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Husband wants to be friends

26443 Views 152 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Tron
I am new on this forum. I never thought I would be in this situation, asking complete strangers to hear me out and help.

Have been together for over 10 years, 5 year old child. I thought we had a decent marriage and relationship, there were things that were bogging me but I thought we were strong. I am difficult to please, he says, and am never happy. Was not supporting him in his demanding carrier. He was working a lot and was distant and is generally closed. We had good times, had sex less often than 10 years ago but still decent amount. Were going out and spending time together without our child. I thought we were happy, or happier than a lot of other couples.

10 days ago we had an argument, nothing major. He was angry but eventually calmed down and was actually even nice. I couldn’t let go and the whole thing built into me nagging and mentioning other things.. He said this is no good and he should leave. I say ok, leave, many times until he actually packed his staff and left. I was calling him for a couple of days after that and tried to get him back. Said we should try counselling, he said no point. I’ve stopped contacting him and tried to do 180. I know I need to be strong for me and my child. He stopped by on Saturday to pick our child up and take him out for lunch etc. He did the same thing on Sunday. I made sure I looked good when he stopped by (did not want to get into the house) and did not ask much, was polite and civil.

Yesterday he texted. He said it was about time we discussed matters. He would stop by after our child’s bedtime and sleep over on the sofa. So he did... I was sort of happy to see him. I made a mistake and asked him whether he was hungry. He said he was not here to make peace. Sat in the far corner of the living room and said that it’s all over. He was not happy for a while (although we had fun and were intimate even two days before he left, he did not seem too unhappy to me) and that we have a toxic relationship. We argue a lot and he feels there’s no way back. He wants what’s best for our child. He will move back in at the end of the week and want us to be friends for the sake of our child until we work things out (not getting back together but how we end this). He also got tired of living like a gypsy (I guess he stayed at a motel or work related travel some days) and feels he should be able to stay in his home. It is his home too and he wants to spend time with his child in his home and would like me to go out, have fun. He wants me to be happy. That what he wants the most. He always told me in the past that it is difficult to make me happy because I always want more, now he says it would be unfair to me to continue this as he is not for me and can’t make me happy. He has a great level of respect for me and thinks I am a great person. It is difficult because of that and he never even thought about another women. Said he wish he could as that would be easier. He wants to agree what financial split would be fair. I asked him about how long we do that, what do we do for Christmas, should we do some things together with our child. He did not think of the detail at all but does not want to eat at the house or wash anything, he does not want to go anywhere together (our child’s Christmas play, we would go there separately).

I felt I could go on and do 180 but after he said this was it, I am a mess. I even told him last night that I care for him and am not angry. I told him I was worried about him and thought whether he was safe or whether his driving might be impaired as a result of lack of sleep. Other things I should have not such as mentioning good moments of our marriage. I said I felt there were more good than bad in it... He stopped me and said that was wrong and that I am under the illusion that our marriage was working.

Any thoughts or advice please!
How do I behave when he is around, living in the same household but want out? Do I start any conversations? Should I stick to practicalities or should I start any conversations about us?
I am currently feeling desperate to get back together....
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How sad that you find yourself in this situation.

It sounds to me that you know what you *should* be doing (the 180), but like so most left behind spouses you are finding it hard to consistently follow through with your plan.

It sounds like there is no point in initiating any talk about your past relationship, or trying to figure out why your H has reached his decision to leave the marriage. As frustrating as it is, he isn't prepared to give you answers right now, AND even if he did try to explain why he is unhappy you must realize that he is currently in the process of rewriting your life together to focus on the bad parts -- by seeing the bad and not the good, it is easier for him to leave the relationship.

