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Need opinions on my relationship please, I'm in a rut I can't get out of

(80 Posts)
WhatsupDoc Tue 15-Jul-08 22:26:26


I'm a namechanger, because my MN nickname makes it obvious who I am in RL (sorry)

I haven't shared this with anyone before, and it's taken a long time to pluck up the courage to post this.

Me and DP have been together 8 years. We have 2 DC, 2yrs and a newborn. We split up a few years ago (my instigation) but got back together and decided to have DC.

He is my second long term relationship; prior to that I was engaged to someone I still consider to be the love of my life (very ashamed to write that!) but we seperated (my reluctant decision) because he was on the brink of a career which would take him all round the world whereas I wanted to settle down.

DP is a lovely, kind, gentle guy. Helpful around the house, hates conflict, puts up with alot from me. Wants me to be happy. However, he is a very quiet soul and is a really poor communicator. He is very introverted (opposite to me), and is not a deep thinker. He also has the tendancy to get very depressed and stressed (not clinically depressed, but generally he is not a cheerful person, swears alot when things go wrong and is very miserable).

We were always very different, but at the time we had a shared interest and I found him quirky and unusual. Now 8 years on I find myself with someone I feel I don't connect with on any level, really. Don't share the same sense of humour, the same drive, we don't talk or communicate (well I talk at him!) We share the same house but he feels more like a housemate than a lover/life partner.

I question our relationship all the time (daily) and tend to break down infront of him on average twice a week. Usually caused by a lack of communication about something trivial, but because I have such doubts about our relationship these issues are never far from the surface. I talk about leaving, how unhappy I think we are, blame myself constantly (because I don't think it's his fault - we are just two very different people, and I knew this when we got back together). He struggles with my outbursts, tells me everything's fine, that he doesn't know what to do, and if I want to move (we're living at the opposite end of the country to my home) then that's fine. Basically I am the only one really conscious or concerned about our lack of connection - he doesn't really understand what all the fuss is about and just wants me to be happy.

There's lots more to it than that (isn't there always!) but those are the big issues. I guess my question is, should I try harder to be content with what I've got (this is what I feel I should do, but for some reason I've not been able to). I compare us to other people's relationships constantly, and can't help but wonder what it would be like to look at my partner and feel in my heart that we were made for eachother and would be together forever.

Really struggling for some perspective.

Thanks for reading if you've got this far. smile


pinkyp Tue 15-Jul-08 23:00:01

hiya sorry to read ur having problems. Will your partner "listen" better if you wrote him a letter? My partner will listen to me better when i give him a letter without getting all defensive. Write everything down and tell him he can write back if he finds it easier. I think things tend to sink in better when you can re-read them.
Try not to think about your ex and what could of been, it also might not of been good.
Good luck

ScummyMummy Tue 15-Jul-08 23:02:39


superflybaby Tue 15-Jul-08 23:35:53

Must be the time of night. I couldn't sleep so got up to find meaning of life on MN. Strange I found your post as I too have been with my DP for 8 years, but question our suitability almost daily.
It is impossible to list the ins & outs, but it is similar to your situation.

The question is what else do you think is out there?

Stay out of dreamland & focus on reality. If the reality is you cannot love or live with your Partner then you must move on.

But what do you think you could get from another relationship that you cannot get with your Partner? There are very few Mr. Perfects out there.
If there is any chance you could nurture a part of your existing relationship you feel is neglected then you owe it to your family to try. You might be suprised.
I sometimes drag my tired and unenthusiastic DP out for a 'date' and go for a few drinks & force a proper chat out of him. It is hard work but sometimes pays off & saves my sanity.

Personally I have resigned myself to life with Mr.I-don't-know-what-do-you-think as I know he loves me & our DD and I couldn't put any of us through a break-up. To horrid to think about.

WhatsupDoc Tue 15-Jul-08 23:49:14

Thanks SM, we tried Relate a few years back, was a bit pointless because DP wouldn't say anything.. not because he was being difficult - he just doesn't really say much full stop!

