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Can you build a marriage with someone you like, but don't really love?

(68 Posts)
nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 13:34:22

DH and I have been together 5 years (with one DC, who's 3). He's a lovely man - kind, thoughtful and caring. All childcare is split pretty much 50/50 or maybe 70/30 to him, when he's not working (he's full time, I'm a SAHM at the moment)... on paper, he's the perfect husband. On paper. In real life I feel bored by our relationship and a bit bored by him and it's eating me alive. Before we got together I had quite an exciting life, and although I try to maintain that as much as possible, ultimately DH is a quiet, and sometimes quite grumpy man. Whilst I need to have a social whirl around me, with lots of cultural input (music, art, theatre, whatever), he doesn't, and although he's happy to go along with me wherever I want, I feel like I'm missing the intellectual stimulation of being with someone who's as enthusiastic about life as I am and his grumps get me down. As DS gets older and I get freer, I worry that I'm pulling away from him.

I feel like such a bitch. I always thought I was quite a nice person before I got married, now I feel horrible. Like I'm using him. Which maybe I am. I can't tell any more... I feel sometimes like I'm losing track of who I really am.

I suppose my question is can we make this marriage work? DH is a good man and he deserves to be happy. DS is an incredibly joyful, well-balanced child and I don't want to fuck him up seeing his parents in a miserable relationship (like I was, seeing my parents in theirs)... I want us all to be happy. DH loves me, from the bottom of his heart, and although I like him a lot and he's my best friend in so many ways, I don't really fancy him any more. We talk about most things and are always very supportive of each other, but that's the elephant in the room.

Sorry for the long post, there's so much to say and so much going round my head at the moment. I can't talk to anyone about it in RL and really I feel ashamed that I feel this way. I feel like I'm betraying him by thinking these things. To make matters worse, we're supposed to be ttc at the moment and it's shit or get off the pot time. I'm 40 and have had two MCs already this year, we can't really afford to waste any more time if we want to stay together. Help.

CailinDana Mon 08-Oct-12 13:41:45

Have you always felt this way about him or is it a new thing?

fergoose Mon 08-Oct-12 13:44:44

why would you want to settle for and stay with him if you don't really love him - seems such a waste don't you think?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 13:55:17

My parents have had a marriage like that for 50+ years. Both nice people in their own right but very little in common beyond being married. She started off finding him 'steady' but now he's 'boring'. He started off finding her 'lively' but now she's 'demanding'. It has led to a very unhappy atmosphere of resentment, arguments and low-level sniping. I'm not even sure they are friends. Now they are old, retired and not in the best of health, they are thrown together 24/7 and it's worse than ever. If you've had similar parents you'll know how that makes you feel as a kid.... you can look happy as a clam on the outside but it doesn't half mess up your adult relationships.

nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 14:30:32

Calin that's the question I ask myself a lot. I think maybe the signs were always there, I just chose to ignore them. Before DH I had a history of very terrible relationships and an unhappy family life but then my alcoholic (and EA) parent died, and I think I just went a bit OTT trying to sort my life out... I became wildly efficient about things, had therapy, lost lots of weight, got fit and then when I met DH he was so different to anyone else I knew I thought, that's it! My future! I can be happy! Which maybe I can't.

Fergoose and Cogito. I agree. But then I'm terrified of being on my own for the rest of my life. My self esteem is at an all time low and I gave up work after DS was born (a job I loved, but not sadly one that would combine with childcare unless I won the lottery) and I'm a bit adrift I suppose. DH anchors me and he understands me and I'm terrified to lose him.

fergoose Mon 08-Oct-12 14:32:57

But if you are not on your own you may miss the opportunity of finding someone who is right for you.

I get the terrified of being on your own - I am, and the thought of the next 40 years with nobody by my side makes me want to give up - but it is far better than being with the wrong person, which I was too btw.

Maybe you need to look at ways you can get back the exciting/social/cultural aspects of your life in ways that don't involve your DH? The idea that one person can be everything you need puts a lot of pressure on relationships - if you can spread your needs/likes/interests around a wider group of people it could take the pressure off, allowing your marriage to be one part of your life but not all of it. So spend time with friends, join cultural "groups", make room in your life for doing things you find exciting.

If once you've done that you still don't want your DH to be a mahor part of your life, then at least you gave it a go. But you might find his quiet dependability work well when you have other outlets.

nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 14:38:34

Cogito I'm sorry you had to go through that as a kid. I did too, it's hard. And it's right what you say about messing up adult relationships. Rebelling against my parents unhappy marriage is how I got into this mess (I found a man so completely opposite to my own firey father that I've managed to find one exactly like my long-suffering mother instead) sad

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 14:40:56

Yes people

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 14:43:11

Oops!! Yes people can definitely make a friendship into a marriage and you can with work grow love I think. The decision is do you want to?

strandednomore Mon 08-Oct-12 14:43:37

I am going to go slightly against the grain and suggest that what you are describing is fairly normal in many marriages. Having children changes relationships and you are never going to be the young, carefree people that you were before. Getting older, working full time or looking after small children - all these things will affect both you and your partner. I think people are too quick to give up on relationships, there's too many who have this view of the "ideal" that either doesn't exist or is very, very rare. Splitting up at this point could be disastrous for your dc, better to try and make a go of it and find ways other than your dh to make yourself happy. Even if it means doing things without him, even going off on weekend breaks or holidays on your own or with your dc. Don't underestimate what you have - you could be doing a lot worse.
Are you desperate for another dc or would you be happy with just one? Having another will put a lot more pressure on this relationship.

