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need some help seeing wood for trees and deciding what to do next

(99 Posts)
EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 11:39:56

I need some help seeing wood for trees and finding a way think about the future

we've married 8 y together 18 (gulp!) - 2 kids (7&4)
some issues over the years, mostly wabout wanting kids/not wanting kids. both very happy we have them now, tho they do put strain on relationship at times. both work and get quite stressed. DH currently very stressed over work, has been in some shape or other for past x years, quite bad for last year.

Over the years his libido has been quite low compared to mine. I used to try to instigate sex but be rebuffed so I gave up about 6 years ago as it was getting quite depressing and not doing the old self -esteem much good. Then abut a year and a half ago I decided to give it another whirl, bought sexy undies etc and ravished him in the kitchen on valentines night. He seemed to enjoy that. But when I tried it again seemed quite bored. So after a few tries I stopped making that effort too. Now we have fairly stratighforward one up one down sex when he wants it which is about twice a month. He often doesn't orgasm.

He drinks a lot which I am sure is a major factor in this.

I am on ADs for depression and have been for 2 years now.

Last year we went for couples counselling. Was not much use tbh. During the counselling period we went out one night and got quite inebriated and DH said lots of stuff about how he fancied other women etc etc etc - nothing wrong with that per se - he also said he wanted to have sex with other women. Hmm. Next day he "confessed" to a one night stand with some woman at a conference. I felt like I'd been slapped in the face with a wet fish given that he was never that interested in sex with me. When I would ask him about us staying together he claimed he wanted to (after a couple of months thinking about it) but he always says you can't tell the future and so nothing is definate for ever. I used to find this very difficult to take but in the last year have thought about uncertainty and impermanence A LOT (read Pema Chodron if that means anything to you and began to really appreciate that of course NOTHING is certain, apart from NOW)

We went on from there, decided to stay together after he'd slept in the spare room a while. I thought he would start to make more of an effort after that but he didn't really. I totally stopped making an effort wrt "moments of intimacy" at this point. We still have sex about twice a month, when he hasn't had too much to drink

He still gives me a kiss morning and evening but I can't be bothered anymore tbh. Most of my physical affection goes on the kids now.

I am going away for a few days on my own this weekend and I know I'll be mulling over all of this. I felt it was fair to have a chat with him before I went and let him know how I am feeling. We rarely talk about any of this stuff as it makes him too tense and stressed and it is never really worth it. I have mentioned a couple of months ago that certain stuff was causing me problems still and he admitted he hadn't been great and said he didn't want to talk about it anymore but that his actions would speak louder than words. So I shut up again.

Well, he took the kids out to library that day and did something else nice with them but there have been no efforts at intimacy with me since

Last night I opened up to him. I told him how I am feeling, how I felt quite disappointed that after all the fuss last year and him admitting the fling he hadn't made more of an effort, how I didn't feel any great intimacy or desire between us anymore. He claimed that his outbursts last year were not his responsibility, that he had been an equal victim of the therapy as I had. He has also in the past claimed that the one night stand was not his responsibility (apparantly it was rainging and the co-delegate couldn't get a taxi and so had to sleep with him) I told him how I've worked hard on myself this year on dealing with my need for security and certainty and I feel much better equipped to deal with that now but that I was just getting no real sense of desire or intimacy from him. I told him I feel that he is just not taking responsibility for stuff but leaving it all for me to decide as then he can get away with just dealing with MY DECISION and having to bear none of the responsibility for it. I also told him that I feel his primary relationship is with booze rather than me. At this point he talked about me reading too many self help books (I don't - I've been reading quite a few books on buddhism and spirituality of late, and on taking responsibility for oneself but no "men are from mars, women..venus" type stuff) and asked whether I had been talking to soemone about this stuff in the last few days. He doesn't like the idea that I discuss our relationship with anyone else. Although I have been quite clear that I do talk, to my counsellor and to my sister and another friend. I'd have gone doolally by now if I didn't.

