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DH and I unhappy together, but he is also disabled - WWYD?

(53 Posts)
insicknessandinhealth Fri 04-Jan-13 20:30:28

Where to start? My DH and I are fundamentally mismatched. He is a night owl, I'm an early bird, he is very blunt and doesn't mind who he upsets with his opinions, loves an argument, I am a people-pleaser who hates confrontation. I am messy, he is super-tidy. He has a really quick temper and this never used to be directed towards me physically, but he has recently become physically threatening, and has hit out at me a couple of times.

However, he had a stroke 5 years ago which left him with mobility and speech problems. This coincided with the birth of our DS (I was 20 weeks PG at the time of the stroke), and DH was (naturally) very wrapped up in coping with his own situation and learning to mobilise around the home and to speak again. He prioritised his recovery whilst I got on with parenting our DS and somehow we went completely down our own paths. I had to go back to work (he had no critical illness cover so we didn't get a payout or anything) and what with work, bringing up a child, caring for him - sorting medications, taking to hospital and therapy appts etc - and taking care of the house, home finances, and all of our family responsibilities we have really grown apart. My DS is my little buddy and I get all of my cuddles, affection and company from him. Meanwhile my DH spends his time watching DVDs, reading, and staying up until 3 or 4am and sleeping in til the early afternoon, not interested in joining any of our family outings. I have tried helping him get into a routine, suggesting a structure to his day so that perhaps he could get to bed on time and live in a similar routine to us, but each time he starts off well then quickly lapses into his old ways.

I would say that he is not a natural family man/parent anyhow. I persuaded him to have children. He does absolutely adore our DS, but his own recovery is still his first priority. Most of the time I feel we are in his way, making too much noise and mess, and if it was not for his stroke and recovery I think I would have left long ago. I also worry about the effect that DH's behaviour is having on DS. He sees DH's displays of temper, kicking DS's toys out of his way, swearing, shouting at me (he shouted 'I hate you' at one point today) and I am left explaining to a 5yo why Daddy has such a temper. DH knows that his behaviour isn't acceptable, yet his excuse is that he 'sees red' and can't stop himself. I don't feel like this is a happy, loving family environment for our DS to grow up around. Fortunately he has the example of my Dad to see how men actually can be gentle and loving!

We have discussed the fact that we don't really like one another anymore, but I feel extremely reluctant to separate obviously because I don't feel he would be able to look after himself on his own. We have talked about the situation quite openly and joked that our ideal situation would be him living in a 'granny flat' at the bottom of the garden or something, happy in his own space but with me still able to look after him. I feel as if we are stuck in this situation really.

We live in the same town as my parents, who provide loads of additional parenting support, but I don't feel I can talk to them fully about the extent of our problems. I'm not sure whether I could afford to live alone as the majority of the equity in the house is my DH's and we have a car through his disability living allowance, and I now only have a PT job and don't earn enough to pay the mortgage on my own and would be stuck without the disability benefits that my DH gets.

I also worry about leaving him on his own, as I suspect that he would not be able to cope, but I have tried so hard over the past 5 years to give him the opportunity to be part of the family, but to no avail. He is really not interested. Daily life is enough of a struggle for him without adding parenting into the equation, but I also know that there are disabled parents out there who play an active role in their DCs lives despite their disabilities. I have been nervous about posting about this before as I also fear that people would think I am abandoning him, especially my MIL, who knows his faults but lives far away from us and couldn't provide additional support for him. He has other family too but none live near us, plus he would not want to move out of the area because of a great speech therapist and community speech groups, a few friends he has made locally etc.

I am not sure what to do, but I would be interested to know what people advise or if anyone else has been through this.

It sounds like you'd all be happier living apart (and you recognise that), and he might have a much better relationship with your DS too if he sees him for shorter but more enjoyable periods.

ModreB Sat 05-Jan-13 11:03:36

Just because he is disabled, doesn't mean he is entitled to behave like a knob.

