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Does this sound reasonable as the basis for discussions about future marriage and children?

(72 Posts)
Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 00:47:26

It probably sounds a bit "clinical" but I'm trying to be clear-headed and I am a bit clinical anyway... and I have got to the "let's get married or I'm leaving" stage.

To me, these are non-negotiable:

-Either parallel careers with no children involved; or complete partnership with children, including legal committment, wills openly agreed upon, etc. Under the parallel careers option I would be pretty hurt if we didn't openly agree on finances and wills, but autonomy could be possible.

-Full economic partnership, pooling resources, unless there's a strong reason to do otherwise (eg one has debt or gambling issues).

-A declared partnership (in our case, marriage) means backing each other up, supporting each other first, presenting a united front in the face of criticism, be it from my mad family or from his family who dislike me. I have no problem with discussing things in private together, and no problem with being told I need to change my behaviour; however, I'm also capable of recognising when someone else is behaving inappropriately.

-If we have kids, this entails agreeing in advance how to do the important bits of parenting (such as what messages we send by what we praise, what behaviours we model and what behaviours we try to adjust in ourselves, what the ground rules and consequences are for behaviour, basic health and nutrition); backing each other up openly; and being consistent and transparent with boundaries, both with children, and with "participating and enthusiastic" grin grandparents.

Background -

We have been friends since undergraduate uni, together nearly 7 years, living together for 6. We are both 36, so if we are going to have kids we need to get on with it. We have recently moved from stressful, high-powered jobs in London, to sabbattical in [nameless laidback forrin country a long way from London], and for the first time in years, we have had enough sleep and can think straight enough to actually begin to discuss the future. I had a pregnancy "scare" a few weeks back and it didn't seem too scary, it actually seemed like quite a good idea (to me, before I tried to talk it through with DP). We are thinking of staying here and not returning to the UK, since we have the right to live and work here, and family are in the neighbouring laidback forrin country.

DP is a bit of a mummy and daddy's boy. This is good, in that his parents are lovely, very sensible, very high-achieving. However, it is totally clear that if he had to choose between me and his family, he would choose his family every time. His parents think I am a waste of space, partly because I don't get on well with my own narcissitic, screeching, grabby and abusive family, and partly because they don't like the fact I've "failed" at my career. They were perfectly happy with "our son's girlfriend the surgeon" but now it's out in the open I'm thinking of not going back to medicine, it's "oh our son has lots of women friends". And all DP has to say about that is "my parents aren't comfortable with your decisions and don't want to be drawn in and forced to take sides in your problems with your parents".

Our discussion of the future yesterday did not go brilliantly. He basically said that his attraction to me is either as a high-powered autonomous career person (in a career that i want to give up because I hate it - and have currently dropped out of), or as the mother of his children. He is not interested in marrying me or economically supporting me, as anything other than the mother of his children. He doesn't want to marry my "issues" with depression, my abhorrent family, my career midlife crisis, and all that's apparently what has stopped him from proposing in the past.

I said I wasn't totally averse to having kids - he said he would absolutely love to have kids. I asked what he thought having children would involve, tried to make it clear the right answer is "support each other through thick and thin, total partnership, backing each other up in adversity". I asked how he would respond if I got postnatal depression, we had financial problems, if the hypothetical baby had problems. He didn't answer.

So basically, he wants the good bits - my economic independence, my autonomy via my career, and my ability to carry and bring up his children, on my own. But he doesn't want to support me, only his own hypothetical children. And from what I've seen with our extended families and kids of friends, at every turn, he wants to be able to choose whether to play with the kids, or do his own work - he backs out of anything other than playing. At the moment, he is not bad re housework - he doesn't show initiative but does it if told what to do. He is fine with being told what to do. However, he would need initiative if there were children involved, and I've never seen him display initiative with respect to anything outside his work.

I don't think this is a good start to marriage and children, and am considering trying to set ground rules - which will be the basis for me leaving the relationship, within the next 6 months, if they are not adopted.

Is this too harsh? (sorry it's so long)

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 00:53:23

Crikey, I don't have any answers for you but I'm interested in hearing what others have to say smile

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 00:57:53

Thanks Bex. I saw your thread and decided to write down what I was thinking. Hope things work out for you. smile

Tryharder Mon 01-Oct-12 01:19:20

I would struggle with him not wanting to marry you or support you. Do you think he loves you?

SomeoneThatYouUsedToKnow Mon 01-Oct-12 01:26:10

Gosh, that all sounds very complicated. Have you thought about seeing a relationship councillor.

I think you may be over thinking some things such as discussing how to raise DC's, my DH and I made it up as we went along.

