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Passive Husband

(56 Posts)
Elmia Mon 03-Feb-14 10:19:30

Currently at my wits' end; exhausted and not sure of the way forward.

Have been married to husband for nearly 10 years and we have two daughters 8 and 6. I am at the stage where I cannot deal with my husband's passive nature regarding every matter in our lives, or take on yet more responsibility. However much I talk to him about how I'm feeling, and how I feel he needs to step up 'to the plate' as a husband and father nothing changes.

The thing is I feel as though I have married a wife rather than a husband - and a 1950s one at that. While my husband is good with the children, cooks, and does the shopping every now and then he does absolutely nothing regarding any other aspect of our family: managing the finances, planning the future, organising the children and the home, ensuring that things get fixed and sorted (and I'm not talking DIY -rather every day to day issue).

Basically he just does not initiate or take responsibility for anything - which of course means it all falls in my lap. One indicator is that he does not have one single household bill in his name, and has absolutely no idea about any of the household expenditure (or even how much we owe on the mortgage). He doesn't even open the post from the building society when it arrives - as he knows I will deal with it, file it, action it. We recently were in the process of moving - and I had to deal with every single aspect of the mortgage, solicitors, estate agent etc etc. It got so stressful that I made the decision to pull out (the new house also needed lots of work and I just knew that he would not initiate or oversee any of that). I have to manage everything - as he just does not know how, to or want, to take charge.

I have tried to encourage him to take responsibility. We need a new sink in the bathroom - yet 6 weeks on, he still has not sorted a replacement. It's painful - as I know I could have sorted it within a couple of hours - a few phone calls, and an order.

We both work full time, yet I feel resentful as he gets to do all the 'nice' stuff with the girls, while my time out of work is dealing with 'life' stuff that needs sorting.

His passiveness is driving me to distraction. Had it not be for me we would not have ever bought a house, or even had children, as he initiates nothing in our lives - aside from taking the girls for a cycle ride at the weekend.

I am just exhausted. Yet whenever I bring up the subject he goes on the defensive and says he feels attacked. He just can't see how draining it is for me to take on board all the big stuff.

I have thought about divorce as our relationship just plods along and is wrong in so many other areas (he also shows no love or affection, and only takes me out for a treat on my birthday once a year - and we haven't had sex for 5 years) - yet I would even have to initiate and manage that whole separation process, as I can't even imagine him filling out a form, let alone seeing the process through from his side. And even counselling doesn't appeal - as I would have to organise that and do all the work. I also worry that my daughters are witnessing a dysfunctional family - where the husband does nothing except the nurturing.

I just feel empty, drained, and hacked off. I so want to be take care of.

Jan45 Mon 03-Feb-14 10:52:08

Poor you, it does sound exhausting and extremely frustrating. I hate to say it but I don't think he's like this out of spite, I think this is just the way he is, the problem is you can't accept his way and I don't blame you, I don't think many women would be happy with such passiveness, or dare I say it, laziness.

For me, the lack of sex for five years would be enough for me to move on.

DIYapprentice Mon 03-Feb-14 10:56:05

Oh you poor thing. I think this would have driven me around the bend long ago. After this length of time I seriously think there is nothing that can be done - he doesn't want to change, and there is nothing that can make him.

I'm sorry, but if it were me I'd be out of there, knowing that this would be the very last time that I would have to take responsibility for anything to do with him.

lavesh Mon 03-Feb-14 10:57:28

Wow, how have you managed for so long? It sounds terrible. I would suggest you going to Relate on your own to sort it all out in your own mind.

Do you feel responsible for him - i.e. if you weren't there then you'd feel like somehow it would be your fault if he didn't get things done?

Elmia Mon 03-Feb-14 11:07:20

Guess I've managed for so long because I'm very capable. I'm very independent in terms of capabilities (I'm self employed - so am used to looking after myself).
The thing is he's a good person - and yes, his behaviour is not out of spite. But I just feel as though I deserve being looked after.
I put a lot of his behaviour down to him not having a father around when he grew up - he didn't have a role model and his mother did everything for him. I detest my MIL as I blame her for creating such a passive son.
Thing is my daughters adore him - I feel more than me - as he gets to spend the time with them (doing the nice stuff). I've just got to the stage where my resentment has boiled over into the everyday - so I'm grumpy and short tempered.

DCRBye Mon 03-Feb-14 11:10:03

My aunt has a husband like this and it had bred resentment over 30 years where she's now barely civil to him and he hardly reacts at all. Everyone feels sorry for him, like she is an ogre, but I guess she is just tired of the passivity. I can't offer you any great input other than to say you should do something about it now, rather than letting it continue.

brusslesprout Mon 03-Feb-14 11:12:19

I feel your pain, you have described my BF down to a tee!
We don't have children but I imagine if we did we'd be living a similar lifestyle to you guys.

lemongrassandginger Mon 03-Feb-14 11:17:34

poor you. I fell in to that passive role in my old relationship but I left in the end, it was all a bit 'doll's house' with a bit of abuse thrown in. But it sounds like you are encouraging your h to deal with things.
I think you need to delegate. Put some bills in to his name and tell him it's his job to deal with x and y from now on.

looking back, I wanted more responsibility but I didn't want to be overwhelmed suddenly, as I was scared of failing.

Delegate slowly. One new responsibility every few months. Rome wasn't built in a day and he sounds like a decent guy.

