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Do I offer to release DH from our marriage?

(25 Posts)
MidMay Mon 16-May-16 08:20:43

As in, 'If you love them, set them free'.

BTW I've named changed as otherwise too identifiable on MN.

For background/to reduce risk of drip feeding, DH and I been together over 25 years, we have 2 teen DC. We've not been close (emotionally/sexually) for a while for all sorts of reasons but I have accepted that's part of the ups and downs of a long term relationship.

The crux of this is that my health is not great and this may be a long term/chronic issue (and obviously contributing to my feelings of vulnerability too). DH is not emotionally supportive about this, but practically he tries his best. Increasingly, I feel, there is some resistance. I do believe he loves me but he often talks about how I've changed over the last few years. I've been under a lot of (he would see it as self inflicted) stress which has very likely compounded my poor health and our relationship problems.

My health may affect my work/continued ability to earn (albeit part time). DH has always been main breadwinner and has also financially supported us for several years when I've not been earning (when DC were young and during career changes requiring retraining).

Because of our difficulties I am worried that our future relationship will merely become one of financial dependence (me on him) with both of us feeling frustrated, and him trapped, by the situation.

Do I offer him a 'get out' now? Do we need a frank discussion about this? I'd appreciate perspectives.

If I wasn't in this place healthwise I don't think I'd be thinking this. However with continued strain on the marriage and with the benefit of my own financial independence/income, I can't say for sure.

nightandthelight Mon 16-May-16 08:28:21

Last time I checked marriage was 'in sickness and in health' and your DH is not living up to that vow! I personally wouldn't end a marriage because I felt guilty that my health was putting a strain on things. If however you are unhappy and don't want to remain married to him then it is probably something you should consider.

Either way I think you need to talk to him about better emotional support for both of you. Perhaps marriage counselling could help?

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 08:38:18

I do think DH is living up to his vows night but emotional support has never been one of his strong points. He has more of a 'stick your head in the sand approach'. I think you are right - I do need to voice my concerns and I guess be brave enough to listen to what he feels too.

Zaurak Mon 16-May-16 09:22:16

You need to talk. In a no pressure situation, possibly with the kids out overnight somewhere else.
Don't start from the 'giving him an out' thing. That's drawing a conclusion before you've even discussed it. Just talk about the situation. What does he feel now? Where does he see the relationship going? Is it fixable? Do you want to fix it? Would counselling help?
I hope you find a way through

Fourormore Mon 16-May-16 09:25:53

I wouldn't, on the basis that marriage is "in sickness and in health", but I would be having a good look at the situation.

Your DH would say some stresses are self inflicted? Would you agree with that?
I'd perhaps have a look at finding a decent couples therapist with the aim of rediscovering some of the lost emotional and sexual intimacy.

MiffleTheIntrovert Mon 16-May-16 09:27:32

You've said that you think he still loves you, but haven't said about you - do you still love him? Also the not being close emotionally, how long has this been and is there a specific reason/s, or is it just linked to your illness?

Sorry, don't mean to bombard you with questions but I know what being in this situation is like and the above info makes a difference, IMHO. I'm sorry you're ill and worried, it sucks.

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 09:44:24

Thanks for your replies which have made me reflect on things deeper.

Four Yes I would tend to agree that some of the stresses were self-inflicted but only in the sense that I was driven to achieve something (career wise) which would benefit both me and the rest of the family and also take the financial burden off of him. To maintain this situation, be primary carer to DC and run the home left me with little to give, thus being bone tired and stressed.

If I'm honest I have neglected him/us, but I've neglected myself too which has very likely contributed to the demise of my health. I also carry a lot of guilt about the situation as feel I've put achieving my goal above everything else and with it all coming down around me, wonder if it was worth it…..

Miffle Thank you. I do love him, not in the same sense as when we were younger/pre DC, but I'd always imagined we would grow old together.

I do think we do need to talk it through.

SandyY2K Mon 16-May-16 13:51:04

One thing I will say is that if either party in a marriage is not getting their needs met (emotional or physical), it breeds grounds for an affair.

Accepting that the lack of intimacy and closeness is part of a long term relationship .... is what leads the husband or wife to seek excitement elsewhere.

I speak to many MM and OW who say the marriage with the BW lacked intimacy or that he's staying out of obligation and there is no more love.

So despite your illness is this a marriage that you're both happy in? What can you do to make it better? If you were him (minus the sickness even) is this a relationship that brings happiness and joy?

Think about these things and try and improve your marriage with the help of counselling if necessary.

Fourormore Mon 16-May-16 13:55:20

What's a BW?