I think he's doing everything he can to fix things from his point of view, but these are all practical solutions (taking on more of the housework, agreeing to put the house on the market etc). It's connecting with him on an emotional/spiritual level that I find difficult - probably sounds crap, but without that I feel more like his mother than his partner shock

Pinkyp - I have tried the letter idea. He seems to understand, but the next day everything continues as normal. I am lucky he never gets defensive - he just genuinely can't understand why I'm unhappy and feels it's not within his power to change things.

I agree I should forget about the ex - we have always kept in touch and I still view him as my soulmate, even though I haven't seen him in years. Doesn't help when I get emails from him that read me inside out!

I am slowly coming to the realisation that we are just two very different people, and trying to make DP reveal his emotional side is never going to happen. In the same way that I could never be a hard-nosed saleswoman, it's just not my nature!

Can't believe I'm posting all this stuff! If I was reading it about someone else I'd think they needed a good kick up the backside grin

ToughDaddy Tue 15-Jul-08 23:49:33

Do you get any time to do stuff together? Jogg, walk, golf, tennis etc? Could help build up bonds again

ToughDaddy Tue 15-Jul-08 23:49:35

Do you get any time to do stuff together? Jogg, walk, golf, tennis etc? Could help build up bonds again

ScummyMummy Tue 15-Jul-08 23:53:58

what was your shared interest? can you do more of that or something else just as interesting together? Do you have dates together?

ToughDaddy Tue 15-Jul-08 23:54:10

Don't have enough information but it sounds to me as though it is the Ex that is the real issue. Your DH just can't shine with the ex in the background?

If so, are you sure that you aren't unfairly comparing your old relationship (when you were younger and freer) with the present when you are more tied down and a few years older. If so then you may be idealising the past.

WhatsupDoc Tue 15-Jul-08 23:58:23

Thanks Superfly, you have no idea how reassuring it is to hear someone else questions their relationship regularly too smile. It's such an unsettling feeling isn't it?

Sounds like you've been able to be more objective than me with your relationship. I agree I feel there is a part of me who is not yet ready to walk away. But then there's the other voice telling me we'll never be happy, and I owe it to myself to be happy (and for him too).

You ask what I would want from the relationship - or another one? Well, all I want really is someone I can talk to as an equal. And that we rub along ok day-to-day without too many differences of opinion (we've started to really bicker, and I hate it).

To be honest, I don't think I would be questioning things so much if I didn't have the ex in the back of my mind. It's not some other nameless man I'm imagining myself with, it's him. So everything DP does is in the shadow of the ex, which I know isn't fair.

ToughDaddy Wed 16-Jul-08 00:03:31

Did Ex show up recently? Are you in touch with him? How do you know that he hasn't turned into a horrible man?

Can you remind yourself of the reasons that you married your DH. Sounds as though this one does need conselling

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 16-Jul-08 00:05:06

I agree with toughdaddy. DH is a bit like yours at times- uncommunicative, isn't very comfortable with talking, especially about feelings, and especially if it involves me crying, in any way shape or form! We've been together 8 years too. When we got together we spent a lot of time out socialising and he was chatty and fun (yup, I married "Fun Bobby"!) Now we hardly go out, but when we do have a few drinks together he relaxes and we connect better (does that sound terrible?- Woman plies husband with drink to improve relationship blush) We've also started running together which gives us a common interest, and provides time away from the blummin TV where he has no option but to chat to me!! I sometimes feel in a rut too, but when we spend some time together we seem to get back on track, and I remember why I love him. I think men in general (and sorry for generalising here!) don't analyse relationships to the same extent as women, and seem to be happy with day to day harmony, while we seem to sometimes overthink it and feel there should be more to it. Does that make any sense? I have learned to appreciate the practical things DH does and accept them as his way of showing love for the most part. But I do love when he gets a bit tipsy and lets me in a bit more! Sometimes if you connect, even if it's only once in a while, it keeps things going, I find.

thumbwitch Wed 16-Jul-08 00:09:12

WUDoc, I think you can find the answer to this within yourself. You are clinging to the memory of this ex and have built him up to be "The One (that got away)".

