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Help/advice please

(38 Posts)
Mae40 Wed 22-Jun-16 17:31:47

Hello to anyone reading this,
I really need some help/support/advice. And it's over something so silly that I almost feel foolish even talking about it.
It's a long one:
Ok, so a few months ago we moved in to a new house that we have bought. We have moved to a really lovely village in the Sussex countryside, to a small but lovely house (small due to the highly inflated house prices in the South, but this is where I'm born and bred and where my family/friends are so that's why we've paid a lot of money for a small house - anyhow that's another subject lol!), and when we viewed it the house and garden seemed perfect to us. The house is in an almost silent close, no through traffic, very pretty area, lovely looking houses, absolutely stunning views from the front rooms of the house of miles of uninterrupted beautiful countryside, so lovely it could be a painting, lovely friendly neighbours, good schools, and a lovely place with lots of wide open space to bring up our 2 children. But since we've moved in and actually lived here, on an almost daily basis I can hear the whoosh of fast traffic when we are in the garden on a windy day. It is loud enough that the sound of the traffic comes in to the kitchen if the window or back door is open. As in, I can be making dinner on a warm day to the sound of noisy, lightening fast traffic! It's so loud that if I open up the French doors to the lounge, the sound is in the lounge. It's a distant 'whoosh, whoosh, whoosh' on windy days. It's driving me insane. I HATE the sound of traffic! If it's not windy, I can't hear anything at all. But, being England, even in the Summer, as you all know, our days are often still windy. So if it is a still day (rare), or there's just a gentle breeze (also rare!), no sound is heard and I'm happy, but on a windy day I just can't bear it. We viewed the house twice, stood in the garden twice and couldn't hear a thing, it was silent and I fell in love with it, but when I think back they were 2 very still, no-wind days. It never occurred to me to do another viewing in different weather conditions! The traffic that I can hear is from a single lane 'A' road with a 50 mph limit that is 1.2 miles away from our garden - yes, 1.2 miles away!!! Not at the end of our garden or even at the end of our road! It's so far away that I cannot believe it is causing me so much distress from its level of noise! The thing is, we lived for 11 years in a small flat in a busy city on a very busy 'B' road, we had both our children there, we were bursting at the seams, I was desperate to get away from the sound of the traffic and I dreamed for years of having a quiet house with a quiet garden, and we have bust a gut to buy this place, it didn't come easy financially, we are living where every penny that comes in goes straight back out again, my husband is working masses of over time to help us do it up nicely, and we knew it'd be tough financially but we bought it because we truly loved it and thought it was a forever home and were desperate to relocate to somewhere quiet and peaceful. I love peace and quiet, hate noise, love being outdoors and adore gardens, and this garden is so pretty and lovely to look at that I thought it was everything I'd dreamed of. And we chose this village and this road because the whole place is so quiet and peaceful (or so I had thought!). I knew the 'A' road was over 1 mile away so I really didn't imagine it would cause any noise for us. The weird thing is that in our flat right on the busy 'B' road which was on major bus routes with non-stop never ending traffic, in the back of the flat when the back room windows open we could never hear the traffic. So how can I now hear MORE traffic noise from a road 1.2 miles away?! It's making me so stressed as I hate the sound of traffic so much, all I've done for years is wanted to get away from noisy traffic. When it's windy and hot/warm and the back doors/windows are open and the sound of the traffic is in the garden and the kitchen and the lounge and the back bedroom, I can feel myself getting agitated and stressed and it lasts until we get a day that isn't windy! My husband BTW does not care about the traffic sound and says he loves it here so much that he doesn't care if all you can hear is loud whooshing cars in our garden on a windy day. He has now officially fallen out with me over this because I kept getting upset about it and has banned me from bringing up the subject ever again!
Then I think about what has happened to Jo Cox and family and think bloody hell what on earth am I worrying about traffic noise for when I'm privileged enough to be alive, have somewhere safe to live and have gorgeous children.
Am I going mad?!?! Please, anyone, advise.

wowfudge Wed 22-Jun-16 19:07:43

Well I do think you may have things out of proportion. Unless you are somewhere very remote you will always be able to hear traffic to some degree. And even somewhere remote, the noise of traffic may be more noticeable if it isn't constant.

