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What a cliche but where do we go from here? DH does not love me anymore...

(33 Posts)
notashock Sat 23-Feb-13 23:29:46

Not sure why I am posting here but I need to make sense of this. Have NC-ed for this as though not a prolific poster, I do know people from RL on MN. History - Been together 12 years, married for 10. Two DCs, 5 and 3. DH has been 'off' with me the last few days. Anyway, after a particularly sullen day, we have had a talk tonight about us.

It's such a bloody cliche, we have been together 12 years, fell in love instantly. got married after 2 years. Waited 5 years to have children because we wanted to be ready. Ha bloody ha. To say parenting has not come easy to either of us has been an understatement of the year. Also, DC1 not a particularly easy child. He tests us to the absolute limit of our patience. DC2 is a very laidback child (thank god!). Neither DH and I have been 'happy' for a while. Have had a particularly testing and stressful 6 months and there are moments where I have fantasised about leaving DH but I always thought at the back of my mind, once the kids got to school and DS1's behaviour got more 'settled' we will have time to focus on us again. Our behaviour towards each other, TBH, has not been kind or pleasant. Snappy, testy and lack of patience...

DH works in a highly stressful job while I work PT and like most working parents, we struggle to find time for anything. Also lack of family support (my family is not local and his family, while local, is rather hands-on) means we just struggle on most days and are exhausted.

Back to today, DH has confessed he has had a spark with someone he works with and that has basically led him to question everything about us as he doesn't feel that way towards me anymore. He has NOT had an affair (emotional or physical) or even contemplate one and I believe him. I had a MASSIVE crush on a singer a few months ago and was completely obsessed with him for quite a few weeks and I think that was my equivalent if that made sense.

After hours of talking (which we really should have done a long time ago), we have established that 1. our 'disconnect' started happening when we became parents. 2. he is not a 'natural' father, don't get me wrong, he loves our DCs but he has not found being a dad easy 3. he doesn't know what to do next as the thought of breaking up our family is horrendous yet he cannot see himself living like this for the next few years, let alone 10/20/50 years. I, on the other hand, still think we have a fighting chance. He has agreed that our marriage is worth fighting for but while I think we could still make it, he is not so sure. We both agree we were very happy in our first few years of our marriage and that the whole parenting lark has taken its toll on us big-time.

So we have agreed we are going to be nice and kind and talk to each other for a change to begin with. We are looking at couples counselling (how do I go about this, finding the right one?) and we are going to make an effort to do something together every week (and get a babysitter) and maybe give it 6 months? I still love him but I DO get where he is coming from, we just both have not been happy with each other for a while. But then again, the thought of breaking up our family breaks my heart completely. I am sitting here now and feeling remarkably calm and we both agree we feel better for having talked about it though it's not good news evidently. But we have both carried resentment against each other for so long, it feels like a relief it's 'out there' and in fact, we are talking to each other normally for a change and not being snappy/dismissive. Does anyone have any experience of going through this with their partner and coming out the other side? Feels at the moment it could go either way and I am sad about it.

Am going to bed now but will read posts in the morning. It's been a gruelling day. sad

Mimishimi Sat 23-Feb-13 23:56:56

Sorry you're going through this but he does realise that the girl he feels a spark for is probably attractive to him precisely because she is unencumbered by family responsibilities. That if he were to leave you for her, or another such girl, and some time down the line when she wanted a family, that he would probably experience the same feelings again?

Charbon Sun 24-Feb-13 00:17:53

I'm so sorry to say this, but a mere 'spark' for someone else generally doesn't cause this level of detachment from the relationship. So I'd prepare yourself for the possibility that his attachment to this other person has gone much further than simply an attraction on his side.

Without honesty, you run the risk of this being a very one-sided investment where you try to revitalise things and change your attitudes and behaviour - and he continues to detach to let things deepen with the other person. Going to counselling is likely to suffer the same fate, because if he's not being truly open and transparent about this other relationship, the counselling will fail because there are secrets being held.

