Talk

Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

I thought I had the "perfect" marriage

(51 Posts)
FozzzyBear Sat 20-Dec-14 21:41:08

Although I'm divorced now, I am just finally able to look back on our "perfect" marriage, and to help me move forward I want some wisdom on whether or not I was unknowingly in a bad marriage.

After marrying, we moved abroad for his work and he knew people there because he had lived there years before. He joined various clubs and activities with his old friends but I was always home with our two young children. He probably went out 3 - 4 nights a week after work. Not drinking or at the pub, but on various activities so I was left alone a lot. Gym on Monday, Tennis on Wednesday etc and there was always beers afterwards so he got home at midnight.

If there was a works night out or one of his friends had a party or a dinner, he'd generally go on his own and I'd stay with the kids. He always offered to skip it, but I said it was fine and didn't want him to miss out. One of our kids had special needs and babysitting was hard.

Because of the age of the kids and one having special needs, I could not work or easily go to things during the day.

He never invited people over to our house. He knew people, and had work colleagues and they had wives too, but he didn't invite them over. I would try and suggest having dinner parties or whatever so I could get to know people, but he would always put it off.

He wouldn't give me passwords for his accounts for things, like his email or his Facebook and he never showed me our bank statements or gave me financial transparency and after he left me I found out we were in quite bad debt. I didn't demand any of those things, but looking back find it a bit off that he seemed to be a little secretive with them.

We only had the one car, and he said it was too expensive to insure me on it (it was an expensive and powerful car and I'd only recently learned to drive) and we also could not afford a second car, so I spent 3 years living in a foreign place with no public transport, two young kids and no friends or family which was really isolating.

At the same time as telling me he was really worried about money and could not afford things like insuring me on the car or visiting my family, he seemed to spent crazy money on silly things - like holidays as birthday gifts for his parents.

We agreed to have three children, and I had always wanted a girl, but after two children he just announced we weren't having any more and wouldn't discuss it. He just said that he was sorry he had made up his mind.

I know writing all of the above makes it sound like a terrible marriage, but on a day to day basis he was kind, loving, gentle and let me make the day to day decisions regarding the running of the house or the care of the children and he always consulted me on most big decisions and we decided as partners (except the children choice). He did all the things good husbands are meant to do; was affectionate, supportive, a good Dad, helpful around the house, always home on time, reliable, told me I was gorgeous all the time, brought me flowers and it was generally just a very happy loving home. He seemed, if anything, to be about the most romantic and devoted husband you could probably imagine so I sort of felt very loved and appreciated and seemed to be oblivious to the big picture.

After a few years of living like that though, I got quite down, very lonely (sometimes weeks would go by where he was the only adult I spoke to!) and got depression. I changed after that and stopped looking after myself, I was frequently crying, I was really down and just felt lost and barely went out of the house.

He would come home a lot to find me crying and still in my dressing gown and I talked to him and told him I was unhappy and very lonely a few times. When I did that he listened patiently, told me he loved me very much and we'd get through it. Sometimes he asked if I had my period or if I wanted him to look after the kids to I could go out or go away for the weekend, but I don't think he understood I had nowhere to go and no one to go with.

I remember just thinking it was normal with very young kids to be at home a lot and didn't really realise that he was not helping. I found it quite hard to get angry at him because if I did he would cry and tell me he couldn't live without me.

Then after I was depressed for about six months, he left me, he just told me that my depression had made me unbearable to be around, that I had changed, become boring, lost my sparkle and that my "negativity" was making him feel depressed himself and he no longer loved me. He'd never even mentioned before any of it and had always told me he'd stick by me through it, so it was really difficult to accept.

I am struggling still over piecing together all of this because I am an intuitive and intelligent woman, and yet for whatever reason I didn't stick up for myself in my marriage (or worse, I didn't even notice anything was out of order) and I actually believed he was the perfect husband.

I was wondering really whether or not it is my own fault for not being more clear about what my expectations were? I came from an abusive childhood and this was my first experience living with a man and I didn't really know what was normal.

