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Don't feel DH and I are a parenting "team" - relationship suffering

(66 Posts)
newnameagain Mon 12-May-14 20:42:30

HI All,
I'm currently trying to get my life my sorted out! I'm trying to eat better, drink less etc.. and I've also started counselling to look at how possible issues form my upbringing may contribute to my ongoing bouts of stress/depression.
Anyway, one area that also needs improving is my relationship with DH. Trouble is I'm quite confused about how to go about improving it or even if it is possible, so posting here for some views to gain perspective etc..

Apologies if I dont get all the info out staight off, its all a bit muddled in my head!

so, we've been married 17 years and have dc. To get straight to the point I suppose my "main" issue is that I just don't feel that DH and I are a "team" when it comes to parenting. I never have. DC aren't babies. oldest is 15, but we have younger dc too and youngest is 6. I have always flet like this tbh since DS1 was a baby. Now to be fair DH does do a fair bit. He does about 90% of driving them to and from clubs/activities at evenings/weekends. He will cook when he can (though will have to ask me what to cook etc..) He will sometimes hoover/clean when he feels like it/when house is so bad he cant ignore any longer.He does work full time and often does extra work in an evening. I work 4 days a week. I can be more flexible with my hours so I do all school drop off and pick up 3 days a week. DH does school pick up one day, and one day is after school club. DH will OCCASSIONALLY do DIY type jobs but only after LOTS of asking and it can take MONTHS for them to happen. Mostly I will do stuff like decorating etc.. I do 90% of the cleaning, ALL of the washing (and we have several dc so there is a LOT)

and then the bit that gets me the most is I do ALL of the thinking/planning/organising/mediating/emotional stuff/remebering who is friends with who,who has a test coming up etc.../ALL of the planning,organising and shopping for birthday and Christmas presents etc... DH hasn't got a clue when it comes to this. He never knows what is going on at school, despite having as much access to letters that are sent home as me, never knows when one of them is going on a trip etc..
It just really upsets me so much, I try not to let it but the resentment just bubbles up in me and I spend a lot of time feeling angry with DH.

I've tried talking to him but he just doesn't get it. He will always come back with "but I tidy up/hoover/drive them to clubs" which is true, he does, but it's the responsibility of everything else that is overwhelming me. And then we always end up arguing and somehow I then feel bad, that I am being unfair to him.

I have read "wifework" and a lot of it really resonated with me.
But is this just the way it is and always will be. I've given up any hope of him changing now. Im not going to leave him, he's not an unkind man, but tbh I just feel so constantly let down by him and dissappointed it makes it hard to have any positive elements to our relationship.

So..any views? anyone else relate? How can I stop this eating away at me and try to improve our relationship?

NewNameForSpring Tue 13-May-14 18:36:33

I hope he has seen this thread.

What people have recommended in the past is writing a list of all the things which have to be done. Put them into two columns with your names at the top. List your responsibilities.

This can be a powerful visual image for the less helpful partner to see their contribution and how it compares to the other.

Of course, that is another thing for you to do. grin.

I hope you can sit down, perhaps with the above list, and have a proper chat about it soon. He needs to know how strongly you feel about this.

cerealqueen Tue 13-May-14 18:53:11

I agree with the list, I intend to do this when I get back to work as otherwise I'll be doing it all. I think you just have to leave them to find their own way of doing things as well, as long as they don't do it so badly that you have to re-do it. sad.

However, I do find that DP just doesn't listen to me. I've lost count of the times he asks when will Dd2 go into her own bed/be potty trained/go to nursery etc. We have an older DD so he should know this stuff. I grit my teeth and tell him and he'd ask the same thing again a few months later. So now I suggest he research it as if he has to take time to find something out it may stick in his head! He then thinks I am being sarcastic and why can't I just tell him!

Same with meals - he asks the same stuff - what do they have for breakfast, even though he is here at weekends, often does breakfast, he can't be arsed thinking, its easier to ask me. I could cry.

OP, could you go out for a day, where are you based? I'd meet you if you were local!

unrealhousewife Tue 13-May-14 18:56:12

There was a thread a while ago with examples of stoopid stuff men say, eg standing by the dishwasher 'are these dishes clean?' or 'are these clothes dry?'. The trick is to respond with "I don't know". Simple. I use that phrase a lot, also "It's on the calendar" or "where did you see it last?".

Caucasus Tue 13-May-14 19:00:01

newnameagain, having an anonymous rant on a forum is nothing you should be ashamed of.

cerealqueen Tue 13-May-14 20:41:26

Oh, another one I have used when exasperated is, 'I don't know, why don't you ask one of their parents?'.

Somebody on here, on a similar thread said she asked her DP what he contribution he made to parenting and to family life - that might be worth a shot too. You both write a list then and discuss it.

newnameagain Tue 13-May-14 20:56:33

Thanks all for the suggestions grin

The problem with a list is that it isn't so much the "doing" as the "thinking" that is the problem, and as you say with a list I'm still doing the thinking.
I like the idea of responding with "check the calendar" but he would definitely take offence at that and accuse me of being sarcastic and end in a big argument.hmm
Also really like the "ask one their parent's line" but would definitely lead to dh taking offence!

