Monday, April 02, 2007

Wondering How To Cope

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.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't need to get over it. You need to own it. You won't be able to move on and feel better as long as you keep it pent up and locked in. You are having these feelings and that's ok. What's not ok, is the fact that you feel you can't let your hubby know for fear of his feelings (headaches or stress, etc). I think you need to talk about it to him, don't let his feelings control how your relationship with him is changing. Chances are, if he knew half of what was going on in your head, he would realize things need to change. Don't give up, it doesn't have to be this way forever.

Redneck Mommy said...

I agree with anonymous @ 8:33.

Life is too short to be trapped by your feelings.

Good luck and you have my very best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but for him to threaten to find his sex from someone else makes him an ass.

He is probably nice...when it serves his purpose. Does he do anything for you with nothing to gain?

And it's not you that needs to get over your pity party; he needs to get over his. Why do his migraines take precedence over everything YOU like and enjoy?

I understand that you love him and that means that you are willing to make this work.

Is he?

kristi said...

OH, you are so NOT like me. I would let him have it. I know you say he is nice but obviously he is used to getting his way. My husband tries the same thing on me too and I tell him to get off his ARSE and help and then he'll get sex. As for the headaches, you are trying to help, and you are understanding, what more can he ask of you?

braiding mommy said...

I agree with 9:12 - It's not you who needs to get over the pity party.

The sex issue will tear you apart - you personally - and it looks like it already is. This is an issue where there needs to be a mutual compromise that you both can live with without resenting each other.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, defintely no second kid until the headaches are solved.

And definitely no more sex until they're solved, either.

Time for a new specialist, as it sounds as if his "condition" controls every aspect of your family's life together.

Anonymous said...

I know you say no therapy because of the cost. But you need someone to talk to and you don't feel safe talking to your husband. So, by closing the door on seeing a therapist, you once again are telling yourself that YOU do not matter, that YOUR feelings do not matter. Which is of course a HUGE FAT LIE!

But I would agree that blowing up at your husband isn't probably the answer either. He will have no clue where you are coming from. He has no idea of all the pent up emotions and anger you have and he will feel attacked and get defensive. Defensiveness is the surest way to get nothing accomplished.

You need to talk to a professional who can help you organize and understand what you are feeling. If you can put some of it into perspective then you will understand better how to approach your husband. Right now you are a coke can all shook up and it is probably best you don't open up right at your husband. He won't get it. He can't. Most men deal completely different with emotions than women do.

Either you find a competent, logical friend who can help with perspective to listen (not a friend who is only going to agree and tell you to dump the bastard...) OR you find a good therapist. Otherwise, the anger is going to lead you to misery and probably divorce.

Decide YOU are worth doing this right.

Jenny H. said...

Your husband needs to get over himself. And I would definitely consult another doctor. I find it difficult to believe that there is nothing to be done for them.

And as for the sex? That is ridiculous for him to be that demanding. I'm sorry, towards the end I was not interested in sex. I was too uncomfortable. For him to say he was going go somewhere else was HORRIBLE. You were pregnant, with HIS CHILD. I would seriously wait to have another child with this person. You say he is wonderful, but I am not seeing that. He sounds very selfish and childish. You need to talk to him. If he refuses and whines about it then maybe you should begin to consider some different options.

Good luck.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I would agree with the others that another child is not going to help your current circumstances. You are worried about the cost of therapy but there are many low-cost or free options (public health, the YMCA, and many insurances cover services). It sounds as though you need to take care of yourself. I know it is hard to take the time, but it's really necessary. I find myself making the same excuses. But, really, life is too short for you to be so unhappy. And all of your lives will be better if you don't feel so strained and put upon. You deserve to be happy.

toyfoto said...

He may be respectful in outward appearances, but he's still an ass. Any man who would threaten you with having to get sexual satisfaction somehow when you were at the end of your pregnancy and through your first six weeks post partum NEEDS to be reaqcuainted with his dominant hand.

I would agree that the feelings you have are normal, that it's incredibly lonely and difficult to traverse parenthood with a difficult partner. I know that you think you would be spending money badly, but it might actually do you and your husband (by default) some good to make some appointments with a therapist. I don't know what your health plan is like, but most cover at least a dozen sessions a year.

Anonymous said...

you need to express your needs and see if he can step up

OR

hire a good divorce lawyer.

sounds like you have been just as much a part of this very dysfunctional situation.....i can't imagine just laying there for sex and putting up with it. that is just plain crazy.

and you need to learn to say "no"

Anonymous said...

