How to get results from unemployed spouse?
July 2, 2016 10:03 AM   Subscribe

His unemployment benefits just ran out, and he likes to use the coping skill of avoidance. He clams up for conversations about money or what he is planning to do. I'm pregnant and cannot support both of us and a child without overextending myself. I want to be supportive, because historically I have lost my cool around these issues. But I also don't want to be so supportive that he isn't motivated to do everything possible to fix things.

He is a good man who puts up with a lot from me, but has been unemployed too long and tends to be an ostrich about difficult or inconvenient things. I don't feel like we have time for him to do that. I need results even if that means fast food work. I need him to be proactive and motivated. Historically he has been more of a slow starter and lackadaisical. He has a history of depression and ADHD and is undergoing treatment.

I can't control any of this. I need him to fix it. How do I show up effectively to see change happen?

Things I have tried. Limiting access to household money. Talking about the need to stop spending on his hobbies. Gentle and sometimes not gentle suggestions about branching out to nonindustry positions. Suggestions to read blogs on how to maximize the job search. Links to relevant TED talks. Losing my temper. Showing him the finances. Talking at length about how unfair it is that I m working 3 jobs while pregnant and he is slow to move. Crying. Therapy (individual and couples). Appeals to his gender role (he was raised in a traditional gender home). Appeals for pity. Appeals for him o be a grown up. Suggestions for different career fields. He engages me on this stuff better when he is in a good mood, but he is often cranky or sullen so it is hard to consistently use that.

I am hopeful that the lack of unemployment benefits will motivate him more but what if it doesn't. This is not a sustainable situation. In a couple of months I will have to drastically reduce my work time for a few weeks. He has to find something and I'm out of ideas to make him see the light without living in denial about it.

To be fair, he has tried, but took a couple months in the beginning to process things and was depressed, and the field he is from is saturated with laid off people at the moment. But he was very slow to begin applying to other fields or consider a career change. I need him to be faster. And I also need advice on how to manage my anxiety better because I have been lashing out and it isn't good for the marriage or the unborn baby.
posted by crunchy potato to Human Relations (91 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
To be fair, he has tried

What exactly has he tried to do to seek employment?
posted by strelitzia at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: He has gone to staffing agencies, temp agencies, later on followed up with retail places in person, applied online for local, national and international positions. He has done some very limited networking but his field is saturated with people in a similar position. We have one car so his ability to apply in person depends on my work schedule. I also convinced him after many weeks of trying to get our recruiter friend to look over his resume and design one that is more generic.

He isn't good bout answering phone calls so I'm not confident that he strikes while the iron is hot but he would say he answers the ones that count.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:23 AM on July 2, 2016

Do you have family or friends nearby whom you could stay with? If you were only supporting yourself right now, would you be able to make it work financially and set aside money to help cover future costs for your maternity leave? Because honestly, I don't think it would be at all an overreaction for you to leave over this, at least temporarily to get some breathing room from this situation.

I'm concerned that your spouse isn't doing his part to help support your family financially. But I'm much, much more concerned about the fact that even with counseling, you're not able to communicate effectively, and you're in tears and stressed and feel shut out from talking with him about this issue or other issues that are hurting you. That's just not a healthy situation for you or your child. It's hard to tell from your post what the root of that problem is (you describe him as unwilling to discuss, but you also say that you have in the past lost your temper during conversations about these issues, so it sounds as though both of you may have communication skills to work on, and if counseling hasn't worked and you have such limited time, that's going to be challenging). But you are stressed and unhappy, and helping a spouse battling mental illness while working three jobs and being pregnant must be exhausting. It really sounds like you may need a break.

You've tried a lot of the things I think a lot of us would suggest, including counseling, and you say those things haven't worked. But the bottom line is that you can't make another person do anything. You can't change them. You can only change you. And so if I were you, I would make decisions going forward on the assumption that this situation is never going to change, and that your spouse is not going to be any more proactive in the future than he is now, and that he simply may not be willing or able to get and keep steady employment, now or in the future. I think you have to plan for that possibility, because you are not going to be able to force the situation to be any other way, because you can't control him. Now, with that in mind, how do you want to proceed?
posted by decathecting at 10:30 AM on July 2, 2016 [40 favorites]

What's the plan for childcare after the baby is born? Maybe he should be primary caregiver for awhile, assuming he would be willing to "earn his keep" that way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:33 AM on July 2, 2016 [31 favorites]

Things I have tried. Limiting access to household money. Talking about the need to stop spending on his hobbies.

This man needs to be completely cut off from all of your money and put on an allowance.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2016 [57 favorites]

The car sounds like a red herring unless you use it for work because he should be able to drive you and pick you up, at least a couple of days a week.

Anyways, I agree that all you can do is reduce your costs. Can you move, either with him or without him, into a smaller place? Stay with friends and Airbnb or sublet your place? It's lousy to have to do that while pregnant or having a baby, but what else can you really do? I doubt there is anything magic you can say if nothing you have said + "I'm pregnant" (duuuuuuude) haven't worked.

I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:57 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yes, it's your problem, but ultimately there's not a lot you can really do to get him a job. You say he does well when he's in a good mood. Maybe it could be worth giving him (and yourself!) a break from the anxiety by not feeding it. Adding to his stress only adds to your stress, so, just don't. Put 100% of the responsibility on him. Give him one big, "Look, I don't care if it's mopping floors at McDonald's or delivering newspapers, but you need to get any paying job ASAP. This is the last I'll say about the matter ... for one month." And then stick to that, even if he's just sitting on his ass all day playing video games. No grumbling, no comments, no disapproving looks, no encouragement or pep talks, nothing. You're on vacation from the bullshit; just don't deal with it at all. Join him, even. Relax. Enjoy yourself, inasmuch as that is possible given the circumstances.

Then, after a month, if nothing has changed, really lay into him.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

We've tread this ground a month ago, the situation hasn't changed. The only change is that the unemployment benefits has run out.

What you're doing is treating him like a child and infantilizing him. To be fair, since he is behaving like a child, it's logical to see him that way. But you can't keep yourself in a parent/child relationship with this man. You are about to become parents yourselves, how is he going to change the dynamic from a child to a grown-up?

You're in an extremely difficult position, you want an adult partner to support you during a very trying time in life, unfortunately you don't have one. You need an adult to support you emotionally and logistically when your child comes. I suggest you go find one by staying with friends or family. Don't try to transform your husband into one. I'm sorry.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:00 AM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]

In my experience, depressed people in rough circumstances (including myself in the past) tend to gain a bit of positive inertia when consequences are such that the cost of inaction becomes greater than the cost of action. In other words, there is more pain in not doing anything about one's problem than actually getting up off the couch and putting one foot in front of the other & figuring it out a little at a time.

Your husband may be afraid to fail or be too unmotivated to try something new. It doesn't matter. The very act of getting out there and even applying for a fast-food job is a big deal. And you will need to have some boundaries around this. I hate to suggest using an ultimatum with him, but you are really in no position to be supporting him. Please.

Maybe staying with some friends or relatives would be an appropriate choice for you right now. And let him do what he will. Because he will. Hopefully he would come to his senses. but depending on how sick he is mentally, it's anybody's guess.

Do what is best for you and the baby first. The rest will come to pass later. Peace.
posted by strelitzia at 11:02 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would go, and take his name off the accounts where he has access to your money. And then see what happens.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:05 AM on July 2, 2016 [21 favorites]

You're working three jobs and pregnant? After all that you've described I would go Come To Jesus. "Do you want to be married anymore? Do you think you're capable of being a good parent?" Out-existential him.

When I was in a relationship with someone who tended to clam up, I had to tell them, "You can't clam up anymore. You have to tell me what's going on. It's not fair." They accepted my point, but we wound up breaking up anyway.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 AM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]

You say you can't control him, but I don't think you've really accepted the truth of that. The entire premise of this question is about how to get him to do things he unquestionably needs to to do, but are beyond your control. You need to start planning for what you'll do when he doesn't change. Will he be the stay at home primary caregiver for your child? Will you leave him? Will you continue with the status quo, except you'll soon have two dependents?
posted by Mavri at 11:17 AM on July 2, 2016 [28 favorites]

What is his current field? Is his ego tied to that field? Is part of the issue that he's ashamed to switch to something he thinks is low-status?

Immediately, here's what I would do. The income from your highest paying job goes to household - straight to bills. The income from your other two jobs is your money. If you choose to spend it on bills, that is a thing you are choosing to do. You are not choosing to spend any of it on his hobbies.

Tell him that if he doesn't have a job in one month, you will be selling his hobby equipment in order to raise money for the family.
posted by corb at 11:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I can't control any of this. I need him to fix it. How do I show up effectively to see change happen?

No you see, the first two sentences here don't go with the third. You're showing up effectively but there is no such thing as "showing up to see change happen," that's...not even real. You show up to see a movie happen, that doesn't make the movie happen; it was already scheduled thanks to someone else's effort. Your husband's job is no different. Your showing up doesn't make it happen. Him making it happen makes it happen.

You have control over the following things:

1) how long you remain married to him
2) how much (if any) of your money he can access
3) your own employment (at least as much as any of us does)

These are literally the only parts of the situation you control. You can't make him do anything. Even if you leave that isn't guaranteed to "make" him get a job. So you have to, have to, have to, as in there is actually not any other choice, detach yourself from his process.

That may mean detaching yourself from him legally, or at least physically. But there is no situation in which you unlock the magic door of someone hiring him.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [46 favorites]

When I read the query, I have a hard time knowing what was stated/not stated, etc. (and that's okay, but I'm mentioning this because you might have already tried this).

I would try this in a 3-pronged approach:

For the first part, I would sit down with them and ask him (in a non-threatening, non ultimatum, non-confrontational way) what is going on: As in, what does he feel and why is he not trying the next step? Is it unmanageable anxiety? The depression? Shame? A combination of all of it? Along with this, what would help mimimize this while he looks for a job (ie, if he had the car for the day, perhaps? you both can brainstorm). What has he not tried (ie, medication for these feelings?)

I'd also discuss what both of you view as the best next step financially. You mention a list of what he has done. But what what is adequate in your view (ie, McDonalds)? What is adequate in his view (ie, the same job)? Because there might be a significant misunderstanding of where the next step is. You both can have a plan where McDonalds is the next step for emergency/throw-away job and he keeps on plugging away at getting into his next position or whatever it is.

But I would try these things before the denial of money, lectures, etc, because this might make applying for jobs worse because of the exacerbating whatever it is underneath (anxiety, depression, or whatever).

