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Can we have a future together?(9 Posts)
Dh and I are teetering on the brink of separation and have been for at least 6 months. We have been together for 8 years and married for 6, and have dd aged 3 and ds aged 10 months. From my perspective there are 2 main problems: one is the inequalities in our relationship and the second is that I am no longer in love with him. In fact I don't feel I even love him in a platonic sense at the moment. I'm not sure how much of this is caused by the inequality issues, or whether my resentment of them is because I don't love him any more.
I have primary responsibility for most (all?) aspects of our life together - kids, childcare, cooking, cleaning, DIY, gardening, financial management, car, anything that needs organising, and I am the main breadwinner. He contributes to an extent on the domestic front, usually only if specifically asked. He is a great dad and does do some of the childcare when I'm working - although the amount of time he is responsible for the kids is a source of conflict, we do agree on most of the big parenting issues.
I earn 3 or 4 times as much as he does, and went back to work full time when my dd was 5 months old. I worked compressed hours so I had one extra day looking after her, and he looked after her 1 or 2 weekdays. I have been on maternity leave since having ds, and am now going back to work 30 hrs a week, so I will have 1.5 weekdays with the kids and dh will do 1 day and a couple of late afternoons so I can work long hours. I saved up the money to cover my 2nd maternity leave while I was pregnant as I was desperate to avoid going back to work as early as I did the first time, and I do appreciate the extra time I have had.
Dh has been working freelance from home for the last 3 years in a creative occupation, and has had very little work in the last year. We are in a tight financial position as he brings in very little money anyway, but I am determined to cut my hours slightly as I feel my children's baby and toddler years are flying by and I don't want to miss out on them. Being in the house together while I have been on maternity leave has been very destructive for us, as I became aware that dh was not putting in many hours trying to find work and was spending a fair bit of time being creative for its own sake. This meant that I blamed him for his work situation, and this combined with his lack of responsibility for anything else in our joint lives has led to me losing respect for him. He has finally had to take on another (low paid) job due to the lack of freelance work and is now out of the house most evenings and weekends, which to be honest I love, although I am currently doing all of the childcare 24 hrs a day. Dh is determined to pursue his freelance career and prioritises finding time for this above everything else. He has a degree but is not interested in pursuing any other options.
I don't want to carry on having to earn money to support him as if he were another child. Although of course I would be worse off financially if we separated, at least I would be doing it for myself and my kids. He also has a bedroom in our 3-bed house as his studio, which I resent because the kids have to share and they wake each other up at night. We have talked for a long time about building a workshop in the garden, which would free up space in the house but would cost more than he has earned in the last year. Dh feels that if I could commit to this it would be a sign that I am committing to the future of our relationship, but I am very undecided about it.
Dh knows that I am not in love with him, and for obvious reasons finds this difficult. He has low self-esteem and feels demasculated by our surrent situation. I am stressed and often angry and can be very irritable with him. I have found it stressful and hard work having a baby and a toddler, having found it relatively easy to have 1 baby. Both kids have had health problems over the last year, although they are both now fine which makes me feel very blessed. However it was scary at the time and left me feeling a bit traumatised.
Dh and I don't enjoy spending time together and I feel we have very little in common except our kids. I want different things from when we got together when we were responsibility-free, and dh feels that I have moved the goalposts - which I have as being with my children and being as good a mother as I can be have become my priorities. When we do have time together we find it difficult to have a conversation about anything other than the children, and there are often silences as we are really at a loss to know how to connect with each other.
I am not attracted to him at the moment and have no sex drive; we haven't had sex since ds was born and I really physically couldn't do it at the moment. We have very little physical contact and what we do have I find difficult. I hate sharing a bed with him and often lie awake feeling wired because he is next to me and I just want my own space. I am very worried about the impact this is having and may have on my dcs, as I want them to have a happy family life and I know how much they need their dad.
We have had a couple of abortive attempts at couple counselling, one with Relate who haven't yet been able to offer us a regular slot, and another with a counsellor who we agreed wasn't helpful as he said at the 2nd session that he didn't know how to help us! Relate is going to be very difficult now I am back at work as we have to go without the kids and have no family around. Our lives when I'm working are very carefully planned so the kids have minimum amount of time in childcare but that means we have very little time together and what we do have is usually family time rather than couple time.
