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To ask how you make a loveless marriage work 'for the children' - and if IWBU to have another child with someone I know doesn't love me

78 replies

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 12:07

In a big heart to heart we had last week, DP has made it clear he doesn't love me (by my definition of what love is) and probably isn't capable of doing so. He doesn't want to break up. We have one child and we both want another (me probably more than him). WIBU to stay with him and have another baby with him knowing this, so that I don't have to miss the chance of having another child and my children would both have the same parents should we break up further down the line?

We've been together for 10 years, most of them difficult - things seemed at their best and improving when we decided to have Baby 1 and through my pregnancy, but clearly the stresses of a child have highlighted the faultlines all over again and added more.

At this point I really feel much of the arguments are caused by me being upset that he doesn't treat me the way you treat someone you love and being confused and hurt by this; but now he has more or less told me he doesn't, is there a way I can make it work, as I'll no longer be expecting more than he can give me?

Practically, we work well together. Enough money, everything gets done, he's a great dad now our baby is older (bloody useless to me when she was newborn mind). Our life is a really great shape, if you know what I mean, it's just the emotional side is full of feelings of hurt on my side as I feel like he just tolerates me because my presence, income etc facilitate this good shaped life, rather than seeing me and loving me specifically.

So I'm now feeling slightly numb and emotionless towards him in the wake of this admission (probably just the shock at the moment), and based on the last week or so I'm wondering if that might actually help, as if I care about him less I will be less bothered by his moods and his lack of lovingness towards me etc and won't cause as many arguments trying to extract closeness and feelings that just aren't there. We could just become partners in the practical sense - working together for our household and child(ren) - and both look elsewhere for our personal emotional support and fulfilment (I don't mean affairs - I wouldn't mind if he did but it's not his style and I am so not interested in any more relationships with men).

The alternative is... what. I leave him with my child, we have a smaller home in a less nice area which is less convenient for her childcare and my job so spend less time together. I either have to abandon my hope of having another child, or at length introduce another parent figure into my existing child's life, which could also in any case go wrong and cause further disruption to her and any subsequent children as clearly I have poor judgement in this field. None of this is tempting. The upsides would be not feeling frequently sad that someone I love doesn't seem to love me back, but if I could train myself out of loving him...

What I want is what's best for my child. Straightforwardly that should mean leave him as 'loveless marriage' doesn't seem a great recipe for bringing up healthy child; but neither tbh does living as a single parent struggling to make ends meet, rarely there for her, with no siblings, and having to maintain her relationship with her dad off to one side. At the moment our parenting division of labour works well... But I can see us having a lot of disagreements about how she should be raised if living separately and each having to do everything some of the time. Moreover I'd lose my ability to monitor her dealings with his family, which for various actually serious reasons I want to keep an eye on.

I feel like we'd all be worse off apart, but am aware things are far from ideal together. I'm just trying to work out the proper objective view of which of these choices is worse.

I am also aware that he might have an epiphany of his own/fall in love for real with someone else one day and take the decision out of my hands. I'll be preparing for that contingency whatever happens (as anyone would if they weren't 100% certain of their partner).

Assuming he doesn't however and things will stay as they are unless I change them... What do you think Mumsnet? Can two grown ups who broadly respect each other and work well together function as a family unit in the absence of 'real' love? Or will this inevitably damage my child(ren)?

OP posts:
sweeneytoddsrazor · 29/10/2018 12:15

Personally I would leave him, however it might be useful to look at what you mean when you say he doesn't love you by what you define as love. Does he love you at all? Do you have an unrealistic idea of love? Maybe there is something you can both work on before making a final decision

babbscrabbs · 29/10/2018 12:15

I think it would be a huge mistake to have another child together when you've both y emotionally checked out. Things are a lot harder with two kids, practically, if you did split up and go your separate ways (which sounds likely).

I know people who tried this (living together, separated, but with one child) and it went well for about a year - then all went horribly to shit, one of them started seeing someone else and it became very bitter between them both. It's not a long-term solution. I doubt your child(ren) will thank either of you for sacrificing your happiness just to stay together for them. They don't really care about how big their house is or whatever.

You don't talk about how you feel about him at all - which seems strange. Do you love him? Where are your feelings in all of this?

Gillyhicks · 29/10/2018 12:16

Could you suggest couples counselling to see if you could work on your marriage together?

Homemadearmy · 29/10/2018 12:19

I know lots of people will disagree, but I would complete your family with him. It would take time to move on and meet someone else and raising half siblings can be difficult. It’s really hard to live in a relationship without love. I stuck it out for longer than I should have because it was only me that was unhappy. But in my case my ex wasn’t really a nice person and I really had servant status.

GabriellaMontez · 29/10/2018 12:23

I would have the second child. But plan to leave on your own terms. Because he will eventually meet some
One or behave in a way that just isn't you (because he doesn't love you).

I know it's really hard and complicated.

Also he may totally renege on your agreements if you leave. Lots do.

