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Other side of world and I think my marriage is falling apart.

(15 Posts)
upthewolves Tue 12-Jan-16 02:20:53

Hi everyone. I hope this isn't going to be too long or rambling but I am feeling really really scared and low and would welcome any advice/ words of support.

I posted a few months ago about some issues with my DH since we had our daughter. He took a long time to bond with her and for the first 3 months was very distant and cold towards her which was very hard.

DD is now 5 months old and a total delight. She is a very happy, smiley baby always on the go and DH has now found his relationship with her and shows real love and affection for her which I am obviously really relieved about.

The problem is he hasn't found any real love and affection for me. I have lost count of how many times I have tried to approach this with him and he has gotten so furious because he thinks I am completely unreasonable (so would appreciate thoughts) - I am currently on mat leave and do absolutely everything for DD. I'm happy to do it - I love her to pieces and she is my full time job. She still wakes every 1-2 hours through the night and gets up at 5.30/6am. During the day, I do every single household job. Keep the house clean, do all the laundry and put it away, walk the dog twice, feed the dog, do the shopping - some of these things might seem trivial but the point is I have to mentally organise it all because DH doesn't need to think about any of it at all. He used to be responsible for dinner each evening, as of a couple of years ago. That was mainly because I was recovering from an eating disorder and we discovered that if he completely took the food shopping/ decision making and preparation away from me I found it all less stressful.

Since we had DD he has been coming home later - I asked that he can try and be home for 6 to help with her bath but he usually comes in about 6.30/ 7 when I'm just putting her to bed. He then starts asking me what I want for dinner and gets annoyed if I have no idea because I haven't thought about it.

The other day we went to the supermarket and he asked me what I want for dinner. I said I didn't know and he asked me to make suggestions. So I just stood in the supermarket frantically listing every meal I could think of and becoming stressed because I couldn't remember many things we usually make. After that he said to me that he is fed up of the onus always being on him to think about dinner. I reminded him why we originally had that arrangement and he accepted that but made no indication he was sorry or had been unreasonable.

Anyway it has all come to a head this weekend. Since being on mat leave I have also been left to all the home admin e.g. applying for all family benefits, applying for passports for DD (two countries, we are in australia and she is both australian and british), childcare for DD. I have been trying to sort out my state maternity pay since July and I have fucked it up. It has cost us $2000 and he has been chasing me about this and all other admin stuff the past 2 days and I can't explain how it made me feel - almost bullied. I have felt like a child with him constantly throwing questions at me and him getting more and more frustrated/ angry. Last night he woke me up when he came to bed to tell me that I'd done it all wrong, then we had an argument, which woke DD (same room) and he went to sleep in the spare room.

Probably relevant - we haven't had sex since she was born. He hasn't pushed me, but has mentioned it several times which is understandable. I feel like I am being punished for this without him even realising this is what he's doing.

I just sat there in bed last night holding DD and crying because I feel so terrified about what will happen to us if we split up. I have no family here and although I have friends, no close friends. I want to go home and be near my family but DH's work is in Australia and I can't leave him, or take her away from him, even if he would let me.

I don't know what to do sad

FlorisApple Tue 12-Jan-16 02:52:40

I'm in Australia too, and wanted to quickly reply, even though I have a nine month old on my lap, so will be short. Just wanted to say, it's such a hard time for everyone having a baby that age. There is masses of joy and happiness as well, but give yourself a break, it is fucking hard work. The way I look at it is: you are on maternity leave to provide the care of your child. Not to do every other fucking thing in the house: just to provide care for your baby. That is the most important thing right now, and in order to provide that, you also need to look after yourself, and your husband needs to look after the two of you. He is being a selfish and immature arse, (but perhaps he too is suffering the huge transition that having a baby brings, so he deserves some limited empathy.) You need to make it clear to him that just because you are on maternity leave does not mean you will be responsible for 100% of cooking, cleaning, admin, kin keeping, etc. Your job is Childcare, and everything else after he gets home should be shared equally. As for food, that is a massive emotional drain, planning etc, so just tell him he is responsible for the next few months. If he can't accept that, you need to drag him into counselling or something and make him realise that he is being a dick. Forget sex; five months (or a lot more) is totally reasonable and normal - so don't put pressure on yourself. Are you an Australian resident/citizen? I have found Centrelink eminently helpful whenever I have to contact them on the phone, so if if gets to the point where you need to separate, they will help you apply for what you need, but don't worry that far ahead yet. Just try and improve things one day at a time for the moment - on the sleep and baby care front, at least, it will get better and it will become more manageable.

