September 27, 2009,
M.B. asks from Milwaukee, WI on September 23, 2009
Husband Continually Disrespects Me, I'm Overworked and Fed Up!
Hi everyone, many thanks for the good advice you've given me in the past. This request is of a more personal nature, but I'm at my wit's end. I know no marriage is perfect, and I try to count my blessings for all I have and always let the negatives go, but today I've had it. I feel so angry I could just take my baby and leave, but of course I can't do that. I have a new house for which I spent my entire life savings on the down payment (more than 25% of the value of the house), so I have no funds for "just in case". Also I just got a new job that I love and want to keep, with good care for my toddler girl. I've built a good life here, but I often feel like a single parent. My husband and I both work full time, but on top of that I do 99% of the parenting (his idea of parenting is to feed her treats and watch commercial tv. He recently tried to watch King Kong with her and I had to lead her away because that's not a safe movie for toddlers!) He won't change a diaper, put her to bed, rarely feeds her (recently he said he'd help by feeding her, gave her ravioli in her high chair, it was in her hair, on her clothes and on the walls, and I was left with the clean-up and bath.) He doesn't go to her when she's sick or get up with her, and he never puts her to bed. Also, he's had me use my credit card for house expenditures (such as all the furniture in our living room) and when he has forgotten to pay the phone bill or cable bill I have had to pay it and he hasn't paid me back. He makes more money than I do but I have to pay for my daughter's daycare out of my salary. So I do all housework, laundry and 99% of the parenting, and I have not had a whole "day off" in the 18 months since my daughter arrived. The only time my hubby takes care of the baby is at family gatherings, to show off "what a great dad he is", and I imagine he makes his family think he's very a very active parent. The only reason I don't give him grief about that is I don't want to be ugly with his family and I'm grateful for the little break I get, even if it's just because his family is watching. Too bad this is only once every month or two.
When my hubby gets home from work he just goes upstairs into his room and stays there drinking beer and watching tv all night, with a short break to say hi to his daughter, and thankfully he always uses a nice tone with her. Too bad he doesn't even feed the cats or change their litter (all of which are upstairs with him.) I rarely go upstairs except to make sure the cats have food, water and a clean box. It's as if he thinks his only job is his job outside the house and nothing more. When he cooks he does that because he likes to cook. I never ask him to cook, and I'd rather he didn't because every time he cooks he leaves an entire kitchen full of mess for me. This is my life and I grin and bear it, just thankful that my daughter and we are healthy, my hubby and I have jobs and food and a good home, and I *do* love him. But every so often my husband will treat me with such disrespect that I want to LEAVE. Today's example, he asked me to Google directions to a place he needs to be tomorrow, and when he didn't understand the location he yelled at *me* in an accusatory tone. Whenever he does that I say "I'll thank you not to use that tone with me" but he just does it again and storms off. Right afterward he called his dad to talk about where this place is, and he used his nice, normal tone with his dad. Any time my hubby gets impatient with me he *yells* at me in a hateful sounding voice, often in front of our daughter. I've told him not to do that, that I didn't want our daughter thinking that's a normal way for a man to talk to a woman. I want better for my daughter! And, I want better for ME. So, how do I get my husband to stop treating me like this? I work so hard to be a good mother, employee, and wife, and I feel treated like dirt for no good reason. I wish I could threaten to leave but that's not an option. How do I get my husband to use a respectful tone while talking to me? He uses his mean voice with me (and no one else) and I want it to STOP. Argh!!! Please help, thanks!
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So What Happened?™
*EDIT* 11-11-09 Many Thanks everyone... just wanted to share an update since some weeks have passed... Hubby is doing a little better... still drinking, I don't think that will ever change, but he's been much better about spending quality time with our daughter, and she's blossoming because of it. Actually she says "Daddy, Daddy" all day long, almost seems unfair, heh. Anyway, hubby has been caring for the cats (occasionally forgets but I try to cut him slack for harmony's sake) and he's been using a respectful tone with me. I just wanted you to know things have been okay lately, and I feel blessed. Many Many Thanks, *Peace*!