No, you don't need to just get over it. No, it's not a pity party but real issues. Sex isn't just for him. How dare him threaten and guilt you into having sex. Marriage is about 2 people, not just one. Don't have another baby unless the issues are resolved. If you think it's bad now, imagine how much worse it could be with 2 children.

Anonymous said...

god that all sounds so awful. i would be seething too. you've got to start giving something to yourself - give yourself some time to not be in charge of everything. allow the house to be messy a few nights a week. allow him to be grumpy and allow yourself to not feel responsible for his grumpiness. sitting on all of that anger can really hurt you - it can make you very sick before you know it and you won't be able to solve everyone's problems then. allow your husband to be responsible for some meals. allow him to be whatever father he's going to be to his child, even if it's not the way you would do it (short of hurting her, of course). and stop having sex you don't want to have, even if he gets mad. you're mad, why can't he be mad. buy him a nice bottle of lotion, a box of tissues and let him be responsible for himself sometimes. you deserve to have a fun sex life and it won't happen if you're living on a pile of resentment - that just won't make anything better.

sorry for being so bossy - your post stirred up a lot of emotion in me. i don't think any woman should have to live the way you are living now. it's not healthy for any of the three of you and your daughter could grow up with a very skewed view of what her future should be. plus everyone in your home probably knows you're not happy, even if you're really good at faking it. might as well be yourself and see where that gets you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the above comments, and I have been is some similar stuff with my husband.

Get Therapy...If you can't afford it, go thru Catholic Charities or your church or women's center or wherever. Your self esteem sounds like it is on the floor and it is hard to get back from there without a sounding board.

Couples Counseling. A good counselor really helps...

I had filed for divorce last year, which was when he finally decided that he would go to counseling and that he had been taking advantage of me and our situation. Because he could (and believe me, I don't hold my tounge) We have slammed doors, and called names. And we are getting better with every honest open conversation (with or without help)...You can get better, too. Together or apart.

And as for the exercise, forget the house and do what your body deserves!! If the baby is fed and clothed and dry...its a start. Can't micromanage everything...I had a hard time getting out, too, in the first few years...and my oldest has lived to see ten, so far.

Good Luck!!

flutter said...

Sex is important, but sex being enjoyable for both parties is important.
It sounds also like you may have a touch of PPD. He sounds like he needs to see a chiroporactor if his headaches are that severe. Any way you slice it, medical intervention needs to occur, honey. I hope you are ok.

ewe are here said...

If this is an accurate accounting of your marriage, no offense, but your husband is a selfish ass. Period.

He clearly doesn't care about your feelings. Or hurting you, both emotionally and physically. And he's holding you hostage emotionally. Using his headaches as an excuse to do nothing around the house and let you carry the entire load? Gee, makes you wonder how he can function at work, win a raise, but still not contribute at home. Total crock. He needs to learn to cope like everybody else. Threatening to find 'other ways' to take care of it, when you were hugely pregnant and tired and uncomfortable? Insisting you have painful sex too soon after having the baby? Insisting you have sex whenever he demands it and using the bs excuse that 'men need sex.?!?

Please. Is this the kind of relationship you'd encourage your daughter to have? Would you want her to stay in such a relationship if she was do unhappy and he refused to change his ways and his selfish crappy attitude? I doubt it.

You need to find some respect. From him and from yourself. Your spirit and very humanness requires this. You also need an equal partner in your life, not this selfish child masquerading as a man. Real men don't hurt and trample on the feelings and inflict pain intentionally on those they claim to love. They don't.

So, yes, therapy. Counseling is available for people who can't afford it. And you can't afford not to. And if he won't go, go without him. Because somethings got to change or you're going to break.

Maybe check the Carolyn Hax on-line columns at the Washington Post - she always posts various places to find free counseling services.

Weriously, please get help.

Mama Sarita said...

Okay...first off this sounds so awful for you.

I have a lot of thoughts about this. First off I suffered with really really bad migraines. I know the toll chronic pain can take on a marriage. I was the one with the headaches.

It is total crap that he is making you responsible for his migraines. I did/do manage mine with alternative therapies after exhausting what the medical community had to offer. That being said, I made sure *I* didn't eat a trigger food. I did what I needed to do to help heal myself.

