Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Deciding to go(102 Posts)
Hi, I'm trying to decide whether to leave my husband. I feel like this is such an old story on relationships but I really want to talk about it so here goes...
I'm 42, we've been married for 12 years. We have 2 DCs age 3 and 7. DS2 starts school in September which is a worry as he is being assessed for possible ASD and I think that his start at school will be quite rocky.
We have had sex once since DS2 was born. I occasionally try to initiate it but DH is always too tired.
DH is not terrible in lots of ways. He does wash up, empty and load the dishwasher, looks after most of the bills and sometimes vaccums and changes the sheets on our bed without being asked (thinking about those "mental load" cartoons). He is also supporting us financially at the moment. So he isn't a complete waste and sometimes I think that I just have unrealistic expectations.
We both worked in similar jobs- we are both NHS hospital consultants and before children we both worked in acute areas. He hasn't been willing to change his working pattern at all and also will not accept us having a nanny so I do all the school dropoffs and pickups. He also refuses to look after the DCs (particularly DS2) at weekends so I've had to stop doing on call. He did used to look after DS1 but would make a point of how awful it was for him and I would often be setting off for work having just been told things like "I'm in a situation that I can't stand, this is intolerable".
This has had a massive impact on my career- I was clinical lead for my department and training lead for our region in my specialty when I got pregnant. I gave these up when I went on mat leave and have gradually taken less and less prestigious roles to try to get a job that allows me to work while also dropping off at 8 and picking up at 5.30.
I find it really humiliating at work when there is an evening meeting or something in the morning before 9 and I can't get to it because I have no childcare. DH refuses to talk about other childcare options and says that it is impossible for him to have a day when he does drop-off or pick up because it would be "unprofessional".
DH has only taken 2 weeks of annual leave in the school holidays this year. He wouldn't talk to me about this, or even tell me what leave he'd taken for weeks and I ended up emailing his secretary to get a copy of his rota so I could find out when he would be about.
We have a holiday booked in a month's time and he will not talk about it at all- he says that he is in denial about it which I find really hurtful (he finds the idea of spending time with us so awful that he can't think about it).
He has also been agreeing to do things and then backing out- we were going to go skiing with his parents and after we'd talked to them, agreed a week and I'd spent ages looking at the best options he said that he wouldn't be able to stand it so I had to ring them and say that we had decided against it. The same thing happened last summer with him agreeing to us getting guinea pigs and a trampoline- he agreed to it and then after I'd told the DCs and we'd measured up and looked at the best guinea pig houses he decided that the garden had "too much crap" in it already and that we couldn't do it.
I am sure that people will be reading this and thinking that I'm being really wet- just buy the damn trampoline FFS but he gets so withdrawn that it just isn't worth the effort.
I am kind of a SAHM at the moment. My dad had a very serious accident about 2 years ago and spent 18 months in hospital. I couldn't manage doing all the school runs and seeing my dad (DH never once looked after the DCs so I could visit) and work, so I am on unpaid carer's leave and I'm due to go back to work in September. I feel like this has made the power imbalance between us much worse.
DH will not socialise with my family and tries not to see his parents (I've been to visit them with the boys but he doesn't come). I regularly take the boys away for the weekend. When he comes we often have what I think is a really good time, but he has told me that he's faking it and he hates it.
He also says that I'm very controlling but I feel like he is. He told me recently that I get everything that I want and I just didn't know what to say.
I feel like all he ever wants me to do is to take the children out do that he can have the house to himself. He says that he feels like a spare part when they are here and that he feels driven out of the house and that he can't concentrate on anything.
The thing is, he is supporting us. He will read to the DC and I'm hoping that as DS2 gets older he will be more confident with him.
I hope that I can get back to work and he will respect me a bit more and be nicer to me, but I also feel like it's very hard for me to work properly when I have to arrive late and leave early and can't do on call.
At the top of my long post I said that he would change the sheets without being asked. Just typing that made me feel a bit nervous at the idea of asking him- he'd do it himself but would hate me asking him.
He tells me that I'm controlling and that he tries not to give an opinion in case it's wrong but then sulks and mutters to himself so I spend all my time trying to guess what he wants. If I challenge him on it he stands with his hands behind his back and says that he's trying not to provoke me, but he refuses to talk to me.
I don't want a divorce, I want to have a husband who wants to spend time with us and who I can talk to without walking on eggshells trying not to say the wrong thing.
I just don't know what to do.
Hennypenny-I think that he would be upset and withdrawn, and that he would see me as using him for support when the boys were little and then not wanting him any more. I think that he would say that I'm ungrateful. I am slightly concerned that he would say that I'm mentally ill but I can't imagine that he would want more than 50% custody- I would be more worried that he wouldn't want to see the boys.
I think that he might be quite funny about money.
Bigbus I know what you mean about people wanting you to want things that you don't want(!). I think that I would like to be able to work at least a bit more. I know that most working mums have guilt about family and work and I'm no exception. But I used to really enjoy being on call, going to resus, being in charge (also as you know I'd be able to earn more money by doing out of hours work)
He is controlling, and autism and depression is no excuse - I'm sick of seeing the same old excuses being trotted out for these vile men.
