Monday, January 21, 2008

My Way Is The Right Way

Posted by Anonymous.

I am at a crossroads or so it seems to me. I am just so
irritated by my husband. Little things he does or doesn't do
drive me up the wall. It makes me insane and freaking crazy. It
has gotten worse since we had a child. Many things about him
would bug me before, but, it seems worse now. Things that were
endearing drive my crazy. When he is away, and then returns
(gone for a week recently), it is worse then ever as I feel my
routine has been completely disrupted. Sometimes I feel complete
rage and others I feel extreme disappointment. I know that my
rage and emotions are completely misdirected and
disproportionate. I know that logically but sometimes I just
feel out of control.

He works in an industry where he works very long hours for 2-4
months and then has 2-4 months off. He is off now, and so am I
as I am on mat leave which is probably why it irks me even more
lately. And I bug him incessantly, I ask him did you do this,
why didn't you do this, why do laundry and not put it away, why
look at the internet without checking email and the job lists,
why did not empty dishwasher when feeding the baby, why why
why?? He accuses me of being critical and controlling which has
some truth to it. But he rarely will pick a fight nor will he
take my bait for a fight, so we both stew, and stew, and stew,
and I think it is impacting our relationship, our life together
etc. And I don't know what to do.

We have a good life, relative to many people in the world. We
own a house (well the bank does), we have some investments,
although we are cash poor at the moment. We go on vacation on
occasion, we have a beautiful and healthy child. We own STUFF
like books, TV, computer, camera, furniture etc. We have lots of
food in the freezer and cupboards. We have friends. We have
supports of family members. We own a car. I have a regular very
secure job. His work is more unpredictable but when it is good,
we go on vacation, buy more STUFF etc. I like my life. I like
structure, routine, calendars, lists, that things have a place
to live (like scissors, and tylenol, and the heating pad). I
like that my house is tidy and clean, that I can be anal but not
completely crazy. My house can have toys scattered around, and
there can be crumbs on the couch, table or floor, and I will
still let you come it and visit! I am a weird dichotomy between
order and chaos. I like that I can be flexible and spontaneous
and spur of the moment, but I also will schedule social events
and visits or else I know there are some people I would never
see if I left it to spontaneity I am a complex organism but I
like things to be organized. I worry and get anxious when things
are in chaos. For example: If the mail doesn't get opened the
same day it arrives, to me, it is the end of the world (I know
it is not but that is the way I feel).

The problem probably is that I am "perfect", "right", "my way or
the highway", "I know best", "I can do it better / faster /
cheaper". I like my life to be structured and organized
therefore I am the one that does all of the following in our
household as that way I know it is done "right" and that it will
get done:
menu planning
grocery shopping
personal hygiene shopping
household item shopping
all comparison shopping to ensure the best buys
gift buying and giving
writing thank you notes
sending christmas cards
organizing parties, dinners, events
sending out invites
maintaining photo albums (baby book etc)
pays the bills
manages the money
researches and manages all RSP, RESP, mutual funds
sorting and organizing child clothing and hang me downs
buying clothing as needed
opening and sorting mail
filing important papers and making sure that they are organized
maintaining car insurance / house / life insurance
maintaining regular oil changes
organizing all our income tax including stuff for him being
"self employed"
managing the health and welfare of pets (nails being clipped,
rabies shots, etc)
remembering when it is garbage day / recycling day
knowing when there are appts and ensuring we get there when
scheduled
knowing when we have social commitments and ensuring we get
there
etc etc
you get the drift.

My husband and I share the housework - like vacuuming,
bathrooms, shoveling snow, yard-work, he does all DIY stuff. I
do more tidying and every day things and he does more bigger
things like vacuuming etc. And he is good about that when he is
not working. He does things in weird order sometimes, and starts
something and doesn't finish it, and then starts something else
before finishing the 1st thing (which is not the "right way" to
do it!). But overall I can't complain in this regard even though
I do find reasons too.

The thing that bugs me most about him is he can't do multiple
things at a time. I used to find that cute and endearing but now
it makes me blind with anger. For instance in the morning, I get
up give baby a bit of a bottle, let her play while I empty
dishwasher, make tea / coffee, make breakfast and feed the dogs.
When I sleep in (as I go to bed later), the hubbie feeds the
baby, and then she is watching tv while he is on internet, or
sometimes he is playing with her. He can't manage to do all the
other morning things that need to be done. He doesn't comply
with my schedule of how things are done, and what is the right
way. And it drives me crazy. I see it as a personal attack and
as his way of trying to upset me or piss me off when in reality
it is just his way of doing things.