So for the practical matters --
(1) Decide if you are willing to have him move back into the house. Is there a spare room he can stay in? If not, then consider telling him that since he has decided to move out he needs to find his own place. Obviously, if you two own your home together than you will need to decide if you can afford to stay in it or whether you will need to sell it. Also, if you take this path you will need to separate your finances so that this is possible. Educating yourself on divorce and custody law will be important.
(2) Come up with a basic co-parenting plan. Write it out. If you like, you can write a document in google docs and then share it with your H, so he can make comments on it. What kind of custody arrangement do you want? does your H want? Will it be a 50-50 split, or will you be the primary parent and have your H look after your child every other weekend and on Wednesday evenings? Once you've decided on the split, then suggest to your H that you start implementing it immediately. Tell your H, "since junior will be living with me on M, T, Th and F I will be in charge of picking him up from school, getting his dinner and putting him to bed." You can decide if you are willing to have your H in the shared parts of the house during those days or whether you need him to stick to his room (or stay out altogether). Then you can say, "you will have junior on W, and the weekend. I will either leave the house on those days or stay in my room." After you've gotten the details for the next few weeks sorted out, mark the days on the calendar and share the plan with your child.
(3) Consider if you and your H can work out the details of your separation by email rather than in one-on-one conversations. Or, alternatively, set a time for you to talk and stick to having conversations only during that time.
(4) Line up individual counseling for you and consider family therapy for your child.
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Tough situation, went through similar (without the complication of the kid) of a wife who had made up her mind to leave, but also wanted access to the house (which is fair, since we both paid for it, etc). So did the in-house separation thing. She also wanted to remain friends. In my situation, without kids, I didn't want to do that, and basically cut off all communication and once the paperwork/formalities are done I hope to never talk to her again.

Obviously with the kids you will have to maintain contact -- but there's a difference between 'friends' and 'civil'. I think you can be civil, especially in front of the kid, but don't need to be friends if you don't want to be. As the party being left, the party who thought the marriage was OK (despite having some bumps) I found everytime I see my SO that I feel a mix of anger, disappointment, and other emotions I don't like. So I minimize that. My house is big enough that we can stay in our separate corners, and I try to basically use shared space (kitchen, etc) not at the same time.

I would recommend you continue the divorce 180 path. It may help bring you two together, but unfortunately most likely it will just help you prepare for the future as a single person. It helped me disassociate my identity from the relationship, because if I didn't, and the marriage ended (like mine did, and yours likely will) .. then what will be left of you?

Good luck and I'm sorry to hear of your situation.
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I am going through the same situation. It's awkward to say the least. My spouse and I want to keep things civil for the kids before Christmas as we don't want to spoil it for them.
Remember the 180 is for you. If it's not going to work out between both of you, the 180 will help you to move on. If it is going to work, it will give him time to think about what it would be like to lose you.
Hang in there. I keep telling myself there is life after divorce.
Thank you all for your advice and support, it means a lot to me.
I have not posted since my husband moved back in. I am confused and not sure what is happening.
First few days were awkward to say the least. He seemed angry, sad, easily frustrated. Now he seems more at peace. It seems almost he is at peace with his decision that for us to part is the best thing. On the other hand, our interaction seems a bit easier now.
I made many mistakes during this 10 day period since he is back in the house. I initiated ‘us’ conversation a couple of times. It felt he was ‘giving in’ on some points but his conclusion is firm that he does not think it is a good idea and that I will soon realise that’s the best and that I don’t love him (he thought that for a while I have not behaved as if I loved him). He feels we don’t love eachohter and should not be in a loveless marriage, we don’t deserve this. He feels in a tunnel and feels the only way is out without eachother. I said that that is not the only way out and we could get out together in a redefined and better relationship. I suggested he works on his happiness and I work on mine (i.e. we do things we enjoy separately because we neglected that due to our demanding carriers and a child). He said if we need a crisis to do it that way, it is not worth it. All in all, he has not given me much room to work on.
The worst thing is that I have no piece and continue torturing myself. I am not getting any better... I look for clues (e.g. he did the weekly shopping, he doesn’t do little things that used to annoy me such as leaving the dishes in the sink, he throws the rubbish out, he does not close the door of the bathroom when he is peeing and he got naked in the room with an open door while I was in the corridor and he say I saw him, he asked me to do him a couple of favours, we went out for lunch once all together and as we used to share food, he put some of his lunch on my plate even though I said no). I keep hoping and cannot let go. That is the only thing that keeps me a little bit happy, that hope. At the same time, he seldom initiates conversation.
He went out on Saturday. He did not want to tell me anything (said not relevant for our situation). He stayed overnight. I know he was with a friend and don’t think it is anything to worry about (he would have done it even in ‘good times’) but it bothers me that he is so secretive. He does not ask me where I am going and when I would be back ... only if it impacts on our son’s schedule.
As for Christmas, I suggested we do something together for our son’s sake. He suggested he books lunch and we go iceskating. Now I see this as an opportunity...
I am going insane here.
I start counselling on Friday. I am also considering antidepressants if I don’t feel better by mid January. I had post-natal depression that got away on its own (it was very bad) by spending time with family and changing jobs. I am worried it may come back in a worse form...
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Sorry that this has happened to you. I know how you feel being on the receiving end of things where you don't feel like you know what is going on.