Viviennemary Mon 08-Oct-12 14:46:54

It might be better than marrying somebody you are head over heels with and then find out he is a selfish and not very nice person. Or you knew he was selfish and not very nice but you thought you could change him. Why does nice have to mean boring. Sometimes not very nice is boring and a lot worse besides.

nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 14:48:58

Fergoose that post made me cry. I'm splashing huge tears on the keyboard. The idea that I might find someone who's right for me... I just don't even dare to believe that could be true I suppose. I thought myself bloody lucky to have found DH. Who else would want me? I don't even like myself.

AMum I have been doing that, rebuilding my life after marriage I suppose. The trouble is, when do go out with friends (a couple of times a month now, which is great) I just feel so much more alive than when I'm with DH, the contrast is depressing.

strandednomore Mon 08-Oct-12 14:49:24

Glad to see I'm NOT actually going against the grain to suggest you try and stay and work at it rather than give up! Sorry have to post and run, but will check back later as I think this is an interesting debate for so many of us...

fergoose Mon 08-Oct-12 14:55:06

Noclue - I went for the safe option in my ex after a previous violent relationship - not only was he extremely boring, dull and safe he turned out to not be the gent I thought he was - but that is a whole other thread. And I never, ever fancied him - just went along with it as he was there and he adored me and he was steady and worked hard, good father, etc.

I was exactly the same, thought I was lucky, was actually so pathetically grateful that somebody would want to be with me - except I think I projected onto him what I thought he was - now the rose tinted specs are off I can see he was none of those things! And I did try and make it work, for 16 flipping years - it was him that gave up on everything, not me. Now I am just so angry I wasted my precious time on someone who was so wrong for me. So my advice is don't waste your life on someone who isn't right - but then only you know your own life don't you. Is your happiness which is the ultimate goal here isn't it.

Rather than just chucking in the towel, how about some counselling, either individually or together. Maybe help boost your self esteem and help you decide what it is you really do want. I wish you luck whatever you decide. I just think there is a whole world of possibilities out there, don't miss out on them due to fear.

nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 14:56:15

Thanks for all your replies, I have to go out in a while so will be off the thread but I'm so interested to hear what everyone has to say.

Vivienne this is exactly why I married DH. I debated it with myself for ages... I thought he'd be steady and kind and would make a great dad and he was and he is and he did. I do love him for that, but having DS changed how I think of things so much. I FINALLY got it about love and what love means. I look at DH and I see an adult version of DS and I think I have to leave him, I will hurt him too much. I hate the idea that someone like me would marry DS IYSWIM.

Stranded yes, I do want another child. More than anything. Which is why I've posted on here really, I need some clarity before either extending our family (with luck, time is not on our side) or leaving the relationship (meaning no more babies for me). Would it really blow things apart even more? Oh god, that would be terrible.

Viviennemary Mon 08-Oct-12 15:10:56

I hate to be a pessimist but how much chance is it that someone is going to come along that is kind and good and you also see stars when you look at him. Maybe and maybe not. But don't spend your life chasing rainbows. But others disagree with me if you wish.

Feckbox Mon 08-Oct-12 15:17:37

OP I think many marriages that start off with more of an obvious love get diluted over the years to more like what you describe.
I find it deeply depressing

garlicbutty Mon 08-Oct-12 15:27:08

I was going to ask how he really feels about love - in general, and how he loves you - but suspect you can't know the answer until you go to counselling. I've come to the conclusion that loving is a choice. I know it's a cliché; bear with me please!

People have their own styles of loving, their own manner of commitment and levels of give-and-take, etc. I'm not explaining this very well but it's probably a thread of its own. If your 'styles' are different, at least one of you will be feeling short-changed. A good counsellor would know how to draw this out from each of you. You'd then be in a better position to assess whether you can grow in love together (another cliché) or are actually short-changing each other on a permanent, if unintended, basis.

You would need a bloody good counsellor, I think, rather than a patcher-upper. And it'll doubtless be reassuring to you to know that happy divorces do exist and can, if it turns out that way, be facilitated by Relate.

I think you're very honest so I'm optimistic for your future smile Good luck.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 15:40:20

The thing is I don't really think any one person will be "right for" any one other person all the time forever. If you have a long term monogamous relationship you are committed to then that commitment is actually about working on things when you have disconnected I think.

It doesn't sound as if things are terribly wrong just that you are going through a rough patch where you are a bit disconnected from him after some upheaval and you feeling a bit suppressed by small children?

I don't believe at all that if you leave you will have the opportunity to find someone else who is perfect for you, I'm not sure that is very realistic. Anyone has the potential to become irritating. Where you get into trouble is when you make a choice to do something which goes against what you are actually willing to do, so if you choose to stay but aren't willing to let go of the fantasy ideal relationship and really focus on re-connecting (I assume?) with your dh for example.

