Tired of being the only adult

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2006
Tired of being the only adult
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 10:44am

I am venting for the most part because I am still angry and hurt, and really can't fix this myself, but if you have any good ideas, PLMK.

Yesterday was the straw that broke the camel's back, so understand not everything was horrible. More that it was indicative of a long pattern that DH cannot seem break free of and I have little patience for it anymore.

DH likes to get the kids outside to play at least once a day on the weekends. They get out and play at school so the week is covered. I have no issue with that. They love the outdoors and they like playing in what is left of the snow. Great idea. No problem.

He decides we will go snowshoeing. Again, great idea. The kids just got their first pairs of snowshoes so they love having a chance to learn to use them. Note that I said LEARN to use them. They are ages 4 and 5. They are just learning to use them.

He tells me we are going to go down the hill (just below the house), around "the path", and back up the hill. A red flag went up but I was thinking, I must have misunderstood; he couldn't be that crazy so I kept quiet. In hindsight of course, I should have asked what "path" he was referring to.

In any case, we start down to the path I am thinking of. It is a warm, sunny day and it is beautiful, but the snow is thick and slushy. The kids keep tripping and falling. It was a bit challenging for me and I have been snowshowing for the last 15 years, so I assumed we would stop soon. I want the kids to enjoy snowshoeing so it should mostly playful, maybe teach a few tips and tricks, but mostly playful, especially at their ages. 

We get to the bottom of that first hill and DH keeps going. I'm confused. Wait. Where are we going? He doesn't hear me calling him because he is berating DS for falling and not paying attention (he's getting tired). So we start down the next hill and DD (the 4 yo) can barely handle it. The hill is steep, the snow is slippery, and she keeps stepping on her own shoes. 

I finally get his attention at the bottom of this 2nd hill and I tell him we need to turn around. The kids are exhausted. This isn't fun for them anymore (DD is saying to me, mama I'm tired; I can't do anymore). They say nothing because they don't like to disappoint him, but they can tell a storm is brewing between us. DH says he wants to go on and continue the "hike" we are on (this is the first time he calls our outdoor fun a "hike"). Mind you, I know the path he talking about and the last half is almost all uphill and difficult to do in the summer, let alone in the winter with slushy snow. It is also just shy of a half mile long. No way Jose. We are not doing that hill with the kids as tired as they are. Nope, that reason did not work for him. He says, How do you know the kids can't do it? How do you know if you won't let them try? I said, what happens when you get to the steep part of the hill? Are you going to carry them? Are you going to make them finish even if they are crying? How does this scenario play out in your head? Complete disconnect with reality. He thinks they will be hunky dory. Happy. 

If I could have ripped his eyes out right then and there I would have. He was hell bent on doing this hike and be damned how the rest of us felt. So of course, now that he is having his tantrum and not getting his way, I have to be the bad guy. I have to be the adult and say, enough. I gather the kids up and we retraced our steps. They are holding my hands and doing their best to not fall. Neither one of them is protesting our return nor are they insisting that they can finish daddy's hike. We stop every time the hill levels out so that they can catch their breath, take a drink of water, and rest. DH is behind us being pissy the whole way. I was livid.

We get home, have dinner, put the kids to bed, and get some odd chores done here and there and we finally talk...because if we had done it any sooner, I would have taken the kids and walked out. I am so not kidding. He has done this before though nothing so blatantly not in the best interests of the kids. We just had a discussion last week about him being so self-centered and not properly planning his goals. He just assumes because it works for him and it makes sense to him, it will be ok for everyone else, if he considers us at all...and I am not wholly convinced of that.

We go round and round, and there is excuse after excuse, but the upshot is it is everyone else's fault but his: I didn't ask more questions about his plan...The snow was fine; it is like the snow we have always snowshowed in (ummm...no)...The kids didn't tell him they were tired. They never said that they wanted to turn around. 

OMG I thought I was going to effing lose it when he thought a 4 and 5 yo should take responsibility for telling daddy this wasn't a good idea.

