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When do you decide enough is enough in a marriage?

(17 Posts)
ribbonsandlace Tue 24-May-11 21:43:44

How and when do you decide to draw a line under a marriage? I have been married to DH for over two decades and love him dearly. We have three young DCs together (8 and under) but ever since the beginning there have been certain issues. I can’t go into any details unfortunately but I feel controlled. I feel my individuality and personal freedom being compromised. Stupidly, I hoped the issues would lessen with time but they have got bigger and now I am wondering should I carry on sacrificing my own personal wants and needs (is this what “good” partners do?) or call it a day?

Just to make it clear, in no way do my kids make me feel like this – I adore them and would die for them – and it is not being in a marriage that makes me feel less free and less of an individual. This is all down to the issues. I am trying to make a gentle yet assertive stand for my rights but I am a wee bit fearful that this will be our undoing. But I am also worried that if we get through this by my ‘conforming’ to certain expectations of me, then will I become just a shell of a person and what sort of a role model will that make for the kids?

I don’t know what I’m expecting out of this thread. I’m sorry for the confused post. That’s me really, lost and confused.

totallylost Tue 24-May-11 21:52:45

Conforming will never make you happy. If you feel you aren't being listened to in your relationship, if you feel you have no right of opinion then maybe its not a good relationship. In my experience things never get better by swallowing what you want and bowing down to someone else.

squeakytoy Tue 24-May-11 21:52:47

I think if you know in order to be happy, that you need to change things, then the first move is to be more assertive, and see how that goes, brilliant if it works... if it doesnt, then have plan B, which may be going your separate ways.

You only get the one life, and if you are unhappy, then the only person who can really do anything about changing that is you. Dont waste your life wishing it was different.

If you gaining some confidence in yourself is the "undoing", then that is not a failure on your part at all.

ribbonsandlace Tue 24-May-11 22:01:30

Some people have been making "do whatever it takes to make it work" noises but maybe I've got that wrong. Maybe they're just saying to give it a go but not do whatever it takes. I think I'm quite an insecure person at heart who doesn't like making mistakes and doesn't like letting people down but I need to be careful not to lose sight of myself too.

totallylost Tue 24-May-11 22:10:18

"doing whatever it takes" is great as long as you are not the only one doing that. A relationship is between two people and both of those people should be working on the relationship. As has been said if you can talk honestly to your partner identify problems and work together then great. It may be hard work but may also be worth it.

Shakti Tue 24-May-11 22:13:54

What would happen if you said this to your husband? How would he react? Would he try and understand and help? Would he just 'shut you down'?

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 24-May-11 22:14:05

Marriage is a partnership of two equals who should accept and love each other for what they are, and not try to mould or change the other.

ribbonsandlace Wed 25-May-11 10:29:29

Whenever we try to talk, he does get quite erm acid about things. We're both quite defensive. To me, I defend with reasoning but he defends by attacking. But of course that's my POV, not his. He would undoubtedly say something very different I'm sure. So I would say he probably would shut me down.

garlicbutter Wed 25-May-11 10:34:57

In answer to your title only - When you look at him and the words come into your head: "I don't like you."

Work all you want on it, after that it's over.

nicecupatea Wed 25-May-11 15:35:54

Have you heard of the book "Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft? It is about emotionally abusive relationships. I know that might sound a bit shocking but I have just found out that my relationship with H is totally abusive (it did step over into violence on a couple of occasions though) The reason I say this is that I can identify strongly with what you are saying about conforming, losing yourself, the "acidity", fear of being assertive, and problems escalating over time. I may be totally wrong, and perhaps (hopefully) your relationship isnt like mine, but if you read the book you will then be able to evaluate the health of your relationship, it is very good and clear about these issues and will help you decide if there is hope, or things to be done or not.

