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We have everything but the fun - smothered by life with kids

(110 Posts)
Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 05:20:53

So the last few weeks has been a total rollercoaster - we've just emigrated with our two DCs, age nearly 2 and nearly 4 to Australia after six weeks of my husband working over here by himself. The whole thing has been massively stressful, which is kinda what we expected, but it has also exposed cracks within our relationship.

DH has made some good friends, one of whom is female. He is her "best" friend over here, and after some major arguments, major fucking up on both our parts and other messing about, I'm absolutely sure that he isn't going to run off with her. He has no "designs" on her, has been very open from the start, never being secretive or hiding anything. The only time we've really had a problem was last week when he didn't come home when he said he would, but that's because he panicked and thought I was really angry with him when actually I was just desperate to see him. We worked that all out in the end, although it took a lot of talking, and is still a bit of a raw nerve for me.

Anyway, she rung him last night (with good reason, she had said she'd ring to find an answer to a question) and he picked up the phone, eyes alight, bellowing with laughter, animated and just in a way that I haven't seen for years. That's when I realised what was missing from our marriage, and it broke my heart to see him like that with someone else when we don't have it any more. I talked to him about it after the phone call, and after talking for about 4 hours we were able to talk it through - he admits he has something with her that he doesn't have with me any more. He can't help it - it's just something he feels one way and not the other, but it breaks my heart. It's the emotional equivalent of him getting an erection every time he sees her when he can't get one with me.

We love eachother - after a LOT of talking, we are sure about that. We have a good sex life - it's been poor in the past, but it's about 4 times a week at the moment. We share values, interests, taste in music etc.

What we're missing is that spark - our life has become routine - we talk about the negative in our days so we score "points" against the other in the hope of having an easier ride of it in the evenings with the bedtime routine. We never have fun together. If we do, the kids spoil it - whether it's shopping, eating out etc, so we just end up doing things for the kids, which is OK to some extent, but we don't get anything out of it for ourselves.

However, we're in a foreign country, 12,000 miles from friends and family that could babysit/give us a break. Where on earth do we start to get that sense of fun / spark back? I'm finding it absolutely smothering looking after two very demanding pre-schoolers who are as stressed out by the move as we are, and when DH comes home from a long hard day at work it's very difficult for either of us to be anything other than grumpy and exhausted, and by the time the kids are in bed by 8pm, we're both exhausted.

I know it will get better with time, but I need something to work on now or I won't be able to get through the next few weeks.

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 05:27:31

Oh, and we've tried a date night in the house - the kids didn't go to sleep until 9pm that night after 2 hours of messing about, whinging and non-stop crying.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 05:28:01

Oh, gosh, almost 2 and almost 4, and you've just emigrated to boot. Two incredibly hard phases of life simultaneously.

Where are you, if you don't mind saying, and how long have you been around? There's quite a lot of MNetters in Australia, some of whom have meet-ups, which could be a start.

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 05:42:39

Yup, I'm on it! We're meeting up in a couple of weeks which will be a relief!

I think the whole emigration thing just brought to a head what was missing. It's been missing since about a year before we had kids - I had gallbladder problems that made life difficult, then as soon as that was fixed we started trying for a family and I got pregnant within the first week.

I guess that's the problem - neither of us have ever had a proper break. We've had our honeymoon and one other holiday in 11 years. We couldn't afford it before we had kids, and now we can afford it but never have the chance. DH has been working since he was 16, and I've either been working or studying for the same time.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 05:50:56

It is very hard, and the competitive tiredness/hard-day-ness is tricky. I work three days a week, and only have one child, and on my at-home days I still find myself wanting to give DH a 'report' at the end of the day to justify why I'm so tired or cranky, or why dinner isn't ready, or so that he notices that the house is sparkly and dinner simmering away. I feel like it's so invisible, the work. I know what you mean about breaks not really being breaks in this age group, but for us a week away somewhere cheap (if you can afford it, obviously) is still a good thing to do for the relationship, because we're at least sharing the same life for a bit.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 05:53:00

Sorry, for some reason my computer is refusing to do paragraphs. The real issue here, though, is this other woman. I was originally going to say, it sounds like you need some friends of your own as well and a night off sometimes, but this whole 'something with her he doesn't have with you' is more complicated than that. I'm sure it is to do with, you're bound up with the family stuff and the demands on his time (perfectly reasonable demands! This is just a demanding time in a relationship, with two very young children), and she can just have fun.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 05:53:38

But that doesn't make it alright that he's saying that, and hanging out with her, and not with you. When you've talked about it, has he come up with suggestions to spend time with you? Could SHE babysit?

stitchthis Thu 29-Sep-11 05:54:19

You ate at the hardest part IMO of looking after children - the pressure cooker years DH calls them. So am i! Give yourselves a break. Here's what helps me:

Counting your blessings. Together. Ie you are alive, 2 dc, you had the balls fortune to emigrate, you can at least talk to each other, you have sex, etc etc

Don't expect perfection. Try the date night again. Just cos it cocked up last tine doesn't mean it's doomed. I find this one v helpful.

