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Can things get better?

(24 Posts)
Traurig Mon 17-Nov-14 13:51:36

There are so many things wrong with my marriage, I don't know where to start. Resentment has been building up on both sides for so many years that we can't get through the day at the moment without sniping at each other and the atmosphere at home is horrible most of the time. When I'm alone, often I'm a wreak, I can't stop crying with sadness about how our life has turned out and I don't know how to fix it. I don't want to divorce. Although sometimes I don't know why, I do love my husband and we have a young child who I don't want to grow up in a broken home. But then I don't know how we stay together and make a happy life together for our child if we can't stop jumping down each other's throats.

The main issues as I see them are:

My husband has a very quick temper and will blow up about things that wouldn't bother other people. This means I spend a lot of time walking round on eggshells or doing things to try to please him. He can also be verbally very nasty in an argument. I've told him I hate the way he speaks to me yet he continues to do it.

Since having DC, my labido has fallen through the floor and although I'm still physically attracted to DH, for some reason I just can't bring myself to have sex with him. We've had sex two or three times in the last year. I know this is unfair to DH, I don't mean to reject him but for some reason, when he starts to initiate sex, a wall comes up and I just can't do it. As a result, I find I daren't go to him for a kiss or cuddle as this just leads him to think I'm up for more and I end up rejecting him again so basically there's very little affection in our house at the moment. I've tried to explain that if he just let me take the initiative and instigate things, it might happen more often. It's not like he's a sex pest or anything, I suppose I should feel grateful that he still wants me after all this time. When we have had sex, I've enjoyed it, I just don't know why I don't want it more often.

I don't feel like he has been as supportive as he could have since our DC arrived. I have had to make all of the parenting decisions as any time I ask him anything, his stock response is "I don't know". I don't know what to do a lot of the time either, it's not like these little creatures come with an instruction manual but someone has to get on with it. He has been, up until very recently, very hands off and I suppose I feel resentful about it. It's not like he has even stepped up his game with jobs around the house to compensate for not being as hands on with our child. I do feel like I've been left to do everything which is probably another reason why our sex life has suffered. I feel like a servant around the house so subconsciously, I won't be treated like a servant in the bedroom.

We're surrounded by his family, we see them most days, they often call in unannounced at inconvenient times. My family live very far away but we visit each other a couple of times per year. I admit, they can be a little bit annoying at times but they are, at heart, good people who love me, my husband and our child very much. I think we notice their little foibles more because the time we spend together is quite intense but due to geography, it's the only way we can maintain a relationship. It's too far to visit just for a day.

I feel under pressure to make an effort with his family yet when mine visit, he does his best to make himself scarce, doesn't make a big effort with conversations and to be honest, sometimes looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. My parents are lovely people, they do have their funny little ways that can be annoying but they don't have a malicious bone in their bodies. I do speak to them a lot and always go to them for advice which has been a bone of contention throughout our marriage. My husband thinks I should rely on them less and I think he would be quite happy just to see them once per year but I adore my mum and dad and can't imagine my life without them. I enjoy their company and wish I could see them more often. They have been my rock throughout my life and it upsets me that although his family are allowed unrestricted access to our lives, I have to tread carefully with him when it comes to making arrangements with my family.

I could go on but I'll stop now before everyone falls asleep. (If anyone is still reading!) I'm just so unhappy with so many things and I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment. I have suggested relationship counselling to my husband and surprisingly he has agree but I'm scared that if I fully explain to him how I feel, there'll be no going back. I just don't know what to do.

Traurig Sun 23-Nov-14 23:06:39

I know my initial post is very long and reading it back, sounds quite pathetic but I would appreciate any advice anyone is able to give.

mrsbluemuffin Sun 23-Nov-14 23:52:28

Hey Traurig,

Yes sound really unhappy.. You have your answer right here I'm just so unhappy with so many things and I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment. I have suggested relationship counselling to my husband and surprisingly he has agree but I'm scared that if I fully explain to him how I feel, there'll be no going back

Simple. If you can not change a situation even after counselling and all, just call it a day and move on for the sake of your dc. I'm speaking from experience.

