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Dh is not 'engaged' with our life - how to live like this?

(96 Posts)
fattyfattybumbum Thu 02-Jan-14 23:26:15

I'm at a bit of a loss at what to do next in my relationship. My dh and I have been married for 11 years, together for just over 13 in total. We have three children under 6. It's quite difficult to describe what I'm finding annoying, but I'll try & explain it.

He is, can be, a loving, caring husband, although most of this side of him is shown to our kids these days, which I know is a bit inevitable when they are so small & demanding. Our sex life is virtually non existent, probably 2-3 times a year, which I find increasingly upsetting & frustrating.

For at least 3, maybe a lot more years he has gradually become more and more detached from me, our life.... It's both emotionally and practically. I feel like I do all of the work in the relationship and our lives, all of the 'thinking'. I do probably 80% of the housework, budgeting, planning holidays, sorting out school stuff etc etc. He will do things I ask him, but not consistently, and will forget to do basic stuff like put kids clothes in the washing basket. He does generally do the kids bath / bed routine & will often give them breakfast. I asked him everyday for about 2 weeks to give the kids a drink with their breakfast, and everyday he just said "oh, I forgot"...

We both have quite demanding jobs, although I work 3 days a week and he is part time, so I accept that I take a larger share of the housework.

To put it bluntly, it feels like he just passively participates in our life. It would never occur to him that there are things that need doing outside of the day to day routine, for example making sure the kids have shoes that fit, or organising a birthday party. Everything we do I have thought of, every holiday, every day activity, everything that happens for Christmas etc.

I have talked to him lots of times about this, I've been upset, angry, I've decided to try & not say anything & just support him & see if he becomes more engaged. I've been so cross with him today because I've been trying to get organised with decorating one of the children's bedrooms (we bought a falling down wreck because he promised he would be engaged with working on it, but has done virtually nothing in the 4 years we've had it), and he decided he didn't like the colour I had chosen, despite the fact that he's not been involved with planning it, nor will he do any of the work in the task.

Don't get me wrong, he can be an amazing person, but I feel like I am on my own in a relationship.

Does anyone know what I mean? What can I do to try & make things better?

fattyfattybumbum Fri 03-Jan-14 00:54:01

I am the giver & initiater of everything, whether it be affection or practical jobs!

Tonandfeather Fri 03-Jan-14 00:58:47

I'm presuming the poster doesn't much fancy having sex with someone who treats her like a combination of his mother and the hired help. Control freak? I can't believe that a woman who by necessity has to do all these things because a selfish, lazy man won't, despite every attempt by the OP to talk to him reasonably about it, gets called a control freak.

Jesus, what some men get away with just because they are men!!

No-one can say he definitely isn't or is having an affair. I'd want to rule it out though.

Do you, poster?

DoesBuggerAll Fri 03-Jan-14 01:02:02

Re the decorating etc. he works full time and maybe he doesn't want to spend so much time i.e. every non-working hour doing DIY. Perhaps he just isn't very good at it.

Also he may be stressed - bringing up children especially while working full-time is hard on a man too. At home you are the boss; at his work he may not be. He comes home from work, having had to do as he is told all day by some asshole and then you boss him about! FFS women are meant to be good at working out people's feelings etc, where is your empathy?
Getting back to the stressed bit - stress can often make it very hard to make decisions or organise and think about things. Your husband sounds like he is under a great deal of stress if you ask me. He needs your support, why not ease off with the pressure, let your high standards slip a bit and enjoy life with your children whilst they are still young?

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 03-Jan-14 01:05:55

Why is it the OP who's being asked to do all the verbs?

"Try this" "Back off from that", meanwhile the man does not have to put any input or thought into his marriage or family life - why on earth not?

Support is a two way street and it doesn't sound like OP is getting any from her husband, yet your suggestion is that she contorts herself further trying to make her husband seem happy, all while raising 3 children, working and running a house.

Stuff that.

nameequality Fri 03-Jan-14 01:07:14

DoesBuggerAll - are you a man? If so you have a very low standards for your fellow males.

Standards can't be lowered to include committing to give DCs a drink at breakfast FFS!

nameequality Fri 03-Jan-14 01:07:54


Tonandfeather Fri 03-Jan-14 01:08:54

Are you a man who does bugger all?

