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Has anyone got time to tell me if my relationship is bad or good?

(172 Posts)
littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 12:51:57

I've only ever had one relationship before this (at least one we lived together and it was really serious) and he was a drunk, cocaine taking guy who was aggressive, very selfish and quite outwardly unpleasant to me at times.

I wanted to know if anyone had time to just read this and let me know what this relationship sounds like. If it's a good and normal one or if it's a bad one. I feel at times like I don't see the wood for the trees.

He was quite infatuated with me very quickly, at the tail end of a marriage where she'd left him and broken his heart. He told me he loved me and I was his soulmate nd that what he had with me he never had with her. He could not do enough for me, wanted to talk to me every minute and I've never felt so loved by anyone before.

He's a generally nice sort of guy, easygoing, popular with people, no bad temper, kind to people, responsible and dependable and he pretty much always does what he says he will.

He has a child from previous. Very cute and lovely kid of 5. I have a child from previous. Also a lovely kid, but some SN which makes him challenging at times, he's 8.

He asked me to move in with him after about 6 months dating, so we did and have lived together for 3.5 years now. We live with my kid full time and his every weekend and most holidays. Kids get on great.

Living together meant me moving quite far from home /leaving my job and a lot behind me so that's hard but I always felt like I had found Mr Right and he's made me happy and given me a happy family I always wanted.

On the good side

I feel silly almost even asking about the quality or normalcy of my relationship because BF is so outwardly devoted. He can't do enough for me, would give me his last penny, would drive any distance to save me walking in the cold, would go out at 11pm to Tesco if I fancied some crisps, he cuddles me all the time, very affectionate, always wants to see me and misses me if we're apart. We have a great sex life, he remembers every ocassion and gets me romantic and thoughtful gifts. He listens to me when i want to talk and he tells me everything. We laugh and get on as great friends and enjoy nights on the sofa and trips as a family. He is nice to my friends and family, he is supportive of my ideas and wants to help when I have a problem. He tells me he loves me all the time and does nice things for me that make me feel very loved and appreciated. He isn't an angry person and never says bad things to me or does anything nasty. He is a really good Dad and always does things with the kids and plans things for them. He's the first to get up on the weekends and brings me a cup of tea. He acts proud of me when he introduces me to people and his friends have all told me they've never seen him so happy or in love like it is with me, and that his marriage was nothing like that.

So there's a lot of good things, and day to day, we are just good to each other and in love but a few things are just ongoing battles in my head.


I feel guilty even saying this but a few things concern me.

1. He seems to favouritise his kid over mine. I know this is normal to a degree but sometimes it is really obvious. In fairness, he is a good Stepdad and comes to parents evenings and shares responsibilities and is a good ear and role model to my kid BUT the favouritism seems to slip out in subtle ways. Like my kid asks him to play a game and he says hes busy and two minutes later he plays the same game with his own kid and looks annoyed if mine wants to join in with them. This breaks my heart a bit for my kid who has SN and gets rejected by people a lot. I do treat both kids 100% equally and if anything I spoil my Stepson more and I do a lot of things to make sure his kid feels 100% included in our home, but it hurts me to see him do that.

2. He has occassionally been caught lying or doing something "off", which I have swept under the carpet, but which irks at me. For example, I once caught him looking at porn one night when I was really ill and he lied about it. Seems silly, but I really needed comfort that day and he was wanking over porn while I was suferring and needed a cuddle and it annoyed me a lot. I am not sure he is 100% truthful with me over little things like that and feel like he spends a lot of time on porn sites or whatever.

3. When he asked me to move in with him, he said he wanted marriage, more kids and various things but none of it has materialised. He told me a couple of years in that he changed his mind about the baby, which I accepted, but the engagement was also put off by two years and the wedding is set for much later than we agreed. I can't help feeling niggled that our joint plan has been slowly changed to somthing else without my consent. He is always saying he can't wait to marry me and he bought me a beautiful ring but I just feel like he does everything on his timetable.