Good luck, you'll be ok flowers

britishbakeoffblues Mon 24-Nov-14 00:20:34

Is it any wonder you don't want to sleep with your husband when you have all this resentment toward each other?
If he doesn't support you and speaks nastily to you, why do you feel guilty not sleeping with him?
You sound exactly like I did 18months ago. I left my exh and am much happier and my libido returned!!!

redexpat Mon 24-Nov-14 00:41:18

You do sound very unhappy and the lack of sex drive is almost certainly a result of this. However, i think it sounds fixable if you are both prepared to listen, acknowledge the other persons views, and comprimise. It will take time, Rome wasnt built in a day. Can you go to relate?

bunchoffives Mon 24-Nov-14 00:57:05

So the main problems are

he has a bad temper
you walk on eggshells
he is nasty and viscous in arguments
he pressures you for sex
he does no childcare/equal parenting
he does no housework/equal responsibility for chores
he has established no boundaries with his family's demands
he is unwelcoming to your family
- in short he does not respect your feelings or opinions

You obviously aren't very optimistic that he will respond well to hearing how you feel or to you making demands of him. For that reason I think you are right to be worried about the outcome of counselling.

Are you prepared for there to be no going back? How would you feel about that?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 08:00:27

Sorry OP but what you've got is 'a bad husband' and 'a bad marriage'. There are plenty of indicators of emotional bullying in the brief description and that's a miserable way to live. I think the hope that things will get better is just - like a lot of bad relationships - keeping you trapped. I'm especially worried that he's trying to alienate your parents and cut off your support.

Suggest you start thinking about independence. Also... talk to your parents. My guess is that, if you said it was over, they would be incredibly relieved and very supportive.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 08:02:42

BTW... don't go for counselling with a bully. They usually have no intention of changing and will cynically use any sessions in order to justify themselves and get personal ammunition that they can use against you. Consider personal counselling instead to help you work out why you're still there.

Joysmum Mon 24-Nov-14 09:30:16

What is stopping you from separating?

If you're worried about the future, rather than worried about losing what you have, then I think that's a sign you should consider separating.

Tbh, I think there's so much in your situation that he'd need to change and the question is, would he?

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 12:01:11

Thank you everyone for your responses. Bunchofffives, when you break it down like that, it doesn't look like there's a lot to save which scares me.

I don't know what stops me from leaving. I know it may sound stupid and pathetic but I do love him, sometimes I don't like him very much but we have over 20 years of shared history (friends for a long time before getting together) and he has been such a major part of my life, I can't imagine him not being part of it.

I want our child to grow up with both parents together. Although I know this will do more harm than good if we can't sort out our problems. I've waited so long to have a family (infertility issues) the thought of having to be a part-time parent kills me. I don't want to be handing my child over for part of the week and not being able to see them or have any say what happens to them. (I'm not a control freak and I do trust H to do his best by our child, I just don't want to miss anything iyswim).

My parents are fully aware of the situation and I think this is what makes my husband behave the way he does around them. He doesn't know to the extent of which we've discussed our marriage problems, though he's not stupid, he knows I confide in them and I suppose this must make him feel uncomfortable. My parents are never funny with him, they always treat him in a friendly and caring manner, they love him and want our marriage to work but have always said to me that if I am unhappy, they will do whatever they can to help me make a life on my own. My dad has said to me for a long time that there is a power struggle in our marriage, husband wants to dominate me and I'm not one to be pushed around (or so I thought, it would seem over the years I have been ground down somewhat). My husband was brought up in a very traditional setup, house full of men, mum didn't work and did everything for her sons until they moved in with their partner/wives who were then expected to look after them as their mother did. (As lovely as she was, she ruined her sons!) I have always been very independent, I did fairly well academically and got myself a good career and up until having our child, I worked full-time in a job that I suppose was a bit all consuming so I was too busy to notice the cracks starting to appear in our relationship. My husband happily admits he'd love for me to be a house wife. The problem is, we can't afford for me to do that (nor would I really want to) and I think this has caused a lot of friction. It certainly does on a domestic front as he's not at all proactive when it comes to house work which leads to a lot of rows as although I now work part-time, my workload has barely decreased, I just have less hours to do it in whilst trying to manage looking after our child and running the house. (Hence my feelings of resentment, I'm expected to be the little lady at home who waits hand and foot on her man but then I'm sent out to work in a stressful job that makes it's own demands on me).

It all sounds very bleak but when things are good, we do get on great. He is very affectionate and tells me often that he loves me (although a little less recently) the sex issue has only become a problem in this last year since having a baby and it upsets me just as much as him that I don't want it, I miss the closeness too, only he's the one who is having to deal with the rejection.

