Am I being unreasonable?
February 26, 2015 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I need some help understanding if my husband's behavior is completely out of line or if my expectations are completely out of line.

Sorry for the long post.

Background: He used to work at a job years ago, but after he left working there full time he did some part-time work 1-2 nights/week for a while. He stopped doing it earlier last year because we didn't need the money, it took up too much time that could be used for more important things (getting enough sleep, exercising, house stuff, fun stuff, etc.) It was also a pretty toxic work environment and he was really happy when he stopped going there entirely.

A few weeks ago, they asked to see if he could come help out for a night. I was fine with that. He didn't get home till 10pm. He's supposed be in bed by 10pm as he gets up at 5am and has a long history of not getting enough sleep + probable untreated sleep apnea that make him tired all the time and impacts our lives greatly. He had already promised me to be in bed by 10pm every night, which isn't usually the case, but there's been a slight improvement in his bedtime, so I'll accept the continuing improvement. After this, I said if he goes out on a week night he has to be home by 9pm (he also has band practice during the week sometimes, that's about the only out stuff he does during the week), so he'd have time to unwind, eat, prepare for bed and actually be in bed by 10pm. The next week he went there are was home just after 9, so all was good.

On Tuesday this week, he says he wants to go there on Wed. I told him that's not good because we're behind on laundry and other household tasks. He goes anyhow. I don't like the 1 day notice either, which he knows, but eh, whatever, I voice I'm not pleased and drop it. We spent the beginning of the night doing some texting about innocuous stuff, so we had moved past that. Just after 9pm, he's not home so I check the Find My Friends app on my phone and see he's still there. He's 25 miles away, so he wasn't planning on being home on time. I am angry, but I don't say anything to him. 10:30 rolls around and he's not home, so I check my Find My Friends app again and he's still there. I text him a Are you alive? type text, to which he responds that yeah, he's finishing something important for a "big time" visitor the following day. I voice my displeasure in a I'm glad big time visitor is more important than me kind of way, cause he knows this shit, we've talked about going to bed on time a billion times. 11:30 rolls around, I check and he's still there. I send him a text but no response. Just after midnight, I send him another Are you Alive? text cause I'm getting seriously worried at this point. After more no response, I text him he has 5 min to respond or I'm calling the police and/or I'm driving down there. 5 minutes pass, so I just call his phone and he answers. I just hang up, cause frankly I'm super pissed but I at least know he's just being a jerk and nothing is wrong. He texts me he's almost done and a photo of him there. I know he's there, there is no doubt in my mind of him not being there, my problem is that he is STILL there. At this point, I'm seriously pissed off and text him to let him know how angry I am. His response it's just one night, I don't understand why it's a big deal. After this, i went to bed in tears. I was already up an hour later than I wanted to be. He did finally get home at 2am. 2am! He gets up at 5am for his PAYS OUR BILLS DAY JOB.

On top of this, I've been having sleeping issues that he knows about, and I've been getting woken up unnecessarily by him when he gets up earlier than me. So of course, he woke me up when he got in at 2am, then 2 more times while he was getting to work, so I ended up with another night of shitty sleep (and we already sleep in separate rooms cause he snores loudly and I'm a light sleeper, but we have dogs, so barking happens).

He was late for his day job this morning. He's been consistently late for months, which is why the going to bed on time thing is also very important.

Everything that happened last night that I was pissed about has happened before. They are major things that we've discussed the shit out of and he knows I'm angry with. Last night was a particularly large combo of doing almost everything he shouldn't be doing.

So, am I being unreasonable? I know a lot of stuff bothers me, and he's said so, but I've tried to be pretty reasonable about really getting up in arms about stuff. Not going to bed on time is a huge problem that has a lot of side effects, and it's what I've been championing lately. I know I can't make him, but fuck I will let him know I'm not happy about it until I can't take it anymore. After last night, I might not be able to take it anymore.

We haven't talked at all today. I'm still at work, honestly don't want to go home cause I'm still angry. I need to talk to him about this, but that might just be pointless cause we've clearly talked about this stuff before and that hasn't done it.
posted by all the dead are dead alike to Human Relations (66 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't live your life, so I can't say whether what you're doing or how you're feeling is right or wrong for your situation, but I'd like to point out that you sound like you're talking about how you're treating a teenage boy, not a grown man, and it sounds like he's responding to you like a teenage boy would respond to his mother who is pissing him off. After reading your paragraph that begins with "A few weeks ago..." I actually went back and reread the first part of your question, because I thought surely you were talking about your teenage son and I'd misunderstood the premise.

Have you and your husband ever discussed couples' counseling? Sounds like there are some deeper respect issues and relationship dynamics at play here that you both need to work on.
posted by erst at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2015 [151 favorites]

It seems like you've taken on the role of parent and are now controlling him. Or trying to. He's an adult and probably likes the feeling of respect and boundaries he feels when he's at that work place. I'd be uncomfortable with your escalating control and infantilising, if I were him.

I reckon you need to look at that and get some support and distance. The support from a professional, the distance from him. You're not treating him respectfully and it's also causing you pain.

Good luck. You sound distraught.
posted by taff at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2015 [18 favorites]

You sound like his mother not his wife.
posted by cecic at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2015 [36 favorites]

It sounds like you've slipped into a parental role with him. Why can't he manage these things himself without you very involved in keeping him on track? He knows that his real job is important, so why can't he get up on time even if he's had little sleep? It's not an ideal situation, but we've all had to make sure we get our adult responsibilities taken care of under non-optimal circumstances. Has he abdicated responsibility because he has a wife/mom at home making sure his homework gets done and his teeth are brushed? Or, has he never really managed adult responsibilities? Whatever the reason, I'd go batty with a dynamic like this. I don't want to manage or parent my spouse. I want a capable partner who takes responsibility for himself. I'm not into playing bad cop.

However, as I see it, this is this biggest issue:
probable untreated sleep apnea that make him tired all the time and impacts our lives greatly
He needs a sleep study ASAP. Sleep apnea is a serious medical issue that requires aggressive treatment - otherwise, it'll shave years off his life. It's not just being tired, it puts him at very high risk for catastrophic events like heart attacks and strokes. Plus, the sleeping issue is interfering with your life together. He needs to get some medical assessments done right away.
posted by quince at 4:38 PM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

If I were him, I'd be really irritated by a spouse haranguing me about a curfew, tracking me on my phone, etc. You should not be acting like his mom and he should not be acting like a disobedient teenager. I don't think you should be monitoring his bedtime at all, or taking it upon yourself to enforce it. You can tell him that if he loses his job, you'll leave him, but you can't control him, you can only control your own reaction to how he acts.

I think that you two have serious communications issues and that you could use some therapy to discuss why he thinks it's OK to do things that he knows are going to upset you, or to renege on his word about plans, and to figure out a way for you two to interact as two mature adults instead of the way you're currently interacting.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:39 PM on February 26, 2015 [42 favorites]

I am wondering about the "long history of not getting enough sleep + probable untreated sleep apnea that make him tired all the time and impacts our lives greatly." Greatly, like, how? He has psychotic breaks when he's sleep deprived and there's a risk of violence, he's crashed the car three times because of this, 'greatly'? Or he's not so on top of the laundry 'greatly'? Or something inbetween?

