marriage survival, questions

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by april1974, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    I'm not sure if this is in the right area of the board so I understand if admin moves it.
    I've been married 10yrs(together 13) how do you not let the kids tear you apart? I love husband, I really really do and for the most part I'm still very much in love with him however; when the kids act up, and things are difficult with them, it pulls me and husband apart, the stress of dealing with them makes us turn on each other, or it sucks the life out of us as a couple. Last night was a good example of husband just being fed up with the boys and of course pms is headed my way so it was not good. I worry about us being torn apart, I'm not sure how much more either of us can take.

    Most people who divorce do so by the time the kids are 5 and parents of multiples are at much higher rate than singletons.

    for those of you who are divorced are there things you would do differently if you could go back in time? for those still married how do you keep it together?
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I was married, had two girls, got divorced (mainly for other reasons not related directly to the children) and then I did remarry. That has been a challenge over the years, sometimes directly related to the kids and other times not.

    H being a step parent presents a slightly different situation, though, the girls were fairly young and they had known him all their lives and before we were married, we discussed that his role would definitely include being my partner in parenting the girls, which for the most part he took on wholeheartedly. He has been a very good dad to them, moreso than their bio dad.

    That said, the No. 1 thing I would change if I could go back in time is that I would make sure that H and I had an agreement in place to stand united in front of the children and ALWAYS take time to discuss any and ALL issues so we can agree or compromise or agree to disagree but go with one or the other's approach - of course it depends on each individual situation or issue. And sometimes, there is no time to discuss things that just pop up.

    One thing in particular I am thinking of is how I undermined his authority at times when I shouldn't have. Instead of following his lead, I would often immediately jump in and take over, rather than allowing him the opportunity to do it his way or be a parent. I don't think I ever actually thought in my head, "these are MY kids" but I think that may have been an underlying motivator for that the responsibility should be mine or that he wasn't experienced enough. Also in particular, when mine were in their early to mid teen years, I definitely should have allowed him to have more say and kept my mouth shut. I think if I had done that, it would have nipped some of my difficult child's disrespectful attitude towards H in the bud to a degree.

    The bottom line is that I think I should have shown H more respect as my co-parent by allowing him to actually do more of the parenting, EVEN if it wasn't the way I would have done it or even if his approach was different than mine. I think, in retrospect, that children should see their parents work together more and support one another when it comes to parenting and they should also see that each parent has a different approach to certain things and that they cannot use that fact to work one against the other.

    My H and I weathered it. At times it felt like we were strangers and at other times, we were one another's rock. There were times when I thought it would be easier to be a single parent because then I could just do it my way. And there were times when I was petrified that H would leave me for real over some of the difficult child stuff as well as the typical teen stuff. We are only just now getting to a point where he is mellowing, the girls (adults) are rarely around and we're all closer than ever. Yours are still tiny, so you've a long way to go, but it may be wise to seek out some type of family counseling to help you both get on the same page so everytime something happens you're not at one another's throats over it. H and I did benefit from some family counseling off and on over the years to deal with issues about being a step family as well as difficult child issues. Hugs~
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    I'm husband's 3rd wife. Onyxx and Jett are from the 2nd marriage; M, who's on his way to our house right now with husband, is from the first.

    Honestly - there have been a lot of times that I have wanted to tell him, re Onyxx - it's her or me!!!

    I'm glad I haven't. I know, deep down, that husband loves me, and I know I love him. We have different parenting styles - partially because he was Disneyland Dad when I met him. He never knew if and when he would see the kids, so he spoiled them. I worked with him to get him out of that. But - that is NOT what caused the problems.

    I have, mostly for Onyxx, a little bit for Jett: lost time at work; and been: called names, stolen from and lied to, beaten, treated like dirt and/or a slave, emotionally, physically and verbally abused. I have: loved the kids, tried to make a good home for them, tried to never say a negative word about their mother, listened, hugged, kissed boo-boos, cooked, chauffeured, been a secretary for them... And none of this is actually MY JOB. That's not really how I see it. Just because I am "only" a stepmom, doesn't mean that I am NOT a MOM.

    The joke between me and husband is that if I'd had a CLUE that he wasn't joking when he told the girl who introduced us he had a "psycho ex" - I would have run SCREAMING. And it's only partly a joke. Many of the things Onyxx has done are an indirect result of choices her mother made; which has prompetd her to make terrible choices, too.

