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Semi-detached husband

(59 Posts)
MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 08:35:35

Hi all - I need some advice and a fresh perspective. I feel really stuck right now, and don't know either how to proceed, or even whether my anger and resentment is justified, and whether I should just get over myself.

My DH and I have been together for 8 years; we have 3 small children, aged 4, 2 and 2. He's always been a bit slapdash in the way he goes about domestic responsibilities, but over the last 14 months he's just disappeared into the clouds and is driving me up the wall.

We moved house a year ago, from a place and house that I adored, to somewhere 4 hours north where I don't know anyone, to be closer to his work and his family. I gave up my job to facilitate the move (his job is more secure) and went freelance. Despite the fact that the move was entirely in his interest, since it's been on the cards, he's just shrugged off more and more responsibility. He did literally nothing to assist with the legal or practical aspects of the move, apart from one contribution, which was to send a spare set of our house keys to some friends that were house-sitting for us - he sent the wrong keys. Once we moved, we had to do 6 months of building and renovating work, and again, he did literally nothing in terms of organising it, even answering builders' questions with 'I have no idea what's going on, tbh!'; and any decorating work he did, he fucked up so badly that I had to redo it.

In our previous existence, we used to split responsibility for paying bills etc, but here I've ended up doing all of them and managing all our finances. I feel like his housekeeper, to be honest. But he DOES do 50% of the childcare, 50% of the laundry, cooks more than I do, and does just a little less than 50% of the cleaning. It's the 'domestic management' that he doesn't do: if I delegate a job to him, he'll do it eventually, but he won't realise for himself what needs doing (ie. if another parent gives him a birthday party invitation for our eldest, it won't occur to him that she'll need to bring a present. I'll need to ask him to get something, or buy it myself). It's so tiring having to keep on top of everything: I constantly have a mental 'to do' list setting off alarms in my head.

I've talked to him twice about this, telling him that I feel exploited; and he's promised to change. But he's made no changes at all. We have an au pair coming out to us next week, and again, he's done nothing in terms of thinking about what preparations need to be made; whereas I've spent every evening for the last 3 weeks getting her room ready; contacting language schools; buying a bike for her etc etc.

What actually hurts me more, is that he seems to have stopped paying any attention to me or my life, along with detaching from how the family runs. I manage the social side of our life, as well as its practical side - I've been basically the only one to make new friends here, to organise playdates for the children, and to organise nights out for me and DH. I've said to him that I want him to take more responsibility for our relationship - so he organised a night out, but forgot it was the weekend that his sister was flying over (she lives abroad) to see him, so had to cancel it, and he hasn't done anything since. He literally has not organised a single date night, off his own back, since 2010. He doesn't believe in romance, so never makes any gestures or anything; and doesn't organise anything for our anniversary, my birthday etc. And last week, he forgot I had a job interview! I had to go away for 2 days for the interview, and he texted me saying 'where are you?!' Since I've been back, I've told him how hurt I was, and his response has been to sulk, not talk to me, and sleep in a different bed for 3 nights. He didn't even ask me how it went or whether I got it!

I honestly don't know what to do. I've talked to him three times now about this, and last time made it quite clear that it was his last chance. But now what? He hasn't changed; he's got worse. I don't have any income currently, since we've moved, so we're reliant on his income - which makes me wonder whether I'm being unfair. After all, he does contribute far more money to the family than I do currently (although this will change in January), he does 50% of childcare etc (which is more than a lot of men). I'm really unhappy and all I want to do is go back to our old house & city.

Madinche1sea Wed 05-Oct-16 09:42:28

Hi Mabel - sorry you're feeling this way. Tbh, you sound quite resentful that you've made this move and given up your own job to better facilitate his and you're blaming him for this. It's totally understandable. As you've effectively become a SAHM for this period, it sounds as if he's been taking full advantage of this by shifting his focus onto work rather than you and the home.

You sound like you've made a real effort to integrate yourself and the kids into a new area and the effort involved in this should not be underestimated. In fact you've been putting everyone else's needs before your own.

I'm probably not the best person to comment here as I'm a SAHM and my DH is incredibly work-focused, but it does sound to me like he does a lot round the house if he does 50% childcare, 50% laundry and cleaning and most of the cooking, as well as a full-time job. I would actually call that stunning, (but it's probably normal for couples who are in the habit of both working full time, so fair enough). Just for comparison, my DH loves spending time with the kids when he's home and he's great at that, but he does zero cooking or housework (though happy for me to get cleaners as I see fit). You may find though, that the longer you're in the role of SAHM, he will correspondingly do less around the house. Beware of this shift!

