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help please - need a male perspective - what is going on with my DH

(58 Posts)
thatlldonicely Sat 28-Dec-13 12:35:25

hi - i have been posting in relationships but thought a male perspective may help - i'll try & keep this brief - 2 days before xmas dh told me he wasnt sure what he felt for me anymore and had been feeling this way for at least a year - completely shattered my world - came about after a week without kids and me feeling as though i was being ignored again - he admitted he had been avoiding the issue and deliberately trying to keep the peace to avoid any conflict in the past as didnt want to tell me what he was feeling -and said he was hoping it would go away. His mum died in July after being ill for 2 months - he was very close to her but did say that he had been doubting his feelings before this. He has said he is not depressed although runs his own business which is stressful. Our sex life is non existent mainly due to me being on ADs but i thought we were both ok with this - we also went through extensive fertility treatment resulting in twins - one of whom will not sleep on his own - which means we are now in seperate rooms. He has said he will go for counselling after xmas. After spending 2 days doing a lot of talking we now seem to be communicating but not actually talking about "us". I am trying to give him space but it is doing my head in - i originally wanted him to leave but managed to get through xmas day for the kids and his dad who was with us but now that the initial drama is over i am concerned what will happen next. normally this time of year we would be planning what we would be doing next year but obviously arent. He appears to be functioning fairly normally whereas I cannot get out of my head what is going on. is he having a mid life crisis or am i just trying to cling on to something that is over - any advice greatly appreciated

Pan Sat 28-Dec-13 17:49:27

Sounds really tricky OP. Haven't seen your other thread.For starters I'd think that there aren;t many things you can do to make things better in the short term, but lots of things you can do to make things worse. I know this maybe difficult to read, but patience is going to be a key. Lots of questions pop up. for eg.
- why does he think he needs to go to counselling? What's he actually said about that?
- is he normally expressive about his feelings?
- does he normally take a perspective view? (mid-life stuff is usually failing to do that.)
- how does/did his dad deal with feelings?
- has he talked to anyone else about this?

The communication thing can't be rushed at all. Shoving someone in a corner generally isn;t a good idea - they respond v poorly. Giving ultimatums is def off the agenda. Ask lots and lots of open questions, IF he doesn't show movement when talking. Men can get pretty overwhelmed by emotions (At least often more than women ime) and need them teasing out, like a badger.
will have a further thunk.

thatlldonicely Sat 28-Dec-13 18:56:54

thanks Pan - the counselling idea came from my Dr - i went to see him to get some sleeping tablets & increase my ADs as i felt i was not going to be able to cope - and he said the key thing to do was talk and suggested we try the counselling route -i told DH this & he said he would go on his own - no he is not good at sharing his feelings and has not talked to anyone else - He would normally have spoken to his mum. i think he is prob very similar to his dad although i did suggest he try talking to him as his dad had an affair & somehow his parents got through it - he said he would but hasnt so far. can you elaborate more on perspective view i dont get what you mean -I think i know that this is going to take time and am really trying to give him some space & not hassle him - my fear is that once he is back at work he will become absorbed by that & this will get pushed into the background.

Pan Sun 29-Dec-13 10:22:57

Perspective view - the ability/willingness of people to keep a check on changes happening around them (incl the ones they instigate) and so adjust their approaches to life accordingly. So 'mid life stuff' is just a reaction to not doing this and 'suddenly' finding oneself in a situation where one thinks one has to make massive changes all at once.

I mentioned this as IF he were good at changes he wouldn't be having a 'mid-life crisis'. But it sounds perhaps as if he isn't that versatile on his feet - I'd say that as it sounds like work is a nice membrane for him between him and dynamics at home with you and the dcs - so a changing life (which is sounds like you have a lot of recently) is a massive challenge.

