Husband won't change his phone settings so I can reach him in an emergency

Sideways

Moderator
How is that about contempt?
You're working through a lot of stuff, but just to clarify this bit, I wasn't pursuing the contempt feeling. It was the fear reaction: I can't get through (fear, panic, anger, etc) leading to calling and calling and ultimately exploding.

Fear's a mother of a beast. Abandonment issues suck, so don't think I'm not hearing you, and getting that this is really tough!

The behaviour is the part that counts, because that's the destructive toxic part, but also the easiest part to change. Understanding the feelings and having different options about how to respond (behaviourally) to those feelings in the moment? Is incredibly powerful.

Not the least of which is because the behaviour is something we can change quickly, but that underlying terror linked to abandonment? There's no guarantees that will ever go away for good, you know?

You're using parts. And I'm guessing that different parts align strongly with particular feelings, get triggered by particular emotional responses to stressors. You can still use the fundamentals of CBT with those different parts.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
It's my understanding contempt is fueled at it's core by a feeling of superiority. From ~"I do this right, you don't", or what is wrong with you, to forget?, all the way to rage and disgust and blaming someone else for your emotions, your hatred, your life, or expecting them to be responsible for your happiness or the consequences of your choices. So it can range from correcting someone's grammar in an argument, to really believing you are superior to them, even to the extent they are worthless. So it often (but not always) has anger, and a blindness to one's own imperfections but a huge focus on the other's, and a lot of self- what I want, what I need, what I deserve, what I have given, etc. So, resentment. And an attributional bias that the other person's shortcomings are inherent and evidence of their defectiveness while yours are situational (tiredness, trauma history, personal choice, etc). It is often (IMHO) targetted at someone who doesn't/ can't stand up for themself, +/or is already feeling shame. JMHO.

ETA, as an example, nuanced, contempt could look like something like this: if someone reached out or said a comment, it was met by, "Can't you see I'm busy? What is wrong with you??!!", or "Here I am slaving all day over your needs, and you can't even give me a minute to mself. That's so typical, you think of no one but yourself!", or sheer silence (not to be confused with flooding), as though no one was speaking, no respect or response, infer the person doesn't exist.
 
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HealingMama

Sponsor
Sounds a bit silly IMHO. Spouses usually need to contact one another in an emergency. What am I missing? Are you separated? No kids?
Yeah. I think most of that was him angry that I wanted to be able to wake him from a nap. He doesn't really understand that sometimes you need to not wait 30 mins on a callback. But he has since said we can change his phone settings however I need, as long as I only use it in a real emergency.
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
I believe that he put up with too much from me. But my own therapist says that he made a choice to do that, and I need to let him be responsible for that choice, not treat it like I am responsible for his choice, and she is right. He could have left.
I agree with that but I also believe that holds true for you also.

You are responsible for choosing to stay through all of this,even after all the things he's said and done,after all the hurt and pain he has caused you. It's obvious there's much resentment and contempt towards him,it comes through loud and clear with all the things you repeatedly complain about that he's said and done.

It has been your choice to stay,knowing who and how he is. I'm sorry he is not who and how you wish he would be. You can't change someone else though. You can't make someone communicate how you wish they would,can't make someone be trustworthy,etc. There's a quote I read, "consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others". All you can do is work on yourself and change yourself.

It doesn't matter how much you work on yourself and change yourself though he's still going to be who and how he is. You can't expect or force him to change because you are or have resentment towards him when he doesn't do it. If he truly wants things to change and work he will put in the work and do what he needs to do without you having to argue or remind him to. Like this whole contacting him in an emergency thing, if it was important to him he would have done it. No excuses. If he can't do something that simple,knowing it's important to you, what does that imply?

I've been in your shoes and it's sad to watch(read) someone try so hard to just want what they want from the person they love and not get it. And then be so triggered ,rageful and spiral because of it,over and over. It's a never ending cycle.