When I work so hard to make sure we are financially ok, that we
have cupboards full of food, and money for the future when we
retire, and life insurance for our daughter, and when I ask him
not to spend more then $100 from his account b/c there are
things coming out of it, then he goes and spend $150 and there
are overdraft fees, or bounced cheques. I see this as a complete
lack of respect for what I try very hard to do. I see this as a
personal attack on me and the way I run our household. And I
have talked to him about it a million times. When we don't have
lots of money, I make sure I eat before I go out so I don't have
to spend money, he never thinks of that til he is in the car or
getting headaches from starvation. I even will pack myself a
sandwich when I go out sometimes. Even though lately I haven't
gone out at all.

When he is out of work for 2-3 months and knows he needs a job
sooner then later (especially now since I am on mat leave and we
are living on one EI cheque and our line of credit) he does not
look on Tuesdays at his emails for the job lists he gets sent as
the first thing he looks at on the internet, it bugs me. He
doesn't put it as a priority when in my mind it is like one of
the #1 things on the "to do" list of the day. And I can't wait
for him to take his time and look, I want him to do it right
away and now. I bug him instead of letting him wait and check
on his own accord like on Thursday. Part of that is my anxiety
about money and being ok. But I take personal offense from his
lacksidasical attitude about it. Particularly when I feel like I
work HARD to plan our future together as a family and feels like
I am not asking much in return.

He is great in many other ways. Like he can make my daughter
laugh like it is nobody's business. He will feed, bathe, change
diapers, look after baby on his own so I can do stuff or go out.
He can make me cry when otherwise I would not (don't you know
crying is for sissy's?). He will support me in any project or
task that I want to do. He doesn't fight. He is a family man and
puts the needs of child and us ahead of his own (most of the
time). He gets up at night. He is sensitive and kind. Everyone
in my family and circle of friends love him.

And I am worried. Anxious. Scared. What is going to happen when
I go back to work?? How am I going to manage the entire
household and then some and work full time as well as be able to
spend time with my beautiful daughter?? How can I let go of some
of the control without feeling completely out of control? How do
I get him to change ha ha? How do I get myself to accept him the
way he is? How do get my extreme and disproportionate emotions
under control? How do I stop nagging and bugging and bite my
tongue?

Of course though, I know I am "right" though. How do I stop
having to be right all the time and being so childlike when I
don't get my way?? How do I repair the hurts that are felt on
both sides at moment and let our relationship be more light
hearted and fun rather then like a list of things to do?

And how do I admit that maybe there are some things that I am
wrong about.........because I don't want to appear weak and have
this be about me, as it is about us. Us, me, him, and a baby.

19 comments:

Little Monkies said...

I feel for you. I've been in that exact same position (angry, frustrated, ready to explode) and I had a hard time asking for help because I didn't want it to be about me because I thought he was in need of some therapy too. I got on meds, my life improved dramatically. I went back to school and my husband had to pick up the slack too. Not that things are perfect, but I have embraced the chaos that is my life and have started thinking of working through things in increments instead of aggregates.

A problem we've always struggled with is the stewing and lack of communicating. Maybe that's a place to start with your relationship. I'll never forget when one day in therapy my husband told the therapist that he felt like he was doing an 90% good job as a parent, but 40% good job as a husband. It made me so sad and really let me understand where he was coming from.

Sorry there is no great advice in here other than getting your own anxieties/depression/feelings under control. Something may be driving these feelings other than your husband. Post-partum depression doesn't have to happen right after birth...mine didn't hit until I stopped nursing and hit again when my levels were crazy with my 2nd child. Just a thought.

Nancy said...

Since it sounds like you are financially fairly stable, have you considered marriage counseling? I'm thinking that one or both of you could benefit from talking about this with an objective third party who can help you to think of some different approaches by which to look at, and resolve, your conflicts.

I do think you're in a high pressure situation right now -- the complete upheaval of a household due to the arrival of a baby can do that to even the best of marriages -- so don't be too hard on yourself (or him) until you can delve more deeply into what's going on. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think the two response posts above are really compassionate and helpful. It sounds like you are in a high pressure situation right now. You report some nice positive observations about your husband's positive traits and yet you report to have a extreme negative emotional responses to life inside your home. Have you considered seeking help from a professional about how to deal with your emotional responses to situations? It is okay to ask for help.