Why is your ex still contacting you? What does he hope to get from it? Is he just enjoying the fact that he still has power over you? And are you happy to let him still have power over you, to the extent that you are ruining your current relationship for a dream?

I would suggest that you see an NLP practitioner or a life coach - this will help you to clarify what you want out of life and whether you can find sufficient good things in your current relationship to realise that you have a lovely partner, who sounds as though he would move heaven and earth to make you happy and can't understand why you aren't. You say he is often depressed and unhappy - perhaps he is reacting to the fact that you are clearly dissatisfied with your life with him and he can't fix it?

In the end you have to decide what you want - as superflybaby said, what do you think is out there? the grass is rarely greener and you could hurt this man irreparably and STILL not find contentment - and then you would be worse off than you are now.

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:09:37

The shared interest was dancing. The one place where we really do connect (and no conversation needed - it's how we got together). Since DC came along it's still a big part of our social life, but we have to go seperately because of the childcare issue (I am planning some events later in the year that we can attend together). When we dance we have a great time, but it's so infrequent now (plus where we live there's not enough challenging stuff to do, which is another reason I want to move!)

ToughDaddy I think you're right about the ex. I would have done anything for him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Current DP was only meant to be a summer romance smile. I've just realised that things have got worse since my ex, normally a perfect gentleman, confessed that he still had the same feelings for me and he wishes he'd not been such an arse at the time.

I know it's daft to compare footloose and fancy free relationships with post DC ones, but for me, conversation is the real issue here. Every email I get from the ex hits my like a train at the moment, because we are totally on the same wavelength (and the what-if/relationship issue has been banned for months).

ScummyMummy Wed 16-Jul-08 00:10:55

Are you too skint to get sitters in every now and then so you can go dancing?

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:20:01

Cheers Thumbwitch, I really want to see a lifecoach at the mo. There's loads of stuff I'm dissatisfied with (career, where we live, depleted social life) which I know I need to fix. I think if you're happier in yourself as a person it's easier to be happy in a relationship. At the moment all my energy is focused on how crap things are.

I am concerned that I might be causing DP's 'depression', and that I'm not caring for him as I should. And he does deserve it, it's not really his fault at all.

ToughDaddy, me and ex have been in touch again properly for the last 3 years (well since me and DP split basically). Only via email, he works on the other side of the world. We never discussed the 'relationship' issue until Christmas just gone, I let it slip how I still had feelings for him and he said he felt the same. It was really intense for a few weeks, then we both agreed it was ridiculous etc. and that we shouldn't discuss it anymore, that I should focus on DP etc. etc. So since then it's just been general chat and joke emails.

Also I have told DP about the ex (I know that's shit too, but I didn't want to go behind his back). He was concerned, but not really bothered (like I said, he doesn't 'do' emotion..}

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:21:45

SM - going to start dancing together next wk hopefully, our new baby's not quite 3wks old yet so have been waiting for the opportunity!

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 16-Jul-08 00:23:16

Exes are dodgy! They reconnect you with a time that, in retrospect, seems great! But the relationship ended for a reason, and I think you should always look forward in life, not backwards. Your ex might be charismatic and charming, but on a practical level he might have made you more miserable. I don't know the ins and outs, obviously, but from the sounds of it he put his career before you, whereas your DH wants to make you happy as a priority. It might be that, since you were reluctant at the time to end the relationship with your ex, him saying he might have made the wrong decision has flattered you and made you feel good?

there must be something you can chat to your DP about- it doesn't have to be deep and meaningful to start with. Do you watch films together? Read similar books? Argue about things on the news? Maybe if you start with the small stuff and practise just chatting, it will set the stage for the bigger stuff gradually.