There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough and have enough self respect to walk away.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
@HealingMama not sure if this is helpful, but just trying to wrap my mind around this/ untangle it:

If I understand correctly, the gist of this was, the medical procedure (drug) could have had a bad side-effect as it did in the past, but it did not and you were driving home. The emergency number was if it did, or something else was an emergency (though arguably only 911 could actually help if that were the case). However as the phone was off, your H wouldn't have been available regardless, and that made you feel unsafe, and like he didn't care, as did his anger or saying, ~(paraphrasing) 'Well you survived this time anyway'. (Which makes me wonder if it feels like there have been a lot of 'times', a lot of emergencies? And I don't mean that or any of this with any judgement). You also said:

I think most of that was him angry that I wanted to be able to wake him from a nap. He doesn't really understand that sometimes you need to not wait 30 mins on a callback. But he has since said we can change his phone settings however I need, as long as I only use it in a real emergency.
but that he works nights.

Then, you felt hurt, then angry, perhaps hoped he would apologize. Then felt suspicious that his words would not really indicate he would be there for you, or supportive in the future, and that was further evidence he does not care?

Is it possible, that particularly with ptsd and what can feel like a near constant state of crisis, he simply recognized he has to sleep to be able to function, ( which he may feel you are not affording to him as a critical need, and therefore you do not care); that he could not control what transpired from your shot, and except for his part of not seeming concerned enough about the outcome, then left it to you to drive home? I say this simply because one cannot maintain crisis levels all the time with no break, especially with the fact that that is what life throws at many people, whether it's living with cancer or illness, or SI, or whatever. Trauma processing is like going through everything again, except worse the second time- but you are not actually living in it/ through it as you were the 1st time. So the sense of urgency is too much on a day to day basis with all the current stressors on top of it.

I still wonder if it might also help to get better educated on adhd, and to communicate clearly: you needed/ hoped for a supportive interaction after the shot; he basically said he has to sleep to function. What would the middle ground look like if you could do this again?

As an aside, as to unsafety, the truth is your trauma 'could' play out again. Or it might not. If you do not choose to trust, that is ok too. But you have to meet each other 1/2 way if not, and put both of your needs as equal importance. Contempt arises from constantly thinking you have been superior, including in giving. But if you are giving to get, it is with strings. As far a being equally supportive, it can be as simple (or difficult) as communicating what precisely you need, but within the realization of the other person's strengths and limitations too, and their needs. Sleep is huge for executive functioning, emotional regulation , even emotional and physical pain management, for everyone. No one wants to be where they are unwelcome, or can't get it right, or are always nagged or criticized. It doesn't feel (if I've got this right) that he cares when it was so important to you. But then, you would have had to say that in advance, that you would like to talk even if it wasn't an emergency. But my understanding is, if it also wasn't an emergency, he would have been willing to talk if you waited until he could rest, because that was his need. So in other words, neither person can give their best if they feel either railroaded, or neglected.

Also, if you both have adhd it's important to realize it doesn't mean you have identical challenges or strengths, or what works for you will work for him. And a parental dynamic is gross. 😛 But people with adhd are not flawed, they have a different type of mind/ thinking/ ways to approach tasks. (it is being referred to as VAST most recently- Variable Attention Stimulus Trait). It's a difference, not a defect. I really would try to learn more about it, as he could just as equally infer you don't care enough about him to make an effort to understand, because (he may feel) you seem not to understand his needs (that is how it works- exchanging mutual hurts). And/or for yourself if you have it it may be helpful too (because some people with it adopt a very rigid system to work around/ with it, whereas others an entirely different system is more adoptable. And it usually comes with lower self awareness, so time to dig deep when looking at your own self/ traits). But fwiw, if you stay you could invest just as much time in developing understanding, vs nursing hurts/ having a combative environment. So it is your choice, because no one can choose what's best for you more than you.
 
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HealingMama

Sponsor
You are responsible for choosing to stay through all of this,even after all the things he's said and done,after all the hurt and pain he has caused you. It's obvious there's much resentment and contempt towards him,it comes through loud and clear with all the things you repeatedly complain about that he's said and done.
@JadeB. you are correct. I never meant to imply that it's his fault I'm still here. I made a choice. I stayed once I started getting the right treatment to address my symptoms better because I felt that I owed him. If I hurt him with my behavior, then I could at least stick around behaving better, and even if we ultimately go our separate ways at least I have had a chance to help his subconscious experience safer interactions... so that I do not feel like I gave him CPTSD in the process of trying to deal with my own, then left him to just be broken and unable to have a relationship without the influence of our dynamic.