How I see my dh is that when we married I committed willingly to him becoming a part of my family of similar standing to my parents, that I was committing myself to maintaining a relationship with him virtually unconditionally with few limitations placed on that. Some people choose to see spouses as more temporary fixtures and that's equally valid but that kind of marriage commitment is the kind I wanted and what we thought about and discussed and chose.

Relationships all need work and commitment if they are to last a long time. There's nothing wrong with finding all that too much and choosing not to have long term monogamous relationships if that's what makes you really happy. Equally sometimes "the perfect" relationship is one where the type of work you have to put in is the type you are willing to and this might be different with a different man (and better for you than with this one) but it is not likely in my opinion, that you'll find a long term partnership which is easy.

A best friend who loves you, if that is the worst it will be, is probably quite a good bet if you choose the relationship path but it takes two to fix it when it's hard, no elephants in the room, good communication and both working together. Also you need to decide when the work has become flogging of a dead horse if it doesn't improve.

What no-one is mentioning is that it is very often not about being unhappy with your partner at all this stuff, but about you feeling unhappy with yourself or your own life. You sound under a lot of pressure and I wonder if the Ttc is related to the urge you have to get away and be free?

Only you can choose, there's no objectively right or wrong path I think you must make a really considered choice and whatever it is has to be what you feel is right for you and not the right thing to do. Doing "the right thing" if it isn't what you want to do will just make you miserable.

Mumsyblouse Mon 08-Oct-12 15:59:33

I don't think comparing going out with your friends is at all a good comparison, you might only see your friends once a month, it's an opportunity to gossip, be vibrant, giggle and so on, but it's not everyday life at all, I am 'on show' a bit when I'm out and I couldn't keep it up 24/7. It's just one dimension of me, not the whole of me.

I agree with AMumin Scotland's assessment, I think that looking for both excitement/stimulation and quiet steading lovingness all in one person can be a mistake. I have a lot of excitement in my relationship as it is quite passionate and we laugh a lot. But the downside is that my husband is quite volatile, we argue a lot and we can make each other really unhappy. Your husband sounds like he has a lot going for him, not least that he will enable you to lead the life you want, in terms of being great at childcare, being supportive and loving. I am not sure I would throw all that away for what, the promise of a knight on a white charger. You may get someone next time who is really interesting and stimulating, but tiring and not as gentle. You don't get it all in one package.

That is not to say you should stay in a very unhappy marriage, of course you can leave. But to me, you are just discontent, a bit restless and looking for your husband to spice up your life. You are looking in the wrong place- go out there and live an interesting and stimulating life (hobbies, weekends away with friends, great career, travelling) with him behind you. If he holds you back, fair enough, but he sounds supportive and perhaps you do not appreciate how rare and loving that really is.

nocluenoclueatall Mon 08-Oct-12 16:29:18

Back in and reading these replies... such thoughtful, interesting, honest stuff. Am wrangling a toddler at the moment so can't really reply properly till I've had a proper read later (tomorrow probably) but I wanted to say thank you for replying.

I'd be interested to hear any more thoughts - anyone on here made something like this work? Or left and made that work? I do love DH in my own way, I'm just not "in love" with him. But then, I've never been in love with anyone now that I come to really think about it. Maybe this is just my way of loving, I don't know. What I thought was love before turned out to be unrequited lust and quite uncomfortable for all concerned...

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 17:13:08

I've had periods of feeling I loved but wasn't in love with dh. I had a time recently where I wondered if it was actually over because I discovered dh hadn't been honest or open about something fundamental about himself and had done some spiteful punishing of me which I didn't know if I could live with. He has made a real change and I am prepared to leave if it isn't permanent but at the moment I do feel really in love with him and we've each done some good work on parts of our relationship that were a bit rotten.

I would say underneath underpinning our relationship is the commitment and the love then on the superficial level there are more temporary cycles of feelings of being in love, attraction, repulsion, irritation, frustration etc I've always found though that when I've been mad at him for things there have been elements I have caused so with this latest one my ball-breaky approach that expected him to say what he thought, felt or needed although not unreasonable, railroaded him and made him unhappy because of his lack of confidence and sometimes my jokey quips were hurting his feelings but he was too proud/cowardly to say. So even though the relationship problem was caused by something he needed to change about how he related to me there were things it was helpful for me to change about how I relate to him in order for him to actually be able to do that and that process of pain, assessment and compromise has brought us close recently. I think it is about being together even when you are mad with each other.

Being "in love" I think can't be sustained, relationships that are over are ones where there isn't balance between the effort put in on either side or the commitment felt or where one is very unhappy.

nocluenoclueatall Tue 09-Oct-12 10:54:29

Thanks everyone. There's much to think about here. I am actually prone to depression and I think that plays a role in this too. Because I'm TTC (well, sort of) I've not had any ADs, but when I did years ago, they really helped.

I think I miss my old life. As much as I adore DS and I love his company, I've become a suburban housewife, getting fat, worrying about getting the washing done and flapping about fertility cycles. That's so far away from what I thought was the "real" me that I panic sometimes I think, that I've lost my old self (someone I'd worked quite hard to be and was quite proud of - great life, great friends, great career etc).