Not to mention that I am 6 mos pregnant and I was sick almost all day yesterday. I was still a bit queasy and unstable. Truly, if I had really thought he meant to do that arduous 1 mile hike when he first brought up the plan, I would have nixed it right off and saved ourselves the trouble. I kick myself for not heeding that red flag. I won't be doing that again.

I just don't get it. He seemed like a super-responsible guy before we got married. I never saw this side of him that is this childish. He made what seemed like simplistic, but good decisions for himself while single. What is complicated about being a bachelor, right? 

Now I can see he has a serious disconnect with changing his goals. He sees it as an admission of failure to change course in anyway. It is an admission that he didn't think it all through and he'd rather bash his head against the wall before admitting that. He is not good with re-assessment. Once I stepped out into that snow and noticed how slippery and slushy it was, I thought we can't do much in this. He neither noticed nor allowed the new data to alter his thinking in any way. He has previously shown an incredible lack of taking changing variables into consideration. He won't believe anything I say. He has to actually experience the failure, has to see it happen IRL or it is merely speculation on my part. I don't have a problem with that necessarily as long as he is only talking about taking himself down. If the rest of us are driving towards the cliff's edge a la Thelma and Louise, I'm putting the breaks on that. He can go it alone from there.

But then I am the bad guy. I am the PITA messing everything up. Eventually, I can get him to see the missteps he made or at least the points in a process where he should have asked himself some additional questions, but it takes hours and hours of wrangling to get him there (yesterday it was 6hrs; we were up past midnight). The only way I could get him to see reason was to ask him to invite his mom over and see if she could complete that hike, and if she thought the kids could it (she is in great shape, but I damn well she wouldn't've been ok with her babies making that trek). Then, and ONLY then, did the fog start to lift. He neither wants her to see that he has been a jackass nor does he want her to confirm what I am saying, and while she loves him to death, she would not lie for him, and he knows it.

Just so exhausting. I guess it is time for counseling, but I just needed to vent. Thanks! My apologies for the rambling...

Yvonne :-)

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 1:01pm

Hi mom, good to see you hear.

Well, the good part is that you both let the steam pass and were able to talk about it.  Sure, it may have taken until late into the night, but at least you were both willing to do it.  

I don't have a detailed story quite like yours, but I have experienced scenarios close enough to understand where you are coming from.  It can be hard sometimes, because you have to admit that us mothers will often tend to pull the plug on something more quickly than the dad will.  And to be honest, sometimes the dad might just be right.  :)  

I am not sure how long you have actually been married, but I know for me that these kind of things have morphed and changed for me and my DH.  I struggle sometimes whether I am just being boring and unadventurous or am I actually just being honest with myself that it just isn't going to work for me.  

When my DH and I have any kind of uncomfortable conversation, I do try to always hear his side and not point my finger at him.  I will say things like "please help me understand...."  "this is my perception of what you said or did...."  "consider my perspective of...."  

It is important to advocate for our children, but we also have to be careful that it is not at the cost of our DH.  I hope that makes sense.  I mean, I think you did the right thing getting the kids out of that snow, but I am sure you would agree that your DH doesn't want to be continually undermined any more than you do.

I am sure you probably already know all this, but these are skills that you will want to start practicing now while you kids are young.  Pretty soon you will have kids in activities, sports, etc.   Let alone any other family "adventures."  :)

Enough babling out of me.  Hopefully there was a helpful tid bit in there somewhere.

Serenity CL making a marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2006
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 2:41pm


We have been married for 7yrs. Together for 10. I am 45 and he is 39. No spring chickens, and have ostensibly had plenty of time to grow up.

Like I said, his idea started out as a good one. Not taking that back in any way. I was gung-ho to go out and play too. Play, not hike.

We aren't the over-protective types and the kids are pretty rambunctious and kinetic. They are still only 4 and 5...and they only just turned those ages in this month. I think a mile hike on steep, slippery terrain is quite a lot to ask of ones so little. DH said he had learned to snowshoe when he was roughly their age too and thought it was no big deal. We have a picture his mom took of the year that he and his brother got snowshoes for Christmas. They were ages 9 and 7. I see a big difference in endurance between a 7yo (9yo) and a 4yo (5yo). He couldn't fathom what the difference might be. SMH.

