Probably an AIBU but safer to post here!

(40 Posts)
parttimer79 Fri 26-Apr-13 10:51:40

This should probably be in relationships or AIBU but this is about a relationship with DP who has children then I feel better posting here as I'm not sure at 6 months pregnant I can face the pasting elsewhere.

I have been with DP 2 years and we've lived together since last august. I got pregnant in November with my first child, DP has 2 DCs with exW.

We have DSCs every saturday and one week night but he does not yet have them overnight as exW wants contact to be child led and feels they are not ready. This is being dealt with by solicitors at present.

This mean that we never have a weekend we just the 2 of us can do something and we only go away between the set contact times so he does not miss seeing DSCs. I am absolutely fine with this, glad he is a committed Dad etc - just want to make that clear.

Right - after all that back story the issue is that I have said I would really like a couple of days away, just the 2 of us. This has been a really hard pregnancy, I am in the midst of full time PhD and teaching (only this term to go) and I have PreND.
It is v difficult to get DP to take any time off work for family things unless it involves DCs. To organise things e.g going to a friends wedding, going to scans, I have to effectively schedule a time to talk to him when he is not stressed/ tired from work, make him put the date in his diary and even then it feels like it is not worth the stress of taking him away from work (he is an academic so never really "off", I am also an academic in a way but way lower level and so under much less stress).

He has taken time off when his family are visiting or when he gets extra contact time in the school holidays no questions asked (again as it should be). So why do I not matter enough to do this?

We are going to an event with his parents in a couple of months which he sees as a holiday (and it is I guess) but to me this is actually 3 days involving a 6 hour drive each way and time with his parents (who are lovely and I get on well with) when I am 8 months pregnant.

All I am asking is for 2 or 3 days somewhere not too far away to recharge after a stressful time and before baby arrives in August. he would only need to take a monday and tuesday off, and we could not miss any contact time with DSCs.

I feel like a lot of the time I am bottom of the list of his priorities and worry that when baby arrives I will still be in charge of "manging" family life - unless it involves his DCs or his parents/siblings in which case he has shown himself perfectly capable of stepping up. I cannot think of one thing we have done together which he hs either instigated or organised.

Any ideas on how I can handle this without it descending into a hormonally fuelled row?
thanks

teatimesthree Mon 17-Jun-13 15:21:52

smile good to hear that your department has a nice culture in that regard. Perhaps things are changing little by little.

I am actually a single parent. In many ways much more straightforward as there is no wrangling over whose work time it is. My ex is not an academic but is a workaholic. (His messed up priorities were a bit part of why we split up.) Luckily he is still involved. I think he finds it much easier this way as when he has DD he is 'on' and when not he is 'off'. If you know what I mean.

IME, you can definitely have a decent work-life balance and be a successful academic - but you have to want to! For a lot of people I think it's easier to throw themselves into work. E.g. all my colleagues who come in at six to avoid getting their kids up and out of the house in the morning.

Good luck - you sound very sensible and nice. Just don't be afraid to put yourself and your work first sometimes.

parttimer79 Mon 17-Jun-13 15:03:27

tea so true, when I say mat leave will be a crunch point I mean that I need to get into the habit of sharing childcare responsibilities from the start.

There is much more of a shared parenting culture where I work - different subject, different institution but many of the younger male academics (who I am also friends with) at his place are pretty committed to both partners working and sharing childcare. Interestingly my partner has been much more successful at work than his colleagues who do this so it is easy to see what is valued there!!

Don't answer if this is too intrusive but is your partner an academic (and if so how the hell have you managed to make it work?!)

teatimesthree Mon 17-Jun-13 14:38:40

Almost every man in my faculty has a stay at home wife. So there is no culture of male academics taking time off to look after kids etc.

My advice is, don't leave it til you go back from maternity leave. The patterns are set in the first few months. If your DP gets used to you doing everything from the start, it will be almost impossible to retrain him.

He needs to realise that his freedom to work whenever he wants is massively curtailed by having a child - and he needs to realise it right from the start.

bitter experience

parttimer79 Mon 17-Jun-13 14:07:51

you know what, this > It is not just your DSCs who need to get used to a household where two adults WOH, but your DP too < is very true.

We socialise quite a bit with other academics and I do notice that it is mainly the female part of the partnership who pick up the slack, like any family with 2 WOH parents it seems that there is always one person who must compromise their career.

I am going back to my PhD after 9 or 12 months mat leave and I can see that being a crunch point that I will have to watch out for.

Interestingly DPs dad is also a Prof and thinks DP needs to relax more and stop being such a workaholic yes man (however DPs dad has a wife who stayed at home from the point they had kids...)

teatimesthree Mon 17-Jun-13 13:33:15

Hi Parttimer.

