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Can you build a marriage with someone you like, but don't really love?

(68 Posts)
nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 13:34:22

DH and I have been together 5 years (with one DC, who's 3). He's a lovely man - kind, thoughtful and caring. All childcare is split pretty much 50/50 or maybe 70/30 to him, when he's not working (he's full time, I'm a SAHM at the moment)... on paper, he's the perfect husband. On paper. In real life I feel bored by our relationship and a bit bored by him and it's eating me alive. Before we got together I had quite an exciting life, and although I try to maintain that as much as possible, ultimately DH is a quiet, and sometimes quite grumpy man. Whilst I need to have a social whirl around me, with lots of cultural input (music, art, theatre, whatever), he doesn't, and although he's happy to go along with me wherever I want, I feel like I'm missing the intellectual stimulation of being with someone who's as enthusiastic about life as I am and his grumps get me down. As DS gets older and I get freer, I worry that I'm pulling away from him.

I feel like such a bitch. I always thought I was quite a nice person before I got married, now I feel horrible. Like I'm using him. Which maybe I am. I can't tell any more... I feel sometimes like I'm losing track of who I really am.

I suppose my question is can we make this marriage work? DH is a good man and he deserves to be happy. DS is an incredibly joyful, well-balanced child and I don't want to fuck him up seeing his parents in a miserable relationship (like I was, seeing my parents in theirs)... I want us all to be happy. DH loves me, from the bottom of his heart, and although I like him a lot and he's my best friend in so many ways, I don't really fancy him any more. We talk about most things and are always very supportive of each other, but that's the elephant in the room.

Sorry for the long post, there's so much to say and so much going round my head at the moment. I can't talk to anyone about it in RL and really I feel ashamed that I feel this way. I feel like I'm betraying him by thinking these things. To make matters worse, we're supposed to be ttc at the moment and it's shit or get off the pot time. I'm 40 and have had two MCs already this year, we can't really afford to waste any more time if we want to stay together. Help.

IfImHonest Tue 09-Oct-12 11:36:54

OP, I've been in the same situation as you for some time, and I can say it is bloody hard to make a decision. I've been seeing a counsellor who has promised me that he is going help me make a decision on this - either he will fix my relationship so it becomes what I want it to be again, or I will leave it, but either way I will be strong and not make a decision out of fear or desperation or exhaustion. he is also big into knowing your own identity and understanding the mistakes people make in relationships. Sounds like you need someone like that. I have found it a breath of fresh air compared to normal relationship counselling.

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 11:54:13

Be a little kinder to yourself. You have been through a lot in a short space of time. You may be suffering a little from this perception that mothers are meant to love being at home with children all the time too. In the modern day it can be a very isolated and thankless task and to a degree very disempowering.

I think maybe you need to work out who you actually are, working towards being someone you want to be is all well and good but what is actually wrong with being who you are in the first place? It sounds a little like you are feeling lost and subsumed by everything around you. I don't think you deserve or need a flaming.

Your marriage may be good or it may not be right but when you're inside a whirlpool it'll be hard to tell. Preschool will almost certainly help you get more time to work out how you reconcile the new you with the old and to evaluate things in your life. I think you sound very caring actually about your husband and child and I think things will work out well for you in the end if you can work out this stuff, which is actually pretty normal I think, of who you are now you have a dc and how having a dc fits into you (rather than how you fit into the dc which is normally the first bit of parenting).

Whenever people advise other people to 'work at' a relationship that isn't satisfactory, particularly if it's the woman who wants to leave, I think it's always important to consider sex.

To be blunt, advising a woman to stay with a man she likes and respects but is not attracted to is very often telling her that she will have to accept his cock into her body on perhaps a fortnightly basis. Indefinitely. Or that she will have to accept the relationship being slowly poisoned by resentment and misery on both sides: if a couple are in a longterm heteromonogamous relationship then it is reasonable for one or both to want sex to take place fairly regularly.

If you are contemplating staying together 'for the sake of the children'. you need to think about this. Does he want to have sex with you? Are you OK with having sex with him? Would you both be happy to acknowledge, at least between yourselves, that the sexual side of your marriage is over and that you are both at liberty to seek sex elswhere? Or are both of you simply not that interested in sex and happy to live without it?

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 12:13:56

P

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 12:17:49

OP well, you can but why settle for, what is effectively half a life, that is only half lived?

There is no Law, that states that just because someone is nice, kind and good you have to therefore marry them. Just because someone is good, it doesn't mean they are necessarily good for you.

If you need that spark, that fizz, then that's what you need. It doesn't make you wrong. It doesn't make him wrong. It just doesn't make you right together.

And, if you find the right person, that spark, that fizz, stays with you for the rest of your lives, together.

When I met DH, I already had lots of good friends, so I didn't need to marry another one. Yes, he had all the qualities that I looked for in a friend...but, in marriage, I wanted more than just friendship. I wanted something more intense, more precious, more intimate, more passionate and more unique.

