Author Topic: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective  (Read 10195 times)

Picklemeister

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Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« on: January 26, 2015, 08:21:19 PM »
When I met my husband I was unemployed and living off of savings. My husband was working full time for ~$35k but was frustrated with not getting promoted after five years with the company. I got a job, then got promoted to where I was making significantly more than he was. We moved in together, splitting mutual living expenses 50/50.

We got married a little over 1.5 years ago. The next month he came home from work very frustrated and said he couldn't stand staying at his job any longer. We discussed it and decided he could quit once he got into a training program for a different career. He got into the program, and quit his job. This program had some prep work involved, so the next five months were spent doing that prep work. In hindsight, based on what others in the program did, I don't think the prep work needed to be the equivalent of a full time job for that amount of time. 1-2 months after he quit his job, I started paying all of our living expenses out of my paycheck.

He went into his training program, and was asked to leave after three months due to not being able to handle the technical aspects of the work. What followed was three plus months of depression while he looked for another job, eventually landing a sales position that is completely commission-based. When he started the job we had some discussions about how we would consider this new job successful or not and when I could expect him to start contributing to our living expenses again. We landed on minimum wage for the time being and contributing 50% of what he earned after business expenses. After five months he had contributed $200. When I mentioned that this wasn't meeting the threshold for considering the job a success, he admitted he wasn't being on top of contributing as we agreed upon. When I asked him why, he said it was because he needed to hoard money to protect himself in case I left him and was trying to build up a savings after not having any income for so long. He then added $1000 to our joint account a couple of weeks ago.

The crazy part about all of this is I'm not frustrated over the money itself. I make more than enough to pay our joint expenses and save a decent amount. The money is a stage to play out other issues. For example, I feel like I've been sacrificing a good deal of personal happiness to get his personal happiness to a decent place. He's obviously there; he says he's fine with the status quo in our marriage. He likes the actual work he's doing; it just pays shit and doesn't have any benefits. I talk about moving to a position that pays less but has less stress, and he balks since that would involve him needing to contribute more and/or us moving to a cheaper apartment. He doesn't want to put effort into giving more physical affection or to plan things for us to do together that we would both enjoy. These are both things he used to do. The only mutual goal we have is to eventually have a child, but I'm smart enough to know that the way things are right now, that would be a disaster. I feel crazy for being resentful of the whole situation, and he thinks I shouldn't feel resentful (he said he would never feel resentful if he was in my place and had my job and was providing for us).

I brought up marriage counseling; he is opposed to going. I've started going to personal counseling already, as I do have my own personal issues to work through that are separate from our relationship.

Has anyone else been a situation like this? What happened? Any advice or suggestions (especially on how to work through this)? Any facepunches?

Homey The Clown

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2015, 08:28:59 PM »
I don't have very specific advice, but it seems likely you kept separate finances even after getting married. If you were that nervous about joining finances, maybe marriage was such a good decision. He might have been hoarding cash because of your keeping finances separate. He sees you keeping some cash and thinks of it as giving yourself an "out", so he wants to do the same. Tell him you don't care how much he makes and you're going to start putting the money into one pot (account). Work with him to help him figure out what he wants to do. I guess that's more specific that I thought, but take it FWIW.

If I'm wrong about the joint/separate finances thing, ignore all of this.

carloco

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2015, 08:35:35 PM »
What a pickle...  I agree with you that money is only the symptom of an pervasive funk your marriage started... For me trust a disclosure are very important.  If my wife says that she is going to do XYZ and then I would find that she is doing something else behind my back, it would be devastating. 
Just to throw the ball on his court...  First off as a married couple, unless he keeps his secret stash in cash it will all get divided down the middle...
I wish you the best...

caliq

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2015, 08:44:52 PM »
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or psychiatrist or therapist or anything, but I do have significant personal experience with this kind of stuff...

The fact that he's essentially planning on you leaving him (with the hoarding money), and also withdrawing physically and emotionally from your relationship is really not a good sign.  I know you said he won't do couple's therapy, but I really strongly suggest that you make another effort at convincing him.  If he won't go for it (or probably even if he does), try to get him to agree to a personal therapist.  Speaking from experience though, going together is super insightful and helpful for figuring out how your partner thinks/operates/perceives the world.  Also, given the withdrawal and insistence that you'll end up leaving him, I would hazard a guess that he's still depressed.