    The saddest thing, I think, is the fact that Onyxx is, by her own choice, 100% estranged from her mother. She has stated she considers me her Mom and will treat me as such. (I'd hate to see how she would treat someone she doesn't love, same circumstance.) The paperwork at the shelter she is at had me listed in the mother column. Even now she denies her bio mom. I find that very saddening.

    But I digress. husband and I stand firm together when it comes to serious issues. The smaller ones, though... It took him a LONG time to get on the same page I am on. He saw what she was doing, but he thought if he was a little more lenient, and just LOVED her, it would help. But she's determined to self-destruct, and it was definitely a source of friction. At one point he accused me of never saying anything positive about Onyxx. I could not find anything she did that made me smile for a VERY long time.

    But now? Now. He's on the same page I am, and then - after that - she went WAY too far over the line.

    My best advice for you? Something I think may have saved our marriage? Regular date night and/or time alone. husband and I try to go to lunch once every week, and every other Friday is OUR time. Holding hands is great, too.

    And please, if you are having any troubles at all - counseling! You are both under stress, and men and women deal differently with stress. Seriously, counseling - talking to someone ELSE - helps. Then when you're together, you don't JUST talk about the boys.

  4. keista

    keista New Member

    One thing I know for sure, is that marriage, like everything else in life has and ebb and flow. "Good times and in bad" You just had a difficult time with the kids, AND pms is coming on. I'd say it's one of the 'bad' times. If you BOTH keep aware of the ebb and flow, and BOTH work through the ebbs and value the flows, you should be OK. Remember to have "date nights" so you can reconnect on a meaningful level. One couple I know set their kids' bed time to 7pm, just so they would have that much needed alone time - she swears that saved her marriage.

    Most ppl divorce before the kids turn 5 because they had NO CLUE how much time, energy and work, little kids take. I've found the more involved both parents are in the actual parenting chores - feeding, changing, bathing, bed times, etc - the stronger the marriage. in my opinion it's because they are truly sharing the load - working together for a common goal. In addition to date nights, it's a god idea for each of you to have a night/day off where you get to pursue your own interests. Since you are both working, this free time to pursue individual interests may not be so necessary, but depending on the household division of labor, it might be needed.

    For me it was doomed even before 'I do' only because I married a man who was a figment of his own imagination. After so many years, I know what makes him tic, but have very few 'facts' of his real life, what he's done, what he thinks. The stuff that comes out of his mouth are all lies all the way down to his race. Odd situation indeed, but from a practical standpoint, we were never a parenting team. He worked, I stayed home. By default, I did almost all of the parenting work. Seemed fair UNTIL I realized that I was literally doing ALL the parenting work. When I'd get my "day off" I still had to prep everything before I left, and clean up everything when I got back. To add insult to injury, he'd call that day his 'babysitting' day. WTH? No discussing, no arguing could get him to see that he was a PARENT, and he was PARENTING that day. OY! He left for other reasons, but I'm convinced that if those reasons had not shown up, he would have found something else to make him go. The plan had been that once our youngest started school, that I would go back to work - even part time. Although he said he was on board with the plan, I think me going to work scared him. He would no longer have the excuse that I was home all day, and he would have to step up and be a PARENT, I would be out doing my own things, individualizing myself from the kids (and him), and I would no longer possess the identity that he imagined up for me.

    Make time to stay connected to each other. Find ways to reinforce each other instead of turning on each other. We tend to take our anger and frustrations out on those we feel safest with - family. Unfortunately, that can eat away at that 'safety net' as well.
  5. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Honestly? Prozac. That coupled with our difficult child not living in our home anymore made a HUGE difference in our marriage. Having a difficult child causes stress on any relationship - especially marriage. Make sure you take time out for each other to be a couple. You both need that break and to feel that connection to keep going.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful can certainly take it's toll if you let it. Notice how I phrased that.

    First of all, you both need to be on the same page as far as rules/consequences ect. That way you're backing each other up instead of being able to be pitted against each other.

    I also made husband tag along for every single doctor visit. That way HE knew what was going on first hand and docs ect could explain it to him at the same time as me. (this helped enormously) And he had to go to every single IEP meeting with me for the same reason.

    Those things were very important as they helped us work together as a team.

    Then.........we were careful to take time for US. Not easy to do when there was no one to watch the kids. But kids had early bedtimes so that Mom and Dad had their time alone together with no difficult children. When they were older and we were able we made a monthly date night where we went out and did something fun together.

