Posted by Anonymous.
Let me start at the beginning. OK, this is long, but I feel like you need a background and my analysis in order to give me some new ideas.
My husband and I met at college and graduated at the same time in the same professional field (a male-dominated one). He started working and I went to grad school. After grad school we got married, and worked at different places, but basically doing the same thing for the same pay. Everything was so equal shmequal it was cute. We felt proud of ourselves for having such a great relationship, where we could talk about everything and I was happy to be in a relationship and job where I felt equal to my male peers (including the hubs). Our arguments were mostly about trying to get him to help with the housework, and that I felt inferior to him athletically (which duh, guys ARE stronger, and gee I would love to have that body now). Pretty normal stuff, and made for some happy times. We were pretty much the epitome of DINKs.
About 5 years ago my husband started getting migraines. He got on some meds for them, and he hates being on meds. He went to about 5 doctors, had MRIs, the works. Diagnosis = migraines. His are the kind that are constantly there, not so debilitating that he has to hole up in the dark, but a pounding head all the time. I can imagine it is frustrating, distracting, and damn hurts. His temper grew shorter. I made concessions on things like picking up the house so he could rest, etc. to the point that I was doing everything around the house (shopping, cooking, cleaning, bills, caring for the pets, you all know what I mean). I could handle it, but it was juggle. Our sex life was typical, I think. Two to four times per week, sometimes just for him, but usually we both wanted it. Over the years his salary started to diverge from mine, and he made more, still doing very similar work. I coped but I didn't feel quite so equal.
Then we got pregnant. I told him early on that in order for me to manage this working mom thing he would need to pony up with the house stuff. He agreed. We tried division of labor, lists, all that. He has good intentions, but puts things off to the point that I end up doing them (you can only "put off" the bills for so long before it costs you, right?). Sex was pretty normal during pregnancy, but at the end I just was too tired a lot and many times said no, much to his frustration. As with new parents we devoured all reading and advice material, and were excited for the arrival. Learned that I was not supposed to have sex for six weeks after birth, etc. He had been growing more and more frustrated with my putting him off, and said things like "Men need sex. If I don't get it from my wife I will have to find other methods." I was enormously pregnant with an alien in my body, freaked out about the future of balancing work and home and a kid etc, and less and less able to be happy about sex. Although he never said it, the thought that he would cheat on me made me feel powerless because now I had a kid and therefore no escape route. I think I was pretty normal, but this was completely demoralizing and I felt like a cow at work, where no one at my company had ever been pregnant before. I started putting out for him just for him, and I hated it. Resented it. (For the record, I know he has not cheated.)
After the birth, he kept asking when we could have sex. At five weeks, he became very insistent, and said that he "read that the best way to get back into a normal sex life after birth is to just do it, bear the pain, and it will get better over time." Ok, I've read that, too, but hello reality! Anyways, I put out (in much pain), and cried as he fell asleep two minutes after. Anytime I would be affectionate with him, he seemed to perceive it as an invitation for sex, and would try things like fondling my boobs (which were NOT in the mood to be fondled while struggling with breastfeeding, which I eventually failed at after three months of trying-- four ounces per day was not going to stop the hungry cries!). Eventually I resisted being affectionate with him because it always led to putting out for him or some confrontation about it. (Yes, I recognized that I was getting all the affection I needed from the baby.) There was no cuddling after sex either, which I would have liked, since he falls asleep within 2 minutes of finishing. More grumpiness from the headaches.....
So you say "talk to him and explain how you feel!" Well, I tried. He says "I don't want to TALK about sex. I want to HAVE sex." All the while the migraines have gotten worse, predictably I would guess from the stress of being a new parent, less sleep, less time for himself, etc. We were both pretty grumpy, I admit. One conversation we did have, I said the grumpiness was affecting me, and he said that I should have sex with him whenever he asked for it and that would make him less grumpy. So from then on I tried (and still do) to put out when he expects it. Usually 2-3 times per week. I resent it and it makes me feel like that is all he sees in me. It does not give me a good self image.
This has been going on for 2 years. His headaches are still there and the resulting grumpiness and short temper. I work full time and take care of everything at the house. I finally hired a cleaning lady that comes every other week (even though he does not like the fact that a stranger is in the house while we are gone). By now his salary is about 10% more than mine, still doing similar work. As the baby became a toddler, he has gotten better about doing his share of childcare, and takes her to daycare and the zoo and swimming etc. We both love our child immensely.
In January, we decided to take a new approach with the headaches: diet. Migraines are often triggered by certain foods. A mighty long list of foods. So my task of meal planning, shopping, and cooking became very difficult. (I bought recipe books, etc, for headaches). If I miss something and serve the wrong thing, he gets frustrated-- with me for not knowing the list by heart (he says "you don't care about my headaches"), with himself because he wants to eat the food but won't and because he is in general just so sick of the headache issue. So am I, buddy.
Here is my point (finally). Under the surface I am so angry all the time. I scream at him in my head all the time, although we have NEVER yelled at each other or called each other names. On the surface we are very respectful to each other, and appear fine in front of our child. I do not want to cross that line of names and yelling. Something in our marriage would break at that point and be very hard to fix. I am angry about the sex issue and feeling demoralized about it, I am angry about all the normal mom stuff (not losing the pregnancy pounds, lack of freedom, balancing work and home guilt, general exhaustion), I am angry about feeling like a less powerful woman in the workplace in terms of salary, I am angry that I have to do all the damn house stuff. I feel that if I brought it to a head with him it would just make his head hurt all the worse. Everytime I say anything that might be a pity party for me, he gets defensive. So when he asks "What is the matter" I just say "I'm fine" and smile. So when I am feeling angry or sad, I try to block it all out by saying over and over again in my head "It doesn't matter (that you don't feel like sex), it doesn't matter (that you want to sleep through the night), it doesn't matter (that you are so fake/fat/underpaid/etc), it doesn't matter (that your favorite shirt just got stained with juice)." Really, though, does it matter???? I am normal to everyone who knows me, but I feel horrible about myself all the time, about my weight, about sex, about work, about my husband. The only thing that is good is our child, a typical challenging toddler, but wonderful and well adjusted and all that.
So you say "get therapy". I think I would resent that, too. With all we spend on daycare, housekeeping, doctors, etc, I know we can't afford it. (And I know because I write the checks and pay the bills.)
So you say "exercise and you will feel better". I try, but it is pretty irregular. I try to go to the gym at lunch, but that is also the time I have to run the errands. I went to an aerobics class last night and when I got home the dinner he prepared our child was marginal, the house was chaos, and I could tell his head was killing him, and he was a grump. I wondered if it was even worth my outing to the gym.
As I read this, it sounds like my husband is an ass. He really is not, and I love him very much, and the headaches are real issue that he is not being a wimp about. I am just so angry...... And now he wants to have another child, and I would love to, but the stress and anger would not go away and I think I would break in two.
So, tell me I'm normal and that I should just get over my pity party.