My Stressed Husband (The Fight That Made Me A Better Wife)

Breadwinner-one-income-family-marriage-advice

Mr. Breadwinner’s Burden…

My husband grew angry and threw his phone at me.

It felt like a punch in the gut.

It didn’t hurt much but the surprise felt like a slap in the face.

My husband is a sweetheart; that is a fact. Jared has never and I highly doubt will ever raise his hand in anger to anyoneIf there was 1080p footage of him robbing an old lady, I would tell the police to rinse their eyes and watch it again because there’s no way it could be my Jared.

But today, I need to embarrass him a little in order to advance this story.

For his story of triumphant glory and accidental wealth, go here instead.

This phone throwing business happened 1 AM in the morning almost a month ago. I was in bed and on my phone, doing my usual late night Internet binge. My husband was in heavy slumber next to me. Then our Airbnb guests at the rental messaged us to increase the heat but that required a security code. I didn’t know it so I shook Jared awake and asked him for the code. Half asleep, he grabbed and checked his phone, muttered the code and fell back asleep. Then 30 seconds later, he suddenly woke up, completely agitated! He screamed that I expected too much from him in the middle of the night and he threw the phone he still had on hand at me!

In a brilliant throw, the phone hit and bounced off me, just to hit our poor sleeping doggy in bed with us too. Grace immediately jolted up and ran for the door. Smart pup. I was so taken back at his anger. I sat there in bed with my eyes and mouth open, like a fish’s face, gulping for air.

It was 1 AM and my husband just threw his phone at his two favorite girls in the world. He swung at the bedpost and stormed out of the bedroom.

I thought to myself…“Wow. @[email protected] He really doesn’t like being woken up.”

Let me tell you if I didn’t feel guilty about waking him up in the middle of the night for a code I should have known already, he would be dead.

Just to clarify, if someone were to slap me, I would slap them right back. I inherited my father’s temper, remember? I’ve gotten into physical fights before and I never regretted standing up for myself.

But I did sense something wrong (beyond waking him up at 1 AM). This was extremely out of the ordinary behavior for my overly timid and soft-natured husband.

In other words, he went postal.

I have given Jared so much more grief than just waking him up at 1 AM. For example, when we were first dating, I use to constantly burp in his face by tricking him in for a kiss. Feel free to laugh here.

He has never gotten this mad at me. My wifey red flags went off which stopped me from going off on him in retaliation for this unprecedented violence and anger. I remember sitting in bed and contemplating the two choices of either screaming back and escalating the fight or just letting it go for some shut-eye. He had work the next day and I woke the poor guy up.

I chose to let it go.

He volunteered to sleep on the sofa in the living room. Our living room is right above the garage that isn’t insulated and the room is always freezing cold. I asked him to come back to bed to sleep where it’s warm. I was mad but I didn’t want him sleeping on the sofa. We both had long days ahead so when he came back to bed, I snuggled up to him and let him slide on his biggest infraction to date.

The Next Day…

I was still asleep when he left for work in the morning. He came home that night and he immediately apologized for throwing his phone and losing his temper. I accepted his apology and asked him why he did it. That I had to know, it was (once again) so out of the ordinary.

“My project at work didn’t go over well…”

*Tears welling up in his eyes.*

“I spoke to my manager and he said I’m moving slower than others. Unless I improve, I think they just might put me under performance check.”

“It’s OK, that happens, it’s alright honey.”

“They replaced me with another guy as team leader because I wasn’t doing a good job.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, that makes sense now…so they replaced you with someone else?”

“Yeah.”

“Who?”

“Jared.”

“Ouch!”

grace-frugalpup
“Oh is that what it was? I thought something off. Tsk, tsk mom you need to pay more attention.” -Grace

Background note: so there are 2 Jareds on the same team. As if it wasn’t competitive enough to share the same name – they both have the same job, rank, facial features, hair, build, age and float around the same social circles at work. The other Jared is more well-rounded (according to my husband’s description of him on occasions.)

