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Mixed feelings with Wife

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  • #384342
    Dave
    Participant

    Hello!  I am new here, but I have been having problems and have no where/no one to turn to.

    My wife and I have been together for 6 years, we have a 2 year old son together who is everything to me.  My wife and I met each other about 10 years ago, when I was delivering to her job.  She worked at a horse farm and I was delivering hay at the time, we used to chat and got along very well. I stopped doing that job about 2 years later, So I did not see her after that. Fast forward a bit, and I had just gotten out of a bad relationship of 2 years, the same friend asked if he could set me up with someone, I reluctantly agreed.  Turns out that he remembered the girls from the farm, and set up a meet up at the local bar.  We chatted the whole night again, and decided to give it a go.. about a year later I proposed to her.  I love my wife with all my heart, she seems perfect to and for me, she keeps me grounded and listens.  We owned a house for a few years, I bought it right around the time we got married, and I was able to pretty much pay all the bills with my income.  I did need help with certain bills, but it was usually just the cable and groceries.  About a year after we moved in, there were a few changes where she worked, her partner decided that she didn’t want to do horses anymore and just focus on therapy, so the boarding part of the business was divided and given to my wife to run as her own business.  Now she was making no money, because everything she made, she was putting back into the business.  I know what is involved with her business, and I was OK with it all, I want her to do what she loves, which is horses.  She was getting a bit insecure about the female friends that I would hang out with about this time also..  I have 2 very good female friends that I have known since high-school, so the only time we really hung out after this was when I invited them over to the house a few times a year for a bbq. It has been about 4 years now, and we have sold the house, because I could not afford it, we had our son, she had a cancer scare, and everything is somewhat resolved now.  We live in my grandfathers old house, that I fixed up before we sold our house, we pay low rent to my father for the house, and live on the family farm, which is nice.  But, I still pay all the bills, I even bought her a small tractor for the farm, and pay for that every month.  I ask that she does the dishes and fold the laundry, I take care of cooking, cleaning and take care of our son for the most part (when he is not over at her parents or my parents). I do get one day a week where I have a day to myself, while my son is at the grandparents and I am off, but usually spend it doing chores around the house.  During the last year, my wife has been working alot, she leaves around 5am, comes back home so I can leave for work around 8am, then she either waits for my mother to come over to babysit, or brings our son to her parents. She gets home around 8-9pm and is tired, I have dinner ready for her, and I do, most nights, stop what I am doing and sit with her while she eats, we watch TV and talk, then after she eats, she goes to bed..  She does get agitated when I ask that she folds the laundry, since it usually sits in a pile on the trunk at the end of the bed for a week or more, and when I ask her to do the dishes when they pile up.  Now to put my work in perspective, I drive a delivery truck and I usually only work about 5hrs a day during the summer (I am on salary), and work 8-10hrs in the winter, so I am home quite a bit in the summer. She gets mad at me,  saying that I am home and should do the dishes, and that she works so much and is tired when she gets home.  We haven’t been intimate in a few months now, she said that she is worried about getting pregnant again, and I agreed to get a vasectomy, but we could use condoms in the mean time, but she says that I only want to be intimate when she is ready for bed, or that she is too tired.  I have been feeling worse and worse about our relationship for about a year now, I still love her, but I don’t want to be in a relationship where it feels like I am the only one contributing to it, and I am worried what it will do to our son if we split, she would have no where to go, except back to her parents.  I am sorry if I am rambling on, but I have no one that I can talk to about this.  My friends and family absolutely LOVE my wife, and so anything I say will get back to her and cause a fight.  I don’t know what to do..

    #384354
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dave:

    I will read and reply to you in about 12 hours.

    anita

    #384359
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    it seems to me that you and your wife are a good fit, and in general are supportive of each other. But what seems to be a problem are the circumstances around her job, which as you describe it, takes her entire day: she gets out at 5 am, then comes home briefly to hand over your son for babysitting, and then goes to work, staying there till 8 or 9pm. That’s the entire day! No wonder she is exhausted and isn’t in the mood either for sex or for doing any chores.

