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Can a bad relationship ever be fixed?

(13 Posts)
chocolateisnotsleep Sun 09-Apr-17 20:41:36

DP and I have been together for 18 years. 2 DC, 5 and 3. I don't think we've actually been really happy together for a long time. He's not abusive - we've had some really bad rows especially when DC1 was small and didn't sleep at all and some horrible insults were thrown. Things calmed down but there's no closeness or friendship, I don't feel loved or respected. I'm not sure if I still love him. It's hard to even have a conversation with him.

I don't know what we have in common. I'm lonely and there is often an atmosphere - I'm happier when he is away although annoyed at how easy that is for him when it's so hard for me to get away as I'm responsible for school runs etc. He's had three weeks away since November.

We've talked a few times, tried counselling briefly once (he wasn't keen so we only did two sessions). Nothing much seems to change - he gets frustrated because I don't want to have sex with him. But I don't feel attracted to him and I don't want to have sex with someone who doesn't love me.

Has anyone ever been here and turned things around? Or should I just accept its never going to improve and leave him?

Thank you.

BlueBlobs Sun 09-Apr-17 21:09:45

I was once married to a man who acted like a child. I had little respect for him due to this. He drank and smoked weed. He'd leave jobs for pathetic reasons. He was a nice guy but a total waster.
We broke up and after having a fling with a man who lied to get me in bed I thought I was safer in the arms of my husband. I thought I owed it to myself, my husband and my family to 'give it another go'.
After a year it was the same again. I then realised I owed it to myself, my husband and my family to walk away.
Flogging a dead horse (no matter how you practice it) will only ever have one outcome.

chocolateisnotsleep Sun 09-Apr-17 22:00:27

I read so many posts on here and think - it's not that bad. He's not violent, doesn't try to control me or put me down - although he can be very condescending. He works (as do I), does the gardening. I do the shopping/cooking/cleaning/laundry/majority of childcare - although we do have a cleaner once a week (which I pay for). We should have such a nice life - healthy, beautiful kids, solvent. But it feels like there is such an atmosphere so often and I don't know where to start to fix it. But I also don't want to shatter my kids lives. I also worry that we are not able to show them a healthy, kind, loving relationship. My mum stayed 'for the kids'. My brother is happily married. I am not. And not married at all which has been a major issue for me. I'm angry with him a lot of the time and don't know how to not be. He doesn't listen to me, doesn't try to avoid an argument or compromise then sulks for days.

BlueBlobs Mon 10-Apr-17 21:46:54

Honestly, I felt resentment because I felt like I accepted my ex husband and he hadn't yet married me. I thought what's the point if he cannot give me the commitment and show the world 'THIS is my wife. The one I've chosen forever' when he proposed I was so happy.
We got married and guess what? I was still not happy really.
I learned that for so long I'd lived thinking things like 'if only we bought a house...then I'd be happy, if only we had a baby...then I'd be happy, if only we went on holiday more...then I'd be happy ' all these things (in hindsight) were things I would not of needed if I was truly happy.
Please don't stay for the kids they may (like me as a child) wish you'd leave and be happy, maybe they will be happier if you left, maybe happier if you stayed - it's impossible to know until after the fact, but maybe try counselling. Give it your best shot if that's what you want.
I understand what you mean when you say he doesn't beat you etc but ask yourself this... if you've missed a meal and feeling starving hungry/shaky do you feel any less hungry/shaky when you think of starving kids in Africa? No. You are still hungry, just because some people have it worse, doesn't mean your situation isn't hard to go through.

Dadaist Tue 11-Apr-17 00:43:59

OP - one of the most eye opening aspects of the MN relationship threads for me is the sheer number of people (esp women) who shift their relationship down to 'limp mode' (often harbouring resentments about common issues like housework, childcare, taking initiative, etc etc) and can't then figure why their DP is so often horrible to them? I
Isn't it obvious OP ? You have withdrawn your affection, no longer seek intimacy- and feel seething resentment - and low and behold - DP is angry/sulky/argumentative/ etc etc. What would you expect?

I didn't even know this was a thing - (withdrawing, settling for a zombie relationship and then complaining about apparent behaviour of DP) and yet there's an epidemic on these pages!
It's the 'red pill' philosophy that says (paraphrase) - 'never show yourself to be emotionally affected by your wife/partner - whatever she says -she will resent you for it. Let her know that nothing she does will upset your composure and she will love and respect you' 😐 So that is the alternative...make of it what you will.
Your question was 'can it be fixed?'
The answer is of course it can be fixed - but I'd say by being open about where you are and why, understanding how your feelings and behaviours affect each other and how you treat one another. But there has to be willingness on both sides to want to make things better and be willing to change.
I may be wrong OP - but are you just wanting your OP to be thoughtful, kind and respectful? If so, then resentment, anger and withdrawal will have the opposite effect. Of course If it's all his fault - (really?) then you've not got that willingness I guess?