    And make sure you're each getting some de-stressing time alone as well. Some time away from difficult children to enjoy whether it be a walk or in your room reading a book or a lunch date with the girls......

    It didn't make it perfect, but it made it bearable and much easier to deal with.

  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    For a date night idea - a picnic in a local park is great. Just an hour away made things easier...
  8. Jena

    Jena New Member

    patriotsgirl i laughed when i saw what you wrote..... great response....

    clearly i'm no one to give marriage advice. i agree with-lisa on this one you have to have the rules in place and back eachother all the time. this way they know your a strong union that can't be broken.

    if they see any wavering their like little monsters they can smell it froma mile away and they'll go in for the kill. sounds crazy yet they do. my husband struggles with his own issues and the few times he's said things that were against what i said to kids i had a much harder time wtih my stepkids and he a much harder time wtih my daughter. for us it'sa second marriage.

    just make time and protect yourselves. kids are important yet with-o you two ok the rest won't flow well. trust me i know! :)

    good luck :) don't give up sounds like you two just need a little tweeking to get it ok
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm on Husband 3.0, and we've been married for 11 years. I honestly don't know how we survived the most awful Miss KT years, but the only "almost divorced" episode we've had was about three months after we got married.

    Miss KT's father (aka Useless Boy) was my second husband. We divorced when I'd had enough of his P/A psycho BS coupled with the constant lying. Miss KT was 4.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    After something like 20 yrs of marriage... and many more of observation...

    The "5 yrs of kids" thing is a red herring. Back in the "old" days, you started a family by getting married - there was no "waiting two years"... and yes, back then, they had a name for it: the seven-year itch.

    It had nothing to do with kids - and couples with no kids, and couples with "normal" kids and couples with all kinds of kids... all hit it. About that time, you discover that this person that you're married to isn't quite what you expected - you can't reconcile the "image" with the "reality". If you're too much connected to the "image", then the marriage falls apart. If you have some connection to the "reality", then there's something to build on... but it takes work - more work than either has ever had to put into the relationship.

    If both sides are committed to making it work "no matter what" **, there's always a way through.

    ** "no matter what" = a lady I worked with put it nicely: the only valid reasons for a split are: abuse, adultery and addictions - and even then, only if "help" hasn't worked.

    Kids? one way or another, the're only around for a few years. Somehow, find a way to deal with the kids. Someone around here got husband to back off and just be the background "enforcer" on call when needed and she managed the front lines. Others pull the kid-load equally. There are all sorts of variations... and which one you use matters: it has to work for both of you. It does NOT matter what anyone else thinks.

    You DO have to...
    - keep your own sanity - an "insane" spouse is very hard to live with
    - ditto for helping spouse keep their sanity
    - agree on the big picture (we're finding a way to make this work... we're doing what it takes to get help for the kids... etc.)
    - it really helps if you can agree on finances... and it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, if the relationship is in trouble then usually finances are even bigger trouble.
    - focus on the big picture... because its the details that are killing you, and you have to recognize these for what they are... grains of sand, not mountains... but in your shoe you'll never find a mountain!

    If you need it, get help - couples therapy, for example, or kid help so you can have time together, or household help (cleaning lady, yard care) to take care of the irritating details so you CAN focus on the other stuff...

    Sometimes its so simple its stupid... one fellow I know needed crisp white shirts for work (dress code) - his wife HATED ironing, and HE couldn't do it right. After quite a bit of friction for a few months, he came home with 10 new white shirts... she almost blew her top, but before she could say anything, he said that these shirts were never to be washed by her - he was taking them to the cleaners once a week, had a 2 week supply, and if he was going on a business trip (frequent) the shirts were already folded and ready to pack. The money wasn't an issue, obviously - but ironing shirts just about became a major problem.

    Find the sore points, and then find a way to smooth a couple of these over - it makes a big difference.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We were just too stubborn to give in. Or stupid...take your pick. LOL
  12. seriously

    seriously New Member

    We too are stubborn I guess. 18 years last month and all of it - every year - with one difficult child or another at home.

    When we were dealing with difficult child 1 (he was 13 and we had been married for 3 years) it was clear that part of his particular "craziness" involved doing whatever it took to break us up. We had 18 month old twins on top of difficult child 1, who, in addition to mental illness, was severely physically disabled and required extensive personal care.

