How can I help my husband's depression while still being fair to me?
September 22, 2014 12:12 PM   Subscribe

My husband suffers from depression, which he says is worsened by things like the house being messy. But when he's depressed, he won't clean, meaning that if I want to get him out of his funk, I need to do everything. I want to help him, but I also don't want to be the one doing all the work, while he has all the fun - he won't let me have fun without him. What can I do?

The "messy" stuff applies to pretty much all chores - while depressed, he doesn't want to take out the garbage, clean, pick up things, do laundry, wash dishes, or really anything. But he still wants an immaculate house.

He also won't really let me do my own fun things on the weekend - or, he won't forbid it, but he'll passive-aggressively complain about it, and when I get back he'll be in a funk and will be mean about things. When I call him out about being mean, he agrees, but says that it is a result of his depression, and that if the house were cleaner/he were having a better weekend it would not be the case. He won't let me watch movies I like if he doesn't like them on the main television screen, and if I go into another room for even fifteen minutes, he asks what I'm doing and will call my name loudly until I come back out to him. If I start playing a game, he will come over and ask for me to get off so he can play his game. I also have to do everything in his presence. He will not even shower alone, and if I don't feel like showering right then, he will talk about how gross he feels and how all he wants is a shower - but he will not take one without me. Even if he offers to cook, it's stressful, because he wants me to be there with him while he's cooking, so I still get no downtime.

To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful. And he had some childhood stuff around neglect that makes a lot of this behavior make sense. But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do, all of the time, and I feel like I just can't take any more.

What do I do? How can I possibly resolve this situation? Do I just need to accept that this is how it needs to be, or is there some room I can fairly make for myself?
posted by sockmeamadeus to Human Relations (133 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do I just need to accept that this is how it needs to be, or is there some room I can fairly make for myself?

You need to understand that this is horribly unfair to you and sounds co-dependent and borderline abusive. Consider getting therapy for yourself before trying to fix your husband.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:16 PM on September 22, 2014 [116 favorites]


He won't let me watch movies I like if he doesn't like them on the main television screen, and if I go into another room for even fifteen minutes, he asks what I'm doing and will call my name loudly until I come back out to him. If I start playing a game, he will come over and ask for me to get off so he can play his game. I also have to do everything in his presence. He will not even shower alone, and if I don't feel like showering right then, he will talk about how gross he feels and how all he wants is a shower - but he will not take one without me. Even if he offers to cook, it's stressful, because he wants me to be there with him while he's cooking, so I still get no downtime.

Leaving his illness aside for a moment, this behavior is that of a child rather than a partner, and I'm very sorry you're on the receiving end of it. Is he in therapy?
posted by jbickers at 12:16 PM on September 22, 2014 [44 favorites]


It sounds like you are married to a fussy toddler. He won't let you out of his sight. He will not even shower alone.

When I call him out about being mean, he agrees, but says that it is a result of his depression, and that if the house were cleaner/he were having a better weekend it would not be the case

Depression is an illness. It is a serious illness. This does not sound like what your husband is suffering from. It actually just sounds like he is immature and emotionally manipulative. You don't suffer from depression because you are having a crappy weekend. That's just called having a crappy weekend.

What do I do? How can I possibly resolve this situation?

Step one: go away for the weekend by yourself. You don't even need to leave the city, staying alone in a hotel room will do. Use this weekend to start making plans for your new life. Sleep in. Luxuriate in the silence. Price out apartments. When you get back, tell your husband his behavior is absolutely untenable and you cannot live with it. Offer him the option of shaping the fuck up (because, again, this is not about depression, this is immature and unhealthy behavior and he can change it) or living alone going forward.

Good luck. I am thinking of you.
posted by kate blank at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2014 [116 favorites]


Is your husband getting treated for his depression? While it is a very serious illness, he doesn't get to act terribly then shirk all responsibility due to it. If he is not being treated or is not taking his treatment seriously, then his behavior is unforgivable and you've been a saint.

If he is taking his treatment seriously, but it isn't working... and clearly if he's acting like this it's either not working at all or he's just a very, very selfish person... then he needs to visit his doctor, therapist, psychiatrist immediately and get on a new path of treatment and therapy.

This is not how a relationship works, and I'm in awe of how much it sounds like you've put up with so far. Depression is not a free pass to shit on your partner until the end of time. I hope it works out for you both, and you can find some peace.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


No wonder you're at the end of your rope. It sounds like you're basically parenting an adult-sized two year old rather than participating in a balanced partnership.

You need to understand that this is horribly unfair to you and sounds co-dependent and borderline abusive

This.

You and he definitely need to be in couples therapy, and I think you could both benefit from individual therapy if you're not in it already.

This sounds utterly miserable. No one should have to live like this, and the fact that he's depressed is not an excuse for him to control you and force you to be the only adult in the relationship.

I'm just a random internet stranger, but if you wanted to DTMFA and walk away, I think that would be totally reasonable. Otherwise, get everyone to therapy.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


This sounds utterly nightmarish and while I don't have any specific advice for you on how to work out this situation, I want to confirm for you that this is factually an appalling situation for you and that any resentments you have about it are wholly valid; his behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:23 PM on September 22, 2014 [24 favorites]


Yeah, this sounds like manipulation. He needs to see a therapist, and you need to attend at least one session with him to provide a third-party account of what happens at home.
If it's truly depression, he needs to be on meds.

You can support him by helping him make appointments for the therapist and/or psychiatrist. Anything else is just enabling this behavior, it does nothing to treat his illness.
posted by trivia genius at 12:23 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Uh, wow. This sounds horrible.

This also sounds like the Hurricane Irene episode of How I Met Your Mother (Disaster Averted), where Marshall's health insurance had lapsed and he was being obnoxious and seeing death around every corner and insisting that Lily come with him everywhere. The thing is, Marshall's behavior in that episode was portrayed as completely unacceptable, even over the course of ONE weekend while under extreme stress. I cannot imagine going through that over a lifetime.

This is really, really not OK. It is also not your problem. I'm not sure how you can get him to fix something that is affecting you so badly, but I think the process probably starts with you looking for support -- your own therapist, maybe? -- so you can talk about how this affects you and get an outside view.

To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful.

Yeah, no, this actually makes it worse. He's clearly capable of being kind and loving, he's just witholding that behavior until you comply exactly with what he wants you to do.
posted by pie ninja at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2014 [63 favorites]


I notice that in all your talk of what your husband says alleviates his depression, you do not mention "he goes to therapy" or "he takes medication."

Those are the only two things that will alleviate depression, if that is indeed what he has. If he is not seeking that kind of help, he needs to start doing it rather than relying on you to do all the heavy lifting.

I can respect if he doesn't feel like he can go see a therapist yet. But I can't respect that he is using his depression as an excuse to treat you poorly, and neither should you. I agree that a trial separation - the kind of thing Kate Blank is suggesting - may be best. Make it "I will move out until you get yourself to a therapist or a doctor" if you like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful. And he had some childhood stuff around neglect that makes a lot of this behavior make sense. But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do, all of the time, and I feel like I just can't take any more.

You shouldn't have to take it anymore, he's treating you terribly. I agree that this is borderline abusive. I know that sounds really sensationalistic, but I've lived with a partner like this before, too, and I think you're glossing over the massive amount of tearing you down and manipulation that your SO is engaging in, in order to not only make you do everything his way but to make you feel as though that's how it *should* be.

I also have depression, and even though it *can* make you exhausted and short-tempered, it *doesn't* make you lazy or mean. It's not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Feeling better also means actively taking care of yourself/your environment/your relationships, not whining and whinging and manipulating until other people take care of things for you.

I have no doubt that an immaculate house would make him feel better IF HE'S THE ONE TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF CHORES HIMSELF AND DO HIS PART TO CLEAN IT. I have no doubt that doing fun things with loved ones would make him feel better IF IT'S PART OF HIM TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OWN HAPPINESS AND STRENGTHENING THOSE RELATIONSHIPS. It sounds like he's delegating all of what should be *his* work (including his work w/r/t treating his depression) onto you and that's just making you depressed without making him better.

tl;dr: I don't think this is because he's depressed, I think this is because he's a self-serving jerk who's messing with your head.
posted by rue72 at 12:25 PM on September 22, 2014 [37 favorites]


What is HE doing to get help? It's one thing to cater to all of this as part of the process of him seeking help and medication and beginning to heal so both of your lives can get better, but if he's not putting any work into dealing with his depression in a long-term way that's not a sustainable way for you to build a life together.

I have suffered from very serious depression (and I continue to do so at intervals even when I'm careful about my medicine). I know that this puts some pressure on my husband who is absolutely patient and caring and thoughtful and wonderful, and I also know that it's my responsibility to make these episodes happen as seldom as possible by getting professional help. It's not fair to Mr. Pterodactyl to put that pressure on him all the time, just as it's not reasonable for your husband to put that pressure on you. I get it, I really do, but this is not an acceptable or appropriate way for him to behave and he needs to get help from a professional and not from his spouse.

More specifically, for now, do some stuff by yourself. You need to and you deserve that opportunity. Go to the movies and invite him but if he doesn't want to go, just go. Don't slam the door, don't yell, don't say you never do anything together, just be like "I'm going to the movies. Want to come? Okay, I'll miss you!" and then go to the movies. Don't harp on how great it was or how sad you were that he didn't come too, don't be passive-aggressive about it, just make sure you're giving yourself the opportunity to do things you want and deserve to do without letting his depression control both of you.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:25 PM on September 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Is he doing things to help his depression? Does he have a therapist and a psychiatrist? Does he keep those appointments regularly? Does he have medication? Does he take it? I understand the impossible position that you are in and how hard it is to talk to someone whose depression has put you both in this position. You can, however, absolutely ask that he do the things he needs to do to get better.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:25 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


What? No! Speaking as somebody who has dealt with severe depression, depression is not a free pass to be a needy demanding jerk any more than a broken leg is a free pass to be a needy demanding jerk.

Is he in therapy? On medication? If not, he's choosing to abuse you instead of getting actual help. A weekend away where you figure out what you want and need sounds like a great idea.
posted by zug at 12:26 PM on September 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


What treatment is he getting? What is he doing to get control of his own illness?

Depression is particularly terrible in the way it fucks with your perception, but even depressed people (I've been one) know that it cannot be an excuse to be a jerk and manipulate people who love you and are trying to care for you.

He needs to step up responsibility for his own health; he's supposed to be your husband, not your child.
posted by rtha at 12:26 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Forgot to add: longer term, decide whether it's possible for you to stay in a relationship with someone who is unwilling or unable to get help for these issues. Maybe it is possible for you -- some people can manage that. Maybe it isn't. This does not make you bad or selfish. Figure out what is worth it to you and set those boundaries.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:27 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do...

Did anyone in his past treat him the same way? If so, maybe you could get him to connect that experience with how he's treating you now.

But yeah, don't put up with this.
posted by XMLicious at 12:29 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a power and control dynamic that is a hallmark of abusive relationships-rewards and punishments to control your behavior, and any negative behaviors of his are "caused" by you and your failings. Has he ever hit your or scared you or threatened you? I'd actually recommend against couples counseling at this point-he needs to get help for his depression (if it's real and not manipulation) and his thinking errors and control issues; separate supportive counseling for you would be great. I'd suggest couples' counseling once he's demonstrated progress and accountability. I'm so sorry-this must be so hard. It's not your fault.
posted by purenitrous at 12:31 PM on September 22, 2014 [32 favorites]


Nthing that this is totally out of the bounds for normal/acceptable depression behavior. When my depression kicks in I can be a PITA - unmotivated, moody, slacking on chores. But I know it's not an excuse to be excessively demanding, clingy, and codependent. And while I appreciate my partner picking up the slack on household duties and giving me extra cuddles, I would never take the view that his behavior is the only thing that affects my mood.
posted by radioamy at 12:39 PM on September 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


What do you mean when you say he "makes you" do certain things like shower with him, get off the computer, etc, etc? What happens if you say no or stand up to him? And what is he like when he's not depressed?
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, unless he has actually been diagnosed by an actual psychologist/psychiatrist I don't think you're husband is depressed. I think he is emotionally abusive and using depression as a mask to hide his abusive behavior and a get out of jail free card for acting like a dick.