Because only a lot of 'greatly' there would make this seem at all reasonable. You texted a 'he has 5 min to respond or I'm calling the police' message -- why? What on earth were you going to tell the police?

"On Tuesday this week, he says he wants to go there on Wed. I told him that's not good because we're behind on laundry and other household tasks." Because...laundry? This sounds like an irritable helicopter parent trying to micromanage a young teen.

What are the effects on you if he doesn't sleep well? What would the likely outcome of a short period of late bedtimes be?

How is he waking you at night if you have separate bedrooms? Are you using earplugs, white noise, other things to mitigate this, or...

All of it sounds like a terrible way to live. Your anxiety over sleep, your anger, his having a 10pm curfew as a grown-up, the fighting... This is a mess, and the few nights at another workplace seem like trivia compared to the overall mess.
posted by kmennie at 4:39 PM on February 26, 2015 [98 favorites]

You aren't his Mom. Stop treating him like a child and nagging him.

Now if you need his day job, then he shouldn't be moonlighting at all. Why does he still deal with those people? But that's for him to sort out, not you.

I suppose that he's going to have to get written up, or fired for being late for him to get it, but clearly what you're doing doesn't work.

At this point you're allowed to be angry, but don't play, "are you alive" 700 times when you know perfectly well that he's doing whatever wherever. Just tell him directly what you're angry about.

"Jeff, I am concerned that you're going to screw up and lose your day job. I fret about it all the time. I worry when you're out late and don't get home on time. Since we don't need the money, and since you don't like it there that much, can we agree that you won't be working there any more? It's very important to me."

Don't hound him about bedtime and chores anymore, because it creeps me right the fuck out to think of you as treating a grown-assed man like a 13-year old.

Upon preview, what everyone else said too.

Let him suffer the consequences of his actions. Do your laundry, let him wear dirty underwear if he's not home to do his part of the housework.

Get him a sleep study, sleep apena cause depression and can kill a person. This is a non-negotiable health issue.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:40 PM on February 26, 2015 [25 favorites]

What time he goes to bed is none of your concern. Your expectations are completely out of line.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 4:40 PM on February 26, 2015 [24 favorites]

I had to go back an re-read your question to be certain that he's at work in the evenings, because you're acting like he's out partying. It's not your responsibility to police his bedtimes and how much sleep he gets. Telling him that if he doesn't answer your text, WHILE HE'S WORKING, you'll call the police? That's WAY out of line.

The only thing I could really see you being justified in being annoyed at is him waking you up. That's not cool. The rest of it? You're not his mommy, he's working, presumably doing something he enjoys, so give him a break. He can set his own bedtime, and he doesn't need a curfew.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:41 PM on February 26, 2015 [32 favorites]

The obvious initial reaction is about your parent-child relationship (as many others noted already), but as I thought about it a little bit more, I really think you need to talk to him about what his motivation is for going there and staying so late. If you don't need the money, and he doesn't really like it, why IS he going there? There must be something in his mental calculus motivating him that this is something he wants to do - something he wants to do so much that it's worth what he must expect as your angry and upset reaction.

Does he have financial problems you don't know about? A covert relationship with someone at the job site? Does he just not want to come home because you're nagging him so much about laundry? I have no idea if any of these things are true but you need to sit down and have a heart to heart and figure out why he's doing what he's doing... he's clearly not just doing this for kicks or just to get your goat.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:54 PM on February 26, 2015 [27 favorites]

Your expectations and your behavior are out of line and abusive. Texting your adult husband about a 10 pm curfew while he's at work is inappropriate; your escalation to stalking his location via iphone and threatening to make a fraudulent missing persons report is seriously disturbed behavior. Depending on where you live, wasting police time is probably a criminal offense. You need to be in treatment for your anger management and control issues ASAP.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:55 PM on February 26, 2015 [83 favorites]

It sounds like what you want is a consistent routine, which is fine, as long as you both agree. It sounds like he doesn't agree, and would like to be able to go out and stay out as long as he wants, without you worrying. Maybe that's not possible. If you've discussed it before, and he's now gone beyond what you're comfortable with, staying out late and then waking you and being late for his day job, maybe you should consider therapy for yourself to talk to a neutral party.

In any case, it sounds like it's giving you huge anxiety. Do you get along in other areas of your life? I know I'd be anxious if my husband were out past a certain hour and even if he were working, I'd still be up waiting to make sure he got home okay. The laundry and stuff like that are just red herrings, it speaks to your comfort in routine and togetherness, which is totally understandable -- as long as you are both on the same page.

I'm not saying you're wrong, and accusations of calling you the Mom are not helpful -- if you are used to a routine of go to work, come home, eat, watch TV or spend time together, and all of a sudden he is breaking that and staying out till all hours, well, I would be upset too. It sounds like you have normal needs and expectations, but maybe his personality isn't a good fit for you. Sometimes I stay up a little too late and I know my husband loves it when I come to bed and snuggle with him, so I make sure to not do that and spend time with him watching shows and holding hands. I know if I went out and stayed away until 2:00 a.m. he would be very upset and worried, because that's not our normal routine.

So maybe there is some sort of compromise, or some short-term couples counseling or individual therapy you could go to -- to work out how to address it in the future, so that you both agree and feel comfortable. He agrees to text you if he will be out all night and you agree not to hound him or gripe about it as long as he communicates it to you in advance. Then it's your job to get yourself to sleep and use a white noise machine and not let his late comings bother you, as long as he holds up to letting you know about it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:07 PM on February 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

You sound pretty out of line, but you also just skate over what the actual issues you are worried about are.

For instance: how does him being tired affect you, does it make him cranky and unpleasant to be around? Then tell him that you don't care how much sleep he gets but he cannot use it as an excuse to be unpleasant or not do his share of housework.

How does him being late to work affect you? I've probably been 'late' to work 3 out of 5 days for a year and nobody cares, but perhaps at his job you think he could be fired? Then make it clear that if he gets fired for lateness then you will divorce him for being so irresponsible.

Him waking you up when he goes to bed/gets up - that's a logistics problem, not a realistic thing to demand he not do. Can you get rid of the dogs? Train the dogs to shut up? Get better sound-proofing in your room?

And nthing the sleep study.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

You sound like his mother not his wife.

As portrayed here, this is absolutely correct. (Obviously things might be more complicated or nuanced in real life, but all we have to go on here is what was written.)

It sounds like you guys are communicating very poorly and have fallen into some not-great patterns of interaction and behavior. Therapy is the usual advice, and people suggest if for a reason. You certainly aren't going to magically get better results just by having good intentions.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:39 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also want to second Ruthless Bunny's suggestion of a sleep panel for BOTH of you, or for you to look into logistics solutions (earplugs, white noise machine, etc) so that you can sleep through the night. You say your husband's lack of sleep causes tiredness issues for him that " impact our lives greatly," but the zero-to-100 rage and anxiety ( It's not clear if you actually in the moment believed something terrible had happened to your husband prior to the threat of the cops) you're describing are also symptoms of sleep deprivation and I wonder how much that could be contributing to your OTT stress levels and escalation into a crisis state. In general it sounds like your anxiety is out of control- if this is due to an underlying issue or trauma you have my deepest sympathies; I've pulled the insane 'call all the local hospitals and the police' thing when someone wasn't picking up the phone in the wake of a family bereavement, and that state of total irrational panic isn't fun. Like someone else said, this sounds like a terrible way to live and I wish you luck getting help.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:59 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

You need to get some earplugs or a white noise generator or something. Regardless of the rest of this, he's waking you up when he's getting up in the morning (which you both agree is something he needs to do), and that's an easy solution to at least one part of this.
posted by anaelith at 6:00 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would be pissed as shit if he was increasing his likelihood of getting fired at his real job because of his fake job. Livid.

