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Can we have a support thread for those who reluctantly wear the trousers in their relationship?
293

DropMyTrousers · 28/11/2010 20:22

Have namechanged...

Does anyone else have a partner that they love and don't want to leave, but is exhausting in their inability to make decisions/take control/plan/lead etc etc?

Whether it's moving house or deciding which packet of biscuits to open with a cuppa, DH dodges all responsibility by looking to me to decide and act. We have been doing a lot of talking lately about how tiring I find this.

We've been together 11 years and married for 9, friends for a good while beforehand. In that time I have tried various approaches. For the last couple of years I have been trying to build his confidence by handing over control to him regularly and supporting his decisions, but he still ducks out and things take aaaaages to the point that I want to scream "FFS let's just do it like this!"

The trouble is that I'm not a natural leader or at all dogmatic. I feel pretty uncomfortable in a leadership role myself, but I'm being forced there minute to minute.

Everyone thinks he is lovely, and he is - kind, loyal, safe, good career, handsome.

But he has just spent 3 minutes checking with me that it's all right to watch the Antiques Roadshow, and am I really happy doing something on the laptop? And we can watch something else if that suits me? And he can always watch it on the iPlayer another time? And am I sure? Etc. And then a few minutes in... Am I still okay with this, because we could have the X Factor on if I like? (I don't watch the X Factor!)

You can imagine what our sex life is like, can't you?

I hate it because I feel I am being put in the role of tyrant when that's not me at all. I would eat my own jumper if it meant that DH would just once say. "Hey, let's do this today!" or "I've decided we need to save up for this" or even "Make us a cup of tea, love."

I think he has a basic lack of confidence in his abilities and I want to help him to overcome this. However there are phone calls, driving, DIY, accounting, planning and raising children to be done and I am doing all of it.

OP's posts:
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RitaLynn · 29/11/2010 12:06

I didn't think you were being arsey.
This is the internet and I could most definitely add the caveat that I don't know anything about anybody's life on here, it's all speculation and guessing, backed up with our individual experience.

I have no idea, and wasn't accusing the OP of bullying her husband.

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existenceisfutile · 29/11/2010 12:12

I am in this position and I hate it. I'm a feminist at heart and I totally resent living like this. My husband is weak and lazy and I have to make all the decisions otherwise nothing would ever get done.

I can't just opt out because we have two children. We have no sex life because I have no respect for him. I can't afford to leave and I don't want to upset the kids.

I go to work and he doesn't, but he still doesn't do much housework and I have to leave him lists of tasks that need to be done whilst I'm out. If I don't leave him a list it doesn't get done. It's like having another fucking kid!

I've simply turned into his mother and I hardly even regard him as an adult anymore. He's just yet another person who needs looking after.

I have all the responsibility without any of the fun or even of feeling like I'm in charge because he's always the one who hands out the dictates and expects us all to just fall in line.

It's not a marriage, just an arrangement and I don't know how to go about getting him to sort himself out.

I am so fucking sick of doing housework and doing everything. He just doesn't get how our marriage would be so much better if he just helped me out a bit and was more reliable and adult about things.

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letsblowthistacostand · 29/11/2010 12:17

I have an ex like this. It started out being sweet and thoughtful and ended up being horribly controlling. I was constantly wrong-footed and ended up clenched in fear whenever I had to ask him anything. Result: he got to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted and I had to put up with it.

We would have exchanges like the other posters have described:
Him: I want to watch Antiques Roadshow. Do you want to watch it?
Me: No, I'll go on the laptop.
Him: Are you sure, really sure? Really? Seriously? You don't mind? Gowan gowan gowan we can watch XFactor if you want.
Me: Fine, lets watch XFactor.
Him: We NEVER watch what I want to watch.

Or:
Me: Could you pick up some milk and bread on your way home?
Him: What kind, what size, which store, etc etc etc
Me: Where's the milk and bread?
Him: You are always so MEAN to me!!! I brought you chocolate!!!!!!
Him: Why isn't there any bread? You KNOW I like toast for breakfast.

He had an abusive father and meek mother. I made a lot of excuses for him but in the end he was just a bastard who wanted everybody to do everything for him so he never had to lift a finger.