He ummed and ahhed. In the end I just asked whether he did desire me and whether he did want to stay with me. He said nothing. For about ten minutes. He ummed and aaahed audibly, said "oh fucking hell" quite a bit to himself, and said nothing. Then he said something about sometimes not being able to just answer questions straight off. He talked about the fact that silence could be construed as an answer and that this would be the wrong conclusion to jump to. He always does this, talks about the meta-narrative of "our" (my?!) discussions rather than the content.

What the fuck do I do? basically I think I need to wake up and smell the coffee. There is no desire or intimacy left here, there probably hasn't been for some time. He won't make any decision about things. Some day some apparantly more attractive woman will fall for him and he for her and that'll be it. I think if any other woman he felt attracted to offered a shag he'd go for it (depending on time of day and how much he'd had to drink of course, if too much he'd be no use)

He doesn't even help much around the house, though he claims he does. He does do a lot of drop offs of the kids to school though, so I can go to work early.

What do I do? Am I mad to put so much importance on desire/intimacy/closeness? At least 3 of my women friends husbands don't want sex much either and one of them is like me, she has given up. She said it is too awful to have to basically beg for sex. She is drop dead gorgeous too. They keep going though. IS this normal. Do I put up with it and just continue to live my own life with him on the periphery (which is where he is heading at the moment)

any advice or shared experience so so welcome, feel I am at the end of my tether (again)

(Sorry is so long, have just looked again - bloody hell - well done if you got to the end)

GypsyMoth Thu 17-Sep-09 11:46:42

well all i can say is that leaving was the best thing i ever did!

the kids adapted well too......theres a whole new life out tere,if you want it enough

he sounds bloody hard work,and nothing in return!

Hassled Thu 17-Sep-09 11:54:59

Blimey. You poor thing. Just to pick out a few salient facts:

He has a drinking problem which he is not prepared to tackle.
He's been unfaithful but that wasn't his fault because it was raining.
"You can't tell the future" so therefore he can't give you the long term commitment and security you need (and yes, I know nothing is permanent but equally stability is nice).
You can't discuss the issues because it makes him "too tense and stressed". My heart breaks for him, it really does.

Yes, you do need to smell the coffee. He's a selfish, self-obsessed tosser who has been treating you like shit for some considerable time. It will only change if he cares enough to make the changes - you can wait around for the next 10 years in some hideous limbo waiting to see how you should be interpreting his silence, or you can move on.

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 12:03:17

ilovetiffany - glad it worked out for you - I do worry about the kids. The 7yois very highly strung and gets very upset oevr stuff

hassled your post brought tears to my eyes, seeing it all written down like that makes me feel like such a doormat/fool

he can be charming and fun (especially when the drink is flowing) when he is not sulking about me wanting to discuss something

I've told him before that I feel he needs to make some changes (although I have reservations about asking anyone to change...they are who they are, I like it or lump it) for a start he needs to drink less, other things would probably just fall out of that...

Hassled Thu 17-Sep-09 12:12:35

I'm sorry - re-reading my post it was very blunt. And you don't sound like a doormat at all - I know from bitter experience (my first husband) how easy it is to just accept abnormal situations which in the cold light of day, and with a lot of perspective, you can see are absolutely unacceptable and not normal. It's bloody hard, though.

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 12:18:45

hassled don't worry about being blunt - it is that kind of straight objective perspective I need. I'm very thankful.

apparantly he is off to GP today to ask about antidepressants. He'll need to cut a lot off his 70-80 units of alcohol a week before they'll have any effect hmm

Lemonylemon Thu 17-Sep-09 13:10:50

"He claimed that his outbursts last year were not his responsibility, that he had been an equal victim of the therapy as I had."

Victim??? Well, that about sums it all up really. He's a man who refuses to take responsibility for anything. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but you've had the burden of the whole relationships on your shoulders and it's not on. Actually, he has cast himself in the role of victim which in his mind absolves him of acting like an adult.

You say your 7yo DC is highly strung and gets stressed. Maybe it's a reaction to the situation that he/she sees every day. As you know, kids do pick up on things very easily. (I'm not blaming in you in any shape or form, so please don't think that - just an observation). You may well find that your DC finds his/her chilled side if your domestic situation changes.

