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What to do about DH? End of tether.....

(15 Posts)
lordreid Mon 26-Oct-09 08:43:44

I’m so pissed off today. I had a massive row with dh this morning and I don’t know where to go with this really. Sorry, it is long

We have had a stressful couple of years. We have two kids under 6. The eldest has been undergoing assessment for an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) for just under a year. It’s a slow process and it means you have to arm yourself with information and it can be stressful battling for help/support. Don’t get me wrong DS 1 is great and the issues are at the minor end but it has been a strain.

On top of that, I have a disabled my brother who I have had to get re-housed in the last year and support as he settles into independent living. I have no other family to help. My parents are dead and my sister is useless.

Then, DH was contracting until recently after losing his job in 2007. This meant that we had to cancel our plans to buy a house and we have been in rented accommodation. A very nice house but still not ours. But we were given notice earlier in the year and had to find somewhere else to live very quickly. This was a complete nightmare. It has been stressful as we have no one even to watch the kids for the day for us.

DH has recently got a permanent position but it is at least an hour and a quarter’s drive away which means he is always home late (just as the kids go to bed).

The problem is that DH has never been the sort of person to take responsibility for anything to do with the family e.g. finances etc. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good bloke. Good dad. He would do anything you ask but you do have to ask and remind and remind (or ‘nag’ as he’d say).

He leaves it all to me. I had to organise the move. I had to organise my brother’s rehousing (he moved 300 miles). Everything to do with the kids he leaves to me. He has never so much as picked up a book to read about ASD. All the holidays and parties are organised by me. When he was contracting, I had to do his accounts and he didn’t know when things were owing or how much he was paid. He wouldn’t know how much his net salary was or what the outgoings are.

If we argue, he says he doesn’t have time. But I have the kids, work and study. I have to MAKE time.

Last night, I said let’s book a holiday for Feb half term. We can look together on the internet. Something nice to do together. But he ended up spending 2 hours on the computer ‘fixing’ a wireless computer problem which was really not an issue to anyone but him. Also, DS1 has been ill and I said I would take him to the doctors. DH decided he had swine flu so I asked him to look some information up for him. He came back and said ‘I’ve got you a prescription for Tamiflu’ which is not what I’d asked for.

I argued with him about it this morning. He can never say sorry and just does the old ‘sorry if it’s such a big issue for you’. He thinks I just ‘control’ him but he doesn’t do anything unless I go on at him.

The thing is he has no friends at all. He doesn’t see how unusual his behaviour is. He is a good bloke but has very little empathy/sensitivity and everything has to be spelt out to him. He thinks I just want to criticise so even if try and raise things constructively it is not taken well.

I just get sad as he would never think of doing something of his own back like reading up on ASD and contributing something or sorting out a utility bill. He has no idea how stressful organising a move single handed whilst working and looking after the kids is. He just never has to do this sort of thing on his own but equally he does not seem to realise how much I do so is seldom grateful unless prompted. His answer is 'what else do you want me to do, I don't have any time?'

I just feel sad as he would never think of booking surprise holiday or trip for us all but it’s not as if we don’t have the money.

I feel as if I have three kids. I don’t want to end up shouting at him in front of the kids or being horrible to him all the time. I think he probably has a bit of Aspergers too now I’ve read up on it! But this has gone on for years and I can’t make him a different person.

sayithowitis Mon 26-Oct-09 08:52:13

There is a school of thought that ASD could be genetic and therefore it is possible that your DH could be ASD. If that is the case you will not be able to change him. He might be able to learn new behaviours that are more acceptable to you, but it will be very hard work for you as well as for him. I am not saying you should just give up and accept him as he is, just pointing out that it will (always) be a tough road for you both if he is ASD.

So you have to decide what you want him to do about it and whether you are able to support him through it. It sounds to me that you have alot on your plate already and I would be worried that you will end up resenting him even more than you do now. Not saying that is wrong btw. I don't know what to advise you, only you and hecan decide what is right for you and for your family.

