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Any positive stories of bringing things back from rock bottom?

(33 Posts)
AboutToSelfDestruct Thu 15-Nov-12 10:03:18

I am in a mess right now. Been posting on other threads so won't go into all the details, but its been so clear that there are so many stories of sadness here, and even those with a happy ending seem to be where the marriage has ended and new lives built back up. Is there anyone who has positive experiences of bringing things back and building a wonderful life together after being at rock bottom?

On Monday I was going to leave, after years of lonliness and unhappiness and confusion. DH and I have talked and cried non stop since and this seems to have been a massive wake up call for him and the way he is talking seems really genuine and hopeful for change. I'm now confused. Seeing a counsellor this afternoon. The pain and hurt over the past few days is so palpable in the air at home and is really affecting the DC's. I just want it to stop.

I just really want to knowif there can ever be a way forward and a way of fixing things and being truly happy after one of you has totally given up?

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 10:22:26

Depends on the offence OP, what kind of things are we talking about here? I frequently wonder the same, me and my H don't get on amazingly well all the time,mi would like him t change a lot and so does him about me. It does affect our child sometimes. And reading posts here can make you feel either good because there are people out there in far worse situation which apcan help you minimise the situation yo are in and there are people out there having it 100 times better which can make you feel utter crap....it is hard to judge yor case if you say more...

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 10:23:23

If you don't say more, and pardon my iPad and my utter crap day today

AboutToSelfDestruct Thu 15-Nov-12 10:45:19

Will try and explain....had years and years where things were going on for DH that made him totally check out of our marriage / family. Was there in person but not in heart or spirit. At that point we had already overcome issues through counselling and I also understood that the place he was in wasn't his fault, so while we talked, I stopped fighting and trying to make thigs better and just built up massive barrers around myself. More recently there has been an OM who I have become close to. If my marriage was ok I am sure we would have been friends and it wouldn't have been a threat, but we are both in vulnerable places and the bounderies have become blurred.

So a few days ago I finally reached the painful decision that my marriage was over and that I was going to leave. Since then DH and I have talked and cried non stop. He is saying everything that I've wanted to hear for so long and without prompting. He really beleives that this wake up call has changed his outlook in an instant and that with some work, we have a really good future ahead of us.

I'm just still very scared and confused and don't know what to think any more.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Nov-12 10:52:47

After many, many years of misery, once you've mentally crossed the bridge of deciding your marriage is over, I don't think there's any going back. Yes, it has probably shocked him into action and he's saying/doing the right things.... but how long would that last before he reverted to type? Why wasn't it enough in the past when you gave him space and counselling and made allowances? Why suddenly buck up now? IME people can often sharpen up for a short time but they don't really change long-term

I say it's 'too little, too late' and have the courage of your convictions. Make the preparations for a split, stay in control and I don't think you'll have any problems ignoring the emotional blackmail and crocodile tears. Good luck

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 10:52:49

Well, if you feel you have reached a decision for sure, do what is right for you not him. Maybe he woke up too late. If you had to build barriers around yourself it was because you were clearly hurt and trying to protect yourself. I don't know which place he was in that wasn't his fault but you are not responsible for it.

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 10:57:36

Cogito always wise and articulate

WeatherWitch Thu 15-Nov-12 10:58:53

Yes, things can come back from rock bottom. Several years ago I posted on MN about my relationship with my then BF of 3 years, how we had no intimacy, sex was rubbish, there was no spark there, neither of us seemed that interested in investing in the relationship etc etc etc. There was an OM involved for me too, which I don't want to go into detail about but sounds very similar to your case. I was (almost) universally advised to leave my BF. For various reasons though I never quite got round to leaving him. I confessed later that I'd put all this on MN, and he was quite upset, but it served as a starting point for us to talk. I think the fault in the relationship was mine rather than his but it served as a wakeup call for us both, and from then on we started to look at what we could do to fix it.

