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Sensitive husband

(39 Posts)
sheila63 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:14:56

I'm new and this is my first post so forgive me if it's in the wrong forum. Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with an over-sensitive husband? He's always been a bit touchy but it's got worse over the years, to the point that the most innocuous comments get misconstrued. If I try to explain or reinterpret the comment he flies into a rage ("are you calling me a liar? I know what I heard!")

Sometimes he mishears, sometimes he misinterprets and sometimes remembers the comment accurately but not the way it was said. Sometimes it's little more than a weak joke that misfires. He plays them all over in his head (especially in the middle of the night) and consequently they become more and exaggerated. Of course everyone has had unkind things said to them once in a while so in among all these (in my opinion) false comments, there will no doubt be a handful of genuinely nasty ones.

It's affecting our social lives because there is hardly a person among friends and the extended family (my side and his) who hasn't upset him at some time or other.

I have suggested on numerous occasions that he should seek help, but he flatly refuses on the grounds that he hasn't done anything wrong to make these people say "such horrible and nasty things" to him. He won't entertain the idea that he might be suffering from depression.

What He does say is that if only I would believe him instead of "siding with them" he would feel a lot better. I would like to support him but I just can't go along with the idea that people are deliberately being nasty - especially when they are friends/family who I know very well.

I might add that he is funny and charming and no one who knows him would guess in a million years that he has all this going on in his head. Only my brother is aware of the problem: we have adult children and they have no idea.

I'm not looking for advice or theories on why he is the way he is. What I'd be very interested to hear is advice on coping strategies, especially from anyone married to a similar sensitive soul. 3 years ago I pushed him to tackle my brother about comments and initially it went well but it has led to us not seeing as much of each other, so I'm reluctant to push for similar conversations with other friends and family. When confronted, my brother was flabbergasted but was happy to hold his hands up and apologise even though he didn't feel he'd ever said anything insulting, My husband seemed to forgive him, but clearly didn't because 3 years on he is still mentioning the original 3 or 4 "insults" plus the feeling now that he doesn't feel welcome in my brother's house - so it's just made it all worse.

It's very frustrating for me but worse for him, as he totally and genuinely believes he's right.

Luckygirl Mon 17-Apr-17 15:39:05

Oh dear.

I think the best strategy would be to get him tested for early dementia - this sort of paranoia is not uncommon in the early stages as the person seeks to keep control over the things that they are struggling to keep at the forefront of their memory.

You have to acknowledge that his behaviour is abnormal whatever the cause. Hard to acknowledge I know. But the best thing you can do for him is to seek the cause rather than trying to alter his environment and social behaviour in any way.

TBH I would not regard hims as a "sensitive soul" but as someone with a mental health problem that needs dealing with.

f77ms Mon 17-Apr-17 15:49:59

The OP says he has always been touchy so would not think it should be attributed to Dementia at this point . More likely he has a paranoid personality !
Not sure what you can do , my X was very paranoid and fell out with everyone of our neighbours in turn . It made life very unpleasant for me , it was as if everyone had it in for him . I think unless you are willing to insist he sees someone by giving him an ultimatum then you just have to live with having no friends/ relatives in your life . I just couldn`t put up with it , life is much happier since my divorce !

Christinefrance Mon 17-Apr-17 15:53:56

I think this is a little more serious than being over sensitive. As it has been getting worse over a period of years perhaps the time has come to seek more professional help, although as I re-read your post it seems this is not an option as far as he is concerned.
You need to be supportive when he is right but show your concern when he misinterprets things. Eventually you will have to confront this and insist he gets help. I think you should talk to your children about it too as they may be able to help and they can support you.

thatbags Mon 17-Apr-17 16:12:01

I think talking to your adult children would be a good idea too. It's possible that they might be able to help you convince him to see his GP, preferably with you so that the GP gets the full story.

A very tricky situation for you. I do hope that you can get some help for your husband.

Coolgran65 Mon 17-Apr-17 16:27:10

You do not want advice or theories on why your dh is the say that he is. You want coping strategies.

Honestly OP, and I mean this as kindly as possible..... the only coping strategy you will have will be as mentioned by f77ms, i.e. with no friends and no social life. Your dh appears unable to cope mentally with social comments and this is unlikely to change. Even if all seems ok when you are out together, it is likely that when you and he are alone - the analysing starts.

How do I know this...... because I tried to cope with a similar situation for 24 years. Each issue would be gone over, and over, and over. I had to leave for my own sanity.

I agree that you should tell your adult children. Perhaps they are aware of more than you realise.
In any case, you need support. Have a lunch with your dc and without your dh. Get it all into the open.
If your dc are not aware, then it's time that they were told.

Sounds to me like he needs medical help. I do understand that he will not ask for this help believing as he does that there is nothing wrong with him.

What I did, I spoke to my dh's GP. GP sent for dh to have a blood check up and then brought the conversation around to wellbeing, mood, emotions. Medication helped.

rosesarered Mon 17-Apr-17 17:39:05

I think that is good advice Coolgran
Sheila to cope you do need to have a conversation quietly with family and friends, but not blaming them, just explaining how things are.
Even so, there will still be times when your DH feels angry about a slight or insult real or imagined, and I feel for you, it must be draining!

