Stress Causing Resentment and Anger
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Stress Causing Resentment and Anger

Bare with me, this is long, but the background info is crucial. I'm a 40-yo old male that has been married for 11 years. Upon getting married my wife and I were given a huge million dollar home in a great neighborhood for raising a family as a wedding gift from her father. I was grateful as it was about 3 times the home we would normally afford and I wouldn?t have to pay a mortgage.

As years went on I realized that the home was very expensive to maintain, property taxes, maintenance/repairs, utilities were adding up to as much if not more than have a much smaller home and having a mortgage. The home was showing various problems indicating corners were cut and therefore was having higher than average maintenance costs. At the same time I approached my wife about having a budget. I examined our expenditures and questioned some of them such as her $120 hair appointments. I said as long as you think you really need that, then we'll put it in the budget but it would be at the expense of cutting back somewhere else. She accused me of being controlling by nit picking every expenditure (she had never had a budget before, her parents paid her expenses through college, mine paid half and I had owned my own home, a condo, before I met her.) She also said her father, for tax purposes, was giving her a $10,000 cash gift every year and anything that wasn't in the budget she could pay for with that money, like her $120 haircut.

A little over two years after getting married, we had our first child and my wife quit her Speech Therapist job with the schools ($38K/year) since I was making $170k/year working for myself as a freelance consultant. I resented that I was responsible for paying the bills working a job I didn't enjoy that much while she became a stay-at-home Mom and I got to see (since I worked from home) how enjoyable it was (and sometimes challenging) to be the stay-at-home parent as our now 2 kids were growing up. It was obviously much more rewarding than sitting in front of a computer all day. I'm a responsible person but I think semi-subconsciously I junked the budget and just figured I was making more than enough to pay the bills, buy a couple new cars and takes some nice vacations (and I more or less was). I figured, heck, if she doesn't have to live by a budget with her little slush fund than why should I spend hours and hours a month categorizing each expenditure, making sure I was on budget ? if it doesn't work out than it can be a lesson for her why budgets are needed, I probably thought.

My income gradually declined over the years to about half now what it was 7 years ago. The job got even more unfulfilling. The spark/spice of the marriage dwindled as most do after the first few years, it's only natural, but not to a point that we were unhappy or didn't love each other. ALL of our couple friends had the same issue. The guys always joked that once their wives had kids, they lost their "spunk." Also at the same time the responsibility and pressure of being self employed, doing my own accounting, paying all the mounting bills (braces, medical, etc.), began to really be a heavy burden, but hey, that's my role, make the money and pay the bills.

Shortly after having our first child 7 years ago I began having these big verbal blow-ups. Inside I was feeling like my life path had been chosen for me. The big house, in the nice neighborhood, the man making the money to pay all the bills, the woman staying at home enjoying the kids, volunteering at the school occasionally, going shopping for groceries or clothes, etc, etc. I expressed to my wife I didn't like this arrangement - that I thought we were like everyone else, just following the pattern of everyone else around us and/or the pattern of how we were brought up without really examining it. But who was I to be the bad guy and uproot my family from this beautiful home and neighborhood to downsize to a lower maintenance townhome. Who was I to "force" (as she put it) my wife to go back to work. She chose a career that could barely pay 25% of the bills if she worked fulltime so what difference would it make ? It would just make her miserable since the kids would have to be put in daycare. And going back to work part-time would make even less of a difference financially. Who was I to mandate that no gifts should be given to my kids at birthdays and Xmas because after examining our life I decided I didn?t want to raise kids that accumulate all this junk. But allowing people (Grandparents, etc.) to give gifts is such a joy for everyone. Who am I to be such a Scrooge (I suggested giving 'experiences' - take them to a ball game, a play, etc.) I decided to let it slide. My wife did finally start to request no gifts for birthdays and that the relatives keep themselves in check, but it wasn't as far as I wanted to go.

