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My diamond shoes are too tight (but I'm still lonely and sad)(20 Posts)
Truthfully, I'm not sure if I will end up posting this, so many people have much more serious problems than I do - but I'm feeling sad, and lonely, and for some reason am feeling like I don't want to burden my friends with my 'moaning', so I'm reaching out here.
DH and I have been married for seven years (been together for 10 years), we have two kids who are now 3 and 6, and recently moved from the UK to the States.
We've always had a somewhat difficult marriage, we have very different viewpoints on the world, and different ways of handling stress - I vent and then immediately feel better; he internalises until he feels better (which can take a while). I'm sure it's immediately obvious how poorly that goes when we argue...
We've gone to couples counselling twice, and it wasn't particularly helpful either time - the last time things started improving almost magically, I don't know what changed - but all of a sudden we were happy together again.
So, onto my problem...small and insignificant as it may seem to some.
DH took a new job a couple of years ago, and it's been really hard for us since then, when we were in the UK he used to have to travel (with Europe) a lot (away 2-3 nights, every fortnight - sometimes more).
Then he got offered a job (with the same company) in the US. We discussed the move, and agreed it should be a good thing as it was supposed to be a slight step down, and he would work less hours and get to spend more time with me and the kids.
We've now been here nearly 6 months, and I'm struggling. The first few weeks/months were difficult as I've been working full time and was used to that, and transitioning to being a SAHM was hard (seriously, so much respect for SAHM, it's a thankless (mostly) and relentless job).
I was so lonely, and he was working so many hours, and I tried to talk about it, and he was (mostly) receptive, and said things like "it won't last forever", and "I'm doing this for us" (which I recognise, and appreciate on one level).
Now I've made more friends, which helps with the loneliness somewhat, but I still feel like I'm not connecting with him at all.
I'm being as supportive as I know how, I don't expect him to do anything around the house during the week (although if he's home on time, he will help with putting the boys to bed), and at weekends I try to be understanding about him needing to work (though I am not always good at that).
And we've had discussions where I've told him that he's putting himself at risk by working so many hours (he's up anywhere from 5am and working on his laptop, then does a full day at the office leaving around 8am and coming back between 6 and 7; then working on his laptop until he falls asleep (literally) with it on his lap on the couch or in bed); and I've said (in a very calm discussion) that this is the reason why people get divorced - as they just have no time with each other. He says he's doing this for us, and I get that - but I don't want our lives to be like this. It's not good for him, the boys, or me, or our relationship.
I went to visit family with the boys for three weeks and when I came back there were still things I'd bought in the fridge (so he'd clearly just not eaten, or had take-out); and he's put on loads of weight around his belly (which is strange as he used to love going to the gym, it was his release) - so he's risking his own health for this job.
I've said we could move back to the UK, he could quit his job and I could support us and the kids - so he doesn't HAVE to feel this obligation to support us (his company are sponsoring his visa so we can't stay in the US without his job). But he says he's getting satisfaction out of his role, and he has said that he'll try to be different; and he writes sweet messages on my birthday and anniversary cards saying "sorry for being a shit husband", so I know he gets it - but not enough to change.
I don't think any hour today was my finest. He's had an awful week, with work, and I felt he was being massively touchy today. Tomorrow is mother's day and he said he wanted to go and buy me a present rather than come with me to a kids birthday party.
I tried to say that I didn't want a 'distress purchase' (something that he'd bought just because he felt he had to have something), and that for me it was the thought that counts (i.e. he had to have thought about it and gotten me something meaningful rather than just wander around the shops and pick something at random) and that because I knew he hadn't had the time to do any thinking, he didn't have to get me anything and I'd be happy with just a homemade card from him and the boys and breakfast in bed...and somehow this turned into a massive fight. And then he's saying things like "I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't" and I'm thinking - I don't want a bloody gift, I want your time and attention.
Then tonight we have another stupid row about him helping me with the vacuuming (as I'm cleaning the house today so i don't have to feel bad about not doing it tomorrow) while I'm mopping the floor behind him.
Then another stupid row about whether or not to get a second car (there is no public transport in our city, and it will shortly be too hot for him to ride his bike to work), when I'm really only trying to understand what he's thinking
Then he falls asleep on the couch.
So I'm seething. And when I go to bed I'm not particularly nice to him. Saying things like "you want to get me a gift and yet you don't give enough of a shit to spend an evening just talking to me before you go to sleep on the couch".
And he totally stonewalls (says nothing, brushes his teeth and goes to bed)
Then I go totally ballistic and tell him that he's a selfish, thoughtless asshole for not leaving a light on for me (I always leave a light on for him when I go to bed first as it's pitch black in our room at night). Clearly an overreaction on my part, I get that. And he says that he's not going to engage with me if I'm going to talk to him like that.
