So I'll start by saying that I apologize if you thought I was avoiding your post - I appreciated it and was looking forward to responding, which I can now do.
In a way it spoiled you.
Funny you should say that - my wife said she feels like she spent our long relationship together pre-kid spoiling me, and she now regrets that. That was painful to hear, as I didn't necessarily see her as spoiling me and didn't feel like I that was necessarily demanding in our marriage, but there it is.
Reason I say that is you have one child - and yet you self describe as being on the ragged edge in terms of free time, money etc.
I get that. In fact, that has been a huge frustration for both of us. "Why do we seem to be so bad at this?" is an oft-asked question. We certainly seem to be struggling more than many parents.
OTOH, a lot of others in our community had kids around the same time, and I would say that as many of them have divorced as have stayed together (if not more, actually - it's depressing as hell), and of the one's that are left, a lot of them are experiencing similar difficulties/have similar complaints. Not a whole lot of happy couples with young kids around us.
It seems like you:
Had a child
Lost your job right around that time
Lost my job at the height of the recession, which meant that similar jobs were not to be found. I applied for probably close to 200 positions over two years, and came up empty handed.
At the same time, we moved into a bigger house so we could start a family (which just added to the financial insecurity).
As I was in the process of starting my own business (another thing that added to my wife's sense of financial insecurity), my dad dropped dead, and I had to drop everything and spend the next six months or so wrapping up his business and trying to keep my mom (who lives 14 hours away) from destroying herself. No one was happy in that situation - my mom and brother felt like I wasn't doing enough, while my wife was trying to get me to focus on starting our family instead.
By the time I had that situation stabilized, we were pregnant, I still wasn't working, and starting a business looked both too time consuming and too financially risky. We took it as an opportunity for me to be the SAHP, something I had a deep ambivalence about doing (for good reason, turns out), with the idea that I would soon go back to work. The baby was higher maintenance than we expected (and higher maintenance than other babies, based on the experience of parents around us), and work was still scarce, so I ended up being the SAHP for longer than either of us anticipated (we both also had a very hard time thinking about sending him to daycare - it just didn't sit well with either of us). After a year and half, I found a good opportunity to work part-time in order to relieve some of the pressure on my wife. Didn't really seem to help her stress or attitude much, though. EDIT:
I should add that I wasn't being entirely insensitive to my wife's anxieties by only going part-time. She in no way wanted to leave my son in the full-time care of someone else. It took us a while to feel comfortable enough leaving him with a nanny in our own home a couple days a week.
A few years later now, I'm still working part-time, but part of that has been because my having a flexible schedule and a less-demanding job (that pays quite well for something part-time with some flexibility and lower demands) has been helpful. I try to take care of everything I can on the domestic front (except for things like finding schools and summer camps and activities for my son, which my wife takes the lead on, fortunately) and am available to handle emergencies (like taking care of our son when he gets sick, which seems to happen like once a month or so) when she is at work.
This put your wife into an intensely stressful situation. She resents the heck out of being forced into the primary breadwinner role. And then career wise - she sees you as either unable or un willing to get a comparable job to what you had before.
This is unequivocal, yes. I fully aware. I killed me (still does) to see her suffer so much while I had almost nothing to offer to ease her suffering. I've never felt such shame in my life.
As far as being willing, I would love to become the career man I was before. I'm old, I've been out of the workforce for seven + years, and I have little to offer in the way of immediate skills. Getting back on top and becoming a serious breadwinner (matching or exceeding my wife such that she could relax and do what makes her feel more fulfilled in life) would seem to take a lot of resources (time and money) at a time when the resource need is immediate and resources severely limited. I am trying to figure out how I can go to school, work part-time, and still support my wife and son by making sure the homefront needs are met.
Last night, however, I started to feel something shift. I get that things might suck right now, that I might feel hopeless and alone and insufficient to the task, but my wallowing in my loneliness and misery and depression probably drains enough time and energy from my life that, were it to stop, I would regain enough time and energy to at least get a good handle on and kick some ass around my current responsibilities (which would make me feel a whole lot better about myself), and might even give me enough to take on the project of developing my professional skills such that I can provide for my family again. Whatever the outcome, I realize that a lot of time and energy is getting wasted on me not accepting my circumstances.
Your lack of financial support stresses her out like the lack of sex stresses you out.
Totally clear on that. That's part of why I stopped complaining about our sexless marriage a long time ago. Why should she do for me when I'm not doing for her?
I have been feeling like having a close, intimate relationship with my wife would give me some much needed inspiration and energy to tackle our challenges. And I'm sure that she feels like my becoming the provider for the family would allow her to respect me again such that closeness and intimacy is possible. And we've been deadlocked for a long time now in those positions. Time for some unilateral action on my part.
The subtext of her nasty jibes about how you spend your time is actually: I'm angry that you aren't financially contributing as much as I expect.
Totally. That's why I'm *very* careful not to push back on her too hard when those nasty jibes surface (to her credit, she's also made a concerted effort to keep her mouth shut for several months now, and that's very helpful). EDIT:
Though I should point out that, even though she has been working on keeping her mouth shut, I realize that the underlying problem is still very present for her, so it's not like I'm anywhere near out of the woods.
What strikes me as odd - is the way you have seemingly danced around that topic.
Maybe. I don't know that I am necessarily dancing around the topic (at least, not intentionally), but I may not have focused on it because A) I get wrapped up in my own shame and hurt before I get to addressing it with focus, and B) I see it as part of a larger problem - that of me being a strong, stoic, independent leader in my/our life and marriage, regardless of whether or not I'm actually a full-on breadwinner. Which is why my first goal is to stop wallowing, and my second goal is to start really kicking ass at what I'm already doing. That alone might make a significant enough difference in breaking up the deadlock to make space for even greater things to happen.
Because I don't see a way to repair the marriage without addressing her resentments about your financial contribution.
That's part of it, for sure. But the problem I have with getting stuck in that thinking is that, realistically, I may not ever be able to get back to where I was (or, more importantly, to where she is now, given that she now has a seven-year head start advantage over me). If repairing myself and my marriage is contingent on me becoming the primary breadwinner (or even an equal breadwinner) again, I am not at all certain of what the outcome will be for any of us.
While accomplishing that can certainly be a goal - an important goal - our marriage has to make it until that happens. Which is why I'm trying to take a more holistic view that addresses what I can do right now to start getting myself out of the hole I found myself in. Focusing on the idea that the only way to fulfillment and respect and connection with others is for me to become a high-powered career guy again just buries me in overwhelm and shame, even if that is in fact the hard truth. I've had a hard time facing up to that, even as I know that if I ever want to have a sex/love/relationship life of any kind again, that's going to have to be there. I know all too well how much contempt women (and not just my wife) have for losers, but I'm struggling to figure out how I can start winning again without becoming an even greater loser. I want to say that it can't get worse, but I know for sure that it can... EDITED
for clarification and to correct some ridiculously dumb typos... :smh: