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Relationship in slow decline: what steps to take?

(63 Posts)
AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 09:41:26

I realise over the past month or so that my relationship with dh is probably declining to the extent that I don't - at the moment - particularly want to stay with him forever. We have an 11 yr old and a 9 yr old, and I haven't any desire to break up the family for them - dh and I get on all right - but obviously once they've left home there will be nothing to stop me having a less frustrating daily life and I look forward to that.

I cannot be the only one in this position. (I have real life friends who are similarly placed but I just can't ask them, it's like admitting defeat.) Has anyone got any wise words about how I can prepare for this? I'm starting with opening my own bank account but I'm sure there are more practical and emotional things to prepare for.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 26-Mar-13 09:51:39

What is family life like now? What relationship do your DCs see played out in front of them? You say you 'get on all right' but it's also 'declining'.... what does that mean in practice? Has it only been a month or has this daily life frustration been brewing a lot longer?

I personally think that life is far too short to waste it treading water, keeping quite or living a lie. Talk to your DH about either improving the relationship or splitting. It's not 'admitting defeat' btw... it's being honest with yourself about what you want .

Bendytoes Tue 26-Mar-13 09:54:42

How long are you going wait? Your children may be living with you for years and before you know it you'll feel like you've missed out on a proper relationship and you're heading for old age!
I know we all put our kids first but you need to think of yourself too!

Twitterqueen Tue 26-Mar-13 09:57:26

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you want things to get back on track.

It sounds to me like you've given up on the relationship already. If you have, then the decision might be to wait it out and make the best of it, or cut and run now.

Is there any chance you could build up your relationship again? I think it's worth telling your DH how you feel - maybe he feels the same, maybe you should have some time apart to see you you really feel about each other.

Could you develop your own interests / hobbies outside the marriage that would bring you some satisfaction?

Fwiw I felt like this for years and wished I'd done something sooner.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Mar-13 09:58:42

Is it him or you? Have you both changed since you first got together? I agree relationships do have peaks and troughs. I'd worry if I sensed my OH was detaching emotionally. It is good to plan ahead but isn't it soul destroying going through the motions until your youngest leaves home?

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 09:58:50

Oh, it's been in a sad place from when we had our first child. We paper over the cracks and generally have an ok time. There's no rancorous arguing. I'm not having him leave the family, the kids adore him and he's great with them, and I won't leave (of course).

I just got to the point the other day where I thought: I've been taking on responsibility for fixing these things which are wrong and unfair, and nothing has changed. I could be living a nicer life alone. All my validation comes from outside the home anyway, and I begin to dread having to be there with him every evening.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Mar-13 10:03:10

X-post. In that case if you believe you only live once don't waste time just papering over cracks. It can't do you good and it's only creating a false sense of security. Fwiw a friend of mine was devastated when she started uni only for her parents to split up within a month. She said her whole adolescence was built on a lie. You say, you're not having him leave the family, that's not really up to you is it.

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 10:06:43

I honestly don't feel like having a relationship with anyone else.
I don't actually know any women who are able to find fulfilment in their family/marital relationships without having to make unacceptable compromises (which weren't unacceptable until they realised it was pretty much all one-way). Modern men are varied and interesting but basically a disappointment as far as I can tell.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 26-Mar-13 10:10:46

So join me and the legions of women who choose to live independent lives, free of compromise and with responsibility only to ourselves with any DCs coming a close second. smile There really is more to life than being one of a pair.

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 10:11:29

Peaks and troughs is right. I'm in a trough. I know there will be peaks again, but ultimately this is unsustainable and that's what I want to be prepared for.

I've been through my parents' break up. There's no one way that's right. In this case I know it would be hugely detrimental for our family to not have him around. I'm not going to leave - I couldn't. And he couldn't keep the practical side together, never mind the emotional side.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Mar-13 10:21:27

Are you able to talk to DH as frankly as you have here?

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 10:25:20

I have no problem talking about things, but he does. I've come to realise that his even-temperedness is a bit of a cover-up for an almost complete inability to respond to emotion. He's very 'nice' but ultimately blank. (Takes a long time for these things to become clear sometimes...)

GirlWiththeLionHeart Tue 26-Mar-13 10:29:10

Can I join, Cog? Sounds awesome. How do you stop the 'grass is greener' feelings?