    One particularly difficult day our struggles with difficult child 1 turned into a huge argument between us. I don't even remember what it was about.

    But the argument just stopped when I said - this is what he wants. This is his goal - to break us up. Do we really want to let him do this to us?

    The answer was No and so far that has served us through thick and thicker.

    Counseling will help a lot. Standing united is important. You can't stand united if you never have time together so that's important to manage somehow. I used to go meet wife for lunch at work once the kids were in school because once they were home there was no time for us at all. Respite is essential so you need to do whatever you can to keep from getting isolated and then you must be willing to ask for help when you need it.

    Check around in your community and see if there's any respite services from social service agencies or religious organizations and then take advantage of it.

    We used to tell people that we were still together because we had a rule: whoever left first had to take the kids. Most people laughed - they thought we were kidding. Maybe we were.

    Like others have said, you are a couple long after the kids have left (or been shown the door). Holding firm to that, refusing to give that power to your children or circumstances, seeking support and help - and maybe the threat of having to raise these kids alone - has kept us together.

    Best wishes. Be honest with your husband and make sure you've got each other's backs. That will help a lot.
  13. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    Seriously- we joke about that too "if you want to leave that's fine but take your sons with you" It's kind of funny because when the twins were newborns husband said I could leave, but I had to leave the boys with him, and now he says don't forget to take my boys, lol, it's a joke b/w us, I always say Na, you can have them I'll pay child support and visit every 2nd with-e, I'll be disney mom!

    Girls thanks for sharing such personal stories with me. the common theme is "make time for each other" and with his shift work and my mon-fri it can be hard. I phoned him from work today and thanked him for dealing with the boys this am and putting them on the bus while I stayed in bed(I woke up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep, stress, and I was a real peach this am so he sent me back to bed) I am one of those people if I'm tired or hungry I turn into an evil wicked cranky biatch!

    I started reading a really good book and it has touched on so many of my feelings of what I sometimes feel, like running away from it all, and wishing I had never had kids, this book has made me realize I'm not alone and alot of moms feel this way at one point or another.

    90% of the time when I think into the future I think of me & husband, retired, gardening, canoeing, fishing, hunting being together just us...during the crazy cranky us fighting day with the kids making me want to put my hand in a blender, those days I dream of me being alone, in the country with totaly peace & quiet.

    We have been through alot together over the last 13yrs and I think that is why we get so stressed because it's like we both feel "why us?" why can't things go right for once? we both do the pity party. But we always agree it could be much much much worse and this too shall pass, we hope♥
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Jan, I'd like to add a couple of things.

    First, it is not a problem if you argue. But you have to fight fair and you have to take it to a mutually satisfactory resolution. husband & I had a fight the other night in front of his mother (actually, I was the one being a bit oversensitive) but we resolved it in seconds. When we got home we investigated the matter a bit further and found some more solutions. Meanwhile mother in law was in a panic and didn't sleep a wink because she thought we were on the point of break-up and that she was the cause. It took a lot of reassurance and she had to rationalise it with, "I understand you were just a bit overtired, that's all," when that was not it! It was almost as bad as someone calmly telling me, "I understand, it's just a bad time of the month."

    So - fight away, but fight fair. That means no personal attacks. No "I hate you when you do X," instead you say, "I hate X when you do it." Subtle difference. But important. Also in fighting fair - stick to the topic, do not dredge up unrelated old news. "And while we're on the topic, you were mean to me two years ago when we were out with your friends and you said such-and-such." Old hurts should be resolved at the time, or dropped. The only reason for mentioning them, is to try to break a behaviour pattern. They are to be mentioned for interest only, not for resolution so far after the event.

    Do not fight in front of the kids, if you can't fight properly. The kids will get frightened and upset. It also teaches them bad fighting habits. They need good fighting habits for their own relationships.

    Next big rule - communicate. Be on the same page. The best way for us has been having husband lurk here, and finally join in his own right. He reads everything I post (hi, honey!) and if he has a problem with it, we talk about it. Writing about things here can help 'gel' ideas far better than trying to grab a few seconds to talk when he gets home from work. Quite a few times especially in the earlier stages, husband would talk to me and say, "I know we talked about this, but I didn't really understand until I read your post this afternoon, then it all fell into place."

    We still sometimes find ourselves in conflict over how to handle a difficult child situation, but it's a lot easier to get ourselves back on track.

    We've been married for 33 years now, and are if anything closer than ever. it hasn't been easy, we work at it every day. But working on your relationship is an investment in the future and in your kids' futures.