StickTheDMWhereTheSunDontShine Mon 16-May-16 13:57:41

If he didn't want to be with you, he wouldn't be. He doesn't need your permission to make that decision.

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 14:04:24

Sandy I hear you but with the best will in the world I don't believe every (especially long term) marriage will benefit from consistent happiness and joy and, to be frank, your comments risk putting anyone feeling vulnerable under more pressure to please.

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 14:07:28

Thank you Stick. I'm sure he'd he upset to hear that I was thinking like this.

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 14:08:47

'Be' upset

SandyY2K Mon 16-May-16 14:27:33

BW = Betrayed wife


No marriage is filled with rainbows and unicorns on a daily basis.... that's not reality and that's not what I was suggesting..... A marriage takes two people to put effort in.

Every marriage has ups and downs A good marriage doesn't mean one person wants to bail out because their spouse becomes ill at all. On the other hand if the marriage was in a bad way before the illness .... then they will likely not want to stay when the illness gets worse.

Only you know the state of your marriage and whether or not there are underlying. issues that need to be addressed.

However, if pretty much every day is filled with doom and gloom and either spouse dreads coming home (I'm not saying that is your situation)... then being realistic you can only expect two things to happen.


1. Bitterness/Resentment/misery especially where the lack of interest in intimacy is one sided but they stay together anyway

2. The marriage ends for those very same reasons.

My intention wasn't to put you or others in this situation under pressure, but all to often I see people not facing reality by burying their head in the sand and then being totally blindsided when the husband or wife announces that they are leaving.

A marriage takes two at all times.

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 14:40:04

Sandy thanks for clarifying. I would say in essence our marriage is a good one. My deteriorating health, amongst other things, does get in the way of that and because I've been so preoccupied over the last few years up to bring unwell, I need to take responsibility for that. DH has 'coped' by focussing his energies in his sports. I suspect we're both guilty of letting things slide and yes, we do need to talk.

Somerville Mon 16-May-16 14:51:42

You come across sounding quite detached about your marriage but the subtext seems to be that you do love your DH deeply, otherwise why would you even think about freeing him. flowers

Since he still loves you, I don't think it would be very freeing for him to be prevented from supporting you through illness and all the stress that goes with that. And I don't say that lightly - my DH had cancer treatment for nearly a year (sadly proved terminal). The only thing worse than supporting him through that would have been not being able to support him through that.

I remember one time after some particularly hideous chemo. My parents had the kids for the weekend and we had a row because he suggested that rather than look after him I go for a relaxing spa weekend hmm confused. He was always very independent and found it so hard that so much about my life had to change because of his illness.

What stopped him making outlandish suggestions was me asking what he would want to do if it were me who had cancer. And I wonder if it might help you to consider that before you talk to your DH: how would you feel about your marriage if it was him who had this chronic health issue, rather than you?

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 15:18:55

Somerville Thank you for your reply and I am very sorry to hear that your DH lost his battle with cancer flowers

Your reply has really struck a chord with me as it was my DH's brush with cancer a few years ago which meant that it was important (to us both) that I finalised my career retraining in the event that I would need to become the main breadwinner and support the family/myself and DC if he was no longer able to. Now the tables are turned….. Perhaps, if I'm honest, I did not support him emotionally as well as I should have (because of trying to keep everything going) but he wanted to ignore it all (very independent too) and thankfully he is now well and remains cancer-free.

If it hadn't been, I certainly would not have considered leaving him, having to deal with it by himself. However, I do feel he is already emotionally detaching from what is going on with me. Maybe its just too close to home….

MiffleTheIntrovert Mon 16-May-16 15:23:03

I think serious/long term illness in a relationship can either break or make it. It's very easy to say the words "in sickness and in health" - it's even very easy to believe it whilst saying it - but it can be bloody hard to actually carry it out.

Mid if you love your husband and want to stay together, talk to him. Tell him just what you've said here. It may be you can discuss ways to make you feel closer to each other, and I don't mean cliches just like bloody date nights wink I think it's important to "cherish" each other and show the other is loved - and the way to do this varies from couple to couple, and from individual to individual. If you speak to each other and want to make it work, discuss how each of you would like to feel loved and carry it out.

I am a bit uncomfortable with some of sandys earlier post which seems to be a bit "shag or you'll lose him" confused but I do think the importance of physical affection (and I don't mean sex, I mean hugging/kissing and just being tactile with each other) can get lost sometimes, and things like this can be a reminder that you're loved and in a relationship - it's very easy to fall into a "carer/patient" type role, especially if one is carrying out some physical care for the other. I think it's a bit like having little DC - you tend to be partners both in a "caring" role to the DC and things like kissing sometimes brings it back to a more adult "romantic" relationship. I'm sorry, I'm probably explaining it really badly.