Do you know how much he's actually making?  Do you have concrete evidence that he's hoarding it, or is that possibly something he said because he can't admit that he's had another unsuccessful venture?

Are the bills all in your name?  If you have separate finances, maybe you can transfer some of them into his name and split the expenses that way -- so he can still pay around 50% but he doesn't have to feel like you're demanding money from him?  Plus, if he doesn't contribute, he'll start getting angry calls and letters from utilities -- that makes them the bad guy and not you.

You're not crazy for resenting the situation; you guys don't have children so he's not parenting and it's perfectly reasonable to expect that you both contribute equally to the relationship in terms of financial effort (not necessarily dollar for dollar) and emotional/physical effort.  No facepunches :)

Groovin Old Hippie

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2015, 09:03:53 PM »
I've never been in a situation like this but we've been married for 39 years so I've been through a lot of ups and downs!  From the information you've provided it doesn't sound like he is "obviously" in a decent place regarding his personal happiness.  He may tell you he's fine but it sounds like your husband is still depressed (lack of more affection, not planning things you both enjoy, no motivation to make things better, hoarding money because you might leave).  If he won't go for marriage counseling ask if he will go see a counselor on his own.  Keep up your counseling so you can figure out what you really want in life.  No facepunches, just best wishes for both of you in your journey.

deborah

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 01:37:39 AM »
I don't like this situation at all. There are several red rags to me:
He doesn't want to put effort into giving more physical affection or to plan things for us to do together that we would both enjoy. These are both things he used to do.
He got into the program, and quit his job. This program had some prep work involved, so the next five months were spent doing that prep work. In hindsight, based on what others in the program did, I don't think the prep work needed to be the equivalent of a full time job for that amount of time.
and
After five months he had contributed $200. When I mentioned that this wasn't meeting the threshold for considering the job a success, he admitted he wasn't being on top of contributing as we agreed upon. When I asked him why, he said it was because he needed to hoard money to protect himself in case I left him and was trying to build up a savings after not having any income for so long.

I was in a similar situation once, but I'm not sure how similar - someone who abused my trust and did a heap of things to keep me down. I eventually told him to go, and he kept ringing me up threatening suicide (well, not quite, he was manipulative, so he rang up and debated with himself the pros and cons of different methods of suicide every night).

It seems to me that your frustration is telling you that this relationship is violating your principles - do you value trust and loyalty above other things, like freedom and fun? Is he treating you like a sugar mother without giving you the rewards a sugar mother should get? Is it really worth hanging on?

If you decide that it is, you need to work out a way of regaining trust, and setting boundaries. Talk with him about money - that what he has done appears to be a violation to you, and that it is very important to you. You are happy for him to have an emergency fund, and what do you both agree is a reasonable amount for it? What has he been doing with the money that he earnt? If you are going to pay for the majority of things, it is reasonable that you decide what can be paid for - including whether you can afford the current rent.

If he cannot understand the seriousness of what he has done, I see no hope.

Spondulix

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 02:04:00 AM »
I understand your situation very well. I actually hit a breaking point not long ago and had a huge venting thread about my DH, who's been in various stages of "stuck" (low/no employment, low wage, etc) for probably 5 years. Talking about it on here was extremely helpful, but people can be harsh. Take it with a grain of salt if you get responses saying "ditch the guy" cause no one knows you or your situation better than you do. It sounds like you're here looking for practical advice, and not analysis of your spouse.