I hope you get some better advice. Good luck.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 01:41:08

Tryharder - yes, that's what I'm struggling with. He hasn't responded in years when I've told him I love him. He is affectionate and kind, but it's difficult not to notice, when someone stops saying "I love you" and stops reciprocating it out loud and just responds with silence and a pat on the head or something. I was in tears before I had the courage to raise that yesterday, so I"ve never had the guts to tell him I've noticed. sad

Dryjuice25 Mon 01-Oct-12 01:41:44

It really does sound clinical but I admire the fact that you have laid your stall.

He does sound very self centred and scared to commit. My predictions is since he lacks initiative to such extent, you will find yourself doing the lions share of bringing up the dcs if you go on to have them. Also I don't get the feeling that you really love each other's coming across more like a business transaction tbh. Good luck though

It sounds to me like he thinks you are a Will Do For Now partner and he might dawdle into marrying you if you push it, but then feel entitled to dump you or shag around because you've 'changed' and it was you who wanted to get married and have kids...

ChaoticismyLife Mon 01-Oct-12 01:56:19

I'm trying to work out why you want to marry him.

You are not his partner.

You are just a woman. A woman who may or may not give him children. You fill his lonely existence. You are replaceable.

Any man who said he would never support me and didnt want to have to deal with my health issues would be out of my life yesterday, nevermind in 6 months.

Please dont put yourself through this anymore.

MiniMonty Mon 01-Oct-12 02:01:32

Answer 1:
Sounds like he needs breast feeding and will drown when you vanish. See the light, get back to Blighty, marry a Fireman, have loads of sex, a job you like and some kids. Life's too short. smile

When you started I though "clinical weirdo" but having read through to the end I think you are right to think seriously about 'what next' given the circumstances. The story you don't give us is your "failed career". Did you kill someone during an angiogram? Are you just bored with the NHS? Could a spell with Medicine Sans Frontieres rekindle your passion for medicine? Or have you discovered you were born to be a lady who lunches? Seriously, do tell... And what happened between "friends at uni" and together 7 years (now 36)? Ten years of other stuff right? So neither of you are amateurs or beginners.

Blokey sounds a bit two dimensional and shallow the way you describe him and a bit addicted to his parents but, as you're living abroad together, surely you know the highs and lows of him by now to know whether he can be trusted to come through in a crisis, stand by you in a conflict or carry you home if you lose it in a bar one night? You also make him sound very self centered and almost emotionally brutal but if that's so why are you still there after seven years? He must have some redeeming features...

At 36 you know already that you can't "crystal ball" anyone or anything and you know (having seen a few friends I'm sure) that marriage is a leap of faith that once entered into must be worked at by both parties to succeed. If you think he can love and adore you as a yummy mummy and you are happy with the role it sounds like you could pull it off - but I don't hear much passion in any of this... At 36 I wouldn't expect you to be a goggle eyed teenage dreamer - but a bit of "and actually I love him" would reassure me that you have a future with the possibility of at least some fireworks in it.

Having said that, if he doesn't want to marry your "issues" does he expect you to magically leave them at the door of the church?
Are his family really that big a deal - does he feel under pressure from them to deliver a trophy wife?

You could try a few googlies (that's English for curved ball) and see how they go down... i.e. create some semi-fake scenarios and see how he reacts:
1) I want to go to Guatemala for a couple of years to work with the Red Cross - are you coming?
2) I want to throw it all in, sell everything we own and buy a tiny vineyard in the South of France and make a go of it - are you coming?
3) I'll become anything you really and honestly want me to - what is it?
4) [ you can easily make up ten more of these on your own, you get the idea]

On balance it sounds like he enjoyed your box ticking abilities when you were a surgeon, a "high-powered autonomous career person" and would consider you as a suitable baby machine but I can't help but feel that after sprog number one actually arrives you'll be spending long nights alone and then finding receipts you don't like the look of in his wallet. Because you'll be looking in his wallet after long nights alone... [This is based on YOUR description of him by the way so if there is anything else we ought to know then say it quick...]

By the way, planning on how you're going to bring up your kids is a bit like planning how you'll behave in a shit storm emergency you've never heard of AND predicting the end of a Korean art film. i.e. total waste of time and impossible to do. Don't plan on having that in your plan.

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:03:08

i dont think you'd feel as you do if you really loved him..
you would feel loved back.. do you feel loved at all?
Having a child would be recipe for disaster, with him being unsupportive and you prone to depression i think it could result in PND.
go with your gut, you don't think it is a good basis.. it isn't

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:04:16

SGB: yes - completely - that's why I was trying to have this discussion and get things clear before we got much further.

rrrrriiiight so he wants kids but doesn't want to do the shit bits?


