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Tired of this situation(37 Posts)
I'm feeling really down about my life at the moment and just want to write it all down to get it off my chest. If anyone has any words of wisdom to help me get a grip, thank you, I'd appreciate it.
Dh suffers from anxiety and depression. He's getting better but this has been a long journey, lasting most of the time that we've had the dcs, to a greater or lesser degree. He's tried medication (unsuccessful) and therapy (much better) and spends a lot of time reading self help books. He has never been self pitying and has worked immensely hard to overcome this, but it's been hard on all of us and he's never been open about it with friends or my family so there's no one irl to talk to about it. Occasionally there are glimpses of the life and soul of the party man that I married, but these are few and far between. He is quite reclusive and seldom goes out. This makes me feel as though I shouldn't go out much either, so I don't.
I work full time - not my choice but I always was the higher earner and at the time Dh went part time he was really miserable in his job. He has since given up work completely to focus on trying to set up his own photography business. His work is fab and gets loads of positive responses on social media etc, but due to his MH issues his ability to market himself and get clients is very limited and therefore he makes very little money from it. We're pretty skint considering I earn a decent salary. It's getting more noticeable now that most of our peers have 2 incomes (due to Dcs getting older, SAHP going back to work) that we have a LOT less disposable income, a ten year old car, much smaller house, U.K. camping hols, very few meals out etc.
He's a great dad and has always done the school run etc., but doesn't really interact with the school mums (understandable) and I can't help but think the Dcs' friendships have suffered as a result, especially ds2 who is quite shy and would have benefitted from more play dates etc arranged in the playground.
Our eldest goes to secondary school in September and I really feel that I've missed out on the primary years due to always being at work. I've never been to a sports day and I've only done the school run a handful of times. The friendships I have with other mums have never gone beyond superficial because I don't have the regular contact or time to maintain them. I would have loved a third child but Dh was adamant we should stop at 2 and I capitulated. Now I feel that ship has sailed and it makes me sad.
I don't want to leave Dh. I love him, our boys adore him and we do have a generally happy home life.
I think I'm quite hard to live with at times because I just have this niggling undercurrent of dissatisfaction - a part of me that wants to shout and scream that this isn't what I signed up for with him. That he should just go and get a fucking job and be a provider for a change. That he has a dream bloody life going for a bike ride every morning, spending a few hours taking photos, arsing around on the Internet and hanging out with the kids, who prefer spending time with him because he's not always tired and stressed from work.
I know that is utterly unreasonable when it's not his fault he's been ill, but our lives are just drifting by and I feel like we're going nowhere.
If you've stuck with this thanks.
OP l am sorry for your situation, it must feel horrible to miss out on your Dcs school events.
As anxiety and depression is excaberated by no or little social contact could you not insist he steps up and takes a relatively stress free job part time, it would probably help, we all get maudlin if we have time and no focus....
Even if it only helped a bit with the bills every little helps, he has been leaning heavily on you for 10 years, he really needs to work. Thousands of people hold down all sorts of jobs with depression and anxiety, l have several friends who have senior roles and always manage despite suffering depression, so l don't see why DH cannot, especially if he does not have to be the main breadwinner.
mamdiuckbone this sounds hard.
"He is quite reclusive and seldom goes out. This makes me feel as though I shouldn't go out much either, so I don't."
Do not allow his illness to define you. By not being open to friends and family he has effectively cut off your opportunities to talk about things.
Make some new friends, not as hard as some think, and share about your life away from immediate family and friends.
"I can't help but think the Dcs' friendships have suffered as a result, especially ds2 who is quite shy and would have benefited from more play dates etc arranged in the playground."
"Our eldest goes to secondary school in September and I really feel that I've missed out on the primary years due to always being at work."
As the person with the higher earning capacity can you make arrangements to work from home sometimes. I know not all jobs can but office based jobs sometimes can.
In my office I get to do a few hours at home (and am part time) and many of the senior work colleagues can do whole days, maybe even two a week, from home. This eases off pressure on the canteen, car park, office etc and I expect people work just as hard from home.
