain. 

 

Why are you afraid of having this discussion with your H? Are you scared of him? Of how he will react? Will he be overly defensive and reactive and become angry? If so, that's not ok. You should not be scared of your partner, nor should your son. Your son being scared of his dad, while his mom is scared of his dad is a dangerous message for a boy to grow up with. Maybe I'm reading too much into this with my own experience. Our stories are all different. 

 

X and I recently had a parenting evaluation done by a forensic child psychologist. I just want to quote this one part that may be relevant:


"The concern for the boys (my 3 sons) is that while they may be acquiescent to their father as children, once they are adults and feel themselves to have more power in a relationship, this type of behaviour which has been modelled to them, will occur and cause damage in those relationships."

 

Would your H be willing to attend parenting classes? My son's psychiatrist told me that any time she has spoken to a father and told him that his son is scared of him, the fathers (who are reasonable and willing to change) will immediately seek help through parenting classes. There is a specific class offered where I live about how to manage fathering and anger. 

 

eta: As a PhD student, research is what I do best. I have spent (arguably obsessively) researching and reading about the psychology of men like my X. For our evaluation, we each had to do the MMPI-2 personality test, which is an exhaustive and brilliant test that identifies our psychopathology, or personality traits. X was utterly revealing and described him exactly how I know him to be. Which was validating, but because I have the results of his, I have been able to do the research to better understand what they mean in terms of changing. Sadly, his prognosis is not only that he has no desire to investigate any personal psychological issues, he will adamently deny them making any therapeutic intervention completely useless and may even further enrich his ego and defensiveness. Bottom line, which also relates to my patterns of codependent behaviour and thought, is that our own psychologies are extremely difficult to change and require a tremendous amount of personal commitment and effort. 

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#8 of 153 Old 06-20-2013, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oof. Lots of heavy stuff here, gals. It's so hard for me to discern, sometimes, how much to worry. My husband truly is a wonderful, loving, caring, nurturing, and non-abusive person 99% of the time, so a big part of me wants to cut him slack for the occasional imperfection. But I do agree that abusive tendencies, no matter how infrequent, should not be taken lightly.

I know that I have my own rough moments in parenting and relationships. I have said things I regret, and squeezed a little too tightly on that little arm in efforts to get him to pay attention or prevent dangerous actions on his part. Not proud, and such occurrences grow more infrequent over time. So I can totally empathize with how hard it is to patent our spirited boy.

He has been unwilling to do marriage or family counseling in the past, and he does tend to take parenting issues (brought up by me) negatively. The times I have stepped up to defend DS during his moments of being less than kind in tone and words, but I haven't yet found any ways to successfully diffuse tension with him. It does seem like my speaking up or stepping in serves only to exacerbate things. Again, this is the 1% of times when things are unfriendliness than I feel comfortable with (shaming or belittling and verbally aggressive responses to behaviors)- not most of the time, by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, I feel pretty conflicted, and definitely unable to speak openly with him about emotionally charged subjects. PMS never helps keep things kind and calm, but it is typically when I am more openly disapproving or more willing to bring up uncomfortable topics. Yes, I am afraid of confronting him about things sometimes, because his reactions are pretty intense. But I feel like there must be some peaceful way of changing our communication dynamic. I definitely try my hardest to be honest and empathetic and diplomatic when bringing up such topics.

For the record, we still haven't discussed it, but I have been keeping a watchful eye and ear on their interactions, which are by far more positive and healthy vs negative.
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#9 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 10:32 AM
 
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Hi Mama Amie,

 

I'm sorry you are in this conflicted state :(

 

I read your last post several times...

 

and I reiterate what I said before. It sounds very much to me that you are in an abusive relationship (and so is your child).

 

People who abuse do so in order to maintain themselves. You describe that your husband is very "good" when things are going well for him (he isn't being challenged) but cannot tolerate being challenged on issues (including non-confrontational conversations). This is classic abuser psychology. The whole point of abuse is to keep the abusers life under control. No means are too extreme to accomplish this. Do recall that your husband threatens to beat his son with a strap in order to maintain control. It's not about getting his son to brush his teeth; it's about being obeyed and having those around him comply.

