Ideological differences with husband and lack of emotional understanding
April 30, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe

My husband of 1.5 years and I have been constantly fighting all the time. We have ideological differences in what we want from life and family, and the gender roles within the family. I feel stifled and feel like I have been making all sacrifices without getting any support or admiration. I am not his precious, if you know what I mean. Over time, I’ve started feeling like I am just a means to an end for my husband and he doesn’t really love or care for me as a person. Husband, on the other hand, feels like what is important for him (his list: his parents, baptism of our daughter, household responsibilities to be taken care of by wife and ability to state his position even if it is different from mine, which often times it is) are not important to me. I believe in solid nuclear family structure, equality of genders in household chores, saving up on behalf of both partners and investing wisely. I am not overtly religious and hope not to make my kids overtly religious, even though I don’t have any issue with baptism per se. I am 31 and husband is 33 years old, and we are both quite highly educated.

Let me apologize at the outset at the length of my post – I couldn’t figure out how to make it shorter. I am very frustrated and confused and hope to find some advice in order to make my life happy and peaceful again.

Husband and I dated for a year before getting married, and both feel like we jumped into it too soon. We were so much ‘in love’ that all above problems seems trivial and we thought we’d figure it out. But our differences became very stark with each passing month in the marriage. I fell pregnant after 4 months of being married, and it made our lives even more complicated.

Our daughter was born 3 months ago, and family arrived to “help us out”. His overbearing mother (husband admits she can be over bearing and hot tempered) arrived for a month, and left in 4 days when I told her off about something she said. From that time, my husband and my relationship has been fractured completely. He didn’t speak to me for 3 weeks following MILs departure, because he was deeply hurt that his mother left and said she would never come back. He is very close to his mother and tells her almost everything. When she was at our place, I felt like I was the third wheel in the marriage and that was one reason why I was happy to see her go. However, I am not sure I can forgive my husband for not really “being there for me” when the baby was 10 days old. He went silent on me for weeks and I was breastfeeding and recovering from a nightmare of a difficult labor and it was THE most horrible time in my life. He later told me that he regrets behaving in this way, and the timing was bad, but that the on-going problems in relationship and the fact that his folks didn’t feel welcome really made his go into his own shell.

Our sex life is and has been as boring as it gets. He has porn addiction and it completely turns me off. He is also working pretty late hours at his job and on most days has no energy when he gets back home. From my perspective though, this issue can be fixed if both partners are willing to make efforts, and I don’t want to make this a bigger issue than what it is, even though I am somewhat sexually frustrated.

I've become very bitter and I feel angry all the time. In my angry outbursts , I call him names. I know that this is wrong and that I should change this, and perhaps this is one reason why my marriage has been so rocky. I don't really know how to not feel so hurt - Will CBT or any other help? Any intelligent individual can solve their problems by talking to friends and family, but in this case I am at my wits end. Will I even have time to go for therapy with a little baby?!

I am contemplating divorce to get that peace of mind. The daily fighting puts me down and affects my self-confidence and inner peace. Not that I was the most-confident –alpha-female in the room, but I have fairly good achievements including an Ivy League degree. However, I have started feeling like a failure. Wonder if it is because a) I now have to make all the sacrifices while my husband can still go out and be a super star at work, or whether b) Something about or marriage has demotivated me from within. I feel like a) can be fixed by having a better work-life discipline and better support system in terms of baby responsibilities, but if it is b) then am afraid this is a dead end. Am I being reckless or selfish thinking about divorce? My parents tell me I am but they are very conservative and they also don't know sad I am.

In my heart of hearts, I know that I would have split with him had we not been married for sure. Had we been married, but not had a baby, the thought of splitting would have been more difficult (marriage is very important to me). My daughter is the game-changer in that I don't want to be selfish and deny her two parents' love and a good upbringing (I personally don't care about husband’s income. I can earn as much as him in time, as I only just started working and he's been working for 8 years. But it will change how many pretty dresses I can buy for my daughter and what school/summer camps she goes to). Being a single mother also scares me somewhat as I never thought I'd have to be one. I am from a fairly conservative family and no one in our family has been divorced.

I feel so lonely, and frustrated. This is truly the hardest time in my life.
posted by Spice_and_Ice to Human Relations (63 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- cortex

"Any intelligent individual can solve their problems by talking to friends and family" -- whoa, this sounds like something somebody else told you that you've internalized. It's not even remotely true. MANY (logically/emotionally/academically) intelligent people need more help than that.

I definitely think that you need counseling to work through what's going on. Whether or not couples' therapy is a good idea, I don't know.

If you have the financial resources to be a single parents, that can actually be far better for a child's mental and emotional health than having two parents who fight all the time. I'm not advocating divorce, but just keep in mind that many societal declarations about the "two-parent family" don't necessarily apply to individual cases.
posted by wintersweet at 10:26 AM on April 30, 2013 [26 favorites]

You had a baby 3 months ago. Life is crazy right now! You're still recovering physically, you're sleep deprived, you're dealing with a huge increase in responsibilities. Give yourself time. Therapy could be helpful to you- if you don't have time, make time; it's important to be thoughtful about your marriage now, even if you feel like you weren't when you jumped into it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

THERAPY. ASAP. For both of you, but certainly for you individually. You both have issues that need working on. He has a porn addition and some behavioral stuff to work on, you have a new baby, possible trauma from labor, and serious problems navigating your new life. You both need individual work AND you need to work together to make your marriage work.

So get to a therapist asap. Ask your husband how invested he is in making your relationship work, and ask him to go to couples counseling with you. If he says no, you go to therapy anyway. Do not wait for him to improve your life.

All the best to you.
posted by absquatulate at 10:28 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

It sounds like your hubby is a little enmeshed with his mother; she has been very controlling and emotional, which has transferred on to him.

You are not easy either. Calling him names. Telling off your MIL. You need some emotional regulation yourself. And buying a child "pretty dresses" is not parenting, btw. Get both of yourselves into therapy; if you can't change yourselves & your dynamic, then it will become increasingly difficult for the emotional well-being of your daughter. Which should be your priority.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Will I even have time to go for therapy with a little baby?!

I think that finding time for this or making time for this should be very important to you. (It might not even be a problem to have the baby there.) You have expressed a lot of concern and anxiety over a lot of different aspects of your life and marriage, and you owe it to you to have a safe space to work through those issues. Couples therapy also sounds like it might be helpful, but you're carrying around a lot and no, just talking it over with friends isn't a panacea.

