How to get on track to make major life decisions with the best outcome for me and my son?
September 24, 2009 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Major life decisions thrown my way. Feeling totally inept at making a good decision. Any ideas on how to sort it out and get on track?

All at once three major decisions have been thrown my way since the birth of our son.
1. my mother has terminal cancer and my father has a history of major cardiac issues. Essentially their time is almost up (esp. my mom). They have to update their will/trust but are calling me daily on how to word it since they hate (and that is describing it lightly) my husband and don't want him to get the money and what to know what I'm doing about my future with him. They are caught on the beneficiaries (me and my son and maybe future children?) and I just don't know how to answer it because of issue #2.

2. I'm in limbo on what to do with my marriage. We have a 10 month old son who is our whole life. But since his birth, it is like I had an eye opening experience. My husband and I don't have a real partnership and/or future together. I am the only one saving for a 401k, savings, managing bills, etc. but can do little else because he doesn't make enough with his own business to participate but he also doesn't try or think about ways to improve it.

Same goes with a college fund for our son. I figured to transfer his formula expense over to a college fund when he's done eating formula. My husband doesn't think of those things.

His business is not thriving very well and the income fluctuates way too much. It's not like he isn't trying but you can't make people buy and you can't make people pay an invoice on time. He spits profits with partners and is going back and forth about going on his own.

My point is that his business has had huge ups ad downs for 8 years and now we have a child and I want him to get a regular job (keep his business on the side). He won't. Get a 2nd job. He won't. Sell some luxuries we really don't need. He won't. Let's talk about our future and how to get things in line so we have one (we're nearly 40 for Christ's sake). He won't.

In short I hear that I stress him out. In an attempt to reach out I outlined my feelings in an email to him and he said he disagrees with everything I outlined (like the points above). He gets very defensive and all I hear is everything is my fault/making mountains out of moehills. The final straw is I'm begging him to go to marriage therapy since me going alone is stupid and pointless. He feels that therapy only goes in circles and causes fights. My therapist is very anti-divorce and sees it as a worse scenario for me and my son.

I don't know what to do. He can be amazingly supportive, caring, loving, fun, etc. But the practical side aligning with my wants and beliefs aren't matching up at all and I, and many of my friends/parents/his parents/siblings feel he will NEVER change (let's live life like a partner and create a solid future instead of this circling day to day, paycheck to paycheck crap).

Divorce is expensive (I make more), scary, and a huge hassle esp. with a son involved. I'm scared and confused. I don't want to scar my son since I worry about making sure we both remain adults in handling his care. (I am more level headed but he knows how to push my buttons). It breaks my heart that I"m trying to make a better life for everyone yet if I divorce, I have to split birthdays/holidays/time with my son.

And to create a future for myself? I feel I can't fix our problems--financially, romantically, etc. How the hell am I going to do it on our own? How can I raise an emotionally healthy child who has a solid, determined, good future away from drugs, picking the right crowd, throwing tantrums, going to college, experience life abroad, getting a good job, etc?

And if I chose such a husband who we always had big ups and downs with, who will be the next person I choose? I'm terrified of picking someone with a gambling problem, an abuser, a drug addict, someone else who has no goals, etc.

I just feel I can't make these decisions yet I have to. My parents' inheritance is the only guarantee for a future for me and our son--in a marriage or alone. Yet my husband has always been incredibly dumb with money and pushes me into really bad financial decisions (HELOC where we had to refi with a cash out!) and never thinks ahead. They've been discussing to give it all to my son and that leaves me out of any retirement or even buying a house if I did divorce.

3. Who would you recommend seeing to get daily financial advice from. For example, I need someone to help me set a financial budget for daily life and how to achieve life goals like retirement, paying off credit cards, contributing to college, paying off my home, etc. A CPA? My Fidelity investment manager can't answer our financial budget "this is how you need to live life daily and for x amount of years". He just said "you need an emergency fund first." Um no shit. How do I get there when we have major bills and it feels like pay check to pay check?

