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The passive husband

(30 Posts)
Misskittywhisker Wed 02-Jan-13 01:09:16

I've been with my husband for many years and he has withdrawn from our relationship and become so passive about just about nearly everything that there is no spark or life to our relationship. The only times he shows spark or spirit is when he is over reacting with the children, or when other people are around. When it is just us, it is as if time has stood still. Things have been like this for a while and I have coped by distracting myself, but at Christmas when everyone is with their families it becomes so noticeable. At times I have had to leave the house and go to the supermarket just to leave the thick slow still atmosphere in the house. I long for lightness and brightness - I compensate for the atmosphere by watching really crass chick flick movies that I love for their innane humour and lack of depth! I can't bear anything heavy or dull because when I am away from him I crave excitement and action - usually achieved by drinking too much and behaving like a fool. I feel a bit like a fraud - we pretend to be a couple like all the others we know, yet there is nothing there and I drink too much to mask it. I usually am far happier and nicer person when he is away or not around. In fact I've hated him being at home in the holidays and wish he would return to work - it's like a black cloud looming over the house. He doesn't really seem to have any relationship with anyone - not his family or friends and my relationships don't feel real - there is something missing from them all as I mask my feelings about my relationship.
I've given up trying to get thru to him and choose to ignore him instead as he usually blows up if I try to say anything about his behaviour.
Should I leave him? We have two children and many financial commitments so it would be really hard.......

Iwasafairybutlostmywings Sat 05-Jan-13 20:26:21

Sorry to hear what you are going through.
You are not alone. I wonder if your husband is depressed.But not all men are good at admitting things like this (particularly mine!)
I haven't got any super advice but my heart goes out to you.
Big hugs x

meditrina Sat 05-Jan-13 15:58:17

It is quite possible that he is depressed, has low self esteem etc. But you can't fix such issues for him. If he remains unwilling to work on fixing himself, then there is no chance of a healthy relationship between you. It sounds as if he is already blaming you, rather than seeing it takes two to have a good (or good enough) marriage. Withholding friendship, let alone intimacy, is a relationship killer.

If he cannot see that he needs to do his share, or knows this but refuses to act, then you do need to start thinking about whether you can stay. In the long run, it may harm you greatly to be in such an atmosphere. This isn't just a case of your being the arranger of family activities: that could be part of a healthy relationship if he joined in and appreciated your role. This is a bigger drain on you, and one from which you get nothing.

Thinking about what you want in life, focussing on your needs and those of the DCs, and planning how you make that happen might give you the impetus to make some changes. It will be his choice to join you on this. If he chooses not to, then you will have the answer you need.

madgered Sat 05-Jan-13 15:44:02

I'm in exactly the same situation as you with my DH. I've been trying to pep things up and make a fresh start with him all year. When I try to talk to him about us he will either walk away or get defensive and tell me how awful I am. Same story as yours.

Just before Christmas he told me that he was unhappy (after various reconcilliations) and he wanted to leave. On Christmas day I discovered texts he sent to another woman he also gave her jewelry.

so basically my entire year of trying to make things work was a huge waste of time. he was working on a new relationship the whole time. his behavior is classic Midlife Crises. Script perfect. After a year of tears and unhappiness for me I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. the discovery of this other woman definitely ended it for me. in a way I should be grateful to her. she gave me closure.

We're going ahead with the divorce. So 2013 is going to be another year of extreme stress. he's turned into a monster. I'm frightened of the future. I'm alone with my children, no extended family. it will be interesting. Hopefully he'll make a fantastic ex when everything calms down.

LouMacca Sat 05-Jan-13 11:57:10

Thinking of you OP x How are you?

