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Changing DH'S behaviour - can it be done?

(66 Posts)
Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 08:14:47


I want to vent at my dh's behaviour and ask for suggestions to change things.

I'll say at the outset I do not want to leave him. We have in many ways a happy marriage and two Dc who adore him.

He is however lazy and selfish and both things are getting on my nerves more and more. We have been together for many years and these have always been traits of his, however it has become more obvious since the arrival of our children.

Examples include constantly disappearing to take naps and only suggesting I take one if he happens not to be tired, I am expected to keep on going.

Getting up with Dc on a Sunday only, which is my day for a lie in. They are not good sleepers.

He is awful if he has to get up in the night. Shouting and swearing. He turns into a really horrible person.

I am currently away for a few days with Dc and I know he won't have done any housework or dealt with any laundry other than his own (he had to phone to ask how to use the washing machine)

While we are away he has taken a day off work because he needs time for himself. He has not thought at all about our parents going on holiday and who will look after our Dc I.e. me. My holidays are not viewed as time to recharge my batteries, only his.

Money - for most of our relationship I have been the main earner and have ensured we have enough to cover the bills and an equal amount of spending money. He is now the higher wage earner and Is now transferring random amounts to pay the joint account and keeping more money to himself. Some months he does overtime or gets a bonus but as a family we see little of this.

He smokes and claims he needs more money for this (don't get me started angry.

I have a separate account for birthday and Christmas presents which he refuses to pay into, although he does buy a couple of presents from his own account at Christmas for me and a few friends I wouldn't have a clue what to buy for. For my birthday he bought me a very expensive present from our joint account promising he would put the money back. He still hasn't 4 months later. I did not ask for this present but it suited his needs ( it was an iPad, he wanted me off the computer in the evenings)

Some of this is selfish behaviour, some of this is being unrealistic about money. He has a history of debt, now cleared but looks at our joint account sees plenty of money and then spends from it. We are consistently £200 - £300 overdrawn, not all because of him, but if he contributed a more reasonable amount and did not skim off the top we would be doing a whole lot better.

I realise I have probably set a pattern for this earlier I our relationship as I minded less doing the majority of housework and was happy to do the accounts but I feel resentful at the moment.

Warning bells should have struck when in our pre wedding chat to our minister he said one of the main things he loved about me was that I looked after him. Looking after me never seems to come I to the equation.

So, how can I improve things?

Flisspaps Tue 05-Mar-13 08:19:46

You cannot make someone change.

You say you don't want to leave - but your DC are growing up thinking that this is how a relationship should be.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Mar-13 08:22:34

No-one can change someone else's behaviour. Understand that from the start. Only they can decide to change and they have to want to change in order to do it. You can provide motivation, threats, encouragement. You can set expectations, withdraw privileges, set incentives. But the adage of 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink' is very, very true.

The biggest problem you've got is this

"I'll say at the outset I do not want to leave him"

Because he knows that you'll always be there & you'll always forgive him however badly he behaves, nothing whatsoever you do will make a blind bit of difference.

joblot Tue 05-Mar-13 08:23:57

Put your needs first and stop allowing him to take advantage of you- as you said, you set up this dynamic so you need to be clear you want it to change. If he won't treat you like an equal once you're clear that you are, then you're onto a loser in my opinion

Lizzabadger Tue 05-Mar-13 08:24:36

He believes he is more important than you. This won't change.

nocake Tue 05-Mar-13 08:25:30

You're right, you have set a pattern and it's going to be hard to change that because he's now in a comfortable position where he can be lazy and not take any responsibility. Try tackling one thing at a time. Involve him in the change. Try to make it seem like his idea or find a way to make it look like the change benefits him.

With the finances you may need to take control and set the rules for what happens with your money. Stop ad-hoc spending from the joint account and allocate each of you "pocket money" each month that you can spend how you like. If he wants to spend his on cigarettes then that's his problem.