I can't help just feeling so worthless, even after all this time and I am scared to get attached to someone else. I am stronger, and much more independent and would never let myself "lose" my own life and needs and wants to cater to someone else;s again but deep down I am scared that if anyone really gets to know me that they will stop loving me just like he did.

I feel like if I was with someone I'd have to pretend to be perfect and happy all the time and never get down or lost or ill to stop them from leaving. It's been over two years since the end and I just want to feel like I am good enough.

ChaffinchOfMegalolz Sat 20-Dec-14 21:45:06

sometimes; it just doesn't work.

you are a worthwhile unique special woman

writing this here is another step on your journey

you'll get where you want to go, give yourself time.

ChaffinchOfMegalolz Sat 20-Dec-14 21:46:05

ps. he sounds like a cold bastard.

CogitOIOIO Sat 20-Dec-14 21:51:43

What strikes me about your story is that you led quite separate lives. Being really blunt it sounds like you were treated as a pet rather than an equal partner. Kept at home in a box where he joined you and treated you 'correctly' when he wanted to do the happy family thing. Otherwise, nothing. No real emotional connection or sense of teamwork. He didn't want you involved in a very big and very important pet of his life.

It sounds as though circumstances drove some of that situation. But a lot of it seems to have been deliberate on his part. I don't think you could have been a better wife - it wasn't your fault. If anything, I think you could have been more demanding. If you take anything away from the experience, maybe it's to be a lot pusher about asserting yourself?

KiaOraOAotearoa Sat 20-Dec-14 21:54:28

Darling girl, it is not your fault. At all.
You didn't know it then, but it is unacceptable to be isolated like that. It sends you crazy. He was your husband, should have been there for you. Instead he went out and told you you can't have the car/access to family finances/friends around. He screwed with your head.
At the time you had bigger fishes to fry, small DC, one with a disability, foreign country, no support network.
And anyway, say none of that ever contributed to your depression, say one day you just got hit by it, out of the blue. His role was to support you, not leave you.

Look, it took me many years to realise this was happening to me, too. When I turned the tables and said no more, I was accused of being hysterical, nasty, uncooperative etc. That's just for your peace of mind, he would have found other reasons to leave you.
Big hugs.

Whensmyturn Sat 20-Dec-14 21:54:37

I can see easily how this could happen to anyone. It definitely isn't you. He was too dim and too selfish to recognise your needs. He was happy with his lot and you were gradually losing yourself by being accommodating as we women so often are.

Branleuse Sat 20-Dec-14 22:02:01

it is not you, its him!!

He treated you like a pet, not a wife.
Im sorry. you must be feeling pretty horrid right now sad

FozzzyBear Sat 20-Dec-14 22:03:12

I'd say with hindsight, I felt like a pet to a degree, but when I was in it felt like it was wonderful. I am not sure if that makes me very dysfunctional because I am an assertive person, but for whatever reason wasn't assertive in this situation. I did nothing to help myself and didn't even see I needed to assert myself. Does that make me culpable for my own demise?

I'm not looking to blame myself, but I only want to know what I can do differently to ensure I don't ever end up having a relationship suck me away from myself again.

Is it understandable that he stopped loving me, or should he have done more practical things and changes to make my life happier and try and help me? Am I supposed to be much more demanding than I was?

I don't even have a picture of what normal was, I think I just wanted to be loved and felt like he worshipped me and wanted to be accommodating because him being happy made me feel happy.

CogitOIOIO Sat 20-Dec-14 22:14:42

Doesn't make you culpable but I think you have to be aware that you settled for what was on offer rather than demanding better and then try to work out why that was. You mention a difficult childhood and maybe it was as simple as wanting the stereotypical '2.4 children' set up and being overly grateful for the opportunity.

FozzzyBear Sat 20-Dec-14 22:18:48

Yes, maybe it was exactly that. He was also always nice to me, never shouted.

