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Stalemate!! What now?

(35 Posts)
Niknakpaddywhack Thu 02-May-13 21:00:11

Sorry, this is long but I am at a point where I don't know what to do and would really appreciate some advice.

Some background- me and dh have been together 20 odd years, married for over 15yrs, we have 2 ds's mid-teens, and dh has 3 adult children from his first marriage, who have 4 children between them.
It has not been an easy marriage but up until about 5 years ago it was mainly happy- we are good together with finances, sharing the work load, sexually, but not so good with communication or dealing with problems.

So...in the past when we've had issues it has always been me that instigates talking about it and trying to resolve the problems, but the same issues keep arising. I am fed up going through the same things time and time again eg his uncalled for rudeness of my parents, ignoring house rules when our gkids are here (but I'm not) etc
Six weeks ago an issue arose that we had discussed at least twice before and agreed a way forward, which dh disregarded each time. I told him I was cross then walked away.
I did not want to be the one that sorts it all out and then gets shit on all over again so I haven't mentioned it again- my initial feeling was that I'm done, had enough, don't want to do this anymore. I don't know if I love him enough to be bothered anymore. So I've not kissed him, hugged him, or let him kiss or hug me, nor have we had sex (usually 2 or 3 times a week). I am polite but distant. I'm not sure what I want or expect to happen.
FWIW these issues on their own aren't LTB but neither do I want to be disrespected.
WWYD?

daisydelilah Thu 02-May-13 21:22:39

I think I would ask him to try some marriage counselling with me, OP. it may not be something he feels like doing, but it sounds as though he needs a jolt, and maybe having that conversation will kick-start something. My worry about stopping any physical contact without saying anything to him would be that you'll gradually grow further apart and it'll be harder to retrieve the situation, if you both decide that's what you want. Good luck.

Skinnywhippet Thu 02-May-13 21:25:28

He's an adult and he doesn't like you dictating to him. Can you let the issues go or are they really serious? I think a lysistrata style sex strike is unnecessary unless the issue are putting you out of the mood for sex. Rather than getting angry at him can you try a different approach and tell him how you feel. Yes, he might be breaking house rules, but does he agree with the rules in the first place?

daisydelilah Thu 02-May-13 21:30:39

Did something happen 5 years ago that changed the marriage?

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 21:32:54

Lack of respect is always reason enough to LTB even if the issue over which the lack of respect is displayed isn't.

The question is whether this lack of respect is true lack of respect or simply thoughtlessness that has developed over the years because there have never been severe enough consequences for his behaviour.

I would lay it on the line thickly, explaining that you are so fed up you are seriously thinking of leaving, and that you expect him to sort it out - not simply o do as you tell him, but to take a proactive role in showing you that he respects your feelings. Then leave the ball in his court. If that fails to change anything, i'm afraid you've got your answer, but sometimes drastic consequences can lead to significant changes. Good luck.

cjel Thu 02-May-13 22:37:48

I'd find it difficult to say whether its lack of respect or whether you are a nightmare control freak who is dis respecting him on your OP. whatever the issues and'house rules' he is breaking are they reasonable, how muchdamage does it cause by them being broken and are they really rules of the house or just yours?

Niknakpaddywhack Thu 02-May-13 22:59:12

Thanks all for your thoughts.

daisydelilah we have had counselling in the past jointly and he has been on his own about 10 years ago so possibly an option, and I agree it seems like we're growing further apart. I don't think that perhaps something happened 5 years ago, more that we'd been together 15/16 years and become complacent?

Skinnywhippet I completely agree, he is an adult but I really don't dictate I just expect back the same courtesy I give him. I hate feeling like I'm being manipulative witholding sex/affection (plus I miss it too!) and I suppose it is a way of trying to show him how serious I am? A consequence? Am I being emotionally abusive? I just feel that I have tried talking (soooo many times) and he agrees then does it again anyway.
Not serious issues but not ones that I can let go- being rude to my parents and friends, for example. He is fine with his family, friends, neighbours etc so he can do it, and I have bent over backwards to ensure we have a great relationship with his older children, despite it not being easy, so I feel he should do the same for me.

Dahlen you may have hit the nail on the head- thoughtlessness and a feeling that it doesn't matter because nothing changes for him anyway?
I was reluctant to be the one to take control as always, but if I do as you say and explain then let him take the proactive role, maybe that would work?
I just feel tired and old (I'm only 40!) and want him to want to please me and make me happy.

Thanks again - lots of food for thought.