I should add that I'm a happily married man... in case that changes how you view my advice. Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Mar-13 08:27:01

There's a good MN word for a man that spends your money, runs up debts, expects you to look after him, eats your food and contributes nothing in return.... 'Cocklodger'.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 08:33:21

Cognito - he isn't as bad as that. He does put money towards bills but as a percentage of our respective wages I pay more.

He does do "some" housework/ chores but the stuff that suits him - going to the supermarket, taking out bins, doing dishes ( easier than putting Dc to bed)

He also isn't entirely responsible for the overdraft issue but doesn't take it as seriously as me. I hate debt.

I'm mulling over other comments, I'll be back.

MajesticWhine Tue 05-Mar-13 08:33:49

Blimey. What a catch. I have no idea if he could change all this behaviour. It sounds like you need to completely renegotiate your relationship. But he definitely won't change it unless you a) tell him everything that you have said here and b) stop enabling him by putting up with it. He won't change unless he has some reason to do so. Why would he change when everything suits him? I think you need to get angry and spell it out to him.

With the finances, why not pay both your salaries into the joint account and then each withdraw monthly a reasonable amount for personal spending money. Then you will be saving any extra as a couple/family rather than him spending it on himself. And he can get his own account overdrawn rather than the joint account.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 05-Mar-13 08:36:39

"I'll say at the outset I do not want to leave him".
Why do you say that?. Is that out of feelings of pride, shame, fear, having got so ground down by him now you feel trapped and cannot leave, children, not actually wanting now to think about how you yourself went onto choose such a man to marry?.

Its hard enough to try and change one of your own behaviours; impossible to change someone else's. He won't change his ways and he knows too you won't leave.

What do you want to teach your children about relationships; they are currently learning damaging lessons from both of you. Do you really want your DC to grow up thinking this is how a relationship should be conducted?.

JustOneMoreCoffee Tue 05-Mar-13 08:47:32

I have just ended my relationship due to a lot of the same issues. We were not married but have a young child and i got to breaking point. He always put himself first and his family second in my opinion and unless the selfish behaviour and his whole outlook on what's important changes he isn't welcome back. Your better than that and deserve an equal partnership but if he knows you won't end the relationship and he can get away with his behaviour he won't change. Hope you find a way to resolve it, make it clear your unhappy and don't want to continue in this way.

scaevola Tue 05-Mar-13 08:50:27

I think what you have here is a communication problem, not one of the minutiae of who does what and when.

You want to feel appreciated for what you do, and wish he was doing this spontaneously. Telling him what to do means he is only going through the motions (of the chores), not "getting it" in terms of what they represent, and also that he isn't taking responsibility as an adult for everything that needs to be done. It won't help if you end up as parent to everyone. It sounds as if the change you need in him is to engage his brain into the household and family.

One option is for you to go away for a while and leave him with everything. Perhaps that way he will grasp the extent of not just the chores themselves, but the thought that goes in to staying on top of those chores.

If that's not possible, then could you have a series of conversations when things need to be done: in effect asking him to come up with, or at least acknowledge, the list of things? Then ask him about how best to divide them up. It's pretty hard to come up with an unbalanced division if asked in a practical way if engaged in actually thinking about it.

You need to back this up by being straight with him and refusing to do the shit work.

Are there other areas in which communication is difficult or non-existent? If you are not in the habit of expressing things, good and bad, in a fairly straightforward way, then the prospects are less good.

MadAboutHotChoc Tue 05-Mar-13 08:51:08

The only thing you can change is yourself - why on earth do you want to stay with this selfish, immature, lazy arse?

And don't say he's a good father - good fathers treat the mothers of his DC with respect and set good examples for DC to follow.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 08:52:50

My parents have a similarish relationship in terms of housework etc. Not finances. Dh's parents, again his dm tends to do most things and I think possibly not the best role models either. So yes I worry about the effect on our children.

Yes shame, fear of the unknown, effect on our children and I love him - all reasons I don't want to leave him.

He has positive traits too. Good to be with, loves our children, a shoulder to cry on. The selfish/lazy traits vary.

