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.

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 14:27:13

Argh...

This household list - how much detail do we go into? I feel a lot of the time he says something like "we've run out of hoover bags" so I say "get some more then" and he doesn't. So does "making sure we've got enough hoover bags" go on the list??

roaringfire Wed 09-Jul-14 14:29:45

He behaves like this as he can get away with it. There are no consequences to him, you'll do stuff in the end. It is utterly crap.

Sit him down again, tell him, and tell him how you feel. Tell him you'd be better off on your own.
Get one of those 'to do' Apps (if you have a smart phone) and then he can see what he has to do.

If things don't improve - time to talk again.

What a stressful time for you. But you are not alone, you only have to read the relationships board to see that.

I hope all goes well with the birth btw.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 14:32:05

okay- it's quite obvious what is going on here now that you have given more detail.

You are parenting him.

Anything that will not affect you and the DCs directly, leave it!

-You do not need to parent him by setting up his phone or sorting that.
-You don't need to sort his bank accounts- he's an adult.
-I don't know why you need monthly readings of the utilities- set it up so you pay by DD monthly and you have to provide 1 reading each year so that the estimated use is accurate.

You were happy to do all of this when it was easy for you- now it's not but you expect HIM to realise. You've moved the goal posts and no one's really explained to him- he's playing catch-up with your moves and as you have a history of sorting his life out for him he is sitting waiting for you to do it again.

Just as much as you can't see why he can't change, he must be very confused over what you want because on the one had you are Mrs Capable Throw it All at Me , and on the other you want an egalitarian marriage.

VERY mixed messages.

You need to sort this but look at the history.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 14:35:23

This is a serious question- does he suffer from ADHD or dyslexia? He shows many of the signs- disorganised, loses stuff, poor communication skills on the phone etc., flustered when dealing with people where he relies on auditory memory?

NatashaBee Wed 09-Jul-14 14:40:26

God, I feel tired and am clenching my teeth just reading through all this. Your partner is supposed to help and support you, not be an extra child to look after.

Pinkfrocks Wed 09-Jul-14 14:43:11

Me too- you need to step back and stop enabling this behaviour. But choose what you support him with and what not to.
Let him feel the consequences of his actions when it won't affect you too much.

You do see don't you that you have enabled all of this?

matwork Wed 09-Jul-14 14:46:14

Yes things gave changed. But not overnight and not without me warning/asking for more help. I know I've shifted things and haven't helped by taking on more.

Will be back later this evening. But thank you all - this is really helping.

Ps. We do meter readings as our bills really vary from summer to winter and we try to actively manage them. As I said we'd been stung before just giving an annual reading so more keen to stay on top of this. DH is totally in agreement - I just remember more than he does.

TheFirmament Wed 09-Jul-14 14:46:15

I agree with pinfrocks on this but I have also been there - I've been in the situation of doing everything and being resentful and exhausted, then periodically blowing up, only for nothing to happen. It was like that because DP knew that whatever I said, I would pick up the slack. He now knows I won't. Easier said than done of course, but it can be done.

I totally see how you can drift into this and only really face up to it when you have DC - that's what happened to me. It's not that I didn't know what my DP was like, it's just that it was easier to leave him to his own mess as I only had myself to look after. The kids, the larger home, the increase in admin - this is what you end up taking on simply because it has to be done and the other person ignores it.

OP I'm actually going to post you my list as I typed it. It's long, but even then there will be various things I've probably forgotten. It's up to you how much detail - here, things like buying hoover bags is covered in "household items shopping". The point is to get him to see what you actually have to do that he is currently thinking of as not that big a deal. Ask him how he would feel if this was what he had to keep on top of - all the time, non-stop, year after year, alongside getting his actual paid work done. Because, to an equal degree with you, he does have to. From now on.

