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Can this be salvaged? Long - sorry.

(118 Posts)
Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 11:02:25

Hi! Can I just have opinions on whether this is salvagable or not:

DH and I are both secondary school teachers and manage departments. This means we both work long hours and bring home a lot of work to do at evenings and weekends, it is just the nature of the job. We also have two DC 6 and 4. We also have several pets - all elderly from before the time before DC. We have no family support - neither of us have siblings. He has a Mum - who dislikes me and has tried to break up our marriage (wanted DH back at home with her after her husband died - so tried to get rid of me, initially openly and when that didn't work in an underhand way) so we don't see her and my Dad is elderly and although will support when asked is not able to look after children or be left with them. I have been ill for the last two years - have pushed myself on with medication/heavy doses of significant painkillers up until 2 months ago when I had fairly majory surgery which I am still getting over, but hopefully will have solved a lot of the medical issues I was having. It will take me another few months to be at a stage where I have recovered though.

The issues:
1) Every weekend is shit. It starts on Friday night when we seem to go through a battle because we both know we have a lot of work to do before Monday, it is impossible to do the work with DC around - so the arguing starts about who is looking after DC and who is going to get to do their work. As we also both work there is the laundry, housework and other domestic admin that needs doing too. Again another cue for an arguments. DC are wingy and whiny all weekend because they want to go out and do stuff. But they end up spending all weekend being bored at home, because both of us are too busy to take them out - either working or domestic stuff. The nature of our jobs are not that the work can be left either - it has to be done - we both work long hours in the week, as well as straight through lunch, any non-teaching time etc. I like my job, I am good at my job, I don't like the admin/waste of time bits of my job, but that is what the job is now, so to a large extent you have to just accept that.

2) Sleep. Due to the amount of work etc that we have the only way to do it is at night. The illness has made me very tired and run down, so I also fall asleep a lot and can't seem to work through the night as well as I used to. I used to push on through until 1am/2am a few nights a week - get up again at 6am and cope with it. DH still does this - I can't, I try but due to all the medication I end up asleep my head on the desk or in a state the next day that I am dangerous to drive. The DC don't sleep very well. The youngest is often up in the night - we aim to have them in bed by 7.30pm, but it is often later, due to not getting in until gone 6pm with them from childcare by the time we finish work and then several days DC have clubs (Beavers, swimming lessons etc) that go on until 7pm, so by the time we get back it is later, so often is 9pm or later before they are in bed. The youngest then often gets up 2 or 3 times a night. Sometimes they will go back to bed - but need to be sat with for a while, again taking time up, which frustrates whoever is sat with him as they need to be marking or whatever prep they need to do. Sometimes youngest is put on the sofa in front of CBeebies whilst one of us is sat next to them trying to work and majority of nights this is where the youngest and the parent end up spending the night. This means everyone is bad tempered and ratty.

3) Money - we have debts. We are stuck in a house that nobody is happy with - too small, bad area, tatty etc. We have debts so do not have money or means to take out a second mortgage and we are completely unable to sell the house because of the issues with the area, an estate agent said we may be able to rent it out but no chance of selling it for several years. We both need to work the hours/jobs we do, because we cannot allow our income to drop at all, as we are barely scraping by at the minute with debt repayments, massive childcare costs etc. We both have ancient (worth about £200) cars, no public transport - rural Devon, everything is cut back to the bone that can be. We don't go out, we don't smoke or drink. The only money spent on socialising as such is the DC's clubs Beavers/swimming lessons etc.

4) Dogs - We have 5 elderly dogs. Yes, I know we shouldn't have them but they are from before we got together, before DC, - I had 3, he had 2. They now range from 11 years to 16 years, one is blind but has can hear, another is blind and deaf, another has major skin allergies and needs medication to control that, the other two are just old. They take work, time and money. They cost in vets bills/medicine and special food due to illness. They cannot be re-homed due to their age/health. I don't want to rehome them either, they deserve to live their lives out in the place they are familiar with. We commited to them when we got them and that was for life, so need to keep them and look after them for as long as possible. I didn't know that life would end up as it has when I got them. I pay a lovely lady one day a week to come in and let them out during the day which is all I can afford and the other days I have to dash back from work myself to do it.