You also have a crazy young kid and it sounds like it hasn't been the easiest transition into motherhood. Give your whole family some time to work through the new dynamics. And good luck.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:32 AM on April 30, 2013

You sound completely overwhelmed and unsupported. You do not appear to be working; can you go stay with either your parents or good friends that will take care of you (and you should also hire any professional help you need whether it is babysitting or housecleaning or meals delivered) to give yourself some breathing room and a few good night's sleep and some time alone without constant arguing? You should also see your doctor/midwife to rule out any physical causes of your anger. Not that you don't have reason to be angry, but if something is out of whack in your body it may be escalting your anger. Sign up for things like baby yoga and hire babysitters if your husband is not willing to help so that you are getting at least an hour a day away from caring for the baby - she will be fine and that time apart will do you both good. You probably need someone to vent to (like a good friend or therapist) before you look into couple's counselling. I am so sorry you are going through this, truly.
posted by saucysault at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

My daughter is the game-changer in that I don't want to be selfish and deny her two parents' love and a good upbringing (I personally don't care about husband’s income. I can earn as much as him in time, as I only just started working and he's been working for 8 years. But it will change how many pretty dresses I can buy for my daughter and what school/summer camps she goes to). Being a single mother also scares me somewhat as I never thought I'd have to be one. I am from a fairly conservative family and no one in our family has been divorced.

I know many single mothers and many grown children of single mothers (being from a less conservative enclave) and most of them do not have significant behavioral problems, they are good kids, they have a broad support network of extended family members. Pretty dresses and summer camp are nice, but if you can make enough money to support your daughter, she can stand having fewer dresses and a less respectable summer camp. Really, it will be okay. I had exactly no dresses and never went to summer camp and my life has been pretty rad (and even objectively successful).

Am I being reckless or selfish thinking about divorce? My parents tell me I am but they are very conservative and they also don't know sad I am.

No no no no no, you are not. I was RELIEVED to see you say you were thinking about divorce. Honestly, this marriage sounds like a horrible match, and if you have the desire to leave I think that's wonderful.

I'm just going to say that porn addiction is very difficult to work through, unhealthy mother/son issues are VERY difficult to work through, your husband clamming up and not supporting you during the most difficult time in your life is very very difficult to work through. This is a shit ton of work and you will need a therapist (therapists, for both of you) if you want to see it through. Just don't let outsider opinions about your marriage be the decisive factor for you. Do what feels right to you.

It's incredibly fucking sad to me to think about the number of intelligent, sensitive women (and men) I know who have been steamrolled by their terrible marriages, but were afraid to leave, because of what "everyone would think." Who cares? Those people don't have to live your marriage. Do what is best for you.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2013 [65 favorites]

The post-partum period is very delicate and I must say that I am shocked by his behavior towards you. It does not sound like something you should get over. Three weeks of not talking to someone isn't an impulsive decision quickly regretted--it is an enormous and purposeful abandonment.

I found that the hardest part of divorcing was deciding to do it. Once I took the steps to move out and accepted that the marriage was over, the relief was enormous. Our son is noticeably happier since we split, and it has been mentioned by multiple people that his mood is much better. That is enough to get me through when I start worrying about him. Yes, it would be best if you and your husband were together and happy, but if that's impossible, you have to think about reality and not the ideal.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2013 [73 favorites]

I'm a counsellor and I think couples counselling would be perfect for you. Many, many couples go for the kinds of reasons you are listing above and there is absolutely no shame in it. The only sad thing is that so many people leave it too late and their relationships are damaged by the fighting and stonewalling more than the original disagreements.

I know you have a huge amount on your plate right now but all you need is 50 minutes a week. With all the resentment and sadness washing around your relationship right now things are only going to get worse if you don't talk about what has happened and what you want. A good counsellor won't tell you what to do or who is 'right' but at the very least you should both leave with a real understanding of how the other person feels. That is incredibly valuable.
posted by Dorothia at 10:34 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

At this point, my primary concern would be the emotional health of my child. That means counseling for you, first and foremost. In your situation, yes, I'd seriously be contemplating a divorce, especially if your husband refuses to do couples counseling. He would have to be deeply invested in the relationship and making serious and visible changes to his behavior and attitudes before I'd even contemplate staying. His behavior after your birth was utterly appalling, no matter what you did.

Two emotionally stable, happy parents (or even one) who are no longer married will give your child a much happier and healthier life than one miserable, rage-filled couple.

But before anything else: therapy. Smart people do it, educated people do it (to the extent that my ivy-league university's mental health services are fully booked up MONTHS in advance), health and happy people do it when they're facing big life challenges. You can do it.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

Your husband gave you the silent treatment for THREE WEEKS while you dealt with a newborn and were recuperating post-partum?

Therapy, for you, to help you find the strength to leave this asshole.
posted by lydhre at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2013 [86 favorites]

Anger? Loneliness? Trouble controlling your emotions? Please don't make any major decisions until you've gotten screened for post-partum depression.

This is a really difficult time for you, and it sounds like you have legitimate reasons to be upset at your husband, but the sense that these problems are insurmountable could be a hormonal imbalance talking. Talk to your doctor first of all before you do anything else.
posted by psycheslamp at 10:49 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've become very bitter and I feel angry all the time. In my angry outbursts , I call him names. I know that this is wrong and that I should change this, and perhaps this is one reason why my marriage has been so rocky. I don't really know how to not feel so hurt - Will CBT or any other help? Any intelligent individual can solve their problems by talking to friends and family, but in this case I am at my wits end. Will I even have time to go for therapy with a little baby?!

The right therapist can help, because they will offer an outside perspective and let you vent. Friends and family tend to have their own built-in opinions about who you are and will jump in with well-meaning advice and judgments before they know the whole story. It's also much easier to be honest with a therapist; you can say the most awful things that you've been ashamed to be carrying around with you and know that they will never get back to your social circle. If you're worried about finding someone to watch your baby, you might be able to find a therapist who would either be willing to do a house visit or let you bring the baby along. The marriage and family therapists in my area are fairly flexible, so give it a shot.

