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DH and I unhappy together, but he is also disabled - WWYD?(53 Posts)
Where to start? My DH and I are fundamentally mismatched. He is a night owl, I'm an early bird, he is very blunt and doesn't mind who he upsets with his opinions, loves an argument, I am a people-pleaser who hates confrontation. I am messy, he is super-tidy. He has a really quick temper and this never used to be directed towards me physically, but he has recently become physically threatening, and has hit out at me a couple of times.
However, he had a stroke 5 years ago which left him with mobility and speech problems. This coincided with the birth of our DS (I was 20 weeks PG at the time of the stroke), and DH was (naturally) very wrapped up in coping with his own situation and learning to mobilise around the home and to speak again. He prioritised his recovery whilst I got on with parenting our DS and somehow we went completely down our own paths. I had to go back to work (he had no critical illness cover so we didn't get a payout or anything) and what with work, bringing up a child, caring for him - sorting medications, taking to hospital and therapy appts etc - and taking care of the house, home finances, and all of our family responsibilities we have really grown apart. My DS is my little buddy and I get all of my cuddles, affection and company from him. Meanwhile my DH spends his time watching DVDs, reading, and staying up until 3 or 4am and sleeping in til the early afternoon, not interested in joining any of our family outings. I have tried helping him get into a routine, suggesting a structure to his day so that perhaps he could get to bed on time and live in a similar routine to us, but each time he starts off well then quickly lapses into his old ways.
I would say that he is not a natural family man/parent anyhow. I persuaded him to have children. He does absolutely adore our DS, but his own recovery is still his first priority. Most of the time I feel we are in his way, making too much noise and mess, and if it was not for his stroke and recovery I think I would have left long ago. I also worry about the effect that DH's behaviour is having on DS. He sees DH's displays of temper, kicking DS's toys out of his way, swearing, shouting at me (he shouted 'I hate you' at one point today) and I am left explaining to a 5yo why Daddy has such a temper. DH knows that his behaviour isn't acceptable, yet his excuse is that he 'sees red' and can't stop himself. I don't feel like this is a happy, loving family environment for our DS to grow up around. Fortunately he has the example of my Dad to see how men actually can be gentle and loving!
We have discussed the fact that we don't really like one another anymore, but I feel extremely reluctant to separate obviously because I don't feel he would be able to look after himself on his own. We have talked about the situation quite openly and joked that our ideal situation would be him living in a 'granny flat' at the bottom of the garden or something, happy in his own space but with me still able to look after him. I feel as if we are stuck in this situation really.
We live in the same town as my parents, who provide loads of additional parenting support, but I don't feel I can talk to them fully about the extent of our problems. I'm not sure whether I could afford to live alone as the majority of the equity in the house is my DH's and we have a car through his disability living allowance, and I now only have a PT job and don't earn enough to pay the mortgage on my own and would be stuck without the disability benefits that my DH gets.
I also worry about leaving him on his own, as I suspect that he would not be able to cope, but I have tried so hard over the past 5 years to give him the opportunity to be part of the family, but to no avail. He is really not interested. Daily life is enough of a struggle for him without adding parenting into the equation, but I also know that there are disabled parents out there who play an active role in their DCs lives despite their disabilities. I have been nervous about posting about this before as I also fear that people would think I am abandoning him, especially my MIL, who knows his faults but lives far away from us and couldn't provide additional support for him. He has other family too but none live near us, plus he would not want to move out of the area because of a great speech therapist and community speech groups, a few friends he has made locally etc.
I am not sure what to do, but I would be interested to know what people advise or if anyone else has been through this.
Do you think he would abandon you if the situation was reversed?
I think you should approach the situation almost exactly as if he were able-bodied. It didn't sound like a healthy relationship before the stroke - a 'blunt' man that upsets people and argues is usually just a 'bully' - and you shouldn't stay trapped out of guilt. Obviously, you'll have to take his special needs into account on separation and make a few allowances but I don't think you should sacrifice the rest of your life for anyone. Some of the people you know may think you're heartless but they don't have to live with him.
For the details such as finance, accommodation, division of assets etc I would suggest you talk to a solicitor. Also talk to your family. They may be far more sympathetic than you seem to think. Good luck
I suppose the question is should you stay with someone you don't love, because you feel obligated to look after them?
How were you before his stroke? For me, that would be key, I think. If it is his stroke that has caused the problems then I think I would feel more like I should stay, but if I was unhappy before and we didn't love each other before, then I would feel less like I should stay.
Also, if he's started hitting out at you, then you have to consider what would happen if he hit out at your child.
How does he feel about splitting? You don't say how he feels he'd cope.
Should add... anyone that lashes out and is physically threatening shouldn't be sharing your home.
Wow - you poor things, what a horrible situation to be in.
Has he always had a quick temper or is this a personality change brought about by the stroke? Ditto being a night owl ...?
I think you need to stop thinking of it in terms of "abandoning" him; it sounds as though you've stuck by an aggressive, angry man for 5 years whilst bringing up a small child on your own. You need to cut yourself some slack.