Niknakpaddywhack Thu 02-May-13 23:18:53

cjel I know it probably sounds like I'm a control freak from my op and I sometimes wonder if I'm asking too much!!
We have 4 gkids (aged 1 to 4yrs) who visit regularly and sometimes up to 4 or 5 hours at a time, so some weeks between them they are at our house for 12-15 hours. They like to play with our ds's and their mums like the peace! As we no longer have young children ourselves our house is not child-friendly so we agreed that the gkids were to stay downstairs. Also, after a couple of hours our ds's sometimes want to go their rooms and have a break from playing, which I feel they should be able to. Plus, they often all come together and I don't want them all upstairs with our ds's having to supervise.
However, when I am not home and they visit my dh gives in to the requests of the gkids to go upstairs. The first time this happened our gs fell off a chair and bumped his head and our ds felt guilty. So, we agreed, no gkids upstairs. Which I say if ever I am asked, making me the wicked witch. But this has happened twice more when I am out- and it all feels very underhand.

arsenaltilidie Fri 03-May-13 01:00:03

Maybe you need to relax a bit.
'House rules', deliberately withholding intimacy besides sex..all sounds a bit controlling.
And as for upstairs, if the GC's parents and everyone else including DS is happy for the GC to play upstairs then maybe relax a bit.
However disrespecting your parents and friends is a no no.

Dahlen Fri 03-May-13 07:39:11

A few people are claiming maybe you are controlling OP because of your house rules. However, there is an easy solution to work out if that's the case.

What happens when the house rules are ignored? Who picks up the pieces? If it's you, YANBU. If it's your DH/whoever broke them, then maybe you can relax them a little. Was your DH supervising when GC bumped his head? If not, he is being unreasonable for breaking house rules. If you're the one who had to deal with a distraught GC, explain to the parents, and then console DS that it wasn't his fault, then DH is being unreasonable. If he was supervising and did all that himself, however, then you simply have different perspectives that you need to reach a compromise on.

I think one of the biggest problems here though is the passive aggressive response displayed by the DH. The agreeing with the OP and then doing what he wants anyway, is incredibly frustrating and deeply damaging to the bonds of trust in a marriage. Either he needs to stand his ground, discuss and negotiate a compromise he will do, or he needs to buck up his ideas.

Niknakpaddywhack Fri 03-May-13 08:07:05

arsenaltilidie thank you for your thoughts. Yes- dh would be happy with the gkids upstairs as he doesn't like to say no to his dd who encourages her ds to go up. Our es likes it for a while but has then had enough- I feel thats unfair on the gkids as it gives mixed messages. Our ys likes somewhere to get respite! And when they are upstairs it is my ds's who supervise- dh and his dd sit watching tv two floors down. Also -we have a large garden with toys and many toyboxes that are brought downstairs when the gkids are here, so there is always something to do.

Dahlen this incredibly frustrating and deeply damaging to the bonds of trust in a marriage is exactly how I feel- your post is spot on. I feel that we could, that we should have an easy time of it now but these issues make me unhappy and I don't feel its a lot to ask for him to "buck up his ideas".

Niknakpaddywhack Fri 03-May-13 08:08:04

Got to go to work now but just wanted to say thanks again.

cjel Fri 03-May-13 10:30:53

I do understand having lived with a pops who couldn't say no to dgcs(we have 5 from 12yrs to 18months!) however I never had the no upstairs rule, more like no food upstairs , no paints crayons etc. They did have their own playroom and art room at ours though so it was easier. I understand what you mean about it not necesarily being the rules, but the lack of respect. I would also query though your 'punishing' him for not getting your own way. I'm afraid I have a very relaxed attitude to our home - it is to be used. Only this weekend the washing machine flooded the utility and me and ds and 5 kids were paddling and splashing while trying to turn the water off. !! It dried and we cleared up and we had fun!!

Viviennemary Fri 03-May-13 10:38:51

Day to day disagreements are part of the course for most people. But if you feel you are unhappy in the relationship and don't see a future in it then maybe it is time to think about your options. I think that sometimes people just get on each others nerves and maybe what one person finds acceptable another doesn't. I sometimes have an over the top reaction when things go wrong. But I can't help it.

Niknakpaddywhack Fri 03-May-13 15:17:17

It is the lack of respect I think cjel that bothers me most. I also feel that me and our ds's have never been the 'priority' in dh's life, and while I could understand and agreed with that while his dc's were younger, I don't want it to happen now that they are all over 30! When is it going to be the time he wants to make me and our ds's happy?!
Aaargh - sorry, ranting a bit now. I know that 'punishing' is wrong, but I don't know what else to do to get the message through that I don't want to live 'like this' anymore and I won't carry on as normal, yet he has not even questioned any of itconfused.

