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.

Really fed up with DH - mid life crisis type post - long

(355 Posts)
BoffinMum Thu 04-Apr-13 19:08:38

So, DH has a long history of being a bit of a grumpy old sod at home more often than not when it suits him, and lying in bed at every opportunity (at the weekend it's usually more or less all morning, plus at least a 2 hour nap in the afternoons, plus slipping upstairs for a bit more of a lie down at regular intervals whenever I am not looking). I have pointed out he is doing less and less with us as a family, that we have become a very stereotypically gendered household in some respects, and that he might be depressed but he replies:

1. No he isn't, He is just tired.
2. He works hard and commutes to London (NB I also have a full time job and commute to London, he replies his commute is half an hour longer each way and I get to work from home sometimes).
3. He needs more sleep than me.
4. He does some of the washing and cooks once a week or so.
5. He earns more than me which makes his job more important to propping up the lifestyle of the family.
6. Two weekends out of three in term time he takes the older two to the local station on a Saturday morning to get the train to school (20 minutes there and back, then he goes back to bed).

(I have posted on here in the past about the rampant hypochondria linked to the lie downs, but luckily that has now diminished to more or less tolerable proportions since encouraged by MN I told him to man up and that there was nothing wrong with him, although he did strut about in front of our Christmas day guests with a thermometer thingy in his ear at one stage, so the hypochondria has obv not gone completely).

Now he lost his dad a couple of weeks ago, and the funeral was yesterday. I have been doing all the necessary propping up and wifely support that you would expect and which is only right. However his reaction to this is like an extreme version of his normal-lying-in-bed-complaining-all-the-time-not-doing-much-with-the-family. When his mum died a few years back it was also extreme. I think it's probably not an exaggeration to say that he copped out of family life for an entire year on that occasion (I remember speaking to relatives about it for advice at the time, I was so exhausted and fed up). I had five, repeat five bereavements of my own during the same period, including one of my closest, dearest relatives, but they were more or less ignored because he was so wrapped up in himself and his own grief.

I am really worried I am facing another year or so of doing all the heavy lifting for the family emotionally and domestically while he disappears into his psychological defence cave. I am not sure I have anything left to give. Over the last year or so I have felt suffocated by his moods and needs for lie downs, absolutely suffocated, and imprisoned in the house while we wait for him to wake up/get up/get dressed/get washed and join in. It's like we are all perpetually in limbo, and when we do get out, he's such a wet weekend it's no fun any more. I struggle to do the whole thing on my own as my mobility isn't the best.

He never volunteers to take the kids to the park, play with them or anything - if I don't nag him or do it myself the 3YO would basically spend all weekend indoors more or less entertaining himself, and the older ones would just sit in their rooms. He does however run around in a complete frenzy on a Sunday evening at 9pm in an attempt to find their PE kits and get them to complete their homework, at which time we are all completely frazzled frankly.

When he is at home, DH disappears off regularly and if he's not in bed, after half an hour or so he will appear and say things like 'well, I've tidied the kids's rooms/tidied our rooms/put everything away' very proudly, when the reality is that this is a 5 minute job stretched out to 30 as I have already usually spent the morning on domestic tasks, and he is actually multi tasking in the most inefficient way possible - dabbling about doing a bit of a job here, a bit of a job there, never quite finishing anything, criticising the way I organise the house. If he runs out of these pointless domestic tasks to occupy himself, that's when he goes off to lie in bed for a bit, rather than do something with the kids.

I have tried playing his lying in bed game as well, to see what happens, but basically the kids just end up rather neglected and start fighting, and he gets even grumpier.

I am really exhausted with all this. It is not what I got married for, tbh. I have just snapped at him and told him to 'see a fucking counsellor FFS' blush and while I apologised straight afterwards, he has now driven off in a sulk to get away from the house. I am not getting what I need emotionally from this marriage at the moment, at all.

Oh dear, what on earth do other people do in this situation?

joanofarchitrave Thu 04-Apr-13 23:22:19

He sounds classically depressed and probably has been since that first bereavement. You sound almost at the end of your tether. Are you getting any help for depression on top of the ADs? Is the dose right?

