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Freudian slip during fight. Is DH feeling regret?

Healyourslf's picture

When DH's friends and family visit, I pull out the red carpet. DH moved from a 2star existence with BM to 5star living when we committed. We live by the beach and have plenty of extra bedrooms so we often have friends and family visit for days. I work from home and it is double-duty to juggle work with hostessing. DH plays poolside host while I do the hostess hustle. We like sharing our "good life" with others and I think it boosts DH's ego, but it gets under my skin when I feel taken for granted. (The house and its trappings are mine and in trust to BD. DH made an average living and BM ruined him financially.)  

We just had a couple of DH's siblings and their spouses visit. The morning after they left, DH decided to go fishing. When he fishes, he leaves very early in the am and is then shot for the rest of the day.  A fight ensued. I feel that I have always done the preparation and accommodating when it came to his family and friends. (I have 1 brother. DH has 11 siblings.)  DH can be self-absorbed and I needed a break and some attention. I was frustrated and felt taken for granted so I spouted, “Sometime do you think I could come before YOUR needs, YOUR problems or YOUR family's needs? Stop being selfish!” 

DH's response to this was, ”I always put you first. I picked you over SD didn't I?” <<<<<drumrolllll>>>>> My head spun around exorcist style and I lashed back, “Are you inferring that I made you choose? That's complete bullshit! How about the fact that SD treats you like a personal slave and ATM and BM emotionally abused you for decades? Ya think maybe that's the reason you couldn't take it anymore?

Gaslighting hits a raw nerve so I made it clear to DH that I am not the cause for his disengagement and that he should NEVER EVER point the finger at me for forcing a choice. “Don't you dare blame me for something that was in the making for years before I entered your life. YOU and BM raised a narcissistic, entitled asshole. BD, who was raised in an affluent environment yet had her first job at 14, is respectful and kind whereas SD who never had to work (because she was in dance with BM playing dance mom) acts entitled and lives in a princess fantasy. YOU are the one who created the monster because you could not lay down boundaries and allowed her to think she was the top of the food chain. YOU made the choice to disengage because you finally accepted she was toxic and wasn't going to change.”  DH apologized for what he said stating, “that came out wrong.” 

Here's what I cannot get off my mind.  I can't help but think it was a Freudian slip. I did not force him to choose. I made a personal choice to stop feeding the wolves and left him to it.

Just wondering if others had their partners throw disengagement back in their face during emotionally charged situations? I never made it about “pick SD or me.” Rather, it was BM and SD continually playing their manipulative games trying to force DH's hand and create a rift between us. DH is in therapy right now because of the trauma patterns these two women have left him with. 

Do you think that somewhere in his head, DH is remorseful about his choice? I know I would feel horrible if my BD and I were disengaged then estranged.  However, BD is nothing like SD and has always been respectful, loving and honest towards DH. She calls us, "her parents."  I cannot help but wonder if DH is going to subconsciously feel that I am to blame. I am holding steadfast to disengagement from SD for my own mental health.  I have stopped pretending that I even remotely like or respect her as a person. She really is an asshole.  Other family members (DH's siblings who have known BM and SD for many years) have confirmed BM and SD are manipulative and they've had their own negative experiences with them.  DH hopes SD will go to therapy. I've told him several times that narcissists rarely admit they are the problem, let alone work to repair the damage they've done to others.


CLove's picture

DH recently made a comment during an argument that if not for the fact that I am his number #1 priority, he would have his daughter back in the house.

That made me stop and think for a long bit. I think that men are a little less fluent in the language of phycholgy. My DH is a simple man, with simple language. Im the one he always sais "has the words". Im the one that introduced Narcissitic Personality Disorder to him - and it made sense to him that there was a name for the disordered personalities he had to deal with. Otherwise he just calls them "sick" and toxic".

I dont think he is regretting his decision to be with you, but in his mind, if he didnt have you in his life (good bad or indifferent) he is stating the fact that he would have her in his life. And other family members have been dealing with Toxic Feral for a lot longer than I have and in many different ways (large family, loads of accusations)

It sounds like you were just tired, drained and that hit a nerve. That would hit my nerve too, because - yes, thats his BLOOD, his SEED, but the fact remains that she is not a positive force in his life and is a parasite. You dont reward a parasite for being a parasite. You try to keep it away from you.

futurobrillante99's picture

He's a man, so I think you're going to have to spell it out for him. He can't have it both ways. He can't have you rolling out the red carpet for ELEVEN times the family than you have plus friends and go fishing to leave you home alone until he comes home petered out.