Isetan Tue 11-Apr-17 11:49:34

Dadaist, thanks for the 'if she'd only put out more, then he wouldn't be a dick' bullshit that men often trot out to excuse and justify why they act like selfish twats. Did you not read the OP's efforts via counselling to try and address their issues? The OP withdrew because of lack of support and withdrawal became self protection against fhe soul destroying effects of being treated like a part of the bloody furniture. A lot of men think intimacy begins in the bedroom, it doesn't.

Can you fix a bad marriage? Yes, but not on your own. Don't let life pass you by, if he is not willing to be part of the solution, then he's part of the problem, which will only deepen your resentment.

The time is now, not months and years from now when you can barely disguise your contempt for the man and the atmosphere at home is your children's norm.

Adora10 Tue 11-Apr-17 12:05:28

A partner, whether married or not should enhance your life, compliment it, add to it, make you feel complete in your happiness, you don't have any of that; you both either want to make it work and better and want to put the leg work in or you don't; doesn't sound like he's much interested; my self esteem wouldn't be able to sustain this kind of depressing nothingness really; I'd rather go it alone than feel lonely in a relationship; it would feel like I was wasting my time.

Dadaist Tue 11-Apr-17 15:12:31

Oh please - I'm not going to dignify the 'put out more' stuff. I think the whole point is it's symptomatic of problems - not 'the problem'.
But absolutely agree trying counselling would be worth it - although only if both parties want to improve the relationship, not just the others behaviour in a dysfunctional relationship, iyswim?

chocolateisnotsleep Thu 13-Apr-17 20:41:27

Has anyone come back from this place though, and if so, how? We are both at fault - I have a hot temper and tend to rerun old arguments in my head which winds me up more. I struggle to calmly and rationally explain the issue. Although - on the occasions I have managed to be calm and rational it still doesn't help as he has made up his mind and will stick to it no matter what I say/feel.

Dadaist - that's much his argument - if we had more sex, I'd be nicer to you. I don't want to have to have sex so he speaks nicely to me. Sex should be about love and intimacy shouldn't it? It often feels more like a transaction.

I'm not sure if I'm still attracted to him either. I've had a low libido for quite a while but especially since having the DC and barely sleeping since while having a stressful job with fairly long hours (but which pays well and I - mostly- love). In terms of withdrawal - I think he withdrew from me more than the other way round. He was so angry that I wouldn't give in and let DC cry it out, he virtually ignored me most of the time. That has improved as they've got older - but it's hard to put that behind me.

I just don't know what to do, it's hard to think clearly. Sometimes he says or does something and I think - that's it, that's the final straw! But then things calm down and I'm back to wavering and unsure what to do.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 13-Apr-17 22:35:11

How come he goes away so often but you don't?

Your life sounds grim.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 13-Apr-17 22:36:36

Have you ever done one of these quizzes?

Dadaist Fri 14-Apr-17 01:01:23

OP - I'm not suggesting for one second that you should just "have sex' for his sake - which would be truly awful, and very counter-productive. I Think that if he is being deliberately unkind to you because you don't feel like sex, then that is pretty appalling too.

But of course it is also true that there is a dynamic to every relationship in which, if feelings are unrequited, or there is a sense of rejection, or hurt, that people may respond badly, and realise this on reflection e.g. - "You forgot my birthday/anniversary/to feed the dog - and so I was in a bad mood, and was snappy' etc
But the real question is whether or not you can continue to have a meaningful partnership with somebody with whom you no longer feel you wish to be intimate with ( and of course intimacy means far more than PIV).
It can mean all kinds of dreadful things for a relationship when one person no longer desires intimacy (Eg resentment, falling out of love, having an affair,) but then it can just be low libido for perfectly ordinary reasons. The problem is how is the other person to know?

Every relationship has a rituals, and avoiding intimacy is a very careful unspoken ritual. Certain preoccupations, or distractions are used as a pretext (I have a headache, I'm sooo tired, I have to get up early, my back hurts Etc etc) But of course people do genuinely have headaches, or have to get up early, or feel tired).
Anyway- an honest guess, is that your DH might have felt that you were 'relieved' to have a reason to avoid intimacy when comforting DC, hence the accusation that you were 'over indulging.' He may have been immature and unreasonable in this - but his withdrawal would then have been 'retaliation' - such that it wasn't about parenting preferences at all!! It was about whether you were searching for things to come between you, and of course a child needing attention works far better than a headache four nights a week!
So you think he started withdrawing- but perhaps he thinks you did!
Anyway - that's my stab and 'who started it' and does it matter? You can't get past it because it seemed far more emotionally charged but it ought to have been. As ever at the heart of things - the unspoken rituals do the most damage!
I really don't think that you were over indulging DC to avoid intimacy, but perhaps he does. And as you are clearly avoiding intimacy now, when is the headache not a headache?

Dadaist Fri 14-Apr-17 01:02:27

I may have had a glass of wine too many...!

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