So, Thursday afternoon I was dreading Friday, because Friday was when my husband and I were going to have our end of the month check-in, and I was going to have to bring up finances.
I decided I’d try and do something positive that would give me something to look forward to later, as that usually helps me keep putting one foot in front of another even if I’m temporarily going through difficulties with anxiety & depression. So I messaged H asking if he’d have time free to hang out in October, and he responded that guys from work were organizing a camping trip, date to be determined, but that otherwise he should be free.
During the course of the conversation, while discussing what we’d do, I quipped that if he didn’t express a preference I’d assume I was free to kidnap him and drag him along on an adventure of my choosing. He said distance wasn’t a concern but time commitment was, so I asked him what time frame he wanted to keep it to and his response was ‘a couple of hours.’
I feel kind of sheepish admitting this, but that was emotionally devastating to me. He’s largely got the entire month free and doesn’t want to spend more than a couple of hours with me the one time he’ll see me in person during that month? It promptly brought all of the fears and insecurities and emotions I’ve had about friendship over the years to the surface (and there are a lot of those going back well into childhood).
Hell, it brought up all my insecurities about being around other people in general, and my concern that I don’t really know how to properly read them and what they’re wanting or experiencing emotionally, and being unable to communicate appropriately from my end. There was that party, after all, where I’d had a good time, probably being more gregarious than usual for being among strangers, then found out 16 years later many people there thought I hated them. That one stings and is funny to me at the same time.
So I ended up having to leave for my last night of Excel training reeling and wondering if H was regretting the friendship. Asking him to hang out one day once a month hadn’t seemed pushy at all to me, so it seemed unlikely his response was due to that.
When I used to have an active social life, my friends were the sort that usually left things open-ended. If we were getting together, we were staying together until someone was too tired to keep going, or someone had to sleep before work even if they weren’t tired yet. The only way we would have ended up with a short amount of time to socialize would have been if they had to leave for something else.
I managed to keep it together outwardly for my last night of Excel training even though internally, anxiety and sadness had left me a mess. After I got home, I found it almost impossible to sleep, as my brain kept chewing over the subject of friendship, fears of losing one of the few friends I feel very close to, alongside fears of how Friday’s conversation with my husband would go. (I’ll continue the thread of friendship & insecurity and how I dealt with that in another post, because this one is getting super long, at this point. Wee.)
I’ve definitely struggled with feeling like I’ve lost everything, am losing everything, and that the future will be empty and bleak.
I woke up at 2:30 in the morning and left the room to spend time on my laptop, eventually heading back to the bedroom to try and see if I could sleep again. I was able to rest, sort of, though I don’t think I did anything more than lightly doze until I finally got up just after the older children had left for school.
Everything was quiet while we waited for the time to pass until our youngest would leave for school. Not long after that, my husband indicated he wanted to start the monthly check-in. I asked if he’d be okay if we each recorded the conversation for future reference – an idea I’d had that I thought might help if we had any further incidents where he claimed a conversation occurred that had not, in fact, occurred.
He reacted very poorly to the suggestion and was adamantly against it, immediately suspicious that I was up to something nefarious with an intent to trap him, I guess. The way he responded put my back up and the conversation was immediately off to a bad start, and I was so upset so quickly that I started getting dressed with the intention of leaving the house and just going somewhere, anywhere – but we managed to continue talking until we were a little calmer.
It was an ugly and emotional process, though. I can’t keep control of the conversation in a way that protects my interests or allows me to keep information hidden that I don’t want revealed or that allows me to skirt around issues that will be likely to make him more emotional. Not that I have anything nefarious to hide, or any real way of protecting my interests, anyway.
During the course of the conversation, he also accused me of having a mid-life crisis, making things fit my narrative, and rationalizing, as if everything I was doing was just me being crazy and selfish and irrational while on his side everything was, of course, rational and reasonable.
He threw around the word control again, and I had to remind him that I have nothing, and can control nothing, that he’s the one that has the ability to change how he’s responding and begin treating me in ways that would be severely detrimental to me. I can’t afford a lawyer and I can’t afford to move out on my own, after all.
When it came to the financial angle of things, he stated his intention was to continue covering my expenses, and he was offended that I didn’t trust him to follow through on that. I told him I had already been surprised by his actions and couldn’t predict or guarantee what he would or wouldn’t do. I can’t take his cooperation for granted.
