Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just complainin' about a bad day with the Misses.

In my experience it's usually a bad idea to write blog entries when you're in a bad (sad) mood.  So here we go.

I passed the New York bar exam.  Woohoo.  Now I get to start my own practice.  I won't limit it to intellectual property / patent law, although that will certainly be part of it.  I'll make it a "bread and butter" practice, doing anything that pays the bills.  I'm listening to generalist courses right now on how to run a practice from the point of view of family law, employment, etc.  Should be fun.

On another note, I had a rather upsetting conversation with my wife today.  I told her that if she wants me to have my office here in the apartment and if she wants me to forgo renting office space, she needs to understand that I'm at work even when I'm not sitting at the computer in our small closet.  I need to be at work at 8am and not 10:30am or 11am as has been the case these past two weeks.  I can't be taking our son to school or babysitting a screaming toddler who needs attention while she goes shopping as if she only has a newborn.  If I am going to do this (start a practice), then I need to do it wholeheartedly.  That means that she needs to treat me as if I'm working even when I take a break or walk around the house.  Much of being productive happens when you're not typing away at the computer, or making phone calls.  It's the downtime that allows for so much uptime, I told her.  She coldly looked at me and said, "okay, if you're at work, then I'm getting a maid."  I told her to do whatever she wants to do, so I suppose we're getting a maid now.  Wouldn't it be nice if I had the income to make that possible?  So far it's zilch.

On top of that, we've been having disagreements all night.  It seems that everything I say irks her and that's not fair because I don't want to be shut up every time I want to have a conversation with her.  She treats me nastily and I don't know how to react -- do I react with sadness? anger? do I stand up and leave?  For most of the evening, I shook off the anger she was throwing at me.  When I asked her why she was acting so angry (she was looking at job postings all night), she retorted with some witty angry comment.  If I was a bit less tired, I would have been hurt, but instead, I stood up and walked into my office (yes, I'm sitting on the floor of our walk-in closet in our two-bedroom apartment.)  I think it all started this afternoon when I was reminding her that whatever we pay into day care, she needs to match in income by the end of the year, or else we lose all of the income tax deduction, as we did this year.  We lost out on hundreds of dollars because my wife didn't work.  I wasn't criticizing her, but nevertheless she still blew a fuse.

She started accusing me of judging her and criticizing her when that was the furthest thing from my mind, just as she accused me earlier in the day of judging our Shabbos guests when I was just trying to have a discussion as to what brought them to be in the situation they were in at this moment.  I wasn't judging them just as I wasn't judging my wife, but she took it that way even though I flatly told her where I was coming from.  No, I was wrong according to her.  I was judging her.  Whatever.  Making $6,000 in a year is not such a big deal anyway, especially for someone of her caliber with her degree.  It would be like a check mark on a to-do list.  Really I wasn't even asking her to get a job - I was just talking with her about what was on my mind and the fact that we missed that deduction was on my mind -- it was a random thought. 

Anyway, this was one of many attempted conversations.  Another was me asking her to cover her hair when we are together.  I don't know, but there's something wrong about a religious woman walking around the house with uncovered mezuzahs and her hair being uncovered.  I was particularly annoyed because I've spoken to her about it just earlier in the day and somehow she was defying me by not wearing anything, as if that really made my day or not.  I just felt that to maintain the level of piety that we have in the house, it is inappropriate for her to be walking around without a head covering, just as it would be inappropriate for me to be walking around without pants in my tidy whiteys, topless, or without a yarmulke or tzitzis.

Anyway, it's not the end of the world that we're not getting along tonight.  So she's having a bad day, that's it.  Life doesn't end when she has a bad day and takes it out on everyone around her.  I just wish she confided in me more and was more expressive of her emotions or her needs.

This evening while job searching, she asked me whether I thought she should be looking for just any job in her profession or a job that was in her particular specialty field.  I told her that if looking, she should be looking for any job.  Really I had no idea what she was looking for, but she gets things into her head and comes up with conclusions without talking to me about them.  I know we started speaking about whether she should get a job while I start a law practice and the consensus was that it was a good idea (probably), but I am torn as to whether she should work or not.  I wish she'd do what she's supposed to do and be a stay-at-home mother rather than looking for work.  But she doesn't trust me that I can make everything work out.  She doesn't have faith that I'll succeed.  Otherwise why would she be looking for a job?

