Should I give dh a chance or give dh the cold shoulder?

byebyemindApril 10, 2009

I am not sure which to do. The situation is that my dh is the polar opposite as me when it comes to social behaviors. I have lots of friends and am a social butterfly. I become friends with the kids friends parents, I have many friends from childhood as well as college, and I make friends at work. My dh is more of the keep to himself type and is not very social I guess you could say. When we met I think I loved that about him. Maybe it was because my ex was very social like me and then I found out he was cheating for a long time.

Anyways my dh has this thing when he jokes with people where he looks and sounds serious. Never lets on he is joking and just thinks people will know. My dh is also strongly oppinioned on topics and is too vocal about that. When I have family over they are afraid to approach certain topics with dh because they know it will end in dh getting jerky about it. My parents confided in my sibling that they feel like my husband hates them. I cried when I heard that. I am close to my family and friends and they mean the world to me.

I have told my dh over and over again that he comes across as a jerk. Every time he says that I am scolding him. Well today I had it. Last night my sister was visiting and my dh decided to tell her how stupid all her tattoos and piercings are. She never asked him what he thought!!!!! And she is only 18. He just felt the need to say it and continue on with it till I kicked his foot under the table. Then he was mad at me and even mentioned aloud that I kicked him. My sister was uncomfortable and it made me furious.

This morning we were eating breakfast with my cousin and her boyfriend because they came over to visit with us and my sister. A story came up about a couple we all know and her boyfriend made a comment about the couples child being like a niece to him. My husband started on a rant about how they are not blood related and it is not his niece and was just really a jerk. I kicked his leg under the table and he threw a fit. Got up and walked away from the table. My cousins boyfriend got mad and left. My cousin did not know what to say.

I layed into my husband and again he got angry. Then the phone rang and it was my mother in law. I answered and she asked me if I was ok because my voice sounded upset. I told her I was fine and handed the phone to dh. Then he came back in the room with the phone soon after and told me she wanted to talk to me.

She again asked me what was wrong and I began crying. Told her that dh is a jerk to my family and makes them uncomfortable. I told her about his so called joking around and his mean comments. I just layed it all out there. She told me how sad she was to hear that and wanted to speak to him. I went and brought him back the phone.

A while later he returned to our room and apologized. I began yelling at him and telling him I am sick of it and I am at the point where I can not even enjoy time with my family because of him. My stomach is in knots wondering what mean comment he will say next. He kept apologizing and saying he is going to think about the things he says and that he does not mean to come across like this.

My mother in law called me later to see if I was ok and I told her yes. She is a wonderful woman. But I am now left thinking his apology is because mommy and not because he really sees the error of his ways. Part of me wants to give him a cold shoulder for a while because if I just act like I am ok then it will downplay the seriousness of this situation. It has been like this for months. He did not always act like this.

I just don't know how long I need to show him I am mad.

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Dearheart, you're married to a serious jerk. SERIOUS JERK!!!!!!!.

I encourage you to understand that (like, read your own post again) and get out. Your alternative is to continue with the defensive platitudes and pollyanna that that will lead to you living the rest of your life with a JEEEEERRRKKKKK!

PS...he knews he's a jerk. Your leaving will not surprise him. However, don't let your sympathy stop you.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 9:50PM
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There are soooo many occasions I want to suggest a woman leave their jerk of a husband, but I don't this is one of them. Besides, you didn't ask what you should do but how long we think you should show him you are angry. My answer is stop right now. If you can actually calculate it like this, then you are being as petty as he is. I understand there are very few ways to make a jerk like your stubborn husband understand he has to change his ways, but I hate the idea of being calculating. If you are a married woman, I expect you are old enough and should be mature enough to know you have to put away your childish games, just as you want him to put away his. Either you are genuinely angry and will be angry until you are no longer angry - or until you both talk and come to a satisfactory understanding - or you are not angry and just want him to get the message. I suspect the latter, and your solution is to give him the cold shoulder for a specified period of time. How mature is that?