NoThankYouToSideSalad Wed 02-Jan-13 13:57:21

MissKitty Yes. The enormity of breaking free is overwhelming, particularly where children are involved. Take baby steps and get your ducks in a row so you are in a good mental and financial position when the time comes to separate. Like Sasabanana, my OH and I are still living together because I need to find a job first. In the meantime, I am preparing for single life by looking after me, culling the house of crap, and rediscovering old friends. I have never felt happier and more confident. I know now that the "old" me is still alive and kicking which has given me the strength and resolve to fly solo. In fact, I can't wait! grin

Misskittywhisker Wed 02-Jan-13 12:00:39

Reading all your posts has made me cry!!! (particiularly the warring parents thread) It makes me realise that I am right in thinking that it is time for the charade to end - I can't keep pretending to the world that everything is ok (he and his family do this - its quite bizzarre to me). I've become this way to try to cope with him as he is not a bad man and he is a good father and very attentive to the children and he works hard and we have a lovely home, but when he's inside these 4 walls with me, he behaves as if none of it matters and I don't matter and I realise this is not right.
I have a few jobs and can find ways to earn some cash and I have friends and a small but good family. There are lots of positives in my life, but my relationship is very flat and dull with no intimacy or plans or communication.
You have all given really good advice and many examples of your own lives and I admire your own strengths and courage. I really need to discover what keeps me here - my home, what I would lose materially, financially - I don't know right now, but I now that I am a few steps closer to saying something. Why can't I just make it final - to be honest it's been about 13 years of unhappiness - am I just used to it? I think I may be scared of what lies ahead - will it be easier for me because we are not actually married? I refer to him as my husband but we didn't marry?

Anniegetyourgun Wed 02-Jan-13 11:54:50

Funny thing actually, DS4 was 9 when XH and I started the process of splitting up and the way the old ratbag told his son was horrible. Of course the idea in his head was to bring home to me how terrible it would be to break up the family, but the net result was a child in floods of tears (and three older ones looking pale and shell-shocked). That was when I knew that leaving was the best thing not only for myself but for the DCs too. I'd been struggling with guilt and uncertainty up to that point.

I, like the OP, am ground down, overweight and unconfident. However, life is very much happier and more peaceful without my own personal little storm cloud raining on the parade.

Sasabanana Wed 02-Jan-13 11:48:59

Sorry, I didn't read the earlier postings closely. Maybe try different couples councelling, or even couples or individual separation councelling.

Or focus on yourself for a while, gym, underwear, new hair doo, being with friends, etc... then if it comes to a full break up you'll be better placed to get on.

Sasabanana Wed 02-Jan-13 11:39:27

It sounds like he could be depressed, maybe with low self esteem as well. Or he could be getting it elsewhere (or thinking about this), but doesn't want to move on out of committment / obligation / deep routed but dissatisfied love.

He's probably as unhappy as you are, but shows it in a different way - and doesn't understand or know or want to talk about his feelings.

I've been with a glass half empty partner 23 years, who has no dreams or desires or ambitions... still don't know what to do about it, so ultimately have decided to get on with my life in my way, and he has the choice of keeping up with my pace or moving on. The funny thing is: the happier and more enthusiastic I am with what I am doing - the more attractive he finds me, the more he see's the old me is back (the one he fell in love with), the less inclined he seems to want to move on / leave!

(And I'm not yet financially set up to move on by myself, or ready to get into a new relationship, so sticking it out is convenient for me for at least a little while...)

OPEN HONEST NON-CONFRONTATIONAL COMMUNICATION about how you are both feelings, esp his feelings/worries, is the most important thing right now. Don't confront him with playing away, or accuse him of depression, just go softly softly - be his friend for a bit...

Twattergy Wed 02-Jan-13 11:13:01

As you've been to counselling in the past, and he's moved out before, it won't come as a surprise if you bring up splitting up with him.it sounds like you are both equally unhappy and need to give each other permission to finally end it. Approach it in a positive way to him, say you know it will be the best for both of you and that you are confident your child won't suffer if you both take a supportive attitude. I think it will be a weight lifted from the both of you to finally make a decision after years of limbo.

Fairenuff Wed 02-Jan-13 11:11:44

Any tiny doubt I had about ending the relationship was totally eradicated by the disgusting way my H informed our 9 year old twins

Lou Your H is not a good dad if that statement is anything to go by. Good luck with the separation.

