Reader Independent writes:
I'm feeling bitter and angry towards my husband and for the life of me I can't sort this out in my head. This is both our second marriage and we both have several children from previous marriages. We have been married 5 years and we love each other very much. We share similar interests, values and we make each other laugh. The sex is usually pretty great too.
While I was a single mom, I started a small side business to make ends meet. This business quickly became a success and it is also a source of pride and accomplishment for me. However, my husband and I both work full time jobs in addition to my business. And here is the rub. Even working two jobs, I still only make 2/3 of my husband's income from his one job.
My business has become a burden. I'm stressed out, burned out and feel angry that he seems completely fine with his wife working two jobs. He pitches in and helps out a lot on weeks when I'm busier than usual and is so great with the kids. He also has a tendency to be a bit stingy financially (and he knows this), while I tend to be more giving. We keep our incomes completely separate and I pay a portion of our shared bills that is proportional to my income.
I pride myself in being a feminist and never entered the marriage with the idea that he was supposed to take care of me, but I find myself wishing he were the type that would not want to see me working this much and would do whatever he could to make my life easier. He has a difficult time empathizing. If the situation were reversed and he were working this much I would probably feel quite a bit of guilt. He on the other hand schedules lots of bike rides, marathons, and triathlons with his free time.
He has said several times that he's willing to co-mingle our finances and me quit my business and figure things out, but the anxiety I feel about losing control of my own finances and the fact that I don't believe he really wants to do that keeps me stuck in the current situation. Please help me figure this out!
I was with you till the last paragraph. You're saying you want him to care about how hard you work. You talk about your frustration with your side business. Then you say that your husband has actually said you can quit and he is cool with commingling your finances. So, your solution is right in front of you: stop working two jobs and accept his financial "help" (which is actually just the normative sharing of marital money). You want him to want to make your life easier. But he IS saying he wants to make your life easier! So what's the problem?
Although your husband is doing exactly what you say you want him to do, you're mad at him for "not caring" how hard you work. However, what more can he do? He can't close down your business for you himself. So, he's just helping out more wherever he can. I would have more expected him to write in to me, "My wife is running herself into the ground with her business, complains about not making more money, I offer to support her financially but she won't accept the help, and then she's still mad at me."
The fact that you even view this as a quandary indicates to me that you have many issues surrounding "dependence" and also trust. I would not be surprised if your own parents were divorced and your mother was left without enough money, or if you observed a dynamic like this growing up in any other way. Somehow, you learned that depending on a loved one is terrifying and leads to the demise of your sense of self and/or the relationship. So, you try to be entirely self-sufficient, refuse interdependence, and then resent your partner for accepting the situation that you have created. You also want him to say things and then don't trust when he says them! This is a toxic pattern and if you're not careful, this marriage may end because of the no-win situation that you have forced both you and your husband into.
I recommend that you seek individual counseling, with the goal of helping you through the difficult decision of potentially leaving one of your jobs, and what it will mean to you emotionally if you allow yourself to depend on your husband financially, and to openly and lovingly accept his support. You are in a good marriage now, so don't get in your own way and self-sabotage. Good luck, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says Look Inward, Because You Can Learn A Lot About Yourself From Posing This Situation As A "Problem."
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Pre-order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family.