Reply To: End of a marriage??


Dear Rmunet,

Your situation sounds awful. The number one reason not to “walk away” is that you have three boys together, age 1, 3 and 6. You managed to produce them, despite your wife’s lack of cleanliness. There must be some part of you that is attracted to her? Is she still beautiful? Does she still have a kind heart? Do you love her? Do you care about her? If she knows you don’t, imagine how it must be for her, especially if you are frequently critical of her, in front of your children.

On Change: It would be nice if we could all change people into the more perfect people we think they should be, simply by demanding that they do so. I once heard Oprah say something that has stuck with me since, “You cannot change people; you can only change your reactions to them.” You should remember this too. Can you change yourself for her? Would you consider it?

On trust: This is a big deal. You wrote that she admitted that she lied about having changed to please you, to manipulate you into coming back to her. I don’t doubt that she manipulated you or lied to you about having changed, but wasn’t there evidence, especially once you lived with her, that she had not changed after-all? You wrote that you did all the cleaning for both of you, initially; why did you, if you believed that she had “changed” into a more hygiene-compatible person to yourself? (most people, like you, would prefer a mate who tidies themselves and their surroundings at least occasionally) Perhaps you also lied to yourself, or believed what you wanted to believe while ignoring the evidence and facts? I am not being critical of you; we all do this, me especially. It is in actions, not words, where we find facts & truths on which we can rely. Did she show you that she had changed?

What you describe as your wife’s behavior sounds a lot more complicated that ADHD. She may have ADHD, as well as other things. You may have several issues, including denial, depression, etc. Why did you lose your job? Why was your answer to self-isolate? Why did you have a mental break? Surely, you cannot blame all these things on her. It is important to take responsibility for your role in this situation too. You may both have significant issues. Please be careful not to be misogynistic, or to project the blame for all your frustrations or failures onto her. If you had no phone calls from friends or family during such a difficult free-fall time, and no support from your wife, while you only emerged from your room to bathe or eat, the alienation you have experienced from others is not caused by solely your wife. You must have a role in this.

On expectations in a marriage: not everyone fits into the roles of breadwinner and homemaker/baby producer/housecleaner. Would she prefer to work? Would you prefer to be at home and clean? You have expectations of your wife that she does not seem capable of fulfilling. Why continue the same expectations from a person who cannot, or will not, fulfill them? You have a situation where she is doomed to fail, every day, every moment, where you are left in constant frustration, disgust, and denigrating, judging her, and where she is on the receiving end of all this, every day. At this point, you are probably both depressed (how could you not be?), but it may be much more complicated than this, especially for her. You describe some pretty awful things, a person revoltingly filthy who breaks everything, and doesn’t appear to make any effort to be a responsible adult. I sympathize with you. I’m sure Id feel the same way. But, I am not sure that we would be right.

Some of what you describe can be explained circumstantially. For example, not showering often – it is hard to get a shower or bath in anywhere when you have three little boys always on the move. That doesn’t explain the lack of brushing her teeth, or all the other slovenly behavior. Does she use mouthwash? The lack of personal hygiene could be cultural, or maybe she grew up in a family that didn’t like to waste water. Americans are obsessed with showers/baths, while in other countries, people bathe far less often. She seems so depressed, she can hardly move. Do you tell her that you love her? Does she feel loved? Does she feel used? Does she feel controlled? Does she exercise or eat healthy? Do you do any of these things?

On cancerous soaps: I’ve endured cancer, surgery, chemo, radiation & the long road to recovery afterwards. Cancer sucks. All docs and nurses who helped me told me to stop using any products with carcinogens. These products dominating our markets. Aluminum is thought to be a big killer. Aluminum in cooking pans, especially when an interior coating is thought to contribute mightily to Alzheimer’s. Aluminum in deodorant, though an effective block to perspiration, is thought to contribute to caner, especially breast cancer. Your wife is right about this, with one variation: there are soaps shampoos & toothpastes, etc, that do NOT have carcinogens, or cancer contributing agents. Most of them market themselves as such. Do some research; buy those products for your home. For example, Tom’s deodorant is oncologist-approved. Look for the unscented deodorants. You may just win a lot of points with your wife for buying carcinogen-free products, and she may just start using soap! My favorite soaps are from Nice, France (where they bathe once-twice a week!!), olive oil-based soaps (Alziari). They make my skin feel soft, and clean! Not inexpensive, but delightful.

