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At a crossroads
I'm at a point where I need to talk, and decide which way I'm going.
I'm 41, and been married for 8 years. I have 2 beautiful girls 4 and 5.
My situation is that my wife and kids live in a regional town where my wife works in the family business, and my kids go to school there. I'm currently trying to make the move up there as well, to live in the nice house we are buying, and make a life for us in our regional paradise. Finances are tight, though we're not poor.
The decisions for our living arrangements were decided jointly, as was the decision to buy the luxury house in the regional area. Finances are tight and we were supposed to be in a holding pattern for a year or so, (ie survival mode) so we could pay down some debt and reconsolidate.
My wife has been spending up big, doing a lot of renovations (most of which are cosmetic, and not urgent), replacing all the kitchen gadgets, etc. She works part time and we'd agreed a budget, but she constantly has her hand out for bill money, wants a new car etc.
I've been sticking to the budget and sending what money I can.
The thing is, that I am constantly insulted, belittled, called a dud dad. I get screamed at for the most trivial things (eg one of my daughters shoes couldn't be found, resulting in me being screamed at for an hour - later I found it in a toy box). I get blamed for things that I could not conceivably be at fault for (eg my wife missed a school mothers day event, and my daughter was in tears. I was working on site at the time, though this was apparently my fault, because my wife shouldn't have to work at all).
I work constantly (work, finishing renovations in capital city house so it can be rented, work on regional house, when I'm there), but nothing I do is right, or good enough. I finish something that was requested, but I did it all wrong. I have a phone full of insulting sms's. I am berated if I do anything for me, such as hobbies.
I am often threatened with divorce, she'll "take everything I've got and not have to work due to maintenance", and right now, divorce seems like a good choice to escape. If I go down this route, it will be messy, and I will struggle to be able to see my kids due to distance, which will break my heart (and theirs). Have tried some counselling - everything was my fault.
I am crippled by indecisions and am utterly spent emotionally, and physically exhausted. I cry often and am struggling to cope with the pressure.
I understand your situation but not entirely sure how to respond. If I understand it right, you and your are in a married separated relationship. You are working in the city while also renovating a city pad, while your wife is living in the home you have bought in a regional area.
A married but separated relationship is always difficult - my partner and I lived like that for most of my career.I suspect that your partner feels as frustrated about the situation as you do, but expresses her frustrations in a different way.
To describe it as exhaustive is not enough - it is difficult. I was battling with the desire to go home to the family on the weekends, while knowing that if I did, it would often end up in arguments.Why ? I think it is that the longer you stay apart, the more people get used to their own spaces, and any intrusion is generally not welcome. The good news is that me and my partner are still together - we love each other very much. But we still live apart for more than we are together.
The moral of the story is that don't allow it to become set in stone. If I could live it all again, I would set aside all, for the sake of a more normal family life. Sell your investment at a loss - after all, in the scheme of things, does it really matter? I know, it is easier said than done.
Sorry, this has probably not helped at all, but just thought I would give you the perspective of someone who has experienced the same.
All the best
Welcome to Beyond Blue and thank you for coming here and providing your post.
Hideaway has given you a good response and even better coming from someone who has been in that situation (and from what I’ve read, continues to be – and all is working out nicely there, which is fantastic).
However, I’m coming at this straight from your post and your words – so have no experience in this; BUT in your post (apart from your two daughters, which I noticed a big positive change when you spoke about them), there were not many (or possibly any) positives.
A life for you in a regional paradise – is that meaning you’re removing yourself from the city life and entering the country a little? The family business that you mentioned – is that the both of yours’ family business or is it a ‘family slightly removed’?
I do hope someone can come here who is a bit more qualified to talk about this, but (and I might be naïve here) with regard to the possibility of a divorce, sure she might well say that she’ll get everything, but that surely isn’t how it works? You’ve also got loads of ammunition here to use back, (by way of the nasty text messages) so if it came to that, surely that must stand for something in regard to custody of the children (and moreso, access rights?)
You mentioned you had counselling yet everything was deemed to be your fault? I’d be personally seeking an alternative counsellor as I would have thought that within the confines of such a situation, that the counsellor would have provided suggestions to your wife or alternatives, so as if she was continually making things your fault – the counsellor should have tried to quell the situation somewhat.
I’ve rattled on a bit here, but would love to hear back from you.
Thanks for the replies.
A few clarifications.
I'm finishing renos of the city house so we can rent it when I move regional. I'm negotiating with work to move to a FIFO role so I can spend more time with the family, but its tricky with my job.
The regional house is in pretty good order. My wife constantly says it "her" house and I have no say. She's getting stuff done like replacing fences, landscaping, replacing cupboards, which to my mind isn't urgent and is increasing the financial pressure, delaying my move up there. Perhaps that's the point. No arguments with urgent stuff like water supply though.
The psych was good. Impartial and sympathetic. My wife was the one blaming me for everything in the sessions. I took on board the observations of the psych and have done the changes we agreed in session. She remains tunnel visioned and dismissed what I or the psych said. Waste of money in her mind.