BumbleNova Wed 22-Jun-16 19:32:05

OP - I mean this kindly - is there anything else going on that you are worried about? Is the traffic noise where you are funnelling concerns about other things?

i tend to fixate on something that does bother me to avoid looking at something that is bothering me but I'm too frightened or too overwhelmed by to address. is the financial commitment of the house? ie you paid so much for it and its not perfect despite that?

on a practical level - have you got double glazing? thick curtains?

Mae40 Wed 22-Jun-16 20:15:56

Hi BumbleNova, yeah I think it's that - that we've stretched so much financially for this house and that I waited so many years for a house that I just wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to be a forever house. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking a half a million pound house or anything, it's not that expensive, I just mean it was expensive for us as individuals. Yes, I just feel I put years on hold waiting to be able to afford a house and our own garden, and then I put months in to researching areas to move to, I just wanted it all to be ok. I used to daydream about how much I'd love to sit in my own garden with a cup of tea enjoying the peace and quiet of a rural village house/ forward a year and here I am sitting in that garden with a cup of tea now listening to loud traffic. The irony is, it's actually louder traffic here in my village garden than it was in the communal outdoor patio of my flat that was on a busy main road in a busy city! Re double glazing etc, the issue is when the windows are open on a hot day or when we're in the garden outside. (Can't hear anything indoors with the windows all shut.)
Wowfudge - would it not bother you to have loud traffic noise in your garden when you're playing out there with your children or trying to relax? I don't mean that sarcastically, I mean it genuinely, I'm trying to gauge my own response compared to what others would be like.

wowfudge Wed 22-Jun-16 21:00:47

I'm not sure how loud it can be at that distance. We moved recently and we now live beside a really busy A road, albeit in an elevated position with lots of trees and shrubs as a buffer. Single glazing though. It's such a beautiful house and garden that it cancels out the road noise for me. In fact, the birds are more intrusive!

Sprig1 Wed 22-Jun-16 22:13:33

What you need is something in your garden that makes noise on a windy day. How about some bamboo plants in big pots by the back of the house? The noise of those rustling in the breeze may well cancel out the road noise. Or maybe a water feature?

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Wed 22-Jun-16 22:24:38

Mae: I agree with the others. You have to be very remote indeed to not hear any road noise, and it can't be that loud if it's over a mile away. By fixating on it you're probably making it seem louder to yourself.

Please try not to make this into a huge problem because you could very well make everyone's lives a misery because of it and really ruin your relationship with your husband. That sounds over-dramatic but let me tell you my story...

DH and I have lived in lots of different places. He's shared flat with very noisy flat mates and neighbours. Together we've lived in terraced houses where the neighbours regularly played loud awful music for hours on end. Eventually we bought a house. It needed some work so we did the work and we have made it lovely.

However, shortly after moving in DH decided that he could not tolerate being able to hear the neighbours at all. We live in a semi and the neighbours are not noisy. But it's a semi do you can sometimes hear them if they have guests or if people are shouting. It's really not an issue and we have lived in many places where the sound proofing between the houses is worse.

However, DH decided to fix on what he calls 'the sound' (and also had a few years of also fixating on any tiny hairline cracks he could find in the plaster). He imagines sounds when they're not there (genuinely no one else can hear them, and sometimes the neighbours aren't even in at all when he's insisting he can hear them). Over a few months after moving in he stopped going in to the rooms that adjoin the neighbours' house (this is more than half the house). He will not use our living room, or the back sitting room at all. Not even if we have visitors (rare). He won't go into DS1's room (which is probably for the best) and, very problematically, he goes through phases of deciding he won't even sleep in our bedroom (there us never any noise at night). Instead he hides away in the tiny box room at all times.

