accepting what is w/boundaries for me

Old 01-21-2011, 08:13 AM
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accepting what is w/boundaries for me

Looking to get this out of my system and hoping others can relate to this frustration and help me in my struggle to define the boundaries I need if I am to be able to interact with AH in a calm, peaceful way.

AH is on meds to control his anxiety and is going to counseling which seems both are helping him to not drink. As far as recovery for the damage to our family it's somewhere on the list but working through it sometimes takes a great toll on me. I have decided to stick with the marriage, although we are separated. I am hopeful that one day we will be together with true recovery for both of us.

I am started to realize that it is not acceptable to me when AH hangs the phone up on me when he doesn't like what he hears me saying about everyday stuff of life (things that need to be taken care of - kids, finances, house, etc...) or he hangs up as a reaction to some perceived transgression. It is also not acceptable to me when he doesn't hang up but attempts to communicate by verbally attacking me.

I know I can walk away from this and handle everything on my own (because thanks to my counselor that light bulb went on, that I have been doing this for the last year, if not 10 years!) but I have decided to try and work it out.

I am going on here but I am going over and over in my head the conversations we had, yesterday and this morning. I know there is a difference for AH because he went to his counselor yesterday and she probably "instructed" him on how to handle his stress and that is great for where he is at but it just leaves me frustrated. I wonder, where is there, if any, emotion, the caring about how someone else is hurt by your words.

I am at the point where I can accept that AH needs help dealing with stress and learning how to be aware of what his needs are and be able to express them but I really want him to know that how he chooses to speak to me when he is not aware is not acceptable to me and I am not sure I have the ability to set those boundaries and/or if I do set them, he just ignores them.

It used to take me a week to recover from interactions with him and now I am for the most part ok but still need to recover and sometimes lose a good part of the day doing that, like I did yesterday.

I suppose that is progress but I am hoping to feel more comfortable about setting my own boundaries I how I want to be treated even if it may not happen.


Me to AH - "Morning, how are you, a couple of items I need to take care of...."
proceeded to talk about some maintenance needed doing, bank issues - repeated a couple of things to make sure I knew what was going to get taken care of and what wasn't.

Of course that repeating started the attacks from AH

AH to me - yelling so I need to hold phone 5 inches from my ear - "this is what I mean, you just keep repeating yourself, you can't communicate, this habit of yours has to go or we're not going to get anywhere."

Me trying to set some boundaries - "How about acknowledging what I said so I don't have to repeat myself."

AH hangs up on me

I calm down and call back to tell AH - "it is not ok for you to hang up on me whenever I say something you don't want to hear"

AH - "I thought you hung up on me, and besides why were you telling me blah, blah, blah, your not thinking right, who don't you blah, blah, blah. Got to go." AH hangs up.


Me to AH - "Good morning, how are you?"

AH to me - "Just getting in my car, heading off I am a little behind schedule."

Me - "May I please have the information for ...."

AH - " Well, we have to blah, blah, blah and blah, blah."

Me - " I already took care of that and I know, I just need ..."

AH - "Well, you have to blah, blah, blah,..."

After a little more of his blah, blah, blah just to let me know how great he is, that he did what I said and took care of something I asked, I get needed information and he says, gotta go, hangs up.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:21 AM
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Hmm, well, from where I stand, it seems like there's no point in interacting with him at this point. Since you are able to take care of everything yourself, I'd work on removing all need to speak to or rely on him. I get the boundary of not wanting to be cut off or hung up on, but if you keep calling him, it may well keep happening.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:29 AM
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Hhhmmm - you could be me right now!

One suggestion - stop talking to him until he starts to respect you. That's setting a boundary and standing firm on it. Tell yourself you don't need anything from him and take care of it yourself. If you do - email him.

The trick to setting and maintaining boundaries with people is acting on the consequences when those boundaries are violated. Like we do with our children. And right now your AH is acting like a child (why do they all act like sullen belligerent teenagers??!!!) so treat him as you would a child without being condescending and disrespectful yourself.

Why aren't you two in counseling together yet? It could serve as a mediation opportunity with your communication. I am recently separated, committed to seeing this through and sticking by my AH if and only IF he grows the heck up and stops trying to push me around. I don't think I will move back to the house without insisting on counseling together about this very thing. If I can't teach him about respecting other people and their boundaries, then someone else has to. I am curious about your journey so far as I anticipate long standing patterns of communication will be hard to break.

I don't talk to my AH if he's being jerky. And thankfully now I don't have to! He still hurts my feelings though. It's not easy being berated over and over again by someone who says he loves you, is it?
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:29 AM
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If you want to save the marriage then I would recommend marriage counseling to learn how to communicate. It will be extremely difficult, and create more water under the bridge, to try and figure it out on your own. I didn't follow through with marriage counseling because my xah didn't remain sober but the counselor did say that communication issues are very fixable if both people can work on it (and you can't if in active addiction).