Ultimately though, DH is an incredibly supportive man. He's encouraged me to go back to work / go to do an MA whatever I want and I know he'd be behind me 100% whatever I chose to do but I feel trapped by the child care at the moment. I've just put DS in preschool though, so that should give me some time to myself, to work things through.

I want to say thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me. It's such a difficult thing to talk about in RL and I'm actually quite surprised at most of these replies. I was expecting to get a flaming and a chorus of LTB (leave the bitch!) really so it's given me heart and definitely a fresh perspective. Maybe I'm not such a freak, maybe I can be happy, if that's what I choose.

I'm going out on a date with DH tonight. Hopefully we'll have a great night, have a bit of a laugh and re-connect with each other. We've both been under such incredible strain really (the MCs are just the tip of an iceberg, but that's a whole other story) and we're both licking wounds I suppose.

I'm sorry for your losses, I can imagine you have both been through a lot and are hurting.

I think you should take some time and focus on making yourself feel better, physically and mentally -- I think only then will you really be in a proper frame of mind to assess your relationship.

I have suffered from depression and general unhappiness with my life in the past, and A) it always makes things seem worse than they are, and B) it always inspires thoughts of escape. It seems so much easier to break everything and get away, than try to stay and change things.

I am similar in age to you, also have a toddler, and becoming a suburban housewife is also my worst fear smile I think if you were to go back to work or do a postgrad degree, it would do wonders for you. I think us depressives need a fair amount of 'outside' stuff to focus on or we go a bit crazy.

Have fun tonight smile

IfImHonest Tue 09-Oct-12 11:36:54

OP, I've been in the same situation as you for some time, and I can say it is bloody hard to make a decision. I've been seeing a counsellor who has promised me that he is going help me make a decision on this - either he will fix my relationship so it becomes what I want it to be again, or I will leave it, but either way I will be strong and not make a decision out of fear or desperation or exhaustion. he is also big into knowing your own identity and understanding the mistakes people make in relationships. Sounds like you need someone like that. I have found it a breath of fresh air compared to normal relationship counselling.

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 11:54:13

Be a little kinder to yourself. You have been through a lot in a short space of time. You may be suffering a little from this perception that mothers are meant to love being at home with children all the time too. In the modern day it can be a very isolated and thankless task and to a degree very disempowering.

I think maybe you need to work out who you actually are, working towards being someone you want to be is all well and good but what is actually wrong with being who you are in the first place? It sounds a little like you are feeling lost and subsumed by everything around you. I don't think you deserve or need a flaming.

Your marriage may be good or it may not be right but when you're inside a whirlpool it'll be hard to tell. Preschool will almost certainly help you get more time to work out how you reconcile the new you with the old and to evaluate things in your life. I think you sound very caring actually about your husband and child and I think things will work out well for you in the end if you can work out this stuff, which is actually pretty normal I think, of who you are now you have a dc and how having a dc fits into you (rather than how you fit into the dc which is normally the first bit of parenting).

Whenever people advise other people to 'work at' a relationship that isn't satisfactory, particularly if it's the woman who wants to leave, I think it's always important to consider sex.

To be blunt, advising a woman to stay with a man she likes and respects but is not attracted to is very often telling her that she will have to accept his cock into her body on perhaps a fortnightly basis. Indefinitely. Or that she will have to accept the relationship being slowly poisoned by resentment and misery on both sides: if a couple are in a longterm heteromonogamous relationship then it is reasonable for one or both to want sex to take place fairly regularly.

If you are contemplating staying together 'for the sake of the children'. you need to think about this. Does he want to have sex with you? Are you OK with having sex with him? Would you both be happy to acknowledge, at least between yourselves, that the sexual side of your marriage is over and that you are both at liberty to seek sex elswhere? Or are both of you simply not that interested in sex and happy to live without it?

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 12:13:56


LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 12:17:49

OP well, you can but why settle for, what is effectively half a life, that is only half lived?

There is no Law, that states that just because someone is nice, kind and good you have to therefore marry them. Just because someone is good, it doesn't mean they are necessarily good for you.

If you need that spark, that fizz, then that's what you need. It doesn't make you wrong. It doesn't make him wrong. It just doesn't make you right together.

And, if you find the right person, that spark, that fizz, stays with you for the rest of your lives, together.

When I met DH, I already had lots of good friends, so I didn't need to marry another one. Yes, he had all the qualities that I looked for in a friend...but, in marriage, I wanted more than just friendship. I wanted something more intense, more precious, more intimate, more passionate and more unique.

And, that's why I married him - I couldn't have settled for anything less.

You're only here once. Life is short. Spend it with someone who makes you light-up like a Christmas tree smile

OneMoreChap Tue 09-Oct-12 13:01:53

Same advice you'd give to anyone, really.
If you aren't happy, separate.

Be honest with him and tell him you want to go.
Obviously, you'll have to revisit being a SAHM...

Is the house bought or rented?
Go and get some advice on divorce.

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 13:26:27

I think the last few posts have missed a trick. I wasn't and I don't think anyone was advising the op to stay.