This:
To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful. And he had some childhood stuff around neglect that makes a lot of this behavior make sense. But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do, all of the time, and I feel like I just can't take any more.

is classic abuser behavior. You need to leave this guy. You probably aren't ready to that now but you should probably go to individual counseling and talk to a local women's shelter or something so you can get an outside perspective on your husband's behavior.

And don't go to couple's counseling with him. Abusers are really good at manipulating therapists to make the abused partner seem like the bad guy. You know, like he makes you feel like the bad guy because you don't cater to his every whim.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2014 [70 favorites]


Depression is often a lifelong struggle. If he's truly depressed -- and even if he isn't -- are you ready to deal with relapses that involve this level of behavior for the rest of your life?

I've been diagnosed as clinically depressed, but even at my darkest, I still treated my partner with respect. In depression, I couldn't muster effort to do a lot of things, like household chores and routine hygiene. But it takes significantly more effort to order someone around and manipulate them in the ways you've described. Your husband is abusive.
posted by theraflu at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Is this the same husband who expected you to bear the brunt of childcare and home maintenance while you kept a full-time job?

He needs counseling. You need counseling. And I think you need to get away for a weekend and consider how you see your life in 5 years and how he fits into that (without magically changing him into someone who does his share).
posted by AmandaA at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful.

I want you to do some reading about grooming. It is the way that abusers slowly teach you that the fucked up, harmful things they are doing are completely normal.
posted by kate blank at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


Sorry, I can't believe I forgot to add that he is not currently in therapy. He has agreed to go, but hasn't started yet - though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

What do you mean when you say he "makes you" do certain things like shower with him, get off the computer, etc, etc? What happens if you say no or stand up to him? And what is he like when he's not depressed?

Not physical force or anything like that. If I don't shower with him, he will flat out refuse to shower by himself and will talk in increasingly aggravated tones and snap at me about how he just needs to shower, it would be better for everyone including the family. Same with cleaning or the computer - he won't physically remove me or anything, he will just harangue me about how I'm being selfish and he really needs this, whereas I'm just acting on my wants.

When he's not depressed he will clean and tidy and want to go out and do things and take me to nice places and things like that and even talk about feelings as long as those are not feelings critical of him. He will be really supportive in my conflicts with other people, just not conflicts with him.
posted by sockmeamadeus at 12:56 PM on September 22, 2014


Is this the same husband who expected you to bear the brunt of childcare and home maintenance while you kept a full-time job?

He needs counseling. You need counseling. And I think you need to get away for a weekend and consider how you see your life in 5 years and how he fits into that (without magically changing him into someone who does his share).


THIS. You absolutely do NOT want to have children with a man who sulks and threatens to withdraw love and approval if he doesn't get his way. For one thing - kids are messy! If your husband gets all upset if the house isn't immaculate, he isn't going to be able to deal well with the noise and mess even the best-behaved small children create.

If your husband treated a child the way he treats you, it will cause serious psychological problems with that child.

If you are committed to making this marriage work, and especially if you want to bring a child into your marriage, your husband needs to get serious about therapy and medication for his depression, and the two of you need couples counseling. Meanwhile, do not give in to his demands. Spend a weekend away if you feel like it (unless you have pets you think will be hurt!). If he gets upset that you won't shower with him, then let him. If he wants the dishes done after a long day at work, he can get up and do them. Etc.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:59 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


"I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him." Nothing you said in your follow-up makes the answers that preceded it wrong. He sounds pretty awful. "When he's not depressed he will . . . even talk about feelings as long as those are not feelings critical of him."

There's nothing good here.
posted by feste at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2014 [71 favorites]


though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

Do you see what's happening here? You're taking responsibility for not doing something which is not your job in the first place, and then excuse his actions (or lack of actions, in this case).
posted by Ms. Next at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2014 [107 favorites]


according to your last question your husband holds down a lucrative job and fancies himself as having a really strong work ethic. the man you describe in the question seems completely different. he can't research and make his own therapy appointments? he can shower alone? he can't entertain himself for an hour on the computer while you're out but if you're there he needs that hour because you were using it first? none of this is ok.

i'm a childless housewife in a 24/7 submissive relationship and i don't do that much shit for my husband. you deserve better than this. this guy will probably never give it to you. if you are serious about wanting to be a mother it's time for you to find a husband who will be a good father.
posted by nadawi at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2014 [55 favorites]


Sorry, I can't believe I forgot to add that he is not currently in therapy. He has agreed to go, but hasn't started yet - though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

No, no, no. This is not fair. This is him being a dick. Again. Grown ass adults are actually capable of making their own appointments. Look, I suffer from severe depression and anxiety and I was still able to actually research and make an appointment with more than one therapist. Yeah, it sucked and was stressful as hell and freaked me out a lot but I did it because I really needed help and I don't even have a wife who I treat like crap when I'm "depressed". DTMFA.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2014 [46 favorites]


Not physical force or anything like that. If I don't shower with him, he will flat out refuse to shower by himself and will talk in increasingly aggravated tones and snap at me about how he just needs to shower, it would be better for everyone including the family. Same with cleaning or the computer - he won't physically remove me or anything, he will just harangue me about how I'm being selfish and he really needs this, whereas I'm just acting on my wants.

This is still 100% unacceptable, psychologically abusive behavior, and while I don't want to scare you, I absolutely would not assume that it will never escalate to physical abuse.

When he's not depressed he will clean and tidy and want to go out and do things and take me to nice places and things like that and even talk about feelings as long as those are not feelings critical of him. He will be really supportive in my conflicts with other people, just not conflicts with him.

Again, this is a classic pattern for abusive behavior. An equal partnership means that both people are willing to sometimes go out on a limb for the other person, even when they really don't feel like it. Even if it means getting your own feelings a little bruised.

You deserve better.
posted by kagredon at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2014 [23 favorites]


Depressed dude here.

nadawi is dropping science.

Straight up: Your husband is using his depression as a weapon against you to keep from having to actually deal with his depression. This is unacceptable but also simply unworkable.

It isn't uncommon for people with depression to be cruel to those closest to them. When I'm feeling charitable, I'd say it's because those people have crossed the subtle me/them psychological barrier that governs how we see other people. There are other, less charitable ways to see it.

Either way, outside of having people in your life who can be present to what's happening in your home life, *you* need to start seeing a counselor right now. Like this week or next. You need to talk to someone outside of this system who can help you see what's okay and what isn't. Depressed people don't complain about others being selfish. Controlling assholes do though, and calling you out on filling your "wants" is abusive. Your husband is a ball of wants, and he is absolutely acting like a spoiled baby when he is depressed.

What your dude is doing to you is abusive, and also unfair to other depressed people who are trying to take care of their junk.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:11 PM on September 22, 2014 [36 favorites]


This sounds a miserable way to use up your one and only precious life. Both me and my ex have mental health problems and they can put great strain on a relationship, in the end it was too much for us to continue, but we always had mutual respect and caring. You can do much better than getting treated like this. It is up to you to decide what exactly what you are getting from this relationship and if it is actually a net positive or not in your life. I don't know you but I do know people often stay in relationships too long for fear of living alone, then once the wheels fall off the relationship anyway find that living solo has many pluses as well as some disadvantages. If you want a positive and hopeful vision of living alone I would highly recommend the book

"One: Living as One and Loving it" by Victoria Alexander

I would get this book, get a journal, and check yourself into a hotel for a weekend as others have suggested and do all your thinking on paper. Sometimes the process of writing and rewording the different issues at work enables you to see what is really going on in a situation, especially if you have some time away from the environment which is messing with your head and making it hard to see things clearly. Good luck to you whatever you decide, whether that's going solo or setting new boundaries.
posted by AuroraSky at 1:15 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


He has agreed to go, but hasn't started yet - though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

To be fair, you shouldn't be the one who's responsible for doing this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on September 22, 2014 [31 favorites]


Wow, this is pretty serious. It sounds like he has absolutely no idea how to be alone. It's true that being alone can be very hard, especially if your head is full of scary thoughts. But it's a skill an adult really, really needs to have. Hell, I'm helping my 9-month-old to play alone while I get chores done, and even he can manage it for a while.

Can you ask him why he is finding it so hard to be alone? Is he afraid of the depressive thoughts he will experience? Does he feel like he can't take care of himself? Maybe that could be a productive conversation to have.

No question though - you need a BREAK.
posted by Cygnet at 1:17 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


...though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

Will you also make it your responsibility to drive him to his therapy appointments to make sure he keeps them? Pick him up? Take him to his psychiatrist appointments if the therapist believe's he's at a point where therapy on its own will not be sufficient? Make sure he takes his medication? Refill it? Monitor his mood for significant changes to report to his mental health professionals? Because these things are all absolutely necessary to improve severe depression, and that's not counting the slew of things you literally cannot help him with because he has to be the one to make the decision, in his head, to do the things he has to do to get better.

Therapy is like going to the gym: you can show up and lift things with two fingers and walk at a snail's pace on the treadmill and say to yourself "well, I went to gym today" and it eventually turns into "oh I guess physically fitness just doesn't work for me." Which is absolutely where I see this headed. Unless he's going to be willing to push himself into uncomfortable territory to get better, he won't.

There's a point at which an adult human being has to take responsibility for their own state of mental health, because, among many other reasons, self-reliance and willpower is an enormous component of mental health.

When he's not depressed he will clean and tidy and want to go out and do things and take me to nice places and things like that and even talk about feelings as long as those are not feelings critical of him.

This is something that is absolutely going to have to be addressed at some point because relationships rely on growth and, because no one has perfect insight into their own actions, growth often depends on honest criticism from trusted loved ones.
posted by griphus at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Can you ask him why he is finding it so hard to be alone?

I think he may have some trauma around being alone. From what I understand, he suffered a lot of neglect as a child and was left alone for days sometimes. I don't think he's a bad guy or is trying to hurt me, I think he's just really messed up from a lot of this stuff and doesn't know how to handle things.

also thank you everyone for telling me I'm not crazy to feel overwhelmed and upset
posted by sockmeamadeus at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh, so:

You can help by getting counseling. Because you shouldn't expect to go this alone, and you shouldn't have to (and you don't!). A (good) counselor will help you define and reinforce boundaries that will identify and support his actual depression while giving you guidelines and tools to avoid capitulating to his guilt-trip bullying. And to help you determine an overall response to his obvious need for counseling while at the same time clearly not being interested in counseling.

You may need to DTMF eventually, but that will likely be another AskMe question.

A savvy manipulator (or just one who comes by it through the natural gift of a childhood education, as many abused children do) will be suspicious of you getting counseling because he (or she!) will intuit that outside influence might upset the power dynamic in your relationship. Most excuses you might offer will have a ready guilt-trip response from the other party. If you get push back, go anyways. Tell him its because you have been feeling low about work or something that has nothing to do with him. Whatever. But if he guilt-trips you about going, that's a pretty serious red flag that no matter how nice or great he may be under some circumstances, he is not healthy enough for a relationship and you need to let him "stay in the oven" a bit longer until he's done and ready to come out.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


And second Oh and then I'm out of this thread, I promise for real:

If he hates being alone that bad, then he needs to make some friends who will hang out with him. You can't be responsible for all of his emotional needs. That's simply cruel.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


He has agreed to go, but hasn't started yet - though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

If your husband is truly so seriously depressed that he cannot shower unattended, then he needs intensive, possibly inpatient, psychiatric care, because that's serious business. And maybe that's the case--I know certainly that there were times when my ex really, genuinely, could not muster basic self-care or self-soothing, and I regret that at the time I did not push him to escalate his treatment. He also struggled with not wanting to go out, and not wanting me to go anywhere without him, and this led to some controlling behaviors that resembled what you describe here.

