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I think we're at breaking point, is there any way to fix this?(15 Posts)
Apologies in advance, this may be long but I'm trying to make sure I include everything that's relevant.
DH and I have been married 14 years and have 2 children together. We've been through some awful stuff over the years and come through it stronger than ever, or so I thought. I feel like we're so far apart right now I'm not sure if we can come back from it.
I love him, am still in love with him and the thought of being without him makes me feel devastated. I'm pretty certain he feels the same. But despite that, I can't help but feel that life without him, in some respects, would be easier.
There are 2 main things which seem to be driving a wedge between us, and I suspect they have the same underlying cause.
The first is his contribution to the housework. Firstly I need to say that he is a nice man. A good man. If I were to stomp my feet and tell him he had to do something, he would do it, but I don't feel that's the right thing to do.
We are both naturally quite lazy and have never been great at housework. The difference between us is that over the years I have focussed on trying to improve that. I had got to a point where the house was in a pretty good state most of the time, only occasionally got behind with the washing etc. 90% of the work involved in this is done by me. He washes up after dinner (which I cook) and will help me have a bit of a tidy up if I ask (nag). To be fair to him, he used to leave the washing up for days and he has improved to a point where probably 70% of the time it is done that night and the rest of the time the next day, occasionally the day after. This does drive me mad though and I let him know.
I've had a few weeks of health problems and during this time literally everything has fallen on him - cooking, cleaning, running the kids about and even caring for me for the first couple of weeks. During this time the house has fallen into a state and the washing is so far behind nobody has any clean clothes left. I didn't expect him to keep it perfect, but I don't feel he has put as much effort in as I would to keeping on top of it all.
The second big thing is our different approaches to parenting. I'm far from perfect, lose it from time to time just like everybody else does, but again I'm conscious of this and try to be calm and reasonable most of the time. He seems to only have one setting with them - straight to angry. He thinks they have no respect for him, and to be fair I agree. But I think his approach to them is largely to blame for this and have told him so. I know I am also at fault for undermining him in front of them, but sometimes the arguments between him and the children get so heated that I feel I have to step in and try to calm things down. I try to back him up as much as I can but I know that I often just get cross with him, which doesn't help.
I've tried to talk to him about both of these issues many times, but he seems to have got to a point where he doesn't want to talk about anything and even when I've clearly done something wrong, he'd rather say nothing for a quiet life. He's permanently angry, he works hard to keep it in and I can see that but all it means is that he then explodes when something small goes wrong.
I think he is depressed and has been for years. He knows I think this, has had tablets and counselling over the years but soon gives up as soon as he starts to feel a little better.
I don't know what else to do. I want us to fix this, but he won't talk to me and won't get help. I'm quite prepared to be told my expectations are too high or I'm getting it wrong, as I'd honestly love for there to be something I can do to make this better. Are we beyond saving?
I don't think your expectations are too high.
You both live in the same house and create the mess, why is the natural default that you clean it up ? I too wouldn't want to have to stamp my feet to get things done. My ex would do anything I asked him, but usually in his own time, and I always resented the fact that I had to ask. Ultimately, I think it shows a lack of respect for the other person, and dismisses your feelings if he knows the state of your home is an issue for you.
As to his anger towards the children. Again, I think this is a form of laziness. It takes time and effort to know what makes your children tick. Also, if a situation is developing it takes attention and thought to consider how to tackle it. The easy option is just to go nuclear, and hope a huge screaming match will get them to back down and you can "win". So again, from what you've said, it looks like he's opting out of the hard stuff.
You say you've tried to talk to him, but does he know just how serious things have got for you ? You sound like you'd consider leaving, perhaps he thinks you never would so you'll stay whatever he's like ? He sounds like very hard work, and eventually that may kill your feelings for him.
I had never really thought about the way he deals with the children also being lazy, but I think you're right. He has no motivation to make anything better and I think ultimately that may be the thing that kills us.
He's utterly miserably at work and has been for years, wants to leave but never really does anything about it. He might see one job in 6 months he likes and apply for it, or maybe even just talk about applying for it. I get so frustrated that he doesn't really try to change the things he's unhappy about, it's like he's a passenger in his own life.
He does know I've considered leaving. I think he believes (probably rightly) that I love him too much to actually go through with it.
Are you a positive person ? D'you think he's relied upon you to provide the fuel for your relationship and as parents etc ? I know some people don't mind, and in fact prefer, to be in the driving seat, but you sound worn down by what's happening.
Sorry to be blunt but do you feel that he loves you in the same way you love him ? If he can see that he's making you upset and frustrated, shouldn't that be the motivation to try and make some changes in his life ?
See that's the funny thing, he adores me. He's lovely in so many ways and, unless I'm completely misreading things, I'm fairly sure he loves me just as much as I do him.
I suppose in some ways I'm quite positive, I'm always trying to improve things that I'm not happy with, but I'm also a lifetime depression sufferer, so I totally get the lack of motivation. The difference is I've taken the treatment and the depression is well managed. I'm a very flawed person, but I'm very aware of my flaws and works on them constantly, even if i don't always succeed.
I think I'm used to being in the driving seat as he's so laid back, but I'm not happy here and I've been telling him that for years. I'd actually forgotten until you said that about an argument we used to have when we'd only been married a couple of years. I used to complain that he made me feel like his mum, making the decisions and being in charge. It did improve and he grew up a bit. This is quite similar really isn't it?
it's like he's a passenger in his own life Have you told him this using these exact words?