You need some attention and TLC after pulling out all the stops to make family and friends feel at home.

So, ask him to choose. Does he want you to back off and order pizza for visitors while eating on paper plates in a home that's not spiffed up and you're not the hostess with the mostess so that HE can show you lots of attention while the guests are there then go off fishing, OR is he going to step up and take care of you after you bent over backwards playing Martha Stewart?

Healyourslf's picture

I had to look at why I was doing all the bending over backwards after we cleared the air and ask myself why the hell I was doing it.  I am horrible at asking for assistance. And yes, next time there will be the choice of food delivery and/or going out.  DH and I are foodies - he likes to brag about my culinary skills so I feel obliged. Word gets around in the family and I hear things like, "we can't and so said you grilled oysters and made fresh this and that...blah blah."  (I've been in the food business for 37 years, he's in the wine business).

Also, I'm probably over-compensating because DH told me that BM never wanted to meet his friends and always thought she was "above" them. BM was  They never had the room to have family stay either.  Apparently, when people visited, BM was focused on drinking and didn't concern herself with much else.  I really do enjoy indulging friends and family, but you're right my family is suddenly 10x bigger - so there's a constant barrage of visitors and I'm done being Martha. 

Survivingstephell's picture

Ah yes, the doing stuff, any stuff to be unlike BM as much as possible.  I've been working on that once I figured out that I was sacrificing some things that I like doing, do well and missed doing, 

Keep doing what makes you happy, just choose better people to do it for.  

Iamwoman's picture

I like futuro’s answer. He can’t have it both ways.


As far as the Freudian slip, it is most likely that DH is struggling with his choice to disengage from SD. As is the case with most step families, he easiest go-to solution is to simply blame the stepmother for anything and everything. There are so many websites out there that bash stepmoms and put us last, that he probably doesn’t need to go very far to fuel the flames of his gaslight.

He corrected himself rather quickly though after you pointed out his flawed logic. I think that’s what matters the most right now. He is obviously a troubled person, so it’s good he sees a counselor.

somethingwicked's picture

And left very little wiggle room in your response for any rebuttal fromhim blaming you for  his choice. 

I think that he had nothing left in his argument arsenal so he pulled out that old, weird ,rusty bullet  that translates to :

"I picked you over my own flesh and blood! See my great sacrifice!!"

And ,too, depending upon the relationship DH had wth his daughter that could have been a very easy decision if she was a PAS 'd out toxic avatar of a bitter BM BioHag.

So maybe it was no great sacrifice on his part when up against the choice of all you offered in the way of love and romance  presented in the lap of luxury. Do you wonder about that at all?

If I dwelled on that it would annoy me and ,too, undermine any sense of security in our relationship.

And maybe you are not feeling appreciated or DH is not regularly acknowledging your generosity.

Stop feteing your DH and doing so much ,giving and playing the maid while he assumes the host with the most role.

If you must entertain his large family hire a caterer with maid service. You must feel a bit like you are being used because he just takes off fishing after a big night of you busting your behind to put on the dawg for his family  as evidenced by this  observation on your part :

 DH can be self-absorbed and I needed a break and some attention. I was frustrated and felt taken for granted so I spouted.

So you know his character is that he can be self absorbed. Little wonder his daughter believed(s) she is a pwincess.

Maybe there is more here driving this argument.I think you do feel you are being taken for granted.

Do you think DH is getting any benefit from therapy?What is  his hoped for positive end goal?Maybe something discussed in therapy recently put that answer  of chosing you overhis daughter in his mind .

Maybe you should accompany him in therapy (your own therapist) to discover if you are holding any grudges that will undermine this relationship.

Good luck.

Healyourslf's picture

Therapist wants me to go to a session as he progresses.  He started therapy because he was projecting his suppressed anger for BM and SD. I refused to be the target and insisted he get help. Their entire family structure was dysfunctional and we're still peeling the onion on the emotional abuse he underwent with BM (alcoholic narcissist).