And, that's why I married him - I couldn't have settled for anything less.

You're only here once. Life is short. Spend it with someone who makes you light-up like a Christmas tree smile

OneMoreChap Tue 09-Oct-12 13:01:53

Same advice you'd give to anyone, really.
If you aren't happy, separate.

Be honest with him and tell him you want to go.
Obviously, you'll have to revisit being a SAHM...

Is the house bought or rented?
Go and get some advice on divorce.

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 13:26:27

I think the last few posts have missed a trick. I wasn't and I don't think anyone was advising the op to stay.

The thing is I'm not sure whether the problem is that she doesn't love him or she doesn't love herself. She's been through a lot and I think it would be unwise to leap out of the relationship in a bid to try and solve a problem which may ultimately be a problem with how she feels about herself rather than him.

Until she feels better about herself and happier in herself I don't think she is in a place to make a good decision about how she feels about her husband or marriage. A different man or a different lifestyle won't necessarily help and if she finds her dh or marriage to anybody is not for her after this process then I think leave.

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 18:31:12

You're right, Offred, and so are others who've made the point that happiness comes from within. This very point, however, is all too frequently used as an excuse for putting up with unhappiness and/or dissatisfaction - growing flowers down the hole.

I believe we do know, deep down, which scenario we're looking at but it's easy to feel unsure. Shaking things up can help to free our thinking: making a well-researched, feasible escape plan shows us we really do have alternatives; getting a new job shows us who else we can be in different circumstances; effective counselling reveals what we really want and need.

SGB's question is a time-honoured test, too. How do you feel about having regular sex with this partner, and only this partner, for life?

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 19:00:20

I don't know that that's really all that good an indicator either especially in the context of ttc and miscarriages sad. I think sex in a relationship changes over time and so do your feelings about it e.g. For periods you may not want any like after a baby or during depression and you may misinterpret that as your partner being the problem and think "god i can't imagine sex only with this person forever". Other times the sex is frequent and good and so you feel good about it. These things being separate from the decisions to actually do it or not to a degree.

I really think a lot comes down to choice. There's nothing that says commitment to one person is superior I think each way and all inbetween have very different benefits and drawbacks no one thing is perfect and people need to choose the path and lifestyle that makes them happiest. It required courage for me to commit to monogamy long term but it does make me happiest I believe, for some others it might take courage to be uncommitted (my sister is like this) but it might be the best thing for them but you have to know yourself really well first. If this op has fallen from one relationship to another without thinking and then discovers being uncommitted is what's right then staying with her husband is wrong no matter how nice he is. But I still think being in love all the time isn't sustainable and happiness doesn't come from the person you share your life with.

Mumsyblouse Tue 09-Oct-12 19:49:18

I wouldn't advise someone to stay if they were deeply unhappy with their husband, but the OP doesn't sound deeply unhappy with him, she sounds unhappy, perhaps depressed and frustrated with her stay-at-home role. As Offred says, trying to work out what that is about, and changing one thing (she'll still have the drudgery and childcare issues without the husband, in fact, more of it).

Having said that, OP, not much of your post has been about your husband really, except that he's not as exciting as your friends and you are not 'in love' (thought have never been). SGB's post is a good one, if you really don't find someone physically attractive then that really is a bad sign in terms of making a go of a relationship when you are not 'in love', for the reasons she specifies, you can't go on having sex with people you don't like or find attractive (well, you can, but it will make you very unhappy).

I don't agree with LeQueen that everyone is looking for fizz in a relationship, or that people will necessarily be happy if they find it- as I say, I feel I have plenty of fizz but to be honest, also wonder whether a quieter more companionable relationship might be more liveable with.

I also think it is a question of perspective, I have a friend who was really fed up at one stage with her rather undynamic husband and she kept moaning, if only he'd get a job, if only he'd move, if only he'd decide XYZ, and in the end, I suggested (in a nice way) that he was what he was, he was always going to be the passive one in their relationship but that this could be a massive advantage for her, as she was a control freak who loved to organize everything! She had got stuck thinking that because he was the man, she had to wait for him to decide to move/get a new job/where they were going to live. She did then go on to move house/change her own job and they are very happy again now because she decides everything and has the house of her dreams/new career instead of trying to prod some rather passive guy into providing/deciding on it.

Perhaps this is an extreme example (and he was extremely passive) but OP, if you don't like being a SAH housewife, don't! Just get back to your great job or do a Masters and ditch the housework, get a cleaner and get out there. Even if you have another child, you can get childcare and continue if you want to. Wild horses wouldn't drag me back to SAH and children's telly and baby groups, you can be what you want to be, especially if your husband is supportive/or without him if you so choose.

Mumsyblouse Tue 09-Oct-12 19:51:19

By the way, obviously SAH can be fulfilling for some. But women are too stuck on the musts/oughts/shoulds of the situation and if a different life, where you feel like yourself, is for you, then you can live it, even with children.

