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Splitting up with a nice but a bit useless DH - is it easier alone?!

(67 Posts)
stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 14:55:29

My DH is mostly lovely and I love him but he's a bit useless with pitching in and helping no matter how good his intentions and how many different ways we try to work things out (lists, schedules, reminders, designated jobs, shouting...).

He loves the kids but seems like being an Victorian style father where he gets them on his terms is better.
I sometimes feel like it would just be easier if he moved out and only came along to see me and them every so often so we wouldn't be constantly trying to have him involved in family life. Just remove that expectation and get on with life.
Now, I know this is Mumsnet and I am going to have people telling me that he shoud just man up and muck in. I know he should but we are both exhausted trying to get that to work so I just wondered has anyone been in a similar situation, separated out the household and found it easier?

CailinDana Mon 14-Jan-13 14:58:05

What's his explanation for being "useless"?

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 15:01:43

I would say it's being used to not having to look after anyone else apart from himself (in practical ways. He's great at being the provider but day to day stuff, not so much).
He has no real excuse, he's just a procrastinator and a napper and works later than me and isn't as natural with childcare as me. Nothing he can't learn, you would think!

This isn't about him being useless though, I want to know if my fantasies of him moving out and becoming an official part-timer in the household woudl be easier and whether anyone has done that.

Pootles2010 Mon 14-Jan-13 15:06:28

Um I don't know as never split up with anyone like that, but are you suggesting having seperate households but being a couple still? Or splitting properly?

Either way I can't see it being a walk in the park tbh. I'd say a calm, non-accusatory chat is in order. Give him a few things that are his job, that aren't mega-urgent at first, iyswim? He does sound frustrating, but not sure it warrants a split tbh.

PostBellumBugsy Mon 14-Jan-13 15:06:37

It is seriously tough on your own. You have less money, less time & it is even easier for "useless" non-resident parent to opt out.
I left my marriage because I was really miserable & my DH was having an affair - he was also fairly useless. I've been on my own now with two DCs for just approaching 10 years & it has been seriously hard going. I don't regret it for a minute & I am happier without my ex-H - BUT and it really is a huge BUT, I would never have done it or do it, just because he was a bit useless.

CailinDana Mon 14-Jan-13 15:06:52

Ah, I see. I haven't done that so I can't advise on that front. So would your plan be to remain married but for him to essentially live his own life and just visit now and again?

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 15:14:04

CD - yes, I guess something like that. I feel like that's how we're living now so if it were made official, at least we'd all know where we stand. He just seems to find it so easy to opt out of weekend activities etc. that I would feel really guilty not taking part in and that I enjoy anyway so wouldn't want to opt out of (ok, well, maybe sometimes!). He loves us all but doesn't seem to participate in family life very willingly.

Pootles - I haven't fully thought out the practicalities but he could possibly still live right by us - we have a basement flat that he could even live in. I dunno, the thought makes me really sad but it's so frustating that we can't seem to sort it out so that I am left taking them out on my own (which I actually love but just feel that he "should" be there. I figure if we were separate somehow, I wouldn't feel that "should" anymore and could just get on with things.)

Or maybe I should just take off for a few days to let him get on with things and realise that, although it is hard work, it can be terribly rewarding looking after our kids.

He was away for a few months due to work a couple of years back and, yes it was hard but I was fine and they were younger then...

mistlethrush Mon 14-Jan-13 15:17:19

I would just give up on the expectation of 'family' days out - make your plans, present your plans to DH and let him choose whether to join in or not, don't expect him to.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 14-Jan-13 15:19:35

Have you ever just gone away for a week/fortnight and left him to it? What would happen if you did?

Lovingfreedom Mon 14-Jan-13 15:23:05

I find it much easier now that my DH has moved out. I don't miss him being around at all and once he left was surprised how little he actually did. I thought that I would find it hard going...but it's much much easier. You can't have it all your own way though...if you ask him to move out, he might stop being so 'nice' never know.

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 15:33:26

mistlethrush I think this is what I have to do, and, to be fair, I do that quite a lot but then he will suggest something that we all will do together. This is great but then infuriating as he doesn't take kid's mealtimes etc into account. i try to go with the flow but, as you can imagine, messing with naptimes and mealtimes with a 2 year old doesn't always make for a relaxing day out.
I tell him - nicely mostly - that if we are going for a day out we should really leave by X to avoid the crankiness or otherwise get them fed and then leave but his concept of time and ability to stick to someone else's schedule is just lacking completely.

lovingfreedom - see, I think I would find it easier that way too. I'd be doing most of the same stuff but with one less person in the house meaning a bit less mess and also, and this is the big one really, without expecting anything more from anyone else. I feel at the moment that weekly sleepovers or something would suit me fine.

Cogito - I was away for a few days and left him to it (though that was before number 2 came along) and, of course, they survived. She may have had funny mealtimes and outfits but that's about it. If I did the same again, I think the house would be a dump and they'd probably live off odd food but, again, yes, they would survive. I do think that me just taking off for a weekend or so might be helpful to him but I have nowhere to go!! (we are living abroad atm). And I think I'd feel horribly guilty. I think the ideal would be if there was a wedding or something so I would want to go away and he'd just have to suck it up!
I have pointed out to him that he's never taken the 2 of them out on his own at all and it doesn't seem to mean anything to him - he doesn't seem embarrassed that he's never done that or like he's missed out on anything or the like.