I think you should state to him that you are convinced he is very depressed, that he has seemed to be that way since the death of his mother, you are concerned about him and that you want him to go to the GP, talk to his occupational health service if any, and request help and keep requesting it until he gets it. And then I think you should say that you are struggling to be the wife he needs, that you need some help yourself and you are going to get it.

Could a parent of yours or other relative or friend drop everything and come and stay with you for a fortnight, so that you don't feel you're alone in harness and you can do some fun things with another adult there? Can you move into a separate bedroom for a bit, or sleep with the kids so that he can have his space for sleep (actually tbh so that you can be free for a little while?) Next time he starts on about his sleep diary, ask him 'do you have a feel for how long you will need to chart sleep for - do you notice things improving at all?' Keep banging away at the idea of a sleep diary being a short-term measure to identify problems, not a hobby (or at least not a hobby you're prepared to share).

I do think that parental bereavement is a major issue and he does deserve support from you. It is not unheard of to have lie ins and naps as a parent blush. It is not OK for you to struggle on with this all alone until... what? you crack, or leave?

Charbon Thu 04-Apr-13 23:22:20

Does his boss have to remind him to do everyday jobs BoffinMum? If he fails to do them, does he blame him or her? To the person's face?

Or is it just at home that he has learned to be incompetent?

AnyFucker Thu 04-Apr-13 23:22:58

Then he blames you for his fuckwittedness, double win for him

This learned helplessness is just manipulation on his part

schobe Thu 04-Apr-13 23:25:59

I guess if you are not prepared to LTB you just need to get analytical.

Ensure that all the things he is meant to do will result in something highly aversive to him if he 'forgets' and, if you're feeling kind, very reinforcing for him if he succeeds.

'Don't shoot the dog' by Karen Pryor is a handy manual.

Or you could accept that you actually only have 3 children, not 4, and that life is in fact too short. <Sorry, I did say I had PMT.>

LondonNinja Thu 04-Apr-13 23:26:11

He sounds ill - depression or something more fundamental. Has he always been like this?

Can absolutely see why you're being driven mad btw. It sounds exhausting.

BoffinMum Thu 04-Apr-13 23:27:26

I am off to bed now, alone luckily as he is at the other house. I will think about all this and come back tomorrow. Thanks so much for all your thoughts, everyone. xx

schobe Thu 04-Apr-13 23:27:58

SGB always comes along and says what I'm secretly wanting to yell.

However, it is so easy to say and my life is far from perfect too.

AnyFucker Thu 04-Apr-13 23:29:09

One's own life/relationship doesn't have to be perfect to acknowledge this bloke is a dick of the Highest Order

Charbon is making a lot of sense.

He sounds like a lazy fuckwad to me.

DH has some tendencies towards this too. I stopped waiting for him and started planning and doing things with the DDs at weekends. We really did leave him behind, mouth hanging open, about half a dozen times. Now he comes with us and even plans things himself for us to do (that way the family does what he wants grin instead of what I want. He's figured it out, bless)

He is "on the front foot" family-wise now, engaged, participating, interested. only every once in a while he slides back to his old ways and disappears back into his man-cave, watches telly and drinks all night and then is useless the next day... in which case I send one of the DDs to jump on him around 11am and make as much noise as possible grin

schobe Thu 04-Apr-13 23:30:14

A 'doho' if you will.

pollypandemonium Thu 04-Apr-13 23:43:58

I thought at first he might be suffering from depression but now I think he's just being lazy. There are so many men like this, and mostly probably those in their mid 50s who perpetuate this pointless housework/family work conflict because they refuse to co-operate equally.

But as a last resort excuse, I wonder whether the bereavements have made him regress slightly into his parents shoes. When we lose our parents we lose a large chunk of our cultural history and I wonder whether he feels some subconscious pressure to revisit his parents cultural values?

Whatever the reasons he is behaving like a retired old man.

I must say I am very sad to hear this coming from you Boffin, as you are one of the nicest, most well balanced and intelligent people on here. You don't deserve to be made miserable.

How long have you been together?

pollypandemonium Thu 04-Apr-13 23:49:57

DOHO grin

CalamityKate Thu 04-Apr-13 23:58:51

See reading threads like this always leaves me wondering if I'm just a bit intolerant because I would NOT be able to tolerate what you've described for more than a few weeks. If that.