It's crap that he makes no effort to take you out or make you feel special, that would be something that would make me very angry too. My DH is away 2/3 nights a week but we both recognise the need to stay connected with a date night every week. Otherwise life just gets in the way and people drift apart.

He does sound like he's becoming very selfish and is taking advantage of the changed dynamic in your relationship. I don't like the sound of him sleeping in another room for 3 nights - that sounds spiteful. He has to shift his attitude to recognise the sacrifices that have made for him and to start showing you that he cares. Have you told him how you feel? Maybe write it down and give it to him?

MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 09:52:27

Sorry, I wasn't clear - I'm working full-time, but freelance, and won't get paid for the work until January (which is why I'm not currently financially independent). I have to fit my hours around the kids, so I start work at 5am every morning, and get 10 hours work done by 3pm, when I collect the eldest from school (fitting in taking the kids to school/nursery etc); and I do that 6 days a week. If I wasn't working, I'd be a bit more happy to run our lives; but as it is, I currently put more hours in than him.

Yeah, I am pretty resentful about having moved house for him. I'd be better able to cope with it if he'd made one jot of an effort for our new life.

Madinche1sea Wed 05-Oct-16 10:04:32

Well in that case, I do think he's being incredibly selfish. And sorry, I'd missed that you've already tried taking to him several times (of course you have)!

Is he angry at you because he feels your resentment and, rather than sympathetic towards you, it's getting on his nerves? Does he think you purposely didn't tell him you were going for the interview to make a point or something? Just trying to work out where he could possibly be coming from.

MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 10:13:12

The interview thing was annoying because it was the third thing about me that he'd forgotten that week - I do an evening class on Thursday evenings, and he'd forgotten and wasn't home on time to take over childcare, so I was late. He simply forgot I had an interview - I had told him. It just feels like he takes no interest in my life at all. He walked off in the middle of a conversation earlier in the week, in which I was saying how stressed I was about the au pair arriving, and how much there was still to do. When I called him back, he admitted he hadn't actually been listening!

I think, when he gets a bit stressed with work, he goes completely into his own bubble and forgets about/ignores the outside world. But he's always a bit stressed with work, and the outside world doesn't just stop turning because he doesn't want to deal with it. I think he does realise that his behaviour is exploitative (he has admitted it), and that every time he forgets, ignores or fails to do things, then it's me who has to pick it up - and that I get stressed with work too, but I don't have the luxury of just ignoring the outside world, because, for me, there's no-one else to pick up the pieces. But yeah, I think his response to me being angry with him is to be angry with me: it's an incredibly childish response. He doesn't want to deal with the fall-out of his actions, and is cross with me for rocking the boat. He's currently not talking to me, because I'm cross with him for forgetting I had a job interview! But a grown-up's response would be to apologise.

minipie Wed 05-Oct-16 10:36:29

OP, I'm in a very similar position. DH and I both work. He does more hours than me, granted, but not that many more, and I do 90+% of the domestic stuff.

Like your DH, mine is good at sharing the day to day tasks - cleaning/tidying, cooking, laundry. And childcare to the extent he's home while the DC are awake (which is not much in the week).

However he is useless at any "family admin" of which there is a LOT. Like you, if I give him a task he needs several reminders and then cocks it up. If I don't give him a specific task it will not occur to him that anything needs doing. Party invites, nursery letters, medical letters addressed to "parents of DC1" - he doesn't even open them, they are automatically my problem for some reason.

There is a book called "Wifework" which is about this kind of admin and how it always seems to fall to the wife even if both are working.

So I don't have any advice but lots of sympathy and watching with interest for suggestions!

junebirthdaygirl Wed 05-Oct-16 10:45:09

If he is starting a new job he is probably very stressed so that could explain some of it. It's good you are getting an au pair as it sounds a lot for you both. Could ye use that opportunity to reconnect with a night out per week copper fastened. Let go resentment about moving as once you agreed to it it became your decision too.
I work but never in all our years has dh bought a birthday present for a kids party. It's not his thing so maybe accepting some few things is OK.
I would not be happy about him having no interest in romantic gestures though. I would insist on birthday present Christmas present etc as it's only common decency and what kind of example is it for the children.

minipie Wed 05-Oct-16 11:10:12

I work but never in all our years has dh bought a birthday present for a kids party. It's not his thing

What is "his thing" june? What domestic admin does he take charge of? I'm trying to work out what tasks and areas of responsibility I can shift onto DH so wondering what works for others.

MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 11:16:41

Thanks minipie - it sounds like we're in very similar situations. I find bearing 100% of the responsibility for delegation absolutely exhausting. Especially because I know he's aware of the inequality, and how much I hate it, and still doesn't do anything to change it. And I know he doesn't do it at work: he's perfectly capable of organising, taking the initiative etc. So I can only conclude that (a) he doesn't value 'family admin' in the same way, and (b) doesn't particularly care that I'm not happy.

June - DH hasn't started a new job; it's the same job he's been doing for 4 years - it's just that he used to commute, so we moved to be closer to his work. I think you're probably right about letting go resentment for having moved. I just hoped that - considering I've moved away from literally all my friends, my family and my job - that he might have made at least a tiny bit of effort to help me settle in here. Instead I'm left feeling really isolated, while he frequently disappears to go and see his family etc.

Mrstumbletap Wed 05-Oct-16 11:22:31

Sorry your going through this OP, you sound very capable and organised and he sounds a bit lazy tbh.

He doesn't believe in romance? I'm always a bit sceptical when people say this, as romance is just a way of doing little things to show you love someone. If someone never does this because they 'don't believe in it', is that just an excuse to not show someone love? Does he ever bring you a tea or coffee in the morning? Rub your feet on the sofa? Leave you a note or send you a random text just saying he loves you? Etc. Does he ever show you love?

Because if he doesn't, and he doesn't ask about your job interview, I'm guessing your sex life is t great either as you don't sound like your communicating/connecting well.

I would be having a sit down and serious chat with him, saying that you feel more like roommates/colleagues than a couple. And with his lack of thought about you and your life you feel quite lonely and maybe shouldn't be together.

junebirthdaygirl Wed 05-Oct-16 11:27:13

Ok so dh when dc were small did morning routine before work, dropped to school played loads when got home and did bedtime. He wad very involved in their sports stuff dropping collecting etc. I was home first so l cooked midweek but he cleaned up tidied around. He often cooked at weekends or we went out. He handled all bills with suppliers eg insurance. He booked car services bought new tyres. He handled all medical issues as good at that much better than me. So got up to vomiting children did doctors remembered antibiotics etc. I suppose we just played to our strengths. Some things he never did like buying birthday gifts for parties as l suppose l like that stuff and would hate what he got. I also always did homework and most school stuff. But mostly because it's my thing.
He brought kids to matches which ld rather not do waiting hours for them.
Also if l went away for weekends l walked out the door didn't organise stuff or leave instructions.

MatildaTheCat Wed 05-Oct-16 11:37:24

If he used to commute is he now spending much more time with the family and suddenly feeling the pressure of 3 very young DC? I would start to 'forget' some very inconvenient things. Go out when he has something planned, forget to buy his favourite food. Whatever will really annoy him.

You sound as if you ou are working too many hours and are too isolated. Working a 10 hour day before collecting the DC and doing the evening routine is crazy tiring. Can't this be reduced? Be selfish and since he isn't attentive to your needs make sure you are.

The sleeping in another room is bloody childish and annoying. I would be inclined to tell him in words of one syllable that he is in the wrong and if he cannot learn to apologise and shape up you will consider moving back to your old town since there is little reason to stay.

minipie Wed 05-Oct-16 11:45:29

Thanks june, that does sound more than DH does. For comparison: we share the morning duties, he's only home for bedtime 1x per week, he does most of the cooking, we share night waking equally, he does insurance and car but that takes a few hours once a year, I do medical appts/prescriptions, I do all nursery school admin, I do all extra curricular activity admin, I do all holiday bookings, I do almost all online food shopping and putting away, I do nanny pay and nanny handover every morning, I do all kids clothes, I do all parties and presents, I do all toy sorting, I do kids food, etc etc.

Matilda the OP may not want to reduce her hours as this would affect her career prospects. Why should she reduce her hours rather than her DH reduce his and do more domestically to take the pressure off her?

