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How do I help my dh to change - things are very difficult.

(41 Posts)
ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:02:56

OK, I've posted a few times in the past about my dh. Basically he is always tired, always grumpy, very bad tempered and grumpy and snappy with the kids. He can be very rude and abrupt and hurtful. He does (usually) recognise when he's calmed down when he's been out of order and apologise, but that doesn't necessarily take away the hurt he caused.

He finds the noise at home extremely difficult to tolerate and this makes him also very grumpy and snappy. We have 4 dc, 13 months, 5, 8 & 9. He has a really personality clash with ds3 aged 5 - but sparks fly there, and to a lesser extent with ds2 aged 8. He finds the noise really actually physically painful. He admitted last night that even if all 4 were being nigh on perfect, he would still find it too difficult, as more than 1 noise source at the same time hurts.

Unfortunately, we have 4 kids, and they are not text book perfect all of the time (undertstament) which leads to him shouting at them to be quiet or talking unkindly "stop jabbering on" etc really frequently. He places unreasonable demands on them to be quiet, and esp ds3 in the car just can't do it. I can tune out the noise of them chatting or even squabbling, but he can't.

He sees his relationship wth ds1 now becoming strained. He doesn't want the kids growing up and looking back thinking he's always a grumpy bastard, but the fact is, he is.

He wants to change, but neither of us are having much luck. I am trying to support him. We have been together a long time (17 years) and he used to be always really funny, witty, clever, we'd be laughing all the time. Seems like a very distant memory

He has agreed to dramatically cut down on alcohol (wasn't an especially heavy drinker, but most nights.) So now he won't have a drink at all during the week. He's trying to get to bed earlier, but he finds going to be difficult, I think he has always natuarlly been noctural - so going up very late & getting up late, but obv. this doesn't fit in with his job, which is long hours and demandiing, though he does enjoy it.

He wants to execise more, and does try to go for a long bike ride or run, but due to hours, difficult.

But what else can we do? I think he needs a hobby that will give him social contact with people, but he wouldn't join a choir, and doesn't do sports other than cycling, so not sure what?

The strain usually lands on me. He is now working such long hours I usually have to put all 4 dc to bed by myself every night, I feel like a single parent. I feel bad for the kids who he's always having a go at. Most of our rows are about him being mean to them. I worry our relationship will stand the strain of parenthood. I worry for my por kids always getting told off, and I want to help my dh who desperately wants to change, as he can see how he is being and is increasingly unhappy about it.

So acion plan is
- v. little booze
- more sleep.
- more exercise
- try taking St Johns wort

Anything else?
How do I help him tolerate the noise?
How do I help him help himself to relax and regain his former easy going fun ways?

Thanks

Katisha Mon 03-Aug-09 10:06:59

GAwd it sounds like you are doing everything that is humanely possible to me.
It's down to him now isn't - to break old habits of being unecessarily tough on the children.

muffle Mon 03-Aug-09 10:08:37

I think he needs some kind of help. That kind of sensitivity to noise could be a physical or mental health issue that could be treated. But also he could do with a change of attitude - you don't give up on your relationship with a 5-year-old because they wind you up - that is what kids do! - as the adult, you have to be the bigger person and love and nurture them anyway.

Start with the GP and consider relate as well? They might help you get to the bottom of why he acts out like this. If he wants to change, that's a good start.

I would also make sure you tell your DC (if you don't already) clearly and regularly that it's not their fault, daddy is just grumpy and that's his problem and he's working on it. You don't want them growing up feeling they're in the wrong all the time.

GeneHunt Mon 03-Aug-09 10:17:32

Maybe spending more time where he is in sole charge of the children would help him to finally adjust to completely normal child behaviour. It sounds like you are doing everything and his plan is to 'escape the noise' as often as possible.

Do you get out at all? I'd be tempted to arrange something for myself to do and let him spend some alone time with the kiddos. Maybe some extended time with them but without you would help him see that they aren't just noise-bags but are actually lively and interesting individuals.

Maybe a club for the two older ones that he could join in too? My dh did Karate with my boys and ended up doing Scouts too. Very bonding and our children looked positively angelic next to some others. grin

bigchris Mon 03-Aug-09 10:21:03

i know its not helpful but what made you go for number four?!!
i think he sounds depressed, has he spoken to a gp?

Tortington Mon 03-Aug-09 10:22:32

i am trying to understand the dynamics - not being deliberatley obtuse when i ask - if he is coming home late and you are putting all the kids to bed

when is he being grumpy at the kids - obviously if he doesn't work weekends - so it it only weekends?

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:28:08

just re read my op - don't mean unfortunately we have 4 dc, lol. Obviously they are a delight and very much loved I mean unfortunately for him re noise levels we do have 4 dc...

