Is this normal?

Hi, I am new here and I am not even sure that this is the right place for me, but I might as well ask if you’re so kind as to redirect me. I can’t afford counselling now and I work in a very stressful environment, so I am finding it hard to cope. I have a couple of friends outside of work who do not live locally, and family overseas, but I have very little time to frequent anybody but work colleagues, and although I have asked for help in the past, I don’t feel I can keep on going to them for advice.

My husband has no diagnosis, but I do find him to be very difficult, which of course could just be my impression - so I hoping neutral agents can perhaps shine some light on what is wrong with us, or give me some insight. Obviously this is my account, so it’s not two-sided and ‘objective’ as such, but he is not willing to open up with me in front of a professional - and we can’t afford it. All I can do is to try to be as factual as possible. I don’t think I have mental health issues, but of course, if I haven’t left, some will say I am enabling him. I don’t know because I am not miserable all the time by any means. I have no issues asking for help or seeing someone. RIght now, however, I don’t feel I have a handle on what is ‘normal’ and what isn’t, so I am concerned and seeking advice as I don’t know where I can get some help.

I am 56 and I have been with my 50 year old husband for 20 years. We don’t have children. The relationship has many positives, but it has been very difficult too. I went to counselling, funded by work, in the first 2-3 years because I didn’t know how to cope with the frequent emotional and verbal abuse (I am not sure he would agree with this, although he has occasionally admitted it, but he says that if I were not the way I am, he wouldn’t be the way he is). In the time since then, I have voluntarily changed my habits to adapt to the way he is and we have had very happy times as well as difficult times. The latest 4 years have been better than the previous 16, partly because of this, but I would say he has improved his behaviour too.

The reason I have come here is that he has auto-diagnosed himself as having depression, PTSD and being on the Autistic spectrum (high functioning) - with reason in my opinion - but whilst he has occasionally admitted this to me, it’s not something he talks about and I don’t know if he is doing anything to support himself - if he is, it is not live, face-to-face. He does not leave the house other than for a daily bike ride, or shopping. Our arrangement at home is that he has a separate bedroom from mine and keeps the door closed. This is his choice and I have adapted. When he is in there, which is probably more than half of the time that we are both in the house, he does not want me to knock or talk to him from outside the door. The only thing that works is to communicate via WhatsApp and he does reply. But this morning after an argument, he messaged me that he is archiving me in WhatsApp, so that is closed too.

He has always worked and paid his way up to 4 year ago, and he does not engage in risky behaviours. However, 4 years ago after drinking heavily, he attempted suicide by hanging at home. I released him and called an ambulance. We had been arguing a lot at the time and I had gone to stay in a hotel for a night as his family was visiting and I didn’t want it to be awkward. He had told me prior to this that he had been researching how to commit suicide but I didn’t know what to say to that. He did not take up any support offered after his suicide attempt and does not drink to excess now. I have no evidence that he has been thinking about suicide since. He is not the kind of person who allows others to interfere. He does not want help.

But he did stop working because it caused him anxiety to be facing the public. I supported this and found it to be better for both of us: I work and he cooks and looks after the house. With one person at home full-time, I would expect the house to be pretty sorted, but because he spends a lot of time in his room I suppose it’s reasonable. I have repeatedly said I am fine with our arrangements and I truly am (apart from the fact I would prefer for the house to be cleaned more regularly, but when I can, I do some of it myself). He has occasionally said he has applied for jobs but not had any response, and has also said that being at home and not working is not what he wants. He does some freelance work and contributes a regular amount he can afford towards bills and recently he gave me cash from a small inheritance he received.

He has been going on regular bike rides for exercise. Other than occasional family interactions once every 3 months or so, he leads a solitary life. While on holiday, and when not arguing, I go cycling with him. He has very rigid routines which means my routines with him are rigid too: we do the same things at the same time every day of the week and I have adapted to that and truly don’t find it an issue, although it was not natural to me when we started.

He cooks dinner (he doesn’t want me in the kitchen then), we sit together and watch what he chooses for both of us (he says I am unable to choose for both of us as nobody would watch what I am interested in) and on a Saturday we go and do the weekly shopping, he puts it away (again, I need to leave the kitchen). That is pretty much all the time we spend together routinely.

