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DH says he's just not an emotional/affectionate person - but you should see him with the kids...

(28 Posts)
Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 05:01:17

DH and I have done a Myers Brigg test recently. Apart from him criticising the way I filled in the form (!), it told us what we/I already knew, that we are polar opposites.

Not always a bad thing I know. We are both very practical people, and have many commonalities, in terms of what we expect of our future as a family, what we want for our boys etc., and we have both been in love, and at least for the first couple of years DH seemed to know the usual/expected signals of love/coupledom - holding hands, calling before the end of the day, one or two things to let me know he was thinking of me when I was standing in front of him, and he has been incredibly supportive through a couple of very diff. pg.s and first years when the boys were babies and I was sick.

Pretty early on though (6 months into dating?) he stopped doing very much in the way of PDAs (not necessarly a problem, we were 30, not 15 :-) , but very soon started to insist that he's not very affectionate but that he does love me.

As far as possible I have tried to take this in my stride, despite being extremely passionate and emotional (yes, as well as practical, all in one bundle), because I respected him, loved him, felt secure with him, and knew that he would always be loyal.

Thing is, we are now, 10 years on, at a point where he second guesses many of my decisions, says black when I say white, barely seems to notice i'm there (untill he wants me to roll over at night) and just seems happier when working. He ADORES our boys, and I see his face light up when he comes home to them, and when he's sitting/playing/with one of them, he is happy, laughing/engrossed...gives them spontaneous cuddles and kisses, and spends time making sure they're content and "covered".

So, I no longer buy the "i'm just a very contained person, and I don't show my affections easily (at all)".... this should be in aibu, but of course it isn't. What do you think?

Am I just spoilt. I've loved two other men in my life, one of htem for 7 years, so I'm not expecting perfection, but with both of them, even at the darkest moments, there would be a spark, moment between us - a pull, or connection. We just don't have anything like that.

I'm so tired, and so over trying so hard, not trying, laying it o0n hte line, ignoring it.... just "being" to see what happens next... and nothing on his side seems to change. Except that very old, and unpleasant story, that he wakes up when he comes to bed, and feels like a roll in the sack. Interestingly, I have become less and less responsive to this one sign of spontaneity.

Cheers,

J

babyhammock Fri 10-Jun-11 07:45:31

You must feel very glad he's like that with the boys, but feel why oh why can't he be like that with you too.

I have a theory, he treats you that way because thats how he feels women should be treated. Their worth is in the bedroom. I don't even think its about taking you for granted.

Sorry if that sounds harsh. Do yo feel valued in other ways? Does he pull his weight round the house? I'm suspecting not

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 07:54:40

I was going to say, but felt I said enough, this appears to be his dads approach, will do anything for anyone else, but my mil might as well be wallpaper. DH will drop everything for work, kids, friends, family, unless I suggest it, or it's about me. He always seems oblivious and when I point it out looks stricken and tries for a few days.

babyhammock Fri 10-Jun-11 08:28:08

So he's learnt from his dad that the woman you are with is a second class citizen who isn't worthy of being treated like everyone else.

Sorry if I'm not being very helpful.. I'm trying to be
Hug x

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 09:02:11

Well, theoretically, but overarching that he's pretty equal about the women we know/he works with, and shows absolutely no signs of general sexism, if anything, he thinks we're so equal there is an assumption that I will return to full time work, can manage bins, mechanics, step ladders etc...don't know if that's relevant.

I'm so miserable, and starting to affect my behaviour with the children, feel I can't bear to be without them/want to keep them babies with lots of cuddles etc, which is not normal for me.pathetically grateful for their love/attention.

Makes me sound weird; promise I'm not..

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 09:07:42

Ps,re stuff around the house..his involvement is directly linked to how impt he is at work, ie, the higher he climbs (which is pretty high) the less he does.

babyhammock Fri 10-Jun-11 09:24:50

So you can do all jobs round the house... great wink..

but he doesn't because there are lots of jobs that he thinks are below him.

My abusive ex started off like this. It was exactly the same for me. I could do everything. He got a whole lot worse btw. But it started with the same basic attitude to his partner IYSWIM.

Yes I bet he will expect you to return to work, and do most of the jobs round the house, and all the housework. I also suspect that his money will be worth more than yours too.

Can I jump the gun and get you to read the Lundy Bancroft book? What he's doing is subtle but insidious and how you're feeling is the effect of it.