However, I would also consider leaving as a possibility in this plan, as some have suggested. I wouldn't do this until he has tried another month or so, but after you try other ways to make it work. But during the time that he is looking for jobs in the next month or so, do research, whether it be with a lawyer, or to see what programs you would qualify for as a single person with a child, etc.
posted by Wolfster at 11:30 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am a fortune-teller, let me tell you your fortune: He will never work again. He will only "help" you with the housework if you absolutely beg him. He will not look after the baby adequately and you will pay for child care while you work and he stays at home. I'm sorry. People show you who they really are in times of crisis - this IS who is his. A year of this is about nine months too long.

You are now a single parent, time to start acting like one and putting your child (and yourself, as that is in the baby's best interest) first. Go to the lawyer and financial advisor you need to get the divorce paperwork started, assume he will not pay any form of child support or attempt to see his child and move on with your life. If you have family to move in with, great, if not, time to downsize.

You will feel much better having actually made a choice and taken action instead of this years-long slide into hell you have had. He has been making your own mental health issues much, much worse. For the sake of your baby, you need to get your life under control again.

You have the choice now, but your choices are getting closed off as time goes by. You will look back in five years from now as this time being either the hardest and lowest you life ever got - or look back in five years as this time being the easiest and highest your life will ever be.
posted by saucysault at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2016 [111 favorites]

Half assing stuff and then claiming you tried and it's not your fault is a time honored way to get out of doing stuff you don't want to. So don't get sucked into it. Tell him to bring in some money, period and give him a deadline for when you make changes. You don't have to say what the changes are but you're pregnant: the baby has to be your priority and your health too. Then mentally forget about him and do what you need to do for yourself, find a cheaper place, scale back on work, set up childcare, touch base with parents and friends and give them a heads up that you might need significant help, budget for baby supplies etc. There is a non-zero chance he's going to leave you once the baby comes, plan for that. But you won't be alone, a friend of mine had a similar thing happen and people pitched in like crazy to help her. Her ex'es parents surprisingly covered a lot of the baby's costs.

And definitely stop letting him have access to funds. You are working three jobs, spending on hobbies should be $0. In fact, he should be selling stuff to generate income. Pay the bills buy groceries and stick the rest of the money you make into an account he doesn't have access to for after the baby comes. If h wants new underwear he can get a job and buy it. Again, he might leave you, don't let him take your money too.

Hopefully your change in attitude will be enough to make him see that he's not stepping up as a partner and a father but if not you're already half way out the door which is helpful for you, plus you still have some funds left.
posted by fshgrl at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2016 [17 favorites]

Given your previous question, namely the fact that you have indeed done everything you can and dude just keeps going "eh", and you have a baby coming in two months... it is ultimatum time. An ultimatum you need to prepare to enforce.

This: He clams up for conversations about money or what he is planning to do. [...] He tends to be an ostrich about difficult or inconvenient things. Is not what you want from a soon-to-be parent. Has he even offered to be a stay-at-home dad? Has it occurred to him that he is responsible for his child? Because if HE has not suggested it, boy yeah, I too can foresee your future and you are going to need to enforce the ultimatum.

The ultimatum is that he gets his shit together ASAP (say within one month, that will give you the second month to get yourself well-settled elsewhere before baby comes, and you will need that time, please do not waffle), he contributes in any way possible and without nagging from you – in other words it needs to come from him, this is a test, he is going to be alone with your kid, you're not going to be there to remind him to do things – or you leave.

I am really worried for your future kid if he keeps doing the ostrich thing. Kids are kids. If he can't handle you, an adult, how is he going to handle a child?
posted by fraula at 11:53 AM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

Or you could consider his unemployment a resource and work out an agreement with him in which you are the primary wage earner and he is the primary child care provider. Childcare is expensive; if you think he has the chops to be a good dad, he can make a huge contribution to the family by raising your child. With your help, of course. Don't dismiss the value of a stay-at-home parent if you can possibly make it work.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:17 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

don't dismiss the value of a stay-at-home parent

I totally agree - having been a stay at home parent and a working parent, stay at home parenting is MUCH more difficult and demanding.

Considering that over the past year the spouse was unable to maintain his share of household chores, budget adequately, follow through on adult tasks that put other's needs before his own, or respond to others in a healthy way - this is NOT the type of person that would succeed at being a stay-at-home parent and would cause potential damage to the baby.

Reality is, OP would be both the default parent AND the breadwinner, in effect having TWO helpless babies to look after.
posted by saucysault at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2016 [48 favorites]

Even if he's the ultimate stay at home parent she's having the baby. She needs time off to recover and spend with her child. Months of time. Who will pay the bills during that time and clean the house and take care of her?
posted by fshgrl at 12:27 PM on July 2, 2016 [12 favorites]

If you are married I don't think you can restrict access to shared financial assets and income. That's illegal. If you get divorced your husband may be able to sue you, as primary income earner, for spousal support.

My advice is to contact a divorce lawyer and "war game" some scenarios to ensure you are prepared if a break occurs.

But using financial assets as leverage is unwise (and think if the shoe were to be on the other foot).
posted by My Dad at 12:40 PM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

i would remind him off all the conversations you have had together about this, remind him of what his contributions will be towards child support were you to split, and then kick him out for a month - let him go stay with friends or family - so he can really see what life might be like should you remove your support of him.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

it's not illegal for spouses to have separate accounts that they don't share access to. it's hard to even entertain a conversation about 'shoe on the other foot' until cis men start getting pregnant.
posted by nadawi at 12:44 PM on July 2, 2016 [47 favorites]

Partners who expect traditional gender roles in a household where those roles are, in a practical sense, totally flip-flopped are total shit shows when there is a newborn baby in the house. If you think he's avoidant and sullen now, just you wait.

Let me ask you like being emotionally controlled by a man who can't and will not assume responsibility for himself and you?

Do you enjoy carrying the whole ball, all the time, for everything, practical and emotional, without anyone else under your own roof to rely on?

Do you enjoy working yourself to exhaustion, physically and spiritually? Solely for the sake of keeping a man around? A man who clearly would rather be mothered and coddled than nurture and support you as his equal? Because if you don't enjoy that now, let me tell you, you will grow to feel a level of hostility towards this man on an order of magnitude that you cannot now fathom once he has left you to not only care for a newborn baby, but him, a grown man, as well.

You are going to be so tired for the first few months of your baby's life, you will not be able to think rationally. You're going to be hormonally in outer space. You will cry at the drop of a hat, you will feel hopeless and yet, you will still bear the responsibility of feeding and holding the baby. This is hard work if ever there was. You will need someone to be there for you unquestioningly, unreservedly. You will need someone who will not hesitate to pick up the ball and run with it, without your even having to ask most of the time. Is he the guy? Really? Is he going to do that for you? While your body is healing, and you don't feel at your best, and you are sadder and more tired and more taxed in every possible arena than any other period of your life? Really?

He's not going to magically learn how to accept responsibility during this time. No, he will cling to his side of the bed, and his precious 8 hours of uninterrupted rest, and his time to "job hunt" and so forth, while you are left to hold yourself together and keep the baby alive, and also keep the household in some sort of functional order. And this is before you even think about heading back to work, which he will want you to do sooner rather than later, so that he can have his routine of lying around feeling sorry for himself back. And let's not even begin to address the issue of the expense of childcare, the managing of a child's routine, the managing of a family's medical and dental care, schooling, choices surrounding food and sleep and clothing and friends, not to mention the larger issue of the values you will want to instill in your child somewhere along the line. And this is if your baby is born totally healthy without any special needs, or prematurely, or with feeding issues. This is if all goes completely to plan.

Honestly, a baby changes everything. If a husband isn't a willing participant in the emotional and practical maintenance of your marriage now, a baby will not magically change him. It will shine a spotlight on just how messed up things are in his head and in your relationship, only it will be too late to do anything about it.

Make plans accordingly. You have the right.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 12:46 PM on July 2, 2016 [45 favorites]

Talking at length about how unfair it is that I m working 3 jobs while pregnant and he is slow to move.

I don't know the answer for you (to how to make him do something). I wish I did. But I can't comprehend this.

I put up with a lot of crap from my ex and I know he put up with a lot of crap from me. But I was a homemaker and full time mom and he had a serious career. We did the traditional nuclear family thing. And I just can never wrap my brain around why any woman stays with a man when she is bringing in all the dough and he is apparently doing nothing at all to contribute. There is no way in hell I would do that.

From what I gather, when a man is financially dependent upon a woman, he typically does NOT take over the "women's work" and contribute in that way. She works all day, comes home and then cooks for both of them, having discovered he spent the whole day playing video games.

I am perfectly willing to support a man. But he has to be a contributing member of the household. When I got divorced, my sons took over the women's work. They have never had paid jobs, but they sure as hell pull their weight at home. So they have a place in my household because I need what they provide. They aren't simply leeches. And they know it. They have serious personal issues, such as learning disabilities, but they earn their keep. I couldn't afford to feed them if they didn't.

I think this is something deeply rooted in something societal. And I just don't get it. Because my parents did the traditional family thing and when my dad met my mom, he told her "No wife of mine will ever work." Which sounds to modern people like he is a controlling, sexist ass-hat, but the truth is he was bragging. He was saying he was a good provider. And when she got tired of him not making enough money after he left the army, she told him "You don't make enough money to back that up." and she got a job.

So, what I am saying is that in traditional families, male privilege is absolutely not conferred upon a man for being born with the right equipment between his legs. It is conferred upon him for fulfilling male responsibilities. This is why proving you are a man by having career achievements and the like is such a big deal in such cultures: Because a man who is not pulling his weight with male responsibilities is a total fucking loser with no rights and no one will do shit all for him.

Thus, I cannot fathom staying with a man while working three jobs and pregnant when he can't even do his share of housework. I just boggle at the idea that he is also spending money on hobbies. No. Just No.

This is a case where you need to stop talking to the man and start exercising power.

Get him off your bank accounts. If you want to give him a limited amount of running around money, fine. Make sure there is food in the house. Beyond that, don't give him access to money. Access to money is a trusted position. He isn't trustworthy. He is self indulgent and mistreating you.

This is ultimatum time. You need to decide what marks need to be hit for him to be someone you will stay with. And if he doesn't hit them, you need to leave.

You need to take some time to think it through yourself and write up your expectations, such as he needs a job, any kind of job, by x date and/or he needs to be doing y with the household chores. And if he cannot meet those expectations, you need to get him out of your house. You may be able to support you and a baby as a single parent. You cannot support yourself, a baby and this leech.

