Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’ve Only Been Married Seven Months And Am Already Miserable”

I am a mother of a 14 month-old, and married for seven months to her dad. We didn’t live together until after we got married. In the seven months, we have had sex only 10 times, the last time being three months ago. Anytime I try to initiate it, he refuses and says that he’s tired, or that we’ll wake the baby and our live-in nanny, or that he’s just too stressed wondering how to provide for us. To add to this, he has never held a job, but does odd jobs now and then. I have a full time job that is physically and mentally exhausting, but not too exhausting to spend time with him or our daughter. He does not help around the house, so when I get home from work, I make dinner, and play with our daughter before getting her ready for bed. All he does is spend time in front of the computer or watch movies. He comes to bed way after I have slept and wakes up mid-morning. Any money he gets from his odd jobs, he spends on himself. He does not buy anything for me, our daughter or the home. When the baby was born, I didn’t have health insurance, and had to pay it all out-of-pocket, which he didn’t help with. He has never willingly gone to the store and bought her diapers. I am now at the point where the straw broke the camel’s back. I cannot take this any longer. I have become resentful towards him and it breaks my heart because I remember the person I fell in love with. — Regretful Bride


Why in the world did you marry this man? This goes back to exactly what I said at the end of this column: if you aren’t happy in a relationship, don’t expect marriage to solve your problems. Even if you’re already engaged or have a kid together, don’t get married if your relationship is unfulfilling. That said, I’m really sorry for your situation, but for your sake and the sake of your little girl, you’ve got to get out of it or change it as soon as possible. The life you can give your child on your own is going to be better than the life you give her with two parents who make each other miserable.

Have you talked to your husband about therapy? It sounds like there’s a good chance he could be suffering from depression and that maybe some therapy could help him a great deal (although, depression doesn’t explain why he’s never spent any of the money he’s made on his daughter or you). Obviously, the two of you could also benefit from couple’s therapy. I’d give that a try before kicking him out. At the very least, a therapist could help mediate as you set up some boundaries and expectations for your husband. For example, he needs to start looking for steady work, helping out around the house, and contributing financially to household expenses when he’s able to. If he refuses, or is resistant to therapy in the first place, you really don’t have any choice but to kick the loser out. You’ve already got a live-in nanny, so it’s not like you’re going to suddenly have zero help with your baby. It doesn’t sound like he was helping anyway.

Of course, since you’re legally married, you’ll need to speak with a divorce attorney right away. The sooner the better. This freeloader you’re married to probably isn’t going to give up his meal ticket without a fight, so you want to make sure you’ve got the law on your side. An attorney can help you protect your assets, and file for full custody and child support. Maybe you can even get your marriage annulled. I would.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

77 comments… add one
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    Crazymary March 22, 2011, 9:28 am

    Can someone tell me how they have enough money to employ a live-in nanny?

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      ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 9:49 am

      My cousin actually was able to accomplish this on a budget. She advertised at a local college for a student who was looking for free room and board along with a modest salary. They worked out a schedule based on when the girl had class (she worked it out so most of them were at night when my cousin and her husband were home) and if there was a part of the day when this couldn’t work, they have a daycare option. The nanny has nights and weekends off duty to spend with friends and study. It has worked out really well for everyone.

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      anna728 March 22, 2011, 11:04 am

      It sounded like the LW had a good job, maybe?

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      baby.blanka March 22, 2011, 10:13 am

      I wondered that too but ArtsyGirl made a good point. However, it sounds like a lot of this might be communication, motivation, and stress all rolled into one. The LW doesn’t mention that she has spoken to him about any of this. He may also feel that the live in nanny is there to help the LW, not him (not saying it’s “right” but it might still be how he feels). I feel like the money issue definitely should have been something that was brought up before the wedding… or before the baby was even born. Granted you are in a very emotional place but you still have to know what’s right for you and what’s putting you in a bad situation.

      I would really take all of the steps that Wendy suggested and hope things improve. Good luck.

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    ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 9:29 am

    Exactly as Wendy said – get thee to a divorce attorney! I would also start documenting what happens in your day to day life, take notes on how many hours he has been on the computer, when he does (or doesn’t) do chores, and how much money he gets from odd jobs and how it is spent. Also I would open up a checking account which he does not have any access to and start squirreling away some money. If he thinks that you are about to kick him out he might attempt to drain your joint accounts. Therapy might help but it sounds like your relationship is DOA.

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    ReginaRey March 22, 2011, 9:34 am

    I’m going to possibly say something that I’ll take heat for – This does not seem salvageable. The tone of your letter breaks my heart…I can FEEL how miserable and dejected you are. Your husband isn’t helping to provide for your family financially, isn’t helping to raise your daughter, isn’t having an intimate relationship with you – these are the FOUNDATION of what a husband and father should be doing, and he isn’t doing *any* of them. I agree that it sounds like he could be depressed, and perhaps therapy could help him…but I would think long and hard on whether you even WANT to pick up the pieces of this. I’m sure your daughter would be better off raised in a household without her father, than a household with a father who doesn’t seem to care very much about her and her mother.

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      MissDre March 22, 2011, 10:01 am

      ReginaRey, I agree AND disagree with you. As a child of divorced parents, I’m actually glad that I was raised by a single mom. I’m lucky enough to have had a mom who did what she had to in order to be happy. And because she was happy, I had a really happy childhood. I’m not sure it would have been as wonderful had she stayed in a miserable marriage… I would have grown up with parents fighting and my mom’s focus would have been elsewhere.

