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.

My marriage is going down the toilet and I'm struggling to care

(41 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Mon 22-Jul-13 13:50:46

Been married 4 years, together 9. Two v small DC (2&6mo).
Generally have had a 'normal' level of happiness, ups and downs etc. My last pregnancy was hard - I was very unwell throughout (in ITU 3x) and have been in seperate rooms from DH since I was 18 wks preg. Still not sharing a room now - not DTD since conception blush.

Recently we have just been constantly rubbing each other up the wrong way - all the time. Bickering, sniping etc. DD is still in room with me as she's not a great sleeper and I'm ebf and I can't be arsed to walk down the landing and I'm very tired, which isn't helping. DH needs to sleep for work and I'm fine with that.

I have no sex drive. Don't want to DTD with DH but not with anyone else either. Plus, flame me, but I don't like the idea of sex whilst BF. I leak at the slightest thing and it puts me off. DH stopped making advances a LONG time ago.

DH is unhappy at work. Is looking for a new job but nothing around. He is foul to live with and short tempered. I'm beginning to not look forward to the weekends as its easier when it's just me and the DC.

I'm waffling - there's so much more I could moan about say. I don't want to fail at marriage. I don't want my DC to have divorced parents but I'm struggling to care enough to make any effort anymore. Bored. Tired. Fed up. Blah blah.

I'm not suffering with PND - had that first time and I'm not low, I just can't be arsed with walking on eggshells and looking at DH and thinking "when did you get to be such a miserable git"

That was an OP without a point but I just needed to write it down.

I found I had zero interest in sex when bf-ing. The hormones kill off your libido, but it does come back again when you stop. I'm not telling you to stop, but but it might help if you realise this may be a factor in your lack of desire for you DH, and perhaps you could talk to him about that so he feels less pushed out.

I'd really recommend moving back into the same room. A 6 month old baby is a great passion killer, but at least if you are together you can have a bit of physical closeness, and after a bad patch it is often easier to show affection in the dark.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 25-Jul-13 04:06:36

Yes, I quickly built a new career too!

I am hoping he will consider Relate as I'm going to suggest it when we have 'the conversation' that is looming. I hope very much he sees it as a preferable option to carrying on like this/splitting up.

Phineyj Wed 24-Jul-13 20:38:21

I thought that might be the case re routine. Actually the guy I mentioned was married to someone who was ex-forces too. She quickly built a new career though. Maybe women adjust better or maybe the length of service has an effect. It is a shame that often the people who would benefit most from counselling won't entertain the idea of going sad. Would he consider going to Relate with you do you think?

IcouldstillbeJoseph Wed 24-Jul-13 19:53:27

And his ideas about what sort of routine the DC should adhere to would make even Gina Ford twitch grin

IcouldstillbeJoseph Wed 24-Jul-13 19:51:57

I'm ex-forces myself (albeit only 6 years dossing about in the RAF) and I found the transition back to civvy st hard - and I'd worked before I joined, unlike DH at 17. I have spoken about counselling for him before as he struggles so much with people's 'lack of discipline', general 'sloppiness' etc but he wasn't really up for it. I thought he was going to be happy to kick his heels in civvy st until he retires but he's not and this is his second job in 2 years. He seems to think there is a job out there where he will get the same reward as he did from the RN but I very much doubt it. So meanwhile, he is in a bleak mood.

I sound a bit unsympathetic I think. I'm not. Just fed up.

Phineyj Wed 24-Jul-13 19:16:38

I know someone who has experienced a DH leaving the services and adapting very poorly to civvy street (it has a happy ending as he did eventually find a job he enjoyed). Could your DH possibly see a counsellor from Combat Stress? They must see these sorts of adjustment issues all the time. Is it possible also that your DH finds the lack of structure/discipline inherent when looking after small DC a massive challenge because of his background? I had a schoolfriend whose DF was a commander in the navy and he struggled with family life and tended to shout sad.

This is not to excuse him at all but he might respond better to someone from the same background.

I am a bit perplexed by his reasoning re cleaners. There are competent cleaners out there and you'd think he'd want you to have the help.

