x-posted from PAP: I need a reality check Re: satisfaction with family life - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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**I'm cross-posting this from Parents as Partners to try and get more husband/father input**


I'm kind of feeling at a loss as to what a marriage is supposed to be like with the stress of raising two little kids, plus I'm having a hard time understanding dh.

He has a hard time with life sometimes. He feels overwhelmed with responsibility, trapped, unhappy with our general state of being, I suppose. Overall there are more good times than bad times, but it's very hard for me when he gets that faraway look and has a hard time dealing with day to day life.

He gets sad when he hears people talking about traveling. WE weren't married when I got pregnant the first time, and it certainly wasn't planned. At that time we were both freewheeling and had plans of traveling separately, but made the conscious decision to change our lives, settle down and have the baby. Now we have two.

He says he has no intention of leaving because staying and dealing with his responsibilities is the right thing to do, and I say I don't want him to be here against his will. He says that his only purpose in life right now is "getting through the next 20 years" . I ask him what his personal goals are, what he wants to pursue for himself, and he tells me to get real, there is no "him", he's sacrificed himself for the family. And then acts confused when I'm not happy about that. I say that I don't want to be married to a martyr.

It's easy for me to get angry that he isn't absolutely enamored with domestic life and parenthood, because although I have my moments of fantasizing about a different life, this is ultimately what I wanted and I am firmly grounded in reality: this is what it is, I'm going to find meaning and purpose in the life that I have.

But he's not like that and I either need to accept where he's at mentally or decide that this is not what I want and leave. I know everyone will say that he's depressed, and they'd be right. I've suggested pursuing some kind of help to him and he just says "that's easy for you to say". And in the end, this is just who he is and I'm going to have to deal with it one way or the other. I want to make clear that he's a very involved, loving father .. he puts on his happy face for the kids most of the time.

I guess I want input about other husbands and wives levels of acceptance, joy, and/or dissatisfaction with family life, and any other wise words. Thanks.
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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Weird, didn't see this. In any case, I responded to your other thread. This forum doesn't get much traffic.

I do think you're clearly trying to figure this out in a good/thoughtful/self-reflective way, and I hope it gets better.

Dad to DD 9/2008
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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I have to say......my feelings about my married life are similar to your husband's. Not to that extent, but I can sympathize.

Has he been mean about this or just sad?

Well, my situation is a little different. I may be more justified in my feelings of regret. I had my first baby at 17.

Maybe he was just upset when he said "getting through the next 20 years". That would be pretty mean if he weren't. He is a grown man, he should know how those statements can hurt you. Instead though, I might say "I'm waiting to start my life again as soon as my kids are in college". I do LOVE being a mom and I am great at it. It probably sounds like I don't think I have a life with my husband and kids, and that's just not true. But, that feeling of how much was missed stays with me always.

I think your husband needs to grow up. Sorry, but he does. If I can suck it up and find a way to be happy then he can too. I wouldn't approach the situation with my candor

I really think your husband can turn this around though. If only because of how great of a dad you said he is.

What about camping at a local state park with the kids? Maybe some kind of small travel experience like that will help him. I'm sure the kids would love it. I have the same feelings about travel. So, my daughter and I go rafting. I LOVE doing that with her. It makes it so much more enjoyable.....to hear that pure joyous, genuine laugh as we're going down the rapids....it's wonderful. Maybe I shouldn't have said that the feeling of regret stays with me always, because moments like those........I don't want to be anywhere else.
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Old 05-31-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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I think it's worthwhile to think about how long he's been feeling this way, and to what extent.

I feel the way he does sometimes. DH and I aren't connecting, or I start thinking about how easy my friends have it, I got married too young, etc. But I always come out of it--genuinely. I don't put on a happy face--I AM happy. I consider it part of some sort of cycle--monthly, emotional, whatever.

I have a close friend who's going through something similar, though her dh isn't being as honest as yours. It's been going on since she got prego nearly 3 years ago, and if I were her, I'd jet. Three years of that behavior would be too much for me, personally, to take. Three years means that's who he IS. At some point, it ceases to become a phase, IMHO.

