Hi reality Steve-
I have an issue with my husband that I’m hoping you can help with. We have been married almost 6 years and have two girls – one is 3.5 and the other 15 months. Also, we are expecting a third daughter in June of this year (it was a complete surprise, as my husband thought we were done with two). It took him awhile to warm up to this third baby and he has even said several times that he doesn’t want the baby. That has been so hurtful for me to deal with. Of course I was surprised too and I’m nervous about it – I work full time, so now we have to think about childcare for three which is super expensive! However, in my mind we just need to figure out how to deal with it since it was happening.
Now, a little history about our marriage….
We have struggled for several years now. He has a lot of anger issues that stem from the fact he hates his job. He has been in the same job since before I met him and keeps telling me that he can’t find another one. I’m not sure that I believe that, but he is probably being too picky with the jobs he wants to do. Anyway, he takes his anger out on me and now on our girls. I think it became more obvious to me once our oldest daughter was born. Prior to that, I just dealt with it. But now, it is getting worse – we fight a lot in front of the girls and he is verbally abusive to all of us. Being pregnant, I’m always tired at night and all I hear from his is how I don’t do the dishes, how lazy I am, etc. I’m clearly not lazy – I have a stressful full time job and take care of two young kids. Yes, the dishes don’t get done most nights, but that doesn’t make me lazy. Since the 3 year old is at the age where she is starting to understand more, she usually starts crying and asks me why daddy is so mean. It breaks my heart! I use that as a learning experience for her and try to teach her that we don’t talk to people like that. However, I’m at the point where I feel like I need to make a decision on what to do. Should I stay with him and have him be verbally abusive? Or should I leave? When I’ve brought up the topic of leaving, he tells me that separation isn’t an option – that he would just get divorced and be done with it. I’m not sure if he actually means that or just says it because he thinks it will upset me. I’ve been going to counseling for a year now and he finally agreed to go. He has been to about 3 sessions now, but I’m not sure that it will help things. His attitude about counseling is that he thinks it’s a waste of time. He really needs separate counseling sessions, but I don’t think he would agree to that. Some days he acts like he wants it to work and some days (mainly when he is yelling at me or the girls), I think that he has checked out and is done. So I’m torn as to what I should do. Some of my friends think I should get out and not put up with the verbal abuse. And others have encouraged me to stick it out – that marriage is hard, etc. While I get that marriage is hard, there has to be a point where I deserve to be treated with respect. Also, my primary responsibility at this point is to protect my girls and do what is best for them. With baby # 3 coming soon, that will just add to our stress. So I’m sure that will just make things worse between us. Do you have any thoughts or advice on what I should do?
Comment: A few things to cover here. Lets first talk about his job. Him saying he can’t find another one is just a flat out lie. He might not be able to find another one that he likes, or wants to do, but anyone can find another job if they really put for the effort. Not to mention, has he even tried and interviewed and gotten rejected by a bunch of places? Or he’s just not trying? I tend to guess it’s the latter. But yeah, all in all, that sounds more like laziness than anything else.
Should you stay with him as he continues to be verbally abusive? Ummmm, no. Yes, marriage is hard. That’s why people work at it. But by the looks of things, you are the only one working at it. He’s still exhibiting the verbally abusive behavior, doesn’t seem like he’s interested in getting better, and in turn, is making you miserable as you’re due to deliver another baby. Usually someone in your position who emails me will mask it with a, “But he really is a great guy…” excuse. You didn’t do that, which I know means it’s really bad. You’ve said for a while now you guys have struggled. If it’s been this long, assume the pattern isn’t going to change. And if he has already stated forget a separation and he’d go straight to a divorce, pretty much tells me he’s checked out.
I don’t envy the spot you’re in right now because it sucks. Who wants to go through a divorce when they’re pregnant? No one. You’re roughly 6 months in, and I don’t think ending your marriage right now in the third trimester of a pregnancy is the smartest thing to do. I don’t think you need the added stress. I would continue to seek counseling, tough it out through the pregnancy, but just know things probably aren’t changing with him. Once your child is born, I would have a heart to heart, lay it all out there, tell him you can’t accept that behavior anymore, you’ve put up with it too long, and then start making arrangements to leave. I really don’t see this getting much better on your end. I mean, if it’s SO bad right now that you think he could physically hurt either you or your children, then yeah, I’d get out as quick as possible. I don’t think that’s the case based on what you said, but I guess with anger issues, you just never know if verbal abuse will ultimately lead to physical. Either one you don’t deserve. I just don’t know about going through divorce stuff when you’re due in June. But this is a relationship you probably need to get out of once the baby comes. It just doesn’t seem healthy at all.
Dear Dr. Steve,
I’m going to keep this as much of a long story short as I can.
I met an ex of mine almost three years ago (Spring 2014). We dated for a few months, he ended it a week after we had a talk about the relationship (wherein we had decided to continue dating but not yet go exclusive). A month later, he reached out to me on gchat, and we became friends again.
He’d sometimes accuse me of being a flirt (guilty! with all parties though, there was no direct intention of being a flirt with him, and after that I did try to NOT be flirtatious with him, avoid all but a hello hug, etc) but our friendship was fine otherwise.
The summer before last (Summer 2015), we ended up having dinner and then hooking up. It happened a few more times, then I didn’t see him for about a month (largely his fault). He wanted to sleep together again when we finally saw each other, I told him no, and that the no was because I didn’t just want to be available for him physically when he was bored or on an inconsistent basis. He agreed he had been crappy, didn’t get mad at me, we went back to having a non physical relationship but definitely saw each other less.
Well, guess what. just before the holidays this year, drunk me decided to text him one night and he came over. I felt kind of conflicted about this but thought to myself that there is some reason we keep going back to this attraction, and maybe we ought to give it a real try (dating) or allow it to happen and get it out of our systems. A few days later he asked me when we could see each other the following week, so we got together again. I was pleased and thought we were maybe on the same page of exploring the connection but trying to not stress about it.