He insists that we keep all the doors closed in the house at all times (and will quite aggressively come and close a door if you've left it open, even if you want the bloody door open). We almost never have visitors because he won't let people into the house. His parents sometimes come to stay but he still hides away in the box room. He gets angry if anyone has the television at anything above barely audible if you listen really hard (he can't even hear the tv from his box room so he insists on coming down to check on your volume level). I've only ever been able to invite friends round while DH is away and even then he gets all anxious and arsey because I've had people over and spoken aloud in the living room.

No one is allowed to make any noise in the house. He is always getting annoyed if anyone dares to, say, laugh loudly. Or if the boys play in any room other than DS2's room (far away from any adjoining wall) and even then with the door closed and not making much noise.

As you can imagine, it has been a nightmare living here for everyone. And it really is not the house or even really 'the sound'. It's DH's poor mental health and what he's chosen to fixate on. Partly it's also the problem that the house (being a house) wasn't entirely perfect in every way (it couldn't be). But he's made everyone's lives a misery and our relationship is a disaster (not least because he hides away in a box room at all times when he's not complaining at everyone). If it weren't for DH, the boys and I would be really happy living here forever.

So we are now buying a new house. A detached house. In a much less convenient location than this one (but we can't afford a detached house in this area). Finding a house was a nightmare because DH kept worrying about detached houses being too close together in case he might hear anything from a neighbour ever. And moving is hideously stressful. I have also, finally, managed to get him to see the GP about his mental health but that's a long road and I have warned him that I will never forgive him if we move and he decides to fixate on whatever imperfection he perceives and make everyone's life a misery again. There will be no coming back from that.

So... That is long and I'm sure that you are not like DH. But please don't make this into a big deal, particularly if it is in any part just a focus for disappointment about the house not being absolutely perfect in every way. You love the village, you all love the house. A little bit of road noise when the wind blows is really a very minor issue and one that you can absolutely learn to ignore and tune out.

whois Wed 22-Jun-16 22:41:27

I reckon getting some big bushy screening eg several layers of leylandi would help reduce the noise.

But I think you're also maybe fixating on it more Han is normal.

pinkdelight Thu 23-Jun-16 08:30:23

"The irony is, it's actually louder traffic here in my village garden than it was in the communal outdoor patio of my flat that was on a busy main road in a busy city!"

That's simply not possible. It must be your perception. It's like hearing a bump in the night - because of the silence, it seems more significant. There's that great scene in Annie Hall where Alvy can't sleep in the country because of the noise, when he's used to New York city.

Sorry you're feeling this, but you must find ways to minimise both the sound (the planting idea is good) and your fixation on it before it blights your lovely home and infuriates your DH any more.

The first step may be to redefine your thinking - your post is full of definitive statements about how sensitive to noise you are and how you need silence, but the fact that you lived in a city flat for so long belies this. You may say you hated the noise there, but again, that has to be an exaggeration or you couldn't have lived there and functioned fine. Tell yourself you're not a perso who needs silence, that it's not a big deal, it's not loud, perfection is playing with your DC, the noise is irrelevant. Even if you don't believe it as you're saying it, it may counter those extreme thoughts and start to break the loop.

BumbleNova Thu 23-Jun-16 10:53:19

Mae- its ok for it to be frightening having a mortgage, I'm still getting used to the idea myself. I also know what it feels like to have been saving and scrimping so hard and keeping yourself going through the process by day dreaming about the perfect place. the amount of meaning it then takes on can take over your life if you let it.

Is there anything that can take the heat out of your stress levels? have told your husband how you are actually feeling? I find just saying out loud why I am feeling the way I am however irrational, helps me put things back into focus.

what do you love about the house? try focussing on that - in a very conscious way? Are there things you can do to help you feel like the finances are under control?

I have set up a savings pot that comes directly out my wages. Its making me feel calmer about meeting the mortgage if something unexpected pops up.

