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Should Mum and Dad stay together for sake of Child

(41 Posts)
ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 09:23:36

as post suggests, having difficulty figuring out if healthy to stay together for sake of our 2yo Daughter. We get along ok, don't argue etc but pretty sure the Love has gone? Has anyone gone through this? Do things get better? Should we stay together for sake of our Daughter who dearly loves both her Mum and Dad.....?

UnhappyLizzie Thu 30-Jun-11 09:40:51

Society thinks worse of people who split when DC are really small.

But children are more screwed up by parents splitting the older they are.

We can't face the stigma of 'failure' so hang on and try and try.

In my case, things didn't get better, they have got steadily worse. It's awful now.

But DC would be really messed up if split now, I so wish I had done it sooner. Feel I have to stay and there are practical issues as well. I'm just not brave enough to get out.

Younger they are, the more adaptable DC are, 2 is so young it would become normal for her very quickly.

No, it's not healthy, but you are not arguing, so DD not in the middle of a traumatic situation. But, this is the role of love/relationships she will see. If there is no love, intimacy, it will affect her.

How does DP feel? Would you be civil and work things out in DD's interests, or would it be a car crash if you split?

Having a 2yo is hard work, do you want to work on your relationship, spend time together not being parents, try to rediscover some love?

If not, there are three possibilities.

You leave.

You stay to 'do the right thing' but your heart's not in it, it will decline, you will get more miserable, it will be harder to leave. You might even have another child to make things even more complicated.

You will meet someone else (or DP will) you will have an affair because you want some love, intimacy, happiness. Then you will leave anyway and it will be a mess.

oldenoughtowearpurple Thu 30-Jun-11 09:50:06

I'm with Unhappy. Presumably you know that both you and DH will be happier apart, so the question is 'will dd be damaged by us splitting up'. IMHO no she wouldn't, not necessarily, depending on how you and DH handle it and the future. In fact, seeing two parents separately but in good relationships may well give her a better base than seeing parents together but unhappy.

HOWEVER I do think you have a duty to give your relationship a good try if you were ever really happy together.

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 09:59:50

Thanks for reply - so good to hear I'm not in the boat on my own smile
As ever, its so complicated, but I want to work it out and not only for the sake of our Daughter. I truly love my partner (as she does me, I'm sure of that), but feel recently there is just no hope for the future. Seem to be ever so slowly drifting apart and not really enjoying each others company as we used to. Tried talking about it, but this doesn't seem to help end up with petty point scoring and sarcasm. All I want is for us all to be happy and enjoy what I thought would be a fun family, but everything just seems stressful.....Oh I just don't know what to do for the best, life huh.....
Hard to try and re-discover each other as partner seems to not be able to focus all her attention to out little girl, but I don't want this to sound like I'm bitter etc. She is a great Mum, the best. But we have not really spent 'proper' time together since she was born whereas I hear other couples who leave their kids with Nan's etc. and pretty much carry on with their pre-kid lives (pubbing and clubbing / socialising) and I sometimes wonder why they had kids lol. We are first time parents and I fear we (she) is focusing way too much on our Daughter and not us or herself.....Man oh Man. I'm of the opinion that I will stick at it and ride out this tough early stage and see where we are in a year or two as I know what we have (had) is gold dust and well worth the effort. But I am aware that the longer we leave it the more of an impact it would have if we did split.....

UnhappyLizzie Thu 30-Jun-11 10:46:34

Sounds like you know what you want really.

My husband and I drifted apart but we didn't see it, or got to the point where when we realised it was happening we were too knackered/unmotivated to sort it out. You can see what's happening, so you can try to change it.

Do you have family support, or someone who can babysit so you can get out? Talking doesn't always help, it can just make things worse and more negative.

Your DP is wrapped up in being a mum which is understandable with a first baby. But it's easy to get into the habit of focusing completely on the child and neglecting everything else. It's like lots of things, if you stop doing them you lose interest and can't be bothered. If you get out and have a good time you see what you've been missing and want more of it.

