My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Ever since we met, my husband of two years and I have had a very difficult time discussing topics we don't agree on- particularly when I am approaching him about something I am unhappy with. We had a particularly frustrating argument this evening.

These arguments never begin with huge problems- they are small things. However, my husband loves to debate. He gets heated and excited. You can tell he's enjoying himself just for the debate aspect, and that takes over any sort of focus on talking about something that's bothering his wife. He interrupts me, he brings up philosophical arguments that go way above and beyond the topic at hand, and he smiles and laughs. Even if I am brought to tears, he smiles and laughs. He even laughs AT me for disagreeing with him or not addressing the argument he's making (which is often way off topic from what my concern is) and accuses me of being too "emo."

For example, this past weekend he got a speeding ticket on his motorcycle. He was going more than 25 over in a 55. It's his second speeding ticket of the year, and just recently he told me he couldn't get a second one because it would bring him too high on his points on his license. When he got his motorcycle last summer, I was very worried. I am not a fan of motorcycles, but I didn't stop him. He promised up and down to me that he would be safe and wouldn't speed excessively. I asked him about the ticket because I want him to know that going 80-something in a 55 is not my idea of safe.

My husband's reaction to this was to delve into the argument that he is in control and knows what is safe. He also argued that speed limits are too low, that the US should be like Germany, and that he will argue the courts to no end if they try to take his license. When I explained that I think laws should be obeyed regardless of whether you think they are right or not (because you can be fined/ticketed/thrown in jail whether your opinion is in agreement or not!), to which he argued that I can't just let any establishment that exists impose laws on me that I don't agree with. Ergo, I am weak for obeying laws.

At this point I just felt like no matter what I said, his mind was on debate mode. He was interrupting me. I just stopped responding, and he launched into a story about a credit card company he had closed an account with. I didn't respond once- I had no interest! He went on and on as if nothing was wrong. I ran an errand and got back into the car, and he wanted to go to dinner. At this point I told him I didn't want to go into public because he was having a grand old time and I was on the verge of tears. His response was to laugh and say, "yes I AM having a good time!" My being on the verge of tears was entirely ignored. He didn't seem to care one bit, so long as he was having fun.

From there the argument degraded. I told him he was insensitive and explained (calmly) that I don't think he understands sensitivity and insensitivity. I feel like it is a social standard that he just doesn't get. He asked me to define insensitivity (which I did to the best of my ability in my upset state and without a dictionary), then two minutes later asked me to do it again as if he hadn't asked earlier. He asks me questions and doesn't even listen to my responses!

I have a very hard time committing the details of a conversation to memory as it is going on. My husband often accuses me of not knowing what I said because I can't correctly quote it back to him. Ultimately, we degrade to yelling at one another. If I slam a car door, he judges me for it and says I'm irrational. If I swear, he judges me for it and says I am being more immoral than he. He pushes me to a point where I feel backed into a corner and bullied and then uses my coping mechanisms (slamming a door, crying quietly) as excuses to exit.

He left me crying in our kitchen after this argument and went out to get food. He came home as though nothing had happened. I'm sick and tired of being run around in circles to defend myself and try to be heard over his philosophical debates and self-righteous tirades. He's impossible to argue with and he preys on my weaknesses in conversation (and I'm a very intelligent, strong communicator- I just can't go as fast and furious as he wants me to).

He told me tonight that in order to debate, I SHOULD be able to respond quickly. Basically, I'm not fast enough to argue with him.

As a wife, am I required to fight HIS way? Am I supposed to be subjected to philosophical debate instead of being able to air my feelings & concerns & worries?

Seriously, 95% of the time we're a happy, healthy couple. When there's something that I believe is truly worth discussing, it seems to degrade quickly into this cycle. It especially hurts my feelings when he laughs at me. He always says he's not laughing at ME, he's laughing at something more specific. But does it matter? He laughs at what I say, what I do, how I react, how I think- if it's not up to par with how he is.

It truly hurts me. How do I stop this?
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Wow. I am not sure where to start, except first, he needs to get life insurance. I kid you not. A motorcycle and (2) speeding tickets (one 25mph over the speed limit). He has already broken one promise to you, which was to drive safely. That one speeding ticket will go against him for the next (3) years, which means higher insurance premiums. You may want to demand that he gets life insurance (at least 5 years worth of his annual earnings; Example - $50K x 5 years = $250,000 coverage) OR sell the motorcycle. You might need to include his mother's knowledge of his need for life insurance because of his "safe" Germany streets & highways driving.

Your husband is VERY IMMATURE. Even if he acts this way 5% of the time in your marriage, he is UNBELIEVABLY IMMATURE. I didn't realize that you married the "captain of the debate team". I cannot give detailed advice about how to handle your "adult-sized child", but I can encourage you to seek out a good professional marriage counselor asap. For now, you are crying and hurting, but this can really get worse and this situation needs to get nipped in the bud soon. The marriage counselor isn't for you, but for both of you and I would think if you do this sooner than later, the number of sessions will be few.
I wish you well......don't forget, he does need to get life insurance or sell the motorcycle.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Divorce him.

You will NEVER be happy with him. Trust me. Please don't bring children into the world with this jerk.

You know what my EMT friend calls motorcycle riders? Organ donors.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Is he a drinker? That could hold a lot of bearing with this situation.