4. His ex wife seems to still play a role in our lives. For example he allows her to dictate elements of our lives that seem to cross a boundary of what should not be her concern. He seems hell bent in impressing her at times - for example buying expensive gifts for his ex in laws (although the ex wife has now remarried) and it is sometimes a bit concerning that he does no such thing for my parents. Albeit they were married 18 years and he says he feels her family are very important to him and I try and be understanding but he honestly acts like they are his in laws and mine aren't.

5. Although I moved to live with him, he has changed nothing about his life to allow for me being his partner. So for example he still plays in all the same sports teams and hobbies that he did in his marriage and socialises in a way as if he was still her husband, and mixes mainly ith their old joint friends. That makes me feel extremely excluded. In fact, I feel his involvement in activities and social groups that I can't be part of have left me very isolated in my new town and at times I feel more like a mistress than a partner.

6. We never argue. I say that in the sense that I literally mean that in four years he has never once told me anything I did annoyed, upset or aggravated him in any way. He has never been in a bad mood and snapped at me or said something mean or stormed out or slept on the sofa. I mean, literally not one time. And I worry that this can't be realistic. He says I am perfect, but no one is.

7. We have no social life. I mean, we do stuff at the weekends with the kids as a family and he's rarely out with friends without me but we don't know any other couples or families. He knows lots, but because they are friends of the ex wife, he tends to go to their events alone and never invites them to our place. All my friends live far away so the only time we "socialise" is when we have weekend visitors.

8. He remains separate from me financially. I have my accounts and cards and he has his. We both have a Tescos clubcard. We've not "joined" in that sense and while he pretty much is the most generous person you could describe I don't feel like a full couple. He also got a life insurance policy through work and named his kid as he sole beneficiary, and he got a new passport and named his Mum as next of kin. This isn't about the's about me not feeling like a full partner and those things made me feel like less than his partner.

9. We have his kid every weekend and holiday. Now don't get me wrong, I love his kid and love having him around, but when we have him every weekend it means we literally never go out as a couple or have a weekend just the two of us. I don't think we ever do that and I am so bored and isolated that at times I dress up in heels and a little black dress just to have dinner at home.

So that's it. Based on those you think they are things that are worrying?

It has been years now and we have slipped into the permancy of this and I don't feel 100% like I am part of my own family. I feel like he loves me, yes, desires me enormously - maybe to the point he has me on a pedestal, but I feel like he keeps a foot in the door of his previous marriage and I am not fully secure. I also feel like I gave up such a full and colourful life of my own, to become a SAHM, to be there for his child and provide for him the family life he wanted, but often worry that it is at my own expense.

I have tried to talk to him about all the things on the list - some things over and over again -and his response is always the same which is to cry a lot, tell me how sorry he is, how much he loves me and then he just pretty much carries on exactly how things were. I honestly feel like if I left him he would collapse completely because he seems to need me that badly - but then I wonder why he can't see my own need as well as his.

Most of the time I just go along with it, because he showers me in so much love and kindness that I have never had before. Because he is a good Dad and a kind person and because I love him and he doesn't mean to harm but I just want to know what independent observers might thing of our perfect life and home which might not be as perfect as it looks on the surface.

Nothing on this list is ever going to change.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:05:26

How long was it between leaving your abusive ex and starting a relationship with this man?.

Did you ever enrol on Womens Aid Freedom Programme?. That would have been an excellent thing to have done at that time but its never too late to do that even now. Your boundaries particularly after your last relationship would have been well and truly skewed and some red flags here re this current person have been missed or minimised.

Its all been very full on from the very early days and such full on stuff should have raised alarm bells but it did not.

This current man may be a so called "good dad" but he is a crap example of a stepfather to your child. For that reason alone I would plan my exit; am so sorry to write that but this is not going to get any better for you or your son. This nice life he has now has all really happened for him at your overall expense. Its all been on his terms; all the power and control in this relationship is all his. You really have none because you really do have no say.