You know, what you say about your h not having had a father around when he grew up makes me think hard. My son watches me do everything, assemble furniture, climb up ladders to readjust the dish at the back of the house, change fuses etc............. confused interesting to think that he may grow up thinking that all household responsibilities are female ones ! you've given me food for thought here.

bassingtonffrench Mon 03-Feb-14 11:17:41

My DH is a bit like this. it drives me bananas so you have my sympathy. However, we have sex and are close friends in other ways. to me the latter are bigger issues.

bassingtonffrench Mon 03-Feb-14 11:20:17

I do put my foot down occasionally. for example he wouldn't sort out a pension so I stopped my direct debit into his account until he got one (mortgage comes out of his account). Basically he couldn't make a decision until the cash machine refused him money. but he did it in the end.

brusslesprout Mon 03-Feb-14 11:22:43

My OH managed to do his car tax online by himself the other day, that was an achievement! confused

Actually not technically true as I helped him find his V5 documents, crazy crazy!

BurningBridges Mon 03-Feb-14 11:27:07

I think the fact that you haven't had sex for 5 years is the no. 1 issue but I can imagine that with doing everything else, you haven't any energy to sort that out either. What would you like to happen? Do you still love him or is it over?

lemongrassandginger Mon 03-Feb-14 11:31:30

oh I missed that!

You've become his mother. He is back in his childhood where a woman (his mother/ you / whoever) does everything for him confused

Is his passivity a very passive form of rebellion?

lemongrassandginger Mon 03-Feb-14 11:34:15

Maybe he wants out of the marriage, and rather than verbalise that and action it as you'd say, he just cruises indefinitely. it's a rebellion alright but just a really passive slow implosion

Superworm Mon 03-Feb-14 11:35:00

I'm not sure passive is the right term for his behaviour.

He sounds lazy and childish. I'm sure is capable of doing these things, he is just happy for you to take on all the responsibility of your lives. No wonder you haven't had sex for five years.

Kaluki Mon 03-Feb-14 11:35:01

My DP is a lot like this - he has a very controlling overbearing mother and sister and his Dad is very quiet and laid back so I think he naturally takes on that passive laid back role by default. It drives me mad at times.
The lack of sex/affection is a bigger problem imo.

RubySparks Mon 03-Feb-14 11:41:15

Same here, took 3 months to fix the shower as I decided I wasn't going to sort it out... Difference is DH has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in a way it is a manifestation of his illness. Doesn't mean it doesn't drive me mad though, oddly been better recently as he has had to deal with ageing parents, illness and funeral and he wanted to do that by himself, however he is on medication now so maybe that has made a difference.

Dahlen Mon 03-Feb-14 11:54:13

I'm sorry you feel so bad. flowers

FWIW, I divorced my XH who had strong tendencies like this. Lovely, lovely guy but I decided I wanted a partner, not a surrogate child. IMO you probably won't be able to change him. People rarely change, and those who do tend to do so only when they want to, not because someone else forces them too.

you could try reading ^Wifework^ - although your relationship is something of a role reversal in practical/finance terms, what she has to say on "listening" and "organising" your day-to-day lives will really resonate with you I think. That will hopefully help you to find a way to express how you feel to your DH in a way that he can understand without getting defensive about.

Ultimately, however, I think you may have to be prepared to threaten to leave if he doesn't pull up his socks, which of course means being prepared to make good on your ultimatum.

Either that, or you accept this is the way it is for evermore.

Good luck with finding a solution you can live with. brew

AnyFucker Mon 03-Feb-14 11:58:28

I don't see what is in this for you

You are a single parent anyway

if you divorce, you will still do everything, he will still have to pay towards the care of his dd's and he can still take them on a cycle ride at weekends

meanwhile, you could find yourself a life

kindlefire Mon 03-Feb-14 12:02:16

Could he have very low testosterone ? Would he agree to having it checked ?

Elmia Mon 03-Feb-14 12:08:09

I guess I don't know which way to turn - as we can never discuss it, or I feel as though I can never air my concerns - as he just flies off the handle and says I'm 'attacking' him. Which is why nothing has been resolved. I don't want to get divorced if I can possibly help it - as I worry for my daughters. And living in London we'd end up really financially struggling.
Guessed I'm doomed either way.

Dahlen Mon 03-Feb-14 12:13:23

Flying off the handle and accusing you of attacking him is actually a very aggressive reaction. It's certainly not a passive one. It is clearly designed to shut down any discussion about his behaviour. He has no intention of changing and believes your feelings on teh matter are insignificant.

That's not so much the actions of a passive, gentle man as they are the actions of quite a seasoned manipulator.

What do you think he would say if in response to his flying off the handle you said, "Either you get control of yourself, listen to how I'm feeling and work with me to find a solution to this, or I'm ending the marriage."

AnyFucker Mon 03-Feb-14 12:16:18

Sounds like he is a master at passive aggression. Which is aggression after all.

LizLemongrass Mon 03-Feb-14 13:28:06

You can recover financially. I didn't walk away with half the re-sale value of the home less solicitor's fees! no, we weren't married so I was totally screwed and I just walked away with nothing, but I've recovered, well, to a place where we are secure and we have enough. There are better off folks but we're in a safe modest place near the new school (totally relocated). I'm so glad I just pulled the plug on my old life and re-started. Now, every move I make, I'm feathering my own nest.

I agree that he is aggressive!! He is training you to never challenge him. And it's working isn't it!? you know you're not being unreasonable, but if you raise a reasonable argument, he says he feels attacked. REsult? you never challenge him, not even with reason! hmm, very clever.

LizLemongrass Mon 03-Feb-14 13:30:26

ps Why don't you want to get divorced?

Do you prioritise appearing to be happy over actually being happy?

You sound so capable, you can't possibly think you won't cope as a single parent! you work, so it might be a rough patch, but you'll get through it!

So, seriously, why don't you want to get divorced confused people have such a knee-jerk aversion to divorce as though it were the worst of all evils. NO, staying in a dysfunctional relationship, doing everything, with NO voice, that is worse.

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