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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:

KC225 · 29/10/2018 14:18

Under the circumstances I would complete my family with him. Yes, I would have another child with a man I knew to be a good Father. But I would see it as completing the family, a full siblings - no panic to meet someone who accepts your child and wants another. My friend is going through this at the moment, great relationship with a guy who gets on great with her young daughter but he has two older children and says 'No More' ever.

I would also have a plan that I would not stay forever. The other posters are right - you do deserve better and you should have better, how much does that second child mean to you?

On a side note you don't mention if you are still in love with him. You say he doesn't love you by what 'your' definition is. Has he said 'I'm don't love you?' Could it be that he is weary from all the arguing and has withdrawn. I'm not making excuses for him but would he consider joint counselling? Some marriage guidance?


KC225 · 29/10/2018 14:20

Sorry, cross post with yours, you have answered some of the questions.


sweeneytoddsrazor · 29/10/2018 14:21

You admire that he is full of self discipline, and yet you wish he would relax more? I don't think it sounds like he doesnt love you. He may have trouble articulating the feelings, which tbf a lot of people do. Why do you need him to be happy in order for you to be happy, and why on earth do you spend so much time thinking about him?


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:23

I still love a lot of things about him. But I have noticed a selfish, intolerant streak in him a mile wide since we had our baby. I want him to recognise that and work on it. I love what he is rather than what he does I think.

Which may all be a roundabout way of saying I'm deluded.

OP posts:

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:24


I very much take on board what you're saying, and I am coming round to the view my expectations of relationships are no more realistic or healthy than his. I just don't know where that leaves us.

OP posts:

BigSandyBalls2015 · 29/10/2018 14:28

Blimey it all sounds incredibly hard work!


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:29

He may have trouble articulating the feelings, which tbf a lot of people do.

This is something I've run with for years, trying to convince myself. "He does love you, he just doesn't know how to show it/say it". But if that were me, and I knew how badly it mattered to my partner, I would at least try - frankly, if they were asking me what they liked about me and I had trouble articulating it, I'd make something up, anything up, rather than say "I don't know" - how much of a kick in the face is that? For there not to one single thing, however trivial, he could think of to say about me he liked or valued?

OP posts:

Kemer2018 · 29/10/2018 14:31

If you're staying, i wouldn't have another child with him. You'd do it all alone anyway, except he'd be chipping in with his demands all the time.(Mr).


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:32

Blimey it all sounds incredibly hard work!

Who, me or him? Or indeed both? I agree, anyway. That's my feeling, it shouldn't be this hard.

I don't actually think it's his fault. I think he's great in so many ways. We're just making each other miserable because we want different things from each other emotionally. It may even be my fault! In which case again, is it reasonable to just try and feel less?

OP posts:

Mushroomsarehorrible · 29/10/2018 14:34

Pls don't stay in this relationship. It will crush you long term, no good can come from staying with a man who doesn't think you are the best thing since sliced bread. You deserve better than what this man is offering you, a practical, perfunctory existence lacking in love and warmth. Set yourself free to meet a decent man who is capable of loving you and being able to list all the wonderful things he adores about you Flowers


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:38


I really don't want to meet anyone else. It's just too hard, I feel like I've been set up wrong and am expecting someone else to fill my deficiencies. Like @Sweeney said, why am I so overinvested in him? It's me that's not healthy or reasonable probably. I just don't know if staying with him makes me worse because I'm struggling with dealing with his (to me feels like) infifference, or would at least provide one stable, non-needy parent for my daughter? If I enter more relationships trying to fill this whole, I'd just end up dragging a parade of men through my daughter's life who can never make me feel loved enough as what I want is clearly some overblown fantasy...

OP posts:

namechangetheworld · 29/10/2018 14:39

I could have written your post six months ago OP. In fact, I almost did, several times, but was too worried about the kicking that I might get on here. Hence the name change now.

I've been with DH for 10 years too, and have toddler DD. We've never been particularly well suited and even on our wedding day I think we both knew we were wrong for each other, although we never would have admitted it at the time. We should have split up around 6 months into the relationship if I'm being honest, but I think we got caught up in the fact that all of our friends were settling down, buying houses and starting families and just went with the flow. We don't hate each, we're just completely incompatible. We rub along just fine, only argue over silly things, and get along great as friends. But there is zero sexual attraction, and not a whole lot of respect if I'm being honest. He's a fantastic, hands on father, a very dependable man, and even though I don't love him as a wife should love a husband, I certainly love him as a father, and our DD adores him, as well as family life in general.

I'm now 6 months pregnant with our second child. I was keen for our DD not to be an only child and have the desperately lonely childhood that I did. I would much rather her grow up in a nice area with both parents and a sibling, than be an only child living with a single Mum in a council flat with no financial security for her future. I'm not going to leave DH chasing after a dream of romance that may not exist. Other will disagree but at present, our children and their futures are much more important than our love lives.

DH and I probably won't be together forever and we're both aware of this. At some point when the children are grown we will more than likely split up and find other partners. But for now, this is fine. I think more couples do this than they like to admit.


sweeneytoddsrazor · 29/10/2018 14:42

It may be worth going for some sort of counselling. I wouldn't be happy if my DP couldn't name anything he liked about me but equally I would feel totally suffocated if he was constantantly thinking about me, and was only happy if I was happy. For your relationship to work you are both going to have to change and meet somewhere in the middle.