The thing that I'm now realizing is that there is nothing you can do to make the other person change their situation. You will burn yourself out if you try. Trying to help him look for a job, asking him to contribute money, arguments about how he isn't working or isn't moving in life is going to do nothing to change the situation. The only thing you can do is focus on yourself. Seeing a therapist is a great step, because it keeps you focused on yourself at a time when it's really easy to focus on someone else. It is possible to make progress in a marriage even with one person in therapy (my therapist was telling me about studies recently regarding that)

I completely agree with what Jillian said - what you do have the power to do is express your own needs and feelings. With DH, I was in this cyclical pattern of saying, "You have a client who will pay you for your time - why are you not working?" I see now that my line of questioning was just making him feel more pressure, which only adds to stress and depression. Just recently, I started reframing it: "I'm scared that if something happens to me, you won't be able to take care of me." Or, "I feel lonely, and it makes me feel happy when we do fun things together." When you're feeling resentful, it can hard to be patient and loving, but you do have to remember to say, "I love you for who you are, and not how much money you make or what you do for work" and "you are a good person, with or without a job." It's a slow process, but it's a matter of opening up a line of communication and rebuilding trust, which you have to be onboard to do, also.

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 11:49:19 AM »
Three months of depression, hoarding money in case you leave him, and reduced effort into the physical/attention part of your relationship.  I'd say this is a clear sign that either marriage or individual (or both) counseling could be very beneficial to him. 

The fact that he expects you to make happiness sacrifices to subsidize his life, refuses to make any sacrifices of his own (ie. moving to a cheaper flat) while shaming you for your feelings of resentment (he doesn't know how he would feel if he was supporting you, since he never has) is emotional abuse, in my opinion (which is worth what you paid for it.) 

I agree with Jillian - express your own needs and feelings to him.  I would also recommend asking yourself, what, exactly, does he bring to the relationship?

Spondulix

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 12:26:34 PM »
Last night after I posted, DH asked what I was writing about and I shared your story with him and my response (this is something that wouldn't have happened a couple months ago). He said something along the lines of, "there's a difference between someone telling you what to do and being accountable to someone."

I respectfully disagree with Lia-Aimee about asking what value he brings to the relationship, because questions like that build resentment and more separation. It may seem counterintuitive to show weakness or vulnerability, but it's important to show that you can't take care of both of you. You have needs that need met, and not just expectations that he's not living up to.

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 02:05:27 PM »
Oh I mean asking *yourself* what you feel he brings to the relationship.  Definitely don't ask your husband that!!

mustachianteacher

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 02:15:49 PM »


The thing that I'm now realizing is that there is nothing you can do to make the other person change their situation. You will burn yourself out if you try. Trying to help him look for a job, asking him to contribute money, arguments about how he isn't working or isn't moving in life is going to do nothing to change the situation. The only thing you can do is focus on yourself. Seeing a therapist is a great step, because it keeps you focused on yourself at a time when it's really easy to focus on someone else. It is possible to make progress in a marriage even with one person in therapy (my therapist was telling me about studies recently regarding that)


THIS. I've been with my husband for almost 19 years, and married for 14. We've gone through some very stressful situations, which led to (his) depression, substance abuse, more depression, marital problems, etc. The reason I wrote (his) is because, as you're realizing, problems like these aren't just his; they affect both of you.

You can not and will not change him long-term. Treating the depression is a lifelong commitment, and if he drags his feet, it will affect you even more than it already does. Do what you can to encourage him to get to a good place mentally, but recognize that you can't fix him or make him be a certain way that's different from his basic personality. I always knew, for example, that my husband is a passive person who lets things happen to him and reacts to them, rather than being assertive and pro-active, which is how I am. I never realized until much later that he would never "outgrow" that trait, and that it would always be a core aspect of his personality. I've learned to live with it, work around it, and accept it, but that has taken time.

Cassie

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 02:19:24 PM »
If you were single would you move to a cheaper apartment & take a lower paying job? If the answer is yes then do it. Also imagine your life with him & without him just the way he is and which do you prefer?  Good luck. Virtual hug:))

Mr. Green

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 03:20:42 PM »
I was taught something a while back that I think is very true in relationships. I was told that if I saw something in my spouse or SO I didn't like, no good would come from it in pointing it out or trying to "help them change." The most effective way to encourage change was to change myself.

The common example is being overweight. If I exercise more, eat healthier, etc, my spouse is much more likely to want to get healthy because she will see me doing it and it rubs off. Maybe you open a joint account and close your personal account. Like another poster mentioned, if the marriage fails it's all 50/50 anyway, regardless of accounts. He'll have to go to the bank with you to open the joint account. He'll see you making the effort and perhaps he'll feel less insecure about the money and follow your example. You may be able to apply this to other areas he's struggling with. Make an effort to improve yourself in those areas, even if you don't necessarily feel like you need it. The power of suggestion is incredible and by keeping the focus on yourself, it keeps the other spouse from feeling like the direct offers for help are criticism.

