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Marriage & Life Partnerships Debunking the old-ball-and-chain stereotype one couple at a time.

 
 
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Old 3rd January 2004, 9:34 PM   #1
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Bail Out

When I met my wife 13 years ago she was working. Before marriage we talked about all the stuff youre supposed to talk about, including having children and providing for a family.

After having our first child my wife quit working because we both agreed that it was important that, if economically possible, that she stay at home with our child for two years, minimum. We were fortunate that she was able to do not only this for the first two years of our older sons life, but also during the two years after second son was born. After being at home for 4 concurrent years, she decided not to return to work, regardless of my being laid off at the time. Instead she felt comfortable allowing us to deplete our savings while I looked for work that would allow her to maintain the lifestyle in which she had become accustomed. Eventually I did find work, commuting 100 miles a day for over two years. During this period I firmly stated that I didnt expect to have additional children (Obviously, a firm belief in this regard is not preventative). Just as our second child was entering school, our third child was born. Shell be 2 years old this September, almost as long a time as Ive been lain-off for the second time, and have taken temporary contract work.

We could have a very comfortable life as my wife is very employable as an experienced teacher, and we would both have summers and holidays off with kids, but she continues to stubbornly resist working. Every day I feel more like a slave, making a living that allows her to maintain a steady supply of bon-bons consumed while watching Oprah, several soap operas, and something called Regis and Kelly, going to the health spa, and occasionally changing a diaper. Im quickly losing all respect for this person, especially while working with MANY mothers that are contributing to the financial future of their families while I contemplate what brand of cat food would be best to stock to sustain me through retirement.

Question: What to do? I seriously doubt ANY amount of counseling will change my position on the issue: She must return to work September 2004, or I will leave since the volume of contempt I will have amassed at this point will not be contained, and will be damaging to our children.
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Old 3rd January 2004, 10:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Question: What to do? I seriously doubt ANY amount of counseling will change my position on the issue: She must return to work September 2004, or I will leave since the volume of contempt I will have amassed at this point will not be contained, and will be damaging to our children.

Samson, have you given your wife this ultimatum: work or divorce?

If so, are you prepared to folow through unless she makes a good faith effort to find employment?

What do you believe will be more damaging to your children: your absence or your open contempt for your spouse?

Children are notoriously tolerant of suboptimal marriages.

If your wife capitulates, and finds work, will she resent you for forcing her out of the house?

In short, is your marriage, for all intents and purposes, over?
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Old 3rd January 2004, 10:22 PM   #3
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wow, think I'm moving to Houston - if you can afford a health club membership on one salary while supporting 3 kids, the cost of living there must be lower than I've been lead to believe...

seriously, if you've been talking and she's been saying 'no', it sounds like ultimatum time.

maybe get an appointment for the two of you with a financial planner who can show you in black and white how much it will cost to put the kids through college, how much is needed for retirement, etc, etc - you can't live hand to mouth forever. She needs a reality check.
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:00 PM   #4
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Are you positive she's not depressed? Often, people who haven't worked for several years fall into a slump. Will she even discuss the issue or does she avoid it? Does she make lame excuses? Does she do anything but go to the gym, watch TV, and take care of the kids? Has she ever complained of the burden of taking care of kids? Do you help out around the house?

It sounds to me as though there is something more at play here. I definitely would need more info before recommending any course of action.
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:05 PM   #5
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Bark; (hoping you'd read, thanks)

I've not given any ultimatum in the form of a timeline. She has interpreted my own financial analysis (my degree is MBA) as a "threat." Surprised?

I'll not give up easily. We have been in this situation for almost 7 years, and I will continue to try and make it work primarily because I love my children. I'm already saving some really nice cardboard boxes that should keep the weather out, especially if I can put them under a nice local bridge.
But you are correct: the kids will eventually (if not already) tune into the bitterness.

Divorce will not eliminate me from their lives.

The question of whether or not she will resent going back to work is a bridge I'm willing to cross when it happens (One objective at a time).

Brashgal:
Yes, cost of living is extremely low: But our costs are greater than my teacher's income: plenty of savings from my previous jobs to balance the difference. In addition, we never participate in any activity that increases costs, i.e. no comedy clubs, no festivals, no vacations, etc., etc., all the things we did before that held our relationship together
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:26 PM   #6
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So do you ever bring up whether she misses doing the 'fun' things you used to do when you had more money?

I'm thinking moimeme had a point, she sounds a bit depressed. Watching a lot of television is a sign - it's easy escapism. She doesn't miss teaching?
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:31 PM   #7
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Moimeme, hoping you'd reply! Thanks

I'm not sure if she's depressed and haven't discussed it with her. This is an interesting point. Often she suffers from "the vapors" (vaugly defined weariness that prevents her fro any activity during the weekend that begins before noon, including dressing). She has few friends she rarely sees, and when encouraged to make more friends or see more of her current ones she usually declines invitations (most from me). She takes Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

Sometimes this is a "lame" excuse, but it is usually because she doesn't feel she can spend the money. Because I've discussed our finances with her, I must accept much of the blame for burdening her with guilt that might prevent her from participating. But I've also given her money and insisted she spend it on GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE AND HAVING FUN!!

She doen't complain about taking care of the kids. I do most of my own cooking and all my own laundry and vaccuum sometimes. I go out about once per week and play pool, returning home before 10:30 PM. No drinking. There is no liquor or beer in the house.

Wow, perhaps depression could be the root cause. We'll investigate. Anyway, if more details are needed ....yada, yada
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:37 PM   #8
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Cannot keep up with replies Brashgal! Wrote answers to you before reading you're post! Amazing...


does she miss teaching:
NO

In fact, she'd rather I not do it although I do enjoy it very much.

Teaching, and any other work represents what she claims is "stress." God forbid, we have any stress!!
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Old 3rd January 2004, 11:49 PM   #9
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Teaching, and any other work represents what she claims is "stress

vaugly defined weariness that prevents her from any activity during the weekend that begins before noon, including dressing). She has few friends she rarely sees, and when encouraged to make more friends or see more of her current ones she usually declines invitations

I've also given her money and insisted she spend it on GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE AND HAVING FUN!!

I do most of my own cooking and all my own laundry and vaccuum sometimes


Dude. Get her to a doctor. Could even be the thyroid problem not properly medicated. It is just not normal for a person to give up on her own life like that.
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Old 4th January 2004, 12:15 AM   #10
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In her defense, she does have three children to look after - it makes a body weary.

I've been so quick to respond because I recognize myself of a few years back here. Although I was working and taking care of my kids, I was doing little else. Found out that I had hypothyroidism also but after being on meds, still didn't feel 'myself'. Finally started antidepressants and had to try a couple before I finally started getting back to 'normal' (whatever that is). But I also combined this with talking to friends about my problems and finally sought counselling - drugs were not enough for me.

I got off the antidepressants because of side-effects - occasionally feel that maybe I should still be on them but also know that exercise and getting re-involved with my interests and friends do a lot to get rid of that 'vague, weary feeling'.

Work can sometimes be energizing, not always stressful if you are doing something you really enjoy. Has she ever had a job or volunteer work, etc, that she really enjoyed? Or maybe a job that is more physical, less cerebral - working at Sam's Club or something.

There is the issue of childcare to consider though, she'd have to be making enough to offset those costs. No wonder it seems stressful.
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Old 4th January 2004, 12:37 AM   #11
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Thanks for the post. Most enlightening and somewhat supportive of an alternative:

How's about I stay at home and hold down the Fort while 9 & 7 year olds are in school all day and 2 year old watches Barney? I could really use this stress relieving early retiement plan!!! In fact, the more I think about "the vapours" the more weary I become.

Anyway, Sorry: vent's over. I'll try to keep a lid on it until this summer.
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Old 4th January 2004, 1:49 AM   #12
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Not to take your wife's side or anything, but two-year-olds do NOT sit and watch Barney all day. They are a lot of work. Maybe she feels strongly about raising her own kids instead of paying others to do it.

But it does sound like she should be screened for depression and to make sure her thyroid condition is under control.
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Old 4th January 2004, 9:05 AM   #13
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On re-reading this post, I'm struck how there must be, in any relationship, a rough balance in taking and giving (or the perception of same). In short, some festering issues are "marriage breakers," and this sounds like one.

Samson, you're marriage is fundamentally unbalanced: you perceive yourself as the contributor, and your wife as the taker, leech, parasite.

This chronic unbalance causes you to resent and disrespect your wife. She is not only viewed as indifferent to your strong and repeated desire that she re-enter the workplace, you also perceive her to be indifferent to the children's' interests.

I suspect that, in your eyes, your wife is subordinating the family's well-being to her comfort and life style.

Yes, there are counter arguments in your wife's favor: homemaking is work too; your wife may be depressed or suffering from a thyroid condition.

The bottom line, however, is that it is impossible to love anyone for whom we have lost respect and whom we perceive as lazy and selfish.

If your marriage is not in a crisis state, it is fast approaching one.

I honestly don't know how long your marriage can meaningfully last given these long-time feelings and perceptions.

To save your marriage, you just might have to give her an ultimatum: "Get out of this house or I'm out of this marriage." This sounds harsh but strong medicine just might be what your marriage needs.
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Old 4th January 2004, 9:58 AM   #14
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Samson you 've got the big guns giving you the best feedback as usual.

My question to you is:

Is the fact that she will not "pull her weight" the only reason why you are turning off to her?


Plus my interpretation of Barks quote
Quote:
Children are notoriously tolerant of suboptimal marriages.
to me means that kids are tolerant of suboptimal (below par) marriages....

Is that a correct interpretation...staying in the marriage for the sake of the children, albeit a stressful marriage, is better than divorce.

If that is what Bark intended as feedback, do you feel this way as well?

I am sensing that you are annoyed with her, have lost respect, as others have said, maybe sexual interest, and feel as if she hasn't lived up to her end of the bargain.
Do you believe that child-rearing is a full-time job? How is spending handled in your family?..Sounds like some kind of power struggle is brewing.


Is there someone else you're interested in?


I had more questions than answers for you today....I hope you successfully resolve your family issues.

Last edited by Skittles; 4th January 2004 at 10:04 AM..
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Old 4th January 2004, 11:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Suboptimal
My response is, I suppose, that "optimal is in the eye of the beholder."

I'm a bit fuzzy this AM having spent most of the night up with sick 16 month old:"suboptimal sleeping conditions." Of course, I suppose i could have left the house and rented a room at the local Holiday Inn, but this would also have probably resulted in suboptimal conditions. Point being that whether or not kids (or adults) are tolerant, is immaterial: the conditions that exist might be the best they will find.

By the way, after two weeks of the vapors, my wife was also feeling ill this weekend. Believe me, Lotsoffun, after being at home with three kids this past summer I have no illusuions that it is easy. However, I'll make the sacrifices necessary to work

AND parent. This isn't all that heroic. Many others have learned to cope with this and successfully balance work and family.

Skittles: Is there someone else i'm interested in. Absolutely; e is self sufficient, physically and mentally healthy, has a wide range of interests, hobbies, friends, and a great sense of humor. She is also willing to give most of this up to have a relationship with someone who would be carrying around tons of baggage and would probably be living in a cardboard box.

Why, do you know anyone like this!
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