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Is my DH just thoughtless or what? Sorry long.

(84 Posts)
Moaningminny Mon 23-Sep-13 08:24:25

I know this isn't a terribly important issue compared to other threads here but I need opinions.
A bit of background- DH and I have had what you'd call a stormy marriage. I had doubts beforehand about our compatability and once we had kids things got worse in some ways mainly to do with differing styles of parenting. I stuck it out then once the DCs had left home we separated and I lived a single life for a while- to think about what I wanted for my next 30 odd years and whether DH was part of that.

DH was devastated that I may never have come back but I focused on his good points, came back and we started afresh. For a couple of years things were better and it was a sort of 'honeymoon' phase. He was thoughtful, brought me flowers and generally tried harder all round. But I set certain ground rules-my career had taken off and now that I was no longer looking after the kids too I wanted a more equal partnership with DH doing more around the house and sharing cooking etc.

I work from home for myself, so of course in between doing my work I'll do some cleaning, gardening, washing and so on. This cuts down on the work I can fit in of course and I'm only paid for what I produce. We have a very traditional set up where he comes in and finds a lovely meal on the table.

I am not happy with this and wanted some changes- I'd no longer iron his clothes but would wash them. I wanted him to make at least one dinner a week- weekends maybe- and do some housework- such as hoovering the stairs which I can't due to my back and lifting a heavy hoover.

But- here's the rub- he doesn't do any of this. I'd given him some slack recently as his mother is very ill and he's had to visit her ( long distance) so I'd managed the laundry for him.

He cuts the grass, puts out the rubbish, and that's it. I do everything else. He'll ask if there is any food we want when he goes into town at weekend. He doesn't offer to shop for and cook dinner.

I am getting increasingly angry with him, and the fact he is really untidy
doesn't help. A tiny example is he uses my shampoo which I keep in a cupboard in the bathroom. I always put it back after I've used it because there are too many bottles etc on the bath already and I have to move them when I clean the bath. Every single time- daily- he uses the shampoo he leaves it out. I remind him daily- he says he forgets.

We have ' the chat' about why I wasn't happy before and he promises to change.

If he read this he'd be shocked because he seems to think he is a good DH. They say divorces can happen over who left the top of the toothpaste and this is what I'm describing almost. I just can't see why an intelligent man gets it so wrong.

I know people might say just stop cooking - he's just make himself beans on toast- he wouldn't cook for me. I don't want a cleaner- there is no need with just 2 of us at home. But he's completely opted out- again- of anything at home.

motherinferior Mon 23-Sep-13 17:57:42

*If I had a skivvy and she tried to leave me, I would beg her on my hands and knees to come back.

I might even buy her the odd bunch of flowers if it meant she did a bit less moaning about what a lazy shite I was.*

This.

It does not, despite your modifications upthread, sound as if he considers the domestic sphere a joint responsibility. This would drive me to acts of unseemly violence, I have to say.

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 17:41:11

You asked if your husband is just thoughtless or whether we thought there was something else behind it.

Lots of people have said he's not thoughtless and that yes, there is something else behind it.

You can maybe cope with people who say it's just him being lazy, or that you are too fussy.

But if you can't cope with people saying that in their opinion and only based on what you say, the 'something else' is more fundamental and relationship-damaging, there's no point in starting this and asking for opinions.

I've got no need to shock you. I don't know you and I'm just not that invested other than to give an opinion to someone who on the face of it, appeared to be after one.

Though I think I'm realising now that this is one of those 'Yes, But' games where someone asks for advice and says "yes, but it's not that/I didn't say that/he loves me really/why didn't you take into account something I've never even mentioned?"

Lweji Mon 23-Sep-13 17:12:27

I think it's fine if only one cooks or cleans, or whatever.

However, there should be a share of overall workload.

If he does nothing, it's a breach of your going back together contract.
Call him on it.

Parmarella Mon 23-Sep-13 17:08:38

I see where you're coming from OP.

THF, buying flowers...I hate it when blokes do that as it usually indicates some kind of guilt or appeasement. I'd rather have someone cook a meal. Buying flowers is such a fake romantic gesture IMO.

