It has been a hard year

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Peter 9 months, 1 week ago.

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    In April of last year, during the span of a week I find out my father is struggling with severe alcoholism (which I suspected) and that he had been physically abusing my mother (which I didn't know). In the mists of using all of my emotional/intellectual resources to provide support for my parents and siblings, I find that my DH lost his job. That made me put my parents' situation on hold and shift my focus to our daughter. I have, since then, attempted to live as frugally as possible. However, we decided to continue our planned IVF cycle in hopes for a second child. Thus far, our attempts have remained unsuccessful.

    DH got a new job the first week of May this year (a few days away from a year into his unemployment). I wanted to be grateful for this opportunity, but DH has been negative from the start regarding his colleagues and superiors. This is far from the position he had invisioned and the compensation is low, so after the depletion of our savings due to a year of unemployment and the unsuccessful IVF attempts, we need to continue to live as frugally.

    When we were diagnosed with severe infertility 4 years ago, we jointly decided to start IVF right away to increase our chances of succes. In 2014, we were blessed with our most precious gift, I am and will forever be grateful for my daughter. However, after a difficulty pregnancy and overwhelming first year of parenthood, as a couple we decided to put my education on hold (I was half way though my graduate degree) and it was implied that he would become the sole breadwinner. I was comfortable with the arrangement but our financial situation has deteriorated and the situation is such that with my experience, I cannot perform a job that will effectively cover the cost of childcare.

    I have done my best to be supportive of DH by telling myself: 1) that this period of uncertainty and unemployment would pass 2) that this is his career, and other than being supportive and helpful with our daughter, there was little much I could do to affect the outcome. Just like I put my parent's situation on hold, in my attempt to be frugal I gave up many things in life that I derived pleasure from including, my own ambitions outside of motherhood (it is a terrible time for me to go back to school). I made the decision that I would live day-by-day and focus on the many mundane/repetitive tasks associated with parenting a preschooler.

    It has been over a year since that turbulent April and I have become isolated from my parents; I feel in such an emotionally vulnerable place that I cannot handle the added stress that interacting with them implies. I also feel like my only purpose in life is my daughter and the pleasure that I derive from our interactions, but this was never intended to be a long-term plan. I feel burned out and tired many days, but also restless for change. I feel that providing my husband with space and freedom has come with a price since it has caused me to grow hopelessness and helplessness. And here's the crux of the matter: when it comes to our financial future he is completely in the driver's seat (a spot I initially yielded), but at the same time, from my limited understanding and perspective, I disagree completely with his strategy. It is not that I absolutely distrust his intellect, but I don't believe his approach thus far has been pragmatic. He prioritizes personal low-probability entrepreneurial projects over his job search, for instance. Any attempt from me or any other member of his family to point out his lack of practicality is not well received.

    So yes, both hopelessness and helplessness have become dominant sentiments in my life. Helplessness because it is my husband who has the power to change our situation (at least financially speaking). Hopelessness because my intuition tells me that our financial situation will not improve until he changes his approach. In spite of my efforts to remain calm and redirect my attention to immediate matters, after a year I have grown restless to take action but remain uncertain of how to do so. What worries me the most is that each subsequent blow (be it failed IVF attempt or failed interview), has become more difficult to bear and increases my sense of hopelessness. Our marriage is also suffering from all of my repressed resentment (in my attempt to be supportive, I refrain from telling DH the majority of these things).

    Should I give up hope that DH's career will take a turn for the better? Give up hope of having another child since statistically, the odds of succes also seem slim? If I mourn my hope that all will improve due to simple luck, will this allow me to move on and redefine my own goals and aspirations?









    Dear Dorothy:

    Reads to me that you are primarily a woman-of-roles: a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sibling. The individual part of you suffers as you juggle these roles, having given up graduate school and “many things in life that I derived pleasure”.

    As a wife, you took a supportive role: “other than being supportive and helpful with our daughter, there was little much I could do to affect the outcome” and “when it comes to our financial future he is completely in the driver’s seat (a spot I initially yielded)” but are unhappy with your husband financial decisions/ strategy and future in the workplace.

    As a mother, you “feel burned out and tired many days, but also restless for change”- yet you continue IVF treatment.

    My suggestions:

    Re-consider the IVF. I understand having a second child has been a dream. Some dreams need to be re-evaluated and sometimes abandoned. You are already burned out and tired having one child, helpless and hopeless, in the passenger (not the driving) seat of your marriage. These may not be circumstances congruent with having another pregnancy and another child.

    Reconsider your support role in your marriage and take a co-driver seat in it. Sit with your husband and through talks, over time, face reality as is, make choices as co-drivers/ equal partners in this marriage. If your graduate degree is likely to lead to a much better financial future, consider it. Your helpless and hopeless feelings will improve as you… help yourself and the marriage as an equal, active partner.





    You certainly have had a hard year. I can’t address the issues you have experienced however would like to say something about the concept of hope.

    If I mourn my hope that all will improve due to simple luck, will this allow me to move on and redefine my own goals and aspirations?

    I think it depends on how you understand and exercise this thing we call hope.

    Though some will disagree with me I believe that Hope is a skill.  Most people I have observed assume they “know” what concepts such as hope, forgiveness, love… without ever questioning their expectations, of those ideals, and so hope unskillfully.

    We can hope with eyes closed (Passive) or with eyes open (Active). The danger with passive hope is that is often not hope but wishful or magical thinking.  Active hope is more intentional even when the hope is for something that is beyond our control.

    Hope with eyes open is hope that is not attached to the outcome of what’s hoped but open to a something not yet visible.  It is a kind of hope that is a doing by not doing.  You might hope for your parent’s well-being to improve and work towards that goal, acknowledging as it says in the serenity prayer, changing what you can and accepting what you can’t, unattached to how that well-being might look. In this way, you create space for what is hoped to emerge in ways you might not have thought of.

    There is a difference between fantasy, a dream, a goal, and an intention, and before we hope it might be helpful to become conscious of what our hope is pointed to. Is the hope pointed to a fantasy, a dream, a goal or an intention?  Once that is identified we might better know what we are really hoping for and if its worth holding on to.

    For example, I might hope to win the lottery, but never buy a ticket. Such hope would be hope with eyes shut and unskillful. When I examine that hope I see its a fantasy hoping that luck will lead to Financial Security. The reality I'm really hoping for financial security. If I let go of the hope to win the lotto and instead hope for financial security, working towards that goal, while remaining unattached to how that Financial security must look like and be experienced I suspect I might discover that perhaps such security might not have anything to do with money at all.

    We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. -Seneca

    “the most painful state of being is remembering a future, particularly the one you’ll never have.” – Kierkegaard

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