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Please can I have some perspective (or a reality-check)?

(12 Posts)
mamaneedsarealitycheck Sun 05-May-13 13:07:37

I have namechanged.

It's impossible to give a detailed enough description of the situation without some identifiable information, so please don't out me if you recognise me. thanks

We've been together 10 years. 2DCs, 4 years and 18 months.
We don't have family nearby, or much in the way of a support network as we're fairly new to the area. We live overseas, in a country where I speak the language but DH doesn't. (English is widely spoken though.)

Both sets of parents have divorced, so it's important to both of us to give our children a stable home and family. I know that's important to most people, just trying to explain how our background impacts the current situation. Having said that, I'm also very much of the opinion that it's "better to come from a broken home than to grow up in one".

DH grew up in a fairly normal family (his parents divorced after their children had moved away) but with traditional values and division of chores. (SAHM etc.) My parents divorced when I was just about to start school, and I grew up shuttling between the two. Both have remarried and had children, one household more dysfunctional than the other. (EA, DA... I was not really welcome in either, but only on the receiving end of DA in the house I spent most of my time in. EA in both.)

As a result, I'm not sure I have any idea of how a healthy, supportive and loving relationship or family works... hence this plead for help.

DH and I had never really had the "honeymoon period" of a new relationship, (mainly due to him dealing with the tail-end of a, shall we say "unhealthy" life-style with the resulting mood-swings and paranoia...) but somehow we stayed together. Over the years, he changed his ways and calmed down.


He has a time-consuming hobby. Pre-children, I didn't mind so much. I was always a little hurt that he chose to spend so much time away from home, but I've always liked my own company, so wasn't too much of an issue. Since having children, this has obviously caused friction because instead of having time on my own, I am now left on my own with the children. To be fair, for the last couple of years, he has cut back a bit... he used to spend a one or two evenings a week and at least one of the weekend days on his hobby, these days it's more like 1,5 or 2 hours, a couple of times a week and maybe a 40 minute stint or so squeezed in somewhere. Obviously, this is a sacrifice for him, because he can't dedicate as much time (or money) on his hobby as he'd ideally like.

Mainly due to the language issue (although I have to say this has always been the case, it's just that now it's dictated by circumstance rather than choice) I am the one who does the "admin": pay the bills, deal with any stuff outside of the immediate family, book any and all appointments for all of us as well as take the children to them. We've recently completed a major renovation project, so the burden was obviously on me to "project manage" and deal with everyone from tradesmen to authorities involved.

Finances are shared. (I pay all the bills, put a small -equal- amount of "pocket money" in each of our personal accounts and keep the rest in the joint account so whichever one of us does the household shopping, petrol etc has access to all the money at all times.) I bring home 2/3 of of the household income, which doesn't matter for any other reason except for me feeling like the financial burden is mainly mine. My earning potential is greater than his though so again, this is not through choice as much as circumstance.

DH does pretty much all of the cooking and a lot of the tidying up associated. I am in charge of the laundry and most of the cleaning, DH sometimes hoovers. We take turns shopping. Most mornings a week, I take the children to the childminder, which means most afternoons, DH picks them up. This is due to him starting work earlier - so clearly a nice solutions as far as the DC are concerned, but I struggle a bit with the fact that the general stress of getting myself and two children out of the house in the mornings falls on me, whereas DH gets the fun part of picking them up.

I've always done most of the childcare, mainly because I BF (so DH has never done night feeds or general "night-time parenting") and believe in attachment parenting, which I am aware is the heavy-duty option. This includes me being the one who keeps track of appointments, progress at school, general wellbeing and the general logistics like having clothes in the right size and season...

I am aware that there is more than a little resentment creeping in.
We seem to spend most of our time together bickering or arguing.
I feel unappreciated and unloved. It shouldn't matter, but just as an example, he totally forgot my birthday this year (the second time it's happened). As I said... resentment, creeping in.

I find myself wondering if this actually is the way our children should grow up, or if they'd be better off if we weren't together.

At the same time, I know I'm not the easiest person to live with. As a result of my childhood, I know I am "broken" and while I am trying to work on it, I'm not sure I'll ever be "mended" enough to be the kind of wife and mother I wish I could be. I am also acutely aware of the massive gap in the kind of set up DH grew up in: SAHM, trophy-wife... and what he actually has now: I am far from a trophy-wife, I love my children more than life but as I work full-time, they are "farmed out" as MIL puts it. I know he doesn't get much from this set-up, and that he has had to sacrifice time he used to spend on his hobby.