My DH is a bit lie yours, and our set up similar (though I have younger kids, and therefore work less for my boss and more "for the family" (housewifely stuff).

DH does not cook, and if I would not cook he would eat microwave burgers, beans or nothing. I have given up that "battle" and only cook when I feel like it (5 days a week) and just do a carton of soup or take away on days I don't. I have said I expect him to do dishes when I cook, which he does (mostly, sometimes need to remind him). It has become a habit now for him to do them. So yes, things CAN change.

My advice would be:
- Don't be a martyr (only cook if you feel like it, go out with friends if you feel like it and leave him to cater for himself, that sort of thing)
- Don't take crap (buying flowers to apologise for general crapness IMO equals taking crap! Yes, thanks for the flowers, now do you mind washing up)
- Pick your battles (the shampoo thing is a small thing that could be ignored IMO)

Moaningminny Mon 23-Sep-13 16:51:07

Tonandfeather
I find your posts very aggressive. You summise an awful lot that is not true. You seem to think you know my DH inside out- well you don't. You also attribute emotions to me that are untrue. I don't know what to say about all of that other than you are wrong and your tone is not at all helpful. Maybe the intention is to shock me into action or a Eureka moment?

The whole problem with trying to explain a relationship is it can't be done in a few lines, online.
It's actually very frustrating when someone reads your posts and says 'Oh it's like this then is it' when it isn't at all.

My first line asked if my DH was being thoughtless or why else would be behave in a way that was one factor in our almost split 2 years back.

There are lots of details I have not included such as his asking if I want to do anything at weekends- and if not he'll go to the gym. As he has been ill for over 2 years and under a neurologist, then I am happy for him to keep up his fitness. It's the one thing that has helped him recover. I put that above chores. I mentioned the gym trips to show how we use our time and how he could still exercise but not spend quite so long there.

What I have gained from this is the sense that I need to talk to him again about his behaviour and give it another shot. He has clearly become too comfortable - but don't think as someone said he is totally sure I'll never leave- not remotely accurate.

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 16:45:09

As the op says, after 30 years and a break-up it's got to be a big deal. Because she knows it's unlikely her husband will change now. I would think the biggest struggle is like a pp has said - owning and acknowledging what that really means.

He broke promises and is now physically absent a lot of the time, choosing not to spend time with his wife even when he can.

From an outsider's point of view, it looks like this man is communicating in foot-high letters.

But I don't think his wife is ready to get the message. Maybe that's not so much about getting the message about her feelings for him, but more to do with misconstruing his feelings for her and therefore, her feelings about herself. If you've been going around for 30 years thinking you were loved and that your husband doesn't want to lose you because of YOU, shifting that perception must be very hard to do, because in turn it alters your view about yourself. That must be very hard and very sad, but in the end it could be quite liberating.

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 23-Sep-13 16:27:47

If I had a skivvy and she tried to leave me, I would beg her on my hands and knees to come back.

I might even buy her the odd bunch of flowers if it meant she did a bit less moaning about what a lazy shite I was.

I guess, Wallace, that the op is wavering between the two stances ie. sometimes it's no big deal, other times it symbolises everything.

TheBadCat Mon 23-Sep-13 16:14:47

I'll ask again, what are you actually looking for with this thread?

It sounds like you've made your mind up and you'd like to end the relationship. Is that right?

If you're looking for a unanimous LTB then you won't get it here. People have different ideas about the how important household chores are, not everyone will agree with your POV. Doesn't mean you're wrong for wanting the relationship to end though.

WallaceWindsock Mon 23-Sep-13 16:09:35

That's the point though isnt it. You either are in a place where these things aren't big factors therefore the relationship is good. Or you are in a place where they are big factors which is what you are saying your relationship is for you. There's nothing wrong with either stance. What you aren't doing is owning those feelings and acting on them. If after 30years you are unable to say "I don't think he's ever going to change but I love him, we have a fantastic relationship apart from this one thing so I'm willing to let it go and make this work" then you need to instead say "this is a big issue to me, I feel it is reflective of DHs general attitude towards me. I don't feel the relationship is good enough for this to become a nonissue so I'm not willing to continue like this and am ending the relationship".

