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Calling all those who have been happily married 10 years + with DCs

(20 Posts)
threekidsandcrazy Sat 09-Apr-16 11:14:17

I love MN and it answers nearly every question I have about everything. I need to hear, though, at the moment, from those who would describe themselves as happily married, and who have been married for more than 10 years.

DH and I are in the middle of the "flatmate" situation. We've been under severe financial stress (of his making -- house bigger than we can afford as its really important to him) for five or six years, and he has been working like a crazy man all of that time. He is -- genuinely -- working because he wants to provide for his family. He has a very fixed idea of what that means, and he knows that I don't have the same view. We have talked about it -- several times over the last few years -- and we have agreed to have a summit meeting this coming October (when I raised it last year he asked me to give him another year) which will boil down to "do we need to sell this precious house or not". (He has set up his own business, which is doing quite well ATM.)

I'm tired. He adores his kids.

I found myself the other day looking at properties to rent and buy, both round here and where I it might be easier to find more reliable work. (I work for myself, from home.) My mind slides off the thought of leaving as it feels wrong, both for me and DC, and is financially very scarey, but clearly the thought keeps creeping back in.

I think I need to "fortify" and put some effort into working with him to improve our relationship. The tiredness on that front is not helping.

I guess I'd like to hear from those who have been married longer than us: have you been through bad patches? How did you get through it? What does a good marriage look like?

TIA

ALemonyPea Sat 09-Apr-16 11:18:52

I've been married 15 years and have 3 DC.

We have had good times and bad times, some really bad times and equally some really good times. What makes our marriage strong is that we have stuck together throug the really bad times and come out the other side stronger than we were.

Communication is key, and building up emotions without expressing them doesn't work for us, we try to be as clear with each other as possible.

Tillii Sat 09-Apr-16 11:33:47

It sounds like he is working overly hard to keep in the style he has created. Your not happy and would like to downsize so your quality of life is better. You need to sort this out now, not in a years time. You need to be on the same page don't you. There is always the danger that all this pressure to work hard to pay for the life he wants could take its toll on his health. But at the end if the day if you both want such different things from life then maybe it can't be solved. confused

threekidsandcrazy Sat 09-Apr-16 12:16:14

Thanks for responses so far.

Lemony - were you communicating well through the bad times? And would you describe your marriage overall as happy? (Hope you don't mind me asking).

Tillii - Yes. Exactly. As for the toll on his health -- it already does. He suffers badly from tension headaches, which means that when he is home he is often lying in a darkened room. Also limits the amount of time we have for proper communication ... sigh. And I get cross, which I express through loud silence. I know it doesn't help. He has history of just not hearing me when I'm telling him something is critical to me -- not deliberate just not computing something that doesn't fit with his world view.

He doesn't have the bandwidth to take on initiating rescue measures. I guess I'm looking for "yes, long successful relationships often have patches that look really really bad, but it doesn't mean it's the end ... look at us now, XXX happened with us but we managed to do YYYY and now our relationship looks like ZZZ". (Wishful thinking?)

crazycatdad Sat 09-Apr-16 12:49:29

Officially married only 6 years but living together, fully joint finances etc for 16. Just had our first DS.

I was heading down the same road as your DH, had a fairly well paid but stressful job, starting to think about a family. Then I went through a period of severe depression, and left my job as I couldn't deal with it any more. It took a while to get better and part of that was realising that my job, the money and things it could buy weren't making me happy. I'm now self employed and earn much less, but I have the flexibility to be present for my family and that is what is important. It's not easy to give up materialism though. I still struggle with the guilt from knowing that I could potentially be providing the flashy house, car etc. Just need to remember what the pay off is.

Sorry, I guess that doesn't really offer any useful advice, unless you can convince your husband that working himself to an early grave is not the best he can do for his family.

ALemonyPea Sat 09-Apr-16 13:20:46

We did communicate during the bad times, maybe not enough at first as I find it hard to vocalise my feelings at the best of times. I usually write it all down to start with,mthat way there is no heated debate and I get my point across.

We are happy overall, more good days than bad Id say.

DangerMouth Sat 09-Apr-16 13:41:20

8 years married and over 10 together with 2 dc. We have good and bad times also but I'm a talker loudly and my dh has got used to me needing to talk issues through. The few times I've gone silent has worried him more l think!

With the arrival of dd2 l have been so exhausted that I have worried we'll hit that flatmate stage (dd2 is still sleeping in with me, not dh). I think l would resent my dh for the stress over what is essentially a vanity issue with the larger house though.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sat 09-Apr-16 13:41:25

Married 26 years, 3 dc-22,21,8.
Just guessing here from what you have written, but it appears that the house is the fountain of happiness (perhaps more pride than happiness) for your husband. For you, it is not. Your happiness is centered on... him? Imho, happiness needs to come from within yourself and not be dependent on another person/place/thing.

My dh is a workaholic. I am a sahm. We live in a decent house in a decent area. Our finances are stable enough to put the two older ones through university and will be able to save for the young one. We are on track for retirement savings. I don't really see that much of him during the week...but I am busy with the youngest dc and quilting and gardening, and I'm a Girl Scout (US) leader.

