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Really worried(38 Posts)
I have no one to talk to about this (my mum - who I could tell- is unwell and I don't have any friends I could tell). I've seen other posters who seem to find the act of writing it all down cathartic in itself so here goes. This is likely to be LONG!
So basically I'm worried that my marriage is failing. I had a 'conversation' with H on Monday night where a lot of stuff was brought into the open and we both acknowledged the relationship is awful and we're unhappy but I need some outside perspective; it all keeps going round in my head and I can't see what's what.
We've been married for 6 years, together nearly 10, known each other for over 15. Have 2 children of 4 and 7 months. He works full time, I'm a Sahm (since birth of 1st child). Own a 3 bed semi, no major financial worries, very happy in with area, children settled. All fairly standard.
Problems then. Over the past few years but specifically since I became pregnant with our second child, I've felt him gradually disengaging to the point where his contribution to running the house has been negligible. I am responsible for everything, from cleaning the toilets, to mowing the lawn, to taking the bins out, to admin stuff, to Diy...etc. He used to have 'man tasks' that he would do (usually after being asked several times and then posting on Facebook how manly he was for putting up a fucking shelf) but stopped doing this over the years. I do what I can myself now and my dad picks up the slack.
The one hous thing he is responsible for is the mortgage. We needed to remortgage last summer to fund a project, we'd known this was going to happen for 2 years. Yet he left things and fucked things up again and again until we had to borrow several thousand pounds from my parents to tide us over while he finally sorted the mortgage out. He has never thanked them for this.
When I was pregnant he had very little interest in the pregnancy (kept drinking in late stages even though I asked him to cut back, went the wrong way when I was in labour as he'd never checked route to hospital). Although as a Sahm I accept that most housework is my responsibility he is in a job where he has 18 weeks off a year (one at the moment, guess what!) and last Easter I pointed out that he could do a bit more in the house, as I was beginning to struggle a bit. He claimed he didn't know what needed doing. I wrote a list breaking down what should be done daily, weekly, monthly etc. List sat there for a week with no change in his behaviour so I gave in and threw it away. That Easter I also decorated DD1's new bedroom. I had to actually ask for his help when I realised I physically couldn't reach the higher bits (NB I got HUGE in pregnancy-have the devarication to prove it). I remember being around 38 weeks and struggling to clear out tip of a car on a beautiful summer afternoon, came back in to find DD plonked in front of Frozen and him asleep on sofa.
Basically there are loads and loads of examples I could give of him being irresponsible or lazy or thoughtless and it especially got to me as I struggled with a difficult late pregnancy and car crash birth. There's no point detailing everything but hopefully that gives a pictur.
We don't have sex. Of course we don't, I resent him so much I couldn't stand him touching me. And he hasn't come on to me since dd2 was conceived anyway. It was very much a feeling of 'thank fuck she's pregnant, we don't need to do that again!'
The 'conversation' was initiated as he proudly to,d me he'd got round to paying in some cheques he'd been given, first one dated early December, others from Christmas. I told him it seemed extremely disrespectful to the people who'd given them that he couldn't even be arsed to pay them into his bank account for 2 months (he spent the money a while ago though, he is extremely naive about finances). This started an argument and I decided to say the previously unsaid and told him quite clearly I was unhappy and why.
His first response, tediously, predictably, was that our relationship is dysfunctional because we don't have sex. Next, equally tediously, was that he feels told off and nagged by me. I said these were symptoms not causes and asked him to think why those things happened. His response, he is worried he is depressed as he has been feeling a growing sense of apathy over the years to me, our life, and even our girls. He doesn't like his job and wants to leave, and he feels unsupported by me as I don't seem interested in it.
I brought up the subject of porn as I twigged during last pregnancy what turning the pc on as soon as I went to bed, then wiping the history meant. He didn't deny watching it. I said I couldn't stop him as he's a grown man but I wasn't happy about it. What really worried me though was a short video I found in the downloads folder featuring a girl purporting to be 17 and an older man talking about her being a virgin. I asked him how the hell he though I'd want to sleep with him when he'd been watching this shit. The thing is, I don't really believe he watched it, I think he accidentally downloaded it and didn't know it was there. He denied it and said he 'usually just watches women taking their clothes off' but not very vehemently and that 'usually' is stuck in my head.
