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Miserable at Home w/ DH and Kids

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm writing this as my high-needs 8 m/o DS sleeps (on me) in his carrier. It's very long, so I thank anyone who has the patience to read it.

 

I've never contributed on this thread, but am glad to have found it. I feel the need to vent because I'm so unhappy right now. I'm not expecting advice (although I'm happy to hear it), but I do need to know if anyone else has ever gone through this.

 

DH and I agreed when DS#1  (now almost six) was a baby that we would homeschool. This was a fairly radical change from the original plan for me (the primary breadwinner at the time) to go back to work, but circumstances moved in that direction when I lost my job because preemie DS wouldn't take a bottle and I insisted on staying home to nurse him. Homeschooling began to sound like a great idea, especially when DS1 proved to be very bright and creative. So we've been doing that, and now DS#2 is here. We practice AP with both kids.

 

DH has not been fully employed since I lost my job almost six years ago. He's done various freelance jobs, written a few books (but made very little money due to a bad deal with his publisher), and attempted to start a couple of businesses which didn't get off the ground. We've lived off of the dribs and drabs DH made, plus money I earned with the tiny bit of freelancing I've had time to do, but that money barely scratches the surface of what we need to cover expenses. We've spent all of my savings (including bonds left to me by my grandmother), plus DH's inheritance after his father's death--yep, the money I would have dreamed of putting towards a house or college for the kids--on rent and bills. So I guess one could say there's been a fair amount of stress here over finances.

 

Although now it looks as if DH is finally getting a couple of businesses off the ground (fingers crossed),  the same things that have upset me since we got married have only gotten worse--because we're BOTH home.

 

I'm far from a neatnik, but DH is a bona fide slob. He almost NEVER puts anything away, and he's a disorganized pack rat. Our apartment is, basically a place to keep all his stuff. He gets undressed, and his clothes go in a pile on the bed. Or on a chair. Or on the couch. Or wherever he happens to be standing at that time. The same goes for shoes, books he's reading, plates from something he's eating, his computer, bills and mail, business papers--pretty much anything. Subsequently, I'm constantly picking up after him (or trying to), and it's incredibly difficult to get our hands on important things when we need them. I clear up the dishes. I put away the laundry. I WANT to clean the apartment, but it's so hard to find time, and when I DO have a few minutes, I spend all that time de-cluttering. By the time I get through that, there's not time left for actual, proper cleaning.

 

DS#2, as I mentioned, is high-needs. He naps very infrequently, and, when awake, won't let anyone hold him except for DH or me. Babysitting from Grandma, aunt, or anyone, is out of the question. He's crawling now but I can't put him on the floors here because they're too dirty. I bring the kids (and myself) to my parents' more often than I would like, just so they'll have a clean, uncluttered place to play (both inside and outside). Of course, when I'm there, I feel like I should be doing things to straighten up at home.

 

I'm so unhappy with this mess around me, and DH simply doesn't care. He doesn't mind living this way, and simply doesn't get why it bothers me so much. I've tried everything to get him to understand, but nothing works. I restored an old steelcase desk to use in the room we designated an office when we moved into this apartment, but that room is now so filled with DH's junk, I can barely see the desk, much less get to it without breaking my neck. I can't count how many times I've dissolved in tears because I feel so cooped up and miserable in here. When this happens I get either a blank stare or an accusation of being "discontent" or a nag. This living space is for the family to share, and that means all of us. His lack of respect in this regard makes me feel unloved, and his habits (or lack thereof) are now rubbing off on DS#1.

 

I'm proud of DH for being a great dad and trying to set up a life that allows us both to spend time with each other and our children. I appreciate the ways in which he is helpful, which include doing quite a bit of cooking (although making a horrendous mess each time) and driving DS1 to his various activities so I don't have to tote the baby everywhere all the time. But I feel like I'm living in a dirty cage. This frustration makes me tired, depressed, and short-tempered. Half the time I feel like a nagging shrew and the other half I just feel so very sorry for myself. Pathetic, I know.