It sounds as though you think he wouldn't have been a particularly interested parent even if he hadn't had the stroke - is that correct?
You sounds very concerned for him, which is admirable, but I have to say that, after 5 years with no emotional input from him, I would walk away... (Bothy parents had strokes; I'm well aware of the damage and personality changes they cause, and I sympathise, but you have a little boy and he needs to come first).
He isn't making it easy for you to stay, is he?
As you can talk together, perhaps you can both organise some care options with the help of a Social Services Assessment? It might give you both an idea of future options.
Agree with Cogito. Of course he can help how he behaves. Being disabled is shit and frustrating but it doesn't 'make' you act in that way, particularly towards a child. I don't think this sounds a good environment for your child and that should help clarify your thought process. I think you need to sit down and take a very clear, hard look about what is available in terms of help and finances, from whatever source.
I am disabled and I would never want someone to stay with me out of guilt or pity. That is no way to live.
People who want to talk about 'abandoning' are not worth listening to, unless they are prepared to live your live, even for a day.
I don't know what to say about the big picture but as you are a carer for your husband I wonder if you and your DS have had any kind of respite break with either you or you DH being enabled to go away for a week or two?
Social Services or a local Carers Centre might be able to help you find the funding and since care arrangements for your DH would have to be put in place you would both find out what that would really mean. I imagine if you and your DS were able to have a fortnight's holiday (maybe with your parents?) you would be able to get some perspective on things generally.
If you feel there is a real possibility you will not be able to continue in your caring role Social Services should be considering offering more support.
OP, I feel for you I really do. I really don't know anything concrete about this but have you looked at your finances if you and your DS were living in a smaller place without your "D"H.
Could you increase your hours of work? Do your ds's school have before/after/holiday clubs?
5 years post stroke, how much more improvement is likely? Is he likely to be able to work again? I have no idea, but what does the CSA say about him making payments to support his DS while being unable to work?
Could you talk to a social worker about what he might be entitled to if he was by himself?
It must be incredibly tough, but if you can be very objective about this it might help you to find a solution.
he has recently become physically threatening, and has hit out at me a couple of times.
Even if this is linked to his earlier stroke (and I would strong advise that he reports this to his doctors so that they can take any appropriate medical action) it is totally unacceptable. Whether or not he 'means' to hit out will not help you if he hits you and injures you, or ds. He is no longer safe to be under your roof.
I have similar feelings about my DH's ability to cope with independent living, btw, but I can tell you he would be out on his ear if he behaved as your DH does. I suspect my DH would need some form of sheltered accommodation which might be quite hard to come by for someone of his age (being only in his forties) and I would probably expect the burden of finding somewhere suitable to fall to me as his current carer, even if I was going to stop playing that role.
If you think this is too extreme, why not explore the granny flat idea? Growing up with his dad living at the bottom of the garden might not be ideal for your ds, but it's a hell of a lot better than having his toys kicked about and temper tantrums. I feel bad sometimes that my own ds has to be quite patient with his dad's disabilities, but again - he deserves loving kindness the same as any other child.
I think OP you have to make clear to him that if he is being tempered and aggressive and makes no effort to role model for his son, you will leave. Perhaps to stay with your parents - at least temporary - I am sure you can work out a longer-term solution over time.
If the life is bearable (no aggression but no affection, too), I personally would stay in the family unit for the benefit of convenience, until I 100% sure that I want to separate.
But I don't know if your DH can change his behaviour.. aggression is not acceptable.
On a practical note, has he had an assessment of his care needs by social services - they may be able to provide carers to help with some of his needs and take the pressure off you. Also you can ask for a carers assessment in your own right, just because you are there doesn't mean that they should expect you to do everything. Maybe they organise some respite care.
Certainly he will need to be assessed if you decide to separate.
You don't have responsibility for this man. If you were to split up it would be up to his own family and/or Social Services to make sure he was cared for properly.
My ex had mental health problems and after we split up he tried living on his own but wasn't coping so I invited him to live with me again. But I realised after a few months that I was not obligated to care for him, he was his family's responsibility and I needed to move on with my own life. So I rang his family up (who live abroad) and got them to pay for a plane ticket so he could go home. After I put him on the train to the airport I felt immensely relieved.
Looks you and ds cannot live with a man who is threatening you physically just because he is disabled. Clearly despite his disability he is scaring you.
Talk to his medical team and ask them to arrange for him to live elsewhere for a while. They can addss his anger issues if he asks them to do so.
How much personal care does he need ? Can he dress, cook, wash ?
Kicking swearing shouting . Ask his medical team f this is apart of his condition. If it s then you seriuously have to consider that he needs to live elsewhere. You and ds cannot be expected to live with this behaviour 24 7. He needs to be in a care home with carers trained in dealing with challenging behaviour.
If it is not part of his condition then the same . He needs to live elsewhere. Maybe he can go to his mother for a while.
No one espec not a child is blogged to live with someone who is angry kicking scary shouting most of the time. However disabled they are.