Where do I start on figuring out point A-Z with the best outcome? Therapy isn't helping jack. My parents are dying and were never a good example to follow in marriage advice (they live in a very abusive/dysfunctional relationship).

I just feel like I'm in my late 30s with a son, married yet doing everything alone and wrong.

Very sorry for the length of this but appreciate some advice.
posted by stormpooper to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Holy God, you have a lot on your plate. This will not stop the decisions, but one thing I can think you could do for yourself right now would give yourself some breathing room:

Ask your parents to please, PLEASE, stop calling you DAILY to ask about the will. I know they're very ill and they're worried, but calling you like clockwork on a daily basis is probably doing more harm than good -- it sounds like it is doing nothing but causing you even more stress. I mean -- you know that this is a difficult situation for you, because hi, you're in the MIDDLE of it. Them trying to nag you to come to closure about it is just flustering you.

You'll still have to make a decision about things, insofar as your parents go; and you'll still have to decide what to do about your husband and your finances. But I'd wager it would be a huge help if you sat them down and said, "okay, look -- I know you're worried about the will and my husband and yadda yadda, but you need to give me TIME to think about it, and 24 hours is NOT enough time. PLEASE stop calling and asking me about that for at LEAST [fill in some length of time here], and I promise I will call you on that date with at least SOMETHING of a status update." Buy yourself some time and remove one of the daily sources of stress for a while.

You may have to really use tough love to get them to stick to it -- i.e., if they call you again the next day all "I know you said not to call, but honey, we're just worried," just gently remind them that you have to ask not to discuss that, and then try to change the subject -- and then if they try to bring it up again just say "I'm sorry, Mom, but like I said, I can't talk about this now, I'm going to hang up now, call me if you want to talk about something else, bye." And then just keep doing that if you have to. But you really need some breathing room here, and that seems to be a good place to get some.

Good luck to you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2009

These are tough issues. Perhaps breaking them down, and dealing with each separately will ease your mind. My advice is only off the cuff, but here are some thoughts.

Problem #1: Parents Will/Trust.
I'd recommend bringing in a professional, an estate expert. Takes the load off of you, and will make your parents confident that their money is going where they want. It's unfortunate they do not like your husband, and would be tempting to comment on how, if they want to do what's best for you they have to accept... etc. BUT, that's not the reality. Let a professional craft a will they can accept.

Problem #2: Marriage.
This is something only you can decide. I do note that most of the problem defined by you is financial in nature. Him not earning enough, not being financially minded. You say: "He can be amazingly supportive, caring, loving, fun, etc." Your son is 10 months old, and would not be "scarred" as badly as an older kid. Plenty of well adjusted kids out there with divorced parents -- you can raise one if you need to. This is your toughest problem. Is he lazy? Does he work hard? Maybe his dream is worth supporting? Maybe not. Break it down, determine options, see what he's willing to do. That will help you decide.

Problem #3: Financial Advisor.
You seem very financially minded. I suspect you don't need this as much as you think you do ("daily financial advice"?). Perhaps just need to feel "things will be OK" financially. Learn what you can through books and internet. I think as you resolve #1 and #2 you will feel better about #3.

Hope that helps!
posted by ecorrocio at 8:52 AM on September 24, 2009

Lawyer. Go see a good lawyer. You don't have any idea what your options are, what your husband's options are, or what your parents' options are. Most of the questions you pose could be easily answered if you had a clearer picture of what the law allows in a particular scenario. Go see a good lawyer.

(PS. Do you realize you are totally overwhelming yourself? For example... I don't see why a divorce has to be expensive if you make more money than your husband. Are you saying you would have to pay him alimony? Because that is not necessarily true.)