You must separate the behaviour from his physical condition. If he is openly agressive, violent and abusive you have a responsibility to your son to get out of the relationship.

Your DH is an adult, and disabled or not, is responsible for his own behaviour.

ChristmasIsAcumenin Sat 05-Jan-13 11:05:49

I would leave him. The relationship has failed and your caring role has confused the issue for you. I completely understand why (my DP is quadriplegic) but your relationship has clearly failed - you're not thinking of him as your peer, but as some kind of recalcitrant teen you have somehow acquired responsibility for. You can't continue in an adult relationship with this man. People do have happy and fulfilling relationships with serious disability and caring aspects, and this is NOT it.

I completely understand the worry - home carers are generally so rubbish and care homes so dreadful and if you're a carer you have a better idea of the realities of the stuff he will have to go through. That is hard to think about. There are no easy choices there. Leaving him is a hard choice, but if I were you I would make it. If you don't think you deserve happiness and fulfillment, surely you can think that your child does.

I know some other people who've split up but continued the caring role for a while. You can actually get paid to do this if he gets an Individual Budget. That might be a gentler way to disentangle yourself-- slowly back out over a year or so while he gets set up with other PAs. Pragmatically, if the Social are paying you the going rate they are much less inclined to load you with everything and can magically find other resources.

cronullansw Sat 05-Jan-13 21:57:43

Yeah, fuck him, ltb. After all, he's no use to you is he? And five years!! C'mon girl, he should have sorted himself out by now.

You put yourself first and let him rot somewhere. He deserves it, after all, he was fine one day, then had a massive brain injury, he should have got his act back together by now. It's got to be just like shaking off a cold surely? I mean, 5 years, pah, malingering I'd say. As alexanderS said, let his family have him back, I mean, his wife and child, they aren't his family are they? So why should they put themselves out.

- Well, that's what the replies here say. Me? I say the guy is still ill and needs help and compassion, not abandonment. If it were me in this guys terrible position, I'd hope and pray my partner didn't behave like the uncaring, selfish, dismissive responders in here.

Spero Sat 05-Jan-13 21:59:17

I don't think you can have read any of this thread.

Or you are a complete arse.

Darkesteyes Sat 05-Jan-13 22:33:30

Cant help wondering if cron would have posted the same thing if the genders were reversed.

tribpot Sat 05-Jan-13 22:38:50

I think the poor OP expected most of the responses to be of that tone - so at least now she's had one to provide balance smile

In reality many of us who have posted have disabled partners, and thus have a somewhat more nuanced understanding of how difficult it is to be a carer as well as a spouse.

Spero Sat 05-Jan-13 22:38:51

I have no idea. As he/she can't seem to distinguish between abandoning a disabled person and suffering in a violent and abusive relationship, I am not exactly holding my breath for any further pearls of wisdom.

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Jan-13 23:51:21

The thing about him being down the bottom of the garden is that it will put you in the role of carer without any benefit to being within a marriage. Of course he wants that! He'd love it if you lived separately from him but still did everything necessary to make sure he was comfortable. But what about your life?

It strikes me that he is living in a very unhealthy way. Does he ever exercise? Go outdoors? Mix with people? I do appreciate he has mobility and speech problems. I have a close friend who had a stroke who is as independent as he could possibly be - is this your husband's goal?

Spero, you're talking crap. Have you read the thread?

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Jan-13 23:52:28

Sorry, Spero! I meant cronullansw.

tribpot Sat 05-Jan-13 23:54:18

IB, I had assumed in the bottom-of-the-garden scenario, the OP and he would formally separate so that she could get on with her life as a single woman - whatever she chooses that to entail. Whilst providing some caring responsibilities basically the same as if he were an aged parent.

cestlavielife Sun 06-Jan-13 00:13:32

He managed on his own for a weekend. With some level of support he can manage on his own for years.

