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SAHD with hyperpicky and controlling wife (Sorry this is long)

(71 Posts)
Andrewr Fri 06-Aug-10 11:47:33

Hi everyone,

Am a bit at my wit's end and could do with any thoughts or advice anyone can think of.

I'm a Working At Home Dad who looks after my gorgeous one-year-old daughter and works like a Trojan writing and sub-editing to pay my half of the bills around little one. I also do the cooking, laundry and housework as, well, I'm at home and it'd be a poor show if I didn't.

My wife is self employed (as am I) and works full time. The way things were planned was that I would go freelance and look after bab at home while my wife went out to work.

It's a tremendously difficult task trying to fit in any work around a little child as naturally she comes first, and work a distant second, but I manage to pay my way, keep the house reasonably well and ensure everyone is fed healthily.

The problem is that, to put it bluntly, my wife is a bloody nightmare. Nothing I do around the house is ever quite right for her - and when I do things the way she prefers, the goalposts get moved to a different way. She's scared my friends away by yelling and swearing at them so they won't come and visit, she wants to control what I eat and drink, yadda yadda yadda. I go balls out to keep things how she likes them and placate her, but it's never enough. I have to provide emotional support for everything, but when I need some she jumps down my throat, kicks me in the nuts and gives me a whole load more shit to deal with.

Now, keeping housework and kids in good order is a challenge in itself (as the Mums on here will confirm), but bringing in a decent income too is sodding hard, and I think I'm doing a very good job of things. If I say that even the Mother-in-Law sings my praises - and she'd be the first to say if she thought I wasn't - you get the idea.

Frankly, I've had enough of the crap I'm getting from OH. I've tried talking to her and asking for a little respect and appreciation but just get told to stop being over-sensitive. I'm really at the point now where I can't see a solution other than separation but I don't want to lose my daughter, and I don't want to deprive her of the chance for a normal happy family life.

Any thoughts on what I can do, short of telling OH to eff off?


skidoodly Fri 06-Aug-10 12:04:22

If you are both working full time and you are also doing the bulk of the childcare, why on earth are you doing all the housework too?

You're being horribly exploited.

Hats off to you for managing to get so much done while caring for your dd, but it would be better for both of you if your time together was less about doing jobs.

In your situation I would decide what a fair half of household work was and tell my wife I would be doing that and no more and I expected her to pick up the slack.

I think I'd also insist on marriage counselling with a view to splitting if we couldn't come to a fair arrangement around contributing to the household.

Do you love her? You make her sound horrible.

moondog Fri 06-Aug-10 12:08:19

She sounds like a tyrant.
How on earth can you work while looking after a 1 year old? Does she help? What do you mean by controlling what you drink and eat?
Have you told her you are thinking of leaving?

Miggsie Fri 06-Aug-10 12:11:31

Is she maybe feeling guilty that she is not the one at home?

Or was she always this controlling and picky?

I do know someone who doesn't let her husband vacuum as "he doesn't do it properly", women can be very possessive of housework even if they don't enjoy it.

It may be worth looking at both your views on gender roles. She may be feeling guilty as she thinks she should be the main carer, which is a pity as she's missing out on a lot.

MathsMadMummy Fri 06-Aug-10 12:15:32

do you love her?

sorry you're having such a hard time Andrew. can't imagine how you manage with the work as well, I only just manage a bit of studying!

playing devil's advocate - is she depressed? undiagnosed post natal depression maybe? she could be horribly jealous that you get to stay home with baby and she has to leave her.

or maybe she is taking it out on you because she feels guilty/resentful that you are perhaps doing a better job as a SAHP than she feels she would? and is therefore picking holes in what you do to make herself feel better?

not that it's an excuse, mind you, but something to think about...

Andrewr Fri 06-Aug-10 12:15:39

Thanks Skidoodly, that's a really helpful answer.

To go in reverse order, yes I do love her, and I know she's tired and stressed with work and extended family shenanigans so I try to make allowances. Just occasionally we get a couple of hours where she's happy and patient and friendly and it's magic.

I'm beginning to wonder whether my wife is actually just a bully who gets off in some way from putting people down. I don't expect constant praise, or favours in kind - and I wouldn't even mind doing the chores if I felt there was the slightest shred of respect for all I'm doing.