For what it's worth, I don't think you're selfish, self-absorbed, or shallow. You sound like you're under a lot of pressure and could use tons more support than you're getting. Hugs. Ask for help. It will get better.
posted by rhythm and booze at 10:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Think about it this way: You're thinking about divorce. He's not, but when you snapped during your postpartum at his mother (who sounds emotionally immature, not just for storming off but for needing to be the 'overbearing' center of her son's life, bleghh), he took her side and ignored you and your new baby. In other words, he prioritized his old family over the new family he's supposed to be creating with you. But of course, he believes in old-school gender roles and you're the one making all the sacrifices, so why should he leave? He's got a woman he can shoehorn into his life as is. You, on the other hand, have a man who will abandon after a terrible labor and who is less interested in what's going on with you than making sure his difficult parents fit in to your home life.

People are already ganging up on you for being crazy and selfish, but thinking about pricey university for your child is actually a wise consideration. These things matter. (Dresses, not so much, but I know how thinking about big concepts like "divorce" can make you second-guess yourself.) But staying with a man you don't love or respect is not the solution, and will probably hurt your daughter more than being a single mother ever could. I also do not think that calling a very bad labor and healing period the most horrible time of your life is at ALL dramatic, and having gone through surgery and felt abandoned afterward, I know exactly what you mean. It's very hard to heal from that. Knowing that someone will look at you at your worst suffering and feel it's appropriate to stonewall or ignore you completely shatters trust.

I've seen so many terrible, soul-crushing marriages and so many happy, life-recovering divorces that I will admit to a bias, but there's really no good reason to stay in a marriage that makes you feel less than a person in the long-run. Sure, try therapy first, but if he isn't interested or committed to changing things, let yourself move on. He sounds very entrenched in behaviors that lay waste to even some of the best unions (porn addiction, overattachment to mother, &c.) (And yes, give yourself some time post-baby to recover a bit before you have to confront this all at once. Post-partum depression may be making this all much more difficult right now.) As a person who has had an excellent almost-mother-in-law, and a very terrible one, I find it very difficult to advise anyone to tip-toe around a mother-in-law who doesn't treat you with consideration and respect, ESPECIALLY when you're at your most vulnerable, and after childbirth when a lot of women feel a difficulty being attached and intimate with their husbands. (I think very few women want to feel like a third wheel in their own marriage right after they've given birth.)

On preview, you're a kitty! is spot-on.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [20 favorites]

Perhaps all these feeling you're having are temporary. Let's hope so!

You mention that you 'fell' pregnant... like it was an illness.
You say that you're bitter and angry all the time.
You state that you could earn as much as your husband given the time.

I'm no therapist, but you sound fairly resentful that you got pregnant and you're taking it out on everyone else. Your husband gets to be a super-star at work? Come on now.

You mentioned feeling like you don't get any support or admiration and your sex life sucks... but you chased the support out of the house and your husband likely prefers porn that doesn't yell at him and call him names. From what you're telling us, you're practically chasing him away too.

I think you need to put that Ivy League education to work and take a step back, look at yourself, and realize that you need to get yourself to the doctor and therapist.
posted by matty at 10:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

You both need therapy and lots of it.

Post partum Depression is a real thing and very few women don't get some form of it. Yes, you're yelling a lot now and you're not able to articulate what you need, because you are sleep deprived, full of hormones and you're not getting the help you need from your partner.

You may have rushed into marriage, you may have had a baby too soon, but oh well, it's water under the bridge.

The fundamental question here is: do you both love each other enough to work on this together? It can't be just one of you, it has to be both.

Your husband's porn addiction is a deal breaker.

Also, even if you divorce, you won't be alone, your husband will be contributing money and time, perhaps in equal measure to what you contribute. So don't think that it will just be you alone with the baby, it won't.

You have to get thereapy, make appointments NOW.

Also, your MIL, she's a piece of work. She upsets a new mother, and now it's all about HER?

This situation is about as bad as it gets. Even if your husband doesn't agree, hie yourself to a therapist post-haste, so that you can have your head on as straight as possible for what lies ahead.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can only speak for myself, of course, but any relationship in which I found myself calling my partner angry names is a relationship I would need to end, if only so that my daughter were not raised to think that was normal or acceptable.
posted by janey47 at 10:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

My daughter is the game-changer in that I don't want to be selfish and deny her two parents' love

So go find a partner who will love both you and her. And treat you both with respect and dignity.

Marriage is a legal document not a bear trap.

Seriously, from first hand experience, the 'for the kids rationale' is terrible. It's an awful home to live in.
posted by French Fry at 10:57 AM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]

Oh, goodness.

You sound like you're just in the middle of a lot of things going on and it's all seeming so impossible. Slow down. These are all manageable.

It is really hard to see what the actual differences are in your relationship from the way you posed this question, though.

I'm guessing:

-Your husband is more religious/wants to raise the baby in his faith, while you do not (or you worry the baptism would be a slippery slope)
-You just started working and make less, while husband has been working for a while and makes more- which almost ALWAYS puts strain, because the higher-earning/more demanding job person feels like the lessworking person should be taking care of chores and the lessworking person doesn't want to be a drudge
-Your husband likes having his family around, while you wish they were gone (I'm assuming you mean this by your stated wish for "solid nuclear family structure")
-Your husband makes the money, but you want to be able to decide what to do with it. (Saving on behalf of both partners)

You say your differences got stark with every month, but it seems like of the 16 months you've been married, you've been pregnant or in post-partum for 12 of them. Hormones always affect stuff.

Your mother in law arrived for a month, and you chased her off after four days because you felt like you were the "third wheel in the marriage". If she indeed said she would never come back, it makes sense why someone believing in an extended family would be upset. Did you and your husband talk about it at the time? You say he gave you the silent treatment - totally, or was he just emotionally distant?

Your sex life is boring, but if you had your baby three months ago, is it possible that pregnancy/delivery complicate matters? Also, what does "porn addiction" really mean in this context? Does he watch it when you wish he wouldn't? Do you find porn icky? Does he need to watch it while you have sex?

I don't think you're being selfish thinking about divorce, but I think thinking about it before you really evaluate these questions - and consider possible portpartum - is a bad idea.
posted by corb at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]

This environment doesn't sound good for a baby to grow up in. To minimize the impact of the arguing, and the impact of a possible divorce, on the child, it might be best to consider parting ways earlier rather than later. I can imagine it's a huge dilemma for you since you want to have a "whole" family for your child, but you may have the opportunity to re-marry and be in a much more positive situation for the child, and that's all she will know so the "damage" of divorce may be quite minimal. Can you have a frank conversation with your husband about options for your marriage and see what he considers to be the options that you both should consider? I do also agree with what some other people said about you being in a high stress and overtired situation right now with the new baby and you definitely need a "cooling-off" period before you make any decisions that you might regret later and before you make the efforts to see if the current situation can be salvaged. It sucks to be in a situation like this but hopefully you will find a path to contentment.
posted by Dansaman at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2013

He didn’t speak to me for 3 weeks following MILs departure, because he was deeply hurt that his mother left and said she would never come back.