When he is lovely, everything is great. My biggest problem is when he is intolerant and harsh, which is half of the time. Sometimes it’s just a case of me shutting up when he criticises, but if I complain, I get very harsh language and a lot of silence afterwards. Talking is very difficult when he is in a negative mood as it always ends up in a shouting and swearing match and he then leaves and goes to his room. In the past he has spent weeks not talking to me after an argument, most recently this has improved to days, when it happens. None of the arguments are about anything important. There is really nothing fundamentally wrong with our lives that would cause proper serious arguments other than what I am writing here.

Some examples from the last few days, but this has been going on for months now and it’s really hard as I have to keep down a stressful job:

Saturday: at the supermarket, he said I took 10 seconds to realise that one of the 8 check out tills was free. I argued that he was intolerant and he called me names.

Wednesday evening: he explains something to me from the programme we were watching; leading from that, I try to show him a photo on my phone (nothing important); he then tells me he’s not interested; I feel hurt and say he is controlling because we always do what he says and he can’t tolerate anything from me; he said he is not; I say that his behaviour over the last months feels to me like he detests me because he criticises everything I do; he tells me I am lying and leaves to go to his room.

Thursday: I don’t see him as I was working 7am to 11pm.

Friday evening: he brings the dinner to the lounge where I am watching something, as he does not want me in the kitchen when he is cooking; I tell him he can change what I am watching; he refuses saying ‘I don’t want to be controlling’; another argument and he leaves.

Saturday morning: I hear him in the kitchen making coffee; I get up as I know it’s my only chance to speak to him and sort out all the arguments; the light is off and blind closed, so I turn the light on; he turns it off; I open the blind; he closed that; he tells me as soon as I start talking that I am trying to lecture him; he goes upstairs in his room with his door closed; I message him on WhatsApp; he tells me that I didn’t care to ask, but he is ill and that he is archiving me on WhatsApp.

Does this behaviour have a label? Where do I go to understand?

Why do you stay? You deserve better than this.

Are you familiar with the term coercive control?

Thanks for replying. I stay because I am fine when things are good and I am trying to understand what this is when things are not good.

I have checked relevant behaviours under ‘coercive control’ and it does not seem relevant as the only relevant one is ‘Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless’.

Not normal, no.
Ask yourself what is the normal you expect, the normal you would accept and the normal you have got.
Draw up your comparisons.

Have you been in any autism forums and had a look around them and looked and asked in the spouse sections in them?

Have you watched The Big Bang - the character Sheldon?

If he is on the spectrum then you need to find out more, if he is not wanting to give an inch on it then you need to ask yourself if this is want you want or deserve from life.

Coercive control can look black and white in a dictionary sense, however, looking what you have said, there are things you would rather be watching on tv, there are things you’d rather be doing alone or together but all the time you are doing what he wants because he has manipulated it.

In short, he is having everything his way, how he wants it, gaslighting you, telling you that you are wrong etc as reasons to have what he wants and you have given way to it. If you try to challenge or stick up for yourself you are shouted down or shut out.

Does that look like being on equal terms?
Is it a relationship of give and take?
No because he is controlling and manipulating to have things how he wants them.

Where is the quality together time, the carefree fun, happy times out, the friendship, laughter, companionship, caring and sharing? These are the normal.

If he is not on the spectrum and it is something else, where will it end?
How much of this so far has crept in by stealth and where will it go?

you need to ask yourself if this is want you want or deserve from life - how will it look when you are 60’s, 70’s, unwell, frail etc. Would you want to be a vulnerable person around him with no say in your life about yourself or anything as he could so easily take over everything.

Hi T,

the relationship does sound very one sided and detrimental to your wellbeing.

Have you talked to your GP and/or employer about counselling? Free counselling is available on the NHS (though you would likely have to wait) and many large employers pay into schemes to support the wellbeing of their employees. This might help you to work out what is right for you; whether you want to end the relationship or to learn coping strategies.