By the way, that should be a strike against overly common boy names for expecting moms out there…🤔

Anyway, now my husband’s sitting on the sofa, teary-eyed. I’m holding in some remorseful laughter and reached out to hug him.

My poor baby. He’s been holding all this in for almost 2 weeks. This was weeks old news and he never told me about it!

Oh…wait…I remember now…do you know what he actually told me?

His exact words of what he considers as telling me were they added more people on to my team.

I remember him coming home one night and muttering something like that in a sad tone. I thought to myself, “ok, they added more people, that’s interesting…I guess.

Adding more people to the team is drastically different from the real version of “hi honey, I was replaced by my friend with the same face, hair, name, and job as me.”

So you can see how sensitive hubby is on this topic. Oh, my poor honey, to carry such baggage, my heart hurts just remembering it.

The male ego can be very sensitive – especially when something at work doesn’t go right. My Jared is no different from other men. He defines himself by his work. He has pride in what he does and genuinely wants to succeed in his career without compromising his style of execution.

He accepts and regards that he is the family breadwinner and main provider. With that responsibility internalized, he takes his failures and setbacks seriously. I have also unknowingly contributed to this internalization by putting our finances out in the open.

We are a one income family. I try my best to hustle for some chump change on the side, but Jared is the real bacon bringer here.

It’s an unspeakable amount of pressure that he has to deal with. It’s understandable now how he could be in so much pain when something at work simply doesn’t go right.

Besides Airbnb, we are a one-income family. The pressure for him to perform better at work is much higher because of that. We have two mortgages and double the liabilities. Although I think Jared makes great money, our dynamic is still that of a single income family. The bottom line is we depend on his talents to get paid properly so we can pay others properly.

It’s not easy being a breadwinner. While I have observed his stress now, I will never see it from his driver’s seat. Nor do I ever want to. I just want him to understand that it’s not his responsibility to be perfect. A good spouse stands behind the success of our significant other just as much as their failures. It is not his responsibility to continuously make more and more money!

No self-respecting human being with two brain cells knocking together should ever put that kind of monetary pressure on their significant other.

Related: 3 Profound Things I Wish I Knew Before Adulthood

Being A Better Wife…

The amount of pressure on him and the 1 AM explosion gave me a critical peek into his world. Underneath that happy-go-lucky-guy hides, a man who feels traps and I bet that’s the majority of men out there too. I was actually offended that he couldn’t tell me this earlier! I’M YO WIFE DUDE. We’ve been married how long? I’ve screwed up SO much, in fact, I’m still screwing up!!! You can’t hide dirt from me, we’re equaled!

Related: Top 5 Sorry Ass Financial Mistakes Of My Early 20s

Even though Jared is a fantastic engineer and problem solver, he is also extremely limited in his communication skills. There are days where I’m lucky if he gives me more than two emotional descriptors other than “good” and “not good.” I don’t want that to happen to him so we had a long talk that can be briefly summarized in my public service announcement below.

Public Service Announcement to All Husbands / Breadwinners:

Marriage-Advice

Your love ones will not think any less of you for setbacks at work.

You will always be a good provider and you will always be deserving of genuine love. A bad day, a bad week, or a bad year at work does not define who you are as a man. You are loved and you are appreciated.

It’s important to not bottle these feelings up. Because failure is one of the most important aspects of life. You cannot be expected to be good at everything and you cannot be expected to be the best at everything.

Even in your darkest time you should be able to turn to your wife and tell her how you feel. A good wife will understand. A good wife will accept any proposed failure with kindness and alleviate you from guilt and stress. And if your wife can forgive you for throwing a phone at her then nothing is going to change her mind about how much she loves you (and mark my words that’s the only time that you’re allowed to do that you stupid penguin.)

The best way to feel better as a man is to confess like a man. March home to your wife and look her in the eyes and go “honey I screwed up royally at work, can we talk?