      But at the same time, I think the divorce rate is so high these days because people don’t try anymore. There isn’t much stigma to go along with divorce, so when someone is unhappy they just choose to bail. When you say your wedding vows, you’re promising to stand by that person until death do you part. That’s friggin serious… and I think people owe it to themselves and their partners to TRY EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN to make it work. Only when you’ve exhausted all options should you choose to end it. At least then, when you walk away, you really know in your heart that there was nothing else you could have done.

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        ReginaRey March 22, 2011, 10:27 am

        MissDre – I TOTALLY agree with you about how wedding vows are friggin serious. They are, and people don’t seem to take them that seriously. They think “til death do us part…or until I don’t like it anymore.” That’s why I think it’s SO important to really be 100% sure, 100% in a healthy realtionship, and have talked about all of these things (the child, the finances, etc), BEFORE getting married. I think the LW may have been one of those who jumped into a marriage with her child’s father before she really understood what a marriage means and entails. I’m hoping more people can learn this lessen…but as you said, the divorce rate proves otherwise.

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        EC was here March 22, 2011, 12:27 pm

        I agree with you that people do not take their wedding vows seriously anymore. My parents have been married for close to 40 years, my Aunt for over 40 years and my grandparents were married for 49 years before my grandfather passed away. When I tell people that I’ve been married for 7 years, it’s like “really? how do you make it work?”. It is work to make a marriage be successful. I take my vows seriously, and I view our marriage as a team. We each contribute to the relationship. It is important to establish “ground rules” before getting married. I don’t understand why some people just give up on making it work. I actually had a friend tell me that her marriage required more work than she was willing to give, and was just going to get a divorce after 2 years of marriage. I wanted to ask her “then why did you get married?!” It’s more than a piece of paper. If you want to play house then just move in together.

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        CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 11:33 am

        I completely agree with you statements. However, it seems as though her husband is the one who broke his vows. He does not act towards her (or their child) with love, honor or respect.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 1:01 pm

        Her husband sounds like a real douche but if she just walks away without trying, she’s breaking her vows too. If she tries and gets nowhere, fine. Leave. She can walk away with her head held high. But she should at least try.

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        CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 2:17 pm

        I’m just stating that the vows made to her have already been broken. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t try to make things work.I believe she has been trying and that this letter is a result of her getting nowhere with him. She has been making an effort for seven months in addition to raising and supporting a child on her own. She still seems committed to trying but when is enough, enough? There is a child to think about as well.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 2:25 pm

        If she’s been through personal and marital counseling with no change, then I think it’s enough.

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        CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 3:16 pm

        Why does a person have to put themselves through counseling to know if they should or shouldn’t make every decision. If she thinks it will help than great. But it seems to me that these days counseling/therapy/meds is the answer for every problem under the sun.

        Counseling has only become less taboo here in the past 50 or so years.
        What did we do before then when we couldn’t rely on meds or counseling? What do people that can’t afford therapy/drugs now do? Maybe we all wouldn’t need so much therapy and drugs if we didn’t try to diagnose every issue in our lives.While I think counseling is effective and helpful in various situations and would never say never myself, whatever happened to taking control of your own life and making decisions for yourself? Calling a spade a spade, no excuses? There are real people with real mental illnesses but we don’t all suffer from them (at least not long-term). I think some people rely on these diagnoses too much in order to avoid responsibility.

        Outside of the western world (especially in third-world countries) millions of people aren’t suffering from depression or chronic fatigue they’re just called lazy. My parents grew up in a foreign country and usually dismiss these kinds of things as poor work ethic and bad upbringing. Yet they paid for counseling for my sister after a very bad break-up that clearly altered her behavior and mood. They new she was having real troubles that were outside of her normal behavior, and would do anything to help. But they refused to let her stay in her room all day and not contribute physically to her rent-free living. They also didn’t her let her get away with treating them disrespectfully in their own home, regardless of her depression.

        I think the LW should adopt the same attitude. Depressed or not, with or without counseling – become a responsible husband/father or get out!

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        EC was here March 23, 2011, 8:57 am

        I agree with you 100% that there are some people in the world who use their mental condition as a “crutch” to get away with not contributing to their livelihood.
        My SIL has read up so much on her mental disorder that she can quote references in medical journals and will flippantly say “well, it’s apart of my condition”. She has my MIL convinced this is why she is unable to clean her house, take care of her kids and do nothing but smoke and sleep all hours of the day. Because she’s DEPRESSED and has no will to help herself. She hasn’t held a job in over 13 years and mooches off everyone.
        As you can tell, this infuriates me because I struggle to pay my bills, work full time and go to college full time and yet she receives SSI because she suffers from clinical depression.
        I agree with MissDre that the LW needs to give her marriage another chance and work with her husband. If everyone gave up after only 7 months into their marriage the divorce rate would skyrocket. I don’t think his behavior is severe enough to just MOA.

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        nawilla March 22, 2011, 3:18 pm

        “Her husband sounds like a real douche but if she just walks away without trying, she’s breaking her vows too.”

        I don’t think she’s breaking her vows so much as coming to her senses. The husband was like this before they married (although we assume there was a sexual relationship at some point as they have a baby). He never had a job before she married him, he never bought anything for the baby before she married him, and he never gave her help with medical expenses before she married him. And she married him anyway. Vows are not the real issue when you are dealing with that level of self-delusion.

        I agree that people give up and get divorced too easily, but I also think that people marry too quickly, hoping ‘marriage’ will make people grow up. If having a kid didn’t work, a marriage contract isn’t going to make a difference. She has finally figured out her marriage isn’t going to make him into a husband. It’s time to stop supporting his extended adolescence.

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        SpyGlassez March 22, 2011, 5:20 pm

        “Vows are not the real issue when you are dealing with that level of self-delusion. ”

        ^^ THIS.

