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Is this a compromise too far? I'd like a feminist viewpoint on this.

(164 Posts)
UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 16:35:40

OK, I've set up a new account for this, so if you work out who I am, please don't give my regular name.

dh & I have been having major troubles - not many big arguments, but we are now pretty much at an impasse. we are still good friends & get a lot of emotional support from each other, but there is no 'wow' factor, or wish for one, or anything on either side.

we would also like more freedom/flexibility than a traditional marriage allows for.

however, if we split up & live separately, as well as all the emotional fall out (and bot our families will see this as a worse-than-death scenario, and never get over it), there are a huge number of practical difficulties.

basically, we would go from being financially comfortable, happily co-parenting, able to help out etc etc, to having barely enough money to support two houses, no family support & single parents, no companionship etc.

the house we live in is big enough that we have separate rooms, and dh works from home in an office, we kind of live amicable, but fairly separate lives, with dd happy.

HOWEVER - dh just assumes I will do most/all 'wifework'. It has been one of our big issues & one I don't see being resolved. IF we split up, he would have to pay spousal and child support. So if we acknowledge that we are 'over' but continue to co-exist in the same house, I would benefit from his higher salary, and having a back-up parent on hand, but be stuck with being a 'housewife', plus having work.

but then I would be in that position anyway if we split up, and with significantly less money & support.

we live thousands of miles from family, so we could be fairly open about our situation here, without the trauma of telling parents that we're getting divorced.

I have to log off for a while, but would love to know how you lot think this could work out. am i being a complete idiot to think about a 'house share' rather than separating completely?

mamas12 Mon 22-Aug-11 16:41:28

That is no compromise.
The only fair way would be to pay for a housekeeper/cleaner/nanny etc.
Is there any way you could set up a whole seperate flat so to speak with own washing machine and cooking facilities etc.

Do not give in he is taking the piss.

madeupme Mon 22-Aug-11 17:15:50

I was about to suggest a cleaner but mammas got there first.

Dont fall onto the trap of thinking that if you dont put up with unreasonable behaviour a break up is your fault. It is his unreasonable behaviour in the first place.

I do believe something like this can work. But only if BOTH sides are willing to put in the effort to maintain it and make it work. It is still a relationship after all.

BertieBotts Mon 22-Aug-11 17:23:49

Well hang on, if you were actually housemates he wouldn't expect you to do his share of the housework, would he? And if you were living apart he'd have to do his own. Could you not humour him that it would be fair enough if you were still together (which it wouldn't be of course, but might flatter him enough to listen) but since you're not, you need to work out a proper plan and either be responsible for a certain number of rooms and/or jobs each (and you both get an equal opportunity to pick, so he doesn't get to pick all the things he doesn't mind and you get left with the horrible jobs) or work out some sort of rota like in a shared house.

I think if he's there as well you're going to have to sort out some specific times that he is in charge of your DD while you relax, otherwise you're never going to get a break with dealing with her, like you would if you were separated and he lived elsewhere.

edd1337 Mon 22-Aug-11 17:26:55

Why benefit from his salary? Get your lasy arse out the house and earn a wage

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 17:28:01

ok, we have a cleaner & i have 2 part time jobs, which both fluctuate with the seasons, so there are times when i am 'free' (taking care of dd & running the house) all day.

one main problem is that he is 'married to his work' more than anything else.

so if we split up, there would be times when he was late collecting dd, phones to change/cancel plans, would leave her in front of the tv instead of 'caring' for her (she's almost 8 btw). this would actually be more of a pita than now when we're in the same house.

our finances are split between the uk & here. if we try to split into 2 houses, it causes problems - i've looked at the figures a million times, played out different scenarios, and spoken to a solicitor to get best & worst case situations etc.

if we split up, we would both be struggling financially. if we stay in the same house but 'separate' we would both be comfortable financially.

as we live so far from home, having the money to visit family is a pretty big deal.

also, we can & do provide friendly support for each other - both for emotional & practical support.

I'm sort of seeing putting up with the housework thing as my 'payment' into the family structure, while he pays in a much higher salary (all money atm is shared, so i have full benefit of his higher salary).

in other words, i'd be a live-in housekeeper/nanny, who used to be his wife.

which is an odd situation, and I would only see this continuing for a couple of years, but am wondering if I can do this, but the alternative is pretty grim.

we moved for his job, and i am having to re-start my career (for the 2nd time! so i feel justified in enjoying the fruits of his labours), but that is underways and it is probable that within the next couple of years I will be financially self-reliant.

i'm seeing this as a stepping-stone to full independence, whereas splitting now & having to build again from the ground-up would actually tie me in to relying on child & spousal support for longer.

edd1337 Mon 22-Aug-11 17:28:44

Oh sorry, didn't read that bit. My apologies

mamas12 Mon 22-Aug-11 17:38:08

Your plan sounds pretty grim to be honest. It would be soul destroying.
What happens when either of you meets someone else, are you supposed to wash her dirty undies and sheets then.
What about privacy?
I think you have to really divide it up and stick to it and put it into writing or something.
Are you sure this is going to be the only solution really?

