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Is it normal to feel this way after 20 years together?

(42 Posts)
Muminlockdown2020 Sun 24-May-20 11:35:01

Hi everyone. Been a member of mumsnet for a long time but have name changed for this post incase outing.

Background, met my husband when we were 18 and we have been together for 20 years. (sounds a long time but I'm still only 38!)
I had normal teenage boyfriends before him and lots of fun. I didn't really think we would have stayed together as it was just abit of young fun at first but we have. Our first few years were the normal full of fun and passion etc.
Then normal life, got a home, progressed in careers, had kids. Both still primary age. We aren't rich, we aren't poor. We just have a lovely normal life together.
But..... I suppose its the case of is the grass always greener on the other side?

I have been with this man for my entire adult life, and same for him. Every single part of my life has been shared with him.
He isn't amazing, he isn't terrible. He's just a normal guy who leans towards being a grumpy old sod nowadays. He loves us, i know he does, although he doesn't really show his emotions. I do think we settled for each other.

My problem is that I pine, yearn and long for freedom. Now, that makes me sound controlled and trapped. I am not at all, apart from I'm currently a sahm so I am reliant on him financially.
I have never been an adult without him. I've never done anything apart from him like a girls holiday etc (I only have one good friend now and she's just had a baby with disabilities so no chance of this happening at the moment unfortunately).
I have never made a single decision in my life that's not involved him. My car, our home, how we decorate, what furniture to buy, what to buy our kids, where to go on holiday, where to work, what area to live in, what meals to cook. What our days consist of. When we see family. Everything!! I know this sounds silly but when you've never done it you want it!! I literally went from living with my parents who I had to answer to, to immediately living with him age 21 and sharing all decisions.

If we ever separated I would not want another relationship. Its not that I yearn for another man. I just want to live my own life!! The thought of being stuck with him when the kids have flown the nest fills me with dread because we don't have the same interests. I want to go out all the time and travel and see the world, he wants to stay home and never go anywhere and do DIY projects which he loves. I just feel like is this it? Is this my life?? You get one life and I don't feel like im living it how I want to. Selfishly I suppose. Can anyone relate?

OP’s posts: |
iamaswashbuckler Sun 24-May-20 11:43:26

I can relate, similar situation. I can't imagine actually being with anyone else, but I often daydream what it would be like to be alone. I think the current situation has really highlighted our differences as I am the introvert in our relationship, and trying to find proper time to myself has been difficult. It is a strange time at the moment and I think there are many people questioning life decisions made in the past, present and future ones to come.

Peanutbuttermouth Sun 24-May-20 11:45:28

I would start my living your life exactly as you wish to live it, and see how he responds. Don't worry about the relationship side of things (as it sounds like you don't have relationship problems) just go and do exactly what you want to do. Stop consulting him over things that don't affect him. Make a decision yourself and act on it. Take up some hobbies that are just for you. Plan a lone trip for post lockdown that's somewhere you've always wanted to go. Go out when you want to. Maybe start small - cook a meal that is something you've never tried before and you've always wanted to make or eat. Or something. Anything!

Try actually living your life to please you before you make any huge decisions.

Peanutbuttermouth Sun 24-May-20 11:46:47

(I wish I had lived my life more selfishly/authentically before divorcing my husband. I think it would have made a difference.)

Eckhart Sun 24-May-20 11:53:16

Why do you care whether it's normal? It's how you feel.

If you don't like an aspect of your life, change it. It doesn't really matter whether anybody else understands/does the same, unless you want to be the same as the 'normal' people. But is that really your goal?

Or would you rather be that unusual woman who suddenly decided that this staid married life wasn't for her, and traveled the world having adventures?

category12 Sun 24-May-20 12:04:07

Well, get a job and start making some choices for yourself. There's no reason you can't travel and him stay at home.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 24-May-20 12:15:03

Totally relate to this, been with DP for 28 years and I adore him. He gave me the confidence to go to university and do post graduate qualifications so it's not like ive missed out on life. I was a single parent when we met, had left home with my dd for about a year but very much looked after by my parents. So essentially never been truly independent. I am now extremely dependant on DP and he is the same, we are very insular and quite frankly loving lockdown as we don't have to see other people.

I do however feel a sense of regret that I've never had true independence. That I never travelled Europe on the back of my father's free rail card (biggest regret of my life). Everything I've achieved has been with DP's support, be that just him holding the fort during my extended student life. I'm 49 and still studying. Never felt the confidence to put myself out there and I feel that DP facilitates this.