Or, at the very least, don't have kids with him. Have a laugh with him, and then find a real partner (in the sense of 'real partners are always, always, always on your side when it's You Vs World') to have kids with.

Trust me, there are a lot of shits bits with young children (don't know about older yet). Love having DS but god he's 2 and he's good at it. It's 9pm here and DH is still trying to wrestle him to bed/sleep, while DS screams for mummy (I can't go in, pregnant, knackered back - plus when I go in he screams for daddy...) it's shit sometimes. And a sense of humour and supportive partner are sometimes all that keeps you sane. Don't do this with him. You need someone willing to love you with SPD, PND, no sex life, no sleep, looking minging, no conversation, always complaining ... you need someone to love you because of that/ despite it.

And frankly, it doesn't sound much like he loves you now. The stuff about chosing/backing his family over you and colluding with their poor treatment of you?

He's not supportive. He's basically auditioning to be some kid's fun uncle. Don't do that to your kids -they deserve a real dad, not a disney dad.

ChasedByBees Mon 01-Oct-12 02:07:06

Marriage is meant to be 'for better or worse' and you should go into that willingly. For example, I would support my DH if he wanted to change careers because I love him and want him to be happy. I put him first above all others (before DD came along anyway). He would do the same for me too.

Children will hugely alter a relationship dynamic and you need to be fairly solid before this (and not resent the interdepency that comes with being a family). I wouldn't trust that your DP could do that based on what you've said.

I don't think this sounds that positive OP.

justbogoffnow Mon 01-Oct-12 02:08:04

I'm with Chaotic here. I think your sabbatical should include a sabbatical from this relationship, leave, see how you feel in 6 months (during that time, if there's a point where you feel like going on a date, then go for it). TBH, that's a roundabout way of me saying get out of what doesn't sound like a particularly relaxed, generally happy relationship.

ChasedByBees Mon 01-Oct-12 02:10:34

Interdependence even

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:16:42

Minimonty: the baby discussion was the first big googly I've thrown. I'd always been fairly adamant that I wanted a career instead.

The failed career is not a spectacular Dr-Death scenario, just realising I can't take the pressure any more. I have worked myself into the ground since the beginning of uni to pass exams, supervise students, lecture, get research grants, do research, publish, AND have a clinical career as well - but for the last few years I was hating every second of all of it, and permanently on edge in a clinical setting, going off to cry in the toilets at the end of a shift because I couldn't handle all the death and destruction and unhappy people. I wasn't finding any of it interesting any more, I didn't like telling my students stuff any more, I was too bored to keep up with the literature or write up my own research and didn't care when I failed ot get a research grant... i recognised that I was completely burnt out.

DP seems to think the appropriate response is "you've changed, I liked you better before". Well, no sh*t, I liked me better before too...

i like the Korean art film analogy. I do realise it's impossible to predict anything, but agreeing in advance that you think XYZ, is perhaps better than flailing wildly after the shitstorm has hit... it gives you the illusion you're still acting responsibly...

Cheesestrung: I can no longer tell, and I think that is significant.

MiniMonty Mon 01-Oct-12 02:17:17

I wrote an essay in response to that essay - and you all just bash in with double fast three liners. I geddit now. Read it, bang off a quick knee jerker and move on to the next bit of well thought through advice... In three lines.

Look, I know that you are 36 because you said so, and you are probably feeling that panicky desperation of wanting kids before your ovaries shut down. But I think that you have probably been feeling that way for a year or so and the only reason you haven't dumped this man is because you can't face 'starting again'. So what you are doing is trying everything you can think of to turn what sounds like a fairly selfish, useless bellend into the perfect husband and father.

It can't be done. Stop wearing yourself out trying. You don't have to have a couple-relationship to have kids, if kids is what you want more than anything else. There are sperm donors and/or fostering/adoption - or getting impregnated by someone who also wants kids and has no suitable partner - or just getting impregnated by some random.

Or, by leaving this bloke you give yourself more of a chance of meeting one who is both good partner material for you and who wants kids as well. BTW, while a woman's fertility declines as she gets older, it doesn't stop dead on your 37th birthday. I had my DS at 39 and he was an unplanned big surprise.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:20:41

Blackcurrants, Chasedbybees & justbogoffnow - I think I agree here.

I am quite frightened of chucking away what could be so utterly brilliant if we could just get some stuff straightened out. I don't really have any model for successful happy relationships. From spending far too much time on Mumsnet i am beginning to realise that this is unlikely to change and isn't good enough.

justbogoffnow Mon 01-Oct-12 02:21:20

Can't do essays anymore - arthritic fingers = ouch!