Don't blame the kids. They've just had a massive change and can pick ip on tensions.

Breathe and repeat the MN mantra - these things will pass. DHs favourite.

Get a professional babysitter sorted out as a priority

Join some mums groups or similar - you have to balance out your perspective

Keep talking.

Try to live in the moment. Hard to do and I struggle but squeezing the most out of each day helps me get overwhelmed by It all. I ask myself 'am I making the most of now or am I focussing on crap'.

Good luck sweetie. It sounds as if you've got good foundations, it really does.

countingto10 Thu 29-Sep-11 06:42:18

Be very, very wary of this woman. She is a threat to your marriage. Your DH is getting off on the thrill and excitement of his new friendship. She is massaging his ego and this is very dangerous territory. That fact you have a very "child centred" marriage is another red flag. Your DH probably doesn't realise what is happening.

Get the book "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass, it is about how "friendships" cross the line into affairs but has some very good advice on how to "affair proof" your marriage, how to get the fun back etc, how to recognise vunerabilities etc. My DH fell for a woman who flattered him, made him feel alive again, made him forget about all the stresses and strains of 4DC and a business.
Don't underestimate the threat this woman is.

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 06:58:12

Trust me I've gone over this so many times in my mind, I've spoken to DH about this woman etc, I really don't believe she is a threat to our marriage. I don't think he's having an emotional affair, and neither does he. He did admit that if he was single he probably would have got it together with her, but he's not, and he's not trying to pretend he is. Everything is above board.

I also don't believe she has designs on him. She's just come out of a long term relationship, is 34 and desperately wants children. I think they just met eachother when they were both at an emotionally vulnerable time, and just "clicked". I'm guessing their close friendship will drift apart a little as they won't be drinking together every other night. At the end of the day, I'm glad he has made good friends (he's made a few other close friends as well as her). He said he felt dead inside when we were in the UK and really felt like he came alive when he came over here, and I can totally see that. Unfortunately, although I wouldn't say I was dead inside back in the UK, I haven't had a chance to come alive yet. Hopefully that will come as I make friends.

countingto10 Thu 29-Sep-11 06:59:25

TBH, your DH has crossed a line here, this woman is well and truly in his head so she might just as well be in his bed for what she is taking away from you and the DC. Your DH should be putting as much effort into your marriage as you. He needs to understand that this friendship is not appropriate - surely he should be cultivating a good male friendship over there hmm. And from your previously thread, this woman is no friend of your marriage - she blanked you when you were introduced if I remember correctly, her motives are not entirely pure I think hmm.

Keep talking to your DH, work on your own friendships and self esteem but don't take on the full mantle of turning your marriage around, your DH has 50% of the responsibility and putting proper boundaries in place as far as this woman is concerned is the first priority - again "Not Good Friends" has very good advice on how to do this.

Good luck.

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 07:01:23

I think we'll try the date night again - just a faff when we're still living out of suitcases and the whole house is a tip!

As for a holiday, that would be lovely, but holidays with kids just don't cut it, and there's no way we could do one without them. Hopefully we can get a babysitter soon, but none of DH's friends live nearby, and professional babysitter rates are extortionate (£15-£20 an hour equivalent).

countingto10 Thu 29-Sep-11 07:07:05

What price a marriage though Naetha ? Me & my DH found 101 excuses not to do things together. His affair was a real wake up call - he didn't think he was the type of man to have an affair and neither did I sad. Child centred marriages run the highest risk of an affair and workplace affair are the most common.
Hopefully some mnetters over ther will point you in the right directions for childcare etc.
Good luck and at least you are aware of this woman - I had not idea my DH even knew his OW.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 07:09:54

Well, I know that holidays with kids aren't exactly relaxing - I am in the toddler years as well. But a few days by the beach with the kids, while not a break, at least means that you and your husband are doing the same thing as one another. You're in the same place, dividing up the same tasks, working as a team to make the holiday go alright, and at the end of the day you're not competing about who's more tired because you have been there, seeing the other person contribute, all day. So for us, it does help cement things.

mollynp Thu 29-Sep-11 07:20:31

OP, listen to countingto10. My husband used to talk about his OW to me, but because i trusted him so much, i never in a million years would have thought he would have an affair with her. I thought they were just friends, like he's always had female friends.

