Shutting Down

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2012
Shutting Down
10
Wed, 11-14-2012 - 9:45pm

Hi everyone.

I'm not new to the boards but I haven't written in a while. Things have always been wonderful between me & my guy (minus the normal ups & downs). Recently though I started a new full-time job that's very taxing, keeps me away from home every weekday on day shift & the worst part about it is that my SO works nightshift. Put two and two together & you see that we basically never see each other. Since it is rare for us to have time to talk about ANYTHING, the only thing that we seem to talk about when we DO see each other are things that are unpleasant like bills, or upcoming worries, yadda yadda. I have always been the one to manage finances & organize our household income information, so I'm very familiar with the exact amounts we need every month. It's always been workable where we work it out but since starting a new job with better pay, things have gotten a little harder in the budget department as far as balancing the amount we each put toward our household expenses. That's really not the biggest problem though, the basic problem is, as i said, we never see each other.

How in the world do you handle this? We've been together almost 6 years so I know we're good for it, we just lack communication skills. Or rather, I should say, I lack communication skills because as he pointed out to me just tonight, whenever we get into a conversation about unpleasant things or I am upset about something, I shut down. I don't know if it's because of past failed relationships or what but I have a horrible time. I usually shut up, stay quiet & cry.

Can anyone offer any advice??

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 2:21am

Hi ~

Well first, you need to fix the communication thing.. .or rather the issues that keep you from being able to communicate in a positive manner.  It's hard to know what's behind it....it could be that the manner in which he approaches you is not appropriate, it could be past relationships and bad skills/fears you learned there.  Whatever it is, you need to get to the bottom of it so you can resolve it.  It's causing problems in your relationship and will continue to make your relationship less than it should be.  

I don't know your exact hours, but my husband and I have similar life these days.  I work a traditional work day (7:30 - 4:00) and he's off to work at 4:30, home at 1:30.  That means he's in bed at 8:30, to make matters worse, I've always been a late night.  We have a few hours in the evening before he's off to bed.  I do the financial stuff after he's gone to bed, that way it (and other chores) don't interfere with out time together.  On weekends we make it a point to get out and do things together and we spend our weekend evenings together too.  

I can't help you figure out your financial dilemma, have you considered keeping the spit as it was and banking the extra?  I'm not sure what each of you is thinking along the lines of what's fair and equitable.  Maybe if you let us know what kinds of things each of you are thinking of and what seems right to each of you will bring out some helpful suggestions?

I've posted a few links from out Information and Resources section below that might be helpful in helping your communication, but I'm thinking to really faciliatate a change you'll need to work with a therapist.  

http://www.ivillage.com/forums/love-sex/relationship-problems/problem-solving-couples/relationship-information-resources/dos-and-donts-fair-fighting

http://www.ivillage.com/forums/love-sex/relationship-problems/problem-solving-couples/relationship-information-resources/verbal-fencing-someone-you-love


~ cl-2nd_life

cl-2nd_
Avatar for Kendahke1
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-09-2012
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 9:37am

What do you fear will happen if, instead of shutting down, you own your voice and make it heard? Do you fear that he will view you as unlovable and then will leave you?  Do you fear he will punish you for speaking your mind?

when you were just living off of his income, how was his attitude?  The hours notwithstanding, it would seem the extra income you're now bringing in has in some way given him permission to go spend his on whatever he wants without regards to how it's blowing up the house budget, since now, you can cover "your half of things". 

What was the financial agreement you two came to when you secured the income from this position?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 10:51am

If you were able to pay your expenses with your former job where you made less money, then I don't see how there's a problem since you make more money--is it that your BF is asking you to contribute more money toward household expenses since you make more money now?  that would seem reasonable.  I don't know how long in your 6 yr relationship you have been living together and I do think that if people are living together & not married, it's probably not a good idea in many ways to just have a joint bank account (although some people do) but also at some point in regards to money, I think there should be a difference between a couple who is living together & roommates.  You would expect roommates to just pay their share of the rent & utilities and just take care of everything else by themselves.  But at some point if you are considering yourselves a long term couple (and I don' t say this just about you, but about everyone) where is the point where you stop treating the relationship like you have to account for every dollar so that one person doesn't pay more than their share?  I think there has to be some middle ground between beting taken advantage of and acting like you care for each other like a joint enterprise.  For example, if one person got sick or lost their job, would you be able to count on each other to pick up the slack financially or would it be like "you don't have a job, so you're out of here."

With regard to communication, I am the type of person who finds it difficult to express negative feelings towards someone I'm involved with because 1) I don't like people being mad at me and 2) I was always worried that if I stood up for myself that maybe the other person would break up with me.  newsflash to me:  being a doormat doesn't present the breakup anyway.  For those times when I've gotten up the nerve to say that I don't like something, the other person usually would be very open minded about it and do things my way.  Then it was like I wondered why I was so worried about it.  But holding in resentment is also not very good.

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 6:00pm

  Hi

     The communication problem seem to have two problem areas.

1st the conversation is negative.  whine and complain.  That hurts the relationship

2nd " the basic problem is, as i said, we never see each other."    There is is.  By the time the negative is over the positive has been buried.

Perhaps starting with bonding,positive talk first would be better.   Once a week discuss business and have a whine and complain session.