I remember as a kid that my Dad would scream and rage at Mum if she asked him to pick something up when he was out. Like she'd ask for him to pick her up something she needed for the tea and he would shout so loud "fuck!!!" really angrily and scare us all as he slammed the door behind him.

My XH would always just say "no problem babes" if I asked for some butter or something on his way home and he acted like he was so proud of me and just always said such nice things.

Maybe I had really low expectations of life? He made me feel safe and loved I suppose for the first time really.

I just believed he really loved me, but when he left because I was ill, I suppose that meant he didn't?

CogitOIOIO Sat 20-Dec-14 22:24:06

'Is it understandable that he stopped loving me?'

Truth is that you don't really know for sure how anyone really feels. You can only judge by what they say and how they behave. Some people are very selfish, very superficial and I'm convinced they can only achieve conditional love. If you're unlucky enough to be with someone like that, there's no security.

So you have to always check... 'what am I getting out of this relationship'.... 'am I happy' ... 'can I be myself?' . that kind of thing. Evaluate rather than take anything for granted.

BOFster Sat 20-Dec-14 22:26:26

I'm sure he did love you, but he was a flawed human being and rather selfish. That is his issue, not yours. Next time around, knowing what you do, make sure that you look after your own needs as much as the other person's by asserting yourself. You don't have to perform a constant dance and pretend to be cheerful when you're not, but it is important that you take steps to protect your own emotional health.

I'm really sorry you were so badly let down.

FozzzyBear Sat 20-Dec-14 22:26:32

I think he was like that sad

How do I avoid someone else like that though? Just try and look for signals?

One thing about my XH was that he wanted to marry me almost immediately, and every time I argued with him he cried and begged me to forgive him instead of really discussing it. I suppose someone with a better view of people than me might have had their alarm bells ringing

CogitOIOIO Sat 20-Dec-14 22:36:55

You can't avoid bad experiences. If you try to take all risk out of relationships you might as well shut up shop. smile All you can do is be self aware, have high standards, be alert to 'red flags', assert yourself and be prepared to kick someone to the kerb early rather than keep giving second chances.

CogitOIOIO Sat 20-Dec-14 22:50:03

You might find this article Are you dating an abuser? interesting. The point being that, in the early days, the line between normal and abusive behaviour is quite fine and often blurred by the high emotion of early romance.

Coyoacan Sat 20-Dec-14 23:26:02

I think this whole situation of moving to strange place as a SAHM must be very stressful. If he thought you were happy and you didn't complain I don't know how fair it is to blame him. Maybe there is no blame to be attached here.

Likewise it is very hard to live with someone who is depressed.

You sound lovely OP but it sounds like you expected too much of yourself. We all need friends and family, not just our children and our husbands.

Canyouforgiveher Sat 20-Dec-14 23:50:18

I think you had very very far from the perfect marriage. There isn't really such a thing anyway but there are marriages where both people are supported and loved and feel free to be themselves. that is the best marriage.

your husband behaved selfishly by any stretch of the imagination. he continued his own social life knowing you didn't have one. he made no effort to help you integrate or make friends, and he didn't even give you the basic freedom of driving. I moved countries for my husband's job and I can't tell you what he did t help me integrate - and it was still hard. To be honest, it is no wonder to me, reading your post, that you became depressed. No one was taking any care of you at all.

What struck me reading your post was how little you expected for yourself. I think this is common in women - put everyone else first is considered a good thing (it isn't). One thing I have learned in my life is that people, including husbands, take you at your own valuation. If I were you I would

1. Congratulate myself on losing a selfish husband who didn't truly care for you. If Depression can have an upside yours did - it sorted out the wheat from the chaff.

2. Spend some time on yourself - go to counselling, do yoga, join a mindfullness group, make women friends, do a creative writing course or take up a sport. Then think abut what you want out of life

3. Then go out there maybe looking for another partner in life but knowing that you are a complete human being in yourself and your needs are just as important as anyone else's.

