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Am I being gaslighted again?

Starlightwest's picture

So I wasn’t sure which forum but since I’ve been here before, and this is somewhat connected, here we go. So SD’s husband is staying with us as he got a job in the area. SD and sgrands are staying back to sell house. In a previous post, I had talked about not having a private space. So I came up with a plan to take a guest room and DH was good with that. However, I can’t take the space until after a visit in a couple weeks from other family that needs to use it due to the aforementioned son-in-law using the other available guest room. I told DH that as soon as they leave, I want to move furniture around and get set up as I’m desperate for privacy. DH (who has his own private study), acted surprised. I told him since his son-in-law has been with us, I have not enjoyed having him constantly entering our living area. He seemed unaware that he was doing it so often and of course he’s not since he’s in his study. So I told him how often it happened last night. His response was “I think you’re just easily annoyed!” It really pissed me off that rather than being sympathetic to my feelings, he made it sound like I had some kind of problem. Am I off?

MrsZipper's picture

It sounds like he is a temporary guest in your home and you don't want him entering the living area? You would like him to just stay in the guest room until he leaves the next morning for work?

I think you are a little off. Kick DH out of his study for a while and make that your private space

Starlightwest's picture

Temporary but here for months. He has not only a guest room, but private bath and large tv room, mini kitchen setup, etc. but has to come through our space to access it. Also, even DH says he’s difficult to be around and wasn’t sure how it would work out. Very socially weird and almost impossible to have conversation with. My other problem is I had surgery so can’t drive, go to my office, or do anything in my normal routine. I’m housebound and probably more sensitive to this because of that.

MrsZipper's picture

Now that I know you object to him walking through common areas to get to his area I agree with your DH. You are easily annoyed. He is not gaslighting you.

My advice remains the same, tell your DH you will be hanging out in his study for the near future.

sandye21's picture

“I think you’re just easily annoyed!” This is gaslighting. Considering she is recuperating from surgery, DH might have been a bit more sensitive. Being that SIL is using the 'common area' of the house, OP should have a private place to go besides her bedroom - such as DH's study.

Starlightwest's picture

I resent when he comes through 6 or more times in an evening. And he’s walking through our only living room which is where I’m spending the majority of my time right now. If he could just pass through unobtrusively it might not be so bad. But I had to ask him to at least walk behind the couch rather than directly in front of me and stopping every time for awkward conversation. And I’m resentful because DH has his space but I don’t. I want to help family and be supportive but I feel like I’m the one making the concessions for it. And I resented the comments from DH. I truly don’t want to be petty but his presence is causing distress for me.

secret's picture

So basically he's trying to be polite by acknowledging you when he needs to cross space you're sitting in... and you're getting annoyed because you just want to be left alone to watch tv...

Maybe he's lonely and missing his family, and feels that you're really the only link he has around.

Maybe he thinks YOU are lonely, since DH is always in his study, and feels he's trying to cheer you up.

If he stops to chit chat with you awkwardly, he's opening the door for you. Try saying things like... oh since you're here, would you mind sweeping the floor? Oh since you're here, I could REALLY use a ride to the pharmacy... Oh since you're here, would you mind getting me a cup of tea - my leg/hip/whatever is really bugging me today

Bet he'll make himself scarce

sandye21's picture

“I think you’re just easily annoyed!” Yes, that's gas-lighting and considering you just had surgery, it was unfair. Who wouldn't be easily annoyed or 'a little off' if they were recuperating from surgery, home-bound and feeling like their privacy is being invaded?!!

As hard as it is right now, being vulnerable after surgery, you need to take a stand and take care of yourself. Unless DH uses his 'man cave' (study) for work, you need to take it over for a while. Let him find you in there, smile and tell him you are glad he is willing to share while you are on the mend.

