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.

how do you know when to call it a day?

(46 Posts)
youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 21:45:01

feel like I am struggling with some things that are not quite enough to end up a relationship but also feel utterly miserable. we have 2 young children and I feel really sad at the thought of breaking up their home. And losing my once-best-friend. Please look at this and tell me what you think

- we row all the time. Recently. I have lost all patience with him (and pretty much everything else to be fair. I am exhausted) and do not pander. I believe that a lot of our problems are down to me not pandering to him (right now) but he would never see it that way.

- he does not respect me. I work very hard (I think) and am very tired, isolated and sad. He can see that I am very tired but regards me as more a bit flaky than someone who is really putting the hours in. I have often been quite sad that I don't have a cheer leader at home. No matter what I do I never get "well done". Maybe - I am sure - others do more. but I do my best. I am not robust and feel like I am being judged against some hypothetical others who are, rather than against my limitations.

- I can't talk to him. I gave up booze because I had a drink problem and did not talk to him about this. I can't talk about work problems, or my many millions of utterly tedious health problems. I tried to open a conversation about whether I could work less - thinking it might be an open ended thing about money, practicalities, long term goals, etc and got "well that is a question for you, isn't it" and he just changed the subject. I don't think it is a question just for me. I can't even talk about the basic business of household practicalities. He hates me talking about them.

- I am irrationally furious that he thinks he is a domestic and parenting god but there are many things he never actually does properly and I have to finish them. I am not allowed to mention these (see point above)

- he thinks that all our problems are to do with my mental health issues

- when I have, or get close to, a nervous breakdown I feel very guilty and isolated as I do not feel he is on my side. I do realise that this is not an objective point about him but about how I feel

- he has absolutely refused to talk to me at all now for 2 evenings although he knows I am very upset

- I do not watch anything I choose or listen to anything I choose except in a room on my own with headphones or when he is out. I feel stupid and exposed choosing TV or movies or music and will never do this. He does not realise this. He has never noticed I do not choose anything except when he is slagging me off for making him choose all the entertainment. Which I appreciate because he puts on really good stuff. But I do worry that I am basically extremely inhibited with him because he is so superior. I love my kindle because he never knows what I am reading

- we do not have sex. We used to have an implicit understanding that it was because I was too tired post dcs. I challenged this and it is actually because he can't be arsed. We do not sleep together. I do not like his snoring and I don't like being unsure whether we are going to have sex because I will usually be rejected and in a state of frustration. I find it easier to switch the whole thing off.

Things I like:

he is clever
he used to be nice to me
he brings loads of cool music and films and tv into the house, for me and the dcs
he spends a lot of time with the dcs and I could not do my commute / work without him
we used to get on really well and he was the person I most enjoyed spending time with
he is the father of my lovely children and they love him

Of the whole list of things I put that I don't like, the ones that really bug me are the ones that amount to a lack of respect for me. that is what I can't bear.
I feel like he is contemptuous of me for things I can't help, and doesn't notice so many things about me that are good

Is this come-backable? or not?

I feel so sad

mammadiggingdeep Tue 15-Oct-13 21:48:33

I think it's get back able if you want it to be.
Do you want it to be?
Have you had counselling? Alone? Together?

I think you could benefit from it and explore if you can communicate better.

Sorry you're sad. Holding your hand x

youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 21:51:35

I do want it, but I can't live without some respect and affection and I can't make him give me those. I know that. I can try to live without them but it is not sustainable and is what makes us row

runningonwillpower Tue 15-Oct-13 21:57:54

It sounds like you are a couple who had a lot going for them but you've lost your way.

Maybe he needs a wake up call?

Maybe you both do? I know that when I've had issues in my marriage I tackled them only to be astonished to hear his issues.

You are at a crossroad. You need to recognise that as a couple. Not your fault, not his fault - just the best way forward.

And maybe counselling is the best thing if you both want this to work.

Handywoman Tue 15-Oct-13 22:00:48

youretoast it's hard to say whether this is come-back-able but it does sound very familiar (right down to the 'he brings cool music and movies into the house). In my case there was a distinct lack of contributing to the house and kids, plus a layer of anger threaded throughout.

If this relationship is not "good enough for you" then that is all the justification you need. The only person who can decide this is you. You do sounds as though you are not emotionally close, and there are clearly big communication issues (you know that). Have you tried to address these issues in the past? If so, how?

