I am really lucky. I have a beautiful house, a good job, a smart, talented kid, a devoted, responsible husband. My life, by all objective measures, does not suck. Except it kind of does. Marital woes question: Should I stay?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (97 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years and have an 8 yr old son. We moved from the city to the country 3 years ago, to an old farmhouse/money pit. The move was partly to be somewhat closer to my job where I had been commuting an hour each way, and partly to have more space for gardening and doing various outdoor things. The search took over a year because my husband wanted something that had aesthetic appeal, and I was looking for specific characteristics -- a barn, garden space, alternative heating options. I think we actually ended up making an impulsive decision because our house is awesome and meets most of the criteria, but it's a little too far away from everything. It's 12 miles to the nearest real town. We have very few neighbors. The move shortened my commute from an hour to 40 minutes, and lengthened his from 10 min to 35.
It felt like we'd moved to this great place but I could never be here. Also, I was worried about money because the house needs so much work and we stupidly bought at the top of the market. After living here for a year and a half I found a higher paying job that enabled me to work from home. Now, my husband goes to work, I put my son on the school bus, walk the dog, then go to my office. I'm home all the time, but with a rather time-consuming job that doesn't provide a lot of free time. Between getting the kid off to school, working, making dinner sometimes, taking the kid to extracurriculars, putting the kid to bed, and various mundane household crap, I feel like there's almost no time to have hobbies, friends, even get haircuts. Other parents in this community tend to be SAHMs who do a lot of community volunteering that seems like yet another impossible commitment to me. So, not a lot of support. Family is mostly out of state.
My husband is a nice guy, but has a short temper, and it seems to be only getting shorter. He comes from a family of yellers. He has no patience with our son, and alternates between hollering at him for minor infractions, losing control and hitting in anger, and giving long lectures in which he tries to logic the kid into complying with whatever desired behavior he's after at the moment. It's like he's making his son, and everyone around him responsible for his own wellbeing. I don't think the husband can get this through his head -- his idea seems to be that everyone around him is at fault for whatever poor behavior he displays.
I don't have the calmest temperment either, and have been struggling with depression related to isolation, social anxiety, etc., but I try to take into account the fact that THE KID IS ONLY 8 and isn't responsible for my reactions, even when I'm really pissed. My husband has been very understanding and supportive to me when I'm having obvious trouble, and if he flies off the handle at me or the kid he's usually very apologetic afterward. But. This is killing me, and it may be helping to turn our son into a yeller, whiner, poor sport and semi-jerk.
If I don't intervene I am complicit, but if I do intervene then I'm "undermining." I probably don't have the skills to know when/how to defuse at the right time. He's asked me to stop him, but I can't always figure out if/when I need to do it, because often he won't ask for help when he's in the moment.
This morning, an example: There was a discussion in which our son was being whiny and demanding and my husband was trying to lecture the kid, and insisting on eye contact. When the kid wouldn't look at him my husband grabbed his head and turned it, roughly, to look up, saying he needed to learn to look at people, at which point the kid burst into tears. All this was going on with the windows open while a painting crew was working on our house. I intervened at that point, took the kid aside, hugged him, said I knew he was tired and sad and angry, let him cry for a while. My husband went to work and the rest of the morning was ok, but now I'm just ill. I'd say this sort of thing happens at least 2-3 times a month, maybe more.
We've been in marriage counseling for YEARS, with some success, but not enough. It's hard for me to like my husband, much less feel like sleeping with him. Ever. I don't like exposing my child to this environment. I don't like living this way.
Of course, it's not always like this. There are long uneventful stretches. This sort of pattern comes and goes with varying levels of stress and sleep deprivation. We're under a lot of stress right now with house renovations, lots of very large checks to write, ailing parents, the whole gamut of mundane yet mildly incapacitating crap. I know he's stressed from the long commute and various frustrations, but it seems like he thinks his work and living situation is unchangeable. I make more money than he does, but he would never consider changing jobs to be closer to home, doing something more fun, or even taking time off to evaluate what he wants.
At times of great conflict, I've asked the husband to leave, but he always refuses. After working so hard to be here, I want to stay in the house. I dream of getting friendly roommates to help with taking care of it. I could probably swing the mortgage myself if I keep working, but I wish I could work less.
Should I give up on wanting to be here and just go, take the kid with me? Is this really clear-cut? Am I just being thick?