Starlightwest's picture

DH would probably flip out if I tried that. He’s in there probably 90% of his waking hours and isn’t working right now. And I’m not exaggerating. I would have to jump in there while he was in the bathroom or making a drink to even try and occupy the room! I was trying to stand up for myself when I told him I wanted to move my office at the soonest possible opportunity so I’d have a private space like him. Then he flipped it on me by making that comment. It made me feel like he really doesn’t care about my feelings unless they align with what he thinks they should.

SacrificialLamb's picture

"DH would probably flip out if I tried that. He’s in there probably 90% of his waking hours and isn’t working right now. And I’m not exaggerating. "

If your DH is that insensitive that only he can use his man cave for privacy, then you have other problems besides gaslighting.

futurobrillante99's picture

Sounds like DH might have a porn or gambling habit if he guards HIS private space that aggressively.

Iamwoman's picture

From your first description, I would have agreed that you are being easily annoyed.
However, THIS detailed comment changes everything.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Unless you have prevented DH from keeping his favorite chair, photo, trophy, wall paper, etc, in the rest of the house, he has NO reason to have a "study" if he doesn't even work! Man caves are for men who have controlling wives and who aren't allowed to have their "favorite stuff" in the house. I definitely agree with you that if he can have a man cave for no good reason, then you should also have a woman cave. Fair is fair. His resistance to this is chauvanistic at best, and possibly retaliatory at worst for something you don't even know you did... which lead to...

2. If you are even questioning whether or not you are being gaslit, then I can only assume you have been gaslit in the past. A husband who spends 90% of his time holed up in his "study" is most likely someone who would also engage in gaslighting his own wife. Given this, combined with your various descriptions, it is very likely that you are indeed being gaslit, and that your husband is just so good at it that you can't even properly describe what is going on at your home. Husbands are supposed to care about their wives feelings and happiness - period.

3. You use the term "trying to stand up for myself" which indicates to me that you usually don't stand up for yourself. As little girls, I don't think any one of us said to ourselves "One day, when I'm grown, I want to sit alone on my living room couch post surgery while my husband ignores and belittles me, and my step-son-in-law sees so clearly how poorly I am being treated that he constantly checks in on me making awkward conversation because he feels sorry for me being so neck deep in a depressing situation that I'd rather take my anger out on him than on my boorish husband who is actually the one who deserves it." Nope. None of us said that as we stared at our own cute little faces in the mirror and put our hair in pigtails for soccer practice.

4. You resent your husband for being insensitive and neglectful, and resent your step-son-in-law for being smart enough to see how you are treated and attempting to fill in where your husband fails, which only serves to mock your despair. Your feelings are perfectly normal in this situation, and I think "annoyed" is an understatement. I think you should start going to lunch and out shopping with your step-son-in-law. Spend as much time with him as you can stand - play board games, eat meals, etc. Then when your husband questions you, tell him this: "You are too easily annoyed."

sandye21's picture

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I read the 'definition' long ago when I was being gas-lighted by DH. He said he didn't see SD's behavior, implying that if he hadn't actually seen it with his own eyes, or chose to ignore it, it just didn't happen. The OP's situation is not what I would consider 'heavy-weight' gaslighting. Never-the-less, the OP'S DH is saying, "You are easily annoyed" which places any blame for misunderstandings on the OP, discrediting her feelings (Wikipedia), emphasizing her reaction, devaluing her situation rather than focusing on her recovery. Considering her present state of vulnerability, I agree with you - her DH "could be more understanding." He SHOULD have told SD and SIL that considering the OP very recently had surgery, and would take some time to recover from it, SIL should find some place else to stay.

Yes, the OP may be more emotional than if she were well, but if I were in the same position as the OP I would be pizzed - and annoyed - if my DH allowed people to stay in our home while I was not feeling well enough to have visitors. I don't think the OP is wanting attention from her DH as much as she wants some personal privacy in her own home so she can mend without the stress.

sandye21's picture

I don't think she is ridiculous or 'insance'. And still think it is gaslighting. I've been in her position before so I have empathy for what she is going through. Again, agree to disagree.