MatildaTheCat Wed 05-Oct-16 12:06:05

Minipie, fair enough,the OP may not want to reduce her hours but working 60 hours a week plus the amount of childcare she does sounds utterly exhausting. She has no time to herself at all. On a practical level if he won't change she can look for ways to carve out more time for herself. In an ideal world he would take her concerns on board and do his share but he hasn't so far.

Lots of married couples have areas of responsibility and are fine with it but this goes deeper. I suspect the forgetting the job interview and sulking are more annoying than organising the gas bill.

OP, are you sure he does 50% of childcare? A couple of hours before school isn't the same as the full after school routine at all. Let's hope the au pair takes some of the pressure off you. I'm sorry but he sounds very selfish and if he won't change you are the only one who can.

Madinche1sea Wed 05-Oct-16 12:10:06

Mabel - do you think that the fact your work is more "flexible" than his and you work freelance from home, leads him to the (wrong) conclusion that your job is of secondary importance to his?

Did you say you'll be earning more than him next Jan. Does he have an issue with this so he's acting out by leaving more of the domestic stuff to you?

Tbh I don't know any men who really let their "headspace" get filled with day-to-day details like birthday cards, etc. This seems to be the case even when both parents work. They just seem to have an innate presumption that their wife / partner is responsible for this stuff.

In your DH's case, he probably thinks, "Well I do laundry, cooking, stuff with the kids. I do more than most men, so what's she moaning about?"

They just don't get the headspace thing. Or won't, as the case may be.

MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 13:29:23

Mrstumbletap yeah, he's always had this thing about 'romance', 'families', 'marriage' being innately right-wing and regressive. He's changed his mind about the family bit - he adores the kids - but he just doesn't think that anything structured in terms of working at the relationship is important (or politically desirable). He's not into polygamy, or anything - he just thinks that anniversaries, presents etc are cringe. No-one even knows we're married (and I had to bully him into that for inheritance/tax reasons). So no, he doesn't ever, I dunno, buy flowers, leave an 'I love you' note, give me a foot rub, organise date nights, even initiate a conversation if we've had a falling out. And yeah, our sex life is shit right now. We haven't had sex for 3 months. Everything got back on track when we were on holiday this summer, but it's been shit since then.

Matilda and minipie - sadly I can't reduce my hours right now. I'm working to a deadline at the end of December, and that's the only way I can meet the deadline. After that, I'll be relatively free, though. I do know that a lot of my unhappiness right now is to do with work stress, which is why I'm particularly resentful about the lack of love or care from DH; and I don't really have any friends here with whom I could have a night out, so there's little opportunity for unwinding.

He does definitely do 50% of the childcare - because I draw up the childcare rota and allocate it completely equally. He's really good with the kids (although has a shorter fuse than I do). Up until last month, when our eldest started school, we've had three pre-school/nursery age children, and very little money, so we've both had to arrange our work hours around doing quite a lot of daytime childcare. He's a good dad. He's just a shit husband.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 05-Oct-16 13:43:04

No, he is not a good dad if he treats you, the mother of his children, like this. What do you think your children are learning and will learn from seeing this model of a relationship?.

I think he has basically delegated responsibility to you because he regards that as unimportant and is thus "your" work to do. He acts useless because he simply does not want to do these tasks.

What is in this relationship for you now, what is keeping you in this at all?.

I would read the "Incompetant Husband" thread and see how much of that resonates with your own experience.

MabelAllan Wed 05-Oct-16 14:51:01

Attila I guess I'm staying because, even though he does none of the organisational stuff, he still does do 50% of the childcare; and if I left, I'd have no secure income, and 3 small children to look after most of the time. I don't really know how we'd manage financially.

I find it really hard to work out if he's always been like this, but that in London we/I had so many friends and things to do, and I was so happy, that I just didn't notice it/care about it. Certainly it's since we've moved, and since I've been so lonely and frankly bored, that it's really bothered me. But I do also think he's got worse. When we first met, he'd never lived on his own (he's an academic and had lived in college, where all bills/food/cleaning etc were taken care of). So he'd never had to set up or run a house before; whereas I'd lived on my own for nearly a decade before meeting him. But we did used to fairly equally divide bills, admin etc when we were in London (although there was one notable Christmas when he didn't buy a single present, and I was running around like a headless chicken buying presents at the last minute for his sister and her partner). I guess there's been a significant escalation of admin responsibilities since making the decision to move; and somehow I've ended up doing 100% of it.