Based on what you said, it sounds as though your husband has made up his mind about ending your marriage. He is done but is being very amiable about the situation. It is not happy but could be a lot worse. I admire your ability to hope for better things, but practically you need to start working on you.

- Go to therapy and work on those things you know about yourself. This can help a lot and give you the opportunity to think out loud.
- Start to do things you like to do: exercise, paint, join a meetup group, ect. This will help you take your mind off things and also prepare you for life on your own again.
- Start the process of separating your finances. Get your own bank account. If your husband is willing, separate the joint monetary assests. Include: checking, savings, investments, retirement accounts, and pensions.
- Do you have a job and can support yourself? Most cannot live on pure support alone and you will need to be able to provide for yourself and your child.
- Inventory your assets. You will need to start dividing these as well.
- You need to determine custody and come up with a schedule of when your child will spend time with each parent.

Ideally you all will be able to work through this without fighting and the need to resort to lawyers.

Remember this, it hurts right now, BUT, there is life after divorce if you allow yourself the ability to learn and grow from the situation.
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He met someone. He's covering it up and gaslighting you so you feel responsible for driving him away.

Have you checked his phone for numbers you don't recognize?
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Thank you for your responses C3156 and turnera.
C3156 - I think that is a very good practical advice you provide. I have started spending more time with close friends (going over for sleepovers to get out of the house when he's around),going out and reconnecting with old friends and reading loads, self improvement books etc and signed up at a local gym. I have also been dressing up when going out but I don't think he notices that. Did not notice when we were together not sure he'd notice now!
I have seen a psychiotherapist and am starting couceling this friday. I have also done a lot of crying on sholders as well. That seems to help. I am much stronger around him now than I used to be. I swore to myself I will not start a conversation with him any more (it was mostly me starging any conversations in this 3 weeks) and no way he is going to see my unhappy.
turnera - I probably should have not but I have checked both of his phones, all of his e-mails and FB messages and chats. I checked all credit cards and accounts. There's nothing out of ordinary. That's how i found out he stayed at friends's couch this Sat after a football game. To be honest, I think it would be easier if there was someone else. It would hurt but it would also kill any hope which is what I struggle to let go off...
I guess like many around here, I would like us back together and seem to remember only the positives. THe fact that he is amiable is making it hard for me, that's why I love him and his behavour keeps reminding me of that :(
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Well, in the meantime, get this book. It will help you understand what your marriage was supposed to look like. Maybe you can recognize some things you can change: His Needs Her Needs by Harley.
Somehow, I have to hold on to that hope - I know it is wrong but I can't let go. I analyise everything he does or says..Wishing for something over which I have no control only brings me more suffering...
I am trying to look at this from the best possible perspective. Am trying to see what went wrong on my part and see whether I can change that for my own sake (and say for the sake of raising my child properly).
Basically, I am one of those people who throw themselves into a relationship with no boundaries. Good in the eaerly stages but it gets heavy with time. I lost my identity to our relationship and it seams to have made me insecure, defensive, unable to compromise. I did not assume responsiblity for my own happiness and life choices (I blamed him for all sorts of things that went wrong with my carrier, friends, part of the country we live in...) Equaly, I did not seem to have given him the freedom to be a separate individual. He is away for a couple of days now to do something he always wanted to do. I said that was great and glad to see him doing that. He got very angry saying that I prevented him from doing it when we were together (always found a reason why he shold not do it then or there) and it seems very unnatural that I am glad he is doing it now.
I have no say no as to what he does nor should I but I hope once he starts doing all these things he cares for, he realises I could fit somewhere there too. I need to be patient and see where we end up... He said he is in no hurry for us to discuss separaton although I have no signal from him that reconciliation is possible. Sad...
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You need therapy to find a BETTER way to live your llife. Just because you 'throw yourself into' something doesn't mean it's the healthiest way to live. Look at what you're stuck with.

