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Very grouchy husband
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Anon_11642 posted:
Hi - I don't know how to get along with my 73-year-old husband - my daughter and her kids don't like him - he's messy with everything - from his pickup, to his den, to the table in our kitchen - my 4-year-old grandson didn't want to sit in his recliner yesterday because he said it's dirty - so now he has the same opinion. The recliner isn't that dirty - I cleaned it with upholstery cleaner today and just got a little dust out of it. I keep a pretty clean house.

I mentioned to my husband what was said and I just asked him if he can try to be a little neater and cleaner - he's really mad at me - the shower needed new caulking and my other grandson was told by his parents to NOT take a shower in there and so he used the guest shower downstairs and now everything is coming together about my husband, their grandfather - they don't like him.

His grouchiness is so upsetting to me and any time I have anything to discuss he gets angry and upset - etc - he does have high bp but I got a real good bp machine and it's under control now with good medicine.

I can't do anything about it - my granddaughter wanted to know how I met him and what I fell in love with etc - then she said "what happened?" - I'm embarrassed - People do change - but can't talk to anyone about this but here - I try talking to him about this - he complains he's this way because he had a bad childhood with an alcoholic father - he has 3 sisters and none complain like he does although I know being the only boy he had to do all the work on the farm and he did have a bad childhood. His mother was very sweet but his father made a lot of broken promises and drank a lot. But he still says he is this way because of that. When I met him I didn't see any of this. He just got worse with age and time. We've been married 42 years.

Anyway, I feel good venting to someone out there. Divorce won't work as I don't have any means to better myself. I try to do my own thing wit my girlfriends and am pretty success but then the time comes when he comes home from the farm - dirty from working real hard and beered up and grumpy. I feel I have an awful life - am 69 years old - my health is pretty good - I'm thin and joined a fitness center in the small town I live.

Anyway, if I have anything to discuss with him about anything he gets angry right away - we can't talk civil - it becomes a shouting match.

Life is short but sometimes I want to just cry and cry but don't have a clue what to do about changing this angry behavior of his.When I get really down I wish I were dead - we never have any fun at all - maybe going out to eat once in a while - and go to church together but other than that nothing.

Any suggestions would sure be appreciated. Thank you for listening to me.

No physical abuse but emotional abuse is just as bad in my eyes - can't talk with my kids - they are so busy with their lives - they know how he is but they can't do anything about it either.

Just a hopeless existence.

He has been working in the shower since he came home tonight which is good - I just went in there to see and he said "I'm sure this will never been good enough for you." I got so tired of the cracked calking I told him I was going to hire someone and he had a fit - so he comes home and is working in there all evening - scraping etc - I told him it looked good - he said nothing will ever look good enough for you.

I hate all these verbal insinuations - I had to take a tranquilizer last night as I couldn't sleep with such angry words. Why does one want to get angry every time you want to discuss anything? Can someone tell me what I can do so I don't get an angry response every time I ask something.

What am I doing wrong?
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DmndLife1984 responded:
Nothing, and there's nothing you can do.

You say this behavior is recent for him, rather than when you married 42 years ago, including blaming his childhood for how he acts now at 73. I already don't like him. I knew a man who was 53, and constantly complained of the same thing, his abusive childhood supposedly made him that way. This was when I was a kid, and we kicked him out for lack of any effort to be a man. It's all bull though.

I'm 28 and I had an abusive/complicated childhood myself, but hiding behind it would make me a loser. Hiding behind my bipolar II disorder as well, saying I can't do X, Y, and Z because of it, would also make me a loser. Because of the latter, I've also wished I were dead in the past, so I can empathize.

I'm afraid you're stuck until you decide you're somehow not stuck after all. You said you're thin, in rather good health, and working out, and I don't know what you mean when you say you don't have any means to better yourself. Nobody should expect me to keep them around if they talk to me the way you're describing, and this is the 21st century, so find another way to get some fun out of life.
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
What a miserable situation! I'm really sorry you are living through this. Just trying to approach this logically, I can only see these ways to address this: change him, change how you respond, change both of those, or leave.

Change him: It doesn't sound like he's changing anytime soon. However, sometimes it helps to show people compassion for their misery. When someone notes that they seem unhappy, they are sometimes willing to open up about it; and this can help bring in change. It sounds, however, like he might need more professional help (therapy), which I imagine from your description is unlikely to happen. Also, I wouldn't suggest that you show compassion at a time when he is attacking you or that you put yourself in a position to be abused -- so if it seems like showing compassion would inevitably trigger him to be abusive, don't do it.

Change you: When people are in bad situations, they can sometimes make the most of it by trying to isolate the problem. For instance, you can do more of what it sounds like you might be doing: spend less time with him, more time with people and activities that make you happy. Rely on others for emotional support. By living a life basically separate from him, maybe you can find some more happiness.

Change both of you: This means doing a little of both of the above. Couple therapy might help, if you could get him to go.

Leave: I know you said that you don't "have a means to better myself." What does this mean? I'm concerned that you will just fall further and further into a depression if the situation continues. So, if you really can't find a way to make the situation from working better, what keeps you from finding a better situation? Could your daughter or friends help you with this? I understand that it would not be easy, but could it possibly (realistically) produce a better future than your current situation?
 
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Anon_11642 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
Thanks for your replies - I think when he isn't angry would be a good time to talk to him. I know he and my son work together and get along well all these years and he talks different to him. I am going to ask him to talk to me like he does our son. Anything he says to me always seems a different "tone" -

Anyway, I have to talk to him about his tone when he is in a better mood but may have to wait a while.

Thanks for listening - no wonder I have taken antidepressants for so long and never will I go off them.

Thanks again for supporting my problem.
 
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Anon_11642 replied to Anon_11642's response:
You know I asked my husband tonight what would need to happen for you to be happy or at least not so grouchy. Here is what he said. I would like for me to get a better return on my money and that would include a better future for our children and grandchildren which right now does not look good.

Anyway, just wanted to share that - thanks for listening. It isn't a bad thing to wish for and I agree but did tell him a lot of people that I know feel the same way but they still are able to go forward with a hopeful attitude and not so negative.

Maybe a lot of people feel like he does - they just don't show it.