 

You bring up how you have overreacted toward your son and thus feel that you are in an indefensible position regarding your husband. I completely disagree. The best chance your son has for good parenting is to be treated kindly as much as possible and immediately. You are considering this very seriously, including assessing your own behavior; your husband is not and refuses to do so. It seems to me that you are shaming yourself by comparing yourself to your husband in order to continue to give him esteem and control. Shame is a very important matter in codependency and abusive relationships; it is the means by which the codependent is kept "in check" by the abuser; it is the self-recrimination that enables the abuser to control without even being present. Shame is especially effective when instilled in children, and being parented by an abuser is how the "cycle of violence" perpetuates. Imagine your son when he is in high school, joking with his buddies about how his dad used to "pull his belt" when he didn't brush his teeth as a kid - and the room falls silent. The "little voice" in your son's head when he brushes his teeth or struggles with tasks in life should be saying "I know you can do it, I've always been proud of you!"- not the sense of a threatening figure who may beat him if he doesn't succeed.

 

I'm sorry to be so blunt but your child's very life is at stake IMO. There are so very many young lives ruined by abuse. Future choices are all going to be directed by the "little voice" he cultivated as a child; how he behaves in intimate relationships, how he views himself. I have a zero-tolerance policy toward abuse of any kind and I think we would have healthier children if parents were much less accepting of abuse and strong enough to change family dynamics.

 

I also think that what is good for your son is good for you too. You defend your husband's 1% abuse. Abuse isn't the same as "making a mistake." It's a psychological tendency. Knowing this, what will happen when your husband is taxed beyond his ability to maintain 99% control at some point in life?

 

Please consider the good advice you've gotten here and make the changes that you want to see in your life.

 

Puma

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#10 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 10:48 AM
 
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I agree with Puma. Start reading about abuse. There is a lot of great information online. I remember saying the same things so often - he's a great parent/husband/person most of the time.  

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#11 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:04 AM
 
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Im going to dissent here. No, sneaky and abuse are not okay. Yes, your dh is an adult. Hiwever, im going to suggest, gently, that perhaps your communication within your marriage isnt good. Perhaps your dh feels undermined and not respected? I think sometimes the ramifications of a child being separated from a parent they love is not properly calcualted. Are you prepared to tell your ds that your dh is so awful he cant be around him ever? Are you orepared to prove that to a court? Because if you arent, or dont really believe your dh to be abusive, then you will be both destroying a child's relationship with their father AND likely wont do anything to change the disciplinary dynamic. Spanking with a belt without leaving marks is not illegal in most places. All you will accomplish is removing yourself as the mediator
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#12 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:10 AM
 
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Sorry for the typos, Im on my phone. It messed up so i just started a new post. If your dh is abusive...you feel imprisioned emotionally, or he hurts you or your ds purposefully, by all mean get to a safe place immediately, and find a competent mediator to your relationship. However, if this is really about parenting differently (and still within societal norms, like it or not), I would advise you to think long and hard about how to rectify and heal the realtionship with your dh. Thats a powerful lesson for your son, too.

Again, for clarity before i am tarred and feathered, I am NOT saying this should continue, and I am NOT advising you to stay in a place where you are or may be harmed (or your ds).

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#13 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:30 AM
 
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Im going to dissent here. No, sneaky and abuse are not okay. Yes, your dh is an adult. Hiwever, im going to suggest, gently, that perhaps your communication within your marriage isnt good. Perhaps your dh feels undermined and not respected? I think sometimes the ramifications of a child being separated from a parent they love is not properly calcualted. Are you prepared to tell your ds that your dh is so awful he cant be around him ever? Are you orepared to prove that to a court? Because if you arent, or dont really believe your dh to be abusive, then you will be both destroying a child's relationship with their father AND likely wont do anything to change the disciplinary dynamic. Spanking with a belt without leaving marks is not illegal in most places. All you will accomplish is removing yourself as the mediator

 

Very sorry to disagree with you, however:

 

Communication within the marriage has nothing to do with the father abusing the son. The father is not the mother's responsibility. If he can't parent without abusing his son, that's up to him, it has nothing to do with the marriage and everything to do with the man.