How many times do you say 'please don't speak to my parents like that- it is offensive to them and to me' and dh apologises and says he won't do it again, for it to happen 2 months later exactly the same?! Then 3 or 4 months later again?! WWYD in this situation?

Viviennemary I do wonder if I seem to overreact, but I think that's because of frustration?

Dahlen Fri 03-May-13 15:25:42

Would he consider couples counselling? I'm sure he wouldn't be thrilled at the idea, but phrased as "counselling is a lot less effort and significantly cheaper than divorce" he might be persuaded.

I believe that if you've tried everything to change a situation with a partner and it's STILL making you unhappy, you only have two choices: put up with it forever or leave.

Niknakpaddywhack Fri 03-May-13 18:52:52

I believe that if you've tried everything to change a situation with a partner and it's STILL making you unhappy, you only have two choices: put up with it forever or leave.

I think that is where I am at- I feel like I'm always working at keeping everyone happy and nobody does it for me so I'm digging my heels in and waiting for him to put it right. I know- childish. Abusive? Fed up sad It seems like silly reasons to give up on a marriage but it feels like I'm losing the love I had for him and so I'm reluctant to make the effort.

But he's not raising the issue with me either.

so difficult. i can see how this would kill the love. maybe you need to say that to him. that his continued disrespect of your mutual agreements are deeply hurtful and that if it carries on it spells The End.

cjel Fri 03-May-13 19:58:45

From your frustration I would suggest that the time is now right to say you are so fed up, won't live like this any more and start seperation procedings. I would think that if you are at that point where you can't live like that any more then don't. It will do you no good to slowly slide into hating each other and you may even make yourself ill trying to keep everyone happy.?

ommmward Fri 03-May-13 20:20:22

Something in your post really resonated with me. You have conversations, your dh agrees to a future course of action, and then he doesn't stick to it.

I think that happens because the one who "breaks their word" feels massively pressurised into agreeing to something but, deep down, they don't really believe in what they are agreeing to. And so, when the situation next arises, they do what comes instinctively and naturally to them, not what they agreed to in order to end their feeling of being coerced. In that state of coercion, they'd have agreed to just about ANYTHING to get the person trying to force them into a particular world view to shut up.

I'm not making any claims here about the rightness or wrongness of your perception of his actions and values; but whatever it is you're doing to try to get him to see the world from your point of view is a massive failure, and doing it louder or more forcefully won't help. Deep down, he doesn't believe in your "no grandchildren upstairs" rule.

It's not necessarily to do with disrespecting you (though it might be), but it is to do with not 100% sharing your priorities and values.

In my situation (and I was the one being pressurised), what worked was the person doing the pressurising learning to back off and start to see that my world view also had validity, and that they would be much better off accepting me as I am. I actually do a lot more of the things they used to pressurise me to do because I'm not stressed and, because they are now nice, respectful and accepting that I'm doing my best, I'm very happy to be friendly and accommodating back (and similarly accepting).

[in my case, when we're talking pressure, we're talking on the level of whether we buy semi skimmed milk or full fat - nothing truly earth shattering, yk? - and I bet none of your lines in the sand are genuinely earth shattering either - if they were, you'd have been able to persuade your Dh of your view point really easily]

AThingInYourLife Fri 03-May-13 20:32:52

I think being rude to your parents should absolutely be a "line in the sand".

It's also really shit of him and his daughter to leave small children in the care of unwilling teenagers while they watch TV out of earshot.

Your poor sons sad

When you say that he is 'rude' to your parents, do you mean that he is actively hostile to them; more so than he is to other people? Or is it possible that your parents expect a higher level of deference and obedience from him than the other people in his life do?

I am getting the impression that you announce the house rules and expect him to obey you rather than accepting that he doesn't have to agree with you about everything - you don't seem to offer a lot of room for compromise.

Niknakpaddywhack Fri 03-May-13 21:37:55

Mmmm lots of views to think about, thank you.
'Rude' -yes I do mean actively hostile at times and blatantly ignoring them at other times. And he is rarely like it with anyone else, so I know it is a deliberate response but I can't for the life of me think why? I'm not sure he knows why?!