But here's the thing. During those times, it didn't matter if i kept our house immaculate and I came home from work right on time every day and cooked a hot meal and the pets were perfectly well-behaved and the weather was nice--my ex husband was still horrifically depressed. If your husband's symptoms magically disappear when you are his willing mommy-slave and do Everything Perfectly, then no, he's not depressed. He's bullshit. And maybe working on some really deeply buried kink. And neither of those things is something you need to live with.

I'd tell him it's either intensive psychiatric evaluation or sayonara.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:25 PM on September 22, 2014 [70 favorites]


he will just harangue me about how I'm being selfish and he really needs this, whereas I'm just acting on my wants.

Oh my God. You are being manipulated to a breathtaking degree. Breathtaking.

though to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.

He has to take responsibility for his own illness. And frankly, never mind making an appoinment for him -- you need to to make an appointment FOR YOURSELF because you need a 3rd party yo explain to you how to create and maintain boundaries for your own survival. Your husband's treatment of you is revolting.

I think he may have some trauma around being alone. From what I understand, he suffered a lot of neglect as a child and was left alone for days sometimes.

You know what? THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE. It really, really is not. It's his shit to work on, not your burden to carry.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2014 [73 favorites]


To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful.

This is emotional abuse. He gets what he wants by manipulating you. It's not cool and it's totally something that should be addressed outside of his depression.

You can be depressed and still be an asshole.
posted by xingcat at 1:32 PM on September 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


he won't physically remove me or anything, he will just harangue me about how I'm being selfish and he really needs this, whereas I'm just acting on my wants.

Uh, no. Why does he have needs and you have wants? Even if we suppose you're merely caring for a depressed spouse (not a creepy emotional manipulator), you're supposed to put on your own oxygen mask first -- this is pretty basic. Stop giving in to his harangues -- they're not healthy for either of you. Use headphones, or a locked door, or whatever you need to, when you need your own space.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:33 PM on September 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


I have a 1 and 3 year old, and I manage to shower alone (almost) every day. If your husband's trauma is still affecting him to this extent, he needs to do the hard work required to process it. You cannot do it for him. You love him, and you took vows, but that's not how it works. You cannot save him. That is a myth. He needs to manage his own mental health and he needs to stop drowning you in his illness.

Put on your oxygen mask, get therapy for yourself, and start talking to your support network. I'm getting more concerned about your well-being with every update.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:36 PM on September 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


Also, one other thing: When he's not depressed he will clean and tidy and want to go out and do things and take me to nice places and things like that and even talk about feelings as long as those are not feelings critical of him. He will be really supportive in my conflicts with other people, just not conflicts with him.

People who suffer from depression may be prone to certain types of shitty behavior toward other people, and you describe some of that behavior. However, if he's unable to take criticism when he's healthy -- and you haven't told us what happens, but I assume it's deeply unpleasant -- you have two problems here and while they're intermixed, you can't assume taking care of the depression will take care of the other.

Depression brings out the worst in people, but your husband's behavior isn't just run-of-the-mill behavior by a depressed individual. It's behavior by a depressed individual who also shows an alarming capacity for emotional abuse. Nothing -- not a shitty childhood, not poor mental health, nothing -- excuses emotional abuse. And if he can't take criticism about his feelings and actions from his wife, then you have to start thinking about what happens when he goes to therapy and is unable to take it from a stranger.
posted by griphus at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


So, I was going to say that some aspects of this are depression-related (apathy and feelings of hopelessness) but then I read your question about having kids and your info about him being neglected - it is highly likely that you have been put in the role here of being his mother - and I mean actually and genuinely, and for the rest of your life if you don't do something about this now - ideally, individual counselling and couples counselling. If he resists this, you are probably going to have to walk away for your own sake.
posted by heyjude at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Let me light this up for you in a different way:

To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful doesn't hit me.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2014 [24 favorites]


I think he's just really messed up from a lot of this stuff and doesn't know how to handle things.

He probably did get dealt a raw deal, but that's not actually an excuse for him to be emotionally abusive toward you or to expect you to take total responsibility for his well-being.

It's not even really an explanation for his behavior, since he's a grown man who is able to make conscious decisions about how to treat you. Depression is a beast, but one thing it doesn't do is make a person into a manipulative abuser who uses emotional blackmail, tear-downs, and demands of control so extreme that he won't even leave his wife alone to her own devices for the length of a shower, in order to (always) get his own way. It's your husband's own choice to act like that, it's not something he's forced to do as a consequence of depression.

It's also counterproductive for you to take this much responsibility for his mental health, because you can't actually undergo treatment for depression *for* him. That's not going to do him any good (and it sounds like he'll blame you and make you feel terrible when it fails to do him any good, too).

I absolutely agree with the people above who are telling you to look into counseling *for yourself.* It sounds like you feel that you need help navigating this relationship -- and it makes perfect sense to me why you would, because imo he's manipulating you and screwing with your head big time -- and a therapist would be a great person to help you with that. You going to a therapist would also model good behavior for him.
posted by rue72 at 1:44 PM on September 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


I was married to a man who suffered from depression and was also a big fuckin baby who had been spoiled by his mother and who managed to find a psychotherapist who spoiled him and pampered him and treated him like a baby bird with a broken wing (the objective opinion of a different therapist who saw them interact, not my words). He went on anti-depressants and they helped some, at least he didn't have temper tantrums where he would lie on the bed, literally kicking his feet and crying. But then he said he was going to go off of them and got terribly insulted when I asked him not to.

He would cry if he didn't like my new haircut because he thought I looked like a sockermom and he thought it reflected badly on him. He would make fun of my clothing choices, which were appropriate for a young lawyer in a conservative firm.

When he was given tickets to a show I really really really wanted to see but declined because I was studying for the bar and really couldn't afford the time off from class, he accused me of using studying for the bar as an excuse to only do what I wanted. Given that I was declining an invitation to something I really wanted to do, and given that I spent time with his hateful family, I thought that was really unfair.

Once, while I was a first year associate, working really long hours and yet still cooking etc (and bringing him coffee in bed every morning because it was easier than fighting him over it), I got home one night and he told me that he'd felt feverish so he had stripped the bed and put the sheets in the washer. I said, uh, the washer isn't on? and he said, oh I didn't know how to turn it on. I said, but you replaced the sheets on the bed, right? and he said, oh I didn't know where we kept the sheets. (Do I need to tell you that he knew? He knew.)

This is the same guy who said that the person who cooks should clean because if they don't clean then they are incentivized to use all the pots and pans in the kitchen. I cooked him a really good meal every night and I washed up as I went AND I ended up washing the dishes from the previous night before I started cooking each evening.

It was shit like this all day every day. He went into a big depression right after we got married and told me that it was because it had just hit him that he would never have sex with anyone but me ever again. I was like, oh nice, thanks a heap.

We got into couple counseling. During that time, I said, "You are using me. You are taking advantage of the fact that I don't like to have arguments in order to emotionally blackmail me into doing way way more than you would ever do for a partner."

He said, "I know. But it's working to my advantage and I don't want to stop."

I didn't see how unbelievably intolerable this shit was until I started on anti-depressants, and once I realized that I didn't deserve what he was dishing out, I divorced him. And man, the only good thing about waiting as long as I did to divorce him was how great it felt to be free of that asshole. You don't deserve his shit. Don't take it. And don't have children with this guy. You already have a child: him.
posted by janey47 at 1:44 PM on September 22, 2014 [104 favorites]


Oh god I came back to see if there were any updates and this is so much worse than it seemed from the initial question. He is actively gaslighting you to the extent that if I knew you IRL I would help you fake your own death and start a new life elsewhere free from this shitty abusive asshole.

I agree with others that couple's therapy would likely not help; your husband is not going to believe the words of another person telling him that he is abusive. He will accuse you of "getting to them first" or some such similar bullshit, and I'm afraid that you might believe it and stop going. You need to go to therapy on your own and lay out everything as you did here, explain how your husband's behavior and ideally get the hell out of this marriage.

It is so important that women of all ages and backgrounds and everything, we all need to be aware that abuse doesn't always leave physical signs, and that when you reach the point where you're not sure you can trust your own version of events in your marriage then that is the point to get out.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 PM on September 22, 2014 [52 favorites]


Oh, geez, I had one of these too. He flat-out refused to ever wash the dishes -- because he remembered being alone in the kitchen washing the dishes when he was a kid and so doing the dishes made him sad. He would sit around the house naked rather than do his laundry. (He didn't need clean clothes for work because he'd quit his job and refused to get another.)

He was ALSO depressed. (probably still is, I haven't spoken to him in 12+ years.) He wouldn't get any help for that, either.

He's agreed to go to therapy? Screw "researching therapists". Get him an appointment with the first therapist you can find who takes your insurance. If it's a bad fit, that can be adjusted later. I know people are saying that he should take the responsibility for making the appointment, but you know what? He won't. Whether it's because of the depression or as another tool of emotional manipulation, he won't. So go ahead, call and get him an appointment. Print out the date/time/location and hand it to him. If he asks you to go with him, that's OK (as long as he asks politely/reasonably/maturely).

What he does then will tell you a lot.
posted by shiny blue object at 1:59 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's something about the way you describe his behavior that strongly reminds me of someone I took care of for a while who was very anxious and obsessive/compulsive. She had to monitor and control everything that I did around the house as part of my house caring duties because of this anxiety -- how I boiled water, how I poured tea, how I placed my shoes by the door, and also less concrete things like having to be in a certain room when she wanted me there or being by her side when she blow dried her hair, etc. It made me absolutely miserable, and I only held this job for a month. Her husband had rationalized all her behavior away because each individual behavior she required seemed to have a logical explanation, but to an outsider the aggregate of all her requirements made it an extremely difficult and fraught way to live for the spouse. I agree with everyone else who says this doesn't sound like depression. I think you need third-party help here.
posted by megancita at 2:03 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Presumably he isn't like this at work, or on the bus, or when ordering in restaurants. That's a clue.

Get help!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:04 PM on September 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Let me see if I can make clear what I'm seeing going on here.

He is abusing you. This is abuse. You are being abused.

What would you tell your best friend to do in this situation? Your sister? Your daughter?

You deserve far, far better than this.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't think he's a bad guy or is trying to hurt me, I think he's just really messed up from a lot of this stuff and doesn't know how to handle things.

You don't have to demonize your husband in order to see how he's being unacceptably controlling. Part of the problem is that we hear 'emotional abuser' and think: that means this person isn't really a person, that they never really loved me, etc. And then we think: that can't be true, so this can't really be emotional abuse.

(It's like the way Cylons got treated on Battlestar Galactica. De-humanizing someone makes it easier to do what you need to do to get out from under their thumb. But as Battlestar Galactica kept pointing out, Cylons have feelings too, and your fellow humans, including every single one of the 'good guy' characters, commit horrible acts of abuse, because they genuinely felt they needed to.)

Being messed up doesn't mean you're not emotionally abusive. Emotional abuse generally starts with the abuser's messed-up childhood. Just because your husband doesn't know how to handle things well, doesn't mean he can't be good at manipulating you in creepy ways. So your husband might not want to hurt you as a primary goal, but he's willing to do so as a means to get himself what he feels he desperately needs.

Regardless of your husband's moral status as a good guy or bad guy, what's going on is point-blank unacceptable. You have a moral responsibility to stop accepting it.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


It really, really helped me to learn that people can be both mentally ill (like with depression) and abusive, but that being mentally ill does not cause one to be abusive.

Your husband is being emotionally abusive and controlling, and he is mentally ill. Fixing the mental illness will not actually fix the abusive and controlling behavior, because they are not caused by his mental illness (assuming he actually has one; he may just be a sulky jerk) but simply in addition to it.

Please get some help (therapy, Domestic Violence Hotline, supportive friends) for yourself. Please do what you need to keep yourself emotionally and physically safe (and that may mean catering to his wishes for a while), but please know that you do not deserve this treatment (because NOBODY deserves this treatment, no matter what they've done in the past) and you should not internally excuse it.
posted by jaguar at 2:07 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Just a data point, I scanned through this question and the words 'borderline abusive' arose in my mind. And then I saw them in the first response.