 

Saying that a parent is so awful that a child can never be around him ever is not a part of this and I don't know why that accusation would be made by Mama Amie or any other parent. There are other more mature and effective ways of managing family problems without the blaming and ultimatums that you are describing.

 

It is not within the mother's capacity to destroy the relationships with father. The quality of the relationship between father and son is up to the father, even in cases of divorce.

 

The legality of spanking with a belt seems to be a strange standard to bring up here. In most of Europe it is forbidden. In half the US it is questionable. Movement against corporal punishment and toward universal human rights is the trend. I think that Mama A's sense of compassion and love for her son abhors this treatment, and that is the standard that has been raised in this thread.

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#14 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am tempted to ask DH to read this whole thread as a starting point for requesting counseling. Does anyone have issues or reasons why not? Most of my serious/relationship communication with DH is via email, as we are rarely alone together, and I avoid such discussions in front of the kids.
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#15 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:55 AM
 
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I agree that the communication in your marriage sounds ineffective.

Quote:
Oh, I feel pretty conflicted, and definitely unable to speak openly with him about emotionally charged subjects. PMS never helps keep things kind and calm, but it is typically when I am more openly disapproving or more willing to bring up uncomfortable topics. Yes, I am afraid of confronting him about things sometimes, because his reactions are pretty intense. But I feel like there must be some peaceful way of changing our communication dynamic. I definitely try my hardest to be honest and empathetic and diplomatic when bringing up such topics.

I could have written this while still in my marriage... I think I did eyesroll.gif. All of this is covered with red flags. About you wanting to change your communication dynamic and you trying so hard to raise issues in just the right ways.... you can't change him and you can't control his reactions. It's exhausting trying to do that and it doesn't work. (eg. see an older post of mine about an 'impending confrontation'). It sounds like you have/are trying to do what you can on your end. What is he doing to change? How can you work together to change? If you're too scared to raise the issue than, there's a real problem in your guys' power dynamic.

 

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Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

Im going to dissent here. No, sneaky and abuse are not okay. Yes, your dh is an adult. Hiwever, im going to suggest, gently, that perhaps your communication within your marriage isnt good. Perhaps your dh feels undermined and not respected? I think sometimes the ramifications of a child being separated from a parent they love is not properly calcualted. Are you prepared to tell your ds that your dh is so awful he cant be around him ever? Are you orepared to prove that to a court? Because if you arent, or dont really believe your dh to be abusive, then you will be both destroying a child's relationship with their father AND likely wont do anything to change the disciplinary dynamic. Spanking with a belt without leaving marks is not illegal in most places. All you will accomplish is removing yourself as the mediator

 

Perhaps your dh feels undermined and not respected? This could be very true. But you need to be able to talk about this safely (emotionally and psychological safe for you). If that can't happen then he needs to find a way to communicate that without scaring you. If he doesn't think he's scary and thinks you're overreacting by being scared, RED FLAG!

 

I think sometimes the ramifications of a child being separated from a parent they love is not properly calcualted. Are you prepared to tell your ds that your dh is so awful he cant be around him ever? Are you orepared to prove that to a court? Because if you arent, or dont really believe your dh to be abusive, then you will be both destroying a child's relationship with their father AND likely wont do anything to change the disciplinary dynamic.

This is just not right and not helpful advice. I'm sorry, I'm not usually so blunt but I feel strongly about this. Emotional/psychological, verbal abuse is almost impossible to prove in court so that's not something that is going to happen. Only in extreme situations of violence would you ever tell your child that their father is so horrible he can never see him again. That's ridiculous. I've been advised and I've learned to address issues by affirming my children's feelings, reassuring them that both their dad and I love them and when we are talking about incidents of violence/abuse I openly tell them that it's not ok for daddy to talk to me in a mean way like that... or whatever. I don't tell them their dad is evil - far from it. Their relationship with their father is their own and they love him very much. My oldest is still hell bent on proving his value to his dad, which has always been part of their dynamic. Not healthy at all. But *I* have not destroyed their relationship with their father by leaving him. I have, however, given my children a safe and peaceful place to come to and I have demonstrated to them what is not acceptable in a relationship. I have shown them that women can be strong and stand up for themselves.