But really, the specifics of yesterday isn't the issue. Just the last straw. The bigger problem is his self-esteem. He has a fear of failure and we have been trying to work for some time now on getting him to do things, mostly thngs he has never done before, knowing there will likely be a failure in many of his first attempts at doing x. With that in mind, learn the lesson that experience has taught you and do better next time. Baby steps. No biggie. He gets praise when he pulls it out. Even if there was only a modicum of success, I am happy to tell him X was difficult, but at least you got Y. His comfort zone though is to not do new things. He prefers to stick to what he knows, does not do well when even those things fail (like yesterday, which was not a newbie experience), and refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for those failures (just my word; he can use any one he likes).

Really, we could be talking about the dinner he made last week or a card game he played with the kids, or trying to put together a new picnic table. Doesn't matter what it is. If it fails, it is initially everyone else's fault, and it is like pulling teeth to get him to see it any other way. That is where my exhaustion lay. It is just sooooo much work to get him to not see everything negatively, to breath and take a look at what can be learned. I would be happier if this was a process he could do on his own. I'd like to step out of his analysis phase all together. Really I do, but at this point taking apart each aspect of a new task and thinking critically about it is NOT a natural process for him. He's just as happy with skipping it. 

I am getting weary of that. I wish there was some checklist I could just hand him and say, whenever you do something new, look this over, ask yourself these questions, and file away in your memory the things you nailed, and create processes to avoid the things you missed/failed, and let him integrate his lessons in his own way. If I am not asking questions along the way though, he would completely skip these steps. Remember this because there will be a quiz afterwards. :-D

He is a super speedy reader. He devours every books he lays his hands on so if there are some good self-esteem books that are process driven (he NEEDS routines to succeed), please share. He'd be fine with me making suggestions that a book might help him. It is one of the few avenues that is completely open to him (without judgement).

I appreciate your response. Thanks so much. :-)

Yvonne :-)

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 4:46pm

I think there are a couple of issues here that are getting mixed up.  First is the issue of seeing what the kids can do and of course if they are trying something for the first time, no one knows until they try it how much they can do--I think if both of you can just look at it like "we'll see what happens" and go from there, maybe arguments could be avoided.  He needs to see that it's not a reflection on his decision making if the kids can't do something for as long or far as he initially thought--it's all an experiment and he should be able to be tuned into his own kids to see if they look happy or miserable or fatigued.  There is no reason to be pushing 4 and 5 yr old kids to do physical activities that are too much for them and make everyone unhappy.  If they can't walk a mile today, eventually they will get bigger and be able to do it, plus no 2 kids are alike.  What's fun for one might not be fun for the other and everyone's abilties and likes should be taken into account.

The second thing that strikes me is that you say that he doesn't want to try new things but then you also come across as critical because you say that he doesn't plan ahead and think of all the steps.  Maybe you aren't as judgmental as you come across but no wonder he doesn't want to try something new if he feels like he'll be judged badly by you if he doesn't do everything in the steps that you think he should have done it.

I do think counseling will help both of you get one the same page here.  A neutral 3rd party's input usually helps.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2006
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 6:21pm

Not mixed up so much as one is the cart and the other is the horse.  One is what his abilities or proclivities are and the other is his use of said abilities.

His dislike of change and learning new things pre-dates me by a long shot. It just didn't seem that way when we were dating and first starting out. 

I know it seems like this was just a mile walk, and if we were talking about a flat plane surface, the kids could walk that easily. These are hills that even ATVs have a hard time navigating. They are steep. Quite a few people in the area, run up and down our road when they are training for marathons, mudders, and ironman type competitions. I am not talking cute little grassy knolls that he was expecting the kids to scale. TBH, I am not sure I could have made it up the last of the hills and I am a cyclist. Seriously, this was way outside the range of pre-schoolers. It isn't even close.