The National Autistic Society have this information

The Mind website also has lots of information


Please explore this link. I think deep down the fact that you are posting here means that you know you are in an abusive relationship. Please research further gaslighting and coercive control. I cannot really add much to what Breezy has put. You may be able to get free telephone support/counselling via the helpline? Or there may be local organisations that could offer some support.

You work so you do not have to put up with this. It sounds as if your partner is pushing the boundries and it may well get worse. Please explore your options. If your partner is highly intelligent, he may well be brainwashing you and isolating you. It sounds as if you are constantly walking on eggshells and that is no way to live.

I am in an abusive relationship and am now a carer, and have been so for the last 10 years. I am not a position to leave and my husband is much older. It took me years to understand and realise that it was an abusive relationship partially because he isolated me completely, wrecking my confidence and telling me I was only fit to clean toilets because I was not a graduate. You are highly articulate from your post and I would really suggest you confide in your GP as there may be local help available.

I agree with BB YOU deserve better. Keep posting and let us know how you get on . My thoughts are with you as I know how much courage it must have taken for you to make this post.

I don’t want to be rude, but considering your age, you need to consider the future, your retirement, how do you think life together will be then? will you be trapped an unable to start again on your own once retired?

Looking at the reality bluntly.

Look back 20 years, 10 years - how much more natural energy did your body have than it has now?

How much less natural energy will your body have in 10 years time? 15? 20 yeas?
By these times you will be retired, at home full time, unless you do charity, go to clubs etc you will be with his behaviours 24/7, not just weekends but every single day, possibly an irritant in his domain.

Do you want that in your senior years? You should be looking forward to sharing fun times with someone who cherishes you.

Then factor in the energy reserves that are used from his hostile/manipulative behaviours and explosive reactions to you. Will you have that energy in 10 years? 20 years and later? Do you want to be going through that then and trying to placate him etc?

Wanting to understand him and accommodate for him is being a doormat isn’t it?
What about you and what you want, need and deserve in life?
It seems you need to do some deep soul searching about your life and your future, what that looks like if you stay and what the alternatives are.


“Have you watched The Big Bang - the character Sheldon?”

Yes, I know Sheldon and in my line of work I come across people on the spectrum. But nobody would be able to tell that my husband is on the spectrum. He just avoids situations he is uncomfortable with and socialises very little, and only with his family, so I am the only one who knows the extent of it. He is hugely triggered by anything that has a feminist slant and has had huge arguments with me about how useless women are, he lives in his room with the door closed, he cannot attend meetings with people he doesn’t know, he has to sit at the outside end of the table if we’re out with family, he has to sit near the window in a plane - come to think of it, that is contradictory - maybe he just wants everything his way. He never asks where I want to sit.

“… there are things you would rather be watching on tv, there are things you’d rather be doing alone or together but all the time you are doing what he wants because he has manipulated it.”

I have broad interests and am quite flexible and he isn’t, so because of that, the only way we can do things together without him complaining is if we do what he wants and how he wants it. I am really not fussed about that normally, but I do find it very frustrating when he starts going overboard with the criticism and ,when I suggest something thinking it will be fine, he won’t compromise even a little bit.

“Where is the quality together time, the carefree fun, happy times out, the friendship, laughter, companionship, caring and sharing?”

We do have quality time together, carefree fun, happy times out (limited by finances, but we have done so), we are good friends when things are ok, and we do laugh. Not sure about regular companionship and caring and sharing as he doesn’t share easily.

“how will it look when you are 60’s, 70’s, unwell, frail etc. Would you want to be a vulnerable person around him with no say in your life about yourself or anything as he could so easily take over everything.”

I have thought about this and this does concern me. I have always been ok and coped with every situation on my own if I had to, but I have not been able to rely on him at times. I have no idea what this would look like if I were to need care. He says that if I died he would just kill himself, so he’s not looking for that, but I’m not sure if he would look after me.