From what you're saying, this is going to be quite a struggle, I'm afraid. He doesn't have/use any other outlet, and the biggest role model in his life (prob) dealt with rel. issues by having an affair. fwiw I'd get rather firm on the counseling front. It sounds like an excellent idea in the circumstances, but him going himself isn't the best at all, imo. There is no individual trauma/self-harm etc apparent that would warrant this over and above a couples' counseling, and I'd be rather keen to know that this isn't going to be a gambit to prolong coming to a resolution, and he has form for that sort of thing. Yes be patient, but that doesn't mean relinquishing all control over the process. IF he refuses the prospect of seeing someone as a couple I'd get really rather firmer with him.

thatlldonicely Mon 30-Dec-13 10:18:01

thanks Pan - funnily enough before i read your post this morning i was starting to wonder whether he is trying to fob me off - we spent the day with my family yesterday and i was expecting him to say he wouldnt go but he did & put on a great show that everything is "rosy"- it was when we got home & he announced "off to bed- work tomorrow" that the pretence came down. I am just waiting to see what happens with him sorting a counsellor - my gut feeling is he will do nothing until i start hassling - do you mind if i ask - are you a counsellor - you seem very insightful of peoples behaviour - thanks again

Pan Mon 30-Dec-13 11:34:30

Hi there,

No I'm not a counselor, but I do have recognised qualifications in helping people manage difficult circumstances - how they got into them, and how best to get out of them, plus a careers' worth of time in working in the dynamics of various abusing situations. In that, I now manage/lead and train staff in doing that.

I'd think you're right re avoidance. What energy and time he has expended over the last year or so is v probably just going round and round with the same thoughts/feelings, producing lots of heat but not much light. One real problem is that many people simply don't have the 'vocabulary' to convert those thoughts/feelings into something meaningful – they remain as a confusing mass in their heads. That's where talking with family and friends help out, usually. In that, you ask 'what is going on with my dh?' He probably doesn't know himself. You've only said that he isn't sure he feels the same. So what does he feel, if not 'the same',and why? Has he said anything about the why?

The patience thing – you know its been barely a week, though it will prob. feel much longer. Whatever happens in the long term, you will need to satisfy yourself that you did all you could, that no rash decisions were made, nothing unreasonable was demanded, no 'trial' put before him that you knew he couldn't meet. The last thing you will want is a circumstance where you are at all regretful for acting in haste to your and your dc's detriment. Patience will be your safeguard.

Having said all of that, you have your needs! And he should be meeting them with some action. It's not unlike living with a chronic drinker – look at what he actually does, rather than what he says he will do, and accept no excuses. The timing was pretty poor, but at least he got round to opening his mouth, and he needs to keep it open, via counselling (in the lack of other outlets other than you.) Feelings like he described don't just 'go away' – they get subsumed into some other behaviours. IF you do go to couple's counselling, expect some surprises and hearing things you don't really don't want to hear. I've not been to this, but lots of anecdotes show this.

Oh and thanks for coming back! In DN we get a few questions like these, which are one post and then we never hear from them

Pan Mon 30-Dec-13 11:40:13

sorry forgot - briefly I'd be really careful about blaming a lack of sex life on ADs. 1. Lots of people on ADs have sex. 2. a disengaged partner is likely to be a more relevant factor.

rpitchfo Tue 31-Dec-13 00:13:35

I'd think you're right re avoidance. What energy and time he has expended over the last year or so is v probably just going round and round with the same thoughts/feelings, producing lots of heat but not much light. One real problem is that many people simply don't have the 'vocabulary' to convert those thoughts/feelings into something meaningful – they remain as a confusing mass in their heads. That's where talking with family and friends help out, usually. In that, you ask 'what is going on with my dh?' He probably doesn't know himself. You've only said that he isn't sure he feels the same. So what does he feel, if not 'the same',and why? Has he said anything about the why?

This really is excellent advice Pan - i sometimes feel people don't take into account how difficult it can be to not only a) express your own feelings coherently b) express them in a way that a second party will understand.