Does your dh look at the whole picture like that-college, retirement, as well as living in the present for yourselves and kids' activities and needs (music, sport, current fashion/technology)? Dc may be impressed on the surface (for about 5 min when they are 14) with the fine house, but as they get older and look back, they may have wished for more interpersonal relationship dynamic of love and nurturing than have that house. Imho, that is what you are feeling now too...quite rightly.

I don't know what to suggest except to downsize on the house to make the other aspects have a chance to be nurtured to a healthy standing/balance. Right now it looks like it is all house and everything else is a distant ... not even on the list. That rather takes the joy out of the magnificent achievement of the house. All the eggs are in one basket, so to speak.

randomone Sat 09-Apr-16 14:10:09

Married over 10 years with 2 DC's. Also ups and downs here and often get a notion in my head of what it would be like to leave DH. I never would though as the good times outweigh the bad ones thankfully. He is frustrating - being a man!! But I am not good on my own and hate being without a partner. Also, what everyone needs to remember is that it is NEVER perfect. No ones relationship is. Social media and the like make us feel like we don't have it as good as others but everyone has their problems. And if you go looking for perfection in a marriage you are doomed to fail.

ShesAGreatGas Sat 09-Apr-16 14:40:01

15 years. 2 DC.

Some real highs and lows. Nearly split twice. Things have been good again for a couple of years now, though.

I have realised I find marriage and cohabiting quite hard in general, if I am honest, and thats the issue for me - I'd feel the same living with any man.

But DH is a good man, we have a lot of love between us and a lovely family unit.
On balance, those things outweigh the issues I have with being so intimately tied to one person and the relentlessness of a domestic family situation.

As our DCs are getting older, we are both changing and the challenge is to find ways to grow together while allowing each other the freedom to develop as individuals. At times I have found that challenge hard going, but at the moment I am finding it quite exciting. I definitely see our future together.

Twowrongsdontmakearight Sat 09-Apr-16 14:41:32

Married 17 years, two DC aged 16 and 12. We've had our moments but generally v happy. Finances entirely joint but small amounts of 'spends' each in separate accounts.

We have different natural spending behaviour which has caused issues in the past. I'm much more spendy than him but learned not to be when I became a SAHM.

The thing is that we discussed major issues beforehand. We both decided that DH wouldn't go for megabucks jobs post MBA as that would have meant moving to London and DH seeing little of the DC. So we both chose to live in the North and that DH would get the kind of job that would support us without taking over his life. We both knew that this would mean camping hols, Aldi shopping and no eating out or takeaways. When DC were at school we agreed I'd get a job, but one to fit in with school hours etc.

Now they're teens it's time for me to go back to a 'proper' job. I don't really want to but we need the money so fairs fair.

The point is, we've talked about each step and agreed what to do. We've both been happy with our decisions (ish!). In your case it sounds like your priorities are different to your DH's. Fighting to keep the house is taking your DH away from time with you and DC. Some people are happy with that but it sounds like you aren't. It's worth a sit down to explain your feelings.

ShesAGreatGas Sat 09-Apr-16 14:44:50

I think it does sound like you need to have that conversation about the house and see if you can find some sort of meeting of minds.

As others have said, its difficult to sustain a marriage if you dont have a core shared vision.

Faceicle Sat 09-Apr-16 15:02:16

Hi OP. Do it. As in, if you think you can sustain a long term marriage with some work and some help and some kindness then throw all of your resources at it. I've been married for 22 years, we had our last child 14 months ago. DH is challenging and annoying and yada yada yada. I honestly believe we'll be happily married forever. You know what to do.

Tillii Sat 09-Apr-16 15:03:47

Ok OP yes!!! Yes marriages/relationships go through so very many ups and downs. Some niggly, some potential deal breakers, some near misses. But if he was suddenly to fall ill tomorrow, how would you feel. Would all this pale into insignificance? I have been married for nearly 30 years and two grown up children. It's hard at times and when the kids are younger it is one of the worse times for feeling unappreciated on both sides. You do come through the child rearing years though and it actually goes by very very quickly. Hopefully then you will still be together and you get to be a "couple" all over again. Life is all about new chapters but to make it work, you have to see the bigger picture .

teawamutu Sat 09-Apr-16 15:37:53

Fifteen years together, ten married, two dc. We've been through work and money worries, mental and physical health issues (sometimes simultaneously), pregnancy losses and dc problems.

Have had spells of the flatmates thing when exhausted or unhappy, but I have never doubted for a second that we're a team, and on the same page. I think that's what has made the difference - mutual respect and shared priorities. Currently very happy, by the way (if still knackered).