 

Abuse is insidious and can create surprising and painful legacies in families (perhaps especially when children are boys). Children are very aware of the dynamics of their parents' relationship as they grow. Seeing (or simply knowing that) their mother fear their father is NOT cool. As much as they don't want to be like their father, boys unconsciously adopt tactics of control and learn to seek power in relationships. If they fear their father at all, they don't have a safe place when their parents live together. They learn that mom can't actually protect them and that is a scary and makes them feel all the more out of control. They learn that it's ok for dad to have tantrums and not suffer any consequences and that's how he gets people to do what he wants them to do. And within all of this, mom is left trying to repair relationships, keep the mood light, keep dad at bay, be on high alert to be there to step in if needed, to keep dad's emotions from blowing up, to keep the kids in check.... to be the caretake for all but with very little power.  All that is REAL. It is well researched and documented. 

 

This is why I urge you OP to begin your own journey of enlightenment. Maybe the problems in your marriage can be fixed. I hope so. Regardless, the literature about abuse is a very useful tool for anyone to gauge their own assertiveness and quality of communicating while also recognizing what you can and can't change in a relationship. 

 

Perhaps a helpful book to start with is 'Why Does He Do That?' by Lundy Bancroft.

 

Good luck, mama.

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#16 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:59 AM
 
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I am tempted to ask DH to read this whole thread as a starting point for requesting counseling. Does anyone have issues or reasons why not? Most of my serious/relationship communication with DH is via email, as we are rarely alone together, and I avoid such discussions in front of the kids.

I don't think he would like the fact that you are talking about him. My X raised this as an attack against him after he discovered once that I had written to a counsellor asking if they had experience with abuse in relationships. I would not have him read this. You also may need to keep your support network here private in case you need it. There is nothing wrong with privacy in a relationship - only distrust and dishonesty.

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#17 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Good point. Perhaps just fishing out some key points I've learned here on this thread to use in an email would be a better move?
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#18 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:11 PM
 
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I am tempted to ask DH to read this whole thread as a starting point for requesting counseling. Does anyone have issues or reasons why not? Most of my serious/relationship communication with DH is via email, as we are rarely alone together, and I avoid such discussions in front of the kids.

 

I do not think that having your husband read this thread is a good idea.

 

You have already tried to communicate to him the issues and he has responded negatively and ignored your points.

 

Ganging up on him in a message board or in therapy is not going to change his ideas on the matter and will likely make it worse, because "ganging up" is how he will likely see it. Mild mannered kind people are even reluctant to hear and absorb criticism, let alone someone who would become violently enraged at his own child.

 

Lilgreen has some very good material in the last post above.

 

I think that until you are able to see yourself as distinct from your husband and 100% responsible for your son that you should not attempt to discuss this with your husband. I would take a few months to journal, read on codependency and abuse, and address your own traumatic issues before you make a decision to talk to your spouse, divorce, trial separate, whatever. What has to change is to resolve the conflict in your own mind and your identity as a woman and mother before you can become effective in making choices, because change of this type is difficult and requires a new paradigm. Acceptance must come before change, otherwise change is reactive and not constructive.

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#19 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, I'm pretty analytical, but also tend to speak before thinking through enough. When I'm aware of that, I end up not speaking at all. So hard to find that balance sometimes.

Just a side note observation. smile.gif
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#20 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:13 PM
 
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Good point. Perhaps just fishing out some key points I've learned here on this thread to use in an email would be a better move?

 

 

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I think that until you are able to see yourself as distinct from your husband and 100% responsible for your son that you should not attempt to discuss this with your husband. I would take a few months to journal, read on codependency and abuse, and address your own traumatic issues before you make a decision to talk to your spouse, divorce, trial separate, whatever. What has to change is to resolve the conflict in your own mind and your identity as a woman and mother before you can become effective in making choices, because change of this type is difficult and requires a new paradigm. Acceptance must come before change, otherwise change is reactive and not constructive.

