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Is there a 'cope'er in every relationship

(5 Posts)
Lancslass4 Mon 08-Aug-16 13:09:44

OH and I have a good, relationship but like many couples have a recurring theme when it comes to arguments. The general trend will be I'll get over exhausted, start acting like a cow and a row will inevitably happen. I'm sure this is familiar to a lot of people with young kids and busy lives. We've talked about how to avoid this and it has become less frequent, used to be about every 6 weeks now more like 6months. His position is that I need to ask for help sooner and be better at accepting help when it's offered, which is fair and true and kind and I have done that hense the reduction in frequency.

However I think it's a bit more complicated. In our relationship the dynamic is, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and is VERY upfront about when he's tired and not feeling 100% or stressed and I will pick up the slack and support him accordingly. I on the other hand am more of a grit your teeth and don't complain, get and and cope sort of a person. I will smile and get on with it rather than ask for help (child of depressive parents may be a factor there). This inevitably leads to a workload imbalance compounded by the fact that he is a pilot so him getting enough 'rest' is critical (I've had the 'I'm in responsible for 180 people lives line thrown at me many times', what can you say to that?) before anyone panics, if pilots are to tired to work, they just have to call in fatigued and they get the day off but obviously you can't be seen to do that too often and it's important that they maintain there rest, OH takes this VERY seriously. I'm a stay at home mum living abroad away from my family, obviously I can't call in fatigued or sick so like many mums I just have to get on with it. He helps on his days off but when he's working, or in between shifts, I'm on my own. Which I accept.

However inevitably now and then due to sickness, or other factors. Things get on top of me and while I continue to 'get on with it' i become overtired, resentful and then descend into uncommunicative and snappy. at this point when it becomes obvious I need help, I'm too resentful and tired to accept it graciously and a row results. Which makes me even more reluctant to ask for help.

We get over it and move on but I'd like to break the habit.

He thinks my not asking for help is a weakness and I need to change.
I can see his point but the inverse is my ability to cope, pick up the slack and support him above my needs is a strength that he takes for granted and our day to day dynamic would crumble if I became more 'needy'. I think he needs to take a bit more responsibility for watching over my welfare and recognising the warning signs and to act without prompting.

I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences.

StarlingMurmuration Mon 08-Aug-16 13:13:34

We're a bit like this in that I get snappy if I'm tired and so DP then picks up the slack. But neither of us are pilots or surgeons, so if we are a bit tired, it's not life-threatening, and we can push ourselves maybe a bit more to help each other because of that.

If he's a pilot, I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that his salary is generous. Can you buy in more support? A cleaner, an au pair or nanny, nursery days?

PenelopePitstops Mon 08-Aug-16 13:15:05

I think in most cases the coper is the woman from my experience.

My dh used to be similar to yours and still is at times although he has got better at realising how much I do and how running a house isn't an easy task.

Do you have the option to leave him with the kids alone for a couple of days so he gets an insight into your daily life?

Also can you swallow some humble pie and recognise when you need help and ask. Even if it's as simple as dh please load the dishwasher or dh please put the bins out. The more you do it, the more he will see things he can do to help and hopefully he will become more supportive. I think you are both stuck in a rut of you won't ask and he won't offer.

Pauperback Mon 08-Aug-16 13:25:07

Isn't this related to the fact that his wellness is prioritised over yours for an unanswerable reason? That he has a comparatively well-paid and prestigious job and you are doing something unpaid which gets a certain amount of lipservice as an 'important job', but which society has a significant double standard about? That you are (possibly) living somewhere that suits his career rather than your priorities? I lived in the UAE for a while and met an awful lot of deeply unhappy trailing spouses who'd trekked to the other side of the world to a place they wouldn't have chosen for a job that wasn't theirs, and there was an odd dynamic about not complaining because it was a supposedly great place to live with plenty od domestic help and decent schools etc etc.

Isn't it less that he 'wears his heart on his sleeve' about exhaustion, than that everything about your situation thinks his wellness is way more important than yours? You sound, perfectly understandably, IMO, exhausted and resentful, and the more you cope on his behalf, the more exhausted and resentful you become.

Is this less about being able to ask for help in specific situations than about an underlying imbalance in your dynamics?

For what it's worth, no, in our relationship, we take turns being the coper, generally. We both have demanding jobs and live somewhere which is a compromise for both of us to allow us both to work - though in fact DH has just resigned from a 'dream' job at the pinnacle of his industry because it was affecting us all and meant he didn't see enough of me or DS. To me that's normal.

RortyCrankle Mon 08-Aug-16 13:35:41

Would you agree that quite often the 'coper' is also the 'enabler' in a relationship? I've read so many threads on here where the (mainly) woman supports the household virtually unaided by her partner - often having a job, doing all housework, remembering birthdays, responding to correspondence etc enabling her partner to do nothing, or virtually nothing. Then bring children into the relationship, the woman adds all childcare to her pile and he still does nothing.

By not challenging her partner from the outset it becomes virtually impossible to get him to change years later which leads quite rightly to her massive resentment. By then, the man resists all attempt to change.

Why do women not demand equity from the outset? In my relationships, especially long ones, I have made it clear from the outset that we are both adults and I am not going to be his replacement mummy. It usually worked out well.

Ten years and however many children later is too late.

OP, I think you need to shout out loud and clear that you need support and point out that it's an ongoing thing, not just if you are ill eg.

Good Luck

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