It's quite a hurdle to overcome to consider that your partner is lying to you, especially if you are in the habit of believing everything he says, but I honestly don't think you've got the whole truth yet.

You need that before you decide what your next steps should be, otherwise you will have months of wasted effort and expensive counselling to go through, to no avail. If the marriage fails after all that and you realise that there was an affair all along in the background, you will feel very angry that you were fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Please fight these instincts to believe everything. You've got absolutely nothing to lose by being more vigilant and curious about what you're being told - but a lot to lose if you trust too much.

venusandmars Sun 24-Feb-13 00:38:02

OK, so I'm ignoring the 'spark' with the OW... (for the moment)

So 50 or 20 or 10 years time, and you both abosloutley know that things will be very, very different. And even in 2 years time it will be different. But the problem is the slow day-to-day change to get you (and him) to that point. And yes, it does looks much easier to imagine an 'immediate' change that would result from some kind of break up.

Given that it sounds like you are still communicating about this and that he has not yet moved on, could you sit down with 2 or 3 different time lines / scenarios: (and I do actually mean sit down and write them out on paper and compare them)
- status quo, the two of you together over the next 2 years, what will change for the better /worse etc. key events (birthdays, christmas, dc starting school) and how that would affect you individually and together;
- splitting up, and the same kind of key events, plus split responsibilities for child care;
- maybe one where you both have other partners - and the complexities that result from that.

Then can you just take it one day at a time? For many of us (in whatever relationships) looking 2 or 10 0r 50 years ahead can be scary. Focus on getting through each day being kind and caring to each other, and to yourselves.

notashock Sun 24-Feb-13 07:20:55

mimi I think that's part of it, we talked about when things changed and of course we were happy when we first got married, we were carefree, we travelled loads and had fun. Having children has changed that of course but I still think we can get that back. I don't think he fully realises how devastating it would be if we broke up our family.And he cannot go back to being single. The DCs got up early today and are playing nicely downstairs while we have a lie in. But I can't sleep so am downstairs watching them and even though I have been unhappy too, I cannot bring myself to break up our family over it. I honestly think he will regret it if he made the decision now to walk away. Ironically, I really think we have started to turn the corner with the children as they are coming out of that 'difficult' period of being under-5s.

Charbon I'm prepared to take his word for now. DH is pretty open with his phone etc and he doesn't sneak off to do anything and he says he will never do that to me, the degradation to me by having an affair (emotional or otherwise). When I was having the 'crush' on a singer, I became like that, almost detached from DH and fantasising about this person (whom I know) and it went on for a few weeks, possibly months. It's rather embarrassing now looking back. blush But I got over that eventually. But I think I did realise then it showed trouble in our relationship. But I get what you are saying and will keep an eye on things.

venusandmars Thank you for the advice. That is what I need. The exercise you suggest is good and I will get DH to sit down and do it. And I think yes, the focus now is to try and get past each day being kind to each other and being positive. We completely got into a negative spin.

Thank you all. thanks

HoneyandRum Sun 24-Feb-13 07:59:44

Why not also plan some events or trips in the next couple of months (plan them now and book time off). If there is anyone who could take dcs so you could have a weekend away together? If you want things to change you have to actively plan as it can be so hard to be spontaneous as a couple when you have young children. Although you both are tired and worn out at the end of the day if you have a weekend away planned soon you can look forward to it and it will give you energy. If you don't have family or friends you can beg to help I would even look into the expense of having an agency nanny come for the weekend. I also think it would be good to plan days out as a family with your children. There are many positives about your family that can be hard to see all the time. If you have a day having fun together (or even a couple of hours) it can help tip things toward the positive and remind you all of how much you love each other. If you can get a babysitter you could also have the sitter take the children to an indoor play place for an hour or two while you go out for a coffee or hike or whatever you like to do together. I think building in positive experiences to your week and having things to look forward to really helps.

