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Where to go from here with husband?

(43 Posts)
Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 19:53:02

Note - have name changed and altered a couple of details here, to avoid being outed.

I will try and keep this brief. DH and I have been together about 15 years and married for about half of that. We have young children. When we first became serious, we talked about traveling the world together and living abroad at some point. I was an avid traveler when we met. That didn't happen. When we agreed to settle down, have kids, etc we talked about him possibly being a SAHP. I was the higher earner then and very focused in my career. That didn't happen.

We didn't travel when I wanted to because he didn't want to leave his job at the time. We relocated a few years ago...not overseas but away from friends and family. I quit my job and became a SAHM (well actually a WAHM). It was supposed to be a temporary move before moving overseas. It wasn't. His career has since gone from strength to strength. He will openly say that it's because of my support. I gave him the confidence to go for jobs/promotions he wouldn't have done otherwise. The fact I have been a SAHP has meant he's been able to be flexible at work, travel, etc. His income (which we see as family money) has sky rocketed. My career options have nose dived and my earning potential has, obviously, done so too because of the time of out that field.

The decisions were, on the surface, joint decisions that would benefit us both. The move really helped his career. I got to be able to spend more time with the kids when they were little (I was in a long hours line of work before). The kids like having me around. He has now reached a point where he can get flexibility at work and so has more time with the kids (and me) too, much more than many working parents.

However, I also feel that they have largely been following a path that has suited him and what he has wanted from life and I have managed to find the upsides for me too. However, I have been affected by more downsides than him. I've had the loss of a career at which I was pretty successful and well paid, being one. The other major things have been shelving my dream to travel or live abroad and living away from family and friends with a husband working long hours and traveling a lot (in work he has chosen and loved).

As a result, I have felt a bit lost about who I am and my own needs. This has bubbled away in the background but is now coming out in huge waves of resentment. That in turn is affecting my marriage and I'm becoming someone I don't like. I knew this was always a risk and therefore always tried to find positives, for me, in the choices we made. I've kept myself employable with a bit of work from home. That meant I've kept my mind active, on non-family stuff, and had something for me mentally and emotionally (and financially). But I can't help still feeling resentful that essentially every major life decision that we've made in the past few years as, really, been for him and my career and life dreams have gone by the wayside. It doesn't help that I always swore that I'd never do that.

I am now finding the resentment is spilling into day to day areas of our lives. But maybe that's because the attitude that his needs come first is too?? We have a principle of family money....but he has more disposable income each month. We have an agreed split of household chores but he no longer does most of his. Things like that.

I have now become a bit of a bitch towards him. Cold, critical, outright mean sometimes. It's not nice for either of us and definitely not good for our children. How do we/I work through this?

Sorry that ended up longer than expected!

JK1773 Mon 17-Apr-17 20:16:00

It doesn't sound like you've been forced by your DH into anything. Sounds like you made joint decisions as your lives unfolded and as you said you've supported him, presumably willingly. It seems very unfair after all this time to now blame him for decisions you made together as a couple. I think the key to getting through this would be firstly to acknowledge your role in decisions that have led to where you are now then maybe find a focus for you. Can you build a career yourself now?

Hermonie2016 Mon 17-Apr-17 20:21:04

Resentment is a relationship killer.If you have been out of order it would be best to apologise but you also need to address the reasons behind the resentment.
Realising you gave up so much is difficult to come to terms with.It might help if you can find a role, even voluntary that gives you fulfilment.High income does not define your worth.

I think if chores are an area of contention then figure out how they can be rebalance.Can you get outside help?

Midlife is often a stage when we need to evaluate our lives so this could be a period of transition for you.I went through similar, needing to let go of the corporate high earning woman that I was and found a balance between income and feeling what I was doing was worthwhile.

Thecontentedcat Mon 17-Apr-17 20:41:45

I think it is very difficult for both partners to have it all, I think you need to take responsibility for the decisions you made and supported in the past. Then you need to stop blaming your partner and work out how to get your career back on track and or satisfy your thirst for adventure. If you choose to keep your comfortable life, i.e. Keep the status quo then you need to own that decision and stop blaming your partner for your discontent.

Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 20:53:14

Thanks.

It may not seem like it but I do take responsibility for decisions we made.I could have worded my OP quite differently but I wanted to be fair to my husband. He's not a selfish narcissistic arse and I am a grown woman, capable of thinking for myself.