My disappointment and feeling there was little compromise in our lives grew larger and larger (everything seemed it was arranged to everyone else's satisfaction - my wife, our parents, the kids, etc.) - I felt like I was just along for the ride, a father figure there to pay the bills and toss the baseball occasionally (so to speak.) This feeling of being "stuck" on a path that involved me making most of the compromises as far as how/where we lived our life manifested into a feeling of resentment, anxiety, and maybe even depression. I tried to ignore/suppress these feelings but they manifested into a pattern beginning 7 years ago (coincidentally just after having our first child) where after having a few drinks I would completely blow-up in an argument, mostly one-sided, expressing my frustration, depression and frankly anger. I never hit my wife but I said some mean things in the heat of the moment, as many people do in heated exchanges. This would be followed by a period of healing and then it would happen all over again, probably about once every 3 months for 3 or 4 years, then 2 or 3 times a year up until now. The rages have not only gotten less frequent but less aggressive. And some of them have happened when I haven't had a single drop to drink. Some of them have happened at the worst times like during an Anniversary trip. I realize having grown up in a fraternity in college where binge drinking was the norm that I probably drink more than I should. 3 glasses of wine 3 or 4 nights a week and then I usually go out with my friends or to a party once every week or two and probably have more like 6+ drinks but that's over the course of about 4-5 hours typically. Sometimes (not often) ss much as a week can go by and I won't have drop. So I don't think I'm an alcoholic but I do think it definitely agitates or amplifies stress.

My wife is at the end of her rope, she says although the frequency of the outrages has decreased, she hates the feeling of not knowing when the next one will occur and wants them to stop completely. We are two very intelligent people. We have talked at length about this, especially recently. I have concluded that I was young and naive when we first got married (as most all of us are.) Most anyone would have been elated about the life they were beginning, new bride, big paid-for house, good job, etc. But as I've grown older and seen through the material possessions and the American lifestyle that many so blindly follow I've become discontent. I don't need or want a 4,500 square foot house. I want a smaller home that doesn't have the problems of our mediocre construction mansion. I want us to have more of a 50/50 relationship in that we both are responsible for making roughly half the household income and being the stay at home parent roughly half the time. My wife keeps saying "why aren't all these other Dad's married to stay-at-home Mom's demanding this 50-50 arrangement?" I tell her, I guess they don't realize what they are missing. They have different values than me and frankly don't see what they are missing when they are gone on all their business trips all the time. As I see it, I've gotten the short end of the stick and so have a lot of other Dad's, they just don't realize it.

So here's my (our) quandary: where do we (I) go from here? It seems there are two problems here. One is a behavior problem which relates to my ability to manage stress and control my anger resulting from my partially blaming my stress on the inability of my wife to have compromised more in the past regarding budgeting, household income, where we live etc. The other is the underlying cause of the stress which has to do with primarily financial stress right now (we are completely broke now due to my dwindling income, lack of a budget, and the economic situation). But then I think, is there really only one problem? If the underlying causes of the extreme stress I'm feeling are removed, then there is no anger problem because there is a cause and effect relationship there. The question, or the answer rather, we can't seem to agree on is are my blow-ups really that outrageous considering the situation and the immense weight on my shoulders. If they were happening daily, weekly, or even monthly would it THEN be considered a serious behavioral problem? Two or three times a year is not very frequent. I think the answer though is if my wife is scared of them and thinks they are out of line, then they are out of line. But people have different opinions. Women are different than men.

Back to the causes of the stress and anger? When you think about it, what is one of the most important decisions a married couple makes together? Where they are going to live? The house and the location of that house. I have been denied that (my wife selected the house with her father while we were going out before we got married) but the house and location seemed so wonderful in the beginning, I didn't mind. My wife is a great lady, don't get me wrong, she agreed to go look at other homes a couple years ago. The problem was she put a restriction on the areas where we could live which ended up having homes about the same price as our existing home. We both decided it wasn't worth it to trade sideways as we had a neighborhood better suited to the kids playing in the street. In retrospect, I think we should have moved so I could put the issue about living in an overly expensive, poorly constructed home to rest. I caved.

