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Please help clarify my thoughts, driving myself insane!(18 Posts)
Hi, I've been trawling through lots of posts on here and in many cases it confirms my belief that in life there are no fixed answers, situations are so specific to individuals involved. However! I spend my life going round and round in circles about my marriage and whilst I'm not looking to be told LTB or not (I don't think!), just wondered if other people could helpfully share their perspectives on this.
I've been spending a lot of time lately reading up on, and thinking about, the concept of happiness. Mainly because my husband doesn't really make me happy but at the same time I love him dearly and I do know that I would very much hate to bring our children up in separate homes. Having them grow up with us not together would make me massively unhappy, kind of a no win situation.
I hope I'm making sense. I want to be able to view all the positives in my life and focus on what makes me happy. I think this is because I have pretty much decided to accept that although my marriage isn't great, it isn't terrible. And in my heart, I know I would really struggle to put my children through a separation based on that. My middle child in particular has mental health issues and is under CAMHS and I'm not prepared to add his angst because my dh doesn't really want sex anymore (and other issues which bother me). My dh also suffers from depression and has many issues (lacks in confidence, can become reclusive for periods) but I want to support him, in sickness and in health and all that.
I grew up in a difficult step family (my father died when I was young) and sometimes I feel maybe I'm clinging on to my marriage for those reasons. I want my kids to have that stable life that I didn't. My DH is not a bad person, he is good to the children, does thoughtful things (in his own way) for me, but doesn't really need my friendship or any emotional or physical affection. I do, but I think if I fill my life with other things I can be okay without it. Or can I? Guess I'm struggling to say how can I put myself first for once to the detriment of my children when the grass might not be all that greener anyway?! We have financial pressures too which don't help and we both have busy full-time jobs. I'm a manager at work and I seem to do too much of looking after everybody else at work too. I'm trying to step back and help people to make their own decisions but as an organisation we've been through a traumatic time (kind of a bereavement but not) and I've been doing a lot of looking after and mopping up tears.
I'd love someone to look after me, but I don't want to lose myself in some kind of fantasy where we separate and my knight in shining armour comes along and we live happily ever after. And then I realise that life is not like that, but I have just thrown away a marriage that is 'good enough'.
Gosh this has turned into a ramble!! Not even sure what kind of clarity or response I'm looking for but even writing out all of this has been therapeutic. Some of the posts around what your partners do to make you feel special got me thinking, and the posts around do long term relationships have to be mundane. It genuinely gave me joy to see that so many of you have got happy tales to tell. Just made me think, perhaps I accept my life and seek my happiness in other things, till my children are older and dh and I can decide what to do then. My youngest is 5 though.....
Thanks for bearing with me if you got this far!!!
Well I left home at 26 so that's another 21 years of this.
Are you OK with being unhappy and miserable for the next 21 years of your life?
How old will you be then?
What will your chances be of starting again?
Yes, you have a responsibility to your children. But... do you want them to think that this is what their future relationships will be like.
That this is normal?
Does your H ever hold your hand?
Tell you he loves you?
Cook you a lovely meal once the DC have gone to bed?
Spend an evening just playing games and being with each other?
This is YOUR life too and you only get one go at it!
If you want to 'settle' then that's fine too.
But really think about being unhappy for the best part of the next 20 years and then decide.
Sounds like your husband has made it pretty clear there's no relationship between the two of you, effectively you are both co-parenting and nothing else.
I couldn't live like this, even for the sake of my kid and no amount of hobbies would help either, you are not getting any affection or attention so what is the point of being with him when you could be out there meeting someone new.
Yes it will be awful if you separate and your kids won't like it either but they will get over it and probably will end up with two happy parents rather than two parents who are just getting on with it.
Have you spoken to your H about how you feel? How do you think he feels about your marriage?
The trouble with marriages like yours where it's a case of rubbing along ok is that you can sustain it for years as long as there are no outside influences having a big impact. The moment something major happens - a redundancy, a death in the family, the meeting of someone who sets one of your hearts racing - the whole edifice can come tumbling down like a pack of cards. And that can be more traumatic than a civilised separation.
If you really want to stay in your marriage I'd recommend that you do your best to get your H to realise how serious this is and work together on fixing things.
At the moment you don't feel cherished; you feel tolerated and needy - would you want your DC to feel like that with their partners? What you are teaching them about relationships is something you need to consider alongside the usual practical concerns of money and housing. You're also teaching them a certain passivity in life, which is not a trait ever likely to bring anyone happiness or progression.
