Help with bickering and being unkind to each other(21 Posts)
I'm a regular who has name changed (naice ham, lemon drizzle cvnt etc). I feel so sad about the mess my marriage seems to be in and I just don't know what to do to fix it. I'm sorry this is so long and rambling.
We've been together 8 years, married 3 and have a 19 month old. We both work full time in very busy and high pressured jobs. We have no family living near us and our friends all have young families and busy lives of our own. My DH lost his mum earlier this year in a quick and utterly brutal fight with cancer. It has been a hard year for him especially but all of us.
We are CONSTANTLY bickering. About everything. All the time. It is draining and exhausting and I am terrified about what it is doing to our DS. Of course we try not to do it in front of him but he's not stupid and we all live in the same house. The stuff we bicker about is anything and everything.
DH feels I am constantly picking on him about silly things. I probably am. But I feel that all the minutiae of our life falls to me - getting the car fixed, making sure there is toothpaste in the bathroom cupboard, remembering to pay the window cleaner. All that stuff. I guess I should just leave it for a while and see what will happens, but instead I get stressed and then nag. DH is immediately rushes to the defence and before we know it we are having a major row about who will take the dog to the vet or something equally stupid. Every single time we go anywhere altogether, I have to pack the nappy bag and prepare a snack for DS. It is never the case that I come downstairs from putting on my shoes and they are ready to go with coats and shoes on and bag packed and ready. It drives me crazy that I always ALWAYS have to say: can you get DS's coat, have you checked we have nappies, does he have a drink? Is it me? Should I just accept that is my job??
I also nag him because I'm lonely. I rush home at night to see our son, bath him and put him to bed (DH does mornings so I can get to work). But DH then works late most nights (like coming home 10pm and later) and so I'm then at home on my own, feeling lonely and stuck. I can't go to the gym or meet a friend or do anything else and I'm just waiting waiting for him to come back.
Meanwhile, DH feels he is working like a dog and never has any time to himself (which I do, as he sees it, when I'm home in the evenings) and then he comes home usually to an earful from me and a list as long as his arm of things he should have done but hasn't or things he hasn't done right.
We've had a terrible weekend and a really really awful row this morning. I feel teary and raw inside.
I love him a lot. I want to give him the love and care he needs to get over his mum's death, but I feel so alone in this at the moment and I feel my reserves, my buffers are worn down to nothing. He also loves me. We just are not kind to each other anymore.
What can I do to reset this and stop from going down this apparent rat hole of endless blame and bickering and finger pointing and picking apart of who said what when.
Write him a letter tonight while he's working, put in it how much you love him (DO NOT ATTACK!!) how you're scared of losing 'us' and apologise (BITE THE BULLET) if you feel you've been a nagging bitch. Leave it out in the morning before you go to work. Do you eat together when he comes in? Could you buy a naice bottle of wine/decent beer and his favourite food for when he finishes one night - like a Friday?
It's hard when you think you're hard done by too, the organising and shit, but sometimes you have to bite your tongue and make an effort. I hear myself nagging, sorry, 'asking the same question a few times as they haven't done it yet' -, and it drives me mad. I don't want to be like that. Sometimes it's easier for me to do x, y and z or it won't get done and yes it feels like you have to do everything but for the sake of peace it helps.
Can you get a baby sitter and arrange a day/night over the weekend where you spend time together.
Where you sit down and discuss everything.
You need to write a list of everything you do.
From making sure there is toilet paper to sorting out cars.
Then you need to re-allocate that list so he has a list every week and so do you. I had to do with my ex. He just didn't understand how much responsibility I had and that he had none.
Get a blackboard or wipeboard in the kitchen and write the list of jobs/tasks down and you each cross one through every time one is done.
Men, for some weird reason, like and need lists (not all of them obviously).
Book some counselling/relate sessions. You need to reconnect with each other or it won't end well.
We've already apologised and 'made up' in relation to this morning, but yes I think I can set down my thoughts and apologise again.
I can also try biting my tongue more, but to be honest am concerned I'll just feel resentful that I end up doing the drudge to avoid a fight... Then again, avoiding a fight sounds like a pretty good outcome at the moment.
Avoiding a fight can be a solution! Also when you feel you're both on more of an even keel you can discuss the drudgery sharing more. Just consider using this time to build him up a bit more, later on you can have a turn.
I disagree that you should apologise and bite your tongue in future. You are a partnership, and if one of you feels that they are carrying the other constantly then that's not fair.
Can you both sit down somewhere neutral and list all you both do and agree to both have full responsibility for regularly occurring tasks, with an agreed 'timeframe' of when they need to be done. You may have to compromise and be more relaxed about how soon some jobs get sorted, but if you have a time by which it WILL be done it may stress you less.
We have this issue too. DH his excellent when we are on holiday, together, proactive, knows and sees what needs to be done and just does it. But at all other times I am forced into nagging fishwife mode. Lists and agreed timelines help both of us still like one another at the end of the week.
Yes, fishstix, that is where my head is going. I just feel like other people just sort this stuff out so easily and we are in world war III about emptying the bin! I think DH thinks he just works so damn hard outside the home (which is completely true, and he works far longer hours than I do) that it isn't fair that he then comes home to a whole new set of demands.
I think writing it down, prioritising and setting time frames might help. At least then we are starting from the same point.
I'm cringing with embarrassment about this morning. We were shouting in the garden while my mum (who is staying with us at the moment) was in the living room with DS. An epic parenting and neighbour-friendly fail.
How many hours do you both work? Or how many more than you does he do?
- you do need to allocate tasks otherwise the resentment for being responsible for everything gets too much. I would start small. And think about things that he can do that fit more naturally into his day. So my DH puts a wash on in the morning and I hang it out in the evening. I cook and order food. DH washes up and does the bins (although I will empty if required and DH will start/finish dinner if necessary but only if I ask).
