Is my marriage about to explode?

My husband and I have been married for six years, together for eight, and we have two very young children. He has always taken great care of us, financially, and isn’t afraid to work hard. I have always known that my husband isn’t incredibly free with his emotions, but he does tell me that he loves me, daily.


When we argue, it always seems to result in him calling me stupid, selfish or unsupportive. I don’t believe I’m any of these things. Our most recent issue is that he has decided-- out of the blue-- that he wants to quite his job immediately and start his own business. I am a stay-at-home mom and I know he hates his job, but it sort of frightens me that he has suddenly become sort of… irrational. I feel like our future as a family is uncertain.

As far as I have understood it, becoming a parent means you have to put some of your dreams on the back burner and focus on your family. My husband said it’s bullsh*t and harped on me for not going out and getting a job. He makes very decent money right now and we have great health/dental/vision insurance (which is a plus since one of our kids wears glasses) and if I go out and get a job, guess what i would pay for? Childcare!

I love my husband and I don’t want him to be unhappy. I want him to realize his dream of becoming a business owner and working for himself. But not right now. Certainly not in this economy, without having done any research or planning or while we’re living under my parents’ roof under the stipulation that we save money to get our own place to live! We practically came to the point of splitting up on Thursday because neither of us would back down. If one of us got what we wanted the other wouldn’t stay.

My parents intervened (this is a problem, I know) and he started looking for other jobs, but we haven’t really talked about it much which is why, I suspect, we have been somewhat at peace the last couple of days. Also, he is working out of town, which helps.

But, seriously. He thinks I’m doing what I want to be doing. Always. Really? You think being a stay-at-home mom is my DREAM job? I have artistic aspirations that I have put on hold for my kids. Because I have to. Because I love them and acknowledge that my dreams are of little consequence when compared with my children’s needs.

Also, as a side note, I feel like my husband doesn’t appreciate anything I do for him or the kids. Not one iota. Getting him to go out with me once in a while just to spend time alone together is a struggle, and conversation? Like pulling teeth. I’ve been trying to show him compassion and sympathy for the misery he is feeling, but it changes nothing. I have suggested he see someone about his feelings, and he said he would think about it.

Sometimes I feel like our marriage is tottering between being “just okay” and being in a freefall. It’s making me anxious and sad. And angry.

What am I doing wrong? What can I do? I don’t even know what I have to work with anymore.

When did this start?

Maybe a good first step to open up an honest conversation is write down a summation of the problems you see with your marriage and the living and job situation you gave us here minus the questions. Than give him that letter and ask him to write down his point of view, after that I suppose you should have a long talk about how to organize your future and how treat each other with respect.

It sounds like your husband’s in the process of having a breakdown, especially if he really does hate his job. And you’re living with your parents? How long has that been for?

I know what it’s like to feel trapped in a job you hate, with people you loathe, for the sake of family. I’m still in that hell right now. And sometimes, it drives you to insane things.

I’d warrant right now he doesn’t comprehend exactly what’s involved in taking care of two small (I presume well under school age) children, and all he can see is his wife gets to sit at home, enjoying the kids presence, while her mommy and daddy take care of everything and he slaves his ass off to save money to one day finally get a home of your own. He sees his kids growing up before his eyes, and doesn’t have a second to spare with them because he’s supporting the whole family. He possibly feels a lot of pressure from the scrutiny of your parents and their (not untoward) requirement that you both save money toward a house of your own.

Is there any possibility that he can scale back his hours at his current job and you get a PT job to make up the slack? For a random example pulled out of my ass, could he drop back to 3 days a week at his current job, then you pick up the other two at another job while he stays home and looks after the kids? It doesn’t get him out of the job it hates, but it serves a couple of purposes - one is that it shows him how much work goes into keeping a house running when only one parent is present, and two it gives him some time with the kids and a feeling that you’re working to the same common goal that he is. The caveat to this being that he can’t just drop his current hours until you’ve found something to cover those days. But you might then find after a few months of being part-time house daddy, he may have more of an appreciation for what it is you actually do. Or alternatively he may fall in love with being a SAHD and you could renegotiate the possibility of swapping roles for a while.

It sounds like both of you are taking past each other. He should not be in job he hates as the negativity from that will poison your whole lives. You think you are being prudent in telling him to suck it up and stick it out, but he is viewing it as a lack of confidence in him, and on a very real level that’s what it is, and he is reacting to that with anger.