Two years later we were married, and now I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the best, strongest, most fun marriage I could ever have imagined, with a man that I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with and could never replace. If I'd walked away back then I'd have missed out on this, even though I'd pretty much given up on the relationship.

I'm rambling a bit but I wanted to try to demonstrate that there can be a way back, if you both want it and if you're both prepared to put the work in and make the compromises needed. Seeing a counsellor is such a good step (I wish I'd done that as it might not have taken so bloody long to fix it in our case) and if your DH is prepared to work at this, and you certainly sound as if you are as well, then I think that you have a chance. Good luck xx

Kixicle Thu 15-Nov-12 11:03:00

OP I am in an almost identical position atm, so I really feel for you. I swing from one minute thinking it must be worth one more try to the next feeling that I am deluding myself, and I am riddled with guilt because DH is so upset as well.

I don't know what to say other than that really, that you're not alone. I finally snapped during a row where DH used breaking up as a bluff (not for the first time) and I think the shock of that really disillusioned me. Now I'm just stuck between pillar and post not knowing what to do. I still have feelings for DH, but I'm no longer sure that it's love, or that it would be enough even if it was.

I do think you need to seriously consider your options though. If it all ends now, what will you do? I do think you need to try and fix things to a degree, even if it's so you can look back and tell yourself you tried - even if it's so you have time to be sure of yourself and make sure you are strong enough, too.

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 11:13:42

Weather which, congratulations, you story is refreshing. However you say you recognised that the fault was yours and you worked on it. It is hard (as in my case) to keeping trying as much as you can while the other just talk about trying but no acts. The lack of actions is a killer. Never mind what they say. They keep talking and you feel guilty if you are not believing or giving other chances. Things might go relatively well for while and you start walking in egg shells not to revert back because you can only control yourself. Until one minor thing destroys all the hard work. That is the situation I'm in now and no clue what to do for the best.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Nov-12 11:17:05

Don't you think the OP has tried and has been prepared to work at it? There is 'trying' and then there is 'flogging a dead horse' and I think the OP is well in the latter situation.

I think the confusion you talk about OP is that for many years what you've desperately wanted is to have a happy marriage with your DH. You've wanted your DH to be a good husband. Now it could be a possibility, you're not at all sure that's what you want any more. That's when life gets confusing. The OM is understandable. If you've wasted years investing emotion in someone and getting nothing back in return, it's pretty natural to be flattered by someone else who gives you even a microscopic amount of attention. It shows you what a nice, easy, no-need-for-endless-counselling relationship with someone who actually likes you might look like..... and illustrates what a crappy one you actually have.

Kethryveris Thu 15-Nov-12 11:25:56

yes there is, but it takes time, work from both of you and space.

I left my dh 2 years ago, moved out for 9 months. Told him it was over. I was just done

i avoided him for a few weeks, then agreed to attend councelling.. initially it was to make the separation smoother, but over 3 months and lots of sessions the councellor untangled a lot of crap and we decided to give it another go... but i insisted on us rebuilding the trust and friendship first so waited another 6 months before i moved back in.

We are back together, things have to be worked on EVERY DAY, by both of us. but it can be done.. you both have to be on board though!

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 11:54:54

Loss is an enormous motivator and it can be the catalyst for radical change, but it never becomes sustainable unless a couple works out why it got to that point. What you're describing is a very familiar 'couple dance' where one partner is the pursuer (you), the other is the distancer (H) and then after a while, the pursuer gives up or thinks she's given up. Forming attachments outside of the relationship are often a way of testing whether you've really given up and are also often a way of enacting a silent punishment to the distancer.

To have any hope of resolving the 'stay or part' issue, it's essential that you both look at your individual motivations for behaving the way you do. Your husband needs to examine why he was emotionally unavailable for so long and he needs to look beyond the shock of loss and the threat of this other relationship, to decide whether he wants his marriage and you, for the right reasons. His response now might be motivated by other issues that are clouding the picture; fear of change, other losses, jealousy and possession - and not deep love and connection to you as his partner. He needs to consider the possibility that he was emotionally unavailable for so long because he was with the wrong partner for him personally.