Lovingfreedom Mon 14-Jan-13 15:41:20

What about outside of the children? Do you want to continue the relationship? Or is it 'over' in your mind? How would you feel about him being free to make alternative arrangements for his life including possibly having relationships with other people?

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 15:51:01

No, lovingfreedom, I don't consider the relationship over. I think we both just feel we are banging our heads against a brick wall about parenting and childcare.

I know he feels as frustrated as I do about some points (though, of course, I think he's wrong ;)...which is where the brick wall enters the equation!).

I feel we should be able to work it out by talking, and practicing and getting on with things together but it doesn't seem to happen. Most of the time it's fine but then he'll throw a strop about something he feels that I've done wrong and I just think it's not worth it, trying to keep this family thing going.

I think he would say that I make it difficult for him to participate because I am critical of his parenting. In some ways I am but I have worked on that and I definitely don't undermine him (which I will admit that I used to do sometimes and I know that is NOT ON as parents need to present a united front) which he will still accuse me of doing.
He'll expect them to sit quietly and not whinge in a restaurant which is a) not the kind of food they love b)past their lunchtime so they are hungry c) toddler will have woken up as he fell asleep in the car. He doesn't seem to get that if we just arrange life a bit around them for this sort of practical stuff, we'll all have a nicer time. And also to remember that 4 year olds and 2year olds don't tend to sit still and being angry about it is often not the best way to get them to do so.

Lovingfreedom Mon 14-Jan-13 16:05:21

Well then, try to appreciate his good points, pick your battles and even think about lowering your expectations....good enough is good enough even with child-rearing. Let him do things his way some of the time...and let him make what you consider to be mistakes.

How about backing off a bit and putting him in situations more often where he has to be the responsible adult? I can see the attraction of the idea, but I really don't think that booting him out to live in the basement is going to work in practice. Good luck!

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 16:15:07

lovingfreedom, I think you're right and I think this is part of the "marriage/parenting is hard work" stuff.


This has stemmed from him having a strop on Sunday and basically flouncing off and leaving me and them to it. I thought he was just going to go and calm down and then come back to us but no!
He has a temper (as do I) and I think that, in his family, it's always been sort of laughed off as the OH'sSurname badtemper so, rather than learn to control and adapt and be mature about it, they just accept it.
(he'd never hurt us, not that kind of temper, just not good at managing his anger)

Ragwort Mon 14-Jan-13 16:15:30

I think it sounds as though you are both going through the perfectly 'normal' stage of having a 4 year old and a 2 year old.

There can't be many dads (or mums for that matter) who really enjoy going to restaurants with young children, I know there are some parents who have lovely, happy family days out with young children but surely most of us just battle through those early years?

Personally I hate 'family time* and I'm lucky in that I only have one child, it is much, much easier if we divide our time so that our DS goes out with either me or DH, (and he is much older than your children grin).

Are you seriously going to deprive your DC of their DF just because 'he's a bit useless some of the time' - are you perfect all of the time? I know I am not a perfect mother by any means, but we are a family unit.

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 16:22:52

this happened to us a bit over the years. I got so angry and despondant that the one day I just didn't get up and refused to

it honestly has been so much different since that happened

My friends were a bit aghast I did it but I had tried to talk to him and got to the end of my tether and he has been like a different man since

Lovingfreedom Mon 14-Jan-13 16:24:43

The temper is a worry. I was married to a man whose family put up with his temper/anger as part of who he was. He only used it with people he was close to and was perfectly controlled and lovely with strangers though. Eventually I realised that his personality quirk that we all laughed at too (Mr Angry) etc was a good cover for being manipulative, abusive, shirking work and responsibility and for being incredibly selfish (cheating, lying etc). But I don't want to project that same personality on your DH.

I am swaying here between thinking that your DH sounds like a bit of a passenger in your marriage/family life, to thinking that you might be a perfectionist yourself who is not giving him a chance, to thinking 'hang on...everyone is treading on egg-shells around this immature over-grown teenager'...

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 16:29:51

Ragwort - I am definitely not perfect but I do, 9 times out of 10, enjoy being in a cafe or a restaurant with my small children. I often have days out with them where the abiding feelings are happy ones with, of course, moments of "behave" and "stop that". I love having just one of them at a time too, so I can concentrate my attention and not have to stop arguments, take it in turns to press the button etc. but being out with both of them makes me smile more than not. I guess that gulf - OH is more like you, I guess and finds it tough - is what make this difficult for us.
Also, I wasn't going talking about depriving the children of their father, more of making it more predictable for them when he would be around and when he would not.

OwlLady - I think this is what i need to do. Just bugger off someday and leave him to it. I think he'd be surprised that it can actually be fun at times and that it's actually not as hard as he might think it is either.

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 16:32:51

I am swaying here between thinking that your DH sounds like a bit of a passenger in your marriage/family life, to thinking that you might be a perfectionist yourself who is not giving him a chance, to thinking 'hang on...everyone is treading on egg-shells around this immature over-grown teenager'...

me too!
I am not a perfectionist about things but I think I can be a bit uptight about their routines. I am better about this now and I do let it go sometimes but Sunday's strop would have been avoided if he had paid attention to the time and needs of the little ones, I think!

As for the temper - of course he could control it more than he does at times if he would become aware of it as something within his control rather than considering it a personality trait. I have told him that. He knows I have a temper too but I don't use it as an excuse.