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SurreyAmazon · 29/11/2010 12:22

Hello OP,

I just wanted to say you are hilarious. The 'knee-capping' and 'which biscuit to open' really had me rolling.

I have nothing meaningful to add. Many moons ago, our society was matriarch led. Women ruled the roost so to speak. I was brought up thus (Grin ) and quite comfortable in this role. I think it is sweet he offers you unconditional love, so maybe his indecisiveness is the price you have to pay for being cherished and adored.

I hope that qualifies as support, eh, if not, maybe a course of testosterone might be worth considering.

SurreyAmazon

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GingaNinja · 29/11/2010 12:33

Also in this type of position. Highs (lows?) include: when he got laid off in the summer, I would get in from work and within 15 seconds of walking through the door be told that food shopping was probably needed, why hadn't I made a list, and what was for tea. No cleaning/house stuff/laundry etc ever done; he will sit pissing about downloading tunes from the internet while I run round sorting stuff out. I can't leave it as it's usually stuff for DD eg clean clothes, feeding her etc. He won't make financial decisions either - even to paying his own frigging credit card on time - leaves it to me to sort out each month. And these aren't problems that only occured since he got laid off.

Thinking back over the last 12 ish years, I genuinely don't remember him being like this before DD arrived 18 months ago; so I can only presume he's shitting himself nervous of parental responsibility and it's cascaded into everything else.

As decision maker in the household, I won't be having another child; two (DD + DH) are more than enough Sad

Christ I'm tired

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RitaLynn · 29/11/2010 12:38

This thread is possibly linked to the one over in AIBU, about the infantalisation (sp?) of men.

There are women out there buying their men's clothes, cooking for them, doing all their washing. somewhere along the line, I think some men do become more pathetic, and their wives let them get away with it

(again, I'm not suggesting that's what OP did)

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ticklemonsters · 29/11/2010 12:39

Oh I am so pleased I came across this thread - this is my life!

Hubby moved out 2 weeks ago as I could no longer go on doing everything I thought I may as well be on my own doing it. He couldn't even take the bins out as he couldn't tie the bin bags Hmm I am so much happier DCs have accepted things so far.

He was no longer a DH but a third child & I never wanted 3! Reading what others have put makes me feel like I'm not on my own - thank you.

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ISNT · 29/11/2010 12:51

I think there are a lot of different sorts of men and relationships on here, some people talking about very different things.

Anyway, my DH is like this too! His mum was pretty bossy and fearsome, and my personality is bossy decisive, let's get on with it, etc. I don't feel that I can't respect him, I respect him an awful lot, he is the most wonderful man I've ever met. Our personalities fit well I think, neither of us are extreme (he does sometimes express an opinion and when he does I always go along with it to encourage him, as it must be important, I don't go on at him or anything). It's just what we're like and so everything is pretty harmonious.

He is terribly kind and thoughtful and just looks to me to drive things along, which is fine by me TBH.

I don't think that this personality type is automatically a bad thing, unless the actions of one or the other are making people unhappy. If everyone's happy, then why not.

This is a different issues as well I think to men being lazy sods and leaving everything up to their partner so as to get out of doing stuff. Mine pulls his weight happily.

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TrillianAdAstra · 29/11/2010 12:57

"FFS what on earth do you think the consequences might be, do I have a reputation for kneecapping people due to my irrational distrust of chutney-eaters?"

You are very funny OP, go find yourself a man who will be an equal partner.

What would happen if he asked "Can I get chutney" and you said "No"?

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Ballsofsteel · 29/11/2010 13:02

"Can we get chutney?" I should just say "of course" but I want to say "FFS what on earth do you think the consequences might be, do I have a reputation for kneecapping people due to my irrational distrust of chutney-eaters?"

sorry, but quote of the year!

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mollyroger · 29/11/2010 13:10

I am nodding as I read...

I take the lead in everything and it is wearying. He will make a decision, if I take the trouble to lay out of the options.

Nothing happens in our house unless I sort it :( (unless it is of a Boys' Toys sorta thing like new printer, tv, broadband etc.In which case he will happily spend hours of research.Hmm)

I don't want to mother him. I am also scared my sons will turn out the same if I don't watch out.

