Social Question

somewomenarenicemaybe's avatar

What would you do?

Asked by somewomenarenicemaybe (332points) February 3rd, 2016

I’m in my 30s and married.
I care for my child most of the time and work part-time.
My wife has always been a workaholic, but recently it’s been really bad, like sometimes she just comes home to sleep and we barely see her. We could afford for her to work less hours, but she always works as much as humanly possible.
When she’s home she won’t help around the house at all or even pick up after herself and it gets frustrating. I try to talk to her about it, but it turns into a huge fight and she threatens to leave and worst take our child with her.
I love my child more than anything and I’ve been the primary caregiver for many years since I quit my full-time job to make sure my child is cared for. I’m scared of not being able to look after my child all the time so I just keep my mouth shut even though my marriage is challenging.
I really have tried talking to her, but she’s as stubborn as she is beautiful and she’s stunning. That’s partly why I fell in love with her when I was young. Now I’m just confused and not sure what to do or how to feel.
Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks.

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28 Answers

Love_my_doggie's avatar

The difference between a job and a career is the difference between working 40 hours and 60 – 80 hours. I was never able to have any reasonable life balance when I actively pursued a career.

There’s no question that your wife is ambitious and hard-working. Is it possible that she isn’t addicted to work, but that she’s under some staggering demands while trying to advance? Could she be so combative because she’s simply tired and overwhelmed? Maybe she doesn’t contribute at home because you work part-time, she’s at work all the time, and it seems fair that you should be the homemaker?

You married a woman who enjoyed working and tended to be stubborn. It sounds as if both traits have exacerbated over the years. I really hope the two of you can talk without getting angry and try to compromise.

I’m not going to recommend a marriage counselor. Counseling is expensive and, frankly, I don’t believe that it works. Other people will vehemently disagree with me, but that’s just my own opinion.

stanleybmanly's avatar

A stunning woman who never comes home? Well I suppose at best she’s obsessed with her job. There’s little point to mentioning the worst. In any case, I believe you should brace yourself for the unhappy possibilities and contemplate a future without her. Your complaint is the classic example offered up by housewives in the days prior to the extinction of the species. If my memory serves me, the fact that she’s a good breadwinner is by no means an assurance that she will be granted custody of your child.
Personally, I would devote a great deal of effort to determining the reason my wife preferred being elsewhere.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@stanleybmanly “I would devote a great deal of effort to determining the reason my wife preferred being elsewhere.”

She may not prefer her current schedule; it might simply be what she needs to do.

When I was working ridiculously long days and weeks – leaving and arriving home in the dark, and going in during the weekend – people assumed that I was a workaholic, or loved my job so much, or would rather be at work than with my husband, or etc., etc. I passionately HATED my job! But, I wanted to learn a set of highly specialized professional skills, and walking away would have sabotaged everything. I had to spend some time in “boot camp.”

I’m now successfully self-employed. I’m my own boss. I work at home, set my schedule, and cherry-pick decent and pleasant clients. Were those years in hell worth it? Yes. For 8 years, I’ve had the life I’d always wanted.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Perhaps I’m mistaking the tone of the question. The questioner implied that his family would be fine with his wife working less, leaving the impression that she had some choice over her grueling schedule.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@stanleybmanly Yes, you and I are a pair of voyeurs, trying to be helpful with very limited information. Perhaps @somewomenarenicemaybe can provide more details. His question is filled with emotion, which can be a challenge to sort-through.

I hope his moniker doesn’t reflect his feelings for his wife!!!

somewomenarenicemaybe's avatar

Thanks for the input guys.
I try to give as much info as I can without having someone who knows me or my wife recognizing this. I’m only here because it’s anonymous and I definitely don’t want anymore drama in my life, but I can say that she can’t say no to a job offer even if it makes our life a struggle we always have to juggle our lives around work. Multiple jobs, changing jobs constantly and yes I did join this site after arguing with my wife and my name reflects my feelings on that day. I meant to change it but I’m not sure how.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@somewomenarenicemaybe – she’s using you. You’re a cheap babysitter.

