Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Group Therapy- A Resentful Wife

Welcome to Group Therapy:

"My husband lost his salesman job 8 and 1/2 months ago. I was lucky and was able to go back to a good job that paid well, has insurance, and keeps us relatively living the same as we are use to. It's tight but we are better off than a lot of people out there. Sounds great right?

Well here is my problem. This was to be a temporary fix, me working full-time (4-10 hour days), until he got another job, then I wanted to go to part-time or stay at home altogether like I have been doing for the last 5 years.

The longer he is out of a job, the less he looks for one and is content staying home. I'm not complaining one bit about the job he does as a stay-at-home Dad. He's actually quite incredible at it. The thing is, is it was not our deal and I am resentful. I want to be at home. Every time I approach the topic he gets defensive about it, saying things like, 'You think I like not being able to provide for my family?' Which in return makes me feel guilty for rubbing salt in the wound and then I go back to feeling resentful, I know he is running around taking care of our 3 kids all day, but I feel he is being lazy with the job search not at all giving it his full effort. This IS the only thing we ever argue about and it's starting to wear on me.

I need help on how I approach this with him. What's the best way to approach a guy who thinks I'm attacking his pride? Am I wrong for wanting our roles switched back to the way they were? Any suggestions for a resentful wife?"


***If you have any questions or problems that you would like to have addressed in Group Therapy please email me at blokthoughts@gmail dot com or realworldvenusmars @ gmail dot com.

Leave your advice in the comments, comment on other comments, and feel free to comment Anonymously.


Anonymous said...

This is something that the two of you need to sit down and talk about. The two of you need to remain calm and respectful. If it helps, write a letter to him and ask to read it to him, without him interupting. Ask him to do the same if he feels it would be easier to communicate things.

What your husband needs to understand is that he is providing for his family. Yes, he is not bringing in a paycheque at the moment. However, he is providing your children with a safe, educational (I hope), and fun home. He is helping by staying at home at the moment when you cannot. Is it a different form of providing for your family? Most definitely. But he is STILL providing. And I think that's something both of you need to understand.

If you feel that he is not looking for a job, why don't you help him? When the children go to bed, instead of turning on the TV or the computer, sit down together and go over his resume, the classified ads, job postings, etc. Figure out what his ideal job is and then figure out less ideal jobs but ones that he can still do.

You also need to be honest with him about how you are feeling. THINK before you speak though. Do NOT attack him. Even if you don't mean to or dont think you are, he is obviously feeling that way. If he feels like you are attacking him, the conversation is over before it even began.

You are right though, your family is better off than quite a lot. One of you is still able to stay home while the other works. One of you is still bringing home money to pay the bills and financially support the family.

My suggestion (besides the above) is if the two of you cannot sit down and calmy talk and discuss the emotions and what was originally planned, than you need to get over the resentment and do what needs to be done to make sure the bills get paid, food gets bought.

Anonymous said...

This one has an easy fix. Just look for jobs for him. Then YOU make his appointments for interviews. THEN inform him of said appointments.

Then he doesn't have much reason not to find one eventually. You could even call and get the specifics about the job and screen them for him. See you will then be an asset to the job search and not a nagger.

He, assuming he is very smart, will see what you are doing but he won't have anything he can say about it.

So there that should help anyway. Also there might really be no openings in his field or whatever so if thats the case you will find that out too.

try that, report back please.

Missty said...

No ideas for you at the moment. But hoping it turns around for you. I think the other posts with advice are great. Hang in there, its tough out there right now.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Ok see I understand where you are coming from...kind of. I mean I understand why you might be bitter about it.

Or resentful.

You feel like I do when you work.

You probably feel like you are missing out on your kids. You miss being a stay-at-home mom and all that comes with it.

The deal was suppose to be temporary and he is not holding up his end of the bargain.

If it were me, the last thing I want to do when I come home is job search for him!

You must find a way to talk about it I agree...