Bellanonna Mon 17-Apr-17 18:17:07

Agree about talking to your adult children. They should know. It sounds as though he has a predisposition to be sensitive, but this has increased over time. It does also seem that he needs professional help if he can be persuaded to take it. Meanwhile try to build a social life of your own where you are not on tenterhooks in case he feels offended. It might take time but you did ask for coping strategies and mine would be to try to enjoy life on my own. Try to have a life and not be in constant fear of his taking umbrage.

Crafting Mon 17-Apr-17 20:35:45

A little off the wall but do you think your DH could be autistic? My DGC misunderstands a lot of things and often takes offence where none is intended. I do not want to label your DH but you say he has always been like this. Try looking on an ASD website and see if any thing strikes you as being something he could suffer from. If it is possible, then there is nothing he can do about it as it is part of his person but then you would understand a bit better. We did not help our DGC as much as we could as we were unaware of his problems. Good luck whatever you do

grannypiper Tue 18-Apr-17 07:38:49

shelia63 Welcome, sorry you are having such a hard time of it.You say you want to be able to cope with your Husbands behaviour and i think the only way you can do that is by being honest with everyone, i am sure your children are more than aware of their Fathers mental health issues and only stay quiet to keep the peace for your sake. Friends should be told as well as your G.P as this surely must be impacting on your own health and life.It is a huge burden to carry silently and alone. Have you ever told your Husband about the impact that hisissues have on you ? May be it is time to take off the kid gloves and tell the truth before this situation takes its toll on youflowers

M0nica Tue 18-Apr-17 09:39:15

I recognise the syndrome, DH (and in the past, a DU) both suffer/ed from it mildly.although not nearly as bad (none of the lying awake brooding and certainly not bad enough to be a mental health issue).

It arises not from paranoia but a deep underlying sense of insecurity/lack of self esteem, particularly in personal relationships and is, I think, a defence mechanism. Seeing the barb that may be planted in a remark, in case you make yourself look stupid by not realising it is an insult.

After years of tiptoing round the issue, and after a major crisis, I gave up on the discretion and understanding and every time a remark was misinterpreted I ask DH to justify his interpretation. Surprisingly, that has worked really quite well, more recently he had some counselling as well.

Our children are well aware of all are little foibles and treat us very gently smile

PamQS Tue 18-Apr-17 11:15:28

You need support for yourself, this sounds very difficult to live with. Agree with suggestions of talking to GP and DCs about it. If you have the patience and stamina, challenging some of his comments might help you, youmust feel as if you're living in looking glass world at times. Do not allow yourself to become socially isolated because of his problems. 'Replaying' upsetting conversations and past hurts can be a symptom of depression - I've suffered from this myself, and am finding counselling helpful. But I did have to recognise that I needed help for myself, and he may not be there yet. This situation sounds awful for you, please look after yourself rather than focussing on your husband.

Jinty44 Tue 18-Apr-17 11:16:54

Good advice from Coolgran. Stop hiding his behaviour from your children. Talk to them about it. Things never seem so bad as when they are secrets. And I agree it won't come as a surprise to them.

"What He does say is that if only I would believe him instead of "siding with them" he would feel a lot better."
I really don't like that. He's demanding you share his delusion, when your own senses tell you it isn't so. And anyway, he wouldn't feel better he would feel worse, as your 'siding with him' would just confirm that it's really happening and put him into siege mentality.

I have suggested on numerous occasions that he should seek help, but he flatly refuses on the grounds that he hasn't done anything wrong to make these people say "such horrible and nasty things" to him.
I would keep plugging away on 'so the whole world's out of step bar you?'. Point out that if so many people are saying horrible things, there are only two possibilities - 1. he's wrong and they're not saying horrible things, or 2. he's right and if so many people are saying horrible things, such a variety of people, then the only common factor is him and so it must be his fault, he started it and the others are responding. No, it won't go down well. But I think it's better to face the storm than walk on eggshells forever.

ethelwulf Tue 18-Apr-17 11:33:23

As others have already suggested, this seems rather more extreme than being "over-sensitive", and appears to be more of a manifestation of a deep-seated paranoia, perhaps amplified by ageing and the onset of associated dementia. He should most certainly seek help, but will probably strongly resist any suggestion that he may have mental health issues. You should also seek professional support, as his delusions are not only dragging you down but are leading to your social isolation from all his imagined "enemies", who also happen to be your family and friends.I would suggest that initially you raise the issue with your G.P., who may then refer you on for more specialised intervention.

radicalnan Tue 18-Apr-17 11:47:56

Maybe that's just him, I am not sure medicalising every, depression, paranoia and foible helps. If you read biographies of many of the most creative, fascinating, capable people who ever lived, they all have eccentricities, people just tolerated them or not, in which case they had to get on with it themelves.