You talk it through and that’s how you start to build a stronger marriage.

For bonus reading, check out my friend Ember’s enlightening post on why it’s good to fight with your husband.

[I recorded the audio of this raw with Google keyboard for my husband so fit it any way you like for you. Thanks BOAS for the audio idea.]

I’m your wife, that’s a mighty high title, you’re supposed to be able to tell me things without fearing judgement. We are a team, we are the same person. Remember when I was going through a very similar situation with my blog? I tried really hard to grow my stats but they were stuck at that number. It’s the same feeling of never being able to measure up to someone else who may simply be better, like how you feel about the other Jared.

See?

We just connected. So the conversation in a few sentences not only alleviated the stress but it brought us even closer in our pain. The whole fighting could have been avoided if those feelings hadn’t been bottled up. So here is what we’re going to do…

The rest of our conversation evolved into plans for FIRE (Financial Independence & Retiring Early) which I will get into in below. Have a restful weekend everybody!

 

Are you the family’s breadwinner? Are these feelings common for you and/or your spouse? Have you ever misdelivered bad news to your significant other out of embarrassment?

 

~

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55 thoughts on “My Stressed Husband (The Fight That Made Me A Better Wife)”

  • While we both work, I am the breadwinner and make more due to the job types (I say this because Mr. Adventure Rich likely works harder at his job than I do at mine… but he is in an industry that pays a lot less…).

    We have a pretty good understanding now since this has been the case from the day we met, but it has taken time and communication to make sure we are on the same page and comfortable with how we bring in, manage, invest and spend our money.

    You hit on a very important topic for couples here… thank you for sharing!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…Adventure Challenge #7: Embrace the Chill

  • We both work (and make identical salaries…how convenient), but my husband definitely defines himself by his work so much more than me. I have to remind myself when he is stressed about something at work it will carry throughout his day. When I’m stressed out by work, I (typically) can separate myself from it on the drive home. I try to remain sensitive to our differences, and he tries to not obsess about talking about work in the evenings.

    Great points in today’s post!
    Mrs. Kiwi @ KiwiAndKeweenaw.com recently posted…Save Your Scraps! Frugal Vegetable Stock Recipe

  • This is such a sweet and honest post, Lily! I’m glad you guys worked things out in the end. I can somewhat relate to Jared’s stress and pressure since I was once the breadwinner when Mr. FAF was in school. I was constantly stressed out about money, whether Mr. FAF was making any progress in his program, and whether he could even graduate and get a job one day. It caused a lot of tension in our marriage.

    After he got a job, I feel more relieved. But I think Mr. FAF now feels the pressure of being the breadwinner. Sometimes he would come home and say things like: “I think I’m going to get fired. I couldn’t solve a problem at work today.” Sometimes he’ll be like: “Work is good. I will try to get promoted next year.” I think it really depends on his mood and performance on a certain day.

    When he said he was going to get fired, I just told him “Ok, I will be the breadwinner. You can stay at home to take care of our son.” He just smiled. I think he knew it would be ok for him to lose his job (not really but still) bc I have his back.

    I think you made the right decision by not escalating the fight. I inherited a bad temper from my dad too. I tend to escalate a fight, and it can get ugly. @[email protected]
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Is My Husband Frugal Or Cheap? I Can’t Decide.

    • Yes!! Jared too! Sometimes he has a bad day and think they hate it but other times, he’s like *hey works fun* – I think they care and that’s why they’re so emotional. I doubt Google would put him on performance. He just wants to Jared.

  • Awe thank you for sharing this story- men do out a lot of pressure on themselves I think whether they are the primary breadwinner or not. My husband out earns me and also places pressure on himself- he feels more responsible to be able to provide for our family now that we have a little one. It’s good that you connected with Jared and grew even closer from this fight- since he was bottling it up.
    GYM recently posted…A Tale of 4 Maternity Leaves: Comparison Between 4 Countries

  • Thank you for sharing this. I’m also the breadwinner at home. Not that my wife couldn’t be if she went back to work as she was very successful in her career also. For now, we decided that it’s best for her to raise our kids. The pressure on me as the sole money maker was more than I had anticipated. It led me down this path to optimize my finance and then to start my blog. Please let your husband know that he’s not alone feeling that pressure.