Regarding the 50/50 ? It's just virtually impossible to achieve. How many couples in this country have a true 50/50 arrangement? I feel resentment towards my wife that she chose a career that had I chosen the same career, there is no way we could afford to live where we live. What gives her the right to simply choose any career she wants assuming she can support herself in an apartment and if she gets married she'll be the stay at home Mom because the husband makes more money? That's lame. It's not like she used that thought process though but she obviously didn't think that far ahead when she chose her career. Essentially it is virtually impossible for us to get a 50/50 arrangement unless we significantly downsize where we live and live in a lesser neighborhood. Then everyone around us (including all parents who live very close by) will think I'm the bad guy for a) moving my kids to a lesser neighborhood or b) not making enough money to support my family when I don't even have to pay a mortgage! My property taxes are as much as the rent payments for some of my friends!
Anyway, we've cut back the spending to stop the bleeding so we aren't digging ourselves a hole deeper than we already are in financially. We have 80% equity in our home so if worse comes to worse we WILL have to downsize just from a matter of financial survival. But the question of how to handle/stop future blow-ups still looms. Do I need anger management counseling? I very rarely yell at my kids, never hit them or my wife? I'm a pretty passive/shy person. Do I need to learn better stress management techniques? A friend of a friend in a similar situation that leveraged themselves to much for Real Estate investments recently committed suicide ? I can see the appeal of that "out" but that's not me so maybe I better already at handling large amounts of stress/responsibility than your average person?

I look at paying to see a counselor like paying for an interior decorator. Interior decorators are for people with poor taste, or lack of creativity or intelligence. Why pay someone to steer you towards the directions they think you should go with your house. If you have poor taste I think your house should reflect that. But that's like saying if you have significant mental or relationship issues and can't solve them yourself, you should just pay the price and be miserable.

Coincidentally I paid about $5K to an interior decorator a couple years ago at the request of my wife (I was against it) and even she will agree it was a waste of money as most of the things we did we liked, were OUR ideas. If we are two smart people and have friends and family we can talk to, why do we need to pay someone to figure things out when we should be able to do it on our own? But I think honestly that is being a bit naive and hypocritical considering I'm writing this asking for advice.

Any advice is greatly appreciated including suggestions for reading material. Outside perspectives are what I'm looking for.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't get why you would almost require a 50/50 income situation?

I'll give you some insight into my financial situation first, before I give my opinions.

1. I live in Ohio where the median household (combined) income is about $48k. I live in an area that has an average income slightly above that (good small town neighbood, great schools, but there are one or two neighborhoods around that are better/fancier). The average home cost in our town is about $120k.

2. I have a job that makes between $80-100k/yr (depending on yearly bonus), my wife from the time we have been married until now has been a stay at home mom with 0 income and I budgetted my house to be slightly above the average for our area, its $125k.

3. My wife has begun doing real estate now that our kids have started grade school and while right now its only 15-20% of what I bring in, in the next could years she could easily make as much as I do.

Now, I encouraged her to pick something out for her to start doing, allowed her to choose for herself. I encouraged her to pick something that she could make a decent enough living if something were to ever happen to me. She would need a way to support herself and the kids. Granted, I have a substantial 9for us) live insurance plan on me to help her through the first couple years ($500k) but she would still need income. She chose real estate and I gladly paid for her night classes to get her liscense.

4. Do we live on a budget? Yes. Is it very restrictive? No, we do a lot of discretionary spending. However, I do save/invest about 10-20% of my net pay so I don't think we go too far in the over spending department. However, going as far as to say no presents for the kids? Come on...I completely understand not spoiling kids, my wife and I do hold back and don't buy a ton of stuff at Christmas and Birthdays because we know between our 2 parents the kids will get a LOT of stuff, so we don't want it to go too far. However, no gifts at all? Also, about the $120 hair appointments...I can see 'cutting back' and not spending as much on the hair like 'can't you find some thing that only cost $50? but to try to tell your wife she can't get her hair done is kind of being a penny pincher. However, I do agree with you that your wife probably spends too much, but you can't come in and try to use a sledgehammer budget that just drills every aspect and hits everything, you need to come in with a scalpul (sp?) and set some guidelines. Don't go over every single dime spent, just go in generalities.


Ok, so now that we are up to date on my situation.


