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Just can't make him happy

(63 Posts)
lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 11:55:42

Long time lurker here, hoping for some clarity and not sure where to start.

Married for 3 years, together for 7, 2 dc 2 and 8 (from my prev relationship). Went to relate for over 6 months, things haven't changed. No extra maritals or anything dramatic, we just can't make each other happy.

Sometimes I look at other couples laughing and joking together just being natural around each other, poking fun etc and it makes me feel utterly heartbroken to know I'll never have that. DH is very straight laced and cynical, I find it difficult to be myself around him. He's very uncomfortable in himself and anti social, I am very outgoing, never find it hard to talk to new people. He won't talk in public, like he's in commuter mode permanently, scared someone might look at us.

Our weekends are always ruined by his moods, a simple 'are you ready to leave?' when we go anywhere causes an epic sulk and he says he's being picked on, behaves like Kevin the Teenager basically. Constantly moaning at the kids to be quiet (they aren't badly behaved, just normal happy, excitable children). He talks to me like I'm an irritating work colleague most of the time, conversation is a struggle. We have no mutual friends and he won't come out with my friends. He doesn't do anything around the house at all although I can't really complain about that too much because although I'm not quite Waynetta Slob, I'm no Martha Stewart either. He tells me I'm beautiful a lot but we have sex probably less than 10 times a year. He doesn't seem bothered at all. Its awkward and I've stopped seeing myself as someone that anyone might find attractive ever.

He resents that I can't earn as much as he does, hates that he's the 'breadwinner', hates his job, hates the responsibility and no matter how many times I explain that working daytimes would mean I'd earn less because of the childcare costs, he doesn't seem to get it, just thinks its unfair and brings it up time and time again. He hates that I love my job. But then he says that he loves and wants his family more than anything.

We've talked about things a lot but not much changes, we need to move but that won't happen for a year or two. I'm so confused.

This weekend, I was trying to talk to him, just chit chat, we were in town, he just walked off pushing the pram ahead while I was halfway through saying something. He does that a lot but for some reason, this time it just upset me so much.

Despite all of this, he's a good man, he loves the kids, he loves me in his own way. I feel like I'm living half a life.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 12:27:27

It's not your job to make him happy. What you're describing is exceptionally poor behaviour from a grown man and he sounds like a bully. The way he alternates this miserable behaviour with statements like loving his family more than anything is a red flag for emotional abuse because it's an obvious lie. And 'loving you in his own way'..... what the hell does that mean? Is that what he tells you? This is the only type of love that's fit for you, so deal with it? Also sounds emotionally abusive.

What worries me especially is that you can't be yourself around him. It means your behaviour is being manipulated by his attitude. You don't see yourself as attractive because he's convinced you that you aren't by withdrawing affection.... another classic controlling technique to crush confidence. The reason Relate wouldn't have worked is that he doesn't think he is the problem or needs to change

You've got two choices here really. Either you LTB and start over with your DCs, making a happier life for yourself in which you are valued and not dragged down by someone else's behaviour. Or.... you make your own life within the marriage, turn him into a bit player, do your own thing, socialise without him, ignore the small stuff and CHALLENGE the bigger stuff at every opportunity. I don't actually recommend the latter.

SolidGoldBrass Tue 30-Jul-13 12:31:41

He's an absolute dick. He doesn't want you to 'make him happy' because he gets his pleasure from making you miserable.
Bin him and walk away. Don't waste any more time on him. He won't change because he doesn't want to.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 12:43:45

Oh god. Those are scary replies. I don't know what I expected.

I think what I've been doing is the latter, I work mostly every evening (funnily enough, people often say oh, that's a shame you and your dh mustn't get to spend much time together, but it doesn't bother him at all. Nor me anymore. He is busy anyway, even when I am home). We live pretty separate lives. I spend too much time looking at crap online, he studies, I go out with my friends a few times a year, so does he, separately, family days are strained with the moods.

He agrees with everything I say when we talk about this stuff and says he's not happy either. I think he's depressed because of his job so he's looking for something else but it has to be more than that. He tries to cuddle me a lot, mostly I don't want to be cuddled though, it's just uncomfortable. I'd rather be listened to.