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:23:32

SGB - crosspost - your assessment is astute.

Minimonty - thanks for your essay - I loved it.

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:26:04

would you consider some relate sessions together to make things clearer? there is a relate book "before you say you do" which might help you clarify how you feel about this man

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:26:55

sorry its late... "before you say I do"

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:28:40

Cheesestrung thanks for the idea - we are 1000s of kms out of range of Relate here, but will try to get the book and talk to him about it.

MiniMonty Mon 01-Oct-12 02:41:45

Anna... Herewith the best and worst one liner of all time: Medicine takes it out of you.
(and ain't it the truth)

But you don't need to be "House" or the top dog Surgeon to enjoy what you have put so much effort into learning over so many years.
You really could go off with Medicines sans frontieres and spend most of your time in triage (somewhere really interesting) zero stress medically and you might meet George Clooney.... Or you could get on the plane that goes every night from Birmingham to Afghanistan and back and do trauma containment for the squaddies whose legs have been blown off (no teaching, nobody judging you). You could look for a rural GP job with a farm attached and your kids running in the meadows of Merry England.

MANY things are in your future and I think none include the guy you've described to us all.

It's ALWAYS a lot easier to do nothing than to do something. It's VERY hard to walk away from where you are, what you know and all the time you're thinking "what will I tell my friends..." but fuck all that. You live once. And at 36 I reckon you've got that idea (almost) firmly worked out.

I say crack a bottle. Drink it alone and write some postcards to yourself FROM yourself for the next ten years.
(Postcard One):
Dear Anna, I'm on a plane, it's full of soldiers and medicos and we're off to collect wounded soldiers from Afghanistan. I can't tell you where we took off from and the SAS are on board...
(Postcard Two):
Dear Anna, I'm in Beziers. The crop this year has been pretty good but the warm nights through October may have ruined the grapes (but it's been fun treading the extras to make Rose with Alain).

You write the next twenty until you read one the next day that you really, really want to come true. Then just make it come true.

Aussiebean Mon 01-Oct-12 02:47:45

Hi Anna

I can't talk much about the career and babies part of your post but I can about the toxic family.

It worried me that you don't feel you can rely on either you partner or his family for support. I have a very toxic mother. It has taken a little for my DF to understand but I have his and his mother support in dealing with her.

At the wedding day, his mum has volunteered to stand guard and keep her away from me. That love and understanding I am so grateful for. It took her a while to get it. As she can't understand a mother being so awful. But for me she has got it.

That part of your post stood out to me. If you got married you two would be the family. And the fact that you already know he will put them first, means you will be battling him, your in laws AND you family.

You need someone who is on your side. ESP with a toxic family. If he can't be that. Find someone who can.

Hyperballad Mon 01-Oct-12 02:49:43

I think a little bit different to the poster so far.

I think he didn't answer you because he felt that it was pointless to. As in your not going to be open to his point of view of his answers anyway.

From what you've said I don't think you love this man as he is, I think you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

He has said he would love to have kids and that he would support you as the mother of his kids, I'm not sure what's wrong with that? Marriage isn't for everyone, it dorsn't sound like you want to marry him as much as he doesn't want to marry you.

I think most people would struggle to answer the question 'what happens if I get PND' but I think he more than some as his answer would be wrong.

It all seems wrong and I think it is because you don't love him as he is.

CaliforniaLeaving Mon 01-Oct-12 03:10:42

He can't cherry pick what he wants, you are who you are, medical problems included. Whats he going to do you have a bed week/month and need him to look after you and do all the baby stuff, will he run for the hills.
I think the, go back to London and marry a fireman was the best suggestion of all.

MovingGal Mon 01-Oct-12 03:18:22

Some questions you need to ask yourself:

What happens if you don't get pregnant?
Will he trade you in for a younger model after some years of trying?

After your kids are grown and left the nest will he fly off too?
If the kids do have problems will he wipe his hands of you & the kids?
What if the kids have no problems but just don't meet with his exacting standards?

I think people do need to think of the practical aspects of marriage and child raising but the best any of us can do is go in with realistic expectations and the best of intentions. The best intentions seem to be missing here.

justbogoffnow Mon 01-Oct-12 03:25:25

Well said MiniMonty smile. Go and do some living, laughing and loving Anna, it really doesn't sound like your future is with this guy. There are people who can make you much happier than this and you have time still to have babies if you want them smile.

justaboutiswarm Mon 01-Oct-12 03:40:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 04:14:06

Lovely ideas Minimonty, I shall start writing some postcards and see which one I like best smile

Good points here - thankyou all.