Dump him.
posted by Mistress at 2:08 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


And one can also be a victim of childhood abuse and still be an abusive partner. Those are not in any way mutually exclusive categories, and again, resolving the trauma will not resolve the abusive and controlling behavior.
posted by jaguar at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


I have a lot of experience with seeing first-hand the aftermath of terrible childhood neglect and abuse and resultant severe and chronic depression/anxiety. This is not what it looks like. This is highly manipulative and controlling behavior that's being called incorrectly called depression. Your husband is likely depressed, but he's also exploiting that to get away with treating you very poorly, and that's unacceptable.

Your indulging his every whim won't make him better. He needs treatment for the depression and also needs therapy to get his behavior in-line with what's acceptable. Right now he's being abusive.
posted by quince at 2:14 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Yes, exactly. Having been the victim of abuse can explain the behavior of an abuser but it can never excuse it.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:15 PM on September 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


I agree with everyone here that you are being abused, and that you must leave this relationship as soon as you safely can. Today would not be too soon.

I do fear for your safety as you're leaving. Do you have a friend who can be with you while you tell your husband that you're leaving, and who can stay with you while you pack/gather your things? I know your husband hasn't been physically violent towards you so far, but many abusers turn to physical violence when their abused partner decides to leave.

I know it must feel terrible to assume that the man you married is capable of something as horrible as physical abuse, but for your own safety I think you must make that assumption and take steps to protect yourself as you start your new life.

The volatility of this situation cannot be overstated. Please, please be safe, and please get help.
posted by jesourie at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


you might be feeling attacked here, defensive of the man you love and the life you have built. you might have wrapped back around to distrusting your own impressions that led you to asking this question because our answers are so harsh, so lacking in empathy for him. i understand that. i hope you fight the impulse to tune us out. i hope you remember the frustrated you from two hours ago. i hope you turn these words over as you clean and cook and shower with him. i hope you consider what a life would be like if you could go out for an hour without complications or guilt.

i'll add another thing to the stack of stuff to reflect on - what if you were suddenly physically unable to cater to his every whim? what if you badly broke your leg and you needed him to do absolutely everything for you for 6 months. would he do it? or would he continue to ask for you to give more of yourself than you have? if he wouldn't do it - then why are you doing so much for him? if he would - then why are your emotional needs not as important to him as your physical needs? you promised to love him in sickness and in health, which must weigh on you when you think his self described depression is too much to take - but do you think he'd actually extend that promise to you?
posted by nadawi at 2:24 PM on September 22, 2014 [64 favorites]


is there some room I can fairly make for myself?

All the room in the world, OP. Dump him today. This is your one, precious life he is ruining. You will not get another one to do over after he's ruined this one with his dickishness. Don't give it to him.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:25 PM on September 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do, all of the time

This, by the way, is almost the perfect description of being in an abusive and controlling relationship. How can you have any sense of self if his definition of happiness is your not having any wants, needs, or behaviors different from his own?
posted by jaguar at 2:29 PM on September 22, 2014 [36 favorites]


He is actively abusing you. I hope you have the strength to look past the misplaced pity you feel for him and really see it for what it is.

As others have said, his abusive, controlling pattern of behavior is NOT AT ALL TYPICAL of Actual Depressed People. Some much deeper dysfunction is at play here, and self-diagnosed so-called "depression" is never, ever an excuse for abuse. Because there simply is no excuse for abuse!

Consider that one of the reasons he's refusing your attempts to help get his "depression" treated is because he knows he's not actually "depressed" and does not need you knowing that, too. He has you right where he wants you.

All of @jaguar's comments here are spot on about mental illness and non-mutually exclusive categories - please go read them again.
posted by hush at 2:31 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do you really love him? Do you envision the rest of your lives together? Is all of this relatively new and a horrible blip on an otherwise decent relationship?

If you think there's something worth salvaging, then I'm going to suggest you have one serious, "Come to Jesus" talk with him. You may want to see a therapist yourself and have this conversation with the therapist in the room.

Tell him what's not working for you, what's not fair, and how it upsets you. Tell him you NEED for him to see a psychiatrist, a therapist, that you need for him to get competent help NOW. That if he doesn't you can't continue living like you are, and that you're leaving.

He seems incredibly screwed up, and it's not fair to you. He needs to get on the ball and get help.

If he doesn't want to do that, then I think you need to leave.
posted by kinetic at 2:31 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


It sounds like so much work to bitch at you like that. I can't believe a truly depressed person would be so tenacious. My first question was, how often is he "depressed?" It sounds fairly frequent? You should get out of there.
posted by amodelcitizen at 2:42 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I basically retract my initial answer, now that I've seen your updates. This sounds less and less like someone in the throes of untreated depression and more and more like a consciously manipulative and abusive person who is taking advantage of you. Let him make his own therapy appointments; go make one for yourself immediately, if not sooner.
posted by rtha at 2:43 PM on September 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


If it helps at all with perspective, I came in here from your title all prepared to be supportive of you helping your partner with his depression, while finding some balance for self-care. I have depression; my partner has bipolar; I know from the compromises and sacrifices one makes in the name of a partner's mental health.

But having actually read your posts - no. This is not bog standard compromising that a person with depression might reasonably ask of their partner. Please, please, see a therapist for yourself, and start working out with that person how to change this dynamic. That might very well be you leaving but I'm not saying you have to make that leap right now - make the smaller but extremely critical leap of getting someone who is purely on your side, to hear your story in more detail and give you better advice than AskMe can provide.

I wish you all the best.
posted by Stacey at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


Nthing most of what I see in the comments here. I have been in two long-term co-habitating relationships with women who suffer from serious depression. I have never even heard of some of the things that your husband is expressing, let alone seen them.

I'm not doubting your husband's depression, but at the same time, it seems perfectly likely that he's using that real condition as leverage for other manipulation. Yes, cleaning up the house for someone who suffers from depression can help. No, it's not a freakin' requirement and you're not a bad person or unsupportive for not being his mommy.

But when we get into the showering & stuff? This sounds like serious issues apart from the depression. He needs therapy, and it's not at all your job to make that happen for him.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:58 PM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wow. Just no. None of his behavior is okay.

Depression is a bitch, but it's not a whiny, toddler, tantrum bitch.

Here's a phrase I want you to memorize and say frequently, "I understand that you're feeling needy, but I need things too, and right now I want some alone time."

If he hints around that he'd feel better with a clean house, you can tell him, "Great, we can clean it together, or you can clean it yourself or you can hire someone to clean it, but I'm not cleaning it by myself."

As for TV or games, "Hey, first come, first served. You can watch with me, or you can go in the other room and amuse yourself. I'm not your mother, and you're not a child."


To be fair, when the house is perfectly clean and I am doing everything that he wants to do, he is really great and affectionate and not hurtful.

That's a bunch of shit. When you're 100% in compliance with everything he wants, then it's all good, but until he gets his way, ALL the time, he's a horrible, kvetching and tyrannical, passive aggressive asshole?

I'm trying to understand one reason to stay quite frankly. This sound like a nightmare and I'd have flat left him eons ago.

Good God Girl Get a Grip! Get into counselling now, so you can learn how not to be manipulated by this horrible man.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:00 PM on September 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


I want to also add something to my answer above.

I'd known my then-husband (let's call him X) since we were 13. He had always had a kind of "poor me" attitude, but he was smart and he could be very funny.

We got together when I graduated from college and lived together for several years. Then for a variety of reasons, it wasn't working out and I broke up with X. You can imagine that he was pretty depressed over that. X acted out by living with a friend who had a very large cocaine habit and X soon also had a serious cocaine habit, which he blamed on me.

One night, he came over in the middle of the night and pounded on my front door. I told him I did not feel comfortable letting him in and if he wanted to talk, we could talk during daylight hours. He eventually convinced me to let him in to tell me how upsetting it was for him that I had a job and he didn't and so forth, and he promised me that he would leave when I told him to. He came in. We talked briefly. He asked for a glass of water. I gave it to him. He started to get angry and I said, okay, we're done here, time for you to go in accordance with your promise.

He threw the glass of water at the wall with all his strength. I was not injured but I was scared. He left. He called the next day and I said, I will have no further contact with you unless and until you get into therapy.

He did. He got into therapy within a couple of days. I was such a believer in the value of therapy, because I had always gone into it with the intention of working on myself and becoming a better, healthier person, that it never even occurred to me that you could get into therapy and bullshit around for ten years, getting positive reinforcement for being a dickwad and being told that you had been misunderstood your whole life. But that's what he did. He stayed with that therapist until I lost contact with him after our divorce which took place 12 years after he started therapy.

Between that night and our divorce, we didn't see each other for several years, then we dated off and on for a few years and then he started acting like an adult and we moved in together again and then we got married and it was like he had a license to pull out all the stops and be the awfulest person he could become -- because in his view, I was stuck. No divorce possible. So yeah, he had no reason to change and he was still getting petted and pampered by that so-called psychotherapist. So it was a few years into our marriage and after a friendship that had begun 22 years earlier that I started on anti-depressants myself and realized I didn't need to take his emotional abuse and manipulation.

But the big point I want to make here is that as awful as he said I was, he kept coming back; as awful as he made me feel, I kept coming back. Gaslighting is real. If you don't have reasonable self-esteem, it's easy to believe that because he has good qualities, that means that his drawbacks are in reaction to you. If you don't have a model of good family relationships (I didn't), you don't know what it looks like to be treated well and you can't judge very well what's unacceptable.

If you're not in therapy, you deserve to be, because you deserve a safe place in which to better understand yourself and your relationship.

And even if he agrees to get into therapy, it can be abused, so that's not the only answer. He must get into therapy and he must also change for the better in how he treats you. Because no one deserves to be treated the way he's treating you.
posted by janey47 at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


Cleaning up is self care. Why don't you suggest 10 minutes of cleaning up and that's all. Then ask him how he feels. If he starts to feel a bit better, suggest that you do 10 more. He will feel better if he helps.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please keep in mind that no one here is saying that this is in any way your fault.

I just want to make that very clear because this guy is trying to make you responsible for everything in his life so that it is "your" fault when he is unhappy/unshowered/unfed/unentertained.

You do not need to fix or solve anything here except how to take care of you and your wants and needs.

It can be hard to walk away from something you've put a lot of effort into, but sometimes, you have to realize it's Sisyphus and his damn rock. Do you want to keep pushing this rock up this hill, only to have it flatten you again and again?

You can care for him and he can care for you, he can be a victim of abuse, he can have depression, and he can still be an emotionally manipulative abusive asshole. Those things can all coexist. Just because he might actually care about you doesn't mean you deserve or have to put up with this.

My jaw literally dropped at your comment about you having to "buckle down" and make his appt. Fuck that. I have depression and anxiety and I knew I needed help and didn't want to be a burden to those I cared about so I forced myself to do the scary thing and made appts with appropriate people by picking people at random from my ins provider list. Then I went and it was exhausting and I didn't feel immediately better but eventually things got better. It was work. My work, no one else could do it for me.

You are not responsible for him in the way that he is trying to make you think you are.
posted by sio42 at 3:20 PM on September 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


Hi OP, I'm really feeling for you. I dated and lived with a guy who had some issues that sound similar to these, and was similarly manipulative and controlling. I didn't understand what was happening until the day he took a swing at me (thankfully he was drunk and missed). Emotional abuse can turn into physical abuse. What you have described is an emotionally abusive situation. You will be so, so happy when you're free of it.
posted by ootandaboot at 3:36 PM on September 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I want to echo likeafriend and say that if the symptoms your husband is presenting, like the inability to muster even basic self care like feeding and showering alone, are real, then he needs to look into emergency, inpatient psychiatric care. Your current situation is incredibly abusive and unsustainable.

Sockmeamadeus, I read through your Ask history, and over this summer you've gone from debating with your husband about whether his 6-figure salary is enough to support you taking care of your future children as a SAHM, to an active warrant of unknown provenance being out for your husband's arrest, to your husband being completely incapacitated by "depression", and demanding the intensive level of care from you that you had been hoping to give to your infant and toddler children.

