Post # 1
Today my DH and I made plans for a date night tonight – dinner & a movie. My teenager is off to her father’s for the weekend. I’ve been majorly stressed out with my mother’s illness (she’s 88, fell on Dec 22nd and broke her upper arm, had surgery the next day & developed a circulation problem in that arm, then had a stroke the next morning which was Christmas Eve. My holidays were a blur of hospital, now rehab and I’m it – no sibling help) and I was really looking forward to tonight.
When I got home I explained to my husband that we needed to get a special recliner from her home to my mom’s rehab facility tomorrow. I asked him if he thought we could do it together or should I ask his dad to come help with a larger truck and manpower. Instead of answering my question, he started arguing that the facility to should provide her with a recliner. When I told him I tried that route, he kept saying it wasn’t right that we should have to bring hers from home. This is an $850 power lift chair – the facility doesn’t have those and she needs it for her circulation. All I needed from him was a yes we can do it or no, call my dad to help us. His solution to this conversation was to walk off to his office and close the door. My daughter was sitting here listening to this and was mad at him for behaving this way. I ended up calling his dad and setting up a time for him to come help me tomorrow. Problem solved but without husband’s help. This is what I would have done if I was single.
After my daughter left, I went in to him and told him I didn’t need to be treated this way. I needed help with one thing concerning my mother and he couldn’t just agree to do it. He wanted to continue arguing that the rehab center should provide the chair, which is useless to me solving the problem at hand. I’m angry that this is the example of communication he showed my daughter. She has plenty of examples of bad behavior from her father and frankly, she expects better from her step-dad. So do I. I can’t talk to him about my mother’s condition or how I feel about all that because he says all I do is complain. Maybe this is where the age difference comes in – his parents are only 10 years older than I am so facing issues with an aging parent is so far off his radar…his eyes glaze over when I try to talk about what I’m facing.
Now I just want to go away for the evening. I’m thinking of taking myself to a movie and sleeping at my mom’s house. I told him I was walking out this time. I’m tired and depressed. I’ve been working hard (I own my own business on top of everything), I’m stressed about my mother, not only her current condition but what lies ahead regarding her living arrangements, selling her house etc. – it’s all on me to take care of- and this is the second fight we’ve had recently in which his answer is to just walk out to “cool down”. Actually, that’s always his response. When I tell him how I feel, I’m always wrong – I “attack” him, or I don’t let him speak or I don’t say things correctly. Sometimes I’m ready to give up. I used to be able to talk to my mom about this stuff but obviously that support is gone for me too. If I didn’t have my daughter there are times I’d like to just disappear. Thanks for reading.
Post # 3
Oh my, I’m sorry you’re in this entire sitauation. I think you need to have a serious talk with him about how you’re feeling. A real sit down heart to heart about what you need from him in a time where you are being pulled in all directions and in need of some strength from your husband.
Maybe you should take some time tonight to be alone, gather your wits and take a breather. After that, you should have this talk with him and see where that takes you. He should be supportive of you and all that you’re coping with. He is wrong here, and needs to understand what you’re feeling. Don’t assume that he gets it, men are stupid sometimes. Perhaps this is also his way of dealing with the stress, to just walk away and cool down. Even so, he needs to step up, put on some big boy undies and stand by you. Isn’t that what marriage is about?
Post # 4
“I needed help with one thing concerning my mother and he couldn’t just agree to do it. He wanted to continue arguing that the rehab center should provide the chair, which is useless to me solving the problem at hand.”
Why was he doing this? What does he have invested in this? Was he trying to avoid having to do this errand, without owning that fact, and trying to make it someone else’s problem? Is it a financial strain? This really stood out and bears some investigating. I’ve got friends/relatives like this that will spend so much time and energy derailing what you have to say, steering you off track again and again to try and drain you/shut you up so that they never actually have to say “No, I don’t want to do this/am afraid I can’t do this.” What’s going on with him in this situation?
“When I tell him how I feel, I’m always wrong – I “attack” him, or I don’t let him speak or I don’t say things correctly.”