Which I have no clue on what to do right now, so I'm going to think about it, but to me, your feelings are validated.

Anonymous said...

"If it were me, the last thing I want to do when I come home is job search for him!" - Shelle.

I know Sage said to do the work for him, but I suggested that the two of them sit down together and do it together. Not only does it get the job done, but it also gives the two of them time to spend together. When one person in the marriage becomes resentful, it's a very slippery slope until more and more problems happen and that just leads to more issues and the unfortunate posability of the marriage following apart.

"Also there might really be no openings in his field or whatever so if thats the case you will find that out too." - Southern Sage.

I am seriously tired of this excuse from people. Yes, it sucks if there are no openings in the particular field you are looking for. Most definitely. BUT Any job is still a job. You look for your ideal job first. And if that doesn't work, you got for the second best. And if that doesn't work you keep going down the ladder until you find a job. It's not that hard to do.

Seriously, people need to suck it up. With the way jobs are right now, people should find themselves lucky to have kept their jobs. If they were let go, then the need to find another one and not be afraid to work at a job that is below their qualifications.

Back to the Original Post.
If this was meant to be temperary, than it should remain that way. I stand firm on my first reply. You need to sit and talk calmy with him. The two of you need to re-evaluate what it is that you want to happen right now and go from there. But for the time being, SOMEONE needs to work. If that someone is you, than it has to be done.

Anonymous said...

I was unemployed in Britain for over 12 years, there were no genuine jobs and all the others I got to know eventually took the available ones. These were so bad that they all ended up on incapacity benefit - crippled. Someone else then took the same crippling job. Fortunately I was supported by my wife but things did get resentful between us.

"Why don't you get a job" she would ask
"What job" I would reply
"Any job" she would say
"Where, show me any job" I’d say

And of course she couldn't because there weren't any.

Alex said -If it helps, write a letter to him and ask to read it to him, without him interupting. Ask him to do the same if he feels it would be easier to communicate things.

I think this is superb advice. It makes you think about things and provides a reference for what is agreed on and reasons why. A regularly diary of feelings also helps reduce the resentment and helps put things in perspective. My mother kept one and it helped her enormously through difficult times.

Southern Sage said - This one has an easy fix. Just look for jobs for him. Then YOU make his appointments for interviews. THEN inform him of said appointments.

Again superb advice. But not because you are better at finding a job, but because you can establish for yourself the real situation, and you may even find one. Incidentally it is not possible to maintain motivation for job seeking after about a year and emotional and mental problem can start if an unemployed person is pressurised too much for him to cope with.

My advice is prepare yourself for a long period of this arrangement and address the practicalities of the situation. Your marriage is in danger here. I found I was able to ‘employ’ myself as we owned a property and I was able to completely renovate it. i.e. completely strip a room out and repair and decorate it, including carpet laying and artexing the ceiling. When my wife saw how hard I worked, to relieve my frustration at my situation, and to make money, abet indirectly, it reduced her resentment. So work your husband as hard as you can - it’s good for both of you.

Remember unemployment is rife across the western world, but it won’t last for ever. It certainly not your husband’s fault, so try to redirect your natural resentment at the real culprit - the mass unemployment, and those responsible, those who organise and manage society.

Ask your resentment “could you manage your life without your husband’s backup”.

Good luck to you, we survived, and so can you, but I warn you, it is going to get tough. I know.


Anonymous said...

Sage1916 = David Edward

Anonymous said...

I've never been in your exact situation, except for the fact that I have always had to work & I am a mom. It has been harder at some times than others. I totally understand the negative emotions (and guilt) that can sometimes come with the territory.

I do have a number of friends dealing with similar scenarios at the present time. They don't like it either, but the alternative (i.e. no one working) is worse.

As you pointed out, the great thing is that at least you have an income coming in, and a husband who is doing a good job taking care of your children & household. I think that the most important thing is that you both work together to provide for your family, however you may have to do it at the present time. That doesn't mean that he should give up altogether. You both definitely need to try to take the emotion out of it (hard, I know) and logically discuss the best path forward. It can strengthen your relationship if you let it, or can be a huge source of conflict.

