What do you do when you can't rely on your spouse?
Submitted by 20YrVet on Tue, 08/13/2013 - 14:52
I've been asking myself this for years (even before we knew he had ADHD), but I go through periods when I am obsessed with it, and now is one of them. I try to find advice to single moms, because I figure I am almost (but not entirely) like one. I search for every possible way I can set my life up so that when I get sick or super busy/stressed, I can have everything under control without having to turn to my husband for help, because he won't be there for me. For several years now, he has been responsible for providing dinner two nights a week, and lately, he keeps flaking out on one of those nights, but I don't know until the last minute, so I've started searching for recipes for freezer-to-oven meals (no time to thaw when you find out at dinnertime that your spouse isn't making dinner!) or super-easy but healthy meals (our family is tired of fast food and Lean Cuisines -- sad, isn't it?).
I fear falling into a serious situation like cancer, because I know he won't be there for me.
It's not that he is evil. He just can't be relied on, and when I have complained, he has gotten upset. So, I've stopped complaining. I have done my best to give friendly reminders, but even they don't seem to work. Case in point, this past Sunday (a night when he is supposed to provide dinner -- this has been his chore for YEARS): He left for an event around mid-afternoon. Before he left, I asked, "Are you still making dinner tonight?" He said, "Yes." As it got closer and closer to 6, I wondered at what point I should call him and remind him he said he was going to provide dinner. I was poaching chicken for one of those freezer meals I mentioned. He walked in, and I said something to him about the fact that I wasn't making dinner, I was cooking ahead for another night. He said something like "Okay," and went into the garage. A short while later, I heard him using the circular saw. I gave him a while, and then stuck my head in the garage and asked, "When are you making dinner?" "Oh!" he said, "I'm sorry. You must be hungry. What sort of Lean Cuisine would you like?" So, he was sorry, but honestly, what am I supposed to do? Chant "dinner dinner dinner" constantly at him?
He is obsessed, completely obsessed with the project he is working on in the garage. He will be in there for hours. He asked me to order drapes for our windows, and they have been sitting there for months, waiting for him to put them up. He tells me not to wash the dishes, he will do them (they are another chore of his), but they will be all over the counter, in my way, or we will run out of spoons, and I will go ahead and wash them, because otherwise who knows WHEN they will be washed. If I am stressed or sick, he isn't going to step in and pick up the slack for me. He might tell me not to do things, but he won't actually do them for me -- and I don't mean things like dusting (I hardly ever get around to dusting; I don't have time and it isn't a high priority), but things like laundry or taking out trash (actually, when he SEES me taking out trash, he'll jump up and say, "I'll do it," but if the can is overflowing, he will just ignore it). Speaking of trash, we have talked about how I would like him to throw his trash away, but he will make himself a microwave popcorn every night and INVARIABLY leave the plastic outer wrapper on the counter. I was recently on vacation with my mother and child (without him -- he doesn't like to travel), and he had a cold while I was gone. When I came home, there was a used Kleenax on the bedroom floor next to the wastepaper basket -- he had missed and not bothered to pick it up. Ewww.
Earlier this year, he had a minor medical crisis. After it was over, he thanked me for being by his side, and I appreciate that, but I was hurt (especially because he knows my love language is words of affirmation) when, a few days later, we were with some of his friends, and he told about his crisis, and instead of saying something like, "And my lovely wife was there for me," he said, "And when she drove me to the ER, she drove up to the wrong door, and I was in SOOOO much pain, but I didn't get mad at her." Gee, thanks, honey. A few weeks later, I had a cold (and yes, it was just a cold), and I had to work despite the cold, and I'd come home from work, and he didn't offer to do a thing to make the evenings easier for me, like make dinner that night. I know I should have ASKED him to do it when he didn't volunteer, but I get so TIRED of always having to the initiator (and then having to follow up and follow up and follow up if my request is actually going to be taken care of). Can't he just once see a need and actually offer to meet it on his own?
He takes Adderall, and that helps, but he refuses to get counseling, either couples counseling or for himself. He also won't acknowledge that his ADHD has a negative effect on me. My problems are all supposed to be because I am depressed (and I am, and I'm being treated for it, and the treatment is helping me, but it doesn't change my overall situation with my husband or desire to be cared for as well as being the one who does the caring).
I periodically throw myself pity parties, wishing I had someone who had my back. I can't afford regular household help, and anyway, what I really need is someone to pick up after my husband or keep on top of the dishes or deliver a last-minute healthy meal (where we live, you can't order restaurant meals for delivery, like you could in, say, NYC). My mother, who lives nearby, is entirely unsupportive. She thinks I need to be firmed with him. What she doesn't know (because I haven't told her -- I don't think telling her would help the situation) is how close we have come to divorce, because I am a "nag" who "always wants my way." I don't want a divorce (well, the sane part of me that realizes that (1) life wouldn't exactly be a party without my husband, no matter how unhelpful he can be, and (2) I'd feel like I'd cut off a leg if I divorced him -- we've been together so long, and I do believe I still love him, even when I think I want a divorce), so I just take care of things myself now. Single moms are told to have a support network they can rely on, but who would that be? Am I the only person whose friends are frankly busy enough with their own families that they don't make much of a support network? They are emotionally supportive, but really -- my closest friend, geographically speaking, is disabled, so I can't count on her for practical help, and my other friends live half an hour or more away. I just have to do for myself.
I confess that I fantasize sometimes that my husband and I won't be together any more someday, and I'll meet a man who cherishes me and whom I can lean on in tough times. Someone I can truly trust. I know that isn't good for my marriage, but I am having a very hard time not going there mentally. (This someone is not an actual man I know, but that doesn't make my thoughts good.)
Has anyone successfully managed the "I wish someone had my back" issue? How did you do it?