Many many THANKS for all of your thoughtful replies! I wanted all of you to know that my hubby and I had a calm, rational talk tonight, and when I told him I had wanted to leave, he *apologized*, which is a rare miracle (he usually never apologizes because "he's never wrong", bleh.) I told him I will not tolerate "that tone" from him, ever, and he tried to say it might happen again the next time he's stressing out, and I said "no, if you feel the urge to yell at me in a mean voice, go upstairs and yell at the mirror." I also told him that from now on he will make sure the cats have fresh food and water and litter. He accepted that, so it's a start. I will be making a list of the work I do in the house and suggest some chores he can help with. Also I'll be making a list of the bills I paid and what I think is fair help from him. I may check out Al-Anon, and I may go to counseling, even if he doesn't go with me. I want our family to be emotionally healthy, and I want my daughter to grow in a household where love and respect are constant. I know it will take a while for us to get to a more "equal" place, but I'm hopeful that our talk tonight is a beginning. Again, many thanks to all of you. *Peace*!
J.L. answers from Minneapolis on September 24, 2009
First I'll say you're not doing anything wrong. Someone has to keep the house running. It's always a tough thing though, when one of both parties in the marriage are not running on all cylinders.
I don't know you guys personally, but from what I've read here it sounds like your husband is suffering from mild depression and could be functionally alcoholic.
I'm no chemical dependancy professional, but I am the survivor of a marriage that was once the exact scenario you described here. If my hunch is right, I think you're going to need to seek counseling and soon.
For us, we had to go to a marriage counselor to overcome this cycle of alcoholism. And it was a doozey because neither of us recognized this was the problem until we got into counseling.
This more common than many realize since everyone thinks chemical dependancy is when someone is knock-down drunk, DUI's and physically beating the stew out of someone. Another thing is people tend to think alcoholics are only those into serious mixed drinks and worse, while most think beer drinking is tantamount to having a diet coke. But studies show, most alcoholics are casual beer drinkers... not those high-ballers at the happy hour counter downtown.
Most alcoholics are what's called "functional." They are totally dependant on it, but it's just part of everyday life and very much under the radar because it's just a brewski or two after work or on the weekends.
It becomes alcoholism when it's a daily activity...even if it's only a couple a night. Dependancy isn't necessarily the amount so much as the "need" to have to have this in your life as part of your daily routine to function. Just like some people can't function without their AM coffee, there are people who can't function without their after work beer.
The warning signs are the lack of interest in anything other than activities that center around the beer. Depression is another tip off. Depression isn't always the person who lays around in their bathrobe in the fetal position all day. The inablility to connect with family on an emotional level is often the biggie. Lacking the will or even caring about the day to day activities necessary to live. Moodiness is a big part of this. They can be all over the map, and sometimes irrational. It's all about control.
You might want to look at your expenses and see how much he spends on beer and/or beer related activities. You might be surprised to see how much you spend. This can be another warning bell.
With us, my husband had two to three cans a night afterwork, and on weekends as many 6 or more while hanging with the guys, watching football, or working in the garage or yard. Over a day, it can get away from everyone how many are being consumed, so when you start checking the budget, sometimes it hits home then.
My husband had to go cold-turkey and hasn't had any alcohol for almost 5 years now. His whole behavior and attitude changed with it. He's like a totally different person. For him, he dealt with stress this way. He called it "relaxing" after work etc. so neither of us saw it as a problem.
But it really did get in the way. He waited for me to do everything, and became a bear when things didn't go his way. He called the shots from his arm chair, and all was right with the world when he had his beer.
If indeed he has a chemical dependancy issue, it sounds like in an odd way, "co-dependance" may have set in your relationship. You have taken on the world and have managed to keep crisis at bay. Unfortunately, this has facilitated his bad habits and perhaps hidden problem.
There is no way to tackle this on your own if you think this may be the problem. You need to get outside help. But you can start the ball rolling by telling him you feel overwhelmed by the unbalance in the situation, you fear in the long-run your financial well-being will be in jeopardy if he doesn't contribute more, and that in the years to come he may not have the relationship he wants with his daughter and you if he doesn't get more involved in your lives beyond t.v. and dinner time.