The fact that the threatens to leave is a sign that she doesn’t really care.

Plan accordingly.

Cupcake's avatar

That she would threaten to take the child when you are the primary caregiver indicates to me that this may be an abusive relationship.

That’s a power play, full of manipulation and control. That’s also a move you make when you don’t want to work things out.

You’d do well to talk to a lawyer, just to be on the safe side.

CWOTUS's avatar

Regarding a name change, the mods will permit that (or “have permitted” that in the past) if the request is made politely by a member in good standing. It wouldn’t hurt to try. It’s a process that you cannot do on your own.
As to the advice from @stanleybmanly regarding “the reason she is away for so many hours every day”, only you can determine how likely that is. Personally, when I was much younger and more driven in my career, I spent many hours at work, too. In my cases there were several reasons:

1. The demands of the job on a young person with a certain amount of ambition and/or pride;
2. Overtime, when it was available – even sometimes when it wasn’t well compensated;
3. Not wanting to come home to a wife who frequently whined about my long hours. (Though you don’t know me and won’t care, over the course of a long marriage I was never unfaithful to my wife, no matter how often I was tempted / attracted, and no matter how jealous she frequently became that I “must be unfaithful, because every man is”. Not. Even. Once. That did not mean, though, that I was always happy at home.) So, it comes down to your assessment of her character: do you think that she’s really working all of those hours, or is there more going on? I can’t say “your gut will tell you”, because apparently my wife’s gut was unreliable.

So I would suggest that you do whatever you can and as often as you can to make the house – and yourself – as appealing and as pleasant as possible for her to return to. That includes “keeping yourself up”. (I’m sort of laughing to myself over the things that I’m saying to you that I never would have dreamed to say to my own wife at the time – but which totally apply.) Be interesting as well as interested in her, keep complaints about anything to the least possible amount, and obviously take excellent care of your daughter.

But @elbanditoroso and @Cupcake have potentially good insights, too. Although my wife and I had the same kinds of pressures in our marriage that you seem to have in yours (although with the gender reversal), and although we generally got along okay (at least from my point of view; I found out from her much later in the marriage that there were things about her unhappiness that she did not tell me about, and which had a detrimental effect on her, obviously, and on us as a couple, too), when we did have fights she would say the same thing about retaining custody and making things difficult for me.

In my case I knew that that was generally “just talk” that only appeared at times of high stress or upset, and everyone has those. You’ll have to assess her, because we can’t, to know how much of that kind of talk she really means. If you think that she does mean it seriously and in any way enjoys the effect on you that that kind of talk has, then definitely make defensive plans. Quietly.

ucme's avatar

I’d come right out & ask her why she’s being a giant bitch.
Threatening to leave & take the kid with her over a perfectly reasonable request is bitchy behaviour no matter how much you dress it up.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@ucme Desperate people say desperate things. People who feel defensive – backed into a corner with no reasonable escape – lash out and fight cruelly. She might not mean any of the dreadful things she says; she might dislike being held accountable when she lacks excuses.

I’m really not trying to be in the corner of @somewomenarenicemaybe‘s wife. I’m just attempting to learn more about this sad situation, which is upsetting me quite a bit.

Cruiser's avatar

Read and re-read what @CWOTUS has written. Then ask yourself is their anything you are consciously or unconsciously doing to contribute to this situation between you and your wife.

When our kids were young I too was in no hurry to go home to go from one pressure cooker into another so I would and often still do stay at work just to decompress before facing complaints from the wife and demands of kids who miss their dad and want my attention.

A good marriage is hard enough but to throw raising kids into the mix and it becomes infinitely more of a challenge to do both and feel loved and give and get love in return especially if there is resentment within the marriage for whatever reason(s) they are.

I say good for you for putting your child’s upbringing as a priority in YOUR life….the question I have is does you wife feel the same as you do? If yes than you have a lot less to deal with in your marriage….if not you have a real tender issue there to navigate where I suspect you will have to accept this reality and continue to do the heavy lifting of your role as primary care giver AND not whine about it to your wife.

