Posting in hopes of finding other people who have been here or who are here now. Placing in Personal Growth because I can't change another person so it's a challenge that I'm trying to work through on my end.
I married my husband thinking he was going to be this great family guy. He was on board with the idea of having multiple children and was the one to suggest trying for our daughter, who's now 15 months old. But since she's been here, I've had a lot of illusions of what our family life would be like shattered.
It turns out that, sure, he is a great family guy- but for his family of origin, most of whom are on another continent. That loyalty and enthusiasm has not transferred to our little family unit, which hurts to experience. (Especially around the holidays, when he's more focused on not being with them and celebrating exactly the way he grew up doing than he is on celebrating with us and creating new traditions for our new family.) He is not completely uninvolved, but aside from giving brief snuggles when he feels like it (never mind if she does), it's mostly going through the motions. By his own admission, he's not enjoying this part of his life, and now he says he doesn't want to have any more children.
Basically, this just sucks to see and live through. We've separately come to see that he got married and became a parent well before he was really ready. I'd traveled and lived internationally and was really ready to settle down and start a family; he had not done those things but still has a strong desire to, which means that he is always dissatisfied with where we are. He's 30, but a young 30, and I also think some of it is maturity. Yes, there is less spontaneity in our lives, but the daily grind of going to work and still having responsibilities at home? Adulthood. He's extremely committed as an employee, as he was as a student, but it just doesn't transfer to other areas of his life. He doesn't take initiative to maintain friendships or activities, and then is sad about not having these things- and these feelings, too, I think he incorrectly associates with having a kid. I've strongly suggested therapy, including to explore the possibility of depression, but he refuses to go. No couples therapy, either. If I try to get him to go out with our daughter he mostly sees it as a chore, and he gets bored of reading to or playing with her within five minutes, tops. And honestly- that stuff can be really tedious, but why can't he suck it up for her benefit and for the benefit of their relationship?
The helplessness and lack of initiative transfers to our relationship, of course, and makes it very difficult for me to try to improve what we have together. We have become incredibly disconnected and I can't see this ending well. I especially can't see giving up on having more children. It's his right to not want or have more, but I don't think I can accept that. I do hope and expect that fatherhood will be more attractive to him as our daughter starts talking and wanting him more, and I'm not walking away just yet, but in the meantime this has been such a huge letdown.
That's my vent. Sound familiar to anyone?
My understanding is that a lot of men have trouble with the baby/toddler stage and do much better at parenting their kids as they grow. Hopefully your husband will be this way.
Maybe all three of you spending time together will be more helpful to him than going out just him and the toddler. He can watch how you interact and get ideas. Particularly if he has been working a lot and hasn't been home much, it might be hard for him to figure out how to relate to a kid of this age.
As for dealing with your own disappointment... I find that keeping busy & socialized can be very helpful with this. Arrange to hang out with friends, have play dates, etc. so that you have other things to focus on.
erigeron, good suggestions. Thanks. Unfortunately they're already all in place, and me having a life hasn't made it any less disappointing that my husband hasn't rallied as a father and family member. I don't see why it should, tbh.
Oh! I think it is totally understandable that you are disappointed and had not meant to imply that you should not be or that you would just magically feel better if you had other things on your plate too. I just know that when I'm frustrated by the status quo and think it's unfair but can't seem to change it, focusing on other things at least helps me to feel like my life doesn't revolve around this particular irritating and unfair portion of reality. But if you need to dwell in the RAR THIS TOTALLY SUCKS headspace for a time, I think that would be completely justifiable as well.
Oh! I think it is totally understandable that you are disappointed and had not meant to imply that you should not be or that you would just magically feel better if you had other things on your plate too. I just know that when I'm frustrated by the status quo and think it's unfair but can't seem to change it, focusing on other things at least helps me to feel like my life doesn't revolve around this particular irritating and unfair portion of reality.
I appreciate the elaboration. I think this is true. It's also true that I originally posted very much from the 'RAR THIS TOTALLY SUCKS' place- but I can't hang there forever. I either have to change my situation or my perspective, and what you're saying does help with the latter. Not so much ignoring the issue, but making the focus less intense; the more laser-like the focus, the less livable the situation is on a day-to-day basis. I'm not sure where this will go eventually but as long as the status quo remains the status quo, working on accepting it as something I can't change, rather than constantly wishing I could change it, is probably the way to go.
I had to realize that I wasn't a parent for 50% but for 100%. My commitment to my child couldn't be the result of a "deal" I made with the other parent(s). In my heart and mind I just stopped paying attention to what the other parents (father, stepfather) were or were not doing and put my attention to providing a 100% parenting experience for my child, just between her and me.
I was terribly resentful at first, and for awhile. I do believe that my parenting work was taken advantage of by the father, who wanted the pride and ease of being a father without doing any work. However, you reap what you sow in relationships. I feel very happy with my relationship with my daughter (now grown); she knows she can count on me 100% and that means a lot to her.
It took me a very long time to process and release the resentment toward the men. If your husband isn't a good partner for you then you have several things to consider, but if he is a good partner then I would just see him in that light and leave it up to him to create his own fatherhood experience. That doesn't have to be your concern, you can stop thinking about it or trying to orchestrate or evaluate that. Just be a 100% mother and let the child and father work it out for themselves.
I think that letting go of ideals and images of families and marriages allows acceptance of reality and creative solutions. I chose to stay married to my friend and now that we have an empty nest it's a much easier relationship. He loves his stepchild but hands-on fatherhood and family culture wasn't his strength. Allow yourself to look critically at the stages of life unfolding into the future and decide how you want to live your life.
Resentment is extremely difficult. Dealing with it has made me a more mature and wise person. It's been an opportunity for growth - painful though it was much of the time.
I think you've gotten a lot of good advice & perspective so far. I definitely agree that some parents do much better when a child is old enough to speak and walk and interact. I loved my kids as babies, but really began to *ENJOY* them when they got old enough to speak and converse with.
You have also mentioned that most of his family is on another continent. Maybe he misses them terribly & is grieving? Maybe your family might benefit from moving closer to his family?