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Am I being selfish to DH?(14 Posts)
Hi my DH and I have been married 11 years and I have 2 DC, the youngest who has aspergers. He is a crap dad to the kids in the fact he will not spend time with them or give me a break by looking after them. They crave his attention so when ever he is about they play up something chronic. He has been getting more and more stressed because I have been putting pressure on him to step up as a dad. We have been together 20 yrs and it was his maturity at 20 that drew me to him he was very well travelled and full of good decent conversation but it is maturity that lets him down as a dad he cannot get down to a child's level at all. He also loves his house and can't stand it when the kids have toys downstairs. He has been to the doctor to seek help as he can't cope any longer and she has suggested that he is perhaps autistic too and I have since found out a big family secret that was kept from me -that as a child he spent 18 months in a school for children with behavioural problems. We have also just started counselling and I have sort of been told to accept that he can't look after kids and it is a mental issue rather than his fault. As a husband he provides for us -I work but he would be more than happy for me to stay home, he loves his order and his cleaning so he does all the housework gardening and all the financial bits and pieces. He also does a lot for his elderly relatives and does loads for my nan as well. He will do anything for anyone just not us or anything that involves mess or noise. I have been made to be the bad cop in all this as getting him to step up to dad duties has made him ill. I would just love a break some times as I can't ever go out with friends during the day or even go shopping on my own. The counsellor says I can cope he can't and I should appreciate him for what he does for us and others and NOT focus on what he doesn't do. It has made a difference I have been less stressed with him about doing stuff with the kids but deep down inside I resenting don't have my own life. The rare occasions we have time on our own together he is lovely and so attentive to me . So I have been selfish all these years or as my RL friends see how unhappy I am sometimes should I give him the boot? which a couple of months ago before started counselling I was going to do.
Well, now you have had some input form the counsellor you can re-evaluate your feelings.
Now you know his actions may well be unchangeable, hard wirde, not relly within his control you can decide whether or not you can live like that for the rest of your life.
You have more infomration. You can make a more informed choice.
You do NOT have to resign yourself to this being your lot simply because 'he can't help it'. You CAN choose to decide that this is no longer possible for you and that you need to leave the relationship.
You might find a solution that suits you: like he moves out into a flat and visits. So he has his clean space, you can arrange 'just you time' together more often and the kids don't get the stress of having to be 'perfect' for him.
Good luck working through it!
He is a person struggling with real problems too. You are essentially telling yourself that your problems > his.
I don't think you were being selfish for wanting him to step up, BEFORE you had counselling etc.
But if the fact is that he can't cope with noise/mess then pushing it will not end well. You have not mentioned your kids ages - it may well be as they get older and more mature that he really comes into his own with them (many people struggle with young children).
If you are happy with the rest of your relationship, it would seem silly to 'give him the boot' (how would that give you more time anyway?).
Is there anyway between you that you can organise more childcare to enable you to get some time out?
There are a lot of great aspects to your marriage. I would try to outsource some care of the children so that you can have a break that way.
If your husband is generally great with people surely as the children get older he is going to become more competent at dealing with them?
You can try and find other ways of supporting yourself in this, because like you said it sounds like he's doing his best in many other ways. As much as we like to we cant change other people only ourselves and how we cope and deal with them. I found a mindfulness course particularly helpful, this would give you some time and hopefully long term help perhaps. Have a look at some books in the library on self help, you may even find that a calmer you rubs off on him.
Is there someone else that can give you a break from the kids?
Also you may find that as the children get older he will do more things with them. I've seen this happen before, a dad I know plays lots of board games with the children and takes them walking now they are older.
Hope this helps.
Now that you have all the supporting evidence in front of you I think it's time to draw a blank page and start again.
List the things that he can not do and that you get tired of. How can you get help?
Do you need a cleaner, babysitter, nanny, or some other human support?
If he's prepared to support the family financially in a fair way and recognise that you are taking on all the parenting responsibility could you reduce your hours or stay at home?
Are there tasks he feels he could do without interaction - laundry, ironing, preparing a meal - while you go to the park or play with the kids. Divide up the responsibility by capability and try it.
He sounds like a kind person willing to be supportive. If this knowledge has led you to understanding more I guess it's up to you to accept him as part of your lives in the best capacity he can.
How old are the DC? Are they old enough to understand the issues he has? Can he go through a list of activities that he could do? Eg a trip to the park, or a bike ride with less intense interaction and mess?
Another option is to separate, he will get away from family life and you can get on with yours, it's all very convenient that you have to support him, but where is yours, it's non existent, you didn't sign up for this so are perfectly entitled to re evaluate and decide perhaps this life is no longer for you, it might even help him become a better dad cos he either makes the effort to see his children or he does not, that I don't think has anything to do with his personal issues.
Also don't think it's fair on your kids to be craving his attention, that feeling of being ignored or someone so close to them showing disinterest is not good for their well being and development, it's not all about him.
What adora said. Your kids need a dad and you need a break. He can't opt out of parenting altogether. How does he feel able to interact with the kids - can he take them to a movie or take them to soft play and turn them loose - something where he can be relatively hands off but they at least see their dad doing things with them and taking them out rather than ignoring them completely?
As for you - if he can't give you the support you need with kids you need to buy it in from somewhere, and he needs to work with you to find money for that.
I am frustrated for you that your counsellor has presented it in this way. Firstly, I think you need to be heard. As sympathetic as your H, for the longest time you've been a virtual single parent in a marriage and that's not what you've signed on for. You allowed to be hurt, confused, angry and sad, don't let anybody say you aren't and you shouldn't be pressured into 'getting over it'.
I am hopeful with time, you will come to a comprise where you can receive support and where your H can be a part of family life, whilst taking into consideration his needs too.
Get some solo support and good luck.
Was the counsellor a specialist in his condition? It is unusual for a counsellor to say that he can't ever learn to look after his own children. He is clearly a high functioning person.
In the short to medium term, he can't look after his own children, but you can't do it all the time, so you have to buy in help. Au-pair or nanny seems sensible or local babysitter who you buy in for a couple of hours a day.
Longer term, there are courses and specialist counsellors to help people with ASD learn techniques to cope with things they have to cope with to get through life.
in your shoes, i'd start from the reasonable position that you need a break too, and pay for help, and then re-evaluate how you feel when you have a scheduled regular break to look forward to. I also agree DH needs to find ways he can interact with the DC that aren't too stressful, for their sakes.
Sounds a bit rubbish in the sense that your feelings are not being heard. You very justfiably feel exhausted, pressured, trapped, let down by your dh's inability to step up. Yes he may be on the spectrum but people on the spectrum are not fixed entities (as you are clearly aware) they are capable, often of empathy, and of learning new skills and pushing their boundaries, with the right support. But I don't get the sense that any of this is happening? My guess it that your counsellor knows very little about ASD and thinks that this is a 'black and white' situation ie 'put up or shut up'. But it isn't, it's still a relationship that requires give and take on both sides. Any counsellor should stay aware of this fact. And if the counsellor has lost sight of this you could seek another.
I agree you could look at outsourcing help so you get some time for you -essential IMO. But it needs to still be done in the spirit of everyone being mindful of everybody's situation. Not just you being mindful of his. I don't hear that happening here. What about your dc's needs? Surely it's massively in their interest (their self esteem and sense of self) to have some interaction and time with him??
Ultimately you are still entitled to your feelings and can still decide that living with him or being married to him is not for you.
Another option is to consider counselling just for you. You've been going through this for a long time, now, please look after yourself.
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