  15. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    thanks, we don't dirty fight, never have, once in awhile I'll say "you'r being an a**hole" but we aren't mudslingers, when we fight it's usually when the kids are wired, not listening, I start to yell husband tells me not to yell and then I get frustrated, he gets frustrated and it's just a big mess, most times it is me that needs to appologize so I do, the next day or later that night, if I think he's in the wrong I will talk to him later once we are cooled and I'm pretty good at asking for what I need I will say "I think you owe me an appology because xxx or yyyy" and husband is really good at listening in that moment and saying he's sorry and then he will tell me how he feels. Usually I try to put myself in his shoes but I also ask him to put himself in my shoes.

    To be honest alot of times things run smoother when it's just me, but I have to let go of some of my type A personality traits and pick my battles, I'm always telling husband "pick your battles" because he can get nit picky with the boys and I get protective of them and then it causes a fight and husband says he's confused and isn't sure what he's supposed to be doing because I have undermined him in the past in front of the boys:916blusher: I know WRONG thing to do, and I say I'm sorry and now I realy really try hard not to do that, but to pull husband aside and say xyz in private.
  16. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    Being on opposite shifts makes life extra hard sometimes. The first 2 years husband and I were married we were that way. We'd have 1 hour together before he left for work. That left me alone with 2 difficult child step-kids (first time ever dealing with difficult children). Life was hard! Then husband got a better job, a day job, but one with a lot of travel....months at a time travel. So, again I was alone with 2 difficult children.

    Stubborness played a big part in us still being together....and the fact that we love each other so much. We've always done whatever we can to find time together. And understanding each other helps too. Like Men commune and Women communicate. Understanding that husband is happy just sitting next to me out on the deck without a word being said, helps me give him his communing time. His understanding that I need to talk....and NOT have him fix my problems helps him help me. In the beginning, I had to explain to husband that I needed him to put on his "girlfriend" hat and just listen to me otherwise he'd try to fix me.

    We also made sure that the kids knew that we were a couple. husband and I always sit together. The kids sit around us. Of course, when they were little it meant a seating chart/schedule. On the first month, you sit next to Mom, the second month, you sit next to Dad, on the third month, you had the "third man out" seat. It really helped the kids to have that schedule. They felt that they got a fair amount of time with mom and dad. Of course, we had to have easy child take the month of February because he could be reasonable about being shorted a few days.

    And finding ways to avoid the "hot spots" helped. There were 2 things that always caused a problem in the beginning. One was having 3 kids fighting to get through a door together.... we had them draw cards, Highest to lowest card would be the order of life! It worked out to go with age, oldest to youngest. So the oldest went in/out the door followed by the others in order. The fighting stopped. In fact, we forgot all about it until we noticed that the kids (16, 15, 13 at the time) were still waiting for each other and going through the door in order.

    The second and biggest fighting point when we first got together was the dinner table. husband was of the mind set that you eat what is on the table whether you like it or not. I'm not like that. If you tried mashed potatoes on Monday and didn't like them, you aren't going to like them on Wednesday! And like I would tell husband, "No one is in jail because they didnt' like mashed potatoes!".... My problem was whether you eat or not, sit at the table until you were done. Ant refused to sit. He would take a bite, run around the table, take a bite, run outside, take a bite, play with a toy..... I would pull out my hair, but husband thought that was okay. So......our way of handling it was to STOP eating at the table! We took our plates and ate around the TV. That way husband didn't see what easy child was/was not eating, and I wouldn't notice what Ant's movements were. About 3 years later, we were able to have dinner as a family at the table.
  17. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    I don't make dinner a battle, fighting over food generally doesn't happen in my house, I usually have at least one item they each like on their plates and I will let them have a bowl of healthy cerial before bed if they didn't like dinner. My rule at the table is they have to be excused from the table and no dessert if they don't try what I've made, if they don't eat I will let them have a healthy dessert like strawberries or an apple. Dinner time is more stressful for my husband than me, and usually it runs smoother when it's just me & the boys. I'm bad for eating dinner later, I putter in the kitchen while my men eat dinner or I will sit while they eat, it's about 50/50 if I eat when they do. I know I should eat when they eat but I'm still there while they eat, talking etc, and usually I'm in waitress mode, bringing this, cutting that, serving this etc...I don't mind. I think I have adhd myself so this works for us.