we were married to the same man

Over the past two years or more, I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “Sounds like we were married to the same man!” I found women at work, women at the salon, and friends I’ve known for years who all expressed the same sentiment.

I guess what it comes down to is that there are a finite number of reasons that relationships don’t work out. And, as it happens, I’ve found several women who share a story not entirely unlike mine. Several, it seemed, had some sort of midlife crisis and then…

In one particular example, a high-end builder with an exclusive clientele just decided he didn’t want to do that sort of thing anymore. After bumbling about for a few years, taking some classes and trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up, he ended up in retail. Because he was more mature than the high-schoolers reporting to him and had a bit of know-how, he was quickly promoted to supervisor. Cheers to the family dental plan…and a couple of hundred dollars a week in income! Sure, it was a contribution, but nothing like supporting a family with the income to which they’d become accustomed.

His wife was a trooper throughout this transition, but finally opened herself to the possibility that she didn’t have to be responsible for him financially or emotionally or otherwise. He had become another child to a woman weary of parenting.

Another woman’s husband spent much of his time lying about on the sofa watching the television when he was meant to be looking for a job. He racked up credit card debt and lied about money issues.

Here’s where the relationship rubber hits the road. We’re here to love and support one another in ways, as long as we agree to what those ways are. (Most, but not all of us, know what we’re getting into before we marry.) We’re not here to parent our spouses or support behaviors that don’t nurture us or our commitments. We’re not on this Earth for another lesson in co-dependence.

Long (years) after I’d asked my wasband to go back to work, he was still protesting that “we’d agreed that he would stay home with the children.” In truth, we’d “agreed” because he’d lost his job and it seemed like our best option at the time. Like a toddler on the verge of a decade-long tantrum, he’d dug in his heels and was not about to budge from his position. He changed his internal script to, “I gave up my career to be home with my children.” And he seemed to believe it!

Relationships must change and evolve. They require communication. Agreements made must often be renegotiated. And it takes two committed adults to embark on that sort of work.

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2 responses to “we were married to the same man

  • Jordan

    There’s nothing more unattractive, to me, than the man who won’t work and try to play the “stay-at-home” mom card.

    For years I ran a single moms group. One of the biggest reasons I found for relationships breaking up is infidelity. Nine out of ten women in the gorup were there because the husband cheated. They’d top it off with abuse and so began the downard spiral.

  • Suzi

    I was married to a man who refused to work OR take care of the children. Every day for years I got up, got the kids up, and dropped them off with a sitter and went to work. EX would sometimes do side work and put all of his earnings into a seperate account which he would not share with his family. Meanwhile he took my credit cards and charged them up, spent my earnings and refused to interract with the kids. Then he left ME for a woman who could understand him and now he wants 50/50 custody so he doesn’t have to pay child support! I am just thankful that he didn’t play stay-at-home dad, because it would give him the leverage to ask for full custody and I’d have to pay him.

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