Sorry you are feeling lonely and knackered. I have been there and it's miserable thanks

youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 22:04:46

what happened with you, Handywoman?

I think I have gone about this the wrong way by telling him that as he is refusing to communicate with me at all I will be seeing a solicitor. At the time I felt utterly powerless and just thought: I can't live with this. Since then I have thought: if this was saveable, a solicitor won't save it, nor threatening one. but I can't make him behave as if he loves me, can I? I mean respect and affection. so I may as well get out? too sad, don't want it to be like this, what else can I do? and by what else can I do, I don't mean I am looking for advice as to how to pander to him so he will be comfortable enough to stay, that comes naturally but then I blow. I mean how to get from him what I need to be a nice and decent person back in return so we can be happy long term

Handywoman Tue 15-Oct-13 22:11:33

this happened to me (NC'd and this was me at the absolute end of my tether after trying to keep all the balls in the air).

You sounds like you've tried to address it before, how many times? What other tactics have you used?

Totally know what you mean about having nobody to cheerlead for you at home. I felt like this the entire time after our kids were born.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 15-Oct-13 22:11:36

I think you need to talk, talk, talk and talk some more.

Just as you are feeling things he has no idea about I bet he is too.

He is probably not being affection for what he considers to be a valid reason. He may be hurting as much as you. You've drifted and sounds like resentment has grown between you.

Could you find some time, just you and start to talk. Tell him this is the cross road and you need to talk xx

Imsosorryalan Tue 15-Oct-13 22:12:26

Before anyone jumps in with LTB I'd like to suggest some councelling, either together or apart. I think this will help both of you reconnect with what you both want. It may also help to have a third party involved. If it doesn't work and you decide to separate, at least then you know you gave it your best shot. thanks

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 15-Oct-13 22:15:19

Do the "used to"s outweigh the current state?

No warmth, no sex, not a couple more like housemates. How can you be in a relationship with someone you can't share things with or talk to?

Couples can be two polar opposites but still get along and respect each other.

Bottom line is you don't sound happy. If he were at all interested he'd recognise that and try and put things right. He's critical and you feel you have to measure up or make yourself invisible. You know he can be good company and loving because he was once that way with you and now you see him like that with the children. So what changed and when?

Does he seem satisfied with how things are?

Your DCs will still see him and spend time with both of you if you are no longer a couple.

If you believe this is our only life not a rrehearsal then make the most of it, now, make time to talk to him and ask if he feels this is working.

Glenshee Tue 15-Oct-13 22:17:00

Given you practically don't talk, I would also suggest counseling. There's so much stuff that is bothering you and that you can't share with anyone - discussing it with a counselor will help you see how you can handle that - i.e. some stuff surely can be shared and discussed with friends, some stuff should be shared with your DH (but in a constructive way - counselor can help you articulate it), some stuff may well be shared and dealt with just the counselor. If your DH is stonewalling you for days on end then surely you can't realistically expect support and understanding from him at this moment in time - but being left without support entirely is not healthy! You have to do something about it for your own sake.

Joint counseling would be a natural next step, when your self-esteem is higher, and when you separate serious issues from minor frustrations in your own mind...

I don't think you can make decisions in terms of what your chances are in this kind of state, when you don't talk to each other. I think you need to get to a place where you're both prepared to discuss the issues. Obviously if you can't get there during a set period of time, then you might as well give up and call it a day.

youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 22:21:19

Thanks everyone
thanks Glenshee that was nice and sane.

I do suffer from bottling things up. I don't see a lot of my friends these days and I don't like to be disloyal to dp either. spoke to someone this evening for the first time ever about this and it was so nice.

I think I might have too high hopes pinned on counselling because I don't think dp is ever going to see my POV. I think I imagine a big kind rational objective judge is going to mediate everything I have ever wanted to say and it will suddenly become hearable to him. I don't think this will ever happen, but I agree we should try

I don't know how to go about it and right now I am exhausted

youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 22:24:04

Thanks for sharing your story, Handy.
dp is not angry and snappy like your dh. I can see why you needed to be out of there. I hope things are working out well for you and the dcs? There is a great sense of calm in some of your later posts. hope things are good for you all.

omuwalamulungi Tue 15-Oct-13 22:33:09

"he used to be nice to me"

This is so sad OP. I know that you know that or you wouldn't be posting, but you deserve someone who is always nice to you.

