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?