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 19:55:40

"But I still think being in love all the time isn't sustainable and happiness doesn't come from the person you share your life with."

Offred I have been with DH for 21 years, married for 10. I have never stopped falling in love with him. I assumed after the first heady, rush of passion, emotions would settle down and we'd plateau and life would get companiable - because, that's what happens, yes?

Wrong. 21 years down the line, and he's going grey, but he can still make me blush like a teenager, and I still get that fizz when I hear his car pull on the drive smile

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 20:02:23

musmy I do absolutely agree with you, in that not everyone is looking to be passionately engaged with their DH for their whole lives.

My BF adores DH, but she shudders at our marriage grin She just wouldn't be comfortable with our intensity of emotion (and not that I always adore him...sometimes I could cheerfully crucify him) she openly admits she would find it draining, and too consuming.

She is very content with her DH, who she freely admits is more of a nice house-mate/companion - they never argue, they rub along comfortably, and it suits them both very well.

cronullansw Tue 09-Oct-12 20:06:05

You have a great husband, who a great father to a wonderful kid, but you don't feel completely fulfilled.

Don't you think you are being a little selfish here?

Do you honestly think leaving and starting over, disrupting everyone's lives and hoping to find someone you really can love, even although you've never really loved someone, is going to work?

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 20:12:11

cron it doesn't matter how great a DH is on paper...if they don't fulfil you, if being with them makes you feel emptier, if being with them makes you always feel a combination of sadness/pity/guilt - then they're not great ... for you.

kiwigirl42 Tue 09-Oct-12 20:35:26

best advice I was ever given about relationships - don't ask whether you can live with him but whether you can live without him

can you imagine being without him?

Mypopcornface Tue 09-Oct-12 20:52:13

You can do what I do. I go out with friends or dd to the cinema/theatre/ exhibitions/ museums, you name it while dh would rather be at home relaxing. On his iPad. Sleeping. Watching TV. When dd was younger I spent a lot of time doing nothing with him or resenting him because he doesn't want to do what I wanted to do. Now I accept that he is different and he likes to keep himself to himself and doesnt need as many activities as me. I used to call him (in my mind) boring, dull, dumb you name it, now I accept he has different interests and I can fulfill mine whiteout him and he is ok with that. Yes, there was a time when I thought I could have married someone more similar to me, but this doesn't guarantee a happy family anyway. If your hsband doesn't begrudge you for pursuing your own interests than I thing you should go for it specially since he is good at looking after your son.

Confusingtimesahead Tue 09-Oct-12 21:44:37

Well said Crun and Kiwi!

Offred Wed 10-Oct-12 07:03:55

That's not what I mean. I wouldn't stay with someone where the relationship had become companionable. I mean that it isn't realistic to always feel in love with someone as in you are likely to have cycles where the superficial feelings change and I think I would be very wary of saying to someone who sounds a bit depressed that the reason her feelings are a bit dampened is because her husband isn't right for her. If this is not down to her feelings about herself and life and the great stress she's been under then I wouldn't say to settle for something mediocre but I'm wary of saying leave and find the answer in another relationship always and especially wary of saying to someone who seems a little depressed that the problem is her dh who is perfectly nice.

greeneyed Wed 10-Oct-12 08:29:43

OP I feel a little similar at the moment BUT absolutely agree with everything offred has said.

Confusingtimesahead Wed 10-Oct-12 21:09:18

Just re-read LaQueens posts - you are a breath of fresh air on these relationship pages! Keep spreading your lovely words!

LaQueen Wed 10-Oct-12 21:30:14

Why, that's very kind of you confusing - I aim to please smile

I have just observed, time and again, people getting married and staying together, and it's very clear that although it's alright it's very far from good.

I just don't see why you'd sell yourself so short. You can fill your life up with friends, and nice people, and that's great...but, I think your husband should be something else again. Else why marry them?

Confusingtimesahead Wed 10-Oct-12 21:51:52

Exactly, I sometimes think that on here, it can all be a little bitter, rightly so quite often, but your words feel that we should be fighting for love and for that 'something else again' with the one we have built our families with. smile

SanctuaryMoon Wed 10-Oct-12 22:03:10

This has been an interesting read for me too, OP, so much of what you have said rings true with me as well. It's been helpful to read. I hope that things seem brighter today x

deliasmithy Thu 11-Oct-12 01:48:51

No clue: these are my thoughts/questions on reading this thread:

1. You acknowledge that some of the unhappiness isn't to do with DH, but rather a re-evaluation of where you are going in life. Is it worth exploring that avenue first? IME what we initially think isthe problem ends up not being the problem.

2. Have you spoken to him about how you feel? Not suggesting mentioning your feelings of love, but rather the ones you mentioned of feeling trapped, in need of mental stimulation, more exciting life etc.

3. I think love and its meaning differs for everyone. What do you feel it means? Not meant to be patronising, just can be helpful to see what boxes you have ticked, and what areas are missing.

4. Would counselling help?

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