You need to go on the same path and work out why you remained in a marriage which scripted you as the pursuer who stayed despite a lack of sustainable change. Also why you turned to someone else to test the water instead of coming to a decision on your own. It might seem as though you only developed this other attachment because you were unhappy, but it is never as simple as that. Involving other people is always unethical, not least because sometimes those people get hurt too.

You say the OM was in a vulnerable place - can you explain more about why he's vulnerable?

AboutToSelfDestruct Thu 15-Nov-12 12:05:09

Thank you so much. All really useful and interesting. Cogito It shows you what a nice, easy, no-need-for-endless-counselling relationship with someone who actually likes you might look like really hits a note for me.

I am very aware at the moment that all the history with DH and the DC's etc are really important and I would hate to break up the family and wonder if perhaps I should have given it another chance. I am worried that it is too little too late and also that the change won't be sustainable. I hope this is where the counselling will help clear my mind a bit.

It is really nice to know though that some people have climbed back up from this place though and that it can happen. Time will tell I guess.

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 12:05:55

Also can someone please explain to me what behaviour can be identified with NOT be emotionally available/ be there in person but not in heart or spirit/ check out of the relationship? I need to access my own situation, sorry for the hijacking.

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 12:16:22

I disagree incidentally that a new relationship is a good comparator. There's no telling in the early days whether a new person will also become emotionally unavailable and complacent himself once the relationship is established. I don't suppose your husband started out this way, or you wouldn't have married and had children with him. If he was like that and you regarded him as a challenge on the other hand, it would be helpful to examine why.

WeatherWitch Thu 15-Nov-12 12:17:58

A generalisation, but I think that overall there can be a tendency on MN towards advising "Leave him" rather than "Stay with him". People can change - otherwise the (presumably) lovely man you married would never have vanished. They can change the other way as well, into someone who is willing to put the effort back into a relationship and make it work, especially if something has happened to act as a wakeup call. I know, because I did.

I hope that counselling helps you to clear your head - just because you go to a few sessions doesn't mean that you'll have to have it for life, any more than if you have a few sessions of physiotherapy for a bad back means that you'll have to have it for ever more.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Nov-12 12:28:33

A new relationship may not be a good comparator but it's a comparator. And our tastes change as we get older. Having, as a very young woman, been drawn to someone who I thought was wonderfully 'deep' and 'rebellious' - a.k.a. 'up his own arse' and 'irresponsible' - I know those are not qualities I value any more. Don't have to examine why my view of him changed .... I grew up.

@AutumnGlory. Someone who is not there in spirit just doesn't care about you. They don't have an emotional reaction to you good, bad or indifferent. They are distant and disengaged. Their attitude could be summed up as 'whatever'.

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 12:54:44

Comparators are only valid if you compare like with like.

Comparing a new relationship with an established one and the feelings it evokes is therefore a flawed comparison. As you say, cogito, even comparing how the OP felt about her husband in the early days to comparing how she feels about the OM now, is a flawed comparison because people grow up, change and want different things.

As the OP is questioning her marriage and needs to make a decision about whether to stay in it, it's always worth examining what's changed. A good counsellor will focus on this too because the only behaviour the OP can change is her own and part of that analysis will explore early couple-fit decisions and the motivation for them.

For example, the OP as a young woman might have been attracted to men who were 'challenges' and who were emotionally unavailable. That pattern might have been repeated with the OM in some way. It's very insightful to work out where that motivation came from and why, to stop that pattern repeating in the future.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Nov-12 16:06:49

I think, after the years of confusion, counselling and imposed emotional checking-out described originally, the OP needs to do rather less self-examination, requires a lot less insight, and simply needs to throw off the shackles, get out there and live a little. Shag a few unsuitable blokes, let her hair down and have some bloody fun for a change.

garlicbaguette Thu 15-Nov-12 16:39:23

Something similar happened to a good friend of mine. Her husband is lovely but for decades his work life was so exciting, he more or less forgot to take enough interest in his family. She had a breakdown. This was a wakeup call for him, chiefly because my friend had decided she couldn't and wouldn't take any more. They are now extremely happy, and have been for - must be between ten and fifteen years.

