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.

Finding DH really hard work.

(64 Posts)
matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 09:17:57

He puts up barriers, is negative, faffs about, sulks, and I feel generally makes things really hard going.

We are both stressed - dc2 is due in 2 weeks and we've got lot of thing we need to get done.

My problem is that I'm totally sick of being the only one who seems to think things through, or initiate them in the first place. He seems to need instructions for everything, or prompting or guidance or help. It's like he lives in a bubble where only he exists and is only allowed to think of the next 24 hours. There is no visible evidence that he can prioritise or plan or think things through properly.

We've discussed this over and over and nothing changes and I'm at my wits end.

I'm beginning to just feel like he's useless and that ironically I'd have more headspace and free time if we weren't together.

He can be a bit of a neat freak so sharing day-to-day housework isn't too big a deal - but everything else seems to escape him. Sure our towels are hung up nice and neatly in the bathroom, but our old car has needed selling for 2 months. He went to the bank yesterday to pay a cheque in and didn't pay in some cash that I need paying in. He thinks our council tax is £28 per month. We need to get new carpet for all of upstairs, he thinks it can just be ordered - no thinking through cost, the type, the width of the stair runner (though he would have a pernickety view on it if I didn't consult him), the logistics of moving furniture around 4 bedrooms so it can get fitted, the fact that the lead time will be approx the same as my due date and the logistics of having a newborn/heavily pregnant wife around whilst its fitted. DD has been at nursery for 18 months, he wouldn't have a clue how much it costs nor how it gets paid every month. He's pretty hands on with her on a day to day basis but ask him about whether he thinks we should increase/decrease her time at nursery whilst I'm on mat leave or put her in preschool and I'm greeted with a shrug. He'll complain we're low on food shopping but never sits and orders it. But will nip out to the shop to sort himself out with some lunch... The list goes on.

I've tried talking, crying, shouting, asking.... I've tried leaving stuff so he has to do it but it never gets done and sometimes it's important stuff (bills etc) so I can't let it slip too much.

I have to nag him to stay on top of his own work on top of workng 4 days pw myself (pre-mat leave). It's just never ending.

My real fear is that a leopard doesnt change its spots and that this is just who he is and my choices are to put up and shut up or leave..

I know 38 weeks pg is not a great time to be thinking about this but I'm so so worn down by it. I get that he's stressed about things too but living in his bubble isn't going to help and feels fucking unfair actually that he gets to stick his head in the sand whilst I'm running around being the only responsible adult in the house.

Sorry, rant over.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 09:29:15

I sympathise because ins some ways my DH is the same over some things. I often feel I am the one driving everything practical, that needs doing on the house, but to give him his due he manages 90% of our bills online. This is mainly because when we married he had a his own home and I didn't, so all the utilities etc are in his name anyway. But- he never food shops unless I've thought of what we want and give him a list etc. and he never cooks ( both have been almost deal breakers for us.)

However!

I think you are kidding yourself that life would be easier as a single parent. Some things might be but overall it would suck, for much of the time.

He's not going to change his spots but you can change how you behave.

Nagging hasn't worked- so stop it. If it worked you'd not be posting.

Why not make a to-do list and divide the tasks up?
Initially you might have to treat him like a child and set out the dates when bills need paying etc.

Same for the shopping- could you take it in turn to shop or do an online shop?

I know all of this sounds easy and obvious but you do have a chance to turn it round .

Basically you have to split all the stuff 50-50 or 60-40 and leave him to it. you might also have to be prepared for it to go belly up if he missed payments but it's perhaps a case of him having to learn the hard way.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 09-Jul-14 09:31:27

"My real fear is that a leopard doesnt change its spots and that this is just who he is and my choices are to put up and shut up or leave.."