    It appears you are resentful of that and don’t want to do the dishes or fold the laundry more out of “principle” than because you wouldn’t really have the time. What also seem to bother you is the fact that she is working so much, exhausting herself, and still, the income she is bringing is quite small, so much so that you had to sell the house and move to a cheaper place, and also, you’re paying with your own money for some of her work equipment (the tractor).

    I understand your resentment and the feeling that you are the only one contributing to the relationship. The problem is that she is working a lot without a proper pay. That’s why you feel she contributes nothing – neither money, nor time, nor intimacy. She otherwise seems like a good woman, who supports you and listens to you. She would be capable to be a wonderful partner (give and take a few things like perhaps her jealousy, but it seems like a minor thing).

    But anyway, as the things stand, it seems she is sacrificing everything for the job she loves, and as a result, potentially ruining your relationship (and possibly her health too?). Perhaps she is still in the phase of building her business and that’s why she is giving her all and unintentionally neglecting her family? You said this regime of her working a lot has lasted since the last year. Does she have a business plan and a time plan for getting her business off its feet? Perhaps it’s been specially hard due to covid?

    In any case, I think the two of you should talk about her plans, because the current regime doesn’t seem sustainable on the long run. The ideal scenario would be that she still gets to do what she loves, but that she also gets to spend more time with you and your son. So, to achieve more work-life balance.

    Do you think you could talk to her about this?

     

    #384372
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dave:

    It would be best if you and your wife attended couple therapy/ marriage counseling. In couple therapy, a good couple therapist will teach the two of you to communicate effectively. One guiding factor in teaching effective communication between husband and wife is EAR, standing for Empathy, Assertiveness and Respect.

    There are online sources, books and workbooks for couples who wish to learn to effectively communicate with each other. One such workbook is The Ultimate Relationship Workbook for Couples: Simple Exercises to Improve your Communication and Strengthen your Bond, by Ari Sytner, and another is: Couple Skills: Making your Relationship Work by Matthew McKay.

    It will take some time to study and do the exercises in any of these workbooks, but it will be time very well spent because it will make it possible for the two of you to solve practical problems before those practical problems destroy the marriage altogether.

    anita

    #384393
    Dave
    Participant

    Hello Teak,

    Thank you for the reply, I believe that my wife and I are a good fit together, and she does sacrifice most of her time to her job, even if she doesn’t have to be at work, she will stay to do things that she wants to do (mostly tidying up the barn or doing things in the barn that the owners of the property should be doing, like fixing fence boards or fixing horse stalls.) We have talked about her hours and changes to her business that would let her have more time, but she doesn’t do anything about it.  We have the same discussion anywhere from 5-10 times a year: She will ask me what she should do, she lays out options about how she should change the business, we discuss it for an hour or so laying out the pro’s and con’s of each option.  When all of that is done, I tell her what my opinions are about it, what I think would be the best course, and ask her what she REALLY wants to do..  and she can’t make up her mind.  So we end up back at the same spot after every discussion, sometimes I get annoyed when we are talking about it because she never follow’s through with her idea’s, I have become increasingly annoyed with it  over the past few months, and the last time she wanted to discuss her business plans I snapped at her about it.  It’s almost as if she doesn’t want anything to change, which I understand, and she has a problem with her own self-worth and was in therapy for it, along with other things.

    I might be over reacting a bit, and probably being stubborn about house chores.  But in my eyes, a relationship should be a joint effort, and if I am the only one putting in effort, then it feels like I just have a room-mate instead of a spouse.

     

    – Anita,

    I will take a look at the workbooks you mentioned, and maybe start there.  I am afraid that if I ask her to go to couples therapy she will not have time, or stay at work longer to avoid it.  The workbooks I could probably get to work since we can do it at home, but we will see how it goes.

     

    Thank you both!

    #384394
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Dave. I hope to read from you regarding your experience with any of the workbooks.

    anita

    #384403
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    you’re welcome.

    We have talked about her hours and changes to her business that would let her have more time, but she doesn’t do anything about it.

    So you have been through this cycle of talking about possible improvements, discussing options, you giving suggestions, asking for her ideas… and the result is that nothing changes. Because she cannot make up her mind. For some reason, she is stuck.

