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)
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
Organising/paying for/keeping track of veg box and milk deliveries
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
Stripping and making up beds
Clearing up after meals
Cleaning and clearing surfaces in kitchen
Cleaning and disinfecting sinks and draining board
Cleaning dirt off fronts of cupboards and appliances
Hoovering kitchen floor
Hoovering other rooms
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
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
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
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
Paying bills and one-off payments
Setting up/monitoring direct debits, savings and overdrafts
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
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.
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?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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?
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.
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.
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??
And yes I'm losing respect for him and have told him that too. He says he can feel himself getting sulky but can't help it and knows it's childish but still does it.
It's not so much the thought of the new baby, it's the thought of going back to work in a years time. I struggled massively during the 18 months I was back after mat leave round 1 - because it was all left to me. I asked him to not leave it all to me but he did and on several occasions I really lost my rag and honestly thought I was close to having a break down. That scared him but doesn't seem to have changed anything significantly enough. He says the right things but doesn't put them into action.
So anyway, this hoiseh
I think we'd both be up for counseling. Just fitting it in might be tricky with a toddler and brand new baby.
Why is it a problem now? Well time and headspace is more limited since having dd I guess. We used to rent a 2 bed flat so no DIY was required and
I we would call the landlord if anything needed sorting. We now own a 4 bed house that needs redecorating and maintaining. I could manage to do everything before and now I struggle. I find keeping on top of things really bloody hard and don't feel that he's recognised that he can do things to help more. Instead I get the sulking or the barriers. I didn't struggle before so he didn't need to step up.
I'm more than happy to help him but surely there comes a time when he needs to take ownership of things himself. Eg - me setting up a reminder on his phone for the meter readings. He still needs to be nagged every month. Other than doing it myself, how else can it get done?
His phone was on the verge of stopping working so I upgraded it for him (added him to my account as this worked out cheaper). New phone arrived and it took him the best part of three weeks to sort out his PAC code to swap over to the new phone and end the old one. And when he did he got all flustered on the phone and I had to speak to the bloke on the other end to explain it. It wasn't rocket science and I'd told DH a gazillion times what a PAC code was and why he needed it, what he needed to say etc etc etc.
He's getting in a muddle with his business ingoings and outgoings so I suggested he opens another bank account to sort it. He didn't so in the end I did it for him. This was months ago and he's never used the account and still gets in a muddle. He's lost the new bank card.
It's the complete lack of ownership that does my head in. And surely until something clicks in his head about it all nothing will change. I'm just a bit worried about what it will take to get to that point.
I've texted him today (he can't talk on the phone) to suggest that he sorts the carpet which will mean he needs to take ownership of sorting it all. He seems happy with that.
I wonder if the OP is suddenly overwhelmed by the thought of the new baby and the impact it's going to have when DH is unwilling to do his bit?
OP I know you don't want to 'baby' him, but I don't think drawing up a list of what needs doing and talking it through amounts to that; it's what most people in house shares do for chores etc when someone ends up doing more than their fair share- human nature is to shirk stuff like this usually!
If you are not willing to try anything, but want to just nag and moan and think how awful he is, then nothing is going to change, is it?
As other people have said- choose a time when you are not angry and discuss it.
Put the ball in his court with the implications explained- ie late payments, bad credit ratings, blah blah- then leave him to it.
Whatever you do, don't give him his 'list' then continue to nag because he will then think he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't- so he may as well not bother!
I think some of these issues only come out after you have DC. You can ignore or paper over the cracks when it's just the two of you living together, simply because there's less 'work' and usually more money to enjoy yourselves aswell as do the work.
When DC come along, the household work goes up. That's when it becomes obvious that one partner has been doing more and they pick up the extra work of thinking, organising, etc. With more family expenses to consider and often with less money coming in.
I don't think it's fair to say OP has accepted the behaviour - life has changed, she has changed with it and her DP has not.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I'm not surprised you've lost respect for him - he sounds infuriating! Sounds like you already have two children and the new baby will be the third
Has he ever lived on his own, or did he move from his parents to living with you? How do his parents split household responsibilities - is he copying what he's seen in their relationship?
I must admit that I agree with pinkfrocks that if he has always been like this in the 12 years you've lived together, then you have implicitly accepted his behaviour by chiding to stay together and have children. If you've discussed and argued and shouted and cried, but his behaviour hasn't changed and you've just got on with everything anyway, then he's seen that no matter what you say, you'll just put up with it. From his POV, why should things change now?
By practical things, it is babying him to start with. Things like drawing up a task list and dividing it, putting organising systems in place (shared calendar, where paperwork goes, where stuff in the house goes), how often you sit down to review finances and agree joint purchases etc.
All this will be hard work with a new baby. I think you bed to consider whether you carry on as is while you have a newborn or whether you do something now. If you leave it for a few months, you need to have a plan in place for how you're going to tackle it (make the effort to resolve between you or separate).
In the meantime you are heavily pregnant and about to make the jump from one DC to two - can you organise any practical help so you're not relying on (and then being disappointed by) your partner?
It seems you have lost respect for him. Not sure how you get back from that unless you're both prepared to do the work - otherwise it just carries on until you get to the point that you explode.
By saying you do the work too - I mean are you prepared to take practical steps to help him get more organised or will this infuriate you further? In which case it does seem that you will end up separating in the longer term as you get more and more cross at his inability to step up.
why don't you try couples' counselling where you can let rip in the safety of a neutral 3rd party- DH will hear you, and you may be able to formulate a plan for progress.
I can't help wonder why this is now a problem and you put up with it for a long time with DC1- and presumably you knew he was like this before and when you married? Did you ignore and think he would change?
It's not that I think he'll be lazy given half the chance, it's more that he is unaware of the result of his actions/inactions and the bigger impact those things can have - be it financially, practically, logistically or emotionally.
He is immature in his thinking and doesn't see that what he does has an impact on the rest of us. He opts out of taking control or responsibility, and I know some of this stems from his upbringing - his parents are very 'play-it-safe, don't get above your station, don't risk anything, better to not try than to try and fail'. This drives me insane and actually I think he feels like he wants to grab life by the nuts a bit more but hasn't got the foggiest how.
Join the discussion
Please login first.