Sunday, February 15, 2009

Marital problems (more, and yes, again.)

This one will be a tough diary entry to write, which probably means I shouldn't be writing it, let alone posting it on my private blog for all of you to see.

I'm having some trust issues with my wife, and it is bothering me. All day long I see her toiling over the kids, trying to keep everyone fed and to keep everyone from wrecking the house, yet what I am concerned about is not my wife's relationship with our children, but my wife's relationship with me.

I spend so much effort every day doing small things that I think will make my wife's life just a bit easier. Sometimes it is doing the dishes, sometimes it is cleaning a room that I know has been bothering her, sometimes it is holding a crying baby when I know her hands are tied. All of these are things I suppose I am expected to do, but when I do them, while I feel that it would be nice to be noticed, it certainly doesn't have to be and it very often is not which is totally okay by me. I suppose my goal in life is to grow with my wife so that we can approach it as a team and work better together than we would if we were apart. The problem is that I'm not so sure how much we're connected, and I'm not so sure how much we're a team.

I've approached her on this issue countless times, namely that I don't feel that she loves me or cares about me. Every time I do, for a few minutes she says that she does, but then her actions and her words tell me the opposite.

Now I'm no smart guy, but one thing I do believe I have is common sense. And with my common sense, I can tell when someone is liking me and when they loathe me. The vibes I get from my wife are that of hatred, not love. I feel as if she blames me for putting her into the mess of a life she feels that she is in. I feel as if she hates me for not being there for her regarding the physical helping with the feeding, bathing, diaper-cleaning, and holding of the babies. Now it is very easy to hyperfocus on those four multi-daily tasks, and while I *DO* hold my own regarding some of these, I don't doubt for a SECOND that there is a disparity here -- these are activities which typically fall on her to take care of while I attend to matters she is not willing or interested to take care of.

Does that mean that I am sitting on the couch reading a newspaper or surfing the internet or watching the football game with a beer in my hands? Literally, never. I could comfortably say that 95% of what would be free time is taken up by taking care of responsibilities that we have taken on as a family, whether that be the laundry, cleaning, work, or most recently over the past year, my schooling to get a technical science degree so that I can get a job as a patent attorney.

I could honestly say that in order to keep my job, I have been forced to stay late (until 8-9pm a number of days in the past week), and all of today, I spent in our home office working on school work that was due... oh, TODAY. I have a one-hour commute each way to work each day, and the time I spend working pays for our lifestyle which honestly isn't much because of all the school loans we have between us because of our respective advanced degrees, which I am paying.

In short, by far, I hold my own with regard to responsibilities, housework, and holding up the family both financially and otherwise. Yet the little extra things I do (such as cooking my wife lunch today and/or doing the laundry) is forgotten the second she begins to have a bad day with the children. Between us, and I'll go here for just a second knowing it will certainly get me in trouble later on, her points of view about how she views her life is quite troubling to me and is a pressure point which I've decided to deal with just because I have no other choice.

On the one hand, before the second baby was born, I was pushing VERY hard for my wife to get a part-time job just so that she can get out of the house and socialize with people who are older than ONE (year old). But she refused claiming that "in 9 months I'll be having a baby, and why start a job now when within the year, I'll have to leave to go on maternity leave." So she stayed home and agreed to be a stay-at-home mom, thus I expected her to do the role of a stay-at-home mom which included taking care of the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning (or shall I say the bare organization and throwing out of dirty diapers and trash into a bin rather than onto the floor), and I had hoped she would help further our family with regard to helping with errands, shopping, and the like. Honestly, she slacked on and was mediocre with EVERY aspect of this job with exception of taking care of the children for the most part, and she complained about it to no end in the process. The cooking was never consistent; the laundry was rarely done; the house was for the most part a mess with dirty diapers and trash all over the place, and FORGET ABOUT running errands -- she never did ONE THING I asked her to, always complaining about the baby as an excuse why she couldn't leave the house. Now we have two. There are a billion more things I can and really want to complain about, but that's not the point here.

Here's where the issue is. There was a time when all this bothered me, but I've decided to just take care of things that bother me myself and deal with it. But now she is saying that she doesn't enjoy being a full-time mother, and that she doesn't want to stay at home with the kids -- not even the 6-week old -- and that she wants to send them (yes, the 6-week old as well) so that she can go back to school and get a second advanced degree in some field I'm not so sure she has looked into fully, and I seriously doubt she'll even follow through with by applying for and/or getting and/or keeping a job when or if she even completes the degree. But I'm supporting her anyway and giving her the benefit of the doubt.

My preference is that whatever she does, whether it be getting a job, going back to school, or staying at home full-time, all I expect is that she does it well and fully. But again, I am deviating from my thought.