He crying as well; hmmm. Tears can be manipulative and designed to tug at your heartstrings. TBH if you left he would not collapse completely but I daresay he would try and make your life and leaving him as drawn out as possible.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 15-Dec-15 13:12:16

If you have to ask then this isn't what you want.
Why did you become SAHM?
Could you get a job?
On the surface it all SEEMS OK but.....
He's isolated you.
Lied to you.
Made and broken a LOT of promises
This will be your life forever. Are you OK with this?
You don't sound happy.
You just seem to be 'settling' because it's so much better than your last relationship.
You need to think about YOU and what YOU want from life.
It's not this or you wouldn't have posted.
Can you consider returning to your previous location and starting again there?
YOU, by the way, are not responsible for anybody elses happiness.
I think you need to get out and find your own way in the world.
As the saying goes:-
Single is not a status.
It is a word that best describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.
It won't be easy and won't be immediate but you do really need to think about all of this.
And as a PP said, it would be good for you to enrol on the Womens Aid Freedom Programme.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:12:32

Six years between the two (my kid is from a brief relationship) I'd not say the ex was abusive to me as much as just a pretty horrible human being who was always shouting, unreasonable, unreliable and just not someone I respected or thought a lot of.

This one is such a nice person, so respected, so kind, so supportive, so loving. He does nice things all the time, says nice things all the time, is so gentle and calm and the opposite of agressive but I just feel frustrated.

I am actually a very strong person (anyone on the outside would say I wore the trousers) but he just seems so weak.

Asking him to not have stepson every weekend so we can do things together or go for a night out makes me feel selfish.

Asking him to give up his friends to make a new circle with me feels selfish.

Asking him to put me on his life insurance policy feels money grabbing.

Its just that all of it adds up and makes me feel insecure. He always says he loves me, needs me and can't live without me but I wonder why he is missing the chip where he doesn't realise I need to go out sometimes, need to meet people, need to feel financially secure - or how important it was for me to have another baby (no chance of that now).

I feel at times like he is both selfless and selfish at the same time. And asking for more from someone who outwardly gives so much makes me feel like the selfish one.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:22:04

Some men like supposedly strong women (its interesting that you describe yourself as strong) but with inwardly shaky self esteem and self worth because they can use that against you. Its a "challenge" to such men, they enjoy bringing women down with them.

If he is so supposedly selfless why did his marriage end?.

Presumably his first marriage ended not for too dissimilar reasons that you describe in your initial post; his "niceness" comes at a price and its a very high one that you are paying.

Is this what you want to teach your child about relationships?.

Why do you feel selfish in asking for you both to have an evening out?. He has continued his life pretty much as it was when he was married to his wife.

What do you get out of this relationship now?. What needs of yours is he meeting here?.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:23:00

Thanks for the questions. I have actually been single most of my life, so I'm not afraid of that but of course would be hard to break up a home.

At the time he wanted me it did feel a little like settling, but he was offerring a life for me and my child that felt like the best thing. It enabled me to be home for my child who has SN, it enabled my child to have a loving family, siblings and a "stepdad" who is really generally very loving and good to him. He teaches him things and stuff.

Being so loved was quite intoxicating, and more so because he was such a good person. He was someone I respected and thought a lot of and I did fall very much in love with him over time. He fawns over me, compliments me all the time and is always there. I've never had anything like that before. It's also hard to be angry with, or fight with, someone who does not fight back.

We get on great, best friends, laugh, talk about anything. Our house is harmonious. Our kids are happy and loved and looked after.

But yes, I am unhappy in some ways. I minimise. Yes, that's exactly it. Things that would have made me ragingly angry with any other man are swept under the carpet because he is so sweet and gentle and loving.

If you knew us, and you were part of our lives you'd be suprised I was writing this beause most people would say they'd never seen a more devoted and happy couple - but I feel like there's no room for me in it and I am not sure that's my own fault.

No, he will never change it. If I raise these topics he cries, if I get angry he becomes actually ill (can't go to work). I can never have a conversation about this that results in change. It is always soon and reasons are given that make me feel selfish.

For example if I told him that I hated the way he fawned over hs ex wifes family he would cry, tell me stories about how they were there for him and i come away feeling like a selfish arsehole.

So I learned to swallow it, and now I find I am developing a bit of phobias and things, like mental health issues where I cry and lot and feel panicked.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:24:33

Attila, I nevr had a happy home like this when i was a child.