If you're incompatible - which is what it sounds like - those are the broad choices. He's probably not going to change personality any more than you are.

thisisnow Wed 09-Jul-14 09:33:09

You have my sympathies as my OH is exactly the same. He won't ever change though I know he won't. If I want him to do something I have to leave him a list. The other day while I was at work I asked him to hang the washing out and he actually bought it in and folded it without me asking him to - I was actually in shock (normally he would just leave it out) shock

I have no advice really tbh just hope it helps you to know you're not the only one!

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 09:40:50

Giving him a to do list can help in terms of getting things actually done, but, it pisses me off that its me who's got to write out the sodding list in the first place.

It has not crossed his mind once to get the old car in a good state to sell it, or put it on gumtree/autotrader/fb etc.

He sulks when I talk about jobs that need doing and hints that we never do anything fun. I've told him that I'm far too busy doing everything else to also sort out the weekend entertainment and that if we weren't so imbalanced we might have a bit more time for some fun.

He's got a real negative attitude and I just want him to be a bit more positive so that despite the fact that everything does feel like a chore, he's not being all doom and gloom about it.

I know he works hard, but it's like he can only do or think about one thing at a time, and gets in a tizz or sulks when more needs doing. I then have to sit and break things down for him like he's a sodding child. And whilst I'm doing that I'm outwardly being calm and patient when inside I'm screaming YOU'RE 35, FIGURE THIS OUT FOR YOURSELF, AND STOP MAKING EVERYTHING SO HARD.

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 09:43:55

I don't want to live like this forever more. But I don't want to break up. We've got 2 children ffs (or will have shortly).

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 09:47:12

Giving him a to do list can help in terms of getting things actually done, but, it pisses me off that its me who's got to write out the sodding list in the first place

do you want to try things to help him change or do you just want to moan?

If you try to re-train him he may learn to do it himself.

If you don't try anything then nothing will change.

Men can't multi task- you ought to know that!

CeliaFate Wed 09-Jul-14 09:51:24

Pinkfrocks that's sexist nonsense. He's not a dog that needs training, he's an adult who's absolved himself of certain responsibilities because he knows his wife will do it for him.
OP, I sympathise to an extent dh is like this - my advice would be don't infantilise him. Don't leave lists, leave it to him to sort out and deal with any issues arising from it. Don't moan, don't step in, don't help.
When I go out for the evening, I give dh a 10 minute speech about "don't forget this, remember that,"etc. When he goes out he says, "Bye!"
Take a leaf out of his book and leave him to it.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 09:54:59

It's not sexist at all- I'd say the same if it were 2 women or 2 men living together. I'm not saying it because he's a man. But there is plenty of evidence that men cannot multi task as well as women- so don't try to pretend that psychological differences don't exist cos they do.

Squidstirfry Wed 09-Jul-14 09:55:11

It sounds as though you get stressed out very easily and his laid back approach drives you nuts. The pg is probably adding to the stress.

Just because he doens't like to talk over all the ins-and-outs of carpet buying doesn't mean he doesn not think about these things. And these things don't have to be completed in military style detail either.

It sounds like you let yourself take the reigns on all of the detail in running the hhold, and so he has just allowed you to take over and then perhaps wonders why you get upset about having to do everything.

It sounds like you feel like you need to micro-manage every little thing but he is more content with letting things go with the flow.

You seem incompatiable so it's up to the both of you to accept these differences or not...

CeliaFate Wed 09-Jul-14 09:58:44

Men can't multi task is sexist and it's making the issue the OP's problem, not her dh's.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 10:13:01

So what if it's sexist? It's still true. Men find it harder to multi task than women- read all the evidence. Doesn't mean he can't try.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 10:28:31

This man is not "laid back", he's lazy, irresponsible and sexist – because deep down, he thinks it's ok for him not to bother, and for you to spend all your time and energy being on top of everything while he can just think of himself.

I have been there OP, DP has these tendencies and we have had many, many rows and also calm discussions about it. You're right that you can't change a person's personality, he won't become naturally efficient and responsible. However, I have managed to get my DP to change a lot in the amount he does and his understanding of how much there is to do.