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 13:45:43

lemony - I think he has me bamboozled to the extent that when he says stuff like that I think "yeah...I guess..." or at least that used to be how I thought

he is a real intellectual, so he looks on therapy as an intellectual issue of sorts, which I kind of get, he thinks that therapy can create problems by virtue of suggestion and overfocus on one area etc etc etc which I can also kind of get...but his outburst was outside of the therapy room (though he would argue still in the therapeutic context)

still don't think he can blame the therapy for getting very drunk and telling me he wanted to shag other women...

I am just being blind and blinkered aren't I? - we do have some good times but I think many of them as a result of me having lowered my expectations in terms of what we do as a family, lowered my expecations wrt the house (it's a mess, we've been there 5 years and still no wardrobes in our room, shelves in kitchen etc - if I complain about it I am overreacting and making the atmosphere in the house awful - I keep making suggestions about how to sort it but they are never good enough for him, or he wants to do it himself then puts the shelves up wonky or whatever) just lowered my expecations all round

maybe they were too high to begin with?

I go around in circles like this ad nauseum, I really do bore myself

Lemonylemon Thu 17-Sep-09 13:55:58

No lovey - your expectations most definitely weren't too high to begin with - please don't think that.

People can be as intellectual as they like - eventually, the real world has to be faced. I do "get" what you're saying about the therapy being an intellectual exercise - but still, like I said, the real world has to be faced at the end of the day and he's not facing it......

If it were me in this situation, I'd be thinking about myself and my DC first. (Still not criticising you - please don't think I am).

I'd be a total PITA about the DIY and do it myself just to get it done as I wouldn't be able to wait for him to get round to it smile

CarGirl Thu 17-Sep-09 13:59:21

I think Hassled put it blunty but it fairly spot on. Perhaps your actions need to speak louder than words. Move him out to the spare room and start building your own life.

Hassled Thu 17-Sep-09 14:00:31

Wanting a wardrobe or a shelf is not an unreasonable expectation - especially as you were prepared to sort it out yourself.

I know exactly the sort of character you're describing - with the ability to bamboozle you with psycho-babble bollocks and overly-"intellectual" critiques of what are actually quite simple issues. Your use of the term "meta-narrative" was the clue . And if he's an intelligent man (and that's not necessarily a given), then he will know exactly what he's doing. He's playing games.

I agree that your tense, worrisome 7 year old is almost certainly responding to the atmosphere in the house. Divorce/separation is obviously very upsetting for children, but many of them are also breathing sighs of relief.

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 14:02:42

would you leave though lemony? I can't help thinking it's not bad enough to do that, there is no abuse etc, all marriages have their bad patches etc etc etc we need to "work at it" and so on...but last night when I uttered those immortal words "work at it" to him I knew his reaction would be one of cynicism...that sort of banality or cliche just doesn't apply to him...and it was

I would have done the DIY myself except I'm not great at it (wouldn't know where to start tbh blush) and over the years whenever I do try to do anything he tells me I am doing it wrong, or dangerously, or something and takes over

I swear I can't even have him in the room with me when I cook as he buts in all the time to tell me what I am doing wrong, lower the gas etc etc etc and generally takes over (although, to be fair, I did use to burn a few things alright!) luckily we've compromised on this one so that he cooks mostly grin

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 14:07:59

(I would have sorted out the DIY by getting a friend who is very good at these things in to do it and paying him for his trouble - problem solved

the wardrobes are a bigger issue but I'd have bought something...

think I am going to just sort these out without any further discussion)

yes, maybe you are right cargirl, move him to the spare room and just agree I have no further expectations of anything from him. I warrant I'll get very resentful though, as it'll still be me clearing up the house etc all the time while he'll be up there delighted with himself to be off the hook

hassled - yes, the trotting out of the "meta-narrative" stuff is always a worry when you are trying to have a serious conversation but find it's you whose doing all the conversing while he is weighing up the way you are doing it as you do. aargh!

LaurieFairyCake Thu 17-Sep-09 14:10:38

He does not sound intellectual at all.

He sounds like a twat who blames rain for his cock slipping.hmm

I bet all the tea in China you could do better.