4) DC - Eldest DC has SEN - we are battling with school to get these recognised. I know what is wrong - I am trying to get it recognised by the school so that they can give him the support he needs. His confidence is being affected by this, he needs time spending with him, I don't have the time he needs.

I am sorry that was long - trying to lay it all out so you can get an idea of the situation. Basically the problem is that we are now both HUGELY angry and resentful of each other. We are both pissed off, tired and sick of everything. We do not go out at all, neither of us has any hobbies. I like to read books, but if I ever sit down to read for a few minutes - I will either get disturbed by DC or DH will come past and look at me and I feel guilty and get up to do a job. These last few weeks I have had to be in bed due to the surgery. He has resented me being in bed, he has made me feel lazy and useless and I have ended up getting up when I shouldn't and doing jobs, driving, running DC around, looking after DC when I shouldn't have been - the op I had takes 6 weeks to get over for a straight forward one - mine was not straight forward - there were complications - I was told I should take 8 - 10 weeks off work and then take life very slowly for another 4 weeks. I ended up having to drive 4 weeks after the surgery in order to get DC as DH was unable to leave work early enough to get them, it hurt a lot (physically) but I had to do it. I resent him for that. I resent him for not allowing me time to heal. I resent him for making me feel guilty about doing what the hospital had told me to do after the surgery ie being in bed. He resents me for not having the time to concentrate on his career. He resents me for him not having a relationship with his Mum. He resents me because he does not have time to see his friends. I resent him for being so untidy and making work around the house. I resent him for the way he is with the DC. I resent him for his moods, for being snappy and unsupportive of me and the DC. He resents me for being impatient and pissed off with him. It is basically just one whole round of years and years of resentment. This means that we are shit to each other. I cannot stand him near me, I cannot stand him touching me, I am too bloody tired and angry. We have been together for 10 years, and have not had sex for 4. We do not share a bed and have not done for about 2 years now - one is always on the sofa with a child. The arguments are the same every weekend. Nothing ever gets resolved, nothing ever moves on. He keeps saying he wants to sort things out - I tell him that he has doen "x" that has annoyed me - he says he won't do "x" anymore, 24 hours later he does "x", I get angry and shout at him, he accuses me of being angry and aggressive because I scream - I tell him, that if he hadn't done "x", then it wouldn't have happened he then argues that he was right to do "x" and justifies doing it and so the argument carries on..... "x" can range from leaving his clothes on the floor, being late home for a meal without telling me, being moody and snappy with DC when he gets in, ignoring me, ignoring DC, forgetting to make a phone call he has promised to do and I have giving him several reminders of....ie not massive things but stuff that just generally causes additional stress to a situation that already has enough stress....and I feel that I am being treated like shit.

I don't think the situation is salvagable. I think that any good feelings or love that we started off with has well and truly had the arse kicked out of it now. I think that the marriage has just become a massive ball of bad feeling and resentment and it needs to just end. I don't think councelling is going to help - a) we don't have the time b) we don't have the money c) it is not going to change any of the situation. I have cried, screamed, been depressed, sobbed, walked out but none of it has made any difference. I am not happy. I don't want to live this life anymore. I don't want DC to live this life anymore... DH still thinks this can be sorted out. I don't see how... can anyone suggest a way please?

maras2 Mon 13-Jun-11 14:56:57

Sorry to hear about your problems. I'm sure I'm not the only one to wonder why you are so hard up.With your joint salaries you should be able to afford a cleaner and pay for after school child care at least.You say that you have debts, they must be huge to take up so much.I'm not having a go, you know the exact state of your finances but some of your other problems might not seem so bad if you could have domestic help.I hope you get well soon. Mx.
.

brass Mon 13-Jun-11 15:13:34

you have too much on your plate.

what are your priorities?