Picklemeister

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 03:44:17 PM »
Thank you everyone for the advice; it was really helpful and made me feel a lot less crazy about it all.

Fortunately I think he's open to doing more things together. Ordinarily after dinner we go our separate ways to read or do whatever, but last night I suggested he pick a TV show he thought we would both like to watch and we could spend some time cuddling on the couch watching it. He seemed to recognize that I was making an effort to be with him and set aside his original plans. It was really nice and we both seemed to be happier afterwards. I'll admit that although I'm financially supportive, I'm not the greatest at being emotionally warm and supportive. I'm going to focus on improving that and see what happens.

I don't have very specific advice, but it seems likely you kept separate finances even after getting married. If you were that nervous about joining finances, maybe marriage was such a good decision. He might have been hoarding cash because of your keeping finances separate. He sees you keeping some cash and thinks of it as giving yourself an "out", so he wants to do the same. Tell him you don't care how much he makes and you're going to start putting the money into one pot (account). Work with him to help him figure out what he wants to do. I guess that's more specific that I thought, but take it FWIW.

If I'm wrong about the joint/separate finances thing, ignore all of this.

We do manage the majority of our finances separately. I lightly broached the subject of pooling everything into one pot last night (something to the effect of "what do you think about putting everything into one pot?" and he joked "you mean like communism?" I joked back "well, marriage is really the only successful form of communism.")  I'll probably bring it up again as a more serious proposition.

Do you know how much he's actually making?  Do you have concrete evidence that he's hoarding it, or is that possibly something he said because he can't admit that he's had another unsuccessful venture?

No, I don't know exactly what he is making, but to be fair he doesn't know exactly what I make either (although I'm happy to disclose that). After our conversation talking about whether the job was successful or not he did show me his paycheck deposits for the previous few weeks, so I don't think he's as unsuccessful as his financial contributions indicated.

Are the bills all in your name?  If you have separate finances, maybe you can transfer some of them into his name and split the expenses that way -- so he can still pay around 50% but he doesn't have to feel like you're demanding money from him?  Plus, if he doesn't contribute, he'll start getting angry calls and letters from utilities -- that makes them the bad guy and not you.

All of the bills are either in my name or autodrafted through our joint account. He actually has more stashed away in savings than I do

It seems to me that your frustration is telling you that this relationship is violating your principles - do you value trust and loyalty above other things, like freedom and fun?

This is major part of the problem, I think. I feel I've been prioritizing trust and loyalty above freedom and fun, but the benefits of the former are slowly being eroded.

Is he treating you like a sugar mother without giving you the rewards a sugar mother should get? Is it really worth hanging on?
I would also recommend asking yourself, what, exactly, does he bring to the relationship?

I feel a lot of guilt because I do find myself asking myself "what am I getting out of this relationship?" every once in a while. I try not to, because I think it reinforces the idea of keeping score, which goes against my belief that both people in a marriage need to be on Team Us for it to work. Then I wonder if I am just being a fool at a certain point. I also need to own up to the fact that although I've been Team Us financially, I haven't 100% in other areas (such as emotional support).

What has he been doing with the money that he earnt?

I am 100% certain he is saving it. One of the reasons I married him was because he doesn't spend frivolously.