I do have pain from things that happened in the past, as does he. Maybe I do have resentment about it. It feels to me like it's more just wounding, hurt. He lost his job in 2020, and we both had a chance to show each other something different. He made an effort to not fall apart like he did before and I made an effort to be supportive, not emasculating and blaming.

As I think I said elsewhere, I complain about all of that so people have context for what it's been like. If I met someone who did the stuff I describe myself doing I would judge the hell out of them, but if they also explained some of the experiences that I have had with my partner? I might still judge but I'd understand better how hard it would be to know how to respond in a healthy way besides just leaving.
If he truly wants things to change and work he will put in the work and do what he needs to do without you having to argue or remind him to. Like this whole contacting him in an emergency thing, if it was important to him he would have done it. No excuses. If he can't do something that simple,knowing it's important to you, what does that imply?
Well, I have to disagree with this. His ADHD is very severe. He has literally forgotten his kids exist before. We moved to be closer to them and over a month went by, he had not set up a visit, and when I asked I could see from the look on his face that they just disappeared from his reality. That's not because it didn't matter to him. Believing if someone wants something badly enough they will do it without any reminders is dangerous when ADHD is involved.

Ideally yeah I would not have to argue - you are correct. Most of what I ask for he does or tries to, without any friction at all besides reminders for some of it. He had agreed to get therapy for his own contemptuous attitude months ago, and shortly after he started the lady left the practice and then... ADHD happened.
I've been in your shoes and it's sad to watch(read) someone try so hard to just want what they want from the person they love and not get it. And then be so triggered ,rageful and spiral because of it,over and over. It's a never ending cycle.
Yeah it sucks. If I did not see ultimate willingness for most of it, effort to move in the direction of what I am asking for, then it would be a very different conversation. But he is trying, for the most part. Even with this emotional intimacy stuff, he tries. He will go with me to therapy whenever I ask, attend a marriage workshop, etc. No he does not take the lead and yes I am tired of leading and want him to pick up some of the responsibility.

It sure would be easier to have a partner that enjoys verbal communication, takes pride in more traditional male role qualities, is organized, wants emotional intimacy, etc. But if I did have someone like that? I would probably mess it up tbh. I am needy and anxious in this relationship but I was avoidant in all the others. I want intimacy but I also fear it, hence the SEVERE ambivalence and inner conflict I've shown the last 6 years. I have honestly never dated a man who "takes pride in traditional male role qualities" and never dated someone who was naturally dominant towards me. I would probably not know how to actually be in a relationship like that.

But absolutely I want responsibilities to be shared better, and that is an area that he has been steadily working on but I am also basically asking him to change his personality and that is not realistic. I get a lot more of what I need when I simply stop doing the thing, than I do by pushing him to do it instead. Even romantically, if I stop working on us he will seek me out, he will ask me on a date, he will compliment me or communicate more openly than usual. He knows what I want and when I am not making so much pressure and noise he really does try to do as much of it as he can.

The areas where we still get stuck are his negative assumptions, reflexive invalidation/defensiveness, and what the ADHD layperson community calls "Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria."
There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough and have enough self respect to walk away.
Until this incident, I did not have collective internal support to take an action like that. And, I am respectfully going to reject your statement, because that would mean if I try to leave and can't, that I am lacking in self-respect and also a failure. And that's not a helpful belief to have in situations like this. If I try and can't, it is because some of my parts are not ready for it, and I am supposed to work on respecting that each one has a job and its own position about things, and to understand what those things are instead of judge myself (them) for not acting precisely how I want to act, because I will not ultimately achieve internal cooperation very well if I am judging and shaming parts of myself.

The reason that my therapy is working so well and helping SO MUCH is because my T showed from the very beginning that she wants to respect whoever inside is moving the slowest towards whatever the system's goals are. She does not push us. We go along with stuff others want more easily because we all know that everyone gets a say vs me trying to strongarm myself and force myself to do things, and having parts committed to a different agenda, so I just stay stuck, or worse.

My T is working with me on self love/compassion and I can tell I am getting stronger in the way you are trying to articulate so that I would be able to actually do that if it is a goal that my entire system supports. I had full system support when I thought that his original statement was intended as global truth across time, vs something shitty he said in the moment because he resented me (plus realistic/valid reluctance based on my previous behaviors).