I suppose I just want to feel like me and dh are parenting together. Not that I am parenting and dh will "help" out as much as possible as long as I tell him what to do/when etc...

For example, apart from ds 1's first ever Christmas present when he was 6 months old (he's just turned 16) DH has shown NO interest in any Christmas or birthday presents for dc. I have planned/saved/shopped for them all.I know its just a small thing, but is the accumulation of everything like that that makes me feel very alone.

I think dh probably does genuinely believe that he is doing his fair share. But I just cant seem to get him to grasp what it is that upsets me. sad
I think it affects the dc as well. His lack of emotional connection. I know dd1 in particular struggles in her relationship with him and has told me before she doesn't think he loves her sad which is totally not true, but I can see how she would think that. and that is sad. It is one thing for me to feel that he doesn't love me, but worse when it affects the dc sad sad

RandomMess Tue 13-May-14 21:17:30

This is why I chose it to be the food & food shopping that I delegated. It's one of the few things where the consequences are immediate and affect everyone equally. It's a pretty basic task to ensure your brood are fed.

It does mean stepping back and letting the consequences happen and letting them take the flack for it.

unrealhousewife Tue 13-May-14 21:28:22

My god that's terrible - not even Christmas or birthday presents for the children? What's that about? Why? Even my beligerent old fashioned traditionalist of a partner takes great pride in ensuring they have the best presents we can afford. And he cares, in a blundering way sometimes, about how they feel. Emotional detachment is a big problem in any family relationship - I think he needs to take a long look at himself.

unrealhousewife Tue 13-May-14 21:32:00

And mine was quietly taken aback when I started answering his questions with non-answers - check the calendar, I don't know, where did you last see it, what would you like to do this weekend - but he's got used to it now and has stopped asking stupid questions. I also ignore him when he calls me from one room in another to make him walk round to me and talk to me in person. I also make him look at me when I'm talking to him 'because I need to wave my arms about'.

DaVinciNight Tue 13-May-14 21:42:21

I had that too with DH. The only way I found that is working was to give some responsibility for things and then leave him to it.
So I started by giving him the ironing to do and then left it to him. He had no other choice than to do it if he wanted a shirt and did the rest at the same time.
Then I increased the 'responsibilities' being very careful of never commenting on what he was doing (even if thought it was bad) or taking over/helping him by doing it once in a while (I know if I do it once then it's becoming my responsibility again).
I have a calendar with all the activities/school play/days out with school etc... so I ask him on a regular basis if he has out X on the calendar once he has read the letter from school. I also ask him he is has seen it yet...
in short, I act as if he was a responsible adult, fully involve in his dcs parenting and I am b**y careful that he feels like it.

It worked for us. It took time don't get me work but it did work.

there was also no other choice tbh. OP I felt annoyed, angry at his lack of involvement. I also felt taken for granted. And like he was 'better' than me and didn't need to lower himself down to all that.
So it had to change. That or I was leaving.

DaVinciNight Tue 13-May-14 21:44:11

Oh yes I do the 'check the calendar', usually along the lines of 'Oh I can't remember, have a look at the calendar'. I have developed some sudden memory loss at some point.

DaVinciNight Tue 13-May-14 21:46:34

I think one of the issue is that we, as women, have been conditioned to take over all the house/children related tasks. So as soon as the father doesn't do something, we take over. We also tend to check if it's being done and act as if our partner can't be doing it right/think about it.

The reality is more that they might not do it right the first time but they will the second time when they have had the message loud and clear that THEY are responsible and NO ONE is going to step in for them.

DaVinciNight Tue 13-May-14 21:48:58

new have you told your DH about what your dd has said? What does he think about the fact she thinks he doesn't love him?

Tbh this is a very different issue than his involvement with parenting the dcs. Is he emotionally detached to all his dcs, you, other people?

newnameagain Tue 13-May-14 22:07:25

re the christmas/birthday presents, it's not that he doesn't want dc to have them. Just he would NEVER think to plan/buy anything for them. Over the years I have tried and tried to get him interested in chatting about what we should get them but he has been so uninterested and basically said "fine" to whatever I suggested ansd so rarely come up with ideas basically Ive given up even asking him and just do it all myself. It is dd2s bday at the weekend. I have her presents all sorted - I can guarantee he will not have a clue either what she wanted or what she's getting. tbh it wouldnt surprise me if he had even forgotten it was her bday on Sunday until he asks something like "what are we doing at the weekend"...

re dd1 - yes I have told dh many times how dd1 feels. I have practically begged him to show her more love. but he just says things like "of course I love her" (which I do believe he does) or maybe goes all out with giving her attention for maybe a few days then it is all back to normal...and repeat! sad

newnameagain Tue 13-May-14 22:15:44

any yes, I suppose he is quite an emotionally detached person generally. But I do believe genuinely does care - just maybe struggles to show it?