I also let him know how much it had hurt and offended me that he treated my unpaid labor over 16 years as something I owed due to being married. He then went on the attack, trying to paint a picture where I could have started working and continued my education even though I was being a full-time parent.
I pointed out that we weren’t equally co-parenting and that what I was doing for the children and around the house was already a full-time job. I also asked him how he thought I would have managed to hold down a job or continue college while experiencing a level of sleep deprivation that was literally on par with being tortured.
He threw out things like how I ‘chose’ to stay up late while we were married. Yes, I did in fact want a couple of hours to do things I wanted to do after the kids were in bed. I love how his answer to everything I went through is that I should have tried harder and pushed myself to do more, not that he should have ever changed any of his behavior to be accommodating to the demands of my existence.
He then snarkily asked if I ever asked for help, and I pointed out that yes I had – and how that turned out. If I asked him to take out the trash, it would sit there for 3 days until I finally took it out myself. When I asked him about things like the clutter, it literally took him years to get around to even starting to do something about it, and then he took his sweet time.
So then he tried to claim, again, that I hadn’t been direct enough. I got the results I wanted when I was direct, right? Turns out, what he meant by ‘direct’ was when I had to literally give him an ultimatum. Which meant I had to explain that communication isn’t “say nothing” or “give an ultimatum,” that there’s a whole spectrum of communication in the middle, which I had engaged in.
He then demanded to know if I had got anything out of it, and I gave him a look of horrified confusion that he still didn’t get it. No, I didn’t get anything out of our partnership. Did he think I was getting a nice existence off of his labor? He sulkily rejoined that I was getting ‘an existence.’
He tried to bring up things like buying me a laptop and putting Scrivener on it to support my desire to write. I told him I hadn’t asked for those, and that if he’d consulted me, I’d have asked him not to spend the money. What did he think the laptop had done or was doing for me?
Before we married, I was supporting myself, I was getting my education, and I had career prospects (better career prospects than he had at the time). I didn’t need him to be my sugar daddy. And what I got out of our partnership is nothing – I spent 16 years living a life I hated, filled with chores I hated – and at the end of those 16 years, I have an incomplete education, no work on building a career, and my health is bad because of the stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation.
I’m worse off than I was when I married him.
He asked what I wanted, and being able to move out was mentioned, and he started talking about getting me a separate place – and I objected due to the expense involved. Then it came out he wasn’t necessarily proposing that just to help me get what I wanted. When I was in Tennessee, he said he felt relieved. Less stressed. And that my absence didn’t really change much about how the household was run. But he also started getting tears in his eyes and said he felt guilty for feeling that way.
I ended up in a position where I was reassuring him that feeling that way about a spouse that’s in the process of leaving is totally normal and natural.
So we started discussing where things went from here, and what might need to be altered.
And then it got annoying, again. He once again brought up that even if we’re not having sex, he’d like me to agree to celibate until the legal divorce happens. (Really not convincing me that I was wrong about how my physical body and sexual intimacy were the most important things about our relationship for him.)
I asked him what would happen if I refused to agree to that, and he wouldn’t really give an answer.
I had to tell him it was flat-out wrong that he was trying to get me to do that. Regardless of legal status, the relationship was over, and it’s my body, not his – it was always my body, not his, regardless of married status – plus, I’m not in a position where I can make a choice freely. Not with being at his mercy on the subject of finances. There’s coercion involved, whether or not he wants to see it that way. Then he tried to frame it in terms of having me agree to it for the sake of his emotions & not being stressed out – and I had to point out that was still wrong and not something he should be asking.
The sad thing is, it’s not like I’m actually going to be going out there and getting any action. At this rate, I may end up being celibate for years anyway. It’s the principle of the thing. I am furious at the way he treats legal marriage as something that grants him certain rights, like the right to my free domestic labor and the right to control what I do with my body. I had to point out that a legal marriage is just a government thing, morally it does not and never has given him the right to control what I do with my body.
It’s. My. Body.
Because we weren’t really getting anywhere, I ended up agreeing that I’d continue the exclusivity until the end of October, and we’d revisit it then.
Because of the discovery that we’re both less stressed while apart, we’re also going to research the possibility of getting me into a new place before I actually have employment. I still don’t think it’s gonna work, financially, but it doesn’t hurt to at least investigate.
The conversation wound to a close after that.