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:27:09

Joolyjoo, it made me smile that you said when you spend time with DH it reminds you why you love him etc.. I like DP more when I'm NOT with him - usually within 5 mins of being with him we've fallen out about something! He drives me mad!

Ahh I'm such a cow, poor guy. I have to say I'm sure I'm hell to live with too.

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:30:20

I know, it ended cos he wasn't ready to start a family, so I found someone else.. and now he's flippin' lonely and 'ready' and realised he was a fool to let me go! hmm

Yup, definitely flattered, but then again, I was always crazy about him. Would have moved heaven and earth for him. Just feel like he's changed the goalposts.. about 8 years too bloody late sad

thumbwitch Wed 16-Jul-08 00:32:48

WUDoc, your DP is probably very bothered inside and possibly even worries that it's inevitable that you will leave him in the end as well. Just because he doesn't SHOW emotion, doesn't mean he doesn't have the deep feelings.

Your ex is not playing the game - it's easy to say you still have feelings for someone when there isn't a hope in hell of anything coming from it, and he gets a nice ego-stroke from knowing that you are still hankering after him. He should back off and leave you alone - and you should really tell him that.

There must be other friends you either have or can make who would stimulate your brain etc. if you are not getting enough from your DP; and this might sound really stupid (especially as I don't know how big your house is or what sort of dancing we're talking about) but why can't you dance at home? just for quarter/ half an hour in the evenings?

I think you'll find life coaching/ NLP will make a hugely positive change in your life - either it will empower you to change your situation or it will empower you to change your attitude to your current situation - either way, you'll feel better.

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 16-Jul-08 00:34:16

Lol- don't get me wrong: sometimes I really look forward to spending some time with DH and then he disappoints me! He is in the forces, so is often away, and I get geared up for an emotional reunion, but he is tired and quiet, and just wants to watch TV with a cup of tea when he comes home- bah! then I get annoyed with him, and we row! It's those rare times when it falls into place that I'm talking about!

WhatsupDoc Wed 16-Jul-08 00:46:16

Joolyjoo.. lol.. that's good to know! Well, not good, but you know what I mean!

Thumbwitch, thanks for fab advice. I'm crying out for brain stimulation at the mo! In that weird nomansland between old friends (no DC) and new friends (who only ever talk about their kids) and think I need to cultivate some new ones. Never bloody meet anyone though! (have found I get odd looks when trying to strike up deep and meaningful conversations with Tesco checkout ladies grin)

I know you're right about me hurting DP even if he doesn't show it. But it all seems like water off a duck's back, which is insane to me. If someone had said to me even a tenth of the stuff I'd said to him, I'd have been off like a shot.

madamez Wed 16-Jul-08 00:50:17

I think you may have fallen in the trap of expecting a couple-relationship to be the purpose of your life and the solution to all your problems (ie the one you have isn't great so another one will be better). This is never true.
You do actually sound generally depressed, and either some sort of counselling (the type that focuses on strategies for making you feel better rather than analysing every dump you ever took, I would suggest) or fixing one of the other things that's worrying you, like changing your job, may help. With regard to your current DP, imagine, in as much detail as possible, him telling you that he is leaving you for someone else and that he has been shagging this person. How does that make you feel? Sometimes that question really clarifies what you want to do about an existing relationship.
I appreciate that it is a monogamist question but I get the impression from your posts that you and your DP are generally monogamous.

thumbwitch Wed 16-Jul-08 00:51:36

he must love you an awful lot then! that's worth tons of might-have-beens in my book.
Sneaky bit of codpsychology - you don't feel guilty that he loves you so much and you might perhaps not quite reciprocate enough, do you? Very damaging emotion, guilt... creates lots of resentment

Is there a book club in your area? Or, do you have any other interests, singing or music maybe, that you could join some kind of club for?

Perhaps you need to start a thread for Those in Need of Intellectual Stimulation on MN - please bring your own ideas!grin

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