Time to change something?
I know you are very right turnera, but at the moment, I am still stuck in that pain that I ruined everything, and he was nearly perfect. Checking his notes, e-mails etc only makes me hope more because there is lot there that indicated his commitment (prior to this) and plans for our future together (he was secretly taking a course to learn something I really value and few other things he had on his self improvement list that I would value such as learning my native language and my dialect).
I am struggling to detach, if anyone has any suggestions, please shoot. I am already doing loads practically but not sure how to close it off emotionally. It just seems that I am going to explode in my desire to show him my love...I know, he’s not very loving at the moment and that would be wrong. I keep reminding myself that he does not want to reconciliate but just cannot make myself believe it yet..
Well, my take is that there is more to it than what you're explaining. Maybe you could give us more of your background. What your childhoods were like. What your dating was like. How he used to treat you. What caused things to go wrong.
Ok, a bit of history. This is going to be long!
Our childhoods: we both come from fairly traditional families. Our parents did not have perfect marriages but they did stick to eachoter. My parents had a lot of irrelevant fights when me and my siblings were young but after we’ve grown up to early teens, they seem to have calmed down and are good partners now and are supportive of eachoter’s differences and interests. His parents got along well when young. However, since the kids left they are arguing all the time, small and big things and his mom has been threatening to leave. They seldom have meaningful conversations.
As for our situation, we did not date very long. We moved in together within few months and got married after two years. We go along perfectly and provided undivided support to eachother. I am his first serious relationship where he’s shown commitment. He had girlfriends before but they were more dating and games rather than commitment. There has always been the two of us. We had friends but socialised together. We seldom got out without the other one. Everything was calm and perfect until we had our child. I had a very difficult birth - both myself and the baby nearly died and I was suffering from PSTD and postnatal depression which I never addressed. Was prescribed antidepressants but he was against it. Now I think he was not supportive but just though I could deal with it... Shortly he started travelling for work a lot. Some sort of parenting burden that he started thinking constantly that he makes little and that he needs to step up. He got one promotion after another, done very well. But he was absent a lot and always tired and unavailable. No interest in socialising or doing any activities. Well, seldom. Things were brilliant on holidays. Sex was good although sparse. My mom was staying with us as I needed logistical help (I was working long hours too). Things were not going well. I told him that I was not happy and that he needs to get a job that does not require that much travel and time away from the family. I wanted my husband. He was stressed and we had fights over silly little things. Then we had a major fight over him being away and I pushed him physically and told him to leave. So he did. Stayed in a hotel for few days, we talked over the phone and he came back full of love and commitment. He said I was right that he needs to communicate more and better and that he needs to spend more time with the family. Changed jobs and stopped travelling almost altogether. Helped a lot with child drop off/pick ups. I got promoted and was very happy. From then on, I thought things were going well. Two years since that happened.
Now, we started quarrelling again, stupid things again but it was almost non-stop for 3 days. He was very stressed at work and had important things going on. Said I did not get that and was not supportive. He said he was going to leave for good this time. I said go, just go. So he did and was away for 2 weeks. He only came back to live separately in the same house in order to talk separation terms but is in no hurry to start talking. Now he is telling me that that two years ago things broke for him and he does not think it was the same afterwards. He does not know whether he could ever trust me. He said that he was the only one that has been working on things since. I have not changed a bit. His complaint about me is that I nag over stupid things and that I am never happy. I have to admit that I am a perfectionist and that I always look for problems in order to solve them. I have been overworked and stressed too and let my anger show few times. He thinks he cannot make me happy. He is an introvert and I am an extravert. I need to talk things through, he withdraws when things get tough. He generally does not speak much, in social situations he does but I think that is the social pressure. All three times we talked recently he told me that he does not believe in us, he is tired of trying and does not want to go back where we were. He does not think he loves me anymore and it might have been some time that he felt that way, he does not know when he stopped loving me. Loves me as a person and respects me but is tired of being ‘beaten up’ by me. I always have to win. I don’t respect his views. . Thinks better for both of us to go separate ways. I should be with someone more compatible with me, that is to say someone who says ‘I love you’, holds hands and shows affection more. My husband is a bit reserved, does not pay compliments or say touch my hair. He can be quite distant at times and I learned how to deal with that but he says that maybe that is not his personality trait but rather his response to my, more extraverted character. He says that whatever he suggested in the past (I work less, I stop doing house work and cook less as it is exhausting me) I just ignored. Said unfair if I am to suggest we try that now.
When I confronted him on the issue of future planning (we had a couple of holidays booked and paid for over the next 6 months and have been looking to upgrade our house to mention few examples) and that we had frequent sex, he said that after every fight, he was hoping but that the hope kept fading. He also said that this last fight was not the last drop and he was not planning the separation but that he just cannot do it anymore...
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A bit of an update...
We spent Christmas and the 26th together. We went out for a nice walk in the countryside on Christmas day and he booked us for lunch. He arranged everything. I started feeling more relaxed around him and even hugged him and kissed him on his cheek in the restaurant. On our way back to the car i looped my arm around his. He pulled away but I did it again. He started joking at first and then said he was doing all this for our son so we all spend time together during holidays. We had a nice chat in the evening, about irrelevant things and he asked me about Christmas present. He said he did not get anyone anything. I said I got him something he always wanted but left it in the office as I was afraid he would reject it.
26th we had lunch all together (he prepared something and he does not like doing anything in the kitchen). I complimented him but he said that I would have not said that during ‘good times’ but criticize him... He made several such remarks when I was trying to be nice. In the evening we all went out and he even fed me and we shared some sweets, alternating between bites. He cleaned my face. I felt good and we talked about all sorts of things (nor our relationships). Then he mentioned a movie he wanted to see and I said we could go together. He went quite...
That evening I got annoyed him being on FB and tagging a male friend of his in the p[hotos of scenery he took and even the one I suggested he takes...did not tag me but we were there together. I could not handle that and all I found out earlier that day went out. I checked his fb messages when he left it open and he was discussing this girl with his best friend. He said something along the lines that he fancies her... I confronted him and he said all the nasty things one could imagine, what a horrible person i am etc etc... He said he was 100% clean and I was just looking for something in him in order not to feel bad that I screwed up our marriage. He kept saying how inocnec that comment was, something between 2 males...
I felt we were getting better and then all small improvement made have gone since...
I have been going insane since, total mess...I don’t know how people cope with the fact that something so important in my life is over.
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Well, I guess you can't make him want you, but it's a marathon, not a sprint. It's not over til he never sees you again. In the meantime the best thing you can do is try to see it all through HIS eyes. Becasue in the end, what matters is what HE sees when he looks at you. He left quite a few hints in that last post, so I'd start there.
I seem to know what to do and what not to do but it is difficult. LEt's say that patience is not my virtue.

