Anger at undone chores
My husband and I work full-time. We have three girls (11, 4, and 2). My problem is this. We recently moved and I thought, new beginning, great. The house was staying clean and the kids were well behaved. I realized though that it was I that was doing all the work and soon burned out after a month. This has happened in the past but recently I have noticed a cycle within myself. My ex-husband has told me after we were divorced that I was always nagging him. I thought about this and decided not to do this with my 2nd husband.
My husband's hobby is computers and it seems that's what he lives for. So when I ask him to share in the housework, he states he will get to it, and I'll leave it alone. Well I'll continue to leave it alone so I don't sound like a nag. So I thought I'll try getting him to do housework by not doing any housework. Of course, nothing ever gets done. I realize it has been a cycle that I go through. I know the housework needs to get done, so after all the dirty dishes are still in the sink and all the clothes need washing, he gets things started off again by doing one or two items and I'll break down and help finish the rest because this will pull me out of the cycle of depression. Now on his behalf he will cook, do bills, and play with the kids sometimes.
I know things need to get done and have tried talking to him and writing assignment board but this has failed too. From what I've been told by his sister, their mom was like this too. I love my husband dearly, but he just doesn't seem to care enough that the house is a wreck and that I am too.
For myself, how do I break the cycle of not talking (trying not to nag), getting depressed, and once the housework is started again, have enough discipline to let him continue letting him see how it feels to hold down a job and do all the housework too?
Thanks for writing.
The "cycle" you mention can serve as a great concrete way to examine what is happening in your life. It might help to "see" it by drawing a circle, kind of like one of those spinning wheels inside a hamster's cage.
There you are, scurrying along the wheel. You are trying not to nag, getting depressed, being so busy you can't stay depressed, getting even angrier, getting more depressed, being busier, etc. Ad infinitum.
You can, of course, step off this hamster wheel at any point; you can stop scurrying whenever you want to. You know all this, but I think the thing which prevents you from stepping off the wheel is that, then - when you are completely still - you will really feel how angry, depressed, betrayed, abandoned, sad, desperately lonely and completely exhausted you feel.
In other words, I suspect that your reaction to your husband's choices (to not help with housework) keeps you away from even darker, more disturbing feelings, such as grief over the losses you have felt before in your life.
As long as your problems are about dirty dishes or unmade beds, your real issue - the emptiness in your heart and soul - can go unfelt, unheard, unanswered because YOU are too busy for you. The "Continuous Cycle of Compromise" you refer to is the way YOU negate who you are, what you feel, what you know, what you want, what you need. It is the way you compromise, demean and degrade you, and what your heart needs.
Choosing to break this cycle will demand that you really listen to your heart and soul, so that you can discover, re-discover, or remember what you have always wanted and needed out of life; so that you remember what gives your life value, meaning, inspiration and passion; so that you make a commitment to yourself to give to you whatever you need in life to find lasting joy and fulfillment.
This is just my opinion, but I doubt if your loftiest dreams and goals have anything to do with clean dishes, made-up beds, a "trained" husband or even, "well-behaved" kids.
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/