Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Things needs to change, but DH strangely resistant.(95 Posts)
I've nc'd for this. Sorry if things seem fuddled, but I am not exactly sure what is going on and I feel quite confused.
DH and I have been married for ten years, and together for twelve (I'm 40 and he's 38). Over those years, we've fallen into a very sedentary way of life. Things just tick along, and nothing much happens. My days are either spent at my job (which I've been doing for ten years), doing housework and cooking, or working on my project. If I work from home, there can be weeks where I don't leave the house at all, and I don't have much of a social life.
I've known for years that our set-up isn't right. I am very aware that the way we live, moreover the way I live, needs to change. I've tried to talk to DH about it in the past, but somehow there's a real resistance there. He just gets defensive and argumentative, or just listens but won't engage. When I have tried to implement lifestyle changes that, by default, involve DH, they don't last or don't come off somehow ... and it is back to the same old same old. What is strange about this is that when I implement changes that only require my own input, they work.
Anyway, things have now come to a head because I have now been diagnosed with depression. I'm finding it hard to do pretty much anything, even get out of bed. I just find myself staring at the wall for hours.
I know I need to get myself out of this situation by taking some sort of action so, this morning, I tried to talk to DH again about making some changes in the way we live. I'd like us to be much more active, and I'd like to have an idea of where we are going in life because I've really no idea anymore and, as such, I don't know how to make personal decisions or choices.
So I asked him, very simply, as a starting point, what kind of life he wanted in ten years time and what kind of things he would like to achieve. My idea was that he would tell me, then I would describe the kind of things I wanted to do and achieve, and with all this information out in the open, we could plot a path through and start living a bit more of a dynamic life.
The ensuing exchange turned into a disaster. Again. DH just seems unable to talk to me about what he wants in life in an open and honest way. Every time I spoke, his response was argumentative and defensive, even though I'd said nothing critical about him at all. By the end, I was left with a lot of pressure in my head and a mild headache, and I just felt gutted.
But I don't want to live the way we do anymore. It's staid, sedentary, boring and a very small world for me; it's like a never-ending groundhog day of either domestic or paid work, punctuated with a week's holiday every year. We are both now overweight and unfit because of the sedentary way we live, and DH's BMI has now reached "obese" (he's put on five stone in four years, and was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease a year ago). I also feel quite trapped. He gets a bit weird if I want to do something on my own, and I even stopped getting the train to work because he told me it gave him panic attacks (he has a fairly severe anxiety problem that he refuses to get long term help for).
I know that if I go my own way and sort life out for myself alone, and he continues to live the way he does, then in a few years, I will be a very different person and he will still be the same, and I can't see what would keep our marriage together.
I wondered if anyone had any insight into this situation at all, if anyone else had been there and had any advice? Moreover, I wanted to know what you all thought about this. I need some other perspectives.
"I know that if I go my own way and sort life out for myself alone, and he continues to live the way he does, then in a few years, I will be a very different person and he will still be the same, and I can't see what would keep our marriage together."
My thoughts about this are, "What's stopping you?" I have been in a similar position, in that I suffered from depression due to the situation I was in regarding a family member. However, because the family member was a DS with a disability, I couldn't walk away from it. You can. I suspect that, once you do, you will no longer be depressed. When your depression was diagnosed, were you offered counselling?
Have you considered you might have outgrown each other. Your life seems to be the way it is due to his inability to let you have any kind of life outside the home. He may the the trigger for your depression ergo to. It be depressed you need to move on from him.
Sounds like your husband needs counselling for his anxiety. Maybe, for instance, he already feels fat and boring, so does see your wish to change things as a criticism. When you are anxious (and maybe depressed?) it can feel like you are just naturally crap and don't have the courage or ability to change.
He might not want to talk about changing as a) he is afraid it means you don't like him any more and b) he sees it as a massive challenge which he will fail at. Does he find it stressful leaving the house, for example?
I was very anxious and have benefited greatly from counselling and medication, but it took the breakdown of my marriage to convince me that I "deserved" either of those things and was not just a weakling who should get over herself. So I just kept quiet and did not get help.