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coolbeans · 29/11/2010 13:18

Such an interesting thread - has really made me think about things.

My DH is passive as well - afraid to do things for fear of getting it wrong and leaves every decision to me. Or if he does takes a decision, he has to double check it constantly and it makes him very anxious. He also has a hypercritical mother - a quick example, he got promoted a couple of years ago. When he told her she said: "are you sure you can do that? what if it's too difficult? why did they give it to you?". She then turned to me and said: "it's not a very interesting job anyway, you should encourage him to do something else". Shock

I think she means well, but even giving her the benefit of the doubt, she's a cow. His father is ineffectual and henpecked.

It didn't matter when we first got together, but I'm finding it more wearing, now we have a child and another one on the way. I'm resentful and I've realised that I'm talking to him as though he is an errant child, rather than an adult, thus perpetuating an unhealthy dynamic.

He does have good qualities, he is loyal and loving and would put us, his family, above and ahead of everything else.

It still feels very unbalanced, it really does. Sad

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maryz · 29/11/2010 13:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 14:19

Can I join please?

DP cannot/will not make any decisions. He has just asked me if it's too early to put the lights on. [sigh] What difference does the time make? If it's dark in here (and it is) then you put the lights on. DS (8) and I would just get up and turn them on without having to conduct a family survey.

When DP used to cook it was more effort for me than just doing it all myself.

"how much salt shall I use?"
"can you come and taste it?"
"does it look all right?"
"how much shall I cook?"
"how should I dish this up?"

All this help needed to heat up a frozen pizza and some oven chips.

We have exactly the same conversations about what to watch on television as posted above. It is ridiculous as I am very good at asking for what I want. There is no need to keep checking that I am happy with the arrangements.

DP is very similar to his mum; passive and resentful because things don't go their way. His father is an abusive bully and raised them as part of a religious community (cult) in my opinion. I've heard FIL talk about how he strapped DP and his brother to the bed when they were naughty as children and belted them across their bare buttocks. MIL holds the belief that 'hubby knows best'. Makes me feel sick and angry.

I think DP is this way because he has never witnessed the way normal couples go about making decisions and taking responsibility. In his family it was his dad's job, and now, because I'm the more dominant of us it has become mine.

I would dearly love DP to announce that he has made plans to do something. I encourage him to draw because he loves doing it and he's very good. I tell him that I find it sexy to watch him work on a sketch, and I do. Sexy sounds strange I know. I suppose it's because he has to choose what to draw and can't ask me to take the lead. It's a long, long time since he's done this though.

I'll keep watching this thread. I'm glad others understand.

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nameymcnamechange · 29/11/2010 14:32

Sympathies with all of you. Mh dh has some of these tendencies - not altogether surprising when you understand that MIL chooses and hands over to FIL his clothes for that day (he is perfectly compis mentis) and presumably always has done in their 45 year marriage.

Sometimes I feel resentful towards dh, but I tend to make a joke of it - watch out, you are turning into your father! Grin.

Something that stopped me in my tracks, though, with the seething resentment thing, was actually seeing dh at work, doing what he does for a living, about 18 months ago. Complicated story, but I ended up going on a trip abroad with him (work for him, perk for me) and watched him doing a long television interview with a well-known person. He was just so authoritative and calm, room packed with people, loads of people watching him doing the interview, and he had all these really good questions which we hadn't even discussed, so I guess he'd literally scribbled them down in about 5 minutes flat.

I realised that I had got into this very unpleasant groove of thinking that dh was useless at everything (he is completely hopelessly impractical, too) but this really knocked the wind out of my sails and made me realise I had been undervaluing him. It made me feel a lot better about things, tbh.

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BlingLoving · 29/11/2010 14:49

I am not sure how helpful this will be as my DH was never as extreme as any of what you are all posting, but when we first moved in together I got frustrated that he didn't take responsibility for things.

On my side, I had to learn to step back and let it happen in his way, at his pace. Incredibly hard sometimes! Grin. But he also had to step up.

In his case, he'd never had to do anything but make the most simple and selfish of decisions, so it was simply a learning process rather than overcoming a deep psychological issue.

We started with baby steps: "you need to think about whether the laundry needs doing." or "It is my birthday in one month and I expect you to plan an event and a day out for us."