The sex thing you wrote about physically pained me to read. I am so very sorry you are feeling so unlistened to. He needs to get a grip. Everyone has sexual needs, including you. some of those needs include being left the hell alone!
It is totally normal for women to need space and for their breasts to be left alone when nursing. Totally normal. Your husband seriously needs some perspective. he would be getting so much more heartfelt sex if he would just back of and be loving towards you. It is a rare couple who is having sex as much as you guys right after having a baby. Seriously.

I really think you have to have to HAVE TO find a way to see a therapist for your sanity. What is the cost of your sanity? If not couples at least for yourself. Anyone would be depressed or at the least, frustrated in the situation you described.

I wish I could wave a wand and make this better for you...it sounds so painful

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you're in such a bad situation. I can empathize - my husband was an ass about sex after the birth of our son and I still resent him for it 2 years later. He kept telling me I needed to go back to the doctor because something was wrong with me since sex wasn't immediately pain-free and enjoyable at the magic 6-week mark. I have very little desire for him anymore and our sex life gone downhill, even though he finally admitted what a jerk he was. We deal with the imbalance of household labor, too, and it adds to my resentment.

These are my suggestions: if my husband ever threatened to find sex elswhere, I'd lay it on the line: if you do that, you can get yourself a divorce lawyer, period. That's coercive and a bullshit threat to make of your spouse. Marriage is about compromise and it sounds like you're the one doing all the compromising. It's time for him to give a little to make you happy. As for the migraines, I agree with what everyone else has said: he needs to take responsibility for what he eats and maybe he should start looking for alternative treatments. You are not his mommy, nor are the migraines your fault.

Therapy sounds like a good idea. You said you'd resent it, but what if you looked at it as something for yourself...a time for you to deal only with yourself and what you want?

You said talking doesn't work. What about a list? Write everything out: work, childcare, household chores and compare what you do vs. what he does. It may not work, but seeing it in writing might help him understand just how imbalanced your relationship is.

I hope you find happiness.

Melanie said...

Oh, I'd love to 'tell you that you're normal and to just get over it" but in good conscience, I can't. Yes, a lot of this stuff could be considered 'normal', if 'normal' means 'common'. But it sounds as if it's ruining your relationship. In my dream world, you would find a good marriage counselor and scream out all of your resentments, call him names, and curse until you felt cleansed. And then the dream therapist would help you deconstruct the resentments and heal and find new patterns that work better for both of you.

But then, in my dream world, we'd all have plenty of money, too.

Dawn said...

I am totally new here but I have the utmost respect for everyone I've read so far. So I hope it's ok that I respond.

Oh my. I could have written this same post. Only my husband DID cheat on me when I was too busy with a full time job, two kids and all the household duties to "service his needs." Having BTDT, here is what I have to tell you.

1. Ditto what anon 5:34 said: The migraines are not your fault. You are not his mommy. He can be a big boy and avoid his own trigger foods. I've been doing it for my migraines for years. Maybe HE could help out with the shopping so his trigger foods don't make their way into his dinner? Maybe he needs to see a nutritionist to see how to avoid common foods that contain triggers? You know, take control of his own condition instead of making you do all the work?

2. You do not have to have sex with him just because HE wants it. Men do not NEED sex. He NEEDS to get a grip and stop accusing you of letting him down when he doesn't get his nookie 4 times a week. (4 times a week with a nursing newborn?? How in the world did you do it?) He has no right to guilt or coerce you into sex, no matter who he is. Please, stand up for yourself and stop letting him treat you like that. You don't deserve it. It's your body and you have a right to control what's done to it. Even if it makes him "grumpy." Whoever said "would you want your daughter in a relationship like this" hit the nail on the head.

3. And I totally GET the whole equality thing. I work in a male-dominated field in a building full of men. My identity was wrapped up in my profession for a long time. But what it took me a long time to do was GET OVER myself. I swear to you, it's okay if your child eats a less than balanced meal once in a while. It's okay if there's dog hair on the floor or dishes in the sink. It's okay if someone else makes more money than you. Because you know what, at the end of the day, it's your child and your self that matters. Not how many zeroes are on your paycheck. I guarantee you your daughter doesn't care how often you vacuum your baseboards or what the square footage of your office is.