This is absolutely horrible. You are not being selfish for thinking about divorce. You deserve support, especially now with a newborn.

I don't know all the details but I am having a hard time even imagining a scenario in which your MIL and husband were justified in behaving this way.
posted by leopard at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [29 favorites]

Are either of you from another culture with different historical customs and values? It sounds like the stuff you are dealing with is so TYPICAL that a gazillion male-female couples have dealt with these same things countless times. It's almost what therapy is made for. You are both under stress and are both messing up in predictable ways. I'd vote for patience and therapy as long as you're both very very committed to doing better.
posted by htid at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Therapy would be a good idea if you want to make a last-ditch effort to make this work. Both for you and for him and probably as a couple, as well. Time-consuming, I realize, but there's a lot that needs to get done here. At the bare minimum you need to go to couples counseling.

I say this because giving you the silent treatment for three weeks is incredibly fucked up. If that's how he treats you, how will he treat your kid? You're not doing your kid a favor by staying together if it means the kid is getting raised by someone who'd do that.

Tell him you need to go to couples therapy (at the very least). If he won't do it, it's time to start thinking about a divorce.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please see someone--your OB or primary care doctor would be a fine place to start-- about possible postpartum depression ASAP. It can easily manifest as feelings of being overwhelmed, angry, and bitter, rather than as sadness. Stressors that you would normally be able to weather can become horrible insurmountable barriers. The timing, the behavior you're describing in yourself, and the degree of despair evident in your question are strong suggestions that this might be an issue for you. Postpartum depression is 1) a medical illness, 2) highly treatable, 3) often unrecognized due to the other stressors of new parenthood, and 4) capable of wreaking absolute havoc on your life and your family's life if left untreated.

Don't get me wrong, it sounds like you guys are not communicating well and his behavior has been counterproductive. It sounds like you would benefit from some couples therapy, but it's also much easier to make smart decisions about a relationship if you are not also suffering from an illness that by definition impairs your ability to manage stress and think clearly.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

I just cannot imagine living in the same house with someone who would not talk to me for three weeks. That's amazingly horrible. Clearly, he was angry with you, and perhaps he was even justifiably angry with you, but not talking to you for three weeks - I would not be able to tolerate that way of dealing with anger. I mean maybe you have postpartum depression or whatever, but you plenty of real reasons to be upset, too.

If you can get him to go to couples' therapy, that's probably a good idea, and definitely get to therapy yourself. You sound like you are in a big ol' mess here, and you are going to need some outside help to get out of that mess.
posted by mskyle at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

You mention that you 'fell' pregnant... like it was an illness.

FWIW, this is a common construction in the non-US Anglophone world.

OP, this is an awful situation. I don't care what you said to his mother, three weeks of the silent treatment is unacceptable. Definitely therapy for you, therapy for him and for y'all as a couple if he'll take it.
posted by KathrynT at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

OP, this sounds like a miserable situation. Please get a referral for a counselor (try your doctor or even your child's pediatrician.) You sound like you're in a really bad spot right now.

Please be kind to yourself right now. Beating yourself up and feeling shame about how you've acted in the past is not going to be productive. Save your energy for finding self-compassion, for loving your daughter, for FINDING A THERAPIST OR DOCTOR. Bring your daughter if you need to.

This is not the sort of question where tough love is a helpful response. The OP needs love. Period.
posted by purpleclover at 12:41 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

UGh. I feel so sad for you. I would have some choice words for my husband if he chose his mother over me. Did he or his mom even ask if you if you wanted her there? I can't imagine how stifling it would be to have to deal with in-laws right after having a baby.

Your husband should have supported you. It's jaw dropping that he ignored you for three weeks!

I think divorcing him would be a kind thing to do for your daughter. Do your daughter to think that men are allowed to treat women poorly?
posted by parakeetdog at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you're beating yourself up because you're under the assumption that intelligent people should be able to fix their problems without therapy, and that considering a divorce makes you a selfish person. Neither of those things are true at all.

My daughter is the game-changer in that I don't want to be selfish and deny her two parents' love. How is splitting from your husband denying your child this? Does divorcing your husband mean that he won't love your daughter any more?

Speaking as the child of two people who stayed together despite not being able to stand each other, I really cannot comprehend why people think that it's better to "stay together for the kids" in a marriage that makes two people miserable and unhappy. It creates an environment to grow up in where everyone is bitter, angry, and miserable.
posted by inertia at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am not sure I can forgive my husband for not really “being there for me” when the baby was 10 days old.

You are under no obligation to forgive him. He sounds like a terribly selfish and self-involved person. We all go through self-involved periods, but if he can't find it within himself to be supportive and giving for his wife and his newborn child at their most needy, I can't see how he will be there at any other less critical time for either of you.

My daughter is the game-changer in that I don't want to be selfish and deny her two parents' love and a good upbringing

This has nothing, NOTHING to do with being selfish. I was an accident of two people who dated casually, and my grandmother (also ridiculously overbearing) tried to push my parents into getting married for all the normal reasons. I am SO glad they didn't. They were a terrible match for each other and I would have had a horrible childhood (which would inevitably included a messy divorce). I'm not saying it was a perfect environment to grow up in, but I knew my parents loved me, and the issues I had had nothing to do with being raised by a single mother. Having two parents in the same household is absolutely not a guarantee of your child having a happy life.

I promise you, taking your child out of a bad situation is being loving and kind to her, on so many levels I can't even begin to explain. But what parakeetdog said above pretty much covers it. If you want to be a good mother, to set a good example, show her that she can be strong enough to protect herself because you did it.

You are stronger than you realize. Call on friends. Your friends. (though I'm going to take a guess here and venture that your husband has isolated you from your support circle?) Family. Your family. Be frank about what's happening. They will support you as best they can.

I know leaving sounds more daunting than anything, but your husband has no right to treat you this way. Don't let him.
posted by dry white toast at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Therapy (as is the standard advice).

And then, DTMFA.*

Counseling if you truly believe things can be fixed, but if you think this status quo will remain as is, just get rid of the problem. If your husband doesn't see that this is a problem, counseling may be an uphill battle as well.