I suggest you talk and get to the root of his problem, which is obviously that he likes to feel superior to other people. It is also that he rejects constructive criticism or anything that does not support and confirm him. Both of which are also very immature (I won't mention the obvious pun here). You might need books or web articles to help you put your feelings and assessments into words since apparently you have not had success thus far. Some people need a different approach, but again he is very immature in this regard, so it's surprising he might need kid gloves. It's also possible he simply processes information differently than most other people. The bottom line though is that he is stubborn when it comes to his own ego, yet he readily creates opportunities to bring people down and place them beneath him. Such is as well the case with his reaction to your complaints. He turns the whole situation around to make everything your fault, and you are the one in the wrong for finding fault with his behavior. I hope you can see this is a much more deep-seated problem than you handling it like a spoiled child.

I am also not one to suggest counseling for every couple and complaint, but you just might need to try convincing him or both of you to seek counseling if talking to him does not get through. I fear it won't and also fear he will reject the thought of counseling, but you will deal with that when the time arrives. He sounds borderline narcissistic, but I can't say for certain because this is the only situation you shared with us. The thing is, it doesn't take much for the average person to understand they have to stop doing something that is harmful and offensive. He doesn't stick his hands in the fire or walk into moving traffic, after all. He learned not to do those things. This is all about him and his defensive sense of superiority.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:55PM
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Thanks for your advice thermometer. I don't want to end my marriage over this. I do think marriage is more than a piece of paper and can take work at times. I do not want to run at the first major issue. I think my husband has a horrible sense of humor and is very opinionated. For some reason he seems to think he has all this wisdom to share but the problem is nobody is askin for it and he gives it anyways.

I am being childish I guess at wanting to prove some point by staying angry. He has apologized over and over again today and I just have kept my distance all day. I found reasons to run errands most of the day and now I am hanging out in the basement as he is in our bedroom two stories up watching television. He has apologized over and over again to me today. He even offered to apologize to my family. He says he is going to change his attitude. I keep telling him sorry does not cut it and he keeps asking what he can do to show me he feels awful and is not going to act like a jerk anymore. I just keep telling him that I don't know what is going to make me feel better right now.

Problem is I don't want to believe his words till I see them in action. I read all these posts on here of women being repeatedly mistreated and making excuses for it and letting it all go so quickly. I don't want to do that. I don't want him to slip back into jerkhood next week and then us have the same argument.

Maybe he down deep feels insecure and his attitude is a way of making him feel secure. If he comes across as mr tough guy then nobody will focus on his faults and weaknesses? Maybe that is what he thinks?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:13PM
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asolo own extended family's over-populated with men pretty much exactly as you've described your husband. Their wives defend them and are all certain they'll change. Problem is, they don't. I'm talking decades here. 40 years worth of endurance...and the women are still doing it! The other husbands signed off 20-30 thirty years ago but the women are still at it. If you're one of them, by all means plod onward. Just be prepared to limit your own times with your personal friends and to lose many of them. They'll pity you, but they won't sacrifice their own lives to support your hopeless situation.

Previous poster suggests tolerance and "helping" and "working with". I suggest don't kid yourself. If you want to attempt sainthood, by all means go for it. If you'd prefer to preserve your own sanity, maintain normal friendships, and keep a peaceful welcoming home with a normal human being for a partner this guy's got to go. The longer you wait, the less life you have to enjoy afterward.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:42PM
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I read all these posts on here of women . . . making excuses for it and letting it all go so quickly. I don't want to do that.

and then

Maybe he down deep feels insecure and his attitude is a way of making him feel secure. If he comes across as mr tough guy then nobody will focus on his faults and weaknesses? Maybe that is what he thinks?

It's easy to do, isn't it? You might be right in your diagnosis, but I don't think it matters. I really don't think you should try to determine why he does these things. Leave it up to him to tell you why. That's the reason I suggested you talk specifically about his behavior, not the effect he has on other people. And, don't put words in his mouth because they easily transform into excuses. They can also end up having a different affect than you intended. He will use your words as his reasons since it becomes clear to him that is something you will accept, relate to, and understand. Communication breaks down right there. Talk about what his behavior does to people, and you only feed his frenzy, confirming his control and sense of superiority. So, I think you should focus on what he does, including his reactions to your protests, which is more of what he does.