You sound interesting, intelligent, caring and fun. How about you don't focus on him and instead think about what you want?

You already said intimacy, attraction.......

Lemonylemon Thu 17-Sep-09 14:14:04

Ahem, yes, I would leave. And did - twice blush

I walked out of my marriage after 4 years as I just couldn't stand it any longer (I had tried to get my ex to go to Relate but we lasted one session and he said that as I was the one with the problem, I had to sort it out). The second person I left was my DS's Dad - I just couldn't take the effect it was having on my DS.... You've given your relationship a heck of chance though - yes, I agree, everyone goes through bad patches, but how many years does a bad patch have to last before something is done about it?

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 14:17:42

that made me laugh LFC - thanks

aaah but he is an intellectual, that's his job...lecturing people on "theory" of this and that...although he is currently in dispute with his employers as they wanted to reduce his hours so will potentially be out of a job soon

he claims there was no penetrative sex on the one night stand, something about her and him realising it was a bad idea. Funnily enough I almost believe the bit about the lack of actual shagging, there is no way he would have been at a conference without drinking lots so he probably wasn't able for it....

EvenBoringMyselfNow Thu 17-Sep-09 14:23:08

lemony - thanks - yes, take your point about how many years does a bad patch have to continue. This feels like it has been years and years and years. And it feels like I am the one doing all the running. And my legs are tired now.

just realised when I read back over my OP that when I talked about my friend whose DH doesn't want sex either I said "she is drop dead gorgeous too" I didn't mean it like "she is drop dead gorgeous LIKE ME" I meant it like "she is drop dead gorgeous so why the heck doesn't he want to jump her bones". Just for the record I am NOT drop dead gorgeous (unfortunately). But I am fairly presentable I think...grin

CarGirl Thu 17-Sep-09 14:24:33

I mean move him out, you restart your social life, get your confidence back up he can baby sit etc. Then if he still doesn't want to address the marriage then divorce type of thing.

Lemonylemon Thu 17-Sep-09 14:27:31

grin we knew what you meant!

But like I said before, the burden of the relationship has been on your shoulders for years and to be perfectly blunt, you sound absolutely exhausted by it all {unMN hug}
and I think that you should be expecting more from your life than this......

Dophus Thu 17-Sep-09 14:28:44


DippyDino Thu 17-Sep-09 14:33:07

Just for the record... I don't think that you are putting too much emphasis on intimacy. It's me who's 'off it' in our relationship, however we do kiss and cuddle and are generally very loving with each other. There is a difference between 'no sex' and 'no love.'

Yes pay someone to put up shelves...

Move him to the spare room, charge him for laundry...

Start to date again... (No I'm only kidding, would be a bit hard on the DC's with dad still in the spare room!)

Hassled Thu 17-Sep-09 14:33:22

I'm with Lemony. I think life is just too damn short to spend it being this unhappy if there are alternatives, and you do sound very unhappy.

I know that sounds really trite, and is very easy for me to say and much harder to do, but I think you'll find the whole situation more bearable if you can accept that there are longer term alternatives. Just knowing what options are there might help.

overmydeadbody Thu 17-Sep-09 14:33:30

I would leave him tbh. He isn't really in this relationship so why should you be?

I agree with Hassled, Laurie and lemony et al

I think you also already know what you need to do.

overmydeadbody Thu 17-Sep-09 14:36:07

You only have one life, don't waste any more of it in a relationship that isn't good for you.

ahundredtimes Thu 17-Sep-09 14:40:04


long marriage, two children, getting by, frustrating lack of communication means that nothing has actually been said, which is why you get by, because it's all freighted in the silence and the 'hmms' and the 'I wonder what provoked you to say that?' schtick, which leaves you reeling and desperately trying to conduct both sides of the conversation both for you and for him.


he drinks too much. He doesn't behave in a loving way towards you. Is very reluctant to talk honestly, in a way that you would appreciate. Was unfaithful because it was raining. Possibly depressed. Certainly not being a good enough partner. Selfish.

So, I think you ask him to leave. See what comes of that, and see whether communication can or might be opened up in a more useful way if you take some control back over your life?

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