But ultimately the choices are his. There would be a point where his choices would no longer be compatible with my needs and he would have to go find somewhere else to exist, and I would be very angry that his priorities were such that it came to that. I think if that's not where you want to end up, you need to simply let him know that you guys are at a fork in the road and you're going to go ahead and prepare for your next steps and leave him to take care of his own.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:11 PM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

You're treating him like a child. My parents didn't even enforce my bedtime this rigorously when I was 7. His apnea and fatigue are his problems, not yours to manage with bossiness and mothering.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:17 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hi! I'm actually on your side!!

I think I understand. It sounds like your spouse is engaging in a lot of activities that bring instability into your lives, and could possibly get him fired from his day job, to boot. Plus you've talked about it, and talked about it. Why is your spouse being so stubborn?

Yikes. Are people being harsh. I mean, it's obvious your spouse should not be putting your collective wellbeing and stability into jeopardy. I'm really sorry. I truly understand your frustration and anxiety. Of course you should explore these issues in couples counseling, or alone in counseling.

The mistake you made was turning into his mother when he escalated the stubborn behavior. .

Sure, you are treating him like a child because he is acting like one. For your own self-respect, quit responding to his childishness. I suggest instead you react like a mature person. Take care of your own side of the street. Come up with a plan and make changes on your own.

Personally, I could not stay married to someone so freakin' dedicated to pushing my buttons while being self-destructive, too, but that's me.
posted by jbenben at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2015 [41 favorites]

I am just a person on the internet who has had some wine and is reading this question, but I am not sure that texting him constantly and threatening to call the police if he didn't answer was reasonable at all. You knew damn well that he was alive, fine, and working late. You can be mad that he chose to work late, but you can't expect to control his behavior or expect him to abdicate all his life choices to you. He went there and made the choice that he was going to work until the job was done. It's not about you or the number of times you text him and threaten him.

I think to some extent, you have to respect that not everyone lives up to their partner's expectations all the time, and it was literally one night. He was right -- it was one night. So tell him you don't approve and move on unless he does it again and it becomes a problem again. I think you getting worked up about him being out probably did a lot more damage than if you had went to bed at 10pm, gotten woken up when he arrived at 2am, and then went back to sleep. You can't live life without flexibility to allow one-time exceptions to anything, and you can't demand hat of your partner. It sounds like he understands your concerns and is trying to make progress, so chill out a little bit. It sounds like he understands and agrees with your concerns, and probably won't make a habit of it, so why not wait until he has shown he isn't taking things seriously before you lose your mind over it?

Talk to him about why it upset you and try to set some boundaries that are achievable and agreeable, but you can't berate him into doing what you want. Not only is it not cool, but I doubt it will really help anything -- the situation nor your marriage.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:30 PM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

If your husband has untreated sleep apnea, that is going to "impact" him right into a heart attack and/or stroke, or a car accident. And you yourself are sleep deprived. This is not a recipe for sensible problem solving. Get a decent night's sleep by hook or by crook or by Ambien. (Your doctor should be willing to prescribe you a short-term course of Lunesta or Ambien - they're not good for long-term use but they can help you get the sleep you need in the short term.)

I think it would be a good idea for both of you to go to couples counseling, and for you to go to individual counseling (whether or not he is willing to go to couples counseling with you). It sounds as if you two have gotten yourselves into a toxic Mean Mommy/Rebellious Child dynamic. You both need a more constructive way of communicating and relating, as your current pattern does not seem to be working on any level. You both sound miserable.

Do you love this man? Do you have children together? If nothing changed, how do you feel about spending the rest of your life with him as it is? I am not saying get divorced right away, but do stop and think about what you are getting out of this relationship besides misery and sleep deprivation.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:33 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

You just can't control another adult like this, even if they agree to it, which I guess he has at some level. I'm sure he is contributing to the situation in all sorts of ways, but none of those things, no matter what they are, make minding his business like a parent OK.

You really need to work out how to behave as an adult toward him. Being his mother because he's acting like a kid is not a viable option.
posted by mewsic at 6:38 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

After last night, I might not be able to take it anymore.

I have felt this. What you need to understand is where it's coming from: you feel this way because you're trying to control another person's behavior. The details don't matter; the point is, this is an unsustainable way to live because it is impossible. You cannot control any aspect of another adult's behavior. Even if that person is your spouse. Even if they're your child! You have got to let this go. Let your husband live his own life and make his own mistakes. Keep your mouth shut. If his tiredness impacts your life, you can make decisions for how you will change your own life to accommodate the effects. Maybe that will mean leaving him. Maybe it will mean letting the issue go. Or something in between.

But please understand, he is not making you crazy here. You're making yourself crazy, and it's not going to get better until you change your own behavior.
posted by something something at 6:44 PM on February 26, 2015 [33 favorites]

I can see you are very upset and these responses might be very unpleasant for you to read. I think you came here to get unbiased support, to verify that your husband's behaviour was objectively wrong and you are justified in your anger and you maybe were hoping we'd say 'no wonder you have to control him!'

Him staying out late occasionally (whether he's partying or working, but especially since he was working) would not be a big deal in a healthy relationship. If he is late to his day job so often that his job is at risk, you get to have a civil adult conversation, between equals, about addressing it together. It sounds to me like you made him a plan and now you get to be angry every time he disobeys.

Lots of people have said mother/child about you two but I think it's something darker. You're not just hover-y or smothering in your care, you're trying to control him and you sound really angry.

Don't hurt each other. Get some help.
posted by stellathon at 6:57 PM on February 26, 2015 [25 favorites]

Oh, man, I have so been you. And unfortunately it's not a good look. Bad news: it feels like you're angry at him because you're worried because he hasn't told you he's staying at work so he could have left work and had a crash on his way home and be bleeding to death in a ditch so he should call you so you don't worry, but - there is absolutely no plausibility there. You know better. He knows better. Everyone around him knows better. (Oh, God, I think sometimes about the staff of this one place my long-ago ex worked and I die a little inside.)
You need counselling, but not because the answerers at MeFi think you're being mommy to your husband. You need counselling because you are miserable because you've thrust control for your happiness and well-being onto your husband and you're using that as a reason to try to control him (which never works - even the biggest doormat finds a way to resist control). Skills you need: soothing yourself to sleep, relaxing even when he's not there but could come home and be noisy and present at any moment, letting him make his decisions about where and how he's going to make his share of the household expenses, letting him make choices - however bad - about his health, helping yourself feel safe. You have probably talked yourself into a corner with reasons he HAS to solve all his problems for you to be safe and okay, but you can break your way back out. But you have to take responsibility for your own happiness, and you look far enough down the path to me that you're going to need help to see how to go about it.
posted by gingerest at 6:58 PM on February 26, 2015 [41 favorites]

Also, having Find My Friends to track your spouse is really really off.

