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Stuck in a miserable marriage, desperate for help(61 Posts)
I'm in a miserable marriage. We met 7 years ago and married 2 years later. Both of us were, I would say, vulnerable and a bit confused when we met, and thought the other one was solving all of our own problems. We now have 2 children and it is plain to see that not only are we completely mismatched but we really bring out the worst in each other. We fight a lot, he is passive aggressive and refuses to communicate with me, I get into a rage at him, he calls me crazy, I scream awful things at him...it goes on and on. Sometimes this happens in front of the children.
I know it sounds like we should go our separate ways but both of us are determined to stick it out for the sake of our kids. We both grew up in dysfunctional families and don't want to repeat that. We really do want them to have two loving parents but just can't figure it out.
Two nights ago he woke me up to whisper to me that he hated me. This was the last straw for me, this is the worst it has ever been, and all day yesterday I thought about divorce and escape and a fresh start. Last night he apologised to me and said his mood is all over the place and he can't get a grip on his feelings. To be honest I have also felt like I've hated him in the past and I have probably shouted it at him too. It just shocked me when he said it to me as he is usually so non communicative. It felt really final.
To list a few of our problems:
We don't communicate effectively. He says I talk/nag too much. He doesn't talk at all and withdraws, goes on phone obsessively, etc whether things are going well or badly.
We don't really enjoy sex together. I don't feel attracted to him and often have sex out of a feeling of duty, and also because he's nice to me the next day (I am aware how this sounds).
We don't agree on anything. Often one of us just gives in to the other to avoid fighting but it always ends up coming up again later on.
He uses things I say against me so I feel I have to watch everything I say.
I'm making him sound horrific - but I really think I am just as bad to him. This is what I mean by we bring out the worst in each other. In other relationships, friends and family etc, I am really very nice, quite funny, a great listener and a loyal friend! But these qualities seem to disappear the second I step in the house.
I feel miserable and lonely and like I'm on the verge of doing something I will really regret (not like harming myself, more like leaving or having an affair or something).
Please help. I will take any advice but please be gentle. I'm not in a good place.
can you have a trial separation? Really sounds like you both need some time away from each other so that at least you can interact in a civil manner. I don't think there is any point trying to take any decisions when you are both in such an awful place.
I don't see how stating together will avoid your children growing up in dysfunctional circumstances. This is hugely distinctional. I'm sorry but I think everyone would be happier if this marriage were ended.
* I feel miserable and lonely and like I'm on the verge of doing something I will really regret *
Quit before you do and leave as amicably as possible.
You clearly bring the worst of each other.
No point staying for the kids. You are actually modelling to them a dysfunctioning relationship.
Read 'a woman in your own right' by Anne Dickson to learn about positive and assertive ways of communicating in relationships.
It doesn't really sound fixable to me but if you both really want to try, you could try counselling like Relate. Or you could try individual counselling to try and address some of the issues from your dysfunctional families and your inability to communicate effectively (both of you).
You say about being on the verge of something you will really regret. An affair would be a really bad decision and cause all sorts of complications and animosity that would make things even worse. Leaving on the other hand, may not be such a bad decision though I hope you don't mean leaving the children as well as him.
I realise we are modelling a dysfunctional relationship. But isn't there some way we can turn it around? He doesn't want to leave, I don't want to leave, we both feel very strongly that our place is at home with our children. We do also make up in front of them and they see us cuddling etc. We seem to go in cycles and find it near impossible to do anything different.
Thanks for the book recommendation mum2mum.
And I definitely didn't mean leaving the children! But as much as I fantasise about escaping I don't see how I can take my children away from their dad? I imagine a split would not be amicable and they adore him and would not understand why they couldn't live with him all the time and to be frank I don't know if either of us would be happier alone anyway. Probably just more stressed.
This screams out to me that you need some fairly intensive couples counselling of some kind. I'm not sure that it is fixable but given that you are both so motivated to try, it's got to be worth a go. I think it's possible for a sex life to revive if the communication improves. I'm struck by the fact that you are so essential to him that he had to wake you up to tell you about his feelings - even if the feelings are that he hates you
TBH I think it would be worth going into debt for, but if you can find money for it, do. Hell of a lot cheaper than divorce.
'We both grew up in dysfunctional families and don't want to repeat that.'
Sounds a bit late for that from what you've described.
You will do far more damage staying together than finding a way to separate and parent together. Your relationship sounds completely toxic and you both sound desperately unhappy.
This was my marriage too. Passive agressive behaviour can drive some people completely up the wall, which makes the passive agressive more angry, and so more passive agressive. I'll share with you how it went after I tried to sort things out. Not for a second saying that this is how the situation will turn out for you, but it's a cautionary take against putting all the work into it when they font want to.
I went to therapy to sort my issues out, and my outbursts stopped. At that point, he completely lost interest in the relationship and walked out about two years after I'd stopped my part of the dynamic. This was after repeated requests to get us into couples therapy (I was very carefull never to suggest he get his own therapy, because he'd explode if I suggested he was damaged in any way by his past)
I was devastated because I had invested so much into the relationship, I'd let every major decision go his way (and for some of them he made them without involving me at all!), and I found myself a stepford wife (most certainly not one of my aspirations) with no husband to financially support her.
I'd stayed because I really believed he would eventually come round to the idea of working on the relationship. I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that although our relationship was highly dysfunctional, it actually did something for him.