  • As the bread-winner it was really tough for me when I got laid off. I made about twice as much as my wife and we had a lot on the line – including our wedding and our house.

    It sucked, but I was open and honest with her because there was no point in lying about it or not talking about it. We needed to come up with a plan and change our spending habits to deal with losing 60% of our income while lining up a 2017 that would more than double our usual spending.

    It can be tough.

    At the same time I think that the other side of the equation deserves discussion as well. Kristin struggles constantly with the fact that I earn so much more than her. She’s jealous of my career path so far and what I’ve got ahead of me in my career. There’s this sense of pressure she feels to earn more to be more in-line with what I make, even though she makes decent money and I’m proud of her.

    Just because someone isn’t a breadwinner doesn’t mean that they’re immune to these pressures. The key is figuring out why those feelings exist and what you can do about them.

    I’m really interested to see how your conversation panned out and evolved into FIRE…
    Dave @ Married with Money recently posted…How We Dropped 35lbs For Our Wedding

    • Yes!! I remember reading that on your blog when you first joined the Rockstar community, great story and mad props for handling it like a pro!

      That is such an insightful point Dave! I feel so jealous of Jared sometimes, that’s why I side hustle so much. In my mind, I can try to help. Airbnb takes a lot of time and physical energy but it’s important for me to do it – to feel like I’m contributing.

  • So our situation is kinda similar, I work full time and I’m the sole breadwinner. My wife stays home with the kids but works part-time and we have some side hustles (like blogging) to help supplement. I don’t hate my job but I have bad days and when traffic is tough I can be pretty cantakerous when I get home, though I try to purge it from my system before I walk inside.

    Understanding and empathy are key. She doesn’t really understand the stress and pressure on me to support my family and I don’t really understand her frustration of not contributing as much and relying on me for so much. But we just have to remember that we’re partners and keep communication lines open. Holding everything in just leads to resentment and that’s not a healthy way to live.
    Mike from Budget Kitty recently posted…Spend Less Than You Earn

    • “I try to purge it from my system before I walk inside.”

      Totally get that, my husband told me he takes an extra walk around the block before he gets home after a bad day. Communication is a really big deal Mike because you know you love each other. I have to pry everyday with my husband but it has to be done or he will bottle it up.

  • You’re always so good at writing something that I’d both highly entertaining to read but with a deeper message. I don’t know what it is about husbands not being able to express themselves beyond two words.

    We do go on walks with our son everyday so it helps us have a chance to talk with one another. It helps me pry the info out of him and be on the same page.

  • Dang, this was a ROLLER-COASTER post of emotions!

    Your overall point is absolutely spot on. (I.e. “Your love ones will not think any less of you for setbacks at work.”)

    SO true, and great story today Lily 🙂

  • Great post. As the breadwinner in my family, I certainly feel to pressure. And after having my job eliminated, then being retained, then finding a new job, I can say the stress of all that over the past year and a half has been high. My wife has been soooo supportive. I don’t know what I would do without her. So your advice is spot on!! Keep loving and supporting. Thanks for sharing. 😀

  • Wow, Lily – I can strongly resonate with Jared. I like to think I’m a good problem solver and also good at my job. I’m a pretty decent communication with work related items, or really any items where emotions are not involved.

    However, I do struggle communicating with my wife on emotional topics or with describing how I feel when I’m not happy. It ends up making situations worse because I struggle communicating these types of emotional topics, and i know if I just communicated better it would make things easier… I guess I’ll just have to keep working to get better!