If I need to get out then I will get out when the time is right.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
@HealingMama not sure if this is helpful, but just trying to wrap my mind around this/ untangle it:

If I understand correctly, the gist of this was, the medical procedure (drug) could have had a bad side-effect as it did in the past, but it did not and you were driving home. The emergency number was if it did, or something else was an emergency (though arguably only 911 could actually help if that were the case). However as the phone was off, your H wouldn't have been available regardless, and that made you feel unsafe, and like he didn't care, as did his anger or saying, ~(paraphrasing) 'Well you survived this time anyway'. (Which makes me wonder if it feels like there have been a lot of 'times', a lot of emergencies? And I don't mean that or any of this with any judgement). You also said:
but that he works nights.


Then, you felt hurt, then angry, perhaps hoped he would apologize. Then felt suspicious that his words would not really indicate he would be there for you, or supportive in the future, and that was further evidence he does not care?
Yep you pretty much got it. I had a close-ish call with the treatment, and on the way home I had a time sensitive request, and when I could not reach him with one call, I considered what his known work hours were as far as when he expected to be off work and when he expected to be home from work, what time we had last spoken, the conversation we had previously about how long he should nap to be able to properly rest in the big stretch of time before work, and made a conscious choice to use the "break glass" functionality that he previously agreed to have, thinking to myself it's time sensitive, and no it isn't an emergency but he had said he wants to limit naps to an hour anyway and probably slept through the alarm and will appreciate help sticking to the structure we talked about.

But then the "break glass" thing didn't work and I got triggered, etc etc, I felt unsafe yes. I was in fight mode and he never responds well to that (I wouldn't either). I did not feel like he did not care until he informed me that he turned off the settings that he said he would use so I could reach him. He kept saying "it's not going to kill you to wait 30 minutes for a call" when I said he agreed to give me a way to reach him immediately if there is a true need.

He tells me at some point in that same conversation he agreed to create some version of the settings I wanted but I do not remember him agreeing, and I do not know which one of us is misremembering. He did agree later but in my mind it took him a week to agree.

Yes I took his behavior as evidence that he does not want to be there for me, even in a true need scenario. I have complained before that I don't feel like I can list him as my emergency contact and that feels terrible. The last month or so there's been about 4 situations where I eventually came out and said, this thing that is happening is a form of me asking the question "Will you be there for me when I really need you" and you saying "no." I told him this is another one of those.
Is it possible, that particularly with ptsd and what can feel like a near constant state of crisis, he simply recognized he has to sleep to be able to function, ( which he may feel you are not affording to him as a critical need, and therefore you do not care); that he could not control what transpired from your shot, and except for his part of not seeming concerned enough about the outcome, then left it to you to drive home? I say this simply because one cannot maintain crisis levels all the time with no break, especially with the fact that that is what life throws at many people, whether it's living with cancer or illness, or SI, or whatever. Trauma processing is like going through everything again, except worse the second time- but you are not actually living in it/ through it as you were the 1st time. So the sense of urgency is too much on a day to day basis with all the current stressors on top of it.
Good observation. He has said as much. If everything is super important then nothing is, and he can't sort it anymore so he's just got a muted response to everything which unfortunately is very triggering sometimes and does feel like "if he cared then I would see more emotion than this."

I would not use the word crisis, I do not think everything is a crisis or should be treated as such, but whenever we hit our negative cycle (me complain or ask for something he isn't expecting or point out a problem, him minimize/justify/defend/invalidate or say there is no problem, me now angry that he won't make room for more than one perspective, etc.) if there is also significant disconnection and withdrawal without him creating structure around it on the front end then yeah it's triggered crisis mode a lot.

He did not understand that my calling him came after I actually thought about his schedule and needs as I understood them based on what had been explicitly communicated. And that no, I would not think to myself "oh he's working a weird schedule and probably exhausted so he should probably sleep as much as his body wants." I would instead think, "yesterday he agreed if he sleeps more than an hour he won't be sleepy enough at night to go to bed when he needs to in order to get a reasonable amount of sleep before he has to get up for work, so even though he WANTS to sleep longer, I am helping him do the structured thing that he admits he needs and does not innately want."