If it were me I would get rid of the 5 dogs and the time and money (and space!) saved from them I would spend on domestic help and try and spend more fun time with the children at the weekends.

or split and then see if you can juggle all this on your own.

chris123456 Mon 13-Jun-11 15:22:23

Friends find au pairs costs effective but your domestic arrangements are probably too chaotic at the moment for that to be viable

Anniegetyourgun Mon 13-Jun-11 15:27:14

That does sound awful, to be honest. Although I see why you don't think there's much left to be married for, splitting up wouldn't help your financial situation. Your DH's attitude to your health problem is appalling, but I wonder whether that's the kind of unsympathetic brute he always was or whether being as tired and desperate as you are has rendered him (temporarily?) incapable of sympathy. He could, for example, be depressed, and it wouldn't be totally surprising. Depression is a very self-centred condition. However, it sounds more as if the external pressures have pushed you both into very negative habits of relating to each other. It doesn't take any longer to speak to a person politely than to snap at them (but sometimes it seems like more effort!).

I would normally suggest you could do with some counselling, to help you express yourselves with a neutral "referee" and hopefully encourage you to adopt techniques to relate to each other without aggression or the inevitable "competitive tiredness" - but as you say, it's about finding the time. Re the debts, Citizens Advice are usually very helpful, but again, you'd need to find time to visit them. You might be able to carve out a little time to research the issues though, eg debt here, relationships here.

To be a little brutal, the dog situation will sort itself out eventually, as it's unusual for a dog to live much beyond 16, so your much-loved old fellows may soon relieve you of that burden. Presumably you're confident that their quality of life is still good? I would never suggest putting a pet down for anyone's but its own sake, but I do know of some people who kept their dogs dragging on in terrible physical condition because they, personally, couldn't bear to make the decision. That isn't fair.

Er, don't know what else to say, hope this doesn't sound patronising or anything, just didn't want you to pour your heart out then get no reply.

Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 15:50:51

Debts are from DH being on a much lower salary for years - he has only come into teaching the last couple of years - was in a much lower paid job previously, having to buy out ex from the house (not dc dad) (I know I should have sold the house then but at the time didn't want to move) and from me taking home £300- £400 a month after paying child care for two dc for 5 years. One is still in full time child care and the other after school care - so costs are now down to £800 a month as opposed to the £1100 it was at one point. With paying £600 mortgage, £1100 childcare and DH earning £1400 and me £400 it was impossible not to get into debt. I could have given up work but I wanted to keep my job in s school I was happy and that was local and I had responsibilities I wanted. He could not have stayed home With dc but didn't want to and I think he would have found it difficult to do so. We decided to do what we did in the short term in order to keep job security in the long term. Maybe we shouldn't have had dc? I couldn't leave it any longer - it was then or never - I nearly didn't survive 2nd dc - any older and it would have been worse (I am mid 40's now). The point is not how did we get here - I have tried to explain because I think you think it is because I selfish or have wasted money on holidays in the Bahamas or something - it isn't that - it's just circumstances that have got us here. I want to know if there is a way out. Oh and au pair - I looked into it - we only have 2 bedrooms so no where to put them. Live out nanny cost more than nursery. And you cannot rehome deaf and blind elderly dogs. They would put them down if I took them to a dogs home or something. They are my responsibility I can't abandon them because life gets tough.

nje3006 Mon 13-Jun-11 16:09:48

You are both completely exhausted which is not surprising. And you are both prioritising work over family life. That's your choice. It's easy to say there is no choice but you do have choices. And at the moment you are choosing to do all this work at home at weekends and in the evenings. Most jobs don't require you to do that and if they do, the pay is enough for you to afford to buy in help.

Life is tough for you all at the moment. I feel particularly sorry for the children, you and H are working all weekend and they are getting very bored. That's not fair on them.

Have you looked to see whether your debts are managed in the most efficient way? Have you had debt management advice? If there's nothing you can do about the debt at the moment then it's about finding a way to manage your jobs more efficiently. And if neither of you can see a way to do that, then this situation will continue until one of you breaks down.

Your marriage sounds very unsatisfactory but if things are so difficult for you financially and time wise now, I don't see how they will be easier if you separate.

What do you think the answer is?