The thing is I'm not sure whether the problem is that she doesn't love him or she doesn't love herself. She's been through a lot and I think it would be unwise to leap out of the relationship in a bid to try and solve a problem which may ultimately be a problem with how she feels about herself rather than him.

Until she feels better about herself and happier in herself I don't think she is in a place to make a good decision about how she feels about her husband or marriage. A different man or a different lifestyle won't necessarily help and if she finds her dh or marriage to anybody is not for her after this process then I think leave.

garlicbutty Tue 09-Oct-12 18:31:12

You're right, Offred, and so are others who've made the point that happiness comes from within. This very point, however, is all too frequently used as an excuse for putting up with unhappiness and/or dissatisfaction - growing flowers down the hole.

I believe we do know, deep down, which scenario we're looking at but it's easy to feel unsure. Shaking things up can help to free our thinking: making a well-researched, feasible escape plan shows us we really do have alternatives; getting a new job shows us who else we can be in different circumstances; effective counselling reveals what we really want and need.

SGB's question is a time-honoured test, too. How do you feel about having regular sex with this partner, and only this partner, for life?

Offred Tue 09-Oct-12 19:00:20

I don't know that that's really all that good an indicator either especially in the context of ttc and miscarriages sad. I think sex in a relationship changes over time and so do your feelings about it e.g. For periods you may not want any like after a baby or during depression and you may misinterpret that as your partner being the problem and think "god i can't imagine sex only with this person forever". Other times the sex is frequent and good and so you feel good about it. These things being separate from the decisions to actually do it or not to a degree.

I really think a lot comes down to choice. There's nothing that says commitment to one person is superior I think each way and all inbetween have very different benefits and drawbacks no one thing is perfect and people need to choose the path and lifestyle that makes them happiest. It required courage for me to commit to monogamy long term but it does make me happiest I believe, for some others it might take courage to be uncommitted (my sister is like this) but it might be the best thing for them but you have to know yourself really well first. If this op has fallen from one relationship to another without thinking and then discovers being uncommitted is what's right then staying with her husband is wrong no matter how nice he is. But I still think being in love all the time isn't sustainable and happiness doesn't come from the person you share your life with.

Mumsyblouse Tue 09-Oct-12 19:49:18

I wouldn't advise someone to stay if they were deeply unhappy with their husband, but the OP doesn't sound deeply unhappy with him, she sounds unhappy, perhaps depressed and frustrated with her stay-at-home role. As Offred says, trying to work out what that is about, and changing one thing (she'll still have the drudgery and childcare issues without the husband, in fact, more of it).

Having said that, OP, not much of your post has been about your husband really, except that he's not as exciting as your friends and you are not 'in love' (thought have never been). SGB's post is a good one, if you really don't find someone physically attractive then that really is a bad sign in terms of making a go of a relationship when you are not 'in love', for the reasons she specifies, you can't go on having sex with people you don't like or find attractive (well, you can, but it will make you very unhappy).

I don't agree with LeQueen that everyone is looking for fizz in a relationship, or that people will necessarily be happy if they find it- as I say, I feel I have plenty of fizz but to be honest, also wonder whether a quieter more companionable relationship might be more liveable with.

I also think it is a question of perspective, I have a friend who was really fed up at one stage with her rather undynamic husband and she kept moaning, if only he'd get a job, if only he'd move, if only he'd decide XYZ, and in the end, I suggested (in a nice way) that he was what he was, he was always going to be the passive one in their relationship but that this could be a massive advantage for her, as she was a control freak who loved to organize everything! She had got stuck thinking that because he was the man, she had to wait for him to decide to move/get a new job/where they were going to live. She did then go on to move house/change her own job and they are very happy again now because she decides everything and has the house of her dreams/new career instead of trying to prod some rather passive guy into providing/deciding on it.

Perhaps this is an extreme example (and he was extremely passive) but OP, if you don't like being a SAH housewife, don't! Just get back to your great job or do a Masters and ditch the housework, get a cleaner and get out there. Even if you have another child, you can get childcare and continue if you want to. Wild horses wouldn't drag me back to SAH and children's telly and baby groups, you can be what you want to be, especially if your husband is supportive/or without him if you so choose.

Mumsyblouse Tue 09-Oct-12 19:51:19

By the way, obviously SAH can be fulfilling for some. But women are too stuck on the musts/oughts/shoulds of the situation and if a different life, where you feel like yourself, is for you, then you can live it, even with children.

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 19:55:40

"But I still think being in love all the time isn't sustainable and happiness doesn't come from the person you share your life with."

Offred I have been with DH for 21 years, married for 10. I have never stopped falling in love with him. I assumed after the first heady, rush of passion, emotions would settle down and we'd plateau and life would get companiable - because, that's what happens, yes?

Wrong. 21 years down the line, and he's going grey, but he can still make me blush like a teenager, and I still get that fizz when I hear his car pull on the drive smile

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 20:02:23

musmy I do absolutely agree with you, in that not everyone is looking to be passionately engaged with their DH for their whole lives.