Also fair enough, but I wish I knew how to engage with him when I feel like this.
I just feel done. I'm done trying. I'm done being supportive and understanding. I know he's doing this for us. I know that we're lucky he's well paid and that I don't have to work and we still have a nice house and can afford things. I know that he's a good dad, and loves his kids and does his best with them.
But I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of feeling alone in a marriage. I'm tired of criticisms being presented as jokes (we'll buy this house, it's got two closets so that your mess can be on one side, and my tidy will be on the other). I'm tired of feeling like it's just me trying to make the relationship work, and that he never wants to actually do anything to make things better for me (us?). I'm tired of surviving on the dregs of his time. I'm tired of him only having dregs of time (and just as importantly, why isn't he?). My diamond shoes are too tight.
Maybe I'm not being reasonable. Maybe it's too much to expect him to try when he's working all the hours god sends. But how the hell do you continue to give when you feel like there's nothing left?
I'm seriously asking, how can I keep going? I want my marriage to work. I love this man. I want the best for him. I want to feel supported. I don't want to feel this way, like there's no way out, no way this can be different.
I keep pretending and telling myself it will all be fine; and trying to move forward (just keep swimming) and maybe I'll find the strength tomorrow to keep doing that.
But today, I'm crying in bed while typing this, and he's snoring next to me, and I'm thinking I'll move into the spare room tomorrow and that will be the beginning of the end...
...I just don't know how to talk to him so he will listen and hear me. Hear that I'm upset and trying to reach out to him because I want to make it better - for everyone's sakes (including his) - and not just act as if it's another complaint, another way for me to make him feel bad.
This is a shit situation for everybody.
I think you need to calmly sit down and write a list of what you are not happy about and possible solutions you see to the problems and then sit down with your husband and communicate this with him. Ask him what he see as the solution to your problems. Is there anybody to look after the sits while you discuss this? Maybe childcare or a professional baby sitter.
It sounds like your husband knows what the problems are but maybe not how bad they are? And he thinks he knows how to fix them (buying gifts) be he is getting it wrong.
He must know this is really bad at the moment, he probably just doesn't know how to fix it. He wants to keep his job and stay in America but the cultural pressure over there is huge in terms of working all hours, so he doesn't know how to step back.
I don't know what the answer is in terms of change, but to get him to hear you I think you need to try again without the anger. Tell him you just all love him and want him around and miss him.
Are you earning enough to hire some help, so that you aren't doing all the housework when he is at home, and you can actually spend some time together?
Otherwise, this seems like a nightmare and you should really be enjoying time out there, not hating it. It doesn't seem like you are particularly connected any more.
Is he on an L visa? Could you get a job?
I would (and did when DH was studying for his MBA) arrange a time for a meeting, and make an agenda. On the agenda have things like "the family don't get enough of your time" "how we want to spend the weekends" and any other issues you need to discuss such as "Freddie's school report".
I can understand your stresses. Two young children, becoming a SAHM and moving continents at the same time, it's bound to be difficult.
I'd want to establish exactly how necessary all these hours of work are to DH's new job. I thought the idea was to move, step down a bit and have more time as a family, not less? Is he really doing it because of the demands upon him, or is he doing, as so many do and just letting it take over as an alternative to engaging with home?
Six months isn't long to find the right level for all of you, but it's a long time to be unhappy and it does sound as though DH has mentally checked out and is all consumed in his life outside of the marriage and family unit.
You have two options don't you. Either find another couples counsellor and insist that you need to start some kind of dialogue that way, or you have to find a way to talk it through at home and both listen calmly as well as putting your own side. Explain to DH that it's not only your daily life that's getting you down, but your concerns for his well being.
These really are precious years with your DCs and neither of you want them marred by the current situation if you can resolve your differences and start communicating.
It always takes a while to settle into a new place ( its only been 6 months?) and in the US they have quite a different work culture - they would never take the 2 week holiday that we think is the norm. 6 months? He is trying to make his mark at his new place?
Unfortunately this is the life that many women put up with especially when there is a " good" job involved - however it sounds as if you both need to reassess the amount of time done at home for work. Anyone who thinks work is 9 - 5 is just unrealistic however in this day and age with certain jobs of responsibility . Your life has changed - you are not working and will miss that. You are a trailing spouse now and it is not easy. Been there and done that.
You yourself seem to say that you are complaining a lot and that he sees this as trying to make him feel bad ( is that what you mean?)
Time for a big chat - how has the 6 months gone? what has gone right? what has gone wrong? how can you do better? is this working for the family? Communication is the key - left unspoken it wreaks havoc. You use the word "rows" about any kind of discussion you seem to have - why is that?