Then the holidays happened, we were in touch a bit somewhat but nothing crazy.
…then we were both back in town and he started avoiding me / ghosting me. I asked him what was going on, and he told me that he felt that navigating the friends / hook up scenario was too hard. I told him that I understood, but (as I said above) we had a chance to either try this or to get it out of our systems, but we needed to communicate expectations to each other instead of being hurtful about it.
Anyway. It turned into him saying he didn’t know how to handle it and can we just be friends, and me saying in return that frankly, he doesn’t even seem to want to act like a friend(because of the ghosting, primarily). We haven’t talked since then.
So here’s my question: Do you think that it would be worth being friends again when this situation cools down (as it likely will given our past)? I DO enjoy him as a friend but I’m concerned that our continued attraction to each other is going to just make this trouble or make history repeat itself.
thanks for your thoughts!
Comment: Seems like a lot of unnecessary beginnings and endings of a friendship that you really don’t need. I think as long as you stay friends, that awkwardness about hooking up will always be there since you have in the past. It’s kinda hard to move past that, especially when both of you have addressed it and even he says it’s tough. I wouldn’t do it anymore. Just not worth your time and will probably affect any future relationships you get into. I mean, if you think the two of you can be friends and there never be another hookup ever, then try it. But by the sounds of things, it doesn’t look like that can happen.
Hello again! I never see follow ups on the dr Reality Steve section, so if you’re short on emails next week, feel free to use this one! You commented:
Comment: Have your sisters given reasons why they aren’t showing up anymore? What are they? I think once you get those reasons, you’ll know. I can’t imagine it has to do with you having a house and they don’t. Seems like a real petty reason not to show up at your parents house for Sunday dinner. Maybe they’re busy with their own family stuff. Someone needs to just ask them why they don’t come anymore. This may seem like a stupid question, but, do they KNOW there’s still Sunday dinner every week that you attend and they choose not to?
Obviously family dynamics are different with everyone. And yeah, it sucks when grandparents don’t get to see their grandkids as much as they’d like. But someone just needs to say something to your sisters, whether it’s you or your parents. Get a direct answer. Maybe it’s just they aren’t aware it’s happening. Or maybe they’ve got their own issues. Or maybe they want to do it, but only once a month. Find out why, and then take it from there. You can’t force your sisters to do something they maybe don’t want to do, but at least find out the why first.
My sisters always give really lame excuses for not coming. Like “I’m busy” “I’m tired” “I want a day to relax”. They are so obviously excuses that we know they are not legitimate. They certainly do know that family dinner is still every Sunday, as my mom asks them every Friday if they are coming or not, so she knows how much to cook (even though she makes too many portions anyways). Neither of my sisters work full time and one of them doesn’t even have kids, so we don’t understand why they can’t set aside a few hours for their parents. It’s especially irksome because my parents are very helpful to all of us – even financially. I guess it boils down to it being too much to ask for someone to give up one of their weekend days every week to spend time with their aging parents???
Love your insight. Thanks in advance!
Comment: Yeah, then they basically just don’t want to hang with the family for whatever reason, since those are lame excuses. You’re gonna have to call them out on it if you want the true answer, and maybe even then they won’t give it.
Alrighty Doctor, so this might be a weird one:
I’m single and I haven’t really been looking around on the dating world. But recently, I became friends with two people, a guy and a girl. The two of them are long-time best friends.
We’ve been hanging out as a group lately and I find myself unable to stop flirting with both of them. The girl is a lesbian, the guy is straight, and both people are single. They seem to be receptive to my advances and have reciprocated the flirting, at least in my opinion.
I have never dated a woman, in part because I come from a very strict family that would not be okay with it at all, and I don’t want to put someone through what would happen should she meet my parents (It would be very bad. Think WW3, and then x15).
I’m attracted to both of them, but I’m pretty sure that my connection with the girl is a little bit stronger. I’m honestly not sure if I’m looking for anything serious or not, I think it’s a bit early to tell. I do, however, think that if I should have to think about one of them long term, prospects with the guy are looking better because logistically, it would be easier and plus, he’s a terrific guy (checks all the boxes).
Since they’re best friends, I’m not sure if it would be more respectful of me to just pick one and continue flirting with them, as opposed to just flirting with both and seeing where each relationship/friendship goes. What do you think? Also, any ideas on which I should choose?
I think what’s getting to me here is also that for all I know, this could all be in my head and neither one of them are interested at all. Entirely possible.
Comment: Have you never dated a woman because of what your family would think? Or have you never dated a woman because you weren’t interested in them until this girl? I mean, I’m not one to tell you who you should or shouldn’t like. I don’t know enough about you to make an honest opinion about that. But if you’re saying you’re more attracted to her and the connection is stronger, than you should at least pursue that and see where it goes. Sure, your family might go ape sh** but it’s your happiness. Settling for the other guy because he “checks all the boxes” and is more “logistically better” isn’t enough. Go after the one you want regardless of the circumstances. You obviously know what lies ahead if you pursue something with this girl and she reciprocates it. It won’t be easy with your family, but again, it’s your choice of who you are interested in. And if it happens to be a woman, so be it. You’re not in the wrong for that at all. I’m sure it’s frightening and maybe you’ve repressed feelings like this forever for fear of what your parents might say, and I’d say that’s probably natural. But don’t let it determine your ultimate fate with someone else. I know those are just words and easy for me to say because I’m straight, but, it’s the honest truth. Pursue the girl and if she’s interested, deal with the ramifications from family afterwards. But ultimately you do what makes you happy. Don’t live your life for other people. You’ll be miserable.
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