Marie from Sacramento asks:
I’m forty-nine years old, and married with two children, ages eleven and fourteen. For the majority of their childhood, I worked from home as a freelance writer. Unfortunately, the economy affected both my husband’s private practice and my freelance opportunities so much that it seemed important that I get a “real job.”
I approached my children’s art school, where they had been students for years, the day after their receptionist had given notice. I was offered a job running the front office. Within the year, in a fluke turn of events, the owner decided to retire, and offered me the business. I decided to bring in the head teacher as a partner, and we bought the place.
However, all of this has caused grave difficulties in my marriage. The head teacher is male, and my husband’s occasional mild jealousy, which has troubled our relationship since its beginning, has now become totally consuming. He is also jealous and angry of my time away from home and my attention to this new business. He is critical, demanding, and irrational most of the time. On the other hand, except for these personal problems, I am having the time of my life. I’m enjoying this new career very much, and having the opportunity to grow a successful business. This is the last thing I expected at this stage of my life and in this economy.
My question is, how will this conflict resolve itself? Will I/should I give up my job to accommodate his insecurities? Will/should the marriage end? What is my best course of action?
Psychic Red ext. 9226 Responds:
You really are in a tough spot, so the best thing for you to do is to get tougher with your husband!
As you stated, your husband has always been jealous and insecure. Throughout your marriage, you have always done your best to accommodate him. Basically, any time he would throw a big enough fit, you would acquiesce in order to keep the peace. However, in your current situation, things aren’t so simple. You really want your business. If you were to surrender your career to please your husband, your resentment of this choice, and him, would escalate to such heights that you would be plotting the escape of your marriage – without the safety of a consistent income. From where I sit, this does not look like a good or happy choice.
Your children don’t need you at home like they once did, and working outside of the home has made you feel like a more “complete” individual; not just a wife and mother. Your husband has seen this change in you, sees you succeeding, and it really sends his insecurities into overdrive. Because your partner is male, it does make things worse, but your husband would be almost as jealous if you were working with a female. Anything that takes you or your attention away from him, the kids, or your home – your husband sees as a threat. Along with his jealousy and insecurities, this man has some serious control issues.
Quite frankly, as your children keep growing up and growing older (as they tend to do), your career is becoming more and more important to you. Selling your part of the business would only be a temporary band-aid for the situation. Between finances, and what would be your restlessness and resentment, you would find another opportunity outside of the home, which would revive the current troubles in your marriage.
Since your husband’s ego/mentality does not permit counseling for him or the two of you, you need to plant your feet and steel your spine. I can see that he has a talent for making your home life quite miserable, but rather than do your normal, “keep the peace” maneuvers, you need to prepare for battle. Don’t give in to his emotional blackmail, accusations, or guilt trips. Do your best to keep your cool, because he will try and push your buttons, and he is very familiar with where they are located. Don’t be afraid to take a stronger approach, send the kids out of the room, and retaliate with a little emotional/psychological warfare. If you turn things around on him with calm anger and a touch of ice, and are consistent, you will pull power back onto your side of the playing field. Knocking him off-guard and appearing as if you’ve detached from the negative emotional ramifications seems to be the most productive way to keep both your business and your marriage. While he will continue to have his moments and snits, he will cease his constant efforts of trying to control you so completely. I wish I could tell you that he would get to a place where he could understand that this is for and about you, not him, but the best I am seeing is that he will learn to hold back a little more and behave a little more maturely.
It’s a shame that your husband can’t see past his issues to be supportive of your endeavors, or happy for you and your successes. His issues just run very deep. Keeping that in mind, don’t let him bully you into giving up what you love – whether it’s him or your career.
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