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Living in the past

(8 Posts)
Pandemoniaa Tue 26-Jul-11 00:28:55

I've been with DP for 15 years. We knew each other before beginning a relationship and although we'd both been married before and have children from those marriages, neither of us were involved with the respective breakups. DP's marriage, in fact, broke down 5 years before we became a couple. I've been divorced from my childrens' father for over 20 years. DP has never shown any interest in rekindling his former marriage although it did take a rather excessive number of years before they got divorced. But all these years on, his former wife has now remarried, my former husband is happily settled with another partner and we all get on well and have a civilised, if not exactly, living in pockets, relationship. Our (combined) and now grown-up children are approximately the same age, get on enormously well and treat each other as stepbrothers & sisters despite us not actually being married. All this is good. Very good.

What is not so good is DP's inability to put some aspects of the past in the past. In particular, the emotional baggage that seems to exude from every pore of the house that we live in and which he bought his ex-wife's share of, way back in about 1994. For years, he was unable to sort out work that needed doing on it and I tolerated the state of the place on the basis that when he was good and ready, things would happen. DP is actually a very congenial bloke but underneath his genuinely pleasant exterior lies a deeply stubborn soul so there was never any point delivering ultimatums. He is, I'm afraid, very prone to putting his head in the sand over issues he doesn't want to resolve and will quite happily talk about sensitive stuff and then do precisely nothing to take an issue forwards. An example being his bank account which is still in the name of "Mr and Mrs Stubborn Sod" - this, remember, being TWENTY years since they went their separate ways. I've actually lost interest in pursuing this now which I suspect is not a good sign. A similar situation pertains so far as writing wills is concerned because although DP assures me that he never wants to leave me without a roof over my head, if he fell under a bus tomorrow, that's exactly what would happen. His great idea that I should have the right to live in the house for my lifetime cannot ever occur without the legalities to direct this course of action. However, I am not prepared to drag anyone to a solicitor!

However, the most recent development in this sorry saga of unwanted baggage relates to the (now totally restored) house. Which is in a beautiful but totally remote location, inconvenient to just about everything and several miles away from the nearest village, station, shops and over a mile away from the nearest, infrequent, bus service. I've lived here for 12 years and am increasingly wanting to live somewhere less remote, especially as I work mainly from home or in town and have a range of outside interests, none of which are based in the village. DP works in a nearby city.

I'm getting tired of having to drive everywhere, for everything and living somewhere that isn't conducive to people dropping in without prior arrangement or practical for me to babysit dgd more regularly. I've also got some modest (for now) mobility problems which aren't assisted by living in the back of beyond. However, knowing the "preciousness" of this house, I wasn't expecting DP to agree to move very readily so I was amazed, a few months back, when, without any pressure from me, he agreed to sell up and move to the very nice town 5 miles away. The same town which ds, ddil, dgd and many of our friends live in. Before putting the house on the market it was sensible to do a very minor amount of decorating - mainly outside paintwork - and this has just been finished.

So this week I was expecting to get the house valued and finally think about looking for houses in town. Which was fairly stupid given that the inevitable happened and on Friday DP got all emotional and confessed that he was sorry but there was no way he could sell the house since it meant too much to him. Neither could he live in town. He realised that this would make life difficult for me but he just couldn't bring himself to leave the house

I don't want to end the relationship but to be honest, this isn't going to strengthen it. I'm tired of being so sodding well tolerant of things and actually, I'd like the luxury to be a little selfish. I don't really know what advice I'm looking for because I'm not interested in meeting anyone else either but I actually think the time has come to do more than just be very pissed off. I've spoken to ds and ddil today and while both of them are very fond of DP, they've agreed that I probably wouldn't be at all unreasonable to take a short-term rental somewhere in town and invite DP to split his time between the two properties. In other words, go back to where we were for the 3 years between getting together and living together. But it seems so sad that all these years have resulted in this. Or is it? Because there must be other couples out there who have found a greater level of contentment from being together but living apart. Or am I being totally unrealistic.

Sorry for ludicrous length of sorry saga....

lifechanger Tue 26-Jul-11 06:53:20

He has let you down here by going back on his promise, and sounds quite selfish; not taking your needs into consideration is very unkind. Having a bank acount in joint names with a wife he divorced 20 years ago is very strange.

Moving out for a while might work, but as you say he is extremely stubborn when presented by ultimatums, you may have to face that this course of action could lead to the end of the relationship altogether.

Would he agree to get some counselling with you?

RabbitPie Tue 26-Jul-11 07:14:12

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ImperialBlether Tue 26-Jul-11 08:43:03

I think you should get a short term rental in the city. The lifestyle you lead there could make up for the fact that you're not actually living with your DP.

I would also tell his ex wife that her name is still on his bank account. She'd be very foolish to allow that to continue. It should come from her - and technically she is entitled to everything in that account now and to half of it if her name is removed. Maybe tell her when her husband is there?

He is being selfish and needs to learn that if he is, you won't put up with it.

