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I really want to help DW

(23 Posts)
letmehelp Fri 09-Sep-11 11:55:42

Please bear with me, this could be long. I feel DW really needs some help, but I don't know what to do.

We have been married nearly 25 years and have 2 DC 10 years apart - it took that time to conceive DC2. That was a horrible time, but we dealt with it together and I never felt our relationship suffered because of it. DC2 is now 11.

I don't have a good job, but do my best to provide both financially and emotionally for my family. When DC1 was small we were very hard up and DW worked full-time. With DC2, we both felt strongly that DW should be SAHM. Since DC2 started school, DW has been working 2 days PW, in school hours at her old career. I was incredibly proud when, despite her short hours, she was promoted within months of returning. Family circs do mean that she hasn't really had career opportunities for 20 years and I do undestand that must be hard and that it's her turn.

She now really hates the p-t job and really wants to be a writer. She has secured some freelance work with the local paper and makes about £500 per month on average. This money is the difference between us making ends meet and being able to have the occasional meal out. Again I am incredibly proud of what she has achieved.

However, for that £500pm, she is out of the house at events approx 50 hours per week and working on her lap top at home for another 30. Me and DC never see her at weekends and she's not really there emotionally for DC in the eves.

I've helped as much as I can. I've changed my working hours, which means I now leave the house at 6am, so I can be home for 5:30 and do dinner and support homework etc. I've arranged a cleaner (which we can't really afford) and I take DC2 out as much as I can at weekends to give her the freedom and peace to work, I took him on holiday by myself in the summer and I arranged all his new school uniform etc , as she didn't have time, but I do feel it is really impacting on family life. It's like she's so absorbed in this writing that she has no emotional capacity for the family anymore.

I know it's my "job" to do some stuff at home and for years I've done it gladly, but I'm starting to feel I can't take on any more. To top it all she's now announced that she's going to resign from the regular job, so she can take on more writing work. Fine, except that there isn't more writing work and who knows when there might be. We really can't afford for her to give up that job - it will mean DC2 can't go on school residential etc.

She now hates the regular job and seems to want to leave regardless of the consequences, which must be awful for her, but we need her to care about the family too.

2 different friends have suggested she's depressed or that she's seeing OM. I think depression is most likely, but I don't know what to do to help. She thinks the only thing is to leave the job, but I don't see how being broke will help. It's culminated this week in her turning on me with fists flying (never before in 25 years) as soon as I walked in. I'd only asked if DC has got on OK at his new school OK (honest!). I'm particularly upset at this because it was in front of DC

I know we need to talk, but she was out "working" all weekend and 3 eves this week, plus all this weekend. What can I do? I've tried so hard to support her in this new career, but all this for £500 pm and very little prospect of it improving

CactusRash Fri 09-Sep-11 12:24:52

A few things there.

-She flew off the handle as soon as you arrived, she is unhappy, doesn't spend time with family anymore, incl her dc. Yes that could be the sign of depression. Less likely to be an OM (as I would have though she would still have had some relation with her dcs).
- If she is really is very keen on being a writer and is putting so much energy into it, I am not surprised that she now hates her old job. She probably was seeing herself as a X <insert old job> and now sees herself as a writer. Her old job is now an inconvenience and it is very hard to carry on lie this (I speak as someone who has changed job like this) What you see is the practical sidfe of things (money), she sees the emotional side (I hate the job, I am not a X anymore)
- Re looking after the family, I am afaridf that what you are doing is what most women still do on their own. It doesn't mean it's right I believe it should be shred between partners but plase don't be ressentin it because your DH probable has done exactely that for a long time too.

Have you tried to speak to her and see what is making her unhappy? Have you cheked with her how she feels, if she feels low/depressed? Have you asked her how she is planning the future? She might not have any work as a writer now but she has had in the past and it obvioulsy worked well. So what sort of opportunity does she think there is?

I think she needs to go and see a GP to check for depression and you two need to start talking and communicating.

<<Note : I have let aside the possibility of OM. Not a lot you can do about that apart snooping and see if there is anything there>>


Ormirian Fri 09-Sep-11 12:28:33

I would say that she is depressed and feeling under pressure to make the writing thing work.

But I don't blame you for feeling frustrated and fed up.

You need to talk to each other and maybe she needs to have a good think about what she wants and what she can realistically acheive.

CactusRash Fri 09-Sep-11 12:32:12

I am sorry, just re read my post and it is full of spelling mistakes... Well done if you still managed to make sense of it lol

Ormirian Fri 09-Sep-11 12:43:33

BTW I really resented having to go back to work when DD (second baby) was born 12 years ago. I wanted to be a SAHM - desperately - but there was no way I could do it. I ended up with depression. Knowing that the thing you want just isn't going to happen no matter how much you want it is soul-destroying. I sympathise with her. Also with you.

goatinacoat Fri 09-Sep-11 12:56:38

I think your kind of situation is exactly what Relate/other counselling is designed for. If it's got this bad, I think a neutral person to help you communicate is what you need.

