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Sad about relationship

(45 Posts)
okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 14:09:45

I feel sick posting this.

I have been with my partner for nearly 20 years, since we were teenagers. We have two DC.

Things can be good, they can be great. He has many good qualities which have allowed us to make a home and a life together which works well in many ways. He is supportive. We share the same values. We enjoy many of the same things. We both have freedom to pursue our own interests and dreams. He is, or can be, a great father. He is affectionate and we have a good sex life. He most definitely does his fair share in the house (more on that later).

However, his selfishness (as I see it) is driving me away from him. This takes the form of:
- Being totally single-minded about what he wants to do. Eg a building project in the house/re-doing the garden. He will often prioritise these projects over spending the time with the family at the weekend, which upsets me, but in his mind he 'needs' to do them. He seems anxious if he is not 'getting on with' something (this comes directly from his crappy dad). It's true that we can't afford to pay people to do these house/garden jobs, but in my view we could scale back the projects. However my view doesn't seem to hold much sway. The kids enjoy pottering around him while he does these jobs. He teaches them to do things like sawing wood, and he cooks with them a lot. But I want him to down tools and do something with them, which is about THEM.
- He can be a very connected, engaged partner and dad. We spend some lovely times as a family. But when he feels irritated or grumpy, he just indulges it. Being snappy and impatient with the kids, letting his annoyance show at their annoying kid habits (e.g. whistling incessantly, dangling off their chair at the dinner table- I find these things annoying too but as a parent you have to reign in it sometimes and choose your battles!). Having an air of tension about him that makes it unpleasant to be around him. He goes through long spells of not being grumpy, and then periods of being grumpy. In the not-grumpy times I love being with him; the other times, frankly I want to leave. To be clear, he has never been verbally abusive. It's plain and simple grumpy arseness. He is aware of this and does try, but he needs to try harder.
- We live, basically, the way he wants to live (I hate typing that). He's into local shops, growing-your-own, not wasting anything, making jam, cooking everything from scratch and all that stuff. As am I, to a certain extent. I am more easygoing, and many of the things he likes, I like too, so we've just fallen into living what is essentially 'his' lifestyle. Left to my own devices (which sometimes feels entirely tempting), I would do an online shop, I would have a tumble dryer, I would buy a bloody £10 M&S meal on a Friday night.
It's so hard to explain. It's not that he would dictate that we COULDN'T do those things, but it would genuinely unsettle him. It would make him very tense for things not to be the way he likes them, and I don't want to live in a tense environment. So I've never asserted myself and said 'actually why don't we do things this way?'. It isn't that he has told me we can't, it's that I go with the flow- with everything apart from stuff to do with the kids.

In short, I don't think he's quite 'normal', whatever that is, and if I'm honest, I feel envious of women whose partners are 'lazy' and just loll about at the weekends and don't do the shopping, or get involved in the house and kitchen etc. My partner is the opposite and it's exhausting.

I don't know if I can see myself staying forever . But I feel absolutely devastated at the idea of breaking up our family. In particular, I can't bear the thought of him being a grumpy sod with the kids without me there to smooth things over, remind him to back off etc. But I am tired, so tired of playing that role. I feel I've lost myself, and while we can live a happy family life which ticks along, it seems to come at the expense of my needs, and myself, too often.

I don't know what advice I am looking for here. I've just kept it absolutely inside and not spoken to anyone for so long. Any thoughts or shared experiences would be appreciated.

Crowdo Fri 22-Sep-17 14:11:46

He doesn't really sound that bad, OP. Perhaps you have just fallen out of love with him?

Nancy91 Fri 22-Sep-17 14:16:31

As above, I think you are falling out of love with him. I see many of his traits that you've listed in both my own partner and MYSELF. You two are just different and only you know if you can deal with that for the rest of your life.

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 14:19:17

Interesting... thank you for the responses. Maybe it is just that my feelings have changed, I haven't really thought of it that way, I've more thought of it as him being an uptight and grumpy person who is difficult to live with! Food for thought there.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 22-Sep-17 14:35:59

For me it would depend how often he is grumpy.
Is it 50% of the time?
5% of the time?
That would make a huge a difference to my response.
But.... for you it's not working, not matter how often he is grumpy.
You don't like the lifestyle you have sleepwalked (is that a word?) into.
If you want to stay together you are going to have to tell him and assert yourself more.
Stop doing everything HIS way.
Tell him that today you are off to M&S to get a nice meal for the 2 of you for £10 for tonight.
Don't let him overrule you or poopoo your idea.
Do you have family or friends around at all.
That could be a good escape for you if you do.
The odd girls night in with a takeaway and a bottle of wine.
Just give yourself some time off every now and then.

CardsforKittens Fri 22-Sep-17 15:16:42

So he gets tense if you assert yourself and you don't want to live in a tense environment... Fair enough, but it sounds like he hasn't given much thought to what you might want, and doesn't want to hear it if you try to tell him. I would find that hard to live with. Having a conversation about what you want shouldn't feel like asserting yourself - your partner should want to know that stuff, even if he doesn't share your perspective. How do you generally resolve conflicts - do you usually back down and do whatever he wants? That would feel a bit unhealthy to me.

