I don’t know that I’d recommend two broken people coming together in a full-on union, but that is based, solely on my own experience with my current husband.
I can’t and won’t really speak for Daniel in regards to his childhood. That is his story to tell and maybe one day my platform will be of use for him to do that, but in order for you to understand our marriage I’m going to have to explain some things in regards to his childhood. With that being said, please remember how I entered this union, a victim. And please remember that I’ve stated previously that I played the victim card for too long. I want you to remember these things because deep down, my husband is an amazing person. My gut (which I should have never ignored in my previous marriage) is typically accurate, and this has always been my gut reaction to him. I am going to tell you things about him in our marriage that will not only make you question my ability to make good decisions in regards to men, but it may make you question whether or not he really is a good guy. I can tell you first hand that explaining these events to my very best friend, my soul sister, even she has stated and I quote, “how are y’all still married!?”
I’m going to somewhat go backwards here in hopes that you’ll understand why, what my husband does now, for me, really is a huge thing for him. He’s trying. He’s working on himself and not for me (well, kind of in the grand scheme of things), but really for himself and who he aspires to be as a man. Let’s begin!
Our finances are still not ideal what-so-ever. We make ends meet, don’t get me wrong but the amount of debt we have is still considerably high. And it’s not the good kind of debt either. That means we really have to reduce a lot of unnecessary costs in order to keep our cost of living down in a comfortable zone. Day care is one of those huge costs. This means that when Dan is off from work (he works rotating shifts, nights and days, so he has 3-4 days off in between in order to transition. They are also 12 hour shifts) he has to watch our two littles who aren’t in school yet (Pre-K doesn’t count because they are half days and off on Fridays). He’s had to do this the last four years in order to keep this cost to a minimum. Watching our children is one of those huge things for him to do that I was talking about earlier.
When I first returned to the working field, Dan was not this appeasing to our checkbook. Our two older girls would go to day care every weekday I worked, and I would have to take them to my parent’s house (an hour and a half away) or to my brother-in-law’s house (30 minutes away) on the weekends I had to work. My mother-in-law would help where she could as well (she lived in town and also had a job on some weekends). Hell, sometimes they’d have to go sit at her work if I worked an odd shift or got called in to work suddenly. Everyone was willing to watch our kids expect their dad. He was very selfish with his time off and got to enjoy himself, often. In fact, when we had to switch day cares, and her hours ended earlier than most other day cares – so she could attend night classes- he and I had a very heated argument about it several times. The reason for those arguments was because he didn’t want to pick up our kids as he rolled in to town from work. That also meant I was begging my boss to go pick them up and bring them to work. Dan told me several times that he refused to do that because why else would we pay for her services? He didn’t see day care as a business with business hours. He just saw it as convenience. So, can you see now why it is a huge thing for him to watch his own kids?
Let’s talk about this “selfish time” of his, shall we? When we first moved to OG, I knew he’d want his own activity to do, much like the bowling league and archery club he joined when we lived on the other side of the state. Only, in OG, he joined the American Pool League Association – APA. It wasn’t a very expensive activity by any means; however, he was also playing PlayStation on the avid and buying games for it, he would also buy at least $50 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets and Lotto tickets, he’d play Keno and drink while at said pool league, and all of this was at a frequent rate (weekly). That meant that I wasn’t going to do anything. I couldn’t even go to the dollar store to purchase a $10 decoration for the apartment/house, or take our kids out for lunch to McDonald’s for a random lunch date. He would also spend a lot of weekends when he was off at the bar. All the while, I had school work so when the opportunity would arrive that my MIL could babysit and he invited me to go with him to the bar, well, I respectfully declined. Truthfully, he did what he wanted when he wanted.