Xales Mon 13-Jun-11 16:20:26

You life sounds hard. I dont have answers really. Can one of you do your work saturday and the other sunday. The opposite one doing things with the kids so there is quiet time to work and the kids get out to do something.

No one dies from not doing housework. He drops stuff you leave it. Eventually he will get the hint and have no clean stuff.

Talk to work or the dr and get some time off before you kill yourself and rest.

As for his attitude while you were ill. Selfish and nasty but he sounds as stressed as you.

Harsh but the dogs dont have much longer and that will be space and money.

joblot Mon 13-Jun-11 16:32:21

Can family members take the children for the odd weekend? That can be good for everyone. You say you mil is unpleasant but kids still need grandparents, even ones who are fascists - i speak from.experience

brass Mon 13-Jun-11 16:48:57

your family is at breaking point, health also affected.

you do have choices.

you need to recoup some time and some money.

And it's not important how you got here in so much as are you going to carry on in the same vein because you both can't make the necessary changes?

work
don't work
work somewhere else
keep dogs
don't keep dogs
keep only some dogs
DP does his own laundry
rota the domestic chores
cycle/scooter instead of drive
etc
etc

The kids will be passively absorbing all the crap. They have no control over the situation.

You do though.

fuzzpigFriday Mon 13-Jun-11 17:09:24

sad sorry things are so hard.

Are you absolutely sure, if you reduced your workload, you wouldn't be ok? Say, one of you quit/reduced hours, and therefore had less childcare costs? Maybe you could do some tutoring instead?

Are you sure you are on the best repayment plan for your debt? And are you definitely getting everything you are entitled to - childcare vouchers, tax credits maybe? CAB can help with both of these issues, they can do a full calculation including hypotheticals about quitting work etc.

Have you looked into getting a childminder instead of nursery? They could look after your youngest and then pick up the older from school?

Are you both at the same school - do you definitely need both cars? Could one of you drop the other off early before going to their school? Is there a colleague you could carpool with? Do you get a petrol allowance from work? Any chance you could cycle sometimes?

What about one or both of you stepping down from the HOD role? Horrible I know, and less money, but presumably less work too. Do your colleagues/superiors know how hard it is for you, could you delegate a bit? Are you entitled to time off and sick pay due to your illness?

I'm guessing you don't have room for a defined study space. Any way you can make one? A garden shed? Or is there a library you can get to? I've found (admittedly only with studying rather than actual work) that I get a lot more done - even factoring in travel time - when I'm away from the distractions of home. Maybe you could take it in turns to have a few hours away to get more work done?

The dogs... I can't imagine how hard it must be but I don't see how you can keep them. There must be rescue centres around, I've visited some lovely ones where absolutely no healthy animal is put down. Maybe they would let you visit. They must cost you so much (do you have pet insurance?) but it seems they don't get as much attention as you'd like to give them, so in a rescue place they may be better off.

How many clubs do the DCs do? They must be exhausted - that could be part of the reason for playing up. If they miss you they will delay bedtime, negative attention is better than none to children. The clubs must cost a lot too. Can you reduce to one activity per week each?

How are your utility bills? Are you on the cheapest provider? Some companies give away a free monitor. Bit late now but we got some amazing film stuff which you put over the window frames to act like an extra 'glaze' - saved an astonishing amount on heating. Got hippo bags in the toilet? Water butt outside if you have plants? DCs sharing a bath or just having quick showers? Do you have expensive tv channels etc? I'm sure they will not miss cbeebies if they have a few DVDs. We recently disconnected our tv altogether and DD has been fine. Can you get to charity shops for clothes, or swap with friends?

What about food shopping - any way you can switch to somewhere cheaper, or to 'lower' brands? Do you buy in bulk? Do you get things like frozen veg and tinned pulses which are cheap and bulk out meals? Can you set aside a couple of hours now and again to cook massive amounts of stew etc and freeze them? Do you shop online? It costs for delivery but saves so much time especially if you save a list of all your usual items.