I feel lost... but I know this can't be good for any of us.

If anyone actually managed to read this far, I'd appreciate any thoughts.

Ikeameatballs Sun 05-May-13 13:12:54

I think that something is missing from your post. I get the forgetting of the birthday, would upset me too but the rest of it sounds ok.

Could you put your finger on what you feel is missing? What you want from this relationship but aren't getting?

mamaneedsarealitycheck Sun 05-May-13 13:23:38

Thanks, I guess that in itself says plenty (if it sounds ok).
I guess it's just the nagging feeling that the constant bickering is not what it should be like, as an example: this AM, I said I needed to prepare for a meeting I have... asked DH to take the DC outside for a couple of hours. This is not something I usually ask for: I have only recently started carving out some "me-time" (C25K! smile ), something I haven't had since having the DC... and today, I would've needed time for work. Caused (yet another) massive argument though, as DH had planned to meet up with a friend, for his hobby. (Not something I was aware of.)

I feel like his needs and wants always trump mine.

I feel lonely, which is crazy, considering the house is full of life and people.

joanofarchitrave Sun 05-May-13 13:34:11

you have two preschool children. This is both amazing and (from observation of other families as I only have 1) very, very tough. Ergo I believe it is actually fairly normal to be boiling with resentment much of the time. This too shall pass.

I'd challenge some of your fixed beliefs. You don't sound broken. You sound human. Things break, and they get mended, and if they function, they are as good as ever.

Likewise, I don't believe that picking up from childcare is necessarily the 'fun' bit - I hated it - that sweaty palmed feeling an hour before you HAVE to leave work come what may, that feeling of having to entertain the kids while being knackered and still mentally half at work. If you loathe the morning rush, have you considered employing a nanny so that it is eliminated? Or getting in some mother's help type person specifically for that morning period - why not?

Then, can you get more time at work to prepare for work? I know it's not easy, but really, if you need 2 hours to prepare for a meeting, that's work time and you should be getting paid for it. And it's not really OK to say 'my work trumps your hobby' any more than it is OK for him to say 'I'm doing this hobby' as it is no longer a choice that only affects him - if he decides to go and do the hobby, he has ALREADY decided what you are doing for that time, as you have to look after the kids. Not OK. Can he now do a version of that hobby that would include the kids, e.g. if it's a sport, could he find a place to do it that has a creche?

joanofarchitrave Sun 05-May-13 13:37:30

'Bickering' may be horrible but at least you are trying to communicate and work things out. Where your childhood may be influencing you I guess is that you perhaps didn't witness this kind of negotiation, or didn't witness it in any other context than it leading to a split?

toysintheattic Sun 05-May-13 13:44:38

What I get from your first and then subsequent post is that you are not having your emotional needs met -- is there any affection between you and DH? How is your sex life? He may be sharing some of the work though lots is falling on your shoulders, but I am also getting that there is little in the way of love and support.

For me the 1st missed birthday would be a warning, the 2nd missed birthday would teeter on the side of showing him the door, but that's me, I place a pretty high priority on marking occasions like that.

You also alluded to an unhealthy lifestyle in your DH's past -- substance abuse? Has he replaced one addiction with another (ie his hobby) -- if it is negatively affecting his family life then it is an addiction.

Are you able to talk to your husband in a calm way at a time that works for both of you, to tell him how you are feeling?

DontmindifIdo Sun 05-May-13 14:01:40

It sounds like you don't feel your DH is pulling his weight - have you talked to him about it? How much time off do you get? or is it just him that gets time away? It does sound like you do all the heavy lifting for the family, but while also working full time.

Perhaps sit down and draw up clear his and your times, we have, normally, I get saturday mornings, DH gets sunday mornings, afternoons are family time. Work always comes above hobbies/me time (so yesterday I lost my 'me time' because DH had to work, but will get a lie in tomorrow morning...)

Unfortunately, it sounds like your DH has always been rather selfish and selfcentred, while it didn't bother you so much before having DCs, this sort of thing becomes harder to forgive or consider a small issue when you have DCs.

He's unlikely to change, particularly if given your history, you've ruled out ever breaking up with him.

