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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

I need some clarification on boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums. I want to set a clear boundary, but I donít want it to become an ultimatum.

The situations: My husband and I are both employed full time at the same company. For him, itís the company he wanted to work at since he was a young boy. He gets frustrated with his job, but for him, itís working. I, on the other hand, am miserable at work. Bone crushing, mind-meltingly miserable and have been for several years. I have tried changing my jobs inside the company, furthering my education, and multiple coping skills through years of therapy. I plan on leaving the company sometime this year once I am done with a new professional certificate that I working on.

To describe my misery, I am recovering from an eating disorder and I am so unhappy I canít bring myself to eat at work (clearly, a step backwards). I spend 20 minutes in my car each morning giving myself a pep talk to even go into the office. I cry in my car at the end of the day. I struggle to not cry at work. I have anxiety dreams about work. When I mean miserable, I mean deep depressing misery, not just your usual unhappiness at work.

Our company is offering Voluntary Lay Off this year where you get a week of pay for each year or service at the company. After that, you are eligible for unemployment. I ran the numbers with our budget, and I think that we would be absolutely fine and still be able to save money each month. I was elated, because itís a way out! Then I could focus all my energy on the job search and perfecting the technical skills for the certificate I am earning.

I broached the topic with my husband, and he was less than receptive. He is worried about the risk (so am I) and thinks the financial risk is too great. He also indicated that he would expect us to fire our twice monthly house cleaner, and that I would take on burden of doing all vacuuming, dusting and toilet scrubbing. I told him I was able to keep that in the budget and that I wanted to focus all my energy on finding a job. I also didnít want to become the person responsible for all the chores simply because I wasnít working, because my job would be to FIND a job. He said that was probably a deal breaker.

We still have some thinking to do, but I think he is ultimately going to tell me that while he wants me to be happy, I need to keep working because we canít bear the financial risk. He has already told me that when we bought our house, we made a financial agreement and we have plans to save money for our future (fun things, like a back yard or new cars). Thatís the most important thing.

Hereís where my thoughts are. I feel like he is placing my economic worth (both my earnings and chores) over my mental well-being. I want to tell him that, but I also want to tell him that I donít want to be in a marriage where my economic worth is the most important factor. I also donít want to be in a marriage where he thinks that my career choice is a joint decision. And for the record, if our positions were reversed, Iíd want him to pick that path that allows him to be happy. Our marriage needs to strengthen or I donít think we are going to make it.

Is this an ultimatum? I donít want it to be ďYou wonít let me take Voluntary Layoff, so now Iím going to threaten to leave you.Ē I want him to know that I am very upset about how he values my well being, and thatís Iím not okay with that. Its also not okay with him thinking he gets to decide which job I take (or donít take) based off its salary alone (thatís a different conversation we have had).

Yes, we are in counseling already. I donít know if its working. Iím in my own counseling, and it is working.

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 05:20 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

why cant you look for a job now so that you wont need to have any time off work? If you are so unhappy why havent you done this before?
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

I donít want to look for a new job right now because my professional certificate will be complete in June. I want to change careers, so I donít want to apply for jobs until then. June would also be when the Voluntary Lay Off would take effect.

I spent the last several years trying to make it work at current company. I ďjust needed to try harderĒ and I should ďfeel so lucky to even have this job when so many other people would love my opportunity.Ē I have switched jobs internally multiple times. I have applied for a few outside jobs, but only halfheartedly, because something else was ALWAYS more important. Thatís why it would be nice to fully dedicate myself to the job search.

If I had been on my own, I would have left years ago. I only stayed because I ďshould.Ē

I am leaving my company this year, itís just a matter of when. Though Iím not allowed to take a position that pays me less money even if it would make me absurdly happy.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 06:22 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

It sounds like you have a paid "escape route."
I think it is reasonable for him to look favorably on this option since it would release you from stress.

If you quit your job and work on a job search it is absurd to me that you aren't willing to vacuum, dust and toilet clean in your own home. If this is one of his conditions, you really need a reality check if you think he is being unfair wanting that.

The majority of all of us on here both work full time, and amazingly also clean our houses. The way you say that you sound like a spoiled princess. Not trying to be harsh, but that is how you are coming across to me anyway.

Ciao,

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

The main point is I feel like he is choosing my paycheck over my mental health. I'm not okay with that.

On the topic of the house cleaning I can respect that I come across as a princess. The reason we hired a house cleaner in the first place was to help alleviate stress on the marriage. We would spend our free time cleaning the house and fighting over who was doing what. The house cleaner has helped us not be at each others throats about who's turn it is to clean something. Even now, we struggle with the concept where we each think we are doing more of the chores than the other person. "I did the dishes last night." "Yeah, but you didn't wash the pots and pans, so those are still yours to do." or "You didn't do the dishes." "Well, I washed all the laundry today, doesn't that count for something?" "That's nice, but the dishes still need to be done." Chores seem to be our preferred battleground.