Jan45 Tue 30-Jul-13 12:48:06

But are you really happy, it doesn't sound it, it sounds a bit like you've made your bed so have to lie in it. Only you know if you want to work at this but he must change his attitude towards you, it's extremely disrespectful, no wonder you feel alone and picked on, he is picking on you constantly, like it's your fault he can't make himself happy, sorry but unless he changes his attitude then I don't see anything getting better for you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 12:54:12

Saying 'I'm not happy either'.... 'me too', in effect.... is just turning everything back to be all about him. It's a cop-out and another way to ignore your feelings. Have you ever had a conversation where you try to get from agreeing it's crap to trying to do something positive about it? If he's depressed, for example, has he ever offered to see a GP and be diagnosed or treated?

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 12:56:08

No I'm not. I do feel a lot like that. I didn't get married thinking that I could opt out of it. I'm not religious or anything I just think that marriage is something to be respected not just thrown away. I'm totally prepared for things to be a bit tough while the kids are small, that's normal, rough patches, they're normal too but he doesn't see that at all, thinks that we are the only family who isn't living on Walton Mountain. I don't make a lot of money, he'd have nowhere to go. All our plans for moving the kids for a better life for them would be gone. I'd have no car, my business would collapse, just about the only thing I'd have is a roof over our heads. I've been there before and it's not pretty, even less so when I'd be a single parent to 2 children with different fathers. I don't even know what I want.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 12:57:42

Cogito, he says he'll do anything to make things better. We've been to counselling, he's agreed to look for another job, we've been planning a move that can't happen for another year or two money-wise.

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 13:00:11

He really doesn't get it, does he? Why the hell would you want to cuddle a person who walks off while you're talking to them?

He doesn't sound depressed to me; he sounds angry. He dislikes his job but he seems to be staying in it, whilst resenting you for enjoying yours.

By the way, when he tells you you are beautiful, is that when he wants to have sex with you?

All I'm getting from your description of his is negativity (on his part.) That must be very depressing to live with.

Have you thought about a life apart? Have you looked at what you'd be entitled to regarding tax benefits? You might find you're just as well off as you are with him. You might find you get on better if you're living apart.

ARealDame Tue 30-Jul-13 13:00:13

He sounds awful. I think you are probably wanting to leave, and are just wanting to get some support that you would be doing the right thing.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 13:21:12

Yes, that's exactly it Imperial, why would I want that?!

He tells me I'm beautiful a lot, he very rarely wants sex, it's mostly me that instigates it so it's definitely not for that reason.

I haven't thought much about living apart, it hasn't felt like an option until I got a reply here. It's not something I would do without a lot more thought. At the moment, it just feels like this is bringing out the worst in me, I feel lazy, unmotivated and a bit of a failure. I want to be happier, I want to be a better mother, I want to see my friends more, I don't want to feel like I'm being selfish for trying to build a business for myself instead of just getting a job (I earn the same/more as I would if I did that anyway). I'm just frustrated and feeling like I'm reaching a time in my life where I'm beginning to accept myself more and I'm wondering why he doesn't. I hope that makes sense.

MadameBlavatsky Tue 30-Jul-13 13:22:37

How is he trying to make you happy? Where are his compromises, his effort? You can't save your marriage alone if he isn't prepared to put any effort in to saving it. You sound so unhappy and I don't blame you!

It's ultimatum time, but I think cutting your losses is less heartbreaking than the death by a thousand cuts that you are currently enduring.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 13:25:32

It makes perfect sense that you want to be the best you can be and feel frustrated & weighed down by this bitterness and resentment of this millstone around your neck. It's not selfish in the slightest to expect equality, respect and enthusiasm from a partner. In a good relationship, both parties would be encouraging each other, both would want the same things, both would be supportive. In a good relationship 1 + 1 > 2....

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 14:27:34

His compromise was to send me a monthly breakdown of where his money goes each month, bills etc as we have separate accounts and he'd refused to clue me in on any finance stuff for years prior to that. I'm not sure what mine would be though to be honest.

When you write it like that cogito it makes perfect sense, it feels very complicated in reality though and I'm not sure I'm there yet, if I was ready to give up on things I'd be sure and I'm not. I can't carry on like this much longer but the thought of breaking up my children's home breaks my heart, my eldest has been through too much already and already struggles because of how difficult things are between me and ex v v bad indeed.

Phalenopsis Tue 30-Jul-13 14:30:51

People often talk of 'dealbreakers' within relationships. This is the one for me:

I find it difficult to be myself around him.