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#21 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:14 PM
 
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See, I'm pretty analytical, but also tend to speak before thinking through enough. When I'm aware of that, I end up not speaking at all. So hard to find that balance sometimes.

 

 

Find your voice. It's for you. Then give it your son. It's his legacy.

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#22 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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I am tempted to ask DH to read this whole thread as a starting point for requesting counseling. Does anyone have issues or reasons why not? Most of my serious/relationship communication with DH is via email, as we are rarely alone together, and I avoid such discussions in front of the kids.

Are you tempted to show him this thread because you feel like your voice doesn't matter enough to him and you feel like you need the validation of others to be heard and listened to and taken seriously by him? Just something to ponder.

 

I like the idea of sitting back, journalling, reading for a while so you can have a better grasp on your role in all of this and what you actually can change. It is a paradigm shift that is needed to be able to be healthy independent (and i don't mean not-married) selves. 

 

ETA: please feel free to search some of my posts from summer 2012 and earlier. I started posting here about my troubles in 2004. I think you might find some of it resonates and you can see how I dealt with it - not usually in healthy ways - so you may be able to learn from my mistakes and my doubt. xo

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#23 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I will.

I do feel like my voice is not enough. However, it's more important to add that no voice is enough once he's stepped into defensive mode (which is the instant I raise a concern regarding our relationship and communication). My hope is that I can persuade him into counseling gently, without having to resort to more extreme measures. I want most of all to help us become our best selves before turning it toward an end to our family as we know it. We both care so deeply for our relationship and family, but it can't be repaired by ourselves alone, I suspect. If it could, we should have been able to make strides by now. We have managed to keep life relatively peaceful and without much conflict on a regular basis. But we seem to have a 2-3 times per year crisis that occurs when I criticize or request big changes in our relationship.
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#24 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 02:46 PM
 
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Verbalabuse.com is a good starting place, too.
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#25 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I sent the email using my belt example for how much I avoid confrontation and requesting that he and I learn more communication tools in therapy to improve our partnership and parenting. He essentially said we could have more time alone to talk if I wake him up after he falls asleep with DS, and suggested we use hugs to change the dynamic when troubles arise. At this time, we can't afford to have someone watch kids and pay for therapy. Also, he claims that the belt situation happened twice, and both times he already had the belt in his hand. I could be wrong, but the times I suspected this issue occurring both seemed like he huffily left the bedroom in his pjs specifically to get the belt. But there's no way to know if he's telling the truth or if I am more aware than he thought. Either way, he swears he will never spank or use any sort of violence and is always working to improve his technique for peaceful conflict resolution. Again, I really do feel like he has his heart in the right place on that topic.

While all of those responses have some validity, I refuse to wake my sleeping husband and expect any meaningful conversation. The hug idea is nice in theory, but I am not optimistic that it will play out in the heat of the moment. And if we choose not to take long weekends or vacations, we could certainly find a way to fit in counseling.

Since he read the email during work, I get the sense that he put very little thought into what was written (completely ignoring my main concern about feeling unable to bring up sensitive topics for discussion). I think he responded from his at work headspace of finding a solution to a problem at hand.
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#26 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 03:23 PM
 
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I highly recommend "Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman. It can't take the place of working with a great therapist, but it offers wonderful insight into how healthy couples operate and gives homework for how to work those principles into your relationship. It's concepts you can work with on your own, or just introduce during a really mellow time between you that sets up a healthier response (and a stronger overall relationship) for when you hit one of the snags in your interactions.

 

I discovered the book when my marriage was already ending, but I think it would have made a huge difference had I found it even a few months sooner. We had a similar issue with having very occasional bad interactions but as we each got more stressed with life, those stresses showed up more often in the marriage and we had no good modeling (plus he had some very bad modeling from an abusive step-father) to help us deal with those interactions better. Eventually, things just degraded and we got into a horrible dynamic that we couldn't pull out of.

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#27 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Once again, he is saying that he feels badly for not being the husband I wish he were. I simply cannot figure out how to proceed without a third party/ counselor. I don't want him to feel like a bad person, but I want to feel like I can communicate openly about the hard stuff. But it always gets turned to where he feels like i am unhappy with him as a person. i am not.

