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Can I be happy married to dh if I don't love him?

(30 Posts)
startouchedtrinity Sun 15-Jul-07 09:55:32

My dh and I have grown so far apart. I used to adore him but I did push him out when we had dd2. Since then we've had ds and dh has just regressed back to how he was when he was a teenager - out drinking with his mates, staying up all night playing poker etc. Our dd2 was very ill last yr when ds was born and I came close to a breakdown. Dh was so horrible to me, drinking and getting abusive. It's better now but I have told him I don't want to be married to him if he still drinks. He goes out about 2-3 times a week and gets in betqween 12.30 and 2 am. He doesn't believe I will leave and tbh I don't want to, not for my sake but for our dcs esp. dd1 who adores him. I've told dh I don't want to be married to him any more but he thinks it is just me getting angry and I don't mean it. I do; my love for him is gone, totally. We lead separate lives and I don't want to be a part of the things he enjoys.

Strangely I think he means it when he says he loves me.

What can I do? How can I distance myself enough to live with a man I don't love in order to keep my family together?

If dh was like he was for the first ten yrs of our marriage then I wouldn't feel this way.

escape Sun 15-Jul-07 09:58:40

you can't.
Because there is always something missing
you won't be happy. you'll just be 'making do' - in a relationship, both parties deserve to have their needs fulfilled and yours won't be. I totally understand your wanting stability for your kids but you are still young (I assume!) enopug and deserving enough to be happy in arelationship or happy on your own without the 'burden'. the kids will notice an unhappy mother, surely?

Leati Sun 15-Jul-07 10:07:48

How long have you been married? Many couples go through stages in thier relationship where there grow apart and then back together again. I wouldn't give up, yet.

You may not ever be able to recapture the relationship you had when you guys first got together. But that doesn't mean you can't build a meaningful, loving relationship based on who you both are now. Try looking into some relationship books or if you can afford it some marriage counseling. I have heard of situation just like yours, where the couple were able to rekindle thier relationship. Give it try for yourself, for your kids, and just so you don't end up having regrets later.

mumsville Sun 15-Jul-07 13:15:14


Similar situation but for different reasons.

Perhaps you feel resentful of how he was when ds was born. His behaviour was certainly not right. Perhaps if you could both resolve that you wouldn't mind own hobbies (and you keep your's of course).

I'm trying to save up to go to relate, who I hear is very good, perhaps you need to take action on how you are feeling and come to some concrete conclusion.

I too don't love my husband and am willing to try to find out whether I can get those feelings back.

I wish you the bes of luck.

Peachy Sun 15-Jul-07 13:30:28

trinity <<hugs>.

don't guve up just yet, I agree that all marriages (well most) go through this- if you act it can be possible to get the love back. have you considered Relate? he doesn't have yto go with you and at the very least it will help you get things clear in your head

startouchedtrinity Sun 15-Jul-07 14:11:32

Thank you for all your replies. We've been together for 21 yrs, married for 16 (I'm 36) and our dcs are 5, 3 and 1. I think be both know the problems - he feels I exclude him in favour of the dcs - like I have any energy left for me let alone him - whilst I think he excludes me in favour of going out and getting drunk, arsing about with his mates etc. It's finding solutions that is difficult. He won't give up going out and has started playing on-line poker again after he gave it up b/c it was upsetting me. (he plays all night so he's too knackered to do anything with the dcs the next day). He can't do anything in moderation - his 'one night out a week' is three and he comes home in the small hours totally plastered. Poker isn't just one night, it's every night he's not out. It's so boring. My bil leads a similar lifestyle and is single, frankly, b/c no woman in he rright mind is going to want that in a man. So why should I want it in my dh?

I've read every book going, I've talked to him about it, I've threatened to leave, I've pleaded. I've acted like I don't care, I've been happy for him to go out, I've encouraged his 'hobbies', I've tried suggesting we do things together like before the dcs, I've tried acting like we don't have dcs - all he says is he's changed, this is how he is now, like it or lump it. Oh, and he'll 'try harder'.

At the same time I don't want a divorce b/c of my dcs, also b/c I wouldn't be free - we'd still be tied together and we'd just be arguing about access, childcare decisions etc. And he is a good dad, when he puts his mind to it.

I'm making a new start in that I'm studying with a view to being a complementary therapist. I just want to find a way for that new start to be within my marriage, to be happy within myself regardless of my dh's behaviour. If my happiness is reliant on him changing, and he won't change, then I am doomed to be miserable.

Thanks again, it is helping just to get it out (if a bit scarey).