Hyperballad: there isn't anything wrong at all with "he would love to have children and would support them" except the bit that went with it: he wouldn't support me and sees nothing wrong with asking me to use my savings to pay rent and bills even if I can't work because I'm looking after "our" children, he doesn't want to marry me as I am but how he would like me to be, and the undeniable fact that unless he suddenly grew up a lot (likelihood: zero) he would be a depressingly useless "fun uncle" Dad who could always be relied upon to indulge the kids but never actually parent them. And having seen his parents interacting with our nephews, there would be clashes of ideas and i know he'd be backing up his mum and refusing to discuss it with me.

wine wine wine required this evening I think.

Hyperballad Mon 01-Oct-12 05:10:02

In that case then, why wait 6 months to leave him, think you should just get on and do it. It's a big decision after being with him all these years but it feels like you've already made it.

If I'm wrong and you still want to find a way to work things out with him then I think you need to focus on just the most important thing. I think you are piling up a lot of different issues and making a mountain when a lot of the things you can decide on as and when they happen or even if they happen. Dealing with little molehills along the way is easier than trying to get over a great big mountain.

Grumpla Mon 01-Oct-12 05:15:18

Life is far too short to waste another six months on someone who doesn't appear to love you and who you don't appear to love. Another vote for the fireman here!

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 05:32:09

I've been economical with the "but I love him" because I already know from bitter experience that one-sided love is totally irrelevant in making a relationship work. Particularly after it's got to this stage.

I do love him. I would look after him til death do us part. I would work to resolve things. I feel affectionate and warm and fuzzy towards him.

But it is increasingly clear that just like the previous relationships, this is one-sided; and unlike in previous contexts, it makes absolutely no sense for me to be in this city or country, if I am not in this relationship.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Mon 01-Oct-12 06:02:28

Really, if things are so tricky now, having children would just sink this relationship.

You sound really lovely, if still suffering from the effects of work stress

Give yourself a few weeks / months space from this man, to really see how you feel about him. Affectionate, warm and fuzzy are, IMO, not particularly strong emotions...

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Oct-12 06:16:06

I don't understand the whole "support you as mother of his children but not wanting to do anything or give you financial support" bit. It sounds to me that his parents aren't the only ones hung up on your braggability as a surgeon. I also think you feel trapped by your age and in last chance saloon and if you were 25 or 30 you'd run like the fucking wind if a man offered you this half life. I also agree with whoever said that if you press on with him he will feel entitled to emotionally and probably totally check out the first time something is a bit hard because he's already "warned" you he would and you've tolerated that.

He sounds v v selfish and I really wouldn't want to put my heart in this mans hands.

NeDeLaMer Mon 01-Oct-12 06:41:07

I agree with the 98% of posters who have said this relationship is not going to work sad

When a man tells you who he is listen.

He has told you he doesn't want to marry your 'issues'. He has told you it's High Powered Surgeon or Drudge - nothing inbetween. He's told you his parents will always come first....

Really - what more do you need to know before you pack your bags and get out of nameless forrin country & somewhere that inspires you?

You are 36 - don't waste anymore time trying to make this relationship what you want it (and deserve it) to be, be by yourself for a bit, find YOU then you will meet a man who is right for YOU.

nooka Mon 01-Oct-12 06:54:52

Sounds to me that the two of you have generally enjoyed a life where you were both concentrating on your careers and possibly didn't really demand very much from each other because you were stressed out by other things. Now you are probably spending more time with each other than you have for years and perhaps you are discovering that you don't really have that much in common.

Your OP suggested to me that your partner was saying that if you had children he would support you as the mother of his children, but that otherwise he expected you to go on working. This seems to me a fairly normal expectation to be honest.

With regards to parenting I don't think that observing your partner with the children of friends and family is a very good guide to how involved a father he is likely to be. Neither dh nor I had very much interest in other people's children at all, but we are equally hands on parents (still not very keen on other people's children though!)

I also think it is a terrible idea to try and force anyone to answer a question with the 'right' answer, essentially you don't actually want their own opinion just to hear what you want to hear. Your right answer is not what I would have said to dh when he decided that having a baby might be nice, or what I would have expected him to say either. It's a question with many 'right' answers.

However regardless o all that it's fairly clear that both of you have very conditional feelings towards each other. You don't think he is fatherhood material and he thinks you have too many issues. At 36 I doubt either of you are going to fundamentally change.

bbface Mon 01-Oct-12 07:05:29

This is very sad. Also sad that you come to a anonymous forum for advise. You need a good girlfriend. Do you have one? To sit down and work these things through in your head. You need to talk to someone face to face. See who really and genuinely cares about you, and knows you. I desperately hope this is a possibility for you and, if it is, I would urge you to drop the thread and go to this friend.

bbface Mon 01-Oct-12 07:06:15

'Someone' who really and genuinely....