I will try that book in case counseling can't happen. Trying really hard not to feel like a bad woman and see things clearly. This is really hard.
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#28 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 07:41 PM
 
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When they are truly having regrets about their behavior can be a good time to do things like check out books that can help you "to both be better to each other". You can take some responsibility for where you're not communicating great and express that you want to find ways that you can BOTH do better.


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#29 of 153 Old 06-26-2013, 11:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mama Amie View Post

Once again, he is saying that he feels badly for not being the husband I wish he were. I simply cannot figure out how to proceed without a third party/ counselor. I don't want him to feel like a bad person, but I want to feel like I can communicate openly about the hard stuff. But it always gets turned to where he feels like i am unhappy with him as a person. i am not.

I will try that book in case counseling can't happen. Trying really hard not to feel like a bad woman and see things clearly. This is really hard.

This sounds so familiar.  I could have written this a few months ago.  It's actually a classic control tactic to play the victim instead of addressing the issue at hand.  

 

The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans is another book I found helpful when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my dynamic.  The covert stuff (silent treatment, sulking, victimizing) was what I dealt with.  And the reason it stayed covert was because I had learned how to contort myself into a pretzel to dance around his moods.    But once I started to set boundaries, abuse become more overt...and it totally shocked me because I was so programmed in my belief that he was a good guy.  He had this belief too and did his best to portray that image.  In the end I am fairly certain he has clinical narcissistic personality disorder (and possibly a result of the dynamics described previously in thread - controlling father who resorted to physical control tactics and a nice mother who modelled that you stand by your man no matter what and that her needs matter less)  The true test comes when you are able to present a request respectfully, and your h STILL gets defensive and angry.  You may find you go through phases, where you think the problem is you and how you communicate....and so you may then work on your communication...and may find it does or doesn't help.  But the true test comes when you try to set a boundary respectfully.  

 

Journalling exact conversations/words on a regular basis is a really good exercise.  Don't edit it in your mind or paraphrase.  See if you can write down exact words as soon as they happen.  Then cross reference that with abovementioned book.  You might start to recognize behaviour patterns indicative of a

very controlling personality.

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#30 of 153 Old 06-27-2013, 12:39 AM
 
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Mama amie,

I have glanced through the thread and I see a lot of strong feelings. I am going out on a limb here to say that I don't think it is that bad if it is isolated incidents.

Yes, I would hate it too, and dh and I did have conflicts over discipline as well previously. There were things i felt strongly about anf at one point, i did think i am going t walk out with the kids. But we got past it. it can get better, it does not make it an abusive relationship automatically. We all have our trigger points and sometimes kids can bring the worst out of us, and mastering that is part of personal evolvement.

A few things worked for us 1) I paralleled what was going on between dh and ds with dh and his own father. Dh does not want to be like his father. 2)I took over more often with discipline and I had to really turn upside down to find ways that will make my kids behave. They ARE stubborn and naughty and aging me prematurely! 3) I spoke well of each party to the other and pass on complimentary remarks to generate positive feelings. 4) I speak of my own frustrations with the kids and how I TRY to overcome them - go to a room and take deep breaths, set them chores while I cool off in shower, think of how much luckier I am despite everything. Not in a preachy tone of course, more kind of conversation.

I also realised that dh copes very poorly with the kids when he is sleep deprived (though he is getting more sleep than me!!) and does not hit the gym regularly. (I suspect he had some sensory things going on too and needs hours of heavy work to feel together - easy to achieve when the kids were not born yet). I do not allow the kids to disturb him in the morning on weekends, and I do not begrudge him his gym time.

I will never ask dh to apologise to the kids though I do apologise to them if I think I am in the wrong. It conveys the wrong message and kids are quick to pick that up and play a parent against the other. I am very mindful of that. The kids are not allowed to play us off each other. They have a relationship with mum, and a relationship with dad, and they know that mum and dad are very different with different triggers.

All that, and dh making an effort to step away whenever he feels like exploding, has shifted things significantly.

And now - ds sees dad as the fun guy, and mum as the strict parent.

Ah well, can't win all the time.
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