Notonthestairs Fri 22-Sep-17 16:04:11

I think you sound a bit bored and maybe lonely in your relationship.
You've gone along with doing stuff his way but now you want to change things up a bit - you need a conversation about it. He's not a mind reader. Give him a chance to adapt. But if he can't then you'll need to rethink.

And I have one of the lolling about husbands you referred to and it's not a barrel of laughs here I can tell you.

beesandknees Fri 22-Sep-17 17:01:22

He sounds hard work op.

It's ok not to want to do this anymore.

I'd start asserting myself, and be prepared for the chips to fall where they may. The kids need to see you being assertive. They really do. They too are being steamrollered by dad, and they will go on to think this is a normal way of being in a relationship. Show them something different op.

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 17:17:52

Thanks for responses. As you have nearly all said, yes it does require action from me in vocalising/doing what I want. For my sake and for the kids. And him, actually. For background- I do exactly what I want in terms of my own life- I see lots of my friends and family, I go out, I take time to exercise, I wear what I want etc. He doesn't dictate any of that (and nor should he obviously!). And I tend to have more of a deciding vote in the kids stuff too. It is the shared parts of life- where we shop, what we do with the garden etc, where he has very fixed ideas, and I tend to just fall in. And his single-mindedness in pursuing home projects means that what we do at the weekend is often governed by what he has on.

It's worse at the moment because he is undertaking a very big project at home (necessary, but I suggested we fork out for someone to do it but he didn't want to, thinking he can do the work better himself). So all of our flashpoints are firing. Our weekends. So tomorrow he has suggested we all go swimming ,as he has recognised that he does need to spend time with the kids. But he wants to go first thing in the morning so he can 'get on'. It is compromises like this that make me feel like a bit of spoiled cow. But I'd love to just say, 'ooh it's the weekend, shall we just chill?' It's a different mindset- but I think mine is better, haha.
So tomorrow I'm going to take the kids on a day out I think- but I'm sad we won't all be going.

Cardsforkittens, we are OK at resolving conflicts. We tend to listen and each try to change the things that are causing problems. BUT after all these years, all of our conflicts boil down to the same nuggets, and I am tired of it. Those nuggets are that he can be grumpy and impatient, and doesn't spend enough time with the kids; and that I (surprise!) can be critical and expect too much of him, and also that I don't see what needs doing in the house. Literally all of our conflicts boil down to these things, and though we do talk constructively, we seem unable to get past these things.

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 17:22:45

Me again- here's an example:
At the moment I do most of the food shopping because I am between jobs. We shop at local shops- I support this and want to as well. BUT if I changed things up and bought meat from the supermarket, he would be unhappy. He'd question why I did it. He'd disagree with me having done it and reel off all the reasons why supermarkets are bad and why it's important to support the local butcher. Obviously he wouldn't 'do' anything as a result, but the negative questioning and pissed-off ness would make it not worth it.
But as I trudge around the local shops in the rain, I do sometimes think 'why can't we just do a Tesco online shop like normal people?' and although I want to use the local shops, it's the feeling that I 'can't' not use them that bugs me. Does that make sense?

CardsforKittens Fri 22-Sep-17 17:36:23

Yes, it does make sense. And it sounds very wearing.

I think if it were me in your last example, I'd tell him that if I'm doing the shopping I will decide how best to spend my time and energy, and that on occasion I am going to conserve my time and energy by doing an online Tesco shop, even though it's not ideal in other ways. Because my time and my energy are important, and are mine to allocate. So sometimes things will be less than ideal. And if he argued, I would invite him to take on the role of food shopper in addition to his other domestic labour, or offer to swap with something else.

I don't know if that would work for you. Clearly he has principles, which is great, but it's not fair to impose them on you when they have a detrimental effect on you (and trudging in the rain feeling miserable is a detrimental effect).

supersop60 Fri 22-Sep-17 17:39:20

OP - are you me? I've just started therapy to deal with my similar dp. One thing the therapist said is that if you don't say anything, he won't know what you are thinking. Lightbulb moment!

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 17:42:08

supersop60- it's hard to explain isn't it?!

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 17:46:49

cardsforkittens. Yes I think a direct approach is the only way. To just do what I think best, and explain why, and he can suck it up (or whinge bag for a while and then suck it up). The problem with his principles is that he has 'rightness' on his side in these conversations- to his mind he is genuinely not being unreasonable or controlling, it is just the right thing to buy ethical meat from decent suppliers instead of from supermarkets which screw farmers over... But to me the fact remains that he still would feel majorly unsettled for things not to have been done the 'right' way i.e. his way.
You know, for my whole life I have been super accommodating. Of everybody. I was the peacemaker between my siblings. I was steamrolled by friends at school. I never speak up at work and was underpaid for doing a good job for years before I left . I like things to be harmonious and so I go along with everybody. I don't want my daughter (or my son) to be like that. Need to grow a pair!

