onion

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.

 

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the bad blogging continues

  • Thanks for all your support and comments. Some really summarized the situation and problems very well. We definitely do have an issue with the definition of ‘partner’.
  • My feelings are complicated as ever. I had somehow – naively, probably – assumed that we’d talk about these problems I see, I’d ask him to change X, Y and Z (mainly, do much more around the house than so far), he’d either do it or not, and I’d have a clear way to move on. Instead it’s a weird two-steps-forward-N-steps-back situation, and N is anywhere between 1 and 3. I feel stuck, and I hate feeling stuck.
  • This is only increased by several of our friends, all with kids younger than SB,  expecting their seconds. I’m not saying I necessarily want to be pregnant right now (the situation is complicated enough as it is) but it just underlines how I am not moving forward.
  • The therapy session was helpful to some extent. The therapist gave me some ideas to explain to H what the situation is, such as that it’s a business we co-own, and that we both need to be equal contributors to making sure things run smoothly. We do have a history of me asking him to do more, things perhaps improving for a while, but then slipping back. She did point out that it’s not great if I always have to remind him to do ‘his tasks’ – I’m not his mother. Back to the whole ‘partner’ thing. But overall there’s only so much this can help if I’m the only one who is going. It is nice to get some reflection and ideas on how I see the situation, but what we’d need is a dialogue to understand what the other person needs and feels, and that can’t happen this way. (BTW, H was very curious about this visit and wanted me to tell him all about it – but still doesn’t want to go.)
  • The level of frustration I have built up and buried underneath need-to-function is  higher than I thought. Much higher.
  • I’m unwilling to make any plans further out than 1-2 months. Which is not practical, and only adds to the feeling of being stuck.
  • At the same time, as evident from the lack of blogging, I’m clearly not particularly willing to deal with this entire topic. It’s called denial, I know… it’s just so painful to have these discussions, and the lack of real progress doesn’t help.

bad blogging in bullets

    • Sorry for the lack of updates. A number of things have happened, but nothing major, or at least I still feel as stuck as I have in the past months.
    • I had two major deadlines in December, and H was sick (preschool colds and other ailments combined with an aversion of doctors offices) so I decided to put off serious relationship discussions until after Christmas. But mentally I pulled away. I had already, but this didn’t help.
    • I had not worn my wedding ring in months. H apparently never noticed (go figure). But his mother did. Sigh. So we had some serious discussions on Dec 22 and 23. Wonderful timing, though I guess it never is a good time. We decided to try and work this out – to be perfectly honest, I still don’t have too much hope, and I’m mainly doing this for SB, and to feel like I really tried. I did not want to ruin the first Christmas she might remember – and of course splitting up a day before would have been really hard for me, too.
    • He is at the same time convinced we can and should work this out, and dismissive towards the issues I raise, like fair share of childcare and housework. And I can’t figure out how to make him understand that this is really important to me.
    • He is making some effort though, at least on the chore front.
    • I mentioned the idea of therapy again, several times. And he dismissed every time, and said that, if I saw or had this many problems, then perhaps I should go by myself. And then he completely freaked out when I actually looked up some therapists and made an appointment with one. (Which is still to come, next week.)
    • One aspect I would really like to talk about with the therapist – and that I find hard to discuss with friends, especially those that know both of us – is that, while I really want a better distribution of chores, the change in my feelings that has happened over time might be more difficult. In that, even if we become equal partners around the house and SB, I’m not sure this will change my feelings back to how they were, years ago. It doesn’t help that I still can’t pinpoint what exactly happened, or when things started to go wrong, although I am thinking long and hard about it.
    • It is awfully painful to tell someone you used to love, and promised to love until death parts you, that… actually… I think a few friends, who have been there themselves, have tried to tell me how awfully hard this is, but it might be the sort of thing one doesn’t understand without being there. At least I didn’t. I don’t want to hurt him (though I realize that this is impossible).
    • We don’t do fun things together anymore, and I’m not getting the impression that H is willing to adjust his hobbies (of which there are many) to find something that I would also enjoy. (For background, in our early years I tried out several of the things he likes, but none were really mine, so this stopped. In the last years I’ve basically only been working and taking care of SB – my only “hobby”, if one can call it that, are language classes for our current country. I went to two yoga classes in December, first since SB was born, and it was so nice. So I’m trying to turn that into a regular thing.)
    • I’m sad with the overall situation, but do not see an easy way out. There might not be. But I’m tired of being sad. In some ways it’s better now that we are at least talking about that there is a problem, but it’s still hard and awkward and sometimes painful. And completely unclear in terms of where this is going. My two younger brothers are getting married this year, and I feel like I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, which again just reminds me of my sadness. And probably makes me feel old (which doesn’t help either).
    • The holiday break, and life in general, also had/have nice parts, it’s not all gloom and doom as this post makes it sound. But it’s already long and chaotic enough, and this was the stuff I needed to write about… next time, perhaps.