For crying out loud are you serious? Requiring there to be a 50/50 income? For one when we were first married we made a conscience decision to live within my income only (house, expenses, etc) so that when we had kids she could stay at home until they were in school (kids are 7, 5, and 2 now...she will do the real estate full time when 2 year old is in school). I would NEVER require her to get a job that makes as much as I do.

I also wouldn't be upset, ticked, etc if she found a job that made more than I do (very possible down the road with the real estate).

I think you are way off base with the 50/50 income thing.

You already said you have a job that allows you to work from home, granted that's not the same time with the kids as being a stay at home mob but my God you get a lot more time with your kids than most of us working out for companies do. And you would have much more time at home with the kids than your wife did if she found a job making as much money as you do somewhere. I don't think you can possibly get to the "50/50 income" utopia you want without you becoming the one with an "unfair advantage" in the staying home with the kids department.
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I appreciate your response and understand your points. However you keep referring to 50/50 having to do with just income.

What I meant by 50/50 is, each person in the marriage is responsible for 50% of the bills and 50% of the domestic duties some of which include mundane stuff like cleaning, (even though we pay 3 ladies to come to our house for 3 hours twice a month and clean our house from top to bottom), but also include rewarding stuff like not worrying about making enough money to pay for 100% of the bills and taking care of your children (volunteering in their classroom, going on fieldtrips with them, taking them to the park, taking them to the library, playing Pokemon with them, working on projects with them like writing software to control their robots, home schooling them so they can get ahead and take long interesting and educational trips to other places in the world.) Yes some of that can be done in free time, what little there is of it left after working 50 hours a week and considering you have about one hour with them between the time you are off work and the time they go to bed since some of that time is spent eating dinner and the cooking and cleaning associated with it (I cook all the dinners, the wife cleans up the dinners.)

I don't know about you but, my property taxes are $10K a year. My utility bills are close to another $10K a year. A tree just fell almost on my house, that was $2800 to remove along with another tree. I have no benefits since I'm self employed so my medical insurance, out of pocket medical and dental costs rack up to about $15K a year - I'm always getting some sort of medical or dental bill as the wife takes both kids to the most expensive dentist (her childhood dentist) every 6 months on the dot, get the sealant and every 6 months on the dot. Memograms, ultrasounds, trips to the emergency room when a kid busts their head open, braces for both kids, you name it. What else, how about a couple thousand to fix a constantly sinking hole in my back yard or another $2K to slab jack my driveway that is settling. Oh and don’t forget about having the cedar shake roof treated every 5 years for about $2,500 or else I’m going to end up spending about $40K to replace in half the time it should normally be replaces since poor quality shakes were used. Oh then there’s the $4K to dig up the yard because the sewer line wasn’t properly bedded with gravel and broke. Hey and now the house is about do to be repainted, know how much a 4,500 square foot house costs to be painted, the RIGHT way with good quality products. A 4,500 square foot house in the upper middle class suburbs in the Seattle area averages about $1-$1.4 million. Probably about $800-$1.1 million now with the housing crisis. Gee my home equity loan of $225K for a bunch of remodeling, interior decorating and to pay off our cars is more than most middle Americans mortgage.

Think of it this way, if you put 20% down on a million dollar home at a super low 5% interest 30-year fixed, WITH NO OTHER DEBT (no credit card debt, no car loans/leases, no student loans, no boat loans), you know how much you would need to qualify? You would need to be making right close to $300K a year to get the mortgage! So how much do you think you need to make if your loan was 20% of the value instead of 80% but all your other expenses were the same. A lot less than $300K but a lot more than most people could afford, especially when your income fluctuates between $80K and $160K a year dues to certain market conditions. There's no convenience of a paycheck with a consistent amount when you are self employed.


Enough about all that. My main point is everyone should have the ability to pick their roles in life as long as those roles provide for a harmonious marriage and positive and supportive upbringing for ones children.

What if you had decided to be a school teacher and made $35K a year, and your wife made $120K? Who would be the stay at home parent then? If you, would you enjoy it? Would you wish you could work and be angry that you couldn’t because you decided it is better for one parent to take care of the kids and not a daycare? But if you don’t make enough to pay the bills, and you don’t want to put your kids in daycare, then you pretty much have no choice. How would your wife feel if she had no choice but to work full time because if she made say $50K part time and you made $15K part time, you couldn’t pay the bills?