I am cross with myself as well as resentful of him. But I can also make some peace with myself...it is the resentment I struggle with. I have taken steps towards gaining a new career, as I said in my OP, and trying to find positives. What more can I do?

I feel that decisions ended up being made on false premises and promises. So we'd discuss whether to do X or Y. He'd want to do X and would promise me we'd do Y later. I'd agree as it seemed a good compromise. Then it'd seem like a good time to do Y, so I'd raise this and be told that he now wanted to do Z first....but really, after that we would do Y. The day has never come when Y has happened but we've gone through A, B, C now too. Does that make sense?

I am a firm believer that relationships involve compromise. But that it shouldn't be one person doing all the compromising every time. That is what has happened.

When he now fails to clear up after himself, makes promises and breaks them to the children, etc I find it hard.

Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 20:57:32

I also wouldn't have made certain decisions, like ditching my career, if it weren't for promises made that then never materialised. Yes, I can , and do take responsibility for making the decision but I can't take responsibility for the broken promises that I resent.

Dozer Mon 17-Apr-17 20:59:02

You can't take back past decisions, but you don't have to "make the best of it" now and can change things if you like.

You can address him not doing his fair share at home asap.

Then think about what YOU want now. It sounds like you want to WoH and rebuild your financial independence. He should support you in working towards that given that his career has benefited from you being AH for so long. Eg he might need to travel much less.

Why does he have more disposable income?

Dozer Mon 17-Apr-17 20:59:49

What promises did he break?

RandomMess Mon 17-Apr-17 21:02:15

I really think you need to go to see a therapist who works with couples. He needs to be start being 100% honest with you and you him.

He needs to truly understand how you are feeling and why.

flowers

wizzywig Mon 17-Apr-17 21:05:20

hi op, i just wanted to say that im in the same situation but have no advice to give. that resentment can really start eating away at you and then the relationship. to be honest its not just your husband but probably your kids too that have also been a deciding factor in some of the choices made. in my situation it was taken for granted that i would give up everything and support my husband as i would never be able to earn what he earns. however, the resentment has build up to a level that it has spurred me onto the path of going back to education and using his wages to pay my uni fees. so i get something for me that is conveniently paid by him.

CassandraAusten Mon 17-Apr-17 21:07:17

I agree with Dozer.

You can't change past decisions, but the best way to avoid resentment is to think about what changes you would like to make to your life now (not dwell on what could have been done differently in the past). For example, would you like to go back to work? If so, do your best to make this happen. Hopefully your DH will support you. I went back to work after several years as a SAHM, not earning as much as I used to but still working in a professional, well-respected career, and I feel so fulfilled.

You talk about travel. If you can afford it, could you take some time this summer for something more adventurous than your typical holiday? The Lonely Planet guides have sections about going off the beaten track with kids in tow.

Msqueen33 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:09:27

I feel the same but my giving up work was down to having two children with disabilities and he didn't want to quit work and I knew he wouldn't have been effective enough looking after the kids.

You need a calm discussion about what you need and want. I do think you need to go back to work.

Thecontentedcat Mon 17-Apr-17 21:10:12

You can't change the past
You can't change him
You can let go of your desire for adventure and status
Or you can act on your desire for adventure and status and make some big changes with or without your partners approval.
In the meantime I would start a Gratitude diary, appreciating the good will help whatever you decide to do.
I suspect you will tell me it is not that simple but it is, when you boil it down. I also suspect that your partner is not respecting you because you currently don't seem to respect yourself. Your self worth is very tied up in career and money. I'd ask yourself why.

Thecontentedcat Mon 17-Apr-17 21:12:53

My posts sound a bit harsh, I'm am trying to be clear, I know it must be tough, I've struggled with similar. I think being brought up told we can have it all, when really men don't support us set up a generation of women to feel like career underachievers. The. Real problem is care of the next generation not being properly valued

pudding21 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:22:51

OP: me and my ex moved abroad, roles flipped and I worked (at home) and he stayed at home. I would have been perfectly happy with this arrangement but he wasn't in the end (although wouldn't do a thing to change it). I was a very present mum when I wasn't stuck in the office. I did my fair share of chores, taxi-ing to and from school and after school activities etc. He wasn't happy and he started to take things out on me. Resentment among other things (alcohol, insecurity etc) killed our relationship of 21 years. His self esteem plummeted because he didn't feel worthy I guess, his drinking worsened, it got really messed up.

My advice would be to tackle this head on, you seem to have insight which my ex didn't and still hasn't so you can make things change. Biggest factor is to have good communication and express what you feel in a calm way, talk, talk, talk. He would stonewall me whenever I tried to address his behaviour which turned EA. Moving abroad was a trigger I guess, because our lives changed massively. I adapted, he didn't. I found in the expat community only the strongest relationships survive.

I would put your dreams on hold at the moment of moving overseas, its not all romantic and its hard work. If you want your relationship to work, sort out your issues before you make any big decisions. You need to compromise as does he. You should be able to both be happy and fulfilled. I write this with a huge amount of sadness because for me it didn't work out and we are both the lowest we have ever been. I won;t ever move back to the UK unless absolutely necessary, i love where I live now. Would we still be together if we hadn't had taken this step? Who knows?

It will take hard work and both need to be involved for it to work. Good luck flowers............oh and if he isn't receptive in trying to change things so it works better for both of you. You have your answer.

Obsidian77 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:45:00

I can see where you're coming from.
I think that if you both have high-flying careers before you have DCs, it's easy to think that, whatever obstacles may arise, you'll work to support each other and help each other with your careers goals and aspirations.
And then reality hits and one person, usually the woman, ends up stepping back to focus on the family.
In my situation I am happy for my DH's success and proud of what he has achieved but it has come at the expense of my career.
For those pps who say well he didn't force you, I think this is too simplistic and dismissive and doesn't take into account how the balance gently tips against you.
I don't want to me-rail, but here are some of the thoughts I have had on my own situation in case any of these perspectives are useful.
Every choice I made was the best decision I could make at that time, with the information I had at that time.
I should try to avoid focusing on the things that are causing me unhappiness and stop overlooking the many details that have brought me happiness and peace of mind.
My DCs are happy and healthy and have had a safe and stable childhood.
There is (hopefully) still plenty of time, decades even, in which I can still accomplish the things I had hoped to achieve by now. And when I do manage to do these things, I am going to be even more appreciative of them because of the frustration and resentment I am feeling now,

I think your situation is more common than people would like to admit. Hope you can move forward. Best wishes op

Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 21:48:18

Thanks all.

Lots of food for thought. Some interesting interpretations of what I've said too. Some points for clarity

I don't care about high earnings or status. Quite the opposite. I'd ditched a very, very high earning route for my career for a lower status and more fulfilling route. I worked, very, very hard to do that. I earned more than him, back then, for various reasons. I can't return to the more 'fulfilling' career as I have had too long out.

I do volunteer work, I work a bit from home, I have plans to study....the feelings won't go.

I have no romantic ideals about spending time abroad. It's a personal goal that I've had on hold for 15 years, largely for my husband. Originally, I was happy to wait initially because I'd already traveled. Honestly, if I had ever thought, for a second, that the wait would be this long I would have gone without him.

The promises he broke were the plans to travel or (for one of us) to look for work overseas, what would happen when he'd finished x piece of training, distribution of finances between us and so on. (There's more but I don't want to out myself).

We, or I, talk seriously about this stuff every few months. The last time was quite recently. The time before that lead to my decision to look forward and find ways to be happy in myself....which lead to the course I will start soon. The most recent conversation happened because I was worried that wasn't enough. He expressed surprise that I still want to do something I have wanted to do since childhood and have raised with him every few months of the decade and a half that we have been together. I talk and we agree ways to ensure the housework, etc is distributed fairly and he doesn't forget to do things....and nothing changes.

He has more disposable income for reasons I don't fully understand. This has only recently come to light as a certainty. I was struggling to squirrel away the savings I'll need to do my course and spoke to him about the fact that maybe we can't afford it. He wants me to be able to do the course so went and checked and came back and admitted what he had. I was livid.....so much for having been equal, open and honest partners. That has tipped me over the edge.

Pandora85 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:56:28

Really feel I can sympathise with your issues.
I have found I have built up huge resentment in my marriage too and am struggling to deal with it and look forward.
I made a major decision due to my own insecurity about our relationship when it first began (staying 200 miles away from my family as I thought we'd split up if I returned home). That's a decision i needed to own and I haven't dealt with it well. Unfortunately life then seemed to constantly go wrong (cheating, deceit, feeling under valued, dh out of work, feeling like I was running the house all by myself etc) so I felt resentful of the choice I made and still to this day feel like I have always been the one to sacrifice.
So many of my decisions feel like they have been based on the good of the family and how I can help dh improve his life and I guess I never felt that massive sacrifice was rewarded or even just valued.
It's eating away at us and I try hard to acknowledge that I am now overly critical and can be genuinely awful to dh but I do also try and suggest us talking about why we are unhappy and what we feel could be solutions. I hoped that this would air our feelings and give opportunities for each of us to help find ways forward that maybe we hadn't thought of.
Dh however doesn't want to do this so I find the resentment will continue to build.

Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 21:58:24

Thanks Obsidian77 You replied as I was typing. And you are spot on. Life is not black and white and simplistic and as we navigate it and make decisions we don't have the benefit of hindsight along the way!

Some of the decisions I and we have made have made me extremely happy. My beautiful children are my world and worth any sacrifices I have made along the way, for example. Until recently, I have focused on the things that make me happy and the positives I can find. But I guess, something's been bubbling under the surface and hasn't gone away. It's like it is now under a closed lid and trying to break out....like hot water bubbling over in a pan....every now and then a splash of hot water comes out and burns someone!

I love what you said about making the best decisions you could with the information you had at the time. I will try to remember that more. My husband and I need to to do that now...with the information we have now and find a way forward.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 17-Apr-17 22:08:01

You are still putting yourself second to him. You say I do volunteer work, I work a bit from home, I have plans to study....the feelings won't go That's enough for some women, it wouldn't be for me and it isn't for you. You say your work is fulfilling but it obviously isn't anywhere near fulfilling enough. Maybe because it is so obviously secondary and optional in both of your minds.

You seem to have your head screwed on. Stop putting yourself second. Sod the pretend jobs. Get a real one. He will have to do a hell of a lot more childcare, negotiate staying late for meetings, travel for work etc. Just do it. Don't seek permission and don't listen to any whining about how it makes his life harder.

Notgrown Mon 17-Apr-17 22:44:18

Thanks. I have stared to do that Rabbit. I just don't know what would make me happier, here, in terms of work. My old career was fulfilling but not perfect and I couldn't easily return to it. So it's finding what I do want...hence the study to re-train. But deep down I know I want/need the 'dream'...or to at least come first for a bit, properly.

I guess like a lot of couples, we started out taking about equally sharing home and work life balances and, like so many, I got the lion's share of home and he got the lion's share of work. As that was all in line with his preferences, I am now, mentally screaming, "my turn".

That 'dream' isn't so easy to achieve now, with kids. So I have found plans to find a new line of work and have asked my husband for his support with that. He is going to take on more of the share at home....but still can't clear up when he makes a sandwich. Grrr! I might talk to him again about finding a way to save the money for me to take the kids away for longer breaks in the summer. Keep talking, I guess.

Wallywobbles Mon 17-Apr-17 23:01:13

I'm a bit stunned by some of these responses. My self worth is massively tied up in my career. Like most men in fact. Being a mother is one thing but it's not the only thing.

I closed my company down a year ago and have a massive amount of very varied experience but no real idea of what to do next. I'm looking at programming as it offers the prospect of contract work and traveling again. DH is quite capable of looking after our 4 DC, so nows the time.

Could you find something work wise that allowed you to travel too? And just let him step up. No asking permission just this is how it's going to be.

RNBrie Mon 17-Apr-17 23:09:36

I'm in almost the same position as you except I never wanted to live abroad.

I have also been really bitter and resentful about the decisions I/we made when we had children, I had no idea how I'd feel about my career ending and how miserable it has made me.

What's helping at the moment is planning for the future. We are done having babies and I'm going back to my old work albeit in a shitter role, my dh is 100% supportive and regularly asks me if there's anything I need from him to feel like my life is getting back on track so I get that he's trying to understand and help. I do some volunteering at weekends and in the evenings and he's very supportive of that too, that time is ring-fenced in his diary and he protects it from work stuff that comes up.

Dozer Mon 17-Apr-17 23:16:55

So when you repeatedly talked about moving abroad with the DC he seemed up for it? But neither of you acted on it, and since you'd had a long career break it was always more likely to be him who'd need to seek a job abroad to make it happen. So it gradually became apparent that he had no such intention?

The domestic stuff, with no changes after repeatedly raising issues, is shit and would be a deal breaker for me.

Ditto hiding income, if that's what he did.

DavidDavid5665 Mon 17-Apr-17 23:21:16

I can feel your sadness and resentment. Completely understand. 2 things will eat you up. Resentment and thinking what could have been. Have you thought about what you want now? Communicate that with your husband as the 1st step.

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