Housework - I know its not the 1950s but why are you vacuuming and washing floors together? Child of 6 at school? Young one at home? get what needs to be done in the day and to hell with the rest of it. Sorry but don't understand the reference to
Then tonight we have another stupid row about him helping me with the vacuuming (as I'm cleaning the house today so i don't have to feel bad about not doing it tomorrow) while I'm mopping the floor behind him
Time for an honest chat for the pair of you. It's just life and its challenges ! Best of luck!
Some of this reminds me of when my dad and step-mum moved to the States many years ago. Again, she went from working f-t to enforced SAHM and she hated it, I do also seem to recall issues about how many cars were needed.
So let's break it down a bit. One of the purposes of this move was to enable him to have more time with his kids. But the reality is that (in common with a lot of people in the States in my experience) he is massively caught up in presenteeism and you're seeing him less than you were before, whilst at the same time having far less external stimulation yourself. Factor in the fact he's not getting to the gym and it sounds like he's trapped on a hamster wheel he can't see a way to get off, and overall the move has not given you what you (both) wanted.
The first few months when you move countries are almost always dreadful, and I think you're hitting 'the wall' at the moment. You sound extremely isolated and that will only get worse if you can't resolve the car issue - you MUST have one or you'll go insane. Assuming you can agree to buying a car you then need a very strong plan for how to fill your time that will get you some more human contact with the outside world. I think my step-mum volunteered at my sister's school (she was a primary school teacher) and I remember neighbours saying the church was a great way to find a new community (we all made polite non-committal noises about that as we are an atheist family through and through but if you're not this is worth thinking about).
I would question - not in a challenging way - in what way this work is something he is doing 'for us' (i.e. your family). What's the goal? Will he be able to move back into a higher position in the UK/Europe when he completes the US assignment? It sounds like it was meant to have more immediate benefits in terms of the amount of time at home - and it's not paying off.
So together you need to decide (a) what your goals are and (b) what the break points are. How long do you give the assignment in the US, for example. Realistically he can't leave it now after only six months, so do you agree another six and then review? Another six and then back to the UK? Do you go back to the UK now and he follows in six months? I can't help but think you would be an awful lot happier if you were working again.
I think there's plenty to salvage here but you do need to open lines of communication. Couldn't you say to him simply 'I don't want a present, I want you to come with me to the party'?
The other thing is I think he needs a break from the work to begin to clear his mind of the hamster wheel mentality. He probably has very few holiday days? But can I suggest you do not use them to return to Europe but to get away somewhere quiet where he (and you) can decompress?
Can you show him this post? It very eloquently sums up your feelings.
I was going to say what tribpot did - you need to get out the house and spend time with adults, and voluntary work may be the best way.
If church is not your thing you could contact mental and physical health charities, domestic abuse charities, welfare charities etc. In any community there is always masses more unpaid work that needs doing than there are volunteers.
You also need a car and a cleaner. I would not be happy to give up working FT to mop floors.
Do you think you could have a conversation about what it feels like from his point of view, leaving aside your own problems for a moment?Maybe it might give you some ideas for how to approach the situation better if you can work out why he is putting so much into his work.
For example, does he feel like he has to make such a big deal of the "provider" role because he doesn't know how to have any other role in the family but needs to feel like he's making an important contribution? If that's the case it might feel particularly hard for him if you then criticise the way he plays that role (however good a reason you have for doing it!).
Do you think you could manage to swallow your resentment and frustration enough to coat your complaints with a layer of support for him? For example: "I love to see you passionate about things, such as your job, and I'm proud that you want to support our family so much. It means a lot to me. But being with you and doing things outside of work means a lot to me too ..."
My husband and I split up for similar reasons, and it was only after the split that I got any insight into what he was thinking ... if yours is as poor a communicator, maybe some sympathetic questions would squeeze it out of him? I'm now at the start of a new relationship and remembering what it is like to feel concerned about the other person's feelings rather than just pissed off with them ...
You could potentially get a job if you have a university degree and can find an employer willing to sponsor you under the H1-B visa programme. The only issue is there are a limited number of visas available (not sure what the current yearly cap is) and you will find some employers intimidated by the process. Or, if he's an L-1 then you qualify for L-2 work authorization, which is less restrictive and doesn't require a degree. There are many other lettered visas depending on field, etc. so you might want to check here - US govt site - to see if any of the more exotic ones fit as well.
I have moved countries with DH four times. The first year is always the worst. It's always isolating and the loss of identity is disorienting. Having a job and an identity of your own can be a lifeline.