Have you mentioned going to therapy together?
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:05 PM
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Somewhere along the line, life became about pleasure at all costs, even if it means shirking your responsibilities (I think we have the babyboomers to thank for that- what's the saying why do it if it's not fun?) He may not be happy about it, but at least he is taking responsibility. As the kids get older, the responsibility will shift and he may be able to find more pleasure in panrenting (i.e. having a pass in the yard, going for a bike ride, etc).

Our entire country is being dealt this reality check right now. But, I would caution you that he needs to understand how his reactions about his role as a father will impact his relationship with his kids. If he is never satisfied, the kids may think they're disappointing him.

I highly recommend the book Father, the Family Protector. It relays the importance of a father in the face of a society that has all but relegated dad to disposable status and has focused on self fulfillment, not serving others.
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Old 06-08-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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I think you're husband's bang-on with his assessment of the situation, with two big BUTs.

It is true that a good new father should put much of his life on hold when he starts a family. It's a good sign that he recognizes this - I've seen too many dads-to-be in my pre-natal classes holding on to the idea that they can still go on with their same lifestyles, rather than accept that they have new responsibilities and priorities. So Neldavi, I'd suggest that you celebrate this a bit more.

The first BUT for your DH is that it doesn't take 20 years to re-start one's life again. Each man is different, but I've seen and experienced that 2-4 years later (and much earlier for some well-balanced men), there is space to start reclaiming self. Time to once again start writing or playing hockey or whatever things feed him. And this self-renewal energy feeds back into our parenting - we have more positive, centered energy to share with our children, and we're modelling a positive way-of-life for our kids. So please share with him that it's not a 20-year sentence, but a short-term sacrifice that will eventually right itself into a new balanced set of responsibilities and priorities.

The second BUT is about his choice of emotions. He may be realistic in his assessment of his new responsibilties and time commitments, but it's his choice how to react to it. He seems to be investing energy in focussing on what he's losing, rather than on what he's gaining. That same energy could go into a WOW experience, a "look at this new parenting adventure I get to embark on." For the next period of his life he has the opportunity to be an integral part of the development of a new human being, forge a powerful life-long relationship with the child, and discover or create new parts of himself in the process. It doesn't have to be viewed as a "sentence", as I deliberately worded it earlier. We can't control all our situations, but we can always control how we interpret and experience them.

So please tell your DH that he's halfway there. Tell him how much you appreciate his commitment to his family, and his willingness to make the changes that good parenting requires of him. Then support and model for him a positive attitude, the embracing joyful world-expanding love that only a child can bring us.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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Old 02-21-2010, 11:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Juliusson View Post
I think you're husband's bang-on with his assessment of the situation, with two big BUTs.

It is true that a good new father should put much of his life on hold when he starts a family. It's a good sign that he recognizes this - I've seen too many dads-to-be in my pre-natal classes holding on to the idea that they can still go on with their same lifestyles, rather than accept that they have new responsibilities and priorities. So Neldavi, I'd suggest that you celebrate this a bit more.

The first BUT for your DH is that it doesn't take 20 years to re-start one's life again. Each man is different, but I've seen and experienced that 2-4 years later (and much earlier for some well-balanced men), there is space to start reclaiming self. Time to once again start writing or playing hockey or whatever things feed him. And this self-renewal energy feeds back into our parenting - we have more positive, centered energy to share with our children, and we're modelling a positive way-of-life for our kids. So please share with him that it's not a 20-year sentence, but a short-term sacrifice that will eventually right itself into a new balanced set of responsibilities and priorities.

The second BUT is about his choice of emotions. He may be realistic in his assessment of his new responsibilties and time commitments, but it's his choice how to react to it. He seems to be investing energy in focussing on what he's losing, rather than on what he's gaining. That same energy could go into a WOW experience, a "look at this new parenting adventure I get to embark on." For the next period of his life he has the opportunity to be an integral part of the development of a new human being, forge a powerful life-long relationship with the child, and discover or create new parts of himself in the process. It doesn't have to be viewed as a "sentence", as I deliberately worded it earlier. We can't control all our situations, but we can always control how we interpret and experience them.