4. One more thing. YOU did not disappear just because you're a wife and Mom now. You still have wants and needs and interests, and they are just as valid as his or hers. There's an old saying that "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." And it's true. It's totally normal to sometimes prefer sleeping/showering/just not having someone touching you or needing you for one stinking minute. In fact, you NEED those things that make you happy more than ever now. It's so important to prioritize yourself once in a while. I hear you saying the same self-defeating things I said to myself (weight guilt, mom guilt, work guilt, not-having-sex guilt). You know what, no one else is going to force you to take time for yourself so you have to. Go to the gym, the mall, the library, whatever - he WILL get over it and your child WILL be fine. . (And you're fooling yourself if you think she doesn't know there's friction between the two of you. She knows. Maybe not in so many words, but she knows. You owe it to her and YOU to get happy again.)

I can't wholeheartedly support the therapist suggestion since the one we saw tried to blame my husband's affair on me, which set us back months. Maybe you'll find a good one. Or a trusted friend or clergyperson? Maybe your OB can recommend someone? Or the Employee Assistance program where you work? Mine gives 5 free sessions. They also have sliding fee scales so you can afford them. Heck, email me and I'd be happy to let you let off steam. I've been where you are and it's not pretty.

I don't know how to end this except that life is too short to be so miserable with your partner and unhappy with yourself. I hope things work out for you. ((hugs))

(I'm sorry this is so long, please let me know if I'm breaking rules. I usually only lurk but this post made me come out.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you all for your words. Validation helps, and provides motivation to change my toxic situation. Dawn at 12:53, I WOULD like to correspond if you don't mind. I don't feel like sharing this stuff with my friends because I don't want them to hate my husband, if you know how I mean.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

I am a working mom that takes the brunt of the load too, but I don't deal with the effects of a hubby in constant pain and one that demands sex either.

I am sorry I didn't have time to read all previous 21 comments, but let me just say I feel for you so much. I understand you are feeling very trapped. Trapped in more ways than we can count right now. Therapy is a great idea, but only if you had the time and only if the both of you went together.

I know you don't want to confront him and upset him. I deal with that scenerio on a daily basis... BUT when I am at the brink of insanity like you are now... I write a letter to my husband. I am very blunt, but very loving and respectful. I would take this post you wrote, keep the content, but tweak it for him to read. He needs to know this laundry list before you end up on the looney bin. You ARE going to crack and he won't know why, so he's got to find out before it actually happens. He can't be in the dark forever.

Adina said...

I actually think that therapy for you alone would be a better place to start than therapy for both of you together. You can find people who offer sliding scale fees and/or your health insurance should cover someone. I see a therapist who has an MSW, not a PhD, which makes it much more affordable. Good luck!

Mommato2 said...

I think as women we tend to want to be "super Mom" ...work, have a perfect household and be the best Moms we can.

You, my friend are doing MORE than you share in creating a happy environment for your family.

I really do not think you should have sex with your husband just because he wants too....what about your feelings and needs?

In my opinion, he needs to step up to the plate and help out more. Definitely NO second child until these issues are resolved.

As difficult as I am sure his migraines are, he needs to deal with them...they are not your fault and you can not fix them.

Good luck to you!

Dawn said...

Anonymous author: Yes, I do know what you mean about not wanting people in your real life to know.

You can reach me at dawnd04 at gmail dot com anytime.

((hugs)) and good luck. You've gotten some really good advice here.

Anonymous said...

Sex 2-3 times a week? Who is married with children and gets/gives this kind of action?

I'm just going to ditto what everyone else said - especially Ewe are Here.

Anonymous said...

I get migraines. Aura, extreme light sensitivity, nausea, pain, the works. They suck great big donkey balls (sorry for the graphicness, but they do).

Know what I did? I visited doctors and tried out different medications. I figured out my personal migraine trigger - not food, but disruptions in my sleep pattern - and learned to avoid that trigger. I scoured the Internet for info, and started taking 400 mg of vitamin B2. Today, as long as I take that every day, and regularly take my prescription med, I am virtually migraine-free. My migraine med has side effects - it's a blood pressure drug - but I deal with them like an adult.

I'm not putting that story out there to seek praise or something...I'm putting it out there as an example of how an ADULT deals with such things. You say that your husband is a great guy...well, I'll have to take your word for it, because he sounds like a grade-A ass. He's not willing to help around the house but he's not happy that you've hired a "stranger" to take off some of your workload? He threatened to cheat on you if you didn't put out when you were extremely pregnant? He is extremely goddamn lucky that he's not currently single again, braving the dating scene while paying child support and alimony every month while his child sees more of your (hypothetical) new boyfriend than of him.