LouMacca Wed 02-Jan-13 11:11:42

Yes Annie I totally get your point. H told the Relate counsellor that he didn't realise how much his verbal abuse upset me!! hmm

NoThankYouToSideSalad Wed 02-Jan-13 10:29:54

OP - My DH is just like yours - a spirit sucker. sad I have spent years listening to his excuses for his misery and trying to make things easier for him in the hope of lightening his mood, including giving up my well-paid professional career to reduce his stress. Nine years later, I am giving myself a huge kick up the backside. angry

Unfortunately, men like our DH do not change. Life will always be a glass half-empty. I am at a point where I know that I cannot spend the rest of my life being suffocated by his anti-social, pessimistic presence. So, rather than lie down and let the bastard grind me down, I am determined to get my "mojo" back and LTB. grin I am actively looking to get back into my profession - not easy, but I WILL do it! I'm re-connecting with old friends and contacts and putting myself out there. Being kind to myself - exercise, regular beauty treatments, new underwear, etc. Anything it takes to make me feel great. You know what - it's working! I haven't felt so happy or alive in years! In fact, I find the more I feel like my old vibrant self, the less his misery effects me and I am very much looking forward to a new single life in 2013 (albeit with 2DC and dogs!).

So, what this rather self-indulgent post is trying to say is that YOU are not responsible for his behaviour. YOU are not responsible for his moods. YOU, however, can choose whether you wish to remain in a relationship with someone who squashes your very soul. You seem to be an outgoing, vibrant woman - learn to love yourself and it will give you the strength to leave and find the happy life you deserve. xx

Anniegetyourgun Wed 02-Jan-13 10:27:08

Oh and, LouMacca: your H is not a good father if he allows, let alone encourages, his children to tell their mother to "shut it". This is a life skill they will do well to unlearn PDQ.

Anniegetyourgun Wed 02-Jan-13 10:25:08

You've been living with this guy for years, but you still don't even know whether he wants to carry on living with you! That is one major case of non-communication. Not that I blame you, if every time you try to raise it you get blasted out of the water.

May I suggest that you research the legal position and find out just what could happen if you separated; make an action plan with a few options (marital home sold/not sold, how much time each of you has with the DCs, etc); and discuss it frankly with your H? No blaming, no "I can't live with you because", just "if we were to live separately this is how it could work", impersonal, reasonable. Your H may respond better to an action plan than to the emotional stuff. I'm guessing he came back before out of inertia rather than missing you all - because it's where his house and his stuff are. Relate may be able to help you talk it over rationally. They are supposed to help couples to split up amicably too, not just to stay together. (My experience with couples counselling was singularly unproductive, but that's another story. I certainly don't blame the counsellor.)

LouMacca Wed 02-Jan-13 09:25:57

OP my heart goest out to you, I know exactly how you are feeling.

I ended our relationship the day before Xmas Eve. The worst possible timing I know, I didn't plan it that way but after another huge row it had to be done for my sanity.

Any tiny doubt I had about ending the relationship was totally eradicated by the disgusting way my H informed our 9 year old twins.

My H was verbally abusive to me for a long time. This only stopped after going to Relate but I just can't get past it. Hearing my DS telling me to 'shut it' was beyond upsetting. I made every effort to save our marriage but felt it was totally one-sided. When they is no communication (unless H wanted to talk about football) no affection, no intimacy and no effort then it's time to let go. It has affected me so much that I have been taking ADs for the last 12 months while my H won't accept he may be depressed or have a problem.

Anyway I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am lucky to have a wonderfully supportive family and some wonderful friends. Of course the worst it yet to come. I have already seen a solicitor and adivsed my H to do the same and hopefully we can do it all amicably although H is in a different mood every day.

We are sleeping in separate rooms but being civil to each other. I feel beyond guilty about the children as H is a good dad but I know it will be best for the children in the long run.

I'm sending you lots of strength - you can do it!! You need to. Life is too short and you are living a lie (just like I did - one of my friends told me I deserved the oscar when I told all my story). Please feel free to pm me x

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 02-Jan-13 08:51:09

Warring Parents Thread

When trying to work out what's best for the children you might find the attached thread an interesting perspective. Not so much the stories of violence, alcoholism and other very serious family problems which you're not struggling with, but more the ones from people whose parents exhibited chronic low-level sniping and bad-tempered behaviour... didn't show each other much in the way of love.