What is the most important and rewarding job in the world? Raising your children. How would you or your wife feel if that was your number one priority and goal, yet you could only play a minor part in it because you were at the office or traveling on business instead of being with your kids? Just because I work in my home doesn’t mean I get drop what I’m doing and play with them as soon as they get off the bus.

Your example really doesn't apply to my case because it sounds to me like you are both content with your "jobs" ?
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think one of the major issues here is communication. You have a lot of anger and resentment in this post. I can only imagine how your wife feels around you. Constantly walking on eggshells will only bury the problem deeper until the eventual and inevitable eruption will rip the crap out of everything. Avoiding daily conflict will only exacerbate the underlying issues. While the amount of alcohol isn’t way out of line, it is likely a flint at the wick and you seem to realize that. Outbursts and anger are generally read as controlling. Because they are. Many calm discussions with your wife need to happen in order for each of you to see each other’s POV. Empathy is gold in a situation like this. As far as your opinion of counseling I think you should give it a try. A good counselor can do wonders especially if the primary problem is communications. Of all the information listed in your post the following disturbed me the most.


Quote:
Originally Posted by smartalex View Post
I feel resentment towards my wife that she chose a career that had I chosen the same career, there is no way we could afford to live where we live. What gives her the right to simply choose any career she wants assuming she can support herself in an apartment and if she gets married she'll be the stay at home Mom because the husband makes more money? That's lame.
I don’t believe I’ve read many posts as self centered and selfish as that. I assume your wife chose that career (A challenging and giving one IMO) because that is what she wanted to do. It was what she wanted to do in life and you should respect that. If she decides she wants to do something else that is her choice. You are her husband and should support her in this career or any other for that matter. I can understand your frustration with her $120 haircuts that’s selfish on her part and should be addressed as part of your financial issues. I would guess she is a bit spoiled in her upbringing so budget issues will likely be a difficult compromise for you both.

I may be sounding harsh with you on this but there are compromises on both sides that need to be made. You are following a path we once did in not addressing the true issues as a couple and resorting to spats over junk that didn’t matter in the big picture. And it cost us dearly. Work on the communication, compromise and empathy and things can improve but you’ve both got to be on board.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't agree with the 50/50 split either. You each contribute a lot in your respective areas. You happen to be contributing more money than time. Your wife is probably contributing more time than money. Staying home and raising kids and keeping track of the household is a lot of work. I've seen somewhere that if a stay at home mom actually received a salary, it would be around $135K/yr.

I have to say, it sounds like your wife was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth and wants to keep it there. She was used to a certain standard of living and never really had to do much to earn it, and you are feeling resentful because now you feel you need to keep that standard going. I'm hearing you say that you feel you are shouldering the burden financially and you are tired of it. I think maybe your lifestyle is no longer a match for your income. Good that you're cutting extra expenses, but I have the feeling it goes deeper than that. You and your wife feel you have to keep this lifestyle standard for some reason, and it's causing you all this stress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartalex View Post
If we are two smart people and have friends and family we can talk to, why do we need to pay someone to figure things out when we should be able to do it on our own?
Because sometimes, it's great to have a non-involved person (i.e., not family or friends) to talk to face to face about all the things that are bugging you. And a good counselor can help talk through issues with you and give you different perspectives on things. It does not mean that you have "mental issues" or anything like that. I am guessing that you have never sat down with a counselor before. It can really help. Doesn't mean you need to go to them weekly for years and years. I do recommend it and for your situation, I would definitely suggest you try it - you might be surprised.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh, and I second what Amp said.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yes, thank you Amp, very good insight.

I think a major factor here and it is one that pretty much everyone has and that is fear of major change.

Kids are established in their school and their friends, we live in the absolute most perfect neighborhood to raise them, and I'm not exaggerating.