Sheila Mon 14-Jan-13 16:34:13

I felt much like you 10 years ago when I left CPU - that he contributed nothing so I could survive easily without him. I was wrong - I have survived but had no idea how hard it would be to do absolutely everything on my own. The loneliness of the situation for one thing is very tough, plus the effect on DS has been profound.

It was different for me in that I hated XP so I don't regret it, but if you still love your DP I think you'd be mad to split up.

Sheila Mon 14-Jan-13 16:35:04


I meant XP - damned autocorrect!

CheeseStrawWars Mon 14-Jan-13 16:36:05

Saying you want him to essentially "butt out" of parenting by separating seems to be more about you proving you do such a great job of parenting your kids you don't need him? Which perhaps he's picking up on, and feeling edged out, making the situation worse?

You say you think he "should" be there for family time - you clearly have a strong idea about what you think a good father "should" be. Have you asked him what, in his mind, being a good father involves? If you can get to the root of his and your assumptions about what being a good father "should" be, then perhaps you can try and bring your expectations more in line?

"He'll expect them to sit quietly and not whinge in a restaurant" - a 4 year old and a 2 year old should be able to manage that, if you go armed with pens, paper, other small distraction activities? If they get hungry as they're past their lunchtime, feed them a small snack to keep them going? You seem a little inflexible...

Do you not do any 1 on 1 time with your kids? He takes one out for the day, while you do something fun with the other? The 4 year old should be capable of choosing an activity - swimming, cinema, park etc? DH takes our 4yo to the cinema, which I personally think is a cop-out as he just gets to sit there and not doing anything for 90 mins, but DD enjoys it. Then they go for pizza. Again, not my ideal, but fun for them and it's "their thing" they do...

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 16:49:15

Cheesestrawwars - you raise some good points here. I think maybe he does feel that I am very capable (and possibly controlling) on my own and that makes him take a backseat at times. It's hard to remedy this but I have suggested he take the 4 year old shopping when he's going, for example, rather than go on his own. THat worked quite well.

With regards to he "should" be there for family time. I just feel that he sees very little of them during the week - like a lot of parents - so the time he has with them at the weekend is something he should hold dear. I know I do but I think he doesn't feel the same. He finds it a hassle. I think he needs to see that it isn't (always!) a hassle but then I htink maybe I should just let him be. HOwever, that means that the kids miss him and I am exhausted taking them both out on their own while he naps which makes me a bit resentful.

They are pretty good in restaurants but he's intolerant of the sligthest whinge at times. Rather than seeing what the matter is and distracting with the crayons or whatever, he'll just want htem to sit down and be quiet. That attitude tends to prolong any minor whinges. Of course, I feed them snacks to keep them going if I know we are going to be late but he's so unpredictable in how long he will take to get ready and what he means by "we're going now" that sometimes we end up arriving somewhere really hungry when I thought we were going to be leaving just on time.

We do one on one time too -like if I take the older one to a birthday party. However, he will tend to just stay at home with the younger one and stick the telly on, I don't think he would ever take him out, even just to the park down the street without being prompted. Which then gets called nagging.

I do see it's all stuff that can be worked on with talking and action and so on but it just feels very tiresome today!

And Sheila - it does seem mad to consider leaving someone I love but this is all wearing away and making me resentful. I think the concensus (me included) is that we need to work at it and I htink, for us, actions are going to work better so I need to let him take the reins whether by choice or by me forcing him to by buggering off!

ladyWordy Mon 14-Jan-13 16:53:58

It's not just that he won't take part or help out, is it, stubbornc?

I'm not trying to say anything terrible is going on, but you're dealing with this

- his concept of time and ability to stick to someone else's schedule is just lacking completely. - and you give a few examples of that.

It's interesting that he hasn't grasped some basic parenting facts, such as needing to account for children's mealtimes, and that very small children have short attention spans. It seems almost alien to him, as you describe it confused

The fact that he is unconcerned that he has never taken his own children out is also a bit unusual.

There can be many reasons for this type of attitude/behaviour, and whilst it doesn't sound awful written down, it can be very, very wearing to deal with day to day.

You also said
- He loves the kids but seems like being an Victorian style father where he gets them on his terms is better
- he'd never hurt us, not that kind of temper, just not good at managing his anger you're also dealing with someone who struggles to control his temper.

None of this makes for happy family life, and I can't blame you for wondering about living apart. If you don't achieve your fantasy of a wedding or something which calls you away, it sounds as if you should at least try a holiday away - or a trial separation if it feels desperate. It would at least clarify your thoughts.

Sheila Mon 14-Jan-13 16:57:51

I really hope you can work it out stubborn, it's worth trying. I was just addressing your question 'would it be easier on my own' and my answer is 'no, it wouldn't '.

Pootles2010 Mon 14-Jan-13 17:06:17

I would also say that whilst he should be doing more- and you can hopefully work on that together - they aren't going to be this young forever, are they? A lot of dads seem to find being with their kids easier as they get older, and they can 'do' more and not be so governed by meal times etc. You might find things will start to improve?

CheeseStrawWars Mon 14-Jan-13 17:13:04

I feel your pain, I really do. If your DH feels the weekends are 'his time to relax' then I can see how that is difficult. Where's your "me-time" in all this? It sounds like you are caught between the competing needs for you to have your own space and identity apart from being a mother (which you sound guilty about, and resent your DH as he seems to have his space sorted just fine) and the need for you to do the absolute best you can for your kids at all times?

It's easier to change yourself than it is to change other people - I suspect your DH has always had the same attitudes to time-keeping etc... Can you just accept that's who he is? Would you stay with him if you accept that's him? What would happen if you just "gave up" and relaxed about the way he interacts with the kids?

Does he know how it makes you feel - and I don't mean in terms of "when you're late it means the children get grumpy" but directly "I feel I have to balance everyone's happiness and that puts me under pressure, and when you run late it makes me feel even more pressured and it feels to me like you don't care or understand". So you take the kids out of the equation of how you feel and bring the focus back to you as a couple and how you impact each other?

You don't have to be a perfect parent, and it is okay to not want to spend all your time with your kids. You sound like you need a break, to be honest. Why not tell him that you want to go shopping/go out for a coffee on your own on Saturday morning for a couple of hours. If he sticks them in front of the TV, so be it. At least you get a breather and some headspace.

ladyWordy Mon 14-Jan-13 17:16:47

You sound like you need a break, to be honest.

^^ this, very much.

Branleuse Mon 14-Jan-13 17:21:45

I dont live with my partner. Not for the same reasons as you, but it works for us. We lived together for 6 years but have lived apart for about a year and are actually closer than ever. Best of both worlds

Mouseface Mon 14-Jan-13 17:28:26

Following on from what CheeseStraw says re going out for a coffee, having some time off....

What would he do if you did just that? I mean this weekend, say to him that you're going out for an hour or two. Go and get a coffee, buy a magazine full of mind numbing Sleb trash, take a good book, or just sit and people watch, but do it for YOU.

Don't go shopping for the children, or him. No food shopping, just go and have some down time and enjoy it. And don't feel guilty.

Would that cause more/problems? And, could you actually go through with it? IYSWIM? As in it would be more trouble than it's worth?

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 18:20:27

Cheesestraw - you speak a lot of sense. I think I need to let go of what I think he should be doing and accept who he is with regards to time-keeping and stuff and I think I have been working on that but every now and then I get snapped back to "why the hell is it so hard for him to grasp the concept of lunchtime and naptime when we've been doing it for nearly 5 years!"

I think taking the focus away from the things that need doing and back to how I feel is a good idea too.

Those of you saying I need a break, I think I do - for myself and to jerk him into taking care of the two of them. I think I might go to the cinema this weekend on Saturday afternoon. It'll be fine, I know it will and I think if I am in the cinema, I can just get absorbed and not be wondering how they are getting on. THey'll probably play with the next door neighbours and have a great time. as for husband - he is actually fine with that. Like when me and my daughter have gone to the cinema or to a party in the afternoon, he's perfectly happy at home with our boy and isn't bothered what time we come home. I guess he might be slightly more frazzled with both but fine.

This is a great sounding board, I am really clarifying what I need and what I can do about it!

buildingmycorestrength Mon 14-Jan-13 18:41:51

This is so interesting as I struggle with this dilemma myself. I would say that fundamentally changing my expectations of my husband has been absolutely critical to save my sanity, as has recognising that working all week is genuinely stressful (as is juggling house, childcare, and pt work, of course).

BUT... and this is a big but...accepting that I am going to do pretty much everything has probably meant treating him as a roommate / coworker. Not my best friend or what I would have considered a partner. Something seems to have died. But I would rather have a coparent than not...on balance. I think.

Oh, a practical tip is to have a discussion on Friday night about expectations of the weekend. I tried this and it just have to override their protest that it will somehow all be lovely and relaxing without any effort on their part. And force him to go out and see friends/relax during the week so they aren't relying on the family unit for downtime.

Mouseface Mon 14-Jan-13 18:49:09

Stub - the thing is, you get stuck sometimes and forget that you need YOU space, your own head space too. Yes, getting out and about is great but on your own completely is totally different.

I hope you do go to the cinema and by yourself and it needs to be on a regular basis.....

Why not make a date with friends too, even if it's only once every couple of weeks/months, just a ladies afternoon or night out. Start getting YOUR LIFE back, step away from the wife, mother, skivvy role. It's easy to forget that once upon a time you were YOU.

Have a nice weekend smile

stubborncow Mon 14-Jan-13 18:55:29

Thanks mouseface - I do go swimming and to Pilates on my lunchbreaks to get some "me" time and that has helped me relax a bit!
Meeting with friends is tricky as we haven't lived here that long so I am a bit shy about considering people to be my "friends" as opposed to people I know but there is one girl who I might ask along to the cinema...but not this week!

buildingmycorestrength - the roommate things is a bit how I feel. I mean, we do have sex and stuff but I think if we could move to roommate rather than him being a hotel guest, that would be a start!!

Discussing the weekend on Friday night is a very sensible and simple tip that, I can imagine, makes a big difference.

And, in good news - although he is going home early with headache, when I asked if he could pick up milk on the way, he's volunteered to pick up anything else too...reminding me that he does have his uses!

buildingmycorestrength Mon 14-Jan-13 19:00:06

I also remind myself sometimes that although being 'professional' in our relationship is boring and somewhat of a passionkiller, if the alternative is being 'unprofessional' then that causes a lot of problems. I wouldn't want an 'unprofessional' person on the team... does that make sense?

ll31 Mon 14-Jan-13 19:17:44

You do sound quite controlling in terms of it being your way only tbh. I'd imagine it might be difficult to always being told your way is the only way, He is their parent too and he's clearly diff expectations /ideas to you on parenting but that doesn't't make them wrong.