He has his friends locally speech group, he or you should mmvoe to separate houses so you can both get on with your lives... Having him at the bottom of the garden doesn't sound like a proper split. You would be at his beck and call.

He is quote " not interested" in family . So best he has ds for short bursts and continues his life reading and DVDs some place where op does not have to bearthe brunt of his moods and ds doesn't have to worry about getting his toys kicked. He doesn't have to kick toys. He chooses to do so.

Anyway what does he say?

ImperialBlether Sun 06-Jan-13 00:16:59

It's not that easy, though, tribpot. I just can't imagine most people being able to have a new partner around when their old one is sitting at the bottom of the garden! I'm not sure I'd get involved with someone in that situation, either.

cronullansw Sun 06-Jan-13 07:46:27

spero - actually, I have read the posts in this thread, more than once too, perhaps it's you that haven't.

Do you not think that his 'violent and abusive' actions might, you know, just possibly, be related to the condition he finds himself in these days? The sheer frustration of his body and mind not working how it used to? The desperation of having his previous life ripped away, through no fault of his own? To have to learn to do everything again, to speak, to get around - everything? And you don't think this might leave him, well, seesh, I don't know, maybe a tad irritated about things? And - inevitably, rightly or wrongly - he's going to take this out, as one does, on ones nearest and dearest.

No. You obv don't think this his accident (and lets face it, he didn't have a stroke deliberately did he?) might leave scars?

And you call me an arse?

Those of you, some of whom have posted here, with disabled partners, who still love and care for them are the hero's, rather than the 'this ones broken, let's throw it away' crew.

IMHO there's another word for those...........

So you think they should quick to the status quo then cron? I'm pretty sure the OP came on there looking for support and ideas on how to sort out an unhappy situation, what would you suggest?

tribpot Sun 06-Jan-13 08:19:24

The OP has the right to live without violence in her home. The OP has the responsibility to safeguard her 5 year old son and allow him to grow up free from violence in the home, no matter what the cause of the violence may be.

He sees DH's displays of temper, kicking DS's toys out of his way, swearing, shouting at me (he shouted 'I hate you' at one point today) and I am left explaining to a 5yo why Daddy has such a temper. DH knows that his behaviour isn't acceptable, yet his excuse is that he 'sees red' and can't stop himself

This is unacceptable. This may be a symptom of the DH's stroke, or of the DH's depression triggered by the stroke. It should be addressed by his medical team and not written off as 'just how he is'. But the OP should not attempt to treat this herself. Or live with it.

And - inevitably, rightly or wrongly - he's going to take this out, as one does, on ones nearest and dearest. But if he did it to the postman, or to his doctor, or to someone in the supermarket he'd be prosecuted. A medical opinion would be sought as to the degree of culpability he had and his sentencing would reflect this. Domestic violence is violence.

There are no heroes on this thread. We have all said we would do the same thing in the OP's circumstances. Caring for a disabled partner, particularly with small children, is incredibly hard and extremely isolating. The OP has the right to her own life, and is clearly keen to ensure that her DH can be properly cared-for in his.

I totally agree with you tripot, but suspect the OP will get cron's opinion coming up in RL too, especilly from those without the compassion and patience she's already shown. Just wondering what people of the 'you should stay with him' opinion would suggest, and whether when you call them on it, they'll suggest anything that's in the best interests of all three of them.

Letsmakecookies Sun 06-Jan-13 10:08:30

There is no excuse for 'violent and abusive' actions. Full stop. Why on earth should the OP make herself a martyr for someone who sees red and can't help himself, no matter what the cause. There is no excuse for 'taking it out on your nearest and dearest' that is simply wrong. Honestly, cron's post is a lot of twaddle.

AllOverIt Sun 06-Jan-13 10:17:13

What a horrible situation OP. I agree with the other posters that his behaviour is unacceptable.