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        Amy March 22, 2011, 1:27 pm

        Thank you!!!! It seems he already left the marriage (or maybe in this case never got into the marriage) – she can’t put the effort in for both of them. It’s not always 50 50 in a marriage. But 100 – 0 will not work in the long run either. I think she should call a spade a spade – and move on – either to getting it fixed ASAP with his effort or more than likely with a divorce that will happen one way or another down the road.

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      WatersEdge March 22, 2011, 10:13 am

      I actually agree 100%. Men who don’t physically care for their kids is one of my biggest pet peeves (along with mothers who call it “babysitting” when the kids’ own father stays home with the children… that’s not babysitting, that’s PARENTING—- ugh!) The fact that they have to employ a nanny while this guy isn’t bringing in enough or contributing to anything makes me want to punch him.

      I’m not the biggest advocate for divorce but I really think she should leave him. He provides no emotional, financial, or physical support. LW + the nanny do everything without him. He does sound depressed and he should probably go to therapy and get meds, but his behavior is so ridiculously far off the mark that I don’t think that the depression lifting will be enough for him to be a decent partner. As others commented, depression doesn’t make you spend all your money on yourself or render you incapable of recognizing that the baby needs diapers or keep you from having EVER held a job. Plus, and I know this is harsh… even if it is all depression, depression is more often than not a relapsing-remitting type of condition. We all have our down times but if this is how this guy acts when he is depressed, then that’s a dealbreaker. You can be depressed without being quite this selfish. Blaming his behavior on depression would be giving depression a bad name.

      ETA: That said… this is a marriage and you do have a child. If you want to go to therapy with him, or stay with him for a while while he seeks counseling, that would be understandable, especially if his behavior has done a 180 lately.

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    TJ March 22, 2011, 10:15 am

    It sounds like the writer has done everything she can do-with the exception of therapy.

    Honestly, if it were me, I wouldn’t even want to try therapy-she carries the work load of a mother and father.

    And if he is at home all the time, why is there a nanny? Girl, put that man to work! Take away the nanny, save money, and make him step the eff up and be a parent! If he has an odd job, get a baby sitter, but other than that, he doesn’t have a job, he needs to contribute, and having that nanny is kind of enabling him to not.

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      LSS86 March 22, 2011, 2:48 pm

      Yea, I wondered why they need a live in nanny if he isn’t working full time.

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      • meadowphoenix

        AB March 22, 2011, 10:03 pm

        I don’t think the LW really trusts him with their child.

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    Jessica March 22, 2011, 10:21 am

    A husband and father should provide emotionally and financially for his family. he has not spent ONE f**king dime on your child, isn’t willing to take care of her or you.. I mean, I feel like this is a lost cause. You are taking care of your daughther without him already. It seems like he’s basically checked out and is taking a free ride from you.

    This just makes me so mad! omg.

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    redessa March 22, 2011, 10:36 am

    So wait, if the father is home all day, WHY do they have a nanny? Since she obviously makes enough to support the family, why not have him be a stay-home dad? Does he do nothing all day because he’s just that lazy or because he feels useless and unneeded in his own home? I agree with Wendy that it would be worth it to at least try counselling before making that appt with a divorce attorney.

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      ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 10:46 am

      Though I gotta say I am not sure I would trust him at home with the baby all day. I don’t think he is going to hurt her or anything, but I imagine the LW will come home and find the baby crying with a dirty diaper and a sink full of baby bottles while he is staring at his computer.

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        _jsw_ March 22, 2011, 11:18 am

        Exactly. Based on what she’s written, it seems best for the child to have a nanny, and, ultimately, that is what is most important.

        If he was willing to take over, I’d make sure the nanny was there all but for a few hours, then more, and not let him become the caretaker unless and until everyone was certain he could do it. There are just too many sad stories of what could happen otherwise.

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        redessa March 22, 2011, 9:44 pm

        Oh I’m not saying to go cold turkey letting him be in charge of their child. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. I’m just saying, if she thinks he’s depressed, that may be a contributing factor. And that’s something to at least try and work through before calling it quits. And really, what’s the man going to do if they do divorce and he’s got visitation where there’s no nanny to pick up his slack? It’s time for him to man up (in a way that is still responsible where the baby is concerned).

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    cmarie March 22, 2011, 11:06 am

    The only thing I have to add is to get a key logger and tracker for your computer. Find out what he does when he sits there all day. If you divorce, and I think based on what you’ve told us you will eventually, you want to have everything you can to fight him with. Good luck.

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    _jsw_ March 22, 2011, 11:10 am

    @Regretful Bride: I read this on the train in, and I was all ready to discuss dealing with a depressed spouse, but then I got to work and re-read what you’d written. What stands out to me are two things: “he has never held a job” and “When the baby was born, I didn’t have health insurance, and had to pay it all out-of-pocket, which he didn’t help with.”

    Look, I understand what it is like to deal with a severely depressed spouse, and, after losing a job a few years ago, I understand what depression (situational but not clinical) is like as well. There are aspects of your husband’s behavior that suggest depression or a related issue. I can understand how having a child and getting married can both be stressful and therefore could add to the issue. It is quite possible that, with help, your husband would be able to become a functional member of the family – for the first time. So, yes, if there really is a man in there you love who really does have redeeming qualities and who you sense is struggling with a mental disorder, please help him by seeking therapy for him and, separately, for the two of you.

