Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.
how do I restart my relationship...(24 Posts)
DH and I have been together for 5 years married 3 with 1 DD. When we met i fell head over heals for him. I thought that I was the luckiest person in the world.
fast forward 5 years and i see my DH in a very different light. We haven't had sex in a couple of months and we don't talk about anything other than home and DD stuff. We bicker a lot.
he's a great dad, very hands on. he does the house work, he cooks. He has a big heart, he's kind, he very thoughtful and generous, he's fit and very handsome and he loves me very much.
But he has a quick temper and gets annoyed and the smallest things, he's moody, he cheated on me when dd was a few months old. (Our relationship hasn't been the same since)
He pesters me for sex all the time. Although he has backed of a bit recently as I've completely withdrawn form him as every cuddle turned into a come on. He's not interested in the what's happening in the world, he doesn't read anything, he not motivated and doesn't get enthusiastic about anything and can't seem to make a decision. Communication is poor between us.
It all feels stale. We are both unhappy. How do I fix this? Counseling is an obvious option but he doesn't speak very good english (which is one of my big issues as i feel he's had plenty of time to learn) i learnt his native language.
Where do I/we start?
You can't 'fix' a relationship single-handed. You can't 'fix' someone else's failings - betrayal, aggression, sexual pestering, ignorance, boring, lack of commitment etc - no matter how much you want to. Also, you can't force yourself to feel warm and fuzzy towards someone if they've shat on you from a great height, insulted you and destroyed your trust by screwing around. How is a creep like that 'thoughtful and generous'? How is that 'love'? What price your self-respect?
I'd suggest you get counselling for yourself in the first instance to work out why you're still persevering flogging what may be a fit and handsome but ultimately dead horse.
I started counseling before christmas for myself. Going ok would be better if the councilor didn't look at the clock for most of the session.
DH also wants to fix this but like me doesn't know how. He was unfaithful when DD was 3 months old (she is 3 now). He is deeply sorry for what he did and knows he seriously damaged our relationship. I made the decision to forgive him and try to move on.
Apart for that HUGE betrayal he is thoughtful and generous, he makes me food i really like, he buys me nice gifts, writes me little notes, takes care of me when i'm sick.
His aggression is not physical, he just snaps at me or at life and is grumpy and moody then the next minute he's all offering me cups of tea and a foot rub?
My big issues at the moment are his moods, lack of motivation, not speaking english (as this means its very hard to socialise) I feel like I need to give this another try. For all 3 of us. Is there anything i can do?
" I made the decision to forgive him and try to move on. "
You may have consciously made that decision but it's clear from what you wrote originally that your subconscious is recoiling from this man on every level. He repulses you emotionally and physically. You can't just intellectually 'decide' to ignore something so fundamental.
Also ask yourself how does your 'trying' put anyone in a better mood, make them more motivated or enable them to learn a language? Answer is, it doesn't any more than you 'trying' could change any other aspect of their behaviour.
I realise you feel some kind of obligation to this man, probably coupled with the usual ridiculous guilt heaped on women/mothers to 'make a go' of a bad marriage, 'try harder' etc.... but his personality failings are 100% his responsibility to fix. Your emotional revulsion is entirely understandable, very natural and doesn't make you a bad person.
He doesn't repulse me, he annoys and frustrates me. I know i can't make him change, motivate him or get him to cheer up. But is there anything i can say or do to help him decide to do these things for himself?
And you are right i do feel an obligation to keep trying. I had a very poor relationship with my farther and my family life was unhappy. I want my daughter to have a loving and secure family. If we spilt up DH will probably have to go back home, I am very reluctant to inflict that on my daughter without doing everything i can to make this work. I suppose i'm not ready to give up.
We loved each other very much, he wasn't always like this.
You might have thought you'd forgiven, but I don't think you have and I don't blame you for that. Does it frighten you to admit that to yourself?
What happened after the affair? Did he get any therapy, read any books, look at his character and why he allowed himself to do that to you when you were so immersed in having a new baby?
There's no point being 'sorry' if he didn't do any of those things. Sorry is an action and in this situation, it means a person making radical changes to their attitudes and behaviour.
I would have thought some of these grievances pre-dated the affair and so the fact that he doesn't even do relatively easy things like learn the language and socialise more, must bring it home to you that he still isn't prepared to make efforts that would help your relationship.
I'd change your counsellor by the way.
