Here is a little background for you. I am new to the site but many of the stories are too painfully up my alley.
My husband and I have been together for seven years, but only married since last August. We have had a difficult time and I have made many compromises because of his ADD, which he has not sought help for until now, after I have become a basket case, begging him to do something about it. Three days before our wedding he was fired from his job for an irresponsible decision he made. I had never known financial instability because I have always been insane about the bills being paid, and we always had MY income and student loans to cover anything else. Since his job loss he has done little to assert himself to get a job. He "looks" for work "on the internet" and "applies" with a premade template that I made him where he just has to fill in the blanks, but I know there is no follow up, no REAL effort and we are so financially stricken it's not even funny. Still, his lethargy became so severe and it made me realize that the other things I have "put up with" in our relationship (drugs, no sex drive, "laziness", inability to keep promises, and always saying he will change but NO progress). It took poverty to make me realize it though - it took ME hitting rock bottom. I never thought that he would WILLINGLY not provide for me and that I would ever be in a relationship where I can honestly say I cannot depend on my partner.
At first I thought of all sorts of ways I could show him how disappointed I was. I tried the crying, the yelling, the manipulation, the shame, the punishment, mothering, nagging -- all of it I hate. The only way anything ever gets done is with the nagging, but this has stopped more recently as I have been reading about how to care for myself. Nagging makes me MAD at me -- and mad at him, but mostly I just hate the way it makes me feel. I feel so resentful because I just want to be able to depend on him.
The biggest issue is that he does not follow through and that he has all these goals for himself but he is self destructive and unable to complete the basic goals. We communicate, we talk and talk and talk and he will ALWAYS say "yes i will do it" and I almost always end up disappointed. Except this time, it's not doing the dishes or taking the garbage out, it's getting a job and providing for us because I can't do it by myself.
So that's the background...not really the question. My problem is more specific. I need to know that the newest strategy we have is healthy. So here it is...
I believe that ultimatums are dangerous, but we have set boundaries in order to establish what I won't put up with any longer. My problem is the "punishment" for him breaking the boundary. THAT is what hasn't stuck in the past. Getting mad, sad, or just telling him how disappointed I am ONLY leads to "I'm sorry, i'll change" which leads back to him breaking his promises, crossing those boundaries.
This week I established the things that I needed him to do, and let him define a goal that he accepted would work for him.
Our biggest problem, hands down, is his not looking hard enough for work. So I said "This is what I need" so he said "I will produce to you 30 jobs that I have applied to by the end of the week" and to make things clear I said to him that I needed to have copies of the cover letters or some tangible proof that he has completed this task. So he met my need with a verbal agreement. But I needed more because I needed him to be aware of a consequence outside of me being mad. So I asked him to come up with something that would be a consequence should he break the agreement and he came up with "no TV during the hours of 9-5 all week after" if he couldn't produce 30 jobs applied to. I agreed to that. To make things MORE complicated and because he has broken SO many promises to me and disregarded so many consequences I told him that if he was caught watching TV during the hours of 9-5 on the week that he wasn't supposed to, that I would stay at my parents for a week. (this is because one time I let him make up his own consequence and he broke the consequence, so now I feel like I have to make consequences for breaking consequences!)
That was on Monday. It is Saturday night and I have sat back and BIT MY TONGUE as my husband has slept til 2pm, watched hours of TV and lazed around the house. I know that there aren't going to be 30 jobs for him to show me tomorrow when I ask for them. I know that he will be all "I guess I can't watch TV" instead of recognizing that he has HURT ME, because my words don't seem to matter to him anymore because he has heard it so many times. But what then? What if I catch him watching TV? I work from home as I am a photography editor, so I will know if he does it. Then i just leave for a week?
I can't think of anything else that would "punish" him. I am the only thing he wants because he has put us in a situation where we have NOTHING ELSE. I don't know what else to do. I feel like a dictator or something. I would not be leaving him permanently but at the same time what happens after a week and then I come home and he still hasn't changed? I just, I don't know what to do!!!! How do you set a boundary with a man who you can't trust or depend on? There has to be OTHER consequences other than "no tv" (which sounds very mother/son relationshipy) and me leaving...but I feel like there isn't. I feel like i have exhausted all possibilities.
I have told him that I will not divorce him or legally separate with him before he has had a chance to see a counselor, but we have to wait for that to happen because our Canadian coverage is limited. They have to call us to set up an appointment, and that could take months. It's okay because I have been dealing with this for so long I know that I am capable of dealing with this some more -- but what in the meantime? I can't cry myself to sleep anymore. I can't watch my health disintegrate before my very eyes. I am totally isolating myself, not going out with friends, not wanting to see anyone because I am just sick of everything, no energy. I try to stay hopeful with every bit of strength in me because in all honesty I love him and I miss the way things were when we were financially more stable. He broke promises then too but I donno, we were in a better state where we could communicate better and I trusted that we could get through it. I don't trust that anymore. I am worried that the love that I have for him will just waste away into resentment and then apathy.
I just want to know how to negotiate. How do I make consequences for him breaking clearly set out boundaries?