I think most people in ltr feel similar, i bet your dh does too, and mine but we still love. There have been times I'd have gleefully strangled him but he's my soul mate and well grow old together (well we already have grin )

Dillo10 Sun 24-May-20 12:25:28

You don't need friends to go on a trip ... My 60 year old mum went on a Spanish language course in Barcelona for a week last year, met some wonderful people who she is still in touch with. She said she felt free, sitting in Barcelona having a coffee on her own (she's been with my dad 40 years) .. Doesn't mean she's unhappy or doesn't love him but shows that we all need space and time to be ourselves and follow our dreams and passions. Do you have a dream or something you find really interesting? Can you explore that a bit more somehow (I know it's tough at the moment but there are online courses etc)

HauntedGoatFart Sun 24-May-20 12:38:11

I do however feel a sense of regret that I've never had true independence. That I never travelled Europe on the back of my father's free rail card (biggest regret of my life). Everything I've achieved has been with DP's support, be that just him holding the fort during my extended student life. I'm 49 and still studying. Never felt the confidence to put myself out there and I feel that DP facilitates this.

I think most people in ltr feel similar

... I don't. I've been with DH since age 20, 17 years, but I don't feel that at all. I was out at uni when I met him and we continued to live apart for some years. I have my own career, we take separate short holidays, we pursue our own interests and have our own friends and social lives. We also travel together, obviously, and I have to put him and DC on the scales in decisions but that's the price of being in a marriage and having DC, which I willingly pay. I'm about to start studying a new area which may lead to a career change, DH of course supports and I'll have to do it differently than just jacking it all in to go back to uni, bit that's because of the DC not him.

This isn't necessarily about being in a relationship Vs being single. If you want to go out and live your life, live it. Get a job. Study. Make friends. Book a solo holiday. Take a cooking course.

Muminlockdown2020 Sun 24-May-20 13:07:23

Thanks for your comments. After reading them it has highlighted to me what my main issue is..... That I just don't do anything independently from him and I don't know why!!
I've spent the last 8 years completly focused on raising the children. I feel like I've lost myself.

OP’s posts: |
Gwynfluff Sun 24-May-20 13:08:49

Get a job. Retrain if you have to. Loads of time left

Eckhart Sun 24-May-20 13:16:36

@Muminlockdown2020 MASSIVE realisation for you, that you've lost yourself.

This is brilliant news! Now you know what to do! Genuinely happy for you. Don't bother regretting anything, just start now smile

CamVegOut Sun 24-May-20 13:26:50

I have been with my husband for 30 years, I am 46. I go away for weekends without him, we have a joint account but I make independent purchases without consulting him, he does the same. We have 3 children that we raise and back up each other with decisions but we make them by ourselves. Luckily I have always had a job and so has he and even though all our money goes into the one pot we both feel we are contributing. My mother, who is married for over 50 years, always instilled in her children (4 girls, 2 boys) to "never be under obligation to anyone". So although I have spend all my adult life with my DH and hope to spend the rest with him, he does not define me or me him.

museumum Sun 24-May-20 13:28:30

Do something then. You don’t need to leave your husband, just get some interests and a life. Think about joining a sports club or hiking or paddle boarding or wild swimming.... there are so many ways to build a life of your own.
Obviously none of these suggestions are practical in lockdown but most groups are on Facebook and you could make plans and make contact to join them when they resume.

AbiBrown Sun 24-May-20 13:30:02

I'd agree with some of the pp. Try not to let the relationship prevent you from doing all this. If you still love each other and you're otherwise happy in the relationship then take the time to do stuff on your own. Of course, easier said than done depending on logistics. To give you an example, I'm happily married to the only man I've ever really been out with and met him in my late twenties, so was pretty much used to being single. Anyway, I love travelling alone and take some time to do that, I also take some holidays with friends, and am looking into a career change which I'll only really discuss with him once I've decided what I'd like to do. We have a child but are lucky enough to work flexibly ( although that means we're skint) and my parents can help with childcare. All this to say if you physically are able to, do those things you aspire to. The relationship shouldn't feel like a prison.

Cloudfrost Sun 24-May-20 13:33:55

You need to find yourself outside of the roles of wife and mother. Do more things for you, find your own friends and interests,hobbies etc. You and husband are 2 separate people, and you have to do things seprataly as well as together. It's important to have a balance.

Nighttimefreedom Sun 24-May-20 13:40:33

I think it's great you've realised this now. 38 is still young.
If you both love each other and have a good life together, you don't want resentment to set in which will destroy that.
Live your own life!!! If he's a good man he will want you to be happy.

Floralnomad Sun 24-May-20 13:42:38

Totally agree with Cloudfrost . I’ve been married for 30 yrs and with my dh for 34 , our dc are adult ( one disabled and still dependent) . We have separate interests as well as the things we decide on and do together and I can honestly say I’ve never felt like the grass is greener elsewhere .