Aside from that, you have other issues as I'm sure you know. Stonewalling is one of THE most damaging things a person can do in a relationship and in fact is considered very predictive of divorce. (See how to ruin a perfectly good relationship. And the put-downs disguised as 'jokes' are really vile as well. Apparently he doesn't realize (or want to acknowledge) how much you've sacrificed so he can pursue this opportunity. It sounds as though possibly you feel your end of this bargain is to keep the house perfect since you're not working outside the home? If so, that's not true. Good luck because these problems are really tough.
difficult situation but being horrible to him won't help.
Thanks for all the responses, and sorry I haven't been back online - it was mothers day in the US yesterday so it was a (lovely) kidfest from morning to night.
We did have a bit of a talk, I hadn't seen all of your responses before we did (but thanks to you I'll try to do better next time)
He is on an L visa, and I have my authorisation to work - and have started looking for a job as I think it would be better if I was working as well.
@mummytime I think the agenda thing is a really good idea. He gets overwhelmed if we try to talk about more than one issue at a time, so maybe if we went out to dinner and agreed to talk about just one (potentially stressful) thing, he would feel ok with that.
@RingbearingLizard (great name BTW) The extra hours are apparently necessary as he's just had to fire two of his mid-level managers, and take on their workload as otherwise a lot of people's jobs can be at risk. He's just made job offers to people to replace them, so he's hopeful that he won't have as many demands on his time shortly.
@theOldWiseOne I know it's only been six months, and I think you're right - a conversation about 'what has been going well' might be a better focus than anything else.
I'm a bit OCD about clean floors, I do clean during the week (although last week was a nightmare with physio appt and loads of other things) but as there's so much dust here, you need to vacuum and/or mop every 2-3 days and Saturday was day 4 so my head was about to explode. He'd just done a really rubbish job of vacuuming and I made him get the vacuum out and do it again - and he made some joke about not needing to do surgery in here and I took it the wrong way. Totally grumpy me overreacting.
I'd love to get a cleaner, and I'm sure DH would be fine with it - but it feels like a waste of money when I'm at home...
Must go get the boys from school (DS2 is in 3 days a week to allow me to clean/get on top of unpacking and admin). Will try to respond to the others soon.
Thanks again for your help and support, it meant the world to me when I got back online to see so many responses. xxx
I have never ever regarded cleaners as a waste of money. I think they're worth their weight in gold.
Even when I was home looking after small children I had one, like clean houses and I hate cleaning. Anyway if you get a job voluntary or paid, you'll need one.
Get a cleaner - I had one for ages as a SAHM, because when I tried to clean as fast as I cleaned my DC would wreck somewhere. If not at least get a robot vacuum and do they do a mop one now?
Why is DH vacuuming during his time at home since he is working full time (and more) outside of the home and supports the family while OP is a SAHM? I'm from the US and that expectation would be considered a little odd, I think, by most people and would cause constant friction and resentment. It's not a matter of "women's work" -- just a matter of a simple division of labor (not set in stone, of course). Shouldn't that chore have been done and gotten out of the way during the day, as well as all other daily household chores? OP, I'm not singling you out -- I've read so many posts and complaints on Mumsnet on this subject and it seems very strange to me.
Also confusing is the attitude that being a SAHM is so difficult and isolating, so hard and such a burden. OP, I know you're in a new and unfamiliar environment without old friends and family, but this is a sentiment I've also seen expressed many times on Mumsnet -- I always (and most I've known) felt the role of SAHM (at least while children are young) to be the ideal! Much more enjoyable! But we do all have vehicles (we have to) and so freedom to come and go; is that an issue?
In any event, making home another job for your DH -- when it doesn't have to be -- just can't be good. Some men love working in the yard as a family or others like going for leisurely drives, etc. What does DH like to do? What would you and the DC like to do?
Sorry, OP, had forgotten that you had addressed the vehicle issue. Yes, you need two cars! You must each have a vehicle. Otherwise everything is doubly hard, causing so much stress, and involving so much time wasted on deciding who can do what when and having to coordinate and wait to do any activity!
Laladeepsouth, not everyone feels the same about being a SAHM. I found it very isolating and difficult when I was on maternity leave and it had nothing to do with having a car or not. The OP's feelings and opinions on that matter are valid even if they don't agree with yours. Some people might find working outside the home difficult and a burden but others feel differently.
But, yes, having another car would help you, many US cities will leave you very isolated otherwise!
Don't underestimate the effect of culture shock and homesickness. I am from the US (currently in the UK) and it's very, very difficult to move continents and re-establish yourself socially and it has a huge effect on your relationship. Sorry you are going through this.
Boxcutter, I think I was very clumsily trying to say to OP, "Just have fun with it!" re being a SAHM (as an alternative to what seems like fixating on cleaning and chores). Which advice is, really, no advice or help at all!
Obviously, there are very big issues here regarding "time" in general (who "owns" it?), bargaining, struggles for control/dominance, conflict styles, etc.
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