I don't know if you use it all the time for that purpose but if you do, I want to say that's not normal or good.
posted by stellathon at 7:05 PM on February 26, 2015 [31 favorites]

My ex thought that he could be non-anxious only when I was acting perfectly, and by his definition of "perfectly" as well. As gingerest points out, putting all the responsibility for your own wellbeing on your partner cannot work -- not least because that's not your partner's responsibility.

The more my ex issued proclamations about what I should be doing, the more I passively resisted, in large part because it got to the point where he was going to be angry no matter what I did, so I may as well do what I wanted to do. And everyone else in my life has always described me as a responsible, rational, reasonable human being with a good ability to manage my own life, so I knew it wasn't just that I was mess who was ruining his life, even if that was the narrative he had in his head.

It was a toxic, soul-sucking relationship and I wish I had gotten out of it much sooner than I did. If you can find ways to change this dynamic (individual therapy, couples therapy, medication for your anxiety if it's indicated, treatment for his sleep apnea if indicated), please work to do so. But focus on working on yourself, not fixing him.
posted by jaguar at 7:09 PM on February 26, 2015 [18 favorites]

Oh this just sounds so awful for both of you. Please consider couples counseling and a read through the snarkily titled but excellent book How to be an Adult in Relationships.

You can decide whether or not his behaviors are deal breakers for you but if they are in fact deal breakers you can't make him change. You can only let someone know that the way they behave bothers you and is a problem, expect nothing from their end to change, and walk away. That is unfortunately all that you can do.

I too have been in your shoes and while I was right about the mistakes my partner was making I couldn't stop him from making them. It was very painful but I had to walk away.

I wish you both all the best.
posted by sockermom at 7:28 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

If my partner continually harangued me about 'bedtime,' I would, as a grown-ass adult, tell him to fuck right off. And then I'd stay up until 4am because I am a grown-ass adult, as presumably your husband is, and I get to make my own choices.

To answer your question: you are being totally, 100%, completely and utterly unreasonable. You are treating your husband like a 12 year old. You need to seek counselling individually and together ASAP.

Frankly, I'm disappointed by the milquetoast responses here. Were this question posed by a man about his wife, there would be an unending chorus of "SHE NEEDS TO LEAVE YOU."

Which, frankly, I think he should do.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 PM on February 26, 2015 [36 favorites]

I just want to juxtapose:

[old job] took up too much time that could be used for more important things (getting enough sleep, exercising, house stuff, fun stuff, etc.)


I said if he goes out on a week night he has to be home by 9pm (he also has band practice during the week sometimes, that's about the only out stuff he does during the week)

but mostly, you (both) sound tired, in a way that would benefit more from third-party intervention (medical and/or counselling) than trying to set parental-style curfews that barely work when parents try to impose them.
posted by holgate at 7:34 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a job-having married person whose spouse has a job, literally nothing in your question resembles my life in any way so that I can remotely relate to what is going on over there.

Your relationship—and I'm not "blaming" either one of you very much on purpose here—seems so twisted in its dynamics that it no more resembles the marriages that I have experienced or seen than it does a relationship between two toddlers, or a cat and a dog, or a lizard and a shark maybe?

It sounds like misery and I'm very sorry. I hope all the responses here aren't too shocking? I would say you guys need to have some long talks about who you are and who you want to be and how you will care for yourselves and each other.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:46 PM on February 26, 2015 [16 favorites]

The mistake you made was turning into his mother when he escalated the stubborn behavior. .

Sure, you are treating him like a child because he is acting like one. For your own self-respect, quit responding to his childishness.

GOddamn, if I could mark the best answers in this thread. OP, I am you. Currently starting two businesses because being financially dependent on him has been too stressful. We have an infant, everything is a mess - but I've become the type who ignores him when he is stomping around looking for his keys, instead of the type who jumps up to help. I'd rather spend time with my baby girl and watch interesting things on PBS. Being Mean Mommy to a grown man is crazy-making. ENOUGH.
posted by polly_dactyl at 8:00 PM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

I think that he's behaving in a very irresponsible way by staying up so late that he's consistently showing up late to his day job, and that's something that affects you too, because he's waking you up in the middle of the night and because that job supports you both.

But trying to put a grown-ass adult on a curfew is ridiculous, and threatening to call the cops on a partner because they're out past that curfew and not answering your texts is just way, super, over the line. It sounds like your relationship has gotten into this spiral, where he does things that cause you anxiety, which causes you to try to lash out at him and to control his behavior, which causes him to passively-aggressively resist the controlling behavior by doing irresponsible things that you're trying to get him not to do, which causes you anxiety, repeat.

If you really want to save the marriage, I think couples therapy is probably your last best shot at it, but, especially since there are no kids involved, I think really ask yourself if the marriage is something that ought to be saved, because you two sound like you're really bringing out the worst in each other right now.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:15 PM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

You guys really need to go to couples therapy. It sounds like you have a big pile of baggage to unpack.

If you want my personal views, your behavior would be an enormous deal-breaker for me. (I ended a four year relationship as a result of someone trying to enforce a bedtime on me in a curse-word-filled manner.)

But I don't presume to know why you're so emphatic about this. It sounds like you have some underlying anxiety that you're trying to address by controlling him. Dealing with that directly will be more productive.
posted by salvia at 8:22 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Look at this line that you wrote at the end of your post:

I'm still at work, honestly don't want to go home cause I'm still angry.

It's not hard to imagine that he feels the same way. He knew you were angry and upset with him, so angry and upset that you weren't thinking clearly at all (e.g your threat to call the police). It's not exactly surprising that he might continue to procrastinate about coming home in that situation.

I understand that you're tired and stressed out and not feeling like you're being listened to. But I think your reactions are probably escalating the problem further. I think that if you'd chosen to accept that he would be out late, and gone to sleep yourself, you would have gotten more sleep and he probably would have come home earlier because he didn't have to worry about what was waiting for him (plus all the stress, distraction and anger-spiral of all this texting probably didn't help in getting the job done).

Bottom line is that he's a presumably capable adult and at some point he gets to take responsibility for his own choices. That doesn't mean that there can't be relationship consequences when his choices genuinely and unduly impact on your wellbeing. But giving your adult husband a bedtime, haranguing him about that bedtime, tracking his whereabouts... IMO you're walking on the wrong side of the line here.
posted by lwb at 8:41 PM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

Sleep incompatibility is HUGE in a relationship. Ask him to have a sleep study done. He could wear a C-PAP and solve all of his lateness problems in a few weeks. Plus you might be able to share a bed again, which has other relationship benefits.

I agree with most others that you have put yourself in the untenable position of being Mommy. You should stop that immediately, and try have a rational conversation, when neither of you is tired or hungry, about this stress in your relationship. He needs to hear you about your worries, and you need to hear him about whatever his issue is. Because he has one.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:05 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

You both have some issues as discussed ad nauseum above. Here is something you can do right away:

1) book two days of vacation so you have a four day weekend.
2) first day of vacation, sleep until you can't anymore. No work or chores. The goal is to rest up as much as possible. Go to bed early again.
3) on the second day off, discuss your issues once you are both well rested. After you are done, catch up on chores a bit.