(PPS. Would you stay married to your husband if this inheritance thing wasn't an issue? I ask because besides the fact that you are overwhelming yourself (worrying about what kind of man you might re-marry when you have not taken one step towards a divorce? Geez!!) is sounds as if this entire drama is being created by your parents and their daily phone calls. They are controlling your emotions and actions now, and they are attempting to devise a situation where they get to continue this from the grave. So I ask you again.... would you stay married to your husband if the inheritance wasn't an issue?)
posted by jbenben at 8:53 AM on September 24, 2009

I dont mean to be harsh but it is very CLEAR what you need to do here and it is YOU who needs to set your FOOT DOWN in all of your relationships:

1) With Your husband, have a conversation as soon as possible, either he steps up his game and gets a more estable career/business or you will not be around to help him out. See your therapist is only a resource but not YOUR boss if you must leave him, leave him.

2) Tell your parents to leave YOU the money because You need it more than your son at this time and if you have it you can help their grandson better with it. Tell them that you are either about to divorce your husband and their money would help the aftermath or that even if you dont divorce him you are not going to let the money to be used for his business at all (and maybe a lawyer can help you draft this) and will only be used..

3) I know this is going to sound very simple....but make a budget out of everything you spend, take out the luxuries (eat outs, shrimps, etc) now think about the least amount of money you can spent in a month....take out $ YOU HAVE a budget....put the rest of it in an ING savings account that takes a couple of days to take out the money so you are not so tempted to take it out as soon as something comes up....

I know all of what I said above sounds simple and that I would never understand the complexities of what you are going through, but sometimes the right answer does not need to be complicated....

Best of luck.
posted by The1andonly at 8:55 AM on September 24, 2009

Sounds like a tough situation. Looking at it completely from outside: if you don't have a big need for the money, could the bulk of your parents money be put in trust for your children, with perhaps a small amount for you. They will be happy the money can't end up with your husband, and if you do decide to separate, you will at least not be under a lot of pressure to start saving for their future.
posted by crocomancer at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2009

Could it be that these persistent calls, which are ostensibly to get you to answer will-related questions, are really just an indirect way of pressuring you to divorce? In any case, tell your parents to consult their lawyer about appropriate language to make sure that what they want to happen happens.

How would you feel about divorce if it weren't for the expense, hassle and fear? Because if you're ready for divorce, then the hassle and expense aren't good reasons to avoid it for any length of time. Yeah, it sucks, but many, many people do it every day. Yeah, it means giving up on some of the things you've dreamed of (happy family together for birthdays, etc.), but divorce doesn't kill the possibility of such happiness, it just forces you to acknowledge and accept the disappointment you already feel. The good news is that it also opens the door to real possibilities you may not have even imagined yet.

Also, consider getting a new therapist.
posted by jon1270 at 9:07 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for answering. Here are some clarifications on the questions being asked.

My parents are calling daily (my mom--she's the one who sends my anxieties up the wall; always has) because she has little time left. If she doesn't do this, my dad will never do it and all will wind up in probate and messed up. The existing will (and that's all they have) is from when I was an infant so it is languaged as if I am 1 years old with guardians, etc. So it's a mess. That's why she wants to do a trust and do it now.

Issues with my husband are financial and also behavioral and have always been there. They only have become an issue now because of our son. It really felt like a lightbulb go on for once that hey, this isn't right--none of this--and it needs to be fixed. He has anger issues when he's stressed (yelling at me in front of our son is not ok) but is trying to manage. He has ZERO accountability for blame/responsibility and there is no way he can not be at fault or responsible for anything that happens with us/life. I mean come on, we are all partially to blame for something at times. I never get an admittance of that. And it is not only difficult to deal with, I don't want our son to do that. The problem is that divorced or together, our son will be involved with my husband so this trait is a battle to avoid either way.

It just strongly feels (and my therapist and others have agreed) that my husband needs long-term counseling but refuses. You can't change the unwilling, this I recognize. But it also will cause a difficult life for me, for our son, for him--whether I stay or go. And while I want to hope for the best and resolve a lot of the issues, I just feel so WORN OUT by his drama, difficulties, etc. He feels the same about me. He feels all of this is me creating drama and I should just be agreeable and live for the day.

I can't. Not thinking or planning for the future is incredibly stupid to me. I've had savings, no debt, went to college, had only increases in pay, etc. create a stable environment of trying to produce a retirement and always carry healthcare, etc.