I am an academic too. I think this is just as much about your DP being a workaholic academic as it is about the DSCs. IMO you are doing the right thing in putting your foot down now. You will need to carry on putting it down once the baby is here or else you will end up doing 95% of the childcare.

It is not just your DSCs who need to get used to a household where two adults WOH, but your DP too. You will need to insist that he takes time off work when your DC is ill and can't go to childcare, time off to cover school holidays, and so on. This is anathema to most male academics. But you must insist right from the start or you will end up doing everything.

Please also make sure that your work gets equal or higher priority than his.

You are at the start of your academic career - as a couple, you need to invest time in YOUR work - giving you time to write, get publications out, and so on. Your DP has already built his reputation and can afford to take his foot off the pedal.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I see this situation all the time and the woman almost always ends up getting the short end of the stick.

parttimer79 Mon 17-Jun-13 13:21:28

Thanks again everyone, this thread has been a great source of support and place to vent.
purple that is really nice to hear.
I think DSS is struggling with having to share his Dad with another younger sibling as well as DSD (who is very laid back about the whole thing and just interested in patting and listening to my tummy). Maybe getting everyone involved with some normal family activities will help with that too.

catsmother Mon 17-Jun-13 11:26:56

Am also pleased to read your update - I really hope he takes heed of all you've said and continues to be more considerate of you and the place you should occupy in his life going forward.

purpleroses Mon 17-Jun-13 11:05:15

That's nice to hear. Hope you enjoy your few days together in peace and quiet.

btw - My DSS helped me wash my car the other week - and declared afterwards that it was the best thing he'd done all weekend. smile Your DP really shouldn't worry about letting his DCs be part of a normal family life.

Feelingbetterbyfar Mon 17-Jun-13 10:47:07

Well done! Very happy for you, all the best for you and baby!
(Don't ever think of backing down, dh1 got so many chances but took none, and then I left. Dh2 is now having to face up to similar rational demands to save our marriage. Go girl, very inspiring).

DeskPlanner Mon 17-Jun-13 10:46:09

So glad your going to have some time together. Hope you enjoy the time whatever you do.

parttimer79 Mon 17-Jun-13 10:27:02

Thank you to everyone for their responses, it was such a relief to see that I am not asking for the moon on a stick.

tiger I am so sorry to hear about your situation - it makes me realise what could happen if we do not address this now. DP is very excited about new baby and I think will be very supportive of us doing things the 3 of us when DSCs are not here as frankly that is most of the time!
I do worry though that he is scared that if it DSCs have "normal" family time with him i.e. we have to shop, mow the lawn when they are here then they will not want to come here. I will be watching out for that and hopefully do some nipping in the bud.

We did have a huge talk about it on Wednesday, and I pointed out that quality time is what we are lacking and that he is remaking mistakes he made in his previous relationship (I am frankly amazed that both him and his ex lasted as long as they did, I would have murdered him long before...).

I also pointed out that we need to fix this before baby arrives as after it will be so much harder.

I am quite happy with the time we spend with his parents, we do also see my mum a lot but as she is more local to us she can pop over for a cuppa or a meal and it doesn't take out whole days/weekends so it is not a my family/his family thing.

Anyway (after my mammoth post) he had booked 4 days off in July for us to have some time together - whether at home or away somewhere for a couple of day. BUT he just assumed that when I saw the space in his diary I would know this...so we had another "big chat" about how he needs to actually tell me things and not assume my psychic abilities. He was upset that I did not even think this was a possibility and I think that was a wake up call about how little faith I have in him at the moment in terms of prioritising our relationship. I think he realised finally just where the end of my tether is and how close I was to it!

I am cautiously optimistic.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sat 15-Jun-13 22:40:50

Sorry PT - you fell off my 'threads I'm on' sad

He really hasn't learnt a bloody thing has he? I'd be telling him exactly that. 'You mate, have not learnt a thing from your failed marriage and unless you want another failed relationship then you need to sort yourself out - PRONTO. I am not prepared ...blah blah blah' - lay it ALL on the line and expect change or be prepared to change this situation yourself - you cannot live like this for the rest of your life - it's no life.

tigerrose Fri 14-Jun-13 12:24:30

catsmother, thanks for your words nice to have support. He is heavily against counceling but we will see what happens going forward. Thing is I find myself overcompensating now and making sure that she has a lovely time doing lots of things. Saying that this week he seems to be trying a bit more!!

Parttimer hope you have got what you needed and yours is seeing sense....