I know some people can't afford to burn vacation days, but it sounds like two days of rest are more valuable to your marriage than a trip.
posted by benzenedream at 9:09 PM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

It is weird how OP has set a bed time for her husband and tells him he can't go out because he has chores, but lets him go out for band practice. I mean, that sounds like a parent describing their teenager. That did jump out to me, and only now am I seeing people say this sounds like a parent-child relationship. I have to agree.

Maybe if your sleeping schedules don't match, you should sleep in separate rooms on nights when you really need sleep, when he will be out late, or when he has to get up early. I would add ear plugs to that too. Stop trying to control his behavior and worry about what you can control: yourself.

Demanding that he not have a life so you can go to bed by 10pm is pretty ridiculous. It's also odd that he has to give you more than a day's notice that he wants to go out and, you know, leave the house.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:26 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Does your husband have ADD? Because this sounds like textbook adult ADD behavior. Look at previous AskMe questions about ADD spouses/marriage. If managing time has been a big problem his whole adult life, he should really be evaluated by a professional.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:35 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Have you asked your husband, or thought about on your own, what he's getting out of these ad hoc work nights?

Is it that he wants the stability a little more money would bring in?
Could he be rebelling against or retreating from what, honestly, seems like nagging behavior on your part?
Does the workplace (toxic environment aside) make him feel smart, valued, appreciated, irreplaceable? If so, is he not getting that in his day job, or in other areas of his personal life?

Even if he were out drinking, you would not have the right to treat him like a teenager or a child; if he were out with his friends playing poker or softball, it would still be inappropriate for you to tell him what to do and when to be home. But here, he's earning money in what we are to assume is a legal fashion, so he's doing something not only not negative or neutral, but positive and responsible with his time.

Do you have a right to be annoyed that he does not do what you want him to do, especially when it could adversely impact his health, his day job or your convenience? Absolutely. But you asked strangers on the web if you are being unreasonable, and yes, I believe you are. You can say, "I'm not happy when you do X, and when you choose to do X, I will respond by doing Y to preserve my mental health." where Y is anything from sleeping in the spare room so he won't wake you when he comes in, to refusing to cook or clean or do laundry beyond what suits you, to promising to leave the marriage if he loses his job due to irresponsibility.

But, to reiterate your question, it is only reasonable to dictate your own actions and not the actions of your spouse. If you love your husband, and especially if you believe you love your husband more than you want to control the outcomes in your life, please seek couples therapy.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:50 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

AppleTurnover: they are already sleeping in separate rooms.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:06 PM on February 26, 2015

^ Then I reiterate what I already said: get some ear plugs. Soundproof the walls if you must. Demanding your husband never stay out past 9pm and that he give you more than 24 hours notice if he does go out is unreasonable.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:10 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes you are being unreasonable. Very, very unreasonable.

Your husband is an adult human being. He does not appear to be in any serious danger as a result of staying out late for this extra job. It is perhaps understandably annoying to not have him around for chores, but I think you're blowing this way out of proportion.

I mean, what's the worst that happens? He's a little tired the next morning? So what? Lots of people are tired and do their jobs just fine. Unless he's flying a 747 the next morning, I think he'll be okay.

I don't want to judge you too harshly, and there may be something else going on here, but I've been on your husband's side of this before, so this looks familiar to me. You are exhibiting controlling behavior. I don't know your husband, but I know that my response to a controlling partner is to openly defy their control as a way of wresting power back in the relationship. It sounds like that is what your husband is trying to do, in his own way.
posted by deathpanels at 5:01 AM on February 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

Also, I'm not sure if this is the case here, but I've seen many cases where a female partner ends up playing "mother" to the male partner. This can include helping him get up on time for work, reminding him to do chores, policing his hygiene, etc. It can be "cute" or it can be repulsive, depending on your personal views.

Some men seem to happily accept this "mother role" dynamic in the partnership as an expression of genuine love and concern; others don't and see it as belittling. You might want to talk to your husband (perhaps with a counselor present) about that dynamic to see if it's working for him (because it might be!) or see if you need to tone it down.
posted by deathpanels at 5:09 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would think over -- by yourself, or better yet, in therapy -- two questions.

Why do you feel responsible for your husband's actions?

Why do you feel like your husband's choices are responsible for your quality of life?

If your husband is the sole or primary breadwinner, it's completely understandable that the threat of him losing his job is a scary one. But I would, in your shoes, run that scenario through in your mind. He loses his job -- what is your backup plan? Do you have emergency savings? Is he eligible for unemployment? Do you have a job or do either of you have family who could help?

If you don't have much of a backup plan, and that's part of why this is such a trigger for you, I would try to refocus your energy from controlling his behavior so he can't lose the job into a better backup plan. Maybe you can work on cutting back on spending and saving an emergency fund, or starting your own small business, or taking some classes so you can find a better job. Just feeling like you are taking action to fix what YOU can fix is a tremendously valuable thing.

I also agree with everyone above that sleep apnea is serious and your husband needs to deal with it. But you can't force him to deal with it. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

Also, how long have you felt this anxious? If your level of stress and anxiety has gotten worse recently, and especially if you've had a kid recently, you need to go get checked out by a medical professional. There are medical conditions that can lead to irrational anxiety and poor sleep. If that is what is causing part of your reaction, you need to get it dealt with (and you will feel so much better once you do).
posted by pie ninja at 5:46 AM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry you are so angry and afraid that bad things will happen to you because of choices made by your husband, and as a result, you are trying to control his choices.

However, while it is rational to wish we could control the choices of others whose lives affect us, it isn't realistic to think that can happen. (He's not exactly Mr. Rational here either, but it's your askme...)

In my small experience trying to stamp out fear, I've realized that I have more power than I think I do -- but that power is exercised over me, not over the other person. However, it's harder work mentally to control myself as compared to the relatively easy task of telling the other person what to do all the time. So it takes discipline and patience and self-love.

If I were you, and if I knew that my partner loved me and was fundamentally a kind person (i.e. there is not some really abusive part of the relationship you haven't told us about), I would reframe this and explain to my partner that the core problem is that I am afraid. As a result, I am going to make some changes to make myself feel more secure. The big thing partner will notice is that I am going to try to stop taking responsibility for things that are not my responsibility, and I am going to (try to) stop telling you what choices I think you should make. As someone suggested above, rather than telling you that I need you to come home at X time so we can have time to do chores and I can be sure you won't lose you job, we are going to split up the work and finances so I can take care of me, and you can take care of you. But, and this is important, this is not an act of retreat from our partnership or abandonment. It is creating the foundation for each of us to feel that we can be autonomous within the partnership without fear.

The other big thing that the partner will notice is that while I won't tell you what to do, I will give you information about how different options available to you might affect me. Then you, partner, can use that information to make choices.

How you do this is important. It can't be emotional blackmail. It can't be "if you go out tonight, I will be suicidal with anxiety." Instead it is concrete -- anxious about what?: "I'm worried that if you stay out late this Wednesday, it will screw up our plan to get shit done on Thursday. Are you worried about that? If so, is there a way you can stay out on Wednesday and we can still get the shit done?" Then partner can decide if he stays out late, but you guys can talk about how to get the shit done anyway if he does.

You'll need to do some unpacking of your anxiety so you can separate out the consequences to you -- him losing his job is an impact of his decisions on him, not you. The impact on you is any financial hit you take.