Maybe if you try and treat your dp as the woman you love and not just your dd's mother she will see herself more like this as well. It sounds corny, but a few presents or surprises might help.

It sounds like you really value your relationship and your family so don't be passive about it, things won't change without some effort and breaking of habits and if you don't do this you will continue to drift apart.

Try and let go of your fantasy about a 'fun family' and don't beat yourself up that the reality doesn't fit with this. Having little ones is really hard, it gets easier when they get to 4, but you need to keep the fire lit in the meantime.

Good luck

hippohead Thu 30-Jun-11 11:06:49

Sorry you are having a tough time Confuseddad. IMO a huge amount of couples struggle a bit or a lot after becoming parents.

It is a huge adjustment and the natural focus onto your DD from you both means that your relationship can suffer. DP and I certainally struggled with this adjustment, it was a bumpy ride but it was the right thing for us (though not for everyone) to stick it out.

Four years on things are brilliant. Different but brilliant.

I don't think that there is a clear answer as to whether parents should stay together for their DC. There are many situations (e.g. DV) where it would clearly be best to split up. On the other side of the coin are relationships well worth hanging onto where both partners love each other and are willing to work and the relationship, listen to each other and compromise where necessary. Then there are those relationships in the middle, the grey area where it is unclear whether to stay or split.

Having come out of the other side of the rocky road I would suggest that you do not underestimate the joy of parenting your daughter with your wife. Being able to share the 'special' times as a family (birthdays, weekends, christmas, first moments) has been priceless for us. I think DP has loved DD from the moment she was born, but he didn't feel that all consuming blinding need to care for her every whim that I did. However, as DD has grown up their relationship has deepened and they are so so close.

hippohead Thu 30-Jun-11 11:08:05

Sorry- my previous post was all about me!! I was just trying to explain my experience which was possibly similar to yours.....

Is your wife getting time to herself? That's something that's essential, particularly for mothers of small children, even more so if they are SAHM. Something you seriously need to consider in terms of how much of the childcare and domestic work is your share is: do both you and your wife have the same amount of leisure time each week?
It is true that the two of you need some time to be a couple, but when there is trouble in a marriage which is down to the demands of small DC booking 'couple time' when the woman has no leisure time of her own won't fix it, because 'couple time' will seem like one more demand on her rather than a treat.
Encourage your wife to take up a hobby/see a friend once a week, rediscover herself as a person not just an adjunct to someone else, and things should improve.

hippohead Thu 30-Jun-11 11:15:10

Spot on SCGB.

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 11:20:09

Thanks to all of you - it really is so good to hear from you and your experiences. Hippohead, thanks for reply about your situation and outcome, this is what I imagine my marriage to become, not the same as before but just as good in a different way. And thanks to Lizzie - sounds like you have a very experienced head on those shoulders of yours....I will take your advice (are you still unhappylizzie or happier now smile ?). I'm sure things will work out, just at times one feels so bleak and not at all optomistic about the future - so thanks I feel alot better about stuff and will be sure to post more often (can I keep in touch?).

This really is a great place - thanks for being great support (sometimes Dads get shot down in flames lol and was a bit worried about posting on here)......Is there anything I can offer in terms of insight from a Mans perspective lol? Just ask smile

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 11:30:19

Thanks SpringChick - We both worth Full Time and (surprise surprise) I do my fair share of chores etc. We work well as a team in that respect, but that's kind of what I'm saying, she doesnt really seem to have much time for herself, but honestly doesnt seem to want it (or am I being blind here?) She (and I of course) is happy to invest her time with our Daughter (as we get little time with her anyway in the week and all waking hours at the weekend are spent with all of us together). I take our Daughter out for Daddy and Daughter time where it gives Mum chance for her own thang, which I know she really appreciates etc. If you know what I mean, we kinda have it all sorted, but just not firing on all cylinders lol. Life sure has turned upside down since our baby - hard work, but she is the best and now at almost 2 gives us great pleasure, she is a great kid, just what we ordered lol! Just have to ride it out and like the advice from everyone make more effort to make Mum feel special and get her a prezzie now and then etc.....