Acratopotes's picture

yes you are annoyed, who would not be..... this grown man is living in your house, he's not even family, and this after you got used living alone with only your husband.

Now think about it, SD's house will sell and she and her broot will all be moving in with her husband, in your house.... why is this man not looking for a house already?

You are annoyed cause deep down you know... SD and broot is moving in as well, and we all know temporary can be anything from a month to 3 years...
I would make it clear to this son in law... we agreed in helping you out, but you are getting way to comfortable, you already have sort of your own space with living room, kitchenette, room and bathroom, why are you claiming my space as well, (I would simply put a locked door between his space and my space) I think it's time for you to find a place of your own, prepare for your family.... give him a dead line, and make it clear, if their house is not sold by then they should look into renting it out.

EDIT to ADD: Alternatively, kick DH out of his study and take that as your personal space, tell DH.. this kid is your guest, not mine, you entertain him and you share your private space with him, he's not my family I don't have to.... let's see how much your DH likes that then...
YOur DH have no problem with his son in law taking over your private space, thus he should have no problem with you taking over his private space }:)

Coco72's picture

I think maybe you are more annoyed and resentful with DH, rather than SIL, because he has his own space (his study) and you do not. If he is spending 90% of his time in there when is he spending time with you?

queensway's picture

Hey I would be annoyed if I had a guest in my home for months. 3 hours would be my limit. After all you are not running a Bed and Breakfast. Your DH is just being a jerk. You need your privacy and that is the bottom line. Your DH has his study (most men have a man cave) and now you want your own space. So take that extra room in your home and turn it into a room just for you. A place to relax. You need a place to watch TV shows you like. A place to listen to music. A place to read. A place to have a glass of wine. A place to paint your nails. A place to meditate. A place to decorate the way you only like. Tell your husband after you have a room like that you won't be so easily annoyed. . LOL

beebeel's picture

So he spends 90 percent of his time in privacy, but doesn't care for your privacy? He would flip out if you used his study for the same reasons he uses it?

I would be finding a nice, private apartment away from this jerk. It's not like you would be missing all that time he walls himself into his study. Wait...he isn't even working? Who pays the bills??? Kick him out!!

secret's picture

Is there any reason why you can't take over the guest room for the next few weeks anyway? You could move a tv in there... and move it back to the living room before the other family comes in... the room might not be the way you want it, but at least it would be private...

Ninji's picture

I get the same thing from my DH sometimes (not that much anymore). He has his own "man room" and gets upset when I tell the skids they need to finds something to do either in their rooms or outside because I need some Me Time. He doesn't realize how annoying they are because he hides in his room most of the time.

I tell him he can either give up his room to me, give up one of the skids rooms to me or shut up. He shuts up.

pinkb's picture

Looks like this behavior is rampant out here...

When my husband and I moved into our new (to us) home almost 5 years ago he claimed the (finished) basement as "his office". Within a few weeks it was littered with all his CRAP. Books, papers, old bills, unorganized work product, trinkets blah blah blah... He's been saying he was going to organize all that stuff since then YEARS ago. He hasn't. Right around that time I claimed one of the spare bedrooms as MY cave... a place where I can watch what I want or talk to my friends/family in peace or take a conference call while he's watching the Red Sox. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE.

Then, he wanted to have a "work meeting" at the house and didn't "have time" to clean up his space in the basement. He took over the attic (also finished). The agreement we made was that he was going to keep that space tidy and ultimately clean up the basement so it's actually a usable space for things like the meeting(s) that he wanted to have. Yeah, well, you know what happened there... now our basement AND our attic looks like his pig pen. CRAP everywhere and no plan to clean up anything.

Looking on the bright side... if he leaves all his mess in the common areas (where, I dunno, we might actually have friends over or dinner guests, etc.) I just pile up all the mess and move it to one of "his" spaces. And, my "man cave" is exactly how I want it. Not always tidy, but MINE. I'd go nutso if I didn't have a place to go where I wasn't dealing with someone else's mess.

futurobrillante99's picture

I. Get. This. All. The. Time.

They treat you like YOU'RE defective and completely unreasonable. It's crazy making. You are being gaslighted.

futurobrillante99's picture

I. Get. This. All. The. Time.

They treat you like YOU'RE defective and completely unreasonable. It's crazy making. You are being gaslighted.