All the other stuff you've mentioned is bad but if you really can't be yourself with your husband, you're finished. You can have all the counselling you like, he can do as much washing up as he likes etc. but if you're fundamentally incompatible which is what this sounds like then I don't believe you have a future together. I know that's harsh thing to say. Sorry.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 14:33:17

"my eldest has been through too much already and already struggles because of how difficult things are between me and ex v v bad indeed."

Was your exH abusive as well?

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 14:38:07

This sounds really pathetic but a lot of the time I don't even know what 'being myself' is. I worry about telling him things I like or want to do in case he sneers that them. I see lots of couples together at home as part of my job. They seem so easy and relaxed around each other, like they're friends. We aren't friends really. I wish we were. Any conversation we have can't be just chatting, there has to be a reason for talking about something and a 'solution'. I know that's probably a man thing generally but this is all the time not just about problems.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 14:41:17

yes he was, he didn't hit me but was very abusive I have no contact with him at all other than via email to sort contact arrangements, it's a complicated and difficult situation, I hop you don't mind me going into it too much, I don't want to be too easily identifiable.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 14:53:01

Of course I respect your privacy. I only ask because sometimes, after a really bad relationship experience, it can skew your perception of what a normal/good relationship looks like. A man that doesn't behave exactly the same way as the previous partner can therefore look quite good by comparison - and you can miss the subtle signs that he's just a different kind of shit.

Also, exiting an abusive relationship often means you're vulnerable, looking for reassurance, affection and some people deliberately seem to select those characteristics because it makes them feel superior. Stop being vulnerable, start having opinions, make a success of yourself, question their behaviour, and they don't like it. They want you to carry on being the grateful sparrow with the injured wing because that makes you controllable.

I often point people to this article which examines some of the more subtle danger signs.

Crinkle77 Tue 30-Jul-13 15:15:36

Has he always been like this? The reason I ask is that his behaviour sounds like he might have autism or aspergers.

slipperySlip000 Tue 30-Jul-13 15:50:49

I wondered the same thing, too, Crinkle77, not that it changes anything in terms of the fundamental question. Moods, sulks etc. are not acceptable, and Lonelywife you are not responsible for making him happy. It sounds as though there is no emotional intimacy or partnership here at all. I hear you, OP about the upheaval for your eldest, but remember this: breaking away and being truly yourself is very, very, good for your children. I did it recently. The article Cogito has linked to is very good.

Good luck OP.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 16:04:54

Thanks for the article Cogito, there were a couple of things that rang true, the resentment stuff and obviously, the intimacy test. I find it difficult to see him as some sort of abuser though. Ex was and they couldn't be more different. DH isn't some big man looming over me, I could knock him out without breaking a sweat wink but I do take your point. And it's true that my perception of these things is probably skewed a bit. I think he's a good man that is very childish and doesn't know what it means to be a partner to someone. When I was having our lo, I was s***ing myself in case anything went wrong, if it did there's no way he would have spoken up for me properly in labour, he'd have been too shy/embarrassed about making a scene/whatever.

I think he has always been like this. He was very romantic when we first got together but then isn't everyone?! There is definitely no intimacy or partnership, and I've began to desperately crave that the last year or so.

lonelywife Tue 30-Jul-13 16:09:02

Sorry, also to add, I think it was different when we first got together as everything was my responsibility, my home, my dc etc He often says that this was when we were happiest and wishes we could go back to that, i.e. when we had more babysitting time and the bills weren't his responsibility.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 30-Jul-13 16:17:00

It's the motivation for and impact of the behaviour that is the crux of the matter. Anyone can be childish, sulky, insecure, shy/embarrassed, moaning all time, defensive, antisocial, undemonstrative, strait-laced .... nobody's perfect. But if you suspect their behaviour is ramped up specially for you in order to keep you on the back foot... it's wrong. Equally, if living with this behaviour means you are miserable or starting to feel insecure yourself... it's wrong.

If you think he has always been like this and if counselling sessions haven't made any impact then this is as good as he gets. Which brings you back to the two choices .... LTB and cut your losses or stick it out and stay miserable.

AgathaF Tue 30-Jul-13 16:17:14

Does he act in the same way to his family, work colleagues, friends? Walking off halfway through a conversation, making no effort to engage, moody, sneery and sulky?

I can't really see what you have to stay for. He doesn't sound like a good man to me, just the opposite in fact. He sounds like a complete emotional drain.

How is he around your older child? Do they have a close relationship, or is he as remote to your DC?

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