If you were able to do this even a few times a month, assuming you can set your own times, you could start work earlier (no travelling time, so start work when you would start travel) and be free to do the drop off and pick up at school, go for coffee etc with other mums/dads.
If you do decide to go for this, please, do it now before the older ones goes to high school because no school gates to stand at then.
Can you join the PTA or fundraising committee? Another good way to meet other parents and the meetings are usually only a few times a year so not a major commitment, might just make you feel more connected. They may all go out for meals or to the pub, at least sometimes. You need social interaction.
I also think Dragongirl is spot on about the part time job. If he likes to be outdoors then there may be many simple, relatively stress free jobs like gardening etc which he could do.
Check what the situation is re any benefits he would lose to make sure he would be able to actually bring more money in and not lose money.
Working for a local council, local park etc or even self employed he would come into contact with others but I have heard gardening is very therapeutic.
"I think I'm quite hard to live with at times because I just have this niggling undercurrent of dissatisfaction - a part of me that wants to shout and scream that this isn't what I signed up for with him."
Bloody hell you sound like saint! Your dh has, due to illness, which is not his fault, forced you into the role of main bread winner, which has pushed you out of the child care and school role. I am not sure if he does all the shopping, cooking and cleaning etc or if you do some too but he has not done the full integrating with school thing, which has been a disappointment to you because you care about your kids (my dh wouldn't either and he is not depressed just very introverted!.
You say "That he has a dream bloody life going for a bike ride every morning, spending a few hours taking photos, arsing around on the Internet and hanging out with the kids, who prefer spending time with him because he's not always tired and stressed from work."
Does he realise this? Does he not want to make a go of the business he started?
"I feel like we're going nowhere."
Where do you want all this to go? How can you talk to your dh about your own feelings. You say he is getting better but it looks as if he has been ill for a long time.
Your feelings are very valid too.
You mention cheaper camping holidays, can he not use his photography skills to get some free hols, or enter some competitions, if he has talent that he is not utilizing maybe he could.
I can see you love him and want to stay with him, and I hope some of my ideas may help, even if only a little.
Seems that he's only bothered to help himself and not considered you and the kids at all.
As others have said he could for sure manage a job that's nothing too stressful though seems he's used his problems as an excuse for years to be bone idle and ponce with a camera and little else from your post.
Seems he can't be bothered help himself properly or is in fact not too bad now but happy your doing everything so easier carry on using as excuse to not be a man and provide for his family.
Can't offer much help as in my opinion needs a kick up the ass to get some action from him.
Don't know how you've managed and put up so long.however I'm not best to ask been my tolerance of people like this is minimal.
Seems like your funding his life of leisure bike and camera/s that deffinately aren't cheap when you could have had a nice holiday instead. You need find where the MUG sticker on you is and get it removed
I feel for you, and definitely understand your feelings of dissatisfaction, but don't let his mental health totally restrict your life.
Go out, join things, get involved with PTA etc (you don't have to go to every meeting, they are often grateful for any help even if it's just a few times a year)
Also, try to do something that's just for you; swimming, joining a book club, getting in touch with old friends and meeting for a coffee a couple of times a month... all these things will help you and shouldn't be too time consuming or expensive. It sounds like you have prioritised him and his feelings, and you are running on empty; this isn't good for you or your family.
Thank you for the responses - it's really interesting to hear different perspectives. I expected to hear that I was being an unsupportive bitch, so it's surprising and quite affirming to hear that perhaps I'm not. Some of the constructive suggestions are really helpful and I definitely agree that I've got to stop letting his mental health define me. I've recently joined a book club and I'm starting to go out more. I've always been involved with the PTA and that has provided at least a small link to school. I've stopped going to the meetings recently but must make more of an effort.
I should point out that dh was working in a part time job up until June, and the extra income was great and was spent on the 'extras' for the family - that's what I'm missing most now tbh as I'm financially responsible for everything again. We made the decision together that he should leave to give the photography a real go, and because he was working every Sunday, and to be fair he has been building a really good portfolio. It's not that easy where we are to find part time work that still fits around the dcs, but it's something that needs to happen if a decent income doesn't start materialising from his photography soon. If I give an ultimatum though it'll cause his anxiety to go through the roof, so that's a bit of a catch 22.