SorryMyLollipop Mon 14-Jan-13 19:51:54

It is fine to leave a marriage if you feel unsupported/ let down etc, especially if you have explained this to him and he has not changed.

I left my H for similar reasons, he was not child centred etc, had very high expectations of children's behaviour etc. He never did anything with them alone. Our local shop is about 300yds away- in three years he only took DCs with him twice (but expected me to take them with me at weekends). Our local park is a similar distance, he took them about 4 times but only with his mate and his DCs.

Now we are separated he has them every other weekend and he has had to step up and become a dad to them . They now have a much better relationship, he is more confident etc.

If that had been the only issue in our marriage then I am sure that a temporary separation could have "cured" us and made him realise what it means to be a dad. Sadly we had too much other stuff (and are getting divorced) but this was a major problem for me, I couldn't respect him and resented him hugely.

BranchingOut Mon 14-Jan-13 20:36:48

Intriguing thread - I am especially intrigued by what you say Owllady about not getting up one day. What happened?

OP - I think that what you have is not unsalvageable, as there seems to be some love there.

But it is bizarre that he has still not grasped the whole thing about messing up mealtimes being more trouble than it is worth, after two children.

Your options might be:

accept him as he is and adjust your expectations of his involvement

carefully examine any other factors in the dynamic eg. his upbringing, expectations of raising a family

Seeing if things improve as the children get older

Trip away - who cares if you don't have a great reason, fabricate one - this is more important.

Pressing for a trial separation

Have you tried some careful use of language? eg. the 'If...then' technique

Just saying in a calm, practical voice:

'If we leave by 11.45, then we should be in time for X and Y to have lunch and enjoy the meal. If we leave later than 12 then they will be quite hungry and irritable'

There is also a book called 'Too good to leave, too bad to stay'. Might be helpful.

Mouseface Mon 14-Jan-13 20:48:39

Stub - ask her when you're ready but ask...... I was solo with a disabled baby for over a year before someone said "Hey, you live in the village don't you" smile

It's tough, especially with small children. I think that if you plan your weekends, as suggested, tell/ask DH to commit to plans, talk to each other, share the chores, the children etc.... and make sure that YOU get YOUR free time (and equally he does too) then life will improve is there are no underlying issues.....

I second what BranchingOut has posted.

Zavi Mon 14-Jan-13 21:12:01

Personally, I would find being you intolerable. I wouldn't put up with that.

If you can bear to be apart from your kids for a couple of days and nights a week - whilst your OH has care of them, then I would definitely ditch the deadwood!

It will give you a chance to relax and re-group, or catch up on domestics, so that when your kids are with you you can spend proper quality time with them.

It will also remove your (justified) resentment at having to do so much whilst your useless OH does so little.

Branleuse Mon 14-Jan-13 22:39:52

it is a bit of a shit reason to leave an actual marriage really .

LesserOfTwoWeevils Tue 15-Jan-13 01:32:00

He doesn't sound very nice at all, sorry.
He's very easygoing and laidback...once things are going his way—ewho wouldn't be?
And if they're not he throws a strop, even at two tiny little children.
In fact he's so far from being nice that he's actually notoriously bad-tempered.
His attitude to your poor DCs is heartbreakingly nasty.
He sounds as if he's bordering on being emotionally abusive, and if it weren't for you frantically scurrying about shushing the DCs and doing all the childcare singlehanded, he would be downright EA.
Why exactly would you want to stay?

OwlLady Tue 15-Jan-13 08:22:54

I am glad you are intrigued BranchingOut grin I just didn't get up. I told him and talked to him about how I felt for granted and how i was running around like a blue arsed fly in the morning whilst he made a coffee and did his own thing and then buggered off to work. So the one morning, ona school morning I just refuse to get up. I think though at this point I was at the end of my tether. He kept coming up and saying 'but I need you to get up, i can't do this on my own etc' anyway i ignored him and stayed there and he did manage to get everyone to school and out of the house and all the rest of it and since then things have been so much better. He even irons the uniform in a morning, waits with them for the bus etc.

My friend said my children will be scarred for life by 'the day mummy stayed in bed' but I think it proved a point blush

BertieBotts Tue 15-Jan-13 08:36:56

So you basically want him to move out but still be together? I don't think it's sustainable. I think you will end up splitting up (although I don't think there's anything wrong with that.) I just wonder if you actually want the relationship to end but you're drawing it out.

Hi OP! I have read the whole thread & know exactly how you feel because my DH was exactly the same, even down to the temper. The only difference is that by the time our DC1 was 4, DC2 was 3 (& had been diagnosed with ASD), DC3 was 2 & I was pregnant with DC4. It was tough and, looking back, I did lose sense of myself. Friends were a definite help, especially those I could take the kids out with at the weekend - mostly they had kids too, but somehow it was easier with 2 Mums. I did lower my expectations and it helped. I went away on a hen weekend and DCs survived. As I remember it, no washing was done & DCs were absolutely starving when I walked through the door at about 3pm. DC1 said "Oooh Mummy you're back, can we eat now?" Things gradually improved as DCs got older. He would take them to do things he's interested in: test driving cars, going to the driving range or playing golf, looking at nice watches in jewellers, occasionally going to watch a football match. They now share these interests with him, or at least the 3 DSs that don't have SN do. It might help that they are all DSs. On balance, I'm glad we didn't split up as they love their Dad and we laugh now about such things as the time he expected to drive us 6 hours to see ILs in Glasgow without stopping, because that's how he did it when on his own.