Trollsworth Tue 13-May-14 22:18:36

I have known a few men like this, and to be honest the only thing that helps is to drop the reins.

"Is my striped shirt clean?"

<<baffle look>> [ shrug] "I have no idea"

"What's for dinner?"

<<vacant gaze>> "ummmmm dunno. Nobody's made any yet. What are you going to make?"

"When do they grow out of X/sleep in their own room/potty train?"

<<indignant tut>> "How am I supposed to remember that if you can't? You're her father!"

newnameagain Tue 13-May-14 22:27:55

I can to some extent I suppose drop the reins. The food idea I could hand over.
But some things I just cant. For example dd3 was on a school trip overnight yesterday and back at 4.30 today. Tuesday is usually after school club and my long day at work and dc go to after school club till around 5 when dh gets them. Now I re-arranged my work days/hours this week to finish early to get dd today (even though technically DH is meant to be in charge of collecting on a Tues) as if left to dh he honestly would not have even realised there was an issue until he turned up at after school club to find one child missing. (incidentally I also sorted all stuff dd needed for said trip, attended the meeting before and packed everything. DH forgot she wasn't even in the house last night!) hmm

Greenrememberedhills Tue 13-May-14 22:56:06

I would be really unhappy that he had the time to Internet stalk me, but not remember the kids schedule.

Handywoman Tue 13-May-14 22:59:25

Spot on, Greenrememberedhills, spot... on...

unrealhousewife Tue 13-May-14 23:02:35

Trollsworth has it down to a tee. It is actually quite hilarious when you first do this. It completely throws them, you can hear the penny trickling down slowly and then dropping.

The thing about showing love OP - he can do that by sharing with them- skills or time, or just conversations. He has to know that this is important and essential for children and really this is probably the most worrying thing in your posts. He sounds almost as though he doesn't want to accept that he has children at all - that they are some kind of package that you deal with and not he.

You are effectively a single parent and might as well live apart - does he understand this - that if you left you and the children wouldn't really miss him? And that someone else out there might actually appreciate you and them more than he does?

mummytobe14 Tue 13-May-14 23:05:35

just leave him and be done with it. sounds like it has reached its course...

DaVinciNight Wed 14-May-14 10:40:38

The thing is you are actually enabling him to behave like this by changing your hours etc... because you don't trust him.

In my house, a situation like this would have lead to a discussion along these lines:
Me: remember that on Tuesday dc3 is coming back x time. You will need to pick her at y place. I will be at work until 7.00pm. Will you be ok picking her up?
DH: Humm hum I am not sure...
Me: well I can't leave before. You will need to organize for someone else to pick dc3 up.
And I leave it at that.
In the process he has 1- being reminded that there is a change of schedule and he needs to think about it and 2- that it's his responsibility not mine as he is doing the picking ups on Tuesdays (something I had to tell him regularly to start with).

But by changing your hours, going to pick up your dc etc... you have shown that 1- he doesn't need to make any effort, 2- it's not his responsibility and 3- someone will pick up the pieces anyway

DaVinciNight Wed 14-May-14 10:44:23

Re your dd. sadsad

Not sure what to suggest. It feels like they actually don't really matter to him does it? sad

ForeskinHyena Wed 14-May-14 15:57:50

I know you don't want to LTB, but as others have found, if you become a single parent it's actually no harder in a lot of ways. You still do it all, but without that weight of expectation on him and the constant disappointment for you when he lets you down.

My XH never got involved with Xmas or birthdays either. Now we sometimes share the prezzies anyway, but he will also buy a few things specifically from him for their birthdays and he has to buy and write his own cards, he is responsible for birthdays on his side of the family (I send them a card but only he buys a present/sends money) and I do my family (he doesn't bother sending them a card though!)

He now has to do his own shopping planning and cooking, has to make sure he has stuff in for the DCs' dinner and packed lunches on his days (only once a week, but it's still a night off for me!) and he has to do his own washing, ironing etc.

I appreciate that he probably can't see what all the fuss is about, as he's only taking care of one person most of the time whereas I have the 3 DCs most of the time (+ new man who drifts in and out of domestic helpfulness!). But he often moans about not having any spare time (despite 2 days off a week!) so at least I know he is feeling some of the burden of running a home.

I'm also much more ruthless now at just leaving clothes on the floor instead of rounding them all up for the wash and getting the DCs to help with sorting washing etc. rather than doing it all regardless.

So anyway, rambling a bit, but it just shows that these men are actually capable of doing it all, they just choose not to because someone else will pick up the slack for them.

JaneParker Wed 14-May-14 16:03:43

The key is always transfer of jobs. My children's father did 100% of the ashing and putting it away for a few years. I never once thought of washing. Did not know how the machine worked. Just pass 100% of the jnobs and thinking about them and planning them to him.

Eg he could do all the food shopping and cooking and all the buying of food and cooking it. You could do all the washing. Just divide it up fairly.

In our case he had had his own house and knew about cleaning and cooking and things better than I did when we married and I am a feminist as is he so we had no inequality issues and it may have helped that I earned 10x what he did I suppose too - money being power etc.

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