He has not. Partied in his teens/20s. Never held a good job (I'm the one who found two of them for him). Barely made his rent unless his relationship was involved and she wound up doing it for him (and now me). Never had a retirement. Blew his inheritance at a young age on stupid stuff. Only worked 2 jobs for a very short time. Whines about what he doesn't have or if he gets it, it wasn't what he expects. And the annoyance list goes on and on. I feel a lot like I'm taking care of a very bratty, out of control 15 year old and it gets annoying.

A big part of me wants a huge break and feels a divorce is the only way. But my therapist said I'm thinking grass is greener. I'm not thinking of the facts or logistics of how it will REALLY be---one income, no emotional support, alone, raising a son the best I can, dealing with my husband's next girlfriend (he can't be alone), etc. Along with my husband really can't support himself well without relying on someone else. That someone else will be involved in my son's life and I don't like it.

Sorry to ramble. It's an incredible amount of stress right now.
posted by stormpooper at 9:14 AM on September 24, 2009

An estate planner is probably the way to go for your parents. It will help them, and get them off your back. The daily phone calls sound like it's making you even crazier than dealing with their impending death will do.

A trust can be set up for your son where you are the trustee...but your husband is not, and those assets are not joint assets in a divorce. (I am not a lawyer, get one...I don't know how to set up those trusts, but a good estate lawyer does.)

Relationship: Money causes more divorces and relationship problems than almost anything else. As someone who has owned a failing's really hard to let go. You keep thinking that just "X will fix it, Y will solve this problem"'s hard to give up on a dream, and that may be where your husband is. Or, ya know, he may just be financially irresponsible. Some folks are. Only you can determine if that's a deal breaker for you.

Keep in mind that with a new baby, stress is running high anyway. You're not getting enough sleep, you're worrying about Junior, you're juggling a new person in your life that depends on you for everything...and it's a lot of stress.

I'm so sorry about everything you've got headed at you at the same time. That's a hard place to be, and an even harder place to maintain. I recommend getting your parents some help with their estate, getting some budget plans in place for your own household, defining what is dealbreaker behavior from your husband, and move towards a clearer path either with him, or without him...but stop letting his behavior cloud your reality. All of which is easier said than done, I realize. Divorce is rarely that expensive unless there's a huge fight about assets, which it doesn't sound like your husband would be motivated enough to do, because he probably doesn't have a handle on what the actual assets *are*. But again; that's something for an attorney to discuss with you. As the primary income earner, your odds of being the custodial parent are high, and your odds of paying alimony are low. Most judges don't award alimony to men. Sexist? Perhaps, but in your favor for a change.

You have to define: what would make the sun shine in my life again? What is the best path forward for my son? What is the best path forward for me? Then, step on that path, and go. Best of luck!
posted by dejah420 at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you considered not a divorce, but a separation while you sort through all of this? This may give you the break you would need, but may shut your therapist up about the situation. (Although, I also think you could find a better therapist.)

As for your mother -- no, she's right, she doesn't have that much time left, but I'm guessing that her "time left" is currently being measured in weeks instead of minutes. So her trying to call every day for updates is counterproductive. Someone else suggested that you tell her to contact a lawyer -- that's probably the best idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2009

I would guess that the underlying issue your mother has is a belief that you married a carbon-copy of your dad, and she'd like to see you do what she wishes she'd done, before she dies. Is that a possibility? If it is, then maybe spend some time talking to her about what she wishes she'd done, her hopes and dreams for you, what's she's learned in her life and can pass along to you.

Then, with her go to a lawyer and discuss trust funds for you and your child, or other possible ways of keeping the money "in the family" and in your control even in the event of a divorce.
posted by Houstonian at 9:28 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Marriages and Partnerships are for the long term. It sounds like your husband needs a wake-up call. It sounds like you're making some decisions on what needs to be done and it sounds as though the steps your partner needs to make are ones he may not be aware of - nor what the stakes are should he not make them. Communication between you two has broken down sufficiently enough where you are hiding some pretty big financial decisions between the two of you.

