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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:

Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 15:46

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.

It is doing exactly that. I so want him and I to have this discussion, to thresh it out in good faith and try to find a way through it, but when I try he just shuts down and says he feels like I'm attacking him, and I can see that as I'm very verbal and he isn't. And the more he closes off the more I talk trying to draw it out of him and the more he withdraws. It's such a horrible pattern.

What I don't understand is why he doesn't want to end things. If I was living with someone who didn't share my standards, who I didn't like and admire and assumed the worst motives of (attacking him verbally, trying to make him feel bad, trying to make him look stupid are several of the things he thinks I'm doing when I try ham fistedly to mend us), and who I knew wasn't happy with our relationship... I'd be fed up. But he won't have that discussion either, just says it 'feels right' (as long as I'm not raising any of my issues).

OP posts:

KittyMcTitty · 29/10/2018 15:51

The most selfish thing you can do is have another child in this situation! To put another child out of choice, and being fully aware you are doing so is absolutely unforgivable! Don't contemplate it for a second longer!

Now imagine this scenario, being a single mum with two kids but you knew this before having the second - why would you do that to anyone.

Coming from a split family isn't ideal, but staying in an unhappy one is far worse! Why would you even consider another child - I can't beleive you would be so selfish (If you actually want to bring a child into an unhappy loveless relationship) and I'm sure its just the shock.


CousinKrispy · 29/10/2018 16:03

I am really sorry you are going through this. I know it is hard and there are no easy answers.

It sounds like your H shuts you down when you try to talk about issues and resolve them. That's something you have to do in healthy relationships. I think you should try not making excuses for him (I'm more verbal than he is, maybe I'm expecting too much) and see what happens if you approach this as a perfectly normal baseline thing to expect from your partner.

Here's what I'm trying to say. Being willing and able to listen to your partner's concerns, reflect on them, bring self-awareness to the table, and make compromises while maintaining healthy boundaries for yourself are all key skills you should be expecting your partner to have. That's not some over the top flowery romantic ideal that is almost impossible to find in real life. It should be very, very basic shit.

I don't know what the right answer is for you. I left my H recently and it is tough being a single parent and knowing I'll never be able to give my child a sibling. But I feel so much better not coming home to a critical, perfectionist, emotionally unhealthy partner. It was the right choice to me--and my H insisted he did love me and in his screwed-up way, he did love me (he was just a sod to live with). You don't even have that, and that's heartbreaking.

Definitely keep on with the counselling.


Cutesbabasmummy · 29/10/2018 16:14

MY DH grew up in an unhappy home. His two younger brothers did too. The parents finally separated when the youngest went to university. It has left a mark on all three of them. My DH wasn't sure about having children as he didn't want to be as bad a father as his was. He's actually great.

My mum also grew up in an unhappy home which culminated in her parents divorcing when she was 13. She has always said although they had no money and times were hard, it was much happier because all the sniping and arguing had gone.

I guess what I'm trying to say is kids are very perceptive. They can tell when things aren't right. And they get hurt. If one child had highlighted the cracks in your marriage, two will blow the house apart. I'd accept its over and leave and give your daughter a happy life.


Awwlookatmybabyspider · 29/10/2018 16:34

All this staying together for the sake of the kids gets on my already freyed last nerve.
20 years down the line your kids WOnt thank you. Oh and believe me they will be picking up on it.
My mum and dad were great separately as parents but as couple they were toxic. They divorced when I was 17. I never truly forgave them for not doing it sooner
My dd was the result of a fling. O knew me and her dad were never going to walk down to live happily ever after. . However like said I knew he score.
I Certainly wouldn't be having a ababy and living with someone who didn't love me. To me its either all or none.


museumum · 29/10/2018 16:47

It sounds to me like he is at the cold end of the relationship spectrum and you are at the intense end. I don’t think I could live with either of you.

I think if you have ANY chance of rubbing along together you need relationship counselling to find a middle. Otherwise it’d be best to just call it off now. Will he go to relate with you.


Olderbyaminute · 29/10/2018 18:12

Your husband sounds rigid,critical and controlling. I feel for your daughter’s sake you should leave. My parents stayed together for “the sake of the children” and my siblings and I grew up in a war zone-constant fighting and criticism for each other no peaceful,happy times, almost no love displayed towards one another. My siblings and I were damaged emotionally and psychologically. From your posts I think you have anxiety and low self esteem-believe me, settling for less isn’t the secret to happiness-learning to love yourself is-once you love yourself you can set boundaries in relationships. You and your daughter both deserve it.


SinisterBumFacedCat · 29/10/2018 18:47

TBH I've been thinking about this and it's highly irresponsible if not incredibly selfish to purposely bring a child into a loveless relationship which you know is going to end. It's not completing a family, if the family is already over. Sorry if that's harsh but enough posters have pointed out how horrendous it is to grow up in a loveless home.