FozzzyBear Sat 20-Dec-14 23:54:22

No, I did complain, but not in a way that blame was directed at him. I'd cry and say I was lonely but I'd rarely say "you leave me alone all the time" and get angry like I suppose most of my friends would have. He knew my life was making me very unhappy. I also constantly asked him to reduce the nights each week he was out, and I asked him to take on less projects outside work. He never listened, or he said he was listening, apologised grovelled an then changed nothing.

It really is striking me that maybe I expected very little sad

HansieLove Sun 21-Dec-14 00:32:42

That sounds like a very lonely and isolated existence. You were stuck at home. Caring for a SN child, and we don't know what extent DS was affected, but just NT kids are a full time job so a SN one was more work more worry. You were by yourself so much as he was off gallivanting. No wonder you lost your spark. There was not money for you to have a trip home, but he could send his parents on a trip? Please treat yourself now with care and tenderness. You are worth it.

Canyouforgiveher Sun 21-Dec-14 01:13:07

OP, he just wasn't nice or kind or concerned or interested in putting his own needs behind yours once in a while. He was a selfish bad husband and that was his problem - no reason why you should be responsible for seeing it.

Your dh wasn't nice - at all. You are right to question why you put up with this but ultimately you put up with it because you were married and had children and he was good at being superficially nice. Just make sure next time you enter a relationship you have done all the work on understanding yourself so you are confident in making demands for you.

you sound like a really nice woman caught up in the crap society/culture feeds us that nice women sacrifice themselves.

I think if you take some time now to think about yourself and what you want aNd need you will have a spectacular second act.

Mom2K Sun 21-Dec-14 02:00:08

He joined various clubs and activities with his old friends but I was always home with our two young children. He probably went out 3 - 4 nights a week after work. Not drinking or at the pub, but on various activities so I was left alone a lot.

You addressed this with: I'd cry and say I was lonely You did not have to use the term 'you'. Telling him you were lonely is very clear, and if he was a considerate/loving/good husband, he should have made arrangements for you to sometimes come along to his outings etc, and for him to give up some of his activities and be home helping you with the children more often. He shouldn't have offered to stay home - he should have just done it, seeing that you were having a difficult time transitioning.

He never invited people over to our house. He knew people, and had work colleagues and they had wives too, but he didn't invite them over. I would try and suggest having dinner parties or whatever so I could get to know people, but he would always put it off.

So again - you asked. He ignored/didn't care.

We only had the one car, and he said it was too expensive to insure me

he seemed to spend crazy money on silly things - like holidays as birthday gifts for his parents.

He isolated you further by not allowing you to drive, using finances as an excuse, while spending whatever he liked without giving it a second thought

I know writing all of the above makes it sound like a terrible marriage, but on a day to day basis he was kind, loving, gentle and let me make the day to day decisions regarding the running of the house or the care of the children and he always consulted me on most big decisions and we decided as partners (except the children choice).

You say he let you make day to day decisions. I find this very telling - it indicates basically that he was the boss. You say he always consulted you on big decisions. But he didn't consult you on big decisions. He wouldn't let you drive, he wouldn't disclose finances, he decided there would be no more children, he wouldn't allow you to have a social life - even when you asked for his help in that area by inviting people in. Flowers and compliments are nice - but they're not what counts. Love = selflessness and wanting what is best for your partner...and I'd say he had a major handing in causing your depression. There are things he could have done differently that would have made a tremendous difference to you - things you even asked for - and he wouldn't.

"He would come home a lot to find me crying and still in my dressing gown and I talked to him and told him I was unhappy and very lonely a few times."

And still he did nothing about this glaring problem.

He listened patiently, told me he loved me very much and we'd get through it. And again - did nothing. If you actually directed anger at him (and rightfully so!) he manipulated you by crying and saying he couldn't live without you, so he didn't actually have to hear you or do anything about it.

And when he couldn't handle the state he caused you to be in any longer:

he left me, he just told me that my depression had made me unbearable to be around, that I had changed, become boring, lost my sparkle and that my "negativity" was making him feel depressed himself and he no longer loved me. He'd never even mentioned before any of it and had always told me he'd stick by me through it, so it was really difficult to accept

So he was a liar as well (which I already concluded when you stated he was secretive with all his email/facebook accounts, including bank accounts).

