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I think I've worked out what is wrong with my marriage.

(35 Posts)
OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 11:53:58

DH is one of the good guys by and large. Loyal, loving, funny and intelligent and finds me attractive, mostly a good dad. He also has his faults but so do I. I like him and I enjoy being with him most of the time. But I'm not in love with him. I don't want to have sex with him - for years I told myself it was because I was tired etc but now I'm not sure it is. I would be very happy with him as just a friend. I know that he wouldn't be happy like that and we do have sex regularly because it keeps our relationship on an even keel. It wasn't like this pre-kids.

I think that the simple fact is that I'm in love with my children. I have never felt this much love for any other person. They take up almost all of my love, time and energy. I never thought I would feel like this about kids. I feel devestated when I think about them growing up and leaving home. I'm breaking my heart over DS#2 starting school. I get most hostile to DH when he punishes the children too severely or shouts at them - even though I've been known to shout too. It drives me mad when he tries to imply that he and I are one side and the kids are on the other and we have to be strict with them. I hate it! It just makes me feel really cold towards him. I want us to be all on the same side - not the heavy-handed parents demanding instant compliance from cowed children.

I don't know if I'm making much sense. If I am, am I wrong? I feel quite sure that if we hang on in there it will change - maybe things will go back to the way they were. But meanwhile there are the children and I find it hard to see past them sometimes. Can a marriage survive that? Anyone else feel like this?

HuwEdwards Tue 28-Aug-07 12:03:49

yes, me, to some degree - although haven't give much if any thought to them leaving home yet (they're 6 and 4)! I often say to dp that for me the kids are so all-consuming I often feel I haven't a lot left to give to him.

Am just back off hols where dp and I really seemed to get close again. Am sure we can rough it out and I think slowly but surely as the kids become more and more independant that our relationship will benefit.

expatinscotland Tue 28-Aug-07 12:07:02

Well, the thing is, he was there first. You first promise was to him.

My dad would always say, 'Your mother was here before you and she will be here after you go off to lead your own lives and hopefully have your own husbands and maybe kids.'

They both kept that perspective and worked hard at their marriage.

Well, my sister and I both left home - I live 5,000 miles away. But 43 years later, they're still married.

DumbledoresGirl Tue 28-Aug-07 12:19:16

Yes I can relate to what you say in a way. I certainly feel my strongest love for my children and I have started to slightly worry about them growing up and leaving home (oldest is 11). I have a feeling that once the children are gone, there could be a void which dh can't fill.

But my mother always told me that when we were small, her children came first, and as we grew older and became independent, we needed her less and so her relationship with my father became stronger. I certainly remember they used to argue a lot but they are still together now (still bickering but basically happy I think) and celebrate 50 years of marriage next year.

Your situation might change as your children grow older. It might just be that you are feeling very strong maternal feelings and a large part of that is the need to protect your children. As they grow older, they won't need your protection in the same way. If you are careful now, you will be able to adapt to your changing role within the family and will be able to develop your relationship with your dh.

Cappuccino Tue 28-Aug-07 12:23:26

I have to say my philosophy is the same as expat's

there wouldn't be any children if it wasn't for my relationship with dh

I think maybe you need to look at your parenting styles - me and dh have been reading that ubiquitous How To Talk book so that we are dealing with the children in the same way, if you find that he is too heavy-handed and he finds that you are too forgiving. You need to be working together as a team.

and maybe you need to save some of your love, time and energy for putting a bit of effort into your marriage. Do you get babysitters etc and have nights out where you do not talk about the kids?

twinsetandpearls Tue 28-Aug-07 12:35:04

I went through a phase of being like you OrmIrian, in fact if you search my name you will probably find posts where I say I don;t love dp, we don;t have sex and that I am only with him because I think he is a good father to dd. ( even though he is the step parent)

But I realised that dd needs dp and I to be a strong unit and that she will pcik up on the fact that dp and I are not happy and there was always an underlying tension.

I am not someone who could claim to be in love with her child so perhaps I am not the correct person to comment but I do think that you are creating too much of a barrier between you the children and your dh and their needs to be some balance.

Dp and I spent a lot of time working on our relationship and have gone from being distant and quite cold to a very passionate madly in love couple and dd has benefitted from having a mother who feels fulfilled and loved.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 12:40:01

cappucino - not often these days. Mum used to look after the children for a few hours on a tuesday regularly but not any more. When that happened we would start out talking about the kids but quicly veer off onto other subjects.

