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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.

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 16:13

RitaLynn FWIW I didn't think you were accusing me of bullying and I took your thoughts as "just throwing it out there" as you said. It was an interesting point, and I think if it had made me feel very defensive, that would have told me something. Happily, it didn't.

Just wanted to clarify something about my situation - the problem is not so much the lack of doing, as the lack of thinking. DH will do just about anything I ask, but if I don't ask, he will do nothing.

One thing that has worked quite well in the past is to divide up areas of responsibility and then for me to stay completely hands off his. For example, we've had a few months this year where I decreed asked that he take care of washing up (since I was doing all food shopping & cooking). That worked quite well, although I had to do a lot of tongue-biting about dishes left crusting in the sink until 10pm for the first month. Somewhere around the three month mark though, I just started doing the dishes most of the time again. I might try that again and really notice what it is that happens that makes me feel so uncomfortable that I start sabotaging my own plans like that. Is he being lazy? Am I being a perfectionist? A nag? A doormat? Am I being a martyr? Is he feigning domestic incompetence?

I have no idea.

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LeQueen · 29/11/2010 16:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 16:32

Same here DMT. DP will do anything I ask no matter how tedious or unfair. He requires constant guidance throughout though and it's easier to do it myself.

I'm sure some of DP's behaviour is passive-aggression. Maybe not deliberate but it benefits him. I often question my reasons for being in this relationship and the fact that I don't want to leave. Has my dominant personality stopped DP from maturing and taking responsibiliy, or has DP's inability to mature made me develop a dominant personality. We've been together too long for me to remember how I was before we met, plus we were only kids really.

I feel an enormous sense of responsibility towards us as a family, like I have to always be on my toes preparing for what DP might have forgotten to do. He had to send an important letter recently and couldn't remember if he'd put a stamp on it or not. Cue, lots of panic from me when it didn't arrive at it's destination when expected and him infuriating me by saying stuff like "I'm such an idiot, you must be really angry with me" (cleverly dissolving my anger and turning my attention to reassuring him). He didn't actually suggest any ways to rectify this though and just left me to worry about it. In the end I phoned the recipient and they confirmed that it would have been a pre-paid envelope anyway. All that energy and panic for fucking nothing.

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wouldliketoknow · 29/11/2010 16:41

hi all
lequeen, i think you are in the wrong thread, dear, these ladies are not asking whether they should stay married, but for little ways of making their lifes easier.
we all have positive and negative traits, it all comes down to your partner being able to accept it.
i have nothing to suggest, sorry.
i do sympathise a bit with your dhs, i think i am a bit like that.
off to do some thinking.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 16:42

LeQueen when I committed to DP we didn't have children/debts/health problems to be responsible for or that much wisdom. It's not always possible to foresee how a personality trait that you might initially value can turn out to be such a burden in different circumstances.

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 16:51

LeQueen the thread has got huge so I might have missed this - but I don't see anyone asking for an alpha male here (except for you!)

I see the thread as being more about couples who have come a very long way in their relationship and, somewhere along the way, the power balance has wonked. Things change over time, too. When I first got together with DH he was an impressive fit young man who whisked me off to expensive hotels at which he was giving a conference talk. Now... Not so much. Am I going to put him in the bin? No. Do I want to help us both grow and mature? Do I want to emerge from the difficult early years of family life with a good partner who was on the same team as me? Yes.

Do you care? Probably not, and why should you? I am a bit miffed that this thread didn't manage 24 hours without someone waving their ace husband about, though.

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LeQueen · 29/11/2010 16:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 17:06

Wouldliketoknow: "Little ways of making their lives easier" - Exactly, thank you.

That and a bit of a laugh and a whinge.

ReformedCharacter, I tried to type out something like that and you have put it far better than I could, thank you.

I wonder if what we are looking at here are several people who are coping with either their own, or someone else's, mid-life crisis...

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 17:06

There's plenty of passion in our relationship. It's the one area where DP does take the lead; he has to or else there would be no sex.

My plan for dealing with this is to build a better life for DS and I and not automatically include DP in everything we do. I need to break the habit of reacting to his passivity by trying to guess what it is that he'd like to do. I hope that it will give him a kick up the arse to make more of an effort.

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maryz · 29/11/2010 17:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ReformedCharacter · 29/11/2010 17:09

That was in response to LeQ btw.

Yes, I think that's relevant in our relationship DMT. DP has recently become disabled and it has put extra pressure on me to cope. He used to compensate for his lack of planning/dynamics by being a workhorse and it wasn't such a big deal.

We need to make some changes for all our sakes.

Thanks for starting this thread btw. It's very, very interesting.

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asouthwoldmummy · 29/11/2010 17:16

It is a great thread, hopefully a place where we can share tips on the little things that make life easier, and sometimes a whinge is necessary, doesn't mean we all want to up and leave.

Although I do sometimes wonder how many relationships would be left if we all listened to the relationship advice some people give on here Hmm

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wouldliketoknow · 29/11/2010 17:45

i do wonder why people would advice someone to leave their partner of many years, unless they are being abused obvly, and what that say about their own relationships.
i certainly wouldn't leave dh over a little thing after all these years, i think the secret to a succesful marriage is to learn to accept the other as they are, now, there is always room for improvement. there are things that bother me about dh and things that bother dh about me, i thinik communication is the key, and being able to put yourself in each others shoes.
here is a thought, maybe a silly one, has anybody tried to do the same to them?, not in an spiteful way, just for an afternoon, don't make a single decission and wait for your dh's initiative or nothing gets done.
dh does this to me, i can never decide where to go, so we are leaving, we get settle in the car, and he goes, right , where to?, and the car won't move until i say where to. it works.