Dahlen Tue 15-Jan-13 10:44:58

I think he's abdicating responsibility. We all have the right to put up with less-than-desirable behaviour if we feel the benefits of staying with that person are worth it, and we are all individuals, so in some cases, it will be the right decision. Personally, however, I think it stinks.

Why does a full-time job absolve anyone from domestic chores and childcare? Many single people have to work full time and still come home to laundry/vacuuming/cooking/shopping, etc. Many single parents have to work and come home to do reading/bathing/bag-packing etc, before then tackling housework.

It is every adult's responsibility to look after their own needs (food, clothing, living space maintenance) unless they have negotiated a fair exchange. A fair exchange means that life should be easier for both parties in a relationship. The best way to ensure that is to check on the amount of leisure time each partner has, without children in tow and without any mental energy being spent planning/dealing with domestic matters.

Anyone capable of holding down a job is capable of retaining information that they've been told and acting on it appropriately. If they can't, it's because they've decided it's not a priority for them. Anyone who feels like that about their own child does not deserve the title of parent IMO, let alone partner to the person who is constantly having to run around making up for the fact that their 'partner' feels domestic essentials are somehow beneath him.

BranchingOut Tue 15-Jan-13 10:51:49

*I just didn't get up. I told him and talked to him about how I felt for granted and how i was running around like a blue arsed fly in the morning whilst he made a coffee and did his own thing and then buggered off to work. So the one morning, ona school morning I just refuse to get up. I think though at this point I was at the end of my tether. He kept coming up and saying 'but I need you to get up, i can't do this on my own etc' anyway i ignored him and stayed there and he did manage to get everyone to school and out of the house and all the rest of it and since then things have been so much better. He even irons the uniform in a morning, waits with them for the bus etc.

My friend said my children will be scarred for life by 'the day mummy stayed in bed' but I think it proved a point*

That is bluddy brilliant! Owl Lady

It just goes to show that ultimately no one can make us do something - unless they are abusive of course sad

THat is it - one half of the equation is what we do. Sometimes just stopping doing it might be the solution.

OwlLady Tue 15-Jan-13 11:45:12

well no he wasn't and isn't abusive so that helped but I think we had got into a rut whereby the childrens stuff was seen as 'my stuff' and my job. He had worked abroad for years when they were younger and I think he got out of the habit and in all fairness I most probably let him as it was easier and he was tired etc. But at the end of the day he isn't doing me a favour by looking after them and helping, he is doing it for them - which is something we have discussed since. They are not just my children, they are ours and it's only fair he does parenting too otherwise we have not been together.

Anyway several years on i am not taken for granted and I think he feels better for being more involved anyway and so he should.

Moanranger Tue 15-Jan-13 16:15:12

OP, I would agree with the other posters that you need to change your expectations of his behaviour. He does need to do more, and that needs to be worked on, but a 2 & a 4 year old are more work than fun, especially for a dad who doesn't sound all that child focused. I think he will relate better to DCs when they are older.
You need to be realistic about what he chooses to do with them. It would be delightful if he took them out on educational trips, petting zoos, etc, but that is not likely to happen. Even if he just sits with them and watches TV, the DCs will be very aware that they are spending time with daddy and that is what counts at the end of the day. When mine were that age and my husband took over, I would grit my teeth sometimes with what he chose to do with them and how he behaved with them, but I also realised he had to develop his relationship with his children his way, not in a way that I was dictating.

MardyArsedMidlander Tue 15-Jan-13 16:23:25

' I wouldn't want an 'unprofessional' person on the team.'

Er.. this is a marriage and a home life- not an interview. Why not introduce monthly supervisions and appraissals and stretch targets for the husband? Or just leave him to it.

qumquat Tue 15-Jan-13 19:27:40

What Dahlen said. I don't think the issue is with your expectations, it is with him not being willing to be an involved father. Has he made any attempt to change his ways after you have spoken to him? He is choosing not to help out; anyone can go on a family day out even if they hate every second of it, lord knows I've wanted the ground to swallow me up at a petting zoo before. So why is he not willing to do that for his kids? I would struggle to put up with the situation you are in.

qumquat Tue 15-Jan-13 19:34:06

Just re read your op so will add: I think him moving out could work if he has times when he is solely responsible for the kids - to give you a break and force him to 'father up'. If, however, he just pops around every now and then for family tea and sex, I think you might find yourself getting even more resentful, and your kids would get a very skewed image of fatherhood.

Leafmould Tue 15-Jan-13 22:32:20

What an interesting thread. Thank you, op for talking about it with us, and sharing all these experiences. branleuse I would be interested to hear more about your experience, as someone for whom this idea has worked out well. Would you share some of your situation or story with us?

