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Pondering divorce. Can't decide.

(34 Posts)
handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 09:22:58

When it comes to really big decisions I generally find myself paralysed with inertia and incapable of acting decisively - and I really hate that about me.

Am pondering divorce.....but just don't know...There's been no affairs on either side or anything like that...But we have a virtually non-existant sex life (which doesn't bother me, but bothers him - he is bitter and resentful about it). I can't work out whether I have a low libido or whether it is just him that I don't want to sleep with. Suspect I have a fairly low libido but his general attitude and behaviour combines to switch it off completely.

Dh also spends a lot of time being irritable and moody - critical and complaining.

And there are lots of things about him that grate on my nerves and make me quite angry.

We don't have any real emotional closeness. No warm physical contact (hugging etc). I have discouraged this because dh thinks a hug is an open invitation to a shag.

Dh is also wedded to his work.

On the plus side - he can be amusing and interesting company.

He can be considerate sometimes...

The children love him and find him fun to be with.

Materially we are very comfortable with everything I and the children might want or need. That might not be so if divorced.

I'm not blaming him although it sounds like it. I suspect that he is equally as frustrated and ambivalent about me.

The upshot is that if we were a childless couple, I would feel pretty game to go ahead with a divorce. But with children - I don't want to compromise their childhood by removing them from their father, and not being quite so comfortable financially as a single mum. So how do I make a decision?

Don't suggest to I talk to him - I have tried many times. He has no 'emotional intelligence' and really isn't very clued up that way.

expatinscotland Mon 08-Aug-05 09:24:33

How about legal separation?

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 09:25:29

How does that work?

throckenholt Mon 08-Aug-05 09:29:05

can you sit down and objectively write down all the pros and cons of staying together. That might prompt some further investigation of points you would need to think about - maybe financial, maybe legal, maybe to do with the children.

How old are the kids ? Could you see yourself staying as you are until the kids leave home ? Or do you think the tension would escalate too much ?

Are the children old enough to express an opinion ?

expatinscotland Mon 08-Aug-05 09:31:44

Well, it's like a divorce - with maintenance and custody arrangements - but not. It's a legal state, so you'd need a solicitor or legal executive/mediator to set out the agreed upon terms.

Flossam Mon 08-Aug-05 09:31:48

Sorry probably not what you want to hear, and I am all too often in a similar position to you sex wise, although DP has recently stated he is happy with ours . But, if sex is the real issue, and your DH is not keen on talking, and therefore, one would assume counselling of any sort, would you not consider counselling regarding your sex drive? Not so you give him more, but so you can suss out why your sex drive is so low. IMO as well this would give you the moral high ground so he can see you are serious about trying to save your marriage and perhaps be more prepared to take action himself. Not cuddling because it always leads to sex is a very sad state of things IMO, I love my cuddles. I do think that a couple with a healthy sex life often helps them to be closer together and more united. Not the usual female response I know, but for the sake of your children and your life after your marriage if it does lead to divorce, you need to know you tried it all to make it work. HTH.

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 09:52:26


Problem is I'm not sure I want a sex life with him when I feel so ambivalent about him in other ways. When you feel antagonism towards someone you don't want to sleep with them. Although I do take your point that couples with a healthy sex life often get on better with each other generally.

It's a viscious circle really. Probably he would be more accommodating and reasonable if he was getting regular conjugals, but atm I'd rather shag Pohl Pot!

I thought we'd had a reasonable discussion on Saturday evening. I had explained that we need to get none sexual affection going in a 'safe' environment. That we should be more physically demonstrative but that he should accept that this wasn't a carte blanche for sex. Then after a few weeks of hugging etc that I might well feel like taking the next step. Explained that the thoughts of sex in the context of a relationship where generally we don't even touch seemed alien - that I can't go from 0 -60 in 10 secs. Perhaps re-establishing non-sexual touching might get things back on track, gradually.

He seemed in agreement.

But on Sunday after being generally miserable and sullen all day, he started berating me for lack of sex and he saying that he can't hack it any longer. I give up!

Re counselling - ime there is a paucity of good counselling available. We went to an introductory relate session a while ago and were told that they don't really deal with our sort of problem?!?! I think they are probably more accustomed to dealing with the straight forward third party affair scenario.

Throckenholt - the kids are 1 and 3. It might be easier for me to leave him they are older?

I should sit down and do the pro's and con's list and put some real thought into it; it might help.

expatinscotland Mon 08-Aug-05 10:01:54

This is a TWO sided problem. Not just yourse, HMC. You relate sex to how you are feeling emotionally about your partner. He, on the other hand, relates all physical expression of affection with sex.

Therefore, if HE is not willing to meet you halfway in counselling, then you're going to quickly reach a stalemate.

