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Advice please

(6 Posts)
helixsize5 Sat 17-Sep-16 10:26:13

I've name changed.

My husband and I are caught in a cycle of hurt and defensiveness when discussing things or trying to raise issues.

It quickly can become critical or blaming.

We find it hard to rein in contempt. I guess there's lots of resentment and hurt and yet we both so desperately want it to work. We've worked towards and achieved so much together.

We've had an awful lot of stress over the last few years since our gorgeous son was born. Work can be pressured for both of us, no nearby family (though both very supportive) and I've had periods where chronic illness has caused extra stress, some which was diagnosed during that time and was hard to diagnose.

Sleep can be an issue; he has a low tolerance for our son's 'poor' sleep (3.5) despite the fact we know it goes in cycles and easily knocked by things. He finds it hard to get up early. I have had bad joint issues and they often wake me up. We ended up sleeping separately for a variety of logistical, physical but also on my part emotional reasons. I've also found it hard to want to have sex due to illness but also feeling wounded.

We've booked counselling next weekend.

We are trying to recognise when we are being immature, resentful, out of line etc but it's hard at times.

I do know that in the past his arguing style was not good, (mind you I will say I now can emulate it too and am not proud) but it's something i have worked out and been able to point out. (And example was to start calling me stubborn when I didn't agree. This has totally stopped). However in the past it made me miserable. I know I've made him similarly miserable.

Is it honestly salvageable?

Some days we feel closer than ever. Other days I feel we just wound each other.

I feel he's found it hard to adapt to the needs of a little person. Our little person was constantly poorly from around 9 months old till earlier this year which didn't help things like sleep and eating. He is now trying so so hard to not let things get to him but he finds the little model of himself very frustrating! (Carbon copy apparently) But he is trying. I guess sometimes when we are bickering I see it as not enough. It frustrates me that I have to spell things out.

In many ways if we were closer and having regular sex I know he'd feel less hurt and rejected and then defensive etc.

I'm rambling now. We just want to make it work so badly.

helixsize5 Sat 17-Sep-16 10:49:31

The other thing I get a bit confused about is sex.

It's been a bit more frequent this year compared to the previous couple, but really not much, maybe 4 times. some of it has been due to illness, we are often very busy; he often goes away at wkends or we have parents staying. He goes to be late, I'm early and we get out early wake up call. But for DH he's starting to see it as a difficulty, because he's just got a higher drive. He feels hurt I guess.

There was such hurt and pain in the past though I've not found it easy to feel like I want to. My drive disappears if I feel we are constantly at war. A big issue was that he didn't really believe me/ wasn't very supportive when I was ill. Does believe the main issue was lack of sleep, whereas it was multifactoral and I couldn't sleep (back, anaemia, asthma, thyroid issues). When ds was poorly sleep was a factor but did not cause the issues I had (essentially a state of severe weakness and fatigue until all the things were fixed / worked on)

At one point I really did thing we had to spilt up and I was questioning if he had some elements of an abuser. I bought the freedom project book and other than a slightly patriarchal attitude at times (learnt from his father and very religious upbringing) and being very naive about gender stereotype stuff, (middle of three boys) I couldn't see him in it.

But I just don't feel like sex much when there is tension and unresolved stuff. Since we've both been trying to work on us, and I've seen genuine loveliness, I've been keener. But then logistics aren't easy!

The biggest issue I feel for him is he is very impatient generally. This has led to success but he struggles with it at home (and we need lots of patience with our very bright, energetic and clingy 3 year old!)

Mummydummy Sat 17-Sep-16 10:56:32

So sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. I'm sure getting counselling is a good idea - it gives you a safe environment to raise the issues that matter to either of you and actually to be heard. If issues don't get resolved they hang over you in a cloud of resentment and hurt and you never manage to move on.
My friend has just been going and the counsellor pointed out some behaviours which weren't helping - like she took in a notebook so she could note down the next thing she found annoying whilst her DH was speaking - and counsellor told her to put it away as it meant she wasn't actually listening to him. (My friend is a sweetheart so I'm sure there were things her DH wasnt getting right too!)