We've cut all recurring discretionary expense (health club membership is just one example), my wife has gone back to work as a substitute speech therapist for an average of 6 days a month (which works well since she avoids having the paperwork headache) - it's not much but an extra $1K a month helps. The outbursts as I mentioned have become less frequent and the most recent one we determined was triggered by the fallen tree that costs $2800, the overall financial stress, and then a night out drinking (across the street with the neighbors) oh and that same day I coached two basketball teams then catered the food for the party we went to - I was exhausted and it all combined to ignite the fuse. The level of stress I've been under is far more than that I had in the previous years so my ability to recognize and control my overreactions has improved - it just needs to get better.

But again, the underlying issues need to be addressed along with the stress/anger management or else we'll never be truly happy with our situation.

My wife really isn't that much of silver spoon fed type except when it comes to things that effects the kids or where we live. She isn't the type to always be out buying clothes at Nordstrom.

I think we're probably in the same boat as a lot of other Americans. The economic tide as gone out and exposed the rocks in our financial situation and our marriage. I imagine there a lot of people going through similar problems. I think I heard statistically that money is the #1 cause of marital problems.

But the money problem will be solved over time. It's the other problem that needs to be addresses, that is an issue of freedom of choosing your role/career in life. I think most couples are fine with the man bringing in the bacon and the women being the stay-at-home Mom. Both jobs are valuable - I never said one was more valuable than the other. It's more the issue of whether you had the freedom to choose your job.

If you have $X in non-discretionary expenses and partner A makes $1.5X and parner B makes $0.3X then the decision has already been made for you by virtue of your career choice. The partner making $0.3X has to be the stay at home parent and the partner making $1.5X either truly likes their job, or is living in denial having managed to convince themselves they like their job (because there's not much other choice or their naive as to how much more rewarding it would be to be the caretaker of their children instead of selling some product or service or pushing paper.) It just so happens that women are paid less and typically choose careers with lower pay then the careers most men choose. That's the facts, statistically speaking. But what about the couples where the wife is the Lawyer and the husband is the school teacher? Just not that common, but I bet that wife can relate to my position.

Now you could say why not lower your expenses (move) to $0.7X - but that still doesn't solve the problem since the person making $1.5X is still going to be the one to bring home the bacon.

I think the vast majority of relationships the man is employed full-time as a result of being able to make more money and as a result of pre-conceived societal values that put the mother as the most appropriate stay at home parent. Even if the man doesn't like his work, he sees it as his duty, because the alternative is that he is no longer perceived as the bread winner but as the evil husband forcing his wife back to work and his kids into day care so maybe he could take time off to go to cooking school and pursue a career that is truly fulfilling. That could be perceived as selfish but if in the end it makes the husband happy which in turn makes the marriage happy which in turn makes the family happy, then it is a necessary means to a happy end result.

I personally think one major cause of such a high divorce rate in America and elsewhere isn't necessarily incompatibility, it's when one or both individuals in the relationship realize the relationship itself is preventing them from having the freedom to lead their life in a way that fulfills them. It takes two happy people to make a happy relationship and a happy family. I think a lot of people just gut it through until the kids are out of the house then get divorced so they can do what they always wanted to do.

I don't think that will be us, pretty sure of it. I just think I'm not your typical man who simply does his duty and goes to work supporting the family without really analyzing the big picture and realizing how trapped you can become due to the preconceived habits and values we all pretty much blindly follow based on our own upbringing, what the media tells us to do (buy buy buy) and what everyone in our society around us is doing.

There are very very few people I know where both partners say they are very happy with their careers AND very happy with their marriages. Some have the courage to realize and admit it and others just get by. I'm not the 'just get by' type of personality.

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Old 03-26-2009, 08:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I understand your position and your wants to do something else with you life. I believe most people would rather be in different jobs or careers. But marriage is a compromise, family is a compromise and life is a compromise. While I enjoy my job I would rather fallow my dream to open a small business of my own but I know it wouldn’t comp me nearly as well as my current position. That dream will never come true until we are secure enough to retire and by that time we’ll be ready to relax and travel more. I am a commissioned salesman so I can understand your plight in a moving target in your annual income. Glad to hear you are working on the anger issues. That can greatly improve the situation. Again communications and empathy will be great assets in your marriage and happiness.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Stress Causing Resentment and Anger

1. You are believing that a 50/50 marriage should mean every single part of the marriage is split evenly which quite honestly is IMPOSSIBLE. My wife and I have a 50/50 marriage, but some of the "tasks" like making the money, cleaning the house, cooking, raising the kids etc are done by either me or her and the total "work load" is split 50/50.