In my experience, when these types of phrases are thrown out, one of two things is happening:
- You’re trying, but you’re not really comfortable “sharing your feelings”. Maybe you didn’t grow up with that model or you’re naturally a really reserved, independent person, or you learned somehow that your needs don’t matter, etc…so instead of slow-release, calm, check-in conversations where you keep your partner updated on your feelings; you swallow everything and let it fester until you need to explode and use your partner as a feelings-dump/pressure release valve. Bonus points if this happens to be when you’re actually really stressed from other situations/people in your life that you CAN’T lash out at. Super high score if you (consciously or not) wait for him to screw up so you can choose to blow up, just for the chance to get upset, throw some emotional punches, and make him prove he loves you (again).
- You’re great at expressing yourself calmly and fairly – and he doesn’t want to hear it. This is a partner who gives lip service when it comes to supporting their lover and claims to be there, but actually resents the hell out of it and has no interest in providing that support. Maybe he’s insecure, isn’t sure how to help, feels powerless because he doesn’t know how to help, was a spoiled brat and is just super self-centered…only he knows. These phrases are his way of invalidating everything you say, point-blank. It’s as if you’re turning in a term paper, and he’s failing you based on the font you use. It’s a way to shut all discussion down and turn it on you and make it YOUR fault for not making what you have to say more palatable. Bonus points: shutting you down immediately means you never get to the point where you ask anything of him and he never has to do anything to help or change! Super high score: This technique eventually wears down your sense that your emotions and wants are important enough to hear, or valid at all…that will not be a fun dynamic down the road.
No judgement from me, at all, in either situation (and of course, those are the worst-case scenarios) – I’ve been in them both. You probably know which one it is more, or maybe a combo of both. But if doors are being physically shut on each other when you both try to talk, maybe it’s time to make time for a third party facilitator who can referee and get you guys back on track. Sorry this is so bleak, I’m feeling a little tired. Hang in there, and best wishes for your mother’s health, I can’t imagine how hard that must be fore you (I’m super-close with my mom, too).
Post # 5
So sorry for what you are dealing with Lorie. It certainly isn’t easy. Hang in there. Do you have a good friend that is available for you?
Post # 6
@lorie I am very sorry about your mom. My mom is going through this with her 95 year old mother (she broke her hip and now needs 24 hour care in a nursing home or at home).
I can see how your husband thinks that somehow somewhere someone should be getting her this special chair. I’d probably want to know why isn’t that happening. However, your husband did react very poorly with walking away and closing the door. Is this a common reaction from him? Does it do it often?
Post # 7
All I can think is maybe he’s feeling a little neglected because you’re having to spend so much time taking care of you mom’s issues right now and this is his way of acting out. Unless you’ve been in a situation where you have to take care of someone like you are then it’s hard to understand how much mental and physical stress it can put on a person.
What kind of relationship do you have with your husband’s mother? Could you maybe speak to her and have her talk to him? Maybe she can get through to him.
I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. It’s the last thing you need when trying to juggle everything else. I don’t think it’s his age…I think it’s his generally understanding of the situation.
Post # 8
@lorie This is in response to your comment about your husband feeling attacked. I was surprised when it dawned on me that my husband frequently felt attacked when I was really just asking him for help or support, or even just making conversation. What I did, which has helped tremendously, is asked him to try to see the situations as ‘us against them’ instead of as ‘me against you’. When I bitch about how rude the tech was when I had to call cable for service, I am NOT secretly thinking “if my damn husband knew how to use a remote, I wouldn’t have to call for service!” Or “he’s the one who watches it, why doesn’t he call?” No. When I bitch about the rude tech, the only one I’m mad at is the rude tech. Can we be mad at him together? Can you be on my side and say something like “what a jackass, where does he get off talking to my wife like that!?” instead of something defensive like “well if I didn’t have to get your oil changed, I would have just called them myself!” Put it to him this way and ask if he’ll try to see from this perspective. Then, when he starts acting defensive when you’re not attacking, immediately ask him (sincerely, not angrily): “can you be on my side? I’m not mad at you, can you join me in being mad at [whatever/whoever], just for a few minutes?”