    But… those two things you wrote keep coming back to me. Never had a job? Now, you don’t state your ages, and I assume you’re both relatively young, but… there is no excuse for any adult who has a spouse who can support him (i.e., he doesn’t need to be the primary earner) and who doesn’t need to be home to take care of children to not have some job. There are retail stores, coffee shops, warehouses, offices, and so on. There might not be great jobs, but I find it very hard to believe, unless you live in a very, very small town, that there are no at least part-time jobs that he could get. Even without a GED, there are jobs. Depressed or not, he needs to get something that has some sort of scheduled hours. Until then, he’ll still be the junior high kid staying at home all day like he is now.

    Second, he seems to have never helped in any way with your child. That is not acceptable. I can understand mental illness getting in the way, but this seems to be more than that. He seems in complete denial of even being a parent. He can’t claim postpartum depression, which truly does affect some mothers. He can’t claim pregnancy or birth-related lethargy or problems, because he wasn’t ever pregnant. He can’t claim job stress because he’s never had one. He is not a parent, it would seem, except biologically.

    If you really truly love him and really truly think he’s mentally ill and really do want it to work with him, try to get him to accept therapy. I sincerely hope, if that’s the route you take, that it works.

    But, based solely on what you’ve written, I am having a very, very difficult time seeing what advantage there is in staying with him otherwise. He seems like someone who refuses to grow up, refuses to accept anything even remotely related to responsibility, refuses to share anything, refuses to parent his child, and refuses to be a spouse in any sense of the word except for legally. For you and your baby girl, please try to see what is best for the two of you. It seems likely that is a life without him.

    I wish you the best. I hope that you’re able to resolve this in whatever way you want it resolved. I have complete faith that you can be a wonderful single parent because, right now, that’s exactly what you are. Unless there’s an almost miraculous change in him, you’ll be better off alone – and available for when an actual man catches your interest. I know it’s easy to bash on strangers, and I know I don’t know your husband, but what you’ve written provides very little leverage to see good in him.

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    lil March 22, 2011, 11:11 am

    This hurts my heart. I feel for her! What an awful situation to be in. Granted we don’t know if he was or was not a different person before they married… I believe in the saying that, “It’s always too soon to quit.” The only time I would say don’t fight for your marriage is if there is abuse happening. Maybe ask for a separation but say that counseling has to be done in order to not file the divorce papers?! Sometimes it takes that separation and risk of losing the people we love, to get us to realize our issues, and work on them.

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      _jsw_ March 22, 2011, 11:15 am

      I do understand where you’re coming from, lil, but it would seem he’s never once even attempted to help parent their child, before or after marriage, and has never had a job (except for temporary odd jobs)… and he always keeps any money he earns for himself.

      She might love him, but I really don’t see any sign that he loves her or their child, and that’s what truly makes me sad.

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        lil March 22, 2011, 11:20 am

        I do see your point jsw. It is a very sad situation!!!!

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    RoyalEagle0408 March 22, 2011, 11:25 am

    I think Wendy’s right about this. Counseling might help, but this is ultimately an example of a couple who should not have gotten married.

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    sarolabelle March 22, 2011, 11:28 am

    I wish she let us know what he was like when she fell in love. He was probably just a really nice sweet guy to her who had no job and was lazy but she didn’t see the red flags or talk to him about how life would be in the future.

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    ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 11:30 am

    Ok totally trash tv moment, but does anyone think the husband reminds you of Adam – Chelsea from Teen Mom 2’s baby daddy? This jack off moved in with his girlfriend with the promise of helping and wanting to have a family, but shows no motivation in taking care of the baby, getting a job, or paying rent/child support. I loved how he said if he is playing his half of the rent then he shouldn’t have to pay child support, but he then complains that he shouldn’t have to pay rent because Chelsea’s roommate isn’t. I wonder if the LW’s husband did something similar – convinced her that they should get married because they had a baby and then felt he is entitled to do whatever the hell he wants.

    Sorry I love my trashy tv and this show produces gold.

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      sarolabelle March 22, 2011, 11:38 am

      that sounds like a horrible show!

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        ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 12:02 pm

        I honestly go back and forth on it – some of it is like watching a slow motion train wreck (such as the couple I mentioned above) and others are really heartwarming such as the couple from the first season who gave their baby up for adoption. It profiles girls which were depicted in the series 16 and pregnant.

        The one thing I like is that most of the girls mean well for their children and are working hard to make their lives better, but they often make a lot of mistakes along the way. Some statisticians have actually credited the show with a recent dip in teen pregnancy, unlike Jamie Lynn Spears, this show does not glamorize teen pregnancy and shows how difficult it is to balance a child, school, work, and maintain relationships with friends who are able to go off to college.

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        EC was here March 22, 2011, 12:21 pm

        I watch Teen Mom 2. I was never able to keep up with the original series. I was thinking the same thing when I read this letter. It totally reminds me of the whole Adam/Chelsea drama. I can’t stand him or Jo. Adam is a lying, cheating douche bad. I didn’t understand why Chelsea was willing to go back with him after the way he treated her. Jo at least does things with his child and spends time with him, but treats Kailyn like she should be worshiping the ground he walks on because she lived in his house. It is like a slow moving train wreck. Every week you get to see a little more of the upcoming explosion.
        I do enjoy watching the relationship between Leah and Cody grow and how they seem to care for one another.
        Enough about that show, I agree that she needs to consult an attorney. See if she can get it annulled. It isn’t healthy to raise a child in this type of environment. Children are supposed to see productive adults as their role models, not someone who sleeps late and doesn’t interact with them.

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      CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 12:54 pm

      I watch this too and you are totally right! Unfortunately Chelsea seems to have lower self-esteem than anyone I’ve ever met or seen on TV. The difference between her and the LW is she is (thankfully) not married to Adam, has great support from her father and friends and is definitely young enough to not have to feel like she should settle. Adam has also cheated on her numerous times. I don’t think she can be helped until she realizes her and her daughters worth.