MillionPramMiles Wed 24-Jul-13 11:08:46

I really do feel for you - some relationships work great before kids arrive. You can be right for each other in one scenario but not in another. Particularly if you've had different reactions to parenthood.

The practical difficulty you have is that if you split up the likelihood is you'll get even less help from your dh than you do now. If he's already feeling unfulfilled by parenthood and isn't engaging with his kids, those feelings may increase if he sees them less.

I've seen friends' lives become very difficult after divorce where fathers lose interest in their children. Equally though, I've seen couples who have managed to achieve genuine shared care of the children, move on to happier relationships with new partners.

Is there any chance of couples counselling (difficult I know with young children - but even 1 hour a week?)

misskatamari Wed 24-Jul-13 11:04:09

It's a hard situation for both of you but it's important to realise that you probably do have the power to fix things. Having a young child is exhausting and it is completely natural to be in this rut. You have acknowledged that there is a problem which is a major step forward in sorting it out. I'm sure if you speak to DH and spend some time together doing things you both enjoy you can work through it (if that is what you want to do).

IcouldstillbeJoseph Wed 24-Jul-13 10:35:11

I think, if I'm truly honest, I think DH is a decent, kind man but we've both lost our way a bit since DC. I have looked on the other threads as suggested and could actually imagine him posting about me, not the other way around! Like I've said before, we are vile to each other in arguments etc.

I guess he gets the final say on the cleaner because he would be paying for it. He basically doesn't think they'd do a good enough job so doesn't want to pay - he said the same reason he wouldn't pay anyone to decorate for us. The seperate bedrooms thing came about as one of the reasons I was on ITU when pregnant with severe pneumonia. The coughing was obviously quite intense and I was so restless (before we knew how bad it was) that we decided he should move. Then it just sort of went from there. He came into my room when DD immediately newborn but she was such a nightmare very unsettled so I ended up bed sharing a lot and we decided again it was safer/easier if he moved back again.

Our relationship was v different before DC. DH was in the Navy and left (after 24 years service) just before DS was born. This is the crux of the 'unhappy at work issues' he hates being a civvy and the rose-tinted specs have firmly descended about his time in RN. Maybe he resents the family a bit. But we were very happy and shared the same interests. I hate the phrase but he 'got me' then, really understood each other. Distant memories now.

MrBusterIPresume Wed 24-Jul-13 04:29:49

OP, I'm sorry you're going through this.

Unfortunately I am in a rather similar situation sad.

Some posters seem to be assuming that your feelings/behaviour are the main problem. However I think it is your DH's behaviour that deserves some scrutiny. I wonder - is your DH basically a decent man who's lost his way a bit in stressful circumstances, or is he actually quite selfish/controlling/manipulative/entitled, so that your feelings are a reaction to his behaviour?

If the former, sitting down and talking honestly might help. If the latter, then some of the suggestions made on this thread so far are unlikely to help and may actually make things worse. Snuggling up on the sofa or "making" yourself have sex with a man who is "unapproachable, grumpy, miserable, defensive, snappy" because he is a self-centred arse would just reinforce his opinion that it is your job to placate him.

Your posts rang some warning bells for me. Why is it your job to make it "nice to come home"? Does he think his happiness is your responsibility? Why does your DH get the final say on having a cleaner when you are the one doing most (all?) of the housework? You say "DH needs to sleep for work and I'm fine with that" - was it DH's decision to move out of your bedroom? Does DH pull his weight in domestic life or does he think being the breadwinner is enough and you should do everything else?

In my case, what my DH calls "indifference" is actually self-preservation. I literally feel sometimes that I have one of those perspex riot shields in front of me to deflect whatever unreasonable behaviour is coming next. I also focus more on my relationship with my children, but in part that is because it is more rewarding - they take, but unlike my H, they also give back. And this my focus on my children comes after years of pouring emotional energy into my marriage, but receiving very little in return because my H is very self-centred. What was your relationship with your DH like before children? Rather than your bond with your children pushing DH out, could it be that you feel more fulfilled by your relationship with your children because your DH is (has always been?) just really hard work?