Notonthestairs Fri 22-Sep-17 17:49:29

Well taking the kids swimming isn't enough involvement for the whole weekend and that would seriously piss me off too. He knows full way that is crap parenting.

But I suspect he hadn't got a clue what's going on in your mind because he thinks you agree with him - which in fairness by taking the path of least resistance you seem to do.

It's alright not to be on the same page about the unimportant life changing stuff. Your views are just as important as his and should be valued. Stop falling in.

The obsessing over projects etc however I don't know what you can do about apart from insisting you split the time fairly.

Do you want to be with him? How old are your children?

CardsforKittens Fri 22-Sep-17 17:57:16

Harmonious is lovely! But ideally both of you would seek this out... Yes, ethical shopping is 'right', but it's also morally right for him to accommodate your needs. Ethical matters are rarely clear cut issues with obvious answers, and the 'rightness' of ethical shopping needs to be balanced against the 'rightness' of acknowledging that the person doing the shopping is an autonomous human being with her own needs, wishes and ideas! Maybe his way of doing things is usually 'right', but if he wants harmony too he ought to accept that imposing the right thing is not in itself right.

Dappledsunlight Fri 22-Sep-17 18:09:38

OKthen, I can understand where you're coming from. I think perhaps you're saying that underlying his behaviour is a deeper agenda about living up to his ideal about cooking from scratch, buying locally....whatever. BUT you have a right to choose to be laid back if you wish and have a break from all this what is, frankly, labour. It sounds like he can't chill out and relax but has something to prove about being better than (what he sees as) 'ordinary' folk. I totally get how draining this cam be. It sounds as if he's hounded by a sense of duty (hence the always having to have jobs on the go).

You may need to spell it out for him that you need him to be more present and to listen to YOUR needs. It sounds as if you're feeling guilty if you want a more relaxed set up at home. Don't people please to the detriment of your own needs. It's not being virtuous. It destroys honest communication. You have a right to what you want to balance out this situation.

supersop60 Fri 22-Sep-17 18:11:24

okthen does your DP hear the word 'no'? Mine doesn't, and it's very wearing, so most of the time I just give in. And I know what you mean about spending time with the Dcs - building a shed with Dad is no substitute for Dad coming to watch you play in a match!

okthen Fri 22-Sep-17 18:39:13

Dappled- you have it spot on. He can't relax. I secretly love it when he is hungover because we can flop on the sofa and watch films together.
He really, truly believes that he 'needs' to do all these projects. With a view to in some hazy future having everything perfect. He says he wants to spend time with the family and that's why he just needs to get the house and garden done.

Do I want to be with him? Not sure...

Oakleygirl Fri 22-Sep-17 18:54:47

I've had both experiences (an active, always on the go DH who I was married to for 20 years) then after we split, met a lazy, lolling about type who basically moved in and lived off me, I've just turfed him out of my house after nearly three years......I now know which I prefer, but I also understand where you're coming from OP. You have a lot of thinking to do.

Haffiana Fri 22-Sep-17 19:09:53

A I understand it, OP, he cannot deal with things not being done in a certain way. It isn't WHAT the things are, it isn't that he is trying to control you or anything, just that he has his way of seeing and doing things and genuinely cannot understand that you do not see things the way he does. And if you go against his way of doing things this causes him anxiety and a cluster of behaviours that make it really not worth you doing so. What you say about his reaction to his children makes me feel that he simply cannot see anything other than how he is affected by their behaviour, rather than engaging with them, with who they are...

Do you think that maybe he has ASD? Have you read anything about it?

fizzandchips Fri 22-Sep-17 19:26:25

OP - are you me?
I can totally empathise. Recently I can't keep quiet when my DP is too busy to spend time with our DC and me, so tensions have been rising in the house because I've emerged from my 'comatosed state' of agreeing with him for an easy life and to avoid tension. My friends think his work ethic is amazing as he's always 'doing needless jobs' rather than engaging with us and I'm now not sure I can picture myself in the future with someone who priorities everything above spending time with the DC and me. I will be very interested in other people's perspectives.

fizzandchips Fri 22-Sep-17 19:30:35

Haffiana very interesting. I'm going to look up ASD. Thank you.

Apileofballyhoo Fri 22-Sep-17 19:48:06

Sounds like he is a workaholic. But instead of all his work being at work, he finds work to do at home. Perhaps if you could describe spending time with you as 'working on your relationship'? I don't mean to be flippant and I don't have much experience except my DF always stayed late at work and made us all get up early at weekends and spent all day Saturday doing jobs but that was good because things were easier when he was out of the house as he was difficult to live with and also he criticised purchases though he never did the shopping

My DF had MH issues, was possibly on the spectrum, had an abusive childhood, was a functioning alcoholic and verbally/emotionally abusive at times. Other than that he was very like your DH. The grumpiness thing leads to a lot of tension in a house and we were afraid of him though we loved him too. Sundays were for 'relaxing' though (in a very set manner).

Apileofballyhoo Fri 22-Sep-17 19:50:51

Ah I see I'm not the first to mention ASD. Hope things get better for you, OP.

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