Lastly, I've been sad these past few days because just about everyone I know forgot my birthday.  My wife made me and my son a cake (for a shared birthday), and her parents got us a juicer after we told them we didn't want one (we have a vita-mix which juices just fine), but other than that, she really treated me like dirt all day long.  I got no affection, no love, and no thoughtful gestures.  A few weeks back my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told her, "just love me and be nice to me."  That was too much for her.


Anonymous said...

Mazel tov on passing the bar exam. Your post goes into detail about the things you want and expect, but I wonder what it is that your wife wants. With an office at home, do you have clients lined up or do you plan to be out making contacts so you can get referrals. If you do not plan on helping with the children during the day, does your wife want to go to work to cover the cost of child care? How does she feel about covering her hair at home? Does she want to be a stay at home mom? I know that this blog is about you, but how does she feel about these things?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on passing the test! I am saddened though with the situation you experience. Can you say "Marriage counseling"?
I wish you only the best but if you notice it isn't working without marriage/family counseling.

Rae Macklyn said...

I'm going to steer way clear of any specific conversation about your domestic issues (because I think there are numerous things that both you and your wife need to work on...the tension is definitely split down the middle and neither party can feign complete innocence), but I *will* say off the bat that it's great to see a new post (I'd been worrying about your health situation over the past several days and whether you were okay)...and CONGRATULATIONS on passing the state bar!!!

As for working at home, I also have a few thoughts that you may find of interest (and which you should impress upon your wife, as you're definitely right, your time/space needs to be respected as much as an outside job). My fiance started working as a telephone technical support person for Alpine Access a couple of months ago. This job is performed from home…but we went all out when he got it: the master bedroom/attached bathroom was turned into his working time suite (my office while I currently look for full-time employment and do limited freelance gigs is the second bedroom in our apartment, and the hallway bathroom is mine as well). He requires absolutely uninterrupted and silent time…literally, as background noise is a zero-tolerance thing for his company, and calls are regularly monitored and/or recorded for review. He prints out his weekly schedule as it is assigned and gives a copy to me: thus I am aware of his breaks for meals and can have something ready for us enjoy together. Aside from that, I make sure to deal with mail deliveries, errands, and keeping the pets quiet during his work hours, and we spend time together afterwards. I hope that your family can similarly get things sorted out…working from home is amazing in that the individual doing so doesn't have to concern himself/herself with a commute, but the drawback would be if one's partner didn't fully appreciate the responsibilities behind it.

Chabad Chammer said...

Just a bit of mussar, but you should really keep your marital issues between you and your wife. It isn't appropriate to vent about them so publicly. You guys need to get into couples counselling immediately! It isn't fair to her, or your marriage to broadcast the issues hither and yon through your blog.

Tanya said...

I'm glad that you posted (long time reader, never a poster), but have to agree with your other commentators about your domestic situation-- and, in addition, to add that I've never heard of anyone requiring a married woman cover their head inside the house when only their family is at home-- it's a modest thing to do, but to the best of my knowledge, it's never been deemed a binding halachah. This decision, if you disagree on it, can be settled by your Rabbi, but on this-- as with the other standard of adherence questions you've struggled with over the years-- you need to decide together what's appropriate, rather than making unilateral decisions. The Torah does, after all, place women in charge of the home.

Ahuva said...

Congratulations on passing the bar!!

I agree with the anon who was asking what your wife thought of all these things. I imagine it hurts her to hear you talk about the tax deduction you lost out on due to her not working when you spent a fair part of the year unemployed yourself.

Please consider picking your battles. There is no halacha that says that she needs to cover her hair when there are no other men around. You are picking on her about what is, at best, a chumra. It is also a woman's mitzvah and, really, none of your business as long as she is inside the home. Do you make sure she follows every little chumra you've chosen for her at the mikvah?

The separate roles of men and women seem to be very important to you-- so why don't you stay out of what is clearly her business?

Right now the main issue seems to be your home office. That's going to be a difficult one. The men I know of who work from home do not work an 8-5 schedule and DO take time out of their work days to run brief errands and watch children if their wives have to go out briefly. Unless you spend most of the day busy with clients, it's going to be hard for her to watch what will seem to her to be you loafing while she handles all the childrens' needs.

I'm probably being too critical of you in this comment... I'm sorry for that. I'm just trying to get you to look at things a little bit differently.

I'm just trying to say... concentrate on the big issue which is the home business. Is a tax deduction really worth all the anger/upset/bitterness in your relationship? Probably not, so worry about that later. The same goes for the hair covering. Concentrate on doing what you need to do to keep a roof over your head and food on your table. Once that is squared away, then look at the other issues.