This is a really dramatic and intense deterioration within less than half a year, and I'm wondering if these events might be related. Is your husband still working his 6-figure job? Is there a connection between this current episode of depression and his legal/criminal issues? Might his manipulating you into a 24/7 mothering role have anything to do with your desire to take care of children who will take your attention away from him? You are not "crazy" for being overwhelmed by this-- you are dealing with a lot in addition to the 24/7 emotional abuse your husband is putting you through. Please seek help of some kind-- jaguar already linked to the National Domestic Violence helpline-- you don't deserve to be treated this way, and we're all with you hoping for you.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:43 PM on September 22, 2014 [44 favorites]


How can I possibly resolve this situation? Do I just need to accept that this is how it needs to be, or is there some room I can fairly make for myself?

You can't.

Trust me when I say that your husband is deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. This is not depression making him do this, it's the behavior of someone willing to compromise your happiness and personal well being in order to make himself happy. Look at the lengths he's going through to get you to do what he wants-- guilting you, making you feel wholly responsible for his happiness, controlling your behavior through harassment, withholding affection, practically stalking you through the house. That's why people are warning you about the potential for this to turn violent, because people with this MO rarely feel any qualms about resorting to physical force when emotional manipulation fails.

You don't have to wait until it gets that bad. You may not be ready to leave, but please don't stick around in the hopes that things will get better because there's zero indication that he wants to do any of the work that it would take to build a healthier relationship. Forget therapy for him, find a good therapist for yourself and take whatever steps you need to set healthier boundaries and keep yourself safe.
posted by fox problems at 4:10 PM on September 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Now that moonlight brought it up, I do remember those other questions although I did not recognize the username.

There's definitely something going on with your husband and I am concerned for you. Pack a bag while he's sleeping, delete your browser history if you can't take the computer, and get your money into an account he cannot touch asap.

This post alone is a huge red flag. Taken with those other ones, honey, SOMETHING is not right here. And it's not depression. Even if it turns he's had some sort of mental break and actually turns out to be schizophrenic or has a secret coke habit, you need to take care of you right now and leave because this seems like a very unsafe situation.

Realizing those other questions were also yours has made me my spidey-sense go off in a way these sorts of questions usually do not. This is some master class level manipulation and emotional abuse on his part.
posted by sio42 at 4:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


But his kindness seems predicated on me doing exactly what he wants me to do, all of the time

This sounds like manipulation, not depression.
posted by Linnee at 4:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you are having trouble feeling motivated to leave this guy, remember that you are in your early thirties and there is still time for you to meet someone new and have a child. If you look for that person now. If you stay with this guy, no chance you'll be in a happy relationship in which to raise children (he will not work his bullshit out in <5 years, I promise you).
posted by stoneandstar at 4:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


I was engaged during my worst depressive episode. It was bad enough that my fiance did schedule time off work to make sure he could take me to my appointments. But I scheduled those appointments and I did the work to get better, because I needed to get better for me and for my relationship.

I did not do a lot of cleaning during that period. But I never told him what he needed to do to make the house nice for me. And if he told me to unload the dishwasher or take a shower, I would.

We use "allowance" in our budget. And because I was a lump on the couch, I gave him my allowance for four months so that he could have fun and get away and take care of himself. He would ask me if I wanted to do things with him, but when I said no, he still got to live his life.

I lost my job during that depression, but I did not lose my relationship. In part because he's a prize. But in part because I knew that no matter how bad I felt, I was not entitled to take it out on him. He had to provide a lot of support to keep us both going, but it was my job to take care of my mental health and do the work to get better.

This is not ok. Get out.
posted by freshwater at 4:28 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm on a phone and can't link, but please start reading Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Controlling Men. Just download it right now on kindle if you can. It will help you recognize your husband's abusive behaviors. I'm not sure if you're convinced by posters here and I'm sure it's a hell of a lot take if you have never considered that he was abusing you before. This book will help you see things for what they are.
posted by kitcat at 4:32 PM on September 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


You can treat depression. I'm pretty sure you can't treat assholism though. Even if your husband gets therapy, he's still a person who is capable of manipulating and abusing you like this. He's shown you who he is, if anything improves it will simply be because he's learnt to hide it better. A good partner shouldn't be capable of or want to treat you like this in the first place. Don't worry about how he will fare if/when you leave him though, people like that find someone else to fill in your role fairly quickly.
posted by Jubey at 5:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Kitcat best me to it. Here is the Amazon link to Lundy Bancroft's book Why Does He Do That. I strongly second the notion that you read it ASAP.
posted by Sublimity at 5:23 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


My jaw dropped when I read that part about him not wanting to shower by himself. Remind yourself that this is a grown man you are speaking about.

I hope you don't mind me saying this, but your relationship sounds like a nightmare.

I won't try and break things down in my comment, as others have, but please keep strongly in mind all those above saying that what he is doing is controlling, manipulative, and abusive. Sometimes you can't see it when you're in it, but if you feel like something's wrong, you have good reason.

What do I do? How can I possibly resolve this situation? Do I just need to accept that this is how it needs to be, or is there some room I can fairly make for myself?

People don't change unless they have a personal incentive to. What is his incentive? He has none. He's firmly positioned you as caretaker to his every whim. If he got "better", the clean house, the constant hand-holding would all have to disappear.

I don't think there's room enough in the relationship for both of you. It's all him or it's nothing. I was in an abusive relationship and at a certain point I realized all I was doing was waiting for him to change. He asked "what could I do to fix things?" And I said "nothing." Because even if he did go to counseling, even if somehow he stopped behaving in abusive ways, I would still be waiting for him to change and I just couldn't wait anymore.

Are you okay with waiting for him to change? Are you really okay if he carries on in this immature, controlling, manipulative manner for an endless number of days? Or are you tired of it? The only person you can help in this situation is yourself. Whatever help you've been trying to give your husband will never be enough, he will make sure it is never enough in order to keep you by his side and to try and guilt you into doing even more (see your title: "How can I help my husband's depression while still being fair to me?"). It is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You could very much help your husband's depression and be fair to yourself if he was not constantly framing it as you not doing enough to help him. Whether he is actually depressed or not, he is using it as a way to manipulate you and that is not kind or right in any way, shape, or form.

It does not need to be this way. You don't have to live your life on his terms. Please, there is a much freer world out there.

If you do decide to leave -- and you don't have to make this decision now -- I would suggest not telling him outright and instead getting yourself to a safe place first. Abuse can escalate in ways you wouldn't imagine. If he is this invested in you not straying physically, emotionally from him, even while in the relationship, imagine for a second what lengths he might go to get you not to leave. Stay safe. Stay strong.
posted by sevenofspades at 5:36 PM on September 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


It is none of our place to judge whether your husband is "truly depressed", as some commentators have called it here. What matter is how it handled.

As many people have noted, it sounds like he needs counseling. Counseling is not just about making him feel better: a huge part of counseling can be for him to build coping skills around his challenges. Learning to anticipate his down periods and prepare for them. Coping through being very demanding may have worked for him before, but it does not work for you: then he needs to build new skills. Your husband has agency in this situation, and no one can make him better: he has to do that for himself. These behaviors are just maintaining, not improving.

Some sort of couples counseling could be beneficial, since it sounds like there are challenges in speaking to him about his behavior. But don't feel like you have to. This may be a situation where it is better just to walk away.

Given the behaviors noted, I agree with other commentators that you should immediately take steps to protect yourself. Put some funds in an account just for you. Have a go bag. Round up your most precious items and put them somewhere safe and out of the house. Given his attachment to the status quo, you want to give yourselves options to get out of it.
posted by troytroy at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can we get a bit away from the idea that being a child who was neglected/abused/abandoned means that now-grown child needs a partner who is endlessly giving and never challenges them in any way?

I have abuse in my past, and I have a husband who gently, kindly, and firmly sometimes has said "hey, I'm sorry you feel like you need me to X but that is just not okay. I am sorry you grew up thinking X demand was okay but it's really not. I'm going to go get myself some almond butter now." That was what I needed. I learned boundaries are okay, refusals are okay...lots is okay.

I think you do need some help on this one, professional help. Because so much of this is far from ok. Good luck.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:45 PM on September 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Ugh, just because someone is depressed doesn't mean they have to dictate what you do every minute of the day. You might be thinking now "but it's not EVERY minute", but it's enough minutes that you are basically waiting on him hand and foot, further than that even.

if I go into another room for even fifteen minutes, he asks what I'm doing and will call my name loudly until I come back out to him. If I start playing a game, he will come over and ask for me to get off so he can play his game

Some people here are suggesting some big steps. I am not disagreeing with them. But it can be hard to take a big step. Here's a little step you can do, next time he starts acting like this, tell him you need some peace and quiet or to have fun with his game and go for a walk. Do this often.

Observe his reaction closely when you get back, this might help you decide what your next steps will be.
posted by yohko at 6:47 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you decide not to DTMFA, then with his lucrative job he should be able to afford to hire a housekeeper to clean the home and a personal assistant to make his appointments. If he won't shoulder his share with his own time/effort then he should shoulder it financially instead.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


In another recent comment, you wrote that after your marriage you expected to live in your home state but were now moving to your husband's home state instead. Was this outcome the result of your husband's emotional manipulation too? Do you see how that decision is useful to him because it further isolates you from your support networks?
posted by carmicha at 8:07 PM on September 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


You seem to care very much for your (not very nice and/or unwell) husband but I just wanted to chime in and say that by capitulating to his unreasonable demands you are enabling his behaviour, his desire to maintain the status quo, and his desire to not seek help. And you are enabling him by sacrificing yourself.

I do think it's possible for him to be a nice person, I myself was with a nice person but we enabled each other's worst aspects with some terrible default behaviours. Apart we are much better people. That said it was never as bad or similar to what you've described.

Also, a depressed person needs to get his or her own help. They need to be at the point where they are actively willing to engage with help. He is just avoiding and putting the onus on you, and if you do get around to researching and making an appointment, the likelihood is that if he bothers to turn up, then he'll just phone the treatment in. In my depressed history, it was only when I was past the wallowing stage and had hit the desperation for any feeling other than what I was feeling, did things get better.

Also, he's a grown ass man. Your sympathetic/empathetic nature may drive you to want to help him in any way in your power, but he's an adult. He can make his own decisions and his own mistakes.

I hope you write one more update in which you state that you're going to stop enabling his bad behaviour, and instead you are going to ensure some breathing room for yourself. SAVE YOURSELF!
posted by scuza at 8:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Other people have covered all of the depression/manipulation bases, so I'll just note that this is not the description of a healthy or normal relationship:

he won't let me have fun without him

That's just not cool. Some people like relationships where they mostly do their own thing, and others like being all up in each other's business, but even in those relationships it's still normal and cool to do fun things on your own sometimes.

You deserve to be happy and treated with love and kindness. If he can't provide that basic level of support, then you need to take care of yourself by getting into a better, more healthy situation.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:34 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


You certainly deserve to have power in your relationships. Abusers, however, often react very, violently, dangerously badly when their partners try to assert the power they deserve to have. If you feel in any way in danger, please prioritize your safety, even if it means acting along with the abuse for a while. Get a therapist, get a safety plan in place, get an exit plan in place if you want to exit. Make sure you have emotional support, people who know what's going on, and a way of getting out if he decides that he needs to up the ante because you're not so easily controlled anymore.

It is possible, though not probable in my opinion, that your standing up for yourself will make him open his eyes, realize how horribly unfair he's been, and change his behavior. Given how abuse works, however, there's a much more probable chance he'll strongly reinforce that his desires are much more important than your needs and punish you for challenging him.

Please know: Staying safe is not "enabling." You know him much better than we do. Reach out to people with the information and resources you may need, like therapists or DV hotlines, but please trust your own judgment about what's safe and what's not.
posted by jaguar at 8:36 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I'm going to take a step back and focus on things you can do right now as smaller steps, if you're not ready to take the big step of leaving him. You've had a lot of (IMHO) good advice around that aspect, but you may not be ready yet. I will tell you my story and maybe you can take something away that will help you.