Anyway... Since than he's been to the gp who's has referred him for counselling. Nothing has been diagnosed but gp suggested anxiety. I don't wish to make light of mental illness, I have suffered from depression on and off (and worst PND after first child) since adolescence. Oddly it lifted during pregnancy and hasn't come back. Great for me but I am wondering if my mind being free of depression is helping me see H clearly for first time. But his anxiety. I think he mainly told gp about his work worries which is where that came from. H also said anxiety and fear of failure was behind some family things like not booking a holiday this year (which he said he would) or only taking the girls to the same places again and again. I kind of get that, but how does anxiety explain leaving your shit lying around the house, or not checking the car when you said you would, or watching your wife struggle while lying on the sofa? He may have an issue with anxiety but there's a hell of a lot more going on.
Also by admitting his apathy to all things family he basically told me he doesn't care about me. I kept asking him why the apathy and he just said I don't know. That's quite hard to come to terms with.
He has in the last few days started doing stuff in the house, and I am able to sit here writing this as he's taken the girls somewhere new and will be out (hopefully) for a couple of hours. But we've got a long road ahead, and I am realising that so much damage has already been done I don't know if it's fixable.
Thanks for reading if you have! I'm going to press post without checking for typos now otherwise I'll never do it, so apologies for all of those!
What do you get out of this relationship now?.
What do you want to teach your children about relationships, surely not this model of one?.
Your marriage seems over in all but name only, he does not seem willing and or able to want to fix the underlying problems and you cannot fix this on your own. I would look into seeking legal advice going forward, knowledge is power.
That sounds very intense and very sad, personally I would be planning an escape route and biding my time. He will probably be a better father once your seperated, good luck with your future.
I'd be looking at getting out. He's setting a really awful example to your children. I think it's time to accept it's all over.
The question is what to do now. Can you go back to work part-time? I hope your parents' subsidy will be taken into account when it comes to working out who owns what. Google "Entitled to" and see what you would be able to get in terms of tax credits etc.
Contrary to what you may think, I reckon there are families like yours, up and down the Country.
You have a very small child and a baby. That is absolutely knackering. You will both be sleep deprived. Before children, you were probably quite spontaneous and adventurous. Maybe got dressed up, had nights out, sex at the drop of a hat. That life has been replaced with a crying baby, toddler tantrums, piles of washing, dirty nappies, same old daily routine and a bit of hum drum.
Here's the thing : nobody finds these years easy. This is probably the hardest time of your life.
If you can, I think you need to have a good heart to heart, and decide to be kind to one another. If he would let you sleep in just one morning a week, I bet you would feel like a new woman.
The list of jobs that need doing is a good idea. But he needs to do the jobs!
Can you have a date night, say once a fortnight? Or even once a month? Get a babysitter and go out. Get dressed up. Me and DH seem to live in joggy bottoms at home, and I know that when we get dressed up for a night out, that we eye each other up a bit (like we maybe don't at home). Or even if you can't get a sitter, get the kids to bed, and have a candlelit meal, without interruption from the kids. You need to reconnect. And you need to get your sex life back on track, as nothing kills a relationship quicker than a lack of intimacy.
This could all be easier said than done, of course. Is it worth trying? You're married, you have kids, no-one has been unfaithful....so I would say so.
What blonde said.
I do think though that for some women laziness really kills things whereas I'm not really in that camp.
If there are families like this up and down the land then these parents are doing themselves and their children a huge disservice. It just shows children that a loveless marriage is their "norm".
This is well beyond having "date nights"; the man has chosen here to actively disengage from family life. How does a series of date nights deal with this - the short answer is that it does not. There is really nothing to rescue and or save here.
I think this may well be beyond the 'date night' stage. But, perhaps it's salvageable IF he can stop seeing you as a walking domestic appliance.
At the moment all the domestic drudgery is 1) not somethings he gives a shit about
2) your arena
You have therefore become something or someone he doesn't really give a shit about. He doesn't even see you as a sexual person any more.
If he were to start viewing you as a human being it might be salvageable. But that might not happen. Because he is miserable and in victim mode. If he doesn't step up and address his own mental health and his part in your marital decline then it's unfixable really.
