I think my marriage is in serious trouble. I think that is probably an understatement.
DH and I have been married for 14 years. I work FT and am a PhD student. DH is home during the day with the three kids (8,6,3, we HS) and works two part time food service jobs in the evenings/weekends. We have always had issues but this time things have gone on too long and last night DH packed up his car and left after the kids went to bed, but did come back eventually.
DH is a stonewaller. He has been angry and not talking to me for about three weeks now. He has been sleeping in the guest room. I am not even exactly clear what he is so mad about.
DH will not do counseling. We did marriage counseling a few years ago and it was a disaster so he is not willing to try it again.
I asked him today if he was moving out and he said “I don’t know yet.” I am so tired of this sort of immature response that I am emotionally checked out. Honestly the only thing I can think about is if he left, how could I pay for childcare? I really do not know what to do. Our family is over 1000 miles away and we are seriously strapped for money so even leaving for a long weekend and giving him some space isn’t an option. In the past when things have been bad between us I have been an emotional mess. This time I’m kinda pissed but mostly I just don’t feel anything.
So do I continue to act as if nothing is wrong and go about my business (as I have been), do I confront him until he talks (may or may not work), do I ask him to leave and not to come back until he can talk things out like an adult? Other ideas?
Mama I'm sorry. I didn't want to read and not respond, but you might want to ask a moderator to move your post over to the Parents As Partners subforum; you'll get more responses there.
You've got a lot going on, and some decisions you need to make. i guess the first question is, do you want to work it out? Your lives sound very full right now. Are there changes that you could make, or things you would be willing to let go, to make your home life easier? It sounds like you're both pretty ambivalent about where the marriage is going--this might be the time to steer it one way or the other, but you'll have to choose which way. I'm sorry that you're going through this. I hope your DH comes around and talks through it with you soon.
I suppose if you can call a truce on the hostilities and talk about whether anything is salvageable (usually it is if both parties want it to be) then maybe together you can map out a path to get back from the edge of the abyss.
Also you might want to look into his angry behavior. About 6 hrs ago my DH was acting really awful, mean, angry towards me for no real reason. I have since learned that he was massively depressed, on the verge of suicide. He wasnt addressing his chemical imbalance and so was using alcohol in an unhealthy way. We almost didn't get through it and now in retrospect I can see that it wasn't about me or the relationship but was a serious side effect of his mood disorder. . I'm not saying your husband is depressed, but would encourage you to consider that his angry behavior could be a sign of something else that isn't right, with him personally.
One thing that jumped out at me was that you are a PhD student and he works food-service jobs. If that is something he enjoys doing, that's wonderful, but is it possible that he feels unfulfilled and is then projecting that on to the marital relationship?
I ask because my DH is currently in school and I am working a dead-end data entry job in a field I hate (advertising). It's an impermanent arrangement (thankfully) but it's been extremely rough on our relationship.
You're in a hard spot, a spot I know quite well. Just one thing it is important to remember in these situations is to not ascribe intentions to words that may not exist. I think for example that it is unfair to label his response to your question as immature. No doubt he genuinely does not know. He clearly loves you, and loves his children, and wants things to work out, but he is not sure if it is healthy for him to stay, either. That is HUGE decision to make, and he shouldn't answer one way or the other until he is sure.
I do not think you should push him to leave or cower from confrontation. I do think you should beg, barter or pay for a baby sitter to take the kids so the two of you can have some serious time to discuss what's going on.
Three weeks is too long to not talk.
When my DH and I went through something like this we discovered that the success of my career was a catalyst for a lot of self-loathing coming to the surface and it coincided with his 40th birthday which was pretty bad. He felt like I cared about everyone but him and the kids, that I was leaving him behind. He needed more autonomy. He needed to be needed in major ways. He needed his own life and friends. He needed to feel appreciated more obviously. I needed security which for me meant not feel a wave of resentment and anger every time I walked through the door. I needed acknowledgement that I was doing a good job as a wife and mother despite also being the sole breadwinner. I needed support to get the job done impressively enough that I would be up for promotion. Neither of us could meet the other's needs with the set up as it was. So we made childcare happen so Dh could go back to work doing what he loves rather than what he can to make our ends meet.
I don't know what it will be for your DH and you, but the important thing is to sit down and figure out what each of you NEEDS and then find out how together you can meet those needs. The CNVC has a lot of great techniques for getting to the bottom of bad feelings and finding out the unmet needs beneath. It really helps us to communicate less judgementally. So instead of saying "he's being so immature!" or "He's being really mean." I say "He's not speaking to me." then I think, what would make him not want to talk? Depression? Anxiety? Anger? Thoughtfulness? Reflection? and instead of assuming he is punishing me (which I would have before). Then when I ask him I don't say "What did I do to deserve this treatment!?" (even if what I said out loud is "what's wrong?" the tone of the accusation could be heard) I say "you seem upset. Do you want to talk about it?" and if the answer is no, I can trust he trusts me enough to tell me the truth. and then I can say "Will you let me know if there is anything I can do or if you want to talk about it?"
And if I have a need to talk to him I can say "I feel lonely and I need connection. I'd like to have that connection with you, to hear your voice. Will you talk to me about what's been going on with you?" It's an observation, a need, and an honest request. And if that is met with an honest denial, I meet that need elsewhere and do not hold his inability or unwillingness to meet my need against him or as a reflection of his love for me (well, that's the THEORY! ha ha old habits die hard, right?) It's a good practice of communication and it has really helped us to communicate better.