I was in a similar but not nearly as bad situation a long time ago with my husband. He was depressed and used it as an excuse to act like a spoiled brat. At the time, I still bought into a lot of the unconscious social messaging that goes on, that basically says that as women, we're put on this earth to not only manage our own emotions, but also the emotions of everyone around us, especially our husbands' emotions. There is a lot of bullshit built into society around this messaging. Basically - if only you loved him enough, this wouldn't be happening!

This is not true, and what is happening is NOT the result of you "not loving him enough". You can't love him enough to single handedly fix this.

I would say, don't worry about buckling down and scheduling an appointment for him. In fact, you may not be able to - the counseling group practice that both my husband and I use don't allow you to schedule for another adult, citing privacy laws, and the thought that if another adult is so bad off that they can't even make their own appointments, they might need more help than an outpatient facility can offer. So when my husband made his first appointment himself, yes, I sat next to him and held his hand and sat with him as he worked through the anxious spiral around filling out forms and talking to people on the phone, but in the end, he's still the one that made the phone call.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Items you can do now to help this situation:

1. Get yourself a therapist.
2. Learn about boundaries.
3. Put some money away in an account he doesn't know about.
4. Move your most prized possessions out of the house.

Just those 4 things.

I am anticipating you might be resisting, because again, we're fed this bullshit message that if we just DO enough emotional managing, it will be ok, but from the other side, I can say: it doesn't. I'm so sorry, so sorry, but it doesn't.

1. Get a therapist - if you need to, tell him it's to learn how to deal with a work issue, or boundaries around work or assertiveness at work or how to better help him with his depression. Those are probably all true. You need to work with a therapist because you need professional help for item 2.

2. Learn about boundaries. There are multiple reasons I say you need professional help with this. I can't tell if you're in a situation that will escalate if you try having boundaries. A professional can help with that. A professional can help you figure out where your boundaries are. A professional can help you role play situations to get comfortable stating and maintaining boundaries. A professional can give you positive feedback and other suggestions when you do start enforcing boundaries.

Boundaries are amazing for me, because they actually changed my husband's behavior, because I no longer tolerated shitty behavior. An example:

I used to do all the laundry because "he was too depressed". I realized he was capable of doing laundry, as he'd sometimes bitch his fool head off about not having clean pants, while he washed one pair of jeans. o.O So I finally told him I was no longer doing his laundry, as he was a grown man. He said "OK", but I knew that it didn't really sink in. We had the following conversation once and only once:

Him: I don't have any clean clothes.
Me: Yep, you should probably do some laundry.
Him: You're doing laundry, can't you just put some of my stuff in with yours?
Me: No. You're a grown man. You can do your own laundry.
Him: But it's just a couple things. And I don't have anything clean for seeing my friends tonight.
Me: Febreeze is under the kitchen sink. You should have planned ahead.
Him: You're a bitch! Why won't you just do this ONE THING FOR ME?!?!? (nevermind the other 20 things I'd done that day for him .... )
Me: Yep I am, and no I won't do it, because I warned you 3 weeks ago that I was no longer doing your laundry, and I meant it. You need to figure this out on your own.

And now he does his own laundry. It wasn't a happy night in the house that night, but it sunk in finally that I meant it, because I enforced that boundary. And it took a lot of that over a couple months, but he finally stopped acting like a spoiled child, because I no longer tolerated the behavior.

I'm not trying to say that this is your fault. It's not your fault. But the thing that having boundaries did for me was give me the permission, space, and skills to say what I was thinking, to break out of the socially ingrained emotion-managing, people-pleasing (to the detriment of my own health and well being!) behavior that I was saddled with growing up.

***

This is getting long. Basically, you do need professional help here, not for him but for you(he should see a professional as well, but that's for him to set up and figure out, NOT YOU). You need someone who can help you navigate this and help you figure out a new path forward, because the current situation isn't long term viable, and you can't rely on him to fix it.

Best wishes and luck to you. This Internet Stranger is sending you hugs, if you want them.
posted by RogueTech at 8:42 PM on September 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Oh, and to be VERY VERY VERY clear: I could do this work with boundaries, and enforce them with him, because I knew I was safe from escalation (I knew my situation, had talked it over with a professional, and we both felt very comfortable with the direction I chose to take).

I have no idea if you're safe.

You know your situation much better than I do.

I just wanted to give you an example of the freedom and space boundaries can give you.

Please don't use my example as something you should try, have to try, especially if you're not sure how he'll react.
posted by RogueTech at 8:46 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Speaking just to the " he won't let me have any fun without him" part -

I know a couple where one of them has chronic fatigue syndrome, and is similarly not feeling as able to go out and have fun as her boyfriend is. But - she's not preventing him from going out without her. In fact, she's doing exactly the opposite - she's encouraging him to go out more often without her and do stuff with his friends so he doesn't feel like he's stuck at home with her and not having fun.

That is how it is supposed to work when one partner has a chronic condition and the other doesn't. That is also not what your boyfriend is doing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 AM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have anxiety and depression that are exacerbated by the house being messy (there's a sensory component too, so noise can make me squirrely as hell). I do not sit on the couch and demand that my husband and child clean everything lest I yell and whine and be mean to them.

I have had periods in my life where it has been actively unsafe to leave me alone. I never once insisted that my partner come into the bathroom while I shower.

I can often become self-loathing and feel as though my partner would rather be anywhere but with me. I do not force him to stay home next to me.

I do not like many of the shows/games my husband does (and vice versa). I do not ban him from watching them and allow him the space and time to watch them on his own.

I have, on several occasions, needed therapy (on two occasions something close to inpatient mental health care). I do not make my partner research therapy or contact medical professionals on my behalf.

Some of these things my partner will offer - he has watched over me when I shower, out of concern. He has made extra efforts to clean and tidy when I am particularly busy and the scales are tipping in the wrong direction. He has declined invitations to stay with me, and he has reassured me that he loves me and spends time with me. He has pushed and supported me getting therapy. He has changed when/how he consumes certain kinds of media. Those are things he has offered out of love not fear that I will become mean and cruel to him and our child.

Think of this proto-child you have wanted. Think of six year old you, twelve year old, twenty year old. Think of them watching this situation, being in this situation. Is it still okay? Is it still something fixable by you being more perfect?

A partner who demands perfection and tries to enforce it with fear and mistreatment is not acting out of anything recognisable as love.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:19 AM on September 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


From an anonymous commenter:
Everything you've been reading here is true. I'm so sorry you're in this situation, and I hope you take the advice here to heart and are able to rescue yourself from this.

Since it's come up that you want children, I want to give you the perspective of someone who grew up with parents who sound very much like you and your husband. My mother -- who herself has a chronic & painful condition -- has essentially become enslaved to my father because she believes it is her duty. She does everything around the house and is not given the freedom to watch her own movies, read her own books, or go out on her own. As a result, she has not seen any of her siblings in over a decade, let alone friends. This is awful for her, of course; and he is never satisfied either. But let me tell you what it's like for the kids.

My father's unreasonable expectations and my mother's unreasonable indulgence later extended to the kids. Although we had a rich intellectual home life that had many wonderful aspects, my experiences outside the home were strongly curtailed, as were my brother's. It was extremely stifling. My mother did most of the child-raising grunt-work, of course, but pressure from my father (and her sense of duty) also forced her to take on many of the chores that /kids/ usually do, wearing her down even further and depriving us of valuable lessons.

As a result of these examples, my brother became a self-centered spoilt brat who never really grew up -- he doesn't know how to be independent, doesn't want to be, and expects his girlfriends to indulge him the way my mother does. I (much older than him, and female) was strongly independent and felt stifled rather than indulged, so left home at my first opportunity, when I was 16. But I had NO IDEA what a healthy relationship looked like, and so I kept getting myself into abusive relationships, one after another. Even though my father never hit my mother (and I think never would), the controlling men I ended up with were not so reliable. It took many years and many bruises before I finally figured out what love SHOULD look like.

And when I was in those abusive relationships -- in fact, when ANYTHING negative ever happened -- I felt I could not turn to my family for support. The burden of taking care of their emotional states was passed down to me. I could not turn to my father because he would make a show of how much my troubles were causing him pain (ie, his directly manipulating me), and I could not turn to my mother because I dared not add to her burdens (ie, his indirectly manipulating me). Today, my parents and I have a completely perfunctory relationship in which I lie to them about EVERYTHING, from colds to surgeries, because everything results in a cyclone of emotional manipulation. I distanced myself as much as I could; I love them in some abstract way, but I do not feel close to them and I don't feel they know me.

Imagine this. Imagine your potential kids having to tiptoe around your husband, and then later around you. Imagine the distorted understanding this will bring to little minds who don't know anything different, and imagine the pain this will bring when they finally apprehend the magnitude of what you've sacrificed & continue to sacrifice despite their begging protestations that no, mom, he really CAN be left alone for week while you take a much needed vacation to see siblings you haven't seen in years. Imagine your potential daughter not knowing how to be her own person in a relationship because her only example is how you sacrificed everything for your husband. Imagine your potential son not knowing how to treat a partner as a complete human being rather than a servant. Imagine.
posted by taz at 5:46 AM on September 23, 2014 [44 favorites]


I'll join the chorus here: I am very concerned for your safety, OP.

Please see this graphic on Power and Control in abusive relationships.

Having read through your previous Asks, and also noting this comment of yours, folks here are quite rightly seeing loads of bright red flags in his overall behavior pattern:

Using Isolation? Check. You thought you'd be living in your home state now, but you're apparently now living in his state - correct? This has distanced you from your friends and this has put a real strain on your friendships - you feel like you can't tell your friends the truth about the "complexity" in your marriage. Not good.

Using Emotional Abuse? Check. He's made you to feel crazy and selfish about being understandably overwhelmed and upset. You're not allowed to have wants and needs of your own.

Using Male Privilege? Check. He has made it 100% clear he has always expected YOU to do all of the housework and childcare, plus work full-time outside of the home on top of that, plus wait on him hand and foot or else he won't shower, for starters. That is straight up crazy, OP.

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming? Check. He's got you automatically thinking you are responsible for his health, and it's to the point where you no longer question it. He's got you thinking you are to blame for his problem. How fucked up.

Using Children? Check. He withdrew his promise to have children with you. Again, he's getting his way and your needs, wants, dreams, and plans mean absolutely nothing.

It's clear that your marriage has not turned out at all like you had planned. By now you had certainly thought you'd be a mother, living in your own state with your close friends around to support you. Instead, you have pretty much the exact opposite life, and now you're in your early 30s.

I don't know your age but let's say you're 32 years old today, OP. You only really have another 9, maybe 10 years tops to realistically get pregnant without seriou$ intervention$. It would be tragic if the motherhood you've wanted never happens for you because you've spent too long waiting for him to change. I urge you to please put your future children first here, and go find yourself a suitable partner. Don't waste your final years of fertility on this man.
posted by hush at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2014 [24 favorites]


This reminds me of my grandparents. He makes my grandmother wait on him hand and foot and no one can ever call him on his shit because of his hard life and because of his health problems, etc etc etc. So now he's 95 and she's 90 and he's still yelling and making her jump around and take care of him even though she also has lots of health problems and, currently, a broken pelvis after a fall. Because he's sick and depressed and scared to be alone so everyone has to do what he says. So think about 60 or so more years of this.
posted by artychoke at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


I also want to chime in to tell you that if the thought of being abused is scaring you, OP, then think about it from this angle instead:

If he's so depressed or has so much childhood trauma he cannot even bathe alone, he needs help beyond what you can give him.

You cannot love him back to health. You cannot "attention" him back to health. He needs professional, medical help.

I'm sure it can feel trapping or guilty to feel like you married him and so you made a promise to care for him in sickness and health, etc. But you are beyond any point of reasonable care. He is not fulfilling the promises of your marriage to be a good and attentive partner TO YOU. Any good marriage counselor will tell you that part of a healthy marriage is having time and space to be an individual, too. Even if he's not medically capable of doing that right now, that too is not something you should or CAN bear alone.