I wish you the best of luck, its always worth putting in the effort to try to create the life you want and deserve. Nobody should live in a situation that makes them (and their children) unhappy.

ribbonsandlace Thu 26-May-11 14:36:11

Thank you very much for the recommendation nicecupatea. I will definitely search that out. Unfortunately, I think the relationship may be similar to yours regarding emotional abuse although he has never been violent. Can I ask how things are with your relationship at the moment? It sounds awful and I hope you are getting through it somehow. <hug>

garlicbutter, I do sometimes feel like I don't particularly like him but during those times I wonder if it is only temporary. And I do still love him (although I appreciate people can find themselves in the most abosive of relationships and still say that). I think that's what made me post in the first place, a kind of "how do you know when it's not come-back-able from" question. There's probably no answer... I guess it's just one of those things noone can answer for me. sad

nicecupatea Thu 26-May-11 15:00:10

Hi ribbons I split up with H nearly two weeks ago. Everything is still raw at the moment. I read the Lundy book in January after a big row turned violent, I still couldnt quite see that I was in an abusive relationship (didnt want to see it because that meant the end) and hung in there for another 5 months. We did couples couselling, that made things worse, eventually after another big row I asked him to leave and now I am re-reading the Lundy book, seeing my own counsellor and finally waking up to just how bad my relationship was. Sometimes we get so blinded to it, it takes a long time to open your eyes to it. In my case the answer to "how did you know it was over?" Was: after reading that book, and then examining my relationship for 5 months in light of what it said.

I have just started talking to other ladies in similar positions on this support thread for emotionally abusive relationships, come on over and join us if you think it will help you. xxx

ribbonsandlace Thu 26-May-11 17:16:28

Thanks nicecupatea, I will come and join in. It's pretty hard for me to find the time to post however as MN is one of the issues DH has with me. So if I go AWOL for a while, you'll know why. wink

TechLovingDad Thu 26-May-11 17:18:15

I knew it had to end when I realised that not only would I not put up with the sniping anymore, but that I couldn't stand to be in the same house as her let alone the same room / bed.

sunshineandbooks Thu 26-May-11 22:33:55

My relationship with my DC's father ended because of violence, so that's not a great example for this post. However, my relationship with my previous long-term partner was not violent and he was not abusive in any way. I knew that relationship was over when I sat down next to him one evening and realised I could think of absolutely nothing I wanted to say to him. (In the early days he was the first person I wanted to tell everything to, but years of him running away from everything just made me lose all respect and withdraw from him until I decided life was too short and called it quits.)

OP, from what you're describing I'd say you're not talking about the normal peaks and troughs that happen in any long-term relationship. Talk of sacrificing your own personal wants and needs is not healthy, especially when it's all one way. The fact that your 'D'H has a problem with you being on MN is very alarming.

Sometimes if we are very compliant, we almost 'encourage' others to walk all over us (not that it's an excuse for bad behaviour on their part). The big test will come in how your DH reacts to your becoming increasingly assertive. Hopefully, after a little shock he will pleasantly surprise you. If it really is your "undoing" as a couple though, try to think of it as confirmation that your gut instincts were right and that he is indeed controlling and you're better off out of it.

You will almost certainly be plagued by doubt and have wobbles, even more so after such a long history together, but that's what MN (and hopefully your RL friends) are for. Good luck.

garlicbutter Fri 27-May-11 01:57:01

TLD - are you my ex? grin Clearly not, as it happens, but I sympathise!

Sunshine - everything you say is so true! Generally speaking, we tend to offer what we expect. So a very giving, flexible person would expect their chosen partner to give and share as much as they do. Unfortunately, some people view 'giving' and 'flexible' as invitations to take the piss - whereas the giving person deserves a partner who appreciates, and returns, her efforts.

Sometimes an imbalanced relationship can be fixed by the 'giver' adopting a more assertive stance. But, if the 'taker' is trying to control their partner's time/life/thoughts, they're not willing to be flexible at all, are they? They're just trying to lock down their supply.

In such a case, the only tactic that might work is to withdraw completely; see if your partner comes back with improved conditions. But, then, you're stuck in a permanent stand-off situation: a "partnership" in which the upper hand is always on the line - that might suit a 'taking' kind of partner, but it's emotional death to a 'giver'.

The flexible, giving person with a rigid, demanding partner needs first to appreciate that they are worth equivalent respect. After that, they might look at their alternatives in a clearer light smile

TechLovingDad Fri 27-May-11 08:12:20

Sunshine, very well put. Our mediator told me, in confidence, that he and his colleagues thought my ex had "chosen" me as she knew I'd always be working, reliable and would ensure she had a good life and was loved.

garlicbutter, was your ex lovely and strikingly handsome? If not, then I can't be your ex. grin

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