Marriage on the rocks, but the rest of my life is a disaster too
February 8, 2013 10:03 AM Subscribe
My marriage is in bad shape and I feel a lot of anger and resentment toward my husband for his lack of initiative, follow-through, and logistical/emotional support within our household, especially during times of crisis. But right now I feel like I'm dealing with the mother of all crises, and on a practical level it would be folly to leave for at least a year, nor will I be in a position to focus on giving him one last honest shot at fixing things for months. What tools/attitudes/approaches can I adopt or employ to keep from making things worse and even more unsalveagable over the next few months?
posted by SomeTrickPony to human relations (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My 7-year 2nd marriage has been disappointing for a long time, and a build-up of resentment/anger toward my husband is ossifying into full-blown contempt. We have been in counseling on and off for years. He is extremely passive, conflict-avoidant, withdrawn, and self-admittedly puts a minimum of effort into things, including his health, our relationship and mutual responsibilities. He is a very kind, well-intentioned person, but he tends to be self-absorbed and his follow-through is poor. During times of crisis, of which there have been several, he will do the things that are asked of him, especially if outsiders would be aware of his actions. But he typically won't volunteer extra "logistics" support and is not good at being emotionally supportive either. In the past there was also a problem with alcohol; after a few years of pressuring him to address it, he made the final decision to quit 2 years ago, has had a few relapses since then, but has I believe been relapse-free for at least 6 months.
If it were just me, it would be ultimatum time: clearly laying out my expectations in terms of responsibilities, follow-through, and "emotional intimacy"/support, and giving him something like a 6-month time frame during which we both would agree and commit to do everything we can to help him meet those expectations.
But it isn't just me.
The "mother of all crises" is that we are grieving the death of my teenage son (his step-son) less than a year ago. My teenage daughter (with a long psychiatric history including mood disorder and anxiety) in particular is having an immensely hard time. She was admitted in-patient a month ago due to an eating disorder and is currently in a day hospitalization program. We both work full time, the schedule is grueling (4.5-5 hours driving each day to drop her off and pick her up, currently split between my husband and I), we pass like two ships in the night most days, and I just don't have energy to work on the marriage. I also admit that while the support I have gotten from him in the past and currently is not sufficient, it is still better than nothing and I fear losing it if I tell him how checked out I feel right now and how close I am to calling it quits.
Leaving any time in the next year would be a horrendously bad idea; although one of my resentments has to do with my husband's emotional distance and failure to develop a meaningful relationship with my kids, he has also never been unkind toward them and my daughter has point-blank said that she feels her brother's death seriously eroded her sense of being part of a family, and also that she worries that her problems are driving a wedge between husband and I.
My question is not so much how to put up with this disappointing marriage for the time being--I have been putting up with it for a long time now, there's zero fighting, and there is nothing especially injurious or soul-crushing going on--but rather any suggestions or encouraging words to keep from losing hope and sinking even further into the pit of contempt. I wish I could just let the little things slide, but it is so hard when I view them not as little failings but as one more example in a long string of disappointments.