Page 12 | 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.

OP’s posts: |
Abitwobblynow Sun 15-Jan-12 11:21:18

I just want you to know that I am saying this with a HUGE plank in my eye, but....

look at the co-dependency. You cannot change another person, you can only change how YOU respond.

And that means, looking at the patterns. So maybe saying at a calm time 'when you look to me for a decision that is reasonably yours to make, I will walk away. Can you see this as not a rejection but a reminder that you are an adult, and once you have made the decision yourself, come and get me and we will keep calm and carry on'

(or whatever). But it does mean that when he makes a decision you don't like.... !!!!

lemonstartree Sun 15-Jan-12 13:38:01

for my exH who took no responsibility for anything at all, it was about being able to blame ME if things didn't work out quite right..

distressing, and very very dull. Eventually because abusive. always childish and immature...

DropMyTrousers Fri 13-Apr-12 19:35:18

Hello, remember me? I've still been around under different names, talking on the lighter side of Mumsnet.

Thing flared up again a few days ago... and it got me thinking about that awful lonely Christmas of going through the motions... so I wondered if finding and reading this thread would help me to get some perspective. I'm still amazed that is resonated with so many people, and touched to see that people came back almost a year later to see what happened.

Well, we're still together, and I'm still desperately unhappy. I still feel scared and exhausted all the time... it's this gnawing fear that if something went wrong... say, if someone took us to court, or I got ill, that DH would just fall to pieces. He didn't sort out the bedroom/ office situation - 2 friends of mine did - for me, and then I moved us to a slightly bigger house last year.

The DC are older and pay little attention to him.

The whole thing is really sad, and I came back to this thread to see if it really had been this bad, for this long, to help me make some sense of it all.

What I do know is that I can't carry on like this for the rest of my life, and so I have a long-term plan in place. It would be unfair to share this with Mumsnet before I share it with my own family. Perhaps I'll come back and tell the ending of the story one future day.

This thread was incredibly helpful then, and still more now. It's too easy for "reluctant trouser wearers" like us to think that we are nagging, domineering, emasculating fishwives, and not face up to the fact that our husbands have opted out of adulthood.

So when DH has his occassional bouts of sticking out his bottom lip and asking for reassurance that I love him... I think about mountains of housework... admin... shopping... mending... parenting and teaching the children by myself and often in spite of him... more DIY than I can keep up with... doing all the driving... being in charge of all family appointments... handling all phone calls... not being made love to... not being talked to or listened to... always being a shield for him to hide behind the world from... having to carry every single decision large and small by myself...

...and I think, How the fuck dare you guilt-trip me about loving you?

I'll be back one day.

OP’s posts: |
Mumsyblouse Fri 13-Apr-12 20:41:47

I love that you have come back to this thread, but sorry you are still stuck in the same place, for now at least but have plans afoot

I can't quite imagine this as we have the opposite problem, both of us wear the trousers, all the time, and much of our life is spend in a power struggle over them (they would get torn apart on Day 1). I'm not sure that is easier, but as you say, it must be very very tiring being basically two people, when you could just be one, I'm guessing you are coming to the same conclusion.

DroppedMyTrousers Sat 21-Nov-20 23:56:17

Hello Mumsnet, yes, it's me.

10 years since I wrote this...
8 years since I told him it was over...
6 years since we officially separated.

Since then there have been some bloody hard times and I admit that at first I was terrified. But it worked. The DC are happier, it was not easy for them, but our home has laughter and cuddles and plans and ambitions in it again.
I had to work out how to bring in more money. I did it. The state helped at first but now I don't need it. I come home from work and I look up at the house and think, I did that, I did all of that, and everything in it. I'm in demand and as the kids get older I can meet more of it. I doubt I'd have got this far without needing to. I love it.

I have raised my kids to learn their yes and no, and to be able to voice it. They know they can be straight about what they want and what they feel. They know they are loved and believed in. I'm so proud of them.

Their Dad gives me a scrape of money and does the absolute minimum he can get away with in terms of contact. I hear he mopes and bottom lips about it all still. But no action. A little part of me still hopes now that he will arrange a holiday for the kids, or get involved with their passions. Nada. This last start of school year I asked if he would be first point of contact for school. They still call and email me about everything as they can never raise him. I homeschooled them through lockdown whilst working full time from home. He brought round the occasional pint of milk or cake. He forgets everyone's birthdays. My inlaws miss me a lot. I see them a couple of times a year for a cuppa. I think they get it. I never speak badly of him to them, or to the kids.

A year after he moved out, I started online dating. Have had a few wonderful relationships. Current one has been going 2 years, the kids love it when he visits as we all have such fun. But no plans to live together as yet and that suits me fine.

I love running the house and the finances on my own. I love not having to cajole, coax and consult on every little decision. I love the agency of it all. I love not feeling permanently let down and confused.