You both need to communicate with each other. He's turned to himself, beer, and tuning out in front of the tube as a way to cope with stress. And perhaps on some level, day to day life of really caring for a young child, and living up to your expectations among other more deep seeded things in his background are contributing to his depression and avoidance behavior. He needs to dump the crutches and you have to help him or you're both going to suffer in the longrun.
As for his not being so great at keeping the house clean, feeding your daughter, and showing her off at family events, this is common with many couples. I really think he loves his girl, and it's probably a real boost to show her off to his family. Don't take that from him. Especially since I think his bad Mr. Mom skills at home are more about something else going on with him. Also, most guys aren't raised to be Mr. Mom's. That comes with time. But can be a challenge when they have other outside issues getting in the way.
In the meantime, cut yourself some slack. If you need a get away, take one. All you're doing right now is heading for a big emotional and physical breakdown. You can't go at that pace with a young child for long.
Next, talk to your husband. Regardless of how he recieves what you have to say, be honest, patient and not expecting any resolution. This will only be the tip of the iceberg of a long journey.
Last, get professional help. And start with a good family counselor. Get books on the topic to help you know what type of questions to ask, and where to find resources in your area.
Don't expect him to be gunho to go see a counselor. The good news is he doesn't need to be there, for you to start the ball rolling toward getting help for all three of you. Many counselors will work with just one person of a couple and it can still benefit your situation.
Good luck and hang in there.
3 moms found this helpful
R.S. answers from Des Moines on September 27, 2009
M., are you describing a marriage or some sort of business arrangement? In a lot of ways your house sounds like the one I was raised in, though my parents at least understood marriage enough to totally share the money. It really sounds like you need to talk to someone (probably a counselor, but maybe a wise married person) about what makes a happy marriage. It may very well be that a lot of his behaviors that are irritating you the most are things that he does to escape his own unhappiness in this situation. Please hear me say that I am NOT telling you that this is your fault! I am just saying that if you could be given a new way to look at this relationship and some positive steps to take from your side (I focus on your side because you can't change him, so the only power you have is by working from your side) then you might be able to see a whole lot of things change.
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H.M. answers from Omaha on September 24, 2009
This doesn't sound like a marriage to me. It sounds like some sort of partnership or aggrement. There is no "meeting of the minds" even.
Your money is seperate, you pay the bills seperate, you even say it's your house, you have seperate parts of the house you say you don't even go to his part, you lead completely seperate lives. If there is no meeting of the minds I can't see how this will work.
I would suggest therapy so you can air out how you feel in a completely neutral safe environment. You might be able to teach him to communicate better and stop with the raising his voice to you. But you can't change a cats stripes. If he doesn't see housework, childcare, etc as a man's job. He at all odds never will. Look at his mother. Does she do all this stuff without complaint even if she doesn't or never has had a job? If so his norm and expectation is that you will be like his mother and he will never see this stuff as his job.
So if you can still accept that you are pretty much a single mom with a "husband" for your house and the stability keep on keeping on.... But if you want more out of life. I'm sorry to say after you try the couciling I'm guessing you should be prepared to walk away.
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C.O. answers from Minneapolis on September 23, 2009
FIRST- You need to stand up for yourself. I bit my tongue for WAY too long with my husband until one night he went too far and I let him have it. I yelled right back and didn't shut up until I said everything I wanted to say. And then, after he went to bed, I typed up everything else that came to my mind and taped the letter on the bathroom mirror where he could see it.
Now, when the disrespect starts, I nip it in the bud as soon as possible. I don't want my boys to think they can be rude and condescending to anyone, especially their wives.
SECOND- You need to have joint funds and split the cost of household and childcare expenses. You might need to hire a lawyer if you're getting gouged and taken advantage of. Take steps NOW and do what you can to protect yourself and your daughter emotionally, physically, and financially. You don't have to do it alone.
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T.W. answers from Sheboygan on September 24, 2009
Sell the house and walk away!! The writing is on the wall. It doesn't change..,.in twenty years you will still be keeping your money separate and living seperate lives!