It makes me happy to see my kid in a happy hous where Mum and Dad cuddle and kiss and no one is throwing plates.

Maybe, as you say, my boundaries and fucked up but i forgive a lot because I just want that in my life.

He's not a bad guy at all, I think the bottomline is that he's not divorced in his mind from his ex wife and not properly committed to me

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:28:34

If he is so supposedly selfless why did his marriage end?

Strange you ask that question. He told me she met someone else (she did) but later when I talked to her (we are quite friendly, I like her a lot) she told me he was the most selfish person she had ever met. So I guess that's his thing. But he SEEMS so the opposite of selfish...he actually comes across as a martyr.

Why do you feel selfish in asking for you both to have an evening out?

Because if I do want to go out, he says there's no point having his son that weekend, so I feel like my need for a night out comes at the expense of him seeing his boy.

He has continued his life pretty much as it was when he was married to his wife.

Exactly like that

What do you get out of this relationship now?

Sounds ridiculous but "love", safety, a home. I know none of it is the ideal but I have made it that way in my head. I have a narrative in my head that is separate from what the reality is.

I can't explain very well how hard it is to feel resentful, angry or upset with someone who absolutely showers you in love, kisses and kindness. It's very hard.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:30:54

"No, he will never change it. If I raise these topics he cries, if I get angry he becomes actually ill (can't go to work). I can never have a conversation about this that results in change. It is always soon and reasons are given that make me feel selfish".

This man has done a bang up job of tying you up in knots; its for those reasons too that you need to consider your own future in this relationship going forward very carefully. Is he really the stepfather you want for your son; you've already mentioned this man showing favouritism towards his other (biological) child.

He cries when you raise anything awkward in terms of topic; he is really manipulating the situation by doing that.

This above sentence of yours is also very concerning:-
"if I get angry he becomes actually ill (can't go to work)".

What happens to him here; does he get depressed?.

These are all red flags; his apparent selflessness in this relationship is all being done by him for his primary benefit. You are not in this picture.

wintersocks Tue 15-Dec-15 13:31:07

Going against the grain a bit, but I think the main problem here is communication between the two of you, so I'd work on it, not bin it yet. For instance, a lot of the stuff you've said here on the negative side- have you told him your feelings - and if not, why not?

Some people try so hard to be 'nice' all the time that the negative stuff just seeps out in other ways, doesn't make them a bad person necessarily

AnotherEmma Tue 15-Dec-15 13:37:06

Big red flags in your posts. He is extremely manipulative - crying or becoming "ill" whenever you tell him about your wants and needs. That's calculated to train you to stop being assertive and it sounds like it's working. You say you feel selfish for wanting things that are actually quite normal to want.

The fact that you are now experiencing mental health issues (crying a lot, feeling panicked etc) is proof that he is having a seriously negative effect on you - his manipulation and control are working, they are breaking you down.

His behaviour must be very difficult to recognise as damaging or abusive because it is all part of his persona as a kind and loving partner. But it sounds absolutely SUFFOCATING.

A partner who truly loved you would also love your son like his own. He would respect you enough to make joint decisions about where to live, whether and when to get engaged and get married, etc. He would want to spend quality time with you from time to time. He would put effort into having a good relationship with your parents and other family. He would listen and not overreact when you make a simple request or tell him about something you feel, want or need.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:38:59

I am so sorry but unfortunately not altogether surprised that your childhood home life was not a happy one. Your boundaries in relationship remain skewed even now, those lessons have been carried over to the present day.

You are not happy for good reason and he is ignoring your own very reasonable and normal needs. You've been put on a pedestal by this man and are being suffocated emotionally as a result. I do not think he was ever ready to embark on a relationship at all tbh with you and he has acted very unfairly throughout.