Whatever (if ever) he confesses, it's okay to be understanding and seek ways for him to overcome it, which might mean counseling. But, do keep an open mind and look for sensible answers and explanations. Remember that he denied doing anything, exclaiming there was nothing wrong with his behavior and flipped the table over on you. Now, he apologizes profusely once facing the expense of your wrath. What happened to his innocence? You don't have to wait for evidence and don't have to remain angry. You want to know if he is truly contrite and repentant? Ask him to tell you what he is apologizing for. Insist on confession in that manner. What you receive should either give you some sense of assurance or will leave you with little hope it won't happen again.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 12:12AM
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You say he was not always like this - why do you think he has changed ?

I think if he apologises then you should give him another chance ?

How old are you both ?

In my experience people can change, as they get older. Maybe your dh can too. But perhaps you need to calm down a bit too. Talk it over calmly with him. But you both have to be committed to working out your problems, and willing to compromise.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 2:03AM
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Okay, here's my take. If you're asking how much longer you "should be" mad, then your not and you need to own up to your feelings. That said it's time AGAIN for you two to talk. Some people do not "know" when they are "being a jerk" and to STOP IT. Even if they're kicked. So maybe your DH (and it won't be DEAR at the time) will need a reminder that he is acking like a jerk. Something like...Oh Honey, remember that ashtray your Mom bought us as a weddign gift, I accidentally dropped it and it broke....something out of the ordinary that is to catch his attention that really means 'HEY BUCKO, YOU'RE BEING A JERK, STOP IT BEFORE I KICK YOU AND WE END UP HAVING A FIGHT'. It may take a while, but quickly change the subject and go from there. Sometimes things get to be patterns and thought process that have to be changed.

As to "he only apologized because Mom told him to". May be right, BUT....he did apologize, Mom can only do so much, the rest he does have to do himself, and apologizing is something he would have to do himself.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 7:33AM
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Interesting situation. So should you give him the cold shoulder? Nope. That's unhealthy for you. That's a virtual breeding ground for depression and anxiety. Speak your mind with clarity, without mothering him (He's a mamma's boy, and he married someone that he could repeat his stuff with). Speak your truth and set firm boundaries. Don't apologize for him, maintain your friendships outside of your home. He's clearly acting out in a passive aggressive way to upset you - find out why. Does he resent being second in line to your social life? Your friends and family are very important, and deserve to be treated respectfully - kicking him under the table is not a mature way of dealing with this. A more difficult way but a more effective way, would be to pull your friends and family out of the room and ask for a rain check, tell them how you love them, and let your husband know that under no circumstances will you allow him to treat guests disrespectfully, and that you want to know what's really going on with him.

He's given you a clue, in that he doesn't like to be parented by you. So, that's a good place to start.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 12:35PM
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"We cannot control the actions of others" (from the co-dependents' handbook.)

Kicking under the table, yelling and the time-honored Cold Shoulder are not very effective tools, as you are finding out. Find a more mature way to express your feelings. It may work, but be prepared for it to not work.

My personal experience in this is that it is possible for SOME men to actually learn social graces at an advanced age, but they have to be taught, just like you teach your kids. Maybe nobody ever corrected him when he was in the learning stage? Was he perhaps raised by wolves?

And kinda off-topic, I agree with him about the tatoos and piercings, Yecch! I hope that young girl heard him.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 3:46PM
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Don't give him cold shoulder. Lay it all out. Specifically. I don't like it when you _____________ because I feel _____________ when that happens.

Then tell him what you will do. Example. My 7 year old (yep, because that's how old your dh is acting!!) keeps not appreciating what I do for her. Not only that, but acting like a little brat prior to us doing fun stuff. I finally told her today that I am tired of feeling like this. I told her I cannot control what she does, but I can control how I react to it. So the next time she doesn't listen to me about eating in the living room or whatever, I'm not going to get all upset. We're just not going to do the fun stuff we had planned. Then I won't feel that she's taking advantage and martyr myself. End game. I think she got it.

So, what will you do when DH does something like that?

DH: I think your tattoos are hideous.
You: I apologize for my husband. That was innappropriate to say to you, a guest in our home. Would you like to come with me to the patio for some tea?

DH: Rush Limbaugh is an idiot, I don't see how any smart person could listen to him. You must be an idiot.