Some people will just say he’s an asshole for yelling at you and to leave him, but it’s more complex than that. People who want to be entrepreneurs or self starting business people desperately need the confidence of their SOs, and all he feels he is getting from you is fear and angst, and these are mind killers. This is where his nasty reaction to you is coming from. Your dubious and frightened attitude is sucking all the energy from his dreams and this frightens and repels him.

A better tact IMO would be to tell him that you have every confidence in his plans and abilities, but he needs to gets a business plan together, have a meeting with an accountant, an attorney, and a banker re his startup and take some classes on running a small business at the local community college before you will sign on. If he is serious he should agree to all this, if he is just being a fool he will throw another tantrum.

Having said all this, based on what you have written, to be honest you two really do not belong together. You are risk averse and he wants to be a risk taker. At some point your relationship will shatter on this rock unless you find a way to accommodate each other.

You guys need counseling, pronto.

If he’s calling you stupid and selfish, that’s a huge problem. Name-calling is a bad sign. A bad job, small kids, living with the in-laws… that’s a whole lot of stress on the marriage and it wouldn’t hurt to find someone you guys could talk to, together, and who could help you each to see the other’s perspective. It doesn’t sound like either of you has a good idea of the other’s difficulties and needs, and it’s probably only going to get worse.

What kind of business does he want to start and with his skill set, is it practical for him to start a business of that type? What is his current job, and why does he hate it so much?

The fact that this is “out of the blue” concerns me. You don’t quit a good job and start a business on a whim, especially when you have kids to provide for.

Another thing … and I’m surprised nobody else has asked … how old are the two of you?

It’s your fault. That may sound harsh, but I don’t know how else to put it. You are obviously trying to use your kids as a tool to control your husband. You’ve reduced him to the provider for you and your kids. Suppose he just disappeared in a puff of smoke tomorrow, who are you going to blame for your unhappiness then?

If you are financially insecure, go get a job. If you think your kids are a reason to stop considering your husband’s feeliings, get a divorce, you shouldn’t be married. If you’re willing to let your marriage fall apart because you don’t want to back down in an argument, you shouldn’t be married, and you shouldn’t have had kids.

Oh, by the way, it’s all his fault too. You are both being immature and selfish. I think anyway, I haven’t heard his side, but I doubt he has a better case to make for himself than you have made for yourself.

Get a job,

move out of your parents’ house.

I know people have lived with parents since time immemorial, but in my experience, it is terrible for a marriage. Whomever’s parents they are invariably side with their own kid, leaving the other half of the marriage feeling like they are always out in the cold. Even if the parents don’t, the other half will still feel like it.

If he wants to start a business, get a game plan out of him. Can he do it on the weekends for now or does it have to be something that he needs to totally quit the job? He needs a timeframe, too, in which if it doesn’t work he needs to go back to work.

Why aren’t you working? Can your parents help with childcare if you work part time? Did you guys agree for you to be a stay at home mom? How old are your kids? Obviously it’s rankling him, so YOU need to come up with a plan, too. When are you going back to work? Ever? Forget those artistic aspirations; they are just like the business and can wait for when you guys are more financially solvent. You need to lay down - if I work for X hours, this is how much I make, and this is how much childcare costs (if I can’t get my parents to help), and this is how much gas costs, etc.

And YES it is a massive problem that your parents are getting involved in the fights.


If one of us got what we wanted the other wouldn’t stay.

Is a recipe for disaster. Like it or not, both of you will have to sacrifice, and you may have to be the one to start.

Aw, shit, who am I to be giving advice on marriage?

I think what he needs the most right now is compassion. He might not be the easiest person to deal with right now, but at least try to connect with him on that emotional level, encourage him to talk about how much this dream means to him.

At a later time, you can discuss the name calling, because that’s not okay and if it happens repeatedly it is emotional abuse.

But right now, just give him compassion. Ideally you can use this difficult time to grow closer to him. Try to frame it as an obstacle you’re both facing together instead of one side vs. the other. Remind him of times you’ve overcome obstacles in the past, as a team.

And also consider work. You don’t have to be a stay-at-home Mom for your kids to be okay. Plenty of parents work and their children are fine. You dreams are NOT of little consequence. Your children need to see you living your own life to fullest, not feel like you sacrificed everything for them.

+1. Selfishness is the default human position. Actually thinking about someone else in a meaningful, long-term way is hard, and it’s the hallmark of a good relationship. To him I would say, stop thinking about yourself and do whatever you can to make your wife and your family happy. And to you I would say, stop thinking about yourself and tell your husband to follow his dreams.