I have my own version of 180 which does include some loving actions (he did say that he did not feel loved in the past months) but rather non verbal acitons of love. Whem I told him few weeks ago how much I loved him he said it was all words and he's done letting me prove it...

I know my biggest problem is that I was, w/o realising, a bit too controling of his time (had to spend most/all his free time w me and our son). NOthing he did was enough for me, I never felt secure. \i guess he had enough of that. I know i need to give him complete sense of freedom now and see how he feels.

Now, we spend time together for New Years. We had a friend come over visit for dinner and we all went to see fireworks together. He did not kiss me at midnight, I did give him a small kiss and tried to kiss him again. He said I was harassing him... He then said I should not insist...he does not feel like it. So, I should not insist on anything...

He was very ill recently and I was not sure what to do. Anything I offered he would say no... I made a nice soup and he ate it, it was only for him and he never said than you. He did not accept my Christmas gift. Actually got upset about it...

It is difficult to stay sane when he is in complete control. I am not even sure whether it is a good thing that he's at home or he should move out... I feel I have more chance to show him that I can change if he is here, on the other hand does that really happen or is he only going to look at negatives to prove that his initial desire to separe was the right thing. ANy thoughts on this?
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It sounds like you have a really bad self esteem issue. If you spent more time focused on yourself and not on him, and take steps to learn to like yourself more, it would matter less what HE wants or does, and THAT would make you more attractive to him.

Are you attending counseling for yourself?
You are absolutely right, I always had a bit of a self esteem problem and also a significant fear of abandonement. Both are getting to me now but I am in an extreme situation with his 'I mean it' threat to leave. He did tell me that our problems started when his career started progressing and he had to be away from home (I don't think I exaggerated when I had 'enough is enough' moment after his 14 months working away from home M-F while I was holding a full time job and taking care of our baby son). He stopped traveling after that (2 years ago).

I am seeing a councillor, although I saw her only once (going again tomorrow so will update). I saw a psychologist and we got down to this abandonement issue which stems from my childhood. The psychologist told me to drop the ball and as you said turnera to let him have it his way for some time and see whether that's acceptable to me (other women in his life would not be but him having a more independent life w interest outside our family wouuld be absolutely fine). I an trying exactly this although I am afraid we will fall into total friendship as we are not intimate nor we share the same bed :( This is getting to me the most, I really missed being with him physically...and of course I am affraid he will look for it elsewhere...
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What are YOU doing outside the marriage?
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