It doesn't suprise me that he treats his femail co-workers so well. Trust me, he wouldn't if they were married to him x

Ps you don't sound weird at all and I don't think he's oblivious to what he's doing either.

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 10:38:43

Wow. Well I thought I could spot a problem bloke a mile off, having spent a long time with one before.... I just can't believe this is going to turn into a thing like that - he doesn't yell, he doesn't do get pissed off, well, hardly ever.

I'm really not convinced that it's an abusive behaviour, but perhaps I don't know. I do know it's difficult to tell from inside the problem.

I know this sounds like a seriously dull problem, but I'm having trouble seeing a way forward, I feel so bad.

shocked2 Fri 10-Jun-11 11:22:31

Hi Jackaroo - I totally relate to your issue as it is the same for me with my dh. He is also very affectionate with the children (3 of them, 5, 7 and 9 years old) and NOT AT ALL with me - not verbally or physically. EVER. We have sex roughly every six weeks and that is fine but I can't get my head round the fact that it never leads to more affection on a day to day basis, which is partly why it happens so rarely as I get annoyed and withdraw.... We have lots of problems in our "relationship" which I think partly accounts for my dh's behaviour, but additionally I am sure his parents were not openly affectionate with each other either. Additionally his dad then became an alcoholic and left the family home when dh was 15. By all accounts he (the dad) was not very nice... but nobody talks about him at all. He passed away not long before I met dh but had been isolated from his nuclear family for years.
Dh, like yours, was also much better at affection at the beginning of our relationship....
I am not blameless in this situation as I have done damage to the relationship as well as him, but I also think that fundamentally dh does not think he has to contribute to our "relationship" in this way, he uses the fact that for years he has been totally exhausted by work, as an excuse. I also think that dh is a difficult person whom I would no longer be with if we did not have children together, and he must surely feel that I am thinking this which does not help the overall affection going on! Having said that, he is the one who no longer wanted to kiss on lips (years ago) on a day to day basis and when middle dd "dared" us to do this he said "that IS a dare" angry.
I too have been thinking about future years when the dc are no longer so cuddly and when I will be totally untouched so you are not alone there and it is not a nice thought sad.
I could discuss all of this with dh but in the past he has always become defensive and accused me of other things (eg not being tidy enough) so we never get past the first few sentences before we are both angry / upset.
I am 42 and as far as dh is concerned I feel as if my attractive to a man / loved by a man, life is over!
So I don't have much advice, I am sorry, but I do totally relate to what you are saying and am interested in hearing what other posters might have to say.

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 12:02:19

Oh, that is SO helpful shocked2, it sounds very similar. I seriously wonder whether at some point I should tell him the way I feel, but I never had a final ultimatum that will make him shift, and I'm not happy with the idea that I need to make him see my point of view. We've had many many conversations about this, it's like a black out, or blind spot in his vision, that is wife shaped.............
I feel very wistful about my past life - I lived a lot before I met DH, and of course the nature of shorter term relathionships is that they are always very affectionate til one of you has had enough..?
I've carried on thinking about the abuse thing - and I really DON'T think it's that calculating - but I DO agree that there is alot to be said for modelling by parents - but, question for today, at what point should you expect a bright, literate adult to work against that for his/his family's good?
I think, shocked, that you should give yourself a break too, you both make mistakes, and that should be allowed, but I completely agree that the more unloved I feel, the more I don't want any kind of interaction, which makes things worse.

Anyway, I'm sitting typing whilst we're supposed to be watching tv together, so I'd probably better stop for now.

I too, would appreciate any other input.

MankyMyrtle Fri 10-Jun-11 12:41:20

I don't know how to advise you (I'm so crap at this sort of thing) other than to tell you about my similar situation. I've been with my OH for 25 years now and this is the situation we find ourselves in. I've reached the end of my tether with it as it was making me very depressed. I waited until the kids were away then took him out for a walk and had a talk with him about how I feel. He was completely oblivious to how I was feeling! A few weeks ago I bought "I Love You but I'm Not in Love with You: Seven Steps to Saving Your Relationship"
(Andrew G Marshall). Fantastic book-it really explains what a relationship needs to survive and has some exercises to try. OH has agreed to have a go although he's struggling even with the first which is a quick kiss on the lips with eyes open, so god knows how he'll manage when we get further along.... Still early days and there's a mutual willingness to try and he knows now that I can no longer be taken for granted.

sincitylover Fri 10-Jun-11 12:50:40

my exh was like this and it almost destroyed me and did destroy our marriage.

