- Family and Parenting
How To Deal With an Unsupportive Partner
The Importance of Equality In Relationships
A relationship is built on a foundation. This foundation should be comprised of respect, love and support and if it lacks any one of these three components the relationship will either fail or stop being a happy partnership.
Being equal in a relationship is important for the sake of your own mental health - how can you possibly be happy if your spouse makes your needs and feelings of less importance than their own? Regardless of whether you are newly dating or have been married a good number of years you never deserve to feel disrespect or a lack of support from your significant other and I am going to go through point by point how to deal with and how to cope with an unsupportive partner.
Being Unappreciated And Unsupported Is A Form Of Abuse
You might read my title and think that is extreme but it really isn't. Emotional abuse is a very complex dynamic and any person can be subjected to it - you may have a partner who never raises their voice or is physically aggressive but that does not mean he or she is not emotionally abusive.
Feeling unsupported can drag you down emotionally to a point where you accept all kinds of behaviour you aren't happy with, but you bottle it all up and don't tell your partner because your feelings and concerns will either be brushed off altogether or result in passive aggressive behaviour.
Thousands of men and women are feeling genuine depression and despair because of their spouse continuing their life exactly as they want with no regard for their feelings - even when those feelings are revealed. Some even turn to self harm because of the number of other implications that come from being unsupported in their day to day family life such as:
- Exhaustion from having to do more than 50% of the workload
- Feeling depressed and/or helpless
- Feeling unimportant
When The Father Of Your Baby Isn't Helpful
Babies and children bring a lot more stress into daily life than most people realise until they are living the reality of raising children. You may have always envisaged your spouse or partner being a fantastic dad and doting on his new son or daughter but may have now found the reality is he takes care of his own needs before yours and the needs of your baby by doing (and not doing) things such as:
- Not getting up to help during the night time. REGARDLESS of whether he works long hours - being a mother is a round-the-clock occupation with no pay and no rest, so if he wants to talk about "long hours", let him know from your side how much you miss being able to take a shower...
- Not changing nappies
- Not helping out with meals and housework
- Nagging you about chores that need doing - if he has the energy to be nagging you he has the energy to be doing so ring about whatever it is he is fussing about
- Going out with friends or to the pub when you are left to do all of he child care and housework - are there times where you are able to go out with friends so that you have an equivalent respite?
You did not sign up to be. Single mother in a relationship. If you find you are having to do most or all of your child's care, something isn't right.
My Own Story
I live with a partner who has a number of mental health issues - namely OCD and anxiety. When I was in labour he spent a large portion of the time out of the room on the phone to his parents because he was finding the experience difficult. Two hours after I gave birth (around 4am) he went home to get some sleep, instead of staying at the hospital with my newborn son and myself. He didn't return to hospital until 3.30pm the following day.
My first night out of hospital I spent taking care of my son single handedly as my partner went to bed early. He didn't get up once through the night.
From then on his relationship with our gorgeous boy has always been on his terms. There are days where he doesn't say goodnight to Alfie and days where he spends less than 10 minutes with him because of his work. This would almost be acceptable if he didn't work from home. It is also coincidental (or perhaps not) that his work finishes every night around 10 minutes after I have put Alfie in his cot.
Nappy changes - forget it! Baths? Sometimes... About 10 times in the 27 months of Alfie's lifetime. He is, however, something I have come to call a show parent. The second a family member turns up he manages to find the time to answer the door with Alfie in his arms and then play with Alfie on and off until the family member leaves and he goes back to his normal self.
Recently I fell which resulted in some very nasty facial bruises - my chin was black and my right eye was so swollen in was completely shut. In the early hours of the morning, I began vomiting and my darling partner was angry with me when I said I needed to go to A&E. In fact he told me that if I just went back to bed, the doctors surgery would be open in three hours and he would take me there. This was after I had spoken to a doctor on the phone who had told me I needed to go straight to A&E.
I was kept in hospital for around 30 hours (including an overnight stay) due to a fever, tachycardia and needing IV antibiotics. They diagnosed that I had concussion and needed a three week recovery where I should rest as much as possible and do as little as possible.
The night I got out of hospital I made my own dinner as my partner wasn't feeling well with an upset stomach and he went to bed at 8.30pm leaving me to feed Alfie, bath Alfie and put him to bed. Since getting out of hospital I have rested more than I would have done usually but nowhere near as much as I should have done.mI still do all of the childcare and when I begged my fiancé for his help because I was so desperately nauseated and tired, his response was that he would take Alfie while I made dinner.
All of this has made me realise that to my partner I am not a priority. Our children (as I am six months pregnant), are not his priority and I probably cannot continue to be I this relationship.
I love my partner very much and I would do anything for him. But as a mother of one (plus one on the way) I cannot allow my children to see that this is how women are treated. I don't want them to think that it is okay to spend such a little amount of your time feeling happy and constantly feeling unimportant. The only priority my partner has is himself, and his own happiness.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is much harder to spot than physical abuse as there are no bruises for other family members and friends to pick up on. That said, emotional abuse is no less real and just as damaging to an individual. Sometimes emotional abuse accompanies physical abuse, but more often it is a precursor to your partner becoming physically aggressive or violent. If you feel you may be being subjected to emotional abuse, you can talk to your GP or a free confidential helpline who will understand what you are going through and find the best way to help you.
Emotional abuse is often misunderstood and is nearly always missed by family members, friends and even the victim of the abuse because it can be so subtle. Here are the signs of emotional abuse and how to spot it:
- Your partner puts you down a lot. This can be in a way that appears 'light-hearted' so when you say your feelings were hurt your partner may say things like "I was just playing - don't be so sensitive".
- You often feel like you are treated like a child - your partner may make remarks about how much he or she has to care for you and they feel more like a parent than a spouse sometimes.
- a Your spouse makes you feel like s/he is always right and you are in the wrong, even when you are sure of your actions.
- You rarely get an apology and when you do it often doesn't feel sincere. Also look out for the wording of so-called apologies such as "I'm sorry you felt upset by that but..." Apologies do not come with a "but" at the end.
- S/he will withdraw emotionally, lash out, become verbally aggressive or throw a sort of 'tantrum' if his or her needs/wants are not met.
- You feel your partner doesn't empathise with you or lacks compassion.
- They deny responsibility for you getting upset or feeling hurt by things that were said.
- You don't feel like you are an equal partof the relationship, and feel less important, or completely unimportant.
- Your partner is controlling - there are varying degrees of abusive control in relationships.
If you feel you may be in real danger in your relationship then you must seek help immediately. Many men and women are killed by their violent spouses every year after suffering years of abuse.