A Year Abroad

We were talking the other day, rehashing old ground, really. I don't like doing it, but sometimes I'll discover that the things I've said before never penetrated, and my saying them again suddenly hits the mark.  It's like a little epiphany moment, where you can see the lightbulb over my husband's head turn on.

I can't recall all of the stuff we discussed, but I referenced the fact that I felt I'd not really been helpful to him in his career.   That nothing I'd done had made a difference for his success.  That the fact that he'd attained a very important position in his company and didn't even tell me until months later showed how insignificant I was.  His job security had been unstable the first eleven years of our marriage.  We'd been compelled to move back and forth across the country as he lost position after position.  I'd followed him here, there and everywhere, believing that my place was with him, and that good things were in our future. 

I'd done whatever I could to build friendships with his colleagues.  To serve as hostess for gatherings, not just for his bosses and coworkers, but for clients as well.  We had many fun parties and dinners.  But it didn't make a difference.  I didn't make a difference.

When some of his superiors has expressed concerns about aspects of his work, and believed he was not responsive to those concerns, they came to me, urging me to talk with him.  I did so.  But he believed he was doing things the right way, and did not change.  He was not retained.  I hadn't made a difference.  This happened more than once.

Needless to say, I was anxious about his next job.  I worried he'd lose that one too.  When I learned months after the fact that he'd attained some definite job security, it came as a blow rather than a cause for celebration.  It's one thing to forget to tell your wife that a colleague said "howdy," quite another to neglect to mention the colleague told you that your job is now secure.

I was pissed.  And I was hurt.  Despite what I'd thought, we weren't a team, we weren't partners.  His failure to tell me that represented his disdain for me and any effort I'd made on our behalf.  I've tried to explain that his actions cut me deeply, but each time, it's as though he's not heard me.

This recent time was different.  He insisted I had been important to him, that I had made a difference in his life.  He cited a thing I had done - that I'd pushed him to do - to take a year off from work after he earned the job protections, to live in Europe.  We'd taken the kids and rented a home in Ireland and travelled all over the place.   We roamed the four green fields, as well as eight other nations.  Good times. 

"I loved it," he said.  "That whole year was wonderful.  And I almost certainly would never have done it if you hadn't pushed for it."

I thought about that.  He wasn't saying I'd helped in his career in any way, simply that I had planned a great year-long break.  It was nice to get credit for that, but I'd like to accomplish more.  I think it's time for me to stop living vicariously and have my own self-supporting career.  I've thought of becoming a spy, as you know.  Perhaps the answer is to plan a multi-year trip, working for the State Department.  Or maybe do as I'd previously considered, and teach in foreign countries.  Either way, I will be sure to let him know before I leave.  Because I am all about the communication with one's spouse.

I did make a difference in planning that year long trip.  I gave the four of us experiences that many people never have.  We saw and did amazing stuff.  But I didn't really earn any of the funds that payed for the trip; he did.  It is time for me to stop being a freeloader.  I want to REALLY make a difference.
milkynips milkynips
46-50, F
2 Responses Dec 7, 2012

One of my wife's stated reasons for a divorce is her desire to see if she can make it on her own. I said, "Can't you just go get a job?" Call me crazy, but it certainly seemed an easier and less destructive alternative. But, of course, that was only one of her reasons.

I have a feeling you do make a difference - whether or not you know it or your husband acknowledges it.

Thank you. And I know that I do. But I want to make a big difference in future, and more fully control my own destiny. :-)