Often the advice around here will be "go and talk about it, sit him down". it's not always as simply as that.

neiljames77 Tue 31-Dec-13 21:29:06

Before things came to a head, did you talk? I don't mean talk through problems, I mean as friends. Are your conversations about work colleagues and what they did or said? People you or he haven't met or don't know?

thatlldonicely Wed 01-Jan-14 08:41:45

Hi neil yes we do talk as friends - as he works from home most of the time he does talk a lot about work - i dont work.
Pan he has made some enquiries into finding a counsellor - im wondering whether i should suggest we go together - if we are to get through this i think i really need to know whats going on in his head - i did push him a couple of times to tell me if anyone else is involved - even if at v early stages but he said no. we have been to a counsellor before - i went through a v stressful situation at work which resulted in me being off sick for a year & then not going back - sometime shortly after this he came out with youre not the person you were - and i think we were in the same situation we are in now - we went to relate which was a disaster as the women wouldnt even let dh speak & he then went to someone on his own - this was 15 years ago. Am i missing something? is this a recurring pattern? also the ADs are mine - are you saying that its me whos disengaged or him- can you say a bit more please

Mary1972 Wed 01-Jan-14 08:47:57

I'm not a man but speak to a lot of male friends about these things. It's usually pretty basic. If you aren't giving a man sex he will stray or leave.

If you want to keep him then, however you are feeling or sleeping, give him sex 3 times a week and you will solve the problem.

birdybear Wed 01-Jan-14 08:52:17

Mary, were you born in 1940? What if you don't want to to for whatever reason? Just let him do it?

Is that what you do?

thatlldonicely Wed 01-Jan-14 10:35:40

yes Mary - great advice!

i have mentioned about going to see someone together but he has said he wants to go on his own - have said maybe if im there i can understand more what is going on - he says he will tell me -not quite the same is it - immediately makes me suspicious

neiljames77 Wed 01-Jan-14 11:19:26

He might be thinking, "so is this it? Is this how things will be for the foreseeable?" He is being a bit selfish because it sounds like your doing most of the work. I suspect that when you got together, you had a different idea of how things would be by this stage and it sounds like you want to sort it and he wants out.

neiljames77 Wed 01-Jan-14 11:23:00

BTW, I think Mary wasn't having a pop, I think she was suggesting that most blokes are as complicated as an on off switch.

Pan Wed 01-Jan-14 13:10:59

Morning and Happy Nooo Year.

Yes, I'd be a bit concerned regarding the “I'll tell you about it” but this response from him isn't a surprise, is it?
From what you say I'd suggest it's fairly crucial you go as a couple. What would appear to have commenced as 'his' problem is now a shared one and you both should be party to the remedial actions, otherwise you'll be like two trains on differing tracks.
Things you have a reasonable authority to firmly suggest?
the twin trains point
'reported' exchanges always lose value compared with the clarity of first hand conversations
in this issue we need to be supportive of each other and that includes bare bone honesty.
you've had hidden/misrepresented thoughts and feelings for quite a while, so I feel I have a position to be party to whatever you have to say on what will directly affect me and this family.
This is a reasonable position to hold and represents my investment in our future happiness. I may hear uncomfortable things, but I will face that as I love you and want us to be better. You can at least do the same.

Obv you may have thought of those yourself so apols for stating the obvious. How far you 'push' this is your judgement but from an objective view point (well mine at least) this is quite reasonable and he would have to come up with some bullet-proof reason as to why not.
If you have the money, I'd go with a private practitioner counsellor. You've been to a counsellor previously and I'd take time to question them and ensure they have qualification and experience in families/couple's therapy. An excellent counsellor would welcome nosey-parker questions about their experience.

Ads and sex? Sorry I meant dh being absent. Yes lots of SSSRs can have a depressing effect on the libido but this isn't total and IF there is a partner who is engaged/tactile and supportive the effects are remarkably reduced. Sex in relationships is about showing love, care and esteem for your partner. Taking Ads shouldn't be negating that.

That bit about 'you're not the same'. Well no, of course you're not. Life is about growing up and experiences. If you were 'the same' you'd be just the same but older. Which is no use to anybody. It looks like a bit more evidence of his unwillingness/inability to adjust to life's changing circumstances, if I may say.

