Author Topic: Unsupportive working spouse  (Read 2077 times)

GreenSheep

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Unsupportive working spouse
« on: April 16, 2021, 11:59:48 AM »
What do you say to a working (by choice) spouse who constantly throws your lack of employment back in your face whenever you're pressed for time, stressed about everything that needs to be done around the house to prepare for guests (whom he invited), etc.? It's like he thinks I just sit on my butt all day eating bon-bons. I keep the house clean, I train our puppy, I'm learning a foreign language, and I make delicious food that he chooses not to eat. (That's a whole separate issue. He'd rather reheat crap out of cans than eat my homemade food. And I'm an excellent cook. Everyone else likes what I make.) I DID my time in the employment arena, and I earned the right to stay home and do whatever I want. I choose to remain productive at home, but apparently that's not enough, and I'm never allowed to be stressed out since I don't have a job.

BZB

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2021, 12:08:57 PM »
I think you tell him to stop with the resentful attitude, and to go with you to couples' counseling. I recommend a Gottman-trained therapist for this sort of thing.

Malcat

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2021, 12:20:03 PM »
You could really just change the title of this thread to "Unsupportive Spouse" because the fact that this is about working vs not working is practically irrelevant.

Did you feel completely respected before you left the workforce? Did you feel like your FIRE ambitions were respected? How have the future-planning discussions gone before now? Did you feel fully supported in your priorities?

Where is this disrespect coming from?

Incidentally, I retired and my DH still works, and he would NEVER treat me so disrespectfully because we made the decision for me to retire first together, as a shared priority. Plus, he's not a disrespectful ass.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 01:04:03 PM by Malcat »

draco44

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 12:39:31 PM »
I think you tell him to stop with the resentful attitude, and to go with you to couples' counseling. I recommend a Gottman-trained therapist for this sort of thing.
This.

The situation you describe sounds degrading and exhausting. Whatever the reasons might be behind your spouse's behavior (somehow genuinely not noticing how much you do? jealousy and anger about not being able to retire yet himself? stress at work spilling into his emotional state at home?), that's his shit to sort out. His actions are hurting you and that needs to stop.

Cassie

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2021, 01:47:12 PM »
Did he agree to you retiring while he works? Marriage counseling for you guys seems to be in order.

reeshau

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 09:49:50 PM »
I don't excuse the attitude, but I do think It's fair to point out that your retirement is a major adjustment for you both as a couple, not just for you.

How was housework split between you before you retired?
What is his input on the weekly menu?  Have you made any of his favorites?  (note: this is our tactic for our kindergartener.  He gets his turn to pick, but then no excuses for more exotic things)
Is he a grill master, or can he contribute to cooking in some way?  (note: not used with kindergartener)
Did you have any prior stay-at-home time (parenting?) that may have set expectations?
How much of this detail did the two of you discuss beforehand?  Is reality significantly different than the discussions?

So, just trying to keep an open mind to things.  Really, this sounds like it could be the complaint of any housewife / SAHP.  But probably, It's time for some counseling--particularly if you had not had discussions about housework / expectations beforehand.

My wife has been stay-at-home for 19 years due to health issues, then our child.  When I retired last year, ahe clearly expected me to pick up some household duties.  And that is only fair.  While I actually enjoy a number of them, (e.g. cooking) and took on a good deal, I had not met her detailed, unspoken expectations.  She had in mind sort of a 50/50 split of each line item, where I have things I do (garbage / vacuuming) because I am better able to do it, one way or the other.  We had a major reset after about 6 months, because she had building resentment.  And we both know now to communicate more openly about things.  It's hard to try not to tally up a "score," whether based on tasks or time, but to reach a point of fairness / balance.  It will probably be even harder as we expect our child to contribute more, because we probably *will* have to have some sort of recordkeeping mechanism.

By this detail, I just mean to say it isn't falling down easy.  It is one of the adjustments of this major life change.  Everyone should put due effort into understanding and managing this aspect of the change.

use2betrix

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2021, 05:54:50 AM »
Is he stressed due to work? If so, do you acknowledge that with the support he needs or is he resentful of a seeming “one upping” feeling of your non work-related stress?

GreenSheep

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2021, 07:30:22 AM »
Thanks for the input, everyone. We had a good, long talk yesterday and realized that we had both been taking on too much. We recently moved, we recently got a puppy, his family recently visited, we're trying to do things with neighbors to get to know them, etc. All GOOD stuff, but also time-consuming, work-creating, and sometimes stressful.