It's to your credit that you are thinking so much of your children. I wouldn't counsel you to LTB if you think you can improve your marriage. In fact I think getting your H to wake up to this and finding a solution together is by far the preferable solution. But neither would I encourage you to stay if you can't improve things. Longer term I think that would be more damaging.
Thank you, useful food for thought. We do talk about it, probably too much! We go up and down, my life is like a rollercoaster. I guess that's why I want to make a decision once and for all. Do we separate and unsettle the children or do we decide once and for all this is good enough, and keep trying? I know no one can answer that for me. It's a good point about what example we're setting the children, I do worry about this.
I don't think being in a happy relationship defines my happiness completely though, even if we separated. I get happiness from different things, if your marriage is just ok', is this okay too?! Who knows.
He tells me he loves me lots, he will have sex for me (not that often, but he seems to enjoy it), he shows me he cares in his ways (not necessarily mine i.e. he does loads of housework so I don't feel I have to do it all... actually after a long week at work as long as the loo is bleached I'm quite happy to let a lot of it slip!), he takes equal share of cooking etc (then why shouldn't he, we both work full time)? He used to be very shouty and angry at the children, and he has calmed down a lot when I asked for a separation last summer. I do appreciate the changes he made, but sometimes I think the damage is done and it's too late. I admire people who put themselves first, I don't think I'd have the confidence....
It's not really a partner's role to make you happy. However, being with the wrong partner or with a partner for the wrong reasons can make you unhappy. That doesn't mean anyone is a bad person necessarily, just that there are too many incompatibilities to overcome.
If you've already reached the point of separation once then you've done what my friend calls 'crossing a mental bridge'... i.e. you've detached.
Good point Cogito about the crossing a mental bridge, I was so definitely done and told him so last summer. We then went to a wedding and hearing the vows and everything something kind of shifted and before we knew it we were trying 'again!!'. Sometimes I think I live my life waiting for my marriage to end as it has been bad so many times, perhaps I have detached and crossed a bridge. The frustrating thing is now he is trying harder than ever, so I don't feel that the reasons I would have had to go legitimately in the past would stack up now. Think I could only look my kids in the eye about separating if I had left a terrible marriage, which sometimes it was, but is seems okay for much of the time now, we can rub along quite nicely. That's when I come back full circle to if it's okay, perhaps I accept it for what it is and take happiness and pleasure from other aspects of my life. It's difficult and I do feel there are no clear answers.....
In a personal relationship, as opposed to a courtroom, 'legitimate reasons' don't really apply. Just because someone is trying hard, you're under no obligation to stick around. Just because it's not 'terrible' by other people's definitions, that doesn't make it 'good'. And as for your kids, as well as anyone else for that matter, the only explanation you ever need to offer is 'it didn't work out'.... and they should respect your judgement.
You deserve to be happy, and your kids deserve to have 2 happy parents, not ones who just rub along together for their sake. Kids tend to know when there are problems, even when you pretend there aren't. You are not having your needs met in this marriage, and it won't get better. Can you really see yourself going through the rest of your life without sex, affection, friendship?
I won't say "LTB", I never do, although sometimes any reply that isn't "i hope you work it out, good luck!" is interpreted as LTB, so, the thing that stands out for me is that you say you love a man that makes you happy.
I think you should think about what love means to you. Is it duty, obligation, respect, or is it support, happiness, sense of freedom? And when you've figured out what love is,, then look at what happiness is!
It's smple for me to type but I don't think you need to put a label on your feelings for anybody, even your husband. I think you're entitled to put your own happiness before somebody else's convenience. So if you're not happy, you have the right to make changes.
Thanks again for replies, such good points. I think the line about what does love mean, and therefore what happiness is so spot on and helps to explain a lot of it. It's my warped version of love in this marriage, not in my heart what I would want a loving relationship to be, probably why I am putting a lot of thought into getting my 'happiness' elsewhere. He is trying so very hard, so we'll see, I want to be 'in love' with him and some of the time I think it can work. However, having read a lot on here lately, the term 'emotionally checked out' seems to resonate a lot.... Really appreciate people's time in replying. Aware I'm not replying to others and offering them any useful advice but feel that with my state of mind I couldn't offer much at the moment! Plus so difficult to get on here, he's not normally controlling but has a bit of an issue with 'screen time'.....!