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 17:39:47

ok, and I am sort of seeing this as him 'paying' me to be his housekeeper.
if we split up, he'd have to get a cleaner, or do the work, or live in a mess, so i figure he benefits from it.

I'm just wondering if I can keep living for this until we can get a better solution.

also wanting to hear what other people think of this before i suggest it to him - i'd actually want to sit down & discuss the 'input' of each of us & then separate things a bit more, ie i KNOW I'm free to go out on Fri night, cos he's 'in charge' & he's the same for Saturday. Also, if I do a certain % of childcare/house keeping etc, then he pays a % into my own bank account to reflect that, as he would have to do for child/spousal support.

or is this just a ridiculous suggestion that will just make the resentments we each have worse?

if it sounds ludicrous & un-workable, tell me. I'll put up with poverty rather than misery.

BertieBotts Mon 22-Aug-11 17:40:18

I suppose as a stepping stone, that doesn't sound so bad. It would be weird and you'd still have to give it a lot of thought, but for a limited period sounds a lot better than being in this kind of situation indefinitely (or for the next 10 years)

madeupme Mon 22-Aug-11 17:41:53

Im sorry am a little confused if you have a cleaner what kind of thing to you mean by "wifework" and how much time do your 2 part time jobs normally take up?

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 17:43:03

mamas - i would think that if we were casually dating, we'd keep it away from the house. if one of us met anyone more serious, we'd then move to the separate houses thing asap.

another BIG concern of mine is that dd is adhd, possibly asd, has no family around & hates any change in routine. she's about to start a new school, so we need to get through the first few months of that.

when we moved here, she cried every day for a year. even with regular contact with both of us, she'll struggle with this, and I'd like her to be really settled in the new school (where she'll be for 5 years) before we moved house.

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 17:48:01

my 2 part time jobs can be anything from having a day free, to a week where i work 100 hours! one is predictable, the other not so, although one is mostly summer time, the other almost nothing in the summer, so they pretty much work alongside each other.

wife work - housework, emotional support, caring for child, main contact with extended family/friends (yes, i do all the birthday cards etc), garden, being the one to get to know other parents so that dd has friends. most of the diy.

the cleaner comes once a fortnight, and it is h, not me, who has done less housework as a result. she only started coming once i got a 2nd job which i knew would be 35 hrs per week for several months. that ended, but i got another job, so have kept her on.

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 17:50:50

mamas - this is not as sole destroying as the last few years have been, when he kept 'pretending' to be on board as a husband/father, but didn't really want to be, but wouldn't be honest with me so I was in a horrible situation.

part of this is me trying to get some control, rather than just at his whim. but i can't see how to be completely separate now without some major losses - emotional, financial etc.

and when we're not trying to act at being husband & wife, we get on ok

LRDTheFeministDragon Mon 22-Aug-11 17:54:53

Well, could you stop doing the garden and the birthday cards for a start?

I don't see an easy solution either. Sorry you are in this situation. I do think that if you choose to stay in the same house, either temporarily or more long-term, you need work out how you will say no/resist the pressure to do the things that are taking your time and sapping your energy.

madeupme Mon 22-Aug-11 18:02:54

Stop sending out bday cards to his family he would have to do it if you separated. Anything you can afford to pay to get done, pay or find out how much it would cost and charge him half. Divide up the money. As for childcare when you are around and all the stuff for your dd, you are doing that for her, not him, and would be no different if you lived apart.

It is reasonable that you look after dd if you are in the home and he is at work, and vice versa. If neither of you can cover you should both be responsible for finding, and paying for, an alternative. You should both have an equal amout of "free" time though.

LynetteScavo Mon 22-Aug-11 18:08:15

I can see that it is a workable solution for now. As you say you will have to do it all on your own if you separate anyway.

I think the problem will come if one of you meets a new partner,not only because of any possible resentment, but because of the confusion for your DD.

mamas12 Mon 22-Aug-11 20:43:08

I really do not envy you doing this.
Can I ask if this decision is all yours or is your h on board?
If he is then you need to right everthing down that needs to be done house maintenance wise and childcare (don't know how old dc is) and then divide equally time and responsibiltiy wise what you would both be doing as a start.

What happens when either of you has had enough and can't live like this anymore and wants to end it anyway. What's the back up plan? do you have a plan for you only or for you both?

I think you need to go to CAB and Womens Aid to talk the implications through properly in rl though.

Please do that at least.