BumbleNova Thu 23-Jun-16 10:57:37

just another thought - you do acclimatise to noise very quickly. I'm sure you will stop noticing it soon, your brain does start "filtering". we used to literally by a trainline and as amazing as it sounds, we stopped hearing/being aware of the trains.

DragonflyInn Thu 23-Jun-16 11:09:40

I do understand your need for this house to be perfect and everything you have dreamed off, but honestly, if a single lane A road 1.5 miles away is your biggest problem, then I think you are incredibly lucky and have almost found perfection! I'm not sure that anywhere in the South-east corner is sufficiently remote to not have any traffic noise!

It does sound like you are fixating on this noise - and of course the more you do this the more you will hear it. Try and make a conscious effort to ignore the noise for eg 1 week, and you will hopefully find it stops becoming such an effort, and that you genuinely don't hear it as much. Instead of listening out for it, tune your ears into the sounds of the birds, or focus on the feel of the grass on your feet, etc.

Good luck - it sounds as though you have a lovely new home and I hope that you can truly enjoy it.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 23-Jun-16 12:28:52

I would suspect that in your previous flat the continuous road noise became 'white noise' that you no longer registered.
Now, however, as it is not everyday and even when you hear the cars it is not continuous you hear it more.
Sadly in the South East you are very unlikely to find anywhere where you never hear any road noise.

DairyingLass Thu 23-Jun-16 12:36:31

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus I think you should step run away from the husband not the thesaurus. What a joyless existance, I feel for you and your children. flowers

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 23-Jun-16 12:50:56

He does have some redeeming features. But if he doesn't change (and he has promised to get therapy as well as taking the medication the GP prescribed) and sort out his attitude in our new house, I will be sending him away.

The problem is that up until very recently he has absolutely believed that his behaviour is reasonable and how any normal person would respond to occasionally hearing their neighbours going about their lives.

I'm sure the OP is much, much more reasonable than my fool of a DH, but clearly she doesn't want to go down the path my DH has in any way. She's already fallen out with her DH over it, so now is the time to address the issue and get over it.

Mae40 Thu 23-Jun-16 13:37:00

Wow. This response to my message has been amazing! This is the first time I've ever posted on a website, I've often read other people's threads but never posted myself. So thank you to each of you that have taken the time to reply :-)
I'm not up on the lingo - I can work out what a DH & DC are, but what's an OP?
Thanks so much for all the advice, both the practical and the emotional.
To Wowfudge & Pinkdelight, honestly, it is LOUD! Loud enough that the noise is heard in the lounge & kitchen if windows are open. Honestly I'm not exaggerating despite the road being 1.2miles away! The distance/loudness is bizarre, I agree. That's why I'm so freaked out by it. I need to seek out a wind-expert lol!
Today is a still day, I have the back doors open and I can't hear anything at all as there is no wind. I'm not imagining it or overly focussing on it. It is the loudness of it on windy days when the road is so far away that is upsetting me. My husband fully acknowledges the noise of the traffic, and fully acknowledges that we can hear it in the garden and indoors on a windy day. The other evening we were sitting on the sofa, it was warm, the back windows were open, it was windy, the traffic noise was audible in our lounge, so I said "Look, is it just me, or can you hear the traffic noise inside this room and in the garden?" He didn't say "What noise - I can't hear anything" he said "Yes I can hear the traffic too, yes it is weird how we hear it so loudly on a windy day when the road is a mile away, but I just don't care, it doesn't bother me, I actually like the sound of traffic, it reminds me that people are getting on with their lives". Which is very philosophical of him and I am listening to what he is saying. It's just that I, personally, hate the sound of traffic. But we're all different, others wouldn't be bothered by it, as stated in the replies here. Different things bother different people. I posted because it is upsetting and stressing me, but please believe me it is a very real noise, not a perceived noise. All there is between our house and the 'A' road is completely flat fields, perhaps that's why the strong wind carries the sound because there are no sound/noise buffers such as buildings or trees. And we do often get very strong wind here.
I would like to answer StepAwayFromThe Thesaurus in my next post.