If partner can't get on board with this approach (and it will take time and there will be fuck-ups) then that's a different problem. But at least you will feel less crazy because you won't be trying to control him.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:54 AM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

I can see both sides. I can see how as one half of a married couple you are worried that the other half is not getting enough sleep, not contributing to the household, and is at risk for losing their job for something that is 100% preventable and would totally be their fault if they did get fired. And expecting someone to come home at a certain time and then having them be late without contacting you (assuming he is able to sent a quick text to let you know) is annoying. And this all affect you, daily. And it's hard.

But telling an adult to be home by 10 is ridiculous. As a loving, caring, responsible husband he should understand that and try to make an effort, because ideally you two would have the same values and 'level of responsibility,' and as his wife you would never even think about tracking his location.

If you guys didn't get into this weird controlling/avoiding mother/child dynamic that everyone is referring to, perhaps you could have sat down and talked about it. You couldn't mentioned how this all makes you feel, how it affects you, asked him if his early morning day job brings him satisfaction, if he wants both of you to make an effort to stay at that job (you being more flexible about his habits, him being more responsible about going to bed early), or if it is a good idea to try to find another job with a later start time, or talk to the boss about a different schedule. Or talk to the boss and let him know that 1x/week he will be starting late because of another obligation (other job), or you two can work out a schedule where he does the other job 1x/week and has a sleepy day the next day but then helps you out more with household stuff another day a week. You could talk to him about how you want him to be well rested and that is why you hope he is home by 10 every night, because otherwise it affects his healthy/happiness therefore it affects you. These are all discussions that can occur in a healthy relationship, and these issues can be fixed if both parties accept some responsibility.

Do you see how the above paragraph describes a different approach than what's happened in your relationship?

But now is not the time for such a discussion because both of you have your guards up, are defensive, and want to 'win' this discussion. You need to give this whole thing some space. Let him know you love him and want to be with him and in a few weeks you will want to talk about this whole situation because right now you are not in the right state of mind. And then see what happens in a few weeks. He might be acting out now because of you being overly controlling (not mature, I know, he should talk to you instead of just passively agreeing to be home by 10 and then not coming home), so give him time to stop behaving like that, and see if this issue resolves itself. I mean, ideally, if you guys are married you have the same values and sense of responsibility towards adulthood, jobs, household chores, etc, and this is just a misunderstanding. Now if he's always been at risk of losing his job for various reasons and you have always had to hold his hand through his adult life then maybe there's a bigger issue. Good luck.
posted by at 6:00 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

You are being unreasonable because you cannot control other people. You can only control yourself. It is unreasonable to think that hounding him and threatening him will make him change his behavior. You say "I know I can't make him" but I think that's exactly what you're trying to do - make him.

All that stuff you're doing is making the situation worse, not better. You should decide what you can tolerate in this - and any! - relationship, and also decide what the alternative will be if your needs are not met.

Here is where I usually give an example of an ultimatum (bad) vs. boundary (good) but I can't see that you've given any concrete reasons that you need him to go to bed at 10 other than because you don't think he's getting enough sleep.
posted by lyssabee at 6:02 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

It seems unreasonable to say "I can't take this anymore". That sounds like an ultimatum you are planning to throw at him to get your way. If this is the case, be prepared for him to walk away from you. If you don't really mean it, examine why are you are so desperate to control him this way? If he's so unbearable you must leave, that is your job not his. I would suggest you learn how to behave like an adult and take responsibility for your feelings and let go of the need to boss him around in the guise that it is good for him. It's not, it's really dysfunctional. But you can get counseling if you want it.
posted by waving at 6:29 AM on February 27, 2015

OP, I'll be honest: your very behavior is why more or less my first marriage broke up. Truly. My first husband did the same thing to me. I had a bedtime, which he imposed by fiat: his bedtime. When he went to bed, I was to be in bed, period. If I tried to stay up later, he sulked and carried on and I would give in just to keep the peace. One day I decided I wasn't putting up with it any longer, and decided to very calmly tell him one night that I wasn't going to bed, I was going to stay up and read a little later and he should go to bed without me. He clomped around for a while, but when it became clear I wasn't giving in, he went to bed. But came out literally every five minutes to say, "Are you coming to bed yet?" After about an hour of this, I gave in. That was it. The marriage ended not long thereafter.

Maybe this sounds a bit dramatic, and perhaps it is; of course, it's not the only reason we broke up, but it's a pretty good exemplar of the problems we had. Simply stated, I couldn't live with a man whose reaction to his own neuroses was to try and make me as neurotic as he was.

I actually found your post pretty disturbing to read; if my husband had ever tracked my whereabouts on his cell phone and threatened to call the police if I didn't come home, it would have been aloha on the steel guitar that night. If you have concerns or fears about your finances or your husband's livelihood, that's reasonable; what's not reasonable is the way the two of you are dealing with it.

I'm going to refrain from comment on what you should do, because I actually don't have an opinion on that, but to answer your question: yes, your behavior is totally unreasonable, 100 percent.
posted by holborne at 7:49 AM on February 27, 2015 [34 favorites]

There is one thing you did that, I think, you more or less have a right to do. That is: your husband has sleep issues, which impact your relationship, your work and your lives. You have a right to come up with a strategy which alleviates this problem. "OK, if you try to get to bed by 10pm you get enough sleep and the sleep apnea doesn't affect us, so let's try to make that happen." There was a problem, you worked together towards a solution. Fine, good.

(I am assuming here that you did not impose this solution on him via fiat - which may be a generous assumption, based on your other behavior. But I'd rather err on the side of generosity about that, seeing as I don't know.)

What you cannot do is turn this solution into a Rule That Must Always Be Obeyed. Your husband is a grown-ass adult. Grown-ass adults do not have bedtimes. Relationships between grown-ass adults are about negotiation and compromise, not rules and punishments.

In sum: you are being very, very unreasonable. Your post actually made made angry on your husband's behalf.

A few other stray observations:
-You say that his getting in late wakes you up, because you are a light sleeper. You already sleep in different rooms (which is totally fine). You know whose responsibility it is to make sure that your room is environment in which you can reliably sleep soundly? YOURS, not his. Get a white noise machine. Get earplugs. Meditate, whatever. I'm a light sleeper myself, and I would never think of giving my fiancee a curfew because her getting home late would wake me up. And we share a bedroom! I'll adjust, and if I'm that worried about it, I'll put in earplugs.

-You say that his sleeping poorly makes him late for work. What you don't say is, is that a big deal? Is it actually jeopardizing his employment, or do you just think it is? Lots of jobs are remarkably lax about getting in late. I'm late probably 3-4 days a week, and nobody cares. I just stay later most of the time, so the hours work out to be the same.

-I do wonder why he is compelled to help out his old work mates in this fashion, but I do not think this is suspicious or undesirable behavior in and of itself.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:08 AM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I sympathize with you, I really do - I have a loved one who has a medical issue that is severely worsened by irregular sleep schedules, and the part of me that is prone to anxiety and codependency would love nothing more than to give this person a curfew and make sure they are snug in bed at the necessary time. And part of the reason I want that is because I love this person, care about them, want them to be healthy and happy and stable, want the best for them, it's not just because I'm a shrieking terrible anxiety harpy. (Although part of me is, yes, a shrieking terrible anxiety harpy and it's important for me to recognize when that part of me is winning because she's not the part of me I'm proudest of, even while I'm sympathetic toward her.)