I also think a counsellor could help you think of things that you can learn to do to change the dynamics, which include saying positive and nice things, thanking each other, little acts of kindness, affection, date nights, learning how to divert out of an impending argument, using humour and learning when to say nothing at all and letting things go.. And I do think affection and sex are important elements of intimacy, trust and love that are vital to get beyond the grind of daily chores, pass each other in the kitchen hassles.

It is very hard when you have small children and its really important that home feels like a haven. That you are a team and have each others backs an that you care how each other are feeling. Relationships do go through very difficult phases but can come out of them stronger and with more understanding. I wish you luck OP. Its really great that you have both agreed to go to counselling - thats the first important step and shows that you both care enough to try and make things right (bank that). So that is a positive - many couples don't do it at all, walk away or make disastrous mistakes before they realise they should have.

helixsize5 Sat 17-Sep-16 11:55:52

Thanks mummy. I'm crying.

Such a lovely post.

I try so hard to analyse where we go wrong. Disdain is a big one.

DH pointed out my disdain this morning. I agree.

I realised I acted like that in response to two comments that were disdainful which he did apologise for when I raised it. I've just written a text to try to break down what was said and why it was disdainful. I try not to make it preachy. But I think it is. But I feel I have to spell stuff out.

A friend had said to go easy on him as he's not as knowledgeable about emotional and physiological stuff as me. He does listen though.

I've found mn very helpful.

When he once said to ds "don't scream like a girl" I went ballistic. That doesn't help as he cant cope with that.

He said it today (knowing it's Its pile of crap but is trying and mildly failing to keep calm while ds runs him ragged and refuses to get dressed) and I wrote "please educate yourself on gender stereotyping and how it is damaging to boys and girls." Which he totally agreed with. But looked even more deflated. Then I feel shit. Because that was so bloody preachy!

But if I don't point it out he won't know.

(He was a very feisty middle child and they were all very male and he definitely regurgitates crap said at school in the early 80's) he's not on social media, which I admit I've found very educating as a parent.

He just wants to be a great dad and a great husband.

I think I'm too principled and find humour difficult in such situations!

The counsellor is described as being good at using humour smile

helixsize5 Sat 17-Sep-16 12:27:41

I guess I need to do this:

Don't try to change the other person, all you can change is yourself/your reaction.

Mummydummy Sun 18-Sep-16 11:41:56

Well you are being honest and identifying things you could do differently - I think it takes some self awareness and courage to do that. Being on the receiving end of disdain and condescension must be hard - and perhaps a bit emasculating, if you feel you are often being told off. But dont be too hard on yourself - I think its very common, a friend and I discuss the fact that she and her husband after 25 year together too often slide into contempt, disdain or a sweeping off-handedness (and being flip) with each other. Which she regrets. I notice it between them too and it makes me sad. They almost automatically expect the other person to be about to say something stupid. But I do think we dont recognise the good in the other person and start to take for granted the kindness and consideration they show you...that sometimes gets filtered out. And then the person starts thinking why do I bother?

Sometimes I think women can start becoming a little po-faced as mothers - as in we know best and are most dedicated to the care of the children (we usually are taking the lion share of the responsibility for them). But that trend can be to the detriment of other parts of your personality, the joy and fun. And men bring different skills to parenting, like risk taking and adventure which are important and should be valued too. A pal of mine started being quite a goody goody sunday school teacher for a while and it was a bit boring, I used to try and nudge her fun and naughty side so she didnt end up always talking to everyone like a disapproving school teacher.

But saying all this is implying things are all your fault which they clearly are not. Relationships are a two way street and I'm sure you have deeper emotions and needs that are underneath which may need airing - perhaps you feel unsupported or let down sometimes by your H. Obviously, I have no idea about any of this. Its your relationship.

But do hold onto love and kindness - they are exceptionally valuable, rare and precious things and too easily lost. Maybe, you both just need a little chance to re-set the pattern of behaviours to get back on track. Having kids can put such huge pressures on you. And it is possible to change behaviours. Quite a few years ago I noticed a way I was treated by my (now X) H which mirrored how I treated him and my BF. Which was sort of belittling, taking the piss in front of other people. And because I hated how it felt when done to me I stopped. Because these were people I loved. And kindness is the only thing that matters really (with integrity).

So big hugs to you. Notice the good and try and do a few things today that bring you both pleasure. You deserve to be happy.

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