Even if he is autistic and depressed - HIS problem, let him deal with it.
Get the trampoline. Get the nanny. Pay her to bounce up and down in front of him. Then walk away and never look back.
You are an NHS consultant. He is only holding you back.
Christmas fluff you just made me laugh out loud 😂
Oh lovely OP, I'm glad I made you laugh. You deserve people who make you laugh, not nasty peeps like him xx
Financially can you cope on your salary alone? If so I would suggest a trial separation at first - he isn't pulling his weight, and you need help, ideally a good au pair (my friends son is autistic and they have always had au pairs) plus childcare as needed. The reason many of us struggle with leaving is money, my dd has asd and I need to have a house, a car etc and I shot myself in the foot career wise because of international moves with H.
It's not simple and if counselling might work, start with that but he needs to respect your career, and either do 50% childcare and/or accept you need reliable help, live in probably or someone locally you can call upon as needed
TotheLaunchBay, * I do think that if I'm arranging to have a stranger in our house looking after our children that he has an equal right to be involved.*
I don't think he does, he has delegated all child rearing responsibility on to you, just make an executive decision, book the nanny, tell him the date she starts.
More importantly, have a long hard think about why you feel his opinion is more important than yours, and why an easy life for him is more important than your well being, get angry and then get what you deserve.
Had to register to respond to this.
It sounds like a really rubbish situation and it sounds like there is something wrong with your OH. I can't put my finger on what, whether abusive, autistic e.t.c his behaviour is not normal / very selfish.
Have you tried talking to him, if not talking to him writing him an email and explaining how you feel, writing can be better even though it may sound childish but you can express everything you are feeling and IF he reads it all he can see how you feel. If he chooses to ignore it then her really doesn't care about your feelings. If he changes for a bit and then reverts you have to pick him up on this.
You are an educated woman but you have let this situation happen slowly over time. My partner would not allow me to get away with this $hit we have to decide on things together or comprimise, he seems to be making lateral decision which effect you and not him. You need to be clear with him about what you want. As another poster said most people who are stuck in their relationships don't have the money to leave. If you have the money and he doesn't change then I would leave. It doesn't sound it is going to get any better until you tell him about all your needs and what you need from him.
If this situation continues then you would be much better on your own. Just out of curiosity can you say anything good about your partner / being with him, what was it like before children?
He is being completely selfish and whether intentionally or not very controlling and putting his needs above his and his job / basically by the sound of it everything is about what he wants.
Parenting should be equal. In the real world somebody ends up doing more but a 60/40 split is ideal whether that favours the man or the woman.
My potential salary is exactly the same as his, which is what we 4 are living on at the moment. I'd ideally like to work something like 8-6 3 days and 10-2 3 days which is 70% of full time. If I went on to the on call rota then I could have as many hours as I want (they are always short of staff) but obviously I need someone to look after the boys while I'm doing that.
I'd ideally like to get a before and after school nanny 3 days (I actually have someone in mind for this- she lives near us and previously worked in the school before school club, she has a small business from home but doesn't have enough work). If I couldn't get before and after school then it'd be more expensive obviously.
"Afford" is difficult- we'd have less money but I think that we'd probably be selling the house and so the mortgage would be smaller (or possibly depending on what happened we wouldn't have a mortgage).
I couldn't get a live in nanny or au pair unless we kept the house.
I could afford to keep the house if I could work full-time and not pay a nanny (or if DH had the DCs 50% of the time and I did long days when he had them). We do have savings which would be about as much as we have left on the mortgage.
So in terms of affording it I think that it depends. I would need to talk to a solicitor and then work it out.
The sulking if you bought a trampoline. Again controlling your behaviour. I have experience with autistic children and the most frustrating thing is the sulking if they don't get what they want but sulking to the extreme.
If you have the money yourself -- BUY the trampoline and let him sulk, changing his behaviour starts NOW.
This sounds similar in some ways to my ex, except he accompanied the sulks and poor me's with massive tantrums breaking stuff and all the words under the sun. So I do have some sympathy about how it starts to be a weird normal, until every now and then you raise your head over the fog of coping and think wtf.
The best you have said about him is 'not terrible'.
You sound lovely, caring and hard-working, and deserve a better life than this.
The children are going to cotton on to the fact that you back out of events and actions because of him sooner or later. That was my key motivation for leaving.
Nice things about him...
He is not materialistic- I reversed into his brand new car denting 3 panels when DS2 was a baby. He was not angry at all, just said that it didn't matter. And he doesn't ever bring it up.
He had an interview for a job in a big teaching hospital that was arguably his dream job. It would mean moving about 5 hours away from us. I told him to go for it and he decided not to as it wouldn't be fair on me or the kids.
When I was pregnant and vomiting he never complained about cleaning the sick up.
He very fiercely defends DS's stimming to his parents who have tried to teach DS not to stim.
He drove home 3 hours to spend the night with me when my grandma died.
I started doing a sport and he got me lots of equipment for it and has supported me doing it (during the day when DS2 is at preschool and I could be looking after my dad but he's really encouraged me to have time for myself). I should say that he is not able to get home in time for me to do anything regular in the evening.