I wish you all luck in whatever you decide.smile

Tortington Mon 26-Oct-09 08:57:42

why have a dog and bark yourself?wink

if you wnat it sorting divvy out tasks an make soemthing his responsability

lordreid Mon 26-Oct-09 09:05:13

Thanks. I have tried to raise the ASD thing with him but he was very offended by it. He thinks I'm just trying to blame him for everything. It made a lot of sense to me as I'd always said to him that he had an empathy gene missing hmm

The thing is he'll say he doesn't have problems with people and that they all think he's great at work. Yet, he's known these people for only a few months, doesn't see anyone outside the office, has no friends of his own, no one he would go for a beer with, no other 'intimate' relationships. I think this is a bit unusual.

I need to find a strategy to raise this positively.

lordreid Mon 26-Oct-09 09:06:38

Hellmouth - we have done this and arguments usually end in this but he never does what he's supposed to or he does lunchboxes for a week and then forgets.

womblemonster Mon 26-Oct-09 12:52:15

Reading the first four paragraphs of your post there are more than enough reasons why any couple would be feeling the strain. The holiday is an excellent idea and probably just what you need - why don't you go ahead and book it by yourself?

So your DH isn't good with organisation and practical stuff ... do you feel that he doesn't make up for it in other ways?

BEAUTlFUL Mon 26-Oct-09 14:24:04

Was he this chaotic when you first met him? Did he have lots of unpaid bills or did he manage to do it all then? If so, i think you might have helped him out a bit too much and now he relies on your fabulosity. It's 8incredibly* hard, but the only way to sort this, I think, would be for you to hand over the finances to him wholly and completely, and let him sink or swim with them.

If things go unpaid, let him deal with the fallout. Never nag, remind or offer ideas about money - leave it all up to him and trust (drinking whiskey if necessary) that he will take care of stuff. Very possibly, if he felt you had handed the reins over to him -- and never felt your hands grabbing for them again just to "check" or "quickly make sure..." -- his sense of resonsibility would blossom vvvv quickly. But it requires you to let go.

lordreid Mon 26-Oct-09 14:33:33

womble - thanks. You are right. There has been alot of stress and we never get time together as a family. I always feel we're a bit under siege. He has no hols left until after xmas and then we will have to wait until the next half term. With everything that has gone on, it feels like a long time to wait. I suppose I just wanted him to show a bit of willingness to do soemthing.

He is disorganised and laid back but he is patient and good at helping if you ask. He's just not touchy feely and good at emotional support so it can feel like a heavy load sometimes.

Beautiful - you're right too. I take on too much and do it all for him. We were students when we met and he never had a great deal to sort out for himself. I've done everything and he's become used to it.

However, when I have left him to it, like his business, it just doesn't get done and I've ended up sorting out the mess.

BEAUTlFUL Mon 26-Oct-09 14:48:26

"it just doesn't get done and I've ended up sorting out the mess.

You know the answer to these problems is right in that sentence, don't you?!

The thing is, you might -- very reasonably -- believe that leaving the money (or whatever thing you want him to manage) up to him will end up becoming a hassle for you. And in the short-term, it might. but long-term, if he realised that you are never going to bail him out ever again, he would do it. He really would.

It's like parenting, innit? You have to teach him with "reality partnering". He gets to feel the consequences of his own actions. So if the electricity gets cut off because he forgot to pay the bill, then you take the kids away to your in-laws until he gets them switched on again. For example.

I really think it's the only way. Or, you pick something that's not going to impinge on the kids' lives or your life, and make that his job. OR, you make him feel the pain - so he forgets to make the kids lunches, get the school yo call him up and tell them, so he has to rush round and bring the lunches in, etc.