Have you made it clear to your husband that your suggestion about counselling comes from your concern about his wellbeing rather than you being fed up with him as he is?
Its not strange at all.
He cant be arsed. He cares more about himself than he does about you.
You asking him to be proactive goes against the grain, he is happy to sit on his arse getting fatter and older and doing the bare minimum. You asking him to move outside that means he has to put in effort that he doesnt want to.
The same with his anxiety. He is happy with dealing with it the way he does, and you go along with what he asks of you, so he doesnt need to seek help for it. the fact that it is affecting you doesnt bother him.
Do what you need to do. Stop asking him to go on the journey with you as he has made it clear that he isnt going to. If that journey ends iwith you being apart then so be it, he had his chance. But dont, whatever you do, give up on the changes you want to make because he gets stroppy about it (and he will).
You cant heal him, but you can heal yourself and you must.
cheapskatemum "What's stopping you?"
I am frightened of the implications.
I am 40 and we are currently ttc again after two prem stillbirths (I have a condition that causes premature labour). So I feel like I'm in limbo and the clock is ticking. If I can't solve this predicament in my marriage/life, I am worried about ending up in a situation where I either never have a child (because DH and I have split up and I'm in my early 40s, trying to find someone new with a condition that requires intensive ante-natal management) or DH and I divorce when our child is very young.
The other aspect of it is financial. I have a complicated work situation that varies from full-time to part-time work. After the situation with my pregnancies, my employer bumped me down to part-time for the foreseeable future. So my earnings are not great at the moment, and I'm having difficulty finding another full-time job (I've stupidly ended up in a very niche profession).
Tbh, everything fell apart after I lost the second baby. Everything is just a disaster, and I have no real idea how to fix anything, which is why I wanted my DH to engage with me this morning. I thought if we talked openly about it all, we might get some ideas for a way forward that we could commit to. I need some sort of plan, some sort of notion of the future that I can work towards.
I've had counseling over the last 18 months, and have been told to go for another batch because I have now been diagnosed with depression, but the thing is I know I need change. Proper change.
Flabulous Have you considered you might have outgrown each other.
I'm not sure. I wonder whether it's always been like this, and I've been blind to it. We are very well suited in some ways, but it's dawning on me that the ways in which we are not suited might be pretty significant ... and they are just becoming obvious now.
How would you feel if your relationship ended tomorrow? If you're not horrified by that idea maybe it's something to think about. If you are horrified, then you need to sit him down, tell him how you feel, and perhaps seek counselling separately and together. Most of all, you need to identify what you want. You know you have what you don't want right now.
I think it might be a bit much to just ask someone, 'what kind of life do you want in ten years' and to be expect them to talk about it in a considered and in-depth way on the spot. He may have been defensive because he felt flustered about being put on the spot?
I would have said - 'look, I'd like a chat about this. Can we think about the question and then talk about it in a few days' time?'
I think you need to sort yourself out first.
If you are in such a bad way that you are struggling to get out of bed and stare at the wall for hours, this is the immediate thing that needs dealing with. Your husband can't do this for you. You need professional support with this. It's not fair to expect your husband to fix it.
You spend too much time isolated at home because of working from home and don't have much of a social life. Again, this isn't your husband's responsibility to fix. What are your ideas about how you can change this?
You want your husband to make changes to solve your problems but you need to take responsibility for yourself first. If you do this and improve things for yourself, then is the time to think about the changes you want from him to improve your relationship and for his own wellbeing.
Sorry to hear you've been through this
You must tackle your depression and own life first.
However, I'm afraid the "strangely resistant" is just that he doesn't want to change, he's okay with the status quo.
I'm sorry to ask but re him being anxious when you get on a train, is that a control thing? Even if it isn't, essentially he is holding you back in that way, you need to have your own life. Wouldn't you want to set that example to a child too?
He is very upset about his weight, and wants to get rid of it. But he won't take any action ... and I don't know why.