Your poor sons tbh they love spending time with their nephews and nieces and as an extended family we are very close, but my ys (aged 11 at the time) has been in tears before when he'd played with them for nearly 3 hours, had had a busy week at school, and just wanted to chill and watch tv and couldn't as they kept on at him to play. This is why I feel they need space away, and yes I suppose I expect my dh to obey this as it's important for our ds's.

My compromise is that I have kept masses of toys that can be brought downstairs and that there should be no need to play upstairs. I don't know - SolidGoldBrass is there a compromise I could offer? Or is it ok to sometimes just say - "this is what I want, it's not hurting anyone but it will make me happy"?

Helltotheno Sat 04-May-13 09:24:33

You shouldn't have to tell him not to be rude to people, least of all the people associated with you... your family, friends etc. If he really is rude to those people without provocation, that makes him fundamentally an arse in my book.

Regarding the GC, so his adult children use your house as a dumping ground for their children? Nice. You're crazy to put up with it. If I were you, I'd be gone like a shot. Zero interest in childminding for someone's kids ta....

You and your children sound like a very low priority to him.

Niknakpaddywhack Sat 04-May-13 10:42:04

tell him not to be rude to people, least of all the people associated with you... that's my feelings Helltotheno and that even if he really doesn't like them, for whatever reason, he should make an effort for me.
And having been a stepmum for a long time, and so always having to make an effort for his family, I am angry and embarrassed at the times he doesn't for mine.

I do think there is still the "disney dad" in him and he panders to his older dc for fear of them not wanting to visit, but then it is so much more obvious when he makes little effort for me and our ds's. And I suppose I am jealous sad

I know I should sit him down and talk to him and explain and compromise, but we've done that so many times, and still it happens again. Counselling is a possibility.
But the alternative- walking away- it is a huge decision for what seems like minor issues; our ds's aren't unhappy- they do love their dad
and he has lots of good points- works hard, brings me coffee every morning, pays enough of the bills for me to be pt, cooks twice a week etc.

He has, the last couple of weeks, started to do some DIY jobs that either I would do or would get left until desperate and I'm wondering if this is his idea of making an effort! Without actually talking to me about anything!

to me, rudenes to my family and friends shows a huge lack of respect and i'd be really upset.

have you tried calling him on it in front of everyone?

how do you normally handle it?

AThingInYourLife Sat 04-May-13 13:20:18

The hostility towards and ignoring of my parents would be a deal breaker for me.

I think you should change tack on your house rules.

The "no gc upstairs" rule doesn't get to the problem at all.

It just seems like one of those pointless rules made by fussy people that are made to be broken.

I would address the actual problem by scrapping that rule and instituting a new rule that children in your home are to be supervised by their own parents.

That means no toddlers off upstairs out of sight and mind while adults watch TV and leave them to other children to look after.

It's not fair (or safe) to do as they are doing.

I would communicate this rule to adult stepchildren, and remind and enforce when I was at home.

I would also encourage my sons to tell their older siblings when they had enough of playing with their DNs.

cjel Sat 04-May-13 13:25:51

Athing. I just had a thought about the rules and following what you said it would make more sense to have a no TV rule while they are there, it struck me that we don't have tv on when we are all together.

Niknakpaddywhack Sat 04-May-13 22:59:27

Thanks again for your responses.

claudedebussy I normally discuss any rudeness once we are alone. I suppose I'm embarrassed and don't want to draw more attention to it- I want him to be liked.

Mmmm AThingInYourLife I can see what you mean, but communicating that to my dsc and dgc would mean I would have to do it and be the wicked stepmom, and then dh wouldn't enforce when I'm not home. And I have always told my ds's that it is lovely that they play so well with their dn's but that they can do something else whenever they want. Again, it's harder for them when I am not around to 'release' them.

I suppose the fact that I am still pondering on these issues means that I haven't quitegiven up and so perhaps counselling is the answer- perhaps make me understand why I am controlling and why he is rude?!

AThingInYourLife Sun 05-May-13 07:45:47

Nobody can call you a wicked stepmother for asking them not to dump their small children on teenagers without checking first and releasing them after a short time.

And if they even attempt it, you go hmm

And if your husband won't stand up for his younger children in this, then you know that he can't be trusted to put their interests first.

Now you have a good reason to make him leave.

ok well i would start calling him up on it in front of everyone. you don't have to be rude or aggressive yourself, just say the words in a gentle manner. calls attention to it without losing the plot. your family will be pleased that you're sticking up for them and your dh will hopefully begin to see the light. the great mn classic:

'did you mean to be so rude darling?'