Now days? It’s rare for him to go and do unless we go as a family or it’s a date night for us both. It’s been about two years now since he’s left all that behind. Any time he did do this, the going out on his own thing, he never had any respect for the compromise we’d come up with as far as what time he’d come home. He was always super late. The last time he came home late, like almost 6 hours late, I slapped him so hard on the face his glasses went flying (he likes them tightly tucked behind his ears if that gives you any clue as to how hard I hit him and I promise it was the first and last time I ever did that) and he decided to rearrange the kitchen in a disorderly fashion. He was then escorted by the police to his mother’s house to “sleep it off.”
Now, let’s talk the finances, because that is seriously the biggest issue between us. I didn’t care for it and he cared too much for it. When he was doing two nights of pool league, all the drinking, spending money on scratch tickets, snacks for work, and playstation games and expansion packs, he really didn’t have that kind of money. Moving to OG to be closer to our families took damn near $30,000 off the top of our income, yet the cost of living was roughly the same as it was where we were before we moved. I was still a SAHM when we first moved to OG, and realizing the decrease in income I wound up living off of $40 a week with two kids for three to four years. He didn’t have to sacrifice a penny, really. He would put money into his own account to pay the minimums on his credit cards, but that was usually a quarter of the money he’d put into his account. And it only got worse as time went on. Eventually, he was putting $500 from the paycheck into his account because he’d spend too much on the credit cards so the minimum payments went up and he still felt the need to continue to allow himself about $150 to $200 for just spending money. I was still living off of $40 a week. That $40, groceries and bills were budgeted already, went towards a doctor visit copay, or gas, or anything off the wall that I needed to get. When we finally had our third child, his spending was so outrageous I didn’t have any money for diapers or formula for a month. Now, that mostly wasn’t his fault, entirely, anyway. That mostly had to do with a loan he had gotten for a family member, in my name, on my credit, who wound up not making the payments as discussed and the bank was about to send the loan into collections. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that by this time I had used up my own credit limits to purchase groceries or any other “life” thing. Guys, during this time I hadn’t even purchased socks, undies, or bras for myself which was a span of three to four years. To say this was devastating to me is a complete understatement.
But what about now you ask? For at least two years now, we have one bank account. There’s no more money being spent on lottery tickets. There’s no real, frivolous spending on anything unless it’s for the house or vehicles. He doesn’t go to pool as often. A PlayStation game is very very few and far between. In fact, now, we both get $100 spending money per paycheck! We also typically have money in savings unless life happens. We now plan and save for things and our mountain of debt is slowly but surely becoming a hill. He knows very well these days that he gets rewarded in grander ways by working hard at this whole, “delayed gratification” thing. This. Is. HUGE. For. Him!
Clearly, this man had treated me like I was a trophy wife; just there for looks and to be his slave. And boy was I ever in the best position to be just that, his trophy wife. I was vulnerable. I was still broken. He was broken, unsure or maybe too full of pride to really deal with his childhood trauma. Believe me, it took him 33 years to stand up to his own mother. He entered our marriage a “rescuer,” while I was a “victim,” (someone who needed rescuing).
I know a lot of what I’m disclosing to you seems to be fairly “normal” in marital predicaments, and I’d have to say that in comparison to my previous marriage these predicaments really are fairly normal in most marriages these days. Though, at times I really do feel it came in extremes. Maybe that was because of my anxiety and depression, I can’t be too sure because I love this man enough to forgive him despite it all. He isn’t beating me, I think he’s only called me a bad name once, and ideally, he never really kept me from what I wanted to do or isolated me. It was me that kept me from those things. I was taught to sacrifice growing up (stay home when you don’t have money, or don’t eat out when you don’t have enough for a tip). And I later learned in my previous marriage that I sacrificed, AKA minimized, myself for the sake of trauma. If you’re thinking it, believe me as I’ve already heard the, “just because he isn’t beating you does not mean it’s reason enough to stay,” so many times I could croak! This is knowledge I already know. I’ve had to evaluate my marriage over and over again to realize that we still have the same goal. He’s still a good person and it doesn’t happen in the fashion of “loving respite” like it did with my ex husband. I had to do this evaluation more times than I can count because there were plenty of times I was ready to throw in the towel and divorce him. But we must take into account what he was taught as well. He also learns differently. He is just now trying to forgive himself for the way he had to survive during trauma. He didn’t have a great upbringing like I did. He simply didn’t know any better. This was “normal” to him.