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 07:24:13

Thanks bbface (and others). No, I don't have any good girlfriends of the sort you mean, or any relatives. The job i've had until recently was the sort where you have no other life, and once a couple of formerly good friends turned out to be more interested in things other than me, I kind of gave up and just focussed on work.

It's now blatantly obvious that I need to acquire a life.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 07:55:50

OP, I am sorry that PIL's think you have failed at your career. Maybe at the age of 36 you feel as though there is more to life and that you are a human being, not a human doing.

Lots of people get fed up with working their backsides off to achieve some sort of status and career that impresses people they don't particularly like, while hating it themselves. If PIL and your partner think you have failed by deciding to take a different route, well, they are very narrow minded and have pretty much failed at being kind, tolerant and considerate people. So, they are not worthy of your time and energy for starters.

You need to do what makes you happy and look after your mental and physical health if you are feeling burnt out. The last thing you need is more stress from an immature and uncaring partner.

Also, this man does not sound like someone suitable to have children with. His attachment to parents who don't respect your life choices, the fact that he said would be unwilling to support you through the rough times says it all.

Being a parent can make you feel burned out and isolated when you have a decent and supportive partner. It would be unwise to have children with this man.

JustSpiro Mon 01-Oct-12 08:02:56

I don't think this is a good start to marriage and children

Bingo! I haven't time to read your whole thread atm but based on your OP, if it's that much hard work already I'd be thinking of getting out ASAP rather than tying yourself to this bloke any further.

marshmallowpies Mon 01-Oct-12 08:15:28

It's not an equal partnership when one person is doing all the running to make the other happy. My exP followed his dream career in academia, which left me dragged along in his wake working long hours in a job I hated. He could go into the lab pretty much when he felt like it, take a day off whenever he liked...and he'd get mad at me for not wanting to stay out all night or throw a sickie so I could hang out with him. And god forbid we go to visit my extended family (my parents were fine, but he refused to interact with my wider family) or spend the evenings/weekends doing something I wanted to do.

It's only now I look back and realise it wasn't a partnership, it was one person completely in thrall to another. All my choices were taken away from me and my life was pretty much what my exP dictated for me. You need, at the very least, to get yourself into a position where you can make choices about what you want to do with your life.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 08:58:43

marshmallowpies- that's sad, and sadly very, very common in academia. Yes - there is a strong danger of that happening here.

He's out tonight. I was feeling too ill and unhappy to go with him - it will probably be taken as further evidence of my social inadequacy.

Corygal Mon 01-Oct-12 09:09:53

You want something that isn't going to happen if you stay with him.

It can only happen if you leave.

marshmallowpies Mon 01-Oct-12 09:13:41

Anna the thing that kept me going at the time was thinking 'well at least one of us is following our dream' and I was so proud of him for giving up his previously well-paid career to do something he really wanted to do (and also that might benefit humanity in the long run, as he might find a cure for a disease or something). But in all that pie-in-the-sky business there was nothing there for me, other than being his loyal partner and supporter.

Someone said to me, not long after we broke up, 'you ought to be in a relationship with someone where you aren't the junior partner, always the person in the background' and that turned out to be a very wise & accurate epitaph for that relationship.

Corygal Mon 01-Oct-12 09:17:40

I'm not surprised you've taken a break from being a surgeon. It's knackering, terrifying, and a relentless adrenalin-athon - well done on slipping away and taking control. I'm impressed.

I don't like the sound of your DP's using your troubles, which are neither uncommon nor embarrassing, against you. He sounds like a spoilt boy toddler, and he could well be, by the sounds of his parents. He wants a Barbie. You may want him but you don't need him at all.

plantsitter Mon 01-Oct-12 09:29:42

I'm going to throw in a word of caution from a different perspective.

All the above is brilliant advice. What you haven't said much about is your own 'narcissitic, screeching, grabby and abusive family'.

As the survivor of a pretty chaotic and turbulent family (whom I must say I love dearly), make sure you are not ruling yourself out of a marriage and family because you are 1) not the kind of person who HAS a marriage and family and 2) you are undeserving of it. You're not projecting your own feelings on to him, are you?

I would examine my feelings and his actual behaviour and actual words and make sure that he really is being the cock-end you describe. It is possible you are sabotaging yourself. A big change of career etc is bound to affect your self esteem. I think it's sometimes easy for people from chaotic backgrounds to project the behaviour of their own feckless relatives onto other people.