 

still stuck

Sorry for the lack of updates. I really appreciate your comments, support and good wishes, despite my lack of answers sometimes.

Things haven’t really changed much. I have a friend who is going through a similar-but-different situation – also considering divorce, but different details, though overall we both feel somewhat exploited and undervalued by our husbands. I almost wrote “partners”, but that’s really what I’m missing – I want a true partner, who doesn’t feel like he should to ‘help’ me with chores or childcare, but that they’re his responsibility just as much as mine. And that’s not the case. I think it has never been, and to some extent I blame myself for not making clear earlier that this is not an acceptable situation. I was hoping it’d get better by itself, wanting to avoid the conflict. Classic, really. Guess what, no, it doesn’t solve itself.

I started a subscription to the local version of Blue Apron, as I would really like us to eat healthier dinners than pasta-with-pesto. He has done nothing but complain about this. Too expensive, he doesn’t like the food, etc. Dude, if you don’t contribute, you kind of lose the right to complain.

He loves a certain outfit/fashion item – for the sake of discussion and anonymity, let’s say neon workout shirts. He wears them all the time. I used to wear them more, but it’s not my thing right now, so I only wear them on weekends. He’s been complaining I wear them too little, but started to appreciate the fact that I only wear them to make him happy. Whenever I wear one he’ll want to come and cuddle and touch me, but never when I don’t. Now, I’ve never said I’m easy, but this bothers me. Is he actually interested in me, or just in what I’m wearing?

He complains when I have my period. Because ‘then we can’t have sex for a week’ (don’t get me started) and because ‘it reminds him of how we still haven’t managed to make a sibling for SB’. I have decided that we need to get out of this slump before I’m ready to try another transfer, although I have not had the guts to spell it out to him like this. If I went on maternity leave we’d go straight back to me doing all the chores and all the childcare, and I’m just not up for that anymore. Every other man in our social circles does so much more, regardless of whether there are kids in the house or not. I’m so tired of having to ask for help, of him not even seeing all the things I do.

SB’s 3rd birthday is in a week. She is amazing and wonderful, and we are so glad to have her, and so proud of all the things she masters. Sometimes I feel like that’s the only thing we have in common these days, but still, those are the good moments, when I considers waiting this out for another while, just to keep her happy. But on the other hand, I don’t want her to grow up feeling like it’s normal that mommy is exhausted while daddy plays computer games.

The 4th anniversary of losing A&C was over a week ago. Honestly it was a bit strange, remembering how we were so close together in this experience, and how estranged we are now. A mix of sadness over what happened then, and what is now.

And because these things are never easy, here’s another aspect that I haven’t written about so far. There’s someone else. Someone I really like. Nothing has actually happened, and I highly doubt anything will happen unless H and I separate – and even then, who knows. Maybe he just likes me as a friend. I don’t know. Rationally I know I need to make this decision about this relationship, and perhaps about SB, but independent of possible future relationships. But my mind drifts off sometimes… even if I have no idea how realistic any of this is… it’d be nice to have someone to kiss the pain away.

 

out of love

I think that is what happened. At least some of it. I fell out of love.

We talked a bit about our relationship while on vacation. He’s not happy with our sex life (not that I am particularly, but honestly, it’s not at the top of my priority list right now), and suggested an open relationship. But I don’t think that’s for me. So he said that in this case he might leave eventually – and was taken aback when I said that would be fine. (He also said, sometime during this conversation, that he did not believe counselling would help.)

When he comes into a room, most of the time, he doesn’t do much to greet me. He hugs and kisses SB, sure, but me? Well, I’m just there. So in a sense I’m puzzled at his surprise.

And still I’m having a hard time with this. I wonder if it is because, years ago, I made a promise? A promise to stay with him in good and bad times.

We have certainly have bad times. And good ones. But we were together in them. Now it feels like we are already separated, if not formally, then emotionally.

 

More MicroblogMondays

Sunday moment 

I’m usually not one to lament the fact that SB is growing up. I loved her baby months, but I also just love seeing the person she is growing into. Perhaps because I know how it is when they stay tiny forever, perhaps I would have been like this anyway. 

But just now she climbed into my lap, asking to “snuggle boobie” (we stopped nursing a few months ago, but she still loves to snuggle up against my naked boobs) and then fell asleep. And it makes me a little sad that she’ll stop doing this eventually.