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 23-Jun-16 14:29:00

Op= original poster (I.e you).

The noise may be real (sometimes 'the sound' in our house is real too; it's just that it's completely what you expect in a semi and not a problem to anyone but DH) but your perception of it may still be skewed.

When we're worried about things, we notice them more. So the road noise may seem more intrusive to you than to anyone else.

You've described a really idyllic house and village and your family can be really happy there. I hope you can learn to tune out and live with the road noise.

Do plant some trees etc but it might also be worth trying to adopt your husbsnd's more philosophical stance to the sounds of other people's lives around you. Good luck.

Mae40 Thu 23-Jun-16 14:39:42

Dear StepAway,
Thank you, and bless you, for your reply.
I feel that what is happening with your husband is a different issue from my issue. I understand my and your posts are both about noise levels, but I fully expect to hear neighbours through the walls sometimes (our house is a semi too), people in their gardens, the TV sound travelling upstairs to bedrooms, etc. That is all part of ordinary living for people living in regular houses. I don't expect silence.
I just want to say to you, please be very careful about moving house before your husband has had a good amount of time receiving GP/specialist therapist input. Wait until he has been referred to a specialist and reviewed regularly before selling your house.
You really need to establish the cause of his behaviour before making a life changing decision such as moving house. If he starts to feel better after taking his medication and receiving the professional help he needs, the noises he hears from your neighbours may stop bothering him.
Moving can be very stressful and is always incredibly expensive (Solicitors fees, estate agent fees, stamp duty, surveys - as you know). You and your children are really happy in your house and say you would like to live there forever. It would therefore be catastrophic if you moved to a different house in a different area and then found things were no better. You say you have warned him about this, but it may be that he is unable to control the way he is thinking and feeling and so if his behaviour and thought patterns do continue in a new house, it won't be because he has 'broken his promise' to you as such, but that he genuinely can't help it. As you mention, it is his mental health, and mental health problems can far supersede rational thought processes.
He needs professional help and you as a family also need support in coping to live with him whilst he is feeling like this.
I'm concerned that you are at risk of being isolated by your husband's state of mind if you rarely have family or friends over to your house because of how he is feeling. Have you explained the full extent of what is going on with your husband to the GP? I think that you would benefit from talking to your GP alone, without your husband, about the impact that this is having on you and your lifestyle.
Please don't move house beforehand or even during this period of time. Wait and see how your husband is first. What you all need at the moment is stability. And if a house and area that you and your children love provides that for you, then don't change it. The semi-detached house and the day to day noises that come with it are not the cause of the problem for your husband, the cause of his problem is of a mental health origin which needs correct diagnosis; the noise levels are a contributing factor to his present stress levels.
You should also consider how your husband would cope with the stresses involved in selling and buying property:
'Moving home is more stressful than a relationship breakdown, divorce or even a new job, according to research. Almost two in three (61 per cent) placed the ordeal at the top of their stress list in a poll of 2,000 adults who have moved home in the past three years.' (30 Apr 2015/
Research has shown moving home is more stressful than divorce/

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 23-Jun-16 14:51:38

Thanks OP. You are absolutely lovely.

I actually told you the story not because I think you'll go all weird like DH but because it started out with a small but real thing that he decided he couldn't live with and ended up with him behaving very bizarrely.

We are actually moving house tomorrow and I'm ok with that. The packers are currently putting our stuff in boxes.

It is a nice a house and the location is ok. Not anywhere near as good as here but it's not far away and it's safe and pleasant. You just can't walk to the shops and the kids can't walk to school and it takes longer to get to work. But it's not the end of the world. On the plus side, the house is huge and can be really lovely.

I think that DH needs a clean break from this situation but I absolutely agree with you he needs proper counselling and treatment so he can improve his mental health. And that won't be quick. The selling process has helped him to come to the realisation that he actually does need help and his feelings about this house are not rational at all.