That is how you handle a case of "I cannot control this person and he is doing NOTHING and it is not getting better." You make decisions about what YOU will do in the face of this being simply untenable. And now that you have a baby on the way, your first obligation is to that child, not to this man who can't even be bothered to talk to you.

Is that harsh? Sure. But not harsher than how ugly things are going to get if you continue letting him be an albatross around your neck while contributing nothing at all.
posted by Michele in California at 12:59 PM on July 2, 2016 [40 favorites]

it's not illegal for spouses to have separate accounts that they don't share access to.

In Canada and Japan (not sure about the US) you cannot restrict access to income that the spouse had previously had access to. This is very dangerous advice with serious future financial implications for the OP in the event she and her spouse get divorced.
posted by My Dad at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

as it pertains to the US it is not illegal. if they were to divorce, he would gain whatever access to it, but while they're married, people can have money that only they have access to.
posted by nadawi at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2016 [16 favorites]

I've been this spouse, actually. I also have ADHD and anxiety, which I took a while to get treatment for. This makes it hard for me to work. Right now I spend most of my time helping my mother with my father, who can no longer leave the house.

My underemployment means a significant loss of income and we're living paycheck to paycheck on my husband's salary mostly. I feel wretched about this, but it's not possible for me to go to work until I address my many issues, and this is taking some time. My husband has been supportive of me in this process so far. So I have some sympathy for your husband as an individual.

I can also tell you that the chances your husband will "step up" are pretty much zero. You're in a fragile situation as it is. The thing is, he has an actual disability. It's not going to go away on your timetable. He knows he's not useful, and thanks to a combination of ego and upbringing, will do everything in his power not to adapt to the situation, so he lacks the language and motivation to communicate this to you.

Knowing this, I think you should at least consider separating. Put your own oxygen mask on first. This situation is crazy for you and potentially hazardous to your baby. You're well within your rights to walk away from this situation and seek help elsewhere. Once the crazy urgency of what you're going through calms down enough for you to think, I suggest figuring out your long term plans and seeing whether or not they include your husband who, frankly, needs more support than you'll be able to give him for a while.
posted by orangutan at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2016 [14 favorites]

I also need advice on how to manage my anxiety better because I have been lashing out and it isn't good for the marriage or the unborn baby.

Managing your anxiety, while important in the long run, is a red herring. Your priority is figuring out how you only need to care for one helpless being once the baby is born.

I think you need to take saucysault's comments very seriously and acknowledge that for the baby's sake (and yours), you need to leave your husband and accept that you're going to be a single parent. But you can be confident it will be easier than the current alternative--caring for two children, one of whom can access your bank accounts.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:57 PM on July 2, 2016 [9 favorites]

Hmmm, I think I'm inclined to be less into the immediate divorce option. You say he's a good man, and he's struggling, and you're going to have a baby. Having a baby is such a huge deal -- I mean, this is obvious, right, but I know I had NO IDEA how hard it was going to be -- that I can't imagine facing pregnancy and a divorce right now, especially since it seems from your question that he has, at least in some small way, been trying.

So I'm not sure what advice I'm offering. But in my experience, only actions will change how he feels. He can't control his feelings of ego, etc. but he can control what he actually does. (This is kind of similar to constructive living.)

Maybe if you can convince him to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, that will get him going again. And maybe not. Maybe the Come to Jesus moment is necessary where you leave, at least for a little while. But I'm not inclined to think that an immediate divorce with a baby coming is going to be the best option right now, assuming other aspects of the relationship are solid. This new life is going to be connected to you BOTH forever, no matter what happens to the relationship, and you're going to want a united front at the beginning to trudge through it. Obviously I wouldn't say this if it were an abusive relationship or other stuff going on, but if you can manage in any way for a few months until the birth/right after, I would try.

Also, if there is any chance he could be a stay at home parent, OMG that would be awesome at least for a while. Childcare is so expensive and often pretty awful. And I'm not sure how much you can gauge now whether this is possible, but after the birth that might be a good fit at least for a little while and might make the need for him to be a provider that much more tangible.
posted by EtTuHealy at 2:01 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Obviously I wouldn't say this if it were an abusive relationship or other stuff going on

I posit that a woman working three jobs while pregnant while her husband sits on his ass and pursues his hobbies is an abusive relationship. You don't need to hit someone to seriously fuck up their life in a toxic manner.
posted by Michele in California at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2016 [82 favorites]

Although your husband may not intend it to be, his lack of practical support and refusal to discuss it, while putting you in the position of working 3 jobs while 7 months pregnant...well, I think it at least borders on abusive.

On preview: exactly what Michelle in California said.

And he is NOT someone I'd trust to care for your newborn while you're not there, either. Please don't jeopardize your baby's well being by having your husband be primary childcare provider. Nothing in this question or your previous one indicates he's capable of it right now. And he's not showing any signs of changing anytime soon.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2016 [11 favorites]

I want to be supportive, because historically I have lost my cool around these issues.

Also...who's been telling you you haven't been supportive? Sometimes it's appropriate to lose your cool. Like when you're pregnant and working three jobs to support a husband who doesn't contribute remotely equally to the household. I'd lose my cool too, and I wouldn't think I was being unsupportive.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2016 [26 favorites]

He's biding his time until the baby is born so he can make you support both him and the baby.

Dump him now. Get a lawyer. He's using you, I have no problem telling you that this is NOT how love and marriage works. He doesn't love you.

posted by jbenben at 2:18 PM on July 2, 2016 [12 favorites]

You mentioned your husband is into hobbies, which is a good sign that he's not depressed.

I've noticed from Reddit that a surprising amount of people consider "gaming" -- often 12 hours a day in a basement with an xBox, no other interests -- to be a "hobby." I am sure it is a hobby in some cases, but in many it seems to be an escape and about as much of a "hobby" as watching teevee. Without knowing if Mr Potato is spending hours as a video game junkie or going out windsurfing I don't think I'd use that as a metric for depressed/not depressed. He does sound like he may have depression issues. Not exactly OP's problem right now, though.

OP, do you have family you could move in with for a stint so your immediate concerns are whittled down to yourself and the baby?

Speaking from experience: it is terrible having a newborn with somebody who has problems, with somebody you are not getting on with. You will resent him forever if he is lounging around being a bum while you are dealing with a new baby -- it is a very unique (and lovely) time, and one that you absolutely cannot go back and have a do-over for. I would choose a separation over trying to hack dealing with a newborn and relationship troubles at the same time, without hesitation, chips falling where they may for the long-term effects on the marriage. With an infant, the child is the priority; you are 2nd; he is a distant third. I would do everything within my power to get away from him now, even if you were doing it with the idea of reconciliation in the future. Go off and enjoy your 'babymoon.' He has not contributed to the family; do not waste time feeling sad about him missing out on a family he has not supported in any way.

In an ideal world you could move in with loving parents and have Grandma and Grandpa help out, but it's really not necessary to have help with the average newborn. (Your home will be a wreck, but who cares?)
posted by kmennie at 2:24 PM on July 2, 2016 [17 favorites]

I can't control any of this. I need him to fix it. How do I show up effectively to see change happen?

You recognize that you have your answer right here. You can't control any of this. You could be positive and supportive, helping him find job leads and a real cheerleader. You could be incessantly reminding him about your financial reality and how he needs to get off his ass and act like an adult.

It doesn't matter. He's going to grow up as it suits him. Let that sink in. Your needs don't matter to him. Your child's needs won't matter to him. He's going to go through life doing what he wants.

Step back and think of how you'd talk to your sister as she discussed her husband who refuses to discuss money, who won't get a job, who has no plans and she has to work three jobs while pregnant.

You would tell her to run from this guy.

I would suggest you have one last ultimatum talk with him, but that's bullshit. You should NOT have to tell him what a completely selfish asshole he's being. What he's doing is SO totally unfair and exhausting and anxiety-producing, he shouldn't be given one more opportunity to get right.

The change you can see happen is you can make a move for yourself and for your child. You need to leave his lazy ass.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I want to add a couple of points for clarification. He has had clinical depression off and on for most of his life. He has children from a previous marriage, and while he isn't consistent in keeping track of diet needs, bedtimes, boundaries, he loves his kids and they feel loved by him. I believe he would help me with a newborn, because he takes fatherhood seriously. Except around issues of finances since his divorce. He also is there when i fall apart and really need him. Part of the problem is I am so together I don't fall apart enough to feel like things balance out.

He has been trying more to find work, but lives in denial and avoidance which makes things harder. He resents me for bringing up reality. He resents me for other things too. He isn't a bad person. He uses his hobbies to escape and also to feel competent at something. He is a brilliant man, who can more easily apply his skills and talents to things that have no practical utility. His self-esteem is preventing him from monetizing.
posted by crunchy potato at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And also, I might be really gullible. I don't even know anymore. Ok I am done commenting because I know I'm we don't do that here. I am taking in everything you all say with gratitude.
posted by crunchy potato at 3:03 PM on July 2, 2016

He has force you into being his mother. Stop fulfilling this need for him. Don't nag, remind, or support. Take care of you and the baby and let him know that you want him to be a man, and then let him be a man.

Does he have any male friends in his life that he would listen to? It sounds like he needs a pep talk.

You are hormonal from the pregnancy. Rain fire and brimstone down on him and blame the hormones. Have your OBGYN tell him that he is hurting the baby by having you work so much. Play the uterus card.
posted by myselfasme at 3:07 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I will add that one of my sons can be really footdraggy and we have had some confrontations where I have told him "This is not tenable. Your behavior is threatening the survival of all three of us and if x does not stop by y date, you just need to leave." At such times, it has helped for me to say to him "If you think I am expecting too much and you think you can find someone who will do more for you while expecting less from you than the deal you have currently, have at it."

That does seem to sink in and, where there are grey areas where he CAN do something, it is just painfully hard because of his learning disabilities or whatever, he starts choosing to get off his ass and do the hard thing. Because, no, he isn't going to get a sweeter deal elsewhere.

But, hey, his dad and I are divorced because I just couldn't solve certain things with that man and it hit a point where it was simply untenable. So, you know, sometimes you give it all you got and your all just isn't enough.

You might try having one last conversation with the man and perhaps similar language will sink in. But you need results immediately or he needs to go. With a baby coming in a few weeks, you are simply running out of both time and options.

If this continues, one potential scenario is you can't take proper care of the baby because you do not have the money and you get investigated for child abuse. I would much rather get divorced while pregnant than deal with that scenario.