      Fortunately this LW seems to know whats happening to her is not okay and is seeking help.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 1:05 pm

        I watched one episode and I couldn’t figure out why the girls had nice cell phones, acrylic nails, baby phat clothes and friggin nice cars…. I’m sure being a teen mom is GREAT when MTV is paying you! Man… I went to university for 5 years, I work hard at an entry level job in my field and I’ve never made any dumbass mistakes, and I can’t even afford to get my nails done!

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        RoyalEagle0408 March 22, 2011, 1:08 pm

        I was really depressed when I learned that they make twice as much as I do for a season. It makes me question how people say they aren’t “glamorizing” teen pregnancy. I’m not saying these girls don’t have rough lives, but some of them seem to be pretty well off…

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        CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 2:27 pm

        This is very true but in all honesty it depends on the mom and their living situation. While some of them blow their money on nice things, other have put their money into their homes, trusts for their children and their college educations. At least half of the moms on the show are attempting higher education. They also don’t get paid til the season is over so for the smarter ones there is an effort to save and budget. Unfortunately the ones that get the most attention are not being responsible.

        You should still be proud your accomplishments though. There are plenty of us without a TV show and acrylic nails that are much happier and healthier than these girls.

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        ArtsyGirly March 22, 2011, 2:51 pm

        I think it is like lottery winners, a lot of these girls have never had a ton of money so they tend to blow it on flash and then are broke again in no time. Most of the episodes during the season do not show the girls with flashy things – most have to work as servers or in retail to make ends meet.

        It really doesn’t glamorize teen pregnancy (unlike celebrities who just gush about the wonder of having children when they have two nannies and a cook on hand all the time). Most of the relationships end because of stress and the girls realize it is almost impossible to start new ones with a child.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 22, 2011, 12:03 pm

    I agree with what many of you have said about the selfishness of the husband, the obvious signs of depression, and so on. I also feel strongly about what MissDre said about people not trying anymore.

    While I don’t doubt her husband is selfish and depressed, there is something about the tone of this letter that makes me think we’re getting a black and white version of the story. The use of superlatives and the lack of nuance reminds me of arguing with someone that is really fired up. “You NEVER buy diapers. I ALWAYS do the cleaning.” Sometimes when you are really angry, you start to tally up all the faults of the other person against all of the good deeds you’ve counted up in your column and feel as if you’ve been spectacularly wronged. But of course, it helps if you reverse it and count up your own flaws and his efforts too….

    The frustration in this letter comes through loud and clear but she ends on a note about remembering who she fell in love with. I wonder if this could be a case of simple “taking for granted.” Maybe rather than divorce she needs to assert herself more, urge him into therapy and gainful employment, and they will find themselves back on track. Not saying these are easy tasks by ANY means but I don’t get the sense that she’s ready to give up on him.

    Maybe just fire Mrs. Nice Guy and insist on a more equitable financial arrangement.

    Am I too optimistic?

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      MissDre March 22, 2011, 1:10 pm

      I agree with you. I mean frig, what’s the value of marriage in the first place if you just walk out when shit gets hard? If that’s the case, marriage has no more meaning than any other relationship. And who ever said marriage is easy?

      I’m not saying people should stay where they are miserable and there should never be divorce… I’m saying give it all you got before you quit!

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      _jsw_ March 22, 2011, 1:14 pm

      No marriage is worth wasting your life on. Yes, one should try, but her husband is not in any way – none – fulfilling even a single aspect of his end of the deal.

      There is no marriage there except in the eye of the law. Nothing one would associate with one is present in that relationship.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 2:36 pm

        But we don’t know if she’s tried… All she’s done is list the things he’s doing wrong and how she’s at her wits end. But she hasn’t said whether they’ve been through counseling, or whether she’s been involved in helping him find a job, or anything else she’s done to try other than to initiate sex. She didn’t mention whether they’ve ever sat down to have a serious talk about it, or if she’s reached out to any of his family members for support…

        Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating that this is her fault or that he shouldn’t have to try too… OF COURSE HE SHOULD! And you’re right, marriage isn’t worth wasting your life on, if you’re miserable. But how do we know that things won’t get a thousand times better if she confronts him, gets him some help and gets some support for herself too? Maybe their child could have a happy mommy and daddy who worked it out and stayed together.

        Or maybe not… maybe she’ll try everything that Wendy suggested and in 6 months time find herself in the exact same spot. And then she can pack her bags and walk away with her head held high.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 22, 2011, 2:40 pm

        Exactly. And this was my point. Not to question whether the man is a jerk or not. It sounds like he is. But mostly to remember that we don’t have all the pieces of the story from one email. And based on the little bit we do have, I think it’s premature for any of us to tell us her marriage is over.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 2:48 pm

        Thanks! Seriously, I’m not saying that she should spend her life in a crappy marriage. If it’s draining her and making her miserable, of course she needs to do what’s best for herself and her baby and get out. But at least see a counselor, individually and as a couple. At least reach out to loved ones for support (both of them).

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      Elle March 22, 2011, 5:48 pm

      @Jess – your comment reminds me of a quote I saw a while ago, on another site: to every break-up, there are 3 versions – his, hers, and the truth.

      LW does sound like she’s at her wit’s end, but I don’t see in her letter anything about telling her husband to do any housework. I noticed that women instinctively know what needs to be done around the house, while guys need to be told, most of the time. Maybe the LW needs to communicate more? Maybe even bordering on nagging…

      I would ask my ex to do chores around the house, and he would get in these horrible fights with me, that I didn’t get the guts to ask him again for maybe a month. Well, I didn’t like to fight, and he used that to get out of chores. Is your husband like that in any way, LW? You tell him what needs to be done around the house, and he flat out refuses it? Or you expect him to know what needs to be done? Guys don’t take subtle hints. Guys don’t notice the crumbs on the kitchen table. They need to be told what to do. (My ex did start to do chores around the house without being asked, but after months and months of nagging, and, unfortunately, after a few episodes of domestic violence. There was no turning back after that.)