I'm sorry I'm rambling and going on for so long. It has helped me to get some of these thoughts and feelings out which makes me think that counselling really is the only option for us. If we can't sit down and talk through these problems, one of us is going to say or do something that we won't be able to take back. I think my husband needs to hear how I feel, when he has asked me to tell him what the problems are before and I've tried, he gets so upset and angry, I've not dared to continue but I think with a third person present, I'd feel more able to explain how I really feel. I do feel bullied at times and he can't see this, he has laughed when I've said that to him but maybe a third party to help to make him see that my concerns are valid and justified. I am in no doubt that I am not an angel in all of this, he has spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for me to finish my work and I don't doubt at times he must have been lonely and I regret that. I know I can be impatient with him and I know I don't always take an interest in the things he does, usually because I'm too busy thinking about what work I have to do for my job or what domestic things I have to sort out. If he helped me more on the domestic front, I could get my work done quicker and we'd have more time to spend on fun stuff as a family.

Thank you again for listening to me and for responding. I think the hardest part is admitting there is a problem because when times are good, I convince myself that the problems we have aren't that significant but obviously they are. Thank you

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 12:05:01

In response to a previous poster - as to whether or not he can change? I don't know. I think we both need to change and I know I want our marriage to work so I'm willing to. I feel less emotional about the situation today than I did when I wrote my original post and I think the only thing for us to do is to get some counselling, try to change things then if we can't make things work, as much as I hate the thought of it, I'll have to start making plans for a life without him in it. As my dad said to me earlier today, would I want my child to be a miserable as I am at the moment? No I wouldn't so I have to lead by example. Thanks again everyone.

Joysmum Mon 24-Nov-14 12:05:35

I think that's the problem. So many people measure their relationships on the good times. In reality it needs to be the opposite, a good relationship can only be reliably measured on how it is when things are tough.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 12:14:46

This is not a problem of comprehension. He understands very well how you feel because you've told him on several occasions. He's not listening because he has no motivation to do so and no respect for you or your point of view. He is in charge, you are subordinate .... who the hell are you to have an opinion?

A lot of people in bullying relationships make the mistake of believing that if they could only find the 'key'... a form of words, different behaviour, a counsellor to explain things... the bully would suddenly see the light, slap their hand to their forehead and all would be well. A lot of victims of bullying say they are 'no angel'... and then rationalise the bad treatment as being brought upon themselves. That's also a trap. Finally, bullies are never 100% bad. If they were, they'd never persuade anyone to be with them in the first place. By staying with him waiting for the next good time all he's taking from that is 'it's OK to treat me like this'.

I'd have a heart to heart with your Dad. Few fathers would actually stick their neck out and offer assistance like that if they didn't think things were really, really bad. The advice to families worried about members who are being abused is.... 'stay close'... 'keep the communication open'.... 'don't tell the victim to leave but wait for them to ask for help'. And that's precisely what your parents are doing.

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 12:17:42

You're right Joysmum. One of the things that saddens me most is when life gets tough, I go to my parents for support because I know I can talk to them about anything and they give me good advice without getting emotional or angry. I can't talk to my husband and he says he doesn't feel like he can talk to me. He also doesn't have anyone he can talk to when things get tough, it's not how the men in his family deal with things and I think that's why he gets so angry because he bottles things up. Not making excuses but just trying to rationalise things. I know he doesn't like it that my default setting in times of trouble is to talk to my parents but I don't know any other way to be, we've always been close. They have always loved and supported me but also not been afraid to tell me how it is if I'm out of order. They certainly don't side with me to make me happy, if they think I'm in the wrong, they'll tell me but not in anger and not nastily. Should I rely on my parents less? Don't get me wrong, I'm not on the phone moaning all the time, I'm not running to them every day with a drama but if I am upset or worried about something, I will talk it through with them as I value their opinions. Is that a problem or is my husband trying to distance me from them because they give me strength to stick up for myself and they are not afraid to say when they think something is wrong?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 12:27:46

He gets angry because it gets him what he wants. Not because he bottles things up. By getting angry he intimidates you into silence. He doesn't like you talking to your parents because they are a lifeline.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 24-Nov-14 12:48:10

What do you get out of your relationship now?.

I do not like the sound of your H at all and his family of origin sound very pushy and disrespectful of any boundaries. Like family, like him now I daresay.