'darling, great-auntie agnes is talking to you.'

see if he starts to change.

and i agree that your dss should not be babysitting. the no kids upstairs rule isn't working.

so i'd take the responsibility away from your dh and put it on your step kid's laps. get them together, with your dh, and explain that while your sons love their nephews / nieces, and are happy to play with them for a bit, they also need their own time. and so can all the kids come to some sort of agreement that when the teenagers are tired, they bring the kids down to mum and she takes over.

force the parents to take responsibility.

if it doesn't happen, your kids tell you they're tired, you go up, get the kids, take them downstairs and tell mum that the teenagers really need their own space now. could she take them in the garden for a bit?

but absolutely stop your sons babysitting for so long.

Niknakpaddywhack Wed 08-May-13 12:21:30

Thanks again -sorry for the delay- had a hectic few days.

claudedebussy will definitely have to try harder to pull him up on his rudeness at the time, I just wish he didn't do it!!
The problem with this if it doesn't happen, your kids tell you they're tired, you go up, get the kids, is that it never happens when I am home - I will get them stuff to do downstairs and it's never an issue.

So, this weekend my dh initiated a discussion saying that we needed to start talking about our relationship as are drifting further apart - I thought he'd read the thread! I agreed, but the more we talked the less I felt we resolved. This was at midnight- we don't have a lot of time without our ds's around so it's very difficult to have a proper discussion
and, more importantly, our es has his GCSEs for the next 4 weeks and I don't want this to jeopardise his results.

We've agreed to get through the next month as we have been- amicable and polite, and think about what we want and how we can achieve that. DH has said ' why don't we just go back to normal and work on it as we go along' but this is what we have done many times over the last few years, and I refuse to do it again. There has to be a better way or I'm ready to call it a day.

Thanks again for all your comments- I have read and will re-read again so that I can see both sides as there are lots of valid points that I need to consider.

Mindyourownbusiness Sun 12-May-13 17:53:38

God l feel for you, could have written your OP and thanks for the link btw.
Can l just say (probably get flamed) but visits with young children lasting four or five hours overrunning your house and not even allowing you to keep any part of it sacred. Nightmare. No matter how close family they are l think that is more like setting up camp rather than visiting.
Like me l think certain someones are enjoying the peace - the DSGCs mum or dad (whichever one isn't your DHs DC iyswim). l have mentioned on another thread about my DHs DIL being overheard many times encouraging her DP (DHs son obv.) to give the DGCs a meal here or stay here longer etc. so she gets a nice quiet few hours to herself.
You need to start arranging to go out at weekend - you and your DH so that they cant all 'camp' at your house and will have to limit their visits to a couple of hours or until you are due to go out.
My DH is exactly same as yours with house rules. I avoid going out when his DCs and DGCs are here as otherwise they will be picking up glass picture frames, climbing up in the window (if they fall they very probably will hurt themselves and break our TV basically) trampolining on our bed (they broke our last on ) going in my jewellery box where l keep some very precious (to me that is, but of quite significant value aswell) bits of jewellery. l came in one day to find my DSGD trying to put a pair of my diamond earrings in to dress up and play round the house wearing them.
I too see nothing wrong from banning them from our bedroom for above reasons but DH just cant seem to bear to put up any boundaries for fear of them taking offence as you say.
Have to go out now am afraid so will look back in later.

how's it going Niknakpaddywhack?

Niknakpaddywhack Sun 12-May-13 21:01:44

That's exactly it MYOB No matter how close family they are l think that is more like setting up camp rather than visiting. But when my DS'S have kids I will be able to tell them- "Lovely to see you but we're off out now so I'll see you out" without feeling, or being made to feel, guilty.
Most people wouldn't allow these issues to happen but it all changes if it's dsc- why?

claudedebussy thank you for asking and also for offering so much advice. We have talked, and I have tried not to take 'control' so that any decisions we make are those that we agree on.
I have explained that I am ready to give up- not as blackmail but to show how serious I am, because unless we are happier in our relationship then I would rather be on my own.
I have also made him actually consider what it's been like in my shoes and what compromises and effort I have HAD to make as a step-parent so that we have a good relationship with his children. I was very young - only 18 when we met, and I think he forgets, or takes for granted, all the things I have done to support him.

So I now expect the courtesy of his respect and effort to make me happy, for example, with decisions or his rudeness with my parents.
He says he understands and that he will make sure that, in future, he will consider my feelings, as he wants us to stay together.
I have to say, I'm not convinced-old habits die hard- but will give it one last try.

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