Young children are exhausting but they do grow up! As you said this stage doesn't last and you are over the worst in terms of the most demanding years (I always find having anyone under three is always the most work). I also think you are both very premature to even contemplate splitting up without making some serious effort to change and inject some fun and excitement into your marriage. Well done for finally talking and realized you need to treat each other with respect and kindness though. Disrespect, eye rolling, sarcasm and scathing remarks are lethal to any relationship.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 24-Feb-13 09:28:57

So he has a "spark" for someone else and now he does not love you any more?

Sorry but there is far more to this "spark" - it has developed into an emotional affair at the very least sad he sounds too detached and distant.

Please do not make the mistake of being the perfect wife while he continues this friendship. Has he agreed to end this friendship? I think seeing his reaction if you ask him to cut all contact would be very revealing.

Have a look at this link:
www.shirleyglass.com/quizzes.htm

kalidanger Sun 24-Feb-13 09:54:49

He's not being open and honest about your relationship. He has instead put you on the back foot and is forcing you to be compliment and keep him happy while he considers his options. This is not very nice at all

Not a natural father? Oh dear, poor him and his possession of a penis making it all so terribly difficult and unnatural for him to love and care for his children angry

And you're wrong - he could quite easily go back to being single. He moves out into a nice pad, throws some money at you and spends three-quarters of every month out and about with his new chums and gf.

I think you're being played, OP sad

kalidanger Sun 24-Feb-13 09:55:42

*compliant, not compliment

AnyFucker Germany Sun 24-Feb-13 10:02:58

It would be utterly pointless to try and change yourself and attempt to "save" your relationship until he comes completely clean about the true nature of this "spark" with another woman

Has he agreed to break off all contact with her?

notashock Sun 24-Feb-13 10:22:54

Hi all, we have had another chat this morning. He works with the 'OW' and I told him that if he wants out NOW, he can. But if we want to work on our relationship, he needs to commit 100% to it. And while he may say the 'spark' has shown up flaws in our relationship, I told him I think he sees it as an 'easy' escape route and that we had that connection once when we were childless and when we decided to get married so obviously, it's not like it's never been there for us. He has agreed and he will keep contact at work with her to a minimal and will not contact or see her outside of work (I know they have been on work social events together). I will give him another chance to tell me the absolute truth about him and her. And if he is 100% committed to making this marriage work, he needs to let me know tonight so we can proceed with the plans to make us work. I told him I meant our marriage vows and we will make things better but only if we are both committed. I appreciate all your advice. I really do. But this is my marriage and like I said, he isn't a guilty party, I ha ve felt the same and I've wondered what it would take to 'wake us up' and it's said this has!

kalidanger Sun 24-Feb-13 10:25:53

'Spark' is a euphemism for an emotional affair, OP. You won't believe me but you don't know this man anymore. He's up to stuff behind you and your DC's back and telling you it's your fault. This isn't the man you married, is it? And you think you're having ostensibly civilised and intimate conversations full of mutual understanding, informed by your years together, about your relationship while actually he's involved with someone else. He's not the same guy. He's up to something that you're not privy too sad

Branleuse Sun 24-Feb-13 10:30:09

can a parent take the kids for a week or two while you two try a childfree holiday to reconnect and remember how it used to be?

Charbon Sun 24-Feb-13 12:56:31

I think you should stop comparing this with your own crush on the singer. Most importantly, you and your husband are different people and the collegiate relationship he describes with this woman is not the same as an unrequited crush, even if the singer was known to you personally.

This is a woman he sees every day, with whom he's attended social events.

I think you need to know the nature of the conversations they've had. Have they talked about your marriage? Have they admitted an attraction to one another? Has she spoken about her own personal life? Is there any 'mirroring' going on where if one of them likes or loathes something, or thinks something, the other professes to feel the same way?

How long have they worked together and when did they first meet? When you learn when that was, does that date coincide with your relationship getting worse, beyond the usual stresses and strains of having young children? You mention that the last 6 months have been particularly stressful for example. You might think that's because of other events, but it might have been more stressful than it merited because you subconsciously felt your partner shifting away from you and had the sense that he was no longer 'on your team'.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Sun 24-Feb-13 13:06:21

I don't know if it will be much help, because I do think the involvement of someone else (even if just a 'spark') changes things, but there is a book that has been highly recommended to me by friends going through a similar thing called 'I love you but I'm not in love with you'

As I say it might not help much but might be worth a read if it rings a few bells?

notashock Sun 24-Feb-13 20:51:58

DH and I have had another talk tonight. Charbon You speak a lot of truth, I read your post and I questioned him more about this other woman. He says this woman works in the same place as him (he works for a consultancy so is on client site at the moment that has thousands of employees).