I have no qualms about asking questions and shooting from the hip. I do not feel like he has ever been dishonest ...just childishly self-absorbed. He knows he needs behavior modification and is willing, but there's been a number of times I've had to point out things. 

"If I dwelled on that it would annoy me and ,too, undermine any sense of security in our relationship."

That's why I posted this. I want to be sure there's no spark of resentment festering in DH.  It was his choice.  If anyone was forcing him to make a choice it was BM and SD. He was weary of their games and toxicity. I could have easily accepted SD into our lives if she stopped her manipulative, narcissistic behavior.  SS and BD are in our lives and support our relationship.

Survivingstephell's picture

If he's in therapy, then it will take some time before he can "own" that decision and assimilate it into his thinking process.  My DH had a lot to discard thanks to BM and FOO buttons that were planted in him.  Don't let him off the hook for what he said, and don't hide it from his therapist.  It is a part of the process to healthy thinking.  If in a year, he still thinks like that, then you might have to revisit it, but for now, try not the dwell on it too much.  He has to go from being a blamer to being responsible for his choices.  

Google the term "locust of control" and see how that is playing out in his life.  It was an eye opener for me to grasp that concept.  

StepUltimate's picture

I think Spellcheck must've added the "T" at the end there. Great suggestion, and no, I'm not the grammar police! I studied Locus of Control in the Early Childhood Development classes... back when I was a nanny and had few clues. ;-D

Survivingstephell's picture

Hahaha,  I was teaching the plagues in Sunday school yesterday, I must have bugs on the mind.  I think I leave it.  *ROFL*


Exjuliemccoy's picture

Disengaging from one's own child is a big deal. It's a lot to process, and takes a long time.

We are disengaged from both of DH's daughters. They have different mothers, and disengagement happened at different times for different reasons. Together, we disengaged from YSD many years ago. DH's family didn't blink an eye. Several years ago, I disengaged from OSD, the golden child narcissist. Left to deal with her without me as a buffer, DH soon disengaged as well. DH's family did not like this, and put pressure on him. There were times he'd come home from a family visit and accuse me of being the reason for the breach. Poison was being dripped into his ears by relatives. Like you, I'd call him out, hash it out, and remind him of WHY things were as they were.

Have you considered that some of the very people you entertain in your home might have hidden agendas and be winged monkeys for your SD? It may be no coincidence that your DH made that comment right after a family visit. You should take a hard look at his people and where their loyalties lie.


Healyourslf's picture

"Have you considered that some of the very people you entertain in your home might have hidden agendas and be winged monkeys for your SD?"

Yes. SD has attempted to triangulate family members.  She started with the wrong one - one of her aunts on DH's side who is the family matriarch. SD told a brazen lie without realizing that this aunt knew the truth. (So much for the narcissistic 24 year old trying to manipulate a wordly and wise 58 year old).

I am acutely aware of any attempts to backstab because of SD's and BM's past behavior.  If anything, DH's family members are in support of DH and I.  They have been witness to BM's behavior for many years and all warned DH to get a good lawyer when he was divorcing.  We speak candidly with them about the situation with SD so they are aware of what is happening. We basically tell the truth when asked and all of them have responded with similar statements such as, "that's not a need to watch out for those two...we warned DH....BM has always been a manipulator, etc. etc."

Healyourslf's picture

Thanks Surviving for this suggestion. I remembered this term from some old psyche class, but it's been years since I've read on it.  Feel like my life is one of those old Hemingway stories you had to read in school then shelved. I've been going back, dusting off the passages that I gleamed over and have a lot of those "aha!" moments. Boy has the lightbulb gone on! 

So last night DH & I read info. on the Locus of Control together.  Hello...third eye opener!  Talk about reviewing your patterns of behavior.  It gave us something to reflect on - 500 wattages to burn off the divorce dross. DH will probably take this newfound knowledge to therapy tonite (still dealing with the "anger" issue).  It was really good for us.

Survivingstephell's picture

I'm glad I offered something that helped.  If your DH is determined, he can overcome all of this.  

Harry's picture

THE HAPPY FAMILY !!  He want to love his DD and DD wants to love him. He wants you to play the part of BM and do all the things to make the happy family.  Cook, bake, clean, do Birth D party’s holidays.  He should sit back and it will work out.  Unfortunately his chance for happy family  went with his devorice.  But doesn’t understand he screw up the first time, now he is screwing up again.  But it’s not his fault he screw up. It’s every one else fault 

StepUltimate's picture

OMG yes, heard that, got the t-shit (typo/Freudian slip and it stays). 