Peachy Sun 15-Jul-07 14:22:22

It does sund like you need to be doing things together, not always that easy is it?

for the online poker, I will get you a link, fr fmaillies of thsoe addicted- see if ir rings any bells.

TBH I think the getting a life for yourself- traininge tc- may well be the best thing. Its far more likely to motivate him if he can see you motivating yurself, and in my own experience I find its more tempting to dwell on the negatives of oyur relationship 9we all have them) when I dont have much else going on (bar the kids of course)

Peachy Sun 15-Jul-07 14:26:20

here you go; I think anyone who describes this level of gambling as a part of who they are has reached a critical level personally and needs help

startouchedtrinity Sun 15-Jul-07 14:41:32

Thanks, Peachy. Tbh I think he could stop gambling easily enough if he wanted to - he's done it before. Actually he's a very good player and has supplemented our family income greatly - it just annoys the hell out of me. The drinking's the thing, that I think he can't just stop at will.

Our last night out was to the village quiz night in October 2003. Maybe explains a thing or two...I didn't care for a long time if he was here or not (hormones and pnd). Then I began to care again but it was too late. Now I am thinking clearly and have got myself back on track - and I'm back to not caring, except in terms of the example he sets for our dcs.

Judy1234 Sun 15-Jul-07 14:54:26

Plenty of peope who have been together 20+ years like you have kind of lead separate lives together in the same house but I'm sure it's not ideal and I'm not even sure it's better for the children than the parents parting but I'm divorced (after 19 years married) so I'm bound to see it a bit in the pro divorce way. Your children are very young. It is probably best to wait a few years to see how things go.

He is not behaving like a proper father or husband at the moment and that may be because he isn't happy either. Better poker and drink than a lover perhaps. Are there new things neither of you now do but you both might like? If he likes gambling could you go together to watch horses racing and bet modest sums together? I don't know - just trying to think of things you both might like but don't do now...and is the sex life okay?

hippmummy Sun 15-Jul-07 14:57:01

'this is how it is now. like it or lump it'
It's simply not good enough. You deserve better. Do you think he's behaving like this because he thinks you'll never leave him.
If he's not prepared to even try, to go to counselling or at the very least have some respect for your relationship then sadly you will be better off without him.

In answer to your original question, I don't think you will ever be truly happy married to him if you don't love him.

Peachy Sun 15-Jul-07 15:02:25

If the drinking is moe of an issue consider al-anon, they are there for you not him. It might help clarify things perhaps.

If he's saying like it or lump and you're realy sure you don't and could never love him again, what wuld happen if you said well lump it then- and maybe took off for a few days (or arrnaged for him to).

mytwopenceworth Sun 15-Jul-07 15:04:13

You can be happily married without being 'in love', if there is warmth, affection, mutual respect and you like each other and are HAPPY.

This does not sound like the above.

you can't be happily married if you are unhappy with the way you are treated.

You are doing yourself and your kids a disservice if you try to convince yourself that this is all you can expect or deserve out of life.

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 11:15:32

Thanks for all your messages. Xenia, you are right, my dh sin't happy but I think he is so stuck he can't see how to change. Maybe I hurt him so badly in withdrawing from him he doesn't want to risk it happening again. Also when dd2 collapsed last yr I may have been traumatised as I was in hospital having just had ds but it was him who held her in his arms thinking that she was dying. We both dealt with it badly and there is a lot of pain and bitterness in this house. Dh's drinking had already started by then but I think this pushed him too far.

It's true, he thinks I will never leave him. I'm not convinced I would be happier if I did, tbh - he wouldn't forgive me and I woudl get so much grief over access etc it would be just as bad if not worse. I'm not interested in counselling - I know why things are like they are and IME counselling just reinforces my misery.

As I said, I can't rely on his behaviour to make me happy. I need to be responsible for my own happiness whether I stay or not.

Peachy, I think you are right about my tarining etc. I feel so much stronger, I have so much to look forward to.

sallysparrow Mon 16-Jul-07 12:46:57

Sounds very similar to my situation - down to he online poker and the 1 night out becoming three!

And we've been together 21 years. But only one child, 6 years.

I think i came to the conclusion that Id be happier just me and DD - we always enjoyed days out on our own more than family days out - quite a while ago. But eventually he got fed up with what he saw as my nagging, and said he wanted to leave.

He's a bit of a controller - when Id said Id rather he left in the past he ignored that, but when it was his decision, he started to make plans.

he's not quite gone yet, but things are generally better, although there is still tension around finances.

But I think the important part is that he is getting counselling - Ive no doubt discussing just the things i used to say he needed to change, but he's always preferred to hear something from a real "expert" rather than from me.

Our petty disagreements are too great to number here, but hopefully will be less of an issue in the future.

