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My marriage is a sham. I'm new. Would love some advice [long] :-(

(87 Posts)
LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:00:27

Dear all
I’m new to Mumsnet (pls be nice!) and feel a bit guilty that I’ve joined purely to glean a bit of ‘party opinion’. I’m in a very turbulent and difficult marriage that’s teetering on the edge and could do with a bit of unbiased opinion and advice. We relocated a while ago so I currently live away from my network of close friends – though in any case, I’m hugely private and would probably struggle to share this kind of info anyway (a lot of people assume we have the perfect marriage in fact). This is long (I’ll try and paraphrase etc) and may take a while to read through. So thank you in advance to those who spend time on it.
We’ve been married for 12 years and have four kids. We’re still a reasonably young 30 / 40 smthg, both considered attractive. As with many couples with young kids (ours are still all under 10) life can be a strain both physically and financially (permanently tired for one thing!) but on the whole we are a lot luckier than many.
When the first of our three kids were very small (newborn twins and a one year old – I kid you not) life was at its lowest ebb for me. I was permanently knackered and (to be honest) hated my body (any twin mummies on here might relate to the ‘balloon body’ pregnancy – and how it looks afterwards). I was a size 8 pre-kids and found it hard to adjust to the excess saggy skin on my tummy and the fact that my boobs were flacid and had lost their shape. Add to this the fact that I almost certainly had PND (undiagnosed at the time) and various other (minor but at the time debilitating) health issues, and (mainly) extreme sleep deprivation and I was – admittedly – very hormonal and down. My husband had been less sympathetic to me during this second pregnancy. I recall (as a silly example) asking him to rub my back / massage my feet and he point-blank refused. To be fair, he wasn’t an arsehole about it, and was always busy with work etc, but it wasn’t exactly a time of TLC and romance either. Then again, lack of romance has been a bit of a theme. Anyway…
Onto work and I started to notice (post twins) that he was talking a lot about ‘the office blonde’ (apologies to any blondes out there). This person (slightly younger than me, unmarried, no kids, but with a partner she claimed to adore) was actually a friend of mine (I used to work there too) and so she’d occasionally pop over. When this happened there was a lot of flirtation between her and my husband. As I’ve never particularly been the jealous type and (don’t dislike me for saying this!) also because I’ve generally been considered to be an attractive person (and she’s actually not hugely attractive) I didn’t see this as much of a threat. Even when my husband decided to take her on a night out to see a local band (I was too tired to go – the babies were still, well, babies…) I was fine with it (in the past I’ve been a bit of a flirt too – nothing major though – so just saw all this as a bit of a modern ‘male-female’ friendship – with me the modern wife for accepting it. Hmmmm.)
It was around this time though that he also started to make comments to me about her “great” figure. Bearing in mind I was (and am) desperately shy about my own post-pregnancy figure and I found this very very hard. Especially when he’d suggest I should join her gym and perhaps see which exercises she was doing. Please also bear in mind here that when the twins were 5 weeks old I embarked on the Atkins diet (total ban on carbs) – it was horrendous. I hated every minute and felt weak and lethargic (and yes I know this won’t have helped my hormones or sleep issues) but I hated myself so much I was desperate to lose the weight. Cut to the chase and within two months I was back to my pre-pregnancy size 8 – but still with the saggy skin issues. So the fact that my husband was comparing my body to this woman’s felt dreadful as I realised that there was no amount of gym that was going to change my actual shape and skin tone (weight loss, per se, wasn’t the issue).
Despite all of this I was trying hard with our sex life and even started letting him do things such as anal sex. I arranged weekends away / dressed up etc but still I felt ugly and undesired (he’d f*ck me but there was never a sense of tenderness or romance or making love – maybe other guys are the same??) He ended up wanting sex with the lights off all the time (at home) and claimed it would heighten our senses when we touched each other – but honestly, my husband has rarely touched me (or kissed me) intimately. In fact, I do have to be in the mood for oral sex (eg I like to be showered) but even so, it’s happened rarely and he’s rarely tried to put me in the mood for this. In fact he never has. And I just assume (to this day) that I’m undesirable.