He isn't shy at looking after them and doesn't avoid them. He does work long hours as pats of jis job - today he had to get up at 4.30 to fly to Milanon business and will be back around 9.30 pm. Tomorrow is business as usual, which means leaving about 8am and getting back about 8 pm or a bit later. Yesterday, at his suggestion, he took the 3 boys to the cinema (I stayed at home with baby)

GH, good usggestion. I have often told him he has unrealistic expectations of the kids (which makes me laugh - I knew him as a teen and he was a horror...) and so and so's dc/dc at school miles worse etc but he rejects this argument - don't care what x Y or z is like, I care about what my kids are like. Regarding doing activities together, his hours mean it just doesn't work, eg ds2 does judo . 5.30 till 7 pm. Dh seldom back before 8. He loathes going swimming, partly the echoey noise I think, partly he finds it 'boring'. No point in forcing an activity he hates, as it just makes him more bad tempered.

He is permanently exhausted and stressed and stroppy. Not fun for us, his family,a nd not fun for him. Pretty sure he wouldn't see GP though I might suggest it.

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:34:56

custy, he'll wake up and get the kids up. mornings are usually pretty fraught as have to get ds1 & 2 out by 7.30 & ds3 by 8, so can get quite shouty in mornings. Otherwise, yes, I guess it's the hell that is the weekedn.

typically, he'll want and action packed programme where every minute is bursting with (silent) activity. If we're still not up and out by 9 on a Saturday it does his head in. He is so busy and rushed at work, at the weeekdned, instead of unwinding and taking things slowly he wants us all to be rushing from 1 activity to another.

On Saturday I did a rare thing and put the pillow over my head and let dh get up with dd at 6.30 and had 2 more blissful hours sleep. Trouble was, by the time the boys finally surfaced at 9, then had breakfast, he'd already been up 3 hours and was truly frustrated and depresed at what he sees be be 1/4 or his weekend totally wasted. Then he's miserable and shouty etc etc.......

Yes, weekends have long since, literally for years been a horror chez Bavaria

ZZZenAgain Mon 03-Aug-09 10:35:05

I think the man needs a bit more fun in life. If being at home with the dc at the weekends isn't hving that effect, perhaps you need to go out as a couple a bit more if you can to social gatherings. If he's a fun-loving person at heart, I don't think he will have fundamentally changed. If he is having an enjoyable adult social life, it will spill over into family life I should think.

admylin Mon 03-Aug-09 10:38:18

Ernest, he sounds alot like my dh before our little separation. The shock of us not being there has made him re-think but he always hated noise, it's something his family told me he always had even when he still lived at home. MAybe some people do have sensetive hearing like some people can't stand bright light?

With work, my dh was the same, long hours and stress but he forces himself to do less now. If your dh is aknowledging that he has a bit of a problem he should maybe start with work and try to get more time off, atleast strat the weekend earlier like early Friday afternoon? It isn't in the intrests of his work place if they eventually have him off work due to stress because that's what it sounds like to me.

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:38:18

re number 4, we had always wanted a 4th. we had ds1 & 2 close together, and after ds3 wanted a 4th close to him. We tried for years, and it just didn't happen.. then we found out I was expecting the day his mum died. DD is a total blessing and dh totally dotes on her. Sems some truth in the father/daughter thing, to my surprise. She does appear to be the apple of his eye. Mind you, she hasn't turned into a stuborn tantrumming toddler yet

I am wondering if he is a bit depressed. certainly seesm always toally exhausted no matter what, tat's why I suggested St John's Wort.

Uriel Mon 03-Aug-09 10:41:13

I would say he's not getting enough time to himself. Can you split the weekend - so he gets up and does something for himself on Saturday while you deal with the kids and you get to have a lie-in on Sunday while he deals with the kids?

ABetaDad Mon 03-Aug-09 10:41:15

Thi sonds like a man working under enrmous pressure form the long hours he is doing. He also used to be quite different which makes it sound like an external factor. Stress is debilitating and leads to anxiety, poor quality sleep and irritability.

He needs to to more excercise, not use alcohol to manage stress and go to stress counselling. Best of all change his job and learn to manage his hours. He may simply be unable to unwilling to say no to his boss.

You are doing all you can. He needs to sit down and figure out how to get rid of the stress he is bringing hme fomr work.

He is not a bad man. He is suffering frm stress which is a mild form of mental illness and can lead to mental breakdown if severe.

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:41:19

Thanks Ad, I told him last week I wanted him to at least be home early on a Friday.

zzzen, I agree, he needs more fun and social contact. I think he needs a hobby. We don't really konw anyone here, so he doesn't have much of a social life. I got a baby sitter at the weekedn, and we wnet out, which was a. good, we had a nice night, but just us too. b. bad, cos he was doubly exhausted and yet more grumpy the next day.