food shopping list
food and household items shopping
Putting away shopping
Meal planning
Organising/paying for/keeping track of veg box and milk deliveries
meal preparation
Making bread
Making packed lunches and stocking school bag
purchasing children’s clothing and other things they need eg stationery
Organising clothing for the next season
laundry including clothes, bedding, soft furnishings
Taking down, washing or replacing, and putting back up shower curtain
repairing clothing and sewing on buttons
Name tapes or otherwise putting names in clothing
Ironing
Stripping and making up beds
Clearing up after meals
Dishes
Cleaning and clearing surfaces in kitchen
Cleaning and disinfecting sinks and draining board
Cleaning dirt off fronts of cupboards and appliances
Cleaning cooker
Hoovering kitchen floor
Hoovering other rooms
Dusting
Mopping kitchen floor
General tidying rooms
Decluttering, sorting out clutter, re storing some and sending some to rubbish
Taking cups, crockery, bottles back to kitchen from other rooms
Cleaning windows and mirrors
Watering plants
Cleaning bathroom, bath, sink and toilet
Spring cleans/clear outs
Cleaning out /reorganising /defrosting fridge and freezer
Clearing out cupboards/tidying/throwing out old stuff
Collecting and taking stuff for charity
tidying garden
Decluttering and reorganising shed
Putting washing line up and down
Replacing bathmat and putting old one in wash
Hanging up towels so they get dry
Clearing out old shampoo etc bottles
Gardening with kids
Putting out recycling
Putting out bins
Emptying main kitchen bin
Emptying compost bin, cleaning out and drying
Emptying bins around house
Checking, emptying and cleaning out and drying bread bin
Putting bins out on street
Setting thermostat
Maintaining and fixing smoke and co2 alarms

Minor home repairs and fixes
decorating (painting, wallpapering etc.)
Clearing and preparing rooms for decorating and putting back after
Buying and making new furniture
Getting rid of old furniture
Preparing and putting up pictures
Organising and booking tradespeople
waiting for tradespeople (electrician, plumber, decorator, gardeners etc.) to show up
Dealing with them /rebooking if they don't show up

Maintaining/balancing/monitoring budget
Paying bills and one-off payments
Setting up/monitoring direct debits, savings and overdrafts
Car insurance
Home insurance
Dealing with household mail from banks, insurers, charities etc
Organising children's money / child trust funds
Filing and keeping track of household paperwork
Other small admin inc electoral roll forms, council tax, tv license etc etc
Major admin eg all admin/phone calls for moving house/arranging mortgage

Fixing/buying and setting up tv, computers and electronic things
setting up cables and electric extensions
Changing light bulbs
Replacing batteries in kids toys etc

Organising car maintenance and taking car
Dealing with ownership details when changing car

Organising babysitter when you want to go out
Preparing house, snacks, list etc for babysitter
Remembering to have money ready for babysitter

Organising Kids medical/eye/vacc/dental etc. appointments
keeping track of when appointments are needed
Taking the children to the doctor, dentist, etc.

Putting the children to bed
Getting children dressed in the morning
overseeing children’s chores
helping with homework

buying the children’s birthday presents
planning children’s parties and events, doing and organising invites

Dealing with invites to children's friends parties
helping children buy presents for their friends
driving children to/attending childrens parties
Taking children to lessons, friends’ houses, etc.
overseeing the children’s hygiene
finding and organising appropriate childcare - nursery and club
Maintaining relationships with childcare providers
Talking to / keeping in touch with teachers
Dealing with communications from school/nursery
Filling in school/nursery forms and returning paperwork
Dealing with orders for cards/photos for school/nursery
Booking tickets for school/nursery events
Organising / making / taking contributions for school/nursery events
Making /obtaining costumes for school/nursery events

Sending kids school/nursery photos to relatives
keeping track of extended family birthdays
buying /sending gifts for extended family members
knowing something about the families of children’s friends
arranging family / couple social events

Booking holidays and weekends away - campsites, hotels, shows, days out
Researching different options to check availability and suitability
Keeping track of bookings, tickets, location maps etc.

Writing and posting Christmas cards
Helping kids to organise/write Xmas cards to friends if they want to
Buying kids and family Christmas presents
Buying and keeping store of wrapping paper etc
Organising and helping kids to write thank you notes
Getting out and putting away Xmas decorations and lights

Organising Halloween treats and decorations
Making / obtaining Halloween costumes

WhatsGoingOnEh Wed 09-Jul-14 20:59:37

No wonder he's flustered, scatty and disorganised - he's probably really depressed.