  • Lily!! First off, thanks for the shout out to my argue with your hubs post 🙂

    Second, I was tearing up a bit from all of this. Because I totally feel you! My husband is the same, full of stress to provide for our single income family too. And stress gets to guys so differently, and they tend to just hold it in until it pops out in anger. You are an amazing wife! Even after 10 years together and 8 married (almost….) we still struggle with similar things at times.

    I think men are designed to be the breadwinners, but I think we are equally designed to be the support they need to do it. We can’t do one without the other successfully. And you are definitely a huge reason he is successful in his career. I bet he would say the same thing.

    Love this and your transparency and heart. I hope we get to meet IRL one day!

    • AH me too! FinCon 2018? Over Micky Mouses waffle head at Disney World? If I could be so blessed…! Man you guys have stuck together for a long time! We’ve only been married for a couple of years. I totally agree that we can’t do it without the other’s support.

  • I’m glad you were so understanding. It must have been really hard for Jared to open, as it seems like he doesn’t really show his emotions. It must be a TON of pressure to work at a high-profile place like that. I almost got a job at hot startup but I turned it down because I thought it would be way too much pressure. It was also a time when the startup was just becoming popular. Now it’s basically a household name!

    Anyway, my husband and I both have jobs that are relatively chill now, and I count my lucky stars for that. If we decide to have kids, I’m not sure if I would stay at home or not. My dad didn’t work when I was a kid so now I have this chip on my shoulder like I can’t depend on anyone.

    • Wow Luxe! Interesting point. I always thought you were super independent and strong. That makes sense – but if you choose to have kids someday, they’re gonna be the most fashionable tots ever.

  • Oh, I have so many feels about this topic.

    I am the breadwinner in my household. When my fiance was working sixty hours a week, he made about a fifth of my salary. Now he is unemployed.

    There was a time, particularly when he was underemployed for a couple years, doing Lyft and part time work, when this would have added strife to our relationship. I had just purchased our place, was constantly stressed I was going to be fired by my new corporate overlords, and now was the only one of us earning money. He was depressed for not being able to contribute, I resented being the only one working. It was a rough time all around.

    During that time we fought and talked through our finances together. A lot. It was the first time for us as a couple. I talked about how stressed I was being the breadwinner, he talked about how he felt ashamed, like was failing to pull his weight. And once we understood each other, we were able to help each other better. I talked him through his career aspirations (since he really did need to find a job) and he offered emotional support when I had a bad work day and picked up the slack on the domestic front. We became much better at communicating and working as a team.

    Flash forward to now: fiance is back to being unemployed. It still isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; we’d both like him to find work soon. But unlike the last time, we’re on the same page. We don’t fight or feel resentful. Neither of us is worried this is a relationship ender. We have each other’s backs. And better yet, we can trust in that knowledge. Which has made all the difference.

    • Communication is HUGE in a relationship. It sounds like you guys did a great job banding together. A relationship is never ever rainbows and sunshine. Fighting shows the other person that you care. As long as the core is good and communication is good, nothing is an ender.

    • Oh, my god, been there and got the T shirt. The stress, the resentment, the vicious cycle. We’ve had way too many years of un/underemployment on his side and they absolutely sucked. It’s great that you guys feel like a true team this time around and are secure in that. And as the person making 2/3 of our household income currently, it’s still an ongoing balancing act to keep things balanced overall in terms of everything that partnership involves.
      NZ Muse recently posted…The soul-sucking agony of job interviews

  • I oddly feel very little pressure about bringing in money. I get stressed at work but have never once worried about losing my job. I am young and motivated and always knew that I would come out fine if it ever did happen. I have actually fantasized about it as it would be the kick in the pants to go for excellence and not settle for “doing all right”.