BackforGood Sat 09-Apr-16 15:40:04

I agree with the first reply and so many others' comments.
We've been married 22 yrs and have 3 dc. There have been times when I've questions if I should stay or not, but I'm very glad I did.
Difficult to know how any of our situations translate into yours though. Also depends on what you want, or expect from a marriage. Are you happy to do things independently within that marriage? Is there an 'end point' (to the long working hours / never seeing him) in sight, or are you expected to have that stretching in front of you for another 30 years+ ?
I think the 'having young children / still being relatively early on in your careers' phase is really hard - there's never enough time to do both and you probably both think you are working your fingers to the bone for your family but your partner doesn't appreciate it. It does get easier as finances get a bit better and dc need you a bit less, and you can go back to work on 'being a couple' again.

venusandmars Sat 09-Apr-16 15:44:40

First off - separating can be a tantalising thought but it makes everything financial much more stressful, for both of you. So if the core of your relationship is sound (i.e. respectful, supportive, kind, loving) then your plan to 'fortify' is a good approach. Although, presumably at some point you will want a gentle agreed plan for moving back into a married relationship, rather than just flatmates?

When you have your summit meeting in October, do you know what measures you are going to use for you both to know whether it is working or not? e.g. if he works less than 60 hours per week, if you get more than 6 hours sleep per day, if you can save £50 per month / reduce your debts by £x per month, if you have 2 hours per week when you are free to do whatever you want - gym, sleep, meet with friends, read, (and he looks after kids / washing up etc), if you agree to have 2 evening per month when the two of you switch off your phones / laptops / tv and listen to music or chat. Or whatever might signal to you (and to him) that things have a chance of improving - both in your financial situation and in your relationship.

It sounds a bit clinical, but when I've been in long-lasting bad patches I've found that knowing some of the specifics of what needed to change or improve really helped me (and him) - we each knew what we had to do, and we each knew what we were expecting to happen. I am sure that it stopped me from walking out a couple of times over the 'straw' that might break the camel's back. And it gave us some tangible things to work towards rather than just 'working on our relationship' which felt like hard work.

I also have what I call my 'deliberate love strategy' which is for every 'negative' thing he does, I try to find one really positive thing I can do. For example - he comes home from work late - my pissed off self want to punish him by having eaten my dinner already and leaving him none, or leaving it cold, and being irritable and cross with him. OR... (deliberate love) I can think - he's tired and stressed so I'll plate up his dinner, and re-heat it for him,, and sit with him while he eat it. And then, once he's eaten, I'll tell him how it worries me / upsets me / make me feel resentful / puts pressure on me.... etc. What I find is that this makes me feel much more loving towards him, and all of that seems to then get reflected back from him to me. And of course, that only work if the relationship is absolutely NOT abusive or controlling.

PommelandCantle Sat 09-Apr-16 15:53:59

DH and I have been together 17yrs, married 11, 2 DCs. We've always talked though sometimes the conversation is started with a metaphorical hammer on his head to get him to stop and listen.

You've given it six months. Your feelings haven't changed. Do his fixed ideas involve divorce? Maybe he should stop and think about that for the next six months.

I would think every marriage has its moments. Communicating is what sorts it out I've found.

Hope you talk before October. What was he hoping to achieve with the extra year?

FATEdestiny Sat 09-Apr-16 16:12:25

OP - I'm seeing all your strike through text. Is this indicative of the way you communicate?

It smacks of game playing - "this is what I am thinking but don't want to actually own my opinion and discuss it like an adult".

The "loud silences" you mention have similar poor communication undertones.

As for not discussing a matter for months on end, that must be unhealthy.

threekidsandcrazy Sat 09-Apr-16 16:25:48

Thanks, everyone. This is really helpful.

ShesAGreatGas: yes, me too. I also find cohabiting / being married hard generally, and honestly thought I never would marry. Am encouraged by hearing others finding it difficult but still worth it. There are so many LTB (both serious and not serious) on MN -- and often completely the right answer -- but I needed to read some of the other stories to balance that out.

Tillili and Facicle ... flowers thank-you. Needed to hear that.

venusandmars -- all good advice.

PommelandCantle ... he is hoping that he can contribute more financially. The mortgage is crippling and I went back to work under duress way earlier than plan and although work has been in good in so many ways it's still a massive struggle (time-wise) -- and I've plunged straight back into work that pays well rather than what I want to do. I said to DH previously enough is enough -- we can't afford to live here and he wanted me to give him (and the business) a year because he thought we would be in a very different financial position by October. Which we might be. I just get hit by waves of "but we've been "waiting for things to get better" for nearly eight years now, and I'm tired of it ..."

I periodically get a very strong sense of life passing me by and being unable to get on and do the things I want to do because we are so financially stymied. And that I don't spend enough time with the kids because I have to work to pay stupid mortgage etc etc

But ultimately I do want to be married to him. I feel trapped by his (emotional) commitment to the house, and then it all feels like too much work when I also need to do the "work" to help our relationship mend because he's so knackered from work ... and round we go again. Last October we did get to the nub of the issue (his commitment to the house) and that I just didn't feel that way and that the price (emotional and time, as well as financial) was too high.

A year is a long time to wait, though, and we are suffering in that waiting period.

I married a smart, hardworking, ambitious, driven, funny, caring, loving, responsible man. This is part of the package.

Thanks, again, for your thoughts and views. It's been helpful.

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