During this time we argued a lot - and sometimes semi-violently. For full disclosure I will state here that it was usually me blowing my top and I did occasionally push / shove him and slap him around the face, Eastenders style. This is not excusable I know but I was really in a desperate state (no love / affection and realising his on-going flirtations with this other woman). He didn’t ever really reciprocate by hitting back etc – until one (fateful) night when he really lost it and properly beat me up (black and blue) in front of the kids – actual punches etc. He was very drunk (not an excuse but it should still be stated). He’s never done this since. And I had never hit / beat him like that so it was a real shock. The kids still remember it (“when daddy pushed you down the stairs” etc).
He also claimed many times to resent the kids and (once) wished our son dead (he had terrible reflux and cried a lot as a baby). I found his rejection of the kids to be a rejection of me.
He started (in these arguments) to say terrible things about my body. Really horrible stuff. And usually it would end with “no other man would want to sleep with you – you’re soiled goods” type of thing. I can’t tell you how awful it made me feel. To this day I recall the comments and they make me feel so low.
In the end I booked myself in for cosmetic surgery (tummy and boobs). While the operations worked their magic (another story for another time) I remember feeling hurt that he hadn’t ever tried to talk me out of it by saying that “he loved me anyway” - or “are you sure?”
Long story short and the flirtation with this woman increased over time. One night he was having sex with me (I was tired and didn’t want it but had relented – trying to be ‘the good wife’) and I asked if he’d mind giving me some foreplay (I’d started to suffer with cystitis as he’d usually just penetrate me and it hurt as usually I was quite ‘dry’). His response was to withdraw from me, sit on the end of the bed, say a few disparaging things (I forget what) and then tell me he was in love with this other woman. I was distraught.
In the end we sort of tried to work things out. This was very up and down (big rows / passionate ‘make up’ sex) until finally I found flirtatious texts that they were sending and he confessed (again) to being in love with her. He told me though (and still swears) that nothing ever actually happened. It was purely flirtation.
Ok…. [deep breath]
I ended up having an actual affair with an old friend (we didn’t sleep together but did pretty much everything else). At the time it felt great – and I felt desired / loved – and in fact I nearly left my husband for him (he fell in love with me and wanted us to leave our respective partners and live together. I was starting to fall in love with him). In the end, I couldn’t bear to break up the family and confessed all to my husband. Considering how badly I took his emotional affair, he forgave me for my actual affair really very quickly (I mean, in the course of a few hrs). Looking back this seems odd…? But he is less of a volatile temperament than me… so who knows.
I’m going to skim over a few months here as conscious that this is a very very long post (thank you to those bearing with me). Please also bear in mind that I was no angel during our many many rows (see above re me losing it a bit and shoving him / slapping him – not all the time – but the rows were very tempestuous).
We ended up at Relate (which incidentally was shit – another story) and soon-ish afterwards he lost his job. I was (I think) a huge emotional support and I also ended up finding work to (financially) support all of us.
In the end he got a (great) new job and we relocated. This was to be our ‘fresh new start’ … but then he confessed to (mild) office flirtations in his new job (I suspected and cornered him into admitting).
This is such a long post – sorry.
Since then I’ve tried all sorts of things (arranging weekends away – that he’s too tired for – BUT he does work shifts and gets very tired, this is true).
I still receive little to no romance – and he’s still very selfish in bed (still rarely touches / kisses me intimately – though he claims to enjoy oral sex – and very little foreplay).
We’ve been in (couples and individual) therapy for a year now – but honestly these rows continue. Usually I start them because I hate the lack of romance / affection and I feel totally ignored in the bedroom.
Between the rows he claims to love me and that I’m his soul mate and hates our rows. I receive a lot of promises and emails of intention – but somehow there’s still a lack of… something.
Am I right to assume that he loves me (I know that he does) but isn’t in love with me / fancies me?
ANY THOUGHTS WELCOME… thank you so much.