2. You are selfish, you complained because your wife picked a career that didn't happen to make as much as you do...really?

3. To answer your one question, if my career was a teacher and my wife made $100k, yes, I would have stayed home with the kids and had 0 resentment over the situation. I would have then gone back to work teaching when the kids got to school age.

4. You need to get out of that money pit of a house. Sell it, downsize, whatever. With the money you bring in you can't possibly upkeep that house. Look at your financial problems as an expense problem (too much going out) rather than an income problem (not enough coming in). If you do that you might not be as bitter to your wife for not making as much money as you do.


And please, don't act like I'm not in your situation, I am the sole money maker in my family, we have 3 kids that are 7, 5, and 2 years old. We live in an amazing neighborhood, the whole 9 yards.

The only difference is I don't despise my wife for "choosing" a lower paying career or being able to be a stay at home mom while I work. Anyone who's EVER been a stay at home parent knows that that job is actually much harder than nearly any full time job out there.

I've done it, when I was laid off of one job I stayed at home on unemployment sending out resumes, etc to find a new job while my wife went out and worked full time. I've been a stay at home parent for awhile. Did I like it? Sure, but was it much harder and much more stressful than my typical day at work ABSOLUTELY.

You seem to have this glamatorized belief on what a stay at home parent does but reality is much different. I thought I'd be able to stay at home and play video games and such and relax as a stay at home dad...I got rudely awakened.

The only difference between my situation and yours, is that money pit of a house. My total house expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc) adds up to about 20% of my gross income, 25% of my net. I budgetted it that way when we bought our house on purpose so that the home we lived in wasn't a financial anchor around our necks.

My advice, get out of that house, if you do that the financial problems will become MUCH better.
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Stress Causing Resentment and Anger

Amp,

Exactly.

I love my job as a chemical engineer but would MUCH rather be a high school math/science teacher and coach HS baseball/football.

However, I know that would then require my wife to work as well and our kids would have to be in daycare. That's not something I want, so I "compromise" and work at a much higher paying job for my family.
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:16 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Stress Causing Resentment and Anger

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Originally Posted by smartalex View Post
Yes, thank you Amp, very good insight.

I think a major factor here and it is one that pretty much everyone has and that is fear of major change.

Kids are established in their school and their friends, we live in the absolute most perfect neighborhood to raise them, and I'm not exaggerating.

We've cut all recurring discretionary expense (health club membership is just one example), my wife has gone back to work as a substitute speech therapist for an average of 6 days a month (which works well since she avoids having the paperwork headache) - it's not much but an extra $1K a month helps. The outbursts as I mentioned have become less frequent and the most recent one we determined was triggered by the fallen tree that costs $2800, the overall financial stress, and then a night out drinking (across the street with the neighbors) oh and that same day I coached two basketball teams then catered the food for the party we went to - I was exhausted and it all combined to ignite the fuse. The level of stress I've been under is far more than that I had in the previous years so my ability to recognize and control my overreactions has improved - it just needs to get better.

But again, the underlying issues need to be addressed along with the stress/anger management or else we'll never be truly happy with our situation.

My wife really isn't that much of silver spoon fed type except when it comes to things that effects the kids or where we live. She isn't the type to always be out buying clothes at Nordstrom.

I think we're probably in the same boat as a lot of other Americans. The economic tide as gone out and exposed the rocks in our financial situation and our marriage. I imagine there a lot of people going through similar problems. I think I heard statistically that money is the #1 cause of marital problems.

But the money problem will be solved over time. It's the other problem that needs to be addresses, that is an issue of freedom of choosing your role/career in life. I think most couples are fine with the man bringing in the bacon and the women being the stay-at-home Mom. Both jobs are valuable - I never said one was more valuable than the other. It's more the issue of whether you had the freedom to choose your job.