On preview:
I really have loads of sympathy, but your latest update doesn't change anything in my view. He has a sympathetic sob story. Great. That will not pay your bills and your creditors aren't going to respond to that with "Well, in that case, we won't charge you late fees or interest."

I understand when a woman puts up with a lot of shit from a man because he has money and at least they will eat, no matter how difficult he is. But you are describing a situation that is a threat to your very survival and it is failing to motivate him to find some other answer because what he is currently doing is not working.

If you want to stay, then reconcile yourself to paying all the bills and also doing most of the women's work. I have known women who left men like this that they were sure they needed for some reason. Afterwards, they couldn't understand why they stayed so long.
posted by Michele in California at 3:08 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

He already has more kids he already isn't supporting or parenting? Kids need food, a roof over their heads and bedtimes - not a sperm donor that likes to play "fun uncle" to his kids because it strokes his ego. Ouch. The person you describe is not a "good person" by pretty much any normal metric.

The only explanation I can come up with is he has gaslit you for so long you no longer know which way is up. If he has been depressed for a long time he may be able to manipulate counsellors to always cast you as the "unreasonable" and crazy one in the relationship (been there, got the t-shirt). Therapists and counsellors are remarkably easy to manipulate.

You need time away from him to find yourself and your voice. Good luck to you - I believe in you and I am rooting for you.
posted by saucysault at 3:10 PM on July 2, 2016 [43 favorites]

I'm really sorry, but your last update about him already having children of whom he is not the primary caretaker made this solid. He is not going to change. I think you need to consult with a lawyer, and then you need to kick him out.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:11 PM on July 2, 2016 [28 favorites]

I wanted to say that the comments about him not being depressed because hobbies seem off to me: depression manifests in a lot of different ways. (On preview, I see kmennie has it.

Practical things that I've often seen recommended but have no actual experience with:
- supposedly with temp agencies you often have to call every morning to remind them you're alive
- dishwashing jobs and restaurant jobs in general can be relatively easy to get
- does everyone you know know that he's looking for a job, any job? This is for a loose value of "know" - basically anyone who might ever say "hey, how are you?", even if it's a standard greeting from a cashier at the supermarket
- along those lines, facebook and linkedIn should probably be a part of the search
- depending on where you live, Craigslist could be good for at least short term jobs/gigs

Besides finding a job, is he doing things like reading up on babies and what's going to be involved?

I have no idea what you should do with regard to your relationship in general, and it's worth remembering that answers here can be fairly strident sometimes even though none of us knows any of the people involved. I do think, since you mentioned anxiety, that it might be worth letting yourself feel however you think would be best for you, while keeping in mind that you're going by a narrative you've consciously chosen. That is, maybe he's immature and lazy; maybe he's paralyzed by his depression and caught in a spiral of shame and as bewildered and angry as you that he can't do this thing, and is self-medicating with escapism, which just makes him feel worse. Who knows. The point is that it doesn't matter enough now, because what matters now is that you have a concrete financial problem that absolutely has to be solved regardless of its cause. Ordinarily I'd say give him the benefit of the doubt and go with the kindest possible interpretation of his actions. But in this case, I think you should probably go with whatever interpretation feels best to you and helps you get through this most effectively.
posted by trig at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

About your update, when you say he could monetize some of his skills, what do you mean? Could he give private lessons, teach some kind of community class, or do some freelance work, while he's trying to find a more typical job?

Also, does he have any family or friends that can get him to see that self-esteem here should rest on things like "does whatever it takes to support his family, including putting aside whatever imposter syndrome/need for higher-status jobs/lack of confidence he might be dealing with"?
posted by trig at 3:25 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Obviously I wouldn't say this if it were an abusive relationship or other stuff going on

did you read the OP's previous question where there were more details? resenting someone & making them feel like they have to bend over backwards to do more (even as they're pregnant, working 3 jobs, and doing the housework) while you sit around and pursue hobbies and haven't had a job for a year... I think that's pretty abusive.
posted by aielen at 3:27 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

Oh crunchypotato, I am so sorry. It sounds like you're in a really difficult position. I originally planned to recommend a more moderate approach, but your last update changed my mind. Being a good parent is all about consistently keeping track of things like diet needs, bedtimes, and boundaries, so it's hard for me to understand how he could possibly both be really bad at those things and be a good father. It's also really troubling that he is so disengaged from your needs while you are pregnant given that he has already supported (or not supported) a different partner through multiple pregnancies.

I don't know the two of you in real life, so I don't have enough context to say that he's a bad person--he might not be!--but he is being a bad partner for you right now, and it sounds like he's been a pretty lousy partner in the past too. His relationship and parenting history suggests to me that he is not going to change, regardless of any ultimatum. I don't think I could stay with him, but maybe he's right enough for you in other ways to make things work. Does your therapist know about your situation? What does s/he think?
posted by cimton at 3:28 PM on July 2, 2016 [12 favorites]

Without fail, questions about a partner who isn't pulling their weight go the same way:

1. Asker puts forth situation where partner isn't behaving like a responsible adult;
2. Asker wants to know how they should deal with this situation;
3. Asker comes back and rationalizes that they haven't painted a clear picture and explain issues their partner has;
4. Asker jumps in to say their partner isn't a bad person.

So taking your question with this view; what's your actual question here? You're saying he's an unemployed okay father with serious untreated mental issues who gets pissed off when you remind him that he's not financially supporting his family.

Do you actually want to know how to fix this? You can't.
Do you want to know the magic words that will get him off his ass? There aren't any.
Do you actually want to know how to deal with this? You end it. This doesn't mean he is a BAD PERSON; this means he is a man who is CHOOSING to not support his family.

His self-esteem is preventing him from monetizing. No. His lazy, man-child attitude allows him to ignore reality.

I believe he would help me with a newborn, because he takes fatherhood seriously. You have NO reason to think this. He doesn't take dietary needs, bedtimes or boundaries seriously with his other kids.

I think you know what you need to do here.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:33 PM on July 2, 2016 [53 favorites]

He uses his hobbies to escape and also to feel competent at something. He is a brilliant man, who can more easily apply his skills and talents to things that have no practical utility.

...This is even worse. He's using his hobbies to escape and to feel competent about himself, when he should be facing real life and real responsibilities. All the brilliance in the world does not mean someone is moral, responsible, or a decent human being. At this stage, you have to stop thinking about all the "what if"s and "if onlys", and make decisions based on the reality you're in now. It's been a year. He could find a job... someday. He could kick his hobby-addiction. He could be brilliant and use his "talent" for something worthwhile. But right now he isn't. It could be years before he decides to do this. You and your child don't have years (or even months).

You have to stop thinking about what he could be, and what he might be, and look at what he really is like, now, at this point. Everyone has potential; some people don't ever use that potential for anything good. Some people even get through life being manipulative, inconsiderate, and even more selfish just because they keep holding this idea of their own "potential" over other people's heads, like a dangling carrot. This guy is taking advantage of you, and he's probably done this to others before. Don't let him take advantage of your child's welfare too.
posted by aielen at 3:41 PM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: My individual therapist thinks I should leave. The couples therapist asked him in a private session with her why he hadn't left ME yet. I get emotional and can be critical or look for problems and I honestly can be a chore. (I was present but refused to participate because I didn't think it was helping anymore.) He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway, but my response is that may be true but it isn't relevant to whether or not you're working.

He could do freelance stuff or teach classes to monetize his skills but isn't self-motivated. He teaches classes sometimes that use his skills for his hobbies but doesn't get paid for it. He did some freelance for someone and didn't discuss payment upfront, and also procrastinated asking for payment after. I agree that it would be nice for someone to help shift his self-esteem from whether he feels like he deserves good things to whether he needs to support his family by any means necessary. Unfortunately his closest male loved ones are either like him or too casual to do that.

I would not call him abusive. He has called me abusive before and at times I have been so fed up with feeling let down by things that he would have been right. But again, not relevant to whether he is working and I continue to redirect the conversation as best I can when it goes that way. Yes I have made a mess of things in my own way but he can't use that as an excuse for using most if his downtime for escapism.
posted by crunchy potato at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2016

Is he contributing at all to his other children? That's a huge red flag that he's not going to be a good parent to yours.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

I think one reason so many people are jumping on the DTMFA train is because many of us speak from (some) experience. My old partner, who was truly a good and well-intentioned person, struggled for years to grow up and get his life together. Would he ever be able to keep a good job, or clean up after himself regularly, or not make completely goofy mistakes like forgetting his housekeys on the bus, etc? His heart in the right place, and he was a good friend throughout our relationship, but when we finally broke up after six years, the weight of caretaking and worrying about him dissipated (though I hadn't known I was carrying it around) was an incredible relief. We were in our late twenties/early thirties and relatively unencumbered (no kids, no shared debts but for the year's worth of rent money I still hope he'll pay back). As much as your husband may be kind and well-meaning, and also himself struggling, I would bet money that if you break up, (and after a few months of totally natural emotional tumult) you'll look back and feel nothing but relief to be done with him.
posted by tapir-whorf at 3:46 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

I am so sorry you're going through this. Truly. Your update raises more questions, honestly.

My twenties were the picture of depression. I supported myself with crippling agitated depression and now what is commonly called ADHD because I had no other option; it was either white-knuckle it to work, white-knuckle it at work, and then white-knuckle it behind closed doors after work to put a roof over my head and food in my own mouth, or move home with my parents. Which was not an option. His self-esteem is not why he can't "monetize". He doesn't choose to take a job which he thinks is beneath him - he's "brilliant", remember - because he has you to pay the bills. To not see this or experience it for what it is is co-dependent. You support him. The enables him not to work.

You are talking about him taking fatherhood seriously, but he won't get a job. This is not taking fatherhood seriously - fatherhood does not start when the baby is born, particularly if you are actually married to the mother of your child, you live in the same house, you are sharing finances. No. It starts with the plus sign. A baby is coming and you....choose to allow your pregnant wife to cover all the bills and, more importantly, agonize over this situation such that she cannot relax and enjoy her pregnancy for fear of what will happen when the baby comes? No. No, this is not taking fatherhood seriously.

You are talking about him being there for you when you "fall apart". What about this? Would this surprise you? Would it shock you? - Your husband gets up in the morning, he makes breakfast for you, he cleans up after the two of you, he sends you out the door to work after making you a healthy lunch. He cleans the house. He sends out resumes. He returns all phone calls. He does some freelance thing he picked up, something. He does the grocery shopping/makes dinner/picks you up from work, some combination of these things that are just the basics in and around life in a house with people. Does he do that? Does your life look like that? Because if it's not like that, then I'm not really understanding what you're getting out of this, other than living in a perpetual state of hope that he is going to go back to, or become, the brilliant, wonderful man you clearly want but don't currently have.