Biscuitsneeded Tue 15-Jan-13 22:57:50

He sounds exactly like my DP. He was working abroad a lot when kids were tiny, I was breastfeeding so up at night while he slept, he claimed to be made ill by nappies so never did them etc. Ended up with a situation where I felt I was doing everything, but also because that had become our norm he probably was genuinely a bit frightened of doing wrong and I was probably expecting him to do things exactly my way, which of course he couldn't. Interestingly we were probably at our rockiest when the children were 2 and 4, when I hit my most exhausted and felt nothing was getting any better. Now they are 6 and 8. Have things improved? Well, I just came to the PC and discovered a half-licked yoghurt pot lid and slimy spoon on the table, yoghurt pot thrown in vague direction of a (bedroom!) bin but actually on the carpet... BUT.... he is a good Dad, albeit better with older children. He will play lego/make model aeroplanes/do painting/supervise clarinet practice/help with homework for ages with them. I haven't the time, inclination or patience. He can talk to them about things in a way that I wouldn't think to. He organised a camping weekend for us last summer (which would never have happened if it were left to me as I thought I hated camping) but he got everything together, loaded the car, drove us there, put the tent up, cooked, washed up (after a fashion)... and we all had a brilliant weekend. My children's lives would be poorer for not having him as their in-house, full-time parent, and yes he is a bit crap sometimes but he loves them and they love him. Many's the time I've fantasised about leaving, getting a little house and having him 5 mins away with easy and amicable visiting rights... but I think on balance I'm glad I've never gone through with it. I sound like an apologist for selfish, hopeless males, but don't forget that a Dad who is crap with pre-schoolers may not always remain crap...
That doesn't address what's right for YOU, or how you feel about him in other ways, but wanted to say I wouldn't leave him purely because he's not much good with the children...

stubborncow Wed 16-Jan-13 01:31:53

I think we had got into a rut whereby the childrens stuff was seen as 'my stuff' and my job. He had worked abroad for years when they were younger and I think he got out of the habit and in all fairness I most probably let him as it was easier and he was tired etc. But at the end of the day he isn't doing me a favour by looking after them and helping, he is doing it for them - which is something we have discussed since. They are not just my children, they are ours and it's only fair he does parenting too otherwise we have not been together.

Owllady I find this very relatable - with regarding to falling into a rut of doing everything and what biscuitsneeded said, about it starting with breast-feeding and then going on from there and him possibly not feeling very confident in his abilities to do some of the care stuff.

I came back to update as we had a big chat last night about a lot of this stuff. I had missed lots of replies since I last posted but I have read them all now.
Lots of what was said here (about me be possibly a bit controlling, for example!) was useful to have heard here so I didn't feel attacked when he mentioned I was uptight about stuff like this.
I agreed to leave him to it when he's parenting and trust him with it as I do admit that I will tend to have an ear open rather than just letting him be. I told him that I'd love if he would offer to do bedtime or whatever rather than only doing it if I ask. I don't think things are instantly going to be better but I do think this is a good jumpstart to it all and it's been very helpful to be able to sound off here and discuss.

One thing that I do wish I could get him to do is to take responsibility for how he reacts when he's angry (again, he never would hurt me/us or anything, never ever). What triggered this post was him getting angry with me about a comment I made (not in earshot of the kids) about his parenting. He felt it was undermining him - something we have talked about before - whereas I felt that, given the kids couldn't hear, it was not undermining him. However, I get that it undermines him just getting on with being a parent so I did back down there last night. However, he angry and just walked off and left us for the rest of the afternoon when we were supposed to be on a day out. We got on with the day and had a nice time although, obviously, the kids were a bit disappointed that he wasn't there. Anyway, I was saying last night that if he was angry with me, there were lots of other ways he could have modified his reaction to not impact the kids - like he could have gone off to calm down and then taken the kids and told me that he wanted Daddy time or whatever. He was trying to say that it was my fault because I made him cross. I was telling him that it was his choice how he chose to react. I did not back down on that and I hope he saw my point. Thankfully his anger doesn't arise that often but I think it's a big issue that it is seen as a family trait rather than a negative thing that is under his control if he tries.

I am heading to the cinema this weekend on my own (well, I invited a friend along too but not sure if she'll come) . I told him and he was, predictably, totally fine with it.
Lots to work on and I am going to do my bit but if he doesn't do his - regarding modifying his anger reactions and stepping up a bit more with general childcare stuff from time to time...I may be back!

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Wed 16-Jan-13 01:53:30


The other thing you should hang onto is that a lot of Dads (some Mums too, but mostly Dads) get much better as the children get that bit older and yours are on that cusp really. Once they get to the age where they can play a game, go for a decent walk, ride their bikes etc Dads often come into their own. It's not fair and it's not 'right' but it is quite common.

I think you have seen that you also need to 'let it go' sometimes too - sure he wont do things the way you do them and it might not go as smoothly, but hell... they'll all live through it, especially now they are getting bigger!

Other times I think you need to be firm and say 'We need to leave at 10, this isn't flexible', and 'We need to eat lunch now, the children are hungry' or 'we need to leave now DC2 needs their nap' <or whatever it is> make sure HE fits in around their needs, not them fitting in around his (when you know it will cause them to misbehave and is not necessary).

If he doesn't moderate his reaction by himself, maybe you need an agreed way of letting him know he's behaving in an unacceptable way - something that doesn't mean anything to anyone else in earshot, especially the kids - so 'grow the fuck up' woudn't be too good, but something like 'If not now, when?' might be OK <meaning, if you aren't going to work on your reactions, when will you?'

