Husband’s studies are destroying our marriage

(400 Posts)
Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:21:38

DH and I have been together for almost 10 years, married for 6 and have 2 DC aged almost 3 and 12 months. We met at uni so both have degrees and have subsequently had decent, fairly well paid careers ever since.

Over the years DH has had numerous harebrained ideas such as going back to uni to study politics and become an MP, he got as far as applying through clearing but then backed out when he was accepted. He has also paid for random courses on groupon which he’s never completed and often speaks about business ventures he’d like to undertake. None ever materialise so I think I can be forgiven for rolling my eyes and not always taking him seriously.

In 2019 he decided he wanted to return to uni to get a second degree relevant to his career. It wasn’t necessary at all, it won’t further his career prospects within the company as far as I can see. It was more him wanting to further his knowledge within the field. He decided this in July 2019, his boss amazingly agreed and by August 2019 he had been accepted. When he mentioned it to me I honestly just thought he’d back out of it like he did with everything else but to my surprise, he didn’t.

Ever since it began our marriage has taken a major tumble. When he first started we only had one baby and I’d just returned to work but fell pregnant unexpectedly about 2 months after he started uni. As the Christmas period approached that year he had exams and he was so stressed out, he stayed up all night for a week revising and survived on energy drinks. It really wasn’t a healthy way to live, not even as a young student but he was now obviously late 20s with a young child and a job to go to the next day. We were already struggling at this point but obviously lockdown happened and the rest of the academic year was cancelled.

I’d say the lockdown period last year is the last time we actually got on. We had DC2 July 2020 and we really got on fantastically well until he returned to uni in September. Once he returned and had assignments and exams, it basically all went to shit. Once again he was a frazzled mess, pulling all nighters, constantly stressed out and worrying, spending entire weekends locked away in his study, barely spending time with us. He has no work/life balance at all, if he isn’t at work he seems to be studying at home.

The past 3/4 months have been worse than ever because he’s had numerous exams and assignments due in at a similar time so he’s been pretty much unbearable. He’s used all of his annual leave on study days, we went away for a long weekend to the coast last week and I had to take DC out alone because he stayed behind to study. He rarely helps out with DC anymore, I bath and put both to bed while he sits studying. He had yesterday off work to study so literally sat from the minute he got up to the minute we went to bed on his laptop. I can barely get a word in edgeways because he’s constantly discussing uni. It isn’t my field and not something I have much interest in so I usually have no idea what he’s talking about. I think it’s made worse by the fact he doesn’t only want a second degree but wants to graduate with a first again so he’s adamant he has to do his absolute best on every assignment/exam.

I have PND which is only amplifying my resentment towards him. I’m having weekly counselling sessions and the counsellor has said I need more support from him with DC, a GP told me this too. We moved away from my family before DC1 was born so I rarely see them and I don’t have any friends here either, I’m quite isolated atm but return to work PT in September so hoping that will help. I can’t pin the PND solely on him but have been told women who are both isolated from family/friends and who don’t receive any support with their children are more at risk. I didn’t have PND after DC1 so I’m thinking it’s because he isn’t very supportive.

The absolute worst thing is when people make out he’s some kind of messiah because he manages to work, study and has two small children. FIL is forever saying how proud he is and asking him not to ‘burn himself out’ hmm. He’s chosen to study, it really isn’t necessary at all and nobody has forced him to do this. He also doesn’t do very much with DC or housework so he spends the vast majority of his time studying, none of this would be possible without me constantly picking up the slack.

I’m honestly just fed up and I have told him I don’t see our marriage lasting over the next year. I can’t imagine how he’s going to be with his dissertation, I don’t think I’ll be able to cope. I’m on the verge of ending our marriage right now because I’m struggling to see past this. I know he only has a year left and if I’ve survived the past 2, I should be able to push myself through the next one but I honestly can’t see a way through right now.

Just seeking some general advice, is divorce the only option? I still love him dearly but I really can’t cope with this. I know a lot of women deal with their OH’s working away for months at a time but I wouldn’t be able to, it isn’t what I signed up for really. He could have done this degree when the DC were older and at school, I honestly have no idea why he chose to do it right now when they’re so small and need help with everything. I’m going to spend some time at my Mum’s next week to get a break away from him and clear my head a bit.

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Hungry675tf Thu 29-Jul-21 12:28:04

That sounds absolutely awful OP. Like he has purposefully checked out.

Have you sat him down and spoken about all this properly and calmly? Does he know how you feel and how.it is impacting you?

He can ways defer his studies until the timing is better. Refusing to do so would give an indication of his priorities which may inform your next steps.