Whyyounoeatmypie · 29/10/2018 19:21

Woah woah woah, you think your standards for being loved are unrealistic?! They're not. Like, really really not. I would lay money you're anxious and feeling insecure because you live with someone who thinks it's OK to say 'oh yeah I don't love you but...yeah let's stay together cuz selfish reasons'. Honestly, you are expecting the basics. So much love to you.


Weightsandmeasures · 29/10/2018 19:36

I'm not sure about this. The way you describe things OP, I too would shut down if someone was being this intense with their questions. It sounds like an interrogation.

People do have to communicate in relationships but that does not mean one person being overbearing in their approach and being rigid in their definition and understanding of words.

Not everyone's definition or understanding of love is the same. Rather than focus on the definition, judge him by how he treats you and the children. Love is not always about grand gestures and all the jazz we see in the movies and read in love stories.

It's unclear what it is you want from this man for you to feel he loves you.


Alpacanorange · 29/10/2018 19:53

Such a sad thread, I really feel quite sorry for the situation you find yourself in. He has admitted he doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved? Is that right? Please please leave him, do not have another baby with him. It will cause you such heartbreak, you know you and he are over and this will only prolong your agony. Gain strength from knowing that you have nothing wrong, you are worthy of love and affection that you deserve and crave. Life goes on.... not with this husband though. Good luck.


BitchQueen90 · 29/10/2018 20:22

I always think it's strange that unhappily married people would think my life as a single parent would be too hard. Being trapped in an unhappy relationship, feeling miserable every day but unable to see the end - that sounds way harder to me.


Allthewaves · 29/10/2018 20:44

I'd take yourself to marriage counselling to start with - it can help you work out exactly what you want.


iwantasofa · 29/10/2018 20:52

You can't make a loveless marriage 'work for the children'. All you will manage to do is teach them that marriages should be loveless. They will grow up to expect that for themselves.


Namestheyareachangin · 29/10/2018 23:45

Again thank you to everyone who has commented you've all been so considered and I appreciate you taking the time.

Trouble is it seems like an equal split of people thinking on the one hand I am crazy to want so much and overbearing for wanting to talk about it, and on the other he is cold and cruel and I'm better off without him. I vacillate between these two POVs daily. I was hoping for some clarity, but I feel like it's still a judgement call, and one I'm not equipped to make.

But what I am hearing loud and clear from the majority is that it is not reasonable to have another baby in these circumstances, and I totally see why that is. It breaks my heart, as I so want a sibling for my daughter and another baby for myself - I have so so loved becoming and being a mum - but it is inescapably true that would be a colosally selfish and irresponsible thing to do in my current position.

So thank you all for saving me from at least that mistake!

OP posts:

Leannakate · 29/10/2018 23:49

My parents stayed together "for the kids" or should I say, because they had kids and it was easier for both of them to be a pair rather than alone. It caused my siblings and I untold emotional damage and I have very few happy childhood memories. Living with parents who don't love each other was very tense and depressing for us. We could sense their unhappiness but didn't understand it. We could that something wasn't right but didn't know quite what... They were unhappy and snappy and angry half of the time (because of feelings towards each other) and then happy and lovey dovey the other half. It was confusing and disarming and we never knew what to expect. I can't even write how bad it was because I feel like most it was sensed, just feelings and emotions and confusion and sadness that is so hard to explain. Please don't do this to yourself or your kids. I remember when my parents finally divorced and it was like this huge weight has been lifted from all of our chests ... Like an anxiety /stress and tension was finally over after all those years. Now they're both remarried to people that that are happy with and are perfect with and it's so lovely to see. We see our parents laughing, kissing, holding hands, cuddling up to each other on the sofa, spending genuine, happy time together - there's just a real happiness in our family now that I feel was stolen from us as children. And while they are now happy my siblings and I are all still dealing with their decision - all of us suffer from some sort of mental health issue which we are sure comes down to witnessing and being unwilling
participants in their confusing, tense,, painful loveless marriage.


Chouetted · 30/10/2018 00:07

I don't know - I don't know what love is either, but I know it's much more than what you say it is. My mother thinks my father doesn't love her, I can tell he loves her desperately and shows it every chance he gets - she just can't see it, because he won't say it.

It sounds to me like you might have a communication and a mismatched expectations problem, more than a "love" problem. Love doesn't make the world go round or relationships tick. Respect and communication do.


ThistleAmore · 30/10/2018 00:46

I think this entire thread might be one of the saddest things I've ever read.


Aus84 · 30/10/2018 01:25

What is best for your child is growing up in a happy and loving household. Whether that is with 2 biological parents, a single parent, one parent and a step parent , whatever. You have one life OP. ONE. Don't waste it with this man.