In the short term I would use email to communicate about topics that trigger him. You won't have to repeat anything because it will be right there in writing and he will have time to absorb the info before responding so he doesn't feel attacked or whatever he is feeling that sets him off. Only talk on the phone about things that are pleasant. Really - no need to torture one another if there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:33 AM
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Daily communication about practicalities sounds rough, especially if he yells and it isn't really communicating, perhaps set it up so that you don't need to contact so often?

If there's stuff you need to know, email him?

If there are decisions to be made that he legally has to input on, email and say "X needs deciding, if I don't hear back from you by Y I will assume that you are fine with the following course of action and proceed with it".

communication with my ex is just beyond frustrating. It's like he's responding to an entirely different conversation, I communicate just fine with most other people, but with him it's crazy making. therefore: email.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:39 AM
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For certain things, I find it's much clearer to communicate with AH by e-mail than to get bogged down in conversations about errands and minor domestic responsibilities.

It can take two or three face-to-face reminders to him to deposit a check before he gets around to it, but if I e-mail him with "Can you please deposit the check today," that usually gets results. And if I keep it simple, there's no room for misinterpretation.

The things I'm going to do anyway, I just do and let him know about it after (or not, if it's not important--like I've been taking my car to a quick-lube place for oil changes instead of getting AH to call his buddy at the garage and set up a time to drop off the car).

I'd be highly pissed if AH hung up on me. That's such a childish thing to do.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Smallsteps View Post
I'd be highly pissed if AH hung up on me. That's such a childish thing to do.
It is. It would tick me off to no end too. Not much we can do about it on our end other then avoid phone conversations that would result in that response. If he goes there while on the phone you could pre-emptively find a reason to get off the phone or just come out and say "I don't want to talk about this on the phone." or something.

It sounds as if he is feeling put on the spot, which causes a rush of anxiety, and he can't cope. He hangs up (which may actually be a better response then verbally going off) but if you call him back you are asking for trouble.

He needs to learn to cope of course but sounds as if he is working on it. It does take time and if you want to maintain the relationship it will be helpful to come up with strategies that work (like email for triggery topics, don't call him back right away, etc.) Ideally he'd be asking for these things himself but maybe he's not there yet.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:56 AM
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Wow, I swear our AH's are cloned. He REALLY hates my boundaries, and regularly does whatever he can to push against them.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:14 AM
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Being hung up on is definitely one of my biggest pet peeves. It is completely rude and dismissive. Hate it.

I have found that email is the best form of communication when there can be little to no civil verbal communication. You can think about what you want to say and edit if necessary. Sometimes I say things that if I had thought about it first I would not have said. You can also write your email in a certain tone, i.e. all business no emotion; whereas, if you are on the phone many times your emotion is revealed in your voice. It definitely is noticeable in mine. Once you communicate what you need to say - he can read it 15 times if need be so you won't have to repeat yourself because he is tuning you out - and you don't get distracted with his childish comments or deal with having him hang up in your face. Bonus is that you have your communication in writing...that's crucial.

I am just learning about setting boundaries - I feel like a little kid learning to ride a bike without training wheels!! Lots of skinned knees, but I know someday I will become a professional boundary setter - boundaries that even my Amother and ABF will not penetrate...I hope and pray for that anyway!
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:22 AM
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My former husband is like that.

Your goal is to learn how to gain serenity and equilibrium in your life. Speaking to him on the phone doesn't sound like it is helpful to your serenity.

((hugs)) good luck with your boundaries. Enjoy the peaceful time you have away from him and learn to notice how different you feel when you are interacting with him. The rush of adrenaline, the anxiety, the aliveness. I became somewhat addicted to those things - even though I didn't enjoy his tone, his words, his actions. Feeling something was preferable to feeling nothing.

I have learned to appreciate feeling nothing. It is so sweet and peaceful. My life and my children's lives are so much better now that I know what feeling I am actively looking for and figuring out how to get it for myself.
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:04 PM
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Thanks everyone for your support of my feelings and great ideas to help where I am at now. Email sounds like a good way to go.

We are actually in couples counseling, so I am not doing this on my own - the issue for me was that I am still emotionally caught up in so much that I am just starting to realize that it is ok (more than ok, actually) to feel that I don't want to put up with being hung up on and treated in a childish/disrespectful way.

It has taken me 6 months to get to a point where I might actually be able to express how I expect to be treated and maybe have some mediated communication in the counseling session. I know the counselor has been helping the process but it is truly great (with the extra added support of all you at SR) to progressively feel it myself.

Thanks so much and big (((hugs))) to everyone.
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