My BF adores DH, but she shudders at our marriage grin She just wouldn't be comfortable with our intensity of emotion (and not that I always adore him...sometimes I could cheerfully crucify him) she openly admits she would find it draining, and too consuming.

She is very content with her DH, who she freely admits is more of a nice house-mate/companion - they never argue, they rub along comfortably, and it suits them both very well.

cronullansw Tue 09-Oct-12 20:06:05

You have a great husband, who a great father to a wonderful kid, but you don't feel completely fulfilled.

Don't you think you are being a little selfish here?

Do you honestly think leaving and starting over, disrupting everyone's lives and hoping to find someone you really can love, even although you've never really loved someone, is going to work?

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 20:12:11

cron it doesn't matter how great a DH is on paper...if they don't fulfil you, if being with them makes you feel emptier, if being with them makes you always feel a combination of sadness/pity/guilt - then they're not great ... for you.

kiwigirl42 Tue 09-Oct-12 20:35:26

best advice I was ever given about relationships - don't ask whether you can live with him but whether you can live without him

can you imagine being without him?

Mypopcornface Tue 09-Oct-12 20:52:13

You can do what I do. I go out with friends or dd to the cinema/theatre/ exhibitions/ museums, you name it while dh would rather be at home relaxing. On his iPad. Sleeping. Watching TV. When dd was younger I spent a lot of time doing nothing with him or resenting him because he doesn't want to do what I wanted to do. Now I accept that he is different and he likes to keep himself to himself and doesnt need as many activities as me. I used to call him (in my mind) boring, dull, dumb you name it, now I accept he has different interests and I can fulfill mine whiteout him and he is ok with that. Yes, there was a time when I thought I could have married someone more similar to me, but this doesn't guarantee a happy family anyway. If your hsband doesn't begrudge you for pursuing your own interests than I thing you should go for it specially since he is good at looking after your son.

Confusingtimesahead Tue 09-Oct-12 21:44:37

Well said Crun and Kiwi!

Offred Wed 10-Oct-12 07:03:55

That's not what I mean. I wouldn't stay with someone where the relationship had become companionable. I mean that it isn't realistic to always feel in love with someone as in you are likely to have cycles where the superficial feelings change and I think I would be very wary of saying to someone who sounds a bit depressed that the reason her feelings are a bit dampened is because her husband isn't right for her. If this is not down to her feelings about herself and life and the great stress she's been under then I wouldn't say to settle for something mediocre but I'm wary of saying leave and find the answer in another relationship always and especially wary of saying to someone who seems a little depressed that the problem is her dh who is perfectly nice.

greeneyed Wed 10-Oct-12 08:29:43

OP I feel a little similar at the moment BUT absolutely agree with everything offred has said.

Confusingtimesahead Wed 10-Oct-12 21:09:18

Just re-read LaQueens posts - you are a breath of fresh air on these relationship pages! Keep spreading your lovely words!

LaQueen Wed 10-Oct-12 21:30:14

Why, that's very kind of you confusing - I aim to please smile

I have just observed, time and again, people getting married and staying together, and it's very clear that although it's alright it's very far from good.

I just don't see why you'd sell yourself so short. You can fill your life up with friends, and nice people, and that's great...but, I think your husband should be something else again. Else why marry them?

Confusingtimesahead Wed 10-Oct-12 21:51:52

Exactly, I sometimes think that on here, it can all be a little bitter, rightly so quite often, but your words feel that we should be fighting for love and for that 'something else again' with the one we have built our families with. smile

SanctuaryMoon Wed 10-Oct-12 22:03:10

This has been an interesting read for me too, OP, so much of what you have said rings true with me as well. It's been helpful to read. I hope that things seem brighter today x

deliasmithy Thu 11-Oct-12 01:48:51

No clue: these are my thoughts/questions on reading this thread:

1. You acknowledge that some of the unhappiness isn't to do with DH, but rather a re-evaluation of where you are going in life. Is it worth exploring that avenue first? IME what we initially think isthe problem ends up not being the problem.

2. Have you spoken to him about how you feel? Not suggesting mentioning your feelings of love, but rather the ones you mentioned of feeling trapped, in need of mental stimulation, more exciting life etc.

3. I think love and its meaning differs for everyone. What do you feel it means? Not meant to be patronising, just can be helpful to see what boxes you have ticked, and what areas are missing.

4. Would counselling help?

saffronwblue Thu 11-Oct-12 09:42:22

OP I just wanted to say that your negative feelings towards your DH may be part of the grieving process for your lost pregnancies.

Having been through this, I think sometimes you can build up negative feelings towards a part of your life that you can control ( ie if you stay with DH) rather than the part of your life that you can't control ( TTC). So focusing on what is not perfect in your marriage gives you a feeling of power, which none of us has when it comes to pregnancy.

I'm not trying to diminish how you feel, but wondered if you have thought about this angle.

LaQueen Thu 11-Oct-12 13:26:42

confusing I think it's important that we all try and fight against the low-level, resigned bitterness that can so easily seep into a marriage.