The main factor was that she HAD DECIDED enough was enough. Her head was already in the place Cogito recommends, where she realised her husband's presence was so vague he may as well not be there, so was ready to carry on without him. Had this not been the case, DH would probably not have been as strongly motivated to risk compromising his exciting life.

She demanded, and got, a great deal. He had several glamorous work trips a year. She set a limit on how many he could go to alone - and matched them with solo trips (paid for) for herself. She told him to insist on WAGs being invited on some of the best trips. This was so successful, partners are now invited as a matter of course, but he was sticking his neck out to demand it in the first place. Going on these exotic jaunts together gave them wonderful shared experiences, something they'd been sadly lacking. She did not arrange childcare, etc, when she went on her trips. He got the hang of things pretty quick. He cooks, does the ironing, knows where the cleaning stuff is, etc, etc. It's a happy, well-balanced marriage smile

But she got it because she was fully decided not to settle for less.

garlicbaguette Thu 15-Nov-12 16:41:23

Cogito - the repeated counselling is a worry, I agree. If that didn't give OP's husband the message that things needed to change, it seems unlikely he'll get it now ... sad

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 16:55:38

Well the OP clearly doesn't think self-examination is pointless, because she's having some counselling.

Maybe they both need to throw the shackles off and live a little. I wouldn't presume that this unhappiness is one-sided and it seems fairly evident it is not.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Nov-12 18:01:30

The OP is only having counselling because they feel guilty about a) wanting more out of life than a boring husband and b) fancying another man when they are married. They think they have an inner psychological problem than needs fixing, when the problem they actually have is an absence of joy.... external.

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 18:23:37

I'm not sure how you can know all that based on a few posts cogito, it is simply your opinion. One that I disagree with nevertheless. All we can ever do as respondents is to offer an opinion based on what the OP has actually said.

AnyFucker Thu 15-Nov-12 18:39:55

Forgive me for such a straight-to-the-point opinion, but really, I could not be arsed with this

Going round and round in circles for what ?

It's not working. Move on.

AboutToSelfDestruct Thu 15-Nov-12 18:56:05

Garlic, thats a lovely positive story, thank you.

I think i am dithering because this change of character in DH had begun before I got to this point but I had just had enough by then and just felt like I couldn't be bothered any more. The kick up the arse that he's now had may well be what is needed for change to happen, and unless I test the water so to speak then I can't be sure that I won't have any regrets. It certainly would be last chance though.

The last counselling we had involved a lot of one to one for me and you are spot on ; For example, the OP as a young woman might have been attracted to men who were 'challenges' and who were emotionally unavailable. That pattern might have been repeated with the OM in some way. It's very insightful to work out where that motivation came from and why, to stop that pattern repeating in the future. This was a massive factor for me and I think i have been really upset to realise the infuence that this was when I chose him. Now I am free of that its like I want to start again and 'choose' free of those constraints. But at the moment its just not that simple.

If DH's reaction had been as I was expecting then I most definately would have been off. But I've changed a lot in the last year so maybe be can too? Or maybe I'm just exhausted and haven't the stregth right now to take the action I had wanted to take. This is where I really hope the counsellor can help.

startlife Thu 15-Nov-12 18:56:19

Kethryveris , your post spoke to me. How do you get back the trust which I think is at the heart of the OP's question. If you have felt neglected, unloved and supportive how do you believe it will change?

Charbon, I agree it's important to understand the motivations for our actions. My H is a' lovely' man BUT when we have stressful times or I have needs he reverts to his childhood patterns which are highly destructive. No way is this visible in a new relationship as it's life events that trigger his negative behaviours.