Rather in the same way I think about this tidal wave of depression/ social anxiety etc it is just life and we have to step away from becoming somebodies 'client' and just cope with whoever we are.

The therapies on offer are not guaranteed to 'cure' people, social services are not 'your friend' pre dementia is something we all have..........if we just live long enough to develop the real thing.

If he has managed thus far then he doesn't think it is a problem, you and your friends might but consider what it might do to him to tackle it head on........

If there were guaranteed outcomes to all these 'mental health issues' then I would say snap them up, but there aren't and you run the risk of making things worse.

Kisathecat Tue 18-Apr-17 11:49:53

One really effective tactic is to write down what is going on in your head, if you can encourage him to do this he may be able to start to let these things go and free his mind from all the negativity. Positive and healthy activities that don't necessarily involve too much social interaction, like walking or just getting out in nature are also helpful to create a clear mind. Sounds like he's got a lot of psychological clearing to do! Give him time and just hold space for him, because when it starts to shift it will really shift.

clementine Tue 18-Apr-17 11:56:52

Just wanted to send a gentle hug, it sounds a worrying and frustrating situation and I cant offer any other help apart from the excellent advice you've already received from other posters. One thing I was wondering , would it be worth mentioning to a small number of close friends and see what they perceive him to be like or if they notice any changes? If its enough to have you asking for advice here and obviously causing you worry and distress then I really think for your own sanity and well being you may need to either step away and try not to let it get to you , or seek professional help. Not everything is a medical problem, and in fact many times its just the personality of the individual , which has no label or diagnosis. Hope " talking it over" has helped a bit x

JanT8 Tue 18-Apr-17 12:41:59

Coolgran, yes that's how I went about it too, went to see our GP when I was very concerned about my husband's memory problems. She got him referred to a Memory clinic who sent him for various tests, together with a brain scan. He was subsequently diagnosed with early vascular dementia.
Please Sheila,do go to see your GP and also tell your children.
Sending you a hug.

Gemmag Tue 18-Apr-17 12:59:33

Hi Sheila. So you think he might be suffering from depression!. You have to find a way to get him to see his gp but not before you have had a chance to speak with him first to explain the problems you're having.

It must be very difficult for you but you've hung on in there for a long time, put up with all that stuff so don't give up now. You say he's funny and charming and I'm sure he is but behind closed doors!!. You really can't put this off any longer. You have to talk to your children about it and let them know how difficult this is and how it's become worse. You don't say if your husband works or if he's retired but if you have to put up with this all day every day you will end up being depressed yourself. Get help now. Good luck.

Tingleydancer Tue 18-Apr-17 13:16:23

Difficult situation for you. Your DH certainly sees himself as a victim doesn't he? I agree he needs to get professional help but until he realises this himself, he's unlikely to do it. Maybe you could see your GP and talk to him/her? They can sometimes be very helpful and tactful in such situations. Good luck. X

Gromit Tue 18-Apr-17 13:20:32

Have you ever considered he might be perfectly correct in describing what he feels? I grew up with completely unacceptable behaviour but, if I showed I was upset, I was told I was being 'too sensitive' that 'it was only a joke'. Your husband is upset, that is how he feels, he would like some support. How awful it must be to go through life, feeling upset, voicing what you feel, asking for help and support, and not receiving it?

Bellanonna Tue 18-Apr-17 13:29:45

Without going back through the posts, Gromit, I think the OP said that she has already shown a lot of sympathy, but her OH wants her to collude with him, which would be a bit like game playing. He is overly sensitive to an unacceptable point now and really does need to have some investigations to rule out, hopefully, organic problems. It must be hard fir him, yes, to feel so miserable but it's very difficult for her too, which is why I tried to encourage her to do things without him.

Disgruntled Tue 18-Apr-17 14:01:53

This might just sound a bit flakey, but one of the Bach flower remedies, White Chestnut, is specifically for unwanted thoughts going round and round the head. They're mild, natural, no side effects, so the worst that could happen would be nothing, no change. Might be worth a go. Good luck and hugs.

Bellanonna Tue 18-Apr-17 14:35:49

Nothing that could be useful is flakey, Disgruntled. I think you need to be open to trying flower remedies though. I used to use one of them for fear of flying and found it more useful that swigging a gin and tonic as soon as the trolley came round, as I then felt half asleep when I got off. The remedy probably did help as I don't use anything now and even enjoyed a recent trip to Dublin on a no frills airline! As a lot of the flight was over water I didn't worry as I can swim a few lengths at the local pool. Amazing at what unrealistic comforts we can cling on to.
I digress, and perhaps the OP could try the remedy (for both of them?)

rizlett Tue 18-Apr-17 14:48:49

What was your husband like at work OP? Does he still work or have hobbies? Do you think building his confidence will help in any way at all?

What things have worked for you both already?

I'm not so concerned with 'making him see the real picture' - whatever the real picture is - as we all perceive life differently...and I am aware that those who work with patients diagnosed with dementia are now trained to 'go along' with whatever the patient is saying.
(though I'm not saying your husband has dementia at all.)