Goodluck's picture

I am sorry your husband agreed to having extended visitors. Bad idea for many reasons and it changes the dynamic of anyone living in your home full time, you, dh, minor bio kids etc.

Moral of the story, never allow ANY adult stay in your home for more than 2nights, 3night max without a contract.

The old "getting a job or getting back on my/our feet' is the oldest trick in the book.

GET an out date asap. Otherwise they could end up being squatters.
IF hubby wants to help them, hubby can find a rental, he can give first months rent and chip in 300bucks for first months light bill.

Your feelings are relevant and valid. Most adults can take care of their familes, your dh's son in law wont. A company worth a lick, would have put him up in temp housing to accommodate his families needs.

My above formation statement about if the company is worth a lick---comes from personal experience. What do you know about the company he NOW works for. Is it possible they gave him a housing allowance? What would son in law do IF you and your dh didn't live where you do?

Thank God my dh and I agree on this subject. NO EXTENDED STAYS at our home.

It would be the adult son in law OR me. And my dh would be paying for my temp housing and all of my expenses,,,you can bet your boots to that statement.

**I don't know if you are being gas lighted or not, but I can tell you are not being treated like well.
GoodLuck

queensway's picture

Goodluck I like how you think. Get a contract if a person stays in your home longer than 3 nights. Biggrin I don't know how anyone could do that with family but it sure would make things easier.

Starlightwest's picture

So many great comments and I appreciate them all! I need to clarify a few things. DH is retired so can work or not if he chooses. Money not an issue. He’s actually helping me with my business some so that’s part of his time in his man cave. He will be paid for the work as well. He leaves the door open so I know there’s nothing untoward occurring. He’s a very strong minded person with typically a clear understanding of what’s fair, right or wrong, etc. it just seems he has blinders on with anything regarding SD who has daddy issues - she thinks he wasn’t present enough for her growing up - so I think there’s a lot of guilt there for him. I don’t know. But he gets very defensive with anything related to her. They’re the ones who come for visits that last far too long.
He has laid down ground rules for his SIL but I think he/we didn’t think this through enough as some of you have said regarding my recovery and what a strain that would be. We did discuss it but I was just out of surgery and on heavy pain medication. I so wish I had had the foresight to set up my study before we agreed to this. It would have changed everything. The visitors coming are DH’s son and girlfriend. He thinks it would be too awkward to put them upstairs in the guest room opposite (and across from a huge tv/family room) where SIL is staying. Personally I don’t think so but I might feel differently if it was my family.
It just seems like since we’ve been married we have not had a calm moment where his family is concerned. If you compared our families side by side, there is far more drama from his than from mine. We don’t have bio kids or any still at home. I lived a quiet life alone for almost 5 years before we married and this has been difficult to say the least. When he made the hurtful comment to me, he also said that maybe I need a private cottage and maybe I do! It’s just frustrating to me as I try very hard to not let my family annoy him and it doesn’t seem that he makes the same effort. I also feel like he minimizes my feelings far more than just this instance. If I say something bothers me then he downplays it. But if he does the same, I try to find a solution. I’m not perfect but I’m more than weary of this treatment. I was in a very emotionally abusive marriage before so it’s hard sometimes to find my voice but you all are helping me.
Good idea about exploring company benefits on housing. I’ll suggest that!
SIL is house hunting but they have to sell before they can buy. And yes I’m terrified they will be in limbo for a month or more and DH will cave and let them stay here. They live a life of total chaos and I’m telling y’all, I will move out if that happens. We have agreed they can’t but he’s such a pushover with her that I’m scared to death all bets will be off.
DH has been very helpful during recovery. Has he done things the way I would? Of course not but he has helped me shower, dress, find comfortable ways to sleep, and more. I can’t use my dominant arm/hand for a few more weeks. I hope none of you ever need rotator cuff surgery. I can now shower and dress myself thank goodness but still am in a sling so can’t do or go as I’m used to.
I’m annoyed by SIL’s constant presence and yes, his constant attempts at conversations. He is not my guest and I want DH to take some of that load. DH is being compensated by SIL monetarily for the stay. I’m not! Maybe I’m resentful about that and that’s part of it. I try to be nice but the thought of months of his presence is too much. I’d never even ask DH to do this for my family under the circumstances of this situation. They would find alternative accommodations. I don’t mean to sound mean at all. Obviously if there were dire circumstances it would be different. But I could give y’all the whole back story and you would have no sympathy for them. You would be telling the SIL to get an apartment.