I think i really just got to the point where I would rather live alone than with someone I didnt feel love, and almost more important, respect for.

This is not to say leaving will be the best thing for you, but for a lot of women it would be. And your children are young enough to cope - better to grow up knowing you both made a sensible decision, than that you let yourself be sacrificed for the sake of "stability".

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 13:31:06

How spooky - I thought my dh had to be the only one! Glad you are finding things better.

I think men hate any idea that they are being controlled. I've thought about telling our GP about his drinking b/c dh will listen to him and not me. Tbh the respect thing is far more important than the love thing as far as I'm concerned. But I don't respect him any more than he respects me - or rather I show it less than he does, I do respect him for some things. I think in many ways his behaviour reflects my attitude towards him. There are faults on both sides and I don't know how to overcome them.

It's not 'stability' that I think is necessary for our dcs. It's the fact that our dds adore their dad, and it woudl shatter their world if he wasn't here. A friend lost her partner last week in an accident and my dd1 has been asking who will look after their dd now she hasn't got a daddy. In many ways divorce is as final to dcs esp. if their dad goes on to make a 'new' family. At the same time though I am aware we need to model a good relationship for them. My parents live the separate lives thing so well that after 40 yrs of marriage they actually have separate houses and meet up once a week for lunch! And dh's dad drinks...see, I know what's wrong, I just can't fix it!

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 13:34:19

And I don't see myself as sacrificing my happiness - not yet - I genuinely believe I would be no happier if we split atm.

Thanks for your message btw!

sallysparrow Mon 16-Jul-07 20:27:27

I think for me its more that I will be more relaxed - no more waiting for the day to be spoiled, or for him to say the wrong thing or take offence where none was meant.

And we do argue, so i could see that getting worse, which is upsetting for children - i remember my parents arguing and being terrified that they would divirce - theyre still together now, but nothing was ever explained to me as a child.

I dont think things are going to be easy - financially its going to be hell, at least at first, and I cant bear to think what will happen if she wants to live with him instead, or if he starts another family.

Im just taking each day as it comes.
But I prefer this to the niggling "should I stay or go".

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 20:53:30

I know exactly what you mean - it's hard work living on eggshells. But if I am honest things are a lot better than they were, at least in terms of dh's drinking. And I can't get away from the fact that I don't show him any more respect than he shows me - maybe I show him even less, I just let him have it in a different way. I guess I'm reaping what I sow.

I've got a couple of friends whose parents argued a lot and they say they'd wished their parents had divorced earlier than they did. If I believed that my dcs were being exposed to rows that were upsetting them then I would leave, but right now they are three blissfully happy children.

I think what is coming out of this for me is that I think there is something worth staying for, worth changing myself for rather than trying to change him.

Thanks, this is being really helpful. I really, really hope you find peace and happiness xx

sallysparrow Mon 16-Jul-07 21:30:36

Listen, if you can salvage a good relationship, then brilliant! But dont change into something youre not just to fit in and keep things smooth.

Im certainly not perfect - one of our problems is that we're too alike in many ways, and we've been together so long we really know how to wind each other up. Unfortunately we never got over certain habits that just keep coming back to haunt us.

And the worst thing is P would not talk things over.

If you can do that, without compromising yourself too much then Im really glad for you.

Good luck, and remember there's always people to talk to here if things get sticky.

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 21:37:51

I don't think it's a case of changing myself into something I'm not. Rather it's losing the idea that he can hurt me when really I'm hurting myself. Does that make sense? It's not believing he has the power to hurt me, and sorting out my life rather than trying to run his. I'm hoping to become more myself, not less, b/c I will be living my life, not his.

Who knows?

Wishing you every happiness.

sallysparrow Mon 16-Jul-07 21:44:59

Sounds good!

expatinscotland Mon 16-Jul-07 21:46:42

Do you respect him? Do you love yourself?

If the answer to both those questions is yes, then the answer to the question you posed in your OP is yes, too.

One thing I am very grateful for having learned in the wreck that is my adult life is that love comes in so many different forms.

jangly Mon 16-Jul-07 21:50:08

Good post expat.

startouchedtrinity Mon 16-Jul-07 22:03:55

expat, when I started this thread I'd have said no to respecting him, and I'm starting to, to loving myself. But on reflection there is a lot to respect in my dh. Tomorrow he is helping out at dd2's pre-school for the morning. I think that's pretty cool. As for loving myself, that can only come when I am free from the bitterness I've held against dh.

I agree about love coming in many forms - my parents' marriage may sound bizarre but it works for them. I don't want romance,I just want to be able to live together with mutual respect and maybe some affection.

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