If, on reflection, he really is the cock-end you're describing, take all the advice above (I'm writing postcards to myself as I type). And good luck.

birdofthenorth Mon 01-Oct-12 09:47:04

Some random thoughts:

His parents seem like vile snobs.

He seems honest but frankly, odd. What if you get married on the basis of him supporting you as a mother but children are not forthcoming? Will he then require you to return to surgery and live seperate financial lives? I have to say, DH and I merged our finances the second we moved in together and it has always worked well for us (I supported him through retraining, he supports me now we havedc and I am part-time in a less well-paid but rewarding job). Conversely my friend's marriage just fell apart due to a lot of issues one of which was her refusal to merge funds fully (she has inherited wealth and a low income, he had no capital but a higher income but occasional debts due to aspirant tastes in cars etc) -it caused a lot of resentment and stress. I cannot imagine talking to DC about Mummy's money and Daddy's money. It is our money, and we make much sounder decisions together.

Equally your DP's evident lack of support for any depression you have experienced is really pretty shitty. I do understand living with a depressed person is far from easy. But if you love that person unconditionally, you would not use it a reason not to marry them. DP has supported me through a period of depression. I have supported him through periods of stress when he was not great to live with (though not suffering mental ill-health as such). It can happen to any of us at any time, and your partner's loving support is vital to a quick recovery.

Finally, I would not wait 6 months hoping for his attitude to change. If you want to marry him as he is and under the terms he has indicated, do it. If you love him, and he loves you, some of the issues you have identified my work themselves out to both your satisfactions during the course of a marriage. If you don't want to marry him given his current expectations of what that would entail, don't waste your life. I hate to stress the tick tock body clock case, but trust me, the more straight forward your attempts to start a family, the less emotional trauma you will experience. You will know the stats from your medical background. You may not know the emotional/ marital impact so fully.

Good luck.

Dahlen Mon 01-Oct-12 11:08:35

Honestly? I'd call it off. Read your last two paragraphs again. That says everything you need to know. He doesn't love you - he loves the idea of the 'perfect' you that he's created in his own little fantasy world in which everyone is a perfect foil to his own perfect life. Rather like his parents by the sounds of it. How could you ever feel secure with a man who only loves you when you are on top of your game?

margerykemp Mon 01-Oct-12 11:18:18

Your 'relationship' is in this state and you are actually considering continuing with it?

You know you need to leave him. Don't waste another 6 months.

I wanted to come back to this Anna and say I'm sorry if I was a bit brusque last night (toddler bedtime misery for all! Waheey!).
We're about the same ages and I've just done a massive career switch (8 year PhD + training, moved to America to accomplish it, realise I don't want to continue in academia for most of the 'no life' reasons you mention - or, at least, 'no life that *I want*) - and having a supportive partner (financially yes, but mainly emotionally) has been vital to me. So Kudos and brava! for doing that kind of thing with someone who sounds very disengaged.

You've got some really sound advice on this thread, I think the need to (1) get a life and (2) do something you love - is starting to shine through. There's so much you could do (and love!) in medicine that isn't surgery (bucolic GP, de-worming orphans in Haiti, saving legs in Afghanistan, the sky really is the limit) with a period of training/adjustment, and actually be happy.

I think you need a gap year. Move out, put your things in UK storage, and go somewhere amazing and be their locum GP. Go de-worm orphans in Bangladesh. Go and save abandoned girl babies in India. Go and delivery babies in Malawi. Go and feel like part of a community, a valued part of a community, for a bit, and see if you re-kindle your love/liking for practicing (a different kind of) medicine.

Go and do something just because you want to.

Also second what SGB said: your fertility may start to decline after 35 but it doesn't flip off like a switch. After being sure I'd be infertile (undetected std for years, late starting) I've found conceiving as easy as sneezing, both times. Not saying that's the case for everyone, but some couples do NOT struggle at any time. Cousin just had surprise twins at 45! Give yourself a year to go somewhere interesting, do something different, and get your head together. Come back to Blighty from the jungles of darkest Peru, and start a job you like. Then sit down and think: alright, do I want to have a baby on my own (hard but entirely possible) or am I ready to do the dating thing? A change of scene, a bit of time, and possibly a bit of therapy about your horrible family and how you ended up in a one-sided relationship with quite a cold person ... might be the making of you!