So please tell your DH that he's halfway there. Tell him how much you appreciate his commitment to his family, and his willingness to make the changes that good parenting requires of him. Then support and model for him a positive attitude, the embracing joyful world-expanding love that only a child can bring us.
Interesting perspective and really good advice. I had a baby at 19, got married, and was married 5 yrs. I felt that same loss of self. I remarried at 28 to a man 35 who had been waiting and waiting for a family. We are expeting our second together. I think that he now sometimes feel that same loss of self. As do I, having been there, then had years to reclaim it, then drawn back again.

I work really hard to still give him space to pursue some things that are important to him, and he is very, very conscience about doing those things in a manor that makes me comfortable. I tend to lean more towards things that require alone time for me, so he works hard to help me set aside time to fulfill those things. There are periods of time that all of that gets set aside, because of life and the kids. When we hit those spurts, we make darn sure to set aside date nights, even if they are taking kids for an hour to my inlaws, and going back home. We then talk about all of the things we will do when the kids are olders, what new hobbies we can find that include the kdis, fun stuff like that. Knowing we both feel that way helps some as well.

We also worked hard to find a couple things we enjoy doing together, that fulfill us outside of parenting. We both are big weight lifters, so we coordinate one hour on Sat mornings when we take the kids to the gym childcare and we lift together. Would we both rather have an hour alone in the gym a day uninterrupted to pursue of competative fitness dreams? Damn right we would. But we make the best of where we are at.

It took a paradigm shift for us, but it works. We do both hit the end of our rope. We try to recognize that and make sure the other gets a short spurt of time they need to juice back up. Even a couple hours.

I really hope things work out for you. The best advice I have, on a practical level, is maybe just have a really gentle conversation to see what things he COULD be doing right now that full a part of him he needs filled. He can't shaft the family and go backpacking for a year, but is there something he could be doing now that is personal to him?
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:02 PM
 
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I think that everyone feels a sense of loss when they start a family (or almost everyone). Most wonderful things in life require sacrifice which by its very definition means giving something(s) up.

Your husband sounds like he is doing his best to me. I want to qualify that by saying that if he is truly suffering from depression (even if it is contextual ex: pp depression or something similar) than his best is not going to be enough. What he needs is help. I realize that he is a grown man and cannot be forced into therapy. What I would do in your situation is sit down with him and tell him that although you realize he is doing his absolute best as a father, as your children grow and mature the "brave face" that he puts on is going to be less and less convincing and less and less effective. The strain that depression can have on a family is enormous. Tell him that part of being a good father is taking care of himself (in as non-judgmental a tone as you can manage). He seems committed to parenting and his children, perhaps if he understood just how much his depression will hurt them in years to come he might be more motivated to seek help.

The other thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that travel is not impossible with children. I traveled with my parents (who lived off of minimum wage I might add) as a baby and into childhood. If financial difficulties are keeping you from your dream sit down with each other or a financial planner and come up with goals and ways to reach them. Of course it will never be the same as when you were young free and single, but even trips as relatively inexpensive and simple as camping in Yellowstone, visiting the great lakes, or taking a drive to the mountains can refresh a restless spirit.

On one hand, he needs to man up, on the other hand, everyone suffering from depression deserves help and patience. In this situation the adult thing to do is to admit that neither one of you is likely to be able to solve this problem without outside help.

You sound like you are also doing your best. I hope that him getting some help will ease an unfair burden from your shoulders.

Good luck! and hang in there.

Mama~Blogger~Artist~Homemaker. Family = DH (married 6 years), baby Elinor, and our puppy Frances.
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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I found it kind of hard to adjust to our first and ended up becoming depressed...but, maybe the added pressure of two is hard for him to handle?

Do you think he just feels he can't have any time for himself, he is just giving ALL to his family?

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