Dealing with a cantankerous spouse

Strategies for reacting / coping in an assertive manner

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31/01/2013 at 11:16

I'll avoid turning this into a husband insulting thread & will be grateful for any advice on how to deal with this.

Thought I'd post here as it has affected my running...can't remember the last time I felt happy when heading out for a run, which is affecting my motivation. I used to be a very happy person, but cant remember the last time I smiled or laughed at home. (being with friends/colleagues is different)

Has anyone had any experience of coping with a very stubborn, grumpy, bad tempered spouse, to the point where it affects your happiness? I think I can cope with the negativity, the worse part is the clever ploys to turn the situation around so I'm made out to be the one who has a problem.  I've also noticed in the past year I can be spoken to in a very condescending way - whatever I do is wrong. Whatever I say is wrong. I cant do this, I can't do that (see the link to affecting my running) this a form of emotional bullying?

I used to react with an equally firey temper, but now I say nothing, however inside I feel very, very small & insignificant.

I've always been quite shy and unconfident & think if I could deal with this more assertively I might feel happier about the situation & it wont play on my mind.

The reason I havent left yet is twofold: I can see the good in him & think that stress may play a part in his temper (work security issues - don't we all have that!), & 2) because (for the moment anyway) the positives in our relationship marginally outweigh the negatives). I'm not perfect either, but am trying to work on my shortfalls. I've seen a councillors & have re-assessed my training goals so i'm not putting too much pressure on myself & run for enjoyment.

I could go on, but have written enough already.

Any advice will be gratefully received, thank you for reading this post.

31/01/2013 at 11:24


seren nos    pirate
31/01/2013 at 11:29

not too sure what to suggest,,,,,, have you tried a break away together from all and just realxing and discussing where you see your futures..........

are you both wanting the same thing.....or is one wanting something different and so blaming their partner for not being where they thought they would be now...........

Hope things improve


31/01/2013 at 11:30

marriage guidance perhaps?

31/01/2013 at 11:40


I really feel for you as I'm just through a very similar situation for apparently the same reasons.

He wouldn't agree to marriage guidance councelling so I went to a "normal" councellor myself.

Eventually I was strong enough to say either seek help yourself and stop this behaviour or go. He knew I meant it and it seemed to shock him into addressing his issues.

Fingers crossed.

31/01/2013 at 12:08

Thank you for the replies - K80 glad it is sorted for you now. It's hard work. I felt bad about having to resort to a councillor. Well done for having the courage to sort things out.

Have tried the ultimatum approach & it works for about a day, then reverts back to the usual situation.

Seren - that's a good idea. Unfortunately the holiday seems to be another source of stress, when it should be relaxing - he gets very impatient in airport queues & i'm left like a muppet standing with the passports on my own, while he disappears in a huff.

We're going to Turkey in April & i'm really looking forward to it, however it is tainted by an incident last year in the same resort, I wont go into detail, but it was a classic case of being made a scapegoat for his own mistake & it ruined the rest of the holiday as I had to take the whole blame & he refused to see my point of view.

Seren, I think a lot of it could be to do with our wedding. Our families are very different & whilst mine (to my disapppointment) didnt really get involved or show any interest in our wedding, the in-laws were the total opposite & even invited 4 of their friends to our wedding (wedding was abroad, so only close family were officially invited),  I now fondly refer to them as the 'wedding randoms' - I'd never met them before. Both sets of parents behaved inappropriately, but hubby still reminds me today of my parents being 'uninterested' in us.

Life eh!!!

Back to running....

31/01/2013 at 13:15

First thing is to let him know how you feel - if you've done that and it still isn't working make sure he realises how serious it is.   Bottom line is if he wont change it's really pu to you to decide if you can go on like you are or split up.  

31/01/2013 at 14:07

This should sort things out.


31/01/2013 at 14:45

RicF - I wish!

Popsider - Thanks. we've tried to talk but it doesn't really work - he wont talk and will accuse me of 'nagging' I keep thinking it will get better once 'this happens' or 'that happens' (we move house, get a new job, better weather in spring arrives) but the reality is it never does.

I tried to leave twice last year but went back as I thought I was over-reacting.

I think I need to take steps to improve my self-esteem and to react differently to criticism or confrontation... guess only I can change that. Definitely need to say the word 'sorry' a lot less!

I'd be really interested to hear from others who have been in a similar situation...Thank heavens we have running to keep us sane!

31/01/2013 at 14:47

You've tried talking

He wont talk


Affecting your running

Sorry Time to dump him


(nb Other sources of marriage guidance are available)

31/01/2013 at 14:57

I too went to the Spartan School of marriage guidance.

Dump him!

31/01/2013 at 15:01

LTS - I'm just a bloke so probably haven't much good advice to offer but it sounds to me that you need to sort yourself out first. Once you are happy with yourself you'll know what you really want in life which may or may not include your husband. Good luck!

