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marriage: when does just about ok become not good enough? (long - sorry)

(14 Posts)
regularlyoverwhelmed Thu 16-Jul-09 13:52:41

I feel I am at a crossroads. Part of me wants out, the other part thinks I am being self-indulgent and expecting too much. How can I know whether my expectations are too high or I am acting as a doormat?

we've been together years, YEARS. 17? something like that. Married 8. Two kids. He wasn't too keen on the marrying or the kids bits but is pleased he has the kids now. He is a good if fairly stressy dad. He does his bit, well, what I tell/remind him to at least. He is nice, attractive, amusing.

He is also cynical, fairly negative in outlook, a heavy drinker (my view), a bit of a stick in the mud.

Over the years my attitudes and expectations have been hugely changed. We rarely have sex anymore and when we do he instigates it. I used to but gave up after years of being rebuffed (due to tiredness, stress, too much to drink etc etc etc). I would like to have more sex. I don't feel he is really attracted to me. We don't touch much. There will be a perfunctory kiss morning and evening if he does it but I don't bother anymore. Not sure why. Probably cos it is just that, totally perfunctory. There are no hugs or rubs etc as I have stopped bothering. He has never been very tactile but I seem to have given up now too. I reserve all my physical love and effection for the kids it seems.

We rarely go anywhere much as his idea of a weekend is a trip to the local park, maybe the pub. We do go on hols but most recent one was skiing where he went off on his own mostly while I minded kids and he minded kids while I skiied with my sis. I actually preferred to ski with her as the thought of doing it with him filled me with dread (he would be complaining so much - blamed me last year for all his falls as he was spending so much time watching out for me apparantly hmm)

We are broke now so summer holiday will be local. Am fairly much dreading it, tho will be great to spend time with kids.

We did go for relationship counselling last year but it didn't really get us anywhere. In teh end counsellor let us go saying I needed to decide what I wanted. We didn't feel she really helped us much. He is very intellectal/cerebral and managed the sessions well. Poor woman may not even have known he was doing it. I mentioned it to her once or twice in our single sessions but not sure what she could do.

I am now having counselling on my own and waiting some pscychdynamic stuff later in the year.

I've been on anti-Ds for two years now since had a pretty unpleasant (nervous breakdown?) bout of depression.

So something isn't right.

I've told him I would like to have a chat with him next week aboyt "US". Part of me feels inclined to suggest we go our separate ways. But there are two kids involved. And it will be shit financially.

How do I go abut getting my head together and working out whether I have my head in the clouds and just expect too much or whether my expectations have been ground down so I don't know what's what anymore....

anyone got any words of wisdom?

(not going to read over as if I do I may not post, so apols for any typo/grammar errors)

fourkids Thu 16-Jul-09 14:11:12

The answer to your question is different for everyone. Some people will come on and say that basically if you have kids you never bail out (unless there is violence etc), and some will say that in your position they would walk.

I would say that when you are very unhappy and you absolutely know that you have reached the point of no return...when it is never going to get any better. And that imo and ime children are better off with two separated and happy parents than two unhappy parents who have stayed together 'for the kids' or for financial security. But also that i have no idea, and would never dare to try and judge, whether that is the stage you are at. I always say when asked for this advice (and it's funny how many people you know come to you and ask similar things when you split up with your husband!) That only you know when enough is enough - and for some people that time will never come. But that ime people generally know in their heart.

Probably not very helpful...sorry didn't want you to go unanswered.

TracyGardiner Thu 16-Jul-09 14:12:40

Hi there,

Sorry to hear things aren't great, but well done for coming forward and saying so as I think this is one area that not enough people talk about. Life with kids is so busy that it is easy for your relationship to drift, and my relationship with my husband has certainly been like a bit of a rollercoaster since we had kids. Anyway, here are some questions and exercises that you might find useful:

What does your 'perfect' relationship look like? Shut your eyes and fantasise for a moment. Have a good walk around that perfect world - don't be limited by reality, this is just a dream.

When you open your eyes, jot down a list of all that you saw / experienced.

Add on to that list any aspects of a relationship that you love that aren't already there... think about your current relationship:

What bits of it do you like and want to continue having?

Think of the feeling you get when you are happy in a relationship. What aspects of your relationship make you feel that happiness?

Now go back down your list item by item and ask yourself:
What is it that is stopping you bringing those things more in to your life?
How you could overcome that obstacle?

What one small change could you make now that would make things better today?

I hope that helps a bit. Sometimes getting some clarity on these things can help a great deal.

Best wishes

regularlyoverwhelmed Thu 16-Jul-09 14:39:59

hmm, fourkids - I think that recently I do "know in my heart". I have been practising meditation now for about 6 months and went on retreat for a weekend recently and the overriding feeling I had coming out of it was that it is over. I just dont seem to be able to face up to it. I think if it weren't for the depression I probably would just stick it out but the depression makes me feel it is giving me a wakeup call. I can't just go on increasing doses of ADs for rest of my days. I feel like a failure though in ways, other folk can put up with much worse after all.

Thanks tracygardiner - feels like I have been trying for years to overcome the obstacles, and now I have just stopped. Not sure one person can do it all for a relationship alone.

fourkids Thu 16-Jul-09 14:45:22


Your marriage breaking down does not make you a failure. But building a happy life for yourself and your DCs (whether in or out of your current marriage) would make you successful!

fourkids Thu 16-Jul-09 14:51:07

I don't think that came out was meant to be encouraging!! I should have stopped at 'Your marriage breaking down does not make you a failure' It really doesn't.

fourkids Thu 16-Jul-09 15:05:42

I do understand what you mean though. I used to feel terribly guilty - like I had let everyone down - myself, my family, my friends, my DCs, my ExH, the whole world really. I still find myself occasionally (usually after a few drinks with old friends) justifying myself!