Just really, really can't see a way forward at the moment. (But on the bright side, my next book's at the printers as we speak!)

Fel1x Fri 06-Aug-10 12:18:06

What is it that she is picky about in particular? Is it how you care for dd? Would she (and you) be happier with you concentrating less on work and more on dd while she is so young? Can you afford to do that?
I know I get cross at dh when he is looking after the dcs and tries to work at the same time so dc are not looked after well. He is self emplyrd too and we can afford for him to take an hour off here and there but he just can't help it!

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 06-Aug-10 12:19:29

If you were a woman talking about her husband, we would all be on here telling to to say piss off.

I don't see why anyone should treat their partner in such a way. She sounds very controlling.

You should not do teh bulk of the housework - if you are both working and paying 50% of teh bills each, everything else should be 50-50 as well.

mistlethrush Fri 06-Aug-10 12:22:33

If you're both bringing in a wage, can you afford to get someone to help with the housework etc? - being the main carer plus working plus all the housework etc is an awful lot - then if she's not happy wtih the results, perhaps she can leave a note for the cleaner the next time. Otherwise I think you'll just have to have a calm discussion with her and work out between you who can sort out which chores.

Andrewr Fri 06-Aug-10 12:24:33

Thanks to everyone else who's just replied while I was cooking lunch.

I can't imagine what it must be like for a Mother to have to go out to work and leave her baby with someone else, even if that person is the father and I'm sure that all plays a part in the situation, but it doesn't excuse it: after all, we're on the same team.

Depression could be a factor and it's one my Mother in Law and i do keep a close eye out for - and have raised once or twice - but without any effect.

Perhaps try one more 'I know you're stressed etc but certain aspects of your behaviour are really hurting me and I'd like us to work together to resolve them' conversation?


ZZZenAgain Fri 06-Aug-10 12:26:10

maybe she wants to be the one at home with dd and it comes out this way, all nasty and nit-picking.

I know if you free-lance it makes more sense the way you are doing it now but perhaps it isn't really what she wants. If I had free-lanced whilst at home with my 1 year old and done all the housework, cooking etc and was getting crap like that, I owuld have hit the roof.

I wouldn't permit a partner to yell and swear at my friends and I would not do it to dh's friends either. She sounds totally stressed out to me.

Can she work less and be at home more if she wants, is it an option at all? (don't know if it is what she wants)

MathsMadMummy Fri 06-Aug-10 12:27:24

sounds good to me. you always need to be open IMO, especially when there's resentment as I'm guessing there is here!

I do think if you can possibly afford it, go for some childcare, even a couple of mornings a week so you could cram your own work into that.

skidoodly Fri 06-Aug-10 12:28:37

Actually if the OP were a woman I would be recommending she start working outside the home, but I think, as a man, it would not be in his interests to stop being the primary carer in the event of a split.

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 06-Aug-10 12:28:42

Even if she does feel sorry for herself because she wants to be at home, well she is an adult, she can think of an alernative, not just kick off at her partner because she wants to be a SAHM.

I don't think that is an excuse. If this was a bloke who was behaving in a controlling way because he wanted to be a SAHD it would be considered a poor reason for bad behaviour.

ZZZenAgain Fri 06-Aug-10 12:32:54

maybe in the planning stages she thought working full-time outside the home would work for her. Now that the dc is there, she is missing her, jealous of your time with her, not happy with it.

Could you ask her if she is generally happy with the way you have divided up duties and if she wants to change that? If she says no it isn't taht, you know it is some other problem. If that is the problem here, can you change arrangements in some way?

caramelwaffle Fri 06-Aug-10 12:33:24

When you say "kick me in the nuts" do you mean literally or figuratively?

notsocrates Fri 06-Aug-10 12:35:37

Working, looking after a one year old as well as doing all the housework and cooking is TOO MUCH for anyone but this isn't what you complain about. You complain about your OH's attitude.


I am sure there is something in that, but not sure what hmm Perhaps you are overtly seeking lots and lots of praise and OH feels like you should just get on with it? Thousands of wives do. It's not right though.

My advice:

- get an au pair to play with DD for a couple of hours a day and do some light cleaning.

- um, make sure she is pretty and she could also provide you with some adoration and solace when OH shouts.

