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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?

newnameagain Thu 15-May-14 19:59:59

dozie you are right in that stressing over it wont help. I wish I could just "let it go" but even when I manage for a bit I still end up becoming angry and resentful eventually. Maybe I can work harder on hanging this about myself.
Unfortunately organising doesn't seem to be getting easier as they get older. the 16 and 14 yr old are involved in lots of activities and need ferrying all over the place and dh often forgets when one of them has something on and double books or just forgets...hmm

kins I'm am completely sure I need to make change sin my behaviour too. After all there are 2 of us in this relationship and I am trying hard to look at my own behaviour in the relationship and improve that. I have made some changes already and am going to counselling so hopefully that will help. I don't think it will resolve this issue though...
rather than "training" each other though I would have hoped parenting would have been more about both of us learning together as a team and supporting each other. Maybe I was just very niaive and overly optimistic. sad

kinsorange Thu 15-May-14 09:47:45

I think that to a certain extent they can be trained to care too. Though this is harder. At the very least what is gained by leaving them to it 100% even for a couple of days is that they know just a little of what a woman does that some of them will not have known and certainly not spotted before.
So next time there is an argument, you will know that they know some of what the woman is doing. It will be a big eye opened for some. And they will no longer be able to plead ignorance.

kinsorange Thu 15-May-14 09:45:01

I sure has heck trained mine btw. Anything he was lacking from his childhood, I trained him! Ditto, he had to train me on a few things too. That is what always happens. We do not arrive at marriage or partnership a fully trained package. There are always gaps in our adult life. Best to get them sorted, else it can breed resentment on both sides.
And, from reading mumsnet, we are witness to types of threads like this many times over.

kinsorange Thu 15-May-14 09:42:20

op. You have to want to do it too. It will require certain changes in your behaviour too. And sometimes, that is ultimately the rub for some women. And they may not realise that about themselves at the beginning.

kinsorange Thu 15-May-14 09:40:44

In that case newname, throw him in at the deep end.
If he doesnt work weekends, you hole yourself up in your bedroom for 2 days/go for walks etc. And tell the kids that you are not there too.

To the posters who are saying about training. If he hasnt learnt by now, he needs to learn.

doziedoozie Thu 15-May-14 07:41:18

Hoping he will take on the organizing and remembering doesn't sound as if it will work so no point stressing over it. And the organizing should get less as DCs get older when, if they can't be bothered to get their kit ready then they stop going to whatever it is. As they get older you will have less (a bit) to do.

But I would ask him which task he wants to do - all clothes washing, drying and putting away. All the food shopping, putting away, cooking, cleaning up afterwards. And make sure whatever it is is a daily job not mowing the lawn or anything which doesn't have to be done. And no helping him out.

Agewise your DCs are at their most time-demanding as far as activities are concerned, once older they can get themselves to and from, perhaps even remember their own dates. Also once the eldest can drive they are usually happy to drive younger ones here and there.

Handywoman Thu 15-May-14 07:30:01

Exactamundo. He is an adult, partner, parent. Not a child or a dog!

newnameagain Thu 15-May-14 07:15:34

Thanks all. I Can't really leave for days at a time as dh work hours means he couldn't drop dc at school or collect them, also I've got no where to go and couldn't afford to stay anywhere!
Must say "setting him up to pass, not fail"sounds like what or dog trainer used to tell us, and I've already trained 2 dogs, so don't really want to "train"my husband too!
It's not about training him. It's about him caring enough about us to be bothered to put the effort in really.

SanityClause Thu 15-May-14 06:05:55

So what you are saying, kinsorange, is the OP should treat her husband like a child.

kinsorange Wed 14-May-14 22:57:44

Oh, and dont complain if they have all eaten more takeaway than usual, or he allowed them to stay up a bit later. Remember, the idea is that he passes. Make no mistake, he will definitely be learning that it is a lot more work than he thought it would be. there will be a downside in that he will have found a couple of jobs that he can actually do better or faster than you, but you cant win them all!

kinsorange Wed 14-May-14 22:55:17

Personally, apart from the emotional detachment bit, I dont think your situation sounds so bad at all.


what you do is this. You literally leave for 3 days at a time, from time to time. That way he is forced to do everything. You do it when it is a good time for him [the idea is not to punish him, but to encourage him to see quite what running things involves. And he can only do that if he is physically present and not too distracted by other general life]. But wha you also do, is leave him copious notes. It is a bit time consuming before you go for the first time, writing notes. But I will repeat again, you do not want to set him up to fail, you want to set him up to pass!
So notes, such as, check school bag, check calendar, scouts is on wednesday, kids always have pizza on friday, that sort of thing. And when you come back, you praise him. Even if things are a bit messy, or something was overlooked. Remember, the name of the game is for him to pass.
Repeat every few months.
Also, the joy is that you have had a rest.
The kids enjoy it too. It is fun for them.

Handywoman Wed 14-May-14 22:39:46

My guess is you aren't going to confront this with him while he's laid low with man flu - mate I've so been where you are. Tip-toeing around him, hoping at some point he'll 'step up' to the task. Please organise some 1:1 counselling and get some clarity in your head about what you want out of your marriage. It is ok to want/need support and feel like someone gives a monkeys about your feelings

RandomMess Wed 14-May-14 20:21:47

I would give him the option out of two "chores"

So either:
FOOD: planning, shopping, cooking
WASHING: washing, drying, putting away

But then you really do hand over the entire task and suffer the consequences whilst he accepts it is job and you will not rescue him and whilst he goes through the learning curve.

newnameagain Wed 14-May-14 20:13:11

handywoman it's actually quite exhausting sad I've wondered about possible passive aggressive issues with him before .....

Handywoman Wed 14-May-14 18:51:47

Oh dear, passive aggressive as well as useless eh?


He do have your work cut out, OP.

newnameagain Wed 14-May-14 18:47:55

thanks all.
It's just so sad though isn't it. I feel so alone sad
will continue to mull the situation over.
He now isn't talking to me and predictably is ill (Flu)(otherwise known as the same cold I had last week) so is opting out even more than usual. Ho Hum hmm

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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.

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

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