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Not Sure What To Do..

I have been married for 7 years, have one toddler son, and am expecting a second child in a couple of months. I have always had problems with my husband, even before we were married. We've gone to couples therapy in the past, to great improvement in our situation each time. My husband is a wonderful father.

We have been fighting constantly over the past few months. My husband bottles all his anger and frustration up, and then he explodes when it boils over. He is not physically abusive. Perhaps is emotionally abusive to a minor degree--I do not think it is his intention to be this way, and he doesn't realize sometimes how hurtful the things he says are. When he gets angry, he says things that don't make much sense to me (and I don't think he remembers what he says afterward), but I am sure that he says certain things if for no other reason than to push my buttons. I am normally a very calm person, and I can address my frustrations in an adult way as soon as they arise. But, we have gotten into this terrible cycle of him blowing up at me (which to me feels like a toddler's temper tantrum), me getting so angry at what he's saying to me that I immediately become defensive, and then we're both angry and stressed out for 2-4 days. I hate this--this time takes me to such a dark place emotionally and mentally. He also brings out the laundry list of complaints that he has, most of which are exaggerated or contain untruths, but he's convinced himself that it is as he says.

The thing is, I am not unreasonable. If he has a complaint or wants to talk about something that we or I can improve on, I am totally willing to listen and earnestly work to improve whatever is the source of his frustration. But, if he just explodes at me, I cannot see past that behavior to try to dissect what his probably valid frustration is. And after we fight, he just wants to call "truce", but never wants to go back and talk about what happened and how we can fix things.

I also feel that he is extremely selfish. He comes and goes as he pleases with his sports training. I am happy that he has a healthy hobby and takes it seriously, however it's assumed that I will always be home with our son, and he can just come and go as he pleases. I am aware that I have permitted this to develop by not sticking up for myself and my time. I have started to let him know when I need to do things and he will have to stay with our son. I think he is not used to this, and this may frustrate him.

But, I am easy-going and it's easy for me to go with the flow, and try to do what he wants and be flexible around his schedule in an effort to avoid him getting angry about so many things. I have found that this doesn't work. He gets angry anyway. So, I have been sacrificing my happiness and desires because I am afraid of fighting and feeling the way I do when we fight.

I have come to a point that I realize my life is mostly gone as I knew it. I don't have friends--my relationship with him has slowly plucked them from my life. It's easier to just distance myself from friends than have to justify/explain his actions to my friends, or have them somehow get involved in our drama. Unfortunately I have made these choices.

When we first got married, I was pursuing my career. We started a company together, to be his main job, which took off. Eventually, the financial benefit of us making this company our primary career was great enough to where I put my career on hold. The company is quite dependent on me taking care of all office work and bookkeeping, and it's also dependent upon my husband running the field operations, which he does well. However I look back and I think that I have missed an opportunity to do something that I was interested in and studied for so many years, and now if I were to start to pursue my career, I'd be 6-8 years behind in terms of salary and experience. But, I know that not everyone has the luxury of having their dream job. In fact I would have no problem continuing to work in our company since I know that it will give my children a great future. However, when I combine this abandonment of my career with everything else that is going on, I see it as another poor decision that I have made and a missed opportunity.

Also, to complicate things, he allows our conflicts in working together to boil over into our married life. That is unfair to me as his business partner and his spouse.

When I was pregnant with my first, we were going to counseling, and he was very attentive and accommodating and I think he did learn to deal with his frustrations better because he didn't want to stress me out, or stress out the baby I was carrying. This time, however, there is little consideration for my stress level or our fighting. I get help carrying heavy things and taking care of my son, yes. But my needs are greater than just physical help during my pregnancy. I need a low stress level and tranquility in my house more than anything.

I have told him that we need to return to counseling urgently. He refuses and says that it didn't help before, since everything has gone back to the way it was. If he really believes what he is saying, then his experience in going through counseling is completely opposite from mine. Our couples therapist suggested we each pursue counseling individually. I took her recommendation to work on myself and my issues, and I have felt a huge improvement in my life because of it. My husband did not pursue individual therapy for himself.

I don't want to live this way anymore. When our second is born, I am sure that our situation will become even worse because having a second child is a huge life change, and we need to be working as a team when this happens in order to weather it--we are clearly not. My mom is going to come and stay with us for a while to help me recover from the surgery and help with my son. I am scared that she will witness our dysfunction, or worse, get drawn into it. But I need her help, and there is no one else. So, I am worried that I will send her back home pre-maturely so that she doesn't have to see too much of our interaction, and not have anyone there to help my needs for rest and recovery met.

I love my husband more than ever, strangely. I don't know what to do. I think that he is a good person with bad behaviors that he has learned over the years and maybe doesn't realize how bad he acts. I want to stay with him and I don't want to disassemble this life we've made together. But, if he is unwilling to do his part to work on our problems or address our dysfunction, what other option do I have? I am realizing that continuing to live this way causes me to become depressed, anti-social, and just plain sad. I remember myself as being such a vibrant, adventurous person. Now I think that I am a miserable person because of my circumstances. I don't want my kids to see a couple relate in this way, and I don't want them to have a sad, miserable mommy.