However I don' think it's a man or gender thing - I know of at least two instances where it's the wife doing this. I believe that men (most of them) also crave itimacy and affection too.

Seems ot me in many marriages there is one sparky, affectionate lively partner and the other gets complacent and gives up.

This does not make for a good marriage or role model for your dcs.

It's very sad and I don't know why they do it - it seems to become the elephant in the room.

EndoTheRoad Fri 10-Jun-11 13:08:45

Hi, Jack.

I feel the same way.

My DP's never really been very affectionate/open with his feelings. I have always felt second to his work. I used to blame his cold shoulder and lack of interest in bed on work stress/pressure. I told him last nov/dec time how I felt almost non-existant and how he never shows me the affection I need and he said he thought I was drawing away from him! But, after so long of being the instigator and waiting, hoping he'd reach out to touch me, I kinda gave up and stopped seeking it.

Things are pretty bad at the moment - to the point that if he does try to touch me - even in a jokey/hug/kissy kinda way, I pull away from it - I almost cannot bear it. And then he wonders why.

It's a soul-destroying situation to be in. You feel less worthy day by day.

I seriously considering getting out of this relationship. I moved abroad to be with DP and the upheaval to DS/guilt for not making it work is crippling me.

piellabakewell Fri 10-Jun-11 17:08:56

I've been through this too, although my exH wasn't affectionate with the children either. I completely agree with Endo that you can find yourself pulling away from any touch, I also reached the stage where all physical contact was unwelcome and yet he still felt entitled to sex (and far more often than every 6 weeks, too).

After around 10 years I reached the point where I was only living with him for the sake of DC. A few years later and I had to leave, couldn't bear it any longer. There was nothing between us at all and our relationship was a terrible model for our DDs.

My youngest thinks that work is more important to her dad than his DDs, and I can see why. I have doubts about contact as I know he'd rather be in his study than with the DC, but he still has them every week. They are on the phone to me several times a day when they are at his place.

You can't change his behaviour towards you, but HE can, if he wants to. Perhaps he needs to be told it's a dealbreaker? I'm with a new partner now and our relationship is so different...we even sleep so that we're always touching, whereas with my ex I always wished the bed was bigger so I didn't have to be anywhere near him!

Jackaroo Fri 10-Jun-11 20:12:14

Oh my goodness, this is all so similar, it is a relief to hear it, and yet very painful to hear how difficult/impossible it is to get it to work with the DH in each case.

I am very like mil, and she now copes (although still bitter) by having another, platonic but deeply caring, friendship.
Recently, DH observed that his dad never came to any thing for him at school, he's obviously working overtime to provide a different experience for his boys, but it's still the work that they remember.
I'm wondering if it would be too destructive to show DH this thread...

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 21:16:45

OMG Jackaroo you are ME!

Right down to the way as dh gets more important at work he too is reducing what he thinks he needs to do round the house.

Only difference is mine doesn't want sex and doesn't find me that attractive so I feel both unloved and unfancied.

Mine too is not being abusive - he is just this way, wrapped up in his thoughts with no need for any affection and an unwillingness or inability to recognise I need some or provide some. He isn't very supportive in a crisis either. And silly little things like if I'm struggling to carry a suitcase on a trip he doesn't ever ask if I'm okay or need a hand just leaves me to it even when he is carrying less.

The big turning point was when I stopped fawning over him trying to get him to love me/ show me he loves me. I gave up on it - it was all so pathetic and one-sided but I was insecure. When I grew up and became more secure I saw he wasn't reciprocating. Then I turned a bit bitter and he has had issues with that.

But what does one do? It seems so selfish to disrupt dcs' lives over something like this.

We have tried counselling and it hasn't made a scrap of difference.

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 21:17:53

And we haven't had sex for...several YEARS. Weeks go by without even a peck on the cheeks. If I didn't request a hug (which he provides awkwardly) occasionally there would be none. sad I shudder at the thought of 50 years of this.

babyhammock Sat 11-Jun-11 07:01:04

This is all so sad sad
Would any of you treat a partner you loved this way....no

And if you deprived your DCs of affection in this way, I'd think that was very emotionally abusive. Its a basic human need

If they can show affection to other people, they can show it to you.