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:47


that's kind of what I wanted to hear - that there's a way to turn the temperature down on the whole thing, to get past the feelings of angst at having 'wasted' our time etc and make something that works out of what we've both committed so much to. I don't want the drama of having given it all up so I can 'find real happiness' that there is no real likelihood is out there for me. I just want my daughter to grow up emotionally healthy, with a brother or sister to help extend her network of support and enhance her life (and to insulate her from me to some degree - with my intensity and the way I love her I'm scared of her becoming my 'reason for living' and the pressure on her that might bring, I want to spread it out and give her support and a 'team mate').

OP posts:

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:48


I am in counselling at the moment... re a recent bereavement so there's that takes up most of the time... but yes in general I think I'm badly set up. I wish I were different.

OP posts:

BitchQueen90 · 29/10/2018 14:50

I'm a single mum of an only child. I earn £8.50 an hour and we live in a flat above a takeaway.

I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. DS is a happy and thriving little boy. Our home is filled with laughter and love. I haven't had a partner for over 4 years because leaving my exh made me realise my own self worth and how I should never settle for second best. And I am happy on my own.

Sure, life would be easier if I had more money and didn't have to arrange childcare etc with exh but I could not stay in a loveless relationship. It sounds a soulless life and I am not going to live as a martyr.


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:50

God, the more I read what I've written the more I realise I shouldn't have had a child in the first place, with him or anyone else Sad

OP posts:

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 14:52

@BitchQueen90 I think you sound amazing. If I had any belief that I and my love would be enough for my daughter I would be proud to do the same.

OP posts:

BitchQueen90 · 29/10/2018 15:02

It's really hard to leave OP. And to be honest I don't think I would have done if my exh hadn't admitted he was also unhappy in the marriage. I was on benefits for a while and it was really hard. But I can't explain the sense of freedom that I felt when I first stepped into that flat. It was the first place I had ever lived by myself as the only adult. I couldn't afford a sofa for 6 weeks so we would take the pillows off the beds in the daytime and sit on them to watch TV!

But I wouldn't go back to the life I had before, not for anything. I hope that whatever you do makes you and your DD happy. I know happiness doesn't pay bills but it's worth it SmileFlowers


namechangetheworld · 29/10/2018 15:15

I just want my daughter to grow up emotionally healthy, with a brother or sister to help extend her network of support and enhance her life (and to insulate her from me to some degree - with my intensity and the way I love her I'm scared of her becoming my 'reason for living' and the pressure on her that might bring, I want to spread it out and give her support and a 'team mate')

This is exactly how I feel OP. Our DD is currently the primary focus of our lives and we (I especially) love her desperately. I know from experience that growing up in this environment is too much pressure for one child, it's incredibly isolating and stressful, or at least, it was for me. I feel that being a single mother would just increase this pressure on the child. I too hope that her new sibling will ease some of this pressure and give her a 'team mate.'

Nobody can decide for you OP. But please don't see your relationship as a waste. It's given you your lovely DD who clearly brings you a lot of joy.


MatildaTheCat · 29/10/2018 15:26

OP your situation sounds different from namechange in that she describes a lack of sexual attraction whereas you are describing living with a cold, critical man who cares not one bit for your happiness- not even enough to say you are kind or have a nice smile.

He will (has?) erode your confidence in all areas of your life and, even more importantly, do the same to your child in time. He’s a perfectionist with very little empathy.

I cannot answer your dilemma around another baby but I can say as a bystander that he is crushing you and you only get one chance at life. I urge you to go to some counselling and think about separation.


BitchQueen90 · 29/10/2018 15:27

@namechangetheworld I had the opposite experience when I became a single mum. When I was married I was a SAHM and it was just DS and I day in day out. I had nothing else to focus on apart from DS.

When we split up I obviously had to get a job. I had to share custody with exh so I started seeing friends more and developing interests when DS was with his dad. I have a big social life outside of DS now as I'm not with him 24/7 any more. Getting divorced made me discover myself.


RatUnholyRolyPoly · 29/10/2018 15:38

I think this just goes to show there are no right answers, and all you can try to do is find the answer the feels right for you, and for your family.

OP it sounds like talking this through here is perhaps helping you navigate your situation and hopefully get closer to knowing what's right for you. I have no lived experience I'm afraid but wishing you luck.


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 15:39


What you say is what I think when I'm at my bleakest; and my biggest fear is what I perceive to be his issues hurting our daughter. But I'm well aware I may not be being objective, that he is actually the reasonable one and I am the headcase who will damage our girl with my anxiety and overinvestedness and dysfunctional attachment issues. And people will only ever know the 'truth' I tell them... I only know my own version of the truth. I don't know if I'm right. I mean if I'm irrational I'd hardly know it, would I? Probably the truth lies soewhere between your version and @Sweeney's version (I worry both are true on different occasions). I just wish an independent referree could be a fly on our wall for a week and tell me what's really him and really me and if there's any way to put it right or anything to be salvaged.

OP posts:

Mushroomsarehorrible · 29/10/2018 15:44

OP @Mushrooms

I really don't want to meet anyone else. It's just too hard, I feel like I've been set up wrong and am expecting someone else to fill my deficiencies

Of course that's how you feel now! You have lost your confidence because you are with a man who cannot even list your qualities. That's enough to rob even the most confident person of their self esteem. I still stand by all I have said. If you get out of this damaging situation, you can only grow to love yourself again, and maybe ONE DAY be in a position emotionally to meet someone else. You do not have any 'deficiencies', only a deficient relationship.

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