 

I've begged DH to go to counseling with me, because any attempts to deal with it between the two of us just lead to horrible fights. DH, however, doesn't "believe" in counseling for himself, although he fully supports it for me (i.e., I'M the one with the real problem in this scenario).

 

I don't know. Lately, I've been fantasizing about DS1 being in school and DH working a 9-to-5 job. This isn't what I truly think would be right for my family, but I just feel like the walls are closing in on me, and would so love some time when I can choose to do things I like, whether what I want to do is to clean this place from top to bottom or knit, or read. Right now, I feel like minding these kids (plus DH) and picking up after all three of them is all I'm here for. I don't feel valued, by DH or myself.

 

The joy I should feel with my family just isn't happening right now. I feel it sometimes, but so much of the time I just feel frustrated, and as if I'm failing on all fronts. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

post #2 of 17

I can totally understand you and I don't think you are being unreasonable at all! We live in an apartment as well and I NEED to have it as clean as possible for my sanity. It's not really an option or some caprice on my part. Especially with a crawling baby around! (have one of those too). Your dh might not feel the same way about housekeeping but the fact is, it matters to YOU, so he should make allowances to help you. It's selfish to make it your problem. Might he have some sort of hoarding/OCD disorder?

 

I'm not sure what other advice to give you, but if it were me, I would be looking into what I can do to make my life easier on me. If that were putting the child in school, even for the year so you can get the house in order, I'd do it. Trying to homeschool in a cluttered environment must be pretty stressful for you as well! You shouldn't have to run away to your parents to be in a clean home. Your house is your sanctuary, or it's supposed to be. I'd be throwing down some ultimatums, but maybe it's just me. A clean house is not a luxury for me, but a necessity.

 

I hope you can reach some sort of agreement with your dh

 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your response. It's really gratifying to hear from another mama that I'm not crazy in my expectations. Yes, I knew he was like this when I married him--but I also knew he was a brilliant, warm person who'd be a great dad and with whom I'd never be bored. Unfortunately, those qualities are being overshadowed by the living situation. Even when it was just the two of us, I'd come home from work to find an unholy mess: his dishes from breakfast and lunch. His towels from taking a shower on the bed, papers everywhere. But at least dinner would be on!

 

Today, he made pasta and sauce for lunch, then proceeded to leave all the pots, pans, and used dishes, plus the leftover pasta, for me to put away. Did he walk away from the mess to do some work? No. Was he minding the baby for a little while? Yes. However, when I'm minding the baby, I have him in a carrier so that I can empty the dishwasher, put clean laundry away, whatever. The point is, I don't stop every helpful task just because I have a child in my arms. Subsequently, when he did me the favor of taking DS1 to his afternoon activity, instead of getting to do some other tidying or something pleasurable for myself while baby took his 20-minute nap, I found myself cleaning up the lunch mess. When I cook, I actually try to clean up as I go along. DH believes in the Julia Child method: use as many pots and pans as necessary and worry about the cleanup later, or let someone else worry about it. (BTW, we just had an skirmish about the lunch dishes as I was writing this. Great). I don't mind the rule about the person who cooks not cleaning up, but I think this only applies if the non-cook isn't constantly cleaning up endless other messes in the house.

 

You mentioned the possibility that he has a hoarding or other disorder. My sister happens to have a full-blown hoarding disorder, so I already know what it's like to live with that. DH isn't at that level, but he's definitely got something going on that's more than "average messy guy syndrome". For example, he's interested in myriad subjects, and wants to read about them, which means that we have a new book on some arcane subject or other being delivered at least every other week. I've tried so many times to get him to agree to discard an old book he doesn't need (and he admits these exist) each time he gets a new one, but to no avail. It would be great if he could get a Kindle for all this reading, but most of the books are too rare. :-( (Even if he did have a diagnosable problem, he'd never have it diagnosed, because he thinks he's fine and I'm the one who's wrong).

 

As for ultimata, believe me, I've considered it, but I don't think it would help, because DH truly believes I'm full of BS on this subject. I won't put DS1 in school because he's really happy being homeschooled, and I don't think he should have to suffer because of my conflict w/his dad. Although I do take your point about this.

 

I've pointed the "home as sanctuary" thing out to DH many times. I get a really nice eyeroll in response.

