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What to do when there are no good options?

(19 Posts)
LilyLiveredLoon Mon 01-Dec-14 22:48:19

Nc'ed for this. I am going around in circles with this issue and would really appreciate some fresh perspectives.

H and I have been together for 18 years, married for 15. We are both expats from the same country. H moved to the UK for work a couple of years into our relationship. His wish to move here pre-dated our relationship and, although I knew he applying for jobs, I wasn’t really consulted – he got a job, he was going, no real discussion. We continued a LDR for a couple of years, became engaged, I got a job in the UK, we married, I moved here. We have lived here ever since, mainly because H continued to do well in his line of work so didn’t want to leave, and also because we now both have quite specialised careers which would be harder to pursue in our home country.

Fast forward to now. We have 2 primary-aged DCs, born in the UK. I have taken a sideways career move (with large pay cut) and have been lucky enough to secure a great ft post in a niche field, with good prospects for promotion and a higher salary.

My marriage is, I rather suspect, on its last legs. I used to look at H and see my best friend. Now I see a self-absorbed workaholic who dabbles in the good bits of family life when it suits him. Inequality gradually crept into our relationship before and after DCs and now, despite the fact that we both have ft jobs, I do 95% of all things domestic and child-related. I resent him for not pulling his weight as a life partner, he resents me for not leaving him alone to work any time he pleases.

Things came to a head 2 years ago when H admitted to devoting a couple of years of headspace and emotional energy to an infatuation with a much younger female work colleague, which very nearly resulted indiscipliary action against him when it became known. I am quite sure there was no affair, but have gradually come to the conclusion that that is irrelevant, because as far as I’m concerned he was emotionally unfaithful. I came very close to asking him to leave at the time, but in the end didn’t because a temporary separation would have been very difficult financially.

Since then, H hasn’t done a lot to convince me that a) he is over the OW, or b) he really wants to salvage our marriage. He does a little bit more, unprompted, on the domestic front, but these small changes come nowhere near the huge shifts in attitude and behaviour that would be necessary for our marriage to feel like a genuine partnership. Barring a miracle, I expect that at some stage we will separate. However if we separate now, for financial reasons the impact on the DCs will be significant (change of house and school). If we can stick it out a few more years until I achieve promotion, there is a chance we could separate without any of these repercussions for the DCs.

He is also probably, I have come to realise, EA – emotional blackmail, gaslighting, subtle verbal put-downs, occasional angry outbursts. In the past my responses to his behaviour were often not all that functional and contributed to conflict. I have worked hard at changing the way I respond to him and there is now very little conflict, but also very little affection. I can no longer be bothered with the amount of mental and emotional energy it would take to get him to pull his weight at home.

However - H’s career has now hit a rough patch, a combination of fall-out from the workplace infatuation and a run of professional bad luck. Because of this he has been making noises about moving back to our home country. I have made it very clear to him that I do not wish to leave the UK. I am happy here – I have a life, a job that I enjoy in a specialised field that would be hard to replicate elsewhere. This feels like my home. I don’t want to start again in a new city. I think I might be willing to consider giving these things up to help a supportive partner. I don’t at all want to give up these things for a selfish EA manchild who for years has consistently put me last on his priority list.

By chance he has recently been approached about several jobs in our home country. At the moment he is on a business visit there, which will involve meeting some potential employers to discuss offers, which apparently include provision for my job (related field) and DCs. He will come home and expect me to discuss these offers. He says he will never leave the DCs, but if he really wants to take one of these jobs I suspect he will try to manipulate me into agreeing to move.

I can’t see any solution to this that doesn’t leave someone unhappy. If I refuse to move and he stays here, he will definitely resent me. If I agree to move, I will regret it and I can’t see our marriage surviving the move – so I’d end up a single parent in an expensive city I don’t want to be in and where I have no friends or family as a support network. The prospect of staying here as a single parent is appealing on an emotional level, but frankly daunting from a financial point of view.

Apologies for the self-indulgent brain dump, but I really have no-one to talk to about this in RL and it helps to set it all down. If anyone has any thoughts about this mess I’d be very grateful.

Pandora37 Mon 01-Dec-14 23:10:07

That is a very, very difficult situation you're in. I don't know if I can say anything that will help but I would be very reluctant to move countries with someone who is EA. You've already moved once without being consulted, so why should you do it again. I suppose you could move and then separate once you're over there, so the children aren't in a different country to their father but that would be very tough on you.

Personally, I would be tempted to separate now. I know you said there are implications with the children having to change house and school but if they're potentially moving countries there will be massive upheaval anyway. I think getting them out of a household where their dad emotionally abuses their mum is worth the changes but I know that's easier said than done. I hope you're able to sort all this out.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 01-Dec-14 23:12:37

Can you use this to get yourself a new job, move back home and then ditch him?