I often fantasise about dh leaving as obviously neither of us are happy with the current situation. We have talked about this option but have been reluctant as it seems like such a dramatic step. At times I feel a glimmer of positivity and I wonder whether I could fall back in love if circumstances changed, but I am finding it very hard to let go of the resentment I feel and my lack of feelings for him really scares and depresses me. I am finding the protracted indecision very stressful and am not sure if I can just carry on behind a facade of normality indefinitely. Is it time to take a difficult decision or could we have a future together? I would love to hear others' thoughts...
Sorry about the long long post, once you start it just pours out.
Poor both of you, what a mess. I appreciate that it is very difficult to feel lust for someone who has become pretty much a dependent rather than a partner, but it is also difficult to be the dependent one because you can end up feeling that nothing you do is right and resenting the other partner for being so much more 'grown up' or competent.
Your DH does seem to be making some effort: getting a job is a step in the right direction and an acknowledgement that he needs to make a contribution to the household. Could he get a better one or a better paying one that utilises the skills he uses as a freelance?
Well I would say it's obvious - you don't love him, you aren't going to fall back in love with him, you are both really unhappy. You should split.
Righttoroam, have you told your dh what you've told us? The reasons why you've changed towards him? Sometimes people really don't have a clue what's wrong - God knows, my dh and I certainly have to spell it out for each other at times.
I would suggest, before you split, perhaps taking some time out from living together. Does your dh have a mate that he could stay with for a while? When you're apart, it gives you the chance to notice whether you miss each other - or whether you really don't. But it will give you the space to think, before you make the big step of breaking up.
Really hope you can find a better relationship together, whether as a couple, or as a happy ex-couple.
I'm with Kat. You don't love him and he certainly isn't acting like someone who loves you or has any respect for you - he is treating you like a combination doormat and cash machine. Personally, I think it is better for your dc's to grow up with you two apart but happy and in healthy different relationships than together but in a relationship that sets a terrible example.
Thank you everyone for posting, it is so helpful.
HMFG - yes I think Relate is probably the way forward and we may be able to pay a babysitter and get an evening slot if we really prioritise this. This feels like the only option for improving the situation, and might help me/us make a decision about staying together or splitting. I am also going to be starting some individual counselling through my gp as I went to see the gp with stress/anger/anxiety issues.
SGB - yes I know it is hard for him too, and he is down about his/our situation. He has probably always had low self-esteem due to his own difficult family life as a child. On the work front, he did start doing youth work one evening a week which used his freelance skills and could have led to more career options, but gave it up as he felt he didn't have time once he got the other job. Bizarrely this really upset me as it had made me start to respect him a bit more, but when I tried to encourage him to keep it on he felt I was bullying him so I have dropped it.
Kiwikat - we have talked about most of the issues to some extent in the few counselling sessions we have been to, and to be honest I am no longer very successful in hiding the way I feel so dh does know the extent of the problem. We probably haven't talked enough to get to the bottom of why - for example I haven't explained how I felt about the youthwork job. A trial separation is an option, at times a very appealing one. He has been away for a couple of long weekends which I hoped would make me miss him but had the opposite effect - I really enjoyed having the house to myself as there is a lot of tension when we are both in together.
Missingtheaction - I agree with you in principle, I think what I find difficult is that I don't really know any examples of happy separated families, most of those I know are messy and difficult... But on the other hand I don't actually think I can carry on in our current situation for much longer so maybe Relate and/or trial separation are the only option. Dh and I have discussed this and our latest agreement is a 'stay of execution' as we don't have time to do anything else.
It has been so helpful to have your support and hear different perspectives - thanks!
Kids aged 3 and 10 months is probably the most difficult time for any couple, certainly was for me and for many of my friends.
I think you are wearing yourself out trying to do too much and your dh, who doesn't have the same aims, is unable to understand your priorities and help out.
You want to be the perfect Mum and also have to be the breadwinner, you feel you are short-changing your kids and I dare say worry that you are short-changing your work and also your dh in that you have no energy left to feel affection for him.
On the other hand his idea of the perfect parent may be very different to yours, and he simply doesn't see why you are working yourself into the ground. Apart from knowing he is unloved because you don't sleep together. There is nothing so damaging to a bloke's self esteem, it ain't the money.
All of this sounds very familiar to me, and it got better as the kids got older, and my marriage improved massively. 7 or so years on from where you are, we're pretty happy.
I think you need to find some way of having a little time for yourself, if you can. If you both know that you are at risk of separating he should be able to give you that, at least.
Best of luck.
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