I feel like I’m peeling back layers. Trying to understand what lies at the core.

There was – still is – the uneven division of labor around the house. He is doing more, but still far less than 50%, so we are both frustrated. It seems sort of ironic.

I had, naively, assumed that he’d either step up to the challenge and really start doing a lot more (at least for a while, sudden dramatic changes are probably prone to lapsing), or state flat-out that this wasn’t gonna happen. And that either way there would be a straightforward way to move on. Obviously that’s not the case.

There is the layer of my feelings. They have clearly suffered, over years of feeling ignored and (for lack of a better term) exploited. But he also is a nice guy that I still like. He can make me laugh, which is worth a lot. We have our differences on parenting, sure, but I’m generally happy to co-parent with him. But the lack of respect for my priorities, my time (JF had an excellent post on this recently), make it really hard to be in a relationship with him. Recent example: He had an important deadline at work, so I had to skip my yoga class to pick up SB. I have an important deadline a few days later – “well, you could just skip your language class!”.

Then today he brought up again how he would like me to work on bringing our embryos here (why me? he’s so busy). I tried to explain that, before I’d be willing to try for another, we’d need a more positive outlook on our relationship, and that he would need to be ready to pick up a lot more slack in childcare – especially given my history, it is entirely possible that I would not be able to drop off and pick up SB for several months during pregnancy, nor do substantial grocery shopping or cooking. Experiences from friends (oh the many friends currently expecting their seconds; I’m happy for them but it also breaks my heart a little) have quite consistently shown that pregnancy+toddler is considerably more taxing than ‘just pregnancy’. His response? “Well that surely wouldn’t be the case for the whole pregnancy”. Dude. If you want to convince me that you’d be a supportive partner, almost any other statement would have been better.

I’ve been doing a lot of meditation. Well, your definition of ‘a lot’ may be different, but in any case considerably more than before. Kindness comes up a lot, and I am searching my soul, my feelings, how ‘kindness’ and ‘divorce’ can be compatible. And again, you might disagree, but I do think it can be seen as kindness to myself, leaving a situation that does not work anymore, after having tried and failed to remedy it. Kindness towards our daughter, who is currently living with a weird tension between her parents. Possibly even kindness towards my husband, who of course has his own dreams for life – perhaps it is better to go separate ways so that he can find his happiness, and I can try to find my own. (Despite all this, it is far from easy. But if you’re thinking along these lines, also read re-imagined’s latest and very honest and insightful post.)

Lastly, on a somewhat different topic, it seems Other Guy might have a girlfriend. I don’t know for sure, and it would be a long-distance thing, but looking back this might have been going on for a while, and I just didn’t notice, or did not want to notice. The realization hurt, perhaps most because I had allowed myself to be so hopeful, although there never was anything between us beyond casual flirting. So that adds its own layer of complicated feelings. But in a way, I think, it is good – I think I had allowed myself to escape into this fantasy, and avoided working on the actual problems in my marriage. Denial of sorts. So this turn of events has forced me to focus on the situation I’m in, rather than the one I wish I were in.


10 thoughts on “onion

  1. I can’t help but feel like there is so much of “his stuff, my stuff, my job, his job, my time, his time”. Marriage and family is a partnership, a team. If you can look at things more of as “Our and We” that might help stop some of the resentment and translate naturally into a more balanced division of chores. Take a look at the week, see what is coming up (work deadlines requiring later hours, a scheduled class, etc) and work together to compromise and schedule that will mostly work for everyone. Realize that sometimes extras have to get missed if you can’t find a better solution (like a friend to pick up SB when your and husband have something going on) Things are never going to get better when each of you keeps yourself as the focus instead of the bigger (family) picture.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Charlotte. It points directly at a sore spot I have not explicitly discussed here – we don’t seem to have common goals anymore, especially long-term plans we work towards. We discuss every weekend what needs to be taken care of in the next week (like most couples perhaps?) and there is a very consistent pattern of who has to give. It’s just the default assumption that that is me. I’m certainly not perfect, and I have limits, like everyone does. And what has likely happened is that I let my limits be ignored too many times, and now I’m hurt. And I doubt things will get better if I continue ignoring that.

  2. This is your first post in quite awhile that you have actually complimented your husband, saying you still like him and he makes you laugh. While he hasn’t picked up the household chores to 50% (I’m not sure it’s ever quite 50/50 in most marriages?), I’m glad to hear he’s at least made an effort to do even a little bit more. I know things with you guys aren’t perfect right now, and it really sucks to feel like you’re being disrespected. I’ve felt that a time or ten in my own marriage. In the end, you are going to need to do whatever feels right for all of you.

  3. I commented 2 days ago, but it got sucked up into the interwebs. Sorry about that, my dear CC. I am certain that kindness and divorce can be compatible. It is much kinder to end things when everyone is not at the very end of their little rope, rather than having to end things out of desperation. Did you know that most couples who show up for couples therapy are too far gone to really work on their union. They end up working on how to separate.
    Is this marriage that you’re in still viable? Don’t try to answer for H or for SB, answer for you, CC. If you dream about life 5 years from now, is he included in your day to day? Do you want to build with him?
    I guess one point I’m trying to make is that you still are able to see his good qualities, and you still like him as a person, despite being unhappy in the marriage. And that is probably the best time to separate. I’ve had friends have to leave marriages in circumstances that were awful (the husband getting caught using an escort service). That makes for an ugly split (although it gives a clearer impetus to initiate the rupture).
    I like that you are reflecting on kindness. I think that kindness starts with self-compassion. There is no compassion without self-compassion. Have you checked out Kristin Neff’s work? You might like her TED talk.

    1. Thanks so much, dear Augusta. The 5 years question is a very good one. My answer is, mostly H is not in it – but there are still paths I can see that include him. I don’t know if the concept of parallel universes makes sense to you? We still have good moments. There just also are a lot of frustrations, and things clearly need to change before I’m willing to actually build further. (He keeps bringing up medium-expensive stuff for the house we should buy, and I am not willing to commit until we (or I) have figured out whether to move forward together or separately).
      Also, in practice, there already are a lot of things I do on my own with SB. It’s been like this since she was born, getting more and more, now that I think about it…
      I totally see your point on separating on good/ok terms, rather than disaster. And I will definitely check out that TED talk.

  4. Gosh this is all so hard but I do like the advice from augustagummy- what do you see in the future? If things are exactly the same as they are right now, will you be happy? Would you still want to be with him? Chores are definitely not 50/50 in our household and I have had to push back on my husband from time to time, but like charlotte said, I do feel as if we are on the same “team” most days and we work together to figure it out. If you don’t have that but want it and don’t see things changing then that would be hard. Are these fairly new feelings that you want things to be 50/50 or has he changed more recently to be more selfish? I only ask because it may be hard to change if suddenly you want a different type of relationship and your marriage has been a certain way for a number of years.

  5. Nothing to add to what others have said but thinking of you as you work through all the layers. Hard work.

  6. Hey lady! Good to hear from you and it sounds like you have a firm grasp onyour situation. I’m with Augustagummy. And I’ll add that even if you separate he’ll still be in your life as a co-parent and you can still do things together with SB, it’s not like you become strangers.
    And it’s messed up that he’s pushing to have another child–like either he thinks things are great now that he does a couple chores, or he knows things are messed up and instead of doing work on the relationship he wants to pretend everything is fine and distract you/trap you with a shiny new baby? Either way, the fact he’s bringing it up NOW shows he really hasn’t got a clue. XO

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