I'm really confused and startled by all the answers that seem to imply that most of this is your fault. I don't get it. His behavior is appalling. He shouldn't be allowed to do what he's doing to you.

You have a child with a husband who chooses his mother over you, /gives you the silent treatment/ (when you've just delivered a baby!!!!!), is /not meeting your sexual needs/, has a porn addiction. This is way more than enough frustration.

Don't set this up like you need someone's permission -- your parents, friends, anyone else's -- to divorce. You don't. They're not married to him. You are.

This is a smorgasboard of UGH. When you are constantly upset, you will be much less effective at just about anything you'd want to do: raising your children, being in a marriage, or having a career.

By all means, post partum depression is a real possibility, which is why you should go to therapy to parse things out. But whatever issues you're having with your husband may not go away. They are not likely to go away. Can you continue living with your husband knowing that these problems are going to manifest themselves constantly one way or another?

Whatever you do, I wish you all the luck in the world.

* (Whether or not you actually want to DTFMA is up to you, but it is up to you and ONLY you.)
posted by orangutan at 1:29 PM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

"Any intelligent individual can solve their problems by talking to friends and family"

Haha, ouch! Speaking as someone who is in therapy, this is completely false. I also have several very intelligent (as in exceedingly gifted) friends who have been in and benefited greatly from therapy.

Trying to talk through my problems with friends and family had two main routes, there was the pat you on your hand and tell you it will be ok (which is fine, standard friend talk, but did not help my problems and won't help yours), and then there was the "suck it up and just deal with it", which sounds like the talk your parents are giving you when you mention divorce. Also completely and utterly useless. Worse then useless actually, can be very damaging.

A therapist is there to help you towards solutions that work for you, giving you the tools and abilities to face your issues. They are also someone who can hear the absolute worst about yourself without judging you. You state that your parents don't know how sad you are, are you expecting your conversations to work out your problems when you can't be honest with them? And I'm not saying that you need to be honest with them. I don't know them or your relationship, it might actually be a bad idea to be honest with them as that may just bring forth the Judgement, and that never ever helps.

Having a better understanding about your relationships and your reactions won't just benefit you, it will benefit your daughter enormously. She's going to learn how to deal with both from your example. I can't tell you how many times I've wished my parents had been able to figure things out before I came along.
posted by Dynex at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yes, you should probably try therapy. It can be very helpful.

To me, you both sound very incompatible. On his end, the silent treatment is cruel and immature. On your end, calling him names is cruel and immature. And there seems to be a lot of expectations that you don't mesh well on, or aren't properly communicating about: I, for one, really don't know what you mean, exactly, about being "his precious," except that it sounds somewhat entitled or unrealistic. When it comes to the conflict with his mother, either he is unnecessarily tied to her, or he has a very close, but normal, relationship with his family, which is something you are not respecting. And either his mother did say something terrible, or you overreacted.

I am pointing this out not because I am trying to villainize you, or him. I do see a lack of clarity in your question here, and I am not quite sure what your expectations are. So, I think you called it when you said you may have rushed this relationship, but it also seems neither of you have properly worked through your expectations, or even know how to talk about them.

And this disconnect is extremely critical now, because you have a young child to care for.

Going to therapy will give you the space, and tools, you need to figure out even how to best figure things out, at this point.

Good luck. Also know - even if you guys did rush things, and even if you divorce, you are not a bad person, and didn't really do anything wrong. This is really common, and regardless of what happens, you can still move forward and be happy and healthy.
posted by vivid postcard at 1:58 PM on April 30, 2013

Your husband makes me feel sick for you. You have a baby and an Ivy League degree, I don't doubt you could make a good life for your daughter.

Has your husband even sought help for his addiction to porn?
posted by discopolo at 2:00 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This (diagnosed?) "porn addiction" is such a secondary problem right now. His abusively passive-aggressive behavior and your deep-seated incompatibilities and lack of communication are much more important and pressing. Even if your sex life was 100% awesome, it wouldn't solve these problems. And I think sex is really important in relationships, if that tells you anything.
posted by you're a kitty! at 2:07 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

A lot of young people have insufficient support systems. It sounds like your husband's mother is very immature, and I can't really see where your parents are in this picture, from reading your post. But "it takes a village" to raise a child, wether you divorce or not. If you don't have significant support from your families, you need therapy or counseling regardless of what happens. No new parents can manage it all without help and guidance, not only about childcare, but also about economy, house-keeping and sharing chores, dealing with in-laws, intimate life and married life in general.
Apart from counseling, maybe a support group would be a good idea. For me, my mom-and-baby pilates group worked that way, because the instructor was an amazing facilitator. If you are in a conservative environment, the church might offer something?
I'm a single parent, and it is definitely the right thing for me, but it is also something I would never recommend. There are elements in your description which make me feel you really need a caring and loving husband. So either the one you have needs to learn - through counseling - or you need a better man. Maybe you need to articulate this in a calm way, probably with a therapist guiding you, so your husband understands the reality of it. No names, please!
posted by mumimor at 2:18 PM on April 30, 2013

Please, don't blame yourself. It sounds like you are. And even if you have post-partum depression, that doesn't mean that the marriage issues are the result of it. Rather it may be the reverse in part.

Eh, hard for me to share, but I was where you were with differing details though the same overall feelings 10 years ago and I would advise my younger self to go now to therapy. All the things you are saying are what I still think though I'm 10 years farther entrenched in different goals and priorities and child-raising disagreements (baptism is only the beginning, my friend!!). So if you could imagine yourself 10 years in the future with all the same issues but worse! They aren't going to go away. Try to fix it now or better to know if they can't be fixed, don't be quiet about your concerns, it is not your fault.

I get the feeling that you don't have someone to share these issues with - if you talked to a mother or sister or friend (or therapist) and they said, no, way sister! that is so wrong!! Who the hell does that?? Then you would be more supported. Find this support for yourself. If the therapist doesn't support you and your feelings 100% then find another one. Make this your biggest priority because you need the oxygen mask first so you can then help your child. Repeat, if you can't do it for yourself, do it for your child. Number one, most important to-do on your list.