A good marriage is like a garden….if it is cared for and well tended to it will bear beautiful fruit, if ignored it will grow weeds. But it has to be a mutual effort by both. And you can’t use the fact you do all the chores and take care of the kid as your wife is also working very hard at her job and neither of you should make the other resent their role in the household.

So take some time to separate out the efforts you should and must make to keep the household in order and then review what you are doing or not doing anymore to make your wife feel appreciated, respected, protected and loved.

ucme's avatar

@Love_my_doggie While i’ll agree that we’re dealing with the bare bones of a story here & further agree that her words may be marked with desperation, I maintain that using their child as a weapon is, under any circumstance, inexcusably crass & wholly unnecessary.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@ucme “I maintain that using their child as a weapon is, under any circumstance, inexcusably crass & wholly unnecessary.”

You’ll get no disagreement from me. A child should never be the rope in a tug-of-war between parents. If the Mrs. is using that threat as a baseless way to hurt her husband, she absolutely must change her behavior. A slap across the face is no less painful just because the person “didn’t really mean it.”

janbb's avatar

I think whatever else you do @somewomenarenicemaybe you need to do some serious talking with your wife about your marriage and life goals. I think a counselor could help you communicate if they are a good one but possibly you might want to go for therapy on your own first.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@somewomenarenicemaybe well, that’s a tough situation. I don’t know if you left a career to help raise your child but it’s a two way street and you are likely doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to this. I think you need to stand up for yourself. I would suggest marriage counseling. From experience it won’t fix any of your problems but what it will do is tease out some of the hidden details that cause your wife to act the way she does. What you will get out of it is information that you can use to make your decision a rational one. Yes, you do have a decision to make.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I wonder how we’d view this person if she was a man with a high-powered career? @somewomenarenicemaybe, it’s hard to know why your wife is behaving like this without knowing more about her. However, women who are moving up the career ladder invariably have to work much harder than men in the same role. You’ve heard of the glass ceiling? So if your wife is ambitious, and she’s trying to progress her career, it’s very likely she’s having to work long hours and when she gets home she’s tired and even exhausted. You presumably knew she was an ambitious woman with high career aspirations when you met her and definitely when you agreed to stay home to look after your child.

Are you pressuring her to do more around the house? Are you pressuring her about her work-life balance? If you are, is it possible her threats to leave and take the child are a response to the pressure you’re applying? It may be she’s not coping with her workload as well as it appears to outsiders. As the person she loves, sadly, you may be the only person she can show that stress too. She may feel you’re not being very supportive of her goals. She may feel you’re adding to her already over-stressed life.

She shouldn’t be threatening you. She should pick up after herself. However, I think you need to try to work out why she’s behaving as she is. Could you be more supportive of her while she works her way through this pressured time.

I asked how people might react if this was a woman asking this question about a man, because historically women have played the role you’re in now. Looking after the kids, picking up after the husband, spending a lot of time alone while the husband worked and forged a career. I’m pretty sure if we asked the wives of high-powered, male executives how their partners behaved at home, you’d find the same problems you’re experiencing.

Pachy's avatar

Not this is any advice you haven’t already though of, I’m sure, but I suggest you seek professional marriage counseling. An objective third party is essential in a complicated, emotion-charged situation like yours, especially with a child involved.

Here2_4's avatar

I have known a few women with husbands like this. Quite frankly, the type doesn’t want family around, but they want to have family. It is similar to having gemstones kept in a safety deposit box. They feel no urge to.see, or display the goods, only the knowledge that they possess them.
There are attorneys who deal specifically in the rights of fathers, I think you should consult one. She does not want to take the child, but may, simply as a power play.
She is using your child as a control mechanism, which is harmful for you and your child.
Document, document, document. By the way, video is allowable in court, but only if there is no audio.