I heard something once that might help you out here. A woman was explaining that she was very irritated by her husband for not doing the dishes her way, "the right way". The therapist asked her what score she would give her husband on his dish washing job? She responded 8 out of 10. The therapist then told her "would you rather have the dishes done 8 out of 10 or would you rather be alone, because the way you're behaving you're not very much fun to be around". It was a reality check for me. I thought wow that is a wake up call. I don't want to be critical of someone so much, or so often, that they don't want to be around me. I am just throwing that out there. It helped me. Good luck with everything. Try to exercise all of your options for help. It is okay to ask for help. It is sign of strength. It is the functional thing to do.

Anonymous said...

hi again, I am anonymous from comment number 3. My friend has just reminded me that the therapist said "do you want to be right or do you want to be alone because the way you're carrying on you're not much fun to be around". I don't know if that changes the readability of my comment but for what it's worth I have corrected it. Thanks.

mrinz said...

Just a thought - have you read any books about the differences between the way a man and woman's brain operates?

Some of the things you mention ie being only able to do one thing at a time, are very very typical characteristics of the way a man copes.

You are both in need of some good old fashioned fun and laughter and some rediscovering of the things that attracted you to each other in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I have two words for you: Flylady and antidepressant.

Check out Flylady's website, www.flylady.net. She's not really a cleaning guru, but more of a coach to help you let go of perfectionism. Some of her essays might help you.

As for an antidepressant, either get counseling and get one, or go to your regular doctor and get one. I'm not saying you're depressed, but you do mention radical mood swings. Taking an antidepressant helped me to become more even. What's more, I am more able to live and let live than I ever was before.

You are like my husband and I am like your husband. It gets more difficult to be with my husband because he is so controlling and anal, and I see it more as he gets older. He realizes it, but can't control it. I am doing my best to help keep him even, but I think he would totally benefit from an antidepressant. Unfortunately, he won't consider counseling or even trying an antidepressant. So I take one, do my best, continue to love and appreciate him (because he has some really good qualities) and have decided that we'd never get divorced because that wouldn't make me any happier.

About working, I work full time and my husband worked shift work when I went back to work after maternity leave. He now works regular hours. In any case, when he did work shift work, my two boys and survived. I've been working full time since my 11 year old was 4 months. You get into a rhythm and are able to adjust, and it works out okay. For consistency sake, keep your daughter on a schedule that works with your schedule. You may have to scale back on a few things (like social activities, etc.) so you don't go nuts. I scaled way down when my boys were young. Now that they're 8 and 11, I am able to participate in more activities outside the home that give me a sense of satisfaction.

About money, have you thought about putting your husband on an allowance? Would he be agreeable to that? I am on one. I get a certain amount of money every two weeks to spend on whatever I want, and if I spend it all the first day, it's on me to get by until the next paycheck. That way you could keep your husband within a budget.

Lastly, whatever you do, please don't get pregnant anytime soon. It sounds like your daughter is very young, so I hope that you get all of these problems worked out with yourself and your marriage before you decide to add another child to the mix. I only say this because I've read so many stories where women think another baby will fix things, when in reality, they end up making things worse.

Good luck, and let us know how you make out.

Anonymous said...

I have totally been where you are!! The one thing that helped me change my perspective was a weekend course I took. I dont want to sound like I'm advertising bu I'm amazed at how it made me appreciate what I have and cultivate the realtionships that I want in my life. It is a weekend investment but totally worth the cost. The company is Landmark Education. I wish everyone would take it. I promise that things can get better!!

Jaelithe said...

Perhaps it would help you to prioritize the issues you have with his behavior.

Obviously, the bouncing of checks/debit overdrafts MUST stop. It's key to protecting your whole family's financial future. So let him know that is something you really need him to fix.

But I think a lot of the other things are personality quirks you may have to keep learning to live with. I do understand where you are coming from-- I am a person who is very keen on having things around the house done a certain way (read: my way), and I get really frustrated with my own husband a lot of the time for many of the same reasons-- his seeming inability to multitask, his half-assed habits when it comes to housecleaning (Why, why, WHY put dirty dishes on the just-cleaned-by-your-wife kitchen counter, but not in the empty sink, or even, GASP, the dishwasher?!? Why vacuum in the living room, but not in the hall? The answers escape me).

But when little stuff like that starts to get me down, I try to remind myself of all the great stuff he does. Like how he insists on carrying groceries and opening doors for me. Or how he has taken off work to stay home with our son when I've been sick. There are a lot of men out there who don't even try to help with housework, and wouldn't dream of taking off work to care for a sick kid.