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 07:58:33

Trust me, we've talked and talked and talked about it. We've talked about the possibility of splitting up, if he really wants to be with me or with her etc etc. And not just the instinctive "of course I love you dear" and "no I'd never leave you" but actually thinking about it, and running our minds through all the possibilities.

I genuinely don't think she's a problem in this relationship. The problem isn't what DH and her have, it's what me and DH don't have.

I can also see the intensity of their friendship waning already. DH is making an effort to meet up for lunch with me and the kids, talking about her less, wanting to go out drinking less etc. I just don't want him to have to return to the man who was "dead inside" before we came here because a) I can't handle him having close friendships and b) our relationship doesn't zing any more. One thing I made clear was that I would rather we split up and he was happy than stay in an unhappy marriage, and after much thought, he was definite that he wanted us to stay together.

babyhammock Thu 29-Sep-11 08:04:10

Yup, I'm with countingto10 too.
Sorry but I think she is spot on. I'd be very wary of this woman x

Animation Thu 29-Sep-11 08:08:58

WOW - this women is a real threat to your marriage! If it was me I would go and confront her - and tell her to back the fuck off - no messing!! angry

Naetha Thu 29-Sep-11 08:09:22

OK, but even if the woman is the problem, I can only do so much about it. I have to trust my husband on this one.

What I really want to know is what we can do to sort things out between us? Like I said, we have good solid foundations, we're just missing the fun. I feel our life has become nothing but drudgery and routine. If we do have fun it's away from the kids and almost inevitably when we're apart as we have no childcare.

Animation Thu 29-Sep-11 08:10:25

I think you need bold action now - not talking. Take charge and get your man back!

Animation Thu 29-Sep-11 08:11:58

Get rid of the woman - she's bad news.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 29-Sep-11 08:15:31

Guys, I think it's relevant that the DH was on his own over here for six weeks, and has cut down the amount of time he's spending with this woman since his family has arrived. And really, yes, it's the DH's responsiblity to manage his boundaries, Naetha can't tell his colleague to 'back off'.

Animation Thu 29-Sep-11 08:22:05

"and he picked up the phone, eyes alight, bellowing with laughter, animated and just in a way that I haven't seen for years"

The warning signs are there. I don't care who this women is - the DH is smitten and I think the OP needs to get assertive. The worse comes to the worse - they go back the England - just nip it in the bud now!

DecapitatedLegoman Thu 29-Sep-11 08:27:10

I get what you're asking Naetha. I don't have the experience to comment on the other woman situation so I'll leave that to others, although suffice to say I don't think you should be fighting to "keep your man", but to keep your relationship happy.

I think you need to get past the idea that you can't have fun together while the DC are around. Because they are always going to be around. You could have babysitters for free 6 nights a week but you need to also be able to enjoy each other's company the rest of the time. It sounds like you haven't really adjusted to your roles as coparents and want to recapture the pre-children thing. IME you have to do a bit of changing to cope with this.

I don't know how constructive I can be here, because mine are similar ages so I'm finding my way a bit too, but I think in the immediate short term you need to make lots of plans for relaxed family time to help you all settle down after the turmoil of the last few weeks - days out to the beach, picnics, zoo, whatever. Because it sounds like a lot of the time you're together you're doing the mundane shitty bits and not sharing fun experiences.

You can both have a fulfilling relationship with children in the mix - DH works shifts and I work part time around them and do most of the childcare. Sometimes we hardly see one another for ages on end but we plan things to do together when we can, even with the DC, and it really does cement things. I don't understand families where one partner works all week and at the weekend they take turns to have a day to themselves, to me that would be impossible.

cheeseandmarmitesandwich Thu 29-Sep-11 08:43:47

I remember your other thread. I too really don't like this woman! I think he needs to involve you in his new life more, why not invite some of his work friends (including her) over for a barbecue or something? And try to encourage him to make some male friends? She has just come out of a long term relationship? She is probably loving the 'safe' male attention that comes with flirting with a married man- using your DH as an ego boost!

As for you and DH I agree try and have some fun together as a whole family and enjoy your new life! I am jealous, we would love to move to Australia!

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