      Although, the way the LW’s husband treats his daughter pretty much shows his character. No guy should be told what to do in order to be a father. It’s because of my dad that I know what unconditional love feels like (even my dad has to be told what needs to be done around the house haha). I’m not saying that every dad should be like mine, but the LW’s husband seems to be at the other end of the spectrum.

      If the LW decides to give her marriage another try, it will be a long and hard fight. Her husband likes the way things are, and he will fight any attempt to change that. And even then, the LW may not win…

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    Turtledove March 22, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Whether she ultimately decides to leave him or not, there are some practical steps the LW should take pronto to protect herself and her child. The thing is, right now he’s a freeloader, and while that can change, she’s better off dealing as if the current situation won’t change. Because they’re married and she’s the breadwinner, she will likely owe alimony in the divorce settlement– the longer the marriage continues the more she will ultimately owe. So if she’s going to dissolve the union, it’s going to be better to do it sooner.

    So I would cut off his access to most (not all) of the money and get a divorce attorney. If they do a legal separation of a year, they can take that time to get into counseling and see if the situation can be fixed or if it is better to have the counselor walk them through an amicable divorce. It could be that kicking him out is the proverbial kick in the pants that the LW’s husband needs to find the motivation to fix his half of this mess (and if he does, the LW should be prepared to fix her half).

    The tone of the letter sounds as if the LW is asking for permission to dissolve her marriage. That”s not something that strangers can give. The first year of marriage is hard, and if you didn’t live together first it’s even harder. Likewise the first year of having a child is hard. The fact that the LW is trying to do both at once must be excruciating. I think the LW should take steps to change her marriage– not every separation ends in divorce and being apart for a time will give the LW’s resentments time to simmer down. Entering counseling during the separation will enable the couple to really decide whether it can be fixed and whether they even want to. If there’s no real progress towards fixing the marriage after a year, then it makes sense to end it.

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      CollegeCat March 22, 2011, 3:31 pm

      Do you think an annulment is possible? If so she could probably get out of alimony. I’ve read that if you can cite and prove fraud of some sort in a short marriage its possible for annulment.

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      MissDre March 22, 2011, 3:55 pm

      @Turtledove I like your suggestions a lot. I think these are perfectly reasonable actions to take. Putting in a year of effort is not “wasting your life” on a marriage as another commentor said.

      These are very wise words and I hope the LW sees some value in them.

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    Kerrycontrary March 22, 2011, 2:19 pm

    This situation seems really bad. i think the only way to salvage the marriage (which I think the LW should do before she jumps into divorce proceedings) is to follow Wendy’s advice of therapy. The guy honestly sounds depressed. The sitting in front of the computer, tv, and not contributing are all classic signs for men. He may need antidepressants. This may explain why the LW once fell in love with him and he may be a totally different person now that he’s depressed. On the other hand, if therapy doesn’t work then I think it’s time to start looking at divorce.

    This could also be a communication problem. The LW needs to convey her dissatisfaction with the marriage and her husband’s behavior. Maybe he doesn’t realize how serious she is.

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didn't March 22, 2011, 2:19 pm

    1). I sure as hell wouldn’t be leaving my kid alone with this guy. That’s probably why she hired a nanny in the first place!

    2). I actually think the LW should kick this free-loading loser out right now. She can tell him that if he wants to be part of her life and their child’s life, he needs to get therapy and agree to couple’s counselling. Then, she can give him a probationary period of 3 months or whatever and re-assess the situation. Maybe he is depressed, and she may need to wait till the antidepressants kick in, but really it sounds like this guy has a serious case of laziness and immaturity.

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    RMM0278 March 22, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Both the LW and Wendy are guilty of using the word “help” throughout this post.

    Help implies that housework and childcare are the LW’s primary responsibility, which means her husband just assists her as a subordinate. (This is similar to what a secretary does for an executive. The executive is in charge; the secretary is not.)

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sadly far too many women subscribe to this, and it’s detrimental. Housework and childcare are -dual- responsibilities for the couple. That means and equal burden.

    It’s not her job to make sure that the diapers get changed and the dishes are done. It’s BOTH their jobs. He doesn’t follow along after her, waiting to be told what to do. No wonder she feels overburdened.

    As long as the LW and Wendy subscribe to this work distribution in a household, women will always feel like they have to be doing it all. After all, if a man is just around to “help out” then the woman is ultimately responsible for everything.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 22, 2011, 3:27 pm

      I’m flattered you think I’m that influential, but I’m pretty sure whether I use the phrase “help out around the house” or “contribute to the household chores,” when referring to domestic male partners’ roles, women are smart enough to make decisions about what’s best for their homes, relationships and well-being.

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    • Jess

      Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 22, 2011, 3:40 pm

      RMM0278, I understand your point and its a valid one. However, I really don’t think in this case that “help” was meant to imply that the woman was in charge and the husband should simply join in on occasion. It’s clear that both the LW and Wendy are WELL aware that the imbalance of the contributions in their marriage (be they financial or chore related) is in fact the heart of the problem.

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      WatersEdge March 22, 2011, 3:49 pm

      So if someone neither “helps” nor “contributes equally”, what advice do you give at that point, RMM0278?