I would welcome your help/experiences. Sorry so long, but it felt good to get it out.



jlkb jlkb 31-35 5 Responses Sep 9, 2011

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I have one more thought regarding your friends. In your original post you speak of isolating yourself from your friends because you don't want to "justify/explain his actions"...if you are able to, go seek out your old friends now, they were/are YOUR friends for a reason and I think you will be surprised at how willing they will be to come back into your life. While EP is great sounding board, a true friend will always be better. Also don't be embarrassed or ashamed about your situation, as you may have read, it's not that uncommon and you may be surprised that as you reach out to your old friends, they may have similar experiences to relate. Take care of yourself.

Update: because my husband does not wish to pursue counseling, we have agreed to separate. I still made an appointment with our marriage counselor for this week, and put it on his schedule. I hope he will come. Even if it's to help us navigate our separation, I want to return to counseling with him.



He's very hostile toward me--unfortunately until after the baby is born, he will have to stay in our house because of the assistance I will require. So, I'm not looking forward to the next several months.



I have requested that we sit down and make an agreement for dividing up housework and child care--when I ask him for something like this, his typical reaction is to give some vague answer about when we can talk about this, and then I either have to bug him about it a million times, or we never talk about it. This time I asked him to make a specific appointment in his calendar, and he got very angry with me for that. Unfortunately, as is the pattern, I will follow up with him tomorrow or the next day for a specific time to talk about this, and he will get angry with me for following up with him.



At this point, I am realizing that I have to put aside my love for him--it is irrelevant with respect for us preserving our marriage. Of course that will translate into respect for him as the father of my children, and concern for his happiness. "Sometimes love is not enough" is true. I can't love someone into acting in a respectful way or wanting to be a good husband. I can only be responsible for the way I act, and my decisions.

That is a courageous decision and one that I think is for the best. It seems like you & your husband have developed some very set patterns, ruts if you will, that you follow as a matter of routine. (battling these myself) By going a new direction, you are forcing the relationship to redefine itself and in doing so maybe help break some of those old, non-functional, patterns. Regretfully, I think you are correct in your assessment of love in your situation, it is a liability. You have to do right by yourself first, then your children and then him...if he deserves it. If you lose yourself, all is lost.

What I am still not getting, and I am sure you would like to know as well is, what the cause for his irrational actions are? What happened that made him become hostile? Why does he vent all of his frustrations at you? I am just curious for curiosities sake. Please don't take my curiosity as "what did YOU do?" He is solely responsible for his actions and you are at a point in your relationship where you can not help him, he needs to recognize the peril and seek the help himself.

I don't envy your situation one iota and I am really hoping that something will snap into place that will allow you to get a "happily ever after" whatever that may look like.

Chin-up, take it day by day and have faith that this unpleasantness will pass. Know that ,for what it's worth, I'm sending positive energy (prayers) your way and I'm sure a lot of folks reading this are as well.

I don't have any answers, it seems that your extremely logical and taking the steps one by one. I would say that you are on the right track in your thinking about your status as a role model for your children. Billy Joel sang it as "Do what's good for you, or your no good for anybody"-James.



I am confused about his change in doing right by the baby. He recognized the need to modify his behaviors to assist your stress level for your first child but doesn't for your second? What is his thoughts on having the 2nd child?



You make a good point about his having tantrums...I have them and I recognize them for what they are now. It's a crappy realization when you see yourself in the way your two year old is behaving.



My final thought is that maybe you are being too logical and too much the "fixer" of problems. Though I realize it may be acting on your part, throw a tantrum of your own, you are 7 months pregnant with his kid and he's being a jerk, you have every right. Make him step up and take the "parental" roll for a change.



Please understand that I have my own "unfixable" problems and certainly am not qualified to tell you what to do. However, I hope my "outsider" view point may help you figure out a way to help you. I hope that you can, it sounds like you have something worth saving.

I really appreciate your thoughtful insight, wanderinstar. It's good to hear from someone outside our situation that it sounds to you like I'm trying to do the right thing and be reasonable. I also have realized through our counseling sessions, that I am almost too rational, and my husband is much more emotional, so when we fight, it doesn't make sense to me. When we fight, it doesn't have to make sense to him, he just feels whatever frustration he feels and it boils over.

We both would have liked to have our second child come along 6months to a year later than he will, but I had problems with fertility and it took me a long time to be pregnant with our first, so when the second came along a little earlier than planned, we were pleased and surprised (and a little shocked). But we've gotten over that initial shock and started to make space in our life for our second. My husband has expressed to me nothing but happiness and excitement at the thought of having another son. He is in love with our son, wanted to have another child, and talks about the two of them being brothers and playing together. I don't get the impression that he is anything but happy about the baby. I just think he's a tight ball of frustration like he's never been before, and he is not willing to treat me the same as in my first pregnancy because of the resentment he holds for me.

Thanks also for reminding me that I can't fix everything. That is a very good point. I have a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders, and I have turned into a person who needs solutions for many problems and has to come up with them immediately in order to move on to my next task. Perhaps this one is beyond my reach or capacity.

I do have a marriage worth saving, but I do not think that my husband feels the same way.

I am impressed that you have identified your anger/frustration issues, and are working on them. It is a hard thing to unlearn behavior and train yourself to be another way.

Again, I really appreciate your response to my post.

nice to know I'm not alone, Delightful99.

All I can say is, I relate!