Mary1972 Wed 01-Jan-14 14:44:10

Indeed, neil. That's all I meant and anyway we all do things we don't want for our other half all the time - taking out the bins, holding the screaming baby for 2 hours. I don't see why having sex should be in some special category. it doesn't kill you to have it when you don't want it and if it keeps a family together what's the harm?

neiljames77 Wed 01-Jan-14 15:17:33

Erm....I don't think I agree with that Mary. Having sex shouldn't be part of the household chores. It's a bit more personal than emptying the bins.

thatlldonicely Wed 01-Jan-14 20:23:56

i have said again about us going together but he is still adamant that he will go on his own first - we can go together after - thats assuming he decides he wants to stay married to me - feeling as though he is taking the p abit - i have to just sit & wait until he reaches a decision - also concerned that all finances are under his control via computer & passwords of which i have no idea - we talked about him giving me the details in case of his death - not this - but never got round to it -feeling extremely vulnerable and panicky - do i tell him this is how i feel or just try & sit it out

Pan Thu 02-Jan-14 13:47:14

Hi there. Just a bit of clarification - did he actually say 'depending on whether I still want to be married to you', or is that your take on it?

Feel vulnerable, because that's real. But please do not panic. Ensure that all you say is reasonable and controlled. That way there will be no regrets, in any event.

A bit more clarification? What reasons (hopefully a bullet proof one) for not sharing the counselling sessions? Were you convinced by them? Or was it just bald, immoveable statements? If what you say about the money/passwords is being read correctly, then he has every reason to believe he is in control of everything, incl. how to move fwd no matter what you think or feel.
You may not think I or anyone else needs to say this, but you have every right to expect access to finances and an understanding as to where you stand ESP given his conduct and declaration before Christmas. He will not see this as welcome and will resist. Is there any particular reason you feel unable to stand up to him over this issue?

Yes, I'd interpret the situation of him not so much taking the piss but just managing himself in the way he has been allowed to. And currently this is to his advantage, so why should he change now? Well, because you as his wife is demanding him to as a result of his actions. From what you say he controls everything. To change that, assert your reasonable rights. Should you tell him how you feel? Definitely yes. He is responsible and accountable to you.

thatlldonicely Thu 02-Jan-14 15:09:07

Hi pan - thanks for still replying - i have threads all over the place trying to resolve some stuff that has been bugging me for sometime.
the still married bit is my take on it.
he just said that he wants to go on his own - he says he wants to tell someone this is whats going on with me - who do i need to talk to - he says he doesnt know whether he has grieved for his mum - he said he hasnt cried apart from at the funeral - he says once he gets talking he doesnt know what will come out - i said i can cope with that - but that is how he wants to do things. his mums death has knocked him for 6 - i know that - and that was why i needed to know how long he had been unsure - if the timing had been linked to her death i would have just left him alone.
the money situation has arisen over time - we have joint accounts - i have access to those but they are really for bills & housekeeping - a while back he did make me cut up my credit cards & i no longer have one. He records everything on his computer - there is money somewhere but i dont know where - wasnt overly bothered about this as trusted him but just started feeling extremely vulnerable as i dont work & rely on him for everything financial.
i did say something during our talking spree when i was upset about how would i cope - i have no job or money & he was actually quite shocked as he said this hadnt even dawned on him. i dont want to believe that he would be anything other than fair but you just dont know.

last night i became angry with the situation and told him that because he had lied to me i was beginning to question my own feelings and wondering if i could trust him as he could still be lying to me. we have always told the kids that the truth is the best option no matter what and here he was lying to me because he was scared of the consequences and behaving like a child. There was no further discussion but today he has gone off to talk to his dad so something must have hit home- not sure what the outcome will be but at least he is doing something

thanks again for your trouble

thatlldonicely Thu 02-Jan-14 15:15:10

just an after thought - i never really saw it as a control thing - i always thought we were working as a team - he did his bits & i did mine - he then started not doing all his bits - prob down to work issues so i would do them - its only when i started saying i couldnt do it all but he wouldnt do his bits and started doing even less that i started questioning what was going on

Pan Thu 02-Jan-14 22:41:55

That's all interesting, and it isn't surprising you had a healthy episode of anger is it? You have 'needs' and it appears he has been relegating those in his own head.
I'd still say note what he does, rather than what he says? IF he is recognising your vulnerability then he needs to act to alleviate that,and it's reasonable for you to expect that.
The 'control' thing - I perhaps didn't mean he set things up deliberately, but from your POV there's a saying that you only know how far you are chained when you try to move , and that seems relevant here.