Rainbow0821 Thu 29-Jul-21 12:31:23

My view probably won't be popular but if this was me, I'd just get through this year that's left (that's if you can). After that however, I would make it very clear that's where the study ends for a good while and make it clear the sacrifices you've made. On the flip side at least he's working and providing well and passionate about advancing himself, perhaps not what you want to hear. flowers

Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:33:39

We have had quite a few conversations about it because he’s aware I’m struggling with PND and having counselling sessions. I’ve explained that the counsellor has said I need more support from him in order to get better. Sometimes he will go through a period of helping out more for perhaps a week or two before falling back into his old ways, it never really seems to last. When he has exams or assignments due, he’s honestly just unbearable to be around so I can’t imagine how he’ll be with the dissertation next year. I will ask him about deferring but I don’t think he’ll want to do that. I think he’s hoping he will get the degree and find a better job but his job right now is great so I personally think he’s being a little foolish.

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Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:36:30

He’s working but we’ve both always worked so this isn’t a problem. I honestly have no issue with his job, it’s a solid job with family friendly hours. It’s purely the degree and in particular, the fact he doesn’t really need to do it to further himself so it’s just a choice he made without really consulting me.

I’m hoping I can push myself through the next year but I honestly can’t see how at this stage. He’s just so difficult to be around.

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stayathomer Thu 29-Jul-21 12:38:22

I don't know OP you started out by saying that everything he did was hair brained and that he doesn't finish anything or want to finish anything. Now he actually is studying ... a degree doesn't go on long enough surely for it not to be in some way doable? It sounds like it's all getting to you and obviously it's at the worst possible time and Im not diminishing what you're going through either. I don't know what to tell you to be honest you sound so resentful and bitter too. I think you need to see whether that's to do with how tired and stressed you are and how much you're going through or whether you just actually don't like him anymore. I'm so sorry

dreamingbohemian Thu 29-Jul-21 12:39:32

I would be honest with him and tell him you're on the brink of wanting divorce, and ask him to take a break in studies for a year. Use that year to get back into a normal partnership and see how you might be able to set things up better for that third year, e.g. can he take more leave from work, can you hire a nanny/cleaner etc. Is he already part-time?

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HollowTalk Thu 29-Jul-21 12:39:37

So this degree is really just for himself and it won't advance his career at all? Is his company paying for it? (You said his boss agreed.)

He sounds utterly self-absorbed and selfish. A full time job is hard enough with a baby, never mind a degree on top, and never mind THAT him wanting to get a first class degree that won't be useful in any way at all. And on top of that you have PND - well, no wonder.

Might it be easier if you split up for his final year, so that at least you don't have to watch him focus on himself?

AntiWorkBrigade Thu 29-Jul-21 12:40:02

I think what would aggravate me the most is the striving for a first. The effort he’s expending would be more reasonable if that was what was needed to pass or obtain a decent grade since his employer is funding this. Insisting on achieving a first on every assignment and exam is a luxury, I’m afraid, and one I would not be willing to indulge. Sounds like he could scale back the hours, get more organised and still do well. And frankly, if he couldn’t, he should be deferring.

PearPickingPorky Thu 29-Jul-21 12:44:35

Did he do this extra degrease a pointlevanity project, or intentionally so he had an excuse to lock himself away while you run yourself ragged picking up literally everything do with home and family life?

What is his plan when you go back to work? That he'll continue to be exempt from all tasks and you'll somehow fit your PT job in while coninuin6to do anything?

He sounds monumentally selfish. What did he say when you told him you didn't think your marriage will last the year?

I'd ask him to request to go part-time at work until this degree is finish, at a minimum.

SomeKindOfFloppyWeirdo Thu 29-Jul-21 12:45:12

He could have done this degree when the DC were older and at school, I honestly have no idea why he chose to do it right now when they’re so small and need help with everything.

Op, it all sounds really really tough. I had very little support with my first, and had pond/anxiety pretty badly. It’s a horrible place to be.

This part I copied from your post stood out to me though. If he did want to “check out” from having to help support you/look after small children at a very difficult and needy phase, well, what a great excuse sad

Deloresabernathy Thu 29-Jul-21 12:46:25

What I'm wondering is if the degree will be the end of it all TBH? What happens if he doesn't get a better job like he's planned? What happens if he then lurches into the next 'thing'.

You post gave me the impression he is someone who is never satisfied and is always finding something to worry about/stress over it. Some people thrive on it, my sister is like this. She is single though with no kids. I'd be inclined to see how the next year goes but then if nothing changes after that, it's time to leave.

AntiWorkBrigade Thu 29-Jul-21 12:48:00

Your comments about your FIL remind me of when I was doing my languages degree many years ago. There was a mature student on the course who had a wife and young children. At the end of the year one of us was to be awarded a month’s language course in the country, and the university decided not to hold a competition but just give it to this bloke in recognition of his difficult situation. For footloose and fancy-free 20-something me this made absolute sense. I look back now and think wtf! What must his wife have thought?