If his job is so lucrative then your absolute top priority(s) should be not just a psychiatrist for him but marriage counseling, for both of you, as often as you can. If he has any self-reflection on how deep his problems are and how deeply they affect your marriage, he should be willing to get to a therapist tomorrow.

I think it would be extremely helpful for you to have a therapist reinforce that this is beyond any level of help you can provide as a spouse.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:57 AM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Op I grew up witnessing my father being abusive to my Mother, he was controlling, whiny, jealous, etc. I then ended up in an abusive relationship with my ex fiance. What you're describing is most definitely an abusive relationship. I used to think that my ex didn't mean to be cruel, but that didn't make what he did right. I never used to think I'd been in an abusive relationship, until I had counselling last year. When I explained just some of what happened, my therapist told me that what he'd been doing was abuse. Just having a professional tell me that was amazing, it altered how I thought of myself and what I'd been through. It helped me release the shame and anger I felt towards myself. As I'd thought I should have been stronger, I thought I shouldn't have allowed it to happen.

By the time I got out (well by the time we split up, he continued living with me for a further five and a half years) I'd lost myself. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted anymore. I'd grown up seeing my Mum keep the abuse a secret from my Grandmother, so I learnt to be ashamed and secretive about being in a controlling relationship. I didn't reach out to anyone because I felt stupid.

Also as with most abusers, my ex seemed really nice in front of others. My Mum thought he was a really nice guy that thought very highly of me. Even when I was at casualty because I was suffering agonising stomach pains, he was speaking highly of me and my Mum thought he cared about me. What she didn't know was that a couple of days after that, despite me being in so much pain I could barely move, despite me telling him I couldn't drive, he made my life hell until I gave in and drove him to work. As every other option wasn't an option.

You can expect that too, if you're ill or injured, he'll still want you to do stuff for him. He won't care how much pain you're in, as he doesn't care about you, only himself.

Please start planning your life without him. Imagine yourself escaping. Plan it all in your head so nothing is written down. One day you'll be strong enough to get out, and then your plans will help you escape. Try to get some money for yourself in an account he doesn't know about. As someone else has said start moving things you want out of the house (alternatively plan how you'll get those things out of the house). Reach out to someone you used to be close with (I'm presuming you're isolated now) as they'll still care about you and want to help you. My Mother did when I reached out to her.

Trust me, you don't want to end up in the situation my Mother found herself in. After 19 years she was walking down the road, she was so down and so upset that when a bus came down the road she wanted to jump in front of it. That was the day she realised she couldn't fix it and had to get out. She'd already been making plans to escape, moving things out to my Grandmother's house etc. The day we left my Mum kept me off school and told me to pack everything I couldn't bear to leave into bin bags. You know something, that was one of the best days of my life.

My Mum ended up meeting another guy who was much better than my Dad. He's paid for my Mum to fly up to see me next month so we can go to a horse show. Even though he'll miss my Mum, he's fine with her leaving him for a few days or so. So if you get out now there's time for you to start healing, find someone who deserves you, and have children.

You don't need to feel ashamed, you've done nothing wrong, and the people who used to love and care about you still do and would love to be there for you, so they can help you escape the prison your husband is creating for you. Those are things I wish I'd known earlier when I felt totally alone.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 9:14 AM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is emotional abuse. Particularly concerning to me is that your husband isolates you from your support network (i.e. not allowing you to go out on your own) and withholds affection when you don't comply exactly with his wishes. Every couple divides things like housework differently, and I can easily see a situation in which a chronic condition results in a heavier burden falling on one spouse for at least some period of time. For example, my fiance is having surgery next month, and I'm certainly not going to bug him about washing the dishes or scooping the kitty litter while he's recovering. BUT, and this is a big but, there is zero question that he has and would do the same for me when I'm the one who is incapacitated, and also there is zero question that he will be grateful and gracious about the situation (even if occasionally grumpy).

Depression and/or prior abuse are not actually reasons that make it acceptable to emotionally manipulate and abuse other people. They might EXPLAIN (at least in part) the "why" of how his brain works, but they absolutely do NOT make it acceptable. And they certainly do not obligate you to put up with it. Think about the all-too-common examples of victims of child molestation who go on to abuse children later in life. While this is extremely sad and tragic all around, as a society we don't go around saying "Oh, well, he was molested as a child, so I guess we'll just let the current children being molested stay in that situation since it wasn't really his fault!" No. Whatever the reasons, the behavior is unacceptable and has to stop, period.

I don't hold out a lot of hope for this sort of person changing, so personally I would get out of the relationship, even if that is really hard and takes a long time. But if that isn't possible right now, then start creating some healthy boundaries! "No, I'm not going to take a shower with you." "It is not acceptable for you to speak to me that way. If you continue speaking that way, I am leaving the house for the afternoon." "If this continues, the kids and I will be staying at my mom's for the weekend." etc. etc. And do it. Leave. He does not get to enjoy your presense if he is going to treat you as an emotional punching bag.

Another thing I think is helpful in this situation is to try to abstract away from yourself a bit. What if your friend were telling you this story? Your sister? Your daughter? What advice would you give her. Would you want your daughter to stay in this type of situation for even one second, or would you want to rush in and get her away from this asshole? Give yourself the gift of treating yourself the way you would treat others.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:39 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hi again everyone. I want to thank you all for all of your words, they have been very helpful and thoughtful and kind, though I definitely was a little bit in shock yesterday.

I have not made any really big steps, and I honestly don't feel like I could make big steps even if I did want to - as a couple of you noted, I am isolated and in a place where I'm essentially dependent on this relationship, socially and financially. Most of the savings, assets, and really my entire future now is in his name.

In terms of small stuff, though, I did go home and tell him he needed to make his appointment, and he said he would make it this weekend, so at least I have a deadline. Also that was a great point about how since he makes way more money, if he wants these things he should be willing to pay for them. I pointed that out and he has agreed to pay a weekly housekeeper.

I also decided I was going to watch a movie, and I told him he had a choice, either I would watch it in the living room where he was, or watch it in the bedroom by myself without him, but I was going to watch it. He wouldn't answer at all, so I said, "Okay, I'm just going to start watching it" and then I did. He did complain and make comments about how through about the first half of the movie but then settled down by the second half, and it felt really great.

I mean, maybe that's a pathetic start, but it really helped me to know that taking an hour or two for myself was not just okay but an overwhelmingly okay thing to do, so again, thank you.
posted by sockmeamadeus at 10:03 AM on September 23, 2014 [33 favorites]


He's throwing you crumbs to get you to stay. Get out as soon as you can.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2014 [33 favorites]


You know, I bet if you posted your location and a throwaway address, you could have Mefites contacting you to offer at least friendship and emotional support. They may also be able to help with legal/financial resources for people in your area.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on September 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


to be fair I also have not buckled down to research therapists and make the appointment for him.
No. He is a grownup. okay, maybe to get him into therapy, you can do his work for him, but this is just all kinds of a mess.

He is massively manipulative, selfish, childish, inconsiderate. I can't say it strongly enough. And, his behavior is not helping his depression. Inactivity is bad for depression. The one thing that can help depression, other than therapy and medication, is exercise, preferably outdoors.

1. You need therapy. Research therapists for both of you. No matter how much he wants you to stay with him and not leave the house, you must go to your therapist.
2. Read this great book about dealing with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder, also useful for dealing with anyone who has poor boundaries, is manipulative, highly dramatic, etc. Stop Walking on Eggshells. It accepts that you may love and choose to stay with the person, but helps you live your own life and not contribute to or participate in their issues. In the long run, this is the best gift you can give him and yourself.
3. With help from your therapist and that book, start being healthier. Go out for a walk every day and ask him to come with you.
4. do my own fun things on the weekend, watch movies I like if he doesn't like them, go into another room for even fifteen minutes, start playing a game. Start living your life, including going out, having friends, etc. A relationship that isolates you is a step on the path to serious abuse. "My Love, I need to see my friends/ go shopping/ do whatever, for my own mental health."
5. Just stop enabling all that crap.
passive-aggressively complain about it, Ignore him. Go into another room and do a task, whatever, just walk away from unreasonable complaining.
he'll be in a funk great description of pouting. Ignore it.
will be mean about things. When I call him out about being mean, he agrees, but says that it is a result of his depression, and that if the house were cleaner/he were having a better weekend it would not be the case. Label it. "That's mean. Stop it." and "I understand that depression causes irritability" (it does) "but it's not fair to ask me to accept poor treatment. Cut it out."
asks what I'm doing and will call my name loudly Go see what he needs, then tell him you will be in the other room, watching a movie he doesn't enjoy, or whatever. Every time he calls, go check in, but wait a bit longer every time. Start asking "Is this urgent? You didn't want to watch Silver Linings Playbook, so I am watching it on the tv in the bedroom." and "I'm watching a movie/ reading/ whatever. This can wait."
he will come over and ask for me to get off so he can play his game "Sure, honey. I'll be in the bedroom, watching tv." He's going to repeat this, so be ready to say "Well, you can let me play my game and be in the room with you, or I can go watch tv. That's only fair."
do everything in his presence. He will not even shower alone, and if I don't feel like showering right then, he will talk about how gross he feels and how all he wants is a shower - but he will not take one without me. "Sweetheart, I'm taking a shower now, want to join me?" If he says No, but later wants you to shower with him, "I'm taking my shower tomorrow morning, you can join me then"
Even if he offers to cook, it's stressful, because he wants me to be there with him while he's cooking, so I still get no downtime. "Thanks for making dinner, I'm going to do a task/ do my nails/ read the paper, etc." and then go do that.
6. Most of the savings, assets, and really my entire future now is in his name. This is a huge red flag. Get a job, start saving money, even in small amounts, because this kind of dependence is really dangerous. You can open a secret bank account on the Internet, or buy travellers checks (replaceable if he finds and takes them), or whatever. Also, if he loses it and threatens to kick you out, cut you off, tell him you will lawyer up and sue him for support.
7. Talk to the nearest women's shelter. You need to know what your options are.
8. Use behavior therapy to reward him for small changes. Read What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage and support any positive behavior on his part.

I'm not crazy to feel overwhelmed and upset You are not crazy, and you are overwhelmed and upset with good reason. I'm sending you a huge hug, because you need and deserve support.

Honestly, I am not optimistic. He may escalate his behavior as you reclaim your independence, even in small ways. Getting healthier killed my marriage, because my ex- wouldn't tolerate it and left, even as he said things were better than they'd been in a long time. But there are 3 things that can happen - it can get better, it can end, or It Can Get Worse. So, do both of you a favor, and work on making it better, whether he likes it or not. I'm worried about you, please get lots of help.
posted by theora55 at 10:18 AM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


In the last question you posted you were working. Are you still working? Where is that money going? Do you have access to it?

Do you anticipate that he would try to stop you from seeking therapy on your own? It is perfectly normal for someone to need their own therapy to deal with the emotions of caring for a spouse for depression. IF HE BALKS AT THIS, he is either too far gone in his own depression to think at all about your needs, or he knows on some level that he is being toxic and a therapist will catch on to it. Again, either way it's not a situation you can fix.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I take back my advice to get couples therapy. I'm seeing more and more red flags with every update, and going back to see your previous questions, I'm really questioning your husband's motives.

You've gone to live in his state, and all your former assets are now in HIS name. He's isolating you and depriving you of financial resources.

How much can you divert to your name? Are you working? Where is the money going?

Please get in touch with a domestic abuse hotline or women's shelter. And a lawyer. If you are a person of color, you might want to check out the Women of Color Network.

And, yes, if you can email a mod with your location I am sure there are MeFites in the area who would be happy to help you.

Please, please, get help. Your situation is NOT acceptable. We're all pulling for you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:35 AM on September 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


I am sure that the advice that you are getting here is hard to hear and even harder to follow, but it is good advice. This is a situation that is going to crush you if you let it continue.

You wrote:
I am isolated and in a place where I'm essentially dependent on this relationship, socially and financially. Most of the savings, assets, and really my entire future now is in his name.
If you're married, those are very likely your savings and assets, too. Consult a lawyer if you need to, but know that they're not automatically his.