    Love the honesty of this post.
    Grant @ Life Prep Couple recently posted…You Don’t Have To Be Frugal To Be Good With Money

  • My wife and I have been married close to 15 years now and it hasn’t always been an easy road. Communication is key and we try hard to let each other know what’s going on in each other’s lives. Once a week or so, after the kids go to school, we will have face time at Starbucks to just talk about whatever. We both tell each other when we are worried about something or feel insecure about work. Just verbalizing it relieves a lot of the pent up frustration. If it’s held in too long, any small event will trigger an explosion. best of luck.

    • Yeah that’s basically what happened to us. I’ve been busy with blogging so we skipped our usual dinner dates on the weekends. Need to bring that back.

  • Good for you for not flipping out in the middle of the night. Pressure at work can really get to you and affect how you behave at home. I am usually a good communicator but sometimes I just don’t want to bring it all home but then eventually I blow up (like my recent lay off) . Communication is key, you are spot on.

  • Lily-

    I love how you have opened yourself up to your readers. I am the main breadwinner in our family (and a woman so guess how that can F with your emotions at times). All of this rings true. And now that I have become obsessed with the FI of FIRE, I can get frustrated with my hubby-to-be if I feel he isn’t putting forth as much effort towards our goals as I am. It’s tough, but having these conversations and allowing yourself to be exposed is so helpful in reaching the compromise conclusion!
    Heather @ bizewife recently posted…DIY Design Hacks: Crafting a Custom Closet on a Budget

    • Haha, I get those days where I’m emotional and sad over nothing sometimes and two seconds later, I’m happy. Being FI/RE really does take 2 to tango so communication is important. We all gotta do it!

  • Wow this was so insightful! I always feel my boyfriend is really stressed about work and I’ve never understood why. I mean I understand that he wants to do a good job, but I do too. Reading this made me realize the different expectations we were raised with. I think boys are more often brought up with the huge looming responsibility to be the breadwinners and protectors of the household so there’s way more pressure! For me, I just want to be good at my job, but I feel no where near the same amount of pressure that actually has to do with having my household survive! Even though we work in the same industry, I feel my attitude is pretty relaxed towards work.
    Jing recently posted…Question Your Values, Save Some Money

    • Oh yeah, personal stress thresholds matter. I don’t think work is too horrible but my husband does get stressed out easily. It’s not as bad anymore but it’s not as bad because we started with a conversation first.

  • One income family over here as well. I do feel the pressure but it has definitely yielded positive results in terms of making us examine the choices we’ve made and the way we want to live our lives. I love what I do but I’m trying not to let it define who I am (hence my push to reach FI). The reason is simple … as a full time employee I have to realize I’m dispensable (even if I’m a high performer). Like I said I do feel the pressure but I feel I put a lot of pressure on the wife as well. She has stayed home to raise our two boys but more than once have I said how nice it would to have extra money to reach FI quicker. I know this has to cause stress on her. I guess my point is tha the stress can be a two-way street if we allow it to be. The wife and I are super happy but it is important to have open communication.

    • Aww that’s a great perspective, my goodness you are just the most considerate husband! (Tell her daycare is expensive and her job as a mother is indispensable!)

  • I’m gonna have to be the not so positive person on this Blog. Because as a husband and father of two. Being the sole financial provider is more than just stress. I earn an excellent income, but the sheer feeling of knowing the jeopardy my family would be in if I lost my job is beyond frightening! Because there are no guarantees that I will bounce back so quickly. Between the mortgages, health care, car payments, utilities and everything that goes with living would be in jeopardy. And although my wife is supportive, we are not a team in the sense that if I fall she will be able to contribute to keeping us going. My wife has not worked outside of the home in 5 years and although I respect he duties as the caregiver of our children, that is not a skill that will pay the bills. So, In addition to being the sole provider, maintenance man, manager or finances, Snow remover, trash taker outer, father, appointment scheduler, I must also be a responsible husband. I don’t get to enjoy anything because my mind is always on work. So when my wife kicks me a 1 am to go sooth our crying baby, I’m moments from losing it. Because just as it is my job to keep the bills paid and put food on the table which I get no help doing. It should be my wife’s job to sooth the baby, but instead, she asks me to give her a break. And as always I do. And each time I grow more resentful. Because understanding is not enough. Emotional support will not sustain my family, Raking in the money is the only thing that keeps us comfortable. I hope I’m not overstepping here, but your husband would be more open to sharing with you his grievances if you also carried the load. Equally. His grind is so different than yours. He has to sale himself to the world every day and hope that there will still be enough of him for you and also for him. If you want to help your husband, get a career that you both can live on if the other one falls down. He wants to feel like you both are in the trenches together.