I have no real advice, but you sound so unhappy. I hope he will go to counselling with you. Maybe it would be helpful for you to go alone, even if he won't.

flowers

youretoastmildred Tue 15-Oct-13 22:48:46

thanks
I don't think I am a very nice person. I think maybe I have a personality disorder. I get very angry sometimes.

omuwalamulungi Tue 15-Oct-13 22:59:18

I am not surprised you feel angry when you have no outlet. Your partner is supposed to be your outlet. They are supposed to let you vent at them when you need to, understand it isn't personal, then help you deal with it.

A counsellor can help you to make sense of everything, I am seeing one and she's been so helpful to me.

If you were not a nice person, you wouldn't be worrying about how to be a nicer person. People who aren't nice don't care.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 15-Oct-13 23:14:39

You have mentioned feeling close to a nervous breakdown and mental health issues yet you evidently hold down a demanding job in spite of many millions of utterly tedious health problems. You were able to stop drinking which took strength, did your drinking begin before you met him, or after? Was he used to holding things together if you were incapacitated?

Is the family dependent on your salary alone, does he work, is he a full time SAHD?

He can see that I am very tired but regards me as more a bit flaky than someone who is really putting the hours in.
I feel like he is contemptuous of me for things I can't help

That coupled with not talking to you for two evenings' running doesn't sound like he is responding to you. It doesn't sound particularly gentle or understanding. There is an undercurrent here of you having to placate him or make things up to him.

I'm glad you spoke to someone tonight, it hurts to feel isolated. A counsellor could be helpful.

wordyBird Tue 15-Oct-13 23:36:51

Lack of respect and continuous undermining chips away at a relationship. Until one day, there's nothing left.

I think this is where you are, and here's why..

...whilst in a supposedly loving relationship, you feel tired, isolated and sad. You feel that you're being judged against others and you fall short. You have awareness of your limitations (we all have them: but underminers love to point them out and keep you aware of them all the time. They rarely admit their own failings.)

......he won't talk to you about anything at all, including even the basics of running the house. It's all for you to sort out.

....you're inhibited with him because he sees himself as superior. You don't even feel comfortable choosing films and TV in front of him.

.....you have no sex, he sulks, and he thinks the only problem in the relationship is you and your mental health.

But problems with mental health are almost inevitable in a relationship like this. Your husband is controlling what you watch on TV, what you talk about, and expecting you to run the household and handle all your problems with no useful input from him. Worse, he's actually undermining you and making you feel judged and isolated.

These are not little or insignificant things. They will drain the life out of you: and then out of the relationship.

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 12:00:45

He doesn't leave everything to me to sort out. He sort of half-heartedly sorts it out and then won't talk to me about what he is done or why he has done it. we have been trying to unpack since moving house in the summer and every time I get somewhere with sorting out the dcs' stuff, he moves everything around, in a way I don't understand, and won't say why, or where I should now be putting things, or explain why it is better than what I had done. and I can never find anything. It is not as if he does nothing.

the drink problem was not the kind where I was always passed out. I have never been drunk around the children, which is not exactly hard as they are small and go to bed early. It was the kind of drink problem where I could not stop drinking and would have too many hangovers, not the kind where you drink every day or drink in the day time. Maybe not a "proper" drink problem but it was quite proper enough for me and I don't know where it would have gone and I am happy to have (I hope) knocked it on the head.

DippyDoohDahDay Wed 16-Oct-13 12:22:16

Op, can you ask your gp to refer you the local mental health team? I mean this as an aside to your relationship issues. It looks like you have some insight into your personality and have done some contemplating. If you did get a diagnosis, you might start to find yourself easier to manage and then regain some assertiveness with your husband. Just a thought, I identified with your posts and this route has helped me. Best of luck.