He constantly wants me to rely on implicit information. I can't, and even if I could, I won't because that is too likely to be misinterpreted.

Even last night I said where is the line between when I can use the lifeline feature to reach you immediately even if the sound is off, and when I can't, because I do not want to misinterpret. I need examples of what he thinks is ok under those circumstances. Not just "is it ok to call" but "is it ok to see this as an immediate need and call in a way that it forces your phone to ring regardless of the situation and that you will do your best to answer right in that moment not let it ring and then call back later". This is part of my learning to respect boundaries more - I need a lot of information about where the line is.
I still wonder if it might also help to get better educated on adhd, and to communicate clearly: you needed/ hoped for a supportive interaction after the shot; he basically said he has to sleep to function. What would the middle ground look like if you could do this again?

As an aside, as to unsafety, the truth is your trauma 'could' play out again. Or it might not. If you do not choose to trust, that is ok too. But you have to meet each other 1/2 way if not, and put both of your needs as equal importance. Contempt arises from constantly thinking you have been superior, including in giving. But if you are giving to get, it is with strings. As far a being equally supportive, it can be as simple (or difficult) as communicating what precisely you need, but within the realization of the other person's strengths and limitations too, and their needs.
You are right. I feel like I communicate clearly but it seems that's often not the case. That came up last night too, I said I am supposed to work towards interdependency as part of my attachment healing and I can't do it without your help! And he said it's not fair that I decided to change my entire personality structure and have new expectations without telling him. I thought I had, bc elements of interdependency had come up in conversations, but no I never specifically said I am trying to depend on you as part of healthy, appropriate dependency and need that to be ok and need to see you doing the same as part of rewriting my internal models about all of this.
Sleep is huge for executive functioning, emotional regulation , even emotional and physical pain management, for everyone. No one wants to be where they are unwelcome, or can't get it right, or are always nagged or criticized. It doesn't feel (if I've got this right) that he cares when it was so important to you. But then, you would have had to say that in advance, that you would like to talk even if it wasn't an emergency. But my understanding is, if it also wasn't an emergency, he would have been willing to talk if you waited until he could rest, because that was his need. So in other words, neither person can give their best if they feel either railroaded, or neglected.

Also, if you both have adhd it's important to realize it doesn't mean you have identical challenges or strengths, or what works for you will work for him. And a parental dynamic is gross. 😛 But people with adhd are not flawed, they have a different type of mind/ thinking/ ways to approach tasks. (it is being referred to as VAST most recently- Variable Attention Stimulus Trait). It's a difference, not a defect. I really would try to learn more about it, as he could just as equally infer you don't care enough about him to make an effort to understand, because (he may feel) you seem not to understand his needs (that is how it works- exchanging mutual hurts). And/or for yourself if you have it it may be helpful too (because some people with it adopt a very rigid system to work around/ with it, whereas others an entirely different system is more adoptable. And it usually comes with lower self awareness, so time to dig deep when looking at your own self/ traits). But fwiw, if you stay you could invest just as much time in developing understanding, vs nursing hurts/ having a combative environment. So it is your choice, because no one can choose what's best for you more than you.
Yep, his ADHD and mine are very different and yes I cope with rigid structures to keep me functioning and have a hard time with his "eh everything is always gonna change anyway, I can't hold anything, I can't do a thing in life and get predictable results so I will just let go of everything" position. But last night he said that is also how he copes so well with me. It does not seem that he copes well with me based on all this probably, but I do change significantly way more frequently than the average person, and I am sure that it would be really jarring to be in a relationship with someone whose personality seems to shift all the time.

Yeah idk, I feel if anything I have too much self awareness in many ways but I know what you mean, I just need to stop looking to him for safety and be a grown up. He needs to stop turning me into his mother. I need to just stop overfunctioning and see how he deals vs ask him to stop underfunctioning. Every time I get fed up and go on strike, he does most of what I would want him to be doing it's just not on my timeline as we are definitely on different life speeds.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Yes I took his behavior as evidence that he does not want to be there for me, even in a true need scenario. I have complained before that I don't feel like I can list him as my emergency contact and that feels terrible. The last month or so there's been about 4 situations where I eventually came out and said, this thing that is happening is a form of me asking the question "Will you be there for me when I really need you" and you saying "no." I told him this is another one of those.
I haven't read everything and I may be missing context. I wondered if there was another way for you to see this above? As it sounds as though you are stuck at the moment given the importance you hold this event in.