And - I say this as someone who was getting migraines frequently for quite a while - he IS being a wimp about the whole thing. Sorry, but I've BTDT, and if this is really all that bad, he can do what the rest of us migraine sufferers do - push for medication after medication until he finds one that works, or buy some powerful sunglasses and learn to live with the pain. I'm calling him a "wimp" here not because I think he's being "unmanly" or anything similar like that - I'm using the term because he's taking all this frustration out on you and trying to lay responsibility for his headaches on you rather than channeling his frustration into finding a real fix. At least, that's my interpretation. There is a LOT of new research and many new drugs - antidepressants, antihypertensives, antipsychotics, anti-epilepsy - prescribed for migraines now, and the adults I know who really, truly can't live with their migraines use their frustration to push their doctors into experimenting until something works. He's blaming you when he eats the "wrong" things? Is he confusing himself with your toddler?

I'm sorry you've been suffering through all this. But this is NOT normal. ANY situation that makes you tell yourself that your needs aren't important in order to get through each day is unacceptable and unsustainable. You are carrying far more than your share of this household and marriage, and you have been for a long time. You bore his child. You've been incredibly supportive of his migraines. You've done a lot for this guy. The question is, what is he doing for you that no one else could do? Doesn't sound like much. When was the last time he truly considered what you might need or what might make you happy? Sounds as though that hasn't happened in a LONG time. Please, please go see a therapist, or a clergyperson, or someone. You deserve much better than this. Your husband's physical pain, no matter how terrible it is, doesn't change the fact that his treatment of you is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Also, you say in here that you're afraid that yelling about all this would break something in your marriage that would be very hard to fix. It sounds to me as though something in your marriage has already broken that's going to be very hard to fix - namely, your ability to believe that your husband has *your* best interests at heart. The reason you're feeling increasingly angry is that you can't live this way forever. I'm not advocating divorce, but I do think you have a fair amount of power here. If you do file for divorce, you are almost guaranteed custody of your child...especially since your husband, by his own admission, is limited as to what he can do because of his migraines. Is your husband, who "needs" so much sex, really going to want to go out into the dating world again on top of dealing with the constant migraines? How well do you think he'd deal with having to live alone at this point?

Again, I am not, not, NOT telling you to run out and get divorced ASAP. I'm telling you that you *do* have power here - a lot of power. You have the power to flatly refuse to have a second child until changes are made. You have the power to tell him that, thanks to his own actions, you hate having sex with him, and if he ever wants to have sex with you again, he has to earn it. You have the power to tell him that if he doesn't shape up, you will leave him, and he'll be paying alimony and child support for many, many years on top of having limited contact with his child and having to deal with all of the things himself that you currently handle. This man is not in a good position to live alone, and yet he's convinced you that *you* are the vulnerable one. You're not. You're really not. But please, don't get pregnant again until this is worked out. As I said before, the way your husband treats you is unacceptable in any marriage, headaches or no. There is this belief in some quarters that physical or emotional difficulty gives people a license to treat their loved ones in a way that is otherwise not acceptable. This is NOT true. People who want to remain married need to practice a certain minimal level of behavior/respect for their spouses/consideration for others. If they can't, they shouldn't be married. Period. Physical and emotional pain are very difficult, but they do not mean that other people have to put up with unacceptable treatment. (Are there exceptions here? Sure - if your husband had Alzheimer's or had undergone a head injury that made him *incapable* of controlling certain behavior, maybe. He hasn't done that. He's in full control of his facilities - he's just in pain. Tough, but NOT the same thing.)

ozma said...

I am very sorry to hear about these things. I don't think you need to get over it. In fact, I don't think you could get over it or should get over it. Anger here is a good thing, an indicator of your own value for yourself in a situation where you are not being appropriately valued. The fact you are starting to value yourself less is a response to persistent disrespect and the anger is beneficial, I think, if it makes it hard for you to continue to accept bad treatment. I think it is protecting you from losing your self respect.

I wonder: Does you husband really have no idea that his actions toward you are wrong? As you describe it, he seems to believe that emotionally coercing you into having sex, getting angry with you for things he should be in charge of, such as his diet, and unfairly burdening you with greater household work is fine. I could see impulsively being a jerk (because of grumpiness, sexist attitudes he hasn't worked through that pop up once in a while) and then being sorry for that and trying to change. But if he thinks that these things are all within his rights, then somehow he needs to learn that they are not or he will continue to behave as he does. If he doesn't truly come to know this at some point--if he doesn't come around in his personal ethical outlook--then I think it will be hard to go on in the future without being constantly angry because you are being treated as a subordinate and disrespected. It's impossible for anyone in this situation to avoid deep resentment, I think. In other words, it seems like his underlying belief system may be out of whack but obviously, I don't know him enough to say.