All you can usefully do is up the ante. There is currently no consequence to his behaviour. Because you have decided to stick it out, move on and 'try' he'll be interpreting that as you're OK really, nothing serious, no change necessary. So you have to present consequences that a) motivate him to change and b) make it very clear that you're serious.
It would not be giving up, therefore, to state 'if you don't improve X, Y and Z within a particular time-frame, I will be asking you to leave'. It would be setting a very real, very serious and very measurable incentive that he can then decide to accept or not. Then you'll see his true colours.
BTW What you're currently inflicting on your daughter is a miserable atmosphere at home and you're unfortunately setting the example that bad behaviour from men should be tolerated for the sake of a wedding ring. You may not think you are repulsed by him but you are certainly rejecting him because you said originally that you have 'completely withdrawn' in order to get away from his constant pawing...
I'm sure he wasn't always like this. Sadly, I think what you were originally attracted to was what I've heard described as his 'date face'.... slightly artificial pleasing behaviour to secure a partner.... and now you're experiencing the real him. All the time you keep hoping he goes back to how he was originally I think you're being unrealistic.
Maybe I haven't forgiven him fully. After the affair he tried to be a better husband, helped much more around the house, went to counseling took some English classes (but found it hard so stopped) spent much more time with the family and got up at nights with the DD etc. The affair was just about sex it only latest a few weeks. But it did change my attitude towards sex with him.
He was more social and much more positive before DD was born and when she was little as we lived in a different country and we had more friends. We are now in ireland and he knows nobody, it's been hard since we got here. After the affair he seemed to hate himself, contemplated suicide (even planned it).
i am in a mess aren't i?
he has a quick temper and gets annoyed at the smallest things, he's moody
I agree with Cogito. He's always been like this and what you became enamoured with was a front he put on to make himself pleasing to you. Now that you're in the bag, so to speak, he sees no need to hide his true self.
'Just sex'.... ? If you're in a mess it's because your DH seems to be constantly taking the easy route. Easy 'just sex' with someone else.... accidentally fell on her cock first, did he? Easy giving up on English. Easy helping out around the house rather than actually addressing the body-blow he dealt your relationship. A man that genuinely understood what an affront to your femininity his 'just sex' affair was would not be pawing you nightly for sex and making you recoil, he'd be trying to rebuild your sexual trust. Easy staying home rather than getting to know people locally.
If he hates himself and has no energy he could be depressed, of course. Has he volunteered at any stage in the last few years to see a GP?
Is there any particular reason why you're living in a country where he
can't be arsed finds it too difficult to learn the language?
Does he work in an establishment when only his native tongue is spoken?
you are all probably right.
I'm going to write down all things things that must change and when they must change by. If he doesn't change i'll make him leave. We are putting on a good front for my daughter. we have family days out, a lovely christmas, no arguments when she's around etc but as she gets older she's start to see though that.
He speaks enough english to do his job but not to have an intellectual or meaningful conversation or to talk with a group of people. We are living here as it's my home country, we came here 18 months ago and regret the decision to move so are saving to go back.
he hasn't gone to a GP despite me asking him to go.
Being the motivation and supplying an incentive - however harsh - is really the only chance you have of changing someone's behaviour. Glad you've stopped thinking the problems are your responsibility.
I've always been the "fixer" in my family I guess that's carried over into my marriage. Tomorrow is new years eve. I am going to sit him down, set some goals and make some demands. If he doesn't agree and more importantly follow through I'll have to find the strength to ask him to leave. My fear is that he can't stay if we split up (visa reasons) that'll be devastating to my daughter. But I suppose we can cross that bridge when we come to it.
My other fear is that i don't want to be on my own, or be a single parent.
If moving back to his home country means that he could prevent you leaving with your dd if he continues to
be an arse punch below the weight you thought he was carrying when you 'fell head over heels' for him, you are best advised to make damn sure you take your rosy specs off and see him as he really is before making what could be an even bigger mistake than the one you made when you married him.
The problem with being a 'fixer' is that you're always looking for
someone to rescue from themselves a project.
As for your fear of being on your own as a single parent, take a look this thread: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1645601-The-good-things-about-being-single-and-living-alone
There is no truly good outcome to the situation you find yourself in and it's a case of working out which is the least bad outcome.... for you rather than anyone else. So it does mean being strong, making demands and taking a few risks. Even if he decides to shape up and meet the goals you set him, do be aware that you may still find that his affair gets in the way psychologically. So, while he's working harder to regain your trust, take the time and opportunity to work out how you really feel.