You and ds need respite . Up to you whether this is permanent or something else like he goes one week a month to his mother or elsewhere.
How practical is the idea of creating two separate living spaces in either your home or something you could purchase with the equity of your home?
What a difficult dilemma for you.
I do think that when he has reached the stage of lashing out at you, a separation of some sort is a reasonable response.
Also you say he adors your son but is not that interested. That doesn't make sense to be honest. If he adored him he would be interested.
Who are you going to put first here ? Your ds or your obligations to a h who has hit out at you?
Next time he hits out take action, call his medical team, get it out in the open. If he is really scary call 999 .
I think a lot of people bandy about the words 'love' 'adore' but still treat the supposed objects of their affection like crap. It is easy to say that you love someone, much more difficult to act consistently as if you love and value them. My guess is he probably does have very strong feelings for your son, but that is pretty useless if he continues to act violently. If he can't translate those feelings into appropriate actions, you do need to think very carefully about how positive this home environment is going to be for your child.
My friend found herself in a similar situation with her DH who was/is an uninterested father with MS. Yes it's crap he has it but the things he could do, he didn't. He was clear that if the situation were reversed he would have left her.
In the end they separated. She is better off financially because he's not constantly on the phone or online shopping and doesn't need Sky Sports. Her DC don't wait in the car until she's checked he's not in a foul mood or had a fall. He makes bugger all effort to see the DC or engage with them when she takes them round. He has a personal assistant, cleaner, help dog.
His parents hate her and her parents are ecstatic. She's so much happier and is allowed to see her friends - he didn't like her going out without him and didn't want to go out.
I don't know if that helps - she did give him a year and a list of things to work on, he chose not to. They did some sort of mediation too. In the end it was clear it was him and not his illness.
'Love' is a verb as well as a noun. It's not just a statement you make it is treating someone lovingly.
He doesn't sound like a very loving man. The road to rehabilitation with a stroke can be long but after five years he is not going to be restored to normal functioning.
Cogito is right, you need to look at this as if he were able-bodied, not through the prism of his disability. It's a red herring. It is a factor insofar as it makes you feel guilty and obligated but it's the essence of your relationship that you should be considering.
He doesn't sound like a very involved father, or a nice partner.
Concentrating on his recovery at the expense of family life is very selfish, because those years with your son growing up are passing and will be lost forever.
He sounds very much on the outside in your family unit and through no fault of yours.
And his lifestyle sounds terrible and hardly conducive to making the most of his life, that he has now.
Thanks everyone for your responses. It's exactly what I would say to myself if I were on the outside of my situation! I suppose I just needed a bit of perspective on it which is exactly what I have got.
tiredofwaiting you have hit the nail on the head. He doesn't behave lovingly and is very selfish. He has a reason for that and has made himself and his own recovery his number one priority but at the expense of our relationship and our potential family life.
arithmeticulous that is really interesting. I think my parents would also be ecstatic if we were to split. We spend one week's extremely strained family holiday with them per year (mostly so they can give me a break) and it's clear that he doesn't fit in at all to our pattern as a family - and my mum in particular makes it abundantly clear that that is not acceptable behaviour.
Cognito you are right I should not take the disability into account. The parts of his personality that I don't like were there beforehand, the selfishness and the rudeness and lack of empathy for others, they have just been exacerbated by his current situation and he feels entitled to make his feelings known - a bit like a grumpy old person who feels they have earned the right to stamp all over other people's opinions and feelings.
He is mostly a fairly benign presence in the house, in bed asleep or reading, and only really comes downstairs when we are out and about or in the evenings. So the violence and outbursts aren't too frequent so I don't feel that we are in immediate danger from him. I feel safe staying in the family home whilst we sort out whatever we are going to do.
I will investigate with social services, that is a really good idea. Perhaps it would give us confidence to put our plan into action. He is able to look after himsefl whilst I am at work, he can dress, wash and make himself lunch (a meal would be a challenge but not impossible) and I have been away for a weekend before and he has fended for himself. And he enjoyed it actually, I think given the responsibility for himself he would probably step up to the plate and look after himself well. I think he would genuinely be happier not living within the mess and noise of a house with a young child in it and probably calmer in his own space where he could be with his books and DVDs (a great collector!) in peace, with visits from us and me keeping an eye on him to make sure he is taking his tablets and looking after himself.
Will talk to him about it this weekend - but thank you all, even if I haven't mentioned your comments particularly I have taken them all on board!
You get one life. If you stay in a loveless, lonely marriage out of fear, obligation and guilt, you could be in the same situation for another 30-40 years. It could even get more unhappy.
He became ill, that is very sad. But this is 5 years later, and he is being self-pitying and self-indulgent, and you are unhappy. He is responsible for his own behaviour, and has a choice to be involved in a marriage or family life, or treat you as a live in, free carer and income earner.
If you left, you could concentrate on looking after yourself and looking after your child and have the chance for a less stressful, even happy future. With what he is putting in, I know what I would do. And I wouldn't involve him in my decision making.
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