How do you suddenly pick up a hobby as an adult? No idea what he could do

Tortington Mon 03-Aug-09 10:42:27

go go go go!

jeeez do you not have any time to relax - i think you need to pack him off to an activity on sat orning - so he feels like he has done something - cycle or running club on a saturday morning - get him out

then you can do things in your own time.

countingto10 Mon 03-Aug-09 10:42:29

This sounds like the downward spiral me and my DH were on. 4 demanding and stressful DCs, demanding and stressful business and financial problems. We were not communicating at all. End result DH left home and took up with OW and had a breakdown - I think the breakdown came before the OW, OW was part of breakdown amongst other things.

You don't want things to go this far. You need to get counselling for you and your DH, Relate is probably a good start, if not your GP.

As our therapist says, just having that many children in a short time is enough to send you over the edge .....

muffle Mon 03-Aug-09 10:42:50

The ingredient in st john's wort that works, if/when it does, is in the same family as some medical anti-depressants. He'd be better getting a consultation and some medication that's been tested and will be chosen to suit him. If he wants to change this behaviour he needs to see that the problem is with him and he must do anything he can to sort it out. Turning his nose up at the GP is not on option - you can tell him that from me!

MrsWobble Mon 03-Aug-09 10:43:20

just a thought but if the noise is causing headaches it might be worth getting a medical check - this was one of the first signs my mother's cousin had of serious illness - he found the noise of his children unbearable.

bigchris Mon 03-Aug-09 10:44:36

aw that's lovely about your dd
I think on a Saturday morning I would suggest he gets up and goes out alone, perhaps cycling or for a run to get the paper? that way when he comes back you'll all be up and ready to go somewhere with him?

muffle Mon 03-Aug-09 10:45:13

I also agree he really needs to learn to relax. Things he could try are running, yoga, meditation, hot baths, or any kind of hobby that would "take him out of himself" - depends on what his tastes etc are but see if you can get him to commit to something once a week.

countingto10 Mon 03-Aug-09 10:46:16

Re noise sensitivity - I have two DSs who are ASD and are noise sensitive. The older one's hearing was tested and he was found to be able to hear higher pitches than "normal" people and therefore finds it hard to filter out background noise etc.

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 03-Aug-09 10:47:08

I know he's not bad. I love him so much, which is why I'm still here and still trying to help him, and help my kids. I don't want them or me to always be on the receiving end. He wants to do more exercise, so that's a good thing, though I feel like it is another burden for me to shoulder. (me encouraging him to do the exercise, me encouraging him not to drink, to go to bed early. As well as being a mid-week single parent to our 4 dc, I also feel a lot ofresponsibility to helping him stick to his goals)

He gets most of Sunday morning every week all on his own (say 10 am till 12.30), as I take the 4 dc to church. He actually resents having this alone time forced on him - possibly confusingly from what I've said, he doesn't especially like being alone. He will usually try to do a long bike ride while we're gone though.

dazedandconfused Mon 03-Aug-09 10:48:57

I understand the noise issue as my DS is very sensitive to noise, as he has Aspergers. I also feel like this when I am tired/stressed. Here are my suggestions:

-Get your DH to make himself a space. Can he have a shed, lol? Or a space somewhere in the house which is quieter?
Can he spend time with one or two DCs doing quieter activities while you go our with another one or two?

-Use earphones or earplugs! My DS wears earphones (to muffle sound) at school when activities get too noisy.

In the longer term, can he get a less stressful job? Sounds like he is struggling to cope with current stress - I agree with counselling suggestion. I think it's one of those things with DC noise - the more you become aware when you're stressed, the worse it gets!

Poor you. Hope you get some time to yourself too!

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 10:51:38

perhaps spending time with the kids outdoors in the woods or somewhere where they can run wild and make noise but it's not so intense might help him enjoy them more? We all tend to get a bit shouty in the house but relax and enjoy each other's company far more if we are out in the woods exploring and chasing about and playing hide and seek etc. It's exercise too which always helps.

My DH does shift work and tiredness is a big factor in our lives too and when he's come off a string of nights and the kids are being kids his fuse can be shorter than ususal but if he goes to the gym for a hour and then we go swimming or a walk or something Happy Daddy usually returns.

I would echo previous comments of getting a medical check too just to eliminate anything that may be underlying but it sounds like he can't wind down from a stressful job and we all know how that feels but it does need to be addressed.

He sounds like he's halfway there because he at least admits his behaviour is out of order but you're right, you don't want your kids remembering him as Grumpy Daddy.

bigchris Mon 03-Aug-09 10:52:07

from your last post I think you sound like a saint
it must feel like having five kids
i would be tempted to tell him that he is responsible for his own happiness, the constant moaning has got to have an impact on you as well sad

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