I understand depression. I understand anxiety. I understand an inability to function normally. I would never throw out the baby with the bathwater - sorry for that, not meaning to make a terrible pun right now, given how stressful this is for you - but the reality is, if you are forced to take care of yourself, it is quite possible you will find a way.

You are not fully aware of what you will experience during your late pregnancy, your delivery, and your postpartum period, on into your child's first year of life. And if you go forward giving your husband the benefit of the doubt - which is admirable - without being practical about the evidence you have seen, you will get the result you fear.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 3:49 PM on July 2, 2016 [46 favorites]

Is paying child support to his other kids one of your household expenses-i.e are you paying this for him? If that's the case I think you need to think long and hard about the marriage lasting. Otherwise I think you can safely back burner the question of long term marriage in favor of getting through the having-a-baby thing that's becoming imminent. If you need to live apart for a while, he can make some changes and you can get back together. Or you can stay if you think he'll truly take care of you and baby when it comes. Either way though you need to put yourself first for a while, say a year, and just not deal with his issues. He needs to deal with them.
posted by fshgrl at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2016 [9 favorites]

He has children from a previous marriage, and while he isn't consistent in keeping track of diet needs, bedtimes, boundaries, he loves his kids and they feel loved by him. I believe he would help me with a newborn, because he takes fatherhood seriously. Except around issues of finances since his divorce.

So he loves his kids, but he doesn't bother about their diet needs (this is serious - it affects their health), bedtimes, boundaries.... And he doesn't contribute to their welfare financially either. They feel loved by him, but a child's affection for an adult is NOT a good measure of whether the adult is actually a responsible, loving figure in their life. Does his ex-wife feel that he is a good father? Does his ex-wife feel like he is pulling his weight? Like saucysault said, being a "fun uncle" doesn't necessarily equate good father. Having good intentions and feeling affectionate towards someone doesn't necessarily equate responsibility and real love. Real love boils down to concrete action.

Look at what the man does, not what he says.
posted by aielen at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2016 [39 favorites]

Re your update about you being hard to deal with: sure, maybe this is true. If you had a partner you respected more--who was more worthy of respect--and had more of an equal relationship with, you probably wouldn't be so allegedly hard to take. I think this specific dynamic is both really hard to break, and really understandable given the circumstances. When you find a partner you can truly trust and rely on, you may be really surprised at how different your dynamic is.
posted by tapir-whorf at 3:55 PM on July 2, 2016 [19 favorites]

He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway

That's a really dickheaded thing to do.

I agree that it would be nice for someone to help shift his self-esteem from whether he feels like he deserves good things to whether he needs to support his family by any means necessary. Unfortunately his closest male loved ones are either like him or too casual to do that.

Why are you bending over backwards making excuses for his choices? Are you trying to rationalize the next step of leaving him by saying you did everything you could?

You ARE doing everything you can. He is not acting like an adult. His self-esteem and lack of male role models have nothing to do with his lazy-assedness of not getting a job. Stop making excuses for him.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:01 PM on July 2, 2016 [24 favorites]

My individual therapist thinks I should leave. The couples therapist asked him in a private session with her why he hadn't left ME yet. I get emotional and can be critical or look for problems and I honestly can be a chore. (I was present but refused to participate because I didn't think it was helping anymore.) He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway, but my response is that may be true but it isn't relevant to whether or not you're working.

Your individual therapist is right. And either your couples therapist is terrible, or (much more likely) your husband made this up (it was a private session with her, so presumably you weren't there for that one? Convenient), which makes HIM terrible.

He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway, but my response is that may be true but it isn't relevant to whether or not you're working.

OH WHOA. Nope nope nope. It's not true and he is an asshole for saying it. This is classic, manipulative gaslighting asshole territory. He thinks YOU are hard to deal with and he loves you ANYWAY? Is he fucking kidding? Do you understand how that sounds to us, when you have told us you are 7 months pregnant and working three jobs to support him and he is saying YOU are hard to deal with but he loves you ANYWAY? What the everloving fuck.

Look, I am sympathetic to someone who is suffering from clinical, debilitating depression. That shit is hard and yes it takes more than just a few pep talks to fix it. But this latest update has crossed the line into DTMFA territory. Being depressed is not carte blanche to tell you to your face that YOU are the one who is not holding up your end of the partnership. Give me a break.

Please for the love of all that is holy, listen to your individual therapist. Your husband is gaslighting you into thinking you might be the problem. You are not the problem here and likely never were.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:02 PM on July 2, 2016 [86 favorites]

You're not staying with him because you think you're too "hard to deal with" to find someone else, are you?

I don't even know you, but you sound amazing to me. Hard working, patient, loving, optimistic... to a fault, frankly. You don't need to put up with this shit. "Hard to deal with," my foot.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2016 [39 favorites]

You are right. You are not a nagging bitch. You are a pregnant lady who is afraid for the security of her unborn baby. You keep mentioning "monetizing his skills" - this is not how jobs work, and as a hard working person I'm sure you know this. Do you know Maslows hierarchy of needs? You don't get to reach Enlightenment until Safety and shelter are taken care of.

If jobs were about monetizing skills I'd be SOL because I have no skills. Yet I am able to have a life for myself because 75% of my job is showing up and trying. If he were to get a job in fast food I bet that's be more like 95%.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2016 [21 favorites]

Yeah, you being told you're very difficult and that he loves you in spite of that is really toxic. I know from experience. You would be better off without him and alone then you will be if you stick around. Doesn't mean you don't love him, doesn't mean you didn't try. It means you're putting yourself and your newborn first. About time. Take care, sincerely, I understand how tough things are right now.
posted by sockermom at 4:34 PM on July 2, 2016 [22 favorites]

The couples therapist asked him in a private session with her why he hadn't left ME yet.

With kindness to you, my bullshit radar is going off so loud at this statement that I literally laughed when I read it. As someone else said, how convenient that you weren't there to hear it, and that it's a way for him to back you into a corner. With my limited relationship experience I can confidently say that anytime someone comes back at you with "Well YOU'RE the shitty one and everyone else says so" when you try to get them to do normal, basic, human, adult things, they're bullshitting and manipulating you.

while he isn't consistent in keeping track of diet needs, bedtimes, boundaries,

Also agreed, this IS parenting. All the love in the world doesn't equal good parenting and in fact I find it hard to believe you can love someone or something so much that you don't even bother to keep track of their bedtime or diet or boundaries. I mean, that literally comes with the territory because you love them that you automatically do what's best for them. I can't imagine anything else.

Please, leave this person. They have kids they already aren't taking care of. They can't manage to do basic tasks, they're manipulating you, they're completely gaslighting you into believing you're the problem when you've done nothing but bend completely over backwards. You cannot fix this. There is nothing to fix. You have done nothing wrong. You need to get out now.

And shit, I have anxiety. I can be hard to deal with. I can force my husband to actually go through his pile of jeans and take care of the ones that don't fit and he can be annoyed and then we have fun finding the pairs that look good or have holes and put them in a donate pile and he's glad he has drawer space. He doesn't resent me for it. He's glad I make him get his ass moving sometimes and I'm glad that he does the same for me.

You don't have a partner. You don't even have a second child. A second child would be FAR less money, work, and anxiety than this person is to take care of.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:36 PM on July 2, 2016 [32 favorites]

I would just also like to point out that it seems to me the couple's therapist is getting at something larger in asking your husband why, if you're such a terrible person, so damaged, so difficult, why he hasn't left you yet. I mean, if he really were to take that question in and reflect and have a moment of insight, he would see what the therapist is asking. Why, if your wife is the problem and so awful, do you choose to stay with her? He is in denial about himself and his motivations for staying in the relationship but he tells himself the story that he is miserable because you are so awful. Which you're not; he's massively immature and narcissistic and can't deal with how shitty he feels about himself, so he's projecting all his deficiencies onto you. This is textbook.

If he relayed that statement to you in a way that evidenced ZERO reflection on his part, and he honestly did not experience this as a challenge to his perceptions about himself and his actions as they relate to his unhappiness in his marriage, then he's not getting it. I highly doubt your couple's therapist doesn't know where the bear shits in the buckwheat on this, so don't take this as evidence of anything other than he can't even parse a direct challenge from his couple's therapist and, true to form, uses it instead as a cudgel to your self-worth. This is exactly how he manipulates you into continuing to support him when he has shown ZERO reason to do so.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 4:57 PM on July 2, 2016 [50 favorites]

Are you someone who is scared of failure? Like if you just try hard enough, things will work out, and you take on a lot of responsibility because you are a fixing and helping type of person? These are not bad qualities to have at all, but your instinct to nurture and finish things properly and honorably could be trapping you here. Bring a divorced single mom doesn't have to be a failure. It can be someone brave enough to protect their baby and leave a unwinnable game with their eyes set on the future.

Give yourself a little time to dream a future where you were a separated mom of a little baby in positive circumstances - picking up baby from grandma after work, going home to your little cozy house to be happy together and stopping at the playground on the way - and figure out what you would need to get to that dream.

Note that his children from the previous marriage are also your baby's half siblings and your baby is likely to have the same kind of "fun dad" relationship, so you'll get as much affection and indifference to things like medical appointments, diet, schedules. Unless he has always been reading up on baby books, built the crib etc, he's not going to suddenly become an involved baby carer.

You are not a failure. You are going to be a good mother.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:28 PM on July 2, 2016 [28 favorites]

Yes, the "you're hard to deal with, but I love you anyway," sent up a HUGE red flag for me as well.

What does "hard to be deal with" mean in this context? Are you blaming him for things he can't control? Or are you just asking him to step up, do his share, and be an adult? It sounds as you're stressed out and upset, and he's using those feelings against you, so you'll stop bugging him about being a partner and let him get back to his hobbies and his video games.

I would be asking myself: What would he be doing if I wasn't here? How was he doing before I came into his life? If the answer is supporting himself, managing his own life, and otherwise functioning as an adult, I would ask, well, what's changed? His depression could have taken a debilitating slide downward, but what is he doing to address this?

I would be connecting with my family or friends ASAP, and making arrangements that didn't involve him. If he steps up, great, but he doesn't sound as though he is someone who can be relied upon.
posted by dancing_angel at 7:03 PM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway, but my response is that may be true but it isn't relevant to whether or not you're working.

