Can we have a support thread for those who reluctantly wear the trousers in their relationship?

(294 Posts)
DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 20:22:28

Have namechanged...

Does anyone else have a partner that they love and don't want to leave, but is exhausting in their inability to make decisions/take control/plan/lead etc etc?

Whether it's moving house or deciding which packet of biscuits to open with a cuppa, DH dodges all responsibility by looking to me to decide and act. We have been doing a lot of talking lately about how tiring I find this.

We've been together 11 years and married for 9, friends for a good while beforehand. In that time I have tried various approaches. For the last couple of years I have been trying to build his confidence by handing over control to him regularly and supporting his decisions, but he still ducks out and things take aaaaages to the point that I want to scream "FFS let's just do it like this!"

The trouble is that I'm not a natural leader or at all dogmatic. I feel pretty uncomfortable in a leadership role myself, but I'm being forced there minute to minute.

Everyone thinks he is lovely, and he is - kind, loyal, safe, good career, handsome.

But he has just spent 3 minutes checking with me that it's all right to watch the Antiques Roadshow, and am I really happy doing something on the laptop? And we can watch something else if that suits me? And he can always watch it on the iPlayer another time? And am I sure? Etc. And then a few minutes in... Am I still okay with this, because we could have the X Factor on if I like? (I don't watch the X Factor!)

You can imagine what our sex life is like, can't you?

I hate it because I feel I am being put in the role of tyrant when that's not me at all. I would eat my own jumper if it meant that DH would just once say. "Hey, let's do this today!" or "I've decided we need to save up for this" or even "Make us a cup of tea, love."

I think he has a basic lack of confidence in his abilities and I want to help him to overcome this. However there are phone calls, driving, DIY, accounting, planning and raising children to be done and I am doing all of it.

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DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 20:31:17

Lordy I really offloaded there, sorry about that.

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AnyFucker Sun 28-Nov-10 20:45:39

I am sorry, but i couldn't respect someone like that so I could not support any woman in staying.

You have another child to look after here, and while you continue trying to "help" him it will remain thus.

I am surprised you can even see someone like this as a sexual being.

perfumedlife Sun 28-Nov-10 20:48:33

Assuming he has always been like this, did it never bother you before?

I ask because my sister is divorcing a lovely guy who sounds just like your dh. He was always thus. She just thought he would grow and change. Sadly, I am of the opinion, over the age of 25 you are all the man you are ever going to be.

Was it this niceness that drew you to him?

perfumedlife Sun 28-Nov-10 20:50:05

AF I cross posted with you, how odd we both used the word thus confusedsmile

AnyFucker Sun 28-Nov-10 20:52:35

that's cos we is articulate, innit grin

southeastastra Sun 28-Nov-10 20:54:56

lots of men are like this, he sounds insecure - people change - this time will pass etc


southeastastra Sun 28-Nov-10 20:55:19

jeysus that's harsh af!

DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 20:55:37

Well AnyFucker, when the book of my life is finished (poetic!) you could well turn out to be right.

The trouble is that he offers me unconditional love, something I have never had in my life. Very very hard to trade that in. That's why I've headed this up as a support thread, rather than a "WWYD?" thread. The problem I've got is that people are usually polarised into either adoring him (90% of people) or thinking he is inexcusably useless (10%). Me, I just think he is a human being trudging along doing his best and trying not to cause any harm in the process. True, not likely to set your bra on fire, but worth working at.

Full respect for your statement, though.

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stickersarecurrency Sun 28-Nov-10 20:57:14

Sympathy. DP is similar - not so bad, he will make decisions with me, but he refuses to get involved in finances etc. He says he's no good at it but neither am I. But someone has to do it, don't they?

I can live with DP as he is, with the odd venting bust-up, but your situation sounds maddening. I once had a relationship with someone like your DP and I finished it because I lost all respect for him. No idea what to suggest, because whatever the solution is it'll be you that has to implement it, thereby undermining the whole thing.

ICouldHaveWrittenThis Sun 28-Nov-10 21:00:29

<dons appropriate name change>

OP - today has been awful. 'D'P asked how to cook dinner for DS. It was fish fingers and mash FFS.. kept checking with me along the way.

He says it's because I'm too critical and if he did it his way it'd be wrong. It's not that.. I don't care how he does things... he just takes SO FUCKING LOOOONG!!


DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:02:58

Perfumedlife, I was drawn to his kindness, talent (bucketloads in his career of choice) and good looks in that order. Good question, got me thinking.

Sorry to hear about your sister and BIL.

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HerBeatitude Sun 28-Nov-10 21:04:48

Oh god he sounds like an XP of mine.

Have no constructive advice to offer really, as it was one of the reasons he's an XP not a DP. But what I will say is this - I spent hours talking to him about how awful I felt about it and how I felt I was being pushed into the role of dictator in the relationship, and he did NOTHING to change it.

