Hi, from the other side of the world. I have been married 19 years. For the first 10 we lived in his parents’ home, which left little time for intimacy and bonding. We have two beautiful kids, a daughter and a son. I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom, especially for my son. He is autistic.Now for the problem. I feel undervalued.
My husband feels since he is the earner and I do “nothing,” he is the boss. He gives me a monthly stipend for the house which barely covers expenses. He does not give me extra money for myself, so I have no money and no job.
He is generous in buying clothes and luxury items, like taking us for a holiday. But there has been no intimacy for four years and he always belittles me. At times I think of leaving, knowing that I can earn what I need.
What stops me is the kids. He is a great father and the kids need to be with him almost every day or they will miss him. And vice versa. I believe the children need both of us, so I have put my life on hold till they are independent.
What scares me is in another 10 years I will be 54 and my life nearly over. I am confused. What could be my options?
Parveneh, in a speech shortly after he was elected president, Bill Clinton said, “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” We agree. Though the familiar can make us feel secure, on a deeper level it can make us feel powerless.
Your husband would not have a family without you. You entered this marriage with expectations. You expected to be loved and cared for as a wife. That hasn’t happened. You don’t feel like a wife. You feel like the hired help, dependent on your husband’s largesse.
To feel valued, you need to step back into the world. You need to assert your rights as a 50-50 member of this partnership.
It starts with knowing what you want. What is that? A part-time job…classes to keep current in your field…a credit card so you feel free to buy a magazine or a scarf, or take a girlfriend to lunch?
Take this as an investigative project and a chance to weigh all your options. List what you might want, then winnow that list to what is truly important. What would it take to accomplish that? That’s your starting place.
Get your reasons together, and get them down cold. Know what you want, what it will take and what it will cost. The more prepared you are the better your negotiating position.
Being fully prepared will put your husband back on his heels. It will put you ahead of the curve so he can’t sidestep the issue. You need to have data, estimates, job availability, prices and everything else to make your case. One obstacle that demands the most planning is the needs of your son with autism.
You say the man you married is a good father. But ask yourself, how much do his feelings about his wife affect your children? How much do your feelings about him influence them? Remember, what the two of you are showing them is a template for their own marriages.
When you sit down and talk with your husband, don’t accept his vague promise to “look into this” or to “discuss the matter later.” In addition, know where you stand, legally, in the face of his resistance or threats. Know where you would stand after a divorce.
In the same speech we mentioned, Clinton also said, “Change is never easy. But change is our only choice.” We agree. When we embrace change, it is the exhilarating essence of life.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of February 29, 2016
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