Well it all sounds horrible to me actually.
I read this as he 'stonewalls' you a lot.
He won't talk to you.
He doesn't respect you at all.
And he may well be 'gaslighting' you as well.
I'm sorry but in your list of what you do like;

he is clever - No he's not if he can't even communicate effectively and if he can't even see that his behaviour and stonewalling is having a negative impact on you.
he used to be nice to me - 'used to'!!! So shouldn't be on the list
he brings loads of cool music and films and tv into the house, for me and the dcs - FFS - this is just material stuff
he spends a lot of time with the dcs and I could not do my commute / work without him - that is something
we used to get on really well and he was the person I most enjoyed spending time with - 'used to' again so should be on the list
he is the father of my lovely children and they love him - they love him!

Do YOU love him.
From your nice list - he doesn't bring anything for you into the relationship. Doesn't show you love and affection or respect.
Other than looking after the kids so you can work - what does he bring to the relationship/family???
You need to think about this.
I think you have left a lot of out of your OP and I think your mental health would be much better without this man in your life.
Sorry.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Oct-13 15:30:27

I know we only hear one side of the story.

Perhaps he doesn't know how to live with you. From what you've said things used to be good between you, you called him your best friend. Did things deteriorate when the first baby came along? Was he reluctant to give up the role of breadwinner?

Sharing stuff with DP should be second nature. I find it striking you never discussed your concerns about drinking.

Half-heartedly with regard to domesticity sounds like a stroppy ten year old or sullen teen not a grown man. Certainly no domestic god.

I don't know the ages of your young DCs but they'll pick up on how Daddy treats Mummy and think is normal. Worse, as they get older there is a strong possibility he will get them onside and it'll be Us vs Mum. This sounds implausible but it happens. And if you shrink from counselling the scary thing is, you will start believing this is all your fault and deserve no better.

Hold onto friendships. If you have mutual friends be prepared for his version of what is happening. If you become solitary it is too easy for him to play victim, "See what I have to put up with".

The vast majority of people aren't one dimensional monsters. If someone is unhappy it can look to the outside world like a mountain or a molehill.He may be struggling too. But you wrote here so we're talking to you.

youretoastmildred Wed 16-Oct-13 15:44:35

I know, I have doubts about the waves of support I am getting here, he is not a monster. I feel like there are relationship tweaks that might have worked if they had happened sooner. I feel like there are really small things that set a trajectory that being only a fraction of a degree out mean that miles or years later you are radically zooming off in the wrong direction.... but 6 years ago you were only a smidge off beam....

No idea how to change it now though.

I think I could have set boundaries about certain things and then maybe ended up with someone much closer to me.

A friend of mine said her dh was snippy about something one evening when she had been slaving her guts out all day on mat leave with a baby and her line (on the way upstairs to do something) was: "you had better have a think about how you have been talking to me before I come back downstairs". 15 minutes later she came back and he apologised. I thought: nice and assertive. Could I learn something from this? Then I thought: no, if I talked to dp like this, he wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day / week.
In theory, it would be because "you can't talk to me like a toddler" or something. In practice there is no way, or no way that I have found, to talk to him.
I would like to think that it exists and I could find it. but I am feeling pretty past it at the moment.

Really struggling this afternoon. Have had a nasty email exchange. he is refusing to alternate childcare. I want us to stay out of each others' way because we can't stop rowing. he is basically saying no. I feel like I have no choice but to avoid my children (which I can't, can't, can't do), inflict rows on them (NO!) or be obliterated by controlling behaviour (trying to keep my cool but always in danger of losing it).
Why can't he just agree? why is he being so twisted?

Handywoman Wed 16-Oct-13 16:51:49

Very difficult to get an insight into this dynamic. But even if nobody is a monster (big deal: the bar is set pretty low here) the relationship sounds non functional : it has ground to a halt. I would say counselling is a must here to keep perspective and focus on the important issues (primarily the kids) and move forwards.sounds like the small issues have become pretty big.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Oct-13 16:57:20

Am sorry but he is cranking this up a notch. Never mind not cheerleading you he is now getting worked up.

I believe that a lot of our problems are down to me not pandering to him (right now) but he would never see it that way.

Like hellsbellsmelons said we are only getting a fraction of the story.

Seeking help now through counselling is worth a go surely before it reaches the point where you are splitting up and obliged to go to mediation. He didn't take kindly to the idea of a solicitor and you say you want to return to things as they were before, (although if this centred on 'pandering' to him I don't know how wise this is).

youretoastmildred perhaps I should have asked before, now I'm curious how do you define 'pandering'?

mammadiggingdeep summed it up earlier, this is a major crossroads.

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