Monday, September 29, 2014

Opening the Vent

According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, I, by myself, make a little more than the statewide median family income, which is more than the median household income.  I’m not sure what constitutes a "family" vs. a "household", but there you go. It's even better when comparing to the medians for my city. Aside from a mortgage on my wife's part, neither of us came to the marriage with debt. Yet here we are, struggling financially. What I mean by that is we're not saving as much for retirement as I think we should and we have almost no spare liquid funds unless we want to cash in some of our retirement investments, which I don't think would be a good idea. We're not currently giving to our church. We had a vacation (the first "real" one in quite some time) planned but we had to cancel/postpone it and now we're trying to deal with losing some of the money we already put into it.

So when my wife informed me we were finally, after months of her writing an e-mail to set something up, going to be meeting with someone from our church, I thought back to that e-mail, and due to that I figured this meeting was mostly going to be about finances and what disability aid or programs they knew about, since my wife is disabled (even though she was able to work full-time before we married). I felt kind of silly seeking help from others when I make more the median for our city, but I agreed to go anyway.

I ended up wishing it had been about money.

I should have been tipped off that the meeting wasn't quite going to be what I thought, since the night before, my wife actually gave a slight indication that she was looking forward to sex, and it had only been a week since the last session.

In the meeting were the woman to whom she wrote, and two men. One of the men I recognized as someone who does things like give the "sex talk" session of the church's premarital counseling (which we'd been through), during which he tells the couples considering or planning marriage that marital lovemaking is given to us to enjoy in many ways and many places. Basically, he's there to tell people that sex is allowed once they're married, and it doesn't have to be the missionary position.

But back to the meeting. In the meeting, we focused on:
  • That my son loses his temper, like I do, and I should be open to being drugged and having my son drugged.
  • That my daughter is a messy hoarder, like I am.
  • That our house is a mess and we could use some help having it organized and cleaned.
I felt like I'd been ambushed.

Let's go over each of those.

1) My son has gotten a lot better. We did have him evaluated, but not by an M.D. And of course that means he wasn't drugged. My family (which does NOT excuse me temper) calls him "perfect" and they describe his behavior with them as great, and they should know because he's stayed with them for a week at a time. It seems clear to me that the problem is my wife and me and the environment we create for him, not a lack of him being drugged.

2) My daughter's room gets very messy, but she's no hoarder. Unfortunately, while my room could get cluttered while I was going up, my daughter takes things much further than I would by taking food and drink into her room, and often she doesn't dispose of those items properly. As for me, much of my "hoarding" had to do with a collection I was amassing, which was related to my career goal (which I've let die slow and painful death) and materials related to my education, training, and career development. Since my life now consists of working in a career I settled for and taking care of my wife and kids, and I don't have spare money, I’m not adding to my "stuff", which is mostly locked away in what amounts to a large closet.

3) Yes, our house is a mess. Should we really be accepting help from members of our church in that regard when we had a stay-at-home mother and two able-bodied children? My wife doesn't try to pin this one on me alone. She says "we're" messy people.

I sat there and played the good, humble, contrite husband and father as Sex Talk Guy said that the common thread was that three of the people in the family have anxiety-related issues (my son and I getting angry, my daughter hoarding). Not a word was mentioned about my wife, since Sex Talk Guy didn't say anything and since there was no way I was going to say what I wanted to say.

And since I didn't speak up (other than telling them that my wife’s family never met a medication they didn’t like and that my son behaves well with my family), I'm going to write here what I was thinking.

Here it is...

Anxiety? No s---! I get reminded daily that I got played in one of the worst ways possible. I get reminded that I screwed my own kids over. I get reminded that my wife basically perpetrated a fraud and I'm going to have to deal with it for at least X more years if I want to do what's best for my kids now that they've already been screwed over, and either way, I'm going to have to support her ass for the rest of my life, regardless of what she does. Well, not entirely regardless. I mean, she could kill herself like she's tried to do multiple times. Anxiety? Do you know what it's like to wonder if the reason your wife is not responding to your texts is that she's killed herself (intentionally or not) and perhaps the kids?

My son doesn't need to be drugged. He needs a mother who will handle children.

My daughter needs to be taught to clean up her damn room.

My wife is able to clean our home, she just doesn't want to! At least two of her siblings will back this up. She survived on her own, worked a full-time job, one that required her to be physically active, and she was just fine going on dates and having dates come back to her place. Now, she's less like a wife and partner to me and more like a dependent teenager.

Do I lose my temper? Yes. I'm getting better, but yes. I lose my temper when I get home from working a job I'm stuck in because I need to support these other people and I find the kids beating each other, a growing mess I have to get through like an obstacle course, and knowing I'm NOT going to be getting sex and that I'm going to be making my own dinner. Funny, my temper has always been under control in my professional life, and was under control in personal situations for my entire adult life… until it started becoming clear that I had been duped in a way that not only will have a negative effect on the entire rest of my life, but on the lives of my children as well.

Yeah, three of us have anxiety. What do we have in common? The fourth person! (And my poor children have to deal with me, too.)

She holds off doing chores and errands until I will be around so as to make me do them, with or without her, rather than enjoying some leisure time with her or time to myself.

She treats sex like a weekly (if I'm lucky) act of mercy for me, or some sort of reward for me that I only get if I jumped through the right hoops just so.

And here I get to exist in a subculture that's urging young men to make the same mistakes I did, and telling everyone about how joyous it all is, and telling me I'm supposed to be grateful and not complain. I can only imagine how fast I'd be run out of here if I went around telling the young men that, based on my experiences as well objective data, it is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even preferable, to stay unmarried and childless.

I'm not asking for much. I'm asking for someone who was eager and insistent on being a stay-at-home wife and mother, who is getting paid half of my salary per the law, to be a wife and mother, not to put off the responsibilities on hired help or volunteers who should be directing their efforts to someone truly needy.

Now, you might be preparing to tell me that what's done is done, and I'm married to her and we have our kids together, "just get over it and get on with life." Well, yes, that would be nice, but I'm constantly reminded that she perpetrated a fraud, constantly faced with the effects. Every day or two or three there's something that is a reminder about it, and there's no reset button. At least some of this is going to be a significant aspect of my life for the rest of my life. So please extend a little bit of slack to me when I get testy or grumpy or end up yelling after my quieter statements are not heeded.

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