Holy cannoli, you're working three jobs while pregnant to support a man sitting on his ass playing with his toys all day, and he thinks you should be grateful to him?

In reading this post and the responses, I've been trying to be empathetic to him. I can imagine being overwhelmed by depression into functional uselessness, then succumbing to an endless and incapacitating spiral of shame over it. I wanted to post something like: it may be that this is genuinely just his illness, but it doesn't matter, because you have a baby to worry about now. But then I read this. Nope. He's just another lazy, selfish man-child, and the only way you're going to improve your life is by getting him out of it.
posted by praemunire at 8:06 PM on July 2, 2016 [17 favorites]

This guy may be emotionally supportive to you when you hit a wall but you are paying for that service in spades. You are essentially paying for a live-in emotional insurance plan that you can't even draw on unless it's an emergency which would be fine but you have a baby coming and you won't physically be able to work for a while. Those last few weeks of pregnancy can be hell and delivery is a major event, even when it goes well, and you are going to need time to recover and be a mom to that new little one. I just can't help thinking how you are a little screwed. I think you need to stop thinking about how he could make the situation better and start thinking about how you can stop him from making the situation any worse. Absolutely no more money on hobbies, or other frivolities because you need to plan for the time you will not be working and won't be able to support the three of you. Get another account to put your money in if you have to. If he can only deal with this by acting like a child, I guess you need to treat him like one.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:32 PM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another in the DTMFA chorus. I am a spouse, I have minor depression, I have ADHD tendencies. If I refused (yes, refused, because that's what he's doing) to support my family in the manner that he is, I would EXPECT my wife to have been out the door by now. Your therapist is wise. Listen to her.
posted by jferg at 9:06 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

You asked essentially the same question a month ago. The answers haven't changed. Your husband hasn't changed. Which means you have to. Like it or not, you're alone in every way that counts. He can't be relied upon for anything but a guilt trip and creating anxiety in you.

You know you need to leave him. There's no fix we can give you that will make this better. You need to act now. Your child needs a happy, functional mother and as long as you're supporting your other man child, you're none of these things, so even if you won't do it for yourself, do it for your baby. I really hope to read a happy update next and not a repeat of the same question. Best of luck, we are all thinking of you.
posted by Jubey at 9:28 PM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

I believe he would help me with a newborn

Even if this is true, which honestly I doubt - look at how you're phrasing this. He's going to help you. Your best-case scenario, the thing you are actually hoping for, is that both of you will accept that the baby is basically your responsibility but he will assist you sometimes. That is how low your expectations have got.

I had an ex who did this kind of avoidance/uselessness behaviour, among other things. I didn't see him as an ostrich but as a sort of invertebrate sea creature - anything happened that he needed to step up for, and he'd figuratively collapse to the floor and flop around aimlessly. If I yelled and begged enough he'd flop some more to give the appearance of motion, but he wouldn't actually stand up and do things, even when e.g. my health or us still having a house to live in depended on it. I hated myself in that relationship. I felt that I was a constant angry stress monster who didn't support or appreciate him enough(!) I was being, effectively, as awful to myself as he was. Both of our energies were going overwhelmingly to caring about him, as he sat on the sofa playing computer games while I tried to hold our lives together.

I cannot tell you how much better I felt after leaving. How much of a weight off my life it was, how much more space and energy I had to think about, well, everything else, including looking after and being kind to myself.

I didn't have a child then. I do now (in a much much better relationship in which, oh hey surprise, I am not an awful yelling harpy!), and one of the hardest things about motherhood is adjusting to how much mental time and energy and head-space it takes up to care for a young child. I don't mean the practical work, I mean literally the mental adjustment of realising how many of someone else's intense and continuous needs I have to meet. I warn you about this because it sounds like right now 110% of your caring capacity is going into caring for your husband, and if you manage to generate more it sounds like he will just suck that up too.

He is not being good to you. At this point it doesn't matter why, if it's a clinical condition or not, if his expectations have been shaped by traditional gender roles or not (although incidentally, there is zero chance he will see parenting as his responsibility just as much as yours in that case), if he's just mendaciously being awful. It does not matter. His behaviour is hurting you, it is damaging you, it is reducing your capacity to care for the child you have produced together. You need to get out. And I truly understand if it feels like you need to do everything in your power to fix things first, because I've been there myself, but please, please consider that you already have and this is as good as it's going to get.
posted by Catseye at 9:44 PM on July 2, 2016 [36 favorites]

Hey, I just want to say something personal to you, in case this is impacting your decision. I also agonized over leaving my abusive, shitty, worthless ex when I was pregnant and then had a baby. He was as useless with helping with baby as I knew he was going to be. I worried "what does it say about me if I leave him? Will I ever find someone again? How will it hurt my kid?"

Turns out when you leave assholes when babies are super young, you are the normal they know, and it's so much easier. And nobody judges you! I promise, nobody! And you can find love again and your kid will be awesome. It's okay.
posted by corb at 10:12 PM on July 2, 2016 [36 favorites]

You've gotten a lot of very good, articulately stated advice, in consensus, from a lot of people (mostly women, I suspect) who seem to have direct experience with partners like this. I'll give a slightly different perspective.

My father is an artistically brilliant, eloquent, generous, loving person, with whom I've had a great relationship my whole life. And for my entire childhood I basically knew I couldn't expect anything from him in terms of practical needs. I don't really remember it, but when I was very young my parents had a very strained marriage with essentially the dynamic you're describing here; my father was employed, at least (self-employed actually), but simply would not or could not meet the needs my mother had for an equal partner, particularly as a parent. When I was four, my father finally moved out -- his decision. My older brother and I stayed with him regularly on weekends, but he never participated in any of the basic parenting grunt-work of helping with homework, coordinating with schools, setting up summer camps, dealing with doctors appointments, etc. He was great for doing fun things with, exposing us to new experiences, and being emotionally supportive. But everything practical was up to my mother and her father.

My mother, naturally, had and continues to have quite a lot of bitterness about being forced into single-parenthood. Yet she also says she's glad he decided to leave when he did, because as hard as it was being a single parent, it was much harder to effectively act as a single parent with my father still present but not contributing. And frankly I'm glad that they split up when I was so young, as well; it meant I didn't have to grow up with them fighting and growing to hate one another. I have a good relationship with both my parents as an adult, but I know who it was who raised me and what that really means.

The way you describe yourself and your interactions with your spouse sounds so much like the way my mother describes her marriage to my father, it's almost uncanny -- even down to the couples therapist completely taking your spouse's side. The kind of parent you say your spouse is to his other children -- that sounds a lot like the relationship I had with my father growing up. I'm sorry to say it, but from what you've described and from my own life, I don't think your spouse will ever be able to truly co-parent with you.

You've provided a lot of excuses for your spouse in your follow-up comments here, including pointing to your own flaws and bad behavior. It's great to recognize your own flaws, but none of them mean you don't deserve an equal partner who can be responsible for providing financial support for your family and co-parenting with you. Frankly, the picture you paint of yourself sounds a lot like my mother, as well, flaws and all. And my mother was an outstanding mother. Her willingness to stay with my father for so long despite his inability to co-parent had a lot to do with her own lack of self-worth and feelings of insecurity, and frankly I hear quite a bit of that in your comments here as well.

So all that said, to answer your question of how to get your spouse to begin taking responsibility as an adult member of your family: as far as I can tell from what you've said here, you can't. I doubt you will ever be able to rely on him to be an equal partner and co-parent. He might be a wonderful person in many other ways, but it doesn't sound like that's something he's capable of. Depression sucks and I'm sure makes it much harder for him to do what needs to be done as the father of a soon-to-be infant. But if he is unwilling to even acknowledge his responsibility to fight his illness for the sake of you and your future child, instead attacking you and making you feel like your needs are unreasonable, there is little hope for improvement. You will have to decide what that means for your relationship, but for your own sake I think you will need to begin to prepare for single-parenthood, whatever form that takes.

(Also, this: "He brings this up, me being hard to deal with and he loves me anyway" and "He has called me abusive before and at times I have been so fed up with feeling let down by things that he would have been right."? This is right fucked up. Unless there are some really, really serious details you're omitting here, this really reads like he's manipulating you to make you feel bad for getting angry when he screws up. It is okay to feel angry when he screws up. In a healthy relationship you should be able to express that anger, and open a discussion about his behavior and your emotional response to it, and how to resolve the problem. Don't let this gaslighting convince you that you're in the wrong.)

Best of luck to you whatever you decide. From everything you have written here, I think you're going to be an excellent mom. You have a difficult time ahead of you, but you also sound strong enough to handle it. Please reach out to friends and family who can help provide you with the support your spouse can't.
posted by biogeo at 10:40 PM on July 2, 2016 [31 favorites]

My husband and I have an 8 week old baby. Since a lot of people have addressed your question, I thought I'd tell you what, in my opinion, a supportive co-parent looks like.

My husband came with me to every prenatal appointment and stayed the whole time (with the exception of one appointment which he was super apologetic about). When I got morning sickness, he sometimes made two dinners - one for each of us - and made sure I ate enough, even if that was cereal or cheese and crackers. He held my hair and was comforting when I got sick. He sent snacks to my office to be sure I had enough to eat. When I was sad about not being able to drink alcohol, he bought me nonalcoholic beer. He put together our registry.

When I started having complications, he began picking me up from work. He called maybe ten different doctors locally to see if we could get an appointment. When we got scary news, he looked up the list of the best comedy movies of all time to distract ourselves until we had more info.

After I had our baby, she had to spend time in the NICU. He tried to convince the nurses to wheel my bed in there so I could see our baby. He drove us to the hospital every day so we could see her, an hour round trip. When I forgot something I needed, he drove home and back to the hospital to get it for me without complaining.

We're all home from the hospital now and he makes sure I get several hours of sleep by feeding the baby late at night. He schedules people to clean our home, orders groceries and supplies to be delivered, makes food and does dishes.

My husband also keeps track of the baby's many follow up appointments. One day, we saw the pediatrician in the morning who told us to get a sonogram of the baby's hip. He scheduled the sonogram for that afternoon as soon as we got home. The doctor was so impressed by his fast action that she made time to discuss the results of the sonogram that day. Our baby got faster treatment because he was on top of her care. The pediatrician recently commented that she thinks we're a really good team and I think it's in large part because he's so great.

Moreover, my husband has been very supportive about me breastfeeding and using the breast pump. I have pumped so much breast milk that I filled out freezer. He tried to arrange it to maximize space and when that wasn't enough, he bought a spare freezer.