I don't mean to make it sound like you've dine wrong, but I had a DH like this (and in other relationships I've been the lazy one who let my partner do all the boring stuff), and this is the ONLY WAY to change things.

loupiots Mon 26-Oct-09 15:15:18

Well, you’re doing it all for him, so there’s not that much incentive for him to change. Of course, in an ideal world, he would step up, realise that you’re exhausted and want to do it to help you out. But it doesn’t tend to work like that for a lot of men.

I agree with BEAUTIFUL - he needs to feel the consequences. Which is terrifying for you, but probably the only long term solution.

In the short term - if he'll only do something if you ask, then ask. Repeatedly, systematically, until it’s done. Don’t feel guilty or as if it is another chore – just ask him clearly. Not in generalities – “you never help”, but in specifics – “please empty the dishwasher and make the children’s lunch”.

But underneath all of this, my guess is that really you just feel overwhelmed and underappreciated, and you want him to bloody well notice and do something off his own lazy back – is that close? You wouldn’t mind so much if he acknowledged all that you do? Fair enough. My dp gets like this and it annoys me and makes me resentful.

What helped me? I’d stopped looking for what’s fair; life is not fair, neither is marriage. If you think it should be 50/50, let go of that; that’s a recipe for disaster. If I want it done, then I’m going to have to ask him to do it. I don’t want to, because deep down I think he should figure it out himself, but he won’t so I have to work with that.

And when he agrees to do something, I let go of it. If my standards are not met, that’s life. There’s nothing more annoying than someone always criticising your work.

Also, he gets no praise for actually doing stuff – no celebrating. I’ll show appreciation of course, as I do when anyone does something, of course. However if I get ecstatic because he hoovers, I’m telling him it is supposed to be my job and he’s gone above and beyond by helping. And he hasn't!

cruisemum1 Mon 26-Oct-09 15:54:33

my dh is like this(with other issues too) Very very hard to live with. and I am utterly miserable. Hope you get it sorted. I will watch this thread with interest

womblemonster Mon 26-Oct-09 16:10:30

Love the reality partnering idea Beautiful. Just wondering if I should apply it to bathroom cleaning... grin how long would it take before reality kicked in... For the sake of my DCs health I think better not.

lordreid Mon 26-Oct-09 17:14:49

Thank you wise mumsnetters. You have really helped.

A plan:

(1) learn to live with the fact that he needs direct instructions or ship out

(2) give direct and clear instructions - i.e. you need to do the bins, order DS's new trainers and price holiday tickets, sort out phone bill etc etc

(3) leave him to do it and not criticise the results but not stand and applaud either

I think he will go for that.

Now, if he were also to pencil in a surprise for wife/kids every so often, no matter how small, even if it's just, we're going to the cinema or a box of chocs, then we'd really be on a roll.

Thanks alot guys. I'll see how it goes

missingtheaction Mon 26-Oct-09 17:33:35

I would add one thing to this: categorise the stuff that you want done into two categories. Essential - the world will really end if it's not done (pay phone bill; do packed lunches; buy wine) and
Other stuff - things you would like to see done but that frankly are a bit optional. Eg my DP has a thing about tidyness but has accepted that while my standards are lower they are still acceptable and that if he wants it better then it's his choice to spend the time polishing the potatoes or whatever. Make sure you are only giving him the Essential, rich-in-negative-consequences-to-him-if-not-done stuff.

Bigpants1 Wed 28-Oct-09 22:32:31

Hi. There is another long-running thread on Relationships just now, I think its,"Anyone any tips on living with a partner with Aspergers?"
If you think your dh may have AS- and it is possible, given your ds may have it, you will find this thread very interesting and possibly useful. There are women in your position at the end of their tether, but also people writing that have AS themselves, and sharing strategies on how to improve communication between eachother.
If your dh needs things spelt out then do that-dont do everything, you will become increasingly resentful-and dont let him use the "I dont have time" tatic. Next time he says this, say, "Oh, i think you do", and switch off the TV or computer and make time.
Good Luck!

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