DeskPlanner Thu 13-Jun-13 14:43:53

How are you today op ?

catsmother Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:17

Tiger - that's terrible. It shouldn't be too late now though for you to ask - well, demand actually, because you have every right to know - why on earth he won't accompany you and DD when you go out. It's not only missing out on DD's life - and obviously, as she gets older, she will notice that her father only seems to become animated when her older brother is around - which will be a huge blow for her and could easily cause all sorts of resentment and jealousy between her and SS - but it's also ducking out of the responsibility and hard work that goes with looking after a small child if he never comes out with you.

If it is misplaced "guilt" then I'd insist he attended counselling with you because it's not normal, not fair on you or DD and potentially very damaging for DD's sense of self worth. How bloody dare he behave like this ?! The thing is, I assume that when his son is at his mother's he's not locked away in the cellar - he's almost certainly out and about with his mum, seeing friends, doing fun things.

And of course, if you could get to the root of all this and have an impartial 3rd party persuade him to consider the situation honestly and fairly then hopefully the issue of his reluctance to spend couple time with you would also be solved.

If you can't then I'd prefer to be on my own TBH and actually be a single parent in the true sense of the word. I think that'd be preferable to someone who thought so little of me and my child. And at least then, in theory, he'd have to spend some time with DD on contact visits.

tigerrose Thu 13-Jun-13 12:58:51

Hi, I can really say I feel for you. I have exactly the same situation - all I can say is be very careful.
We had the same where we did not spend any quality time together for about a year due to the fact that my other half was too scared to miss any contact as he felt guilty but would bend over backwards to take days off for his son but not us. I still think that he feels guilty that he is not there all the time and this rules many decisions. We have never in nearly 4 years had a romantic break and not once has he ever suggested doing anything not even a night out, it is always me organising things.
Now our little girl is here I feel that due to his guilt he does not get as involved with her as he should when is son is not with us. For example he is more than happy for me to take her to the zoo or elsewhere by myself even though he is doing nothing ( he will not come). It makes me mad that he is missing out on her life too.

Set out your ground rules now!!!!!! even if it causes arguments. ask him and get him to do the talking as to why he wont or what he is feelign or thinking because unless you know this you will never understand why you feel at the back of the que. Honesty is sometimes the best policy.

I did not do this, but wish I had and the longer it goes on (especially now our child is here and she is 17 months now!) the more resentful I feel. and I am especially sad for our little girl as it almost feels like I may as well be a single parent.
dont be in this situation.

SussexBelle Thu 13-Jun-13 08:31:55

I feel so sorry for you, love.

I think he is very unreasonable and if he doesn't wake up, may find himself in another failed relationship with another child, who visits him, at weekends. You are an amazing woman. I can barely imagine how tired you must be and how apprehensive for what the future holds. It is reassuring that he's a good dad to his 2 dcs however, his lack of real time for you, when you're expecting your first child, which ought to be a time of excitement, is very, very worrying. Yes, we all have to work and you are also studying and having all of these family commitments to attend to. I can think of nothing worse than a 12 hour round trip to visit I laws, when he will not take a day off work, to spend time with you. It might be better (when his kids are able) to move to an every other weekend rota with a midweek visit as well. That way, you do have a "free weekend" occasionally. My guess is, he won't be happy with that but one thing's for sure, when your baby arrives, it will be a lovely, lovely time. It will also be exhausting, your hormones will be all over the place, you'll be emotional, very protective of your new baby and then, the sleepless nights etc etc. Will he support you then? I do sincerely hope so.

What about your family. No mention of them. Don't they get a " look in"?

He is being very (dangerously) unreasonable.

catsmother Wed 12-Jun-13 19:00:31

There's time and then there's time - it's ridiculous to equate the number of hours he actually spends in your company - which obviously includes all the ordinary mundane stuff before and after work when you're both tired, doing household chores etc., the time when he has his kids and the time he sees his family - with your wish to spend a short period of quality time together as a couple when just for once, you have nothing else to think about except chilling out. This wouldn't be unreasonable even if you weren't pregnant but most couples do their utmost to spend some special time together before a new baby arrives. I appreciate not all can manage this - particularly if you already have children together - but you don't, and based on how you've described the current contact pattern and the days off you propose there should be no reason why he can't make the effort as seeing his kids won't be affected anyway.