Can you remember why you married him? Did you take him on as a fixer-upper?

dimsum123 Wed 09-Jul-14 21:30:40

You sound v clued up and on the ball and v intelligent. Do you think he is simply less intelligent than you? ie he 'can't' think rather than won't think?

matwork Thu 10-Jul-14 15:43:10

I have wondered if he's depressed.... Or if I am in fact!

I don't think he's any less intelligent, I just think we think in different ways, have had very different upbringings in terms of being pushed (me) or not (him). We used to balance each other out (I'd race ahead, he'd say take your time etc) but it's tipped too far to the extremes.

Thanks for the list firm - it's amazing to see it all written down, as there is so much that goes on in terms of running a household!

We had a talk/cry last night. I says that things are really damaged and we both need to fix them. We are going to sit down and talk about our strengths and weaknesses so that we can make sure we're using our good points properly and also supporting each other through our bad points. I will tailor that list to our family too. At one point we were talking about getting someone in to finish the decorating (previous quotes were too expensive) to have one job ticked off and he said "can you give me the number of a decorator then and I'll ring them?" I thought I was going to explode!!!! I said that that kind of thing was EXACTLY my point.... But I guess it shows just how much I have enabled this helplessness and basically taken control of everything.

So I think we know where our faults are... And to be honest, kind of have done for a long time, but figuring out how to move forward is the tricky part I guess. I need to somehow let go of the resentment I've built up for him (which he knows) and "delegate" more to him and he needs to take responsibility for his own proactivity. All sounds so much easier written down - it's making it happen which is the tricky bit isn't it.

Pinkfrocks Thu 10-Jul-14 17:34:34

When he was single, how did he cope?
When he lived with his parents did they baby him - or were they strict and made him feel under confident?

He just doesn't seem to 'get ' it from how you describe him.

ie- he expects you to find the phone no for a decorator? Or did he mean where was the number of the person you'd found before because he couldn't locate it?

If it's been like this for 12 years you are not going to have a new DH overnight!

It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of patience till he starts to understand what 50-50 means.

I know this is going back to the parent-child scenario, but seriously, I think you ought to give him say 3 tasks to be done from beginning to end ( mix of admin and practical stuff) and leave him to get on with them.

matwork Thu 10-Jul-14 19:13:29

He lived at home until we moved in together, though we backpacked for a while and he'd spent summers abroad with friends before we got our first place.

His parents style was quite laissez-faire. He helped out at home but I think his parents did pretty much everything. They weren't strict at all and he wasn't encouraged at school or career-wise, partly because they say themselves that they hated school. They've always just "got by" and I get the impression that they feel like life is something other people are good at, and they pulled the short straw (council houses, supermarket jobs) yet aren't bitter, just accepting that that was their destiny.

I think I've mentioned that he's good around the house from a housework point of view - and is in fact much tidier than me! He can cook and clean properly but sometimes lacks logic and thought in the whole thing - but I've learnt to let some of that go and let him get on with it...

He ordered the carpet today and told me over dinner that he felt really good doing it. The sad fact is that my controlling nature has shielded him from the real world as much as his own laid-backness has. sad I actually feel awful, I know he's been lacking in confidence but I've thought that was all down to him not ever stepping out if his comfort zone, but I can see that it's down to me too. He has so much potential and I'm cross with his parents for never helping him unlock it - and - now sad to see that I'm pretty much doing the same. I also know that it's not always someone else's fault and he needs to take responsibility for it too bit even just asking him to sort the carpet has given him a boost FFS.

I know things won't change overnight but we both want stuff to change which has to be a good starting point.

TheFirmament Thu 10-Jul-14 19:20:12

Of course it has felt good for him, realising that he has agency and can step up. I don't think you need to feel bad about that, or that you have micro-managed and done everything - because it did have to be done. You've both fed into the situation but I don't think you caused him being like this.

The discussions you're having sound productive. I would just say don't let it drop. Keep reminding him, in a kind but firm way, that you are going to share things equally and that he can take responsibility. You can now use the carpet as an example to show he can do it.

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