Millionsmom Tue 12-Jan-16 03:00:54

Oh my upthewolves firstly, congratulations on the birth of your DD. You deserve a medal as big as a dustbin lid for that alone. You do so much, I'm not surprised you couldn't think straight - coming up with ideas for meals.
If you were my daughter and you told me this, I'd be very worried about you and on the next flight out blush. Do you have anyone you can go to who will help you with the baby/housework? Because, to me, it sounds like you need a break from even just one of your 'duties'. Its not a criticism, you are superwoman, I've not had a baby for 18 years, and I'm not as organised as you! My DH came home tonight to a spotless kitchen, he wondered what was going on grin.

Your DD is a delight, but she's also hardwork. Just the not sleeping will be very draining on you and your reserves. On top of all you do manage, having to fill in forms, remembering dates and deadlines etc, is a miracl. Yes, I think he's being hard on you, no you don't deserve it at all, you deserve a year off everything just as a thank you!

When my DH behaves like your DH - treating me like a child/being very pushy - I now tell him to stop. I used to get defensive and have a good cry as I felt as you do too, but that frustrated him even more. It went on for years until one day I told him to just leave if I was such a pathetic 'child' he felt he had to chastise how it made me feel and he was so sorry as he hadn't thought of it like that, he thought he was 'helping' me. Yeah, in the world of man logic.

You are doing so much, break the cycle you're on. Have a good while outside the house, just let the housework go for the day, it's not going anywhere is it. It'll give you some time to relax and recharge just a little bit. You've made a whole new person, you deserve and need to be gentle and kind to yourself flowers.
I know you say you have no close friends, but is there anyone you can just go for a coffee with so you can have a little breather with?

Want2bSupermum Tue 12-Jan-16 03:41:33

I am also an expat wife who is now pregnant with #3 so I totally get where you are coming from. You need some sleep and a break. Ideally call your parents and have them or a sibling/ SIL you get on with come out to help you. If your parents can't come to help, get on your local FB mummy group and ask for help finding good childcare. At first when the baby is being looked after just sleep. Also ask on the local site about how to fill out the paperwork for your maternity leave pay. I am in the US and the paperwork is very confusing. Thankfully my employer takes care of it for me otherwise I would be totally lost too. First time round I had to fill out the forms myself and it was a neighbour who helped me do it.

The first year is really tough on a relationship. What you are going through happens all the time and if you keep trying your best and talking to your DH you will get through it. If you think you are slipping towards PND please see your doctor. It is incredibly common and an unsupportive spouse doesn't help you at all.

upthewolves Tue 12-Jan-16 06:27:44

Thank you all. Your replies have made me cry, just having someone acknowledge what hard work it is.

FlorisApple I am an Australian resident and DD is a citizen. I'm currently going through the process of applying for citizenship. It is the Centrelink stuff I have fucked up - I can't tell you how many hours I have spent on hold to them or sitting with DD in their office just trying to sort out parental leave pay. It has been a catalogue of errors but ultimately my mistake has cost me - I set the start date for my pay to be when my employer pay runs out, but that doesn't leave me enough weeks to get the full amount before I go back to work. Today I have spent a total of 2 hours on hold to them only for my phone credit to run out, then 90 mins in the waiting room in the office. They can only backpay me enough for 16 weeks out of 18 so now I'm dreading DH coming home and having to confirm I've lost us the money.

Millionsmom My mum is flying out to see me on March 9th. She was here in October when things were bad with DH. I have told her things are better. I already feel so guilty about living away and having a grandchild on the other side of the world that I tend to just tell my family life is great so that they don't worry. I have arranged to see a friend on Thurs morning though who will be able to offer some moral support. Thanks for your advice on how to deal with DH too. I need to toughen up, probably.

Want2bSupermom I'm going back to work in April and childcare starts in Feb, just easing her in. That will give me a bit of a break although I'm kind of dreading being separated from her at the same time, just the thought makes me cry but then again I am quite emotional right now. I have a history of depression and anxiety and might need to start seeing my counsellor again.