ZZZenAgain Fri 06-Aug-10 12:39:11

when I was at home with a 1 year old , dh didn't complain about the housework/lack of and I didn't work to earn money at all. It was still tiring, I would have easily hit rock bottom if he was coming home complaining about the way I did things, driving my friends out.

Who needs all that? And he worked very long hours, lots of business travel, a great deal of stress.

Ask her what is up and what she wants to change then you can think about whether it is viable for you and if you even want to try it.

kayah Fri 06-Aug-10 12:42:37

How long have you been at home with your DD?

Andrewr Fri 06-Aug-10 12:44:51

Just to expand a little - I'm lucky in that firstly my work tends to come in bite-sized bits and pieces with reasonable deadlines that mean I can put it aside. Secondly, Mother in Law has little un on Fridays so I tend to save as much work as poss until then - and she's always on hand if I get a load of extra work in and delighted to spend an extra afternoon looking after her granddaughter. Bless her, she's an absolute star and I certainly couldn't contemplate doing what I do without her help.

I'm not after gushing praise, or sexual favours, or a foot rub or whatever... all I want is for my wife to ease off picking fault with everything I do, to accept that I just do some things in a different (but not necessarily worse) way than she always has, and to not speak to me like I'm a piece of dirt with the intelligence of a brick. I don't mind just getting on with the jobs that need doing... I'd just like to be able to do them without constant criticism?

colditz Fri 06-Aug-10 12:45:13

If you left, as your daughter's primary carer she would be expected to live with you ... so if the fear of losing your daughter is all there is hlding you back, then stop worrying about that at least.

Your partner is being a twat. I'd go on strike a little. You have a full time job looking after the baby, another one with your actual job, I'd tell your partner to do the housework herself if she wants it done a particular way.

ZZZenAgain Fri 06-Aug-10 12:46:23

I think you can get into a habit of speaking to people in a certain way and not even notice that you are doing it - screaming at the kids, whining, nagging, whatever it is.

Laugs Fri 06-Aug-10 12:49:31

Well she sounds totally unreasonable.

Just guessing, but maybe the way she sees it, you get to have your cake and eat it: maintain a satisfying career and bring in some money, while also spending precious time with your daughter, while for her that is not an option? She might be thinking 'he's got exactly what I want, and still he's not doing it right'

I think you need to chat properly about it. If MIL is around, get her to take DD for a while so you have the space to talk freely.

I have been SAHM, WAHM, WOHM and my DH been SAHD at various times. It is difficult to get it right and the person at home, I think, is less likely to be praised for their work on the house, the children etc than the person in work. I can't believe you are managing to keep up housework, childcare and a job with a 1 year-old. With me, something's always had to give. Normally the housework grin.

SummerRain Fri 06-Aug-10 12:52:21

Yet again MN answers completely differant becasue the OP is a man hmm

If a woman had posted this she'd have been told about emotional abuse, given phone numbers for Women's Aid and other helplines and told to pack a bag. All by three posts down.

OP... You need to sit her down and tell her exactly what you told us in your first post, including the fact that as things stand the only things stopping you from leaving is your dd. If that doesn't shock her into realising there's a significant problem hen not much will.

At the end of the day, whether her problems are depression or jealousy related, guilt becasue of an affair, stress related or just a down right nasty personality disorder there is no excuse for a grown woman treating another human being the way she is and it's time you stopped putting up with it.

What is she like with your dd? Is she a loving mother or is she snappy and imaptient with her too?

notsocrates Fri 06-Aug-10 12:53:00

Ok, so you do not actually have DD whilst you are working hmm. That makes more sense.

So how does it work in the evenings? Your DW arrives home from work at , what, say 7pm. Who puts DD to bed and bathes her and gets her clothes ready for the next day? Who cooks? Does your DW literally sit down with her feet up expecting supper on a tray or is she actually really busy all evening too, tidying up, putting away washing and getting some time with DD? If the latter, then perhaps that is why she is tetchy - she is bloomin' tired. Who gets up in the night?

It is very easy imo to underestimate how much work there is to go round and to imagine that you are doing more than your fair share and are unappreciated for it. Perhaps you and your DW need an evening together a week (DD to MIL) when you concentrate on relaxing together and talking about the week. Babies are very stressful and it sounds like you are BOTH taking on too much to the extent that you are putting your own relationship under strain.

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