Angleshades Mon 01-Dec-14 23:20:32

The way you have described things it sounds like your marriage will hit the rocks whether you move away with him or if you stay here. You'll need to decide whether it is better to be a single parent here or in your home country? And whether your children would be better off here or abroad? Not an easy decision to make.

Anomaly Mon 01-Dec-14 23:27:15

You're right someone is going to end up unhappy. Given that you are settled and that your kids are settled and that your H currently doesn't do a lot towards family life I would advise you to stay put. It may mean the breakdown of your marriage but as thats on the cards anyway you would be much better off where you have support. If you leave now and then separate there will no doubt be issues over custody and access all of which will be complicated by being abroad. I don't think changing schools will be half as disruptive as changing countries so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

something2say Mon 01-Dec-14 23:46:38

It reads very simply to me. Let him go. You stay with the kids. He doesn't sound good enough for you, simple as that. He wants to swan about being adored with no real commitment or depth. Not for you. Admit it and key him leave. Look into prohibited steps orders to protect the children from abduction if he threatens to take them from you. Little boy men often do that xx

lauranorder50 Mon 01-Dec-14 23:58:41

Stand your ground and stay in Britain. It's easy for me to say don't be manipulated. Is there any way you could advise him of your feelings right now before he returns ? That might not be appropriate. Not least, you might just want to get the timing right.

If he got offered a job in his home country what's the likelihood of him accepting it and just telling you what he's done and just expecting you to up sticks and dutifully go ahead and join him ?

He won't consider this any sort of big deal that you have to do all the sorting out, packing, telling the children's school and twenty billion other things. He doesn't have to do any of it so it is no matter to him. Especially if his attitude is he's already home, so, what's your problem ?

If you move to your home country where he is, he could have it in mind to divorce you. Then you're in a hell of a pickle with regard to the children i.e. you won't want to leave the country if it means leaving your children behind.

If you divorce in Britain and get legal custody of the children that's more power to you. If you divorce overseas, either of you could get legal custody, but he sure as hell won't let you leave the country with the children should you wish to.

Speaking from an ex-pat perspective where people leave, in this instance, Britain, and go and live overseas they are somehow blackmailed into staying in their adopted country when their relationship breaks down or they won't see their child regularly i.e. it is to expensive and draining to return to the adopted country regularly to see the child/ren so they end up in a country they hate after a relationship that's finished just to see the kid/s. Don't let this happen to you should you return to your, 'home' country.

I live overseas. I went with my husband back to the country where he grew up after we had lived in Britain for 19 years and been married for 17 years. He's got relatives here which he wanted to catch up with. OK, fine. (for the record, that's now been done more or less.) I'm about as settled as I'm going to get. I struggle to get paid employment i.e. the only jobs I've done have been short contracts which is why we've ended up living mostly on my husband's salary for the nearly four years we've lived here. I'm about to commence another stint of voluntary work which is what I do whilst looking for paid employment so I don't go mad with boredom. My husband acknowledges this is not really how we want to live so it is likely we will return to the UK in a couple of years time.

Good luck with the good old, 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.

LilyLiveredLoon Tue 02-Dec-14 09:44:21

Thank you to all who've responded, and thank you for being so kind - tbh I half-expected to be told that I was being a selfish cow for not wanting to move and keep the family together.

Pandora it is true there would be massive upheaval for the DCs either way. However it is quite likely that their standard of living would be similar to what it is now if we moved, but be significantly worse if I stayed put in the UK. It is hard to ignore that.

Funky yes, I probably could negotiate a job for myself. I just don't want to. Also it would feel dishonest negotiate a job as part of H's relocation deal when I'm fairly certain we would separate after we moved.

Laura he won't just take the job and stay as he'd have to wrap things up here in his present post. However it is unlikely that he'd do any of the work of sorting out an international move even if he was here. That would all fall to me - but then so would the job of sorting out new housing and schools if I stay here.

I am very mindful that the country in question is a signatory to the Hague convention and so going over there temporarily is not an option as I couldn't be sure of being able to leave with DCs. On the plus side home country does have a reciprocal (and enforceable) arrangement with the CMS for CM payments.

He is capable of being reasonable when he wants to. The EA behaviour mainly shows itself when he feels threatened or on the defensive. He already mentions the possibility of moving in front of DCs (during conversations with me or on the phone to family) despite me asking him not to in case it unsettles them. He doesn't see a problem with talking about it in front of them because he's not talking to them. He says DCs won't understand what he's talking about - but they're not toddlers and they're not stupid. I find it incredibly manipulative and controlling ("I'll talk about this in front of DCs if I want to and you can't stop me"). I suspect he may use similar tactics if he wants me to agree to moving - tell DCs about it and then I have to be the bad guy who says no.

LilyLiveredLoon Tue 02-Dec-14 09:45:06

And yy to "Feel the fear and do it anyway". I think it may come to that.