Because I am also overweight and unfit, I recently bought a second-hand treadmill and I am walking and running on it every other day. As an incentive, we made a wager to try and do a total of 26 miles over a fortnight. He was really into this idea. I did it; he never once stepped foot on the treadmill.
I try very hard to be supportive and non-judgemental. But when his health got very bad, I was quite firm in saying he had to go to the GP. That's when the liver problem was diagnosed. He was told then by the GP he had to lose weight and seek counselling for his anxiety. He's done nothing about it.
Deep down inside, I suspect everything you have said could be right. And it is pretty devastating to even think it might be true.
Maybe he is happy with our life as it is, but then why does he complain so much about his lot? And he does complain: about his weight, his fitness level, his career situation, our savings, our car ...
I was upfront with him before we got married. I told him what kind of person I was, and what I wanted from life. He knew. And he represented himself to me as someone with similar goals and ideas. He made me believe it was going to be a journey.
But looking back now, I don't think it ever has been. I've always been much more committed to "moving forward" (saving for a house deposit, supporting things he wanted to do, fixing up the house, keeping to a financial and grocery budget among other things) while he has always been so passive, as though it was all going to happen without any input from him.
Like Hedda said. This is not your husbands problem. Sitting him down and making him to blame won't get a supportive reactIon. Two people can't have one idea. You could just sit tight, and get counselling for a few months, that might help you get more out of life. If you are overweight, then that's not your DHs problem either. You own your body and he owns his. Lead by example is the best way to get others on board with changes.
If you want to leave him you do not have to wait until you have found enough "reasons" for leaving. It doesn't have to be someone's fault. You don't have to set your husband challenges that he is not brave enough to face so that when he fails you can cite that as your reason for leaving.
OP "And he represented himself to me as someone with similar goals and ideas"
They always do that. He doesn't have to do anything because he has you. And I bet he loves complaining.
The strange thing is that when he's not in the house, I can get up. And I can do things. But when he is in the house, something happens; I somehow can't do things.
I don't know why this is. I often feel quite policed somehow, although there's nothing really to suggest that I am these days. Though he does make a jokey comments about me "fussing around" when I am doing really basic chores in the house.
I also don't know how much of my isolation is down to me and how much is influenced by his behaviour. A lot of my friends have children so it's not so easy to meet up with them, but when I try to make other arrangements, somehow things get in the way or an opportunity will come up when he's already taken the car and gone out to meet his own friends.
There's also history with this. There was an incident a few years into our marriage when I met up with a old friend after work. He knew and I told him about it. I'd only been out for a few hours when I started getting phone calls about when I was coming home. Then my father called me and told me I had to come home right then and there (I was in my early 30s, ffs).
It turned out that my DH had worked himself up into a state and phoned my parents. They were all waiting for me when I got home. It was absolutely ridiculous.
Then there was the time when I went to a local meeting not 100 yards away from the house. I told him the previous day and left the flyer on the kitchen table.
When I got back, my mother and my aunt were there in tears. My dad and DH had gone out "looking for me". DH had got home and called my family in a panic, saying I was "missing". It was only about 6.30pm and I'd only been gone an hour and a half, if that.
He has got better, but I still have to be really firm with him if I want to go out for a walk by myself, and sometimes if I am longer than I've said (by 30 mins, say), he will come out and find me. We live in a very low crime area. There's no need to be so panicky.
It's also quite difficult to go places. When we go out together, he gets really peculiar after about two or three hours, but yet he can spend all night out with his mates. When I suggest going away for a weekend, there always seems to be a problem somehow. There's also been times when I think I have been invited to something, but he hasn't told me or he's said he doesn't want to go.
So I don't know anymore how much of this is me and how much is him.
He says it is not a control thing, but that he gets panic attacks waiting for me to come home on the train. The compromise we made is that he now drives me to work and back on the days I go into the office, but this kinda means that I can't do things after work, like just pop into the shops for a browse or meet someone for coffee.
I feel like I don't have any liberty. He tells me I can do what I want, but there's this invisible frame around everything.
Ravenmum Does he find it stressful leaving the house, for example?
