I’ve been married for 13 years and we have two children together as well as one child each from previous relationships. The kids get along well with one another and we have a happy family. I guess it’s more accurate to say that I thought we had a happy family.
Three months ago, my husband told me that he isn’t happy in our relationship anymore and he’s thinking about moving out of our home. I felt completely blind-sided. We rarely argue and I thought we were both content with our life together.
In couples therapy he said that his main bone of contention is that he feels like I don’t give him enough attention. His two chief complaints are that I play on my tablet while we watch t.v. together after the kids go to bed instead of focusing on him and that we don’t have sex often enough.
I work full-time in a demanding field, commute an hour and a half to work each way (because he insisted on living close to his job!), and take on most of the parenting and household responsibilities. I am exhausted at the end of the day and surfing the net on my tablet relaxes me.
We had been having sex once or twice a week before we started therapy. Since therapy, it’s dwindled to a lot less because I am ticked off by his attitude. I have worked incredibly hard all these years to make a nice home for us and he is beyond ungrateful for all the sacrifices I’ve made.
My family and friends always thought I was a fool to do as much as I do without demanding that he help me out more than he does. I just ignored their little comments because I felt happy to create a good family life for us. At this point, I feel like a total idiot. What have I worked for all these years, to be dumped for not doing even more? I barely speak to him because I am so afraid I’ll verbally attack him with all my pent-up rage. Do you have any advice for my situation?
I hear your pain and it is well-justified. If it makes you feel any better, you are in good company. Alongside all of the educational and career opportunities afforded us via the women’s movement, we have also simultaneously taken on the responsibilities inherent in our dual roles of wives/mothers and working women.
Regrettably, we still only have 24 hours in each day and 7 days in each week. A lot of women who are combining work and family feel perpetually over-extended and under-appreciated, not to mention sleep deprived. Though many of us work the same hours as our male counterparts, we are still taking on more than our fair share of the family and household responsibilities.
My advice to you is to join a women’s group in order to process your feelings in a supportive atmosphere. Although it is imperative that you continue to participate in couples therapy to address your marital issues, you also need a place just for you. Additionally, contact a life coach who can help you better balance your myriad responsibilities, assisting you with decisions relating to what you can delegate to others or eliminate altogether. See if you can negotiate phone sessions in order to minimize the need to run to one more place.
No one is a superwoman. You are a flesh and blood human being who needs some time and space for herself, too. It may behoove your husband to join a men’s group so that he meets some other men who are in a position to let him know how good he truly has it at home. Many houses of worship sponsor monthly men’s groups. Your couples therapist may also be a good referral source for an appropriate group.
Please don’t label yourself an “idiot.” You made sacrifices for your family out of a desire to enrich their lives. Whether or not you get a pat on the back from your husband, you have provided a nurturing, loving home for your four children. There’s a saying that, “you either get better or get bitter.” Find your voice and get better. Please let me know how things work out for you and your family!
All my best,