I didn't sign on to be single mom
August 9, 2010 3:02 PM   Subscribe

My husband's schedule is making me miserable and resentful. He can't change his schedule right now, so what I can do to deal with it better?

My husband started a new job in January. He gets home at 7 most nights and he works every other weekend.

He also has a 12yo daughter who lives with her mother. Since moving into our new house, the daughter has refused to spend the night, so instead of her coming to stay with us every other weekend, he spends Saturday and Sunday with her alone and drops her off back at her mom's in the early evening. He also sees her after school until 9pm, two days a week.

As a result, I feel like I'm only seeing him for a few hours a day, a few days a week, and when he is home, he is usually too tired and stressed out to want to do anything beside veg out in front of the tv.

This isn't working for me. I also work full-time but since I have a more flexible schedule (and no older child to deal with), everything gets thrown on me. At the beginning, I just missed him and missed spending quality time together, but now I am starting to feel bitter about that fact that he's never around to clean the house, cook dinner, run errands, take care of our 15 month old baby, and nevermind things like hanging out with friends, dinner parties, going to parks or museums, or whatever.

He can't adjust his work schedule (and he is looking for a new job, but it's hard of course), and he can't/wouldn't want to cut back on the time he gets to spend with his older daughter, so I think is just the schedule we are going to have to live with for the foreseeable future. He's not happy with it either and I don't want to add to his stress and frustration, but I find myself glumping around the house being furiously Quiet at him and he has no idea why. We seem to be bickering all the time and I just don't know what to do.

How do I deal with the fact that I am lonely and overworked and undersleeped and stressed out and sad, without taking it out on him?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The 12yo is old enough to be given the choice of staying in your house or not seeing her dad. Her mom needs to step up to the plate and help this to happen. Is the mom with a new partner? Is she bitter and is she trying to punish him (your hub)?

That possible change would help a lot and make him available to you two, as well as her. It would help immensely.
posted by Danf at 3:21 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

The daughter needs to spend the night. Whatever he and the mother worked out for father-daughter time needs to happen. She's 12, not 16 with a job or other obligations, and she shouldn't be running the show. Not to mention she has a 15-month-old half-sibling.

(I'm the custodial parent of 2 kids now 14 and 16 who over the years had a say, but did not have decisionmaking authority, in the matter of time spent with the other parent.)
posted by headnsouth at 3:21 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Any reason why you and the baby can't go with him to visit his daughter? Somewhere neutral rather than her Mom's home, where you can be together as a family?

Yes, the daughter needs to step up, but it might not just be the new house that is causing problems, but the 15 month old that is taking away some of Dad's attention (naturally). She is being selfish, but she is also only 12, so cut her some slack.

If you can't go with him to visit, suggest that he take the baby sometimes so you have some time to yourself, and will have more energy and enthusiasm for those nights when the two of you can spend some time together once he gets off work. Also, his daughter will realize that her Dad has to divide his time between her and baby whether she comes to the new house or not.

Basically, what I'm suggesting is that he remember he has TWO families, not just one, and that you and the baby need at least equal time to his daughter.

If you can't all be together, than a more equitable split has to be made. If the daughter balks at this, remind her again that of course she is welcome to spend the night at your house.
posted by misha at 3:38 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Since moving into our new house, the daughter has refused to spend the night, so instead of her coming to stay with us every other weekend, he spends Saturday and Sunday with her alone

Alone away from the house? Doing what? Why doesn't he just bring her home and spend time with her, even if she doesn't want to spend the night? Or do things with the whole family together? Perhaps most importantly, why doesn't she want to spend the night? Does she have a space that is more or less her own in your new house?

His schedule doesn't seem that bad to me. My husband routinely works until 8 or 8:30 and works Saturday mornings, but he still has time to help around the house and spend time with me and our daughter.

I think you just need to talk about this. Not angrily, but just have a conversation about what is going on and how you feel. Find out how he feels. Try to find a way to work through this so that you both are getting what you need. Instead of thinking, "how can I be less angry?" work with him to find a way to get your needs met.
posted by jeoc at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2010

Yes, why can't you do things with the whole family together on a few of those days where he sees his daughter? That sounds like a really good time for the parks and museums. Also, why exactly does the daughter not want to spend the night? Is there some kind of friction between you and the daughter?

Also, this may be too obvious of a suggestion but -- have you thought about hiring cleaning, cooking, and/or babysitting help?
posted by Ashley801 at 3:54 PM on August 9, 2010

Perhaps you could pick up the 12-yr old on visiting days, and your husband could take her to her mother's place when the weekend visits are over, and maybe move the mid week visits to Fri. night?. That might take some stress out of his schedule, give both of you more family time and ease your step daughter into the new family. The current arrangement sounds almost calculated to keep her from becoming comfortable with things as they are, or from bonding with you or her sibling. If the daughter is resentful of you, maybe easing into the weekend thing over a bit of time would defuse that, but I do think that some degree of "this is the way things are" needs to be enforced. She needs to become a member of her new families, and give up the idea that the old one might come back.