It is not your fault, it is not your fault.
posted by RoadScholar at 3:40 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

In addition to therapy, you need to ask husband to take a week off work and have him take care of the baby full-time for the entire 7 days (save for breastfeeding, of course). Even with the world's best husband by my side and no depression whatsoever, I found the new mother experience exhausting, emotional and isolating. Your husband might become a little nicer to you, and a little more understanding of whatever it was you said wrong to MIL, once he walks just a few short miles in your shoes. I am not optimistic about your long-term prospects as a couple but I think you and your baby would hugely benefit if you could just have a more stable situation until the baby is at least a year old. Also, have you looked into mommy groups or babysitting co-ops? My husband was a stay-at-home dad when our baby was between 1 and 2 years old, and the mommy groups saved his sanity!
posted by rada at 3:59 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would look for a psychotherapist who frequently works with postpartum mothers, rather than try to guess which therapeutic technique might be best for you.
posted by purpleclover at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't have a good feeling about this. Check with a therapist for self-and-baby due diligence, but I can't see how that will help with the hubby problem.
posted by rhizome at 4:57 PM on April 30, 2013

You seem to think that the biggest problem here is ideology — what your husband wants from a marriage vs. what you want. And it's an issue, but it's NOT the biggest issue here. Two people who get along, fight in a healthy way, and are making a good-faith effort to be loving and supportive and understanding can disagree on a hell of a lot of theoretical stuff and can still find ways to compromise.

This is not the situation.

You're going to want therapy whether you leave or stay. If you stay, one-and-one and couples therapy to fix your communication and decide what sort of behavior is necessary and sufficient to save the relationship; and if you go, therapy to provide the absolutely necessary support you're not getting from your friends and family. And you don't have to decide now. Therapy first. Therapy yesterday.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:08 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

All I can think is that anyone dumping on you in this thread has never been pregnant, been through labor, or struggled through the first year of parenthood.

Upon your update, these all seem like questions and issues for you to explore with your husband in therapy.

FWIW, I left my first husband in large part over his relationship with his mother. I don't think that part gets better, and focusing on your husband's mother in therapy will get you nowhere but divorced quicker, IMHE. Maybe focusing on the importance of his new role as husband/father/protector might help get through to your guy? I hope so.

Take care and good luck.
posted by jbenben at 5:16 PM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

Agreeing with purpleclover that you need someone specializing in the reality you are in, rather than a specific method. And otherwise, I'm always recommending CBT.

Concerning the MIL. It's a good thing that she loves him. Unloved people are a pain to be with. She loves him as a parent, and he appreciates that love from his parent. Going forward, there is no future if you cannot accept their relationship.
People on the internet cannot ever evaluate the situation you had with your MIL, a counselor or therapist can, maybe.

To be very frank, I have a little difficulty parsing your language about being "his precious", but maybe it is because I'm from a different culture. Where I come from, married people are not so much romantic objects as lovers and partners in life. Obviously, those lovers and partners could and should have close relationships with other people, like relations and friends, outside of the marriage, and engaging with the marriage. Please don't see this as a criticism, only as a point of view from a foreign country. We never use this type of language, and I realize lots of other peoples do and are perfectly happy.
posted by mumimor at 5:18 PM on April 30, 2013

I hear people regarding the value of therapy - and I did ask in my post if CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is the right psychotherapy in my case.

I don't think CBT will be useful - it is too specific. Seek out postpartum therapists who will be able to take you through the spectrum of things you're going through. A relationships counsellor that you can see on your own may also be helpful.

However, I worry about the long term aspects of my marriage - How will I know if husband will not prioritize his mom over me in future?

The evidence you have, thus far, is that he will always prioritize her over you.

How will his behavior be towards my daughter when she grows older?

There is obviously no clear way of knowing how it will be - but on the evidence you have thus far - he could be withdrawn and disinterested in her and her problems (as he was with you and her birth) and/or he could prioritize his own feelings and wants over hers (by being controlling, domineering). Your MIL will also more than likely play a large role in your daughter's life via your husband - do you want this?

If you want a relationship with someone who will place you at the centre of his world, I think you're going to need to look somewhere else.

And what matters more than pretty dresses are the health and wellbeing of everyone within the family unit.
posted by heyjude at 6:03 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm having a really hard time getting past the part about him giving you the silent treatment for three weeks post-partum. I think you get at least a year of crazy time post partum. If one of my friends told me that her husband didn't talk to her for three weeks soon after she had a baby, I would have him assassinated and mail poop to his mother. I agree that you shouldn't make any decisions right now but seriously, he needs someone to tell him that that is Not Cool. Like, at all. That is a cruel monster thing to do.

I don't know your family at all but I think that they want you and your child to be happy and if not, they don't belong in your life.

I understand your concerns about the long-term prospects for your marriage but take it one step at a time. Do you still love him? Does he love you? Is he a good father? His mother will always be a part of his life but they need boundaries. When you and your mother in law weren't getting along, your husband should have been able to say, mom, this isn't working, I'm sorry, love you, have a safe trip home. Can you two talk about these things? You could make a list of things like, how much time on the phone is appropriate to spend with your parents, what is appropriate in X situation, and discuss your answers.

It's understandable if things seem hopeless right now but if they continue to feel hopeless, then you should think more seriously about divorce.

Hang in there. This is hard but you're a strong, smart woman and you'll figure out what is best for you and your family.
posted by kat518 at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Concerning the MIL. It's a good thing that she loves him. Unloved people are a pain to be with. She loves him as a parent, and he appreciates that love from his parent.

I know one or two mothers who love their sons more as surrogate husband/oh-shit-I'm-old-and-unbeautiful-and-unfulfilled partners and it's nearly impossible to get through as the wife in that situation. I agree that you'll have to deal with it in some way to move on, but just because they're a mother and son and oh la-di-dee the love doesn't mean that their relationship is healthy or not hostile toward you. My advice to most women who are dealing with bad mojo with their boyfriend's/fiance's/husband's mother is to consider the number of men out there who blessedly are able to separate honest, loving relationships from emotional codependence and vampirism, and think of it as a comment on their man himself rather than displacing the anger and frustration onto the mother. Because ultimately it matters what the man does, not his mother.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:22 PM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]

I cannot imagine circumstances in which the silent treatment is appropriate for three weeks in any relationship, much less between a husband and postpartum wife. Add to that the porn addiction and issues with his mother, and yikes, I can definitely see why you're feeling as you do.