BTW... as someone who has been a single parent for 12 years now, I can tell you that it is sometimes challenging, often rewarding but always preferable than wasting time with someone who makes you feel less than good about yourself.
The only problem I can see with you setting him goals is that you'll move the goalposts in his favour when he fails to achieve them.
NB: the choice of when rather than if is deliberate.
Can you say more about the affair changing your attitude to sex with him?
If it's affected your personal relationship with sex itself, it seems too minimising to say this affair was 'just sex' doesn't it?
If he was self-absorbed and self-pitying enough to threaten suicide afterwards, is it possible that you suppressed your own grief and anger while the drama focused on him again?
izzy - we are planning on moving back to a neutral country, it's a nicer lifestyle and we have more friends there. He'd say there if we split up which would mean DD still gets to have her dad around. I can't see him staying where we are now if we split as he has nobody but us. But whatever happens DD will be with me.
thanks for the link it makes being being single look tempting
Cogit - i honestly don't know what i want. But I do know i don't want to continue like this, his lack of motivation and moods are starting to rub off on me.
Badinage - Before DD we had a very physical sex life, it was fantastic. But when DD was born the lack of sleep changed my sex drive and dh didn't cope with that and all the other changes a new baby brings. Basically he had the affair because he wasn't getting what he wanted from me. Selfish and childish i know.
I was devastated, before DD i felt so secure, protected and loved by DH. He broke all of that along with my heart. But it also brought some other stuff up. i'd been abused as a child and the new baby along with the affair brought all that back. So it's a mixture of all this and the fact that sex has been uncomfortable since i had dd has made me loose interest in my once favorite pastime.
" he had the affair because he wasn't getting what he wanted from me."
Since you're not having sex with him now, what's to say he's not back up to his old tricks? That's the trouble, you see. Once you've effectively said to someone that it's OK to betray you because you've taken them back with very little in the way of consequences, they've no incentive to remain faithful in the future. Not only selfish and childish.... very, very cruel.
I think all your problems stem from you both being fundamentally unhappy but not admitting it to each other. He's not happy with you, you're not happy with him. 'Marry in haste, repent at leisure' etc.
The affair has had consequences and it seems to me that neither of you are being honest with eachother about how profound they have been.
I don't think it's as simple as your husband getting what he was missing from you and is why I always think it's a mistake to downgrade affairs like this as being 'just sex'. There's never a 'just' about it and that also implies that sex is meaningless and has no value.
It had tremendous value to you, for example, didn't it? It sounds that for you, sex with someone who loved and cherished you finally allowed you to erase the terrible associations between sex and abuse. So when he gave that to someone else, it brought back that link and now, your associations with sex are again that it is harmful, sordid and painful. It doesn't sound like your husband has ever realised that, or he wouldn't have been pestering you for sex.
As for him, the core reason he did this was not because he wanted sex he wasn't having. It was because he was selfish. It doesn't sound like he addressed that core issue at all and when people don't, they go back to their old ways of coping when life gets difficult.
Presuming he isn't having another affair (which I wouldn't rule out) I think you'd both benefit from going back to the drawing board and dealing with the affair properly this time. Many couples get through an affair, but only if it's dealt with properly and sustainable changes are made.
Separately, I'd encourage you to try a different counsellor and talk about how the affair resurrected your negative associations with sex. Regardless of whether your relationship survives, that's something that too precious to you personally to lose.
badinge - thank you for your honest reply. I'm online now looking for another councilor i hate feeling so rushed when I'm opening up so many old wounds.
He's not having an affair (i'm 99% sure, i'll never be 100% again will I?) he's working, with me or DD all of the time. He never goes out. When he was unfaithful I new from day one, he totally changed his behavior.
When we do try to talk about anything he gets very defensive, he acts like i'm attacking him, he has very low self confidence and thinks i'm better than him, more intelligent etc We talk around in circles and normally end up arguing or stopping the conversation. The more I write on here the more i think he is depressed.
Has anyone any ideas on how we can improve communication? I know we sound like a lost cause but I need to try one more time.
It's back to the original point that one person - almost by definition - can't improve someone else's communication without their cooperation. You can talk, encourage, question, challenge, appease etc. all you like. If they've decided they don't want to engage but would rather get defensive or go on the attack it quickly gets very one-sided.
I can fully understand why a man who can't speak English and won't socialise might feel like a fish out of water in Ireland and go on to lose confidence or feel depressed. But he sounds like he didn't give it a chance and gave up very early on rather than put in any effort.... same lazy way he treated your marriage, in fact.
Join the discussion
Please login first.