But I think the fact that I used to be an unhappy, depressed, downtrodden, a bit defensive woman in a not terribly happy family, and am now a successful (professionally and otherwise), happy, bubbly woman with well-balanced, happy DCs, a wonderful marriage to the most perfect man, and a much happier (now he isn't married to me!) exH, and a real life - not the half-life I used to live - speaks for itself. I am not a failure. i won because i turned things around! But that still doesn't mean I'd tell anyone else to end their marriage - it just means I'm an advertisement for it being possible to make it work. As are plenty of other women who'll come along!

I think it's much rarer to find people who say 'i wish I'd stayed' than it is to find people who say 'it was the right thing to do, for me.'

regularlyoverwhelmed Thu 16-Jul-09 19:09:20

awh fourkids - you did sound encouraging - don't worry. As is your story. Although from where I am that sounds like a fairytale!

I suppose I am wondering whether the problem is with me...whether i am just always going to feel like this no matter what situation/relationship I am in...whether I am just a bit bored of work, kids, home, relationship stuff and like agonising over silly stuff...or whether it is more or less the relationship that is causing my distress

to the outside we look like a perfectly sorted couple

I feel we are like old flatmates or bro and sis or co-parents than a couple with any sort of future


HappyWoman Thu 16-Jul-09 19:33:04

I think i remember you from before and i think i gave you a hard time then - in that you were not allowing your h to go and have a good life without you.

You sound so sad and down - i really like the idea of visulizing the perfect relationship though and feel that could help (i am going to try it too on those days when i feel a bit down).

It does sound as if you are not happy with yourself though - can you look in the mirror and say this is the best life for me? I think you will say no at the moment.

I would suggest making your life the best and not try and think it is the marriage that is to 'blame' - although i agree it could be that - only you will be able to answer that.

How would you feel if your h found happiness with someone else in the future? If you think you would be happy for him then you know your marriage is not really working for you but if you think you could not bear that then there must be something that you could work on.

Good luck

regularlyoverwhelmed Mon 20-Jul-09 15:46:44

happy woman - yes I remember you from before but I don't recall you giving me a hard time. hmm, selective memory perhaps on my part

this is definately not my idea of a perfect relationship

that would involve some physical affection, a feeling that I am cherished, a feeling that I am attractive to my partner and that he enjoys me as a woman. That I am special. That he would prefer to spend time with me than drinking.

I used to feel very odd about the idea of him with someone else. Indeed I mentioned that to our relnship counsellor (in one of our many 1:1 sessions hmm) and wondered whether that was a sign we should continue to work on it but she said you'd can't just hang on because you don't want him to be happy with anyone else

more recently I have started to think I wouldn't really care - that if I did see him with someone else I would just acknowledge internally that she was having to deal with the crap now and move on...

he has had one fling in the past that he will admit (though he maintains they didn't shag, which sadly I sort of believe as I imagine he was fairly inebriated on the occasion) he has also told me in the past that he feels he wants to have sex with other people, that maybe he hasn't had enough variety to date. So sounds like he is just bored with me.

But then subsequently he said no, none of that was true.

And we haven't spoken about it since as he doesn't like to.

We have skirted the issue this weekend and plan to talk during the week. He reckons his drinking is totally normal. Maybe I am just mad...

Showmeheaven Mon 20-Jul-09 21:24:58

I've no real advice for you, but just to say I know how you are feeling because I'm in a very similar situation I've been with dh for 25 years, since I was 17, married 19 years. He was my only real relationship. I regret committing so young and not experiencing life with other people.

We get on well, considering we are together so long, but my dh cannot show affection. He never tells me he loves me (I know he does), he never hugs/kisses me and when I try to hug him, he pulls away. He would be content with sex a couple of times a year, whereas I would like it a couple of times a month - not so much for the sex, but for the emotional intimacy. I've told him all this over the years but he won't make any effort. He is a perfect partner in every other way, but he just has a real problem with intimacy.

I feel resentful that my sex life is pretty much over at 42, but yet I'm not ready to leave. Our kids are still young and I want us to remain a family unit. All the while I'm hoping he will change, but I know in my heart he won't.

Have you told him how you are feeling ? If he knew you were considering leaving would he be devastated? Devastated enough to do what it takes to save your marriage?

regularlyoverwhelmed Tue 21-Jul-09 09:01:56

thanks showmeheaven - and sorry to hear you are in same boat - I know, thinking your sex life is over in your early 40s fairly sucks! and as you say it isn't just about sex, tho' I do love it {grin} it's also a lot about simple but wnderful things like intimacy, emotional closeness, feeling you are part of a special unit. I just don't get that with him anymore. I wish I could be like lots of other folk and just decide to bear with it until kids are grown but I am not sure I can.

I am planning to talk to him later this week. I think I will tell him I am feeling very near the end of the road now and see what, if anything, he has to say. We went through it all a year or so ago, but maybe I wasn't explicit enough in what needed to change. Also he has had a shit year at work, facing possible redundancy etc so I have been trying to be supportive of all that. Now I think I have just had it, I expect soething more from him, I expect it to stop being me putting everything into trying to save things and make them better and for him to take some responsibility.

{hmm} I wonder

regularlyoverwhelmed Tue 21-Jul-09 11:10:23

god i sound like such a moaner.

Showmeheaven Tue 21-Jul-09 19:23:17

No, you just sound like you're at the end of your tether. I hope it works out for you but if it doesn't, you can walk away knowing you tried your best, with the counselling etc. Best of luck.

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