sandye21's picture

I had rotator cuff surgery a year ago - two complete tears. It is one of the most painful surgeries there is. You are limited with clothing options and have to do exercises several times a day. You need privacy. You are at the mercy of your DH.

The drugs and the lack of mobility in your arm will not allow you to drive for weeks - or 'go shopping' as someone suggested. It takes several months of therapy to get the arm working properly. Not a good position to be in when someone is often passing by you. Even if SIL is pleasant it is an imposition.

Years ago DH was a real a$$ if I was ill or incapacitated. I even had to drive myself to the doctor when I broke my leg and DH insisted it was only a sprain - and I joked about it to other people. It probably embarrassed him but I really didn't care at that point. I also let him know if he ever needed my care I would be treating him like he did me. It is rare that I need his assistance but now he is wonderful. He tried his best when I had rotator cuff surgery.

It appears your DH is a lot like mine was before I pointed out to him that it goes both ways. It sounds like you need to communicate your needs to DH and that you are not up to visitors.

Starlightwest's picture

Sandye21 please tell me this is worth it! I’m into week 5 now. Still in the sling. I’m sleep deprived and housebound. Pain now is different and abated from those first couple of weeks. I’m taking tramadol only as needed. Would love to hear how you’re doing now. You’re right. It’s an imposition in my current condition but I’m making extra effort to be nice to SIL and maybe I can fake it til I make it.

Sorry your DH was an ass before. That’s terrible. So glad he made a change before your shoulder surgery. I couldn’t imagine it the other way. You’re so helpless afterwards.

sandye21's picture

Yes, it is worth it. But the recovery is slow. The key is to stick with the physical therapy. You are right - you are dependent on DH. Other surgeries - even the broken leg - I was somewhat self-reliant in a few days. Not with rotator cuff surgery. You need a lot of rest and help and privacy. Your DH should have told SIL to stay somewhere else until you were better equipped to have guests in the house. It would hurt to feel like SIL and his comforts take priority over yours at this moment.

Starlightwest's picture

I am fully committed to my PT. I had knee replacement a few years ago and had a great result from doing just that. And you’re right. Even with knee replacement I was self reliant within a few days other than driving. I lived alone then and had no problem taking care of myself. This is unlike anything else. Even when I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand the need for help was short lived. I’m only recently able to wear a bra and felt so exposed when anyone other than DH was around. I’d cover myself with something and if nothing was where I could reach it it made me want to cry out of frustration and humiliation. Even if no one noticed - I noticed!! You hit the nail on the head. I feel like his needs (and therefore SD’s) are above mine. He then made me feel petty for feeling that way. Gosh you’ve helped me so much with this response. Not only encouraging me with recovery but helping me articulate my feelings. I’m so looking forward to my next conversation with DH about this. I feel empowered now and more able to stand up for myself. Thank you so much!!!

still learning's picture

Sounds like the guest area needs a private entrance. Can you put up a wall and build a seperate entry way?

Starlightwest's picture

I wish this was possible but it’s not. It is upstairs and separate but no way to get there but through the living room.