Flisspaps Thu 30-Jun-11 11:34:10

No (as an answer to the first question)

You're both only getting one shot at life. Split amicably, find love again, have a happy daughter rather than staying together and growing miserable together over the years smile

I will say that I feel part of your post could have been written by my DH - I've never been happy to leave DD with anyone overnight so we can go away for the weekend or go out on the town, and we have friends who have left their 3 week old DD with her nan and have gone out with friends. Neither way is wrong, it's just about what works for who, but clearly this isn't working for you.

UnhappyLizzie Thu 30-Jun-11 11:42:35

Confuseddad, I am still unhappy, we left it too late, DC are 11 and 9, it can't be mended. I'm staying atm, can't leave for various practical reasons and it's grim. I feel trapped and wish I'd got out sooner. I know I will eventually but every year it seems more impossible. Been married 11 years, unhappy for 5. I'm throwing good years after bad and can't take my own advice.

I look back and see where it went wrong. A bit like your situation, we drifted apart. It's complicated, lots of reasons and issues. But if I had to isolate the turning point, it was that every year since DC1 was born we'd gone away for a w/e on our own and left them with my parents. One year we didn't do this, can't remember why, just didn't organise it.

Fast forward and now we do almost nothing on our own; we don't want to. A last-ditch w\e away in Barcelona last year was a total disaster. It started with a terrible row and was very tense throughout. A waste of money that just shone a light on the problems. Never to be repeated.

You really do have to have time not being parents. SCGB is so right, it's not just couple time, but your dp having time of her own as well, so she can see herself as her own person not just mum. Lots of evidence from studies that the best marriages are where both partners have individual me-time, whether they have DC or not.

UnhappyLizzie Thu 30-Jun-11 11:49:44

Flisspaps, you are right you shouldn't stay together JUST for a child. But OP says he really loves his DP and she him so that's not his situation.

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 12:15:08

Oh Lizzie I'm really sorry to hear your situation, feel so bad for you. 11 & 9 seem such a sensitive age too. I also know how it must be 'practical' wise too, as if me and my DP wnated to split it would be almost impossible anyway (financial mainly). Is your situation totally irreversible?

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 12:24:33

The tragic thing is we all start off with such good intentions and somehow it just falls apart and trying to fix it is like trying to hold sand in your hands!
I'm going to try and talk to DP over the weekend as we are good talkers and respect each other, so fingers crossed.....Hope you find happiness soon, with your partner or without (have a feeling the latter sad ).
If it's any help, when I was about 10 or 11 I could clearly tell my parents were not suited to each other and could tell they did not offer what either of them needed. I can remember speaking to my Dad and telling him that they should consider splitting up to find happiness etc but my Dad being an honourable Man etc said he had made a committment to marriage and would not go back on it - sadly (or not?) they are still together today rumbling on, supposedly happy but in their own little worlds pottering along. Hope I haven't painted a bleak picture for you, but just thought it was perhaps relevant to your situation?

niceguy2 Thu 30-Jun-11 12:48:35

Hi ConfusedDad

Another bloke here. Firstly, can I ask how old you are? I'm sensing from your comment about friends "pubbing & clubbing" that you are relatively young?

I split from my ex when our kids were young (5 & 1). They are now nearly 15 & 10. So I have had plenty of time to look back and reflect.

If I am honest, I'd have worked harder at our relationship. My ex also feels the same way. I'm not saying trying a bit harder would have been the answer but just that things which seemed bleak and dealbreakers back then, don't seem to bad now.

Your DD is young and is lucky enough to have two parents whom love her. The key question here is, do they love each other? In your first post you say the love has gone but later you say you do love her. Which is it?