This recent article I wrote talks about the importance of validation, what is invalidating and how you can work on becoming a more validating person. Read it and then figure out how you can talk to your husband and let him know you need to feel validated and what that looks like to you. If he won't agree to listen to you and and put a decent effort into this, then I would suggest you start setting some very firm boundaries, including insisting on couple's therapy before your self-esteem is damaged beyond repair.

Oh, and get that life insurance too.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Oops, sorry - the article is here http://www.happyher.com/blog/2010/06...-relationship/
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

I'm going to echo what the previous poster mentioned.

One key word came to mind when I read your post.

Invalidation.

And on the level you've described, I believe it could be viewed as emotional abuse.He's belittling you, mocking you, disregarding the fact that you have a point of view, (not to mention feelings......)

It sound like he's the type who needs to one-up you to feel superior.

Next time he berates you, you could come back with this question:

"Did blowing out my candle make yours burn brighter?
Or, did it just create more darkness..."


Maybe that will nudge him to think..........

here's a very comprehensive site about the effects of invalidation:


Invalidation
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Information here on verbal and emotional abuse. Abused women are always delusional. They convince themselves to stay in the abusive relationship and also convince themselves there is good reason to stay with excuses like "it's for the children," or "I can't make it on my own," or "he's wonderful most of the time," and so on. 8808Bride, because you have convinced yourself that your marriage is "happy and healthy" 95 percent of the time and have been two years unable to recognize or identify the abuse, then you likely will not be able to bring yourself to recognize his other abusive behaviors. The likelihood is there are others, probably several others. The article cannot completely explain or touch on every example or every possible display of a person's abusive tendencies, you might be better able to relate if you swap your experiences with the examples they offer.

You are not a "happy, healthy couple" 95% of the time. A person like him does not wait around for opportunity to abuse his victim. He creates opportunity as often as he can. Perhaps you don't feel any of those other occasions bother you so much because they're not so overt or outwardly as bad as these arguments.

Moreover, the affects of abuse are long lasting and dig deep into the soul of the victim to destroy self esteem and their sense of worth, prompting you to modify your behavior or reactions so as to avoid conflict or avoid setting him off.

Additionally, you will remember each of these arguments with dread long after they subside. You will remember how they make you feel, how he makes you feel, how he verbally beats you down, how he laughs at you. You will remember the sense of hopelessness, his insensitivity, and how little he cared when your tears shed. Was there something happy and healthy about writing your story on a marriage forum and rehashing all those experiences, re-living all those feelings?

Last edited by Susan2010; 06-30-2010 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 07-03-2010, 10:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Does your husband try to antagonize you or manipulate you into crying? Or does he just not understand what he's doing to upset you? How is his emotional sensitivity outside of these arguments?

If he is not able to sense your emotions or tell how you're feeling based on your actions, facial expressions, etc. (even when you're not arguing) it could be that he is showing a few signs of Asperger's syndrome. A lot of people with Asperger's go undiagnosed and function perfectly normally in society--I'm a college student, and there are a few people I've had classes with who could definitely fit the description. I don't know much about your situation or about his personality to say that this is the case though, obviously. But it might be worth looking into if more of his behaviors fit the clinical definitions. You said that he doesn't seem to notice anything's wrong when you're upset. You also mentioned that he asked you to define insensitivity--you're right, it could be that he's just not listening to you, but it could also be because it's a foreign concept to him and he doesn't have a good grasp on emotions. Some men are less emotionally understanding, and tend to fall back on logic because it's what they're comfortable with.

On the other hand, if he seems to clearly enjoy upsetting you, or if he's belittling you to gain control, then this behavior is leaning more towards abusive. Hunt Brown has a great point that there is still a lot that you can do to help yourself regain confidence. I would still suggest counseling for both of you though. You could probably learn a lot of ways to keep your confidence levels up, and your husband could learn how to help you when you become upset.
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Old 07-03-2010, 10:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8808Bride View Post
My husband's reaction to this was to delve into the argument that he is in control and knows what is safe. He also argued that speed limits are too low, that the US should be like Germany, and that he will argue the courts to no end if they try to take his license. When I explained that I think laws should be obeyed regardless of whether you think they are right or not (because you can be fined/ticketed/thrown in jail whether your opinion is in agreement or not!), to which he argued that I can't just let any establishment that exists impose laws on me that I don't agree with. Ergo, I am weak for obeying laws.
well, i think you have poor boundaries. You jumped to conclusions that you are weak for obeying laws. that's what you said about yourself- he didnt say that about you. You started the argument but werent up to hear his side of things. he doesnt have to agree with you, nor you with him. You argued with him and he beat you at your own game. that's the facts. Dont argue with him if you dont want to hear his side of it. i think you cry to manipulate him. that's why he intentionally pulls away.
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Old 07-04-2010, 01:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: My husband is incredibly insensitive - is it verbal abuse?

Geeze...it sucks that you can't have a conversation about disagreements or differing opinions with him. I'm sorry dear.

Craziness...especially when you seem to be (from the story) to have good, emotional-stable head on your shoulders. Be honest with yourself. Create some protective boundaries. Tell him (outside of an argument) that next time that he starts interrupting, debating and not listening...you will leave the room, get off the phone, walk away (etc), because it hurts you when he treats you this way, and you don't have to let him hurt you. It is hard, and he REALLY won't like it...but it will protect your heart.

Emotional abuse is deceptive. It is hard to find, and happens when we least expect it...but it hurts deeper and longer than any bruise/scar. Don't let him treat you like that...you deserve respect/love from your partner.

Last edited by larniegrl; 07-04-2010 at 01:14 PM.
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