If you are still arguing and becoming upset, that doesn't actually sound like someone who's disengaged or indifferent. While you need to take responsibility for your own behaviour, it may be that much of your unhappiness is a reaction to his behaviour. You can't change his behaviour, but you can change your own (cliched but true). In my case I have managed to get to the point that I no longer get upset or emotional about my DH's behaviour, by learning to recognise and name the tactics he uses - if he says something provocative I can recognise that he doesn't necessarily mean/believe what he is saying, but is saying it in order to manipulate me. Being able to see through his behaviour like this has dramatically reduced my stress levels, makes me feel more in control and also makes me less short-tempered with my DC's.

You say "he's not abusive", but my suggestion would be to visit the "Support for those in emotionally abusive relationships" thread and take a look at some of the links at the start of the thread to see if you recognise any of your DH's behaviour. You might be surprised.

Oh, and please don't stop breast-feeding if that is important to you - it is just not going to be as simple as that.

arsenaltilidie Wed 24-Jul-13 00:15:51

Sounds like you are behaving like your mother. Will probably end with the same result if "you can't be bothered"

misskatamari Tue 23-Jul-13 20:55:47

It sounds like a very sad situation to be in, but I can understand thins from your DHs side. He loves you, and wants an intimate relationship with you (I don't just mean sex I mean affection etc) and months he has had to sleep alone, have zero sex and watch his wife give all her love and affection to your children. I don't mean to sound bitchy when I say that - I'm just looking at it from his point of view.

It is perfectly understandable for you not to feel like sex and to focus so much affection on your children - however if things go on exactly as they are then your marriage will crumble.

I know speaking to DH will be hard but you must. You need to understand how he feels too - probably lonely and rejected. I'm sure he loves his children but it must be hard being displaced in your affection and as someone above mentioned maybe even feeling unwanted in his own home. Again I am not wanting to come across as blaming you - I just think the conversation might get somewhere if first you acknowledge what he is feeling. Then explain the reasons for your behaviour - that you don't feel like sex because of breast feeding and that you feel awkward about it after it has been so long. If you want to work on that intimacy - tell him you want to get back to a healthy sex life but that you need to take small steps. Cuddles, sleeping in the same bed, kissing - you need the intimacy back and then the sex will follow.

Can you spend some time together just you and DH? Even if its just a cinema trip and a meal - you need to work on your relationship if you want to save it. I know you feel indifferent at the moment - probably as you are both knackered and worn down and stuck in this cycle of non-communication and negativity but I really believe you will regret it of you don't fight to save things. I wish you the best of luck

IcouldstillbeJoseph Tue 23-Jul-13 18:52:39

Thank you so much for such thoughtful, useful advice.

I'm still feeling resentful and a bit angry today so I'm still not going to have 'the conversation' just yet. It will just descend into another row and slanging match. I guess I just need to gather my thoughts and think calmly of all the things I need to say.

I hope I haven't married someone like my father. He turned out to be a total twat and I specifically chose someone I thought was not like him at all. But I guess he wasn't a twat when my mum married him!

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 16:44:51

You're caught between a rock and hard place here aren't you. sad

The ideal solution to this is for your DH to muscle in on you and the DC so that you get more time to yourself, he becomes a more involved father, family life becomes more enjoyable and you're able to reconnect as a couple. I don't know how likely that scenario is going to be though. I wondered if you were preventing your DH from being involved more but it sounds as though he's rejecting it as much as anything. What does he say if you try to talk about this, or does it just descend into a row?

I wonder why he thinks it's your job to make it "nice to come home"? It would have been far better for him to come in, appraise the situation and say something like "tough day? I'll take the children and you can finish dinner" or vice versa. Do you think you've subconsciously chosen a man where you can replay your own childhood?

Because things are tough at the moment, I really wouldn't want you to issue any ultimatums to your DH. I don't think you're ready for the potential consequences if it blows up in your face, and given the volatility of everything at the moment it's likely that it will blow up. So how about trying to appeal to his better nature? Maybe start the conversation with a chat about his work - what he hates about it, what he wants to do to change it, how he thinks he can go about doing that, etc. People are more inclined to listen if they feel listened to themselves. Commiserate with him and tell him you understand how soul-destroying it must be to do a job you hate every day and how much you appreciate him working hard to provide financially for your family.