He says he's been 100% honest, there's no talk of the attraction, no discussion of our marriage, there's been a few email exchanges to do with work, nothing more. But they have obviously spoken at social events. I warned him he should not underestimate how that attraction has affected the way he feels about us. He says it's the thought that someone out there is still interested in finding out more about him. It's sad but I will admit some failure on that part as most days, I am so tired of juggling work and children that I have tuned off him and don't even bother asking his work anymore. I said for him to be 100% on board with this working our marriage out, he has to keep contact with this woman to an absolute minimum, he agrees. He sees where I am coming with this.

We have done a lot of talking and he says he does want to work things out with us but doesn't know how we can get back to the way we were before. Anyway, we are done talking for now till we see a counsellor, one of the counsellors I emailed rang me today and I had a brief chat with her, I'm not 100% sure she's right for us so I will wait to hear from other counsellors I emailed. I want to get this right.

Odds I have ordered the book you suggested (have seen it suggested loads of time on this forum) and have emailed it to my DH to get him to order it. I will make sure he orders it. We had a nice day out with the DCs today, there were a few stressful moments when DC1 started acting up but we managed it with a lot less stress than we had before. And it's nice we are nice to each other for a change. It's amazing how much sniping/criticism went on before. sad Sad we had to get to this point.

Also, my in-laws are finally stepping up and taking the DCs for 3 nights at Easter so DH and I are keen to book a city break away somewhere so fingers crossed it helps. We will also do more as a couple regularly starting next weekend. It feels good to do something positive about it. I've felt sick to the stomach all day with the thought of breaking up our family. Told DH I don't want to talk about it everyday as it's depressing, we are going to get some semblance of normality back to everyday lives but putting some positive plans into action. If at the end of the day, it doesn't work, at least we can say honest to god that we have tried! Thank you for all your advice.

Charbon Sun 24-Feb-13 20:58:49

Ask him to print out and show you those e mail exchanges he mentioned. If he doesn't show you any recent ones or the ones he does seem to show 'gaps' in the conversation, conclude that there is something being kept hidden from you.

Is he admitting there is a mutual attraction then? Is she single?

Have there been any texts or personal phone calls/messages between them?

What does he say happened on their nights out? Was he in later than usual or behaving differently in the days following them?

When did they first meet?

Charbon Sun 24-Feb-13 21:00:00

Also, how much interest does he show in your life and work? When did he last make you feel cherished and adored?

Skyebluesapphire Sun 24-Feb-13 21:08:53

IF your H is being honest with you, then he has done the right thing in discussing it with you before acting on it. There seems to be a script that they all follow, and your H is starting it...

My XH did the same.. I don't feel the same about you, I'm not happy, I don't want to be here any more, and walked out on me and 4yo DD. He had formed an emotional affair with a girl 17 years younger than him, married to his best friend, but with no other ties, who he had previously not liked, but after spending time in her company, changed his mind somewhat..... He then decided that he needed to move to their town and go shopping with them and have the freedom to do what he wanted, when he wanted....

My marriage ended because of it, because he was adament that he didnt love me any more. It is obvious to me, that if he was thinking about her all the time, then it didnt leave a lot of room in his head for me. I divorced him because in the end I was not prepared to sit around and wait for him to get over it and because I no longer trusted him after seeing the 100's of texts and emails that were sent to her behind my back.

Maybe your H has actually see it for what it is and has not acted on it. If this is the case, then there is hope for your marriage and you are doing the right things to try and work it out. If my XH had talked to me, then there is a chance that we could have sorted things out.