That being said, I don't think you should make any life-altering decisions until you get counseling for possible postpartum depression. I was absolutely a hormonal wreck for the first 6 months after giving birth, and really wish I'd sought treatment sooner. So therapy first, then couples therapy, then think through the possibility of divorce.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

you've experienced a lot of change in a short period of time. no wonder you and your husband are so stressed and feeling out of control. it does sound like you two rushed things and that there are plenty of areas to work on in your marriage. first, i'd see your doctor or get a referral to whoever treats postpartum depression to either get treated for it or to rule it out. then i'd get into marriage counseling. stat. i've actually read that emotionally focused therapy is one of the most effective types of therapy for marital counseling. it might be worth looking into finding a therapist with this orientation.

i am sure you are quite sleep-deprived and overwhelmed right now, so i wouldn't make any big decisions about ending your marriage just yet. you rushed into a decision to marry without really thinking it through, so please don't now rush into ending your marriage without thinking this through carefully. take some time, get into counseling with your husband (or go alone if he won't go) and then decide what to do.
posted by wildflower at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2013

It is entirely possible you are suffering from postpartum depression AND he is unreliable husband material. Gather all the support you can from therapy, household help, babysitters, whatever you can get together to give you a way to recover your strength and confidence. The first year with a first baby is extremely difficult but you are facing an additional problem. You need to get yourself medically, psychologically, physically and emotionally fit as quickly as you can (in the spirit of putting on your oxygen mask first when on a plane before trying to fit one on your child), because he might not be mature enough or smart enough to realize he has to change drastically and commit completely to you and the baby or his marriage will not work.

If he is not willing to face that (and, frankly, he has it so cushy with his mother, it's easier for him to just blame you, absolve himself, bask in her smothering and play the role of the good guy married to a difficult woman. Pure fiction but I think he'd totally play that card. I'm mad at him myself for that three weeks, not to mention failing to stand up to his mother in the first place. He was wrong!) you would be well advised to get out as soon as humanly possible, put it behind you and create a new life for yourself and your child.

If he (and you) are able to totally commit to being together, it is still going to take a lot of work. I think I could not, would not try, to overcome a betrayal like that.
posted by Anitanola at 7:37 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

She kept his diapers for 33 years???

It is completely OK for you to decide that you can't do this. It is completely OK for you to back out of a marriage or attempt to redefine a marriage that is headed in a direction that is not sustainable for you in its current form - and this one is definitely not sustainable as is. It is completely OK for you to skip trying to negotiate with him and go straight to leaving - he has given you no indication that any attempts to negotiate would work.

I feel like a lot of people are saying that you have post-partum depression or you are sleep-deprived or overwhelmed as a way of undermining your feelings. Your feelings are valid. There is genuine conflict here. Your husband is really not living up to what you thought you agreed to in this marriage and that is a genuine problem. It's not just ideology, it's the way he treats you. I haven't given the silent treatment since I was in grade school and he did this during one of your most vulnerable moments - that is inexcusable. It is incredibly saddening to hear that you do not have the support system to help you walk out on him right now as a clear sign that this is not OK.

That said, please mention these feelings to a doctor and/or therapist. They can point you in the right direction or at very least give you some insight as to what is going on or what your options are. You are worth making a priority in your own life and you deserve all the kindness you can give yourself.
posted by buteo at 9:54 PM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

You may be suffering from postpartum depression (go over this with your doctor), but that's not the big problem. The big problem is that the two of you are incompatible on just about every level. If you, with your Ivy League degree, end up raising your daughter alone or with joint custody, she'll do fine, so don't use or accept that as a reason to continue in this mess.

As an old lady who's been around a bit, I'd say that your husband is already "married" to his mother and to his porn and I just don't see either of those things changing one bit. Any man who would ignore his wife right after she gave birth in favor of his mother has pretty much painted a picture of how the future will be. You will never supplant his mother, your opinions will never overrule hers, and your way of doing things will never be acceptable to him if they don't agree with his mother's way. Sorry - but that's the God's truth. His mother is a goddess and you're just his mate. You will be forever in competition with your MIL, day by day, year by year.

The porn "addiction" and simultaneous "boring" sex life you share with him are another bright red flag; neither of them alone would necessarily be unresolvable, but together they tell you, again, that you have competition that overrules your wants and needs, in a particular area that is very important to a marriage. I wouldn't want to be looking forward to having a struggle to make my sex life with my husband fun and exciting - nope, not at your age, that's for sure.

Here's the thing: You're young and well educated and you went into a marriage that was a mistake - you're far from alone in that respect. The good part is that you've only lost a year and a half to the marriage instead of 10 or 15 years before you figured it out, and your baby is very young, too young to be all set up in the traditional mommy-and-daddy mode - she can adapt to having parents who live two different places much better than an older child could.

You can do therapy - marriage/couples/family/personal therapy - whatever - but before you do, sit back and think very deeply about what you're trying to save here and how much time, in years, you want to put into the salvage effort.

Do, though, ask your doctor about your hormone status/postpartum emotional upheaval/sleep deprivation, etc. first. Then, if I were your mother, I'd suggest you wait a few months until you're back on your feet and able to get out there and set up a life for yourself and your child if that becomes necessary before you act. You might even want to set aside a little cash just to help you get started.

I wish you the very best and if I've been too harsh, I'm sorry, but I think you're very sharp and you know what's what, and you're going to make it just fine.
posted by aryma at 10:10 PM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]

And make no mistake - you will be able to afford those pretty dresses for your little girl. Yes.
posted by aryma at 10:15 PM on April 30, 2013

However, I worry about the long term aspects of my marriage - How will I know if husband will not prioritize his mom over me in future? How will I know that I will be the #1 girl in his life? How will his behavior be towards my daughter when she grows older? I have a fear that him and I will never be able to have a meaningful marriage because of the undue influence his mother has on him. She smothers him with love and attention and he loves it. Is this healthy, or am I just being jealous? She even kept his diapers for 33 years and gave them to me along with baby's gifts. If husband and I would have a normal healthy relationship, we could have just laughed it off, or simply ignored her whimsical/overbearing nature. But the fact that he is capable of going silent on me for 3 weeks post partum makes me very nervous.

On a reread of your update, I want to say:

Look, it's okay to leave your husband if you just don't love him anymore. Check with a therp to make sure it's not just post-partum talking, but you don't actually have to justify it.

Because this stuff, it sounds like you're trying to justify it by talking about his relationship with his mother, which, frankly, doesn't seem too weird. I'm assuming the diapers were cloth diapers, and part of a bunch of other baby clothes? This is not freakish, but you seem to be trying so hard to frame this as him being a Bad Husband. Again, it's okay to leave him even if he's not a bad husband.