Shipwreckgirl

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 03:54:00 PM »
I just want to say that I know where you are coming from.  I am in a similar situation - my SO has been out of work for 6 months and has contributed no income.  We've been living together for 3 years, engaged for 2 and his employment has been freelance, meaning not steady.  When he has work, he has contributed to rent, food, etc.  We are in the same industry and sometimes I am able to refer him jobs, but it is not enough.  To me, it seems like he is either on Reddit or FB during the day and then he tells me he has applied for jobs.  We have been in couples therapy for a year (there are some other issues as well).  I go to our therapist alone sometimes.  She has recommended that I work on myself and my goals - basically, you can't make someone do what they don't want to do.  Therapy has helped a good amount.  If he doesn't want to go - can he tell you why?  Not wanting to go and open a dialogue about the issues sounds like he just wants to avoid things and hope that you won't bring them up.  My therapist has suggested setting limits and establishing boundaries for me and our relationship.  Can you write out what you would like him to do and have a talk about it?  I think the only thing you really can do is keep suggesting couples therapy, go to therapy on your own and decide what you are and are not willing to accept.  Work your own goals.  It sounds like he is depressed.  Is he the type of person to let his ego react to not being able to provide?  I've found that to be the case in my situation - my SO's ego is super-crushed by not being the 'provider' and being able to take care of me, and that just spirals into anger, bitterness, and depression.  Like you, I don't really care that I make more money than he does and I'm happy to be able to pay the bills.  I just want him to be productive and be able to contribute something to the relationship, as well as be happy in his own life.  But you can't create that feeling for someone else.  They have to do it on their own.

I think you are wise in realizing that a baby will only complicate things if you don't come to some kind of understanding.  I am in the same boat.  I would like to have a child someday and would like to feel some kind of stability (financial & personal) with this relationship and right now it's not there.  You have to be on the same page as your partner, looking out in the same direction or it's just so hard.  I agree a million percent with Spondulix's comments as well. 

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 04:25:56 PM »
You absolutely do not have to feel guilty for asking yourself what you're getting out of your marriage - you're just assessing the health of Team Us.  In a healthy team, the stronger member supports the weaker member, but the weaker member always contributes something.  That's what a team is.  Of course, it's essential to ask yourself what your husband is getting out of the marriage, too, and whether or not all his needs are being met.  Recognizing that you may need to increase your emotional support is fantastic. 


jmusic

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 05:05:37 PM »
The fact that he isn't contributing to the pooled funds while he has more savings than you would be concerning to me.  It may just be a communication issue, as I didn't pay my fair share (at restaurants, bars, etc) when I first started my relationship with my SO, while my income is higher.  We talked about the issue and I got a lot better (according to her).  Of course, becoming more frugal has helped in this regard as well.  :)


puglogic

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 05:21:07 PM »
Sending you my best in this stressful situation.

I can't improve on what was said above.  As someone who has been through TWO relationships like the one you're currently in, I could go on and on but won't.  I only wish that I had been able to articulate my feelings in a loving and measured way -- I think the relationships would still have ended, but I would not have suffered so long before realizing it was simply a bad fit for me, and for what I want to do with my time here on earth. 

Your situation may be different, and just need some work.  But for all the red-flag reasons mentioned above, it appears your spouse is perfectly willing to let you make all the sacrifices, all the while holding veto power over anything you may want to do to improve your own happiness.  And that's not good.  Was there any sign of this before you married?

Kudos to you for realizing that your own communication and assertiveness may need some polishing too.  Only good things can come of improving your ability to take control of your own happiness.

Good luck and hugs.

« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 05:24:02 PM by puglogic »

sleepyguy

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 06:00:10 PM »
Go to counselling.  Give it a chance if you think the relationship is worth it.

Be open, tell him you making x amount over his doesn't mean anything but he needs to still contribute as it's part of the relationship.  (fyi, my GF makes double what I do... I wish she would make triple!!).

Financial habits and work ethics are hard to change though.

Good luck!

Spondulix

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2015, 07:53:34 PM »
You absolutely do not have to feel guilty for asking yourself what you're getting out of your marriage - you're just assessing the health of Team Us.  In a healthy team, the stronger member supports the weaker member, but the weaker member always contributes something.  That's what a team is.  Of course, it's essential to ask yourself what your husband is getting out of the marriage, too, and whether or not all his needs are being met.  Recognizing that you may need to increase your emotional support is fantastic.
Yes I agree 1000%. What goes around comes around - everyone has times in their lives when they need support, and the balance will shift in the other direction at some point. When you're in the middle of it, it's really easy to get fearful and say, "if he's like this now, what will he be like when I need support?" I have a friend who told me about how his marriage was on it's last limb - he says it was literally the last days and he was packing his bags to move out. Something shifted and they decided to stay together. He said that working up from that has made his marriage so strong that now, they're both confident they could work through anything together. It's tough when these things happen early in marriage, cause friends and family tend to think that everything is newlywed great. Life happens.

expatartist

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2015, 08:08:48 PM »
When you're in the middle of it, it's really easy to get fearful and say, "if he's like this now, what will he be like when I need support?"