What he tries works and works well against you. This is all about power and control and he wants absolute over you. It is not your fault at all that he has decided to embark on his own private war with you. Actually such men hate women, all of them. He does not like you speaking at all with your parents because he knows that they are your means of support.

If you were to read "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft you would find him in those pages. His behaviour towards you is abusive and smacks of control.

Do not do any joint based counselling under any circumstances; he will manipulate the counsellor and use such sessions to demonise you further and make it all out to be your fault.

What do you want your children to learn about relationships here, they are really seeing a dysfunctional role model of one.

Re your comment:-
"I don't know what stops me from leaving. I know it may sound stupid and pathetic but I do love him, sometimes I don't like him very much but we have over 20 years of shared history (friends for a long time before getting together) and he has been such a major part of my life, I can't imagine him not being part of it".

Perhaps a misplaced combination of fear, obligation and guilt stops you currently from leaving but that should not ultimately stop you from leaving this man. Also you are falling into the "sunken costs" fallacy trap (i.e. over 20 years of shared history) and that is causing you also to make poor relationship decisions; you forget that the damage has already been done. I think there may also be some issues re co-dependency as well and all that has to be addressed by you in sole counselling sessions.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 24-Nov-14 12:55:41

I also doubt very much that he would respond at all favourably to any counsellor particularly if he fails to manipulate them around to his way of thinking.

I think Traurig that it is only when you are completely free of this man will you actually realise the full extent of his control on you. Such men do take years to recover from and you will need a lot of support going forward (I would also advise enrolling on Womens Aid Freedom Programme). You are most fortunate in that your parents are looking out for you; embrace their support and use them as a springboard to make a new life for yourself.

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 13:12:37

Oh god Cogito I know what you're saying is completely right and it's so upsetting. How have we got to this point? I love him and want us both to be happy but I don't know how or even if I can fix this without lying to myself and settling for life as it is. I know all evidence points to the opposite but I believe he is a good man at heart and does have so many good qualities. But the question is can the good points ever outweigh the fact that essentially he bullies me and he's can't see that how he behaves is wrong.

Again I'm making excuses but it's how his dad behaved towards his mum, it's how he was brought up to behave. Can that learned behaviour ever be reversed or am I just holding on to hope when really there is none? Is it really a lost cause?

I don't even know how I would start to break away. I have no support locally, other than friends who, as lovely as they are, would be able to offer little more than tea and sympathy. I doubt he would leave the house, he has nowhere to go (although his family live locally, they have nowhere to put him up) and I don't have any savings of my own, in fact I am in debt after uni and then years of spending to try to make us happy. (I know this is so so so stupid so please don't berate me but I thought nice holidays and things would make us happier. I'm keeping on top of my debts whilst trying to get some savings together but I'd never be able to afford to run the house in my own, especially now I work part-time. There's no option to go back full-time for the very foreseeable future). I know if I was desperate, my parents would try to help me out financially but I'd hate to ask and they wouldn't be able to help me long term. In fact they don't know I'm in debt and I'd be terrified of them finding out. It's the only thing I have kept from them, I suspect my dad knows as I've hinted at it but he would have no idea of the extent. My husband wouldn't be able to afford to live on his own and support me and our child. As unhappy as I am, I wouldn't want to see him ruined. I couldn't pack up and go back to my parents (although they have offered) as they live in another country, my husband would never allow me to take our child and also I'd have to leave my job which means I wouldn't be able to sort out my financial situation. I also doubt I'd be able to get work in my current field over there, though that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing as I wonder how much the pressure of my job contributes to my general unhappiness. It's all such a mess. All I have ever wanted is a happy marriage and family.

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 13:20:05

Thank you Attila, I crossed posts with you. I have a lot to think about and some big decisions to make. I'm thankful that people are taking time to comment on my post and I appreciate your support. I never really considered our relationship as abusive, I just put it down to the fact that we're both a bit hotheaded and stubborn so we clash a lot. It's only since discovering mumsnet and reading the posts on here that I really started to question our situation. It upsets me to think of my husband as a bully because he can be the most loving, generous and caring person you could ever wish to meet. There's just something that must be wrong in the combination that is the two of us. I don't want my child to grow up with parents who are vile to each other.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 13:24:18

Unless he lived in some kind of isolated community on a prairie, your husband has had plenty of opportunity to see and experience adult relationships that are nothing like the one modelled by his parents. It may be learned behaviour but, if it wasn't working out for him, he wouldn't do it. You said at the outset that you're a wreck, sad and can't stop crying. Is he the same? Doubt it... A bully is not a good man, I'm sorry.