The thing is, I know that he should he helping with stuff around the house but whenever I have broached this, his view is that it isn't important. He just reiterates that he has never asked me to do it and it is my choice to stress out doing everything. But if I don't do it, he won't either - he has admitted as much. He doesn't see why the floors need to be clean for example. Our DD is starting to crawl and we have a dog... I need to keep the floors clean or I'm pulling hair out of her mouth!! I don't think this is neurotic.

Finally, is 5 months really normal to still not have sex? I have no desire at all and I'm getting worried. I'm still breastfeeding, no periods and sleep deprived which probably all contributes but I'm worried he is just going to get fed up because I can't even give an estimate of when I will be ready sad

12purpleapples Tue 12-Jan-16 06:36:24

That all sounds awful. Its hard enough having a baby, and then to have to be responsible for everything.
It sounds like with staying late at work that your DH may be deliberately opting out from doing family stuff by hiding in the office.
The sex thing is definitely normal.
Its good that you are meeting up with a friend, hopefully they will be able to provide some real-life support smile.

shovetheholly Tue 12-Jan-16 08:09:36

Your DH has compartmentalised: he does his job and the dinner, you do everything else.

The problem with this is that your side of the bargain is completely open-ended. You could, quite literally, have two people working flat out on it and it still wouldn't all get done. What's more, your working hours are much, much longer than his. You are literally getting nothing more than a few hours of sleep in the 24. The rest of the time, you are 'on'. I'm guessing you are working something like a 16 hour day at the moment (and YES, playing with your child counts as 'work' - it's developmentally important).

To add insult to injury, he's not even doing his side of things - he's asking you to take responsibility for decision-making and he's childishly diminishing the need to do basic tasks, like cleaning the floors.

This is unjust, unfair, and an inequitable division of the time. In terms of your workload, you are effectively a lone parent who receives a financial payout from someone who isn't really pulling his weight.

I suggest two things. Firstly, that you get a copy of Susan Okin's Justice, Gender and the Family - it's a wonderful, easy, feminist read about precisely these issues. Secondly, that you develop accounts of time that compare your hours to his. If you're not working at least a third to a half more than he is, I will eat my hat. I suggest you then use this to present him with a problem: the hours should be equal, and it's his responsibility to make that happen. That might mean him buying both of you more time, e.g. by employing a cleaner to do those floors, or buying a robovac, a dishwasher, one of those energy efficient tumbledryers etc. It almost certainly means him doing more, though.

If he doesn't react well, then I wonder if you should consider leaving. He sounds like an annoying, sexist manchild!

Want2bSupermum Tue 12-Jan-16 20:41:04

Post in the living abroad topic area under house and garden for advice on how to sort our your Australian maternity pay. There are lots of Aussies on there and someone will be able to help you.

As to you feeling awful for losing two weeks of pay, it is him who should be ashamed for not helping you get this done. He could have asked his colleagues with children how to do the forms. You have also spent time on hold. I would be darn tempted to go to their office with the baby and quietly demand they pay you for the whole period since you have spent many hours on hold. If they don't pay for the whole period complain to your local elected representative.

FlorisApple Wed 13-Jan-16 01:59:38

Oh dear. Sorry to hear your battles with the bureaucracy...that sounds really crap. I've had really good experiences with Centrelink, but perhaps that was just luck. I know it's easy for me to say, but write it off and try not to stress about it. These things happen when you're sleep deprived/have no one helping you etc. If you didn't tell him, would he even know what you were entitled to get? I guess you rely on the money and it's not that I could just throw it away either, but try and focus on what is most important, and not on everything being perfect. I do sympathise re: the housework not being seen. I used to have a partner who said if I was worried about it, then it was my problem to do it, since he was completely unbothered by it and having a clean house was bourgeois crap anyway. Ridiculous, and frustrating. Perhaps, then, he can do all the Childcare on the weekend and you can catch up on some other stuff? Not ideal, I know, but perhaps he needs a wake up call about how intense it is looking after children, especially when you don't have family nearby. Hang in there, it will get easier. Write down what you want from him and try and present it to him. Have a deadline in your own mind about what you can put up with and for how long.