 

Is there a way I can come to terms with this epic fail in our relationship? I'm really beginning to wonder.

post #4 of 17

another thing that jumped out of me out of your post is ADD. My husband has ADD and is a lot like you describe (lots of myriad interests, books on every subject, clutter tends to grow around him without him being seemingly aware, etc). The only difference is - he cares enough about me and my peace of mind that he makes an EFFORT. So, while his effort might not always be perfect, and even though he might forget things along the way, he wouldn`t make a giant mess and say it`s in my head irked.gif. I understand that homeschooling is important, it was just a suggestion to take some load off for you.

 

I`m also a bit surprised how he responds when you mention this to him. If the situation was reversed, and he came to you with a problem or concern (repeatedly) would you dismiss him? Would you roll your eyes? It doesn`t really matter if he thinks cleaning is ridiculous, it matters to you, the mess is making you miserable. It`d be different if you went up to him and said you want him to buy you a big new house. All you want is his help and support in cleaning up the one you have and making it more livable for your family and make your daily life easier and more enjoyable. He should not make you feel like it`s too much to ask.

post #5 of 17

That would drive me crazy, especially his dismissal of it as being my problem, if I were you. It sounds very difficult, claustrophobic and challenging. If he can't make an effort to see it your way or compromise at all, that that sounds like the real problem, even more than the mess.  If you have to take your kids to play at your parents' because of the clutter, doesn't he see that as a problem?

 

I don't have any solid advice, except maybe to make your DH take DS1 out for a whole day every week so you can clean in peace with baby. Hang in there. I hope your DH can see your side soon. 

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuba'sMama View Post

 

I`m also a bit surprised how he responds when you mention this to him. If the situation was reversed, and he came to you with a problem or concern (repeatedly) would you dismiss him? Would you roll your eyes? It doesn`t really matter if he thinks cleaning is ridiculous, it matters to you, the mess is making you miserable. It`d be different if you went up to him and said you want him to buy you a big new house. All you want is his help and support in cleaning up the one you have and making it more livable for your family and make your daily life easier and more enjoyable. He should not make you feel like it`s too much to ask.

 

Yes, exactly this. I'm not asking him to lavish me with material possessions, and although he knows my heart's desire is a home with a backyard for the kids, I don't spend all my time making him feel guilty for not having (yet) provided it. I certainly don't expect him to clean up after me. All I ask is that he keeps his own crap under control, which I don't think is out of line. It's funny; out of the blue, he'll decide to clean the bathroom with a fine tooth comb, but he won't put his shirt in the laundry hamper. He never closes cabinets after opening them; the other day, I hit my head on one of his open cabinets, and he actually told me it was my own fault because he "wasn't done" getting stuff out of there. I swear, I nearly threw something at him.

 

We go in cycles with this. When DH realizes I'm just about at the end of my tether, he'll throw me a bone. Tonight, he offered to wash the pots after dinner, but I told him it would mean more to me if he cleared his papers and old mail off the coffee table, which he did. But I have to be *so* miserable before he'll even make these small concessions.

 

My sister (the hoarder) also has ADD--these two disorders often go together. It has occurred to me (and has been suggested by others) that DH may have some level of ADD. He, of course, thinks it's an overblown modern affliction. It doesn't help that he looks at the extreme case that is my sister as an example of those conditions.

 

Kuba, it's so great that your husband tries to modify his behavior for your sake. I think this is what upsets me the most: the sense that DH doesn't seem to care enough about my misery even to make an effort. If he admitted it was beyond his control and tried to get some therapy or help, I would be completely supportive of that. But he really does seem to think it's more my problem (for letting it bother me) than his (for doing it).

 

There have been many times recently that DH wants me to go out to the botanical gardens or the zoo with him and the kids. Sometimes I go, but always dreading the mess I'll have to face when I get home. Sometimes I just stay home and try to make it better, when I'd so much rather be out having fun with them. :-( 



 

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tangledblue View Post

 

I don't have any solid advice, except maybe to make your DH take DS1 out for a whole day every week so you can clean in peace with baby.