Muminlockdown2020 Sun 24-May-20 14:04:58

He is the sole provider of income. Because of this I feel like I can't ask or that I'm wasting his money or being selfish because it's something that is just for me, so I don't ask. He has never told me I can't do something or have something but I just don't ask. When lockdown is over I am definitely going to try and change.

With regards to working there's a few reasons why I don't work at the moment. It works better for our family that I am at home. We don't have any other family members who help us with childcare and we can't afford out of school clubs etc so I need to be here to cover childcare during school holidays and before and after school.
My husband works very long hours so does not /has not ever taken time off for the children.

OP’s posts: |
turtletum Sun 24-May-20 14:05:24

I agree with previous posters, you need to take life by the horns. I'm 36, similar relationship story but don't feel as you do. OH and I have our own hobbies, have been travelling together and separately. I did some peak week holiday repping, no friends needed. I also went backpacking with some girl friends, had a mini beach break with one best friend. OH goes on weekends away with friends. I tried new things, such as circus classes, language classes. He took up new sports.
Yes we make most life decisions together, such as a new car or house extension. However, he gets to choose the decor for the study, as its his room. I buy most of our children's clothes and toys.
Step up, work out a few things you'd like to try and go do it (when you can, obviously).

Muminlockdown2020 Sun 24-May-20 14:08:52

My original post, although it mentions travel and going out to places, my main feelings are about lack of control of my own life. Just the little day to day things of running a home.
In my dreams I would love to move down to Cornwall on my own in a small little cottage or house that is just mine, and everything in it is how I want it, in my style, what I have bought. It's the sharing every minute detail of your life with someone that overwhelms me. If I could give my 18 year old self advice it would have been not to get into a relationship at that time, maybe not ever as it just makes me feel so smothered.

OP’s posts: |
Dillo10 Sun 24-May-20 14:13:52

It's pretty easy to imagine that travelling Europe on a free rail card would have been the best time of your life.. we never consider it might have been shit, you could of had an accident or fallen in love with someone terrible for you.

Don't mean to sound "woo woo" but you gotta believe the universe has your back and you never truly miss out on anything that is meant for you, or good for you in some way

No point regretting it - make the most of your life NOW. It doesn't have to be a huge, life changing thing. You could discover a simple hobby that makes you feel fulfilled and happy!

hamsterchump Sun 24-May-20 14:14:46

You shouldn't compare your normal but unfulfilled, bog standard life with your DH with your perfect fantasy life without him though, that way lies sore disappointment. Would you be able to afford the dream cottage and life in Cornwall? Because I live in Cornwall and believe me what you described doesn't come cheap, could you even support yourself and your children anywhere without your DH? You need to assess the reality of future your life if you do decide to split. If you are just feeling a bit bored you might be much better to discuss this with your DH and try to improve your lives together. Sounds more like a "the fantasy, unaffordable Cornish grass is greener" type of situation to me.

hamsterchump Sun 24-May-20 14:21:43

Maybe your husband is just as bored as you but thinks you are happy with the way things are? If you talk to each other you might find you have similar dreams that you could work towards, the Cornish cottage is probably a hell of a lot more close to being possible with two earners rather than one. Or maybe he would support you to find some fulfilling interests or even do a little solo travel.

mudpiemaker Sun 24-May-20 14:27:49

I think everyone daydreams about stuff. As much as I love Dh and we have been married over 20 years I do sometimes flick through the Next directory thinking if I didn't have to agree a duvet cover choice with Dh, what would I choose? grin

I live in a very lovely home but I also would love to live by the sea, however the jobs for Dh are in the cities, hence why we live in one. I have been a SAHM for 15 years, I think you feel like you have lost yourself to Motherhood.

Start doing things for you. I have done nightclasses for fun, been away on weekends with friends, I go out for meals with friends every month. I have been with Dh since I was 22 but we aren't velcroed together. Stop making out that your dh is the reason you aren't doing this. It is you. Arrange a babysitter if your Dh can't be there. Surely the money he earns is family money, he is able to do the job he does because he doesn't have to make it back to pick children up from after school club etc, you are there to do that.

My husband works very long hours so does not /has not ever taken time off for the children so does this mean he has never taken any holiday? That needs to start. He needs to be left in charge of them whilst you do whatever you want to do.

My FIl was married for just over 40 years before my MIL died. He found it so hard to make a decision by himself because he had always had his best friend to discuss things with. We became his sounding board for the next 3 years until he could figure stuff out alone.

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