Direct Answers – Column for the week of June 14, 2004
I am sitting here so unsure of what to do anymore. I’ve never asked anyone for help of this type, as many people come to me for answers. I am a social worker and my husband is a psychologist. We should have the answers, but we just don’t.
We have been married 10 years and have an 8-year-old daughter. The problem as I see it is my husband refuses to help out at home. He will not do anything associated with domestic work. He does not mow the lawn. What he does is work a full-time job, play music in a band on weekends, and play in two sports leagues.
He is very negative, and over the past few years, increasingly critical of me and everything I do or don’t do. I work a full-time job with a private practice on the side. I take care of everything and somehow manage to stay sane. When I bring up the unfairness of our roles, I am always met with, “I don’t want to hear about it. Shut up. Go away. Leave me alone.”
I work my butt off every single day and am so tired. Yes, I get crabby sometimes, but it is because I feel I am living in a hopeless situation. I feel more resentful as the years go by, and my blood pressure was high enough to start medication two years ago.
We are in debt because my husband returned to school seven years ago to get his Ph.D. Divorcing now would probably ruin us both financially. He tells our daughter we will never divorce, yet when an argument starts, he tells me we should get a divorce and end it. I am not one to give in easily, but I don’t feel he loves me. I feel used.
Priscilla, in what book or counseling session did your husband learn to settle arguments by threatening his spouse with divorce? In what class on conflict resolution did he find that little gem? People who are pretty amiable and choose to stay together, usually can. But when one person won’t participate, there is nothing you can do.
Your husband is treating your house like a bed and breakfast–all the amenities of a home without any of the responsibilities. Behavior follows feelings, and his behavior supports your belief that he does not love you.
You don’t give up easily, but you know how this often plays out. When a woman has been doing it all, even if the husband is finally willing to make an effort, it is too late. The wife is already dead emotionally. You already feel used, and there are limits to how much criticism a person can take.
Lay your cards on the table. It’s one thing if he is willing to do the talk, meditation, body work, or whatever it takes to break him loose from where he has been as a person. It is another not to be willing to begin.
You are not one to give in easily, but when sailors drown, it is not because they lack resolve but because they are dealing with forces beyond their control. In finding the limits to what you can do in your own life, you may have learned what you can and cannot do to help others.
Wayne & Tamara
We’ve been a couple for two years. If all goes well, we will probably marry. Recently she started making remarks like “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “if things don’t work out, I hope I find someone just like you.” What do you think?
Skip, the closer you are to someone, the more you can end their sentences. The farther apart you are, the more you say, “Huh, what did you mean by that?” She’s got you saying, “Huh?” Close the distance and ask her what she means.