I know how you feel, though, who wants to shag someone when they know they frustrate you? Then you just feel like a piece of meat whose function is to get them off and that makes you even more angry and frustrated.

I had a partner who was like that. He wanted sex ALL THE TIME. And he didn't attach emotion to it, it was 'just sex'. So I told him to go find a blow up doll or a hooker and I'd be gone when he got back. And so I was.

But he wasn't a husband and we didn't have kids. Although I can see where you're coming from.

Windermere Mon 08-Aug-05 10:02:02

Do you still love him? If you could fast forward 5 years and you are divorced and settled in your new environment, how does that vision make you feel? relieved or sad?

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 10:06:26

Expat - I have told him to have an affair and I would turn a blind eye. But he got angry at this suggestion. I wasn't being trite or dismissive - I actually (perhaps misguidedly) was trying to propose a solution.

Windermere, I am not sure that I love him. Re the vision of living without him: relief at not having to put up with him, but regret about children not having a mum and a dad at home, and me missing an adult companion to share good news plus trials and tribulations with. Concern about some of the practical hassles and obstacles of being a single mum.

Mum2girls Mon 08-Aug-05 10:09:51

HMC - this all sounds too sad for words...your kids are very young and consequently you must be pretty tired - this has to be a contributory reason for your low libido (that's what I blame mine on ).

You don't sound to me like you really want to divorce, more that you feel backed into a corner because of your husband's attitude and don't know what else to do to improve your situation.

When you spoke to your husband, did you explain quite how serious a metter this is to you - i.e. that you were contemplating divorce. I know you say he has no 'emotional intelligence', but maybe the thought that he might lose you completely would give him the kick up the backside that he sounds like he needs.

Flossam Mon 08-Aug-05 10:29:36

HMC, I do feel for you. I'm not always happy and have been questioning whether I should stay with my DP quite a bit recently too. I'm trying to weigh up whether this is the happiest I could be. Could I be happier alone? Might I be happier with someone else? Could I take DS away from his dad? My parents split when I was 2. Now a great deal of my issues I think stem from the way my father acted after the divorce. But I can't stand the idea of DS not growing up in a home where we are both there. I think this may ultimately be my downfall. I don't think you should give up on him yet.

How would he react if you said you wanted to go away for a few days to think about the future of your relationship?

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 10:31:34


Your 2nd paragraph might be about right.

I'm thinking of doing a detailed list like throckenholt suggests and then presenting this to him to discuss it - that might suggest that I am serious.

May problem with the 'd' word is that I have previously thrown it around too freely, at the peak of a row for instance. It's a bit like crying wolf - if I was to say to him now, "I'm seriously considering divorcing you", he probably wouldn't think there was any serious intent there....

I'm wondering if I should check into a hotel for a couple of nights - but I think that might upset the children and make them feel a bit bewildered

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 10:33:17

Flossam: "But I can't stand the idea of DS not growing up in a home where we are both there"

You and me both!

Flossam Mon 08-Aug-05 10:37:11

HMC, I am like you in that retrospect too! I get a bit too drama queen and start banding things like that about . But I think if you really mean it he will no that you do. When DP was upsetting me last week I locked him out and when he broke the door lock off I packed and was about to leave to go to the hotel. He knew I was 100% serious. So will your DH if you really have had your fill and need to work things out to see what you want. Sorry you are going through this. x

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 10:42:07

Thanks Flossam. And I'm sorry that all is not hunky dory with you either - by the sound of it...

Mum2girls Mon 08-Aug-05 10:44:06

How would he react if you wrote him a letter?

That way rather than it descending into a bickering session as it might if you spoke face to face, you could describe in a very calm measured manner how you feel and how he makes you feel. You could also suggest ways he could help improve things - and you could suggest a few concessions for your part.

I also think it would be useful to build on the positive sides to your relationship.

You say the kids find him fun - what about a few family days out?

You say he's good company, well what about something along the lines of once a week you both have a nice meal at home. Maybe go out once a month - if you're out together, you have to talk.

Flossam Mon 08-Aug-05 10:46:27

Good idea M2G.

anorak Mon 08-Aug-05 10:48:21

Hi hmc. So sorry you've got this going on.

Firstly, do you think it's fair that your dh should never have sex again? For me the answer is a definite 'no'. None of us married our husbands expecting to 'go off' them and so, whether or not you feel quite content without it, the situation has gone off track.

I'm not in any way apportioning blame. I can see how the lack of affection would seriously put you off, and quite right too. But this is important. Lots of men, especially men who are as you put it 'not emotionally intelligent' can only express their love through sex and that is why love = sex for him. Also why he was appalled when you suggested he have an affair. He thinks you don't love him because the sex has dried up and you feel he doesn't love you because the affection has dried up.