 

You know, I might actually try this. I mean, what else can I do? Very occasionally, he'll take both kids out for a couple of hours. Maybe I could insist on that, since my back begins to hurt when I have the baby in the carrier for too long, and he doesn't like the vacuum cleaner.eyesroll.gif But I'd have to make DH get his junk out of the way first, because I refuse to clean around it. He might go for that, if I'm lucky...


 

 

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanMy View Post

T


As for ultimata, believe me, I've considered it, but I don't think it would help, because DH truly believes I'm full of BS on this subject. I won't put DS1 in school because he's really happy being homeschooled, and I don't think he should have to suffer because of my conflict w/his dad. Although I do take your point about this.

 

I've pointed the "home as sanctuary" thing out to DH many times. I get a really nice eyeroll in response.

 

Is there a way I can come to terms with this epic fail in our relationship? I'm really beginning to wonder.



Remember, though, that there is more to life than school decisions.

 

Children grow up thinking that the way they live -- the way their family is structured and behaves and treats other people --  is "normal."  They recreate that "normal" in their adult lives, unless they are exposed to a good deal of evidence in other people's homes that their home life is *not* "normal."

 

Is the chaos you currently live in what you want your children to think is normal?

 

Is the way your DH treats you what you want your sons to think of as the normal way a man treats his wife?

 

Is the misery they see you in what you want them to think is normal for a married woman and mother? 

 

Right now, they are being "homeschooled" in a home and family life that is unhappy and dysfunctional for at least one partner -- and they are learning that this is the way the world works.  Is this the ultimate lesson you want them to take away from homeschooling?

 

post #9 of 17

So he's an unemployed slob, apparently spends all kinds of money you don't have on his own hobbies (see your posts about buying rare books every other week), has taken over an entire room that should be shared family space for his own junk and refuses to share, expects you to clean up after him, rolls his eyes at you when you ask for help, ignores all of your requests for help and support, blames you for hitting your head on a cabinet door he left open, refuses to attend counseling because everything is YOUR fault.  What's so great about this guy that he's worth staying with?

post #10 of 17

So your DH burned through all of your collective money with nothing to show for it, treats you worse then the hired help, outright disrespects you in front of your children, and well who cares really at this point.

 

Because for the life of me I can't see why he is still your DH. Find a better one-they are out there.

post #11 of 17

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Sorry, three year old attack. redface.gif


Edited by insidevoice - 9/14/11 at 2:38pm
post #12 of 17

I get it..not the whole being with DH all day, because DH is gone pretty much all day, but I get the scenario where DH has a trail of mess behind him when he's home. I swear the house is so messy when he's home on the weekend, messier than it ever gets during the week when it's just me and the kids. I'm sure part of this is because there's one extra person there, but he's a messy messy person, and he's a pack rat, so that doesn't help. I've managed to keep the house at a sane level(although I've lowered my expectations of sane since we were married 7 years ago), the garage is packed to the brim, the workshop is a perpetual mess, and his side of the room is full of stuff(also his "office"), and our 4 month daughter's closet is full of his stuff that he promises he will go through at some point. While he's gone and on the weekends I ask him to help clean up messes(he does it but reluctantly sometimes). I honestly cannot imagine being home with him all day every day. I think I'd go crazy, lol! I have to say though, before we had kids, he hurt himself and couldn't work for 6 weeks, and definitely stepped it up around the house, simply because he was there and didn't have much else to do, lol. If I were you I'd push the counseling. It's not fair for you to be uncomfortable with your surroundings day in and day out. I'd also try and stop cleaning up after him so much. I find myself doing this sometimes with DH, and I've come to the realization that if I don't leave the mess there, he honestly doesn't know it got picked up by me. He's a bit ADHD though. If he leaves his dinner mess on the counter, I have started not cleaning it up, and usually by the morning he realizes he left it there and will at least rinse it and put it in the sink, etc. Honestly though, I'm pretty laid back and I've just adjusted my expectations over the years. That's not to say that his messes don't really get to me sometimes, but I tell myself, is it worth fighting about? and usually it isn't. I don't know if that helped much!