I also try to see things this way myself, too. For example, in your situation with the chair, it might have helped if you had said “I know, you’re right — the facility SHOULD provide a recliner. I’ve already talked to the administrators and they don’t have anything comparable available. If we want her to have the benefits of her chair, we’ll need to take it up there ourselves. I’m going to complain to them about it, but in the meantime, I really need your help. Do you think we can get it up there ourselves, or should we ask your dad to borrow his truck?”
Always look for opportunities to agree with your partner — and by this, I do NOT mean always agree with everything! I mean, look for things that you honestly can agree with, and use that as the starting point for working together.
Post # 10
I agree with you and I actually do believe he and I often see ourselves as “us united against whoever”. He got himself in a major pout over this issue and I’m generally the one in the relationship who handles confrontation, questions, etc. My husband loves harmony, is a bit shy, and loves that I’m assertive. Until I’m assertive with him, and then he gets his back up easily and can feel attacked. I like your comment about telling him I’m not angru with him…I believe he may interpret things that way even if it’s the furthest thing in my mind.This chair issue took it all to another level and his response really was inappropriate. I stayed at my mom’s house last night and had a long conversation with a woman friend, then had a long, hard cry about the whole mom situation. This morning his dad came to my mom’s house, we had coffee and chatted then I called my husband and gave him the chance to do the right thing and come over to help us. He did, the chair got delivered and I’ll tell him how I feel about everything. Thanks for your helpful suggestions 🙂
Post # 11
Thanks – this is a very hard time and I’m sure you see what your mom is going through.
The rehab facility my mom is in has recliners but around Thanksgiving we’d just set up mom’s new “lift recliner” in her house which cost about $850 and uses a remote to recline and then actually lift the person to a standing position. These facilities don’t purchase such things and she was so comfortable in it at home I thought it couldn’t be that hard to get it to her. It was pathetic to see her hunched over in a wheel chair all day and her Dr told her the circulation in her legs was becoming dangerous. It turned out it was a piece of cake to transport the chair to her, but very helpful to have my FIL’s truck.
My husband often walks out when we have the slightest “hitting heads” conversation. He hates confrontation and will eventually come back to discuss things but I hate the walking off routine. We certainly need to work on this response. It was an especially bad example for my daughter. She loves him but always has my back and knows how her father treated me, so she’s very protective of how I’m treated now.
Post # 12
Thanks for your comments. He may feel a little neglected – hell, I feel a little neglected right now since I barely have time to even do laundry let alone work & plan for mom’s estate and future care while taking care of husband, daughter and worrying about my son (22 and off at college/working -cowboying).
He and his mom don’t have a very close relationship. She had custody of my husband and his brother for 1 year after she and his dad divorced, but the boys were only 5 and 6. After one year she decided she couldn’t take care of them and sent them to live with his dad who had remarried. I know my husband felt abandoned by her then and later in life, not long after my DH was diagnosed with MS, she moved out of state – in his mind away from him and his brother who has 2 small children. I’m very close friends with his dad and he might have said something to DH today because he knows very well the stresses I’m dealing with.
Post # 14
Most of my posts ARE books! LOL!!
Post # 15
*hugs* it really sucks having ill parents. I just watched my own mother go through it with her parents.
Would you be comfortable showing your husband this post? What you wrote, not the rest of the replies. It was really honest and showed us exactly what you were thinking and feeling. It sounds like he’s not understanding any of that so seeing it written down and so blunt might help him to understand.
Post # 16
I’m sorry you got put in this situation. I can only imagine how much stress it has put you in! Could your fiancee just be possibly stressed about the whole situation? I’m sure it’s hard for him to see you go through all of this and have to constantly have no help from other family members. This could possibly be his way of finally venting a little. Maybe with his frustration with the chair it was his thinking/wishing that the facilty would do more than they are for your mother currently. I would just give yourself some space until you both can calm down and talk about it. It has to be a lot of stress/worry on all of your family.
Lots of love! I hope your mother gets well soon!