My husband hasn't been perfect but damn, he's been pretty good in this whole experience. OP, your husband may be a decent guy but would he do those things? Does he do those things? My husband also gives the baby her medicine (one twice a day, two daily) even though they taste lousy so she frequently spits them up. He prepares bottles and changes diapers. I wish every pregnant woman had such a supportive partner.

OP, partners like my husband are out there but it doesn't sound like your husband is one of them. You deserve someone that supportive and I hope your husband steps up.
posted by kat518 at 1:28 AM on July 3, 2016 [46 favorites]

Clinical depression doesn't discriminate. It happens to selfish arseholes as well as to good, kind people. It is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for treating your partner like a bank, like a maid. Love is proved by actions, not words.
posted by harriet vane at 3:07 AM on July 3, 2016 [31 favorites]

The couples therapist asked him in a private session with her why he hadn't left ME yet.

Uh, yeah, this statement sets off my BS detector, too. Either it didn't happen or if it did, he was complaining about how horrible his situation is, and/or justifying his bad behaviour, and the therapist was basically saying "if it's so bad that you need to act this way, why haven't you just left yet? Clearly you are not committed to being a good partner to this woman or a decent father to her unborn child."

Right now you've got one big baby who can make some choices to take care of himself and his family, and a tiny baby on the way who does not have the power to do any of that. You're only going to be able to handle one. If this guy can't prioritize the baby over his own ego ("his self-esteem stops him from monetizing"??? Seriously???) then you need to do it for him. DTMFA and save yourself and your child.
posted by rpfields at 4:24 AM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm jumping back to add that for me and a lot of other people here, we're reading your story and it was also OUR story. So for a lot of us, we have crystal balls and we can tell you with 99.99% certainty how this is going to play out.

There is absolutely NOTHING you can do to get this guy up and moving like a grown-up. It sucks and I'm sorry but it's the truth, and the chorus of others here are all singing that same song.

This is not on you to fix, other than being kind and patient, which you've been.

We can only be kind and patient partners for so long and then, goddamnit, our partners need to snap the fuck out of it and begin adulting.

Once you hit the particular shit spiral of

He has called me abusive before and at times I have been so fed up with feeling let down by things that he would have been right

it's game over. You are living in an intolerable situation. You've tried being kind and patient. It's only normal to get really fucking angry at some point.

What I'm trying to say is that SO MANY OF US have lived this experience. And we had to decide to break up with the partner, get on with our lives, and some found new partners who we never yelled at because we're not abusive people in general. We were just trying to make an intolerable situation work and it got the best of us.

This is an article about how being a single mom is pretty great (I'm quoted in it.)
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:49 AM on July 3, 2016 [18 favorites]

Lastly, I suggest you completely reframe this and think of what exactly is your partner bringing to the table? What you you getting from this?

Financial support? No.
Emotional support? Definitely no.
Someone who is doing their damndest to make your lives as good as they can be? Nope.
Someone who even acknowledges you're a saint for working 3 jobs while pregnant? No.

Someone who thinks they should get a pat on the head for putting up with your anger? That's what you have. So the BARE MINIMUM for this guy to stay with you is he shouldn't be an active asshole to you.

And he can't even manage THAT LITTLE. Do you have ANY idea how much worse this will get when you're unable to work and he won't be a parent? When the stakes are much higher? When you really NEED him to take the baby? When you really NEED him to be out there, earning?

He doesn't help NOW. He's not going to help when they're a baby added in (which I hate saying because both parents should be equally contributing -- the whole "dad as helper" thing sets my teeth on edge).
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:10 AM on July 3, 2016 [9 favorites]

I would make staying with him contingent on him getting (better) treatment for ADHD and depression (and fully participating in it). An ADHD coach might help him figure out how to do things. He needs to separate his history of failure and ego needs from this job search and your family's survival needs, and if he can't, I think you probably do need to leave.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:05 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

He's only going to get more resentful over time. This has been going on for a year. It is never going to be different. Not ever.

You're modeling future relationships for your child. I really hope you wouldn't want this for your child.

So you shouldn't want this for you.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:56 AM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Such good answers here, really. It took me a long time to learn that words are important, people can hurt and help with words, but actions are how someone tells you what they intend. And it took me a long time to learn that you don't get what you deserve, you get what you will put up with.

Don't accept bad behavior, don't enable it. Know that he is telling you the truth with his behavior. You deserve better..
posted by theora55 at 10:00 AM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Is the "hobby" he spends his time on playing video games? THAT would drastically clarify my position/actions were I you.
posted by tristeza at 10:51 AM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's Not You, It's Him.

There are three layers here: he's unproductive, unsupportive, and manipulative. He's not earning or helping, he's not emotionally there for you when you're earning, and the kicker is that he's making you feel guilty about it. That last one is why you should get this dealt with and over before the baby arrives.

I would recommend no ultimatum. They never really work, because it opens up the debate, and the terms slowly change, because neither of you really wants for you to stop enabling him.

If you feel that an ultimatum is what you need to do, make it completely inflexible, specific, and objective. If there is any room for debate, his energy will go to winning on technicalities, rather than to solving the problem. He'll explain why these terms are unfair to him and that you're being a chore/abusive. It doesn't matter — he meets the "unfair" conditions or he goes.

By the way, I am a husband and father, and I have suffered from depression. I can identify with your husband! You don't get a choice with the hand you're dealt, but you do choose how to play it. He is not choosing well, and it's about to lose him a second partner. It's a sad situation, but you don't make it any less sad by drowning alongside him (and bringing your baby along for the ride).

Stay strong, and do the right thing by everyone. Leave him.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:31 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Other people have amply covered your husband's behavior (or lack thereof) so I'm not going to comment further on that. This question and your last question mention your behavior of yelling at him and generally being a kind of person you don't want to be. I wonder if at some level you feel you deserve this situation, that you've brought it on yourself by mothering/enabling him and becoming a yelling harpy.

While it may be true that you are engaging in this dynamic, he is still responsible for his own actions (and inactions). Even if you truly are "hard to live with," that shouldn't factor into your decision to stay or go. At the very least, your core values are incompatible and that can never be reconciled. At worst, one or both of you is emotionally abusive, which can very rarely be reconciled, and generally not in a crisis situation.

There is no need to see him as a 100% Evil Terrible Garbage Person in order for you to need to leave. And there is no need for you to stay out of guilt that you are somehow causing this, or that it is beyond his control. The dynamic is unhealthy and probably won't change without massive concerted effort, which he doesn't want to make, and which you won't have time for in 2 months.

I had some serious regrets about the way I acted during my marriage, but I also know that it could not have turned out differently. I would have ended up leaving either way. I think you will end up leaving as well, and I think you and your baby will be much better for it.
posted by AFABulous at 1:20 PM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

This has to be your decision, not ours. It is your life and it is easy for an uninvolved third party to say "Oh, just DTMFA." But:

Yes I have made a mess of things in my own way

No one here is telling you that you screwed up. We are telling you that you are being screwed over and deserve way the hell better.

Girl, you kick ass. You have been working three jobs while pregnant, standing by your man and trying compassionately to get help to resolve this and so much more. The problem is that you giving it your all, being loyal and doing whatever it takes to make it work only works if your man has similar values and is also making a good faith effort to rise to the occasion. But he's not. He's giving you excuses, not results.

Everyone has personal challenges and for any given goal, the answer as to whether or not you can pull it off depends partly on ability and partly on how badly you want it. If you are willing to go to great pains and make the sacrifices and put in the time and effort, you can do a lot of things in spite of various personal handicaps. If you don't want it, hey, it is easy to use personal handicaps as a good excuse. And from where a lot of us sit, it looks like all he wants is a free ride.

You badly want to make this work and are willing to make the sacrifices. He can't be bothered. His track record suggests he will never bother to try harder. Your track record suggests you will be just fine as a single parent, and far less burdened than you have been as his wife.

I suggest you read the emotional labor thread on the blue sometime (link is in my profile if you have no idea what I am talking about). It is long and will take some time to get through. A shorter thing you should start with is this previous ask by a woman convinced she has a great guy, except for the small detail that he is ruining her financially.

Whether you stay or go, you need to stop selling yourself short. You are a damn fine woman and most men are not qualified to stand next to you and you need to be pickier and expect more. Your give it your all ethic can lead to great things, but it can also get you taken advantage of by folks who will just never work that hard or be that virtuous. And that's what seems to be happening here.

I will also suggest that his therapist may have been asking him "If you think she is such a bitch, why are you still here?" to get him to think about his bullshit. Then he twisted it around like his therapist was saying "God, what a bitch! Why do you put up with it?"

Either way, the therapist cannot clarify as that is confidential and your husband's story is what they call hearsay. It isn't strong evidence of anything. You should consider the source and largely discount that information.

I am so sorry this is happening.

posted by Michele in California at 5:11 PM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

I want to add a couple of points for clarification. He has had clinical depression off and on for most of his life. He has children from a previous marriage, and while he isn't consistent in keeping track of diet needs, bedtimes, boundaries, he loves his kids and they feel loved by him. I believe he would help me with a newborn, because he takes fatherhood seriously. Except around issues of finances since his divorce. He also is there when i fall apart and really need him. Part of the problem is I am so together I don't fall apart enough to feel like things balance out.

This is extremely concerning! He has kids already he doesn't care for 24/7? I wouldn't be expecting him to step up and be a stay-at-home dad then. He has fallen behind on financial support on his kids? I wouldn't expect him to find a job soon then. You believe he would HELP? But, if you're working 3 jobs, he needs to be the person in charge, and YOU would help HIM with the baby.

I was going to tell you that sometimes job searches take time and he is trying, but then I saw your update and now I am not convinced he is trying at all. This is Bad News. I would try a trial separation, see if it kicks his ass in gear.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:21 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would not call him abusive. He has called me abusive before and at times I have been so fed up with feeling let down by things that he would have been right. But again, not relevant to whether he is working and I continue to redirect the conversation as best I can when it goes that way.

Hey. I've noticed a lot of mentions of abusive behavior that pops up and then goes quiet in your threads, and I wanted to talk about them. You say that your family of origin is toxic, that you have in the past been an inappropriately angry and verbally angry person, and that you've done a lot of personal work to overcome your upbringing and the destructive ways of being you learned growing up. I believe you. I ALSO believe that you really have done this work, and are committed to moving forward, to treating yourself and the people around you with more kindness. To making sure those toxic patterns stop with you and aren't passed along to your child. To making efforts to repair the relationship you have with your partner. I cannot even begin to tell you how much respect I have for you for working through all of this and making those changes.

