At Crossroads

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2013
At Crossroads
Thu, 08-22-2013 - 11:02am

My husband and I have been together for 7 years and married for 2 years; however, one of those years was apart because I was posted to Iraq for my job.  We always knew this was coming, and in order for me to continue on my career (which I love) I needed to do this posting and in fact volunteered for it.  He wasn't thrilled with it (of course) but knew that it was necessary and said he would be supportive.  While I was away, however, he wasn't that supportive.  I tried to be understanding that he was the one left behind and how difficult that was, but our conversations always were about him and how hard it was for him and how much he was suffering.  He was uninterested in hearing about my life there, and in general just seemed to be taking a childish stand that "I left him" and he was the victim in this.  Every once and awhile he would realize what he was doing and was the supportive husband, but I would say 75% of the time was him being uncommunicative and sullen.  As you can imagine, this really changed how I thought about him. It being Iraq, of course I was in a difficult (and dangerous) situation and needed my own outlet.  And it saddens me to realize that during the year I had to go to my parents and sister to get that - and I couldn't get it from my husband.

Over the last 7 years there have certainly been ups and downs in our relationship, and we try to work through them but the same "downs" keep coming back.  It's so exhausting to have the same fights over and over again.  We went to counseling before I left for Iraq, but he halfheartedly participated and after awhile declared that if we were going to continue going, I needed to pay for it all myself.  Seeing as I couldn't foot that bill alone, we stopped going.  Every since I got home a month ago, I feel like he still punishing me for leaving.  And it comes about in a childish fashion - I'll mention how I didn't know that X store was there, and he'll say "well you left for a year."  It's constant and the underlying implication is obvious. 

Prior to leaving for Iraq, I was ready and willing to work on the marriage and deal with our recurring issues.  One of the main ones for me is that he is a "bean counter" in the relationship.  He'll put 50% in, no more, and it got to be such that I had to keep track of the things I did for him/us in order to counter accusations that I wasn't pulling my weight.  This character trait is still there, and I have gotten to the point where I don't want him to do anything at all for me.  He used to do big over the top birthdays for me - trips, expensive items, etc.  Most of which I didn't ask for nor want anyway (I'm very frugal and don't like people to spend a lot of money on me).  After the first couple of birthdays I finally explained that to him and he toned it down, but not much.  So this year I've already told him that I don't want anything for my birthday, maybe just breakfast in bed.  He's accepted that, but I know he feels cheated because he likes to do these things for me.  The problem is, if I let him do his usual birthday giving, I know that it will come up in an argument down the line as in "well I did x,y and z for your birthday" and I am just tired of hearing him hold up things that he did that I didn't ask for as evidence of his marriage contribution (and usually a way to point out how I am not giving/doing enough.)

After Iraq, the plan was for us to start a family.  However, it really has gotten to the point that I don't want to start a family because our marriage is so rocky.  There are reasons that I love him (I trust him completely, when it's good we have such a great time together and can laugh and have fun anywhere, he does make me feel smart and beautiful and loved, he is a good man to his family), but at the same time I realize that I don't like him very much these days.  And I'm tired of going around and around on the same issues - I am not going to change his bean counting ways and I am not going to convince him that he isn't a victim because his wife left for a year for work.  It's gotten to the point where I just don't care to face these issues head on anymore.

And to me that is the issue.  I don't want to give up on my marriage but I don't know where that point is that you should.  He hasn't cheated on me, he hasn't deceived me in any way, he isn't abusive ... but he can be immature and vindictive.  And feeling the way I do, we should not have a baby.  Does that signal that I should leave?  It has gotten so distant and tense between us that he might be ready for counseling again - and pay his way as well - and at the very least I might go on my own (it's cheaper if just me so I can afford that). 

Of course there is always more I can add to this story, but I would appreciate the feedback from outside observers.  Thanks for reading.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 08-22-2013 - 11:27am

I do think you should go to counseling because then if you decide to leave you'll know that you explored every option and it's the right decision for you, more so than some strangers can decide after reading here.  I think it's very odd that he expects you to pay for counseling for both of you--first of all, if you're married, do you act like 2 separate people and count up "your money" and "my money"?  That doesn't sound like a partnership at all--like if you broke your leg and couldn't work, would he buy you food or pay for your doctor's visits or keep a tally & say that you "owe him?"  Marriage is never going to be exactly 50-50 and I think that's a big mistake on his part.  Keeping track of who does what is a big mistake.  Of course it can't be extreme, like one person is doing everything while the other person just watches TV, but both partners need to pitch in to the best of their ability.  If he wants to buy you extravagant birthday presents it should be because he enjoys making you feel happy not because he's putting more points into his tally and expects to get it back later.  He sounds like a very immature person to me.  If he really didn't want you going to Iraq, that should have been hashed out before you went but it's over now--so he can either move on or continue to hold it over your head forever, which doesn't seem to be something that would be at all good for your relationship.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 08-22-2013 - 2:58pm

My DH has moments like that, too. 

Boy, I also would hate to give up if there is a chance of making this work for you two.  You are right that his bean counter mentality won't totally go away, but that doesn't mean that with some help, he could learn to be more open minded. 

It is interesting, because what you are describing is more common in second marriages when kids are involved.  Was he burned by an xW or xGF or something?   Did his parents fight over money?  I would say he is cheap, but obvoiusly not if he goes overboard on your birthday. 

I just got M in June after 7 years together and I can tell you that we still don't have the money thing down pat.  We still have our moments. 

But also, your DH clearly resents you being gone for a year.  Typical passive-agressive which I unfortunately am guilty of myself. 

Regardless of what your DH is willing, or not willing you to do, you need to find your own clarity.  Heck, I don't know, maybe a good ole' fashioned knock down drag out fight will allow you both to get everything out in the open?  No violence, obviously.  :) 

Take care and good luck with everything.  Definately lets us know how things go!

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Mon, 08-26-2013 - 12:45pm

If you try to "work out" problems, but they keep coming back......then you're not working them out!  You may be frugal, but he's you're denying him the pleasure he gets from buying you a birthday present!  Many women would kill to have their husbands remember their birthdays at all!  You two definitely need more counseling........and don't you have military insurance that would cover it?  If not, look for a place that charges according to income, there are many of them. 

You say you have a good marriage except for the several things that bother you......I doubt there's a marriage anywhere that doesn't have a few problems.......the trick is to fix them, or if they can't be fixed, learn to live with them.  He's learned to live with you being gone overseas!  So you learn to let him spend money on gifts for you!  If you're looking for a perfect marriage, they don't exist!  People either solve problems, or learn to live with them.