I would fall out of love. I know I would. I couldnt carry on loving someone so wet and miserable and lazy. I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

BoffinMum Fri 05-Apr-13 08:10:29

Polly, thanks for the compliment. I try to be a reasonable person and balance up my natural diva tendencies for the sake of the rest of society. Perhaps on here I have managed it in some small way. wink

We met in 1996, got married in 1997, had first DC in 1998.

His mother did a lot of afternoon naps and moaning about her health. I think he may have picked this up from her. Eventually she got a 'proper' health problem and nobody believed her for ages because she had cried wolf so often.

DrGarnettsEasterMixture Fri 05-Apr-13 09:20:47

Was really shocked to see this was you BoffinMum-you don't know me, but I've always enjoyed your posts (and would never have had you down as a diva! ;)) It does sound like your DH has learned this kind of behaviour from your MIL, and it's clearly really damaging your relationship and family life, and has been for some time.

I am ok with how DH and I split the housework-he does all the laundry, I do the cooking and we have a cleaner once a week for a proper clean but I did have a meltdown last week about the ongoing stuff-wiping the kitchen surfaces, hanging coats up when we get in, shoes on the rack etc. It was only me doing those things, so if I wanted to keep on top of it (small house, so can look cluttered/messy very quickly) I was hanging his coat up, putting his opened post in the letter rack after he'd abandoned it, putting stuff away in the living room when we went to bed at night so it was tidy when we got up the next morning etc. I had asked him to do stuff, and he'd do it once, then never again. So I told him the truth-that I felt like I had two children, and that he was one of them. How bloody relentless and depressing it is to clean the kitchen in the evening, then get up the next morning to find he has made a sandwich and there is butter and crumbs smeared over the surface, the bread left open to go stale, milk drips on the counter and his plate sitting on top of the dishwasher. That I was dreading the Easter holidays, because it wouldn't be a holiday for me, it would just be more time in the house for him to make a mess that I had to clean up. That I had a little daydream that he would have a work course that sent him away for a week, because it would be so much easier to keep on top of things if he wasn't there blush He was absolutely shocked and horrified, and embarrassed. He said he knew I had routines for me and DS, and he'd just left me to get on with things and thought it was ok that he didn't follow the same routine hmm I pointed out that with three of us in the house, 50% of the adults creating mess and not clearing it up was clearly going to have an impact.. He had absolutely changed-seems to get it at last, and it's quite a turnaround for me to be able to sit and read in the evening, knowing that we've both spent ten minutes tidying/cleaning, and the house is in order. I hope things will stay this way, and if they don't, I'll have no hesitation in reminding him. But for now, that's good enough for me.

We had something similar with DS when he was very tiny-DH would take him so I could have a lie in, and I'd get up to find DS in the (wet) nappy he'd been wearing all night, his pyjamas, lying on the floor while DH was lying on the sofa in the living room with the curtains closed watching an action film. Now DH gets that giving me a lie in means taking DS, but also getting him changed, dressed, breakfasted, opening the curtains downstairs and then playing with DS/taking him for a walk/putting him down for a nap when he's tired. I don't much like having to spell out every single step of the process, but it does seem that once I have done, DH will absolutely do all of the steps. I'd love for him to take the initiative more, but he has actually planned a family day out for May, so we're getting there!

I suppose the difference is that your DH isn't taking any of your conversations on board-not just that, but he's actually turning it round to make it your fault hmm Do you think you could shock him into seeing how little he is contributing, or is he so self-absorbed that he'll twist it to make it your fault anyway?

BoffinMum Fri 05-Apr-13 09:27:54

DrGarnett, I nearly name changed and then I thought sod it, it's not my fault I need advice from the MN Massive, and anyway, I have some good friends on here.

I think he will twist it. I have been pretty clear to him that his behaviour us unacceptable but he just starts to say I am treating him like a school child, or lists my supposed misdemeanours, or stomps off until I have to apologise to keep the peace. He is not getting it. Absolutely not getting it.

I am reluctant to go to Relate as he'll just do the same there. I can imagine him sweet talking some counsellor with his charm and going on and on about the need to comprise and be considerate to each other, not realising he has been taking advantage for a very long time.

MavisGrind Fri 05-Apr-13 09:30:53

Morning Boffiin. TBH the more you post about your H the more he sounds like my DH. I don't think there's a lot you can do about him really. He might go down the route of 'sorting it all out' but in my experience he may well concentrate on elements that aren't contributing to the fact that he's a tool to live with IYSWIM.