What did you first see in your husband? What of that vision has been realized, what of it hasn't? What of it do you have some level of opportunity to affect, and what of it is completely out of your hands? Do your actions for him and do his actions for you represent a loving marriage?

If he is unable to hear your requests for change, then I assure you - you need to make clear what is at stake.

Your parents not thinking much of him is unimportant - the fact that you don't think much of him and are using your parent's views to hide your own view of him from yourself is. Own it. Own the fact that you think he's screwing up and it infuriates you. Own the fact that you need help from your partner that he seems unwilling to give. Own the fact that his midlife crisis, or what sounds like his complete failure to launch even after he's been married is keeping him blind to what's going on.

Lastly, If its going to be a divorce - understand this: everyone looses. You will loose a bunch, your husband will loose a bunch, and your child will be the biggest looser. But - what you do keep you will have the financial freedom and responsibility to do with as you please. Yes, you may not be rich, and you may not be happy about the process - but if it is the only thing that is going to find you peace - well then... no-one here need give you permission.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:41 AM on September 24, 2009

I'm going to focus on just one part of this:

And if I chose such a husband who we always had big ups and downs with, who will be the next person I choose? I'm terrified of picking someone with a gambling problem, an abuser, a drug addict, someone else who has no goals, etc.

This kind of thinking is a trap. Don't go there.

If you've made choices in your life that need correcting, there is no value in telling yourself that you're just going to keep making the same or worse choices so therefore it's not worth correcting the current situation. It's not true. It's just a way of tricking yourself into staying where you are.

No relationship is perfect. But sometimes the grass actually is greener.

You can choose to try to find a way to be happy within your current marriage, or you can choose to seek your happiness elsewhere. Nobody here can tell you which of those is the correct choice.
posted by ook at 9:56 AM on September 24, 2009

On postview:

If its going to be a divorce - understand this: everyone loses. You will loose a bunch, your husband will lose a bunch, and your child will be the biggest loser.

I'm sorry, but this is simply bullshit. Especially the shameful scare tactics about your child. Divorce is painful and disruptive, yes, but so is an unhappy marriage.
posted by ook at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2009 [9 favorites]

You need to separate these issues, because otherwise whatever decision you make will feel like it wasn't yours, i.e. you were forced into it.

- Tell your parents to leave the money to your son, maybe with you as trustee as noted by others. It's probably the only way to be absolutely certain that your husband doesn't get ahold of some of that money. If your parents are as low on time as it sounds, a divorce probably couldn't be completed before they died, and if it couldn't he'd probably petition to be given some of it. No such issue if it's in your sons name only.

- Make your stay or go decision completely independent of what your parents do/say, and it might well be advantageous to defer that decision until after they've passed. You're going to have a lot to deal with already when they do, no sense piling more on yourself. They probably feel they're subtly pushing you for your own good, and would love to see him gone before they go, but let's be crass: tough. It's not like you'll need to consider their feelings for very much longer.

- Once all that is done, that's when you sit down and decide what is best for you and your son. It'll probably be divorce, honestly, your husband isn't likely to change at this point.

For what it's worth... I am/was a kid whose mother "hung in" too long, only to eventually divorce anyway (twice). Yes, divorce resulted in a fair bit of misery and drama -- but being poor in a stable house was still better than being fairly well off in an unstable one.
posted by Pufferish at 10:16 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

In California inheritance is separate property (is not shared upon divorce, unless commingled, though I forget what happens with the return on investment of separate property during the marriage). But the point -- the law of wills and trusts have figured this out, at least in the states I know about -- how to leave money to a married person alone. Figuring that out slash delegating to qualified lawyer may help you do whatever you need to do wrt the marriage. The inheritance issue -- that's one you *don't* need to worry about.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:29 AM on September 24, 2009

Do you love your husband?

No, really. Do you love him? Do you like him? Does he make you laugh? Is there ANY good reason to stay married to him other than that divorcing him would be difficult and expensive and scary? Because it really doesn't sound like it here.