The most effective thing I've done is to write down in exhaustive detail absolutely everything that needs doing. Include things he does too, perhaps in their own separate list. Under yours, write everything you do, including all housework, maintenance, admin, booking things, dealing with nursery, payments, birthday presents, remembering and planning when something needs to happen - everything to do with running your home and family that takes up your energy and headspace.

Then sit him down and show him. Explain that he needs to do his share and you and he can work out a fair split (taking into account how much free time you have. IMO if you have babies/preschoolers at home with you then that is your FT job and doesn't count as free time). If his jobs include for example, doing the dishes every day, then he has to do it. If he doesn't, drop one of your jobs, like cooking the tea. (You can still feed your DC)

Also, hand him tasks to do where you are OK with it going tits up. For example, this year I told DP it was his turn to organise and book a holiday (a complex task involving multiple campsites, hotels, ferry etc). No hand-holding, no instructions - after all if you don't need that, why should he? You could do this with the carpet ordering, for example.

In this case, DP left it and left it and I was getting worried, but he's now done it. Maybe it's not exactly as I would have but the important thing is he understands what life is like for me and just how much of a hassle these things are, and that he must share them.

DP has often wailed pathetically to me "but I don't know how to do that." I'm now completely no-shit on this matter. I say "Yes, there was a time I didn't know how to do that either. I worked it out, got advice, did it millions of times, hence my years of experience. Are you suggesting you can't work things out?" This hits home because he fancies himself as very intelligent smile

You can make this happen OP. No more Ms Nice Person. Stay calm, but spell it out and do not accept incompetence as an excuse. He won't be incompetent once he's had a bit of practice.

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 10:31:24

But why should I be the only one who really thinks about things?? Why should it be that stuff only gets thought about because I write a list. He can see as much as I can that stuff needs doing.

We have lost the balance - I micromanage (because I feel I have to) and he sits back. We've discussed this and I've said I'll step back so he can step up but what happens us I step back and nothing gets done.

Recently we've made some big purchases that are long overdue and long-discussed. I've ordered/paid for them and not once has he mentioned anything about how it'll all get paid and he knows the joint account is only for bills. It's only when I mentioned this bloody carpet and said "if I end up paying for that too that'll be £4k I've spent recently on household stuff" and he looked like all put out! It's not even that I mind paying for it, it's more that he didn't even think of it.

I get that things are busy and stressful at the moment but him dragging his heels and sulking is making me resent him. We supposedly have common goals, the biggie at the mo, well for the last 8 months is obviously to get as much sorted before dc2 comes along - and I feel he's tried to make things as difficult as humanly possible.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 10:38:34

Police officer
Doctor
Air traffic controller
Astronaut
Pilot
Headteacher
MP
CEO

Jobs traditionally done by men, still done by millions of men, that men tend to get paid more for than women, and that require multitasking.

Men can multi-task. The reason the OP's (and my) situation happens is that society (including many women) sanction the idea that men are helpless twats in the domestic arena and women have to do everything. Lazy men can hang their hat on that and just choose not to think about or bother with all the crap.

And this is as much a mechanism that keeps women down as much as anything else. If you're ultimately responsible for the home and family above all else, then it's harder for you to work full-time, study for that degree, write that novel, etc. Don't underestimate what's going on here. I drudged along for years telling myself if I didn't do it it wouldn't get done properly. It was bollocks. It was really about my internalised sexism and self-esteem problems.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Wed 09-Jul-14 10:39:07

'I think you are kidding yourself that life would be easier as a single parent. Some things might be but overall it would suck, for much of the time.'

The thing is... I know two friends who have gone from a situation much like this to singe parenthood - admittedly one where a lot of emotional abuse was involved, which changes things completely. And... both are happier, less stressed, and wish they'd done it years ago.

Yes, they are busier. One has three children, one one child. But both say their lives, while being busier, are EASIER.

So - hmm.