I'm not isolated. I work FT and see friends a lot, just not in the house. And I insisted on telling people what's going on rather than keeping quiet about it. So my friends know all about DH's weirdness and provide support to me. The PILs are also supportive. DH didn't want me to tell anyone (because he's embarrassed) but I'm not covering for him.

sianihedgehog Thu 23-Jun-16 14:53:37

OP, with all due respect, you're wrong. Your issue with the traffic noise is exactly the same as StepAway's husbands issue with "the sound". Some noticeable traffic noise under certain weather conditions is to be expected absolutely anywhere in the southeast. You need to stop telling yourself that you hate it and getting worked up about it before you spoil this home for everyone.
I've lived with people like this myself, and BEEN like this. I got so fixated on not being able to fit a gate across my drive that I ruined a 10 year relationship. Seriously. The traffic noise is not the real problem the real problem is your stress about the mortgage and your emotional investment in this being "perfect", when nothing ever is. Plant some bamboo, hang some wind chimes, and tell yourself every time you notice the traffic that you find it pleasant to think of how far away it is when you hear it.

Mae40 Thu 23-Jun-16 15:24:12

Sprig1 - great ideas, I'm going to do what you suggest, thanks!
Lonecatwithkitten - I think you make a good point.
DragonFlyInn - thank you for that advice.
BumbleNova - you sound like you are absolutely lovely!
whois - I think leylandi are the cause of many neighbourly disputes lol!
Pinkdelight - I didn't say I need silence, I'd have to live in outer space to achieve that. Silence is not what I'm looking for, I said peace and quiet, which is different. Living in the city for years doesn't prove that I didn't really mind it. I said I spent years wanting to move out of the city. The fact I lived in our flat there for so long does not belie this as you suggest, it was down to our financial situation. Yes I did hate the noise of traffic there, this is not an exaggeration, but we lived there because for many years we couldn't afford to move thank you very much. What a silly thing to say that someone must be exaggerating matters otherwise they wouldn't have been able to function. We, as human beings, have a diverse range of coping mechanisms. Living on a busy road with traffic noise that I hated wasn't going to make me 'not function'. I simply avoided being in the flat during the daytimes in the Summer when it was warm and we would have needed the front lounge windows open and took the children for days out instead. I employed coping strategies; this doesn't mean I'm not telling the truth!

Mae40 Thu 23-Jun-16 15:49:55

StepAway - I'm sorry, I would never have said all that if I'd realised you're moving tomorrow!!! You know what your family needs best and I wish you all the very best in your new house!
I really hope your husband feels better soon. One thing's for sure is that he's very lucky to be married to you, you sound

sianihedgehog - the traffic noise IS the real problem. I am NOT stressed about the mortgage at all - we've got it covered. I take your point about the emotional investment re wanting everything to be perfect, I agree that's unrealistic, it's only because I wanted to move for so long and also I know we won't be moving again for a long time. I will plant some bamboo, good idea. But I won't be telling myself how pleasant I find the noise of the traffic when I am sitting on my sofa and can hear it in my lounge on a (windy) Summer's day.

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Thu 23-Jun-16 17:03:39

Don't worry OP. I have a half empty house to clean so that's all I'm thinking about right now.

hooliodancer Thu 23-Jun-16 17:21:52

A loud water feature may mask some of the noise, as well as screening with plants.

But you do sound fixated on the noise. Have you thought of having a few sessions of talking therapy? This might help you nip it in the bud? It sounds like you need to work out what is underlying the fixation, and therapy could help with that.

whois Thu 23-Jun-16 17:41:18

whois - I think leylandi are the cause of many neighbourly disputes lol!
Indeed! :-)

But they are cheap and grow quick and you can plant in a pattern like below to get some quick sound absorbing screening up. Just don't let them get too hjigh ;-)

o o o o o o
o o o o o

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