  • I came to this post in distress over a similar situation in my own life. I am the sole breadwinner of my family, and my wife stays home and does a wonderful job caring for our home and raising our daughter. The issue that my wife and I are having is that I am the breadwinner, working a full time job as well as attending college three quarter time, sometimes having to stay out of town for weeks at a time to meet job demands and deadlines. My wife has grown very resentful of me. I can feel her resentfulness and spite with every word she speaks to me while I’m home. She gives me no credit for the hard work and stressful things that I am doing to further my career so that my family can live a happier less financially stressed life. It is almost too difficult to do my job and go to college at the same time; but after agreeing that we could make it work and that it would ultimately be the best for our family, I enrolled to finish my Bachelors Degree in Engineering while I work as a land surveyor. I am one year into the two years needed to finish the degree and my marriage is completely on the rocks. I feel that my wife hates me most of the time and resents everything that I say about work or college. She has made it more difficult for successfully complete my courses at college by forcing me to have all assignments, including projects and homework assignments done before the weekend because she wants me to watch our daughter all weekend without having to intermittently do homework throughout the weekend. This is nearly impossible as I work 50-60 hours weekly from 6:30 – 6pm then go to classes two days per week from 6:30pm-10pm. She does not ever support my going to school by helping me to get assignments done by taking care of our daughter when I’m home, but she forces me to watch her the whole time and do bits and pieces of the assignments and homework in between our daughters naps or time when she is playing on her own. I have struggled to pass these classes but so far I have been successful and completed these classes while working without sacrificing the quality of my work or academic integrity. Sadly, I don’t know how long I can keep this up without something slipping, work performances, quality of academic work, or family continuity. I need the support of my wife but every time I bring this up to her it ends with a terrible fight and dissapointment. My wife says that I am not pursuing the engineering degree for our family, but for myself. She says that it doesn’t count as having been done for our family if it is something that I am doing that would not benefit her or our daughter in the case that we get a divorce. She says that I would be paying rent and car payments all the same if I was single(We bought her a 2018 Toyota Camry this year). Ultimately, I am here to ask for some help. I am at a loss. I have tried talking to her to understand why she feels how she does but it ends with a fight and words being said that cause damage to our marriage and disrespectful comments that cut deeper than a knife. I am completely aware that due to the amount of time that I’m away from home that my wife is having to hold down the fort at home and is almost always on mom duty. I try to regularly tell her how much I appreciate what she does at home to keep things functioning within our lives. I do help with our daughter as much as I can when I am home. Unfortunately, my efforts usually end up causing more fights. For example, one weekend I was home and completely caught up with class work and work, so I thought I would treat my wife and let her sleep in as long as she wanted to. I got up at 4:30 with our daughter(7months old) to feed her, change her, and rock her back to sleep. I continued to stay up for the entirety of the morning, but at around 9 am, my daughter woke up again. We played and hung out together until about 10:30am and then my daughter started getting fussy and started to cry. I frantically attempted to calm her cries and soothe her but she was not having any of it. My wife heard her cries, of course, and came downstairs to see what was going on. When she got downstairs she snatched the baby from my arms and looked at me with disgust and said, “ How pathetic that your own daughter doesn’t like you!” Then she went to the kitchen and made a bottle and went back upstairs where she was able to get our daughter calmed down and back to sleep. My point here is that I was genuinely trying to do something for my wife out the kindness of my heart and respect for her, only to be disrespected and hurt by her words and actions. A second example is very very recent. A couple of weeks ago I told my wife that since we both pretty much had everything that we wanted and couldn’t really come up with gift ideas that she could research stuff and pick out a gift of her choosing for her Christmas gift. She found a beautiful matching wedding band that was made to fit with her engagement ring. The ring was actually not in