I think it might be an impossible standard for someone to live by. I.e. always being available in case of an emergency. I think if you have an expectation that your partner will respond to you within 30 minutes when you need him to, that any partner , however great or flawed, will fail to deliver that every time. Yes on this occasion he turned off the function. But I think, whilst that must be painful to hear, the reasons why he did that might be something to explore ?

No one can be there for someone at all times at a drop of a hat. Painful. But true.

Whilst this triggers attachment issues for you. It doesn't mean, in itself, that there is an attachment or care problem.

Is there a way you can reframe this in your mind that helps a bit?

I can see that might be challenging as there ar emany accounts you have written about difficulties in your relationship.

One thing I have learnt in my relationships in terms of healthy and unhealthy. A healthy relationship is one that when a disagreement occurs and it is discussed and resolved: that resolution is sincere and it is moved on from. An unhealthy relationship, one or both parties say it is resolved, but one or both actually hold onto the pain and bring it up again and again and again. So that the pain of the previous disputes is brought into all the next disputes and it gets weighed down and confusing and hard.
I have been in both types of relationships.
It sounds as though you are in the second type a bit? And I wonder if there is a way for you both to reframe, readjust, reset.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
so...from the sufferer side?

If hubby was annoying the crap out of my by constantly expecting me to be his go-to emotional rescuer, then he told me that he would only contact me in an emergency, then he tested me on that by calling me just to see if I would answer, then got mad at me for not answering when it really was an emergency??

I would have no idea what to do with that - but I do know it would make me run. That's way to much pressure on me. I can barely save myself - no way I can save someone else.
My issue was that the settings he agreed to, he withdrew without telling me
yep. Because neither of you trust the other. You don't trust him to answer, and he doesn't trust you not to call unless it was an emergency
need to know what field we are playing on.
The one where neither of you trust each other.
My needs are more childish looking in how they manifest because I had all this blocked off from age 8 to age 26 or so, I have a lot of catching up I am trying to do here.
Yep - and it does look like you are doing the work you need to do. But. You are doing with someone who is just as unstable as you are, with some of the same issues. So.....he may not the one ho can meet those needs
. I had no other way to communicate how insanely unacceptable I thought his behavior was considering he made that child too and needed to help support it.
so hitting him was the only way you could talk to him?
"he made me hit him" is a classic dv remark.
And yes - I did see that you are working on changing that dynamic.
but he may not have forgiven you yet.
I actually make a conscious effort to show him respect. But it's not like a traditional marriage in that way, I am the breadwinner not by choice, I have to manage the finances and lead the relationship even though I don't want to do any of that. I ask him to lead us or weigh in on decisions and he refuses to take up space. A few weeks back I asked to get back to couples therapy and said maybe three times in two sessions that I want him to have opinions and take up space. And it's true! I do get bored if he picks something to watch I don't like myself but I am happy to sit with him anyway. He often won't watch the thing bc I am bored but I don't know how to pretend not to be.
Reread this. ^^^^^
Is this really the kind of marriage you want?
I want him to step up and BE a partner. From my perspective he is half functioning and I have been forced to fill in the gaps and I am tired, plus feeling insecure because he is reliable for 40% of what he signs up for and I never know which thing will be in the 40%. I
I get why you want that
I don't get why you are expecting him to be the partner you want him to be
You lay it out all really clearly - the problems you are having, the ways he lets you down, your anger at him, your disappointment, etc.
But it all comes down to the same thing -- you want him to change.
You aren't happy with who he is - and you want him to be someone else
But he's made it clear that those aren't his wishes.
He doesn't want to change. Might be ptsd, might be he's just an ass
The bigger question tho --is why are you staying with someone who makes you so unhappy?
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Oh @anthony you made me laugh with the 'wholly shit' part. 😄 . That's actually pretty respectful. You are a wise man, as they (Gottman, I think?) say the #1 way to build a relationship is for both people to stop and address what the other person is struggling with or needs ~'like the world has stopped turning for that moment'. At least try to, most of the time.
 
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