My MIL had all three of her children at a very young age. She was done procreating by the time she turned 20. She was a child herself trying to raise three children. Can you imagine? Of course her parents helped her when she had the boys, her older two. And if you ask my husband about those days, he will tell you he was more or less raised by his grandparents, especially in his teen years.
His dad was MIA as he was a drug addict for many many years and didn’t really have a lot to do with the boys. Just before his sister was born, on his birthday, two years later, his mother remarried a much older man who’s children were mostly grown. When this happened, this was when he spent many years under his mother’s roof. It was during these times that he endured some amounts of physical abuse from his stepfather. I wouldn’t say it was extreme, but I didn’t live through abuse as a child. How could I know what that felt like, both physically and emotionally? The kids also did a lot of adult housework at a very young age. When Daniel describes those chores, he talks of doing piles upon piles of laundry. At given opportunities to discuss such laundry in front of his mother, she would argue that it was because there was a lot of people living in the household. I would attest to that because we currently have six people in our household and it’s often a few days worth of laundry if we wait a week. But when all three children say that it was more than their fair share of laundry to do, and you visit her house, you can see why they say such things. She really does have a lot of clothes.
Also, they would talk about dishes like it was death. When I first heard these stories, I just thought, “yeah, ok, sure, because a mother would really allow their kids to spend an entire day washing dishes and not do them herself every night after cooking.” I didn’t really believe it. I think that was because his siblings didn’t say much themselves initially. But after having been in the family long enough to know some secrets behind how their housework got done, all three would attest that they really did have an entire days worth of dishes to do. I felt bad for them. I mean, I had dishes to do too but we had a dish washer, and dishes would get done after every meal if necessary, but typically at the end of everyday when dinner was said and done. The next day would be my chore to unload the dishwasher.
It took me a long time to understand where my MIL was coming from when it came down to the fact that she kicked her teenage sons out of her house, but yet her stepson remained in the home and he was just as wild, if not even more so. I was stuck on the fact that a mother could relinquish her sons in such a fashion. I mean, I get that it wasn’t truly her house, it was her husband’s. I get that all mothers love differently. I get that she was so young that perhaps she really wasn’t prepared for the life the boys were going to live as teenagers, for their rebellion as extremely as they did so. I also get that juggling a marriage and trying to have respect for that as well as your own children is probably a hard task. What I could never understand, because I love my children differently than she did, was how she could let them go so easily (truth be told, it probably wasn’t easy). Any way, the boys got caught up in the drug scene. I feel it was because of their experiences in their mother’s house that drove them to that point. I wouldn’t blame them for what they describe in their childhood, either. Needless to say, this is what got them kicked out of the house and were then forced to move in with their grandparents.
I also believe the drug scene is what drove my husband to love money even more. Of course they needed money for the habit, but upon disclosing those details to me, one can conclude that as any grandparent would do, he was spoiled. He was showered with gifts that he otherwise would not have had had he not been kicked out of his mom’s house. Please don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t just given material things while living under his grandparent’s roof. He was definitely showered with love. His Grammy is one of those individuals that truly leaves an impression on your heart when you meet her. She is open, she is kind, she is simply a beautiful person. But given his state of mind, and his relationship with his own mother, it was more to his advantage to receive rather than give. I guess it’s where the manipulation came from to get what he wanted in our own marriage. Maybe that’s something that even children from divorced parents who equally parent their children do. I really don’t know if that’s even a “thing,” to manipulate one’s divorced parents to get what they want out of both of them? Does that make sense, or is it just me, sounding like an idiot? Regardless, his credit spending habits truly came from both guardians, I would say. I’m just not sure his family knew how to deal with money, especially borrowed money via credit cards. It’s very tempting, believe you me, it really is to just use a credit card for certain things.