post #13 of 17

My DH is ADHD and is on Adderall for it. It doesn't seem to help too much though around the house. He gets alot more done at work, but not much around here. Go figure!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanMy View Post





 



 

post #14 of 17
It sounds as though you really love many things about your DH that make it worth being together. But there is a serious problem, which is both of your problem, and your children's problem. If it is a problem for you, it must be a problem for DH, that is what being together is about. Rolling his eyes is a universal sign of disrespect. Your DH needs to wake up. It sounds harsh, but next time he is out I would pack everything I and the kids own and go to my parents for either a specific amount of time, like a month, or until he recognizes his problem and agrees to go with you to therapy. If nothing else, this vacation might help you gain some clarity.
post #15 of 17



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyrabbitfly View Post

It sounds as though you really love many things about your DH that make it worth being together. But there is a serious problem, which is both of your problem, and your children's problem. If it is a problem for you, it must be a problem for DH, that is what being together is about. Rolling his eyes is a universal sign of disrespect. Your DH needs to wake up. It sounds harsh, but next time he is out I would pack everything I and the kids own and go to my parents for either a specific amount of time, like a month, or until he recognizes his problem and agrees to go with you to therapy. If nothing else, this vacation might help you gain some clarity.


I think this and other advice to make an ultimatum may be on the right track.   I'm going to look at this from another perspective.  I am the messy one in our house.  I can relate to a lot of what your dh does, probably to a smaller scale though!  I leave cabinet doors open all the time, I leave pots and pans from dinner I cooked overnight usually and I secretly wish dh (who works a fulltime job out of the houe) would do them. I leave my clothes wherever I take them off, I have a stack of paper on the kitchen counter, on the kitchen table, a few on my desk in my computer room, etc.   BUT I am a SAHM and it is primarily my job to clean it up, and I think I do a reasonable job of it, and this house is very liveable - lots of open space/floors for the kids to play and run (we are past crawling stage but when they crawled I made sure it was clean and safe enough!).  My dh is a neatnik and complains a lot about the house - it's our major "issue", and we are actually in counseling now in no small part because of it. For us though, I have some issues with being disorganized or not seeing messes, but dh also has an issue of tending to need things a little too perfect.

 

Anyway, I respond pretty well to a well-intentioned and generally friendly kick in the pants to get me going on things.  The biggest thing that helps me get down to the business of  decluttering is when dh takes the kids out for some block of time and says he's doing it so I can work on X (my office piles, the clothing pile in the bedroom, etc.)   So I'd suggest you take the kids out with instructions that he should use that time to declutter.  And with the dismissiveness that he's showing about it all, I might go for a bigger ultimatum of going to your parents for a weekend, say, and expecting the house to be in shape when you get back. 

 

post #16 of 17
So, I'm going to back-track on my previous post. I read it again and had an OMG did I say that? Reason being: my mom did exactly that (packed our stuff and left while my dad was out) when I was 2. He was unable to hold a job and spent what little money they had on pot and his hobbies...a silver flute comes to mind. I didn't see my dad until I was 10. Thirty years later my mom and dad live together much of the time. He didn't change( except he stopped doing drugs but still could never keep a job) We accepted him as he is and support him as a family. He spends his time studying sunspots (he is trying to learn to predict major weather events that way) and playing chess on the Internet. Most of those 30 years my father was homeless.
Perhaps you may consider accepting your DH as he is. Most brilliant people in history wasted no energy on keeping house I think. Maybe he will hit on something and maybe not. When we love someone, we must love them as they are, not in the hope that they will change.
That said, you need some room. May be you can choose one room and let it be your sanctuary. Put a lock on it if you have to! Defend a little turf for yOurself.
But ask yourself if you love him for who he is, or for who you hope he will become.
post #17 of 17

have you ever considered marriage or couples counseling?  My husband and I had similar (albeit not as extreme) issues a few years back.  As much as I wanted to deny it I felt we were pretty much over.  I got him to agree to counseling (made as an ultimatum :) ) and it has literally saved my marriage.  I would recommend you guys go speak with someone that may be able to put an outside perspective on your situations and hopefully give you both an "aha" moment :).

 

Just my 2 cents.

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