It means spending more money but is it at all feasible to outsource some housework? A cheap cleaner or a laundry service? Or you may just need an iron tight schedule. Say, every night as soon as the DCs are asleep you both do half an hour cleaning before anything else. Then have a 2 hour blitz every weekend or something - all 4 of you. The little ones can help with collecting laundry, tidying their room and so on. Maybe for dealing with DCs and doing your work you could take alternate days, and put up a chart so you both know what you need to do each day.

Sleep is a damn difficult one. Have you tried a reward chart? Maybe you could tie it in with weekend activities if they sleep through, or a £3 DVD or something? Have you watched any Supernanny, I know she's controversial but her 'rapid return' technique seems to work well after a few traumatic nights. Have you checked they aren't scared or something, do they have a nightlight? A magic wand to wave the monsters away? (tried and tested for my DD...) I am absolutely sympathetic to how easy it is to get into a mess with this kind of thing, but you just can't carry on like that, so you might need to push through a big change even though it's hard at first.

Also do you have a lot of clutter? Old clothes, toys etc? Maybe in summer you could do a boot fair or even a yard sale at your own house. Be ruthless about what you're getting rid of, and anything not sellable can be recycled. I have only just started doing this but it's made an amazing difference to our tiny house.

Sorry, this is quite possibly my longest ever post and certainly the one with the most question marks blush but I hope it's given you some ideas for changes. It is quite probably circumstances that drove you to this, and with time sorting all this out could help you fall in love all over again and have a better life.

ScaredOfCows Mon 13-Jun-11 17:27:15

Could you make an appointment with CAB to discuss your money issues etc. They may be able to make suggestions with all the information in front of them. If you took a career break from work for a year or so, would you be entitled to benefits to make up some of the money? Would that time allow you to recover, to sort your house out cheaply, to spend some quality time with your children and then as a family?

You sound so negative. I can completely understand why, but I think that it is going to take positivity and creativity to resolve some of your issues. It is going to take both of you working as a team, rather than competing with each other for time and space.

cantfindamnnickname Mon 13-Jun-11 17:34:05

I think you both need to talk to your employers and tell them that you are struggling with the work load - this seems ridiculous to be so over worked.

Can you not pool resources? Do you both so the same job?

Cut back on the kids clubs

Set a timetable - Friday night is your night to do some work - set a limit - 2 hours, Saturday morning is his turn for 2 hours. Some time off for everybody - go for a walk, park, swimming etc - do something as a family.

Strict timetable for jobs to be done - you dust and hoover front room - he does bedrooms Spend an hour blitzing it every week - get the kids to help with promise of walk or park etc

Sleep - try a sleep clinic - try reward charts,

Declutter

Are there any charities that could help - any teenagers want to help walk the dogs?

Give yourself some time off

TeamDamon Mon 13-Jun-11 17:45:00

I think it depends whether you want to salvage it or not and what you are prepared to do for that - because I think it would take some drastic measures to do so.

To be horribly blunt, regardless of you and your DH, life sounds very stressful and tiring for your DC. They probably sleep badly because they are exhausted - their days are long and then mummy and daddy are arguing over who gets to be with them - and the one who gets to be with them is the one who's lost the argument. sad Changes need to be made for their sake.

I think one of you - whoever earns the least - needs to go part-time, or at the very least step back from the management role. DH and I are both teachers and recently I chose not to go for a HOD role because I knew our work-life balance wouldn't sustain us both being in management roles. You clearly both have far too much work to do, and one of you needs to be there for the family. That's that, I'm afraid - you have children and you have a responsibility to them. Cutting back on hours should reduce childcare bills as well, as well as improving your health (if it is you who cuts back) considerably.

You need to Supernanny your children into a bedtime routine as well - they do work!

Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 18:24:00

Thank you so much for all the replies - I will work my way through and try to respond - I really appreciate the time you all have taken to write so much!