So okay - he sounds like a bit of a workaholic and/or someone who isn't yet particularly confident in his role and is therefore very particular about taking time off he sees as "unnecessary" (or perhaps "frivalous" ?) but it's very hurtful to see that this approach doesn't apply to either his kids (when extra contact is available) or to his family. It must make you feel as if you are less worthy of his time and attention than they are. If you don't mind me saying it seems even more ridiculous that you're contemplating a trip with his parents involving 2 x 6 hour drives when you're 8 months pregnant. Even if you break that up that could potentially be very uncomfortable for you - and that's before you consider the resentment you're going to feel at him taking 3 days off for that and them but not for you (specifically). If his time is so precious why can't you use those 3 days to spend as a couple ?? ....... you'll still be able to spend time with his parents after the baby's born, but you'll never get another opportunity (at least not for quite a while - and that assumes either parents or PILs are willing to babysit) to be on your own the pair of you.

Can I ask what happened back in April when you said he was cooking a nice meal and you were going to plan a weekend away ? Why didn't you ?

TBH, I'm afraid I think he's being massively selfish. In the greater scheme of things you're asking for so little and you have been very accommodating towards him by the sounds of it.

parttimer79 Wed 12-Jun-13 18:21:28

Just had a phone conversation about this which has left me in tears.
His words "I give you more time than anything else" - as though I should be grateful for what time he is willing to spare.
He cannot see at all that I feel I am slotted in around work and the DSCs.

parttimer79 Wed 12-Jun-13 18:03:27

chipping I know you are right about the weekend thing, we have just had the first overnight which went well but even then he was worried about whether his DS would want to come again and fussed over the tiniest things. He had a rota of how things are done from his ex and this was followed to the letter (I realise only when I write these things down how ridiculous they sound...).

They don't tend to go out although sometimes we all go to the park/soft play/swimming but play at home and DS in particular expects all adult attention on him which I think will be more of a problem when little new one arrives. I know that if this continues it will feel like the children are treated differently and I can easily see how I will resent that.

DSCs live most of the week in a house with 3 adults none of whom work (ex and GPs) so have little/no experience of family life with 2 working parents whereas this will be the norm for new baby.

urgh, more to it than a weekend away no?

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Wed 12-Jun-13 17:47:43

parttimer - as Queen said (months ago now) you are being... understanding to a fault. You can't keep saying 'this is as it should be' & 'that's as it should be' - because actually, you know what, it isn't.

His DC, you and your baby should be his priority - not only his DC. It is about whose need is the greatest at that time, not a hierachy where his DC are always to top of the pile.

Yes, there should be plenty of fun & time for them when they are at yours, but life goes on as well and if things need doing - they need doing. Other kids go shopping, have parents do the housework, paint the spare room, clean the car etc - it's not all about Fun Fun Fun and when your child gets here that will become even more important - he cannot swan off every Sunday having fun with his kids while you are at home with the baby - because what they want to do isn't right for the baby etc.

He clearly has not learnt from his first marriage - a little maybe - but not a whole lot or he wouldn't be making you feel the way you do.

Also, at the age your step children are, how long their parents have been apart and how long you two have been together - saying they aren't ready for overnighters is absolutely ridiculous. It is time to get into the 'every other weekend, for the weekend' set up or 3 out of 4 weekends - whatever suits you both and their Mum. Just a Saturday, every Saturday isn't on at this stage IMHO.

The longer you put up with being last on his list the worse it will get and the harder it will be to change it - resentment will completely settle in and things will not end well.

If you think you are hormonal now - wait until your baby is here!!

Good luck
x

parttimer79 Wed 12-Jun-13 17:34:20

purple you absolutely nailed it there. That is what I need us to do - create the same level of priority.
I think DP and I have a very different relationship to the one he had with his ex (they never argued just bubbled with resentment and I am quite, erm, direct) but I think he was even more of a workaholic then so he obviously knows he needs to improve on that score.

I do think what I need at the moment is different, I do feel more need to spend time together, be close to him than before. Pregnancy has changed me (and I don't like it!).

kaluki you are right that I was worried about why he just doesn't want to do this but I think he is unaware of how this makes me feel. If it doesn't improve after another talk then that will be a different matter but in the context of what is normally a committed and loving relationship I am upset but not worried, yet.

Kaluki Wed 12-Jun-13 17:24:11

Fair enough purple - it just seems from OPs last post that he is actually avoiding spending time together.

purpleroses Wed 12-Jun-13 17:22:19

Not sure I agree with Kaluki - you'll just let yourself get more and more resentful if you wait for him to need the time as much as you do.

I think it's better to accept that you don't always need exactly the same things from a relationship at any one point in time. It's your first baby, you're hormonal, and you badly need to spend some time with him. The fact that doesn't feel this need as strongly doesn't necessarily mean he's not committed.

Kaluki Wed 12-Jun-13 17:19:00

I'd be concerned that he doesn't want to do this himself. He should want to spend time with you - not be cajoled into it sad

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