I think that DH might be a teeny bit jealous which is why he can be so angry with the children. Maybe. I don't know. Problem is life has battered our marriage in so many and it's survived. It seems funny that children that we share should put such strain on it.

Lazycow Tue 28-Aug-07 12:53:40

Dh and I had this conversation when ds was born. We both know that ds is first in our affections and we come second to each other. This is fine with both of us, dh said early on that he assumed that as ds grew up and got older and needed us less we would probably find that we (i.e our relationship) became more important than ds again.

At the moment however dh and I would both say that we love ds more than we love each other.

However that most definitely does not preclude dh and I being on the same side.

Dh and I most definitely have a job to do as parents and I actually don't want to be ds's best friend and neither does dh. I want ds to grow up into a well-rounded happy adult who has a sense of purpose, is reasonably happy and who is able to make good relationships including fostering good friendships. Dh and I are his parents not his friends so in that sense dh and I are on the same side if you want to put it like that.

I actually think that one of the worst things you can do to your children is allow them to come between you and your partner. Children do not want the power to come between their parents. They may act like they do but they don't want to. Also when they are older the best gift you can give them is to be happy in yourself and not need them to complete you.

I do think however that being more interested in the children than your partner is quite normal. The key is to give your relationship enough attention so that it survives what are basically years of drought for many couples.

You say that it wasn't like this before the dcs came along so as long as you can maintain a good relationship with your dh through this time, there is a good chance that when the children are older you may come back to your relationship with your dh with renewed enthusiasm. There is no guarantee of course as we never know what can happen in life but that would be a wonderful gift for yout children. As adults it is wonderful to be able to look at our parents and see that they have a fundamentally good relationship and that they are reasonably happy together.

cluelessnchaos Tue 28-Aug-07 12:56:05

I know others are saying it, but as the kids get older and less dependant on you, it shifts back to the two of you, i found it really hard after my third, I felt DH let me down badly and wasnt there for me and I shut down to him, it is only in the last year that I have forgiven him and the real turning point was when we went away for the weekend, and took the kids out of the equation completely, ds is 3 now and we are looking to the future as a couple, I know as well that my marriage would not survive another child.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 13:00:58

"I actually think that one of the worst things you can do to your children is allow them to come between you and your partner. Children do not want the power to come between their parents"

I don't want that to happen lazycow. But it feels as if DH is trying to come between me and the kids. And I don't want that to happen either. I didn't realise that there were two 'sides' until recently when we had a day out and he spent the whole day yelling at the children, telling me they were out of order and trying to get me to take my shorts off and snog me on the beach like we would have done perhaps pre-kids. Which I think is innapropriate in the circumstances hmm.

Lazycow Tue 28-Aug-07 13:15:32

It sounds to me like your dh is probably (in a very oafish clumsy way) trying to feel closer to you. I know how irritating it is when men do that 'groaping' thing but if this isn't something he normally does then maybe he is trying to bridge the gap between you.

I would think that if you are feeling there is something wrong, he may be feeling this too. He probably is jealous of the children as you said and while this is pretty immature it may be a sign that you need to talk to him and reassure him that he is important to you.

I am also pretty sure that your dh is unlikely to come between you and your children in the sense that you can never stop being their mother. You can howveer stop being your dh's wife if you choose. Your dh is probably acutely aware of this and looking for some reassurance.

I suppose the key point is whether you want to give him that reassurance and whether you want to work on the relationship with dh or whether you don't. Only you can decide that.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 13:25:43

Indeed lazycow. That is the key point. It isn't entirely unheard of behaviour (the adolescent groping stuff I mean) but the yelling at the kids at the same time is. And now that DH has tried to divide us into 2 camps I'm not sure which one I want to be in sad. I do want to be with him and anyway I think that DS#1 needs his dad particularly but I need to talk to him and tell him it's really putting pressure on.

twinsetandpearls Tue 28-Aug-07 13:27:25

I think your dh is trying to gte closer to you and the groping think was a way of doing that.

After kids you do need time to act as you did before the kids and if the children are always there when is an appropriate time?

meandmy Tue 28-Aug-07 13:30:08

keep your chin up keep woking on your marriage and you and dh as a cpl!
on the other hand i know how you can say you love your dc's more! as i love my dd more the dp iyswim

twinsetandpearls Tue 28-Aug-07 13:31:54

Is it not a different kind of love and therefore can't be compared?