You could try counsellign, to find out why he feels so unable to make decisisons. If you don't sort it out now, you WILL get to a stage where you have completely lost respect for him and where actually, you will end up hating him and also hating yourself.

DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:07:31

Stickersarecurrency - the last line of your post is brilliant. I need to chew it over a bit, but... Wow. Whatever I do, I will quite possibly end up infuriated because I have had to do it. Thank you, I will think on that.

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asouthwoldmummy Sun 28-Nov-10 21:12:32

DH always asks annoying questions, as if he feels he needs my permission.

The other day in Tesco he actually asked if he could have a tin of pilchards. The amount of times I tell him I'm not his mother seem to make no difference. I just want to scream "just put it in the fucking trolley!"

He had a crap upbringing though and I think it mainly comes down to lack of confidence and need for approval.

DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:12:59

Thanks, HerBeatitude. We had a little bit of couples counselling before DC2 arrived. It helped a lot, we touched on why he finds decision-making so hard (some very sad childhood stuff). Might suggest more, and try to come to terms with it being my suggestion!

CouldHaveWrittenThis, come and sit beside me on the ref's bench and have a rest.

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DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:22:47

Oh god that sounds so familiar in the supermarket.

"Can we get chutney?" I should just say "of course" but I want to say "FFS what on earth do you think the consequences might be, do I have a reputation for kneecapping people due to my irrational distrust of chutney-eaters?"

And then, OMG, there is a whole shelf of chutney to deliberate... Meanwhile I've filled the trolley with stuff for 7 dinners, lunches and breakfasts without really needing to consult anyone...

OMFG and then comes the day when we actually EAT the chutney and have the long reassurance that it was, indeed, the correct chutney for this particular sandwich, and yes it was worth the extra 20p, and no I don't mind the extra 20p...

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AnyFucker Sun 28-Nov-10 21:28:07

ok, so stickersarecurrency posted... No idea what to suggest, because whatever the solution is it'll be you that has to implement it, thereby undermining the whole thing.

...which resonated with you

which may actually mean you do nothing at all

so perpetuating the problem..yes ?

HerBeatitude Sun 28-Nov-10 21:32:55

Drop - re the kneecapping comment that reminded me - I'm sure that the xp I had did it deliberately to some extent - it was a way to make me feel shit about myself. I spent months asking myself if I was a horrible bitch because if I wasn't, why was he so scared of me? (He wasn't scared of me of course, he was undermining me.)

asouthwoldmummy Sun 28-Nov-10 21:41:58

Dropmytrousers - strange that you mentioned "sad childhood stuff".

I know that DH wouldn't like the suggestion of councilling, but I don't know if there's anything I can do to help. I sometimes wonder whether encouraging him to talk about his upbringing would help to clarify things, or whether it would just bring back the pain. I know the basics but no details because he never talks about his dad or his childhood.

DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:42:22

You see, this is exactly why I wanted a support thread (and am so glad I did it as it's yielded some gems already). I have absolutely no idea what to do for the best, so there is a good chance I will do nothing, due either to the reasons Stickers & AF pointed out, or to decision fatigue.

I have wondered, HerBeatitude, if it is a way to undermine me or mess with my mind. I'm satisfied that, if so, it's not at all consciously done. And anyway, I have to take my own paranoia/insecurity into account on that score.

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AnyFucker Sun 28-Nov-10 21:44:27

I get that you wanted a support thread, not a WWYD, so will bow out now I have said my piece

good luck x

DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:51:04

Asouthwoldmummy, DH was raised with meticulous attention to manners and beaten for transgressions - will respect him by not saying more.

I on the other hand was raised with chaos and knocked about due to random whims.

It's all got a bit heavy, eh.

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DropMyTrousers Sun 28-Nov-10 21:52:02

Thanks AF, appreciate your input and POV.

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izquierda Sun 28-Nov-10 21:53:02

DMP, thank you for raising this issue.

Thought I was the only one...

Married to DH 23+ years, 2 x DC. He is very intelligent, a great provider, sensible, as an accountant great with our finances.

BUT - big BUT....I have to take the lead in everything!! I am the original driving force!!

I gave up work for 10 years to be a SAHM - joint decision. To enable him to forge ahead with his career, I took on absolutely everything to do with running the home. I'm a very independent person, confident dealing with tradespeople, sorting out all manner of issues.

Fair enough at the time, however, another 10 years down the line, I'm irritated to death because that way of working meant DH got out of sorting ANYTHING. Now if we have a problem, he looks at me for the answer.

It's called learned helplessness and I feel it's my fault.

I have to "stand up" to plumbers, joiners, all manner of people - that's after I have found and appointed them in the first place.

DH is good, kind & generous but has become very dull and somewhat apathetic. Expects me to instigate all our home projects and social events. Seems to be getting very old for his age!

I long for someone to organise for me, as I just don't feel special and it's all so one-sided.

He hasn't shifted the snow on our drive and if I went out to do it, he would just let he did recently when autumn leaves needed clearing....

Grrr. Thanks for raising the issue and letting me vent!

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