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 14:05:04

Gosh, sorry, OP, i don't know but do sympathise. As already said, 2 preschoolers plus 2 working parents is hard work unless nannied up or lots of family support. Hard therefore to separate this from your issues as a couple. Hope you get some better advice- currently at end of tether with own h so not best person to advise.

mamaneedsarealitycheck Sun 05-May-13 14:52:42

Ok... I really appreciate your comments, because it's giving me exactly the kind of perspective I felt I needed:

"it is actually fairly normal to be boiling with resentment much of the time" made me laugh out loud. So, I guess what to me feels like "end of tether" actually is just part of life?

I know picking up is not always fun, meant it more from the DCs point of view - I am the one who's hurrying everyone along, leaving them behind, DH is the one who turns up to bring them home. I realise this has nothing to do with the relationship between DH and me, just adds to my feeling of inadequate wife and mother, I guess.

Also, I would've never considered that me needing time for work is just as bad as him needing time for his hobby. (Apart from the fact that I need this once in a blue moon, he needs it every week...) Not sure I quite agree, but I can see it's a valid point.

Nanny or helper would be amazing, but we can't afford it at the moment.

Also... you're quite right: I never saw the bickering. In each of the homes I grew up in, one person was in charge, the other one shut up and put up. Never considered that in terms of it clouding my judgement of "normal" behaviour. Thank you!

And yes - I do feel my emotional needs aren't met. I do miss affection (on the other hand, am still BFing, so quite touched out...) but this has never been DHs strong suit anyway. Neither has he ever valued sex much.

I do value "occasions" and try to make a deal of them. DHs, as much as the DCs. That's probably why I feel so hurt that my birthday isn't important enough to remember, or to make an effort with - he did apologise for forgetting, but it's not like I got a card or a gift belatedly either... then again, I don't like to think of myself as materialistic, so maybe it's not important.

Yes, he had a coke-habit. YES, I do feel he has replaced one addiction with another. He has actually admitted as much himself sometimes: he NEEDS to get away to do his hobby, or else he gets twitchy and stressed. I'm not actually sure there's much we can do about that, at least he now has a healthy, sporty hobby... albeit not one he can do with the DCs until some time when they're much older. (It's very much an adrenaline sport.)

I DO feel like I'm pulling most of the weight - but wanted to hear your opinions before stating that. smile He does cook, cooking does happen daily... but while I do appreciate that (I am aware in some families the wife/mother does EVERYTHING) I don't feel that it's a get-out-of-jail-free-card. He, on the other hand, feels like he's "on call" all the time... because he can' t just do his own thing all the time.

I think that's part an parcel of having young children.

I feel so stressed out, and that's a big reason why I do work so hard - the financial burden is on me. I don't often take work home, in fact can't remember having to do it since sometime at the end of last year... so wouldn't say it impacts the family on a regular basis.

I did end up looking at how much renting a studio flat would be - thinking maybe we could take turns living there, so the DCs could live at home, but I don't see how we could afford it just now. Nor do I really know if it's what I want, but as I said: am worried on the impact this level of stress and arguing at home has on the DCs.

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 15:16:47

grin At "fairly normal", that makes lots of us

Wd counselling help or between yourselves listing what works/doesn't work so fir example the marking of occasions being on yours..

Also each having one w/e morning "off"? Rest of the w/e is family time.

Finally, it really is so much easier with older dc, time will pass.

Ikeameatballs Sun 05-May-13 18:11:59

You really need to try to sit down together and work out what your priorities are as a couple, how much "me" time you both need; for hobby or whatever, how much time as a couple and how much family time.
It sounds at the moment like you feel that your dh gets to devote all of his free time to a hobby whereas you are trying to cram lots of household/work stuff into your free time. Spelling this out might be helpful but I wouldn't try to sidelime hour dh's hobby, it sounds like he probably needs it for his mental health, but try to carve out some time for you as well.

I would however strongly question you "he doesn't get much from this set-up" which I missed on first reading. He gets to share his life with you and his dc. That should really be a reward beyond any others. I gives me the message that you don't feel particularly loved or valued by your dh, I think this is the root of the difficulties. You need to let him know this.

mamaneedsarealitycheck Sun 05-May-13 19:13:29

Thank you again.

I have tried talking to him. Have actually used the MN standard "fair division of labour in the household = same amount of personal time" smile

Every time, he admits that it's not fair that I get none. We agree it's not acceptable, he tells me I should be more assertive, I try to be more assertive, he tells me I'm rude, we're back where we started. Having said that, I'm trying to get out for half an hour, three times a week. I feel like I have a good excuse in doing C25K as it's important I stick to the schedule.

Maybe it'll get easier when the DCs are older, but I worry they'll end up viewing me as the boring moany cow DH sees me as.

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