My X spent years in therapy but if it helped him personally it made absolutely no difference to our home life. Sorry!

midgeymum2 Fri 05-Apr-13 10:18:48

Hi op. You sound like a sensitive, caring and rational person. I think that if someone with these traits is resenting their partner's behavior to such an extent that even the death of his father doesn't generate understanding then things have to change. I can see why you feel like this but it is not healthy for you. For me I need a partner who is fully 'in' the relationship, this halfway house is no good for anyone. If you were employing him presumably he would have got his p45 ages ago?! You need to put it to him that things need to change and be specific and give times or dates by which he needs to be in a position to be a fully functioning family member. If you love him you could sit down, discuss the thing that are important to both of you and decide the timescale together and write it down. This might give you an opportunity to identify which issues are medical, due to, depression or grief and which are simply down to lazy or selfish behavior. I think you need to feel his willingness to change. You cant make a marriage alone it needs to be a partnership - that's the whole point.

NatashaBee Fri 05-Apr-13 10:34:54

Bereavement or not, he sounds very difficult to live with. Personally I'd make a 'housework graph' and show it to him every time he goes on about his 'sleep graph'. I would start by making a list of everything that needs to be done at the weekend and dividing up the tasks, so he can see what share of the housework he's taking on.

BoffinMum Fri 05-Apr-13 10:56:16

Midgey, I have sat him down a lot and tried to tell him all this stuff lovingly but it hasn't really got me anywhere, really.

I do think bereavement counselling might be very helpful for him as he definitely has issues and he would be the first to admit that. Plus he found the body on this occasion. So that would freak anyone out. That might start him on the road to a more positive home relationship generally, you never know.

BoffinMum Fri 05-Apr-13 10:57:08

Midgey, you are right about marriage needing to be a partnership, and I haven't felt this one has been like that since I had DS3, I think.

PlainBefuddled Fri 05-Apr-13 10:57:33

He sounds like my friend's DH who was clinically depressed. He went on ADs and there has been a marked improvement.

wetsand Fri 05-Apr-13 11:01:02

Spending an excessive amount of time in bed, combined with bereavement, sounds like depression to me (it was for me).

www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/depression.aspx This is a depression self-assessment from the NHS. Try gently suggesting that he completes it.

Physical exercise helps. So try going out for a walk or a bike ride at the weekend.

Try a walk somewhere nice where you can stop for a coffee and a cake en route. Make a plan the night before, such as what time you will leave and what time you will all get up to be ready for that time. Then make sure you do it at that time! It will help him get out of bed, and the exercise will do you all good.

DIYapprentice Fri 05-Apr-13 11:58:11

I'm sorry, but all of those saying 'depression' - pfft to that. He has a LONG history of doing this, but he can get his lazy arse out of bed to go and do his amateur dramatics???!!!

No, there may be some mild depression that might make it harder, but I really doubt there's major depression here. He's just a lazy arse who has worked out how to play his wife to get exactly what he wants, and that's to do fuck all work in the house.

Boffin - what do you want to happen? You need to be clear about that, and not just have some vague 'I want things to be better' ideal.

You need to set down specifics because just 'talking' to him hasn't worked for many, many years.

What's the first thing? Do you want your own sleep in? Do you want him to have less naps during the day? Do you want him to do more housework - therefore some specific chores that could be allocated to him? Do you want to have a choice as to what is on the TV sometimes?

You need to set some small goals/lines in the sand, and see how it goes. If he doesn't show willing to do even some small things, then I think you have your answer as to whether he loves and respects you (and you need BOTH love and respect) enough for the marriage to work. If he can't tackle some little things, you haven't got a snow flakes chance in hell of him being willing to tackle the larger issues.

AvrilPoisson Fri 05-Apr-13 12:46:13

i was thinking about this last night Boffin, and I too had been surprised this was your thread. I wondered whether you DH's excuse would be similar to mine when I raise issues, that he doesn't do things because it wouldn't. Be the way that I wanted them done. I am a highly organised, efficient person, as I believe you are (well, tbh I have learnt plenty from you, via your posts, blog etc), and he is the complete opposite, absolute architypal absent minded professor type.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now