      Neither Wendy, nor most of the readers here, are the types to believe that women are primarily responsible for housework. But I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to remind you that it is each couples’ right to determine how they divide all responsibilities of their lives together, including housework. If you choose to build a life with someone and split the housework, then more power to you. But going around telling everyone that they are SUPPOSED to live their lives in the way you see fit is not enlightened and it is not feminist.

      Pet peeve #2 that came up in this thread- bullies who have commandeered feminism and tell everyone that if they are not living their romantic lives exactly as their Women’s Studies professor told them they should, then they are not in an egalitarian relationship.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 22, 2011, 3:59 pm

        You nailed it with pet peeve #2.

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        RMM0278 March 22, 2011, 4:18 pm

        “Pet peeve #2 that came up in this thread- bullies who have commandeered feminism and tell everyone that if they are not living their romantic lives exactly as their Women’s Studies professor told them they should, then they are not in an egalitarian relationship.”

        Then my suggestion to you is to not do it.

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        WatersEdge March 22, 2011, 4:40 pm

        I’m not. My point is that saying “Everyone should equally divide the housework” minimizes the differences in individual needs. You and your significant other can divide chores however you want to. I am free to do the same. Speeches about how everyone needs to conform to your ideas about what are right for women are counterproductive. You place yourself in the role of Benevolent Feminist and take away a woman’s right to think things through for herself and to make her own decisions. For example:

        “It’s not her job to make sure that the diapers get changed and the dishes are done. It’s BOTH their jobs.”

        One could pretty easily make the argument that since the LW makes all the money, it should be HIS job to handle childcare entirely.

        Every now and then I think “Well I think all couples should determine a balance of power and division of chores that works for them, whether that’s a traditional balance or a modern one…. maybe I’m not a feminist”. But then I think “Fuck that. They can’t have feminism for themselves. I still want it.”

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        Elle March 22, 2011, 6:03 pm

        If you ask an economist, they’ll tell you to specialize in the chore that you have the lowest opportunity cost in. In other words, do the chores you dislike less, or at which you’re faster/better than your partner. (Not all, but most chores don’t require a lot of skill, so that’s why I put the ‘dislike less’ option first. And I can’t, for the life of me, come up with a chore that I enjoy doing 🙂

        In my case, I hate taking out the trash. I hate it with a vengeance. Since I live by myself, I have to take out the trash by myself. Well, I take it out once every two-three weeks. It may sound bad, but it’s not. I also don’t cook much, so I don’t make a lot of trash. Anyway, my point is that I would gladly do something my (future) partner hates, but that I dislike a little, if I could get out of taking out the trash :). And I’m sure everyone can come up with lots of personal examples.

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        Quakergirl March 22, 2011, 9:32 pm

        Haha, as someone who lives with an economist, this is pretty much the argument I always use when he offers to help with dishes or laundry. Part of my job (like, my actual job, where I work all day) is doing dishes, so I’m pretty damn fast and don’t mind doing it. I also have a system for doing our laundry down pat. He takes out the trash, though, and is the resident drain unclogger because damned if I know how the plumbing works.

        Call it anti-feminist, but it works for us. I see it this way– every time two or more humans live together, they divide up labor. Whether it’s parents assigning chores to kids, roommates making a bathroom cleaning schedule, or a couple dividing up housework, it makes sense for there to be some division. Assuming both parties have a fair say in how things are divided and aren’t being abused or forced in some way, I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s business what sort of arrangement they have.

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    RMM0278 March 22, 2011, 3:47 pm

    My objection was that the word was bandied about (unintentionally of course) without much thought to what it means and implies. Think about the word “help.” A nurse helps a doctor. A paralegal helps a lawyer. A nanny, in this case, helps the LW. If someone helps you, it’s not an equal partnership. This is akin to when guys say they “babysit” their kids, which is offensive.

    At work, if someone asks me to help on a project, I assume that person is solely responsible and I’m doing him/her a favor. I don’t consider myself ultimately responsible for the task at hand. By the looks of things, neither does this LW’s husband.

    My point here was that by using the word “help” the LW felt everything was her responsibility. Well it’s not. She needs to look at him as an equal partner and contributor — not household assistance. I don’t get the sense she did.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't March 22, 2011, 4:51 pm

      To say that a nurse merely “helps” a doctor is incredibly disrespectful to the many hardworking nurses I know. There is MUCH more to nursing than being the second in command to a physician. Haven’t you ever heard the saying “behind every great doctor is an even better nurse”?

      Similarly, I think it’s disrespectful (and frankly, wrong) to say that if someone is “helping you”, it is not an equal partnership. We all need a little bit of help at different times in our lives. In a long term relationship or a marriage, the two parties are going to be “on top” at different times, when one will require the other to lean on. That doesn’t mean that the partnership isn’t equal, because these types of partnerships aren’t zero-sum.

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        MissDre March 22, 2011, 4:55 pm

        My mother is a nurse and she works her ASS off!

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didn't March 22, 2011, 6:09 pm

        One of my best friends is a pediatric and adolescent psychiatry nurse and my grandfather spent almost a year in palliative care- the only way I can describe his nurses is that they were angels. I have nothing but respect for all of them!

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      anna728 March 22, 2011, 10:20 pm

      I think you are reading into the word “help” way to much. It’s not a terrible, patriarchal term and it often has nothing to do with hierarchy.

      Back to your doctor-nurse example, it’s also true that the doctor and the nurse both help the patient. Or a medicine might help you feel better. A mentor or teacher may help you learn. If I ask someone if they want help carrying something, I will carry the whole thing, not take a secondary role as they carry most of it.

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    • meadowphoenix

      AB March 22, 2011, 11:05 pm

      But the power balance isn’t always the same with that word. A parent “helps” a child; a teacher “helps” their students. And then sometimes the power balance is equal, like when coworkers or friends “help” each other.