It also sounds like the other sorts of stress (financial and surrounding your inheritance) would disappear if you got divorced.

I'm not DTMFA by a long shot. But you haven't listed a single reason not to, and I think that's telling.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the separation and/or divorce must be put aside for the short term while you work out the one problem that has a hard deadline -- that is the will and estate planning being done by your parents.

My proposed action plan::

(1) Suggest to your parents a specific time for them and you to meet with the lawyer who is working on their will; set this for enough time to discuss the issues around the inheritance. An hour, two hours, half a day, whatever. In that meeting, bring up the fact that you're considering a split from your spouse and would like any inheritance set up in such a way that it would not be considered joint property for you and your husband. Their lawyer should have a plan for that situation that will have the side benefit of getting your parents off your back about it.

Nothing else your parents are doing in terms of their estate planning should require your daily input, so the phone calls should slow or cease after that. If they don't, start screening your calls.

(2) Once the will stuff is complete and off your list of concerns, you would do well to contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services or a similar non-profit financial counseling group, and work on a financial plan and budget that takes your current circumstances into account -- including your husband's flaky income. The idea is to get a clear picture of your own financials now, and start following a budget and savings plan with your income. (You don't need your husband to buy into this process, since you're handling everything financially anyway.) Your financial stress may not disappear, but any anxiety that springs from uncertainty or not knowing what your options are should lessen. Follow the plan.

Finally, once (1) is complete and you're following the budget generated by (2),

(3) Consider whether you still want a separation or divorce. Find a new therapist and talk to them. Find a trusted friend and talk to her. Set aside some amount of time in your life to consider what you want to do, and a target date to reach a decision. What your parents want you to do should not figure into your decision because (a) the estate planning/inheritance question is resolved, and (b) it's your marriage, not theirs.

If after this you are leaning towards a split, have consultations with a few divorce lawyers in your area (consultations should be free). Your lawyer consultations will give you a good idea of what's involved, what likely outcomes are, what you should be doing now in terms of your financial dealings, your dealings with your child, documentation to gather, etc.

It's really, really premature to be looking down the road at who you might choose to remarry, etc. When you do this you're causing additional stress and worry that isn't doing you any good right now. Address the immediate tasks at hand and let the future take care of itself - for now. In all likelihood, the future only gets better for you.
posted by 2xplor at 10:35 AM on September 24, 2009

Also, I loved this comment:

"If you've made choices in your life that need correcting, there is no value in telling yourself that you're just going to keep making the same or worse choices so therefore it's not worth correcting the current situation. It's not true. It's just a way of tricking yourself into staying where you are."

It's absolutely true. You can only make the best decision you can at any given point based on your knowledge and the information you have at the time. It does very little good to second guess the past, it is only useful to decide what you will do differently today.
posted by 2xplor at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

First, take a deep breath. Do you really need to make all these decisions while your mom is dying?

First, if your parents don't want to leave anything to your husband and you're unsure about the marriage, it seems to me that this should be a no brainer. Have them go to a lawyer explain that they'd like to leave what they have to you and your children. This should be pretty simple for any competent Wills and Trusts lawyer. If you and your husband end up staying together you can always use the money left to you for joint expenses like the kid's college or home improvements, etc. That way he doesn't feel left out.

Second, I have a rule with myself that I'll share with you. I don't make major life decisions when I'm upset or angry. This prevents me from walking out on my job when I'm really angry at my boss, etc. If you're mom is dying and you're upset, it's probably not a good time to make a permanent decision about your marriage. Why don't you work on improving things with your husband (therapy?) and defer any decisions about that until you're in a better place.
posted by bananafish at 12:24 PM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't have much advice for the other points but it sounds like your therapist is not helping much. A therapist is not there to tell you what to do, or even to proffer an opinion, they are there to help you clarify your thoughts and feelings in order to make the best decision for you. If this is not happening, ditch the therapist. You've got a lot on your plate right now and you need support, not judgement. Hugs to you.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:03 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Holmes and Rahe stress scale lists 43 stressful life events that can lead to illness. You've got at least one death of a close family member coming up, you've recently added a new family member, your spouse is working but not bringing in what you feel is his share, and it sounds like there's an increase in frequency of arguments. You're carrying a full load of major stressors without adding marital separation (#3) or divorce (#2) on top of it. With an infant in the house you're probably physically exhausted, and with your parents in poor health you're likely emotionally exhausted. Plus, your mom's being difficult about the will, so you may be feeling guilt about being irritated with her irritating behavior. Take one thing at a time.