You've talked to him and it hasn't worked, he is clearly of a different mindset to you with regards the home. You feel he isn't pulling his weight. No amount of talking about it on here will provide a magical solution to make him suddenly have an epiphany and start doing all these things you want him to do so you clearly need to own how you feel and act accordingly. You sound so fed up and miserable, that's no way to spend the rest of your life is it? It's in your power to do something about.

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 14:17:04

What isn't 'like that' though?

You left him once. I'd guess there's a backstory to that, but the point is at some point you decided there was a better life to be had. You decided that you didn't love him enough to stay with him and wanted something else. That didn't work out for you for whatever reason and so you came back.

You may have misinterpreted his 'devastation' as heartbreak, when it was just fear of being on his own. He may have misinterpreted your return as realising that you missed him, when it was just fear of being on your own. Only the two of you really know why you wanted to get back together, but look at the end result.

He works long hours, is away from home a lot - but when he is at home he gets involved in stuff that doesn't include you and escapes to the gym for 3 hours on each of his two days off.

He knows what needs to be done in a house because you've told him till you're blue in the face, because he's an adult, because it's FAIR and he also knows doing those things are acts of love.

He chooses not to.

I think you'd be so shocked if you really knew why he was there. I doubt you'd be shocked about why you're really there though, unless you're very self unaware.

When you left/came back you said your career was taking off. Now you say you earn very little.

He knows why you're there. He knows you're scared of going it alone, just as much as he is.

It's why he does nothing. He knows you won't leave.

Reading this with a sinking heart because I am like your DH and my DH is like you. We have a cleaner that has solved a lot of out problems- we both feel we have compromised on the tidiness issue.

Every few months or so, DH will get upset about something I see as peculiarly anal, he sees it as lack of respect for him. I have to say it isn't.
It's probably lack of consideration, I accept that, however, I sometimes just don't think about the shampoo for example!

Sorry that's no help to you op.

mistlethrush Mon 23-Sep-13 14:06:21

You've gone on the 'compromise' and you seem to be doing all the compromising and he isn't. Well put your foot down, stop compromising and get a large bin and clear all his mess that he has left lying around into it. Including the shampoo.

Moaningminny Mon 23-Sep-13 14:02:16

WW- thanks. I see where you are coming from but again, it's your view of it all. I have compromised hugely- the house is not tidy. There is too much 'stuff' and mostly his. I compromise daily on putting up with things he has collected or leaves lying around. He just doesn't care so I am compromising all the time. You can maybe laugh about it in the early stages of a marriage but after 30 years and a break-up, then it gets tiresome. I think you are missing the point- it's not just about stuff and chores. It's about him meeting me half way and taking some interest in the domestic side of things rather than me being treated like his mum. I doubt you'd laugh that off.

Moaningminny Mon 23-Sep-13 13:55:53

I've read what you had to say Tonandfeather and can see why you might think that- but it's not how it is. And I'm not being defensive here saying it's not like that because it's hard to take those comments- it just really ISN'T like that.

WallaceWindsock Mon 23-Sep-13 13:49:53

The PP is right about you being better off apart. In a happy relationship where there is stability you wouldn't interpret leaving a shampoo bottle out as a sign of no respect etc, its the kind of thing that pops up on those "what about your DP drives you mad" threads which are lighthearted. We all do things that wind our partners up. I know that when DP was annoyed last night that I'd forgotten to empty the bathroom bin it wasn't because he thought I had no respect for him. It was just an "arghh you forgot again" thing. Equally DP doesn't cook much apart from bung in the oven stuff because he just has no palate. That isn't his fault and I wouldn't make him cook when we'd both have to suffer through over salted burnt crap. We've worked out between us what we're both happy to do. Have you actually discussed this with him OP or have you just decided what he should do? There are jobs I refuse to do for various reasons and jobs DP refuses to do. I do the ones he hates in exchange for him doing the ones I hate.