No, he doesn't. He goes out twice a week, sometimes more, and will stay out until the early hours playing poker. He went out at 6pm this evening with a mate, and he probably won't be back until 4am, maybe later.
And yes, I have wondered whether he has an OW or if he is gay. But there is often evidence he is where he says he is.
I know that you can see the constraints he makes you live within but can you see that this level of control is actually abusive?
Oh so he has friends.,
This is control, he's got you exactly where he wants you, servile and pretending to be scared when you're not around.
No winder you feel fine when he's not in the house.
Get out. I know you want to have children and I'm sorry you're in this spot, but No child should get stuck with this arsehole as a father. He won't parent either you know.
If motherhood is important, go to a clinic and get a sperm donor. Then get healthy.
He might be anxious while you're out but you having to stay home for the rest of your life so that he doesn't get anxious is ridiculous!!!
My x was abusive in other ways but he also controlled me in strange ways. He would pull an argument out of a hat twenty minutes before we were due to leave to go somewhere. I then had to beg him to come with me, and be 'grateful' he hadn't shown be up by sulking at home.
I found being single a million times easier.
I think this relationship is low key abusive op. He sounds controlling and very manipulative. I'm sorry, I know that's probably not what you want to hear. But your subsequent posts have started an alarm ringing in my head
Oh OP your "problem" is not some mismatch of life goals. This man has subtly and gradually taken control of your life. Reading your posts this is screaming out as the reason for your depression, inability to sometimes leave the house etc.
What does his alleged anxiety stop HIM doing? He seems to be doing just fine. It's only stopping YOU from living a full and autonomous life. Saying you'd gone missing is just nuts. Driving you to and from your job is so that he knows exactly where you are.
He's controlling you in a most abusive way. The "invisible frame" is the control and the abuse. These men rarely say "don't do this", "don't see that friend", "don't cut your hair like that." It's subtle, gradual, it's death by a thousand cuts.
If you do any of the things he says make him anxious he won't be anxious, he'll be angry. He has molded your life to suit him.
I promise you that once you are free of him, you will be free of the fog that is now clouding your mind and trapping you in the house. Why don't you write a list of all the things you used to do but now don't. Ask yourself what stops you - is it him? And the same for the things you'd like to do in the future - I bet it's him stopping you too?
Thank you all for your responses so far.
I feel very shaken ... to the point of feeling sick. Your comments have forced me to view the situation from a number of different perspectives, and I can't quite process it all at the moment.
All I keep thinking is that, surely, some of the things you've said can't be true. But then nicenewdusters is right: his anxiety doesn't stop him from doing anything he wants to do, and it never has. All it does is impact upon me.
I really don't know what to think about this. I am quite close to tears, and I think that might mean something. Stuff keeps popping into my head and I am wondering whether my perspectives on various incidents in the past have been remotely accurate; there are some very traumatic events that have occurred and I can vaguely see that I ended up being massively disadvantaged both by a situation that he actually created and his subsequent response to it.
I'm starting to wonder whether I've been massively gas-lighted in a way that is quite frightening. I'm kinda scared, to be honest.
When we had the exchange this morning, I noticed some things. It seemed as though everything I said, he responded in an argumentative way as though I had said something I hadn't. He even repeated my words back to me, and they weren't what I had said, and I told him that but it didn;t seem to register. Now I used to think this was just his defensiveness, but now I am wondering if he does this to provoke an argument that then shuts down the subject of the conversation... so we don't reach any agreement and nothing changes.
Because that happens a lot. I'll try to talk about something that needs sorting out or that we need to agree together, and he has a habit of turning it into an argument ... so nothing ever gets decided, and nothing really ever happens or I just do what I think is best, which does end up in me doing the work or making the financial sacrifice out of my salary.
He will always say that he supports me with whatever I want to do but, really, whenever I need support over something or just even a second opinion, there's not really anything solid there. Yet I spend a lot of time and energy supporting him and what he wants to do. If he needs a new leaflet, I will spend 30 hours writing and designing it. But I can't actually think of a time when he's spent 30 hours doing something for me.
I have to think about all this. My head feels very foggy.
Join the discussion
Please login first.