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 21:06:12

well, the back up plan would be a divorce. Because we moved out of the UK a few years ago, the situation is difficult & neither of us have close long-term friends to talk to about these things.

i'd love to have a list of jobs, and do equal division, or get paid half. i know that won't fly. believe me, we've been round & round on this. ie, at a therapy session, we talked about how much i hate having to cook the eve meal, as i always do it - if i'm ill or away, he won't eat. well more fool him, but what about dd? i work sat am atm, get up at 6 & get home around 1. has he fed dd? emptied the dishwasher? nope.

his excuse - he is tired, will get round to it, I'm controlling him by asking him to do it.

As someone who's supposed to be my 'other half', to love & support me, I find this insulting. I was at work, trying to build up a new business. it feels like he's undermining me by leaving it so I have to start on lunch as soon as i get home.

If he's 'just' a house mate who's a bit of an arse, but at least I feel like the money is 'paying' me to do the extra work, I don't get so upset.

Or we could get divorced, he'd have dd Fri night & Sat til eve, and I could work then have some free time

I have spoken to a solicitor, mamas, and have not even mentioned this idea of mine to him. I would insist on some legal agreements, and discussing it in therapy, before doing this btw. i want some insight into this before i say a thing. and it's the feminist section on mn that's making me think this marriage is really over, not just in trouble.

He is the one who is unhappy, feels trapped, I expect too much, he should be free to enjoy his free time etc., and is the one who initiated a year of therapy & discussion, separate rooms & some v nasty arguments.

A while ago the 'cognitive dissonance' thread stopped me from being desperate to hold onto my marriage, and made me realise how unreasonable it was that I did everything. now I don't think i could go back to really being 'married' unless there was a true commitment from him - it's not just about doing housework, it's about being 'on board' and part of this, not just lodging (figuratively & practically) with dd & I.

Prolesworth Mon 22-Aug-11 22:26:07

Message withdrawn

jennyvarnishessthewoodwork Mon 22-Aug-11 22:26:12

The greater issue here is surely the long term tenability of the situation; whilst it is eminently more practical to remain under one roof, as has been suggested, what happens when either of you meet someone else? Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

If I'm being blunt, and based on what little I know of your situation, if he is a workaholic who brings in a good wage, whilst you have two fluctuating part-time jobs, I think it seems perfectly fair that the majority of domestic chores fall to you. You even have a cleaner, so I'm not really seeing you as cinderella to be honest... If you are home more him, then why shouldn't you do more about the house? Your relevant genders has bugger all to do with it.

LeninGrad Mon 22-Aug-11 22:40:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Alibabaandthe80nappies Mon 22-Aug-11 22:40:55

I think you are mad.

At the moment you resent him for not doing things - how is that going to change? He still won't empty the dishwasher, or sort a meal for your daughter because he knows that you, his wife (which you still will be in his mind), will be along shortly to sort things out.

To be blunt, you are reluctant to give up having a nice lifestyle - and I understand that. But are you so reluctant that you are prepared to be nanny and housekeeper? And cook? Will you still cook him a meal? How separate would your lives be?

I think it sounds horrifically confusing for your daughter, and I think you run the risk of being unable to co-parent in an amicable way after a few months of living like this, which is surely worse for your daughter in the long run?

LeninGrad Mon 22-Aug-11 22:46:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UndercoverFeminist Mon 22-Aug-11 22:47:34

jenny - I have no problem with doing my share of housework, but it's not just the actual housework that has been a problem, more that for years it's felt as if he isn't really 'on board', but here under sufferance. The housework is the most tangible part of that, but it extends to things like whether he listens to ideas/plans, supports my work etc.

anyway, i don't want to discuss the long downward spiral of my marriage - it's hugely depressing, BUT, with the situation I find myself in, I am really struggling to come up with a solution.

We could just get a divorce - it would be like ripping a band-aid off, and I'd end up being quite reliant on him paying child support etc, which makes me feel vulnerable. I'm pretty certain he'd pay, BUT after I spoke to a solicitor & got ball-park figure, his first response was 'what would I live on'? rather than seeing that he would have more cash per month for himself than I'd have for me AND dd together.

So, I want to get myself as independent as possible, and keeping the living costs down as low as poss for a couple of years while I re-establish my career, seems about the best way to do it.

but I just KNOW that I will end up with all the housework etc etc, and it will piss me off, but then I will be enjoying the benefits of his higher salary, so effectively getting paid to be his housekeeper & childminder.

there will be NO sex involved, otherwise I'd just feel like a whore, and I am uncertain about this anyway. But then I dread other possible outcomes.

I could just shut up & let things drift - he is 'too busy' at work to go to any therapy session for the next 2 months & refuses to discuss things at home unless I force the issue. he's also 'too busy' to go to things for dd's new school next week.

see what I mean about how he's not really 'on board'?

(fwiw, I used to work similar hours to him before we moved, but still did majority of housework, or was the one who organised it, gardening, childcare arrangements etc etc. i have no aversion to equal work load, just being taken for granted that pisses me right off)

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