I hope you can work it out.

JoinTheDots Fri 09-Sep-11 19:26:13

You need to set aside a time (one of the evenings she is not working) to talk about your feelings and her feelings.

She could be depressed, and you might need to consider counselling as a couple (to help her with these feelings) but firstly you need to talk to her about it.

Quitting her current main job might be an action she feels she is in control of which could help her feel better, if it leaves you in financial difficulty the relief will be short lived. She needs to understand that, but you don't want to come over as if you do not believe in her skills or appreciate her achievements to get this far with the new writing career (from your post I don't think you would, but if she is depressed she could also be defensive about it, and easy to upset).

I hope you are able to set aside some time to be very honest with each other, you clearly want to be supportive. I hope it works out.

HairyGrotter Fri 09-Sep-11 19:35:50

Communication is what you guys need, and fast.

I'm not so sure about depression, but maybe this writing job has opened her eyes to what she really wants, and to have that light at the end of the tunnel can be very distracting. Your other responsibilites pale into significance against the excitement of reaching a goal.

Maybe she is bored, has found an interest, and has done the whole 'Do or Die' thing and thrown herself too much into it? Grab her back down from the ceiling and chat about it. Try and express your emotions and let her talk about hers, come to a compromise.

confidence Sat 10-Sep-11 00:41:15

I disagree with the comments about depression. Working hell for leather 80 hours a week at a social, networking activity like journalism, putting your all into establishing an exciting new career, are not the actions of a depressive.

It can be difficult when someone has a "dream", but they owe it to themselves and others to recognise the difference between dream and reality. The writing "job" is paying her 500 pm for 346 hours' work ((50+30)x4.33). That's £1.45 per hour, or about a quarter of the minimum wage.

You are under no obligation to humour her fantasy that this is a "job". Even creative vocations still have to pay a living wage if you expect to live off them. That's not to belittle the activity. If she wants to just see it as a way to express herself, then nothing wrong with that, at all. Hard to justify spending 80 hours a week doing it when you have a family though.

In fact even from a financial POV, it sounds like she would be much better off making some hard choices about which sources of work are really worth the time and effort, following up those and leaving the rest. I work in the creative industries myself and I know how easily one can talk oneself into seeing what everything "might lead to", rather than seeing that you're basically just doing dead-end work for nothing. If this local paper is an actual functional business, then they can't expect their writers to work for a quarter of the minimum wage. If it's someone's little project that happens to have a cover price to help pay expenses, then that's fine. But your DW has nothing to gain from imagining it's more than that.

And I'm sorry but to be frank - she "hates" her unbearably onerous job working 2 part-days a week with career and promotion progression? Well boo bloody hoo. She needs to grow up.

jasper Sat 10-Sep-11 01:26:10

She hit you?

Lizzabadger Sat 10-Sep-11 06:16:55

I am glad your wife is pursuing her dream. Good luck to her. Tbh the working-all-hours-no-time-for-the-family is no different from many men- not ideal, but necessary to get established in a career.

She sounds stressed, rather than depressed.

The hitting you is totally unacceptable. You need to make that very clear and consider leaving if it happens again.

Does she use Mumsnet?

Vicky2011 Sat 10-Sep-11 06:38:51

I'm with confidence on this in that I think your wife is being very selfish and unrealistic, even before we start about the fact that she hit you. I normally hate it on here when people say "turn the genders round" but let's be honest, if you were a woman talking about her husband most of us would be strongly advising you to leave, particularly as your DCs witnessed the attack.

She is thinking of giving up her 2 day a week job and does she really think she is going to make up that income by doing more writing?? She sounds self-obsessed and a dreamer. I would suggest some relationship counselling, as obviously you have a very long history together but ultimately if she is having some sort of mid-life crisis you can't be expected to pick up all the slack from that.

At a practical level, were there any injuries from when she attacked you? Certainly make a note of when it happened and possibly go to see a family law solicitor for the first free 30 mins and make sure that the attack is logged.

Good luck

FabbyChic Sat 10-Sep-11 08:56:08

I would say she is being incredibly selfish. You need to talk and discuss things together not her making decisions on her own. She wants to reduce the income whilst spending more time outside of the family home. You are one man you cannot do everything and she should be pulling her weight at home.

Petesmum Sat 10-Sep-11 09:14:13

Doesn't sound like despression to me but it does sound like someone who's trying to live a dream. I suspect your DW has enjoyed the change of going back to work, the change of scenary, mixing with more adults, having some financial flexibility and doing something for herself rather than the family. Unfortunately she's taken this to the extreme and decided that it's now her "turn" to work on a career, her "turn" to be selfish and pursue her interests - mid life crisis kind of thing?? - Perhaps she can't see the situation for what it is. A good conversation is needed on the impact her behavioural change is making to the family and a hard conversation re money (£500 pm for 80 hour weeks is ridiculous and not sustainable, she'll be exhausted), though I'd warn you that tears & tantrums are likely!