But over time I have learned to bite down, hard, on the instincts that would drive me toward the level of controlling behavior you're describing. For several reasons, of which these are just a few, but perhaps some of them will resonate with you:

1) Acting in an extremely controlling manner is flat-out not good for ME. It sends me into anxiety spirals, doesn't really actually fix anything except maybe in a one-off way on a particular night, and means that I am spending a night tight-clenched with tension obsessively monitoring my phone instead of doing something either useful or relaxing to help my personal situation. In the end I haven't fixed anything and I've probably neglected something else, and just ratcheted my tension up further.

2) Acting in that matter is not good for my relationship with my loved one. It poisons their ability to be open and honest with me about their wants and needs, and for us to work through issues together. It makes me a babysitter or a caregiver instead of a partner in working through a problem. It makes me not like the person that those impulses would drive me to be.

3) Part of caring about my loved one and wanting what's best for them is wanting them to have agency over their life. Loving and trusting this person has to mean allowing them the space to make their own decisions, even if those decisions aren't the ones I would make or would want them to make, if those decisions are not actively harming me in a more direct/significant way than "some chores are not done at the time/date that I want them done."

4) Setting all of that aside, doing things like setting curfews for adults, threatening to call the police in situations that in no way warrant it, etc., just do not work. Will never work. You cannot change someone else's behavior for them if they do not want to change it.

What you can do, and should do, is figure out your own self-care and your own boundaries, maybe with the help of a therapist, and you can enforce those boundaries and you can work on ways to protect and care for yourself. You can go to bed when it's your own bedtime instead of staying up monitoring him, so you're not exhausted and short-tempered on top of everything else. You can practice some anxiety reduction techniques. You can, when things calm down, initiate a discussion about how things have been spiralling out between you and how you'd like to figure out a new approach together. You can figure out what you're really worried about - chances are it's not his bedtime, it's his health or his maybe losing a job or his keeping you up - and talk about ways you can tackle those things together.

I don't think you're terrible or that your marriage is necessarily beyond saving. I do think you're being very unreasonable here, that he could also be doing some things better, and that you would have to commit to some serious work individually and together to turn this around. But I think you can do it if you truly want to, and if he will commit to his piece of it, and both of you to helping each other.
posted by Stacey at 8:15 AM on February 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I wanted to update:
There's a lot of harsh criticism here, and I'm worthy of some of it, but not all. There are many assumptions of course because you just know what I wrote here (which is bad, yes, but this was me hitting a really bad place, not how things have generally been in our 15 year relationship). I've read everyone's replies and there are a few that are pretty on the money about the dynamic with good advice that I will employ.

It was somewhat relieving to have a bunch of people tell me I'm out of line. I don't know why I needed that, but I did. I knew I was out of line, cause the entire thing was ridiculous. It allowed me to take a much better look at myself and what was going on and filter my feelings down what really mattered, I'm worried about his health. Sleep apnea is not my only concern here. He also likely has diabetes and high bp, and who knows what else. He is 365 pounds and hasn't been to the doctor in at least 6 years.

I finally went home, we had dinner and talked. I apologized for my behavior. I told him that I'm scared about our future and that not getting diagnosed/treated/etc. for major health issues is too much for me. It's been bothering me for years, but I guess I just finally broke. I told him he had to make a doctor appointment, and get diagnosed/do treatment or cleared of not having issues or I wasn't able to continue living with him. Sorry ultimatums are bad, but I can't sit and watch this anymore. He knows he probably has these conditions, so it's not that he doesn't agree, he just doesn't want to go to the doctor.

I will consider therapy for myself, but have been through several therapists in the past and I haven't had a positive experience. I've even tried a therapist matching service.
posted by all the dead are dead alike at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2015 [24 favorites]

Your update is great. I'm really glad to hear it.

A friend of mine and I were discussing off-site that we felt like there are some undercurrents of misogyny in this thread. People are treating you as though YOU have decided to be "the mother" in this relationship.

Oddly enough, my therapist suggested I do some of the initial things you are trying to do. She suggested that I tell my husband that it isn't fair to me to not tell me in advance if he is going back to work at night, and that he needs to give me some warning. It's not fair to me to expect me to "clean up" -- literally and metaphorically for his lack of sleep. In my case, I have kids, so if he goes out at night, it definitely specifically changes my night, but regardless of your kid situation, I bet it does for you too. Hey, maybe you'd actually like to spend some time with the person you married, for example. I also have asked him to do the dishes before he leaves because if he tries to do them when he comes home, a) I'll have done them, because I can't just go to bed with dishes everywhere b) he'll wake up the whole house c) they may not get done. You can say that he's a grown-ass adult and makes his own decisions, but in the end, his decisions impact me, just as your husband's decisions impact you.

Further, my friend noted that her couples counselor told her SO that he was putting my friend in the "mother" position. Note the difference here from how people were sort of berating you in this thread (ungenerously if you ask me) -- HE puts HER in the position, not that SHE is BEING the "mommy". And that it is unfair to her, because she wanted a relationship with a grown-ass adult, and not a teenager.

We both feel like you are probably at the end of your rope given many many instances of this sort of behavior. I'm sorry that you had to get to a breaking point to really be able to voice and express your opinions in a way that he could hear. I have also been there, and it's frustrating on a number of levels. Hopefully moving forward, you can both get what you need without one of you resorting to acting like a teenager and one of you acting like "the mom". Don't even get me started on why it has to be "the mother" to do all that shit in the first place.

Anyway, these are just some things to think about and ways to look at it to hopefully give you both some perspective.

Also, neither of us can understand how anyone can ask you how his not doing the chores impacts you. I mean, really? You are sharing living space. Either you have to do the chores for him or you have to put up with a level of undoneness that may not work for you -- of course it impacts you.
posted by freezer cake at 11:12 AM on February 27, 2015 [13 favorites]

A lot of people are saying your actions are unreasonable, and I agree with them. But I don't for a minute think your *feelings* about this are unreasonable. It's in fact extremely understandable that you would feel an acute loss of control in this situation and cast around for some way to regain it. And in your mind, he's behaving irresponsibly, and irresponsibility seems childish, so no wonder your instinct is to treat him like he is a child. But that is often doom to an adult relationship, no matter how well-intended or justified.

It seems like in the end you fundamentally are afraid that he just gives no shits about you. He doesn't care that you're worried, he doesn't care if he's sick or not, he doesn't care that he isn't getting enough sleep, he doesn't care about maybe losing his job. And this may be accurate; however, it may also be an incorrect deduction from facts on the ground. He may be too afraid to confront his health; he may care that you're worried but think your worries are unfounded; he may know (or anyway, believe) that his job is Not going to fire him for lateness.

How he responds to your request will be telling. Ultimatums aren't always bad. They're only effective, though, if you're willing to carry through on them. That said, I would say if he can't address his issues, and respond to yours, like an adult, you moving out is probably a pretty good idea.