Its a consistent sticking point in our marriage, and I can very easily see it becoming a situation where I am responsible for 100% of the house chores because I am not bringing in a paycheck. I'm not okay with that, because its his house too.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 06:41 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

You definitely need to leave if it's making you miserable to this extent.
But you need to have a realistic understanding of what other jobs you are likely to be able to get after this new certificate. And be prepared to ha e to eat into savings if the job hunt in the new field takes longer than the runway the severance/buyout package gives you. If you don't have savings to keep you afloat for >6 months in addition to the runway the buyout gives you, you can't quit yet.
I don't understand the reticence about job hunting now. What do you have to lose? If you are getting the certificate in June at least do informational interviews to understand what employers are hiring this skill and for how much, in your area. As well as start building relationships and pipelines for when you want to switch in June.
Don't believe whatever line the educational institution is selling you about the marketability of your certificate.
From your husbands perspective, I bet the refusal to interview now is a huge issue and his fear is that you will quit and either choose to not go back to work, or to be unable to find something anywhere near in the pay range.

What do you mean by "perfect the technical skills for the certificate"? Unpaid internship or volunteer work? Additional classroom hours?

I think you absolutely have to cancel the housekeeping service if you are not bringing in the income anymore. If you are not bringing in income you need to make lifestyle adjustments to fit budget (going out to eat, etc).

Job hunting ad and interviewing is 20-30 hours a week, not 45 hours a week. If you are not bringing in an income you need to step up you other contributions to the household. Cancel the housekeeper and agree on a chore chart with you doing 70-80% and him doing 20-30%. Plus you have to take on cooking at home instead of eating out, packing his lunch, etc. to help cut spending until you're back full time.

(If he quit his job and told you he wasn't going to job hunt and wasn't going to help around the house, he'd be a jerk and everybody on TAM would ask why you're staying with such a looser.)
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:06 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

Arithmetic doesn't care how you feel.

You can look at what income you will have if you stop working, look at your expenses and figure out what things you will need to stop spending money on. Then you can see if you are willing to live that way.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:10 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

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Originally Posted by drakeness View Post
To describe my misery, I am recovering from an eating disorder and I am so unhappy I canít bring myself to eat at work (clearly, a step backwards). I spend 20 minutes in my car each morning giving myself a pep talk to even go into the office. I cry in my car at the end of the day. I struggle to not cry at work. I have anxiety dreams about work. When I mean miserable, I mean deep depressing misery, not just your usual unhappiness at work.

Have you explained your misery to him, in these words? This is horrible. You are probably looking at very serious health issues over time due to this kind of daily stress/misery/dread.

Have you talked to your Dr. about depression? This is where I was (crying daily) over things in my life and I got hormone replacement for menopause plus and anti-depressant and while I still haven't resolved all my issues, I am SO much less miserable it is night and day. It is horrible for your health to be this unhappy.

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Originally Posted by drakeness View Post
I broached the topic with my husband, and he was less than receptive. He is worried about the risk (so am I) and thinks the financial risk is too great. He also indicated that he would expect us to fire our twice monthly house cleaner, and that I would take on burden of doing all vacuuming, dusting and toilet scrubbing. I told him I was able to keep that in the budget and that I wanted to focus all my energy on finding a job. I also didnít want to become the person responsible for all the chores simply because I wasnít working, because my job would be to FIND a job. He said that was probably a deal breaker.
I have a couple thoughts here - He either does understand or does not care how serious this is. Considering he's a man, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and just tell you that it seems to be a male trait to simply not take their partners complaints seriously is said partner is willing to continue to accept whatever it is they are complaining about.

My other thought - I find it rich that you are so miserable and he's got who cleans the house as a "deal breaker." But I also see his point of view. How much time does your house keeper spend every 2 weeks? I'm a terrible housekeeper so maybe I just don't get it - but how long does it take to vacuum the house, dust, and clean the toilets? Maybe you are afraid of splitting your attention between house upkeep and job search, but is job searching REALLY a full time job? Also, how much does she cost and how tight is your budget. And of course even if you say that you will take on what she has been doing while you're unemployed, is he really going to start expecting more from you as in "drakeness is just sitting around the house all day, she can run all these errands..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by drakeness View Post
Hereís where my thoughts are. I feel like he is placing my economic worth (both my earnings and chores) over my mental well-being.
He is. Though he probably does not understand that he is doing that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drakeness View Post
I want to tell him that, but I also want to tell him that I donít want to be in a marriage where my economic worth is the most important factor. I also donít want to be in a marriage where he thinks that my career choice is a joint decision. And for the record, if our positions were reversed, Iíd want him to pick that path that allows him to be happy. Our marriage needs to strengthen or I donít think we are going to make it.
Well, your career choice does affect him so I understand him feeling he has a say in it. However, I don't understand him being able to accept you being miserable and valuing money over happiness if you could get by on less overall income. I also suspect he has no idea how much happier HE would be in a marriage to a woman who is not miserable. I think you should tell him these things in the most respectful way possible.