31/01/2013 at 15:44

he sounds like the sort of fella who is unlikely to change his attitudes now - he's stubborn and set in his ways.

it could also be that he is being like that as he is trying to force the issue from his side??  maybe he's not happy and wants to break but he doesn't know how to do this so is making your life hell with the hope that you will walk

just a thought

31/01/2013 at 15:52

im with buddha on this one!

sounds like you OH is a total tool LTS, if you,ve done all that so far and he's still not changed then just give up!!

its not worth the hassle and in my opinion, its almost one step away from a domestic case!! may sound serious but the fact your having to apologise to him isnt helping you!

sounds like he's a bit too dominant!!

31/01/2013 at 15:58

LTS a look at your threads shows that you have discomfort or 'pain' issues and that your husband has depression. There is also a comment that you are recently married.

Perhaps the relationship suffers because of each individual's personal suffering. It could be that the each individua'ls personal suffering arises from the unhappy relationship. Your pain might certainly arise from running but perhaps low morale or self esteem makes it seem all the worse, similarly your spouses depression.

The classic way of approaching such problems is for each party to agree not to point the finger e.g. you said this or you did that.  Focus on personal feeling "I feel that I..."  NOT  "I feel that you..." 

Suffice to say that firstly, you both sit down and look each other in the eye and SAY that you want this marriage to go on. If you cannot do that without acrimony or feeling your spouse's is too short, at least independently you will each do what you want to do when you want to do it and without nursing each other.

Yes, loneliness can be crippling more so within a relationship. 

31/01/2013 at 16:19

The name you use for you profile basically holds all of your answers.

You only live once.

It sounds like your spouse has found a way of controlling you. He gets annoyed and you're left picking up the pieces. It's not cricket.

Unfortunately some people conduct relationships in this way, they put people down as a way of keeping them under their control and reactive to their every need.

You mention that you lack a bit of confidence? Your other half will know this and will know exactly how to keep you that way. You are much easier to manage when you never put yourself first and constantly people please. It rarely leads to happiness.

I'm by no means saying that I know what you should do but thought my own experience might be of use. I have been in a relationship like this in some respects I think, put up with terrible behaviour and gave up a few things to keep the other half happy and keep me from actually having anything of my own. Constantly sorting out her issues with my friends, my family, her family for that matter to keep her temporarily "happy" until the next time she couldn't handle something simple (in your case the bloody airport!). I don't think it's worth it. Thankfully I don't believe that relationships should be this way and in the future I will be very careful about who I choose to be with. I won't be with someone oppressive or negative, maybe this makes me sound selfish but I won't give up my enjoyment of life to try and benefit someone elses. I don't reckon you should either.

Whatever you do, best wishes.

31/01/2013 at 16:20

You definitely need to bring this to a head.  Maybe consider objectively detailing everything you'd do if you left him.   Where would you go?  How much income would you need (actually work out  how many hundreds a month)? Where would you get money from (work out how much would come from work or benefits etc)?  What would you want to do with your life? Focus more on your career? family? charity work?

Once you've got a clear, viable potential plan of action and if you still would prefer to save your marriage, then you can sit and talk with confidence.  He will understand that you have that confidence...  and he should realise that you are not going to bend to his bullying. 

I can't see how he can change without the work of a good councellor.  I sort of doubt he can change to be honest.  But, if you are to  stay together,  you should also think through some detail of how you want things to change.  What goals and objectives you want from life together?

Essentially, I'm saying prepare yourself, and prepare yourself well. Then you speak (and make ultimatums) from a position of strength...  and will be less likely to be shot down, or made to feel like you are 'over-reacting', or somehow in the wrong.

Good luck.

31/01/2013 at 19:03

I think there are many forms of abuse, and not just physical. Read a book called 'Dragon Slippers, by Rosalind B. Penfold', its a graphic novel of a woman who lived with a guy who never physically abused her, but the words he said, made her feel worthless, and she blamed herself for his actions, when it was always him at fault. She always felt she should have tried harder, or that she was to blame, that she needed to change. He said, no one will love you like i will, and her reply in the end was 'i want to be loved in a better way'.

You have to learn to love yourself. Just dont whatever you dont have a child, if your having the problems now, since if this guy isnt your soulmate, and it sounds like he isnt, then when you have children, then leaving makes it that much harder.

I think it is very easy to get used to abuse, be it however small, and it can become a drug sometimes, addicted to the bad side, like being on a roller coaster, when really you are in freefall.

You are your own person, who you are is very special, so never forget that.

31/01/2013 at 20:28

You've given him an ultimatum and he hasn't changed. He knows he can get away with this. You have accepted it and he knows it. You are now his (verbal) punch bag.


DtS had it right in the first response to you.

I suspect you will stay... making excuses (he's tired/depressed/stressed/I wound him up)   One day you will have forgotten what it is like to have self esteem. You'll just expect to be treated badly (you are halway there already).


Life is too short. Leave and be happy. You have no happy future with him. For gawd sake don't have children with him either. Guaranteed he will ramp up the abuse then

31/01/2013 at 20:43

D used to laugh at me. It worked.

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