Thank you for your advice Melly1 - I will go and explore those links

Helena_2006 - he doesn’t isolate me as such. I feel I can do what I want to do in my own time (and most of the time seems to be my own time now), but in my relationship with him, I feel I am walking on eggshells. He is highly intelligent, and half the time he is kind and thoughtful, but the rest of the time he is absent, hurtful, verbally abusive, unaware, and I want to say, careless of how his behaviour impacts me. It does not take a lot for him to get into this frame of mind, and if he does, he’ll cancel plans, not speak to me for a week, just not be there at all. This means that I find it hard to bring anything up because I know this is what will happen, so I have been trained I suppose, to not talk freely.

If you are sure you want to stay, then maybe you could “ring fence” part of your life.
Money - is he claiming any benefits, or totally reliant on you? Joint or separate accounts?
Do you go out socially on your own, have a little group of your own friends who regularly meet socially?

There is NO excuse for verbal abuse.
Can you record what he says, and then play it back when he’s calmer and say “Do you really think it’s OK to speak to me like this?”

Working 0700 to 2300 is excessive - 16 hours.
A one-off hmmm…welll…
But if it is more than a one-off and not out of true necessity in the work place be honest with yourself about avoiding going back home because you prefer the workplace interactions.

As mentioned by Melly, think about counselling and heed Helena’s response.

No this is not normal. Please seek out counselling pronto in order to help cope. A decent counsellor will help both of you realise that this is not okay and therefore must stop. You can find a qualified local good mental health therapist online. See what happens as a result of making inquiries.
Alternatively ring therapy offices to start getting mental health support. You actually do deserve much better. Seriously. I wish you all the best going forward with your troubled relationship and you always are in my prayers too. Good luck. You do not need to suffer alone. Far from it in fact.
There are numerous therapists who are out there. They can assist. But they cannot read minds. In other words do call them, or send a email.

If you are sure you want to stay, then maybe you could “ring fence” part of your life.

Yes that is not a problem as he ring fences his.

Money - is he claiming any benefits, or totally reliant on you? Joint or separate accounts?

He earns a little from freelance work and pays a little towards bills. He doesn’t spend hardly anything on himself otherwise. Separate accounts.

Do you go out socially on your own, have a little group of your own friends who regularly meet socially?

I don’t have much time to socialise, but I do have some friends who I meet about 3 times a year as they don’t live locally.

There is NO excuse for verbal abuse.
Can you record what he says, and then play it back when he’s calmer and say “Do you really think it’s OK to speak to me like this?”

I did ask him if I could record him last night and he swore at me and said he would smash my phone against the wall. So I didn’t.

Dear T_2211
I am Kristie and i volunteer as an online community host for Carers UK. I would like to say that i am sorry that you find yourself in a difficult situation with your husband and i hope fellow carers can help you and you can also find some information that you can have a look at that might be useful for you.
So welcome to the forum! You are not alone in your role and i am sure that many on here will understand exactly how you feel and can offer you the support that you need. Caring can be very lonely and the pandemic has made caring responsibilities challenging as many carers have been socially restricted and unable to attend social groups etc.
Carers UK are running two online weekly meetups for carers and you can find the information to register at Care For A Cuppa:- second online weekly meetups is called Share And Learn:-
Our telephone number is 0808 888 7777 and the line is open from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am-6pm and our email address is (
They provide information and guidance to unpaid carers. This covers:-
-Benefits And Financial Support
-Your Rights As A Carer In The Workplace
-Carers Assessments And How To Get Support In Your Caring Role
-Services Available To Carers And the People You Care For
-How To Complain Effectively And Challenge Decisions.
Best Wishes

Hang on a minute…
He’d smash your phone against the wall? That is alarming.
Even if you didn’t ask and then you recorded and played back to him there is a possibility he would smash your phone against the wall?

What is this telling you?

Is that not ringing alarm bells?

Definitely speak with your employers to ask about counselling again if you can get it.

Ask yourself why you pander to his manipulation, control and violent temper when he should be pandering to yourself, your wellbeing and safety.

Have a walk tomorrow and have some honesty with yourself.

When I was newly widowed, newly disabled, newly in charge of our business - and 30 tons of lorry spares to sell, mum was very ill, son had learning difficulties, I was close to a breakdown.
Counselling was funded by Social Services for me, as a need identified in my Carers Assessment.