So, I should never have assumed that him acting out was a sign he really wanted it changed, although by that I don't mean he would have stayed in the relationship either. It was a game I'd never win. I believe if I'd had done nothing, the relationship would have ended. And I did everything I possibly could, which was bad because now my self esteem is on the floor, but also good because I've dealt with some horrible childhood stuff, and the relationship ended.
With hindsight, I can see what I should have done is called time on it years ago and told him it's therapy or divorce (I did actually say something to that effect once, and I got told I was bring manipulative and threatening so I backed down), and given him a fixed time - 6 months would have been right for me, for him to make up his mind. Would have saved me a whole bunch of heartbreak and a few years of my life.
Annandale, do you have any experience or recommendations of intensive couples counseling? I would be happy to go into debt if we could find something that worked for us.
I think we do actually love each other but because we've both had such appalling examples growing up we don't know how to show it. (I grew up in a home with domestic violence. He grew up in a home with his dad having affairs and his mum keeping quiet.)
I really do see how toxic it is for the children. I'm not blind to that or dismissing it. But we could separate and then get into equally bad relationships, having never actually learned how to resolve things properly, so how do I know separating will help give my children a better example? I would much rather work it out with the father of my children than leave him and not give my kids anything better.
It doesn't sound like seeing this could be in the best interests of the children. It sounds very dysfunctional. If you are both committed to doing the right thing by the kids then you should be able to work together to find something that works for them going forwards.
Mamapotter thanks for sharing your story. That must have been heartbreaking to put so much effort in and realise that he didn't even want a calm and well functioning relationship. On his worst days, I can see that this is what could end up happening with us. On better days he does say he wants to work at it but he just doesn't know how to. The last conversation we had about counselling was him agreeing to go but he would leave it up to me to sort it, which I haven't. (Thinking about that in relation to your story, maybe it's me who subconsciously doesn't want things to change!!!)
Mine said all this too, but when I started to arrange it, he always had a reason why not. It's not an easy thing to start, which is probably why you're dragging your heels. Also, I see now that I felt crushing dread when he asked me to sort it out - I think my sub conscious knew that in his case, that was passive agressive for no.
"Passive aggressive for no" reading the responses on here and a couple other threads are making me feel depressed and like there is absolutely no hope to change things!
If you are both motivated to work on this relationship and both are prepared to change, then access individual AND couple's counselling.
Wanting to do the right thing by your DCs is not enough.
You are modelling awful behaviour patterns and it sounds like they are living with parents who are having a dysfunctional relationship as it is.
Relationships can be turned around, but it does rely on both of you being able to listen, be prepared to hear things that are hard to hear and change - all of which can be very hard to do.
V best of luck.
If you both want to change then there is hope. Couples counselling is the toughest thing I've ever done in my life but it was worth every penny (which is saying something cos it ain't cheap).
I'm all for counselling, but in your case it doesn't sound like there is much to work on.
You fight and scream and call each other names. You don't talk or communicate. You don't enjoy sex together. You have little in common. You don't like or love each other.
What is there to change? You have two children together who you are creating a toxic environment for. They must be young enough to forget all this if you split now, and that's what I would advise.
Ziggy you haven't read thread properly. I haven't said that we have nothing in common or that we don't like or love each other.
Beakyminder can I ask how did you find couples counselling, how did you choose counsellor, what did you get out of it?
Excuse me but its all there in your op, you said exactly that. He woke up to tell you he hated you. You aren't attracted to him. You only communicate by fighting. You can't agree on anything. You are miserable and lonely and feel stuck and desperate.
Are you seriously saying that you like and love each other and have lots in common?
I know a couple who are suffering through the almost nearly the same situation and can I just say that whilst she has her faults as well he can almost be very immature about dealing with his faults in the relationship. But they want to try it for ther kids which is great.
But they talked a lot about counselling and never done anything. It was suggested to them that during the next "good" cycle of their relationship they take action and actually book a session of counselling. No matter how intensive or not it's making the initial step towards change. Because if nothing is done then the wee ones do pick up on it.
However it's a huge thing to have to deal with and can be so frustrating especially as individually outside of your marriage your both probably great people. You seem so motivated to want to try despite things being so hard that maybe there's still something there you feel is worth saving.
Good luck with it all
Ziggy I didn't mean to sound rude. Just that it's not quite as black and white as it may sound from just reading my op. There's lots of background and we've both had awful examples of marriage around us and we don't know how to function any other way. What I really want, although I said I was thinking of leaving or having an affair, is to actually find a long lasting and effective way of communicating and being loving with my husband. I did say in my op that both of us want to stick it out.
"Sticking it out" is quite a different proposition from "improving our relationship" IMO and IME.
You'd both need to unlearn unhealthy relationship patterns and learn new ones.
The best place to start might be more to do with NOT saying things. Eg, if you are disrespectful, shout and interrupt each other why not take each of those issues, one at a time and work on then for a fortnight.
So you agree to put aside 15 mins every evening to sit together and discuss a topic (could be anything, not relshp) without being disrespectful - so you say in my opinion, or I think, you acknowledge each other's point of view and say something positive about it. The rest of the time you focus on speaking politely and respectfully to each other, as you would when speaking to anyone else.
Then move on to another issue.
At the very least, you will see if your dh really is as motivated as you are to fixing your problems.
Sounds like the last chance saloon to me. What's curious is why you (neither of you) have gone ahead and booked the counselling. If you're not prepared to live separately at least for a while, I'm not sure what else you think would work. Could you not agree to take a break from each other at least for say a week, to break this cycle of really unpleasant interaction?
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