You don't have to go straight from where you are now to separation and divorce. It may not even be a lost cause. But now you can see what is going on, you have a little time to get your act together and you have to be strong. No more tippy-toeing around. No more crying all the time. No more spending money trying to make this miserable fuck happy. You're wise to his tricks....

Then take legal advice and do some proper research about property/finances/access to children rather than guessing. Be honest with you Dad about the debts because that seems to be a particularly big barrier to your future plans. Which country are you living in, where is your DH from and where do your parents live?

Traurig Mon 24-Nov-14 13:43:10

Thanks Cogito, I've read many of your posts over the last year to other people asking for support and I think you and the others who take time out to offer advice and support are wonderful.

You're right, I need to toughen up. The person I am at the moment is not someone my close friends, or even I myself would recognise. I went to see my doctor about an unrelated issue recently and ended up in tears. She's a very perceptive woman as she told me she thinks I'm very good at maintaining the appearance that I'm happy. I have got an appointment to see her again in a few weeks so maybe if I open up to her a bit, she'll be able to point me in the right direction for some support. My friends would be shocked to read this thread, whilst my best friend knows things aren't always easy, we're very good at putting on a show.

I really can't tell my dad about my debts, he would be so disappointed in me and I just don't think I could take that at the moment. We're not talking hundreds of thousands, think more the average price of a new car. I can pay it back and I am doing but it will take me a few years before I'm completely debt free. Being sensible with money is so important to my parents but I've made some bad choices and it's my responsibility to put it right.

I don't really want to say where we live (I'm sure you're not asking for postcodes smile ) but let's just say we're all in English speaking countries with a stretch of water between us. I would love to move closer to my parents, in fact years ago we planned to but in time my husband has been less and less keen on the idea. I'm sure we all can figure out why.

I'm not usually a wallower and I don't think wallowing is helping my state of mind. I need a plan. I'm going to talk to my doctor, sort myself out with some counselling. I'll think about whether we'll go together. I think we need to just once so I can tell him how I feel without fear of his temper (he's not the kind to hold on to the anger, as quickly as it bubbles up, it subsides if I back off). Like Cogito said, I need to see a solicitor/citizens advice or someone to find out how I stabs legally/financially.

Most of all I need to toughen up. Crying isn't doing anything other than making me miserable. I always thought I was such a strong person, I need to find that strength again. Thank you everyone

Handywoman Mon 24-Nov-14 13:48:38

Traurig 2 years ago I could have written your post pretty much word for word. The life you describe is suffocating. It is a damaging lesson to your child: that a miserable man (Dad) exerts his bullying and control tactics to force an intelligent, equitable woman with her own mind (Mum), to become silent and subservient to the 1950s lazy, misogynistic, entitled values he grew up learning (NB: values that are entrenched and won't change). These dynamics sometimes don't play out until the arrival of a child, that was certainly true in my case.

I don't know what will eventually spur you to leave this man, but leave you must. At the moment your qualities of dedication and determination (shouldering all the burden, getting into debt) are keeping you in this dysfunctional relationship.

I know you want to both be happy, but he never will... not as long as you express your needs and wants (be yourself).

In my case it became intolerable and I left. It took me ten years. Leaving him was absolutely for the best. It's not until you leave that you discover just how far away from yourself you become to appease an angry, miserable man.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 13:55:52

The debts are your responsibility but they are also a big barrier to your freedom. If you hide them and try to pay them off all you're doing is delaying the day you can be free by a few years. That's a big price to pay in order to save face

Talking to your doctor is probably a good first step. There's clinical depression which can happen to anyone and then there's environmental depression which is triggered by living in a stressful environment, plastering on a smile and trying to keep horrible secrets. Chances are that, if you eliminated the latter, you'd be in perfectly good mental health.

bunchoffives Mon 24-Nov-14 23:20:24

Traurig, your posts are all about what you could do to try to retrieve the relationship.

But the fact is, unless your 'D'H is thinking the same way all your efforts will be pointless. You can't fix a marriage on your own. It takes two.

As Cogito and attila say, he's unlikely to see your marriage as needing fixing let alone changing when the status quo benefits him and he won't agree that there is anything wrong with that.

Also agree with above - be very wary of couple counselling, experiencing your innermost confidences being turned and used against you is very very soul-destroying.

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