      You’re putting connotations onto the “help” that simply aren’t there. The argument you’re making isn’t valid when you have such a flawed premise.

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    AKchic March 22, 2011, 4:52 pm

    Sounds kind of like my first husband – minus the abuse.

    My 1st husband worked for 5 months of our nearly four year relationship. At the beginning of it. Then he “hurt” himself on the job and claimed worker’s comp. Couldn’t work. Carpal tunnel crippled him. Oh no!
    I was stuck. He drove me to and from work daily and kept the kids with him all day while I worked (he would set them in front of the tv and then go in the other room to play on the computer). He would only feed them when they fussed and would only change their diapers if they smelled or were leaving wet spots on the carpet. If they made noise, he would yell at them to shut up. I paid for everything. I was miserable. I kicked him out after 9 months of marriage.
    It was a helluva fight. He tried to have me committed. Tried convincing my doctor that I was suffering from post-partum psychosis. His thinking was that if I was committed, the judge would throw the divorce case out. My doctor refused. Then he started calling child social services on me telling them I was starving my kids, letting others molest them, etc. Three separate investigations. Again, he thought that if I was being harassed, I’d come back to him to prove to the case worker that I was stable by being married rather than a single mom.
    It has been 8 years and I still deal with it. Death threats on social networking sites for the entire world to see (I hear about it from other people). Him telling people that he won custody of our son, but I kidnapped the child and he doesn’t want to embarass our son by having me in jail, so he hasn’t reported the kidnapping, etc.

    You may have to deal with these things. Be prepared. It’s a rough road.

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      WatersEdge March 22, 2011, 5:05 pm

      I’m so sorry. Your kids will thank you later. You sound like a great mom.

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    MissD March 22, 2011, 9:03 pm

    I agree that you should try counseling or at least some method of working things out before deciding on divorce, while at the same time protecting yourself. I am currently in a somewhat similar situation, though with no children involved. When my husband and I got married, we were both working through some personal issues (situational depression, etc.) due to recent life events. I thought that with time we would come back to our normal selves and life would go on as planned. What happened was my husband became very depressed, completely stopped taking care of himself physically, and was not supportive of me as I was building my career while he was going back to school after a period of unemployment. I tried to encourage him to seek help, and he denied anything was wrong. We hadn’t even been married a year when he started having an affair, which lasted for seven months until I caught him outright. He acted like he wanted to work things out and got my hopes up…only to tell me a month later that he didn’t want to be married anymore, that there was nothing left to our relationship, and that he needed time to figure out who he was and move on with his life. After he left, I found out that he had been getting into debt I didn’t know about while we were married, and now I’m trying to figure out what the situation exactly is and hope I don’t get stuck with any of his debt (no-fault divorce is not always advantageous to both parties). I guess I’m just saying that while it is important not to give up on a marriage and just walk away when things are tough, you still want to keep your eyes open and protect yourself in case you end up finding out that there was a great deal more to the situation that you didn’t know about and could end up having to deal with later. (BTW, I didn’t see any of this coming; at least you have an idea of what you’re dealing with going forward). Good luck, and remember to protect yourself and your daughter, no matter what your decision.

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      ArtsyGirl March 23, 2011, 11:11 am

      I know from family experience that if he got the debt (say on a credit card) that you do not have access (i.e. are not an account holder)then you are not considered responsible – at least that was a case with my cousin.

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    anna728 March 22, 2011, 10:48 pm

    So I wrote a comment about the same thing on the other recent letter about divorce, but I will again here anyway.

    If you do decide you want to leave him, you don’t have to feel guilty about divorce! Of course divorce is not the ideal situation, but sometimes it’s for the best. My parents’ divorce was I was 14 was a relief not only for them but for me. My dad had taken eight years to graduate college, spending most of that time and the rest of his 20s stoned, and somehow ended up with my mom (who was a friend in college). They got married, but it sounds like it was unenthusiastic. Her inheritance from her father’s death went toward putting my dad through grad school and putting a down payment on the house. I was born during that time, too. My dad lost whatever redeeming qualities in those still early years of their marriage and was a bad father and a bad husband, without going too into detail. He did end up being the breadwinner, but wouldn’t have if she hadn’t paid for his school. When I was a little kid my mom would tell him she wanted a divorce but he wouldn’t accept it and threatened to tell the state she was crazy (his field is abnormal psychology). It wasn’t until I was 14 that my dad changed his mind and left me and my mom. Even that very day, my mom and I were trying to conceal our excitement. It was such a relief not to live with him. My mom always says she regrets staying for so long. So I guess my point is that although divorce itself can be tough, it can really be in the best interest of both you and your daughter. Having a loser around half-assing the father and husband role isn’t good for you or a child.

    But I am not telling you need to get a divorce. As others suggested maybe he’s depressed. Maybe he is utterly clueless and is unaware of how useless he is. Maybe counseling would help. But just know that it’s ok to get divorced if that ends up being the best choice, and it’s ok to be a single mom.

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  • avatar

    Erica March 24, 2011, 6:35 pm

    let me just say, i hate this guy for not taking care of his own child while he’s home all day not working. that’s just the laziest thing i’ve ever heard of.

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    Christina March 27, 2011, 2:42 am

    The thing that stuck out the most to me in the letter was that he hasn’t slept with her in 3 months and there is a nanny in the house. Could he be having an affair? (That’s exactly how long-term boyfriends act before the break up and then they have a new steady girlfriend by the next weekend.) He has already emotionally checked out of the marriage and has gotten away with not contributing to their family and household. He will hang around acting the same until forced to change. I hope he does.

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