We do have separate accounts for spending but once he has spent his, he looks at the joint account, sees money, does not think about the bills coming out and spends. I'm not talking about elaborate spends, but cigarettes add up and I don't see why I should have to pay. He knows this. It is an ongoing argument. I think I need to do a spreadsheet of bills and show him exactly how mu h we spend.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 08:56:07

Scaevola thank you, that gives me something constructive to think about.

He isn't a bad person and people who know him would agree with that but something needs to change.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 09:00:45

I am bad at delegation, at work as well as home. I tend to see what needs done, do it and then resent the fact I haven't been helped or appreciated. The communication aspect is something I need to think about. I am an introvert and tend to assume people notice how much I do when I should probably communicate better and not blow up when things become too much.

Xales Tue 05-Mar-13 09:01:54

Why should he change? There is no reason for him to make his own life any less comfortable.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 09:03:17

His life isn't comfortable if I'm constantly angry and resentful.

MajesticWhine Tue 05-Mar-13 09:13:42

It's good that you are angry and resentful. That is an appropriate response. But it's what happens next. Do you carry on doing all the laundry, worrying about the bills, not having a break? Your own behaviour is the only thing that you can change.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 05-Mar-13 09:14:21

Do you think that your children will not be more affected long term by showing them this particular model of a relationship?. We after all learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents. What are you both teaching them here?.

What do you get out of this relationship now?. What innate and internal need of yours is being met here?. Is it the need to be needed, "I love to be loved".
What is your role here in this relationship?.

Is your H really that good to be with?. Purely from your writings he does not appear good at all to be with. Are you really now just clinging onto the wreakage out of fear of the unknown?. The first step out is often the hardest one to take.

You made a mistake re marrying this man but you will only compound that basic error even more if you remain together for arguments sake until the children reach adulthood or they have left home.

Are you really prepared to live the rest of your life like this, basically saying, "well I made my bed so I'm going to lie down in it". One day your children will leave home; what then for you?. They will not thank you for staying with such a man and being in their eyes a martyr and will wonder why on earth you did not leave years earlier.

What is there to love about this man exactly given that he treats you so poorly (with one of the knock on effect being that your children see and hear far more than you realise as well?). I daresay your H does not know the meaning of the word love, from your initial post he said that one of the main things he loved about you was that you looked after him. There were many signs (that just being one) which unfortunately you chose to ignore or minimise. Also perhaps on some level you thought that he would somehow change on being married.

How would you feel if your children went onto exactly replicate what you have now?.

Chandon Tue 05-Mar-13 09:15:27

Asking for help regularly, for small thingsl does change behavioir and patterns.

My DH was stressed at work and stopped completely helping out with any housework, washing up or anything in the evenings. I asked him " could you give me a hand with the dishes?" and " can you take the bins out whilst I take out the laundry" or "would you mind unpacking the dishwasher while I go and give DS2 his bath. "

IMO, men do not say "no" to a direct request like that, then it becomes habbit to help out. IMO more productive than converstations like " you NEVER help me." or " You don t appreciate me."

Still, an occasional big argument can be good too! Being a martyr leads you nowhere.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 05-Mar-13 09:18:03

"His life isn't comfortable if I'm constantly angry and resentful"

No it is not but another effect of that is the children notice you being like this as well.

AnyFucker Tue 05-Mar-13 09:22:09

He doesn't care that you are angry and resentful, so he is completely comfortable. He doesn't actually give a shit what you think, or how you feel.

He will never change. A scenario where someone makes it clear they will "never leave" is on a losing ticket immediately, IMO

Why would he change ? You will always do what you are doing, no matter what.

Billysilly Tue 05-Mar-13 09:48:29

I think the "if you do this and I'll do that" conversations might help.

Are there any books anyone could recommend? I'm a thinker and reading works well for me.

something2say Tue 05-Mar-13 09:54:57

Take action as well tho Billy x
And be honest about why you are upset and taking action.
You matter too. Let him see that.

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