Monday, January 17, 2011

Question from "BlogFrog"

Hello everyone,

First, a huge thanks to everyone who has visited here.  I so appreciate your visit, your comments, your insights!

Second, I thought it might be good to provide some background, not only on our life here but also some insight on the question I posed in BlogFrog, which was this:  "Does the title of 'breadwinner' = spouse is the maid?"

I have to admit right off that question was poorly worded.  It may have sounded, on first read, that the question reflected something I myself believe to be true, which is definitely NOT the case.  In fact, as the discussion progressed, I think I made it pretty clear that I believe exactly the opposite...that I firmly believe whichever partner is out there earning the money is in no way exempt from pitching in with the upkeep of the house, in whichever amount is reasonable and sane for them.

Now, inevitably some of those who responded - and I am so thrilled that people chimed in on the question, I really was/am looking for lots of insight on the issue - got the impression that my own marriage is in deep distress.  I invited all of them to come here and read the blog; there aren't hundreds of posts here, of course, but in the "marriage" subject category there are enough to provide some background on where I'm coming from.  I will say, very truthfully, that my own marriage has....reached maximum overload as far as stress level, I guess?  We've now been married 15 years, and we've known each other/been in our relationship for about 20.  So, that first burst of romance/infatuation/etc, well, of course that is waaaaaaaay in the past.  Real life takes over, and after the glow wears off, you get down to the nitty gritty business of shlepping through life and trying to stay sane, and pay the bills and do some decent parenting along the way. We are managing, I guess.  Becoming special-needs parents added a completely unexpected, constant level of stress and worry to what was already a stressed-out-situation.  We have struggled financially, and still are struggling - which is why, when I say I have every appreciation for what B's paycheck means to this family, I really mean it.  I perhaps need to show HIM that appreciation, though.

Every marriage has its problems.  And, I fully realize that to bring my opinions about marriage, and even the most surface details about my own marriage, into this cyber-reality is going to bring on some seemingly innacurate perceptions about me, about my marriage, about who I am as a married person.

Notice I said, seemingly innacurate perceptions.  To be honest?  Brutally, searingly honest?  Those folks who answered that question in BlogFrog, they clearly "get it" about how to be married, what it means....and they could probably see in one instant that I, clearly, do not get it.    Of course counselling was suggested, both marital and personal, which does not surprise me at all.  I've been down both of those roads, by the way.  They were helpful; we both learned things from that.

Some more background: I am the youngest of 10 children. I have spent most of adult life saying this about my parents' marriage: "they never should have gotten married".  Maybe a better thing to say about it is this: My mother should have loved my father without conditions, and my father should have stood up for himself better. As it was, my mother (I think - I was only present for the last 38 years of this) quickly decided that being vulnerable in a marriage relationship wasn't for her, and put up lots and lots of walls to protect herself from being hurt in any way.  My father, I think, probably gave up after a while (don't ask me where all the child-having played into this messed-up relationship.  I will never know.) - although I do have a very foggy memory of him giving my mother flowers at one point, for something.  I don't really know how my father feels about his marriage, and at this point I will probably never know.  Unfortunately part of the "collateral damage" involved in my mother's fear of being vulnerable, was that she subtly caused me, early on, to choose sides.  As I got older, since she never had anything good to say about my father, and eventually confided in me her bitterness and anger about being married at all, I too began to dislike my father.  I long ago lost any opportunity to grow a relationship with my dad - I was on my mother's side for a very, very long time. 

Rest assured, my parents are both good people.  I had a good childhood, and have lots of good memories and no more than the usual amount of bad ones....I guess.  I think my bad memories are more "memories of omission", as in, I don't remember my parents ever speaking kindly to one another.  I don't remember a time when my mother wasn't speaking in a hostile, defensive way to my dad.  I also don't remember my mother ever giving me the impression that being married, or being a mother, were fulfilling/happy/satisfying ways to live one's life.  I don't remember my mother ever saying complimentary things about my father, not in front of him or otherwise.  As I got older she started telling me what she told my siblings as well, especially my sisters: "don't get married, and don't have children".  [I'll say again, I have already been to counselling.]. 

What a dichotomy.  Here is this ultra-Catholic woman, staying married and having lots of children because the church told her to, turning around and telling her kids "don't get married, and don't have children". 

So that's some background on where I'm coming from.  I am at a point where I either take a path completely dissimilar to that of my parents in every way (and therefore, very very foreign to my own psyche)....or I give up, decide I'm not strong enough, think only of myself, and head off to Montana or something.  [Don't worry, I'M NOT GOING TO DO THAT.]  I'm hanging on for dear life, to what God has blessed me with - a great man for a husband who still loves me despite my screwed-up background; two great kids who are just fantastic; and a stable and peaceful life. 

By the way, my parents are still married.  Still. married.  Still living in the same house.  I mean, really???
I'm not even sure how to interpret that, anymore.  Do I take it as a sign of something positive about their relationship?  I'm not sure our lives would have been all that great, had they actually gotten divorced at some point.  I and all my siblings have turned out pretty well, all things considered; no jail time (well, none that I know of!), no addictions, we're all pretty stable people with pretty stable lives.  But without a doubt, the screwed-up dynamic my parents have cultivated has, no question, affected me and my siblings.  Of my nine siblings, one is not married, and of the eight who did marry, four of those got divorced...look at that, there's your 50% divorce statistic, right here in my own family.  So, as I said, I am hanging for dear life here, trying to bring myself to a big, screeching halt because I can literally see myself making my parents' mistakes.  So when you look at my "Books In The Pile", and you see those faith-based books....those are helping me hang on.  I know it takes two people to make a marriage work or not, and undoubtedly B has done his part to make our marriage unpleasant at times.  We're all human and nobody is perfect.  But, at this point, I'm realizing I can't even expend the energy thinking about what he might be doing wrong, because it may take everything I have just to adjust my own perceptions of married life - and fix what I have been doing wrong - so that I don't screw up the lives of three other people.

Well, that's enough for tonight, I think!  Thank you for visiting the blog and reading all this.  And don't worry, I am making progress, with God's help (and I'm so thankful for the women in my Bible-study group, hanging with them has been such a blessing!!). 



An said...

Oh - bravo, really and truly bravo indeed. You have said it all better than I ever could have. I particularly like that last bit about worrying too much about NOT repeating some learned mistakes to spend much time worrying about what our spouse is doing.

JMB said...

Hey there sistah,

Thank you!