Can you tell I love mini's postcards idea? Good luck to you, Anna, you sound like a fab person and I suspect someone who's going to get her groove on and be very happy, perhaps sooner than you imagine.

charlearose Mon 01-Oct-12 13:36:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

charlearose Mon 01-Oct-12 13:42:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Apocalypto Mon 01-Oct-12 13:50:56

It took you to the middle of page 2 to say you loved him.

That seems a long way down in the mix.

naturalbaby Mon 01-Oct-12 13:54:14

It all seems very complicated, with a lot of conditions attached on both sides.

For me (luckily) it was the simple fact that me and DH want(ed) to spend the rest of our lives together.
My only condition was to support each other and stick together (assuming we were still in love) no matter what the circumstances. We have done so far through many unexpected things including redundency, depression and unplanned pregnancy which were all major threats to our marriage.

You can't plan your futures with such precision - I would never in a million years have preticted the emotional lows we have been through in the first few years of our marriage. I was aware they happen but was pretty sure they would never happen to us and they were fairly mild events compared to what other couples go through.

JollyJumper Mon 01-Oct-12 14:00:00

My DP had no clue what type of father he was going to be before DS arrived, all he knew is that he didn't want to be a dad and look at him now, he gets excited just by seeing the new playground!
I'm sure the opposite is true and some well meaning DH promised to be hands on and flaked at the first opportunity .
Those things are difficult to predict imho. Just as you won't know what type of mother you'll be , it's very difficult to predict what type of father your OH will be.
I saw on an american website a "parenting test" which I thought was brilliant.

PebblePots Mon 01-Oct-12 15:38:49

Crikey, sounds dreadful, I think you should not persue this relationship in any way. I can't see it ending well.

itsaruddygame Mon 01-Oct-12 20:39:06

He sounds like a spoilt, selfish brat. You deserve somebody that loves you for who you are not what you do and having children with somebody so unsupportive would be a recipe for a miserable life IMO.

olgaga Mon 01-Oct-12 22:19:22

Anna, don't waste your life on something which "could be so utterly brilliant".

After 6 years of living together, if it isn't brilliant by now, it's not going to be - and no amount of trying will make it so.

I hate to say this, but he doesn't sound remotely committed to you. It doesn't even sound as though he loves you. It sounds as though he's waiting for something better to come along.

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 22:36:50

Anna I agree with blackcurrants and charlearose. You sound like you have so much potential. This is man is wasting your time for his own selfish needs. How dare he! And how dare he want everything on his terms or not at all. He sounds incredibly selfish and incredibly selfish people do not make good partners or parents.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Oct-12 22:48:06

Anna - forgive me if I have you mixed up with someone else, but isn't this guy your 'if we get to XX age and we aren't married then we'll marry each other' bloke?

Don't do it, really don't.

Do something that will make you happy. You are right that if you want to be a mother then time is somewhat pressing, but you don't need a man to have a baby.

OrangeImperialGoldBlether Mon 01-Oct-12 23:00:11

I wouldn't stay with any man who, when I said I loved him, didn't say it back. Either he doesn't feel it or he can't say it - either way I wouldn't be interested.

I'd love to see you go off and have an adventure. You know those savings he wants you to spend on bills while you look after his baby? Why not take a year off and do something really exciting? Leave medicine for a year. You've spent all of your life slogging away, you haven't had the chance to make friends and have fun.

Oh and tell him before you go that he hasn't lived up to your expectations, so you're afraid you'll have to end it.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 23:51:30

Ok - thanks everyone.

I failed on discussing it or even drinking wine last night.

Will try to have further discussion tonight and work out where to go from here.

OrangeImperialGoldBlether - I wouldn't stay with someone who doesn't feel it. With someone who can't say it, I'd want to work out (with them) why not.
Here I am not sure I will get the chance.

Alibaba - no I think you may have conflated me with someone else? but your main point is the relevant one.

Blackcurrants (and others): next stop the Himalaya, I think. Once i sort things out a bit.

bugslife Tue 02-Oct-12 00:07:12

It shouldn't be this hard, surely? What does your gut say, think about the future with him not in it, how does that make you feel? A man should be a benefit to your life, not a endless list of complications. He's just too much hard work.

The Himalaya are very, very beautiful, Anna - I think you should go take a look at 'em smile

Anna (not stalking you!) I saw this today (watching the 'half the sky' documentary) and thought of you. Stuff like this always makes me wish I had medical training smile

hope you're doing okay. It's tough working out where to start when you've made big decisions, sometimes. Take care of yourself.

Anna1976 Mon 08-Oct-12 05:21:07

Thanks blackcurrants smile. Have been having lots of discussions here. It is all a bit tough, and very very emotionally and metally draining, but if the worst case scenario is moving on, then life can't be that bad.

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