It's really hard to let the little stuff go and focus on the good stuff when you've just had a baby, though. For the first several months after you have a baby, you're sleep deprived, your hormones are out of whack-- it's no wonder you feel anxious and cranky a lot of the time. It's perfectly normal to feel that way after you have a baby, and it does not mean that your marriage is in trouble,m or that you are going crazy-- it just means you are normal.

I think you should discuss these feelings with your husband-- let him KNOW that you know sometimes you are being overly controlling, but with all the stress from the baby, you just can't help it right now, and you'd appreciate it if he cut you some slack.

Chances are he WILL get better regarding his ability to juggle the childcare and housework tasks at the same time as your kid gets older, by the way. I don't know if this is due to nature or nurture, but I have found that a lot of the skills that seem to come very quickly for mothers after a child is born can take a bit longer for dads to catch on to. But the good dads do catch on.

Anonymous said...

Anon--
I hope things are getting better. I like the idea of asking yourself 'Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?'...or any mantra, really, just as a reminder that your way is not the only way.

Catherine--
I'm so sorry to go this route, but I was trying to send you a post to air my own dirty laundry and I can't get your email to work. Could you just verify your email address? Thanks so much!

Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - herbadmother@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

thanks all.
taking some advice.
booked a night out for dinner with the hubbie grandma is babysitting.
funny, not haa haa funny, a good friend died young and that made eveyrthing different as it made me appreciate how great he is.
and i think that marriage therapy is not necessary for the record. but i may look into my own when i go back to work.
and i shared this post with him too and he got angry but it produced some good discussion.

sara said...

Men (most men, that is) CANNOT multitask. Just accept that as an unchanging fact and that should help a bit. I used to get so frustrated when my VERY smart husband was not doing the 6 things at once that I was...and then I watched some program about rats that are mothers vs. rats that are not...and somewhere it just sunk in. THEY ARE INCAPABLE.

that little pearl. flylady and meds!! That may help.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

I admire you for sharing this post with your husband. He sounds like a very helpful and supportive partner for you.

I always wondered if my anger and negative reactions were postpartom drepression. Having a new baby and a new life with little or no sleep, makes everything more complicated and stressful. I can't say you'll get a groove immediately once you go back to work, but it will come and you'll feel happier even without medication. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

by the way "flylady" rocks i also loved her!!

CAK said...

Wow. Reading this post really got me- as it is SO similar in many ways to my situation with my husband. We just had a baby four months ago too. I too do all the things you list- I dont think they would ever get done otherwise. He is wonderful with the baby for the most part, and probably less helpful with housework than yours is...
So I dont have an answer for you- just know that someone else is in a very similar situation. The one thing that gets me through everything is the decision in my head to never, ever consider divorce, ever. So i try to muddle through, maybe we'll go to therapy when we can afford it...
I'm there with you sister- hope things get better.

Poppy Buxom said...

Sounds to me like PPD. Get as much sleep and fresh air and sunshine as you can manage. In fact, get more. Force yourself to do it if you have to. Depression is a disease of denial, and it will prompt you to do exactly what you shouldn't do--stay up late, sit around watching TV, eating junk. You need to take care of yourself.

That being said, you're coming across as very controlling, very perfectionist, very unpleasant. I guarantee your husband isn't enjoying this behavior.

This is what I think you should do. First of all, give him three handicaps. Three things about him that will not change and you will accept no matter what. Everyone should get at least three. Also, realize that there are things about you that are just as irritating.

Take on the tasks that you insist be done a certain way, and delegate the others to him. I hate the way my husband cleans up the kitchen, so I always do it, even if I spent four hours cooking dinner, even if he protests that I cooked so he should clean. I would rather clean so that I know it will be done thoroughly. It's a flylady thing--I've got to shine my sink! :D And so? I let him cook. He's not a great cook, but I'd rather eat less wonderful food and know the kitchen is clean when I go to bed.

You will find the balance that works for you--just remember it's a balance--not just between what he does and what you do, but between what you want, and what is reasonable to expect another human being to do.

Hang in there. It will get easier!

Anonymous said...

i love that we each get 3 "handicaps", love that!

Cat said...

He is your husband, not your child. Stop treating him as something you can manage, and then gettin upset when you can't control him.

Velma said...

Just remember, the only person you can "change" is yourself. No matter how much nagging, crying, pleading, stomping, threatening, cajoling - whatever - you do, only he can change himself.

To be honest, this sounds like *your* problem, not his, and the best thing you could do for yourself would be to figure out how to let go of some of the controlling behavior.

Just think of all the anger and frustration that would leave your life if you could let go of some of the stuff that bugs you so badly. I'd like to see you find some peace. Take care.