I'm not saying he is a bad person or an ass, by the way. These type of beliefs often come out of our upbringing and are kind of deep within us and can be subtle in their effects on our actions. We can treat people in ways that are wrong because of influences we aren't aware of and loving someone a huge amount is not a guarantee that you will treat them with respect.

I thought the 10% greater pay that you mentioned was interesting. Why did you mention this? Do you think it affects the power balance in your relationship and is that why you mention it?

I hope things get better.

nz er said...

I feel for you - you are me - but thirty four years ago. Our issues were a little different but similar in some respects. I married a man who is always angry, never uses his fists though, just has a foul temper.

I too swallowed my feelings and anger, tried to always keep the peace and please him,and 'got on with it'.

After all - I guess I was brought up in the 'you made your bed now lie on it' generation.

How did I cope? Well I went on to have four children, I made my own good friends and made sure I had my own interests. My life has become my children who of course are well grown up now. They are wonderfully normal and none appear to have 'inherited' their fathers nature. Slowly I became stronger but even now I still have 'conversations in my head' instead of dealing with the current issues up front.

But the sex is the worst part - especially when you feel less then loving!

Please get some help, counselling etc, - don't be like me.

kittenpie said...

While everything seems fine ont he surface, it sounds to me as if there are serious broken pieces in your marrieage already. This stuff NEEDS to be aired and discussed. It doesn't have to mean yelling, especially if you think that would not be productive. For me, if I have something I need to air, I sit down and really think about what the core problem is and what I need, and a few ideas about how it could happen. Then I have something coherent to present. That might work for you too.

Basically, though, I think he really needs to hear how frustrated you are about how many things and the fact that you are about to hit the limit. I would suggest telling him that you have things that you need him to hear and ask him not to try to talk until you have said what you need to say. Then give him time to digest it - ask to think about this for a day or two and try to help you come up with some ideas to help make things work better. Tell him you have some ideas too, and you'd like to talk in a day or two and make sure you do. Take turns talking.

I suspect that he's out of practice with listening, since you've been giving in to everything he asks, but make it clear - firm voice, eye contact, raising your tone, threat of going to counselling, whatever - that this is serious.

As to the sex, I would be telling him that until you feel he is working WITH you to solve some of these problems, you are too stressed for sex and totally turned off by his selfishness and he can be his own right hand man, if you know what I mean. It works for millions of teenagers everywhere.

I wish you the best of luck, honey. It won't be easy, but it just might be possible to save this if he's willing to even listen. And I know you can't be the only one, so don't worry that it's you. You have every right to be angry and resentful, and frankly, he's just lucky you haven't lost it before now!

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a mess. I don't know what to say, but I wanted to tell you I'm sorry, I sympathize, and you're being incredibly strong to have handled this as well and as long as you have.

The sex thing resonates with me. God knows everyone's sex life and sexuality works differently. But IMO you never NEED to have sex. Especially not if it's painful, EVER. Men don't need sex to survive - they might need to get off a few times a week to feel comfortable, but he can take a long shower when he needs that. You need a certainly level of affection, peace and rest to want sex for yourself, and that need of yours is as valid and important as his need for sex.

Kyla said...

Ack! I'm so angry for you. You definitely DON'T need to just get over it. It isn't even possible to "get over it" at this point. I agree with many of the previous commenters. You have to find a way to get these feelings out there to him. Your only obligation is to tell him how you feel, all of it. What he choses to do with your (very important and VALID) feelings will dictate what happens next. You can't be trapped like this. It isn't healthy for you. You have to find a way to open up...wipe the smile off your face and let him know what is really happening, or else you're going to lose yourself and your shot at making this marriage work before it is too far gone.

Anonymous said...

wow. I could have written that post-- minus the husband with a real problem. Mine just acts the same way but without any headaches as a reason.

I don't have any advice because I'm struggling with the exact same issues. I read the other responses and I understand exactly why you are saying/feeling what you are. I haven't enjoyed sex in years, since our 2.5 year old was born.

And I also don't confront. I hold it all in. And I KNOW that's bad. But I can't help myself. Every time I try to bring up the problems, he accuses me of attacking him.

So I sympathize.

TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre said...