production anymore but she emailed the company who made the ring and asked if they could create the ring as a custom design. To our luck, they said that they could make the ring. We were thrilled that they could do this and my wife especially was ecstatic about finally getting the perfectly matched band for her engagement ring. A few days after she inquired about getting the ring, she received an email with a link to follow online that would take her to the online checkout where she would purchase the ring and initiate the creation process. She tried the link but it wouldn’t work for her on her phone. She then asked me to try the link from my phone and emailed the link to me. I gladly opened the link and went through the steps to purchase the ring but on the final step of the process,a glitch or something out of my control happened and the website wouldn’t allow the checkout process to finalize. This enfuriated my wife and promoted her to call me a stupid idiot as she stormed away to take a shower. I let her go without saying a word because I knew that she was only disappointed that the process of ordering her ring was not going smoothly. While she was showering, I was trying to find a way to complete the purchase. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure it out. I went upstairs to tell her that I tried but couldn’t get it to work but I told her that she could call tomorrow to get a new email with a new link sent to her and that we could get live help with the checkout process. She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t want me to have anything to do with the process and that I didn’t do anything to help her and that I, in fact, tried to sabotage her checkout process because it almost worked but in the end, didn’t. My point here is that my wife got her ring in the mail a few days ago and absolutely loved it, but she never once told me thank you for the ring. It bothered me that I never heard a thank you, so I asked her if she liked it and why she didn’t thank me for the ring. After all, I am the sole bread winner and I am the one who will be paying for the ring. She said that she didn’t feel that she should thank me for something that she did. She said that because the checkout process didn’t work when I tried it that I was actually trying to sabotage her ring and that she deserved the credit for, “ Doing all of the work and ordering it.” Keep in mind, this entire process occurred entirely online via email and phone conversation. So, she told me that I don’t deserve any credit for working to pay for the ring, but that she deserves it because she went through the process to get it ordered! This is the most recent incident of many that have caused me to question the stability and longevity of my marriage. I love my wife dearly and I have tried to be a good husband to her and good father to our daughter. I’ve never cheated, I’ve never went out with my friends over her, I don’t stay out late doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I work very hard at my job and study very hard at college to advance myself in my career. I need someone to help me understand what is going on or to give me advice as to what I should do or how to fix this problem. Thank you for reading this post. Just typing this here had already made me feel a little better.

    • In this scenario from all I’ve seen of people in similar relationships, there are 2 causes (I’m sure there’s more but here’s the ones I saw)
      1. Jealousy. There other spouse doesn’t have much going on and sees the more “successful” spouse going out and meeting their potential. She feels trapped and unhappy with her achievements/life and is taking her frustrations out on what’s causing her to feel inadequate all day, everyday.

      2. Untreated resentment/depression causing her to be so letagric in the relationship.

      It doesn’t seem like a financial issue completely so I think talking to a marriage counselor might help. Your university probably provide that service for free for students if you can find the time. You should try to find the time is what I’m saying 🙂

      PS you sound like a great husband who should get some slack. This doesn’t like a balanced relationship and I’m afraid you might wear out.

      • Thank you for your response! I think you are definitely on the right track with your thinking that it is due to her feeling as if she isn’t meeting her potential or doesn’t have much going. I was not aware that this is a problem that could happen, but it does make sense that it could be the issue here. The goal in everything I do was always to make her life less chaotic and less stressful by letting her stay at home and just raise our daughter. But, if this desire of hers has changed then we can certainly discuss it and definitely see a marriage counselor! Thank you again for your response. It feels nice to be heard! Best wishes to you and your family!

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