Yes, in all honesty he has said I am hard on him. I have lately (say the last 18mos) tried a different tactic. He is the cook around here (I clean the kitchen; he is an excellent cook no question) and he has had an issue with not planning meals well, and having all of the ingredients he needed for a particular meal. First, we put an eraser board so he could add ingredients to the list and I can make my shopping list. That was a challenge, but now he is updating the list as we run out of things. Next on the list is meal planning. We are sitting down on a Friday and talking about what he wants to make for the next week. At first, I just said make whatever and let me know what you want to do. I got nothing for feedback. Then I said, after 3 weeks in a row of hot dogs, pizza, and burgers, here are a couple of recipe books (including my personal one that has all of our old time favorites in it), pick at least one recipe a week from these and let me know what you need. That worked for one week....and nothing since. Now I have said, every Friday before our Saturday shopping day, we will sit down and plan what you want to do. I will help him through the thought process that becomes a weekly meal plan. So far so good. The shopping list has been MUCH more accurate, and he has been amenable to all of it. It is a beautiful thing.

Do I think I should have to train a 39 yo how to plan to make a meal that uses up our oldest or most abundant food first (someone who BTW used to do this just fine on his own before he married)? No. I think it is crazy that he needs that kind of guidance and I wouldn't be being honest if I said otherwise. Will I do it in as nice a way as I can so that ends justifies the means? Sure.

We have plenty of processes we have worked through like this. Maybe with initial resistance from me, but ultimately getting a process together that works best for him (and us as a whole). I used to be the person who made repairs to the house. I grew up in a construction family and have restored a 125 year old house so by default that was my domain. As our family has grown, I have passed on tasks to him that I used to do, and stuff that he is frankly better at than I. He is an engineer. He has an excellent sense about how things work mechanically. Why he wouldn't have the initiative to build and fix things is something only he understood, but I had to prompt him to use his skills to manage the fix-it projects. He fought it at first, saying he would mess things up, but everything is fixable so that excuse wasn't going to work. It has helped improve his self-esteem. With each successful completion, he gets more and more confident about that work. I wish it translated to everything, but again...baby steps.

Why this excursion was different, I don't know. He could be trying out a new idea and got it all wrong. I don't know because he honestly can't articulate in greater detail about what his plan was besides "I saw no reason why we couldn't do this." If past experience is any indication, he had a great idea, but didn't really think it through or if he did, it was only from his perspective. We have had plenty enough of these experiences now that I would have hoped he would have sat down with me for two minutes and discussed his thoughts so we could hammer out the details. Like I said in my first post, clearly I need to be more diligent about getting him to flush out details before the execution. I missed that cue all together. I'd love a do over.

The flip side is that that makes me the gatekeeper, whereas I am looking for more pick up from him. Needing me less to make a decision, and using his own nascent planning skills to manage things within the family. He has the foundation. We have worked on that for 5 years now. I guess I'll have to think through some good scenarios where he can use those skills to his advantage and with at least decent results, so he can build up a volume of successes like he did with the maintenance projects.

Ok. So you've talked me off the ledge and given me some food for thought. I guess we get to see where this next path takes us. This situation really is improving bit by bit. I think I am just overly impatient with the process and lose sight of that. I really want to step out of the process more, but it is likely not going to happen as fast as I would like. I'll have to come to grips with that I guess. 

Thanks for your thoughts. :-)

Yvonne :-)

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 04-07-2014 - 8:01pm

Real quick thought....

I am sort of slow and methodical, can putter all day, etc. etc.  My DH is either on or off, gets up early and if he is not busy or down, he is bored.  

Althought he has made large strides in adusting to the difference, (I have obviously tried, also), there comes a point where we have changed about all that we can without causing resentments.  A few weeks ago I just finally had to say "I agree that you have some valid points, but can you truly accept that me and my DD are just very different in this area"  (oh, by the way, this is my 3rd marrige.  I came from the Making a Second Marriage Work board that merged with the Marriage board)

I just worry for you that you might be trying too hard to make DH fit your style.  I could be wrong, clearly perception is limited on a message board.  

And not to beat this to death, and I know the hike story is really just a detail, I am confused what his thought process was in general.  Whether it be the hike, or what ever detail to fill in the blank.  