By the way I left a marriage like this and life is truly, and immeasurably better.
I could not stay in a marriage where I was not valued. One that made me miserable. One that had me questioning myself.
Marriage is a partnership. You should feel better for being in it. Your life should be enhanced, not downgraded. You should not have to question why you are in it.
When it isn't working, for whatever reason, you need to take the steps required to extricate yourself.
The fact that he has seen the GP and that he has started doing some things around the house, suggests to me that he gets your point and sees that things have to change, and that he wants them to change. It might not be fixable in the long run, but it seems kind of pointless to have had a big discussion, set out the reasons you're unhappy, and then leave the marriage anyway without waiting to see if it is fixable.
The 'I don't know' and the apathy must be very frustrating but maybe he needs the opportunity to absorb and consider what you've said before responding properly.
But fundamentally, you need to think of what you want, and plan for how you're going to get there. If he' s able to support your plans as a joint partner, then great. If not, then you have your answer as to whether it's fixable regardless of anything else he does, or doesn't.
OP it's his attitude, towards you, his life, his job, his dc, that needs to change. It may not because it's a tall order. He may not have the capacity to change (the fact that he doesn't know what the apathy is all about is a red flag) despite the GP and counselling.
Protect yourself. Look more at his attitude and actions - not to his words so much.
Think about what is your minimum standard here. Respect and support come to mind for starters.
Think about your needs and whether there is a partnership here or not.
Well, the way I read your op is that he's depressed.
That's not a get-out but it does explain a lot.
I'm not excusing him - he does need to take respinsibility for it. But he has started doing that by going to the gp. Correct me if I'm wrong but a lot of men wouldn't do even that.
Thanks, quite a lot of food for thought, will try and respond to some of the points raised.
What am I getting out of the relationship? Financial security. Help with the baby. She has always been challenging and as I'm not a baby person I need help or I'd go mad with the relentlessness of it. Older daughter is a joy (most of the time!) and it occurred to me when I was pregnant that I could care for her alone. Umm... We don't really communicate other than things about the children or practical things so there's not much companionship to be lost. I do feel reassured in the night when up with baby again that there is another adult in the house. And he does do his fair share of baby care, if instructed. He's not a bad father at all and as long as he knows what's expected of him will muck in.
Yes he is setting a terrible example to the girls. I have had to make excuses for him to older DD eg when we get up 'please be quiet and don't disturb daddy, he needs to sleep'.
But no, I don't feel valued or like it's an equal partnership. A lot of the time i feel like his mum, picking up after him and telling him what to do; the questions, oh the constant bloody questions!
Blonde and Quitelikely, I do feel we are beyond the date night stage. Believe me I am aware that this is suppose to be hard and constantly question whether I just need to put up and shut up but I can't pretend, I'd just be seething with resentment. I do agree a marriage without intimacy (sex or not) is not really functional but there are so many things that need fixing before we get to that stage.
Those who suggested ending it, of course I have considered this but I'm terrified. I am financially dependent on him and I would struggle to find a job. Even if I could it'd be minimum wage and, assuming childcare was affordable, I wouldn't be prepared to put my daughters in childcare after having me as a Sahm is all they know. I've no idea how much benefits I'd be entitled to. We own the house jointly (thankfully) and the mortgage repayments are currently low and fixed but presumably that'd change with separation which we would have to declare to the lender? I would not want to leave the house or village we live in.
Also I would worry that his apathy/whatever would result in him failing to maintain a proper relationship with the girls and I'd end up chasing and haranguing him even if not married.
Those who recognised he has made changes, yes he has. And a lot depends on the outcome of the counselling and whether he will maintain the practical changes. Also I think Handywoman is right; this is fundamentally about his attitude. He can change overnight into the perfect husband but if he is, in his own words, 'just going through the motions' to keep me happy (quiet) then what's the point?
Your summing up above seems spot on. A lot of what you describe about dh could be depression related, I have had that tee shirt and the withdrawing and not knowing what the problem is ring bells for me.
Ultimately you may decided to pull out, but you don't seem to want that now so give it your best shot. Suggest you encourage the counselling and GP contact, possibly medication too, none of us like it,but it can help in time - no quick fixes with depression.
