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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
Would love some relationship advice
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Anon_233937 posted:
I'm going to do my best to recap this without too much boring detail! I was divorced from my husband when my two children where very young. About a year later I met another man. We started out as friends but quickly turned to basically "friends with benefits." He then lost his job and moved in with me. Initially temporary, but our families grew together so well, and we got along so well, that 7 years later we are still together. I have two children and he has two children.

I have loved him from the start, probably part of why I made some poor choices early on, moving in together. I am still smitten over him,even though he now drives me crazy! He has never said "I love you" to me. In fact, he has always said he does not love me, he only cares a lot about me and my kids. He's always acted as though he loved me though, and I got over not hearing the words. However, from the start he always said that it's not his plan to stay with me forever. He wants to stay together only while we both like living together, and when it's no longer working, he'll leave. This has always been stressful for me deep down, because I always fear the day he'll want to leave.

A few years ago we bought a house together. At this point, breaking up would be the same as divorcing as we pretty much own everything together. My kids are now in the pre-teen years and they really don't remember not having him in their lives. The divorce was not hard for them because they were small, but breaking up now I know would be hard for them.

Our relationship has deteriorated over the past couple years, and now we are basically roommates. He gets frustrated with me over nothing. If I say, "How was your day?" he gets mad because he doesn't like to be asked questions until he's been home for 30 minutes. But even then, he just shuts down when I ask him any question.

I asked him if we could go into counseling and try to put this back together again. He said he'd rather sell the house and go our separate ways, but he doesn't know when he wants to do that. He said not right now, but maybe in the next few months or next few years. It KILLS me to think about breaking up our family, but it also KILLS me trying to live in this mess! One day things will be great, and the next day I feel the bottom falling out from under us.

My dilemma is, do I just pack up my kids and myself and move on at this point, knowing it will hurt them? Personally I'm to the point of being too tired to work on this anymore, so for me I think I'd finally feel free, but I don't want to hurt my kids. Or, do I try extra hard to keep everyone happy and hope he hangs on until they are older and can handle a break-up?

I'm feeling such a loss myself because I have had hopes of marriage and a lifetime together for all these seven years, and it feels a little like I wasted those years. But I still love him like I did seven years ago, my heart still jumps up when I see his face, and I'd do anything to fix the problems and live happily ever after. Any advice is so appreciated!
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Anon_233937 responded:
One more thing, has anyone been in a similar place...seemingly rock bottom, and been able to fix their relationship? I've gained about 20 pounds in the past 7 years and trying very hard to lose it. I think that's part of our romantic problem. He also said he's no longer attracted to me because I'm like a mom - just all about responsibility and that I nag on him too much. Those are things I can work on. I know that if I can do anything to fix this, I will, so if anyone has advice on how I can fix it, or how I can convince him to work with me to fix it, I'd love to hear it!
 
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darlyn05 responded:
How long was he between jobs and is there a difference in the fields of the jobs? How well, or not, did his previous relationship end(divorce if married)? How long was the duration of previous relationships(marriages)? Could he be concerned of another relationship ending? Does he have activities outside of the home or relationship that he pursues(you as well)? What is the family relationship/atmosphere concerning the children? How old were his children in the beginning?
 
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Anon_233937 replied to darlyn05's response:
Darlyn05,

He was without a job a couple months after I met him for only a couple months. He's had a good job for 6.5 years now. His previous marriage was awful. They were married only 6 months, and they have been in court fighting over their two kids since. That's a huge stress of ours, we spent a fortune so he could have equal time with his kids. She alienated the kids so everyone has been in therapy trying to fix that. Overall, his kids do very well here though, and greatly improving this year. Yes, I think he scarred for life about marriage. While that hurts, I'm ok with not being married, but I hate that he says he doesn't want to stay with me at all forever, and that he doesn't love me. Neither of us have many activities outside the home, except as a family. We do a lot with our kids and they keep us super busy, again probably another one of our issues. My two children and his two children are all around the same age. They were 3 to 6 when we first moved in together and are 9 to 12 now.
 
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darlyn05 replied to Anon_233937's response:
I'm guessing that he is not the type of person that opens up easily concerning his more sensitive side; feelings, personal or intimate thoughts, etc... It could be that your relationship is evolving into the next natural phase of a long term relationship and he just doesn't know how to respond, feel, or react to it. Do you attend the therapy sessions? If so, is this something you can address with the therapist?

If and when he is again negative about a future, I think I would reply with something like "If that is genuinely and truly how you feel and see things happening, I have no choice other than to limit my self investment for this relationship". (Or outright ask him if he is finding it difficult to move along with the natural progression of lasting relationships.) With that you will need to begin to detach and disassociate yourself from it mentally, emotionally, and with action in pursueing your life in areas that do not involve him(he will take notice, and your self confidence will grow which he will also notice and find attractive(after his initial dismay/disliking). It should lessen the thudd of the shoe dropping if that happens, and perhaps he will take notice of the fact that you have a say in the circumstances and situation as well. Don't be rude or crude about it, greet him warmly when he gets up or comes home by " Morning _____(insert name)", and "Hey/Hi/Hello ______(insert name)". Be happy with and for yourself, and with the children.

I think it would be in your best interest to engage in an outside activity, have a friend over for sh_ts and giggles, or discuss a book, do scrapbooking, go for walks, improve on your diet, do things with the children without him, love yourself.

What do you think?
 
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fcl responded:
It could well be that he's suffering from depression. Can you get him to get screened for that?

Apart from that, he's reproaching you for being you and what you are. Why should he expect a mother not to be a mother? What does he expect you to be? His lover? His housekeeper? His babysitter? Have you ever sat down together after the kids were in bed and just calmly talked about your future? It's not fair for you to be kept in limbo like this. Do you think he's trying to make you leave so that he isn't the bad guy in all this, by any chance?

