My wife won't share marriage responsibilities
I have been married 8 years, and am now 35. I am beginning to realize I have not been able to do the things I want in life because for the past eight years I have had to support my wife financially and emotionally. It is as if I had kids when I was 26. It has also affected career choices as I had to first limit where I lived based on her college, and felt I had to choose the "sure thing" over more rewarding jobs that had more risk.
I pay for almost everything in our marriage, including overseas travel to see her family. After ten years living together, I will finally have no credit card debt - for the first time. This year for the first time my wife starting paying for about 10% of the cost of our living.
My wife wants to be a practicing artist, and since this breaks even, to earn money she works in a low-paid industry (child care) despite having a college degree. She offers many reasons - she doesn't care about money; she doesn't need things like houses or health insurance (but if I want to provide them that's great!), she feels after nine years in the US and a Bachelors degree, her English is not good enough; she doesn't like computers and doesn't want to work with them (despite maintaining a website about her art); or getting another job would require "going back to school" which takes time and money. She has no interest in participating in any home-based business with me. She is very intent on only doing those things she "wants to do," even when choosing a part-time job.
At the beginning of last year she tried to convince me that other husbands in the US provide for their wives in this way (even though she doesn't want kids.) After many fights, she admitted she didn't have confidence that she could get a different job, mainly because of her English (she is from Japan and speaks well but obviously her writing is not perfect grammar-wise and she sometimes has difficulty following rapid conversations in American English.
I feel like my options are limited. Although my career is middle-income, I have not been able to save money with my one salary. We will have to use my pension as down payment on a house. I know finances would be tight if we ever have a child, which she has decided she doesn't want anyway. I am in a job I really don't like at all now, which has caused stress and self-esteem problems, and I am searching for new jobs. I cannot afford to go back to school for a one-year professional program - how would I support us (I do not want more student debt)? I tried taking evening classes but the stress was too much and I did not perform well. I also work part-time as a consultant, in part for money but also because it will build experience to leave my current job. I feel like I've become a workaholic, even though my ideal life is to balance work and meaningful interests.
I think my immediate frustrations would go away if I found the right job. However, I really feel my wife and I should share responsibilities like earning money, planning for our future, deciding where to live - but all of these are placed on me.
I don't now how to communicate with her because if I try to discuss this, it almost always ends in a fight, in her crying and saying I am reducing her self-confidence, or that she is not good enough, or that she doesn't care about things like money because there's no meaning in life. Or she says she is a burden on me and "offers" to leave after I've supported her through college and so much else. Two years ago she went thru treatment for depression and is seemingly better now. However, we fight about 3 times a week, I think because of the stresses of this situation.
I am not sure what to do and although I love her and want to be together, I also have other goals, including doing things I like in life, having enough money to have a modest home or travel, doing meaningful work or starting a business, balancing work and life, and having at least one child. I dream of living a "debt free" life (no mortgage & living simply) but we'll never get there on one salary ...
I do not think this is a cultural issue b/c women our generation in Japan would work if they didn't have children, including my wife's sister. And my wife does not support the male-dominant society norm in Japan, one reason it was easy for her to come to the US. I do think however it is related to her recurring depression, and perhaps even my bringing up this subject makes it (depression) worse. She refuses to get further therapy because, she says, she's always felt there is no meaning in life since she was young.
Last edited by mc75; 01-23-2011 at 02:45 PM.