Sanity Checking

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Sanity Checking
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 11:17am

I've been married to my wife for 27 years now, and we've struggled with an issue on and off throughout our marriage.

My wife struggles a bit with happiness.  She always seems to find a cause (she doesn't like her job, etc), but it's gone on long enough that her fundamental struggle with happiness is clear.

And now I see the same, basic problem in my married daughter.  She's married to a great guy, a very understanding, calm, and patient person (I am less so).  She and I were talking the other day about this issue and she made some surprising assertions, ones I have heard before, but they were nonetheless surprising coming from her.

She asserts that women need a forum in which to vent their frustrations, struggles, feelings, etc.  Fair enough.  I take no issue with that.  However, she also talked about blame and targeting that frustration.  She's perfectly OK with talking with her husband in a manner that blames him for her struggles, her feelings.  She's got a job she doesn't like and sometimes, the resulting frustration goes in his direction.  "He has it easy; he likes what he does.  He's just in school.  I resent having to work while he just larks about, having fun, enjoying his life, while I'm over here suffering."

I have often heard the same thing from her mother and to be honest, that crosses a line for me.  I have NO problem hearing you out, sharing your burden, and doing what I can to ease it.  To be labeled the cause of it, the source of it, a convenient target of resentment you feel . . . that crosses a line for me.  

Why?  Two reasons come immediately to mind:

1.  Permitting it really does not help either of them.  If you're going to truly process your emotions, you need to accurately asssess them and placing blame where blame does not belong does not accomplish that task.

2.  Basic human dignity.  I'm here to be your partner in life, not your punching bag.

In talking with my daughter, I asked her if it was OK if a man had a bad day at work to come home and, say, kick the dog or let his wife sort of have it because dinner wasn't ready when he got home.  Of course, she said no.  "Well, then why is it OK for you to do the same thing to your husband?"

Her answer was basically this:  "Women may not compartmentalize and process separately as well as men and consequently, need different outlets, a wider range of choices when dealing with their feelings."

I'm not down with, "Your reproductive organs are innies not outies so therefore, you have carte blanche to behave as you like when you feel badly."  That logic simply does not compute.

What are your thoughts?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2010
In reply to:
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 11:10pm
Nice to see you here,
No of course it is not ok,
However she really needs to sit down with her dh & discuss this with him.
Could be problems down the road if she doesn't :smileyhappy:

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
In reply to:
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 1:12am

I am suspicious bc you worded it in such a way as to elicit the response, "of course not."

Yetthis quote has me wondering about her side of it. "He's just in school.  I resent having to work while he just larks about, having fun, enjoying his life, while I'm over here suffering."

So he is in school FT and doesn't work? I'm wondering if she signed on to be the sole supporter in their r/ship? There could be some hidden resentment from that. In which case, it might have some justification in her mind. What is HIS reaction to this? does he discuss with it through? Do they have a plan? A 5 yr, 10 yr plan? As a woman, I need these things. When my DH was unhappy in his career, I spend MANY nights and hours asking him what he wants to do, encouraging him to volunteer and try new things. I offered to help him go back to school - PART TIME - I would not fully support him financially though. (and you can ask why if you want but I don't want to digress too far from your question). So are they having these discussions? If not, that may be the source of her blame/fustration.

Now I am a woman who speaks my mind and goes after what I want. But most of the women I know are NOT. They want their partner to show interest, to ask questions and to make the connections.

I just had surgery that caused me to be unexpectedly bed ridden for 5 days. My DH worked 48 hours in the those 5 days. I was upset with him. I was fustrated bc caring for 2 young children when you cannot stand is difficult. He is new to his career so he wanted to show commitment to them by taking on the work, being a team player, etc. That is his choice. I did act very "chippy" towards him and directed much fustration towards him. He responded with, "I have to work. I have to take the hours. It's not my fault." I said, "Blame aside, I'm sick, tired and fustrated so the least you can do is sit there and let me vent this fustration!" And so he did. And I will admit when he was HERE, he was a fantastic caregiver. But really I was so bad off, I needed to do that. Then I got smart and called my brother, my MIL and many others who took shifts caring for the boys while I healed. Because yes, I agree that we have to make our own happiness and ultimately fix most of our own problems.

Every marriage is different and I wonder why you let your wife do this if you felt it was so wrong?




iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
In reply to:
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 4:50am

Where I come from the  idea is that it doesnt matter if your are female or male , in a relationship, you dont do that.    In a  relationship gender isnt important, instead working for the common goal ( a happy marriage, a good friendship  ect.) is the important bit.

And being in a marriage blaming the other  person for everything going wrong isnt a happy or healthy marriage according to the way I been raised.

And I hate as a woman when women  pull the  the female card,  it isnt  real, women are as well rounded as men and men are as emotional as women   if they are allowed to by socity.  The biggest different  between men and women is that women bleed for a week and doesnt die from it, the female  body copes better with blood loss then the male body.

I just think your daughter got taught by watching  her mother's way of  treating you and this is what makes it alright in her world.  She needs help.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2009
In reply to:
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 3:41pm

While I don't think that either person in a relationship should blame the other for their lack of happiness or take those frustrations out on the other I can see where your daughter might truly be resentful of her husband due to the situation you listed.  I think that if she hates her job and is the sole provider of her family and her husband is in school then that is not JUST her being unhappy and blaming it on him.  They are both participating in the situation and if they don't both agree that this is the best thing for them to do right now then they need to discuss the situation and make the changes necessary so that they both get what they need out of it or they need a plan or a time limit where this situation will change.  Now I don't know the whole situation obviously, but if this is not something that they both agreed to do, say for instance your SIL just decided to quit his job and go back to school without either discussing it with her or getting her agreement, then I think her being resentful of him is a reasonable reaction.  From what you say it doesn't sounds like she's dealing with it in the most healthy way, though.  

I also wanted to add that in my experience people tend to take out their anger and frustrations on those they feel the safest with.  While this is definitely not the healthiest way to deal with things, most people don't think that those "safe" people will ever turn their backs on or leave them so they tend to take out whatever is bothering them on that person.  It's not right and it's not acceptable, but I can also understand the thought process here. 

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