(Also it's worth noting that I think a lot of the "mom" analyses you got came from the specifics of your post; many many people think 10 pm is a child's bedtime, and that a curfew is for teenagers. If you had said you wanted a routine of home by midnight and asleep by 1, i don't know that people would have been quite so horrified...)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really agree with freezer cake's analysis of some misogyny in the answers to your question. For every person who's playing the "parent" in their romantic relationship there is a person playing the "child" - BOTH people are responsible for their own actions and I was surprised by the venom in some of the answers above. And, in the short-term, playing the "mom" in a relationship WORKS for some partnerships, so it makes sense that you have tried that role. It can get results! Especially in emergency situations! The problem is, those results come at a great cost -- undermining one partner's agency and independence, and making the other one (you) feel anxious and responsible for the actions of someone you can't really control. I've been there and am still working on this myself.

I don't want to repeat myself (I commented upthread about your husband potentially having ADD) but if you are looking for a therapist, one with experiences with spouses who have ADD might be particularly helpful in helping you set boundaries/move away from codependency.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

So, the main thing I see as out of line here is tracking your husband on your phone and then making escalating threats (up to and including reporting him to the police). I think if the genders were reversed here, and a man were policing his wife's (workplace or otherwise) behavior in this way, people would jump to controlling abuse almost immediately. Step 1, in my opinion, is to delete this tracking app off of your phone and commit to not using these kind of controlling tactics in the future. (Hint: threatening to make a false missing persons report to the police for non-criminal behavior is pretty much never okay.)

That said, I totally understand the frustration of having a partner who is, for whatever reasons, not making good choices about health, career, etc. Even though technically these are choices about "him," obviously when you're married or in a serious relationship they can affect you a lot. And it's not bad to be concerned about those things, but ultimately you can't force him or control him into suddenly taking perfect care of his health or being a better worker. Ultimately, I think you have to do what you've now done, which is to decide what you, personally, can deal with in the relationship and go from there. But, if you're going to make an ultimatum, I would follow through with it -- it's fine to say "Look, I need to be with someone who is making forward progress on their health issues, period." But then you leave him if he won't -- you don't get to just hold that over his head as another way to control him.

I definitely think couple's therapy is a good idea for you guys to communicate better, as well as therapy for both of you individually. In particular, I think hubby could probably do to speak with someone about his fear of doctors and finding out a negative diagnosis...I would be pretty shocked if someone in perfect health hadn't been to a doctor in 6 years, much less someone with serious health problems. I also wouldn't treat a diagnosis as the end of the road -- all of the things you mention are HARD WORK to manage once you get a diagnosis, so this is likely part of his hesitation.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: For the phone tracking thing, I don't do that often at all. It was a case of he wasn't home when I expected, wasn't responding for a few hours and was in a place all alone. Since I am worried about his health, I'm constantly assuming the worst. I would have called non-emergency police for maybe checking in on him (not a missing person thing at all), since it was far way and I was too tired to drive there. It was not the best idea no, but that's where my head was.

I'll support him through any treatment, I just want him to get the treatment.
posted by all the dead are dead alike at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'll support him through any treatment, I just want him to get the treatment.

That's the thing though, he has to want him to get the treatment. And that's the part you can't make him do.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:51 AM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

1) You have a right to be irritated at his behavior.

2) But the way you expressed your irritation was WAY WAY WAY out of line. So much so that you're now "more wrong" in this situation than he is.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:00 PM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Oh, no hon. I think this ship has sailed, and he's not getting on the boat with you.

When someone acts this irresponsibly and frankly, defiantly, you have to listen to them.

He doesn't want any treatment, he doesn't want to be an adult and say, "Hey, I know you hate this gig but I'm working there late tonight, I need the money - let's talk about it tomorrow," etc. etc.

I.... don't know. I don't know how you "force" someone to be an adult. I think you focus on yourself. I think you make plans to be OK if something happens or if you need to leave him.

Maybe pleading with him to get treatment will help and I'm wrong? I hope so. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Everyone's covered how unreasonable your behavior was, so I'm not going to repeat all that. You do have very good cause to worry about his health, but if he hasn't done anything in six years, barring a major crisis, he's unlikely to do anything now, either on his own or with your prodding. And at his weight, it's not a simple fix, it's a long uphill battle. I have not ever had to diet but it's apparently really, really difficult to lose weight and keep it off. If you have controlling tendencies over his sleep, imagine what it will be like if he's put on a doctor-prescribed diet and medication. You will destroy your own health with your anxiety, if you aren't doing so already.

I don't know if your marriage is beyond repair or not. Mine certainly was when we hit this point; unfortunately we didn't know (or couldn't admit) it and I stayed far, far too long after that. I wish I'd left him then and I wouldn't be surprised if he felt the same way. I hope you don't have to go through several more years of anxiety, and I hope he doesn't have to go through several more years of being controlled and disrespected. Life is way, way too short.
posted by desjardins at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Gotta say, this:

After more no response, I text him he has 5 min to respond or I'm calling the police and/or I'm driving down there. 5 minutes pass, so I just call his phone and he answers.

doesn't sound like someone who's worried. It sounds like someone who's making a threat because she's furious. If you were genuinely that worried, why would you give him five minutes to respond at all, rather than just calling him to begin with?

It's pretty clear that a really bad dynamic has developed, for sure. Again, I don't know what the answer is, but in my opinion, you guys really need to find a way to treat each other more respectfully than you are now. I mean, just the way you're telling the story and some of the things you're saying (like "I'm glad a visitor is more important than I am" -- not sure how you got from A to B there) suggests that you've fallen into a "me vs. him" mentality that's not redounding to anyone's benefit.
posted by holborne at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

He does need to see a doctor, and your having said that sounds like a really good step. I don't think that's a bad ultimatum as long as you gave him a few weeks deadline (or more if there are some hurdles you know about that I don't.) Now your energy should go into sticking to that. Not nagging. Figuring out next steps if he blows past the deadline.

For the behaviour...I agree with people who were pointing out that what you did was over-the-top and about trying to control his behaviour. When you say that given his health issues you assume the worst, I feel you but it is a really bad place to make decisions from. After my daughter died, I lived in terror of my husband dying on the highway (with some cause, he was working long hours and driving around tired) and he gained weight and I did a few similarly crazy things, and at the root of it I needed to face my fears, not micromanage everyone's sleep/eat/drive schedule.

Like so many things, once I could stop focusing on the details and instead figure out and communicate what was really going on, it worked out. Not perfectly. But it did. Incidentally a few years later he lost 80 lbs and now I am the sleep offender of the family.

I personally believe the best relationships are interdependent, but not dependent. It is just fine to communicate to him that his health choices are not helping you or your family operate well. But you are also an adult who can be okay in the face of his bad choices. It sounds like you need some help on the being okay part too.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:34 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is this your husband or your son you're writing about? I would bristle under your control myself.

"I need some help understanding if my husband's behavior is completely out of line or if my expectations are completely out of line."

Maybe a little of both? But the problem imho is your reactions to him. You're trying to control him and obviously he doesn't need or want it.

You did great by coming home & telling him WHY you acted so poorly, and demanding he gets some treatment for his potential health issues. But now you know that if he doesn't take care of it, you have to follow through, right? That's the hard part, leaving.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 9:36 AM on February 28, 2015

I will consider therapy for myself, but have been through several therapists in the past and I haven't had a positive experience.

I just want to note the difference between individual therapy and couples therapy. They're totally different. Couples therapy would ideally have brought to light that your underlying concern was his health.
posted by salvia at 8:44 PM on March 1, 2015

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