- Once you allocate a task, butt out. I do not get involved with certain things unless DH asks for an opinion or help (and "help" means helping him not doing it for him/taking over).
- we have a list of bigger jobs that we want to get done. At nap time on the weekend, we try to have an hour of bashing on with them on one of the days (and an hour to sit down and relax). We often try to do them together as even if it is something tedious, doing it together is a bit of a bonding exercise and we have a laugh and a chat.
- find a babysitter - there is really no reason for you to sit in every night waiting for him to come home. Provided the house is in a reasonable state, just go out. Find an exercise class or go swimming or something. Or go to the cinema - I love going alone.
- have a nap together at the weekend. I find it improves our mood no end for the rest of the weekend.
I felt like this with my first, with regard to having to do everything in terms of getting ready to go out, nappy bag etc.
By the time the second came along, I don't give a hoot. I am better at it and faster than him at doing it. It's really no big deal for me to do it at all. No more resentment, sorted. If I were you, I would suck this up. Loads of mum steers will want to spear me for saying that, and they probably have a point, but it works for us! When you have one child, you get caught up in so vouch, like packing a nappy bag etc. whereas when you have more children, you chill out so much. So either have another or just accept that one way to start a weekend trip out on a nice note, is not to be pissed off about having to get your son ready.
I also got peeved about being responsible for so much of the house stuff, until DH listed all that he does, and I realised that I was being a bit of a martyr. He did quite a bit. Not as much as me, but a a fair bit.
Oh yes, and absolutely find a babysitter. My DH works very late. However I have a great babysitter who can come by for the few house until DH comes home, meaning I can do a gym class and see friends. Perfect.
Okay, some good advice here. For those who manage to bite their tongues, do you have any good tips just to help me do it. I find that even if there is a little voice inside going 'just let it go, be quiet, walk away', there is a much louder voice shouting "he's being an arse, don't let him away with it"!! But I totally see the logic because I suspect if I was less naggy about it, he would be less resentful and probably would want to help more. We're definitely in a vicious circle.
To whoever asked: in terms of hours out of the house, I do 7.30-6, and he does 8.30 - 10pm at least, so a good 3 or so more hours at work than I do. He also looks after DS in the morning til 8am and I look after him from 6-7.30 when he sleeps.
I probably just need to use the babysitters we have available more often, or make more of an effort to invite a friend over in the evenings, so I feel less alone and annoyed for being alone in the evenings!
He does work long hours. You do too though. Although that extra three hours does take it to another level. Have you thought about asking him to take all responsibly for the garden, car, dog and bins. It's not much, but it's what my DH does (similar very long hours). And then you do the rest. Then there's no arguing over who does what. And what your DH has to do is weekend stuff, so he can't be getting stressed at you for putting stuff on him to do during the week.
As for how I learned to bite my tongue, I didn't learn. I honestly stopped feeling pissed off. It was like a realisation that I am better at the practical care of our children, so why am I flogging a dead horse trying to get DH to do something that is not his strength. Just like the garden is not my strength, whereas it is his. In my mind, marriage is about playing to each other's strengths. It can make for an pretty old fashioned marriage in terms of who does what, but it makes for a happy marriage here at least.
Biting my tongue depends on how hormonal I am! I have found that getting older and/or having older children has mellowed me a lot. I know that little things can add up into big things but just getting on with stuff means I can feel more justified over bigger issues. It's just not worth it - imo. But I don't have a lot of problems as DP does more than I'd expect him to, he's more house proud than me and feels hurt if I turn down his help.
Me and the wife both changed our working patterns to suit our family needs.. She worked in a job that had long hrs, some of which were weekend and anti social hrs..
I was running a business and basically bringing two under three's up single handed and doing the household chores, it became tiring and tbh was wholly inappropriate, so we hatched a plan and now the disagreements have stopped and we both feel a lot more appreciated and not as stressed..
Sometimes we can be too busy making a living and forget to have a life..
You need to get yourselves into a position where you're happy enough with each other to talk. If possible I would suggest taking a couple of days away together (can your mum take DS or stay at your house?), a long drive away assuming you drive. Don't talk about anything important while you're away, just enjoy being together and a lie-in together. Then I always find that chatting on a long car journey is a good way to talk honestly without a) having to make eye contact and b) one of you escaping. Then you can talk honestly about what is bugging you, and he can too. I always assume I know exactly what DH is thinking but often I am surprised by things that have been bothering him.
Of course this might not be possible, but something as close to this plan as you can manage might help.
Thanks everyone. Glad it is not just me, and some good advice here!
My DM has just headed home after staying a few days while we had some childcare challenges. She babysat on Saturday and let us go out with friends, which was lovely, although the worst of the fighting happened on Sunday and Tuesday!
However, I have already booked us an overnight away in a few weeks time as an early Christmas present. Long drive, nice hotel, spa and most importantly a lie in / lazy breakfast. Hoping that will get us back on track a bit!
Enjoyingmycoffee - I think yours is a really good idea. It is pointless to try to assing each tiny individual job, so if we assume that he does outside (including the dog!) and I do inside then maybe that is a fair enough trade and is easy to define tasks!
I think an agreement to be kinder to each other in general is helpful too. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't air your irritations (especially ongoing ones) but if you stop first and think about how it would make you feel to be spoken to like you're about to speak to him - and vice versa of course - it's a good way of not snipping at each other all the time.
DH and I have found the years with small kids a massive strain on our relationship by the way so I'm not being smug just saying what has helped us!
(p.s in my last post I meant to say 'assign' not 'assing'!!)
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