For a good few years after he moved out, I would often wake in the morning and feel the weight of it land on me as I faced another day... but then I would remember... I've done it, I'm free, and it was hard but it was all okay. Everyone is okay, in fact everyone is much better than they were.

16 years together, 12 years married. I really tried and I don't regret how hard I tried. But I am so glad I eventually stopped.

If you've been unhappy for years, if you have been clear with your partner for a long time that you are about ready to give up, and they fail to catch it... then draw an end to it. On a trial basis if you like, but if so, give that a full year. You will rebuild and recover.

You will like yourself again.

Thanks for reading x

Arrivederla Sun 22-Nov-20 08:09:23

Well done Dropped. I didn't read your original thread but I've read it all now, and I'm so glad to hear that you have moved on out of that totally draining marriage. You sound so free and strong!


Horsemad Sun 22-Nov-20 08:32:57

I started reading and realised it was a zombie thread, so scooted to the last page to see who's resurrected it - how nice for it to be the OP with an update.

And what an update! Well Done DMT, you have done well and your DC's partners will probably be eternally grateful to you! 🙂

Kabakofte Sun 22-Nov-20 10:12:46

Very uplifting update.

EarthSight Sun 22-Nov-20 10:33:19

That's not wearing the trousers, being a leader or a tyrant.

Some of it sounds considerate, like the TV thing, but he seems incapable of making his own choices. Was he abused or bullied by his parents as a child? Does he regularly do things that displease you to the point he has to ask you what to do before doing it? Could be some sort of anxiety even.

When he asks you minor things like that, don't say anything. If you have to, just say 'I don't know and let him decide for himself. He might get a bit flustered, or even get angry or upset that you aren't been helpful, but that's because you will have taken away his support railing. If he learns to 'walk' without it, he's going to relish the freedom and I think it will make him a lot happier.

*I've just scrolled up and read that yes, he had a shit childhood. He needs therapy as well as your help.

EarthSight Sun 22-Nov-20 10:41:28


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...

I'd love to be a fly on the wall. XD

Like I said, it just sounds like a type of anxiety brought on by childhood. It's troubling that he asks you permission like a little boy asking his mother. I mean it's nice that he doesn't steamroll you over with whatever he wants and he's not domineering, but he's the extreme opposite end!! He reminds me of a colleague I used to have that drove me nuts at times. Some people babied him, but as a man in his 50s, he really shouldn't have been babied. I think his mother was very domineering whilst growing up.

I'd be tempted to say 'If you want that chutney, it needs to go in the basket. I'm not doing to approve it though or disapprove. It's entirely up to you'.

Obviously, you don't want to encourage that with big purchase items though like something major in the house. God, his childhood really messed him up if he's doing that with such minor things :/

Cavagirl Sun 22-Nov-20 10:50:15

Ah I love a good OP update, especially many years later! Congratulations @DroppedMyTrousers if that's indeed the appropriate word. From your original posts it sounded like you couldn't imagine leaving at the start, so that must have quite a tumultuous few years. So nice to hear it's had a happy ending for you.
It's v sad for your ex & DC that he seems to have just carried on in the same way, rather than making a positive change. But of course that's not your problem anymore.
Do you ever wonder what life would be like now if you had stayed?

Lampzade Sun 22-Nov-20 10:55:13

A good friend of mine left her husband for this reason. Her husband was a decent man , but he would let her to do everything. She was the one who set up the baby’s crib. She would do all the driving ( he refused to learn) , dealing with banks, tradesmen, energy suppliers, parents evening, Christmas organisation, dress up days , shopping...
My friend just got sick and tired of ‘being in charge’. She was just mentally exhausted

Lampzade Sun 22-Nov-20 10:58:11

Well done dropped

Supereager Sun 22-Nov-20 11:19:16

Brilliant update. Has he ever had another relationship?

PrincessNutNut Sun 22-Nov-20 15:15:05

Wow, OP. I wasn't on MN in 2010, or 2012, so I've just read this from start to finish, and I'm so glad you've got such a happy ending. It says something that your ex still won't do anything more than the bare minimum even for your KIDS, in either money or time. He will never change, he will never see where he went wrong, he will never learn...and you will never have to be the one to pay for that again.

I see AnyFucker raised a glass of Pinot to you all about ten years ago, so here's my glass of fucking Dom Perignon for you and all the others, and your happy, free and competent lives xx

DroppedMyTrousers Wed 25-Nov-20 18:49:19

Thanks everyone. I don't use Mumsnet any more, but when I realised recently that it was 10 years since I posted this, I had to resurrect and leave an update, especially for anyone in a similar situation.

AnyFucker, if you are reading, you did a good thing here.

See you in 2030 (and I am quite excited to imagine where I will have taken my life by then!)

FreshFreesias Wed 25-Nov-20 19:03:12

Brilliant update OP ❤️

Tosleepperchancetodream Wed 25-Nov-20 19:13:26

That's amazing OP, well done!

JovialNickname Fri 27-Nov-20 23:14:43

Thank you so much OP for updating!! smile

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