I also need to assure you all that I do feel for my DC in this wretched set up and I do recognise that this is not the best situation for them - hence posting on here to try and work out if there is a way through this. I want ideas or to know if I need to just quit this marriage and let everything just calm down. By splitting up, it won't get rid of the work load or the money issues but it will lessen the tension and the sniping and take that out of the equation. I don't know how to calm things down right now because I don't know how to deal with all the resentment that has built up. I get up in the morning and think - right today I will be calm, I won't bite or get stressed at him. I then get myself ready for work, get my morning jobs done, sort out DC to go out etc get us all ready to leave the house and find out that DH has gone to work taking youngest DC's nursery bag in his car with him, because he forgot to take it out of his car last night as he had picked them up, so I then have to rush around finding a replacement set of bag, spare clothes etc which makes us late, I then go to get the dogs in and find DH has taken up their water bowl put it in the dishwasher and forgot to put a new one down, so I find a new bowl, fill that up put that down, realise their beds are missing, find he has put them outside for them first thing, but it has now rained and they are sodden, so I have to hunt around for old towels for them to lie on as they are old dogs, so cannot lay on a lino floor, by which time youngest DC has got bored with waiting and taken his shoes back off again and wandered off and got his lego out, so I put his shoes back on etc and leave lego all over the floor. It doesn't just seem to be a case of him not doing stuff but him half doing stuff that he was doing to try and be helpful but by doing actually makes more work for me than if he had not done it in the first place if you see what I mean. So by now I will be pissed off, hassled and late. When I see him again I will point out how it is unhelpful to not take DC's bag out of the car, to take the dog's water bowl up and not put a new one down (and it was lucky that I had noticed or the poor buggers would have had no water for several hours!), to put the dogs beds outside for them so they can lie in the fresh air and then not bring them in when it starts to rain etc and that by doing all this he made us 20 mins late for school/work etc he then is snappy and moody with me because he was "only trying to help" so I am being unreasonable by complaining , so I snap back and there we go again all my good intentions are out of the window and it ends up in an argument.......... Please understand I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS - I want it to be calm and nice ..... but what do I need to do - factor an extra 30 minutes before I leave each day, to repair all the half done things he has started? Why the heck should I have to?? I work hard enough as it is!! How can I not be resentful??

Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 18:35:09

"And you are both prioritising work over family life. That's your choice. It's easy to say there is no choice but you do have choices. And at the moment you are choosing to do all this work at home at weekends and in the evenings. Most jobs don't require you to do that and if they do, the pay is enough for you to afford to buy in help."

We are not 'choosing' to work at weekends - we work during the week and evenings too, and there is no other time to do it other than the weekend - it is impossible to do a half-decent job without doing that. I don't know any teachers who are good who do not work evenings and weekends. The difference is, the teachers I know are married to non-teachers - so don't seem to have the level of conflict we have over who gets to work or do not have young children at home. I also do find I hate it when I think that I am doing all of this to help other peoples children to learn and gain their exam results when mine are not getting the time they need... I know I need to prioritise my kids.. and I do whenever I possibly can... it used to be in teaching that you had busy and quiet times of the year, but it has changed so much now.. the times that you are not knee deep in coursework and exam prep, you are analysing exam statistics, giving presentations to senior management and governors on the value added of your department, writing department improvement plans to justify your budget - all whilst doing your normal teaching load. I love the kids I work with, but I am getting to really hate the job. I just can't see a way financially of dropping my management role. If I could I would.

pink4ever Mon 13-Jun-11 18:39:29

Sorry but I am reserving my sympathy for your dcs here. You either need to give up your job/reduce your hours or get your dh to do that. I cannot imagine how you managed to get yourself into so much debt that it is not covered by 2 teachers salarieshmm?.
Get rid of the dogs. Harsh but they are simply not as important as your dcs and they are taking up too much of your time and energy. I am sure you could find a shelter that would take then until the end of their lives.
Sit down with your dh and talk reasonably about what would happen if you decide to split. Who would have dcs,who would stay in the house etc?. Having it in black and white will galavinise you into some sort of action.

kickingking Mon 13-Jun-11 18:52:45

I'm sorry things are so awful. I'm a teacher too - although 0.6, no senior responsibilties and not married to another teacher and I am really, really struggling. I can imagine how hard things are for you, and I understand what you mean when you say you do not choose to work all weekend and every evening.

I'm going to be harsh and say you need to get rid of the dogs as one of your first steps - you can only spread your time and money so thin, and more time needs to go your kids and more money needs to go on your household management.