msh's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit – I thought the same thing about the role -reversal. What a difference half of a century makes, eh?
Yes, Mrs may be under pressure, but you don’t come home and take it out on others.
Then telling someone who is trying to carry on while feeling like he’s tap dancing in a field of land mines, to quit whining? Are you kidding me?
Yep, as above some don’t want to come home too fast unless the ‘Little Gentleman has dinner on the table, dressed up in his Sunday best, with a squeaky clean, yet mute child who will be quickly put to bed so as to not disrupt Big Momma’s dinah’... WTF?
The person at home doesn’t get the choice of taking their time or going and delaying coming home- they are already there! And caring for a little human.
Then the threat that the $Greenage-worker bringing home the salary always seems make is about something which is always most-dear, and then go on to criticize and belittle. Women or men.
Such anger. It’s not all work-related. Stubborn and feisty doesn’t mean threaten and behave like a piece of midden!
To tell someone not to whine? Whine? Holy crap! C’mon!
@somewomenarenicemaybe- nice to see you again. :)
You are very aware how this effects you and your daughter. You are still in love- but with whom? This isn’t who you used to know, is it? Your work is important also. You should not be regarded as being best for keeping barefoot and….well, you get the jist. What is it going to be this weekend? Next month? Next year?
Either she understands that trouble is brewing and yes, you are responsible for your actions and words, or give it up. There is passive/aggressive behavior and a whole lot of anger here.
Aimed at whom? Since everyone else is skating up to the line- but won’t say anything- Do you think that she is having an affair? When someone is cheating, they treat their partner worse than just badly because they feel guilty – and aching to start a fight to make their own behavior less horrid is often on the agenda.
Trust me.
I’m sorry you are caught up in this. You have mutinous thoughts about all this also? Correct? You have a right to be pissed. And hurt.
Yes, it sucks for a woman having to be twice as good to get any street credit at work. Yes, it is exhausting and maddening, but to take this behavior and carry it home where a little one is right there, absorbing the vibes with every cell in her being?
No. Not ok. Suck it up and grow up.
What is the goal for everyone invested here? A ‘road less traveled’s’ fork is right here close by. You need to talk. She needs to spill it. Don’t ask, make it a must to get a councilor to facilitate. If she refuses- I believe you have your answer. Love or otherwise. You don’t threaten.
Start putting money aside for yourself. That way you can hit the ground moving instead of being stunned with answers plus broke. You have just as much right, if not more, for not only child custody, but child and spousal support. You gave up your job for the marriage and kid to help advance her career. You weathered the changes, moves, etc., while still creating a positive environment for your child.
Both sides have some merits, the scary part is what to ultimately do about it.
In politely good-standing or not, you can ask to change names- or just create an extra one. Many do here. Be whatever name you wish.
Hang in, boy.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@msh, where does @somewomenarenicemaybe say his wife tells him not to whine? I haven’t seen him say this (perhaps I missed it). He’s said she’s got upset and angry. However, we don’t really know what she’s said or why that’s happened. We don’t know what exactly @somewomenarenicemaybe has said to his wife. As to suggesting people shouldn’t come home and take their work pressure out on others, I think that’s unrealistic. Of course she shouldn’t, but people, including @somewomenarenicemaybe‘s wife, do. It’s not right or fair, but she’s human and fallible.

We really don’t know what sort of pressure this woman is under. We know very little about why she’s working so hard or what her work is or what she’s experiencing when she’s out of the home. Or how often @somewomenarenicemaybe criticises her when she gets home and really, we don’t know if that criticism is deserved or not. We’re only hearing one side of the story here and it’s obvious @somewomenarenicemaybe is not very happy. Is that influencing his perception of his wife’s behaviour? I’m not blaming him here. I’m just saying there’s a lot about this situation we don’t really understand. I don’t think saying ‘poor you’ to @somewomenarenicemaybe is fair to either of them. We’ve only got one side of this story. I’m not going to hang this woman without a lot more information.