How is your wife as a mother (other than the dirty or re-used diapers)? Is she loving and patient? Is she kind to your sons? Is she generous? Is she abusive to them? Does she read to them? Does she teach them? Is she proud of them? Or does she view motherhood as a burden or a prison? Do you do any of these things for them, or do you expect her to carry the bulk of home, household and children? I have two children, 2 years apart. One had significant special needs (ADHD & Asperger’s syndrome). I believe my husband has significant special needs too (prob the same, plus some psychiatric issues). I can assure you that being their mother while dealing with my husband was about 3 full time jobs.

Does your wife know that you love & support her? Are you grateful to her for her presence in your life? for the births of your children? for her mothering to them? Does she feel loved by you? Is she kind to her family? (are they kind to her?) Are you kind to them? Does she get to see them, or talk to them, often? does she want to? Does she feel isolated from them? How is her relationship with your family? Does she love them? Do they love her? Are they supportive of her? do they criticize her or exclude her? Don’t underestimate the importance of family inclusion or exclusion, love or rejection, criticism or support, on your relationship.

You describe a person who needs help, perhaps a lot of help. Judging her or demeaning her is not helping her. You need a lot of help too – not just in dealing with & supporting her, but in dealing with your own stuff, whatever that might be. You describe somethings in yourself that may be problematic & contributing to the disharmony & discord in your marriage. Rather than leaving, try to understand how your own rigidity or role-oriented expectations may be contributing to her dysfunction. Is there any way, other than doing all work yourself, in addition to working full time, that you can help her? Is it possible that by helping to make her burden a little lighter, that your choosing to help, rather than demand & criticize, might make a difference to her in how she feels about herself, how she acts towards you, your children & herself? Because of your three sons, it is worth trying to help her first, rather than just walking away. If she feels loved by you, or at least, sees you trying to take responsibility for your end, and sees you trying to help your relationship (again, actions), she may do the same. Its worth a try.

Some suggestions:
1. Hire a housekeeper to clean your home once a week/two weeks. To assume that every woman is skilled as housekeeper, or even has an interest in cleaning, is to assume incorrectly. By hiring a housekeeper, though it will cost you both cash, you allow her to focus on your boys, and possibly relieve a lot of pressure on her while giving you the clean home you desire & demand.
2. Encourage your wife to seek counseling. Seek counseling yourself. After you have both been in counseling for a good long time, consider marriage counseling. But, only AFTER you have each done a lot of work on yourselves individually & separately. You cannot help or change what you refuse to acknowledge.
3. Take all your laundry to a laundress, every week. Do some research; most of them are completely affordable. You bring bags of dirty laundry to them, & they return them in the same bags, laundered & folded. They don’t charge that much. That may be the best money you spend.
4. If you don’t have a dishwasher, buy one. Some people really hate doing the dishes. Unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher every morning before you leave for work.
5. Find out your wife’s favorite lingerie company, and buy her new underwear in sizes & colors that fit her, that she likes & wants. Have her pick them out. Tell her she is beautiful when she wears them. Tell her she is most beautiful when she changes into clean underwear every day. Show her that you think she is beautiful.
6. Show your wife that you love her by your actions. Buy her flowers. Arrange for a baby sitter every weekend, so that you can take her to dinner w/o children, & just talk or listen to her. Ask her about her interests; buy tickets to things she wants to do and see. Show her how grateful you are for what a wonderful job she is doing with your children. Encourage her to enroll in a class at a local community college. Encourage her curiosity in the world. Take her to museums, movies, anything and everything. Encourage her to blossom. Congratulate her achievements. Never belittle her, for any reason. She spends all day, every day, with burping, farting, pooping demanding whining crying eating machines, changing diapers, picking up after them. It is completely exhausting, even for the incompetent mothers. Trust me on this. She needs adult companionship. She needs your partnership and support. If you are withholding this from her, and judging her, you are a major force in her destruction. Be a loving, kind, generous, supportive husband, and father.
7. Treat her with respect, especially in front of your boys. You are teaching them, by your actions and words, how to treat her, and how to treat their future girlfriends, wives and mothers in law — and maybe, how to treat you. If you abuse your wife, in any way, when your boys grow up and figure it out, they may just reject you in whole or in part. She is the only birth mother they will ever have. Cherish that relationship, and protect it for them, and they will later cherish you for having done so.

so, this is very long answer to your very long post. I sincerely hope at least some of what I wrote here helps you.