Bonsoir Sat 10-Sep-11 09:21:53

I think your DW needs to face up to the fact that she is no longer making a meaningful contribution to her family - neither the money she brings in, the emotional support she gives or the material work (chores/errands) are remotely equivalent to the amount you are doing, and you are feeling, quite rightly, very resentful.

Which is not to say that your DW doesn't have a right to a life of her own - she does. But she is not going about it the right way and she needs to rethink it.

FabbyChic Sat 10-Sep-11 09:22:16

There is a difference to being supportive and being taken for a mug, you are being taken for a mug.

eicosapentaenoic Sat 10-Sep-11 10:05:48

Maybe, step 1: she sees how all this impacts on you and family: hitting in front of DC, workaholic, insufficient reward. Also she needs to realise what state she's in: obsessed, stressed, neglectful.

Relate is a good solution. Or could talk to GP and call it depression to get counselling referral, if DW will go along with that. It's like holding up a mirror to her to see what she's becoming and how to handle work/family balance.

The 'family business' needs a cost/benefit rethink. Money-earning v family commitments is a stressful nightmare for all of us, male and female. My DH is always pressing me for £ + domestic service but does zero with children, so she is lucky to have you so mature, practical and supportive as to ask MN.

New angle: if counsellor treats her as a gender-free professional and she can see how cost/benefit is not adding up it might help. Female career-breakers and SAHMs always have unrecognised inadequate £ provison for their own future, even lack of NI contributions, unless she would have a rare partner-pension or you are up to speed on this. This is terrifying. May be a factor if she is trying to build a professional reputation although I'd be listening to confidence on the creative arts.

Re do-lally SAHM writers, I'm thinking Sylvia Plath and watching/reading The Hours again.

You are such a good DP, wish you good solutions.

eicosapentaenoic Sat 10-Sep-11 10:14:28

I'm now wondering whether there might be goose-for-gander role-reversal thing going on here. Did you work weekends and evenings in order to provide when she was SAHM covering DCs' needs?

venusandmars Sat 10-Sep-11 10:58:14

Couple of questions: How long has she been working as a writer, and has the income from this been steady or is it increasing? It's tough area of work, so if she's not been doing it for long, and is building up a portfolio of work, a good reputation and some experience, then maybe you both need to work out how long the situation is sustainable.

Presumably by giving up her other job, she intends spending the time taking the next step in her writing career - will this be more of the same (i.e. very low reward for the input) or will this give her the opportunity for a step change in her career?

Rather than trying to constrain her working hours or writing ambitions, can you work together to create a proper business model? For example how she uses her existing experience and portfolio to generate work with more lucrative publications. Does she have a network with any other people doing a similar thing who might work with her to offer some advice, mentoring, coaching? Does she have a business plan that she is following? Is she developing a niche and reputation?

By having a clear plan for developing (with an idea of the additional income it will generate) you can both be working towards the same thing - you know the parameters of the support theat you offer, and she is clearere about what her goals are and the expectations that you both have. She will also be able to get a realistic view about whether this really is a worthwhile financial venture and an alternative career, or whether it is a hobby that brings in a little money.

I suppose what I'm suggesting is that you think about a business coach (rather than, or alongside some relationship advice), that you work together on making her dream a reality, and at the same time agree clear parameters for the point at which you both call time on it. Many people (both male and female) never have the opportunity to take the risk and follow a dream, and as a result some have lives half-lived with background level of lack of fulfilment.

eicosapentaenoic Sat 10-Sep-11 11:02:29

Just to clarify, did you ask her or DS how the day went at school?

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 10-Sep-11 11:14:23

THe very first thing to tell her is that if she is violent towards you again you will take your dc and leave.

Domestic violence is NEVER acceptable.

3littlefrogs Sat 10-Sep-11 11:22:48

I would love to be a writer (I have written a few bits and pieces over the years). However, my children range from 22 to 13 years, and the youngest is still at school. Her last year in school will coincide with my retirement. Until then, I accept that I will have to work, in a job that I like some of the time, and find extremely stressful some of the time.

This is what grown ups/parents do, until they have the time and the financial freedom to pusue other things.

I agree with whoever said that your DW needs to grow up. We all have to make sacrifices one way or another, especially if we are parents.

BTW - violence is never acceptable and I think you should be seriously considering mental health issues and seeking professional advice.

colditz Sat 10-Sep-11 11:48:25

She hit you and that is not acceptable. If you choose not to press charges this time, make sureshe knows you will press charges nexttime.

You are practically a single parent as it is - by the sound of it you'd be better off on your own with the children as you would get help you don't get now.

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