I was reading the thread about wives submitting to their husbands with great interest. This fits with a lot of the issues that my DH and I are struggling with.
For 10 years, I’ve done everything I could to be supportive, make a nice home for us, and submit to his requests and decisions. My “free time”, i.e. time not at work, has been devoted to doing things to please him and make life easier for him. It has been difficult to balance doing things for him with taking care of our 2 children. But I do things because I love him and want to please him and be a good wife.
He was showing no appreciation or loving responses in return. Mostly what I received was requests to do more, complaints that I wasn’t doing things right, and strict restrictions on what I was “allowed” to do/not do. I was also pinched and groped (he felt nipple pinching and squeezing my breasts was playful sexy touching), told that I had bad breath if I tried to kiss him right when we woke up, had my body criticized, and was used for his own sexual gratification.
His explanation is that he ***was ***showing his love by touching me in those ways. He was showing his love by critiquing to help me improve myself, and he was showing his love by correcting to help me do things better. He was showing his love by protecting me from negative influences and even saving me from myself! He was showing me he loved me by “fixing” the way I did things so that I wouldn’t get hurt. He ***was ***showing me he loved me when our sexual relations were me servicing him, because he was being intimate with me; he ***was ***showing me his love by his need for me.
When I told him that these methods were doing the opposite of what he intended, he reasoned that I just needed to lighten up and have fun, that I should simply take his words the way he meant them.
After his recent bipolar/BPD (still not sure which) diagnosis & 6 months of therapy, he has finally made some major changes. There was emotional and verbal abuse going on as well, cursing at the children and me, using retaliation or the silent treatment as discipline, withholding love and affection etc. But those behaviors have mostly been under control since he started on his meds. He has stopped pinching, stopped criticizing everything I do, stopped critiquing my appearance and has started doing a lot of things for himself.
He still likes to grope my breasts and thinks it’s okay because he’s my husband, he likes it, it’s fun, so I should enjoy it too. He still wants to tell me how to do everything, for my safety or to be helpful, e.g. every time I’m cutting apples he tells me how to do it right so I won’t cut myself, or when I’m making a presentation for work he’ll explain how he would do it better, just to be helpful.
Some friends and my therapist call his behaviors abuse. They say he is controlling and manipulative. Other friends say that it isn’t “that bad” because he truly loves me. Our couples therapist says that we just have to compromise; but he doesn’t understand what compromise is. If I have an idea that he doesn’t agree with, he will keep at it until I agree to “his way”. I’m having a lot of trouble with this – we definitely have a power struggle. But really, if I’m submitting to him, I should be letting him have the final say without putting up an argument, right? However, the one thing that struck me from the other thread was about the husband trusting the wife to let her have final say in some decisions. This is never the case with us. If he agrees with me from the beginning then he says “see, I let you make that decision.” But is it really my decision if we already agreed? I never feel that he trusts me to do things or make decisions, even things that have nothing to do with him.
Here’s an example of the ridiculous things that we disagree about: we told our kids we would build a clubhouse in the space under the stairs in the basement. I want to do electricity, drywall, paint, carpet, the works - we are pretty handy and have a lot of the supplies already so I think I could do the whole thing for around $50-60. DH is currently unemployed (laid off 5 weeks ago) so I will be as thrifty as possible. He wants to either: 1) rent a truck & buy 30 sheets of drywall (about $240+truck rental), we’ll use them eventually for other projects we’ve been wanting to do; his rationale is buy a lot to make the truck rental worthwhile. Or 2) buy sheets to hang up for the walls and give them flashlights. I don’t want spend the $ for option 1, and option 2, sheets could cost even more than drywall and I would rather make it special for them. I would ask a friend with a truck to help, but he won’t allow it; we can’t ask people for favors. He doesn’t have time to do it because he’s looking for a job but he won’t let me & the kids do it ourselves. He’ll go on and on about why we should just use sheets, then he’ll get mad and say he just “can’t win” and complain about my stubbornness. I ultimately agree to use sheets. He apologizes for arguing and tells me how bad he feels about not having a job and how he hasn’t been contributing to the household in a significant way for a couple of years now. I feel guilty for not acquiescing in the first place. Then I give him a big pep talk about finding a job and about my faith in him, etc.
The bottom line – the past has caused me to lose much of my respect for him. I often catch myself finding him downright annoying. I’m also very wary of his control and manipulation, which sets the stage for these power struggles. The controlling everything in our lives does inhibit the children’s creativity, self-esteem, and makes it very difficult for them to learn to make decisions. So when do these behaviors cross the line from being difficult to cope with, to actually being detrimental to me or the children?
This is only the 2nd thread I’ve started & you are probably all thinking, wow this girl is wordy! Sorry for the length of my post, again, but I’m just at a loss. The really bad behaviors, the ones that have stopped, I’m hoping don’t come back, and the ones that are still here, are they really “abusive”? I don’t know if I’m still just hurt and disappointed and so not trusting him, or is he really just a jerk? Does he need different meds, or if he really has BPD, is this as good as it’s going to get?
One last point that I want to ask about – the part about the husband loving his wife as Jesus loved the church, i.e. be willing to die for her. I definitely don’t feel I have that in my husband. A friend asked me recently if I thought he “has my back”, unfortunately I still think the answer is no. If that’s the case then should I still be sacrificing for him no matter how he behaves (aside from dangerous abusive behavior)?