BertieBotts Sat 15-Dec-12 22:18:38

He's an abuser. The rows and the fights are going to keep happening again and again because you don't have a relationship, you have a power struggle.

Have you ever thought about leaving? What are your thoughts about that? Would you say you are happy, overall, in the relationship?

Also I found your post difficult to read because of the lack of paragraphs, it would really help if you could double space them if possible smile

lowercase Sat 15-Dec-12 22:22:01

He sounds like an overgrown child.

Having little ones does take its toll, seems like it took its toll on you and he ran off for fun elsewhere.

You must be exhausted.

wewereherefirst Sat 15-Dec-12 22:25:25

No man who loved you would ever beat you, push you down the stairs and make you feel so awful about yourself. Especially when infront of your children.

You're not in a relationship of love now, its convenience. Sorry, to say it, but you're better off out of it.

tribpot Sat 15-Dec-12 22:27:58

I find it somewhat staggering you would even want to try and make things work with someone who sounds godawful. You were no saint yourself but he beat the crap out of you. And you - I assume - didn't go to the police but took the beating confused sad

You sound desperate. Do you get any time away from him where you might clear your head a little?

LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:38:00

Thanks all so far - and oops, will watch those para's.

I did go to the police (he was cautioned). He's since 'lost it' by smashing up my phone (and BlackBerry phone) - but I must also give balance and say that in anger I have thrown a glass of water or two over him on a few occasions (only when really really angry - and it's been clear he's been lying etc).

Am trying to be as honest as possible in this to give the full picture.

Can I ask if your husbands are pretty much always 50:50 in the bedroom department? (i.e. it's give and take)...?

His therapist says he has 'intimacy issues' - hence the bad sex - but I kind of feel like if that was the case then surely he'd struggle to accept the bl*wjobs etc that I give him??

I'd love to be able to afford to leave him tbh :-(

Thank you - would really appreciate any other comments. This is hard to 'say' - and it feels good to share. x

wewereherefirst Sat 15-Dec-12 22:40:42

If you don't mind me asking, why did he smash your phone?

Has his therapist told you he has intimacy issues? Has he always been the same or is this post-DC's? You don't need lots of money to leave, you don't have to leave your home. Id be minded to kick him out, your children need a safe, happy home.

DrRanj Sat 15-Dec-12 22:45:50

I agree he sounds like an emotional abuser. Putting you down, the selfishness in bed, flaunting this other woman in your face, not to mention the physical beating.

Afwiw my abusive exp got me to believe that I was the violent one. Once he smashed my windscreen with his fists from the inside as I was driving. I pulled over and ended up slapping him as I was petrified and aghast at what he had done. But after that I was the violent one apparently, he had never laid a finger on me you see, even though actually he had smashed up most of my belongings saying he wished they were my face and subjected me to a sustained campaign of emotional abuse (which is what your dp has done to you).

Abusers have an uncanny knack of making their victims feel like they are the villains. Why would you want a relationship like this? It sounds like an utterly miserable way to live.

AbigailAdams Sat 15-Dec-12 22:47:31

He is not an "overgrown child". He is violent and abusive. His therapist will say whatever he wants him to say. Therapy doesn't work with abusers. In fact it can make them worse and if his therapist was any good then they would realise that and refuse to deal with him.

Lou I think you need to ring Women's Aid. He will not change. You and your children need to be safe. Think about those questions Bertie asked you, they may help clarify things for you.

Also CAB might be able to help on the financial front. Rights of women may also help.

Shakey1500 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:51:48

None of it sounds happy and it's not the sort of relationship I could be part of.

For what it's worth, yes, sex is 50/50 on the whole. Always comfortable. Sometimes laughably crap (but that's where the being comfortable comes into it, that we can wrly laugh and say "yeah it was ok but we've done better") sometimes incredibly loving, sometimes raunchy, sometimes tired spooning. But always respectful.

LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:52:39

Hi wewereherefirst...

I'm going to be honest and say (last confession from me - but this is the last one!) that I'd been feeling so low and unattractive (and just missing that passion) that I'd gone online and been chatting with guys. This is not something I'd ever done before, and I dont condone it. Like I say, I've been feeling locked in a marriage with a bloke that doesnt care. When I told him - mid-row - he went nuts and smashed both my phones.

His therapist has told me yes, that he has intimacy issues.

The sex (looking back) has always been pretty one-sided. The bursts of anger (from him) happen only every few months and always when we're mid-argument - i.e. it doesnt just happen. Also, I do shout and scream a lot during these rows.

The latest from him (re sex) is that he doesnt like me initiating it as he doesnt like it to be "on a plate." Yet (as I say) it's not as though he makes any effort to seduce me etc.

I dont mean to focus on the sex stuff - it's just that in other respects he can be a great guy (he's great around the house and now he actually really loves the kids - LOL, now that they're easier!)

Thanks again so much - I'll take any advice I can get right now.

PS. harder to kick him out - we rent.... and although I work p/t and would get some government help, I dont think this would easily cover my rent and his and living etc etc. Have looked into it before and kicked him out before. Financially it was a strain. But my plan is to get myself on my feet with more work...

DrRanj Sat 15-Dec-12 22:53:49

Oh and btw I have never felt the need to have sex with my dp when I didn't want it and when I was dry and it would hurt me, just to be a "good wife". sad

supadupapupascupa Sat 15-Dec-12 22:57:30

It doesn't sound like a relationship i would want for myself OP. In answer to your question no it isn't 50/50 in the bedroom dept because my DH gets enormous pleasure in trying to please me, and is much more into foreplay than I am. I guess tht's because he loves me. I'm not sure if this isn't the problem (it's difficult to analyse from a forum thread, you will know better yourself).
You need to decide what you want for your life.
If this isn't it, move on.....not easy but if you really want it, you'll find a way.
So sorry you're going through all this.

LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 23:00:34

DrRanj - your post re your ex really struck a chord. I feel as though he pushes and pushes me, and I 'fall for it' - he knows which buttons to press - and then I explode - and then I'm labelled the nutty one...

I'm so very very very grateful for these posts. I'm so embarrassed and ashamed that this is going on. I couldnt even begin to think about who to tell face to face. Thank you for those links Abigail. x

mcmooncup Sat 15-Dec-12 23:10:40

I think it would be very wise to get educated about abusive relationships, and then you can decide whether you think you are in one.

You may very well see your relationship, your feelings, your 'outbursts' in a new, revealing and empowering light.

Best book to do this is Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft.
Also the Women's Aid website.

mcmooncup Sat 15-Dec-12 23:13:36

quick overview here

Does he tick those boxes?

Darkesteyes Sat 15-Dec-12 23:14:10

Lou he is an abuser. I find your OP horrifying.
But there is a common theme of these Relate therapists trying to counsel abusers.
Now either these therapists genuinely dont recognise an abuser when they are staring them in the face in which case they need more training.
Or the cynic in me tells me that there is a more sinister
And this keeps cropping up time and time again.

mcmooncup Sat 15-Dec-12 23:17:19

<Darkesteyes I agree. OP said they have been going for over a year. No therapist should be seeing a client for that long>

DrRanj Sat 15-Dec-12 23:17:22

I will say though that seeking intimacy elsewhere really isn't the answer. If you feel that unfulfilled with your marriage, then end it and then seek it elsewhere, but cheating is really doing neither of you any favours. But I'm sure you know this already. It just sounds like a really destructive relationship all round, and surely you would both be happier out of it?

Norem Sat 15-Dec-12 23:26:33

Hi op I think at the very least you need to look at this whole situation through the eyes of your children.
Unless you live in a Castle they must hear and see mummy and daddy fighting, it must be really frightening for them.
If you can't be respectful to each other don't live together sad

Bakingnovice Sat 15-Dec-12 23:28:18

Obviously your marriage is not fulfilling you. Emotionally or physically. Also you've mentioned that there are heated rows on a frequent basis. Please consider the children, how will they be feeling during these rows? Get out for their sake if not yours.

BertieBotts Sat 15-Dec-12 23:28:50

Lou, this is a horrendous relationship. I've seen a lot on here and it shocks me to read about it, honestly. I know that it's hard to equate any of these terms (abuse, awful relationship, etc) to your own life that you are living, because it never seems quite as bad when you're in it - how could it? If it was awful, all the time, it would be a no-brainer to leave. In real life abuse isn't like that, they keep you guessing with the nice periods, when you see a glimpse of the "old" him, what he was probably like at the beginning of the relationship. Unfortunately the "nice" him is a front and the abuser is the real him sad

Please don't feel embarrassed or ashamed. This is NOT your fault and you can get help.

The sex stuff probably isn't the main issue, but the reasons behind the weird sex stuff are going to be the same underlying causes/issues behind everything else, I think you'll probably find. His attitude towards this sounds extremely twisted and unhealthy.

I agree definitely read the book "Why Does He Do That" if you can - it has a bit of an obvious title so best to read it away from him if you can, unfortunately it's not available on kindle in the UK.

Are you in the UK? If so people on here can easily help you with regards to finances, legal issues and accommodation if you want to leave but are worried about the practicalities. If you're not in the UK, some of us are great at googling smile

Above all keep posting but make sure your browsing history is hidden so that he can't come across this thread by accident or if he checks up on you.

LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 23:30:45

I must admit I do sometimes feel as though our therapist makes excuses for his behaviour - and he seems to put on his 'good face' whenever we see her (the 'nice guy' thing) and I do get frustrated that he doesn?t seem to be told how it is for me (the ?no holds barred? kind of talking to). Unless that happens when he?s in his own sessions.

But to be fair, I genuinely don?t think she?s after our cash ? she?s been a big support for me in my personal sessions and has even seen us both for free / a highly reduced rate. But I still wonder if therapy is the answer at the moment as nothing seems to change.

She has said that DH ?plays victim? and I play another game (anyone familiar with transactional analysis??) And yes, he?s in child a lot - but again (to be fair) I think that I am too.

The hardest thing with all of this is that I was severely abused (by my mother) as a child. (Physically and emotionally). This is part of what I?m working through in therapy for myself.

LouDecember1 Sat 15-Dec-12 23:32:50

Just read the other posts - thank you. This is very gratefully received.

PS. Yes, the kids have (shamefully) heard us row - not the really really bad ones but still, it's no excuse I know :-(

Roseformeplease Sat 15-Dec-12 23:34:33


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