Yes he does seem to be motivated to get talking, and of course he can't stall on that - otherwise your fears re 'reverting back to "normality" ' will be met. Hoping he comes back from dad's with a renewed commitment.

thatlldonicely Fri 03-Jan-14 06:08:19

unfortunately that hasnt happened - he is now saying his feelings have been unsure for a lot longer than a year poss 2 although he cant give an exact time - he thinks he doesnt love me anymore. By doing nothing he thinks he has been protecting me & the kids from being hurt - i told him he has just giving me an extra year of wondering what the hell is going on. i have asked him how he expected his feelings to change/go away when he did nothing about it - he doesnt know - he doesnt actually seem to know anything - or he is still lying. I thought the whole point of speaking to his dad was to find out how his parents got back together after the affair - he didnt mention it didnt want to drag it up -anyway he doesnt think his dad knows he knows- what a farce! I asked him what he was going to do -he doesnt know - i said well you need to think about it - i think he still thinks he can carry on living here - i know you said patience is the key but i am finding this very difficult. i feel as though it is me that is doing all the work - he is just responding to what i say. when i asked for details of the accounts and wanted to double check that i own 50% of the business he seemed totally gobsmacked as to why - as if he would do anything unfair - i had to remind him that he had been lying to me for what i thought was a year - his dad questioned him about what happened 15 years ago and whether that doubt went away and now he is saying he's not sure about that either after telling me a few days ago that it definately did. i really dont know what i want - i told him yesterday i think he should go - he made no mention of joint counselling. i feel like i am dealing with a child -he seems incredibly inept at dealing with this - is this all men? i cant believe that someone who is at the top of his profession & is so highly regarded can behave like this. i dont feel as if i know him anymore - and i am now doubting my feelings for him. the one person (my dad) who i can talk to about all this is just saying take it slow - people go through all sorts of ups & downs & think of the kids - this was his situation with my mum - but i dont think he really gets what im saying - how can i stay with someone who is pretty sure they dont love me anymore without it having any affect on me or the kids - sorry for rambling - i will probably get some counselling soon

Pan Fri 03-Jan-14 12:30:54

None of this is rambling, fwiw – I and anyone else absorbing this will see that.
The patience thing – this is for your and the children's benefit in the longer term, not his. Patience isn't a passive thing (as you are v abley demonstrating) and it isn't a carte blanche for someone else to wander off and rely on their own devices leaving you with no voice. Your practice of patience will pay off, as difficult as it plainly is right now.

It's problematic to see how someone can be a successful professional, at the top of their game and running a business (esp if he is employing people) and be so emotionally negligent with those closest and esp. so when they themselves are 'putting their hand up' and recognising there is a problem. This seems to represent a 'lazy cruelty', which you don't have to be putting up with. IF he were to be ever sat in front of me, that is how I would be reflecting his behaviour back to him, and seeking answers as to what he will be actually doing to stop that manifested behaviour.

Further up I'd said “What energy and time he has expended over the last year or so is v probably just going round and round with the same thoughts/feelings, producing lots of heat but not much light.” And look to what he does rather than what he says he will do, productively.This seems to be still the case despite every opportunity and motivator to change. Rather, we have a regression on his stated feelings for you (and the children? Does we want to be a dad?). What was the purpose of seeing his dad and what did they actually talk about?

I, at least, haven't 'urged' you to do anything regarding action. 'Be firm', 'insist' etc yes. But here he requires what will be a swift kick.
I'd urge you to get him to leave, as you have asked of him before. There's lots of risks involved in that, but it isn't really healthy to be on tenter hooks and living with an anxiety minute by minute. It's also a glimpse into the future for him as to what life will look like moving forward unless he takes some remedial action.
Obv it is going to be v wise to set around securing yours and the dc's finances, as you'll know. And assert your rights. It means making demands that he will resist, and seeking professional advice. It's a crisis, yes, but as usual for everyone, crises carry with them the motivation and opportunity for 'change management'.
This wouldn't be you 'losing patience'. This would be you wresting some control over the situation and placing the ball in his court where it belongs.

Hoping that lacing all of this down on screen is being supportive of you and a confirmation that 'from the outside looking in' you are assessing the situation perfectly well.

What do you think?

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