PicsInRed Thu 29-Jul-21 12:48:22

My concern would be that you continue to drive your mental health into the ground to single handedly keep the entire family afloat ...and as soon as he has finished the studies you've supported him in, he leaves you.

How would you feel if that happened? I ask as he's clearly - as a PP also noted - checked out, and your marriage appears to be all but over.

Don't drive yourself into the floor on the false promise of a brighter tomorrow, which this checked out man can simply divorce himself out of ever needing to fulfil. Been there.

Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:51:45

I am quite bitter and resentful, I do appreciate this but I also think this is understandable because he’s taken advantage of me for so long. If I were more assertive perhaps I wouldn’t have allowed him to lock himself away for hours ignoring his responsibilities but it’s easier for me to just crack on with it so I’ve let him do this. If he were a single parent he simply wouldn’t be able to ignore his children for hours while he studied, he’s only able to do this because I’m in the background picking up the slack and it isn’t really fair sad.

Yes his employer is funding it which is partially why I don’t think deferral will be an option.

When I return to work I strongly suspect everything will remain the same except I’ll also have the pressure of my job on top of everything else. DC are with a CM who fits around my work hours so I’ll most likely collect them and DH’s life won’t change very much…

Separating for his final year may be the only option, I’m just not sure how I’ll cope with him during his final year. You’re right about how much work he has to put in to achieve a first as well. It wasn’t an issue a decade ago when neither of us had the responsibility of children but he’s now trying to do this as a father of two toddlers.

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Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:53:43

Deloresabernathy

What I'm wondering is if the degree will be the end of it all TBH? What happens if he doesn't get a better job like he's planned? What happens if he then lurches into the next 'thing'.

You post gave me the impression he is someone who is never satisfied and is always finding something to worry about/stress over it. Some people thrive on it, my sister is like this. She is single though with no kids. I'd be inclined to see how the next year goes but then if nothing changes after that, it's time to leave.

You’ve pretty much nailed it, I do think this may be the case and have mentioned it to him. He has loosely joked about doing a masters next and I can completely see him actually doing this, however much he’s made it out to be a joke.

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Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:55:48

PicsInRed

My concern would be that you continue to drive your mental health into the ground to single handedly keep the entire family afloat ...and as soon as he has finished the studies you've supported him in, he leaves you.

How would you feel if that happened? I ask as he's clearly - as a PP also noted - checked out, and your marriage appears to be all but over.

Don't drive yourself into the floor on the false promise of a brighter tomorrow, which this checked out man can simply divorce himself out of ever needing to fulfil. Been there.

I’d be devastated in all honesty. I really have driven myself into the ground keeping everything together so he can pursue this goal. I don’t know what I’d do if he just left me in the end, I’d be gutted.

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SpacePotato Thu 29-Jul-21 12:56:05

I'd wonder if he did it to have a reason to opt out of any family responsibilities.
Why the fuck does he NEED a second degree right now other than his own vanity.

What happens in a year if he suddenly decides he needs to continue studying?

Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 12:56:40

I look back now and think wtf! What must his wife have thought?

Strongly suspect she was every bit as bitter as me grin.

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burnoutbabe Thu 29-Jul-21 12:59:26

I am amazed he can do it plus work full time, iusf to go to 1 day a week to do the degree I just finished. I managed a first bit that was more technique over hard work (you need the hard work to get a 2.1!)

PicsInRed Thu 29-Jul-21 12:59:59

I’d be devastated in all honesty. I really have driven myself into the ground keeping everything together so he can pursue this goal. I don’t know what I’d do if he just left me in the end, I’d be gutted.

That's your answer OP. You're effectively making massive deposits of time and effort into a high risk investment account which is as likely to fail with 100% losses as it is to ever repay 1 single % of the promised return.

I would put serious consideration towards cutting your losses here. This is the "sunk cost narrative" in play. Start investing in YOU. flowers

TheOrigRights Thu 29-Jul-21 13:01:04

OT, but I have only just learnt that it's harebrained, not hairbrained.

HollowTalk Thu 29-Jul-21 13:01:09

You know something? If you did separate then he would go out at night with friends etc - he wouldn't lock himself away and work until midnight or until he hears that all the chores are done.

HappyWipings Thu 29-Jul-21 13:04:37

He's very selfish op. I would love to do a masters but will wait until I retire , having small children and working must be a priority right now.

Yelpforhelpp Thu 29-Jul-21 13:05:48

I am amazed he can do it plus work full time, iusf to go to 1 day a week to do the degree I just finished

He can only make it work because work gives him one day a week off, he’s also used all of his annual leave on his studies and he basically uses most weekends and evenings to do it including our family holiday last week… So when he graduates with a first next year, that’s the sort of sacrifice he’s made to make it happen and it’s bloody sad tbh. He’s wrecking our marriage and barely spending time with his DC.

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