Thanks Spondulix for your posts. They help me to see out of the current cycles we've been in, for years.

Picklemeister

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2015, 03:47:28 PM »
Once again I just want to say I appreciate everyone's advice and stories. It makes me feel less alone and a lot less like I am going crazy.

Last night we had the most awful argument we've ever had. The night before I had talked to him about how his not proactively contributing as we had agreed was frustrating and affected my trust in him. He led that into a discussion about how he needed time to become successful in his job. He felt waiting until July this year to re-assess was fair; I felt re-assessing in May was fair. Last night he brought up that he didn't see things ever changing for us. He would not acknowledge that he has one iota of control over his job situation; he said "it is out of my control. I don't know what to do." I suggested he get a part-time job to supplement while he was trying to get his sales career off the ground. I suggested that if his income wasn't trending upward in the next 4-6 months or so he go back to the type of work he was doing when we got married (which he did successfully for 7+ years in the same job and left on good terms). Both ideas were shot down. I suggested he study sales techniques and he scoffed at me. I suggested individual therapy again. I suggested couples therapy again. He is 100% certain that therapy won't help unless I can define what goal we're going to therapy to work towards. He said he was happy with the type of work he's doing until I started pressuring him about the money bit; now all he can think about his our relationship is threatened if he doesn't start making money and he's stressed (which is a fair point; it is).

The end result of this entire conversation was him saying "You're either going to have to learn to be happy with the status quo or..." I was left to fill in the "or," but I could tell he was alluding to leaving him. I responded by telling him one of my boundaries is that I can't be with someone who can't support themselves unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as a disability). I guess at least we both know where the other stands.

Kris

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2015, 04:25:36 PM »
Picklemeister -- I'm really sorry you're going through this.  My gut twisted as I read your last response.  Your DH reminds me eerily of my ex-husband.  And that fight reminds me eerily of our last fight.

Whatever happens... You will be fine.  Divorce, if it does happen, is generally for the best.  Nine years since mine, I am remarried to a wonderful man whose goals match my own and I couldn't be happier.  In my case, divorce was the second best thing that ever happened to me!  ;-)

marty998

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2015, 04:28:25 PM »
Once again I just want to say I appreciate everyone's advice and stories. It makes me feel less alone and a lot less like I am going crazy.

Last night we had the most awful argument we've ever had. The night before I had talked to him about how his not proactively contributing as we had agreed was frustrating and affected my trust in him. He led that into a discussion about how he needed time to become successful in his job. He felt waiting until July this year to re-assess was fair; I felt re-assessing in May was fair. Last night he brought up that he didn't see things ever changing for us. He would not acknowledge that he has one iota of control over his job situation; he said "it is out of my control. I don't know what to do." I suggested he get a part-time job to supplement while he was trying to get his sales career off the ground. I suggested that if his income wasn't trending upward in the next 4-6 months or so he go back to the type of work he was doing when we got married (which he did successfully for 7+ years in the same job and left on good terms). Both ideas were shot down. I suggested he study sales techniques and he scoffed at me. I suggested individual therapy again. I suggested couples therapy again. He is 100% certain that therapy won't help unless I can define what goal we're going to therapy to work towards. He said he was happy with the type of work he's doing until I started pressuring him about the money bit; now all he can think about his our relationship is threatened if he doesn't start making money and he's stressed (which is a fair point; it is).

The end result of this entire conversation was him saying "You're either going to have to learn to be happy with the status quo or..." I was left to fill in the "or," but I could tell he was alluding to leaving him. I responded by telling him one of my boundaries is that I can't be with someone who can't support themselves unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as a disability). I guess at least we both know where the other stands.

My 2c, can't say I'm an expert but hey, bolded part...I see this as the most telling sentence. Many men just need goals to work towards. We're not really good at the airy-fairy-touchy-feely-talky stuff. Therapy is not the answer for everyone.