Harriedharriet Wed 13-Jan-16 03:52:04

Ex pat here with three children. I went through this. First - it is, by any measure, very very difficult. Having babies, far away, no social network, no backup, very vulnerable and dh, who for some reason, turns into a dick. Mumsnet saved me. A poster suggested to someone a "list". It saved my marriage! I wrote all the household tasks on a sheet of paper, sat down with DH and said "these need to be done in the house, which ones do you want to do and which will I do?" No "I need, I want, help" nothing. Cold hard fact. Worked a treat.
OP - first year with a baby is insanely difficult. Don't expect too much from him or too much from yourself. Good luck.

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Jan-16 04:11:08

I wanted to come back and say that you should def speak to a professional. PND is common and IMO/IME it is very linked to sleep deprivation. The anxiety you describe is what I had for the first month but I was seen by a psychologist as my obn was concerned about me. The appointment was about 20mins and it totally helped me process everything. If you need more than that take it.

The hardest lesson I have had to learn as a mother is that to look after my DH and DC I must first look after myself.

FrancisdeSales Wed 13-Jan-16 04:50:10

I would also emphasize that Post-natal "depression" has in studies shown to be much more a case of anxiety. After my third I took ADs when DS was 7 months or older and the first thing that happened was my mind quieted down, I realised I had been ruminating constantly about everything and was very anxious without realizing it. I also had no emotional support and was living in another country. It is HARD. Please think about confiding in your mum or any friends in RL it's not good to be so alone and isolated emotionally.

You can be a great mum and be loving your dd and still be suffering at the same time. I found sleep deprivation a killer. flowers

whatyouseeiswhatyouget Wed 13-Jan-16 06:50:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itisbetternow Wed 13-Jan-16 08:13:52

You are doing too much. Leave the housework and just do the basics. I work full time and it is enough that I keep the kitchen clean and house tidy - dusting etc doesn't get done as I don't have the time. Enjoy your days with your baby. This time goes so quickly. Maternity leave is to childcare not to have a spotless house.

One person in a relationship usually ends up doing the paperwork etc. Again I manage and I'm a single parent.

This time goes so quickly so try to get a good balance. Draw up a meal plan for a fortnight and just get husband to follow that. He can do the cooking. It is relaxing for him.

Sex - 5 months perfectly normal. Don't worry.

upthewolves Wed 13-Jan-16 13:46:33

Thanks so much everyone - I do love mumsnet! In a way it is relieving to read your supportive comments but in another way it makes me more sad - maybe part of me was hoping you would all say IABU and this is what its like being on mat leave and no, there isn't anything wrong with our relationship... but I know that there is.

I am relieved about the sex thing. I think we need to have an open conversation about that, perhaps he needs some reassurance that things will eventually get back to normal and is worrying that having a baby has killed that side of our relationship.

shovetheholly you are spot on - my 'job' has no fixed end point, that is why it is so hard. It means that in the evening he is 'done' and feels he can sit down and watch netflix whereas I feel I can never sit down because there is always an endless stream of things to be done. I know that i should get more rest and let things wait but I find myself thinking 'great, she's asleep, can't miss this chance to... x, y, z'.

FranciseSales I have been treated for anxiety before. I did relate to your post - my mind never really stops, it is always in planning mode.

I have made an appointment to see my counsellor for next week and will consider taking some medication again, if thats possible while breastfeeding.

I tried a list for a while - we have a whiteboard in the kitchen. I wrote down all the household jobs then ticked them when they were done. If they needed doing I rubbed the tick off. Because his complaint had been that I needed to TELL him when something needed to be done and this was exhausting because it still meant I was mentally tracking everything. The list didn't work, he basically ignored it and it just wound me up more. But the suggestion of giving him fixed tasks is a good one - I'll try that.

I think what has really upset me is the realisation that he just doesn't really care how difficult things are for me. He won't ever say 'Wolves, you have been flat out all day, have a cup of tea and I'LL do that laundry'.

Example - this morning, I woke up with a banging headache and DD was awake at 5.30. He knew I had a bad headache because I'd been up in the night taking ibuprofen. I'd also been up four times in the night. I told him this. She was extremely high maintenance when she woke up and there was no settling her, so I had to get up and entertain her. He was also awake, lying in bed browsing the internet on his phone. Why couldn't he just fucking take her, having slept ALL NIGHT and let me rest when I was feeling ill?

It is clear that he won't, ever. I will need to explicitly tell him everything I need him to do for me, and then argue with him about why he should. But it hurts because if it was the other way around I hand on heart would do whatever would make him feel better. Isn't that what loving someone is?

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