Mrstumbletap Wed 05-Oct-16 22:49:06

It doesn't sound like there is much love in your relationship at the moment OP, and that must feel crap.

I know you are being practical about income/childcare, but can you really stay in this relationship without love, intimacy, companionship? You need to talk to him, it's great he does 50% of the childcare but that isn't enough. A nanny could do that, if you split up worked full time you could sort things out and he would be paying childcare too.

But talk to him first, be really honest and tell him how you are feeling.

MabelAllan Thu 06-Oct-16 05:30:47

Thanks Mrstumbletap. Yeah, we do need to talk to each other frankly. I'm just so tired of always being the one who does the relationship maintenance, as well as every other type of management in our lives. I've made contact with Relate. Hopefully it will help him to hear me.

PoldarksBreeches Thu 06-Oct-16 05:46:47

What you are describing are fairly deep rooted issues in him. He's never looked after himself, so he has developed a deeply selfish attitude to life admin. He doesn't believe in expressing love or togetherness as a couple. He finds social conventions like buying gifts at Christmas and birthdays embarrassing and beneath him. He doesn't see you as a person equal to him or even (sorry) very interesting to him.
I wonder what made you agree to leave your home and circle to support him? Would he have done that for you?
You've tried talking, several times. What do you think would make a difference with him?

MabelAllan Thu 06-Oct-16 06:00:06

Poldarks I suppose I wanted a bigger house, & thought that we couldn't afford one where we'd been previously. I wanted to give the children the opportunity to grow up outside of London, and closer to their grandparents. I thought it would be better for them to have a father who wasn't away for work for most of the week. I always knew that this move would be a real wrench for me, but I hoped it would be better for the DCs.

I think everything you say is probably true, sadly. I don't know what would make a difference to him. I have made it clear before that if this behaviour continues, then I'll leave him. Maybe I hope that, if I actually draw up a plan for leaving, and suggest that we talk to a counsellor, then he'll realise that I'm serious and take it seriously. I don't think it really occurs to him that one day I might not actually be there - and that nor will the DCs. He hasn't always been this level of exploitative and disengaged - he used to think that I'm professionally impressive etc, and used to think that he was lucky to be with me. I do think that he's got worse, although his negative traits have always been present. But, as much as I know it's usually pretty futile to hope that someone will change, I suppose I hope that, because he didn't used to be quite this detached from me, that there's possibility of going back to how things used to be. I don't know; I guess I probably feel that, much as I'm annoyed at having to be the one who undertakes all the relationship management yet again, I need to try and convey to him how urgent it is that we work on this.

ChickenSalad Thu 06-Oct-16 06:05:03

and I had to bully him into that for inheritance/tax reasons

Sounds like he is feeling rather controlled generally and passive aggressively not doing stuff is his (a bit crap) way of resisting. Are you also very critical of him? It sounds like you need to relinquish control somewhat and let him do things his way, wrongly, and feel the consequences of it as he would at work. Ask him if he'd mind planning a whole thing and get him to take ownership of it without interfering rather than giving him random little tasks to do. Otherwise if he is never allowed to do something and fail, then he will never get it right. Ask him whether he loves you, or even likes you (and yourself the same re him) as it seems there is a lot of resentment on both sides.

Starbright10 Thu 06-Oct-16 06:07:48

Oh dear another incompetent husband.

As the poster above point out ih's tend to be this way because they don't really care very much (sorry). Great you have got in contact with relate. I'd suggest having another serious talk with him and saying how these behaviours make you feel unloved and what a serious strain it's causing on your marriage. Then give him the choice buck up or get out. Then everytime he does something thoughtless or neglectful say explicitly - you are making me feel unloved is that what you want? If it isn't he will soon at least try and put in place remedial measures.

Are you sure there isn't someone else in the picture for him (v sorry to ask this don't want to make things worse for you it's just that's what screamed out to me from reading your posts)?

Sounds the move has put a big strain on you both. Focus on finding things to do and people to meet in your new locality and that might help you feel s big better even if not fix things with him.

Bibbidee Thu 06-Oct-16 06:12:04

I thought the same as you Starbright (sorry OP)

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