OP, I'm in a similar position - we are in the cycle where my H is 'trying' but I don't feel he has fixed the underlying triggers, I'm looking for an lightbulb moment which he hasn't had. Listen hard to your H, what is he saying, does he talk about you or is his response fear based. i.e Dont leave.

Have you both agreed firm actions that will change the situation. "If you always do what you always did; you'll always get what you always got."

AutumnGlory Thu 15-Nov-12 19:11:04

Starlife, my husband behaves similar to yours. To the point that when we are having a stressful phase or any issues I feel I'm dealing with a teenage son rather than a husband. Telling him this doesn't help, he doesn't understand. He thinks it is because I'm 4 years older and have more relationship experiences than him...well maybe it is true, but whilst he doesn't have such a strong 'past' like I do, I wish he really had formed serious relationships with women before me, so he could compare and realise that some things aren't accessible in relationships no matter which woman you are with. This morning we had an argument because of things that happened yesterday and exactly one year ago we were having exactly the same kind of problems and arguing for the same things. I feel we are going in circles, I know he has been trying but not hard enough. We never been to counselling tough. We have a conversation scheduled for tomorrow and I don't know what is gonna happen.

Charbon Thu 15-Nov-12 19:11:11

Has the pattern repeated with the OM though? Is he in a relationship himself?

That was why I was asking what you meant when you said he was also in a vulnerable place.

AboutToSelfDestruct Fri 16-Nov-12 23:16:59

Charbon, no, nothing like the pattern with OM in fact totally different. The attraction on an emotional level for me, is the balance in our emotional connection. From counselling I now very much understand my attraction to emotionally unavailable men in the past and this is another reason why I am now not prepared to live my life like this. I don't want to talk too much about why OM is vulnerable, but he is getting over a recently ended relationship and he has very little support in life so my friendship and support could have been felt as something more important to him than it would do if he was feeling stronger. Hope that makes sense!

Startlife, I am trying to figure out if his response is genuine or fear based and I think only counselling and time will tell. We have definately had the lightbulb moment though but I am not letting my hopes build. All I know is that if the change in DH really is what he feels it is, then if I give up now without having one last try at making things work, I will almost certainly regret it in the future. But this is definately the last chance. I really can't go back to such a lonely place ever again.

Charbon Sat 17-Nov-12 00:39:14

Yes that makes perfect sense, although if I were your counsellor I might observe that someone who's getting over loss and is vulnerable might also be emotionally unavailable.....

I think if things are going to work with your husband, it's impossible to do so while you're emotionally in two camps and so if there's a security blanket of the OM nobly stepping aside but also 'waiting' for you, the marriage failing might become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I think if you are also holding secrets about the OM and your feelings for him, you won't be able to rebuild a marriage when there are lies between you. If you're committed to working on this and giving it 100% effort, I think it's got to start with honesty.

Be careful too that this exercise in 'trying' isn't something you're doing just to convince yourself that you gave it your all. There are all sorts of ways that you can sabotage this and kid yourself afterwards that the sabotage didn't happen. I'm hoping the counselling will help you with this, so that you don't subconsciously set the marriage up to fail. Good luck.

AboutToSelfDestruct Sun 18-Nov-12 00:00:49

Thank you Charbon. Good advce. OM isn't waiting for me in any romantic sense, as he freely admits he's not in a place to make that sort of decision right now. He would just like for us to be able to be a part of each others lives if that is at all possible, for lots of reasons. Although its not something that I can even think about unless DH and I are rock solid, and I know that will take time so who knows.
To be honset, I feel so utterly in pieces right now that I haven't got any emotional strength left. I just want us to all be in a better place and am hoping that that is where the counselling will help guide us. Will definately be aware of the concept of subconciously setting us up to fail. I don't think I'm there right now but good to bear it in mind.

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