I just hope that he is being totally honest with you.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 24-Feb-13 21:33:34

He says it's the thought that someone out there is still interested in finding out more about him. It's sad but I will admit some failure on that part as most days, I am so tired of juggling work and children that I have tuned off him and don't even bother asking his work anymore. I said for him to be 100% on board with this working our marriage out, he has to keep contact with this woman to an absolute minimum, he agrees.

Does he show an interest in you? Does he make you feel special?

Also has he agreed that you both will now have equal amounts of child free leisure time? that he will pull his weight around the house?

Mumsyblouse Sun 24-Feb-13 21:44:48

I think this is workable, but only if he's telling the truth about the spark and it was just a moment we all have when someone sparkles at us or shows interest (which if you are sensible, you enjoy for that two minutes, but make no move whatsoever to act on it and remain professional). If you do believe him (and I am good at knowing if my husband is lying), then you are right- the challenge you face is the challenge of recovering from two little, perhaps difficult, children under the age of 5, and things will spiral up if you let them (time together, counselling).

If he's lying about the spark (and lots of times sadly on MN this turns out to be the case) then you are building on false foundations. I don't think your crush was similar to his experience, though, as he is faced with a real live person who fancies him and so acting on it is very easy and resisting has to be actively managed, not the case with a famous singer!

AnyFucker Germany Mon 25-Feb-13 00:14:33

And once again

The disrespectful, untrustworthy and simply unworthy man who has been giving the least to the relationship gets rewarded with child free weekends away, shedloads of understanding about how ikkle diddums has felt so unloved, got his wife thinking she has to swallow her common sense and take things at face value

Not good. Not good for future prospects of whether or not he will do this again.

No consequences equates to a free pass to do what the fuck he thinks he is entitled to.

izzyizin Mon 25-Feb-13 00:26:43

<yawn> Another one who expects to have his cake and eat it.

You do realise that you are being set up to compete for this prize against an ow who has the advantage of not having had to live with him and will, no doubt, be delving deep into his pants personality and soothing his troubled breast while you knock yourself out in your attempts to win him back, don't you?

kalidanger Mon 25-Feb-13 00:27:06

Agree with AnyFucker

Was he sorry? Did he plead with you to forgive him for considering straying? Or did he just inform you of all the things you've done wrong and let you spend an afternoon desperately researching a counsellor to sort out the shitty mess he's made?

Charbon Mon 25-Feb-13 01:49:40

If this man had come to discuss a crush that was causing him confusion, that would be a good thing and so I understand the OP's battle with this because on the face of it, this has the appearance of a man being honest before getting involved elsewhere.

But the reason I'm sceptical about this is that he is reporting more than confusion - he has said that he doesn't love the OP any longer and isn't sure he wants to stay in the marriage. Neither of those statements are synonymous with someone who has a crush - they are more commonly associated with people who have already got involved elsewhere some time ago.

This man had earlier options. When he first felt the 'spark' with his colleague he could have talked to the OP about it. When he first realised this was causing him to invest less in his relationship, he could have talked. Instead he has waited until all his romantic feelings for the OP have evaporated and he is unsure about his marriage even continuing.

I would be intrigued to know when he first met this woman and whether this coincided with increased stress and worsening marital relations.

notashock Mon 25-Feb-13 13:56:07

He is sad, guilty and sorry about the spark he has for her and he is contrite enough to agree that he needs to cut contact absolutely out of work (no socialising that sort of thing). I know deep down, he can be selfish but I had no idea what kind of father he would be until he became a father and it's a little too late to dwell on that now. We really had such a brilliant relationship in the beginning, lots of laughter, adventure and connection and we lost most of it along the way...

The thing is I am actually not that worried about making it alone and sometimes do think we may be better off without him BUT at the end of the day, he is the father of our two very beautiful children and to break up our family is a devastating thought. The boys love him to death. And we have so much going on as a family, just bought our 'forever' house, DC1 settled into his new school after we yanked him out of another one. DC2 started pre-school in same school. It's also complicated by other circumstances I don't want to go into as it might identify me. He is looking at places we might go to for our little break away so he has not been completely complacent in letting me organise everything. I do feel we can get back what we had but I agree with you all that he needs to want it too. I've confided in my best friend today and she has made me feel slightly better but I still feel sick to the stomach at the thought of hurting my two beautiful children. And I don't care if I can shift 100% of the blame on him, my children WILL be hurt if our relationship ends whether it resulted from his or my actions and I owe it to them to at least try and get over this.