Has your husband had that talk with her?
posted by path at 4:04 PM on August 9, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you for the responses so far. There are numerous issues going on with my stepdaughter that could stand as many separate questions on their own, so I didn't want to delve into too many details. The short story is that her spiteful, vindictive, steaming-pile-of-crazy mother has been doing everything she can to sabotage her child's relationship with her dad, and sadly it seems to be working. (e.g. when my husband couldn't pick her up the day I was in labor, she was told "I knew your dad wouldn't have time for you anymore.", and when we moved to the new house that was eight miles further from the old one, she was told that we were trying to get away from her, and also that if the daughter stayed with us she would be too far away from her mom 'in case something bad happened'... yeah, it's pretty messed up) I think I have a solid relationship with her (or I used to), but her mom has tried ruining that as well ("She'll never love you as much as she loves her real child").
Husband is currently seeing a therapist with his daughter (when the mom doesn't "forget" the appointments), and him seeing her individually is what the therapist thinks is best for her right now. Being One Big Happy Family on our weekends with her is the ultimate goal that we're working towards, but things are such a mess with her that I don't know how long this will take.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:36 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't judges frown on parents sabotaging relationships with the other parent? Have him ask the therapist if it is appropriate to also speak with a lawyer.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:57 PM on August 9, 2010

My partner and I are operating on a similar schedule (sans kids) which is similarly creating friction.

It still sucks to shoulder the lion's share of household tasks, but we have managed to carve out some time together which does help us reconnect. I try hard to schedule things that aren't too high-intensity but will still keep him from hitting the couch come 8pm, and before he works on weekend mornings we go out for an early coffee or breakfast together. It still feels like we have to steal time for each other, but it's better than nothing.

Plus, I revel in my alone time and don't entirely mind that he doesn't see me watching trashy TV while eating ice cream on a Sunday afternoon...
posted by Pomo at 4:57 PM on August 9, 2010

Some of this sounds like an issue for the courts. Meaning, they don't like it when one parent pulls this crap. Many child custody agreements have clauses stating that the the parents can't do this sort of thing. It doesn't matter what "she was told" it matters what the custody agreement says, and whether the mom is following that or not. If she refuses to let her daughter come for overnight visits, and doesn't bring her to therapy visits, she is violating something, even if it's interfering with a decent relationship. Most custody agreements have very explicit statements regarding what the parent can say about the other parent, as well as visitation rules. Is the ex breaking the rules according to their legal agreement? Does she have a vested interest in having your husband visit their daughter away from you?

Frankly, I'd be resentful too. Your husband's ex is controlling your life by keeping his daughter from coming to your house and by forcing him, at least psychologically, to visit their child away from your family unit. Not cool. Tell your husband in no uncertain terms that this needs to be addressed ASAP. The mom can't do this, and she needs to be told by a judge, not caved into by your husband.

Aside from the obvious solution of getting a lawyer and forcing his ex to behave, can you guys get a date night once a week? Get a sitter for the baby and go out together? It's hard enough when you have a little one but dealing with a blended family is even harder.

Stop blaming the ex and start questioning your husband. He is caving into her demands and making your life miserable. Too bad. He should have thought of this before he started a new family. You deserve to have your needs met.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:02 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Could he take your 15 month old with him when he hangs out with his daughter every now and then? That would give you a break at least to have some time alone, and it might help with your stress a little.
posted by afton at 5:03 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does he (or do you) have the money to hire help? A mother's helper to hang out with you some nights and help you with laundry, dinner, or just entertain the 15-month-old while you talk on the phone to a friend, might really help you feel less like you're doing it alone.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:03 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Even busy people do their own chores. Maybe find a way to negotiate the work so that you're not resenting him. You don't want to make "chores" a proxy war for your emotions. But chores can be a proxy war in reverse, where undone simple chores lead to difficult complex feelings, like one person feels unappreciated. So emphasize that you miss him and one very simple way for him to ease his difficult schedule on you is to make sure he [XYZ] [takes care of all his laundry and all the baby's laundry on those free evenings].
posted by salvia at 7:09 PM on August 9, 2010

Have you sat down and said basically what you said in your post? It sounds totally reasonable and understandable. I know you don't want to further stress him out, but going around being Furiously Quiet is probably stressing him out way more than trying to hash out something that works for both of you. If you get it out there, you can probably come up with some ways to make it less stressful for everyone.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:05 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

A couple of things you said in your post make me think that you haven't actually told him what you just told us - i.e. you say he "wouldn't want to" cut down on his visits with the daughter, not that he "doesn't want to," and you say you're quietly angry at him but he doesn't know why. If that's true you need to change that immediately - nothing is going to get better until you talk to him about this. This is one of those cases where printing out the question and reading it is the way to go - you've narrated the problem clearly and reasonably.

I know you don't want to add to his stress, but this will actually decrease his stress. He already knows you're upset, and believe me, there's nothing more stressful than being with someone who is clearly angry but won't say why.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:27 AM on August 10, 2010


Your husband needs to call his lawyer, and the kid's therapist needs a reality check. Yes, one on one time is super important if the 12 year old is feeling distanced from dad. But that can not be all. This little girl's family is bigger than dad and mom, and the whole family is being harmed.

There are lots of different opportunities for middle ground here -- one night can be family night, the baby can join in one weekend day, you can get in on the therapy. The bottom line is that it is unacceptable for crazy mom to be dictating her daughter's relationship with the other three members of her family.

If one of my clients called me with this situation, I'd file papers within the week. Even if this isn't a specific violation of the parenting plan in place, this is harming the little girl and your family, and it needs to change.

All that notwithstanding -- you are not reducing your husband's stress by keeping your mouth shut. He knows you are unhappy. He misses you. He misses happy time with you and baby. You have been incredibly clear about your feelings, and sensitive to his needs in your question. Share it with him. This is an issue for your family to solve, not your husband, and hearing how well you understand the situation and how committed you are to the long term solution will probably be a huge weight off his back.
posted by freshwater at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2010

Hire a cleaning service.....that will at least take some of the load off you.
posted by bq at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

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