Dh does the lion's share of the cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing so I can't complain there (although he's not at all organised in terms of clubs, letters, dinner money etc so I do all that.)
Were the tables turned I wonder if the response would be the same carol - you don't hear many SAHM's of school age children being told to 'be a woman and provide for their family' or men who work full time being told they're 'mugs' when their wives do all the childcare and housework. Still, that's a different issue. Dh isn't lazy and isn't deliberately taking me for a ride whilst he has a nice life...that's why I would never say those things out loud to him. He would be devastated if he knew that even a tiny bit of me thinks this way. Mental illness is a bastard and has changed the entire dynamic of our family. That's what I'm most sad/angry about.
naiceham I think you've hit the nail on the head - I have prioritised him and his feelings for a long time but just can't see a way out of it. Even if he does get a job I'll still be the higher earner with the pension and the reliable salary. I still won't be able to turn the clock back and have those experiences that I've missed out on. Somewhere along the line it just all went a bit wrong and I don't want to become bitter and resentful about it but every so often (like now) it gets on top of me.
I was more so relating to you specific point of you saying he has a dream life goes for bike ride every day takes his pics ,arses around online and spends lots time with the kids
You won't be able to turn the clock back, and I feel for you because once the dc go to secondary school you are never part of their school lives in quite the same way; they - rightly - become much more independent and you are not involved nearly as much.
I think you are probably going to have to let this go now, but concentrate on building up your social life and your emotional health for the next stage of your life. Don't forget that your children won't need picking up and dropping off at school for very much longer (I'm guessing) and so your dh will be much freer to take up a part-time job.
In any case, think you should set a time limit on how long he should continue with the photography - six months? A year? - even if you don't issue an ultimatum but just keep it in your own mind. I would start to feel anxious if I felt that this situation was going on and on indefinitely, so this might help you to feel more in control of everything.
You sound like a strong and caring person. Good luck with it all.
One thing jumps out immediately, he's no good at organising clubs, letters and dinner money? How on earth is he going to run a successful business? As with any business of any kind having the skill to do the job is only one part of it. He lacks confidence to do the marketing and networking and is disorganised as well.
I would be very cautious and promote photography as a hobby that could lead to some commissions whilst helping him get back into the workplace as an employee to earn money without the stress of running a business.
You do also need to put your own needs on the table and say directly what is and is not working for you as he doesn't seem to notice you are unhappy. You've done plenty to support him but it does work both ways.
I suffer long term depression. I'd quite like dh to support me to sell crafty bits and pieces on Etsy etc. I'm good at anything like that.
BUT l work because l HAVE to. 3 days a week in a tough job. I have no choice as doing arty bits on the side brings no money in.
Can you see what l'm saying?
I think Matilda has it; the photography probably has to be an (interesting and enjoyable) hobby, not a job.
<sigh> All the things you say ring very true Matilda and deep down I know that. He is very talented but it's no good having a wonderful portfolio of work that no one sees.
Actually in the sense that he completes his tax return diligently, keeps on top of insurance policies etc., he is organised - but it's like there's no room left in his brain to remember who's at an after school club.
Naice - the number of ultimatums I've issued in my own head that haven't been met are partly what's causing my current sense of unease. First it was when ds2 started school (he's now in year 3). Initially he was only taking a year out. I really don't know how this has gone on for so long. Seeing it all in black and white makes it look ridiculous. I am hopelessly indecisive myself so I think I've just let the status quo carry on. I just want to go back a few years and shout at myself to stick up for what I want too.
Sorry you are in this situation Marmaduckbone. You sound like such as lovey supportive partner and, as you say, mh issues are shit and impact massively on the whole family.
Speaking as someone who has had bouts of anxiety and the blackest of depressions, who was the "dh" in your scenario for six months, I think you need to lay your cards out on the table (in a non confrontational manner) with your dh or this situation will fester and cause (valid) resentment.
Your dh has mental health problems but he is still a fully grown adult. Do you think you are being fair to him (in the nicest possible way) by protecting him so much that you are keeping your true feelings from him?