Somerville I'm very sorry about your DH. You are absolutely right in seeing it from DH's point of view. I once mentioned to DH that I felt guilty he was tied down to me when he could be happier with someone healthy and active, and this was almost insulting to him - I think he felt as though I saw him as shallow and questioning his love for me, almost. DH said then in a long term relationship there are times when one person leans on the other, and at other times the other one leans. It's my turn to lean now, but it might be him another time.

I would honestly have a big sit down discussion with your DH and talk about everything - tell him how you feel and how you would like your relationship to be in future, and listen to how he feels and what he would like.

If you do love each other (and it sounds like you do from what you've written) it might be harder than it usually has to be, to make it work and for you both to be happy, but it can be done. Your relationship should and can be a source of strength to you, and happiness, even if your circumstances are difficult. Being open and honest and talking about everything will help - it's much better to know what your DH is actually really thinking than trying to guess. You shouldn't have to guess!

I sincerely hope you feel happier soon.

MiffleTheIntrovert Mon 16-May-16 15:24:01

I took so bloody long to type that I cross posted with your last post, sorry

Somerville Mon 16-May-16 15:35:07

I totally understand about your retraining in the event of becoming the main breadwinner and the stress this will have put you under. Growing my client base (I freelance) at the same time as everything else was the most stressful time of my life. If I didn't have about the most supportive extended family going, I don't think I'd have made it to this point, tbh. Do you have other support?

About you not supporting him emotionally - it's hard to support anyone in any way if they don't want to be! It sounds like he didn't?

Do you think that, in your conversation, it might help to focus on boosting the ways in which you are good at supporting each other, rather than stressing about the ways you're not? Have you heard of the love languages thing?

MidMay Mon 16-May-16 15:55:20

Miffle You speak a lot of sense and I needed to hear that, thank you.

Somerville Thank you too. I really hope you are doing ok. It's certainly stressful keeping it all together when everything you hold dear feels like its being pulled out from underneath you. I suppose in a way that's how I feel again now and maybe subconsciously knowing what its like to be on the 'other side' is why I want to give him the chance to bail as I know I will need emotional support. Have arranged for a friend to have DC at the weekend and will set aside time for us to talk.

Somerville Mon 16-May-16 15:57:50

Miffle I completely agree with you about still being able to make each other feel cherished.

We found ways to do that; they were different from before.

We also had to learn each others new sensitivities, and tiptoe around those things a bit. Where those sensitivities left the other one short of emotional support in that area, we had to go elsewhere for it, to the wider family/friends.

Hope your chat with him goes well, Mid.

Somerville Mon 16-May-16 16:00:20

And thanks, yes, I'm doing fine. Eighteen months on now. Onwards and upwards is the only way.

MiffleTheIntrovert Mon 16-May-16 18:11:49

A talk at the weekend sounds good. The emotional support thing is hard, I know. My DH is lovely, but he's not a big "talker" - he's the type to shrug and say "it is what it is, talking's not going to change it". On the other hand, I could talk til the cows home and analyse stuff and discuss things endlessly...Over the years DH has learnt to listen and try and "engage appropriately" when required wink and I have learnt that DH knows how I feel even without me talking about it for eight hours and will make me a cup of tea or pat my hand etc.

The "love languages" mentioned upthread is very useful, and also one of the advantages of you having been with DH so long is that you probably already know each other's strengths and weaknesses so to speak, and have weathered shite times before so you know you can come through hard stuff.

The only other thing is I have found out who my true friends really are, instead of a load of friends as I had before, I now have three very good friends and a load of acquaintances. Sometimes I offload to them rather than DH (particularly if he is stressed or tired from work) and they are the type of friends that will come and hold my hand whilst I cry in my pyjamas grin

It might be worth thinking if you have enough support around you, other than DH, and if he has too, as an alternative outlet. I think, particularly for people in a caring role, they don't always want to offload to the person they are caring for, as they don't want to sound resentful or burdened. There is a shameful lack of support for carers in today's society's and I will stop now before I start on the subject of carers allowance


MidMay Mon 16-May-16 20:20:05

Miffle our DH's sound very similar. I will endure hours of talk of his hobby but if it's about feelings or any type of vulnerability, forget it!

Thankfully we both have support from both mutual and separate friends. He'll go off with some like-minded friends for a ride and a beer to clear the cobwebs and that's his thing, or retreat to his man shed to fiddle wink. Mine will listen to me, dry my tears and keep me feeling positive.

Recognising and respecting each other's strengths and weaknesses is I guess what's got us this far and I reckon we'll be OK. I think I just got myself so worried about the future and I don't want to be a burden on him.

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