I'm not saying that it always has to be hearts and rose, far from it, real life isn't like that. But, when life gets shit, your marriage should be a private universe you can hide in.

greeneyed Fri 12-Oct-12 08:57:07

OP I am similar age and know several people who feel in a very similar way at the moment, I think it's quite often the course of things. Love, marraige, babies then oh we've run out of steam. For me I suspect it is hormonal/biological to ensure we meet another partner and extend the gene pool. For me, I see it that I have two choices, a series of intense relationships which last maybe 7 years max then on to the next or opt for the emotional (and financial) stabilty of marraige. I've chosen the latter. I married my husband for reasons that were right at the time as did you and he still ticks a lot of the boxes! I just don't see the point in dismantling everything to start again only to find the next relationship feels the same in a few years. Thereks obviously posters on this thread who disprove this theory but in my experience it's true for a lot of people.

noclue I could have practically written your OP. I am a lot more dynamic and outgoing than DH and he is happy just steadily and quietly living his life, staying in - I need more stimulation and the lack of social life combined with having been a SAHM for the past 6 years is stifling. I have recently come to the realisation that I haven't quite kicked the PND I had after DS2 was born 4 years ago, so am now addressing that. Our sex life isn't great at the moment, despite the fact that we're supposedly ttc (albeit very halfheartedly after 2 MCs), but it's not always bad.

The last thing I want to do is walk out on my marriage and break up a family because I was feeling bored/ restless and wondering 'Is this it?' so I am trying to look at all the individual aspects of my life to see what I can change which might increase my confidence/ happiness. It's not always obvious what the real cause of dissatisfaction is. I've been blaming it on my marriage, but I think I'm just projecting my feelings about my life onto my marriage and blaming DH for bringing me down, when I need to take more responsibility for my own happiness and mental wellbeing.

So, in my case I am now

- Addressing my depression - am taking St John's Wort - if after 4-6 weeks there is no improvement, I will go to the GP for further advice/ ADs
- Looking into MAs - I want to be mentally challenged
- Looking for part-time work - for the above reasons, but also because I have realised that being financially dependent on someone else makes me a bit panicky (due to my own upbringing)
- Taking up new hobbies - DH is happy to stay home and play on the computer whilst the DC are in bed? Brilliant! I can go and join an amateur theatre group/ go out with friends/ see exhibitions and concerts which don't interest him etc.
- Working on counting my blessings - when I speak to my friends about their relationships, I realise just how damn lucky I am to have a steady, reliable DH who loves me and the DC, works hard, does his fair share round the house and wants me to be happy.

Already, I am starting to feel happier with myself, and bringing that renewed enthusiasm back into my marriage. I know it'll be a slow process, and my depression is still there, but I am starting to realise I can still be myself and be happily married to DH. I'm sure our sex life will get back on track eventually, but in the meantime, I've realised there's a lot that I can do to make myself happier and as a result feel more content with my marriage.

Sorry for the long post, but hope you find something in my experience useful.

garlicbutty Fri 12-Oct-12 12:20:51

leQueen, you're being positively inspiring on this thread!

I've got to say my ideas were pretty well identical to yours when I married (both times blush) but, to simplify, I wrongly chose partners who didn't share them. So, while I can offer a ton of advice on trying to fix what turned out to be unfixable, I'm possibly not the best source of advice for OP.

What do you recommend to her?

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 12:55:58

My ideas when I got married were that staying together long term would very likely be very difficult because it is a difficult thing for anyone to do. i expected us to go through really testing times and judged the relationship based on how i thought I would feel about it during those times not the good ones. i have always thought that my love for dh and the person that he is makes the work in a long term monogamous relationship worth it. He has been the most amazing husband despite not being a perfect person. So I suppose I wasn't coming at it from a perspective of finding someone who was always going to make me feel happy, in love, nice etc but that I wanted someone who I loved even when I didn't feel happy, in love or nice about them and very importantly, who was worth that level of feeling and commitment.

BUT that was because marriage was the best choice for me and my children for a lot of reasons and pretty much ultimately dictated what kinds of relationships I could have with different types of people. Fundamentally if it turned out, no matter how nice he might be, that I didn't actually love dh anymore then I would like to think I would leave and I would think that was the right thing to do and I think dh would respect me for that and we'd be really good friends eventually.

Don't know whether that makes me ridiculously naive and idealistic or a major pessimist!!

LaQueen Fri 12-Oct-12 14:10:57

garlic in the OP's shoes, I would call some time out, and separate for a while. I think staying the relationship, living with her DH, means she won't be able to see the wood for the trees.

She needs some space, so she can pause and experience what it's like to be without him, and take stock of her life. She most definitely shouldn't see anyone else, she needs to get to know herself, as a woman on her own.

It's short term pain, for long term gain.

I genuinely believe that your marriage should be pretty easy, otherwise you probably haven't married someone who is that good for you. It really shouldn't require lots of hard work...

When life can often be hard work - your marriage should be an easy, walk in the park, surely?

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 18:29:41

I don't find my relationship is that detached from my life actually. I also don't find it easy being in a relationship at all. I think it is quite normal to take frustrations out on the people closest to you too. I would never find it easy to be in a relationship at all but then I don't think that it is only easy things that are worth doing or that hard things are unhappy necessarily.

garlicbutty Fri 12-Oct-12 18:54:23

Unusually for yours truly, Offred, I find myself agreeing more with LeQ than with you on this. My relationships have been hard slog. That turned out to be, I now realise, because I was trying to be more accepting of abuse ... and, inextricably, because they didn't love me in the way I understand love (ie, not wanting to hurt your partner).