Rags's picture

As you said... DH has his own space and is not as aware of the issue as you are.

If the living room is usually where you relax while DH is in his study it makes some sense that he isn't impacted and is not as aware of the issue as you are.

His comment... not good. Even as a man I can see that was a bonehead move.

Tweak the massage and make another pass at it by prefacing the problem statement with establishing the fact that DH has his own space and is not impacted by the problem.

I often find that when my DW and I are discussing an issue we are looking at the same point 180* out of phase from each other. When we can get more in phase I gain clarity on her perspective. Sometimes that takes her being very on message and stepping me through it from perspective.

Hey, we are men. We are very linear in our logic where ladies are far more multi-perspectived than we are. At least that is what my engineeric brain seems to find.

Starlightwest's picture

Great advice! I appreciate the mans perspective on this. I remember when DH and I first met (online) his profile said he sometimes needs flashing lights, etc to get a message due to that linear thinking you mentioned. I’m making an effort to not let my emotions creep into my responses when he makes a boneheaded comment. I stay quiet a few moments to think of my response. It’s still hard to articulate at times. But thinking about my response as stepping him through the “why” helps tremendously. Thank you!

notsurehowtodeal's picture

"The visitors coming are DH’s son and girlfriend. He thinks it would be too awkward to put them upstairs in the guest room opposite (and across from a huge tv/family room) where SIL is staying."

Here is your solution, insist they use that guest room and go ahead and make the downstairs guest room your office/den/retreat now. If DH or SIL won't help you, hire someone to move the furniture and hook up the tv.

Starlightwest's picture

At this point I’m just going to grin (or grimace) and bear it. I have enjoyed going in there and deciding how I’m going to arrange things and looking for decor online. I will appreciate it so much more when the day finally arrives! SS is a wonderful person and I’m quite fond of him. So that visit will be enjoyable I hope. He will still be here 5 full days which is a lot but at least he’s very sensitive to other people’s privacy and conversation with him is relaxed and easy. SIL by contrast couldn’t have normal conversation if he was given a million dollars for it. SS should help take some of that pressure off, too.

marblefawn's picture

Sharing space with anyone but my dog is very annoying, so don't feel bad. I don't care how great a house guest someone is, it's awkward and inconvenient for me. Yea, I'm probably more sensitive to sharing than others, but if that's how we are, that's how we are.

Definitely take the guest room for yourself when you can. In the meantime, just keep telling yourself that the current house guest will not be there forever. And when he's gone, you'll be the hero for helping him out of a jam.

My husband would have the whole world staying with us if I weren't so weird about house guests. I'm fairly sure our attitudes about this are rooted in childhood, so don't fret that your husband doesn't get it. Just do what you have to do to find some peace.

still learning's picture

My DH would have the ss's, their families and gf, his sister, her dogs and any loser adults who don't want to be responsible living w/us if I wasn't so demanding of my privacy. I totally get being annoyed w/sil in the common space all the time.

Starlightwest's picture

Mine had his DD staying with him for 5 weeks before we married. It made me nuts and I would only come over for short 2 hour visits. Shortly after we married she came over the holidays and stayed 3 weeks! I literally almost lost my mind and questioned my choice in marrying without clear boundaries over that. It was so bad I would hide in our bedroom for hours and cry quietly. She was pitching fits with her dad and it was very clear she didn’t like giving up her position of power that he had obviously given her. Which was totally out of character for DH as I’ve mentioned before. He’s king of his castle until she comes around. He realizes that’s wrong but changes have been coming ever so slowly...he’s afraid she’ll hold the gkids as bait and keep him from seeing them if he doesn’t give her what she wants. But he is making strides in this area. As I said, slowly...

Starlightwest's picture

A kindred spirit! That’s me, too. Even with people I love, I have trouble. I’ve been on the receiving end as a houseguest many times and there are just some people who have a knack for it. It’s effortless for them. I try to emulate their behavior but I fall short. I am going to keep telling myself that it’s not forever as you said!