The business is her family's. She'll take it over, with her brother one day. Her family is great, and supportive and know that my wife is "challenging". The business is great and can support us into the future. We want to get out of the city, so the regional move works, once we get through the transition.
I'm not suggesting my wife has it easy. She works and is responsible for the kids when I'm not there. I don't expect gratitude (though some would be nice). Even ambivalence would be OK. What's doing my head in is the constant insults, belittlement, screaming and volatility.
I'm not allowed to plant a potted plant in the ground, coz I'd stuff it up. I'm criticized about how I water plants, because the water hits the ground at a different angle to how she'd do it. When I cook (and I do all meals when I'm up there) I ask what she wants. She shrugs and says I dunno, so I cook. Whatever it is, she doesn't feel like it, or it is too dry, or wrong flavour. Sometimes she throws it in the bin and orders takeout. I'm incapable of doing laundry, or washing dishes or anything else, in her eyes.
When I'm in the city I'm "not there supporting her". When I'm regional I "mess everything up and should leave". Apparently my life is a holiday. Anything that she doesn't witness, she assumes I've got my feet up doing nothing, and tells me as much.
Sometimes she's OK, but any obstacle and its back to screaming at me.
Reading your post strikes a chord with my experience on many levels.
Firstly when was the last time you took a few hours or even a day off and did something solely for yourself? No one else just yourself that's the point it's not selfish at all.
If we don't look after ourselves first both mentally and physically then we are incapable of looking after our families or others.
Also what comes out of a persons mouth reflects what is happening in their hearts. Meaning there is pain and resentment in your wife's words and your are the easy target.
Also be aware FIFO presents it's own issues and my experience having done it overseas for several years is I ended up with two seperate lives and when home often felt peripheral to family life being just the person who provided the cash.
Also the inability to sort out day to day events on the home front when away can be very stressful and may drive the wedge deeper with your wife.
If change has to happen embrace it as life will be richer. It terrified me and I didn't have a choice but each day I breathe and am thankful change happened:)
Hope you can take a little time out find some breathing space
your story has a couple of areas that I can relate to, but your wife has her own particular and unique style. Sounds like she is a very focused person, clear goals and knows where she wants to get to.
Has it always been this way, got worse over time, or some event that started this behaviour?
Money seems to be a major factor. Does that start a lot of arguments?
Sounds like she feels she's been doing all the work, and that you aren't doing your part. But that doesn't warrant her belittling comments. But the fact that you are away doesn't help the relationship.
Believe in yourself. When I get those nasty comments, I shut it down, but take a mature stance. "Stop that, don't talk to me like that." But you need to set your own limits as to what you will accept, and what behaviours you won't.
Dear Spent I tend to think you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. You both made the decision to move regional & you are the one left behind to sort out the renting of your city property as well as trying to arrange being a FIFO partner. You are making that decision to please your wife-however working FIFO will not be easy & it shows throughout your writing that you are a loving, caring person who just wants to have a decent home life. And you are making the sacrifices for that to happen.
From what you've said it appears your wife is highly critical no matter what you do to help make her happy. Does she ever apologise after berating you? Or is she unaware & have no insight into her behaviour?
You could ask again if she would agree to a few counselling sessions together or you could attempt to sit down & have a serious talk about the changes happening in your lives. You could also say to her that you would be OK for her to do some things inside your new property AFTER you pay the necessary costs for building, moving etc. Another idea sometimes used in volatile relationships is to write her a letter. This may or may not be taken well-only you know how she would possibly respond.
I can sense urgency as well. Yet one concern is things get so bad between you that you have to end up selling the regional house & returning to the city. That would be costly & devestating. Yet in the scheme of life these things happen & right now you are not in a healthy or happy marriage & can you consider how long you could endure her abuse? Do you see a positive future together? I know you love your children & if it came to divorce you are most likely to get shared custody of your girls. I don't wish to portray the worst scenario but emotional abuse & an unhappy marriage and you working FIFO could all end up being too much of a load-it would be for most people. I'd like th hear back from you as to how you are going to manage the transition to regional, what do you see between you & your wife-how much love remains? are you able to endure the rest of your life with a partner whose only communication seems to be when she berates & criticises you? What effect all this pressure will have on your own mental health given you already seem to have lost your self esteem due to the situation?
i hope I havnt overwhelmed or upset you. I was trying to look at all the options you have left.
Please reply when you are ready.
i feel for you very much.
Replied to this last night but not sure what happened. Just wanted to say your situation sounds a lot like mine, except for the distance part. Very critical wife, walking on eggshells, can't do anything right, the list goes on.
Nice guy + borderline wife = current situation.
It's really hard because I'm not sure there's a lot you can do about it when your wife may be resistant to acknowledging she has a problem, seeking help, with limited treatment options. I don't think your situation is helped by distance, although this sounds like an ideal situation for your wife - as long as you remain where you are.
I'd certainly be focusing on what situation you see yourself in with your children - that is, if you are close, then get closer. Spend as much time with them as possible and document all your involvement with them. Sacrifices around work may have to be made if you are to prioritize your kids. And I would be seeking legal advice around your position in the event things go sour. Don't bother doing any of those things she criticises you about nor attempt to please her. Just focus on you and your children.