I do not think your husband accepts that you have done this work. In fact, I think he is punishing you for having been verbally abusive by refusing to help you make a household. I think he is punishing you by watching as you work yourself into exhaustion while heavily pregnant, and keeping you in a state of terror and emotional limbo while you wonder what will happen when your child is born. Whether he is doing this consciously or not, this is ugly, it's cruel, it's unsafe to both you and your baby, and it's unacceptable. It is not OK for your husband to punish you for being angry, even if your anger crossed the line into abuse, by retaliating with the prolonged emotional, financial, (and possibly medical abuse, given how dangerous stress is on pregnancies) of you and your unborn child you are describing here.

I am proud of you for being level-headed enough to recognize that your past relationship dynamics are not relevant to your husband finding work. I don't think your husband is capable of seeing things that clearly. I don't think he wants to. I think holding on to his resentment of you, right now, even subconsciously, is more important to him than your safety, the safety of your (and his) baby, and his future. Depression absolutely contributes to this kind of dark, nihilistic mindset, but it's not the only reason for it. Especially if he is older than you and already has one family unit that fell apart, it sounds like a lot of the problem lies with him, and how he has refused to engage with his mental health issues and how they are impacting the people around him. That is a terrifying amount of emotional abuse for you to have to deal with and it's an absolutely poisonous environment for you to bring a child into. And you and your baby deserve so much better.

Crunchypotato, I promise you do not deserve to be put through this gauntlet of fear and exhaustion and fear-based anger because you are "difficult". I promise you are not too "difficult" or angry to love. I am proud of you for the work you've done on yourself and I think you are going to be a great mom. Please let yourself feel that. Please let yourself feel like you deserve real love and real support, not more guilt tripping and emotional and financial punishment.

Can I ask if you are OK? You don't have to answer this publicly if you don't have to. But a lot of what you're saying sounds like an emergency situation. If you have people around you to help you through your birth and taking care of a newborn? If you even just need someone to take you out for ice cream and a hug? Depending on what city you're in I wonder if there might be some mefites around to help. If you're in the LA area hit me up.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:35 PM on July 3, 2016 [13 favorites]

Yeah if you're in the Seattle area I'm there for you, too.
posted by tristeza at 7:58 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I am really grateful to all of you for the reality check. The last question I posted a month ago, he spent hours forming a reply that he was planning to share here and just sent to me instead, outlining all the ways that he is just on the receiving end of a bunch of crap from me and has depression and he supported me financially before, etc.. So I am trying to develop the tagline of, it doesn't matter what my behavior has been. It is irrelevant to him providing. And I need to put baby first now.

I recently pointed out to him calmly how much I resent the circumstance of working so much, and how it would be so much easier to put myself through the stress of the extra work if he would just give me some appreciation for it. His first answer to that was that I didn't do that when he was working. When I pointed out it isn't the same, because I was also working at the time, and he does not know how I would act if he were the sole earner, his reasoning then shifted to "this is what marriage is, you do it in sickness and in health." So I specifically ask for some gratitude for doing all of this, and he flat out says he won't do it. I am tired of taking care of all the practicals and also being with a withholding partner.

Your responses have given me the strength to make a hard decision. I will continue to read them if (when) I go through periods of doubt where I wonder well if I just pretzel myself this other way maybe it will all get fixed. Time to stop pretzeling. I am reading up on codependency and making plans and I really thank you all, and thanks also for telling me this isn't my fault and I'm awesome and deserve better than this. I do believe that I will act differently with a more functional partner, and maybe with some time and effort that will be him but for now I need a break from this.
posted by crunchy potato at 2:42 AM on July 4, 2016 [72 favorites]

last question I posted a month ago, he spent hours forming a reply th

So, he can put hours into justifying his crap (or pursuing his hobby) but cannot put time and effort into housework, cooking you dinner after you work all day, or getting a fucking job?

Real depression is more like "ugh, it is so pointless, I cannot get my ass out of bed to face the world." What you are describing is a sense of entitlement, not depression.

Also, this sorry son of a bitch can read your asks to defend his current shit and has zero appreciation for "Thanks for you standing by me for a fucking year and trying to get practical help to help me resolve the lack of progress on my frustrating job hunt"? Oh, hell no.

Don't ask more questions about him under this handle. He knows it is you and he will use the information to undermine your goals of taking care of you, etc.
posted by Michele in California at 4:29 AM on July 4, 2016 [12 favorites]

OP, I wish I could give you a big hug.

As I've read this question and your responses to replies, what I see is a woman who is so wrung out with fear and exhaustion, and is so desperate for love and support and understanding from the man who purports to love her... The man who she has given the ultimate gift to, committed her body and the rest of her life to his child.

It hurts so badly to be trying in every way you know how to get the message across that you hurt, you fear, you are so scared and insecure, only to be met with avoidance, disdain, blame... A recounting of all your failings and faults.

This isn't what love is.

On some level you know this. If, as has been suggested in other replies, you grew up in an unstable and dysfunctional family, you probably have had the understandable human response of growing a tolerance for not being seen, learning not to even ask for support, doing it all yourself. You very likely got into relationship with this unaccountable man because you had adapted to tolerate unaccountability.

However now you're in a place in your life where you've never been before--truly vulnerable, aware that you truly can't do all this yourself. It's so terrifying and uncomfortable to even have to ask for help in the first place... And then to really confront that there is nothing there, no support, no acceptance, no comfort, is just.... Devastating.

You know that's not what love is. You keep trying to bring things back to a place of love--collaboration, reason, partnership--and he simply is not meeting you there. You keep trying again and again, trying to find something solid, reliable, but he absolutely refuses to do that, to be that. Of course this is terrifying, crazy making to you.

You are so ready to accept responsibility that you hold yourself to such a high standard, and the shows of weakness and vulnerability you have made in the form of anger fill you with shame. It's so easy for you to feel that shame and think that the absence of love that he is demonstrating is your fault, than it is to admit the vulnerability implicit in holding yourself as lovable and worthy of support and indeed in need of support.

You are so rooted in expecting that this is how the world works, that this is what responsible adults do, that you can't understand why he's not getting it. Why he's not doing the right thing.

Why he doesn't love you.

When people are faced with truths that are just too devastating to fully accept, that evoke such deep grief, they often cope with...not seeing. That's denial. Which in practice often feels like profound confusion (how can this be? How can he not get it about the money? How can he not see how sad and scared I am?) This is usually followed by anger (sound familiar?), then bargaining (which is what your question is, really), then sadness, then acceptance.

OP, I want to hug you, and tell you that you are almost through the hard part.

Move on, move through the sadness. Let yourself grieve for what you wish were true but is not. Greet your baby with joy and love that little one with the huge love you have in your heart. Use the time remaining before the birth to get into a situation where you will be helped, supported, respected, nurtured, as best you can. This isn't that. You deserve better. So does your baby.
posted by Sublimity at 4:38 AM on July 4, 2016 [10 favorites]

I'm glad to read your update. Now I want to help you make a plan.

Here's a step by step.

1.) Make up your mind.

What is it, exactly, that you're going to do? Ask him to leave? Leave and go stay with family until after the baby is born? Temporarily stay with family or a friend until you can find a new apartment? Find a new apartment for you and your baby now? Make up your mind about which of these things you're going to do. Flesh it out with your most trusted friend - not someone who is friends with both of you. YOUR most trusted friend or family member.

2.) Do not tell him your plan.

Circle your wagons right now and go about carrying out your plan without involving him. It's too late for any kind of discussion about this, and this type of person will just do some grand gesture anyway to get you to stay. The grand gesture will be accompanied by promises to change and you can best believe any change (and there may be some fear-based attempts to toe the line) will be abandoned gradually, as he begins to slip back into dependent mode once he thinks you've calmed down.

3.) Get the financial piece of your plan in order first.

You need money. You need to not worry about working for several months after your baby is born. You need to make sure you've got insurance to cover your labor/delivery, and savings to cover your postpartum period. You need to start thinking about childcare once you go back to work. He will be of absolutely no use to you in this, but he may very well be a huge albatross around your neck about it if you tell him your plan and he empties your bank shared bank accounts in a panic. (If you think this can't happen, or he wouldn't do this to you, a good friend of mine's husband got addicted to crack shortly after she had been hospitalized for a major head trauma she received in a freak accident. He literally fell apart completely when she was not there to be his emotional support system. He started drinking heavily, met a guy in a bar and started smoking crack with him, ended up stealing their car and leaving town after emptying their shared checking and savings accounts. Dependent people do crazy things when the gravy train stops running.)

4.) Get the postpartum support piece of this in place after you sort the money piece.

You are going to need help for at least a few weeks after your baby is born. You will be surprised how much people will reach out to you if you simply let it be known - AFTER you leave him or kick him out - that you need help. Don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you need - frozen meals, diapers, babysitting, mother's helpers to come hold the baby while you shower and rest, someone to come and sit with you if you're freaked or depressed or anxious or whatever it is.

5.) Arrange for a strong person you trust to be present when you either a.) move out or b.) when you ask him to move out. Your local precinct should be able to be present as you move your belongings out if you feel you will be in an unsafe situation doing so, and you have limited other options. But, truly, you are pregnant and any sort of privacy considerations or customs surrounding not embarrassing him, or whatever, really need to be put aside. He's a child, assume he will behave like a child when you make it clear that this thing is done.

6.) Get the legal part of this rolling now, so that you have a lawyer who will handle the issues that arise when your baby is born.

Ask around about a divorce attorney. Someone you know knows a good divorce attorney. Handle this piece when you have gotten your money in order, your labor/delivery/post-partum in order, and have either left or gotten him to leave.

7.) Increase your visits to your individual therapist.

8.) Stop couple's therapy now. If you have scheduled sessions and don't wish to tip your hand, don't discuss your plan to leave with your couple's therapist. If you slip up and mention it during a session, what you should do then is just say "I need to end this relationship and I'd like to talk about how to go about that." Then stick to your guns.

I wish you the best of luck. It feels impossible that you can actually change your trajectory and make a better life for yourself and your child. But you can. Be brave and know we are pulling for you and your kid. It's all going to be okay. Better than okay.

(IANAL, this isn't legal advice, just practical. You can handle this.)
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:24 AM on July 4, 2016 [11 favorites]

« Older Cymbalta for Anxiety?   |   What should I be thinking about when renting a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.