Pandemoniaa Wed 27-Jul-11 11:17:06

Thanks for your very helpful and supportive comments. I met a very good friend for coffee yesterday. She knows some of the history and while she likes DP very much, she offered some very honest advice. Basically, she also felt my tolerance was now being tested to beyond reasonable limits and that the time had come to give priority to how I wanted to live. Especially since there's no logical reason for DP's refusal to make a sensible move.

As she pointed out it wasn't as if I was asking him to exchange a lovely house for some sort of crappy bedsit in an unlovely location since all he was being asked to do was consider living in a very nice 3/4 bedroomed Victorian property in an equally picturesque town. A town which contains many friends and activities that we enjoy. Put like that, the whole situation sounds all the more ludicrous.

So actually, while I shan't rush out and rent a house this very minute, I will start looking at what's available and aim to get myself settled in town before the onset of next winter. I'm very sorry that things have come to this state because DP really is a very nice chap. But there comes a time when the outward niceness isn't enough - or at least isn't balanced by this underground torrent of baggage that emerges whenever he's asked to make any changes to his lifestyle - and I don't intend to spend the rest of my life looking back on what could have been - given that I really don't think I have unrealistic expectations!

As for the bank account, his former wife is, fortunately, quite disinterested in helping herself to the contents but that's more by luck than judgement. Fortunately she's quite wealthy in her own right but even she rolls her eyes when she periodically discovers that she's still on the account. Personally, I think she's barmy because I'd be livid to discover I still had some sort of responsibility for a bank account that I'd stopped using 20 years ago.

I'm just left with this sense of great sadness though. What has, in so many ways, been a good relationship will, I fear, founder on these irresolvable issues - counselling, I suspect, will do little more than confirm that he needs to find ways to address the problems but not necessarily leave him prepared to take the practical steps necessary to resolve them. He's had counselling before, incidentally, when his marriage broke up, so I know that he is supportive of the idea and finds it quite therapeutic. However, any calming of the soul tends to get taken (very amiably) at face value and while he's extremely willing to admit to his "failings", he won't tackle the root cause. I'm sure he's not alone in taking this approach but it is deeply frustrating when someone keeps falling back on contrition "I'm so sorry, I know this will be upsetting and I know I'm expecting too much but I can't do (insert reasonable request), I just can't". Which I think is an easy co-out, tbh.

Anyhoo, thanks for reading these sagas. Your support has been much appreciated. But trust me, I'm very tired of being the responsible and reasonable one - in a future life, I'm coming back as a Fluffy Hun!!!

oldwomaninashoe Wed 27-Jul-11 11:32:13

Can I suggest you ask him bluntly what his attachment to the property is???
Logically a house is just bricks and mortar and only that.
Any emotional feelings are based on memories etc, and they stay very firmly in your head until the day you die!.

People do get emotionally attached to objects, and logically it is daft, the most important things in life should be those living and breathing around us, our families , our friends.

Basically should you leave him all alone in his "house" it will not seem a great place to come home to without anyone there, the warmth and the memories of the place will fade, after a few weeks of "dinner for one".

Home is where your loved ones are!
And FORCE him to get the legalities sorted out esp as you are not married.

Pandemoniaa Wed 27-Jul-11 12:40:08

I've asked him, several times, to try and explain why his attachment to the house goes beyond memory and into the realms of something almost talismanic. He's a very articulate man in most situations but whenever we have this conversation it ends with him getting terribly emotional and falling back on the "I know it's unreasonable, Pandemoniaa, I know it's irrational, I know it is only a house, I realise I'm disappointing you but I do love you...etc."

I'm a very tolerant person but increasingly, I coming to the view that he's actually not anywhere near as committed to our relationship as all the outward evidence would suggest. Or rather, he is committed but only until asked to make the sort of arrangements that would really demonstrate it. Hence the bank account issue, the wills and suchlike.

I already tend to take responsibility for getting things in the house repaired/painted/mown or cleaned since most of my work is based at home. He always says that he doesn't take this for granted but actually, I think he does. However, having also experienced a couple of years of sheer chaos when I encouraged him to take more responsibility for these areas, I concluded that it was better for my short-term sanity to deal with this stuff.

Now he does contribute very interesting conversations, is always willing to help (in his own time!!) with mundane domesticity and more than pays his way but actually, I still think he's getting an awfully easy passage given that this equilibrium is based all around him and his needs. Quite frankly, if he wasn't such a nice bloke, I'd not have tolerated anywhere near as much of this nonsense and I'm coming to the conclusion that he's playing me for an eejit even if on a subconscious level.

Thing is, you can't make someone change. The only thing you can do is decide how much you're going to put up with. For whatever reason, this man doesn't want to change things, so he isn't going to do it, no matter what he promises. I would advise you to see a solicitor yourself WRT protecting your rights, there is probably something you can do in order to make sure you are not left penniless if your DP drops dead.
And definitely find yourself a rented house. Your DP is basically selfish in that he considers his needs more important than yours, and this isn't going to change, so you kind of have to put him in perspective and prioritise yourself.

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