Just coming into this conversation, I have something to say that is different than the rest.

You fell in love because you met each other's needs. Your needs changed when you had a child. So did his.

We do strange things when our needs aren't met. We act irrationally, we say things we don't mean, and we hurt one another. If it goes on long enough, we withdraw and the marriage ends (or becomes like roommates).

If you don't want this, you need to find out what your needs are. Find out what his are. Do this together. It sounds like he might be receptive to something that will eventually mean getting his needs met. It will mean getting yours met, too. Win/Win!

One of the best resources I have found for this is at www.marriagebuilders.com. There is a quiz to find out yours/his strongest emotional needs and teaches you how to meet them. It's amazing how simple it seems but how difficult it can be to meet each other's most basic needs. He obvious hasn't been meeting yours.

Finally, I suggest that you go into this knowing fully that he might not respond right away. He might plug on, continuing to act this way and it might hurt. But keep at it. Meet the need (and this is important) the way he receives it, not the way you think it should be met, and he will respond.

Best of luck

Anonymous said...

As Dan Savage would say: DTMFA
Dump the mother fucker already.

Anonymous said...

So much of what you are saying sounds like what I went through. I'd just want you to know from a woman who is about to be divorced that you don't have to put up with a grumpy husband. Maybe he needs to own his problems from the headaches to the sex issue. And he damn well doesn't need to be a troll to you over dinner, the house, the child, sex or anything else. A man who demands sex is an ass. Maybe he should take a look at your emotional state and cater to you a little. Would that be so wrong?

And lastly, this paragraph at the end where you back peddle and try to defend him---that's ridiculous. You don't need another child when you can't even cope with the relationship as you know it right now. You need help from whoever can give it to you whether it's your husband, family, girlfriends, pastor, or therapist. This is not worth breaking in two over.

Anonymous said...

First off-- big (((HUGS))) to you!

You have gotten some really great advice-- so I (mostly) won't repeat-- but will just add a couple more comments/suggestions:

Get automatic bill pay for every bill you can. For us-- our insurance, utilities, house payment and ds's karate costs all come our automatically and it has REALLY cut down on the work of paying bills.

The next time a "forbidden" food makes it's way onto your table and he says something, be sympathetic and tell him how bad that makes you feel that a wrong food got missed-- and suggest that he take over menu planning because you just couldn't bear to put him through that again You can also tell him that if he figures out the list, you'll do the shopping (or just offer to "help him" with the shopping so more of the responsibility becomes his).

Then sign up for a class a couple of evenings on your way home from work: with menus already made and food in the house the dinner he makes should be a little less haphazard and better balanced. Or pick up a few easy things for your daughter's dinner for those nights and essentially let him worry about his own meals (for us-- I have several Healthy Choice entrees and bags of frozen vegetables that can be quickly microwaved for a reasonably balanced meal for the kids).

How about sharing some of the errands with dh? Since you are a conflict avoider, you could approach it by saying "We've got some errands that need done tomorrow. Do you want to pick up the dry cleaning or drop the cat by the vet?" and essentially just give him the choice of which errands to do (and make sure he ends up with his fair share).

About sex just for him-- I did that before for someone who really "needed" sex (not something he said and he never pressured, I just felt that it would be a healing thing for him) and it really killed something in me-- made me feel like an "object"-- not a person-- it was awful-- please don't do this to yourself. I also "put out" for my dh when I really have no interest (and this and doing things to essentially just get it over and done with without making it work for me has really had a negative affect on my enjoyment of sex)-- but it's different from the feeling like an object scenario-- I hope you aren't feeling that way.

Definitely do not have a second child until things are resolved with your relationship-- a second child adds a whole 'nother level of stress even without lots of underlying issues. And how in the world would you (or your husband) cope with your going through pregnancy exhaustion? (or prolonged morning sickness or if your second baby has colic or if you had a high needs or special needs child).

After ds#1, we had a really hard time in terms of me telling my dh what I needed (begging, pleading, even crying)and him ignoring my needs. Feeling like my feelings/needs meant so little to him really made me angry and eventually anger hardened into resentment and that really killed something in our relationship. My needs felt less desperate as ds#1 got older and less needy, then dh finally "got it" when we were pg with #2 and I told him how scared I was of going through that again and that I was scared our relationship wouldn't make it. I wasn't kidding and I didn't say it to manipulate him-- but he really got it and has been much better this time around about helping out (mainly with child care). It wasn't until I really told him how angry I had been and how that had turned to resentment that it made any difference (though I'm not even sure that that's what made the difference). But truly-- maybe showing your letter to your dh would help. Your tone was very straightforward and didn't seem like you were trying to skew things at all-- maybe try telling him that you love him and really want to have a great relationship with him, but that you don't see how things can keep going the way they are -- then give him the letter and tell him you wrote it and that you'd like to talk about it when he's ready.