My thought is that I am sad because I don't feel loved by her. I don't feel respected by her. I don't feel as if she seeks my opinion, and when I offer it, she is almost certain to do the opposite of what I suggested. I feel hatred from her. I feel as if she wants out of our life, and that is not fair to me because I put my heart and every moment of my life into bettering our life, and this is a life she wants no part of. Yet I'm adjusting to her desires even though they go against the kind of life I want for us.

I was standing next to my son's crib this evening watching him sleep. I was sad to think "we are staying together because we want to give you a good life," yet I couldn't help to get out of my mind that I don't and haven't felt a connection to my wife in some time. Of course there are moments, and there are good hours and bad ones, but generally, I feel as if my life is spent figuring out how to stop my wife from her next bad mood. This suggests to me that my life circles around her mood swings, and while it would typically be me who is related to mood swings because I have them all the time, I feel as if the lack of affection, the lack of caring, and the lack of love I receive from my wife leaves me cold and distant, and with a headache and a heartache.

Plus, she really doesn't realize this, but the words she says hurt me very deeply and she does it quite frequently even though she denies this. I am someone who has a very tough outer shell. You could scream at me and I could seriously deal with it. However, when it is not anger aimed at me, but overheard in songs about how lonely she is and how she is abandoned and left without help and hope, and what a rotten person I am (when I am entering my 10th hour crunching numbers doing assignments that were due that same day), I'll be honest that it really hurts. She'll deny no doubt that she was singing about me, but really, she was and it was quite apparent that her pokes of hatred in her songs were at me.

And then there are the rude gestures and lack of courtesies that are exchanged during our day. She doesn't say hello to me when she greets me; in fact, she usually doesn't greet me or say hello. Usually it is me that has to initiate contact. Then, when I go to sleep, I always say good night. She never does. She doesn't talk to me when I am home, and she doesn't talk to me ever. When she passes by me, she'll say excuse me now that I've confronted her on it (she used to walk right through me, regardless of our halcahic status,) but it is never in an "excuse me honey" tone, but rather a "get out of my freakin' way" tone. I feel like I have more of a room mate than a wife.

Anyway, I'm saying this a thousand different ways, but bottom line, I'm not feeling it. I'm not feeling the love, and anything I do to stimulate the love between us falls flat on its face. My wife feels that because she gives love to the kids, that means that she shows that she loves me, but I am a human being too! I am a person too with needs, feelings, and lots to share. I want her to talk to me to get my opinion. I want her to ask me questions and share with me her thoughts. I want her to express that she likes me, my personality, my efforts, and I want her to acknowledge that I am here. Most of all, I want her to love me, to care about me, and to express her love for me, because all I get from her is a whole lot slew of cold shoulders. Then again, that's my wife; full of love for our children, but with nothing left for me. No I don't resent my children for a second -- they deserve every bit of love they get. But I so often feel like I'm not married, but rather, I'm single, just with children and responsibilities to a person taking care of them.

Then -- and this is the part that blows my mind -- then I start doubting whether any of this is true, and I start imagining and fantasizing that our life is wonderful and that we are all just under stress and so there are just a number of bad moments which I am focused on, when there is so much other good which I am forgetting. But in my defense, if that were true, why would I even have the suspicion that something was wrong? In my belief system, if you smell smoke, there is usually fire. If you suspect something is wrong, you're either right or your psychotic. I am pretty sure it is not the latter.


Ahuva said...

There are a number of comments I could make, but I'll start out by noting one thing that really jumped out at me:

"My thought is that I am sad because I don't feel loved by her. I don't feel respected by her. I don't feel as if she seeks my opinion, and when I offer it, she is almost certain to do the opposite of what I suggested."

Do you think she believes that you love her? You have said on a number of occasions that you are demonstrating your love for her by doing your "job" as a husband-- working, going to shul, etc. Yet you seem pretty upset when she does the same thing:

"My wife feels that because she gives love to the kids, that means that she shows that she loves me"

Honestly, I really think you two need to go to a rav and work through your issues. If she's trying to express her unhappiness through singing, a more productive approach would be to try to work on what is making her unhappy... not to get upset at her for singing!

We're only hearing one side. You need a neutral third party to cut through all the emotion and get to the root(s) of the problem. It doesn't sound like either of you feel loved or respected. Please, for the sake of your children (if not your marriage) you two need to learn to at least achieve some minimal level of contentment. I don't think this is going to happen without some counseling (preferably from a rav or orthodox therapist).

Anonymous said...

Hi Zoe:

I agree with Ahuva, you should try to meeti with a competent rav (not some guy that has two weeks under his belt) or a frum therapist.

Also your wife may be going through post partem depression. A therapist will be able to analize that as well.

But the key is always to communicate with her. Yes you have feelings and needs but remember that a few hours of therapy or talking is a lot easier then divorce (C'V)

Best of luck


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