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Can my misery come before the family's happiness?(6 Posts)
This could be an extremely long op as I don't really know where to start and it has been years in the making...
I have been married for 19 years, have 3 school age children and have had niggly problems in our marriage for at least 8 years now. For the last 3 years I have been seeing a counsellor, sometimes with dh, but for the last year on my own as he felt she was taking my side and he couldn't see why we couldn't work things out on our own.
It has taken ages for me to clarify my thoughts on how our relationship works - and I'm still not sure whether I am the crazy one or he is.
I think our problems stem from when our children were born and my involvement/focus on them. We had infertility problems and during that time I felt we worked really well as a couple and got through 6 years of investigations and IVF. But since dc2 was born - a baby who needed a lot of attention - things have got gradually worse.
It started (I think) with dh complaining that we didn't have sex often enough so implemented a twice a week (Wed/Sat) routine. Then dc3 came along and my libido plummeted.
Anyway the lack of sex is still a big issue. We do have sex on a regular basis, probably once a week, but for me it is increasingly awful. It seems to be how dh measures the quality of our relationship. If we have had sex, then life is rosy - there's texts, phone calls, "isn't your mother wonderful" comments. If I say no then there is sulking and withdrawal which is where we are now.
He hasn't really spoken to me properly since last Sunday morning. Normally, I would ask what the matter was, get a "nothing" a few times, then when he is ready we will have the Big Chat where I will end up in tears as he tells me I am cold and unaffectionate and what has he done to deserve this and then he will want to have sex to make it all better and then the cycle starts again.
This time I have continued as normal but this morning he has been so cold and distant that something just snapped inside me. I don't know who to talk to irl - too scared of crying down the phone like a loon when someone's trying to take their kid to gymnastics or the like. Hence why I am on here - off loading!
If it was not for the children I would go. I desperately want a proper relationship. At the moment I do not love him and even dislike him quite a lot but I can't bear to think about breaking up our family.
sorry this is so long - and it's only the tip of the iceberg...
Just a few thoughts to throw in the mix.
I am not going to waste time with suggestions of how you can feel more like having sex, because although I sympathise with a partner having to put their wishes on hold because the other one doesn't feel like it, the way he reacts to shortage of sex is appalling and quite frankly counter-productive. Perfectly natural you wouldn't want to get snuggly with someone who alternates between the roles of your stern parent and a whiny toddler.
I do believe that as long as your children are dependent their needs should always be put first, and that you don't leave a co-parent the way you'd leave a boyfriend who didn't float your boat. However that doesn't mean you have to stay married to a daddy they love while your soul slowly dies. It does mean that you have to handle things with maximum sensitivity and be as flexible as you can about residence/access. He may be a lousy partner but he can still be a good father.
There's a lot of nonsense talked about the sanctity of the family. A family is not a "thing" in itself, it's the sum of the people in it. And, as I've said before, if the happiness of a group depends on the misery of one member, that's pretty much the definition of slavery.
I've nothing really to add to what Annie said.
Apart from a family environment where one parent is sulking at and cold-shouldering the other for long periods, is not a happy healthy loving environment. Kids pick up on more than you'd think.
Thanks for your thoughts, Annie and Buzz. I haven't been back on as it was pretty busy over the weekend and difficult to mn about this with everyone milling about.
We did have a big chat on Sunday morning. Usual recriminations and accusations but I felt that I was able to felt my points across without getting over-emotional and I tried to listen to him too. I still feel that he is responsible for the stonewalling though he feels I was just as much ignoring him as he was me and that I kept making snippy and sarcastic remarks - I don't know, perhaps I did. It was exhausting trying to maintain a normal front when I just wanted to have it out.
Dh wants to try counselling again but with a different counsellor so I have said I would be very happy to do that if he organises it.
When he is communicative then everything is so much better and I don't feel as miserable and desperate as I felt on Saturday. I know I can't fix my feelings about sex so quickly though I would like to. I have said to dh that I think it would be good to talk through that aspect of our relationship with the counsellor. I don't think we can fix that bit ourselves as we both have different agendas so each time one of us suggests a strategy it is usually to fulfil our own needs or to fix what we think the other's problem is.
It helped hugely to write it all out here.
casuffit life is too short to spend it with somebody who makes you feel like that, and as buzz says, kids will pick up on these things no matter how much you try to maintain a normal front.
I think you need to ask yourself if you would be happy to live like this for another 30 years? If the answer is no, then look at getting out of it. I know it will be hard for the kids, but ultimately they will have 2 parents who are happy rather than 2 parents who are increasingly frustrated with each other if you continue on the same way you are going now.
I could have written your post about my relationship with my exH.
We were married for 23 years and have 4 children - now grown up. We divorced when my youngest was 16 and it was very tough at the time but now I know that all my DC's accept that ot was the right thing.
All through our marriage he "measured" how much I loved him by how much sex we were having. I tried over and over to tell him that it was the making his sandwiches, getting up at 5.30am to cook his breakfast and all the litle everyday things that showed him I loved him but he didn't get it.
It never got any better and after a while I felt as if I was prosituting myself for a quiet life. If we had sex regularly he was nicer to me and generally easier to live with. If we didn't then he made nasty comments or just wouldn't speak to me at all for days. It's impossible to enjoy sex in these circumstances - it's like giving a stroppy kid a chocolate bar to shut them up.
I didn't leave him directly because of this but because of his massive insecurities and jealousy - which was all part of the same issue - which escalated into something awful that I couldn't live. The only reason I stayed for so long was because, like you, I couldn't bear to split the family up and felt I was doing the right thing. maybe if we had split up earleir it wouldn't have got so ugly but who knows.
What I do think though is that I made the mistake of thinking it would ruin everyones lives - including his - if I left him. This wasn't true. he now has a new partner and is much happier and I have remarried and can't get enough of my new DH! I would guess your DH is as unhappy as you and maybe you have just reached the end. Only you can decide this but all I would say is don't stay because you think it's the right thing for everyone else because it might well not be.
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