Regarding your husband's business, is it in a field that has normal cyclical variations, or is he a just a screwup? A lot of businesses are having trouble in the current economy.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:03 PM on September 24, 2009

I am single and I don't have kids. Just so you know.

Maybe ask mom to decide on things as if this is how life is going to be for you- as it is now. She should not push you into deciding like this- its too much pressure and no matter what problems you have, you are likely to decide just because of the pressure. Isn't there a middle way?

In the meantime, do think about your relationship and what you want for you son. I've listened to Dave Ramsey a lot. So that's all that comes to my mind right now. Also, your son is probably too young to be scarred as someone mentioned. Maybe check with a child psychologist if you are really concerned about it?

But the main point is try to keep the two issues as separate as you can.

I'm sorry you are going through so much. I hope others' advice helps.
posted by xm at 8:01 PM on September 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for all of your opinions and suggestions!!! This is why I like Metafilter. It's way more sane than any other message board I've been on (all the "women" boards are totally "dump the loser". I can't deal with biased bitterness.)

The habits of my parents are that my mom is obessive and is the queen of inducing anxiety. She can take the smallest thing and make you think your'e dying, you'll be out of work, your son is going to be a loser, you'll be homeless by 60, etc. Yet she doesn't have solutions or guidance. Instead, she has always turned to me to solve every problem in her life and obviously mine. And it's crappy. While I should be concerned and tell her the situation of my life to protect their hard worked assets, why the hell should I be the one who has to tell her line by line how to word a trust? And then get shitty with me because I'm ready for a mental breakdown because of my marriage, their death (I'm an only child with no extended family; it scares the shit out of me that I have no one beyond a handful of friends and the rest are my husband/family). On top of a beautiful son who has had on and off health issues since birth (meconium aspiration syndrome, RSV at 6 weeks old requiring a week hospital stay, sick again at 12 weeks, hernia surgery at 13 weeks, and being grateful every single day afterwards that we are on X day without a lung infection, etc.) Neither my parents nor my husband understand that was traumatizing for me. I'm better now but it took 8 months not to be terrified that he's going to die on me. And I STILL worry about him but not like my obsessive check on him every 4 seconds when he's sleeping.

My dad keeps his opinions to himself for the most part but gets very volitile. He's highly abusive yet if someone messes with me--forget about it. His work ethic was to work all shifts/vacation and do what you have to do to provide. That's it. But he provided no emotional stability, love, etc. He provided fear, control, and a lot of terrorizing/unexplained, out of the blue physical, verbal, mental/abuse to my mom and verbal/mental to me. Gotta love it. It took three years of therapy to get over those issues with them. Do they think they did anything wrong? Of course not.

And the good points for my husband, when they're good, it's like "yea, I totally deserve someone like this." He's dealt with my past depression, searched for a year for my dog (giving up his own preference), brings home flowers/cards, opens doors, hugs me out of the blue, etc. The breakdown has happened because I have the inability to do the same for him. My anxiety goes through the roof and the little things piss me off about him to where hugs and kisses don't happen. His inability to provide a solid future only made me angrier. And a LOT of b.s. in between from old girlfriends to his anger management, etc. I'm TIRED of all the b.s. with him. Life is hard but mine feels like constant drama and bullshit with no solutions.

So it's parents were abusive and dysfunctional--I go to therapy.
I have marriage issues yet only I go to therapy? WTF? Enough with me having to go to therapy to deal with everyone else's behavior. How about they (ok my husband) recognizes his part and go? I'm tired of being put in the position of fixing, surviving, managing, etc.

