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Does marriage improve once children are a bit older?

(3 Posts)
anon1978 Tue 05-Jan-16 11:09:24

My marriage (15 years together) was dull before kids but has got worse and worse since our children (5 and 1) were born, just endless petty, increasingly bitter arguments about sleep, housework, finances, childcare (time and approaches) etc. We've been in separate beds for the past 4 years effectively, nothing said outright but just the way it's worked with looking after the baby at night. We're very affectionate with the kids but don't make any physical contact with each other. Our arguments are getting worse and starting to happen in front of the children which I know we shouldn't do but we can't seem to stop. My husbands also increasingly expressing anger to the children and to me. To be fair I am often nagging and critical of him.

Part of the problem is that we both work full time, my husband works most evening so we only see each other for one day each week and maybe two evenings, when we struggle to get housework done let alone anything more fun. I earn more so can't afford to drop hours, he tried working part time to spend more time at home but got very down. I have recurrent depression which started when we had fertility issues for years.

For the last two years I've been thinking about divorce, we've talked about it and got to the brink a couple of times but each time just not gone through with it. We've also had a couple of holidays which have been nice. I think we both feel that we're not well suited to each other but that hopefully things will get better when the kids are a little older.

I think I might be deluding myself though, it feels like there is really nothing there anymore and I'm starting to think it would be better to make a clean break sooner rather than later. I'm really upset about the effect on the kids but it also can't be good for them to hear us arguing. For myself I would hate to live like this forever if it doesn't improve.

Can anyone share any experience, has anyone had problems when the children are small and then managed to make it good again later? Or if it didn't get better, how did you know when enough was enough?

Sorry for the long ramble...

DancingDuck Tue 05-Jan-16 18:40:34

It can get better, in that family life gets easier when they sleep through/are at school. But you're suggesting you didn't have a great marriage to start with.

It depends how much the pair of you want to make it work. Sounds like you could both do with a break from being horrible to each other. have you tried all the classic techniques, such as:
recalling a really happy time from early on in your courtship in front of DC
praising each other in front of DC
Giving each other a quick hug or pat of affection
Doing something kind unprompted such as bringing each other a cup of tea or offering a lie in
surprising each other with a nice event
taking time out to have fun on a date (NOT dinner in a restaurant but a comedy show or gig of music you both like, or a good film)
Have you discussed together plans for having fun as a family - days out, weekends away, things you want your children to experience - anything from learning to swim/ride a bike.

Most people have a horrible time in their marriage for a few years when DC are pre school, wondering if its worth it. Personally I'd always hang on to a marriage during those years unless it was abusive.

Something that made a MASSIVE difference to our happiness was blocking out the weekend into chunks of 4 hours - 4 a day. So that's 8 chunks of time. You agree in advance that each of you will have one chunk all to yourselves while the other person is 100% responsible for the DC. You agree in advance who has which chunk - so you can use it for a lie in if knackered, or to go to the gym or out shopping alone or to meet up with mates. You stick to the four hours and are back in time. That way you know you have a bit of me time every weekend.

Then you have two chunks of family time where you do stuff together as a family - that could be an eight hour day out or a couple of half days at the park/soft play etc, but you all go and you all look forward to it as fun and enjoy it. Then you have a couple of chunks of time that are duty - stuff that has to be done such as taking a DC to footie or dance class, cooking and laundry etc. everyone mucks in for these, including DC and finally you have two chunks of time that are sort of free flow because stuff just happens or needs doing. If everything is going smoothly they can be fun time or if it all goes pear shaped they are breathing space for making sure chores get done.

At the end of each weekend, both parents have had a proper break for half a day each or for an evening, to watch the match or go out with friends with no resentment from the partner, and both have spent time together having fun with DC. It worked for us and we stopped feeling put upon and started taking care of each other's needs. Also meant we did loads of fun stuff together as a family which really cemented our love for each other. (Sounds cheesy but true.) You can also add a parents date into it on the Friday night if you like. But we banned dinners pretty quickly because staring resentful and knackered into each other's eyes was no fun. But laughing at a stand up or jumping up and down at a gig was.

anon1978 Thu 07-Jan-16 23:01:45

DancingDuck, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. i like the idea of having chunks of time to avoid resentment, and building in guaranteed time off. I'm definitely going to think about how that could work for us. We only get one day a week together and one evening during the week, due to my husband's job hours, so we'd be looking at half the available chunks of time, but frankly any guaranteed me time would be an improvement.

The last time we had a date night was six years ago - we have no childcare after nursery finishes…one step at a time perhaps!

Thanks again

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