Ultimately, one if you is going to win, and you may think that if you give in that means he’s going to win. That’s not necessarily true, though. Once people feel that their needs and desires are being heard and supported, they’ll often back down. In a lot of ways, I feel like I haven’t progressed past my teenage rebelliousness; if my wife tells me I can’t go hang out with my friends (which, frankly, she’s right, because I have 3 kids and it’s not right to saddle her with that kind of workload so I can go have fun), I get angry and rebellious and I end up going to hang out with my friends. On the other hand, if she tells me that she wants me to be happy and encourages me to go hang out, it reminds me how much I love her, and I usually end up reconsidering.

Being broke for a while is better than being divorced forever. Encourage him to do what he wants, and he might realize that what he really wants is to be work hard to support a family that loves him. (If he doesn’t come to that conclusion, then maybe he’s just a selfish prick.)

If you can get a job, it will pay for childcare. It will also provide you something to put on your resume for down the road. It will make your husband feel a little less overwhelmed. It may make the two of you feel like a team, rather than adversaries. It will teach your children that while they’re valuable and loved, they are not the center of the universe, and it’s okay if Mommy has a life outside of the house just like Daddy has a life outside of the house. It may even provide you with opportunities for real grown up conversation with coworkers and/or customers, which (as I remember being a stay at home mom) is pretty valuable in and of itself.

It’s not JUST paying for childcare. Working will provide additional, non-tangible benefits for you. Of course, I can’t tell you what’s best for you and your family, but look past the dollars and cents when you’re making your list of pros and cons.

While I agree that it’s somewhat abusive to call someone stupid, calling someone selfish and unsupportive is definitely not abusive. It’s not helpful, maybe, but it’s definitely NOT abusive.

And he isn’t calling her names. ‘Idiot’ is a name. ‘Moron’ is a name. ‘Asshole’ is a name. Etc.

Let’s use the correct terminology. He’s being insulting. He’s not name-calling. And it’s not the same thing. Don’t act like it is.

And, to be honest, I think the OP is more concerned with getting what she wants out of him, i.e., support, than actually trying to find out what he wants.

If she were a loving, involved partner, she’d actually already know what his business plan is, what his process for starting the business is, how long he’s been considering this, the ins and outs of the kind of the field that the business is in, etc., etc., etc.

It sounds to me like she gives not a shit about ANY of that. And I’m guessing she’s hoping we won’t call her on it, either.

It’s rough to be in a relationship where you’re the only provider, and your SO doesn’t really take an interest in something that you care deeply about. You can end up feeling like the only person pulling their weight. It can really feel very lonely.

You have raised so many issues on both parts that I feel that there has been issue on issue compounded over and over and this is just one of many points where the strain of all that weight is visible.

As for what you can do about it at this time I’m not so sure, these issues go back way beyond the current situation from what I feel is from both of you. Now you can’t change him, but you can work on yourself and that is the only aspect where you can effect a change.

I would look at where you said you put your dreams on hold for the sake of your children, and you stated that ‘you had too’ and tied it to because you love them. I feel that statement is a lie and a excuse you have convinced yourself to believe - possibly even it gives you someone to blame, your love for your children does not mean that you have to put your dreams on hold, as your dreams are part of who you are and being who you are is a benefit to your children. There should be a way where your dreams are in line with having and raising children, furthermore you don’t ever want your children to feel like it is their fault that you never achieved your dreams. It is not one or the other, it is one plus the other which has the potential to bring about a greater sum. The route to how your accomplish this may not be how you envisioned it, but does that really matter as long as you pursue your dreams (as well as raise your children)?

As for your husband, it appears like his ability to express himself has been suppressed and he gets to the point of holding stuff in until it explodes which causes a very harsh tone. This is his issue, though perhaps he may feel like he can’t express his feelings with you for some reason, so you may play a part in this. At this stage however, he explodes and you dislike that outburst is something that just feeds driving you two apart. How to reverse that I’m not sure.

Since the only person you can actually change is yourself, that’s where I would focus on.

I get the feeling that the OP is quite young, and is still early in the process of really caring about someone else besides her kids and herself. Compassion is learned, and it takes many years. People in their early-to-mid-20s are often still very early in the process.

No doubt. I’ve been married for 10 years, and frankly, the fact that I survived the first 8 is dumb luck. I think I’m finally starting to “get it” now, but I still slip up from time to time.

I know I do.

If your husband is anything like me, that is a deal-breaker.

I went away and thought, if it’s completely unfeasible for you to get a job, maybe you can do some babysitting and combine it with your childcare time anyway?