This is what the poster says: "We both have quite demanding jobs, although I work 3 days a week and he is part time, so I accept that I take a larger share of the housework."

Even if that was a typo about him working part time - if this poster added up the hours she spends working at home and in her job, it looks like her hours are far and away longer than this lazy, disinterested man's.

That's if all his working hours are actually spent at work. I suspect they are not.

fattyfattybumbum Fri 03-Jan-14 01:15:41

Ton, thank you for your responses, they, and the others are helping me think about this. Firstly, I really don't think he is having an affair, he is pretty open with his phone, and he is rarely anywhere I don't know about, I know he wouldn't be advertising the fact if he were, but I don't think he is.

Secondly, I realise this might sound contradictory, but I don't think he's trying to be lazy or selfish, so much as he's just away in his own world.

Doesbuggerall, the overall message of your post is what id like to achieve - a happy, enjoyable family life. But while I'm skipping through the meadow, who will notice my kids are limping because they have outgrown their shoes?

Tonandfeather Fri 03-Jan-14 01:21:46

Strange isn't it that if a mum was away in her own world and her husband did virtually everything, no-one would hesitate to call her lazy and selfish and no way would her husband be described as a control freak.

I think you're being far too soft on him because he's a man.

What does he say about sex and not showing you any affection?

fattyfattybumbum Fri 03-Jan-14 01:27:38

We've not talked about it for a while, but when we did he said he was feeling overwhelmed & stressed with work & having 3 small kids. I understand when he says that, and it makes sense. I can relate to that, and I do empathise.

My youngest is stirring, so I think I'll be busy for a bit, but I'll come back in the morning...

Thanks again

Tonandfeather Fri 03-Jan-14 01:35:58

And you're not overwhelmed and stressed doing all that you do?

I'm surprised you're still standing.

What do you get out of this relationship that is just for you?

Do you really think he's got no sex drive?

When did you last know by his actions that he was in love with you?

Shellywelly1973 Fri 03-Jan-14 01:36:48

My Exdp was very similar to how you've described your dh.

I asked him to change, he didn't. I asked him to leave, he did.

I don't know the answer to your problem but now I'm totally on my own...

He's totally stepped out of family life, he had so little involvement, it was easy for him to turn his back on our 3 soon to be 4 dc.

Communication? Time? nights out? Maybe these thingswould have helped us not to split up, do you and your dh do anything by yourselves?

Take care.

MinkBernardLundy Fri 03-Jan-14 01:39:18

OP does your dh go on the internet a lot?

Possibly on MN?

Does he by any chance post under the nn of doesbugerall hmmwink

AlthoughOP your last post reads like his list of woes you can empathise with because they match precisely your stresses only you have the addedstress of trying to drag him along with you whilst also keeping the ship afloat.

If he has issues withstress perhaps he needs to do something to address that head on instead of using it as an opt out clause.

That may sound a bit harsh but ifyou were having stress issues would you expect him just to deal witheverything? or would you think you had better do something to sort yourself out?

thatlldonicely Fri 03-Jan-14 06:40:53

Hi fatty i have been here - feeling like i am doing more & more to compensate for the lack of contribution dh is making - thinking he is under pressure with work etc - churn out the same list of house jobs year after year ( which i thought was a joke) turns out he has been unsure of his feelings for me for some time - at least a year maybe longer and had not been saying anything as didnt want to cause any hurt - every now & then when i nagged him about not doing stuff he would jump into action for a day or so & then stop. he has said this was mainly to stop any futher conflict as he didnt want to verbalise what he was feeling. i gradually noticed that when we were on holiday without work pressure he was still distant from me although not the kids and things came to a head a couple of days before xmas when i was telling him i was feeling ignored and and he said yes we need to talk - i do hope this is not what you are going through - you need to get him to talk to you if my DH had opened his mouth ealier maybe we would not be in the position we're in now - i have a few threads running- you may wish to have a look -

Pumpkin567 Fri 03-Jan-14 06:52:31

You need to leave him to it a bit more. Take a day off every once in a while go away for the weekend. Make me understand how hard it all is.

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Fri 03-Jan-14 06:59:06

My dh is a little like this - he has total tunnel vision, and doesn't engage with things if he doesn't think they impact on him.