He's wonderful now! Smile

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 14:53

maryz - I'm the one who disciplines DS. DP is (perhaps, surprisingly) way too harsh with him and IMO the punishments he dishes out are out of proportion to the 'crime'.

We disagree over smacking (he is pro and I am anti) and I'm not able to compromise on this; my gut won't allow it.

If DP tries to discipline DS I have to intervene because all hell breaks loose and nothing gets resolved. He treats DS like a little soldier in some ways and will issue orders rather than just converse with him. They don't get on too well tbh and I'm dreading the clash when DS hits puberty (he's 8).

DP loses all personal skills when dealing with DS. Sometimes DS is just in a bit of a silly mood and needs some gentle encouragement or a cuddle. DP misses the point and goes straight in for punishments over something like trying to get out of brushing his teeth. I despair sometimes I really do.

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springlamb · 29/11/2010 14:55

My DDDDDDH is rather like this with the following provisos: I know when push comes to shove he will deal with things (and usually make a good call); I know I have contributed to us being like this (and I do try to address it); he would describe himself as not Chairman material but a bloody good second-in-command.
After Xmas he is going to take control of the household finances for a while at my behest.
Also, I told him a long time ago that if I have to be 'in charge' all day long I don't want to be 'in charge' in bed. That works quite nicely Wink .

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LeQueen · 29/11/2010 15:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 15:17

I just tested DP with the chutney scenario. I asked him what he would do if he saw a bottle of sauce for a couple of pounds that he wanted to buy when we do the grocery shop. He said:

"I would ask you if I was allowed it"

I asked him what he thought I would say and straight away he said that I would say "yes, of course". Why fucking ask then?

I have raised this issue to him as a bit of a joke as if I tell him I'm pissed off he will retreat into himself. I've told him that I would like him to suggest we do things and make some plans. He said that he doesn't suggest things anymore because the last time he suggested taking DS to a museum it never happened. I reminded him that I was enthusiastic about going to a museum and was still waiting for him to tell which one we were going to and when we were going to do it.

So, some day in the future we'll be traveling via some means of transport to an unidentified museum, somewhere around here maybe, or possibly a bit further away. I would put it in my diary, but it's difficult when you don't have a date or any details at all.

Anyway he's back on Evony now that's been sorted.

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asouthwoldmummy · 29/11/2010 15:21

That's helpful LeQueen.

This is meant to be a support thread, we don't need telling to leave our husbands thanks.

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diddl · 29/11/2010 15:30

So, have these men moved straight from mum to wife then?

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RitaLynn · 29/11/2010 15:34

My brother is very much like this, moved in at 20 from parents to DP's, and twelve years later, can't wash clothes, if he tries to cut a vegetable is told he's too slow and the knife is taken away from him. Funny thing is, he's put on at least three to four stone since he's been with his DP.

He's also not very good at planning (and I don't think his DP is either), so after 8 years of being engaged, they've not set a date, and they've never been on holiday (requires a bit of foreward planning)

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maryz · 29/11/2010 15:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 16:10

Oh God maryz, I feel like such a nag too.

DP is pessimistic and paranoid, but, he is also unreasonable optimistic about things getting done when nobody is actually doing them. Things like getting his certificates into work on time (v.v. important) isn't a concern for him because he has just assumed that his boss will continue to pay him even though he doesn't actually have to. So, I nag him and take over and do it, because obviously his wages don't just affect him, and because this works he can remain optimistic - "see, there's nothing to worry about" Hmm

His pessimism really cheeses me off. On Saturday he had to go to a mobile phone shop. The assistant was on commission and picking and choosing who to serve (his words, not mine) so DP just walked out of the shop. This upset me because he was supposed to be running an errand for me. I asked him why he didn't assert himself and ask the assistant to serve him next and he said he hadn't thought of it.

I am making him sound thoroughly unappealing here. Perhaps I have aimed so low that I am grateful for the unconditional love he gives me. I know he would never leave me as it would take too much effort. He is wonderful in some ways though. He's incredibly generous and complimentary. We have separated in the past and we both realised how much we need each other.

I love him dearly but just wish he wasn't such a manchild. He's incredibly like Karl Pilkington.

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