With the workload, I am wondering if during term time you and your DH take a day each to work, say you Saturday and him Sunday while the other entertains the children and does a bit of housework? Make out like the one with the children has got the best deal. Prioritise family days in the school holidays - I know you have to work then too though.

In the short term, I think you might need to be signed off to recharge your batteries. You have not recovered properly from your surgery, so could have that as the reason instead of 'stress' which I know doesn't go down well in teaching.

I don't think you can really say whther the relationship is worth salvaging until you have got some of the other issues sorted out.

atswimtwolengths Mon 13-Jun-11 19:16:53

Another teacher here - I do know what it's like.

Are you managing your money in the best way? Could you arrange for some debts to be paid interest-free for a while? The forum on the MoneySavingExpert website is fantastic for that. If your credit rating is screwed anyway, then that might be a way out.

How much do you have to spend on nursery/childminder? Is there any help available for this?

Are you saying you didn't take the full sick leave? I, too, would be very resentful at your husband for not supporting you when you were ill, but is he, too, at the end of his tether?

Are you working smartly enough? (Hate that expression!) Are you giving the children homework that takes up too much of your time? Can they mark tests themselves? (Say that you are training them up so that in their exam they can see how many marks they are earning.) Sometimes when you're tired, it's easy to re-do worksheets etc that are actually OK - you're just too tired to think straight. What subject do you teach?

Finally, the dogs. I do know what you mean but financially they must be costing you a fortune. If the dogs are in poor health, are they happy? Have you actually spoken to a shelter? I think your life would be so much less chaotic without them - I'm sorry, but I think you need to make a decision here. You are in a small house and have no money, but you are feeding and tending to five dogs - your house must be a nightmare situation.

Think of your children. They need calm in the house. If you two are working non-stop (and working competitively) and the dogs are demanding attention, too, then it's not fair on them. I would take the dogs to a shelter and tell the children that when you have a bigger house they can have ONE dog. Then spend the time you spend with the dogs on being with them. Spend the money you spend on the dogs on getting a cleaner. Start to sleep with your husband again. It's not good for anyone to sleep on the sofa. It's not good for a marriage if the husband and wife sleep separately. (In my opinion, of course.)

If you don't want to make a go of it, then do you think this is a situation where you would actually be better off financially by splitting up? Have you gone onto the Entitled To website? I don't usually recommend someone makes a decision to split with that in mind, but actually you sound like you're at breaking point. If you split up then maybe each of you could, every other day, pick up the children from school and care for them until bedtime, knowing that you can work when you are without them.

Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 19:19:31

Car-wise we work in totally opposite directions with no public transport, it is all cross country driving. I drop off and pick up DC 95% of the time as their school is more in my direction. DH finishes later than me but he is 40 mins away in one direction and I am 15ish mins in completely the opposite direction (25-30 mins with detour to drop DC off and pick up). His car is 25 years old and worth about £200 as scrap, mine is 12 years old and worth maybe £400 - we can't down size them because it would cost more to replace them than they are worth. I can't car pool with anyone because I have to do the two drop offs on the way to work and same on the way back. He can't because weirdly enough - nobody he works with lives over here... if they did he would - we have looked into it. We have looked into bikes etc but it would take him hours along dark country lanes and trying to carry a laptop and set of exercise books on the back of a push bike is very difficult.

Debt wise - no we haven't spoken to CAB of anyone. We are meeting the minimum repayments on the cards we have and paying the loan (but that has several more years to go). Would we be able to do a Debt management plan even if we are meeting the minimum repayment? I thought it was only if you were not able to do that, that they would look at you and consider a plan?

Dog-wise - I am not getting rid of them, I am sorry, that is not negotiable - I commited to them when I got them, they are helpless and I am not going to have them put down. They don't need a massive amount of walking - an asthmatic wheeze around the block is about as far as they can manage now. They like to potter in the garden, smell the breeze and lay in the sunshine, they are not at the chasing balls in a forest stage of life anymore to be honest. Realistically - we will not have them all for many years longer - sooner or later the numbers will decrease and there is no intention of replacing them. If one of them ends up in pain then we would look at having them put down, but that is not the case for now. It is just the fact that dogs take work and money and in addition to everything else it makes it difficult.