I would work on you Jackie and rebuild you from the ground up; free your own self from the shackles of your past and a relationship that is really on his terms alone. Enrol on the Freedom Programme and love your own self for a change. That's probably for you a very new and fresh idea.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:43:37

I've told him a thousand time wintersocks. Especially in the light of the fact that I have become ill and felt have lost myself. He's been very concerned outwardly about me crying all the time and having anxiety problems because it's nothing like me to be like that, but when I tell him that what I need is these changes he still won't make them. I know he isn't a bad person, but I am unhappy in myself. Communication is something I am actually very good at.

This above sentence of yours is also very concerning: if I get angry he becomes actually ill (can't go to work)

What happens to him here; does he get depressed?

It would go like this...If I gently tell him something like "I am lonely" or "I need to go out", he completely misses the point entirely of what i am saying and he suggests I get a ticket home for a break. He doesn't understand I need my actual day to day life to change - not to take a holiday from it.

If I then cry or show how sad I am, he will bring me flowers, gifts and tell me how wonderful I am and that he will never leave me and never harm me and he is still missing the point.

If I get specific, and explain the issues, he cries, and then I feel guilty for asking him to give up things which matter to him to accommodate me.

If I get very angry, and tell him its not what I signed up for he will be like a child who's scared of me...he will cry in my lap like a litle kid, then he won't want to eat, he will be phsyically sick (always throwing up at those times) and he will literally beg me on his knees not to leave him. He will then send me notes and presents and tell me I am his soulmate, that he knows him being divoced hasn't been easy on me and that he will be stronger and better and he will plan something nice like a weekend trip or someting.

The actual things I am asking for never materialise. Even when he is told directly this is the source of the problem.

And yes, he can get depressed if pushed. Very despondent, not eating, doesn't go to work.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:46:49

A partner who truly loved you would also love your son like his own. He would respect you enough to make joint decisions about where to live, whether and when to get engaged and get married, etc. He would want to spend quality time with you from time to time. He would put effort into having a good relationship with your parents and other family. He would listen and not overreact when you make a simple request or tell him about something you feel, want or need.

He does none of those things sad

He appears to, but actually doesn't

He goes to every sports day, every parents evening and he pays for everything for my child. He kisses him goodnight and he does things a "dad" does but I can se ehe doesn't love him. I can see it.

He pretends we are making joint decisions, but we never are. He lets me make all the day to day decisions...about money, where our house is, how we decorate, what we eat for dinner, where we go on holiday...but the big things I get manipulated into what he wants.

He spends ALL his spare time with me, can't wait to see me, but doesn't care that this is invariably on the sofa and that he nevr goes out alone with me.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 13:49:56

Do you think he's not over his ex wife?

AnotherEmma Tue 15-Dec-15 13:50:34

He sounds a bit like "Mr Sensitive" from the abuser profiles by Lundy Bancroft. The type that's hardest to spot, I think!

OP, my advice is to get some counselling ASAP, for two reasons: firstly to help you address your anxiety and depression, and secondly to help you talk about this relationship and decide what you want to do. It sounds to me as if the relationship is making you very unhappy, and counselling should help you feel strong enough to fix it or leave. I suggest asking your GP what counselling might be available. You could also look up the Freedom Programme as a PP suggested.

Good luck.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:50:47

I would certainly plan my exit from this now. He is a highly manipulative individual and is in control of you and your emotions.

What if anything do you know about his own childhood Jackie, this type of stuff can be learnt. What are his parents like?.

I do not think you should be in a relationship with this man any longer; its not working and you are not happy. You do not need his permission to end the relationship and you do not owe anyone a relationship.

NA200712 Tue 15-Dec-15 13:52:29

He's a manipulator. He's portraying himself to be this perfect person to you, but if he actually was then his plans would happen wouldn't they and he would change things to make you happier.

He is acting like a toddler, sorry but who makes themselves ill because your asking for things to change? In fact he's worse than a toddler because at least a toddler doesn't know any different, this man knows exactly what he is doing.

Is this really how you want to live?

hellsbellsmelons Tue 15-Dec-15 13:57:52

AnotherEmma has it spot on.
Read and re-read her post until it sinks in.
Your further posts make me shudder to be honest.
He's a very accomplished manipulator. Please see it for what it is and get away.
Womens Aid and the Freedom Programme. If you can't attend in person then you can do it on-line. Please do it asap.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 15-Dec-15 13:58:04


re your comment:-
"He spends ALL his spare time with me, can't wait to see me, but doesn't care that this is invariably on the sofa and that he never goes out alone with me".