All of what I just explained to you about both of our pasts is why it was borderline dangerous for us to enter a marriage as quickly as we did. It is the reason I sacrificed so much of myself. It is the reason he wanted to “keep up with the Jone’s.” It is the reason I was so easily manipulated, and the very reason he would manipulate. So that he could get what he wanted while I was taught and used a more extreme form of delayed gratification.
In the grand scheme of things, can you see it now? Can you see why it’s such a huge deal for Daniel to watch our children, do some laundry, wash dishes, and not buy everything he wants on a borrowed dime? I guess I should further explain that he’s also more in tune with feeling the feelings too! He really sees my struggles on a daily basis and instead of getting mad at me for feeling the way I do because of his own guilt, he’s usually patient and gives me time to work it all out in my brain so that I can communicate to him, less defensively I might add, about how I’m feeling. Even just today I had a moment where one, small thing happened, but to me it was a big thing because it was the one thing I didn’t want to have to repeat (I didn’t want to go back out into the world to run another errand because I looked and felt like shit and just didn’t want any one to see me like that again. I wouldn’t force someone to look at my fifty-shades-homeless look) peopling. It set of a slew of intrusive thoughts. I look like shit because I have so much stuff to do and my husband isn’t feeling well so I had to run those errands, looking the way I did, because I don’t have time to shower until later with all the laundry, all that I have to pick up because I just couldn’t the night before, with the edits I needed to do with my blog, the wrapping of presents, the sorting through pallets for crafts, the million diapers I would have to change during the day, the constant interruptions from my children because I can’t neglect them, the trash that needs to go to the dumpster, the work Christmas cards I need to finish, the research I need to do for future posts in my blog, etc etc. This lead into, had I not ignored myself in the beginning of our marriage I wouldn’t be stuck in this rut, where the only things I can do to “make something of myself” are my stupid crafts and my stupid blog that no one’s going to read any way because I’m that much of a loser. And this lead to, I didn’t want to cook anything fancy which meant my husband didn’t have a homemade meal for a lunch during his night shift and he’d have shitty pizza for dinner and he wasn’t going to be happy about it (not true these days, but it used to be a frequent guilt trip I’d get about how he’s making the money so I should respect him and make him homemade meals and do his laundry and keep the kids quiet while he was on night shifts, etc etc) and I’m just an awful wife, awful mom, I’m a nobody, I will never be important enough to any one so what is the point?
And since my husband’s progress he’s so quiet now and doesn’t give me guilt trips. He’s seriously so quiet now that I can see and hear myself too much, and it makes me realize how I was trained to think and do for him and not myself. It actually helps me to realize that I don’t have to think this way any more. I don’t have to apologize for him having to think of his own lunch. When I tell him I was just simply too tired or too busy, he really does understand now. He gets why I’m so worn out just from trying to raise our kids because he’s had to do it on his own on multiple occasions. You guys, yes, I know that this should have been something that should have happened a long time ago. He should have been more responsible for his family a long time ago. But the fact that I can cry without him getting angry, I can explain my thought process without him feeling like I’m being defensive and attacking him, I can get really dark and tell him I just don’t want to live any more, and he will genuinely care and listen and hug me and hold me and tell me that we will work this out together, I’m not alone any more. I’m not alone any more! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for him to say that to me!? The first time he told me this was right after we got married, and within the first few years of marriage. But when we moved to OG, it all stopped, until now. Now, he’s my rock. He’s my best friend that I knew was in there, we just had to find his hiding spot. I’ve helped him get this far and now it’s my turn. But before we get to the ever present area I’m at, I still have a little more I want to share with you. So for now, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. It’s nearly midnight my time and I should be taking advantage of most of my children being gone for the night, but instead, my loyalty to those few who do follow me (thanks for the 20+ mark by the way everyone! I really appreciate you!) is a deeper seed right now (or maybe that’s my anxiety that I’m going to let a stranger down for not writing??). See you tomorrow folks!