I don't know, I think when you are in a good relationship you can laugh about stuff like this, it doesn't become a huge thing which gets read as a sign of disrespect. In fact we were having a tiff at the weekend about something fairly trivial and ended up laughing. I think if you can't envisage that ever happening or you wouldn't be able to let stuff like the shoes go then there isn't compatability. I'm generally way more messy than DP and whilst my array of shoes by the door and scarves draped over every surface drive him mad he doesnt mention it because its not an issue as such, just a difference of taste and expectation. Not everyone likes living in a home with the same level of tidiness and minimalism. I know I'd hate to have everything tidied away, DP would hate everything left out so we meet somewhere in the middle. If either tried to impose their expectation we'd be miserable and you compromise because you love that person regardless of their imperfections.

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 13:15:25

Being blunt, it sounds like you two are together out of a mixture of convenience and fear, not love on either side.

You said you've had a stormy marriage, which is odd really as now it sounds stiflingly dull with two people who would be better off apart.

I don't think he wants you as wife or a person, it doesn't sound like he talks to you much when he is at home.

Plus it's obvious from your posts you don't love him. That's not to blame you if you don't by the way, it's just I think you probably think you should, so you insist that you do.

Much the same for him. He probably thinks after all this time he SHOULD love you. But he's mixing up wanting the package of marriage and housekeeping, for love.

It would be much more convenient after all this time if you did love one another, because he'd struggle on his own for a while without a housekeeper and you'd find money a problem but I think that's what's going on here.

You're both trying to pretend feelings exist that just don't, because it's too scary for you both to go it alone.

Lweji Mon 23-Sep-13 13:04:15

Ok, if you don't want to call it a day right now, agree on a night (or more) when he's making dinner and ask him where's your dinner if he doesn't start working on it.

Put him in charge of hoovering every week.
Set a day for house work, where you split the tasks between the two.

Twinklestein Mon 23-Sep-13 12:49:34

xpost with the OP. From what he said last night, it does seem like you are going to have to explain the whole thing all over again...

Twinklestein Mon 23-Sep-13 12:47:11

While I think blackboards are for children, I do think the OP needs to sit down with her husband with the list of chores & divide up the labour.

It's basically like running a business, both parties need to know what they are responsible for. I also think it would be good for the husband to see the sum total of tasks written down. He then may see how paltry his contribution is.

But I agree that this is really about attitude. I'm sure the OP spelt all this out before.

Moaningminny Mon 23-Sep-13 12:46:55

He doesn't 'expect' me to put his tea on the table- if I am too busy now and then and making myself a sandwich etc, or going out, he's quite happy with beans on toast etc made by him. But he wouldn't ever offer to make dinner. We had an interesting exchange last night- I asked if he fancied X or Y for dinner having got both out of the freezer. His reply was 'whatever is easiest for you'. As the choice was either nice sausages which I always oven bake, or grilled fish, it was not beyond him to cook either. He did ask if I wanted help- but given our history and his 'promises' and knowing how I hate cooking all the time, it wasn't a good enough offer.

I think my only options are an ultimatum and then separate if he falls back again.

And no- he doesn't have any other demands on his time. Leaves home at 7.45, comes back around 6.45, is away on business on average 2-3 nights every 2 weeks. Once he is home in the evening he flops and watches TV or googles men's toys/ sports gear online.

PedantMarina Mon 23-Sep-13 12:45:52

It seems to me that he's perfectly capable of doing what he perceives to be the "manly" chores: gardening, rubbish, car maintenance.

I think you've got entrenched attitudes here that aren't going to shift in a hurry.

Given what others have already pointed out - that you had made a new deal and he's repeatedly broken it, you have to decide what you want to do about it.

AnyFucker Mon 23-Sep-13 12:39:15

<< whooosh >>

point right over head...

peggyundercrackers Mon 23-Sep-13 12:28:53

if all you have to worry about is moving a shampoo bottle or move his shoes then you need to get out more - these are tiny little things and are no indicvative of someone who has no respect for someone else - they are obviously insignificant to him - and to most other people it has to be said.

Earlier on you say there is no room for the shampoo bottle on the bath which implies there are already other bottles there - why does 1 more matter?

motherinferior Mon 23-Sep-13 12:23:12

Well, if she LTB the OP would get a lot more work done, live in a rather nicer home and not have to be someone else's unpaid skivvy...

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