Anywho, for example:  just yesterday my DH said I am boring and doesn't get how puttering can make me happy.  (short version of our conversation)  I like to plan, he doesn't.  If we don't have a plan for the day, I just start on my to do list for the day.  By the time I am motivated to go anywhere, he is already done running around and ready for a nap.  

If we plan ahead, I am happy to get up and get ready and go.  But he doesn't like to plan.  What he likes to do from 6 to 9 in the morning, I would prefer to do from 9 to 12 at night.  

Mind you that I have tried many things with him I never would have done on my own.  But I also have to be honest when something isn't going to work for me.  (i.e. especially if I already tried and I was miserable)  

Well, I am babling again.  Hope you keep us posted.  Sounds like you both are really trying to work together and if he will read a book that may help, that is awesome!!!

Serenity CL making a marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Tue, 04-08-2014 - 3:01am

I also think that a neutral third party could help. Someone that sees and hears your interactions, gets the things that don't come across written on a message board.

When I read about the meal planning and you said that he did it fine as a bachelor, I thought "maybe he didn't actually plan that much back then, and faking meals can work for one person". All of the steps that you had to lead him through to coordinate the meal and shopping plan, and the entire scenario with expecting little kids to be able to snowshoe up steep hills, made me wonder if he has a learning or processing disability of some sort? But my jaw dropped when I read that he is 39 and an engineer. I have to ask, how does he function at work? I don't know much about engineering (or know what type of engineer he is) but I'm pretty sure that the job cannot be done in the manner he approaches things at home. Can he organize and manage in some areas but not in others?

Does he know what is at the root of his self esteem and self confidence issues? I can see how it could be very hard on a relationship, for both of you, to have you being the teacher/trainer/parent/adult in many areas. It could cause a lot of resentment so I commend you both for working through all of this. Would he be open to counseling to understand what is behind some of his issues?

"Why he wouldn't have the initiative to build and fix things is something only he understood" Probably due to the lack of self confidence. He wouldn't want to start something that he wasn't sure he could finish, that he wasn't sure of what he was doing, that might risk exhibiting his shortcomings if it didn't work out. If it went well then he would feel good about it and about himself, but if it didn't go well then he would feel even worse about himself. Sometimes we're not willing to take the risk. I can relate to this kind of thinking.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 04-09-2014 - 11:07am

I was also wondering if the guy might have adult ADHD, which I think my ex had.  It never really affected him at work.  From what he said, he was very organized--he worked in a paint department of a lumber store, he was able to do his work fine, order supplies, etc.  He would constantly forget things at home so I think it's probably able to compartmentalize or maybe the effort of keeping things organized at work is enough and then he just is too tired to do it at home too.  Or maybe when you have done a job a long time, you have things down and know what the steps are that you have to take and then he can't apply that to other areas.  He might be a great engineer but kind of clueless about little kids too.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 04-09-2014 - 11:16am

I think it's kind of funny Traveinng mom--you say you don't want to be the only adult and you want your DH to make decisions but if he does make decisions and they aren't the same that you would make, then he's wrong about that too.  don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to live on a steady diet of hot dogs and pizza either, but who decided that he would be the cook?  Did he volunteer for this job even though he didn't seem to be that enthusiastic about it, or did it get thrust upon him because maybe you got home from work later?  I could not possibly plan a menu and do my shopping for a week.  I know people who do that but I've never been able to do it.  I know I go shopping 2-3 times a week just because I can't figure out what I'll be wanting later.  If you don't want to be the boss of everything, then you also have to be willing to give up control and recognize that maybe your DH wont' do things the way you would do.  Right now you're really in the role of being his mother as well.  I remember a movie that I saw once and I wish I could remember who was in it because it was really like this (and also reminded me of me & my ex) where the wife was the responsible one and the DH was the fun guy.  I used to get really sick of having to take care of everything.  sure my ex did things around the house, like shovel the snow and clean the pool and help with the kids but if it was anything that involved paperwork, buying insurance, paying the taxes, all that not fun stuff, I would get stuck with it--and I know part of it was that I really didn't trust him to do the work.  So  I think we kind of get ourselves into this catch-22 type situation and don't know  how to get out of it.