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Relationship is floundering - how do I get it back on track?

(38 Posts)
CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 10:56:01

Am a regular, have name-changed for this.

I'm in a position that I know thousands of women are in. My relationship with my DP isn't great. You know that psychologist John Gottman and his 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', four things that indicate your relationship is going to end - defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt, well, we've got all that going on. We are just arguing all the time.

For example, we had an argument last night that started when I was trying to tell him about something important about some bills I'd paid. He interrupted me to ask a question (I forget what), I got irritated, he didn't apologise (just went on the defensive - 'I've had a long day at work' etc.) and it went on from there. He feels I criticise him, and has told me a few times I'm a "fishwife", and I know he criticises me.

I'm totally fed up. If we didn't have our DS, aged 4, I would have left a long time ago. As well as being unsure of the pros and cons of breaking up our family unit for DS, two other inter-related things keep me here. One, I dread starting all over again with somebody else. I have been with DP for 5 years - before him I had several long-term relationships (all lasting between a year and three and a half years). These relationships have taken up a lot of my energy, and I just don't think I've got it in me to do it all again - I think if I did split up with DP I would remain single (seriously! I wouldn't even bother pursuing a sex life. In my experience most men are lazy in bed, I can take care of my own needs in that respect far more satisfactorily!!). Which brings me on to point two, which is that I really want another DC, maybe even another two DCs. My DP is a good father, he is a good person to have DCs with in terms of that. But can we get past all the arguing and be happy together again? Has anybody on here done it and if so how?

puds11 Fri 28-Sep-12 11:12:48

What attila said is so very true. People always feel the need to highlight the fact that their crappy partners are great parents as there is nothing else positive about them.

I was in a similar position to you. Was with DP for nearly 5 years, my DD is nearly 4. DP is now ExDP and is in the process of moving out.

I am shitting my pants about my future. Being a single mother at a young age was not in my plans, but neither was a loveless abusive relationship. I am scared about having to go through everything again with someone else, and am very scared at the possibility of getting myself into an abusive relationship again, but i am happy now that i am free to be myself, make my own decisions without criticism etc.

I think you need to ask yourself if you are really willing to spend what precious time you have in a relationship you are not happy in.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 11:20:42

The thing is my DS absolutely adores him. I had postnatal depression so didn't bond as quickly with DS as I should have - DP was always very hands-on from day one. The result has been that DS seems to prefer his dad's company (though if you ask him, which I have done a few times he'll say he wants Mummy and Daddy). It's one reason why I want another DC, I want to do things better next time round and have a child that is 'mine' as opposed to 'his', IYSWIM.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 11:22:01

Sorry, if you ask him, which I have done a few times, he say he wants Mummy and Daddy. Grammar pedant!

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 11:22:39

I do feel I'm on the outside looking in at the pair of them.

NomNomingiaDePlum Fri 28-Sep-12 11:25:00

i am not sure how you get back from being called a fishwife by someone who is supposed to love you. and i don't think adding the pressure of a baby to a relationship which is in the doldrums is a good idea. i imagine being a lone parent to one child is easier than to several, if you are going to call it a day with dp - and it sounds like you are, sooner or later

puds11 Fri 28-Sep-12 11:31:46

Sorry if im being a div, but what does fishwife mean?

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 11:33:18

D'oh! That last post should of course have said he says.

So you think the fishwife thing is bad, Nom? I don't know. People lose their temper, they call you things in the heat of the moment, I'm pretty fiery myself and have called DP names when I've been angry and frustrated...It wouldn't be so bad if we were only arguing like this every now and again. But it's most days and it's wearing me down.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 11:34:31

It's an old-fashioned way of saying a chavvy old nag, puds.

puds11 Fri 28-Sep-12 11:36:08

Oh right thanks cheese. I think that is bad. One of the things i hated about my ex was that he would always try to make out that i was common, and if i was getting annoyed he would imitate my voice in a really horrible chavvy accent, nothing like my own. I see this as bullying.

Numberlock Fri 28-Sep-12 11:37:00

I think you're letting your desire for more children cloud your judgment, OP.

NomNomingiaDePlum Fri 28-Sep-12 11:47:51

maybe it's just me, but i think i couldn't feel properly respected by someone who referred to me that way; i think this about name calling in general, to be honest, since i don't think you say things you don't mean when you're angry, you just drop the nuances.

sookiesookie Fri 28-Sep-12 12:02:59

It sounds like you are both as bad as each other. I get the he is a good dad thing. You don't have to get on with the children's other parent to be a good parent yourself.
It honestly sounds like you are staying because you want more kids. TBH i think the worst thing would be to bring more children into this.