TheLittleOneSaidRollOver Tue 02-Dec-14 11:51:38

What to do when there are no good options?
Decide what is important. Make decision accordingly. Even if that is the hardest option.

Do not: decide which option is easiest in the short term and act accordingly. That way lies madness and misery.

A happy home environment is much more important to DC than material things. Much much much more important.

None of your children will thank you later for keeping them in an EA household so that they could have a nicer house and avoid moving school.

I was a child where my parents stayed together for the sake of the children. I hardly ever see my parents now. I was furiously angry when they divorced after I had left home. How very fucking dare they force me to live in misery. Worse, how dare they effectively blame us children for them living in misery for years.

I have worked hard at changing the way I respond to him and there is now very little conflict,
You are pandering to a bully to avoid conflict. Your children see this. No. No. No. You are teaching them a terrible lesson.

It seems to me that there is only one good option. Leave him asap. Get on with your new life asap. Let him get on with his new life back in your home country asap. Young children adapt easily when supported by a loving mother.

LilyLiveredLoon Tue 02-Dec-14 14:33:54

Thank you LittleOne, I appreciate the straight talking, and I'm sorry your childhood experiences with your parents were so unhappy. I have read similar comments on other threads - that people were aware that their parents' relationship was problematic and wished they had split sooner. But then I've also read threads where children are devastated by family breakup, even when the NRP behaves selfishly or is EA. I wish I had a crystal ball - if I could know for sure the DCs would be OK I wouldn't agonise so much over the future.

Re pandering to H, I didn't express myself well. I have changed my behaviour so that I don't rise to the bait or engage with EA behaviour. I don't pussyfoot around him. I try to get on with what I want to do regardless of his reaction, and if his behaviour is unreasonable I call him on it openly. There is less conflict because I don't engage, not because I pander. However I take the point that it isn't a "normal" atmosphere for the DCs.

MorrisZapp Tue 02-Dec-14 14:41:47

You say there are no good options but from where I'm standing the option of him leaving you cleanly for a new life abroad looks pretty good?

He doesn't pull his weight anyway and has EA tendencies. I'd say this is your golden opportunity to ditch the negative baggage from your life. Without his job move, you'd probably just pootle along craply until he has another affair.

cailindana Tue 02-Dec-14 14:56:15

I get how totally scary it seems to face life on your own, with all the financial and practical implications that go with it. The prospect of losing some of your standard of living can seem awful. However, I think in this case it's worth it, even if it is genuinely hard for a few years.

Honestly, children don't care about standard of living. They care about love and security, two things you can easily give them.

Do Not Move. Whatever you do, do not entertain this relocation.

LilyLiveredLoon Tue 02-Dec-14 15:05:52

cailin it's not the loss of standard of living per se that bothers me, it's the fact that a change in finances if we separate is likely to mean that the DCs have to give up things that make a big contribution to their happiness and security, like their school where they are happy and thriving and have friends. How do I justify that to them?

you'd probably just pootle along craply until he has another affair
Yes, that's certainly a possibility that has occurred to me.

Joysmum Tue 02-Dec-14 15:45:58

People move all the time and make it move because they have to.

You're spending you're whole time being dictated to and fitting in around others.

If I were you I think about what you'd want your future to be I 3 years time and then consider the steps you need to take to get there.

In you're case, I think prioritizing your longer term goals is essential, even at the expense of shorter term inconvenience. If you don't, you'll never get what you deserve and your kids will never get a stable home with you when you are happy.

I'm another child of parents who stayed together "for the sake of the child" and feel the same as TheLittleOneSaidRollOver, although at first I carried guilt. Separated happy parents set a better example with less baggage for the kids.

Twinklestein Tue 02-Dec-14 16:05:32

This marriage is basically over. Perhaps ideally it would be optimum financially to split in a few years, but then you'd be subjecting your children to more years of a dysfunctional, emotionally abusive relationship.

This job question is forcing the issue, and I agree with pps it would be easier to admit it's over and go your separate ways now, rather than sign up for much more resentment and bad feeling on his side if you stay, and on your side if you go. Either one of you is going to end up severely pissed off and I don't think your relationship, as you describe it here, will actually survive.

I can understand how daunting it will be financially, but he will have to pay his way with the children, and I think the relief and freedom that will ensue may well more compensate for a short term dip in living standards.

RandomMess Tue 02-Dec-14 16:19:25

I agree with Twinkle it's time to face the music admit it's over so any decision he makes he knows that he will be leaving the dc behind if he moves home.

Long term benefits are the dc have a healthy emotional wellbeing and sense of happy parents.

BalloonSlayer Tue 02-Dec-14 16:21:38

You were planning to separate in a few years anyway.

I'd say that this is your opportunity to do it now.

It won't be easy but it won't be easy in a few years' time either.

cailindana Tue 02-Dec-14 19:57:07

But if he's going to insist on relocating everything will change anyway, won't it? It sounds to me like you know what you need to do but are making excuses not to do it.

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