But anyway, thank you again. This HAS helped a lot.
posted by stormpooper at 7:16 AM on September 25, 2009

Based on your update, I really think you need some time alone. Maybe separate from your husband, ask a favor from a friend to babysit once in a while, let the calls go to voicemail, and go walk a nature trail or something.

In regards to your mother calling, my mom can be a pain to and what I will do is not answer the phone and then return her call at some time that I know she won't pick up, like later at night when shes in bed, and leave her a message responding to her questions (Like how was my day - oh my day went well, I had class after work, blah blah blah hope yours went well too love you!) This might cause her to flip out more because you never answer your phone, but really thats her problem so leave it for her to get over, especially since it sounds like you've been shouldering her problems for a long time.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:38 PM on September 25, 2009

Also, see an MD for anxiety. Make sure you explain that you are looking to treat anxiety and not depression. When i was too anxious, something like xanax helped me out, though they may not prescribe that to you if you feel you would need medicinal help daily. At that point they would try something like Lexapro for gradual sustained improvement, as opposed to incidental treatment.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:41 PM on September 25, 2009

I'm just going to address the financial management / budgeting issue in my comment, but I really hope that the rest works out for you.

My husband is a professional poker player, so I have a lot of experience dealing with a husband's income that fluctuates a lot. I've learned a bit on how to do it without going crazy. The biggest problem is spending like every month is a good month, so you've got to set things up to avoid that.

Here is what I suggest:

Set up 4 bank accounts.

1. Household: Your salary goes in, non-discretionary household living expenses come out. (Hopefully your take-home salary can cover all your non-discretionary living expenses; if not, work on reducing your expenses and increasing your salary.) This way you don't have to worry about whether you'll be able to pay the mortgage, car insurance, etc. from month to month, since you'll be paying for all that stuff out of the stable income. I suggest you be in charge of managing this account, since you seem to be more skilled with these details.

Then come to an agreement with your husband on how to divide his income between luxuries and long-term financial goals. Do it on a percentage basis, so that your discretionary spending and saving automatically rises and falls with his income level. Split the luxuries portion evenly into "his" and "her" spending money.

So, those accounts would be:

2. Joint savings: Best if you can set this up so that both your signatures are required to withdraw money. As money accumulates in this account you can agree on how you want to reallocate it to long-term investments.

3. "His" (account in his name only) that he can spend on whatever he wants
4. "Hers" (account in your name only) that you can spend on whatever you want

(So maybe 50% of his post-tax income to savings, 25% to him, 25% to you, or whatever percentages work for you.)

I think the separate accounts are important so that it's very clear what money is for what. Since he doesn't seem to understand (or want to think about) abstract financial concepts, this will probably make it a lot easier for him to grasp your overall financial picture.

This arrangement may even motivate him to work harder on making his business make more money, since how much he can spend will be directly linked to how much he makes. Also, most men take pride in being able to provide nice things for their wives, so he'll be able to see how making more money allows him to pay for more nice things for you too. This will be a lot more visible and concrete to him than his income going into one big abstract pool of money that bills and everything else comes out of and he doesn't really keep track of.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:47 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I second the commenter who said that your parents are using money to drive you and your husband apart. Your husband sounds like a lovely person who has a few faults (like the rest of us), probably things that seemed charming while you were dating. The twin pressures of having a child (which increases the need for responsibility) and having your parents die (which reminds you that you will soon be alone and need more security) are making something that looked fine to you a few years ago look like a terrible flaw.

I DO NOT THINK he has a terrible flaw. I think he is probably bewildered and hurt by the change in you -- that you are not as enamoured of his easy going ways as you used to be.

I would suggest that you stay with him until your mother dies, the inheritance is sorted out, and one of your major stressors is gone. Then, consider the question of your marriage. In the meantime, check out for tips on how you can act unilaterally to keep your marriage together in the meantime.
posted by metametababe at 8:57 AM on October 3, 2009

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