He does know I've considered leaving. I think he believes (probably rightly) that I love him too much to actually go through with it
He's not just lazy, he's also complacent. You may be able to shock him out of it by telling him that the tension his anger, with resultant explosions, brings to the household has become a dealbreaker and you think it best for him to live elsewhere before you lose all respect for him.
Given that he's tried counselling, and given up far too early, it's unlikely that Relate sessions or similar will do anything other than alter the status quo temporarily and once you become opitmistic that he's capable of permanent change, he'll revert to default.
Is there any reason why you haven't got a dishwasher and could you run to hiring a cleaner for a couple of hours a week to take some of the load off you?
We don't have room for a dishwasher unfortunately, and money's too tight for a cleaner.
I have considered asking him to leave in the hope it would shock him into action, but there are 2 things stopping me. The first is money - we couldn't live without his income as I'm only part time and earn less than half what he does, and we certainly couldn't manage two residences even with both incomes.
The second (and possibly most depressing) is that I don't think it would have the desired effect. I don't think he has the motivation to fight for us.
So really this is just how he's always been by the looks of it, but now you've had enough.
I had a period of reactive depression many years ago, so I too understand the soul sapping lack of energy. Like you, I took action and was lucky to receive amazing help which put my life back on track. I did it for myself, I was single then, and your dh needs to do it for both of you.
Ultimately if he can't/won't try and help himself I guess you have to decide what you can accept. Are you happy to be in a loving marriage that's very frustrating, or would you rather consider a different future without the person you love. It sounds very difficult for you.
I would rather invest in remodelling kitchen first to get dishwasher and gett soemhow the money for a cleaner than to separate.
Divorce is much more expensive that.
Can you get full time job or few more hours in the current one?
If there is still love then leaving seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Can you insist he deals with the depression and doing so long term is a condition of you remaining? It may be he needs a combination of medication and therapy. Agree strategies in advance for dealing with the kids? Even if that means he leaves dealing with them to you? It's not fair on them if he goes straight from normal to angry.
You shouldn't have to stamp your feet to get him to help but I think I would do it short term. Divorce is expensive and messy and if love still exists, why put yourself snd the kids through it, esp if money is tight.
Lot of very good points made already up thread and I don't want to repeat what's already been said so offering some other thoughts.
I struggle at times with both depression and my parenting and being sweepingly simplistic there are aspects of my childhood that contributed to both. I wonder if your DH might have had particularly authoritarian parents or is falling back on repeating models of parenting from his own childhood? I find it extremely helpful to read a nice parenting blog or a book, or some articles on child development every couple of weeks to give me a boost and keep me on track. The anger may be a lazy response, but it may also be a lack of good strategies and tools. I'm constantly working against my own experience and instincts and it is wearing and I just don't have good RL support. I'm wondering if there is a way of bringing other parenting strategies to his attention perhaps by reading aloud (an interesting section in this great book I'm reading), or watching a presentation in his company or even attending a parenting course together. Do you think there might be a way to trigger an interest in him? (I'm not throwing the responsibility for this on you, though it might read that way, just suggesting alternatives to the "rude awakening" that might in the circumstances be more effective). Do you think if he could see a more effective way of dealing with the kids that took less energy than getting angry and gave better results that he would try it? (Or are they just vulnerable and handy scapegoats for his anger....in which case you're dealing with an entirely different situation). I know you may think that you're already modelling alternative parenting to him but having it spelled out in bullet points with a clever name by an "expert" can be very helpful.
For me summoning up anger has, at times, been the only way I've been able to find the energy to keep going in difficult times. That doesn't negate any of your points about him needing to deal with the underlying depression. I really feel for you OP as it's tough enough to live with a depressed partner or to live with your own depression but how you find the strength for both amazes me.
You fear that he wouldn't have the motivation to fight for you. So I think you need to think carefully about what you want to achieve and be clever about setting him up so that the path of least resistance is leads him where you want him to be, or at least to a place that is tolerable for you.
Thank you all, there has been some very helpful advice on this thread.
Amy - I think you're definitely onto something with his childhood role models and we have spent some time this morning looking at a couple of useful blog posts about not being an angry parent. He has already put some of it into action and is feeling the benefit. We have had a lovely evening full of laughter, and both DC have been asking for him to do stories and bedtime etc, which has made his night.
We spent quite a bit of time talking last night and today. I have used some of the insight from this thread to help me better articulate my feelings about the situation and I think he is finally beginning to understand just how big a deal this is for me.
He is, at the moment, making all the right noises about change. I'm feeling simultaneously cynical and hopeful as some of this he has promised before, but he has never previously seemed to understand my position quite so well.
He has said that he doesn't think he is depressed, he said it feels different to that and may be more related to not being able to fully engage in his creative passion. I can kind of see that and am not going to push the issue if he genuinely doesn't think he's depressed and is willing to work on the problems we have.
I am so thankful to the support on here, I honestly don't think I would have been able to get through to him the way I have without all of your different perspectives and advice.
I will update with how things progress, but for now am holding on to the possibility that things may not be as impossible as I thought.
That's a really positive update OP, so pleased he was receptive to looking at the blogs and talking things through with you. I hope you go from strength to strength, it must have been lovely for you all to have such an enjoyable evening.
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