This would be different if he didn't have a job but perhaps, given he already has a job, a way to go about this is that together you decide that he progressively becomes more accountable for different parts of your budget.

Maybe start with the phone bill. If he doesn't pay it, then you both have to wear the consequences. It forces responsibility on him. It might make him feel that his contribution matters.

Then move onto different things, work your way up till he pays half the rent/mortgage etc.

I get the feeling he is just disempowered right now with you holding all the power in this relationship.

Spondulix

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2015, 05:08:41 PM »
I'm so sorry to hear about your argument. I totally, totally feel your pain. I've heard that line before "It's just who I am, so take it or leave it". I used to call BS on that (because it is - if you weren't there, he'd have to get another job to survive, right?) It's an exercise in patience, though, because pointing it out probably will just add to the rift.

I also read in your response that he would be open to therapy if he saw a clear, quantifiable purpose. Our couples therapist made us each set three goals each the first meeting, so maybe that's something you could think about or try to have a dialog about. From what you've said, it sounds like both of you could use help with regaining trust and "allowing influence" (that was a really tough one for my husband the first few years). My DH was really concerned he'd just be in a room with two people who would be ganging up on him and a therapist who didn't want to solve our problems cause it'd be more money in their pocket. Once we went, he found it was actually a place he had an equal voice where he didn't before, and we both had a sense of relief even after the first visit.

I don't want to say too much (maybe it's too late ;) because I think your therapist is really the one to talk to and come up with a plan... But I think Marty998 has some insite about how he may feel disempowered (helpless), and is using non-action as a way of having power. It also sounds like he's being defensive (instead of admitting vulnerability to you). As s***y as it is, I think a lot of men react that way - it's a fight or flight response. Unfortunately the fight is being directed at the wrong target (you), and I'm sure he doesn't realize he's doing it, or how much it's harming the relationship by treating you like the enemy. Although it's entirely possible he would say the same thing...

The idea of forcing responsibility is one I'd run by your therapist. I think it's a great idea to force accountability (especially in a quantifiable way), but if hes borderline depressed or his fight response is already being triggered, more pressure could escalate the situation. So, it's just something you want to be prepared for.

Big virtual hug!!

mozar

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2015, 06:04:02 PM »
My concern is that he scoffs at you and is blaming you for his problems (also threatening you- "get used to the status quo or else"). There is a big difference between being down on your luck for awhile vs emotional abuse. Don't give suggestions around his work, you can only suggest ways to help your relationship. Can you check into a hotel for awhile to clear your thoughts?

This is similar to my last relationship, where my ex was doing everything possible to sabotage the relationship and make it clear I was making their life miserable. My ex left when I made it clear I was done accepting their emotional abuse.

I recommend the book "co-dependent no more"

Kris

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2015, 06:14:00 PM »
My concern is that he scoffs at you and is blaming you for his problems (also threatening you- "get used to the status quo or else"). There is a big difference between being down on your luck for awhile vs emotional abuse. Don't give suggestions around his work, you can only suggest ways to help your relationship. Can you check into a hotel for awhile to clear your thoughts?

This is similar to my last relationship, where my ex was doing everything possible to sabotage the relationship and make it clear I was making their life miserable. My ex left when I made it clear I was done accepting their emotional abuse.

I recommend the book "co-dependent no more"

I tend to agree.

Allie

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2015, 10:26:12 PM »
I just finished reading your thread and what struck me most was the overwhelming sense of failure woven through the narrative.  Please don't misunderstand, I don't think you are failing or your husband is a failure or your marriage is a failure.  What really stood out is that your husband has experienced so many failed attempts at securing a career and place for himself, which for a man can be really demoralizing.  The job where he wasn't promoted, his inability to enter his program without excessive study (which he may have perceived as a failure when he realized others did not do the same), his being thrown out of the program, his inability to make money at his current job.  I would be really down on myself if I had had those experiences.  Now, he may perceive his ability to support your needs, both monetary and non monetary, as failing. 