But if you love him, then this is so, so minor. You've been together for about two years, and you say during a lot of that time, you were verbally abusive. Why /would/ your husband choose you over his mother? Yes, a wife should take priority over a mother, but that's in a healthy marriage, which it seems like yours hasn't been for a while. (And I agree, that your framing of this as "ideological differences" seems really, really off. This isn't ideological differences, this is you being pissed at your husband.)
posted by corb at 1:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm old enough to be your grandfather, so the pain of my first marriage and its breakup has long since faded. But I want you to know that among the people I have known, most went on to second marriages, and in every single case, the second marriage was vastly superior to the first. Sad but true: When it comes to marriage, most of us need a mulligan.
posted by markcmyers at 7:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Any man who would ignore his wife right after she gave birth in favor of his mother has pretty much painted a picture of how the future will be.

This seems so right to me -- my wife could have punched my mother in the face after she gave birth, and it would have still been my mother's job to figure out how to fit herself into a supporting role in our new family.
posted by leopard at 7:30 AM on May 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

It is totally okay to leave your husband if there's NOTHING wrong with him per se, just that you've fallen out of love. From your account though, I will say this: I've been in unhealthy relationships with men who are self serving, self focussed, and unrelentingly unkind when they feel slighted or miffed in any way. This situation STINKS of exactly that.

I have only been married a little under a year myself, but been with my husband for over 4. I can tell you right now that a good husband would never dream of ignoring you for 3 HOURS with a newborn to serve his own anger, let alone 3 weeks.

I can also tell you that corb is right, this has nothing to do with "ideological differences". But it IS about your husband being completely not right for you. Perhaps he needs to be with someone who thinks ignoring your wife for 3 weeks, newborn or not, is an appropriate way to deal with disappointment.

You are not that person, and you shouldn't feel like you have to be.

Listen to your gut, as it is seldom wrong.

Most importantly, DTMFA. You'll never look back.
posted by shazzam! at 7:32 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Back here to recommend NPR's feature today about the increased risk of depression when your mate doesn't 'have your back'. I know you don't have much time to read but thought it might serve as reference/reinforcement for what you are reading here.

I'm wishing you well.
posted by Anitanola at 2:11 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Memail me if you want my answer to the question since some of the details are personal and not really mine to share. (But I'm really close with people who've had to go through this alone.)
posted by orangutan at 6:13 AM on May 2, 2013

My parents don’t want to deal with me anymore as I married outside of their wishes and outside the religion, and as I mentioned, they have a narrow outlook on life (not saying right or wrong, because it seems to work for them). In the absence of support from my folks, which means dad, mom, siblings, and if I split from husband, what other avenues I have to give my daughter as much a normal family life as I can?

I don't know your parents, or the culture that you came from, so I can only speculate here right now. But you say your parents don't want to deal with you right now, but does that mean that they would prefer to see you in an unhappy marriage and have their granddaughter raised in that environment? You said in your earlier post your parents don't know how sad you really are. You might want to consider letting them know what's really going on with you.
posted by inertia at 8:20 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I don't have supportive family and I rely on my ex's extended family, my friends, and people like my boss and roommate who are around a lot. A good group childcare situation can be excellent in this way too. We're close to his daycare teachers and other parents whose kids are in the same class.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:10 AM on May 2, 2013

OP, just reading your comments, I can see how thoughtful, pro-active, and intelligent you are. Give yourself credit. In the midst of a HIGHLY stressful situation, you're thinking clearly about how to best take care of yourself and your children. I said upthread that you are stronger than you realize, and your additional questions only confirm it for me.

It's unfortunate that your family aren't supportive and available for you. Remember that there are two types of family: There's blood, which we are often tied to by nothing more than cirumstance, and then there's the family we cultivate, whose bond is built through ongoing mutual support and love. I have blood family that frankly, I keep at a distance because there's nothing in my relationships with them that is about being there selflessly for each other when we need it. But I also have a network of friends, cousins, that I know I can count on. These are my real family, and I refer to them as such. The "village" you speak of doesn't have to be your blood, they can be whoever is there for you. Those bonds need to be nurtured and cultivated, but they can absolutely be forged, and it is definitely worth it.

You are entitled to a husband that is a good match for you, who compliments your strengths and weaknesses with his strengths and weaknesses, who respects you (in my personal experience, I can't emphasize enough how important respect is), who thinks of you first (just as you might think of someone you loved before your daughter), and treats you the way you want (and deserve) to be treated. If your husband is not all those things, you have every right and need to leave him behind. Life is too short.
posted by dry white toast at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think you should be screened for post-partum depression.

I think you should try some couples counseling with your husband.

I am so sorry that you didn't have the support you needed after your baby was born. I remember how emotional I felt and how emotional I was at that time and I am really, really sorry.

Even if you get a divorce your daughter will still have two parents who love her and who are supporting her financially.
posted by bq at 1:21 PM on May 6, 2013

I don't know. Maybe I am way off-base here. But, still, something about this is bothering me greatly.

The fact that he is capable of going silent on me for 3 weeks post partum makes me very nervous.
Yeah. Me too. I don't know. I felt like I was reading about my abusive ex when I read this (our situations were different, but the behavior was the same). His relationship with his mother was similar and in my opinion that's partially what made him abusive. Anyhow.

I am afraid that your husband sounds abusive. Do any of the behaviors in the violence wheel sound familiar to you?

You can't ignore your wife for three weeks for having a hard time with her mother-in-law immediately postpartum. The punishment does not fit the crime. At all. In my abusive relationship, I often found that the punishment did not fit the crime.

Over time, I’ve started feeling like I am just a means to an end for my husband and he doesn’t really love or care for me as a person.
To put it simply, abusers don't see their victims as people. So it's impossible for them to love and care for their victims as people, because they're not. Really. I was a teddy bear and a sex doll and a waitress and a maid and arm candy but I was never a person.

Being the third wheel in my relationship with my abuser was like being in hell. The entire relationship was like being in hell. I really encourage you to evaluate the way that your husband treats you very critically. Coming to terms with the fact that my ex was actually, truly abusive was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but it helped me get free. The book Why Does He Do That was a big help for me in this regard, as was Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - the second book is not about abuse per say but I really think it would be helpful for you nonetheless. It's not a self-help book; it's a compendium of advice columns.

Godspeed. I wish you the best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 9:18 PM on August 4, 2013

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