Mondrian Tue 26-Mar-13 10:32:10

You will have to envisage life as a singleton, how will you support yourself, where will you live, who will be your friend. Based on that vision you will have to take practical steps into making it happen. So if you have 6 years the in 3 years you should have covered half the way, be it in terms of savings or job qualifications etc. each step taken, each exam past, every penny saved will give you a buzz in knowing that you are headed in the right direction.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Mar-13 10:34:39

Be careful, a crisis like work-related issues or illness might precipitate a serious re-think. Sorry, sounds like I am a doom merchant. I have seen it happen before, someone is unhappy but thinks she can put up with things until their youngest turns 18, in the meantime something catastrophic happened and she thought she can't possibly leave now, how will it look, now she's stuck.
Sort of, "life's what happens when you're making other plans".

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 26-Mar-13 10:44:54

Parents need to take responsibility for their own choices. Do not inflict upon the children the guilt of your own respective miseries. You need to make your own decisions and make a decision on your own values rather than "for the childrens sake". Staying together despite your unhappiness is something that your children may not thank you ultimately for doing.

You cannot stop him leaving the relationship if he were to decide to; that choice is not yours to make.

One day your children will leave home, what then for you two?.

What do you both want to teach your children about relationships?.

Twitterqueen Tue 26-Mar-13 10:47:22

Girlwithlionheart I've joined Cog's brigade and yes, it is awesome.

When you're happy in your own skin and in your own place you OWN the green grass!

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 10:55:13

agree with Cog. it took me a long time to get there but once you are, you will never look back. dont live a half life. talk to him.

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 10:57:08

As someone who has two parents who have made decisions based solely on their own needs, with accompanying 'it's my time now' speeches, I won't be doing that. I have felt the corrosion for three decades and it still burns.

I don't need to flee an abusive relationship, I'm not in love with anyone else (or in love with the idea of being in love again), we live a generally happy life: I just live with someone who isn't able to see that his apathy, lack of social involvement and inability to respond to emotion are problems. OK, for him, they aren't. For me, they are - but we still manage to laugh and get along. However, I look forward to being able to live without the consistent and one-sided compromise that such a dull and frustrating personality needs. I'm not going to give my children a better life by breaking things up now. I don't really want to have to justify this any further. There is no one way to approach a relationship which is sputtering out. In this case, but not in all cases, my responsibility lies in carrying on for a number of years, finding joy outside my home and relationship (and I do).

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 11:02:11

think about the lessons you are teaching your children about realtionships. not good or healthy ones.

be a maytr if you wish, but be an honest one.

it is scarey to think of splitting up but divorce need not ruin children. the life you have described sounds far worse in the long run for their emotional development

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 11:07:23

I suppose it depends on what you think we are doing and saying around them.
We live normally, we laugh and show affection.
As a child, a teen and an adult, I was shown by my parents that their own short-term happiness was more important than their children. (Admittedly they are peculiarly bad parents.) This I will not repeat.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 26-Mar-13 11:12:07

So you will break up one day?

AmmiMajus Tue 26-Mar-13 11:15:13

At the moment, I just want to be prepared for it happening.

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 11:16:15

you have told me what you are doing - living a life of consistent and one sided compromise.

you think your children wont notice this? i think they will.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 26-Mar-13 11:17:26

Well going back to your introduction you already mentioned setting up your own bank account.

Usually after the bombshell news is broken, the advice is to take time out before rushing to make major decisions, who moves out of the family home, relocation, new job, buying a new car. you will have prepared for this for a long time, H may not have a clue and be completely unprepared. In fairness you will have to allow him time to catch up.

Without walking round the house attaching post-it notes to material things, how do you foresee splitting things up? Do you each run a car at the moment? Won't you resent H starting or continuing an expensive hobby or pastime?

Is there anything practically speaking your DH can do but you can't because if you are able to pay someone to do it, that's fine but will you be able to afford to do so?

I would think that you will need to be prepared to face your DCs and explain why for you, divorce is a positive step, whilst at the same time appreciating they may not rejoice with you. Be prepared if you initiate a split for your H to become the 'victim'.

Do you envisage staying on good terms with in-laws, do you have supportive family?

Socially do you have your own friends, are you used to going out by yourself, have you been on holiday alone since meeting H and since having children?

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