I would hypothesize that, assuming he is genuinely a decent fellow and not an emotionally abusive a-hole, after all those failures he is likely have latched onto either an internal or external reason for this pattern of experiences...either decided that there is something wrong with him - not smart enough, not skilled enough, etc - OR there is something wrong with everyone else - people don't understand him, give him a chance, give him the credit he deserves, everyone is out to get him.  Either way, he has probably given up much confidence that he has any control over his future and fully expects you to leave him, either because he isn't (I don't know what he may lament about) smart/skilled/charismatic enough to maintain the relationship or because everyone is out to screw him.  Either way, hoarding money makes perfect sense.

If I am totally off the mark, just ignore me, but it sounds like his hoarding and withdrawal and unwillingness to try things is related to some mild depression.  Many times, though certainly not always, this can be related to or exacerbated by someone believing they have no control over their life course, which is not going the way they want.  The hoarding and such would be an attempt to maintain a little influence over the outcome. 

Also, maybe convince him to go to therapy for a couple sessions.  Like a month.  If he doesn't like it or there is not enough of a defined goal, he doesn't have to go after that.  Don't go to your therapist, get a good recommendation for a therapist who is goal oriented and focused on outcomes.  Likely, your husband will actually enjoy the experience.  Therapists purposefully help rebalance the dynamic in a way that both people are able to find power in the process.

Best of luck!

expatartist

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2015, 01:35:46 AM »
He said he was happy with the type of work he's doing until I started pressuring him about the money bit

DH has said the same to me recently. [Backstory: He's worked in a lucrative industry previously but has convinced himself that here in China there are no ethical jobs he can do in that industry. So he's taught English part-time at universities in China for the past 3 years, with some business English coaching on the side. It's more than enough to get by, but not build a stache like his original career.]

He said he liked his job until he felt I didn't respect it. It's not that I don't respect it, it's that there's no career/pay advancement possible for these kinds of jobs in China, and experience here doesn't translate anywhere else. Jobs in his other industry however have relevant skills transfer worldwide.

Fundamentally I think our issues have to do with societal expectations we've internalized related to gender. He feels insecure because I am absolutely committed to my career here and am supporting us in some ways. I struggle because I want him to be working full-time at his potential, and am frustrated at his lack of motivation.

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2015, 10:21:39 AM »
Quote
it appears your spouse is perfectly willing to let you make all the sacrifices, all the while holding veto power over anything you may want to do to improve your own happiness.  And that's not good.


Quote
My concern is that he scoffs at you and is blaming you for his problems (also threatening you- "get used to the status quo or else"). There is a big difference between being down on your luck for awhile vs emotional abuse.


This is what I find the most concerning, too. It's not about him earning a low income or having bad luck with jobs, it's that he seems so unwilling to compromise and is so dismissive of your feelings.  In your first post, when you wrote that he was stashing away money without telling you/contributing as you two had agreed upon, I was sympathetic - when I was a student, I had anxiety if I didn't have at least 10k in the bank.   Maybe he feels similarily.  But then...he refuses to make sacrifices of his own, like a move to a smaller apartment or take on a part-time job? Telling you that you have to learn to be happy without any suggestions of compromises on his part? Of course I don't know your husband and only know one side of the story, but to me that just seems...well, downright mean.

Virtual hugs.   


rmendpara

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Re: Marriage advice - looking for some perspective
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2015, 12:02:41 PM »
I don't know all the details, but from a brief read over your situation and recent update(s), it seems like you are telling him what needs to be accomplished rather than working together to set goals and coming up with a plan to do that.

Normally, it's good to ask questions (of course while being mindful of tone and body language as much as possible). For example...

- What do you want out of your career? What do you see as a successful career?
- What are your individual and what do you think should be our 5-yr financial goals as a team?
- How should we work toward that?

Based on what you've said before, it seems he's afraid of the relationship ending. You need to do something (maybe more than one thing) to help him feel like you've not pushing him toward a ledge... or pushing him into a corner. I'm not saying that's your intention, but maybe he feels as if you are giving him an ultimatum "Make more money or I'm dumping you for a better man." Again, not suggesting that's your intent, but maybe that's how he feels.

He does need to know you love him and are willing to work with him toward both his individual career goals as well as your common financial/personal goals, while also not feeling like he's on some sort of metaphorical cliff...

Maybe you've already done this, but something to reflect upon.

Best wishes!