Budget wise - we live on Tesco value. Buying in bulk is difficult as do not have the storage room but I cut food down as much as possible. I do duties at work at lunchtime - the pay is small but you get free lunches with it, so I get smoothies and wrapped snacks etc with the allowance you get so that I can use it for DC's packed lunch the following day. I have a cup a soup - and a bit of bread or something cheap that I can eat whilst working - DH often just doesn't eat all day. That probably doesn't help his mood - but he is a grown man - he is just as capable of sorting himself out some lunch as I am.

De-cluttering - yes, you are right - I have been whilst I have been off recovering (gently of course). I am ebaying as much as I can - outgrown clothes and toys mainly. It has made keeping their room tidy easier. They have had a bit of a rebel though and started to point out to me stuff that they do want to keep - "even though it is a baby book, I still like it" - so I think I have exhausted toy ebaying avenue for the minute! I do need to keep on this throughout the house - although I would not say there is that much to sell. We have very little storage space, so don't have a lot of extra stuff around but I am working my way through.

I haven't done the rota/list of household jobs and responsibilites before as DH gets arsy about being patronised and treated like a child so has always pulled away from that suggestion. However, from where we are right now I cannot see any other avenue to go down - and he wants to make this work - that has got to be done by lessening the stress and tension and how else can that be done?

Youngest DC starts school next year so that will help money wise by about £450 a month in some months and more in others with school holidays - so less after school care to pay. Maybe if we can limp it to there - then things will get better - I can afford to pay the lady to pop around a couple of more times a week - to let dogs out - save me dashing home as much midday. As well as pay off the debt a bit quicker.

DC clubwise - they do cost money - I know - but that is all we do. We don't eat out, we don't do day trips, cinema is tesco clubcard vouchers twice a year. They go to a swimming club, Beavers/Cubs (£15 a term) and a gym club all of which they love doing. Saying that I am aware that I am justifying myself here - and maybe I shouldn't be.. is that too much? Is that an unreasonable amount for them to be doing? I remember as a kid doing Brownies and swimming lessons, I had a great time - I just wanted them to have the fun I had doing it and they do.

Siobhan487 Mon 13-Jun-11 19:20:42

Am I just justifying maintaining this situation here? I am sorry if I am.. I am really trying to look at this..

shesgotherlipstickon Mon 13-Jun-11 19:32:02

You keep saying about the dogs, how you committed to life, won't give them up.

Is this what you did when you married? So you are prepared to throw in the towel on your Dh, but not your dogs?

Kind of a warped view IMO, and I think, with that level of thinking, it's not salvegable.

Same when you had your kids. So you need to choose. Your hubby, kids, especially with SN need you now.

Don't make the kids give up the clubs. Sounds like they don't get to do much else.

I've no other advice that hasn't already been mentioned. Hope you get sorted.

Reality Mon 13-Jun-11 19:46:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brass Mon 13-Jun-11 19:47:27

some of us do sound a bit harsh - perhaps some of us have been there blush but it is obvious that something drastically needs to be changed and by you. The elves aren't going to do it and you can wait for the dogs to die or DC to go to school but in the meantime there is still a life to be had. And you do sound as though digging your heels in slightly hence you're in the position you're in. The idea is to flex every time you feel it mounting up. Not keep piling it on!!

At least make a costing of how much you might save without the dogs. Just to see the figures. Food, vet, walker etc Same goes for your job. Your're saying you don't want to give it up - there will always be work but these years with your DC will never be revisited. Seriously just think about that.

The rota will also help with the mornings. If stuff is ready the night before then you will notice the bag is still in the car before DP drives off with it. It will get force you into a new routine with chores shared equally and you both know what needs to be done instead of harbouring resentment waiting for the other person to do it. I bet a smooth week would help considerably towards your feelings for each other.

Bottom line you both need to be willing to work at it or it's a dead loss and much heartache all round.

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