MrMagoo thank you for joining for me!
I don't know what the bloody hell is wrong with him, I've thought autism traits, depression as well. I know that some children in his church were sexually abused at the time that he was an altar boy but he is adamant that he wasn't abused (although he did know about it which must have been frightening).
When people meet him they often assume that he's gay which if he is might explain why he's so unhappy to be married to me but he had girlfriends before me. He used to say that he had never had such amazing sex as he did with me. But he doesn't say that anymore.
I am confident that he isn't having an affair. But people always say that don't they!
Sorry I've come back again because I've phrased that as autism being "something wrong with him'. That was pretty crap of me and wrong.
I mean that I don't know why he behaves like this.
I'll leave it alone for a bit as I seem to be having a conversation with myself 😁
I think the main thing here is you are unhappy with your situation and your OH should listen to your needs and what you want and what he wants should be incorporated into a plan moving forward. If you don't tell him how you feel and what you want then nothing will change. Some kind of compromise needs to be met instead of him dictating things. His reaction to this compromise will tell you everything you need.
OP what do you want because I think it’s for him to change but he won’t so at this point you have 2 choices
Leave or stay, and stay will mean putting up with it because he won’t back down
He has his good points, but he is a bit of a dickhead op no doubt about it. It creeps up on you, this walking on eggshells stuff. You start off not wanting to upset him because you love him and you want to be nice to him, and you end up tip toeing around him for the rest of your life. The bottom line is you can't both be happy, not together anyway. If you take care of your career by getting childcare and working the hours you need to, and by doing perfectly normal stuff like spending family time together, getting a pet, and getting a fricken trampoline, he will be a sulky, unhappy mess. If you keep him happy, and that means doing everything his way, you will end up very unhappy, and so will your DC. Some things just don't work. Talk to him, I hope he listens, but I wouldn't hold out much hope.
Sounds a bit like my exh, but even worse!
My ex did all the same things like calling me controlling - which really threw me tbh as he was very controlling - and it took me a long time to lift myself up out of the fog and start to see things clearly.
The only thing that ever worked when dealing with him was just not engaging. I started to trundle along doing my own thing without constantly worrying about what he thought or questioning myself about whether i was being "fair" or not. Easier said than done, i know, but it did help.
Probably the best thing for you to do is to allow yourself to think through all your options and concerns, over and over again; the answers will gradually become clear. At the moment you are probably only seeing the problems, but the solutions are there too. Give yourself permission to find them and move on.
Thank you so much for your advice.
I do need to keep thinking about it and turning things over.
I feel like deadringer is right that it will be hard for us to be happy together. It's such a waste.
It makes me so angry on your behalf that his career is flourishing at the expense of your career dwindling. It's so selfish and entitled, especially as your career was as prestigious as his before you both had children. And he's directly preventing your success by not 'allowing' you to use a nanny.
After thinking about this a bit more, I'm not that you can be happy in this situation long term. Can you imagine the rest of your life like this? How will you feel in 10 years time? Will it feel like it is too late and will you wish you had left 10 years earlier?
That said, the pre-school years can be pretty shit, to be honest. I found it really hard and I think it is difficult if you are used to being high achieving and in control of your own life.
Wow. I can so relate to your post. My husband was very similar to yours when the children were young. Recently, I had a thread called something like "my children can't stand their dad" - and that is where you will probably end up, I'm sorry to say. They more or less asked me to divorce him, and I told him I wanted a divorce a few weeks ago, and wish I'd done it years ago. He has never shown any real interest in the children and I gave always attended parents' evenings, activities, school plays and so on alone.
I completely get where you are coming from about going along with what your dh wants - that was me. I drive a car I hate because he preferred it to the one I liked - and it was easier to go along with that than to I sister on my preference, even though I paid for it. We can't have Netflix, because it's a waste of money, in his opinion. But he can spend a fortune on new bicycles and assorted paraphernalia to go with them. I could go on... and on, and on. And I know it is difficult for outsiders to understand why I don't stand up for myself, but I guess they don't have to put up with the sulks and the black moods and the general awful atmosphere when dh is not happy.
I see you are trying to work out your finances in your head about how you would cope if you and dh split. If he is a consultant, I guess he earns a decent wage and he will have to contribute towards the children's upkeep and you may well get more than half of the house and/or any savings you might have. But don't keep guessing - go and see a solicitor and find out. I wish I had seen one years ago, because I am likely to be entitled to much more than I realised. (I ended up giving up a well-paid job when dd1 was a baby because dh didn't help out at all with childcare and I just couldn't manage the long hours and travel).
I have been reading a blog recently called covertnarcissism.com. You might 8dentify with some if the things the writer talks about.
From what you've said OP he sounds as though he's fully retreated into his own world...one which doesn't include your needs.
It's possible he WAS abused or he IS gay or having an affair or is depressed but really, none of this matters because you've tried to accommodate him and now it's affecting you badly.
Tell him where you are...that you want a separation and then a divorce. At best it could wake him up and he'll fix himself but that doesn't sound likely.
At worst he will make things hard for you....but that will pass.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.