Then go on to say that you're both having a rough time of things and he's probably noticed just as much as you have that your relationship is suffering. Tell him you don't want that and you've had a think about what you can do to stop the rot - banning all verbal abuse, speaking only politely, making date nights, etc. Ask him for his input and see if he has any suggestions. Then move it on to say you'd love him to be more involved with the DC and that you know he finds it difficult but experience is the only way it will get easier and you don't want him to miss out on having a good relationship with his children because it's become a habit to leave it to you. So many men grow up regretting doing just that.

I don't know if this will work. Sometimes commiserating with each other rather than falling into the competitive "I've got it harder" trap can work wonders, but sometimes it doesn't because the relationship just isn't right. At least if all this fails though you'll be in a position where you know you've tried everything, learned a few things along the way and will be much stronger and positive if you decide to call it a day.

I hope it doesn't come to that though. Good luck with it.

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 16:32:56

Do you let it happen? It can be hard to live with someone who used to be in love with you who is now totally in love with someone else, albeit your own child. You ignore him and you give everything to the children. I can see why you're both unhappy but you need to see why he is.

It's not easy coming home from work and feeling unwelcome. Yes, he said the wrong thing and ideally he would've cheered everyone up etc but you were struggling and he was too.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Mon 22-Jul-13 16:29:33

Thank you so much. FWIW my mother was v suffocating in her love, I'm an only child and when I left home her and my father divorced almost immediately. They had just grown so far apart that, and he was shagging someone else. I am aware not to suffocate my DC like that but I just feel that this time before they go to school is so precious. Never again will I have these toddler days out, feeding ducks blah blah and I just want to make the most of it.

And yes, DH isn't the father I thought he would be. I thought I'd be impatient and have to work at child rearing but in reality it's him that finds it harder. He struggles with DS and normal 2 year old behaviour - expecting far too much of him e.g to sit still at table, use knife and fork, finish whole meal before wanting fruit etc. and then acts as if DS is a naughty boy. He got in from work the other day and DS was lying on floor whinging about something trivial and DD was hot, tired and whingy. I'm also trying to cook dinner. He walked in, appraised the situation and said "maybe one day it'll be nice to come home". Even typing that I'm thinking of the rage it filled me with. I want him to love out family like I do. I want us to just be a happy family. I am besotted with DD - I had PND first time I spent a long time thinking DS hated me. This time I feel 'the love' the bond etc and I'm enjoying it being a totally different experience but sometimes I feel like he doesn't even acknowledge we have 2 children. He doesn't even ever really want to cuddle DD. it baffles me as I can't see how he could possibly ignore her so much.
A friend said the other day that her DC'a bedtime slips as her DH just wants to spend time with them playing etc. that would NEVER happen here. sad

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 16:29:31

One thing I would say is that you will find life much easier if you and your husband face it together. It's hard being a single parent and hard though these days are with tiny children, it's a hell of a lot harder later.

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 16:13:34

Ah, you're not indifferent then - you're retreating behind a facade of it as a means of protecting yourself. That's different.

So what are you protecting yourself from?

You say you love motherhood smile but might it also be the case that you feel overwhelmed a little by it as well? Are you struggling to be a mother and manage everything else on top - wife, friend, daughter, sister, colleague? Are you coping with this by rejecting all the other roles and retreating into motherhood?

Or is the problem your DH? Are you withdrawing from him because his behaviour since your DC's arrival has made it clear to you that he's not the man/partner/father you thought he was and you want to emotionally detach now before your marriage inevitably breaks down?

It could be any number of things, which only you can get to the bottom of, but it would be well worth it.

The only 'stern' thing I'd say to you is be wary of getting 'too much' fulfilment from your children. They have a habit of growing up and being their own people, which can leave you feeling empty and bereft if they've been the sole focus of your life. Children can often grow up to feel very suffocated by being a parent's sole focus, which can result in horrible rebellion or an inability to cope without parental help even as an adult. I'm sure as a loving parent you don't want that. I'm not saying you're doing that either (you sound perfectly normal to me with children as young as yours), but it's something to keep an eye on.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Mon 22-Jul-13 16:02:17

Dahlen - no offence at all, I welcome your sound advice. I do check my phone but just don't spend too much time on it. Mainly cos DS then bugs me to play on it, then doesn't want to give it back, tantrums etc.