Egypt Tue 28-Aug-07 13:32:00

You could be me OrmIrian. Everything you say could be me talking. I think dh does feel a little jealous. He says 'you don't need me, I'm simply a financial support to you, but you don't actually NEED me', and tbh, that's true. But, I want to need him, I want to be the way we were before children.

It is indeed a few years of 'drought' and I'm sure we will be close again when the children are more independent.

There is a programme on Home and Health at the moment, which I haven't seen yet, but in it's advertisement is the voiceover: "I've lost count of the number of couples I see who have put their children before their relationship with one another. If you have a healthy, loving marriage you are giving your kids the best gift of all...the ability to grow and take that example of loving with them in their realationships throughout their life."

Food for thought I think. Hard though...

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 13:32:56

The oddest thing is that we were really strong pre-kids. I mean totally solid as a couple. We watched friends splitting up and divorcing with a kind of smug incredulity. But we had a very specific kind of relationship - we always gave each other loads of space so that the time we chose to spend together was just that, a choice and very special. Now we have no choice really.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 13:35:21

And we never had to 'work on' our marriage. And that still seems an odd concept to me. It used to just fall into place.

cluelessnchaos Tue 28-Aug-07 13:41:52

We were like that too, agreed on everything, but the dymnamics dont just change they get blown apart. A year ago I would have said our marriage could have ended at anytime and it was just the routine holding us together, now I can truly say I love him as much as anyone else in the family and need him in my life.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 13:45:26

clueless - what did you do then (apart from the weekend away)?

It was definitely baby #3 that made the change for us. We were fine until then. He was unplanned to say the least! Even the older children tell me how much 'better' it was before DS#2 came along even though we all love him to bits. He's one of those sunshine people that everyone is drawn to - which is why he's still alive I guess grin

battlestar Tue 28-Aug-07 13:49:03

oi, i think you are very lucky to be able to love your dc so much.
but for yor own sake you will need to learn to back down. kids leave eventually. we need tohave something else to lean on, otherwise we become those horrible controlloing mil type people when older.

PellMell Tue 28-Aug-07 13:58:33

"But we had a very specific kind of relationship - we always gave each other loads of space so that the time we chose to spend together was just that, a choice and very special. Now we have no choice really."

you do have a choice? really?
or are you doing what I do and almost feel embarrassed to have "us" time.
I think there might more to it. I can identify with the being in love feeling towards your kids. I almost feel annoyed that anyone else should want to creep in and have a bit for themselves.
I am totally in love with my dh. I know he is lovely. I know he deserves to feel loved too but I don't often show it.
He once said to me
"fucking hell!
I just want to be able to give you a hug! Not take one from you.sad

berolina Tue 28-Aug-07 13:58:55

A lot of your posts could have been written by me, OI, including the bit about being in love with my children (well, ds and imminent dc2) and about how we used to be (are?) an absolutely solid couple.

Tbh I think we will be fine again - even now we have phases of closeness approaching that we 'used to' have (but possibly somehow deeper, more mature) and phases where , at least, feel more 'distant', for want of a better word.

dh is extremely involved with ds and always has been, so I feel in our case there is also little danger of creating barriers.

OrmIrian Tue 28-Aug-07 14:03:30

pellmell - I mean that we have to spend time together because of the kids. It's 'me' time that is limited. And that's where we struggle. Time alone as a couple is important too but I begin to feel as if I have no life as an individual - I'm either at work, being chief cook and bottlewasher, being mum, or being a wife. And as soon as the kids are not around DH starts on the pawing thing without seeing that I need time to myself too. Can't be a wife without being an individual.

HonoriaGlossop Tue 28-Aug-07 14:03:45

I totally agree with expat's very wise post.

It's not helping your children if you get all your love, and relationship stuff from them. Of course I understand, the love you have for them is utterly visceral and powerful and eclipses everything else. So make use of that amount of love to remind yourself that one thing you can give your kids is their parents, being together, and showing them how adults 'do' relationships.

Take the long view and do remember that as people have said, when the kids are older, your relationship may well shift right back.

Your DH is showing clearly that he feels a little alienated from the strong unit that is you and the kids.

I'd say it's worth prioritising at least one evening out a week with your dh, if possible, to get some real communication going again. You can make clear to him that he's not being the father he is capable of being when he shouts at the kids etc. But TBH it does sound as if this is borne of frustration, from being slightly alienated.

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