Crumbs, I have a child on my knee and another yelling in the background. Can't believe how badly worded that last post is!!!! I meant that in this marriage, my version of love is warped, and I know deep down it's not normal, and if I ever moved on, not what I would want to recreate. Plus a few other bits that didn't make sense but can't reword as too much noise in my house right now. I'll go now before I talk more gibberish!!!!
My view is that there are always times in a marriage when we might have doubts, when we're not satisfied with something or too stressed about so many things to really enjoy the relationship you created with your partner.
My partner and I are not perfect in any way. I came to accept that but I also do my best to value the good in him. He's got a high level of responsibility towards his family. He's kind, he doesn't judge people, he's open minded and intelligent. He's my best friend right now, though he is not much into talking about emotions, or feelings. He's more into doing than talking. But that's OK. We are different.
There were many times, and there still will be, when I feel frustrated by aspects of his personality or behaviour, and all we can do in those situations is talk about it, try to be open about what's bothering us about each other. Things might not change straight away but I've seen a lot more compromise from both parts over the years, and that makes me think than the talk and the arguments were not in vain.
When we take the view that being in a relationship is more about learning than about all being perfect and us being ecstatically happy all the time, the pressure for that goal is gone, and we can enjoy more the process of being married.
I'm of the idea that marriages do require a level of work, both emotional and in terms of behaviours, but they also require common values, a common goal. Children always provide a common goal, something you can show your ability to work together as a team. There shouldn't be the only reason to stay together but there's a very important and valuable one.
Looking back on my marriage (now separated) and how things gradually deteriorated and eventually ended, I think I would have been far more vocal and explicit about what I wanted and what was unreasonable about the way he treated me. I would have compromised far less and got out sooner.
In your case you say he is trying hard. Is there anything more he/you/both of you could do? If not it might just be that your feelings are not there and the relationship has run its course. Only you know what to do about that. However I would say you need a lot of strength to end a marriage when children are involved. I am not sure you are up for it yet from what you say.
Sorry for delayed reply but just wanted to say thanks for the last few posts. It means a lot that people take the time to do this. Again useful and thoughtful points raised. We've had a good week with lots of talking and honesty. I'm not ready to throw the towel in yet, it's not awful and too much at stake. Am focusing on not expecting him and our relationship to on its own define my happiness status. Life is so much more than that although I appreciate at its core my marriage will count for a lot of it. We're still trying and that means a lot. Thanks again for all your help.
I'm a big believer in faking it, at least until faking it becomes the norm and you've changed your life.
There are 2 sides to a marriage, the day to day practical, and the relationship itself.
Think about your own day to day life, is it as good as it can be? If it isn't then you talk through what you can change and fake that dream until it becomes normal for you both. That works if you both want the sane thing.
Think about your relationship with your husband exclude the the mundane day to day stuff. How good is it? How would things be for you in your perfect relationship with him? Talk it through, what's lacking? Then you fake it for a while until it becomes normal to you. Is that then enough? Again this only works if you both want to try to make things work.
Faking it highlights whether it's day to day habits and behaviour a that are the issue, or whether it's a lack of a deeper connection that can never be faked.
My own parents had a fabulous faked marriage on the whole and this highlighted how empty it was of the deeper feelings. My mum left and both are happier as a result.
There were plenty of wonderful men out there whom I liked very much, none if them were worth foresaking all others for though. Then my DH and I got together. We only have one life and if you waste it in a relationship that isn't fulfilling then you are foregoing the opportunities to find somebody else you can be truly happy with, or to be happy being single without the disappointment of being stuck in a relationship that isn't right.
So he is trying really hard at the moment. Is that not what you want?
Milly yes that is of course what I want. I don't want to give up, when he tries what we have is I believe, worth having. He suffers badly from depression and has a tendency to easily disappear into himself and not talk and it can be a lonely place for me. Perhaps that's why I've built such a full life outside of our relationship. He doesn't mind me being out a lot as he accepts I like to be busy and talk, he doesn't particularly like to leave the house other than work and running the kids around. There is definitely a deep love and a bind that pings us back all the time. On paper it shouldn't work, we are very different but that certain something pulls us back from the brink every time. I just get so tired of never getting very far away from the brink. I think I get what you mean about faking. It helps. Neither of us are good at relaxing and could stay busy in separate rooms till bed time. We made a point of sitting down together at 9pm though we found it really hard! Now it's (almost) habit and we can sit and talk. I just wish it wasn't such a roller coaster, I recognise that's not normal but not sure what I can do other than keep encouraging the talking. Thanks again for replies.
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