ASAS · 29/10/2018 12:25

You've come to the right place.

Leave him, taking half his decent income with you.

You'll find another man and have another baby. This is your only life. Fuck sake, come on, you clearly know yourself you deserve better.

iliketomoveitmoveitMOVEIT · 29/10/2018 12:27

Life is too short for second best, OP.

What a sad situation, I am so sorry Sad

Haworthia · 29/10/2018 12:33

I can’t think of anything more grim than the two of you gritting your teeth and having perfunctory sex with each other in hope of conceiving a second child. It’s a very toxic and dysfunctional manner to conceive a baby. And it’s a toxic and dysfunctional environment to raise children.

I understand that leaving isn’t the easy option either.

SushiMonster · 29/10/2018 12:35

It will be harder in the short term to break up. But it will be so much better for you and the child long term. Honestly.

sweeneytoddsrazor · 29/10/2018 12:40

You say you work well together, respect each other and are a good family unit so this sounds like a good start. It comes back to the love aspect. Do you have different ideas of love. What is it he is doing/not doing that you would like him to do.

Pickledturnip · 29/10/2018 12:43

Could you work on trying to rebuild some love into the relationship before making a decision either way? Is he open to doing that? If it's too far gone for that I would say it isn't a healthy environment for any of you. It depends on your own values, for me personally I value love over matieral things or security because if I was to get ill or the whole world is against me I know my Husband never will be. He is the one person that will always have my back. And me his of course. But, if your values are more stability based then it could work. I think a good, long chat with your Husband (over dinner, with wine and a non confrontational attitude if you can) might clear a few things?
Is he sayjng he isn't capable of romantic/emotional shows of love or he isn't capable of that with you?

Whyyounoeatmypie · 29/10/2018 13:03

It doesn't sound like he respects you at all - 'tolerating' you for the advantages you bring, unsupportive with a newborn and thinking it's OK to sayhe doesn't and can't ever love you but also doesn't want to break up...not even remotely the actions of someone who respects you.

This must be so hard and you must be so hurt but it sounds like you've maybe normalised his level of disrespect and are seeing your practical advantages as equally or more important than your and your daughter's emotional health.

I would leave, after seeking advice on how to either stop or limit contact with his family. It will be hard to have DD in childcare, but genuinely you will be doing the right thing by her: your relationship is her model and if you are as unhappy as you sound, would you want that for her?

Re: sibling, I would focus on the daughter you have now, take a break from men and habe some therapy, then take any later relationships as they come. Hard as it feels, it may be better to have another child much later or not at all than to bring them into all your lives right now.

Sending a hug and solidarity.

ReggieKrayDoYouKnowMyName · 29/10/2018 13:14

I see your logic but it’s utterly flawed. If he’s told you he doesn’t love you then that’s the makings of a very dysfunctional situation for your daughter and any subsequent child- let alone you. Leave him. As a PP said this is your one and only life.

RatUnholyRolyPoly · 29/10/2018 13:19

I wouldn't judge you at all for completing your family with him. If I were in your situation I'm sure I would be contemplating the same.

AtrociousCircumstance · 29/10/2018 13:19

It’s interesting that you had a heart to heart and he admitted to not having feelings - what did he actually say? Perhaps he sees love differently or isn’t capable of being demonstrative?

Not that I could live with someone like that, I’m just wondering what he actually expressed.

I’m in two minds with regards to your question. Part of me thinks stay, complete your family, move on later. Because kids are wonderful and if you want another then...

But of course you could meet someone new and have a child with them, it is possible.

itneverrainsitpours · 29/10/2018 13:29

Think about when you are older and you look back on your life. Would you want to have lived like this?
You say you don't want another relationship, but you might do one day. You have the chance to find someone else and have a happy loving relationship, not put up with this one as it's convenient.
I'd have a serious think before considering another child.

Efferlunt · 29/10/2018 13:29

You’ve only got one life and you deserve to be happy. I wouldn’t stay. Imagine looking back on twenty years spent like this.

EivissaE · 29/10/2018 13:30

I’ve done exactly that, stayed with a man who didn’t love me to give the children we had this lovely 2 parent family thinking it was best for them and had another child to complete the family knowing that the marriage was over.
Do I regret it? No I don’t regret having my youngest, but I was so so unhappy. It killed me having to put on this happy act to everyone, making out we had a great marriage, paint on a ridiculous smile, when in reality he was a vile bully.
We never argued in front of the children so I wrongly thought that we could carry this on forever and they’d get the nice life, holidays etc that I couldn’t provide them as a single parent. But then someone said to me that they’d grow up thinking this was normal in a relationship, to never see any love and affection between us etc and I realised I couldn’t carry on like it. I finally got the courage to tell him it was over when our youngest was a few months old.
Yes being a single parent isn’t the way I planned my life to go, but I wish I’d left him years ago, I am now with a man who worships the ground I walk on, I honestly had forgotten what being in love with someone was like and it’s only now looking back I can see how unhappy I was.
You deserve to be happy

MrsRyanGosling15 · 29/10/2018 13:40

I would set my standards higher. There is no happiness there at all. Your dc will know that you don't love each other, you can't fake that. Why would you want your dc to live in a home like that? Because of money, travel, childcare? Those reasons mean nothing compared to actually being happy and raising children in a sutible environment. It shocks me that instead of thinking about the child you have you have that you would even consider another. It actually comes across as it's all about you and not putting your child first at all.