DrDeluxe · 30/10/2018 01:29

Its not just about your relationship. I wonder how he will be with your daughter when she is older? Do you think he finds it easier to be loving to her now as her can impose his "right way" of doing things on her? Once she is a teenager she will have her own ideas - how will he handle this?


Italiangreyhound · 30/10/2018 02:12

OP I am not going to give you advice about whether you stay together or break up or have anther baby or not.

I would just say that if he is not abusive to you, and if you were once in love, or loved him, and believe he loved you, then I think you might be able to get that love back. I would invest in counselling either as a couple or perhaps even alone if it helped.

If you can stand something very vaguely religious I would look into this...

It is not religious really but is run by churches. It is like an organised date night. I did this and have had counselling with my dh. We love each other but we are very different people. I am an extrovert, a feeler, and a night owl, he is an introvert, a thinker and gets up much earlier. He is a physical, fit person, I am NOT!

We really knew all this when we got married but the early years it did put a strain on things.

I would say I fell for him early on but I've done all I can to nurture my love for him and I've found him to be the most amazing husband.

Learning to love your partner as they are but also moving closer together in what you like to do and what you want, is important. However, being a doormat or putting your own needs to one side is not on!

If at any time he is disrespectful, violent, aggressive or anything, then I would not pursue it. But if it is just a bit of a personality clash, I think you can overcome it but may well need to learn to work together.

Good luck.



Blendingrock · 30/10/2018 02:37

Only you know what feels right for you OP, but if it were me, I'd be gone.

He has said he doesn't love you. Ouch. At least he was being honest I guess but wow, I can't imagine staying with someone who I knew didn't love me.

You said your best time with him was when you were trying to get pregnant and then pregnant with your child. After that he was no help and your relationship has been on the rocks pretty much ever since. He's moody now, it will only get worse.

You wonder what you can do to make him change his mind. There is nothing you can do, I'm sorry but you can't make someone love you if they don't.

You say you love him, but wouldn't mind if he had an affair. Hmmm.
I think you've fallen out of love with him, but don't want to admit it to yourself (been there, done that), but you're getting there. I think you're scared to be a solo parent (and I don't blame you, better the devil you know as they say) BUT, the longer you put off leaving, the more the situation will erode your self confidence, and the worse your relationship will become, because you'll both end up feeling trapped and resentful.

You've said you know it's not a healthy way to bring up your child. You're right, it's not, and what's worse, you are setting up your child to think that this is what they can expect from their relationships when he/she gets old enough. Our parents are our role models and bench marks. They are our default settings.

You deserve to be happy. To be loved. Your child deserves to be part of a loving happy home, or homes. It is possible you know.

My ex was a good man in a lot of ways, but I had got to the point where I couldn't pretend any more, and I knew it was not good for our children to think that what we had was a normal healthy relationship.
I decided I would rather be a solo parent than to live a lie so I left.
Fast forward a few years and I met someone who loves me unconditionally and absolutely, and my children. I maintained a cordial relationship with my ex and he was still very much part of my children's life, which now they are adults, they have said, several times, how grateful they are that we didn't turn the family unit into a war zone with them as pawns, and how living in 2 homes as they grew up has actually helped them see things more clearly from different perspectives.

Please OP, do the same for your child, and yourself. Have the courage to give yourself permission to do what you need to do to be loved and happy. Life is too short to waste it being locked in a loveless relationship.


brookshelley · 30/10/2018 03:03

You should definitely not have another child in this situation. However, I'm not sure that leaving him is the right choice. My parents are still together despite having had issues that were obvious to my siblings and me growing up. They get along but they're not emotionally/romantically close. But it wasn't a volatile relationship, there wasn't abuse or shouting. We had a stable upbringing. I do not think we as children would have been better off if they'd broken up and we were splitting time between households.

Something my parents did on my mother's insistence - counselling. Highly recommend it for you. Tell your husband it's essential if you're going to stay together and coparent your child. Through the process you may learn some things about him and your relationship that make the choice to stay or leave clearer.


Thursdaydreaming · 30/10/2018 04:59

This is a tough one. OP can you say a bit more about what your day to day life with him is like? Because to me, well I don't really believe in "love" the feeling, to me it's actions. However I wouldn't tell my partner this. If asked I would be kind enough to lie and say I love them very much.

I think what you said here:
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
is not only what is acceptable, but it's the best anyone can hope for.

You could do a lot worse than completing your family with someone who is kind, works, does housework, good father, and just is pleasant to live with day to day. Even if it's not romantic.

On the other hand if it's constant arguing, it's not worth it.


Thursdaydreaming · 30/10/2018 05:03

Also how old are you? You've been together 10 years, so you must be at least 25. If you are 25, it's likely you could leave and meet someone else who may want children. If you are 35 though, if it were me I would complete my family with him. Don't let a man take away the children you want just because he has decided he "doesn't what love is".

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