The thing is, for any relationship to work you must have time for yourselves as a couple and as SCGB correctly points out, time individually. Nowadays society seems to pressure us into spending every waking moment with our kids and the fact you work full time will be added pressure for your OH to "make up" that time with DD.

I saw my ex wrestle for years with the desire to be "super mum" whilst at the same time be "super careerwoman". Very few successfully achieve both. Eventually she chose career and I've been single dad for best part of a decade. She's still chasing that career.....

With the benefit of hindsight I would say give it some time and don't give up yet. Kids get easier when they are slightly older. Make sure you take up friends & family on offers of babysitting and enjoy timeout alone or together as a couple.

I'm lucky in that now I live with someone who shares similar values to me so neither of us feel guilty dropping our kids off for a weekend so we can go away. We need the break, hell even the kids need the break!

As a friend said to me the other day, all kids need are roots & wings. Kid's need to learn to be independent from their parents and there's nothing worse than seeing helicopter parents.

What you are going through is entirely normal and I doubt there's any couple who won't have contemplated splitting up when their kids were young.

Financially it's a no brainer that it will be better for you to stay together. So you both have to work out if emotionally your relationship is salvageable.

OTheHugeManatee Thu 30-Jun-11 13:20:08

It depends on the context. So for example my mother should probably not have stayed with my alcoholic, misogynistic, emotionally abusive father 'for the sake of the children': it certainly didn't do me any good when I hit puberty and he started emotionally abusing me as well.

But your situation doesn't sound quite so clear-cut. You sound as though you both care deeply for each other but are struggling to adjust to parenthood. I don't have anything to offer beyond wishing you luck in finding your way through this.

UnhappyLizzie Thu 30-Jun-11 13:44:12

Confuseddad, thanks for the sympathy!

My marriage is unsalvageable. The scenario you describe is what I fear - pottering around living virtually separate lives, becoming elderly, bored, having missed happiness in life. I also fear DC know things are not right. It is a sensitive age and they are really blossoming right now, well balanced, doing well in all ways. This makes it feel more impossible to split. If they seemed miserable and screwed up it would be easier. I could justify it thinking it might be better for them but I just know it wouldn't.

I really do feel I can't leave, I am doing a course which has 3 years to run. It's very very demanding. I fear I couldn't cope as a SM. DH is 14 years older than me, I find him so dull and middle aged, not that I am irresponsible but he is uber-responsible. We do work well as parents, have the same attitudes to parenting and both love and want the best for the children. He loves me but also this is marriage no2 for him (first one with DC) and he can't face it ending. His business is failing, I don't not care about him. The guilt would be unbearable.

I have other complications with an OM as well, not an affair (wish it was, no sex in my life) but can't say more, I'm too scared someone I know in RL might recognise me.

You need a good reason to split when there are kids involved. Unfortunately for so many people that reason comes in the shape of another person and leads to carnage. I have a sneaking feeling that's what will end up happening in my case, I cannot face growing old with my husband.

This is not my thread, anyway, so enough about me, only you did ask.

niceguy's advice is very good, I think. You need to ask yourself about your feelings above all. Wanting it to work is not enough, everyone wants it to work when there are DC involved. It can only work if the love is still there and enough to build on, and it takes effort. Like niceguy, I think your feelings right now and the state of your relationship are quite normal for first time parents of a 2yo.

I'm curious to know how old you are as well.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Thu 30-Jun-11 13:47:28

I agree with others that it depends how you really do feel about each other. If love is still there, then some work will help and so will time as your daughter gets older. But if it's not, well I won't say automatically give up but certainly you would have much more work to get it back.

Just a comment too, various people mentioned the importance of each person having time to themselves, but I would add it is important to have time to yourself that you feel you can spend on yourself.