Most of all I want you to know this: when you call him on his behavior, he's probably very convincing when he gives you his reasons why he's behaving the way he behaves. He can be that way because very likely he believes his own bullshit. But it is still bullshit.

Listen to what people are telling you and prepare yourself an exit strategy and/or a safety net. You don't have to use it unless/until you decide it's called for, but do you know what? Even knowing that you have the option to make a choice will give you a surprising amount of psychological breathing room. If you are going to stay it should be because you decide to do so, knowing that you could leave, not because you are "essentially dependent on this relationship, socially and financially."

Get help.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


"I am isolated and in a place where I'm essentially dependent on this relationship, socially and financially."

What is your family situation? Can you visit your parents or siblings and maybe even stay with them indefinitely until you can get a job in your home state and become financially independent of your husband? And file for divorce, so that you can get access to your share of the marital assets?
posted by merejane at 11:05 AM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


i think it's awesome that you did all of those things! it must have felt very scary. keep taking the little steps, keep reading what has been said here. keep turning these things over in your mind. while you're taking these steps, ask yourself if this is the life you want. you will find the answers, even if it's hard.

you could also make yourself a little safety net - hold back a little money in an account he doesn't know about, research who could help you if things turn worse, maybe still take a weekend trip alone just to see what it feels like. you don't have to decide today if you're leaving or staying but there's nothing wrong with preparing for both should you make your mind up in a hurry one day.
posted by nadawi at 11:18 AM on September 23, 2014 [21 favorites]


You know, I bet if you posted your location and a throwaway address, you could have Mefites contacting you to offer at least friendship and emotional support. They may also be able to help with legal/financial resources for people in your area.

OP, if you want to do this, you can set a location in your profile to be visible only to logged-in users (it can be a park/coffeeshop/city center/other public area.)

I hope things get better and stay better.
posted by kagredon at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


On a totally practical level, I would consult a divorce lawyer in your state. Borrow the money to do it if you have to. You cannot make informed decisions about what you may or may not want to do if you do not know what your options are. The assets may be in his name, but they are marital assets, and how that breaks down varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, often automatically and immediately. Additionally, if your incomes are wildly different, in some places he would need to cover your maintenance and your legal bills. It really, really varies and you really, really to know the deal before you can think your way through this.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:04 PM on September 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


Get. Out.

You are married, your assets are likely shared. Make your own account, and get out.

Sure you get to watch a movie (wtf is that about anyway? People in healthy relationships can watch a movie whenever the fuck they want, wherever they want, with or without whoever they want in their damn house) but he'll be back to his manipulation soon. He says he'll make an appointment, he wont.

The only good thing you should take out of the events from your most recent update is that you have the power to use your own voice and "NOPE! meter" so you should relish in that and contiue to let that power take you right out the door and away from your abusive, manipulative, unsupportive husband.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also I see you tagged this with gender roles. Traditional gender roles are institutionalized manipulation of society at large and that is why many people opt to reject them. Do you want to live in a world where all women feel like you do? I hope not. You can still be a full woman and expect a man to run a vaccuum once and a while and wash his own ass.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:45 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


You have friends who were upset that you were moving. I'm willing to bet they suspect abuse in your relationship. I bet they've always disapproved of this relationship. Let them know you need help. Even if you feel like things aren't solid in those friendships right now, if you ask them for help and they are decent friends, even passably good friends, they will help you get out of there. You might be embarrassed because you never told them everything that was going on with your husband. Don't be. Again, if they are even passably good people, they will not hold it against you. If you don't know how to talk to them about it, just email them a link to this thread. Let people help you.
posted by kitcat at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


Ugh, it must be hard having all these people (myself included) pressuring you. I think we're just rooting for you so hard. I want to second what nadawi said above:

i think it's awesome that you did all of those things! it must have felt very scary...you don't have to decide today if you're leaving or staying but there's nothing wrong with preparing for both should you make your mind up in a hurry one day.
posted by kitcat at 1:04 PM on September 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


I have a friend who is in an emotionally abusive marriage that currently has her living in another state isolated from her support network. If she called me and said "My marriage is abusive and I'm ready to leave" I would send her a plane ticket, put her up in the guest bedroom and finance a new wardrobe for her to get a job. I am 100% in every single way completely serious. I haven't talked to her much over the last couple years (because he doesn't like her talking on the phone), but absolutely nothing about my support for her has changed. I wouldn't judge her for staying. I wouldn't do anything except say "I know, honey. I love you, and I support you, and you'll get through this. What do you need right now? I'm already booking a plane ticket, how soon can you be to the airport?"

Don't think that you have nothing and that your entire future is in his hands. He can remove you physically from your friends, but he can't remove you from their hearts.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:17 PM on September 23, 2014 [39 favorites]


I am getting teary eyed from thinking about the relief I would feel getting that phone call. It is highly likely that many of your friends already know that this is how your marriage is, and they're not saying anything because they don't want to alienate you. They don't want you to feel like they're judging you, and they don't want you to feel pressured. I would be so so surprised if you read this question to any of your friends if they didn't react with absolute "Just get out now, we will work it out later".

And you know what? If you're not ready to leave now, that's OK. If you need to post another question in a week or in a month or whatever because setting boundaries isn't working out, that's OK. We are all rooting for you. It has to feel very scary for so many people to be reacting this way. It's OK to be scared. Just take it one day at a time, and learn what it feels like to put your needs first.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:28 PM on September 23, 2014 [25 favorites]


Whatever you do, please do NOT have children with this man.
posted by merejane at 2:40 PM on September 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Most of the savings, assets, and really my entire future now is in his name.

That's not a good sign at all.

OP, I hope you know how to hide your online activity from this man. You must learn how to do this right away if you do not.
posted by yohko at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Your husband might be depressed but he is also an asshole. Make the necessary arrangements for a much happier and more fulfilling life without him.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Um, if you had your own bank account linked to an independent PayPal account, people like me would contribute to a getaway fund. Reddit does stuff like that all the time, so why not MetaFilter? Just sayin'...
posted by carmicha at 7:31 PM on September 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh, OP, stoneweaver is so right. I had a friend who disappeared into a bad, bad, bad marriage 7 states away from me. He called me one night from a rest stop and said, "I have $50, my car, 2 books, X (really personal thing), and my cat. I need a place to stay. I ... I just need a place to stay." It was 2AM. I gave him directions for the rest of the trip and he lived with me for 6 months while he got back on his feet and filed for divorce. I'm sure if you ever got to that point, you have someone in your life who would do the same for you.
posted by RogueTech at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh dear.

There is this human tendency to have trouble setting boundaries when people are sick. Maybe it's because infants don't have the ability to turn off being needy, and have no inherent malice when they demand all sorts of things from their caretakers. Whatever the reason, we also tend to get hung up on the idea that evil people are very obviously evil and have no problems.

The reality is that a lot of abusers are sick- physically, mentally, whatever. For example a person isolating you really might be that anxious. They probably aren't cold bloodedly planning things out- these abuse patterns that we talk about exist because they're easy to to fall into, and indeed you can be vulnerable because circumstances deliver half the things on the list.

A lot of abusers really believe they NEED their victim to feel whole and to stay calm, or be happy. Often the victim is a serious part of their support system. My abusive ex relied heavily on me for basic life support tasks- cooking, cleaning and caring for them, holding them when grad school freaked them out, making them feel less lonely.

Only it cast me in the role of a jealously guarded source of food. It was natural for someone that helpless to try to isolate me, to put their hands on me and to go to pieces if I cut off the endless flow of caretaking. It was natural to hold me responsible for the cleanliness of the home and expect me to be responsible for adapting around their gaming addiction (no sleep for me!) and to treat them like the most important person in the world.

The problem is that going along with the crazy is essentially accepting to take on symptoms of their disorder. My ex was clever, cute and funny. He was also extremely narcissistic, bigoted, paranoid and occasionally violent. Going along with this nonsense meant being constantly terrified and embarrassed at their outbursts. It meant pretending the problem was not that they needed serious psychological help, and that the problem could be fixed by my efforts- that all I needed to do was fill their needs whenever they wanted, even though one of the problems was that their needs were bottomless because it wasn't completely rational.

OP, right now your husband is under the delusion that you are controlling their emotional state- hence their anger at you for failing to shoulder more than your fair share at all times or their inability to handle critical statements of them. The reality is that only the person with the emotions can hope to really control themselves, and if they lose that ability, they need help greater than a domestic partner can give.

A metaphor that really works well here is the vampire. They are seductively drawn to you, and they might be the most wonderful thing you ever met, but they still feed off your life force to survive. Healthy adult relationships are bidirectional- energy and effort goes both ways and the load more or less balances. Unhealthy relationships try to devour you without replenishing you in the process.

So he might be depressed and anxious, but he's not allowed to eat you. You should listen to people telling you to have a secret escape plan, because this sort of problem is not situated like something that will get better from efforts on your part, rather the more responsibility you take the more he will give you. It is extremely possible he will eventually try to delegate responsibility for you getting hurt by him physically onto you and he may be incapable of healthy relationships. You need to protect yourself.
posted by Phalene at 7:56 AM on September 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Leaving an abusive relationship often looks like a number of tiny steps until suddenly the dam bursts. So - huge kudos to you for the steps you took! What will your next step be? My number one suggestion would be to get your own therapist. Or what about going out to have fun on your own? "I'm sorry you're so depressed, but I need to take a little break from being in this house. I hope you feel better, and I'll be back in about 2 hours." Get a therapist for yourself. Good luck.
posted by salvia at 8:09 AM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hey, and I want to say good on you for the instances where you set some boundaries! Good on you for not turning off your movie! This is a good way to train him to self soothe for the 2 hours a movie takes. GO YOU.
posted by RogueTech at 9:01 AM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"It is extremely possible he will eventually try to delegate responsibility for you getting hurt by him physically onto you"

This comment made me think of my childhood with my abusive father. I got told "I didn't want to hit you but you deserved it/made me do it!" The first time he hit me was because I asked a question that made him feel stupid.

Your husband is already blaming you for his anger in an indirect way. You mentioned in your first post calling him on his anger, only to be told that it's because he's depressed, which he wouldn't be if the house was cleaner (with the implication that you've not been cleaning properly and it's therefore your fault and you deserve his anger).

Well done for taking the first small steps you've taken. You may not be ready to leave yet, but know that when you are, you'll have the strength you need to escape. Also as people on here have shown, even strangers who've never met you care about your welfare. Even if you can't turn to your family and old friends, you can turn to the folks of Meta Filter.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 11:59 AM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Controlling Men really is a fantastic book and I think would really help you make good decisions about how to handle this situation.

You can easily find a free PDF version if you are concerned about any potential issues with purchasing a kindle or physical copy. PM me if you want details.
posted by zug at 12:52 PM on September 24, 2014


I am isolated and in a place where I'm essentially dependent on this relationship, socially and financially. Most of the savings, assets, and really my entire future now is in his name.

That's the awesome things about marriage, what's his is yours!

Even if you decide to divorce, guess what? He supports you for a pre-determined length of time (established by the courts.)

So I think one of your errands should be to a lawyer to discuss how you might disentangle from this relationship with financial security.

You know the thing about staying in a relationship for the money? You earn EVERY dime of it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am guessing that what Ruthless Bunny is referring to is interim spousal support, interim spousal maintenance or temporary support. You can Google any of those terms for your state, as it varies from state to state. In NY, for example "temporary maintenance is support paid by the higher income spouse to the lower income spouse during the time that a divorce case is pending... the new law provides for a presumption that counsel fees should be awarded to the less monied spouse."

Don't assume you have no options and no recourse. Talk to a lawyer.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]




I got automatically reminded to update, but I don't really know how much to say, other than that things are going marginally better, and I took a weekend by myself and it was okay, and I'm still pondering everything. I have also calculated finances such that I can probably survive on my own if I suddenly have to. Thank you all again.
posted by sockmeamadeus at 12:10 PM on November 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


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