Dear Papa bear,
I got married a little over a year ago to a wonderful, amazing and supportive husband. He is all I ever asked for, and more. When we first got together we were both employed at Wendy's, and I was living out of my van. We decided to pack up and move to my mom's house, three hundred miles north. There we both suffered six months of unemployment, until he finally signed up for MBUSI, a training/internship program at Mercedes Benz/Shelton State Uni. I also found a job. We were pretty well off for about a year. The program is only two years long and when you finish you get a maintenance position at $14.50 an hour, and we planned on it for our future.
Unfortunately, a little over a year into the program, our cars began falling apart, and my drug addict mother stole money from us. This ended in us abruptly moving back down south to live with HIS parents. It's pretty nice here, his grandparents fixed up our car, and I've been working as a full time artist from home. Here is where the problem starts.
My husband is not pulling his weight. At. All. I work from six to eight hours a day, destroying my wrists, back and eyes trying to pay our bills. All I ask of him is that he put in applications, and keep the house clean. Easy, right? Well, it's been two months and he has only put in four job applications, and does not clean unless physically forced to do so. He whines and complains about doing the dishes, cleaning the toilet, doing laundry, etc. And when he DOES put in an application or clean our room, he acts like it's the best thing he's ever done, and wants praise and all that.
So he sits around all day, playing video games and hanging out with his friend, when he could be out looking for a job. Or cleaning this filthy house.
And he has the nerve to call ME lazy.
I've tried begging, pleading, screaming, reasoning, crying, sweetly asking, threatening, talking, and everything else. He will agree with me, we will cry and make up, and then he will put in one application, do a dish or two, and then go right back to his old habits.
Frankly, I'm exhausted, I'm tired, I'm fed up, I can't take it anymore. I have a bulging disc in my spine, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, hypersomnia, and hypothyroidism, I hurt all the time, I am worn to the bone. He's a frikken college grad, excellent physical condition, no disorders, with a year of machining tech under his belt, six years of work experience, and he won't. do. anything.
It has come to the point where I am considering leaving him. I don't want to. I love him. He is the light of my life. But I think it is the only way to make him see how much he is hurting me, and what life would be like without my income and support.
And yes, we communicate very well, and I have told him everything I've told you. And it has had no effect.
I am so lost and confused.
* * *
The male psyche can be a mystery to the female and vice versa. This is a case in point. As a male, I think I might be able to shed a little light on this, or at least try.
In the beginning of your relationship, you were equals, both working at Wendy’s. Then, your husband finished his training and got a good job, making him the top dollar earner. Men like this. They like to feel like the bread winner and that they are taking care of their spouses and leading the way to a stable and happy home.
Then everything reversed. The car situation happened and his mother screwed you over. Suddenly, you both are depending on your family and you are the top bread winner while he has been relegated to “womanly” duties of cleaning the house. Now, I know that sounds chauvinistic—and it is—but it is still how the psyche of the male often works.
My suspicion is that your husband is feeling like “less of a man” because you are in charge, really, making money while he is told to clean up the house. He feels powerless, and when one feels powerless it is really really difficult to get motivated—hence, his struggle to apply for work. The fact that you are in pain from your various ills only exacerbates his guilt and makes him feel more like a loser. It is very easy when this happens to retreat into videogames or, worse, things like booze and drugs. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to have happened, yet.
So, what can you do? Yelling doesn’t work. Cajoling. Begging. Asking sweetly. None of that works, as you know. Why? Because however you approach it, you are taking the in-charge role and making him feel like he’s no longer an equal. You’re in charge; he’s to do as asked.
What he needs is an ego boost to feel like he is a man again. Now, I’m not sure what all is involved in your art business, but have you tried this? Ask him to be a partner in your business. Perhaps he can help with your website, taking orders, marketing, finding new clients. Although you are the artist, he can be an equal partner by being your business manager. Let him handle the money side and give you reports on how you are doing. As someone who is his own businessman, I can tell you that being an editor involves more than just editing; I have to handle all aspects of my business, and it would be a great thing for me if all I had to worry about was the editing process and have someone else handle my bills, finding clients, doing my website and so on. Don’t just ask him to do menial stuff like housework; ask him to be a partner in your business. He needs to share a little power in the relationship; to feel he has some respect from you, and believe me, respect is very important for the male ego.
Once he feels like a partner again and not second fiddle in the marriage, his self-respect will improve and this will improve his mood and make him feel he can take charge of his life again, including looking for jobs for which he is qualified.
I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes, and good luck with your business!
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