If you have $X in non-discretionary expenses and partner A makes $1.5X and parner B makes $0.3X then the decision has already been made for you by virtue of your career choice. The partner making $0.3X has to be the stay at home parent and the partner making $1.5X either truly likes their job, or is living in denial having managed to convince themselves they like their job (because there's not much other choice or their naive as to how much more rewarding it would be to be the caretaker of their children instead of selling some product or service or pushing paper.) It just so happens that women are paid less and typically choose careers with lower pay then the careers most men choose. That's the facts, statistically speaking. But what about the couples where the wife is the Lawyer and the husband is the school teacher? Just not that common, but I bet that wife can relate to my position.

Now you could say why not lower your expenses (move) to $0.7X - but that still doesn't solve the problem since the person making $1.5X is still going to be the one to bring home the bacon.

I think the vast majority of relationships the man is employed full-time as a result of being able to make more money and as a result of pre-conceived societal values that put the mother as the most appropriate stay at home parent. Even if the man doesn't like his work, he sees it as his duty, because the alternative is that he is no longer perceived as the bread winner but as the evil husband forcing his wife back to work and his kids into day care so maybe he could take time off to go to cooking school and pursue a career that is truly fulfilling. That could be perceived as selfish but if in the end it makes the husband happy which in turn makes the marriage happy which in turn makes the family happy, then it is a necessary means to a happy end result.

I personally think one major cause of such a high divorce rate in America and elsewhere isn't necessarily incompatibility, it's when one or both individuals in the relationship realize the relationship itself is preventing them from having the freedom to lead their life in a way that fulfills them. It takes two happy people to make a happy relationship and a happy family. I think a lot of people just gut it through until the kids are out of the house then get divorced so they can do what they always wanted to do.

I don't think that will be us, pretty sure of it. I just think I'm not your typical man who simply does his duty and goes to work supporting the family without really analyzing the big picture and realizing how trapped you can become due to the preconceived habits and values we all pretty much blindly follow based on our own upbringing, what the media tells us to do (buy buy buy) and what everyone in our society around us is doing.

There are very very few people I know where both partners say they are very happy with their careers AND very happy with their marriages. Some have the courage to realize and admit it and others just get by. I'm not the 'just get by' type of personality.
You sound a lot like my wife. I will tell you that she was very driven in her career. I have had decent jobs in the past, but I was always the one to take care of the house. After our second child I stayed home with the children. She took a lot of time to build a client base, and was self employed like yourself. I do know that being self employed does not give you as much time off as you would like. This can lead to being burnt out.

Well the changes that you are seeking are ones my wife also wanted. I will tell you that she harbored a lot of the same resentment that you do. She did not tell me that she wanted more equality in regards to the finances. She just got more angry and bitter. She woke up and realized what she was missing at home. I can tell you that the changes you are looking for will require a ton of communication, and you should have a counselor to help you both talk these issues out.

We are now in the process of changing roles as I am a financial controller for a wind power company and we are building her a home office so she can work from home a couple days a week. Now I am the one that is working a lot of hours and providing for the house. It has been agreed in counseling that she was wrong for harboring the anger and resentment because she didn't tell me of the issues she had with the arangement. I am now very bitter that she was cold, angry and distant during the time she was wanting change but didn't tell me. I am sure that you realize that your behaviors have not been very good while you are carrying the bitterness. That behavior is not going to be the way to encourage your wife to agree to anything that doesn't make her happy.

Communication is the key here that you seem to be missing. My marriage has been about me making sacrifices in my own happiness for the betterment of the family. I had to sacrifice my career to be home with the children. I was happy to do so as long as everyone was happy. Well it didn't turn out that way. Now I am bitter over the fact that I sacrificed so the family was taken care of, but I have missed out on a lot of time to build my own career and I have to start over again at the age of 30.

I come from a broken home and was abused, and consider the happiness of my family, and mental health the most important thing I can provide. I think that you have your priorities out of whack. You need to understand that having a family and being married is about communication and comprimising. It doesn't sound like you are doing much of either. I would suggest you seeing a counselor for yourself first to get yourself straightened out, then have your wife come in so you can get back on the same page.
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