However, I'm hearing that from DH about me & SS18... but my DH is not in, or willing to go to, therapy. He very reluctantly kicked SS18 out but is angry at me, and pleading with me to let SS move back in... with NO change in rules because it would be too much for pwecious helpless SS18... but has no answer to me pointing out SS got kicked out because he refused to respect the rules. 

So yeah, I'm hearing and rejecting it. I'm the wife, choice already made. My SS & I actually get along great (specially since he moved out), I just don't want to live with him anymore because I resent hosting an adult stoner who refused to get his license, sign up for community college, do his laundry, clean his room,  clean anything, and stop the lying & pot smoking/vaping/whatev.

Thanking God for StepTalk & all the positive reinforcement I receive from this community. 

ITB2012's picture

I do think that your DH slipped up and revealed something. Just not sure what. I say that because I'm still trying to figure out what my DH was thinking when he said something over a year ago.

I don't remember the reason or theme of the conversation but DH threw at me that if it weren't for me and BM, the skids would be going to the HS in our area (they had a very vague divorce decree in some areas and this was a drawn out process to choose which HS, involved lawyers and a GAL). I asked what he meant and he kept going, so this wasn't just a lashing out. That he knew the skids said something. I quizzed him since I was wondering and worried if I had skewed something. Nope, DH actually knew nothing, he just "knew." This was a big deal to me since this happened back when I was more engaged and thinking we were a team and spent a lot of time researching the schools, helping him with his reasoning, and even funded a lot of it from his side.

I mentioned his accusation about a month ago and he says he doesn't remember that and wouldn't have said that. So these are the scenarios playing in my head:

1. He was trying to make me feel bad and just said whatever hurtful thing was even a little related. It's bad that he'd say such a hurtful thing if he didn't mean it enough to remember it.

2. He was projecting his anger about the situation onto me, since he cannot be at fault for it. This happens a lot as he cannot handle bad feelings. Yet logically he must know with no proof that it's also still just hurtful and he must think very little of me to say something mean like that in order to assuage his bad feelings. And because he uses me as the scapegoat, he can forget his bad feelings.

3. He meant everything he said and he's just pretending not to remember. This is also bad as it means he's lying and playing me.

If your DH thinks he gets a pass on everything he doesn't want to do because he believes he did this major "choosing" thing, that's a problem. What do you think made him say it? Does he believe it? Was he trying to get out of something? Was he feeling guilty about something?

Healyourslf's picture

Last night I dreamnt that I was stuck in a hotel room on New Year's eve.  I felt drugged and incapable of moving.  I put all the used towels in a pile for the maids to launder, but instead they just put new ones on top of pile. My ex was in the dream and he kept lying to me saying, "it's not the New Year." I was crying in the dream because I felt helpless and it was vitally important for me to bring in the New Year and I couldn't. Is that Freudian or what?!!!  DH said he heard me whimpering and held me without waking me.  Funny, even though I was dreaming and couldn't wake up...I knew DH was right next to me holding me. When I woke up we discussed it. My subconscious is definitely working overtime. 

The hostess juggling and consideration of my efforts is easily resolved - that is simple frustration and the ability to communicate my needs. However, any statement or thought that is connected to SD still frays me. I still cringe when I hear her name, but I am able to civilly discuss her if necessary. 

I'm both weary and wary of destruction that SD and BM have left behind. There's a little piece of truth in most of the replies and I appreciate the input.  DH is committed to therapy and I am sure his angst about "choosing" will come up as a point of anger/frustration during one of the sessions.  I have empathy for his process of disengagement from SD, but I don't want to leave any cracks in the foundation.  We are in our late 50's, committed to our relationship and realize it will be an eye-opening process to uncover and heal the damage created in the past. 

I am so ready for the New Year!  

futurobrillante99's picture

Suggestion: Cut back on visitors. Decide how many times a year you're willing to entertain. Make it an even balance to suit YOUR needs. Then say no to being urged to do more entertaining. Find the number per year and duration of visit you can handle for each type of visitor, then tell your husband what you need.