You all deserve so much better and no you're not being selfish in the slightest wanting more x

dragonmother Sat 11-Jun-11 09:41:05

I really don't think my dh is abusive though. At best he is wrapped up in other thoughts, it doesn't occur to him to try and meet my emotional needs, at worst he can't be bothered.
It's not some horrible deliberate thing to hurt me though.

Jackaroo Sat 11-Jun-11 09:45:34

Thanks so much, all of you. When the kids were awake in the early hours I was on here waiting to get back to sleep, reading your responses, DH thought m ybeing awake was a good sign... so the situation really came to the fore..! I just told him everything I/we said on here... and he took it all very seriously. I said I couldn't and didn't want to try and anymore, and htat was that.

He is trying some very specific things that He himself suggest - putting me on his dashboard at work (ie his list of people to contact everyday) so that I am one of his work requirements... don''t know what else, but he's certainly making an effort, for now. I don't think it's a magic bullet, but I think really does not know why or what he's doing, so am making itvery clear.

Nothing more to say right now, but I'd be interested in any other comments. I have to say I think I'm in an infinitely easier situation; if he wasn't good with the children that would be awhole different thing, and he does try very hard with them.

I'm reminded of the Simon Baron-Cohen work - was it called something provocative like "all men are autistic" or similar? I think the same part of them that collects things and likes categorising their lives is the part that makes it difficult for them to see things from an emotional pov etc etc. Sorry waffling a bit now, just done my back in, it's almost 7pm here, and it's been a loonnnng day/night.

Will write again if I have anything positive to report (or not, I suppose).
Thanks again, as always just knowing you're not alone helps. It sucks, but it helps.

J

Jackaroo Sat 11-Jun-11 09:46:50

PS Sorry Dragon, lost you in the codeine fog - agree with all you say. grin

Jackaroo Sat 11-Jun-11 10:02:24

I slightly exaggerated his point blush "In this chapter, I begin by summarizing psychological findings from studies of autism. Ab rief review of genetic evidence appears next, as a bridge into the next section, where a recent notion is introduced: the “male brain”. Evidence for biologically-based psychological sex differences is presented, and the “male brain” is defined.
Finally, I relate this notion to autism, summarizing our new theory (Baron-Cohen and Hammer,1996a) that autism is an extreme form of the male brain. This theory makes a number of predictions possible, and the current evidence relevant to these predictions is presented." Simon Baron-Cohen, The Extreme-Male-Brain Theory appeared in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIT Press, 1999)
Wonder if I'll try doing the following with DH... Gender Test

notsogoldenoldie Sat 11-Jun-11 21:45:24

This is me, too, but with sex!! I've been with DP for 20-odd years, great at first - lots in common - reasonably content etc. Since DD, though, things have changed, and like you, he'll do anything for anyone except me!! I know it sounds spoiled, but it's not nice to be treated like part of the furniture is it? He never says anything nice about anything to do with me (cooking etc); never wants to spend time with me, and doesn't want sex with me either!! It's brought me so low I've started counselling, and now I feel much better.

And yet, something inside me tells me he still cares for me in his strange, affectionless way, but I don't think it's enough any more.

Do you think he still cares for you, albeit in a way he can't seem to articulate? If not, in your shoes I think I'd call it a day.

Jackaroo Sat 11-Jun-11 23:16:56

Oh yes,i do, but,as I've told him, it's not enough toknow.. It's a bit like saying you've done your homework, but you left it at home...what bloody use is that??
Anyway, so far so good <hollow laugh>,36 hours in and he is making an effort...

notsogoldenoldie Sun 12-Jun-11 11:44:13

jack - I know what you mean. He needs to demonstrate it - what sort of effort is he making? Have you pointed out EXACTLY what is expected of him? I've been tempted to write to mine in an attempt to MAKE him understand (I haven't yet) and this way, at least you can prove what you said!!

Incidentally - my counsellor gave me this tip. It might be worth a try. Imagine you are writing a letter to him explaining how his behaviour is upsetting you. Write it down if necessary (i did six pages!!) and read it through to yourself. Highlight incidents that have made you particularly angry/ resentful/ invisible etc. Include everythin you feel is relevant - background/ DCs/ work/ values etc. Afer this, hopefully you will have articulated to yourself, in writing, what is wrong in your relationship. I found it helpful - I learned loads about myself as well - hopefully it will help you.

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