   Just a thought

chaika

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2012
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 8:26pm
2nd_life, thank you so much for your response. I think the biggest reason why I have this habit of shutting down is based off past relationships. I dated a guy for a long time who was very manipulative & turned everything I said around to hurt me. I think that caused me to fear saying my feelings & what makes it so difficult for me to communicate when things begin to get complicated or fights begin. Often the things we need to talk about aren't even that serious but when I act like that, it makes things worse. He hates that I shut down because I know he basically feels like he can't do anything & I need to realize that without anything to go on, how is he supposed to try & help things get better? The biggest thing about finances is that I stress over my own personal ones, often that are based around my medical bills. I often feel like I have to take everything on by myself which makes me worse but in reality I know I just need to share with him (in the right way) the need for help. It helped me to hear how you handle the financial stuff. I grew up in a house where my father was the one handling all the finances & my mom didn't bother with it. In a way I thought the man was always supposed to do that but I've found out that it doesn't really matter, I'm the one that likes to do it because I like to be like my father was. I guess I'm looking for validation that it's okay for me to handle all that stuff & it be considered a normal thing. He gives me money, maybe I don't need to explain to him in every detail the stress involved with breaking down each bill. In all honesty, it's more that I just need to develop some kind of system. Thank you for the response & the links! I will begin to look through them now!!
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2012
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 8:31pm
Kendahke, Im not really sure what I fear, I just completely clam up. I had a father who got very mad & screamed at me when things went wrong so as kids my brother & I learned it was better to lie or hide something then experience that kind of fear. He doesn't even act like that but some where in me I think I always am just afraid that will happen. In a way, I'm just my own worst enemy because me clamming up is what CAUSES him to get the maddest. He wants me to speak up but I just shut down. As far as when we lived off his income, his attitude was actually pretty great. He didn't put pressure on me at all about work, he knew I was looking. Now that I write this I'm starting to feel a little selfish for turning around & looking down on him since I got my job. He really was pretty self-less when he worked, and I guess I need to remember that when I'm getting upset about bills that I'm paying. The key is communication...I think we just need to sit down & talk about it all. I think that in a way the extra income that is in our house is causing problems because now it seems okay to spend money on things frivolously when we should be saving it..
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2012
Thu, 11-15-2012 - 8:35pm
Musiclover12, now that I'm reading everyone's responses to this I'm starting to feel a little shamed by the way I'm reacting in regards to money right now. We've been living together for the majority of our relationship, slowly moving from paying little to paying our entire living expenses together. We always seemed to manage by talking about who could pay what, and I guess since I've gotten this nice job that pays well, I'm becoming more stingy with my money & hoping he can still contribute like he did back when I wasn't making any. Something I haven't thought about really is how our expenses have changed, for example, his car insurance & car payment popped up after he had to get rid of his car & get onto his own policy. It was a bill we didn't have back when we first moved into our own place. But what your saying about communication is exactly where I'm coming from. I'm always afraid someone will be mad at me & I also don't want to cause fights or get "yelled at" by someone else. I'm working on just understanding that I need to speak up even if it causes a problem because I guess then at least we're talking about it..
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Fri, 11-16-2012 - 2:06am

In our house, I manage the money and he does most of the housework : )  

It sounds like you're clear on what your issues stem from -- past relationships that have left you with baggage.  Been there done that for sure.  I can't urge you strongly enough to seek the help of a therapist to help you dig into those issues so that you can resolve them once and for all.  As it is, you're allowing these guys who hurt you to continue to control you and you're allowing these guys to affect the good relationship you have.  Get in there and get rid of them!  You deserve to be rid of them!  A therapist will also help you learn tools that will further improve your relationship with your boyfriend.  Give it a try, you've got nothing to lose but those bad past relationships!


~ cl-2nd_life

cl-2nd_
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 11-16-2012 - 11:28am

I've been married twice & both times I managed the money & paid all the bills from the joint account.  I would rather do that and know that the bills are being paid on time.  My 2nd exH was going to pay the cell phone bill "because it was in his name" even though the money was being paid from our joint account--until it kept getting shut off cause he forgot about it.

There are quite a few ways that you could divide up your bills--either each pay particular bills, have one joint account & pay everything from there, or pay the major bills like rent from a joint account and then pay personal expenses separately.  I think you do have to get a handle on not blowing the extra money you have now.  Maybe you can set aside a certain amt. each money for fun but make sure to put some in savings or retirement.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2012
Mon, 11-26-2012 - 11:25pm

MM,

Sounds like you already know some of the reasons why you clam up. Have you talked to your bf about what causes the clam ups? I agree a good therapist would help you with learning some great communication skills.

It is rough, I know, having parents that wanted you to be "seen but not heard" and that affects you your entire life if you don't find a way to get through it.

It would be good to lay all the bills and expenses out and discuss how much each of you are to contribute. Hubby and I have one account and no matter who made the most or less throughout our relationship it was always "our" money not mine or his. He gets money to play with and I get money to splurge when I want it, we just communicate about it so neither is shocked when the other spends it on something besides bills or household stuff.

For many years in our marriage my husband was gone 4 days a week and only home 3. It was tough but with lots of communication we made it work. Sometimes I enjoyed the time with him gone, but most of the time I just missed him and couldn't wait to be together again. Now he is retired, (due to illness) and I don't mind him being underfoot making up for all the lost time :D