Go all out, if you want to. But go all out not to be different from BM. Go all out only as a gesture of love to your guests.

Make sure that your DH knows that at the end of such a visit, you would really relish time to unwind with him.

On the topic of SD, ask him if he felt like he had to choose you over SD. If he says yes, ask him who he felt was pressuring him to choose. If he says you (wrong answer). Chances are if he thinks about it, he will realize that SD's behavior was unreasonable and so SHE forced him to choose. If SD had been able to behave in a reasonable manner, she would be welcome. And I would make it clear that if you never said to him, "Choose me over her" that he is NEVER to pull that on you again.

ESMOD's picture

To be fair... did he realize you would be upset by him going fishing?  Have you expressed frustration before with him about not pulling his weight when it comes to entertaining (mostly his) family and friends?  Did you just jump straight to the point of calling him selfish?

I know it's tough, a lot of times we as women try to make people guess at what we want them to do.  I did it for years with my DH and getting me gifts.  Finally this year, I pretty much made it clear that no gift was not going to be well regarded by me.. and he actually came through... it was a nail biter though lol.

So, have you told him that while you do like helping him entertain that part of the deal is that you would like to feel taken care of a little after the guests leave?  That you need help getting things straight.  Or have you done what many of us do and say "don't worry, I will get it (change sheets.. do laundry.. wash dishes etc...).  We hope that our partners will see how hard we work and appreciate it and pitch in.. but sometimes people can be dunces about noticing when we need attention.

I mean, maybe he needs a break from "people" after the guests leave and that's why he went of fishing?  That is his way of decompressing.  I know you feel  you are doing more heavy lifting but perhaps the socializing is draining to him to (introverts do need to recharge after too much people contact).  Maybe going forward you could figure out how to balance things and have him take a bigger role in hosting the guests.. he plays "bartender" and also is in charge of grilling the main dish.. you throw in a couple of your specialties and perhaps you order in or buy some specialty sides.. from a local eatery/grocer?

Now, his response was a bit of a low blow and perhaps there is some part of him that thinks that if it weren't for you he wouldn't have pulled the trigger on disengagement.. would have suffered along as he was doing before.  At the root of it, she is still his child and he must have some amount of regret at the way things turned out.. not that it's really YOUR fault.. but it is what it is.  But he might have sort of lashed out if he felt he was being "unfairly attacked".  Like I mentioned earlier.. not sure how much he should have realized fishing was a no go before he went and did it.  So if he didn't realize that you would be mad.. then he got called on the carpet.. he might have been just being defensive.. 

I don't think he regrets "choosing you".. but I think there will probably always be a part of him as a father that regrets having to set boundaries that mean he is estranged from his child... as necessary as it might have been.

Healyourslf's picture

I think we are both guilty of being assumptous and not clearly communicating our needs.  When something erupts, we realize we need to review the situations which created the fighting. We are both guilty of taking things for granted.  And, we so often put the family and everything else before our own needs.  I am going to limit visits. It's too much and really interferes with my ability to work at home uninterrupted.  

As far as the "choosing" comment, I am going to bring it up again at some point in a non-confrontational way. I would really like to know what is stewing in DH's head. 


ESMOD's picture

TBH, I don't think that it is so much "stewing" in his head... as he probably felt a little blindsided by your being upset with him for going fishing.. his mind scrambled for a millisecond and threw out that line... in vain attempt at showing how he does value you.

It probably is true that without your presence.. he would still be head whipping boy for his daughter... if he is like a lot of guys.. they avoid conflict to the point where they go along with things to avoid unpleasantness.  When he met you, he realized that his life didn't have to be run that way and he realized that it was no longer just him putting up with the crapfest.. but anyone he was with.. and he cared enough about you to choose to put an end to it.. for both of your sakes.  So.. in a way he did choose you.. but that doesn't mean he regrets THAT.. but he probably still carries a small amount of guilt and regret that he can't have a good relationship wiht his daughter.. because of the way SHE is.

I don't think this is some festering boil that you need to bring to the surface but I do think you should have a frank discussion about entertaining and everyone's responsibilities etc.. and how you would prefer him to behave after they leave.. ie give you one on one time.

Healyourslf's picture

I agree...feeling the "insecurity" about the "choosing" statement dwindle.  I trust my DH and he has proven the ability to change for the better.  Thanks!