From an outsiders point of view, I’m wondering how long it will be before he decides to take his fists to you?

I’m not a professional or trained etc in this and I don’ know you, your partner or you both together.
However what you are saying is raising alarm signals about his behaviours and temper.
The here and now doesn’t sound good from what you say.
The future is of concern
You hold the key to your future. Be honest with yourself about it.

‘He’d smash your phone against the wall? That is alarming.’

That’s how he talks, yes. It’s his way of saying don’t do it. He is not violent although he tried at the very beginning of the relationship, but I don’t feel threatened physically. He has a very harsh way of talking - uncompromising - that’s why I call it verbal and emotional abuse.

Thanks for all your advice. It’s good to hear your opinions.

My opinions and advice are that of a person in a forum, you need to speak with professionals.

Read your post out loud to yourself, whisper it if you cannot say it aloud for being heard.

That’s how he talks.
It’s his way of saying don’t.
A very harsh way of talking

Ask yourself if you are making excuses up for his behaviours or convincing yourself to stay.

He is not violent - he tried at the beginning
but I don’t feel threatened physically
Verbal and emotional abuse

Think about how this has grown over the years and where is it going and future threats.
Ask yourself if you want to be a frail old lady with all of this in 10, 15, 20+ years time

You have a stressful job and go home to stress, think about what that is doing to your body and probable outcomes that could have on your body and how vulnerable you could be.

As said, I am not qualified or experienced but have been through the school of life with friends and colleagues and you need to look at your home life in the cold light of day and talk with professionals about the present, the future, your options - twist or stick and the ramifications either way.

I’ve looked from the outside in and seen lots of negatives and red flags that have raised alarms and commented on them, hoping there has been food for thought but ultimately it is down to you to review your life, your future and make decisions.

I usually avoid discussions about domestic violence (and this really is exactly that), because as a man I’m not the right person to say anything. But I think it’s time for a reality check. You may find this challenging, but it needs to be said.

Whatever the reason for his behaviour towards you, it is unacceptable as it is controlling and degrading. And the problem then is that you’re exposed to it so much that you can become partly inured to it, and make excuses for it. Even want it as it is, at least, some form of attention.

I was quite alarmed reading your posts, but the one that got to me was when you asked for permission to record him. That’s how under his thumb you’ve become. The one way to evidence his behaviour towards you - which he certainly would not want others to know about - and you asked if it was ok. The answer would always be “no.” And now, if he sees you with your phone, he will assume the worst (for him) and check. Or worse.

You may not feel under threat, but it is there.

Helena gave you contact details for Women’s Aid. I strongly suggest you contact them - as someone to talk to. They are best qualified to support you and advise you.

I agree with everything Charles has said.

These are things seen from your posts, truth hurts.
If you are fooling yourself you aren’t fooling others.

Have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?
Think about what else you ask for permission for
You aren’t allowed in the kitchen - he brings food to you and controls the tv - are you a hostage?
Also home routines and any pecking orders there eg waiting your turn/first shout for the shower

Are your friends, parents, aunts and colleagues in the same position with their spouse? No!
No they aren’t because this is not normal.

Pardon my forthrightness and apparent bias but from seeing your posts they are all in the negative.
None of what you posted is normal.

You don’t mention fun, caring, sharing or tenderness from him, no camaraderie, companionship, romantic gestures etc. But even if there was, would it make the negatives right? No it wouldn’t because they are abusive and wrong, it would make it more alarming on a risk level.

What we see is:-
Verbal Abuse
Violent threats
Blaming you - it’s your fault
Cowing you - dispirit, to force or tyrannise over, pressure, frighten or shame person into doing or acting in certain way

Making excuses for him
Working late - avoidance? preference for work environment to home
Trying to justify being together - from little scraps he gives you eg cycle rides

Basically you give many reasons not to be with him which have evolved over 20 years and are still growing by stealth.

Read through all the posts again, follow up the leads given and ask for some professional help.

As Darth Vader said - Resistance is Futile, but ask yourself if you are resisting :-
the dark side of staying with him
or the fear of moving on to a calmer, carefree and fun life of your own.

No it isn’t normal.
You deserve better.