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 17:53

ReformedCharacter I'm sorry to hear of your DH's recent disability. Isn't that the very definition of reluctant trouser-wearing?

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 17:57

Wouldliketoknow, I did try that very thing on Sunday and that's what prompted this thread! Grin (it didn't go well)

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wouldliketoknow · 29/11/2010 18:22

ok, it was a silly thought, or i can't take a lot of pressure.

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maryz · 29/11/2010 18:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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DropMyTrousers · 29/11/2010 18:37

Nope not a silly thought at all! I am going to try it again (evil grin)

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springlamb · 29/11/2010 19:37

See, I refuse to nag.
I just get on and do things myself. And I don't feel too much resentment about it.
My mum had virtually no control over her own 'destiny' when we were growing up. My father was a bit of a control freak (well, ok, not a bit). So I think I have contributed to our current situation by always being determined never to be reliant on any man.
Now, as I get older, I feel I want and need a bit more support and a little looking after and someone to take the pressure off, it's difficult to change the status quo after 27 years.
But at least DH is amenable to trying and we can discuss the issue. I am handing over some decision-making to him. But I will not be giving over the TV remote.

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nameymcnamechange · 29/11/2010 19:42

Given that we don't all have a God-that-is-Mr-Lequeen in our relationships, what are we going to do then?

Mary - I do so understand what you are saying about the curtains. It is a little tiny weeny thing to do, to pull the curtains closed, so why should it become such a BIG thing in families?
And yet why should it always be Mum's job?

I am doing my very utmost to ensure that dd isn't asked to do more little jobs around the house (eg. feeding guinea pigs, clearing breakfast dishes, hanging towels up) than ds, even though she is older.

What else can we do NOT to bring up a generation of impractical males?

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wouldliketoknow · 29/11/2010 20:07

i am not so sure mr lequeen is all he is made up to be tbh, i think i'll keep my current model...
namey, i think that is pretty much all that can be done, make sure the boys do stuff for themselves and feel rewarded for it, not just the girls.
i only have one boy, and he is too little for me to ask him to do anything, apart from begging him to sllep at 2 in the morning, but i plan to asign him jobs to get his pocket money, and any others to come, boys or girls...
i think is a question of culture, my mil thinks that anything to do with the baby is my job and nothing to do with dh, and that i should stop him from being involve even know he wants to, my dil, just pretends that dh is not involved in the upbringing of his baby, just waiting for him to grow up to teach him to play football... needlesly say that none of their boys ever lifted a finger at home, not to this day, even know dh wnats to help his mum cook, and learn the recipes by the way, so she tried to teach me, i don't cook so... i am hoping that our equal relationship teach our children to behave equally with their partners someday.

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wouldliketoknow · 29/11/2010 20:10

funny enought all of them do a lot of housework living with their partners,... they regress when back at home... my dil does stuff at home but only the jobs he considers his, he won't do the jobs he considers mil's, other people living in the home are not allowed to do anything, i can take up to 3 weeks afer that...

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nameymcnamechange · 29/11/2010 20:19

I think Mr LeQ deserves a medal tbh. Just because.

Mums of dses on this thread: just bear it in mind as you go about the minutiae of daily life, won't you?

My Mil had two sons but bil is 10x worse than my dh (ie. not terribly decisive but also resistant to doing any housework as well).

Mil and Fil are utterly and completely working class (think farm labourers) and had dh when they were 18 and 23. Yet he went to grammar school, top-notch University, and has a very good job. When I am tempted to bitch about their shortcomings as parents, I am minded to remember this and give a little.

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blackeyedsusan · 29/11/2010 21:41

aaagghhhh!

Phew that's better. sorry I haven't yet got around to reading the whole thread. just needed a rant really.
Dh was a prem baby and in some cases this can mean that the part of the brain that is responsible for executive skills(?) does not develop properly, thus he is no good at planning or prioritising or thinking about consequences of his behaviour. But, he still manages to have systems to cope at work so I get really frustrated that he doesn't put these things into practise at home. I am trying to work on finding ways to let him feel the consequences of his actions, without letting the children suffer.

I feel like a controlling witch because I feel I have to take control, a vicious circle because he then thinks it if he does something it will be wrong.

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izquierda · 30/11/2010 08:18

This is a great thread and has given me loads of food for thought.

I think my own personal situation has been heavily influenced by the fact that I was a SAHM for 10 years, during which time DH was away a lot. I perhaps took on, then, a disproportionate amount of responsibility for the household. But with hindsight I think I relished that at the time. I took pride in getting things done and DH gave me free rein to do so.

An example - because he was away a lot, we employed decorators. I would get them in, they'd do the work, DH would simply come home and admire the finished job. That didn't bother me fifteen years ago. Now I feel slightly resentful that all the "organisation" of such a job falls to me...yet a good friend is envious of me because she practically has to get her DH's permission to put up a picture on a wall.

I overheard DH on the phone (working from home) yesterday and he sounded totally in control, efficient and "masterful".

I've often wondered if because he has to be like this in the world of work, he wants to be the opposite at home - in the domestic situation he comes across as lazy and unconcerned...

Maryz's posts struck a chord because I too have 2x teenage DS and I worry that they don't get the "lead" I'd like them to get from their dad - and they see me nagging and chipping away all the time.

Having said that DH does deal with e.g. what I'd call our "macro" finances whilst I'm responsible for all the day to day money stuff, where knowledge is power!

I may get flamed for saying this but the sum total means I regard him a lot of the time as not very manly - but maybe that's the result of 20 odd years with me emasculating him?

Just a few random thoughts to kick off the discussion today.

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