    Does she realize that she is hurting your relationship by spending the whole day at work and even fixing things that the property owners should be fixing? Have you told her how you feel when she dedicates so much time to her work, while dedicating so little time to you and your son?

    Perhaps the first thing to clarify is why she’s staying at work so long – is it because she is avoiding you or resenting you for something (“I am afraid that if I ask her to go to couples therapy she will not have time, or stay at work longer to avoid it.”), or because of reasons that have nothing to do with you, such as her low self-esteem or similar?

    In any case, I believe it would be good if you’d express your own needs and also express how it makes you feel when she is never home. Perhaps instead of trying to help her with her business plan (which obviously doesn’t work), talk about your feelings honestly and see how she reacts.

    #384407
    Dave
    Participant

    Hello TeaK,

    We have talked about how her hours affect the family, we have that conversation once or twice a year.  She is not as open with her feelings as I am, she likes to keep things bottled up, while I will talk about how her hours affects me and our son, so she does know how I feel.  Also our son gets upset if she tries to get him out of bed in the morning, doesn’t want her to change his diaper, dress him, give him dinner (the nights that she does get home early), or put him to bed.  He will cry for me whenever she tries to do this kind of stuff, and I know it hurts her when he does this.  So I find that I ignore him while she is home, so that he will go to her for things, but he will usually just cry until I pay attention to him.

    As far as why she stays at work for these long hours, we have not talked in detail about that. I know that she does all the work in the barn, takes breaks and has tea with the owners, talks with her clients, sometimes she will have a few glasses of wine after she is done with the owners or clients at the barn.  She does have some workers/volunteers that help her out sometimes, but it might be one or two days a week, and she will stay to fix what they did, because it was not done how she wants it done. I do not think that she stays because she is avoiding me, she does ask if we could go out on dates or just to dinner.  When I do plan dates or dinners she is usually late, and we can not go because it is past the reservation time or just too late to actually go out.

    We have talked about what the property owners should be doing and what she does, but she doesn’t like the way they do things most of the time.  She thinks that they do things the cheap and easy way instead of the correct way, which is the case sometimes.  But she will stay to mow the fields when that is something that the property owners do, and they don’t say a word about it because it is something that they do not need to do.  I keep telling her to let them do what they are supposed to do, but she wants things done her way.

    I will try to have another talk with her about all of this, and see how it works out…

    Thank you.

    #384425
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    in your first post you described your wife as: “she seems perfect to and for me, she keeps me grounded and listens.

    But in what you are saying, I don’t see how she really listens to you, except that she listens to your complaints, or your suggestions about her business, or she listens to you when you talk about your feelings…. but then she ends up ignoring all of that and is keeping the status quo. She knows everything that bothers you, and those are legitimate concerns, and yet, she is unwilling (or unable due to her own issues) to change.

    Even when she asks you to take her out on a date, she is late and sabotages it. You say she wouldn’t be willing to go to a couple therapy either because she would sabotage it too. It seems she isn’t willing to do anything to accommodate for your needs, whereas you are willing to do a lot for her, even opt for vasectomy, which is a pretty final solution.

    So when you say she listens to you, does she really listen? Her asking for ideas for her business, or asking to be taken out on dates seems manipulative, because she ends up rejecting it. She might not be doing it on purpose, but there is something in her – some resentment – that she is taking out on you. Do you think she might resent you for not joining her in her business, like leave your job and work full time with her? Or that you don’t join her during the summer, after you’re done with your job, and help her clean the barn etc?

    You said: It’s almost as if she doesn’t want anything to change, which I understand,

    Why is it understandable that she wouldn’t want to change anything? It appears your son is rejecting her, doesn’t want her to take care of him. Wouldn’t she want to change that?

    My friends and family absolutely LOVE my wife, and so anything I say will get back to her and cause a fight.

    And you couldn’t bear to have a fight with her? It seems to me you have a problem with asserting yourself and asking for what you want in your marriage, perhaps out of guilt? For example, when she stood you up for a date, and it didn’t happen once but multiple times – have you confronted her or you just let it go?