It's probably a big influence on why I am very much a LTB kind of poster.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Wed 09-Jul-14 10:40:39

Oh and the multi-tasking stuff is shit. My DH is very good at multi-tasking. I believe it is connected to him not being a lazy misogynistic twat, myself.

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 10:40:51

X-post firm...

I have tried a lot of this... He was supposed to book a trip to peppa pig world, we discussed this during our last row, and we've still not gone and have no plans to do so.

I quite often use the line "what would you do if I wasn't here?" when he asks how to do things.

I even put a reminder on his phone for him to do the gas and electric meter readings each month but he still doesn't do it and I have to remind him. We've had a £2k gas bill before because we never submitted readings so I'm really paranoid about this. And he was devastated at the time yet it still doesn't sink in that it's worth us keeping on top of this.

I've purposely not done a food shop for a couple of weeks and asked him what we'll have for dinner and we have fricking pizza or tortellini or something else that's simple and shit. And he'll just get one day's worth if food, it won't cross his mind to stock up on other bits.

I'm just cross with him today I guess. I know I've historically done too much do he doesn't have to do as much but it's really hard to break this - and I honestly feel like I'm trying but that it's not making any differentlce as he just pootles along thinking things happen by osmosis.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 10:41:54

matwork yes much of the list will have to come from you, but that's because you've ben doing all this and you know the truth. The idea is to get all the tasks down on paper so he can see exactly what has to be done and wake up to it. From that moment on, the jobs are jointly shared and the responsibility is shared.

The list isn't a rota or instructions - it's just getting out in the open what actually needs doing – not just what needs doing now, but ongoing.

If you like, tell him this is what needs doing and sit down to write the list together. What can you both add that needs doing for your household? You'll add a lot more, but that's because of the inequality relating to who's been doing it.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 10:44:47

matwork so much of what you describe applies to my DP too, but I have got somewhere. It;s worth a try. Ultimately though, I think him living separately is something to consider if he doesn't pull his finger out, and you should tell him that.

You could show him this thread?

smokeandfluff Wed 09-Jul-14 10:44:59

Can you have a chat with him?
He's possibly sulking because he feels you are nagging him constantly. My Dh takes nagging as a direct criticism and goes straight into sulk mode.
As he helps with the housework, he doesn't seem like alazy slob.
Everyone has different perspectives. My dh sounds similar but in an opposite way-he doesn't notice the house is a bomb zone, but would be organised as regards car selling/organising money.
Can you try and focus on his strengths? You say he helps around the house and with your dc-do you thank him for these things? Is it the end of the world if you don't get the carpet just now?

thisisnow Wed 09-Jul-14 10:47:04

I still don't think you can change someone I'm sorry to say that but I don't.

Literally I sent OH to the shop once and he spent almost half an hour deciding what soap to get as he wasn't sure which was better!

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 10:49:41

That makes sense.

His reaction to To Do lists is "they just piss me off because it's impossible to get it all done". When I explain that that's life and there will be some ongoing things or some that can wait and don't need to be at the top of the priority list (again internally screaming that I shouldn't have to explain this to a grown man) he kind of flounces or rolls his eyes or sulks.

I've even showed him the urgent/important matrix to see if he might find that useful.... Talk about a bloody passion killer.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 10:50:32

As he helps with the housework, he doesn't seem like a lazy slob.

The housework is not her job and he is not helping.

Also, housework is the tip of the iceberg. What about all the admin, organising, booking, buying, remembering. That is what takes it out of you.

You say he helps around the house and with your dc-do you thank him for these things?

shock The house is his house too and the DC are his DC too. He is not helping

It's OK to say thank you to someone for doing something domestic but not if it is one-sided. I will say to DP thanks for booking the holiday. But only because he will say to me thanks for cooking lunch etc.

It s not OK if you are saying thanks where the implication is that it should be you doing it and he's so kindly contributed 1%.

Lovingfreedom Wed 09-Jul-14 10:52:52

How about accepting that the list is your job and then you can give him all the crap jobs you don't want.

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