I wish you all the best--

Leah said...

Your husband has to get over himself and you have to quit pandering to him. It is so hard to be a working mom, my suggestion is quit working if you can swing it. nobody can do everything. It won't fix him but it will take away some of your stress. He needs to buck up and be a man! I hope it works out for you both.

Anonymous said...

This is Basic Behavior 101.

Reward good behavior and you will get more of it.

Ignore bad behavior and it will go away. (Dangerous behavior, of course, has to be stopped in its tracks.)

So, on a day when your husband is nice and helpful and considerate, you initiate sex. Which is okay; sex is so much better when we're not pissed as hell.

On a day when he is an ass, you are the ice queen. You will not allow him to touch you.

I know it sounds like a game, but you are already playing it and with your husband is calling the shots and making the rules. Actually, you are also in this "game" with your children, your pets, your co-workers. If you don't understand the dynamics (the rules) you lose.

Matt said...

The lonely guy here, but I have to tell you, as a husband and a father - That asshat you're married to has no, none, zil, zero call on you to have sex with him if you don't want to. Never, ever - and especially in a late term pregnancy or the period after child-birth. As far as I am concerned, his harrassing you into that was nothing short of abuse and assault.

These outraged ladies who are offering you advice are remarkably consistent - listen to them. This is about your life and your right to live it in happiness. It is not about your husband's "needs" or problems. Do what is right for you and your child.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm glad you've gotten some really good support here. Just a suggestion -- I don't know if you belong to a religious community, but if you do maybe you could talk to a pastor, rabbi, or similar person, if you feel that you can't get counseling elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

He hates being on meds? Tough luck. Try a new med. His inability to treat a solvable medical problem is not your problem. You shouldn't have to live with his headaches. There are great migraine meds out there.

There are a couple of great books aobut verbal abuse by Patricia Evans. I think it's really hard for us to recognize that abuse is happening when no one is being hit. Telling you that he would get sex elsewhere is abusive. Would you approve of someone treating your sister or friend this way? It shouldn't be ok for you to be treated this way.

MamaMichelsBabies said...

Um... wow.

We are supposed to tell you that your normal, and what you feel, with all of this.. this crap is. You are normal to feel used, to feel resentful, to feel angry, and sad. With the things that you have gone through, those are normal and understandable feelings. How you are coping is not. The relationship and the dynamtic between you and your husband is not. The fact that your husband uses sex and money as a weapon against you is not.

Sorry to say it like this, but you already HAVE two children. One of them you didn't birth, but he's a child nonetheless. Perhaps next time he threatens to "get it" somewhere else, tell him to do so, while sending child support. This mind game he is playing with you, regarding sex, food, daily chores, and so on, is just that, a mind game. He manages to keep you so confused and so bottled up your not seeing this for what it truely is, abuse, emotional abuse. Just because he is not hitting you does not make it any better. Bruises heal, the mental bruises take a long time to fix. I am sick over the fact that you just lay there and cry.. that's not love. THat's not healthy. That shouldn't happen. EVER. This is not normal. It is a control tactic, and you've handed him your emotional joystick.

You aren't responsible for his food, nor his actions, but you are responsible for your own. Or your lack of. It is not up to you to DO everything for him, especially regarding these migraines, your responsibility lies in being supportive. I have cluster headaches, a cousin to migraines, and I know certian foods set it off, but it is not my husbands job to make sure I don't eat these foods, it is mine.

I'm not going to say again what everyone else has said, but hun, imagine the energy, physical and emotional, you use every day to try and cope with a man who so obviously has no respect for you or your marriage, now imagine using that to better yourself. Imagine waking up and knowing that his choices are his alone, that while you care about his headaches, they aren't your responsibility to prevent. Imagine using that energy to better YOU for once. Think of the possibilities. You NEED counseling right now more then you need your house spotless... if you can fix this, you won't NEED a housekeeper to take some of the load off, perhaps you can manage to fix this relationship so that HE'S there to help take some of the load off. You need to put you first for once, he isn't going to do it, YOU need to.