Try Relate, talk with them about making it work, but also how to pull apart if at the end of the day that's what you decide. Whatever you do don't stay in a loveless marriage with no respect, it may seem like an option for financial security, responsibility but trust me it never gets better or easier
Just to note that he could start off changing some things just to keep you happy (quiet) but find that it actually makes all of you happier, and things snowball (in a positive way) from there, so the intention behind the attitude is not necessarily key at this stage.
You've opened the channels of communication and that can only be positive. It sounds like it doesn't come naturally to him, but he needs to find a way to verbalise what he's feeling too. I hope you all find your way to a happier place.
I wouldnt fear the end of your marriage
it is an albatross
Obilisk, I am not trying to downplay the possible depression. I too have that t shirt and it had occurred to me before the conversation that it could be playing a part in his behaviour. You're right, I know it won't be a quick fix, I just hope he will stick with it.
Maybe a slightly dumb questions- would relate offer advice about separating too (and keeping things smooth for children)? I thought they were more about keeping people together.
Pip, I do hope you're right. The funny thing is that he is a Talker. He's a shy person who masks it by constant chatter. On the right subject he is incredibly articulate and compelling but I think he is out of his comfort zone here and just doesn't know what to say.
314 it may feel like that now but I do need to figure out if things can change. I don't think I'm prepared to go on with it if they don't.
Would anyone be prepared to offer an opinion on the porn use I mentioned in the op? I've read widely differing opinions on it on mn before and it's preying on my mind a bit, and I'm not sure if I'm overreacting or if it's par for the course in a relationship like ours?
Agree with 314 do not fear the end of your marriage. Way you talk about the situation is spot on. It might be beyond repair. Start looking at the alternatives to being married to this man and really weigh things up, make your choices with knowledge. Of course it's a frightening thing to contemplate. But don't stay through fear or co-dependence or mis-guided loyalty. You are a woman - a person in your own right. At the moment your marriage doesn't allow or see that.
The porn is another thing to weigh up - the only person who's opinion counts re porn is yours - you aren't wrong to feel really uncomfortable about it, not only from the standpoint of porn itself, but also the fact that he has sex with himself or a computer but not you.
While it sounds like he's always been fairly lazy and apathetic, and quite possibly has this fixed idea that domestic work and childcare are things for women to deal with, it's possible that he could be suffering from depression. Depression can make people selfish and lead to them disengaging from their families. However, that doesn't mean their families have to tiptoe round them and indulge them indefinitely.
I'd suggest setting yourself a time limit (in your mind, no need to share it with him) for improvement: he goes to the GP, he gets help, he makes an effort. GIve it maybe three months? And use those three months to research, quietly, how you might manage financially and practically if you ended the marriage. It's good to have the information even if you decide against acting on it.
I can kind of understand that if he's feeling unloved and disempowered and like a failure, then he might find porn about a male female dynamic where that is reversed attractive. Do you know if this dynamic is something he's usually into or if this is more recent since things have gone bad between you? Relate can be very good for helping couples split up (I hear they do more of that than keeping couples together), if you do want to try and work things out then couples therapy might be more the thing. My tuppence would be that it sounds like things have unfortunately got into a really unhelpful pattern between you whereby he's got depressed and anxious, hadn't been able to ask for support (you've probably been exhausted and not had resources to support him), he's maybe become a bit passive aggressive, you've become resentful and irritated by him, you've both withdrawn etc and so on. But he does seem to be trying to get help now, and acknowledging that things have been bad. As pp said, having small kids is hard on both parents. I'd be more positive about a good outcome than I am for most relationships I read about on mumsnet. Good luck.
Being the sole breadwinner for a family (especially with a spouse who is not prepared to even consider a return to work) is a heavy burden, and I think one that is dismissed too easily. I suffer from anxiety, and have recently suffered therapy. Our counsellors have advised that apathy, procrastination, etc are all results of anxiety/ worry, and it's a vicious circle. The less you do, the worse you feel...and so on.
No that doesn't give him carte blanche to behave like a complete arse. But what if he were to say that he wanted to work reduced hours, was prepared to step up and do his share at home, but would only work 0.6/0.8 or whatever, what then?
Ha, that should be started therapy...it's actually pretty helpful, no suffering involved!
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