And you never go out or feel able to go out without him do you?.

This is yet another example of his controlling nature; controlling behaviours are abusive behaviours. He never goes out without you; he sounds more like your jailer than a partner you can actually rely on. The only person he is interested in is his own self. You are not even secondary in concern to him.

"Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft would be useful for you to read.

Love your own self for a change Jackie; that is really the best gift you can give yourself now. That as well as freeing your own self from your childhood and the ex (your childhood experiences primed you to have a relationship with someone like him as well) through counselling on your own.

hippospot Tue 15-Dec-15 14:14:53

I haven't read the whole thread. I will just say that as an unmarried SAHM you are financially vulnerable.

RatherBeRiding Tue 15-Dec-15 14:20:53

How about turning it round a bit?

Him NOT thinking that you would like the odd weekend together, the odd night out together makes him selfish.
Him not doing more to include you socially is selfish.
Not thinking to put you on the life insurance when you are supposed to be life partners is frankly worrying.
Him not living up to his promises of marriage etc etc when he "can't live without you" is a huge red flag.

Maybe he's not weak. Maybe he's got it all going his way and he's more than happy with the status quo and he's happy to talk the talk about loving you, needing you blah blah but when it comes down to walking the walk.....he doesn't.

In your shoes I think I would be laying it on the line in words of one syllable - exactly what YOU want. It sounds from your posts as though you are doing all the compromising. Good relationships don't rely one one half just going with the flow and the other half doing what they like.

Don't be manipulated by the tears and the soft words. If he is sincere he will sort himself out. If he doesn't - maybe it's time for you to put yourself first and make plans to move back out again.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 14:24:08

I did read the abuser profile thing and didn't sound like him, although most people would say I had the "perfect" partner.

I have been going to counselling for a year now, she seems to hint that maybe my partner isn't perfect, so I put it out here. We tend to focus on me and CBT type things for the panic or my childhood. I actually feel like I don't say negative things bout him because it feels disloyal.

His own childhood was nice. Nice parents. They are almost uncomfortably nice. His Dad is just like him. They both cry at the drop of a hat. He went to boarding school though, from age 9. Nice sort of family but he does act a it stiff around them.

And you never go out or feel able to go out without him do you?

That's such a difficult statement. I'm a pretty brave person (or was) and have lived in 12 diferrent countries with my job. Quite an accomplished woman not afraid to be alone - but adjusting from city life with events and activities and life and the theatre and friends to go for cocktails with has been hard because this is a tiny village where everyone grew up together. I don't feel quite like I fit in.

I suppose at first we were so in love we spent every minute together and I was enjoying the role of wife so much I completely lost thread of myself and forgot the other parts of me that matterred.

Despite being confident, I am also very shy with new people and have always been rubbish with new people. I could do more to help myself but at the end of the day what I really want is for him to make it easier.

He knows nice families and couples and we have a nice big house...why not invite them over? He always says he will but never does. He sees them separately without me.

He isnt abusive or a bad human being but he's very selfish and manipulative and I honestly don't feel like he really wants a proper life with me the way normal people have.

littlejackiehorner Tue 15-Dec-15 14:26:36

Not thinking to put you on the life insurance when you are supposed to be life partners is frankly worrying

Is it?

I asked my friend about this and she said it was normal, seeing as he has a child he does not live with for him to want to provide financial security for the child? I again, came away feeling foolish and overdemanding but for some reason I was absolutely crushed emotionally that he did that.

Becaue if he died, me and my child would have nothing!

NA200712 Tue 15-Dec-15 14:31:18

Nobody can tell you what to do, its your relationship, but from the things you have said its clear you aren't happy with the current situation. If I were you I would have a final try at communicating with him, and if he does his usual tricks don't pander to him. Ask him direct questions and if he doesn't answer them or doesn't follow through then you have your answer. Hope you get things sorted!

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