My DH is pretty good and does try to give me "time off" regularly (tho maybe not quite as much as he gets, due to the sports he does...) but one difference I notice is when he has "time off", he spends all of it doing sports or socialising. When I get "time off", I used to like going round the shops or doing my interests, but at the moment (with 2 small children) often just end up using it to get things done that have been weighing on me and which I can't do with the kids around. So, he has fun, I do jobs...

I know this is partly my fault, but I get stressed by all the things needing sorting out, so I find it hard to relax or go off and do fun stuff if I don't know when I'll get a chance to do the jobs otherwise. DH gets less stressed by the clutter etc and doesn't mind it being left for weeks, and also often just doesn't notice a lot of the things that need doing, so although he does a reasonable share of the day-to-day stuff and does some bigger jobs occasionally, he is more able to turn his back on it when he wants.

So this might be something to consider with your DP - does she feel able to relax and do her own thing, or is she too rushing round cramming in jobs whenever you take DD out? If so, you can help either by just mucking in more with this sort of jobs (I know you said you do a fair share but my DH would say the same, it is sort of true but sort of not!) - or even better, by actually taking over responsibility for some more areas so she doesn't have to "manage" them. I think that's often what gets me stressed - feeling like it's defaulted to being my job to make sure the things get done, whether or not it's actually down to me to do them iyswim?

Sorry for the essay but I hope it's helpful smile

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 14:58:54

Arghhh, just spend ages tapping out nice reply but crashed and lost my reply lol.

Well, it went something like this.

Firstly I am 37, sorry for the clubbing comment lol, misleading you there!

Thanks for all your replies - I feel much better about stuff now. I think we have both just found it very tough these first 2 years.

Actually have just emailed DW to suggest we think about speding some time together soon without DD to be married couple for a change instead of Mom and Dad lol.

Thanks for your reply Niceguy2 - good to get view of Male on this and I will be working at it. Strange thing is though as a couple we are best when we spend time together not apart doing our own things, strange as it may seem lol. The more time we spend apart doing own thing we dont click as much. Also, when I do get away to do own thing, I am just thinking when can I get back to my Wife (sorry if all sounds gushy, but just the way it is). We met young (both 19) and have never looked back since now (well, we have had ups and downs, some pretty bit ones in fact, but we have always talked them through and has made us a stronger couple).

Lizzie - no need to apologise, my threat or not, this site is brilliant and these posts are a 2 way conversation. More than happy to PM if you want to speak etc....

Inigo - thanks for also posting, I am overwhelmed by peoples support and genuine openness. Just a reply to DW having time when I go out with DD on the weekend, she does actually do nothing, which I totally wholehartedly 100% support, often she sleeps or reads etc, but does have 'her' time, which I am glad about.

Lastly, are you all from the UK or other exotic locations? or am I not allowed to ask that etc? Bit new to this so sorry if ofended anyone smile

ConfusedDad1 Thu 30-Jun-11 15:00:44

Im in UK btw.....

Bandwitch Thu 30-Jun-11 15:05:21

No they shouldn't.

Obviously though, it does depend. If they basically love each other but aren't madly IN love in a goosepimply kind of way but are just looking for the excitemen of new love then perhaps they are foolish.

I know it was the right thing for the children for me to have left their father. In fact, I put up with all sorts of nonsense and only finally left when I realised that my dc1 was a nervous anxious child who had regressed in some ways.

Bandwitch Thu 30-Jun-11 15:13:03

Sorry, last post sounds unsympathetic, as though you have to wait for a 'reason' that is acceptable to society/me/parents/friends before you have the right to split up. Sorry. Don't mean that at all.

In fact, two perfectly nice people who are always civil to each other could still feel achingly lonely, unhappy and unfulfilled under the same roof if that disconnect has happened. And how good an atmosphere is that going to be for children?? not good.

@niceguy2, roots and wings!. I like that. Is that a chinese proverb! sounds it.

Bandwitch Thu 30-Jun-11 15:14:22

ps. I'm in Ireland. Is that exotic? I'm guessing no grin

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