Two of the most damaging myths I internalised as a child were: Love hurts; You always hurt the one you love - this was an old song, oft repeated by my parents. Getting older, people told me You have to work at marriage. That last may be true but, coupled with the other two mission statements, meant I took on the wrong kind of 'work' at relationships.

These days I can see what a successful marriage looks like - and, more importantly, how it feels. It's far more like LeQueen's than some grim slog with thinly-spread pleasures. Since marriage is optional, why would one opt for that?

panicnotanymore Fri 12-Oct-12 21:44:32

The issue I'm picking up here is you do not enjoy being a stay at home mum and feel you have lost part of yourself. That has nothing what so ever to do with your DH.

Sort that one out first.

Then re-examine your marriage.

If you leave you will still be a stay at home mum, but one who does 100% of the childcare, and does not have someone at home to pick up the slack and enable you to have a break.

If when all is said and done and you've exhausted that avenue, you still can't see a future with your DH, be fair to him and leave. A life with someone who doesn't want you is no life at all.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 22:06:55

But a grim slog with few pleasures is absolutely not what I was saying. What I was saying is that it is normal to have temporary feelings of not being "in love" in a long relationship where there is a background of love. I simply do not believe that there are people who actually always feel in love with their long term partner no matter what they or the partner do or what is happening in their lives and relationships.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 22:13:56

I think long term relationships do need maintenance and effort the problem comes when you choose the wrong person whether that's because they are abusive or because you are never going to be satisfied with them. That's why the person and the relationship have to be worth it and also you have to know yourself and be happy with yourself in order to be happy in an intense long term relationship. I think happy and in love all the time is too good to be true if I'm honest. To weather all storms you need to be able to withstand all types of feelings.

DistanceCall Fri 12-Oct-12 22:30:32

If you don't love your husband, don't stay with him. It's not fair on you, your husband, or your children.

We only have one life.

garlicbutty Fri 12-Oct-12 23:39:37

YY, I get what you mean Offred, it's just that I'm cautious of advocating hard work on relationships as there's already so much pressure on people - particularly women - to stay married with little regard for their own fulfilment. If a relationship needs work, this should never mean working to suppress one's own feelings or against one's own interests. But that is often what's meant by the phrase.

Your posts on this thread do actually sound quite jaded and, yes, grim, to me at least. There definitely are couples who stay in love for ever. It's quite rare, as it requires a matched attitude to partnership as well as effervescent chemistry and general compatibility. But it happens! I maintain that loving shouldn't feel like work - and disagree with your belief that a down time would discolour a person's view of the whole relationship. Unless they're clinically depressed or have some other perception-warping condition, grown women are quite capable of knowing how they felt five years ago as well as how they feel today.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 23:54:34

I don't think you are understanding what I'm saying. I'm certainly not jaded.

I am not saying loving should require work or that people should work at relationships. I do not know anyone who has been in love with their partner every second of their relationship and i know a lot of really happily married couples. I'm making a distinction there between loving and being in love. If I stopped loving my husband I wouldn't stay and that's the part I think might only possibly be affected by being clinically depressed but the "in love" part is more transient and superficial and is the part I'm saying can sometimes need some work and isn't always there and is affected by how you feel. In any case it is possible this op is depressed she has said as much and this is why I'm advising caution (not against, advising caution) about leaving her marriage to be exciting and find a great romance.

I have also said that people need to do what makes them happiest. I've never been saying people should stay together but I think it isn't right to talk about the solution to one man being another as has been on this thread and I don't think it is right to say going through a really tough time in recent history will have had no impact on your feelings about your relationship/yourself. How much of a problem with the relationship that is depends you can't easily tell while you are still in it.

My relationship is joyful, it certainly isn't bleak.

MummysHappyPills Fri 12-Oct-12 23:57:13

Sounds very much like I could have written your post. Am going to go back and read replies with interest. So can't really offer any advice I'm afraid.

garlicbutty Sat 13-Oct-12 00:07:54

smile Offred.

I think it isn't right to talk about the solution to one man being another

I certainly agree with you there!

I don't think it is right to say going through a really tough time in recent history will have had no impact on your feelings about your relationship/yourself.

No, of course not. But stressful times can be a valid test of a relationship.

How much of a problem with the relationship that is depends you can't easily tell while you are still in it.

I think this is why many have suggested OP get away from it for a while. Are you still here, noclue?

LaQueen Sat 13-Oct-12 11:45:57

But offred I think a good marriage should be like a deep well. Everytime your life gets pretty shit, you know you can dip a bucket into your well and draw up the good, exciting, replenishing water.

It should be your marriage that sustains you against all the crap that life throws at you. When you get home, you should be able to close the door, and you're in your own private universe, where for juts a few hours you know you're inviolate.

Outside pressures can have an influence on you, obviously. But, you should know that you can face them all, because of the strength you can draw on from your relationship.

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