Misskittywhisker Wed 02-Jan-13 08:44:44

Thank you - you are right , I just need to say it. We ve been here before and he s moved out temporarily and returned only to slip back. I think I need to be brave. The worst thing is the kids. Their lives would change considerably, but maybe we ll all be happier in the long run. . i know I don't want them growing up thinking this is marriage and how it should be. It doesn't set a good example.
I just need to be bold and choose my moment.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 02-Jan-13 08:06:57

" I'd be feeling very poor,"

Just on this aspect... finance is often a barrier to independence. Have you ever looked into this seriously? Solicitors can talk to you about division of marital assets and maintenance for children, there are various top-up benefits available and you might find you wouldn't be that much poorer in reality.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 02-Jan-13 08:03:51

It is daunting to contemplate going independent after being in a marriage... but it must be just as daunting thinking about spending the next 20 or 30 years with Mr Glum. Many couples with contrasting personalities manage to make it work by respecting differences & living in parallel but getting together enough to enjoy what they have in common. What bothers me about your description of your husband is that you not only seem to have nothing in common & no connection but that he gets defensive and angry if you try to talk. What bothers me even more is that he chooses to be 'personable and charming' with a counsellor but not with you. Which suggests he is not depressed as such but that he is choosing to be this way at home.

To my mind, that makes him an emotional bully. Sulking, rejection, criticism, bad moods etc. are fairly common features. Whether it's deliberate or not, the result is that you're unhappy, drinking and eating too much, convinced you can't leave, your self-esteem and confidence are suffering and you even think you have to mask the problem and pretend to be a happy couple ... why exactly? Who does that protect?

I think the only way forward is not to explore his feelings but to simply state your own. ie. His behaviour makes you unhappy and, if nothing changes, you'll be forced to ask him to leave. It might put a rocket up his arse, he might leave on the spot, or he might shrug his shoulders and not take you seriously .... but at least you'll have done something to change the 'thick slow atmosphere' (like that description)

Misskittywhisker Wed 02-Jan-13 01:49:39

Maybe if I were to talk to him about it I'd discover he feels the same way and it would be easy to break up ???? It may be mutual???

Misskittywhisker Wed 02-Jan-13 01:48:49

thank you for your replies - its good to share this with someone - joyless - I think that is the word - it feels like a long suffering silence - I've said before that I'm not happy and he just says that he'll leave - he never addresses the issues or talks about them..... he never arranges any social activity or invites anyone over - I do all of that so really I don't think my life would be much different, except I'd be feeling very poor, I would lose my home, the DD's would have to leave some clubs, but maybe there would be a chance of JOY and that would be like a breath of fresh air - thank you - you are right - I just need to psych myself up to doing something..... everyday I think about it...... it just seems like such a big big step....

izzyizin Wed 02-Jan-13 01:48:01

If you have reason to believe you may be entitled to legal aid, I would suggest you act sooner than later as from April the rules will be changing and it's probable that you will be required to put a considerable sum up front in order for a solicitor to act for you in divorce proceedings.

Many solicitors offer a free half hour initial consultation. If you don't have personal recommendations for solicitors in your area, your local Women's Aid offices, which you can locate here: www.womensaid.org.uk may be able to point you in the right direction.

izzyizin Wed 02-Jan-13 01:42:09

If he's managed to suck the joy of your life, imagine how it must feel for your dc to be living in such a toxic atmosphere.

The danger is that the longer you stay and compensate for your unhappiness by comfort eating and then become less confident because of your weight, the harder it's going to be to break this particularly vicious circle.

As you've been to Relate and got the t-shirt, for all the good it's done you, I suggest you source a rottweiler solicitor who specialises in divorce and family law and make an appointment to discuss what you can expect by way of division of joint assets/financial settlement/child support/reasonable contact arrangements for the dc etc as this may motivate you to end this joyless marriage.

Walkacrossthesand Wed 02-Jan-13 01:40:34

Have you and he ever talked about splitting up? It doesn't sound as if either of you are happy in the marriage... You don't have to be slim to be a happy single person - and if you would be happier apart you might find the weight you've gained would fall off anyway! It's certainly not a reason to stay in an unhappy marriage.

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