     

    #384466
    Dave
    Participant

    Hello TeaK,

    I guess I meant that she listen’s to me complain, whether about work, family or anything else, and just thought of it as her being stubborn or scared of change that she would not take my advice on her business.  I never really thought about it as her being manipulative because she is the type of person that wants to help people, puts them above herself, but she is now putting everyone above her family also.   She also has a lot of self-doubt, which is why, I believe, she continues to ask me what she should do as far as her work is concerned. As far as understanding why she doesn’t want things to change, I am somewhat like that, especially in my job,  if something works, don’t change it.  But I understand that things NEED to change with her work, because it is causing problems with our family, I guess I relate to it a bit, which is why I use it as an excuse for her.  Maybe I keep justifying it in my mind by making excuses for her?

    I get hints of resentment from time to time about me not helping her in the barn, I have helped her quite a bit over the years at the farm, but I told her when we first got together that her job is her job, I won’t be helping her all the time.  My family has also asked me why I don’t help her at the barn also, and I give them the same answer.  I had an Ex-girlfriend who I used to help with her job (she cleaned offices), and she took advantage of that, wanted me to go with her almost everyday after I got done with work, and would get mad at me if I didn’t help her, so I do not want to go through that again.  So, maybe she is resentful of that, and takes it out by staying late at work?

    I do not like to get into fights with her, because she will shut down emotionally.  The last time we got into a fight, we were yelling at each other, about her work and hours, and she just shut down, she wouldn’t talk to me for a full day.  I know that I said some things that were very hurtful, I called her a part-time wife, and I think she was resentful of that for quite a while.  After we did start talking again, she did not want to have any conversation about what we were fighting over, if I brought up the subject again she would just shut down again and not speak.  I think this is why when we do talk about her hours and such it is infrequently, because she will just shut down.  As far as the dates go, I don’t confront her about it, I just let it go, once in awhile I maybe broach the subject of her being late all the time, and she will tell me that she has always been that way.  She has always been late to things, our first date was the only time she was on-time, she was actually early, but after that she was always late.

    It took me awhile to write this, I found myself defending and making excuses for my wife while I was writing this.  Things like her being resentful, I would try to defend her and tell myself that she isn’t like that, she wouldn’t be resentful of me.  But some of her comments recently have started to creep into my mind, such as the other night when I said that I loved her, she said “the only reason you love me is that I gave you a son”, and it seemed a bit playful at the time, but the more I think about it, she didn’t say that she loved me afterwards, she just said goodnight, gave me a kiss and went to bed.  Also she has been kissing my cheek lately instead of a kiss on the lips, It really hadn’t caught my attention until now, while reading your post.

    I will have to maybe make a list of things that I would like to talk with her about and sit down with her and discuss everything..

     

    Thank you.

    #384475
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    you are welcome. You said she has self-esteem issues and lots of self-doubt. That, coupled with her comment “the only reason you love me is that I gave you a son“, might indicate that she really doesn’t love herself. Perhaps she believes that she is a bad wife and mother, but at least her job is what gives her satisfaction, and maybe even an escape from her feelings of failure as wife and mother? She is always late, even when she promises you a date night, and that too can be a way of self-sabotage, because it proves to her over and over again how inadequate she is.

    Also, she might want to do things right – fixing the barn – because she believes she can’t do things right in her marriage?

    This is just one possible explanation of her behavior – of her rejection of every and all attempts to change her working hours so she can spend more time with you and your son. When you confront her with it, she shuts down, she doesn’t want to talk about it, she stops speaking to you at all. What might be happening is that such confrontations open her wound of feeling not good enough, of feeling like a failure, and it’s too painful. She can’t bear it, so she shuts down.

    If this is plausible, I believe your wife would need to continue working on her self-esteem and heal her wound of being not good enough. Because this wound might be causing all this turmoil…

     

    #384489
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    you ask:

    I get hints of resentment from time to time about me not helping her in the barn, I have helped her quite a bit over the years at the farm, but I told her when we first got together that her job is her job, I won’t be helping her all the time. .. So, maybe she is resentful of that, and takes it out by staying late at work?