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C.O. answers from Minneapolis on September 24, 2009
I have been married for 15 years to a man who is not horrible and yet not there for me - He works out of the home (2nd shift) and even though he had the opportunity to change he chose that it was not right for him. He helps very little with any house/yard chores, absolutly does not have any responsibilities with the kids and their schedule (except maybe playing cards on a Sunday or watch Football on TV - I have all girls). And I don't talk to him about anything "personal" also because of the way he talked to me in the past when I did.
I am telling you this so you know you are not alone.
Here are some things I would suggest:
* Counciling for yourself (just so you have a professional giving you an opinion or so that you are in a "safe" place to truly share and work through your feelings).
* Calmly tell your husband you are not happy and ask him if he would be willing to go to couples counciling (don't let him pressure to have it "out" at home)
* DONT do everything. Leave the cat box - eventually if it smells enough maybe he will change it. If he does not and complains - just say "I don't know what to tell you, I'm tired and busy and have just realized for my own health I just can't and won't do it all. AND Quit paying for everything. Hand him a bill and tell him - you have to pay for this - I don't have the money (even if you technically do)
* Go see an attorney (most offer a free counciltation) and see what your options are. (You most likely would not be the one leaving the home)
* Kids grow fast. I actually feel sorry for my husband, because of his lack of being involved my kids who are 11,14,18 really have no real personal close relationship with their dad - they care for him but never go to him for anything, including to talk or for a hug. How sad for him. Know that you most likly will not be able to change him - but in the end he will have "screwed" himself anyways.
* If he won't give you a night off - Hire a sitter and Just GO. Join a bowling team, a gym, volunteer at ??, whatever. I became involved with Direct Sales/Party Plan. This has been great for me - It's like having a hobby that pays me and have met some of my best friends. You just need to do something for you.
I am still married -but have found a "comfortable" place. Though I am not happy with my intimate relationship (or lack of) I have become okay with being the single mom in a married relationship. I don't hate my husband and without him I would not be able to make the house bills on my own, afford the extra's my girls love, and just don't want to struggle. That is my choice and works for me. You need to decide if you can find a way to be "content" with your relationship with your husband or if you just cant.
Not sure if I just vented or helped :o)
Best of luck, my heart goes out to you.
J.S. answers from Des Moines on September 24, 2009
Sounds like you need to have a serious talk with your husband. As calmly as you can, you need to tell him that you are not happy with the way he treats you and the balance of parenting responsabilities. Tell him you appreciate the fact that he is tired after work, but that you too are tired and most of the housework and childcare falls on your shoulders. If it keeps up, you are worried that it will have dire consequenceson your marriage.
I too have had a similar talk with my husband. He seemed shocked that it had come to this point for me, that I actually thought our marriage was in jeopardy. He's now made alot of progress and our family is more serene. He sometimes does fall into old habits and I remind him. Marriage takes work and it takes a long time to heal.
I hope your husband will hear you and that he loves you and your children enough to come to a solution.
It sounds stupid, but maybe it would help to write out what each of your "chores" are so that there will be no arguing about it later. It's easy for him to say he'll help out more and easier to forget what he should be doing.
Hope it works out for you!
T.W. answers from Minneapolis on September 24, 2009
You need to talk to him about it. I have played this game with my husband for years... The not doing anything to see if he will help... It doesn't work. My husband will not do anything at all, so if I stop it piles up and then I have way more to do than ever.
Recently I found a bunch of emails to his ex girlfriend (we ran into her and he hadn't seen her in 10+years)
They were inapropriate, even though she was not interested. This caused me to pack the truck... all of my family is 8hours away. My Mom convinced me to not drive that day.
Well, we fought for a week, and I decided to stay and try. He has treated me differently, better, this last month than ever before.
It is going to take a lot for me to be ok, but I have been with him 10+ years, and we have 2 children.
I am losing my point LOL
I feel like if we had been able to talk as openly as we are now, this would not have happened. If we could have talked more, maybe he would understand a little more of what I do on a daily basis etc.
You have to tell him that you are not going to be able to take it anymore, and tell him all of it. It is the only way you can make it better. And then, if he still doesn't get it... You need to leave. You can do it. You always have that option. Yes it would be hard, but isn't your health and well being more important?