@somewomenarenicemaybe, when you agreed to stay home and look after your child, what were you expecting life to be like? Did you both discuss what your role would be, how many hours work she would do, who would be responsible for what? Were things different back then? Has your wife changed or have you just become fed up of being the homemaker? Has she always worked long hours or is this something new and why is she working so many hours? What’s led to this increase in work?

msh's avatar

I’m sorry, I was referring to previous posts about whining- I should have clarified it better. My apologies.
Yes, I am suggesting that. Day after day of bad behavior- with a little one around, and someone trying to facilitate positive? Yes. I am saying to knock that crap off. Every freaking day? C’mon.
Yes, that is why I said to make councilling a must, have to, we’re doing this- towards the end of my post.
Every day crappy behavior and some passive/ aggressive going on (threats about a child?) That’s not normal- that’s bullying.
If the roles we’re reversed- would you be saying that he may be having a bad day, week, month?
Bad behavior towards family – effecting a child? No. You made the child. You are now the least important- not the most. It’s a triangle with the little one on the top.
You are correct, we don’t have both sides, but that doesn’t mean to say-
Well somewomenarenicemaybe, tough noogies, we need the ‘breadwinner’s’ side here also before we expound upon our opinions.” It’s not happening. Excluding the husband/wife teams (or other tag teams) we don’t know the other side of a person’s life. And we never will. So we all constantly make our calls on what is- for right here and now.
I admit that it is facinating to me that women jump to the defense of a working woman with her family because it makes me wonder if the same vehemence would exist if the roles of the sexes were reversed here. Something to think about.
It’s not my intention to ‘hang’ anyone, but rather to make them responsible for their behavior. That’s all.
And as I stated, it’s all just my opinion like everyone else’s is theirs. :)
It does makes me sad that it is happening in the first place.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m limiting my discussion to this post.

What @somewomenarenicemaybe has said is that his wife is working long hours. We don’t know what constitutes long hours.

She doesn’t help around the house. What was their agreement when he become the home maker?

He’s tried to talk to her about it, but she gets angry. We don’t know what he’s said to her or what he wants from her. Or why she might be responding as she does.

He sounds very unhappy. His wife might be entirely to blame. Most likely there are two sides to this situation and I agree they need counselling. However, there’s still too little detail here for me to say his wife is totally or even majorly at fault.

And I’d say the same if it was a woman asking this question.

I’ve been in this place. Looking after young children. Picking up dropped towels, clothes and mess left behind by a husband. A man who was out working for 50+ hours of the week while I was at home with the children. It’s hard being at home with children and being responsible for everything in the house. And those who do it are often unappreciated by those who are out working. Unless you’ve lived it, it’s hard to know how difficult and frustrating that work is. I made the choice to do that work. And thankless work it often is.

I’ve also been (and am) the woman who often works 60–80 hours a week. Not because I particularly want to, but because the job I do demands it. If I want to do this job, I have to work those hours. I’m lucky that I’ve got a hugely supportive husband. Who doesn’t criticise me because he has been in that situation himself and he knows what it feels like. He knows I love my work, but he also knows I’d really rather not work those hours. Perhaps the difference is I regularly tell him how appreciative I am of him pulling more than his fair share of the home work weight.

So I’ve worn both sets of shoes. I need more information to throw the blame at either party’s feet. As with any situation, there is undoubtedly fault on both sides.

msh's avatar

I hear you.
You read me.
There is no best.
It’s just our own opinions.
C’est la vie!

Here2_4's avatar

Somehow this became a shouting match.

msh's avatar

I’m not shouting at @Earthbound_Misfit.
I put stock in her answers and respect her too much.
Do we have to be twinsies?
Uh- no.
But shouting- uhn- uhn.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m not shouting at @msh either. We’re having a discussion.

Inspired_2write's avatar

What would I do?
Simple sit down and calmly talk with her about her behaviour and threats.
Let her know that you are there for her and that you support her.
Perhaps…she is working longer hours since YOU only work part time.
Perhaps more balance is needed in Both bringing in income rather than one person shouldering the burdon of sustaining the relationship in terms of finances.
More equaliztion needed.
She is probably WAITING for you to clue in too that enequity.

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