It could be worse. I have a relative who would take his infant to daycare so he could stay home and play video games without being bothered after he was laid off. At the time, there wasn't an economic crisis, and there were plenty of jobs. He just was not motivated to look for one. His wife & M-in-law took the "Sage" approach. They did all the initial leg work (job search, submitted resumes, etc) for the job he got & still has now 17 years later.

Good luck. I hope that you and your husband are able to work through this tough issue.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the sit down and talk about it approach is the same problem with rases taxes and redistributing wealth, it doesn't work, it won't work. It works great on paper but thats it. See some guys get their panties all tore ur and act like they are 7 if they assume you are assaulting their manhood.
The conversation doesn't have to be loud and accusatory for them to think this. They automatically defend. I bet money he has said "well for X amount of years I worked and supported us and now you don;'t want to do your part".

He also prolly feels like he is "above" these jobs that are out of his field or in a lower pay bracket than he is used to.

In short it isn't the method being used (talking it out) it is the way he perceives it, and nothing she can say can change that.

If she takes my approach she also fills her bag of ammo because she then cuts him off before he can say "no jobs" or "nothing out there to get". In any situation if you can narrow down the possibilities you will end up much better.

It isn't her or the things she says its hi and how he perceives it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you guys for your responses.

All of which I will take into account.

I think my biggest question is HOW do I convince HIM to talk to me about it before putting up his wall of defense?

Going around him to find him a job for him or realizing there is nothing out there will probably be somewhat helpful.

I am resentful because we had a deal and he is not holding up his end of the deal for whatever reason or so I feel.


Anonymous said...

Well I do wanna say that that Alex's plan WOULD work, the tip was when you said he felt like you were attacking him.

You dealing with his lack of interest is a whole different thing. BUT I think if YOU take the initiative HE should be taking that will help YOU.

See the "play" here (for lack of a better word) is to force his hand. Hell tell him you are going to do it. Say Hey Bill I'm gonna get you some interviews. I should be able to get you a bunch of em until we find something for you to do! Be joyous, like you just had a light bulb moment. You just figured out that since he was busy with the kids and all you will take your "free time" to findhim a bunch of interviews, ya know to help him out.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Well like I said before. I think Alex your plan is great, but unless she can find a way to get him to sit down and talk about it it's only going to make it worse.

But ultimately...that is the end result.

I think like Alex said Jessica, maybe write him a letter? That way he can soak up what you want him to hear and maybe open him up to talk to you about it?

Anonymous said...

"It's not that hard to do."

I've been laid off/unemployed for nearly eight months of this year. Yeah . . . it's hard.

As for the "do it for him" advice . . . During my time off from work, my wife has come to me several times with opportunities she's seen in the paper or online. At first, my reaction is nearly always negative. I say to myself (never to her) "You think I can't DO this?!" And then I realize that she is just trying to deal with all this in her way, and trying not to feel so helpless. I wouldn't press so far as to set up interviews for him, unless he's just that lazy. If he's shown a bit of initiative, then feed him the hints, write down some numbers, and then let him take it from there. However, if he's given up, not trying at all, then you guys need to have a deep chat, and quickly . . .

Anonymous said...

I have no advice. I am just thrilled that my hubby has a job where he is secure. He can be there until the day he retires (unless he were to screw up obviously). His profession is one of the main reasons I chose him. Now I am happy for this decision.

While this doesn't help you Jessica and it is purely selfish. Thank you for helping me if only for a moment to appreciate my own hubby and his/our situation.

dan sweborg said...

Let's see if I have this correct: YOU have a job that pays well, only requires 4 days per week, maintains your standard of living, has insurance and you are "better off than a lot of people out there." In addition, your husband is "quite incredible" at being a stay-at-home dad. I would like to encourage you to count your blessings,,,,