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A Bitter and Conflicted Wife

My wife is conflicted.

On one hand, we have two unplanned children whom she dearly loves.

On the other hand, we have two unplanned children who have “derailed” her career plans because she doesn’t want to put the youngest in daycare.  She already put off her career for the five oldest, but that was according to her plans.

It’s these two late comers which have upset her plans.

So how does she deal with this conflict between love for her children and resentment over the obligations of being a parent?

She can’t blame her children; she wants to be a good mother.  She can’t blame God; she wants to be a good Christian.

So instead, she blames me.  Allow me to count just a few of the ways she has begun to complain (which were never issues she raised prior to her most recent pregnancy):

  • First, I don’t make enough money.  I’ve been running a non-profit charity for over twenty years.  Including my extra sources of income, I make “only” around $65,000 per year.  She’s been making another $20,000 from part time work.  But  our combined income still isn’t enough to support a stress free life style she “always wanted.”  As she tells our marriage counselor, she “just” wants to be able to buy things “without having to worry about a budget.”  And in her mind, it is exclusively my duty, as the provider, to provide enough that she doesn’t have to worry about a budget.
  • Second, she accuses me of “having everything” (a career) while she “has nothing” — other than a faithful husband, seven beautiful, healthy children, and a $350,000 house (which I foolishly agreed to buy, overstretching our budget, because she insisted she “deserved” it after our seventh child was born).
  • Third, because she is so deeply embittered, she refuses me any physical intimacy.  This is a tactic she has frequently used throughout our marriage to manipulate and punish me whenever I resist one of her demands.  In this most recent crisis following the birth of our last child, she made the unilateral decision to engage in total abstinence, ostensibly for fear of becoming pregnant again. But even after she had a hysterectomy,  she could endure no more intimacy than once or twice a month, and even then only at the behest of our marriage counselor, and therefore always with displays of “Okay, I’m doing my duty.  Get it over with.”  She cannot muster even a shred of compassion and empathy toward the goal of at least striving for the kind of sexual intimacy we should at least be hoping to work toward.

Her main complaint continues to be financial.  She accuses me of having “cheated” her and the family of the income I could have and should have earned.  It is for this reason that I am “unlovable,” which is why she says it is so hard to show any respect, admiration, or desire for me.   It’s more $$$$$ or nothing.  My suggestions (echoed by the counselor) that perhaps she should try to use a little will power to be “more loving” (even if she thinks I’m “unlovable”) falls on deaf ears.

As I indicated, this mid-life crisis was triggered when she became pregnant with our second surprise pregnancy, at a time when she was looking forward to starting a full time professional career.

I feel empathy for her.  I understand what it is to have dreams unfulfilled or even delayed.  I’m sorry that “life happened,” — but the trade off is that we have been blessed with a wonderful little girl that none of us can imagine life without.  Can’t we focus on the good we do have rather than things we don’t have?

I feel the main problem is that she is in a mid-life crisis.   While on one hand she loves our children, she is obsessed with what else she could have had and “should” have had.

This is most evident in that over the last eight years, once we had teenagers in a private high school, she kept noticing and commenting on how wealthy “all” of the parents of our kid’s friends are.   A lot of these families are  two income families, or or the fathers are doctors, lawyers, small business owners.  A director of a small non-profit, like myself, can’t compete with these “good providers.”

While I’m not such a fool as to think I’m anything approaching a perfect or even a notably great husband, by any measure I’m a pretty decent husband.   I’ve never cheated on her, I don’t drink, use drugs, or gamble.  I’ve been a steady provider.   I do house work and help the kids both in education, play, and just growing up.  I love my children (and my wife).  I’m good at thanking her.  I look for opportunities to compliment and praise her, and truly try to live as a Christian man.

Because we are overstretched with house payments, I admit I am not good at spontaneously buying her stuff to show my gratitude.  But does the punishment for that “sin” justify destroying a marriage and family?

Now she is seriously threatening divorce.

I’ve tried numerous times to apologize for my real offenses, my exaggerated offenses, and even my imagined offenses.  But nothing seems to release her bitterness.

What do you readers suggest?

Please comment below.

Here is what people had to say when I asked a question about this at Yahoo Questions.



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