Would he even agree to ttc? How much harder do you think it will be to spilt a family with more children?
How do you know you would bond better with a second? what if you have 3 and all of them have bonded more with you dp?
What about DC1, having another child as you feel he is your 'dps' is not going to help the relationship. If you do end up bonding more with number 2 what about dc1. Yes sometimes bonding with one child is easier, but you are planning it.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:10:53

I have bonded with DS, and am planning to do that lovebombing thing with him in the hope of developing a closer relationship. It's just I would like to have another a baby and get things right from the start. I didn't cuddle DS enough when he was a baby and I know from on here that that's something a lot of women with postnatal depression do and then feel guilty about. Well, if I had another baby I wouldn't put it down for the first six months of its life! I'd learn from the mistakes I made with DS.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:27:34

By the way sookie, "it sounds like you are both as bad as each other" - what a helpful and constructive comment, that tells me exactly what I've got to do to fix things. Do you think I want to be losing my temper with him? In my case it'll be after we've been rowing for ages, I'll flip and say something like 'You're being a colossal arsehole'. I don't know how to get out of this pattern of fighting, that's why I posted!

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:33:02

Is there nobody out there who has a relationship that once looked like it was going to break down but they were able to turn around?

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:33:38

P.S. We tried Relate for a short while and got nowhere.

sookiesookie Fri 28-Sep-12 12:42:42

Actually OP it was meant to be helpful. The previous posters seem to be blaming JUST your dp. which is much harder for YOU to fix.
if both of you are as bad as each other, imo you have more chance of fixing it. its a good, fixable thing.
I have loads of advice. I split with dh for 6 months we fixed it all and now have another baby. Again, I felt I hadn't bonded well enough with dd and thought I would do it all right the second time.
I realise now that it didn't. Ds and dd are not mine or his.

I could give you more advice, but clearly you don't like the way I write it and take offence. I don't want to upset you further so will hide the thread.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:46:27

It didn't what?

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 12:50:54

What would be helpful sookie is if you told me how you and your DH fixed it all.

maleview70 Fri 28-Sep-12 13:01:49

Do you know how he feels about you? When I was going through similar with my exw, I felt indifference towards her. I knew 100% that I wouldn't be with her if it wasnt for our child. In fact at times I just didn't even like being anywhere near her. It was only our child that kept me there as I was frightened of losing him. Relate didn't work for us either probably because I wasn't arsed if it worked or not and she totally dominated the discussions So I just thought here we go same as usual, can't get a word in.

In the end it couldn't last and it didn't. She went onto remarry and have 2 more kids so it can be done.

Top and bottom of it is if he is like me and just with you because of your son then you have no hope unless you completely change. It would have taken a personality transplant for me to want to make a go of it back in the day.

If he genuinely would be upset at losing you(not just your son) then there may be hope. Do you ever feel like he does feel like that though?

JollyJumper Fri 28-Sep-12 13:12:23

Cheese, I'm in a similar situation, we argue with DP constantly of late and I fear this will negatively impact our DC as all he sees is his mummy and daddy ending every single discussion feeling frustrated and angry.
We've had several discussions about why and how we end up in this vicious circle. Like your DP, mine feels accused even when I haven't actually formulated an accusation and I feel misunderstood and unappreciated. But there lies the problem, reacting to every discussion emotionally (on both sides) is clouding our ability to listen and talk to each other properly.

I know that I contribute to the issue as much as he does. I also accept that it comes with the territory, couples with young children do tend to argue more, tiredness, stress and a loss of identity are all contributing factors. Some will say that to halt the issue it is important to spend time as a couple, try and get some form of communication going during an evening meal or a evening out, just the two of you. Some others have said that the pressure of having to have a meaningful discussion on your dinner our evening out is ruining the effort, and that instead making sure you have a 10 / 15 min conversation with your partner every day is more useful.

What has helped me a bit is to be reminded that one of the traits I liked most about my partner was his wit and sense of humour. I don't seem to have a sense of humour any more, I certainly don't laugh as much as before. By trying to laugh more together, even if it is 5 min on the train in the morning to work about a silly article in Metro, sharing a joke has given us at times the impression to "get" each other again.

Try and remember what it was that you liked so much about your DP and recongise when you flal into an argument and stop it short. Just say something like, we'll talk about this later or now is not the right time but walk away from arguments that can be avoided. Once you're both calmed down you can try and go back to your point.
I wish you good luck.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 13:31:37

maleview, my DP has said that the only thing keeping us together is DS sad

Thank you Jolly. The only thing is I can't see how waiting to raise things would work. He never wants to talk to me as it is, and we have very little time together just the two of us anyway. I think he would still get defensive and it would end in an argument. I feel I have no channel through I can raise concerns with him, IYKWIM. He just expects me to be happy with his behaviour and when I'm not it's my problem as far as he's concerned.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 13:32:24

Sorry, through which.

CheeseAndJamSandwich Fri 28-Sep-12 13:38:59

Him interrupting me is one example. He kept telling me I should have accepted it and let it go. It was like I had no right to expect to be listened to.

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