My uncle (by marriage) had a brain haemorrhage about 15 years ago and his behaviour became intolerable. His personality completely changed and he became violent and aggressive. My aunt put up with it for 5 years, but in the end it was too much and she left him. It was the best thing she ever did. Her decision was so hard, but ultimately she had to put herself and her DS ahead.

Spero Sun 06-Jan-13 14:07:11

Dear Cron

Yes, I still think you are an arse. I am disabled - it is often miserable, painful and frustrating. But my actions are still within my control. If I snap at my daughter, I apologise and try to do better next time. Being disabled is neither excuse or justification for the kind of behaviour outlined here by the op.

If you can tell me of the time you have put in caring selflessly for a violent, abusive, disabled person, I might give your views more respect, but would necessarily say that what holds true for you holds true for all.

Op has tried and tried very hard from what I have read.

Spero Sun 06-Jan-13 14:08:27

sorry 'not necessarily say'.

Also, there is a child involved here who has a right to grow up in an environment free from this type of abuse and aggression.

I think it's good you've been able to talk with him about how things are as much as you have.

I'm sorry he hasn't been treating you well or reasonably during his angry outbursts. That is unacceptable, but what to do about it ?

I thought it was very interesting that you've joked with him about getting a house with a granny flat so that he could live independently of you and DS to some extent, but you would still be able to support him. If you did do this I think it would be very generous of you in the circumstances. But possibly a good situation in which to be able to put down and enforce some ground rules about his behaviour towards you ?

Some times good ideas can come to us in the form of a shared joke. Could be something worth thinking about more seriously ?

Life seems pretty tough for you and I'm sorry for that. Glad you have DS to brighten your days !

RafflesWay Sun 06-Jan-13 14:30:29

Extremely well put Spero!

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:18:57

I don't think swearing and lashing out is recognised therapy and the OP stated she is not dumping DH or turning her back on him. This happened 5 years' ago not 5 weeks! There will always be a 3rd party bystander who tuts "For shame, what about 'in sickness and in health'?" and doesn't actually know the back history nor current predicament.

The mismatch of two people is at the root of this. Frankly if he never wanted children even before the stroke I can see he would resent attention diverted from himself, whether able bodied or not. My concern fwiw is, if you stay for convenience or appearances now, it will get harder not easier to uproot DS later.

Start looking into separation and try to balance compassion with common sense and respect. Eg Unless you are going to be celibate after you split how will you and exDH live in close proximity, and feel about others coming round, being intimate? Would there be guilt tripping?

3 individuals staying together for the wrong reasons is as wrong as 1 adult bailing out with a 2nd on a whim - which you're not, you are giving this much thought and it's a big step.

insicknessandinhealth Sun 06-Jan-13 16:36:10

I do feel that Donkeys is right, that it is the mismatch of two people. The stroke has not caused a massive personality change at all, as I mentioned he has always been a bit this way inclined. We also have fundamentally different ideas about parenting - whilst I have been the one making most of the decisions so far it is clear as DH's speech improves that he is a bit 'Victorian dad' about most things.

Cron, I do not underestimate the effects of what has happened on his personality - I have been living with it daily for the past 5 years! It is not just me who has expressed a desire not to live together - DH has also suggested he may well be happier, and feel calmer living on his own! It isn't only the person who has the stroke that suffers the effects of it, I can assure you of that. I am also frustrated and desperate, and worn out, but I have to go out to work, cook meals and manage a household on my own. I would have much more sympathy if I was treated more kindly, if someone said thanks a bit more often. Caring is a full time role, and for those of us that actually 'care' about the person we are looking after, doubly so. That is why I am going through this thought process - I haven't just left and abandoned him, and the comments you make should be reserved for someone that has.

I suppose what I am really after is him to live close enough to provide support - I used the bottom of the garden as an example without really meaning it. A flat nearby is more what I meant, so that we can drop in anytime and see him and that we can easily spend a bit of family time together.

Thanks again to all those that have had positive support to give me!

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