You: It's obvious we have different opinions on this subject. Aren't politics a heated subject!! By the way, Aunt Jen, this is a lovely coffee cake. How did you make it so fluffy and light?

By doing that, it takes the attention from him, lets him and everyone know that you won't stand for it, and lets him off without the humility of being kicked or told off. Just smile, and cut him off at the chase.

Diffuse while in the heat of it, then when you get him alone have specific things to tell him, without anger or blame.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 11:57PM
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I've been where you are. If you really want to try to save this marriage (and I don't think you can), insist on counceling. He's displaying narcisistic and controlling tendencies. If not checked now, you will end up isolated from family and friends as his intent is to do that. If you continue on as is and find that your friends and family start distancing themselves, run, don't walk to the nearest lawyer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 12:20PM
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Talk and counselling could be a good idea. I could identify with some of your husband's behaviours in the past and can say that sometimes some people have no idea of what they're saying. Sometimes it's insecurity or a feeling you need to contribute SOMEHOW or fill a silent void.

Depression and/or bipolar can sometimes manifest like that, and 'social inappropriateness/social ineptitude is also often a hallmark of Asberger's syndrome.

It may also be evidence of psychological abuse - sometimes clues in their past, perhaps he was always spoken to like that.

Try discussing it calmly, quietly and privately with him, and see what the reaction is. Don't do too much, too fast, since it may be a lot for him to absorb and it may be something he's not aware of. Also, if he has low self-esteem which he probably does, he may feel he's being reminded of his 'worthlessness' - tread lightly but don't give him a license to behave badly either.

Hopefully you can get both of you into therapy, then him on his own if necessary. Like I say, I exhibited a lot of that behaviour, and seem to have mostly 'grown out of it' - my eldest daughter does also, and she's bipolar.

Some of the advice on here seems harsh. No, you should not be a doormat, but it sounds like evidence of some unhappiness and insecurity, and, like I say, there could well be physiological and/or psychological reasons behind it, so let's try to be a little supportive. It's also not an 'affliction' exclusive to gender, either.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 4:54PM
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Since I posted this I have talked to my dh again and told him how much this behavior hurts me and embarasses me. He keeps telling me he will think about what he says from now on. So I invited family over one night for dinner and he was great. Added to the conversation appropriately.

A few days later I made plans for us to go out with my cousin and her boyfriend(the same ones he recently embarassed me in front of). We all had a good time. He made one comment that I found to be rude and I called him on it in front of them. Apologized to them in front of him and said that I think my dh meant his comment this way and I am sure that he did not mean it as rudely as it came out. My dh then apologized for his misinterpreted words!!!

Last night we went out with a friend of his and a friend of mine. Again he was on his best behavior. I did manage to slip in a discussion about the comment I found rude that he made to my cousin because my friend also knows my cousin. His friend looked at him and told him he understood why I found that comment rude! I could see that my dh felt stupid when his friend said that.

So now I am calling my dh out in front of people if he is rude and I am also showing him how it feels to be embarassed(by me bringing up his rudeness in front of HIS friend).

My dh told me what great times he had the last days since our talk about his rudeness.

So maybe *just maybe* he is really trying to change his behavior.

Thanks to everyone who gave me constructive ways to fix this issue (besides divorce).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 10:24PM
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How refreshing!

From grounds for divorce to open discussion and clarity - and in fact happiness. What a concept.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 12:40PM
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i am glad he is improving, you did a great job by confronting him. sometimes rude people need to be told that they are rude. otherwise they never control themselves.

i also wonder how he was brought up and if it somehow comes from upbringing. my exhusband is very insensitive and makes rude comments to people in their face. it was a main reason why i couldn't tolerate him. he grew up wiht alcoholic father. making insensitive comments is his way to protect himself and maintain control over his own life.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 2:32PM
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Blurting out without forethought could be a sign of a personality disorder. Brain chemistry does funny things to people. When DH is in a listening mood you might suggest he bring this issue up with his doctor.

There are some very high functioning people with mental illness that goes on undiagnosed because their behavior is so normal "the rest and most of the time" except for when they.....

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 4:19AM
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WAHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy for you :)

And Wildchild is right. Asperger's (highly functioning/smart) autism is one.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 3:40PM
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