He won't go to counselling so he doesn't care enough about your relationship to try to get it back on track. He tells you he wants out but keeps flip-flopping about it. Ok, fine, so he won't make a decision then it's time you did. Next time he brings up the subject of wanting to leave, give him a date. Tell him that when that date arrives he needs to be packed and in a new home because you'll be selling the house. Don't let him haver any more.

Yes, this will affect the children but they are witnessing the way he is chipping away at your happiness, your hopes, your self worth every day. They know exactly what is going on. Ask yourself whether it wouldn't be easier to leave than to drag this out for them too.

If he still refuses to go to counselling, please go by yourself. It will help you see clear in all of this and to organize your priorities.

Good luck.
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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Anon_233937 replied to fcl's response:
Thank you both, I really appreciate the advice! I am coming to grips with the fact that I don't think he'll ever love me. When we do talk about our future, he pretty coldly says, "what future? You know we don't have a future, I made that clear." Problem is, when we don't talk about it, we are a pretty normal couple. Until we argue and it comes up again, or I try to "encroach" on him by looking for a "couples" decision about money or anything long term, and he reminds me that we are not a long term couple.

I think you are right that I need to go to counseling by myself and figure out my options, and work on my own self worth. I'm too wrapped up in figuring out what's wrong with me that he doesn't want to make this work. I'm hung up on our family, and trying not to break them apart. My kids are going to be crushed to lose their step dad and step brothers (even though we never married, these are the names we use), and I need to figure out how to protect them. His kids will have a hard time with this too, especially because they've been through so much with the custody stuff.

A couple days ago we had an argument about our budget and he said he thought it was time to put the house up for sale and that he wants to move out on his own. He acted like he didn't care if it hurt the kids or me, and said he'd miss us but would get over it pretty fast. Then last night he spent an hour reading to my daughter and when she woke us up in the middle of the night, he snuggled up with her. Today, he sent me a text that he hopes I'm having a great day, and he's making supper tonight (he knows I LOVE it when he cooks). So, who knows where he stands today on selling the house.

Thank you again! What a mess I've gotten into!
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on responded:
Anon,

I read thru a few of the responses and skimmed some of them, so if i am repeating i do apologize. You mention several times that you do not want to hurt your children, so you will hold on as long as you can until they understand. Look at it from this point of view, what type of message are you sending to your daughter(s) if you have them? Your telling them that its ok to stay in a relationship with a man, who clearly doesnt feel the same about you, as you do for him. And your showing your son(s) if you have any, that its ok to be with a woman, even if you dont care about her, she will still care for you.

I understand that you dont want to break up the relationships that your kids have built. But as i am sure you know, breakups are a part of life. I was reading a book not to long ago and there was a passage that really struck home with me. It was something along the lines of this. Eventually all relationships end, even the best ones. A couple that has been together for 80 years, that relationship will eventually end. And one of them will have to start over. I have always had a hard time leaving a relationship even though i knew it was over. I just didnt want to hurt the other person. So i hung on and it killed me and them in the process, we both became miserable. But we both became so comfortable that we didnt want to start all over, its hard to look back and say that those years where a waste. And believe you me, no one wants to get back into the dating pool after being with someone for a long time...its frightening lol

Your doing the noble thing, trying to protect your children. But at the end of the day, you need to be happy and satisfied to be the best mom you can be for those kids. They will make new friends and they will move on and adapt. They might not understand right now, but that doesnt mean you can explain to them in the future why you did what you did.

You are the most important person in your life, you need to remember that and expect to be treated as such. You control your own happiness, sadness, joy, etc. Others can influence you, but the final decisions rest with you.

I wish you all the best with everything!

IC
 
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Anon_233937 replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
Thank you IC. I really appreciate your thoughtful words. I do hate that I feel like I wasted 7 years. And I wonder if this is actually hurting my kids. Our relationship is so empty right now, but I honestly think the kids don't notice. Maybe I don't give them enough credit. If we were married, I think everyone would look at this so differently. "Try to work things out for the kids, marriage is hard work, work at it, etc." But, I can't even get him to go to counseling to TRY to work this out. He just uses the same excuse that he has never loved me and never intended to stay together for 7 years. I guess I should be "thankful" for each extra day I get. My kids don't remember not living with him, so this is no different than a divorce only worse, because he said when we split, he doesn't want to maintain contact.

Anyway, I've thought and prayed a lot about it and I feel strongly my only choice is to stay and try to make it work. So, I'm at the point where I want to do whatever I can to "make" him happy. So, I've been giving him more space, not asking questions about his day (he hates when I ask questions), and I've tried really hard to stay out of the therapy he does with his two kids, although that's hard because I care about them and want to know how things go. I'm working on just being supportive and really hoping he comes around.

Thanks again so much!!
 
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fcl replied to Anon_233937's response:
The more you write about him the more I feel that he is just using you. He's dangling you around on the end of a chain. Every time he feels threatened he turns it round so that YOU feel threatened. He is well aware that his life wouldn't be nearly so comfortable if you weren't there to share the bills, nurture his kids, give him creature comforts that he really wouldn't have if he were on his own with his children.

Remember that you can't make anybody else happy... You are giving him more and more and he's giving less and less. For ANY couple, married or not, to work takes partnership, working together. You doing more and more for him only makes you more of a doormat and him more of a despot. Do you really believe that your children don't notice that? Do not underestimate the effect you are having on them.

How far do things need to go before you say "stop"? Imagine yourself in ten years time in this same deteriorating situation. What do you see?
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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lettemommyof2 replied to fcl's response:
at least he is honest....leave and find someone worth it. im sorry i dont have too much advice....im in a slump myself...but i do feel for you and you dont diserve to be treated this way.


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