What helped me was our children getting older. Now they will ask if there is no drink at breakfast, or tell him if they feel ignored. This has, in turn, helped him to see things more clearly.

TheCrumpetQueen Fri 03-Jan-14 07:09:30

My dp is like this and admits it hmm says he would happily sit back and let me do everything but knows better.

He will do housework if he sees it needs doing (emptying/loading dishwasher). But with our ds he's not great. If he's crying he asks him over and over why he's crying hmm he's 13 months. He doesn't think he might be tired or hungry, he will wait for me to do it which I now have put a stop to.

Apparently women need more sleep than men because we multitask and do ten times more in a day

TheCrumpetQueen Fri 03-Jan-14 07:10:33

But it very much feels like he's still a single bloke cohabiting with us sometimes which I hate and does upset me. He had a mum who spoilt him and did everything for him.

Hopefully I raise ds to be a better man

Yogii Fri 03-Jan-14 07:38:35

"Standards can't be lowered to include committing to give DCs a drink at breakfast FFS!"

IME thirsty children will ask for/get a drink.

Sit back, do nothing, and you'll see that things will in fact happen. Maybe not to your standards or timescale, but they will happen.

Longtalljosie Fri 03-Jan-14 07:43:07

I hate it on threads like this when people who haven't got the same problem pile in and say "it's your fault for allowing it to happen". Really? It's not the bloke's fault for, you know, actually doing it then? No-one is responsible for someone else's behaviour.

SanityClause Fri 03-Jan-14 08:02:04

You need to speak to him.

Say everything that's in your OP.

You can't fix this on your own. If you are doing something wrong, he needs to tell you. And you need to tell him what you need from him.

But I really think that if you just give up and wait for him to start taking responsibility, you'll just end up with two adults who are sitting around doing nothing, instead of just one.

Joysmum Fri 03-Jan-14 08:10:55

As my hubby says, my standards are different to his. I want things done before they get too bad, hubby will do things when he notices them. I'm a planner to minimise effort and problems, hubby deals with crisis management (which is often the result if his lack of planning) and he's blooming good at it.

I don't wait for him to see what needs doing, I tell him. It's not him being lazy or indifferent, he simply doesn't see the world the way I do.

He'll say he needs to clear out the garage and it'll take him all day and he'll feel pleased with himself, I'll say I'd never let anything get that bad in the first place as I tidy up as I go!

Is it because he's a man? All I know is I could never do his job, I'm rubbish at crisis management before I plan ahead and am good at it.

dashoflime Fri 03-Jan-14 08:15:13

I think the housework is important but the lack of affection/sex might be more important.

I know a lot of the times when DH and I have had out worst/most frequent arguments about housework have also been the times when we've not been having frequent sex.

I think your sense of rejection is making the housework issue seem much worse.

Tackle that first- then bring up the housework in the post coital glow wink.

Sisterelephant Fri 03-Jan-14 08:38:28

My Dp can be this way but we're 4.5 years in and have 1 ds.

I suffer with anxiety so get myself into such a tizz when things are not done straight away. On days when DS is being particularly fussy and not napping I get very stressed when I can't get things done. Dp obviouly doesn't have these issues, but will happily climb through mess instead of tidying up, , use a mug for a soft drink - instead of washing up as it just doesn't bother him.

Days out which are rare in this weather are planned by me, getting him to do anything without me asking is impossible. Don't get me started on Christmas/birthday presents!

The mix of my anxiety and his lack of initiative led to lots of arguments, I got some good advice on here about biting MY tongue at times, accepting that he doesn't do things my way, and if he DOES do things I ask, just ask him to do more leave notes/reminders around. It's been a few months for us and it's ok so far. I still have times when I've asked him to wash up and he's sitting playing Xbox, and replied he'll do it after. I have to really bite my tongue so I don't snap at him to do it now!


MrsSnail Fri 03-Jan-14 08:40:20

My ex was like this, very good at planning/ doing the stuff he found interesting and important, rubbish at the rest. Even if he did something when i directly asked, it would be half a job. think cutting the lawn and then leaving the mower out for a week, while it rained. We talked and tried a lot of stuff but nothing worked, hence the 'ex' part

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