I don't think either of us realized how difficult it was for the other. He feels guilty working when he knows I could use his help around the house, and I feel like I should be doing everything for the house, puppy, etc. since he's the one working. He thinks I put too much pressure on myself, and he's right. I'm a perfectionist, and if he isn't also trying to make everything perfect, I get annoyed with him... even though leaving a few puppy nose smudges on the windows when the neighbors come over isn't the end of the world, for example.

So I think this was one of those times when it sucked that it devolved to this point, but at least it was a trigger for a conversation that really needed to happen so we could hit rock bottom and start moving up together rather than starting to dig deeper separately. :-) More frequent check-ins on this topic are definitely in order. Just talking about it and realizing that we both do actually appreciate each other, but have been failing to say it out loud, makes a big difference.

Malcat

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2021, 07:52:46 AM »
Thanks for the input, everyone. We had a good, long talk yesterday and realized that we had both been taking on too much. We recently moved, we recently got a puppy, his family recently visited, we're trying to do things with neighbors to get to know them, etc. All GOOD stuff, but also time-consuming, work-creating, and sometimes stressful.

I don't think either of us realized how difficult it was for the other. He feels guilty working when he knows I could use his help around the house, and I feel like I should be doing everything for the house, puppy, etc. since he's the one working. He thinks I put too much pressure on myself, and he's right. I'm a perfectionist, and if he isn't also trying to make everything perfect, I get annoyed with him... even though leaving a few puppy nose smudges on the windows when the neighbors come over isn't the end of the world, for example.

So I think this was one of those times when it sucked that it devolved to this point, but at least it was a trigger for a conversation that really needed to happen so we could hit rock bottom and start moving up together rather than starting to dig deeper separately. :-) More frequent check-ins on this topic are definitely in order. Just talking about it and realizing that we both do actually appreciate each other, but have been failing to say it out loud, makes a big difference.

Perhaps start scheduling regular talks.

DH and I take long walks at least once a week, and we make a point of go over how we're each doing, hopes we have for the future, fears or concerns we might have, etc, etc. Just making sure we each know exactly where the other is in terms of state of being and priorities.

It really helps prevent any unspoken buildup, and makes it DRAMATICALLY easier to handle any upheaval that comes up, because we already know where the other person's pressure points are, we don't have to guess anything.

GreenSheep

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Re: Unsupportive working spouse
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2021, 03:02:27 PM »
Thanks for the input, everyone. We had a good, long talk yesterday and realized that we had both been taking on too much. We recently moved, we recently got a puppy, his family recently visited, we're trying to do things with neighbors to get to know them, etc. All GOOD stuff, but also time-consuming, work-creating, and sometimes stressful.

I don't think either of us realized how difficult it was for the other. He feels guilty working when he knows I could use his help around the house, and I feel like I should be doing everything for the house, puppy, etc. since he's the one working. He thinks I put too much pressure on myself, and he's right. I'm a perfectionist, and if he isn't also trying to make everything perfect, I get annoyed with him... even though leaving a few puppy nose smudges on the windows when the neighbors come over isn't the end of the world, for example.

So I think this was one of those times when it sucked that it devolved to this point, but at least it was a trigger for a conversation that really needed to happen so we could hit rock bottom and start moving up together rather than starting to dig deeper separately. :-) More frequent check-ins on this topic are definitely in order. Just talking about it and realizing that we both do actually appreciate each other, but have been failing to say it out loud, makes a big difference.

Perhaps start scheduling regular talks.

DH and I take long walks at least once a week, and we make a point of go over how we're each doing, hopes we have for the future, fears or concerns we might have, etc, etc. Just making sure we each know exactly where the other is in terms of state of being and priorities.

It really helps prevent any unspoken buildup, and makes it DRAMATICALLY easier to handle any upheaval that comes up, because we already know where the other person's pressure points are, we don't have to guess anything.

Yep, regular talks are definitely important. That used to happen naturally, but of course with all this stuff going on lately, we both got busy, and the first thing to go was casual, relaxed time together. So, lesson learned. That needs to be prioritized even when we're busy! We've been lucky enough to have a fair amount of free time until recently, and I think we didn't realize how helpful that was.