I know I always bang on about therapists, relate and all forms of relationship help - but how would you feel if you closed the door on your marriage without trying really hard to get things right again? You could spend your life regretting it and feeling guilty about the children.

All I'm saying is that I think you should make every effort to revive your marriage first. Go to Relate, go with a real intention to do whatever it takes to make things work. I know that's hard when you feel so detached from your dh but nothing worthwhile is ever that easy. For your children and for the vows you made in your marriage, decide to commit yourself to making every effort to put things right. Set a time limit - say, 6 months, or a year, to review the situation. Talk and talk with your dh and get him to see, because your are calm and this is not a heated moment in a row, that you're serious about making your marriage really good again. Make sure he knows that it's for all of you, the children, him and you too. And that his input is crucial. You'd be surprised what he might be willing to do if he thinks there will be a resumption of your sex life along the line - then you hope that the road there will teach him about the affection, the heart he needs to apply.

If this all doesn't work, then you are still free to leave at a later date. But that way you'd feel much more sure that there really wasn't any alternative. Best case scenario - your marriage re-awakens and you find your love for your husband again.

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 11:00:31

You're absolutely right Anorak - there needs to be some really focussed effort put in.

...and I agree with you, I do think it is reasonable for dh to want sex.

We didn't have a good experience with Relate though, and I would value the opportunity of good counselling.

I'll try to sit him down for a discussion tonight, and will keep trying to plug away at bugbear is that we've had these sort of open soul searching talks before, and there is some short term change and then everything just reverts back again. But I will give it another go - and perhaps we need to formalise a 'heart to heart' session once per week.

TracyK Mon 08-Aug-05 11:03:50

Snap - HMC.
I would be happier on my own (I think) - but ds wouldn't and I'm putting him first. How would your dh feel if you left and you ended up with another dh - with HIS ds! I couldn't put my ds/dh through that.
Tho I know in my heart or hearts - once ds has left home - there will be little to keep me with dh and by that time I'll be 54! Too late??
I think I just have to make the effort and 'give' dh sex. How much of a hardship would it be?? maybe break the vicious circle? it seems that when dh 'gets some' he's less irritating and then maybe more likely to 'get some' on a regular basis.
I have also been resenting dh for not letting me move back home - but he's talking about moving back - so maybe my resentment will subside.
sorry for the ramble!

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 11:11:30

There must be something in the air Tracy, one of my closest friends was talking about wanting to leave her dh only yesterday. We were swopping 'miserable tales of woeful matrimony together' &

It's pathetic, but I just can't force myself to have sex with dh when he is saying and doing things to upset me. If he was consistently more pleasant then I could.

He rang me at work this morning all nice as pie - this was after snarling at me over breakfast(literally snarling) re. a couple of inconsequential things. I couldn't really accept the olive branch because I was still stewing - then he gets all riled again because I am not responding to his overtures of friendliness. We are both as bad as each other. I am definitely not easy to live with.

TracyK Mon 08-Aug-05 11:21:50

Thats why I sometimes think that there aren't many 'fantastic' marriages out there and that for a quick shag every now and then the plusses should outweigh the minusses.
My prob is that I wouldn't mind a quick shag - but dh wants a full 10 min snog first and then expects me to 'enjoy' it too. How can you tactfully say - hurry up and get off so I can go to sleep!
I think sex counsellors always have the same rule that for the first week - there is cuddling - but no penetration! But my dh can't even cuddle without a hand on the boob or downstairs!
Most married girls I know can't be arsed with sex and their husbands think they are the only ones not getting any action!

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 11:35:12

lol at your post Tracy

anorak Mon 08-Aug-05 11:35:22

No, you shouldn't have to force yourself. But you do need to help the situation yourself. I find mostly it's not that we 'can't be arsed' with sex but more often it's a tiredness problem. Small children are very very exhausting and too often it's much too easy to just fall asleep. I know - we do this very often!

The answer is to deliberately use opportunities when you're not so tired. Saturday and Sunday mornings are favourites with us. Our children are old enough not to need us to get up with them any more. This has a double benefit - it's much easier to get into the mood if you are sleepy and relaxed.

Other things that work for us is regular nights out together, meals at the table together several times a week (you talk more) and early nights. Go to bed before you're tired. A lot of times we just watch tv and go to sleep but those times still help because you're cuddling, you're talking, you're nurturing the intimacy you need to make the sex come more naturally.

And so what if your dh can't give you a cuddle without his hand on your boob? It's lovely to be wanted and if those little touches disappeared, I bet you'd miss them? I know our men sometimes make us feel pawed, after all we have had children crawling over us all day...but sometimes it's good to tell yourself to have a positive attitude about it. It would be terrible and hurtful not to be desired by someone you've committed yourself to spending your life with.

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