    Well, she might be resentful of you, but I don’t think that’s her main motive for staying late at work. Because you said:

    I know that she does all the work in the barn, takes breaks and has tea with the owners, talks with her clients, sometimes she will have a few glasses of wine after she is done with the owners or clients at the barn.

    It seems she is enjoying her time at work and doesn’t rush to come home. She even sits down for a drink after she’s done with work. All the time knowing that you’re upset that she is spending so little time at home. It appears she feels better in the barn than she feels at home, and it could be, as I said, because she feels she isn’t a good enough wife and mother, and she finds escape in her work.

    Another reason is that she might be a workaholic and perfectionist (you said she’s fixing things after others, because she isn’t happy with how they’ve done it), and she just cannot force herself to stop – even at the expense of her family life.

    Being a perfectionist is also a sign of low self-esteem and not feeling good enough. So she tries to make things perfect because when things are perfect in the barn, she might feel better about herself. But deep down, she still feels bad about herself, and that’s why she sabotages her family life…

    So it seems to me that her low self-esteem (and not feeling good enough) is what drives her behavior of spending too much time at work and too little at home. At work she is trying to reach perfection, while at home she’s sort of given up. What do you think? Does this seem like a plausible explanation of what might be happening?

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by TeaK.
    #384507
    Dave
    Participant

    Hello TeaK,

    I never thought about her being a perfectionist, because she is so messy, but I guess those don’t have to go together, I assumed that perfectionists would want things clean and tidy.  Her having low self-esteem could definitely be a problem, she does always ask if she is doing good or if everything will be ok.   That might be the reason though,  but if it is, then is there nothing that I can do to help her?  She would have to go back to seeing a therapist in order to get those problems taken care of, or start taking care of it, but she was resistant to seeing a therapist before.  I got her to start seeing a therapist, but she stopped going about a year ago, saying that she was ok, and we shouldn’t be spending money on the therapist, but maybe I will have to push the subject again.

    #384511
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    I never thought about her being a perfectionist, because she is so messy, but I guess those don’t have to go together, I assumed that perfectionists would want things clean and tidy.

    I guess she is messy at home? But you say she’s never happy with the work the workers or volunteers do in the barn, or how the owners mow the grass, and she has the need to fix it afterwards. She wants to do things “right”. This tells me she isn’t messy but rather precise (or at least she is trying to be like that) when it comes to her work environment. So perhaps there’s a split there – messy at home, tidy/precise at work?

    That might be the reason though, but if it is, then is there nothing that I can do to help her?

    Yes, I believe she would need to resume therapy, because this doesn’t seem like an issue for couple’s therapy. I mean, you can suggest couple’s therapy, and see where that leads. But you can also try to talk to her about the things that we’ve spoken about here, and how her low self-esteem and feeling of “not being good enough” might be causing some of her behavior. Perhaps try to talk to her and see how she reacts?

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by TeaK.
    #384528
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dave:

    I don’t want to interrupt the conversation you are having, but I have something to say that maybe, just maybe, will make a positive difference in your very weak marriage, as it is. You are welcome to consider the following, or not.

    In your original post you wrote: “I love my wife with all my heart, she seems perfect to and for me“- I read your posts and the second part is far from being true: you do not see her as perfect to you or for you. (Maye you meant that other people think of her this way, which would make that part of the sentence true). The first part- I .. did not feel that love as I read your posts.

    It seems like your wife doesn’t feel that love from you either: “the other night when I said that I loved her, she said ‘the only reason you love me is that I gave you a son’ … she didn’t say that she loved me afterwards, she just said goodnight, gave me a kiss and went to bed“- she does not feel that you love/ value her other than the fact that she gave birth to your son, which is something that is done with.. meaning, she feels that you don’t love her.

    Earlier in your thread I suggested workbooks in regard to improving communication between husband and wife, one of which has the title “Simple Exercises to Improve your Communication and Strengthen your Bond”. At this point, I am thinking: improving your communication with your wife and deepening the (currently non-existing, so it seems) bond is not possible for as long as you are not honest with her about what you feel for and about her.

    No Honesty = No Bond.

    Tell her the truth. The marriage may fail regardless (I read about the issues), but without honesty, the marriage (which is already falling apart) has no chance.

    anita

     

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