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Originally Posted by drakeness View Post
Is this an ultimatum? I donít want it to be ďYou wonít let me take Voluntary Layoff, so now Iím going to threaten to leave you.Ē I want him to know that I am very upset about how he values my well being, and thatís Iím not okay with that. Its also not okay with him thinking he gets to decide which job I take (or donít take) based off its salary alone (thatís a different conversation we have had).
To me it sounds like more of a boundary than an ultimatum. You are saying "I am no longer willing/able to tolerate ABC." I think an "ultimatum" is more of a selfish-demand: "You do XYZ or I will leave." Really, his insisting you keep working in a job or do all the housekeeping sounds more like an ultimatum. But, bottom line? Everyone has a bottom line. Things they are or are not willing to live with. I don't think an "ultimatum" is inherently good or bad. It just is.

("I will divorce you if you have sex with someone else" is an ultimatum. It's also quite reasonable, IMO.)


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Yes, we are in counseling already. I donít know if its working. Iím in my own counseling, and it is working.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:14 PM
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It sounds perfectly reasonable for your husband to back you taking the lay-off and you splitting the 40+ hours you won't be working between looking for a job and cleaning your home. 1 hour a day MAX cleaning (it shouldn't take more) and 7 hours left to look for a job/ further your education and/or skills. And I would feel so thankful that I'd happily have a nice meal prepared too. Many people would give anything to be in such a position.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:17 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

Here's a few things I think, given I supported my wife through a bunch of job changes and whatnot.

First, supporting your family is a necessity. Billions of people have worked the worst jobs to supply a future or even a now for their families. Many people hate jobs and you seem to be in a fortunate situation where you can depend on your husband as you get to choose somewhere else better to work.

Second, since you are depending on your husband, and you both are in this together, he should absolutely have a say on your career focus. I am not say he should determine what you do, but his input should be important to you.

Thirdly, i can understand your feelings and anxiety. My ex is an icu nurse and i cannot fathom a harder job on somebody emotionally.

Fourthly, you should start the job search asap. You are getting some sort of certification in something unrelated? Something you want to move to? Many companies will take that into account. It is tough to find a job.

Lastly, absolutely you should be doing the housework. You cannot focus 8 hours a day on finding a job. There will be a lot of downtime, and you should be finding anyway you can manage to help financially. That would be a deal breaker.

While I completely understand you need to leave your job, you are being selfish in some aspects. You are putting your desires ahead of financial security. Consider all aspects and understand that you may not find any job for a while.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:25 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

If you are that miserable in your job you need to get out ASAP before the problems become physical rather than just emotional. BTDT. My last job was the same way. I dreaded every single day, cried in the car on my way to and from work. I knew I should quit but didn't because my family needed the money.

6 months into the job I had a heart attack due mostly to anxiety and constantly high blood pressure. I've been told I'll probably never be able to work again due to heart muscle damage. I'm only 45. The job/money wasn't worth it, trust me.

The road goes ever ever on, down from the door where it began... JRR Tolkien
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:33 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

I agree with some of the others, you should do your own house work if you quit working job hunting will not be 24 hour job especially with most companies now requiring you to fill out an application online.

It's not a competition on who did what and who didn't to me that is not even worth getting in fights about, we both work full time and I do most of the house stuff which I don't mind just another way to show my love for him.

Also you should look for a new job now, instead of waiting on a certificate because unless you have a company wanting to hire you as soon as you get that certificate you will find a hard time getting in a field with no work experience.

You say he does not care about how you feel mentally, to me it seems like he is worried about making sure you don't lose your home or anything else. If all you have to do is housework to leave your job, so you can spend all your time job hunting I would be out buying some cleaning supplies.



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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 07:38 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

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I need some clarification on boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums. I want to set a clear boundary, but I donít want it to become an ultimatum.
Boundaries and expectations, when enforced, are exactly ultimatums. People don't like to call them that but it's exactly what they are. Let's just call them expectoudaryatums and I'm a big fan of expectoudaryatums. I think the issue here is that you and your husband don't trust each other. Let's be honest, two people madly in love would find ways to compromise in a situation like this, would find a way to see each other's point, would find a way to rationalize the other person's wish. You guys are smart enough to be in counselling so kudos for that. Have you asked your counsellor this question? Not your IC but the one who you both talk to?

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 08:17 PM
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

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The main point is I feel like he is choosing my paycheck over my mental health. I'm not okay with that.

On the topic of the house cleaning I can respect that I come across as a princess. The reason we hired a house cleaner in the first place was to help alleviate stress on the marriage. We would spend our free time cleaning the house and fighting over who was doing what. The house cleaner has helped us not be at each others throats about who's turn it is to clean something. Even now, we struggle with the concept where we each think we are doing more of the chores than the other person. "I did the dishes last night." "Yeah, but you didn't wash the pots and pans, so those are still yours to do." or "You didn't do the dishes." "Well, I washed all the laundry today, doesn't that count for something?" "That's nice, but the dishes still need to be done." Chores seem to be our preferred battleground.

Its a consistent sticking point in our marriage, and I can very easily see it becoming a situation where I am responsible for 100% of the house chores because I am not bringing in a paycheck. I'm not okay with that, because its his house too.
How old are you guys?

Ciao,

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Boundaries, expectations, and ultimatums

Thank you for all the replies, I appreciate the comments. I will take them all under consideration.
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