I am struggling still over piecing together all of this because I am an intuitive and intelligent woman, and yet for whatever reason I didn't stick up for myself in my marriage (or worse, I didn't even notice anything was out of order) and I actually believed he was the perfect husband.

Don't beat yourself up over this. My DH was the first man I had ever even dated, and I really fell for him hard. I was headover heels in love with him, but he was far from perfect. There were signs that he wasn't a good potential partner, and instead of taking them in, I just focused on the things I did like about him because there wasn't anyone else I could see myself with.

And you did stick up for yourself at times. You told him how you were feeling, and what you needed - and he was selfish and uncaring (though he made it seem otherwise with his words - but words are meaningless without the actions that should accompany them).

I came from an abusive childhood and this was my first experience living with a man and I didn't really know what was normal.

I think coming from this environment may have made you a little more accepting of how you were being treated, but hopefully you can remember some of these things the next time. Remember your worth. If you are feeling lonely, sad, rejected, jealous, insecure - and your partner is not jumping through hoops trying to reassure you if you've mentioned your concerns to him (and no, you should not have to be aggressive in order for your partner to care or take action!) then take it as a sign that it is not a good relationship.

I can't help just feeling so worthless, even after all this time and I am scared to get attached to someone else. I am stronger, and much more independent and would never let myself "lose" my own life and needs and wants to cater to someone else;s again but deep down I am scared that if anyone really gets to know me that they will stop loving me just like he did.

^ This right here. Your DH didn't stop loving you - I don't think he ever did in the first place. And it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. He is a very selfish, emotionally abusive person. It is no reflection on you at all. You sound lovely, level headed, intelligent, an excellent mum. Any man should feel lucky to be with you.

I feel like if I was with someone I'd have to pretend to be perfect and happy all the time and never get down or lost or ill to stop them from leaving. It's been over two years since the end and I just want to feel like I am good enough.

You can show any kind of emotion with a real, decent man. If you're sad or unhappy and he goes running - then take it as a sign that you've dodged a bullet. Be your true self and a man worthy of you will be there no matter what and his love for you will be shown in both word and action. flowers

FozzzyBear Sun 21-Dec-14 09:15:00

Thanks Mom2k. It's reassuring that people think his behavior was off because I have spent so long thinking I was married to the best man who loved me to bits and after years the truth is slowly dawning on me.

He blamed everything on me when he left, said he was happier and relieved to be without me because he thought I was weak, sad etc.

I wasn't like that when I met him. I just became that.

Jingalingallnight Sun 21-Dec-14 09:33:59

The thing is, if you were happy with him at the time and you thought you had the 'perfect marriage' then it might help to accept that that was the case. Is it good for you to analyse it and go over it all? I say that because you say you felt loved and cared for and he was gentle and accepting of you for much of your marriage.

Maybe it was as he said and when you got depressed it all changed and he wanted to support you and said all the right things but over time found it a strain and his feelings changed.

I say this not to criticise as I am in a similar position. I have such resentment towards exh for the way he treated me during our relationship, even before marriage. I am angry with myself for allowing him to treat me badly. And I ask myself how could I have been happy? But I know much of the time I was.

Does it really help to keep going over it or is accepting it better? Does it help to label him as abusive and controlling or is a 'well it just didn't work out' attitude better? I'm not sure.

FozzzyBear Sun 21-Dec-14 10:31:55

I think it helps to create change in the next chapter by understanding what really happened in the first one.

Bonsoir Sun 21-Dec-14 10:41:34

In quite a lot of cultures/countries, the only way for a woman to have any real independence is by WOH. There aren't the legal or social structures for SAHMs to do anything but stay at home with DC. Was that the case in the country you were in? What I am wondering is whether your exH was himself caught up in forces that were greater than just his own attitude to his family?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now