Shoxfordian · 29/10/2018 13:42

No you shouldn't stay with a man you don't love just to have another child. Bad plan.

Boomchicawowow · 29/10/2018 13:44

I would leave. If he doesn’t love you anymore, then there is absolutely nothing stopping him from leaving you, sooner than you might think. I fail to see how he can not be in love and yet not looking out for someone new. People don’t last in loveless relationships, whether they say they want to stay or not. I would be making arrangements and leaving on my terms.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack · 29/10/2018 13:46

I don't know, it depends on what your definition of love is I guess and until you say we can't really have an opinion. You may have a valid point or you may just have an unrealistic view on love.


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IamtheDevilsAvocado · 29/10/2018 14:03

I couldn't stay with someone who doesn't love me.

With kids they deserve a family when people cherish eachother rather than just tolerate.

Life is too short to be with indifference...

SinisterBumFacedCat · 29/10/2018 14:04

Take it from the child of two parents that we're unhappily married for the first 10 years of my life, this is NOT a healthy environment to raise one child in let alone be foolish enough to bring another into.

I guarantee your life will be better away from this man WHATEVER happens.

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:07

Hi thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. Lots of diverse opinions and no-one's being blase and 'LTB' about it so thank you for taking the problems of an internet stranger seriously!! xx

Basically the conversation began with one of our long standing disputes where I want him to chill out more and relax his very high standards - with him there is a right way and a right time to do everything, everything has to be a certain way - he doesn't order me to do things, he just does everything before I get a chance to, and when I do do things he redoes them if I haven't done it 'right', then gets himself wound up and its a pain to live with as I either have to do everything as and when he wants it done, or feel guilty because he pulls more than his fair share and becomes stressed out (which upsets me because I don't want him to be unhappy, because, you know, I love him - so then we end up arguing because I try and tell him x y z doesn't need doing right now, doesn't matter as much as he's letting it matter, and he gets annoyed I guess because he feels misunderstood or unsupported...?).

I finally opened up to him about how anxious this trait made me now we have our child as I don't want her to feel like I do as a result - anxious and guilty and not good enough.

This grew into a wider conversation about what it's reasonable to expect from each other, him being of the view if he's not telling me to do things it's down to me not to react emotionally to his getting things done or being manifestly stressed out and just let him get on with it. I told him that while that sounded fair enough, the only way I could do that would be to stop loving him, because afaic of course you care about and notice how your loved one is feeling and react emotionally to that. And how it bothered me that although he knows how I feel he's so unwilling to change his behaviour even a bit because he's so sure his way is The Right Way. Because that suggests to me my feelings don't matter to him, and consequently that he doesn't love me. Conversation went round and round a bit and eventually I asked him what he liked about me and he said he didn't know. So I asked him if he loved me and he said he didn't know. So we talked a bit about what we both meant by love and he had no definition - more "don't know".

To me, love means being seen and thought deeply about and understood (as far as possible); and to have things about the person you admire and appreciate. So him, for example, I love. I don't love everything he does (clearly!!) but I love that he is clever and well read and funny and beautiful, that he is interesting and interested in lots of interesting things, I admire that he is full of drive to achieve and full of self-discipline. I spend a huge amount of time thinking about him, about what makes him tick, about what he is thinking, about his plans and hopes. I wish he was happier. I wish he would go easy on himself and on others. I think he sees that as me wanting to change who he is. I'm happy when he's happy. He definitely sees that as me being selfish, he reverses it - that I want him to be happy so I don't have to worry about him Sad

I want him to make me feel seen, appreciated and thought about. I want to feel like he admires in me the things I like in myself, or even something in myself I hadn't even noticed. I want to know how I feel matters to him. The older I get though the more I think these are all unrealistic expectations of love. That possibly the love I want and the love I think I feel are just ideals that are made up but rarely lived out, or certainly not reciprocally. I certainly have zero hope that if I come out of this relationship as a single mother with battered self-esteem a love like the kind I want is waiting out there for me. I would accept what we have - a basic standard of kindness, cooperation by and large, a shared vision for how we want our lives to go - if we could just stop arguing and I could stop hurting. But I don't want that if it's going to hurt my daughter.

It's all very hard to see a good path. My own childhood was bad, both broken home originally then raised within bad, volatile relationships. Both were horrible. I so want better for my child. But there's no way I can protect her now as the choices I've made seem to have doomed her to one or the other or both.

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