Charbon Mon 25-Feb-13 14:00:57

Sadness, guilt and sorrow are disproportionate emotions for merely fancying someone else, so if you're seeing those then something more guilt-inducing has happened.

You can't build a good relationship where there are secrets and lies, although some couples manage a functional marriage in these circumstances.

Charbon Mon 25-Feb-13 14:03:01

Are you evading the question about precisely when he met her because it coincided with the stressful period and you don't want to link the two?

notashock Mon 25-Feb-13 14:09:36

Charbon I have asked several times in all honesty what has gone on and he has promised he has been completely honest. DH is a very black/white person, I know what he is like and I do believe him. I cannot do more than that. Our relationship has gotten so bad to a point that I have fantasised about leaving him but for me, I recognise that how I felt was unreasonable, under very stressful situations and could be overcome with time. I shouldn't have left feelings like that fester away in me either to the point that we both clammed up about our feelings. Ironically, I felt we were getting to a place where we could have tried to move on past things but didn't know how to so maybe counselling etc will help but maybe it won't and I will have to accept that possibility. We have both agreed on the counselling and he will have to come clean then if he hasn't come clean before. I agree with what you are saying but I am doing my best in difficult circumstances. Again, I appreciate your thoughts but I can't sit here and argue with you about whether I believe him or not!

Charbon Mon 25-Feb-13 14:17:35

If you had to make a major business or purchase decision that would affect the rest of your life and that of your children's, would you accept the word of the person who had an investment in you sealing the deal, without doing your own research and checking out their claims by consulting independent sources and information that cannot lie?

This is no different.

MadAboutHotChoc Mon 25-Feb-13 14:51:08

Have you done any digging yet?

His emotions are well out of proportion if it was only a spark.

I bet the rough match in your marriage started when this woman came onto the scene - if you read Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass, there is a very good section about how and why the cheater creates a gap which is then filled by the OW.

AnyFucker Germany Mon 25-Feb-13 18:11:25

There are lots of people who lie in counselling, so I wouldn't put your faith in a counsellor getting the truth out of him if he is not prepared to give it

The thing is, if he really wanted this to work, the best thing he could do is give you the truth. I hope he has. Because if you find out later that he hasn't, it will be a lot harder to get over.

And yes, I would have expected he would be researching places to go for his reward. Family money being spent on trying to keep the attention of a man with a wandering eye, who has no consequences. I worry for you.

tessa6 Mon 25-Feb-13 20:33:04

It's possible that in broaching the subject, he realised how much he had to lose with you and your newly honest communication has reignited a hope for him your relationship could recover. He may then, privately, shut down all contact and communication with this other woman and recommit in counselling, whether or not he has told you the full truth.

But I'm afraid if he has said he isn't sure he loves you anymore, and made reference to this spark, it's probably he is minimising the extent of things. EVERYONE does this. That's what's s important to realise. That infidelity is almost always minimized initially by the unfaithful partner. it's the norm, not the rarity.

I would strongly suggest snooping on technological devices and receipts. And think about what opportunity he has had for infidelity if any.

It's a good step to do counselling and all that stuff, of course, and you may be right. But keep your wits about you. it is very very rare for a man to talk about breaking up his family without someone lined up in at least a semi-serious fashion. Sorry to generalise but in my experience here and in life it is true. well done for tackling it. I hope you feel better. But in short, he may well have told her he's giving it 'one last try' with you. You sound pretty together and strong so I imagine, as long as you look after yourself first, you'll be okay.

In answer to your question at the top, of course sometimes flagging relationships sort themselves out sometimes, but this sounds unusual, so make sure you're getting the whole truth, and frankly from sources other than him, he has every possible motivation to lie.

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