I don't want to make anyone vomit but I do feel completely fulfilled by being a mum. I love it more than I ever thought I would. I do have other interests but my DC are my ultimate priority. I strongly suspect DH is not so fulfilled by fatherhood. I have called him a shit father in an argument too, which I know is utterly despicable and untrue.

Ultimately I know I'm neglecting my marriage as a result. I don't want to be single but don't want to be like this either. And yes, you're right, I know indifference is a bad sign. Hence my posting today as we had another spat last night and said more vile things. I felt my eyes prick with tears momentarily and then I just thought 'fuck it' and went back to perusing the Boden sale. That's how I know it's getting bad.

We need to talk it through, I know.

MillionPramMiles Mon 22-Jul-13 15:58:12

With two such young children to look after, broken sleep and cleaning, cooking, shopping etc to do, is it any wonder you don’t feel like sex? However stressed you’re dh is about his work, you have the harder job. I’m not saying what your dh does isn’t difficult or important, it is and of course he is providing financial security (I hope?) but you are ‘working’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’m not convinced that simply stopping breastfeeding is going to fix it. Can you be open with your dh on the areas you need help on and the areas in which he can provide that help? It’s nice he has a hobby but how about he takes the kids for a few hours each weekend so you can have a break? That would also give him time to bond with them. Are there chores he can help with (putting a load of washing on or picking a few things up from the supermarket isn’t too much to ask is it)?

As OP suggests, is there anyone who can take the kids for a few hours so the two of you get a bit of time together, just a drink at the local pub maybe so you can reconnect a bit and both of you can listen to each others problems without the kids interrupting?

Emotional and practical support underpin any relationship as much as physical intimacy, the latter should hopefully return if you both get the former.

(FWIW I found my 12 months of maternity leave to be the hardest year of life. Returning to work (to a senior role in a challenging job) feels like a walk in the park in comparison.)

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 15:57:50

If you can't see an obvious solution to any of these problems, I think the first thing you could do is have a discussion with your DH where you both try to treat each other with politeness, even if you can't manage kindness and warmth. Try to treat each other as you would a colleague if you can't face anything else, but you need to put a stop to the verbal abuse immediately.

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 15:55:23

I hope this doesn't cause offence, but reading your latest posts I think part of the problem is that you have completely ceased to see yourself as a person because you've been subsumed by motherhood. We all do to some extent I think, but if you're not even checking your phone during the day I think you may have it worse.

I don't think the solution to that is to stop BFing BTW. I think you're right about the resentment you'd feel and given that BFing is nature's way of feeding babies, why should you give up doing something perfectly natural, healthy and good for you and your baby that is working?

However, I think it is vital for you to rediscover first your sense of self and secondly your role as part of a couple. If you don't do that soon, your marriage will die and you could find yourself a single parent. Indifference is really the final step; it's worse than hate, and before long you will be past the point of no return - if you're not already. That may not be a bad thing, but it would be awful for you to wake up in the future regretting the fact that you simply let it happen through inertia at a point when you were tired and at a low ebb. If it's going to end it should be because you've made a proactive decision to end the marriage for good reasons.

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 15:46:59

You are having a physical relationship when you bf, so you are getting affection and love. He isn't. I think a lot of women lose sexual desire when they are breastfeeding.

You both sound very unhappy. I can feel for you but honestly, if I was living in the situation as you or as him, I'd feel awful.

You need to talk about it with him without either of you blaming the other and see what you can do to help yourselves.

I do think it's important for each of you to take on board the other person's unhappiness as well as your own.

deliasmithy Mon 22-Jul-13 15:40:55

If you're both unhappy then that's actually an easier starting point to a conversation with dh than a scenario where u are unhappy but he isn't. You need to sit down and have an honest conversation. Find out if you both want to really try and improve things or not.

If it's difficult to see where to start with fixing things a way forward can be to jointly list what you'd like from the relationship, and what are the barriers to achieving that.

notsochic Mon 22-Jul-13 15:40:01

Really don't think stopping breastfeeding is the answer!

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