... and of course a good talk on the fact that you don't want your relationship to be over, but if things stay like this, it will be.

Good luck!

stubborncow Wed 16-Jan-13 02:22:14

Yes, Chipping, that's true about him maybe getting better as they get older and as they need less general care (bathing, dressing, chivvying along to eat/dress etc.!)

I am not sure of a sort of code word for when he gets angry - I suspect he'd feel patronised by it and maybe feel more angry (mainly 'cause I think that's how I'd feel in that situation - y'know, like being told to calm down when you're worked up and you snap back "I AM CALM"...or is that just me?!)

CheeseStrawWars Wed 16-Jan-13 08:34:59

I'm glad you had a good talk. He does sound like he would benefit from anger management of some sort. If it's a family trait, it's probably learned behaviour rather than "innate". Could you talk to him about his childhood, and how his father's temper made him feel as a child? How he thinks it might have impacted on his mother? When did getting angry have a positive outcome? Remind him that how he behaves is setting a model for his children - if he doesn't like them throwing strops, he needs to lead by example.

stubborncow Wed 16-Jan-13 18:39:31

Cheesey ( May I call you Cheesey?!).
I don't think there is a chance in hell he'd go to anger management but I could ask him about his dad's temper. I don't know his dad well but haven't seen any real signs of anger...maybe he's mellowed in his old age!

I think the setting a model for the kids would be the most influential. I just need to find a way to talk about it so he doesn't feel lectured!

Abitwobblynow Wed 16-Jan-13 19:06:15

Read Lundy Bancroft - Should I stay or should I go? [chapter 3 is his problem immaturity?]

This is a fabulous book. It helps you identify what the problem is, focus on YOU, and then if he doesn't respond to the issues, how to leave. Apparently, a lot of abusive/immature change only take you seriously and move to face the issues when you are quite serious about leaving.

Leafmould Sat 19-Jan-13 11:57:14
Phineyj Sat 19-Jan-13 22:05:42

Op, you could be describing my DF. He is a good dad, just vague and useless with small children. I think your DH will get better as they get older, although it must be very frustrating. Does he pull his weight financially? I realise that's an old-fashioned view, but it could be one thing on a list of what he does contribute, as it sounds unlikely you're going to transform him into someone who gets the needs of young children.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 19-Jan-13 22:58:45

He's not going to improve because he doesn't want to. He thinks that domestic work and childcare are your responsibility and that he is the only one entitled to leisure time.

You probably would find life easier without him in the house. Less mess to clear up, an end to the stress of hoping you'll find the magic button which will turn him into a co-operative team-mate rather than a burden, and no more need to stroke his ego.

By the way, is sex with him enjoyable, or has that become another chore you feel expected to perform for his benefit?

suburbophobe Sat 19-Jan-13 23:35:43

He was trying to say that it was my fault because I made him cross.

Really? He gets cross and it's your fault? He sounds like a child himself.

No wonder you're exhausted with it all, you have 3 children to organise and get out of the door on time really....

soundevenfruity Sat 19-Jan-13 23:45:21

Sorry haven't read all posts but just wanted to say there is a far less traumatic solution. Your husband can find a job in another part of the country or even better - a different country. I saw it happen a lot in a not commutable shire. Women essentially run the household by themselves with husbands turning up on weekends or short holidays now and again. An older woman told me she didn't like when her husband retired because she didn't know what to do with him being constantly around. So the husband is heavily involved with lots non-exec jobs to get out of the way.wink

Bullets Sun 20-Jan-13 00:27:59

Really interesting thread, so reassuring to know there are other people in the same situation as me!

My DH runs his own business and is very creative, works at random hours of the day etc. He works from home so as well as never switching off, he rarely sees other people. His excuse for not mucking in and taking more responsibility around the house / with DS: "I don't have space in my head for all that stuff as well" and to be honest I think he's probably telling the truth!

I decided I couldn't spend another year nagging him and feeling resentful, something had to change!

We're only three weeks in but I have found a weekly schedule has really helped and made a difference. He now has three nights a week when he can work / do research, one night a week to go to cinema with friends / meet a friend for dinner etc, and we have three nights together to catch up on tv/watch a film (I try to get a babysitter for one of the nights so we can pop out for a drink / meal). I have a night out on one of the nights when he's working, I'm going to try an exercise class for the first time in my life!

We each get one morning a weekend to ourselves - either lie in or go out and have some 'me time'. Afternoons at the weekend are family time and DH is banned from looking at his phone and computer!

I do just about all the meal planning and cooking because I enjoy it, apart from Saturday night when DH is in charge and will cook something just for the two of us once DS is in bed.

I no longer do his washing because I couldn't BEAR anymore "I've run out of pants/socks" comments!!!! He can use the washing machine and dryer anytime at the weekend, I use it for mine and DSs stuff plus towels etc during the week (one load a day, much easier!). I have also assigned him sole responsibility for dishwasher emptying, loading and turning on.

We also have a cleaner for a couple of hours a week.

All in all, life is a lot happier for all three of us now DH has clearer instructions on what housework is his responsibility, and when he is expected to spend time with us. I am also consciously 'stepping back' and letting DH lead our family time activities as I can be very bossy grin

Sometimes it makes me sad that I have to prompt him so much to do what my friends' DHs do automatically, but this is who DH is, and I love him.

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