It is telling when you say, "He would be devastated if he knew that even a tiny bit of me thinks this way."
He obviously has no inkling of how you feel - and perhaps he deserves to know - it will be of no help to him if your justified resentment builds up and it leads to more serious difficulties in your marriage. Yes, better or for worse, you are a partnership, but your feelings are as valid as his.
Another question; have your dh's mh issues improved significantly since he stopped working?
Of course you want to protect your dh as much as possible which is great for the short term, but I saw a therapist for my depression and anxiety who pointed out that the more dependent I became on my dh, the worse my mh was becoming. I stopped working and then driving etc and became more and more insular which made my depression worse, it was a vicious cycle. The therapist was also very clear that dh wasn't to stop going out and living his own life because of me. And that he should also take the dc out without me too.
Besides, it sounds as if your dh is doing really well if he is doing the majority of chores, school runs, exercising for his health and trying to set up a photography business. That is quite a lot when you are struggling mentally, so maybe he is not as fragile as you think?
Maybe he could tolerate you laying out the issues you've outlined very gently here. Perhaps you could say that you are missing the maternal role and finding the stresses of being the sole earner quite burdensome. Perhaps you could negotiate a deadline for the photography shop - say September of this year - which would be over a year in total. That seems reasonable to me. You've compromised a lot and perhaps he could compromise on a part time job? I'm sure he has the self knowledge to know that he is not the best at promotion and marketing etc.
Or if you don't feel comfortable doing this, perhaps go to a therapist and negotiate it all jointly with them?
Thank you for your very kind words fingals
He really is doing very well - this is the most back to 'normal' he has been in years, which is why we decided to give the photography business a last shot. The trouble is if he goes back to a menial part time job and gives up on his dream the progress he's made mentally will go backwards. I really want it to work out for him, then it will have all been worthwhile...if not all the sacrifices I've made have been a waste of time. A deadline is definitely needed though, else I am going to eat myself up with resentment.
When we got married he managed a team of 20 odd people and a large high end store in central London. I'd give anything to have that confident, capable person back.
OP you have been wonderfully supportive. Your dh is so lucky to have you.
If he is already self employed and doing tax returns what other skills could he offer on the 6 hours between 9 and 6? Could he do gardening, handy person skills, even dog walking? He could taken on as much work as was available that he was able to cope with. He'd mix with others but be on control and get out and about.
Just an idea.
Could he be a TA or teach photography at night school?
I work 9.30 to 2.30 in an admin job but I would say admin can be stressful and hard. I am sure I do more hours than I am paid to do a d I am not sure I'd think of office work as a stress free option.
I wonder if something like a business coach might help? It might give him the kick up the arse he needs, but in a self motivating positive way.
I don't have much advice as am in a very similar situation to you, just wanted to send support and say that I totally get how you feel!!
I wonder why he can go for his dream when you can't. And I wonder why he can go off for long bike rides on his own to help his mental health when you can't.
You HAVE to cope, don't you? He knows he doesn't have to, because you'll step in.
There seems such a huge imbalance in the relationship - how can he not see that's going to lead to resentment?
I couldn't live like that. If it was me I would put a time limit on him getting a good professional job with a decent salary so you could maybe cut back to 4 days for a bit. Or else I woukd think about leaving (and make sure you have the children at least 50/50 so you don't end up still supporting him not working)
Ok Lugeeta - please suggest a good professional job with a decent salary that my Dh can walk into at a given moment with a 7 year gap in his CV and suffering from severe anxiety? I'm sure Dh would love to know so that he can apply immediately!
Leaving isn't an option. I don't want to, I love my Dh and our family life together. Breaking up our family would be far worse than the current situation.
But yes, there is an imbalance and writing this down has really helped me to see that it's not unreasonable to expect that to be redressed.
swizzlestar - sorry to hear you're in a similar boat - is your oh a sufferer too?
Very difficult if "the dream" is tied up with his recovery. However, I'm sure your dh must realise that a dream has to start producing an income at some point. What does he say about it?
If the photography shop doesn't start making an income soon, perhaps he could combine it with a part-time job? So, not give up the dream completely, but compromise a bit.
I hope it works out for you both.
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