Speaking of Marriage

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By Rebecca Teti

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Struggling in your marriage? Have some relationship advice to share? Have a marriage success story to share? Have a man/woman question? This weekly thread is the place to do it.

Come on in and join the conversation!

Rebecca Teti


  • I need advise about Christmas presents for my hubs. Not ideas, but advise. Hubs likes thoughtful gifts from everyone except me! When it comes to me, he just gets annoyed because I am "spending his money"!! Hubs' mom buys him nice clothes; he likes it. When I do, he asks me to send them back so he can get something cheaper. This is starting to hurt. :( Every Christmas I swear I will never buy hubs another gift as long as I live. Even gift cards make him grouchy, since I have tied up his money in a certain store when he may desire to shop elsewhere. But he never complains when others give him gift cards! For the record, hubs does not believe in giving me "my own money"; what's his is mine, so he says... until AFTER I spend it, whence he feels entitled to offer an opinion about where I put the dollars! So... this morning he said he wanted a multimeter (fancy tool) for Christmas this year. I have been researching these tools. The prices vary widely. I compiled a list of prices, included the gist of all the amazon reviews (which I read), and am going to let him pick which one he wants. But HONESTLY... I don't have time to do this. I have put almost 20 hours into it. The kids (all under 4) have been crying because they want me to play with them, but I am busy doing all this research so hubs can pick and buy his own gift. It is making me MAD!!! Why can't he just be okay with something I pick out? I don't have time to find five versions of what he wants, tell him all the details and reviews, and let him do the choosing. I am NOT saying I want to ignore hubs' wish list... but that I don't want to have to search online for all the options, send him a spreadsheet laying out the pros and cons of each, and letting him pick. I get that it saves him time, but he could do it on his lunchbreak and request a SPECIFIC brand of tool, etc. No one would be crying this way. I feel like such a bad mom leaving my babies to cry so I can do this ridiculous research all because hubs can't handle giving me ANY "say" in choosing his gift. Christmas is making me mad this year!! :(

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 7:43 AM by unknown

  • Sorry ladies. I'm the "unknown" from above. I think I figured out what's bothering me. Hubs is asking for the one thing I can't afford: a lot of time on the internet. I can take the kids shopping with me, just about anyplace. The preschooler and toddler enjoy "helping" me wrap Christmas gifts. But researching stuff online means I have to leave the kids all by themselves. But I know hubs will be dissatisfied/return anything else I do for him. *sigh* Still very interested in any advise that occurs to anyone. But thought I'd state my "issue" more simply. Thanks for listening.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 8:23 AM by unknown

  • Here's my advice: if he's not happy with the effort you put into finding a special gift for him, then don't buy him one. Tell him that you're overwhelmed and that he should take some time and pick out the one he wants--maybe even go to the store and buy it for himself. This doesn't have to be as harsh as it sounds. My husband gets totally overwhelmed buying gifts for me, so many years we've gone to the store together, he's picked out clothes that he likes for me, I give him feedback, try them on, etc., and that's the present. I like it because I hardly ever spend money on myself, so it's a nice treat to buy a couple of nice items without feeling guilty about it, and he likes it because there's no guesswork involved.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 9:02 AM by MR

  • Just a question for you: what if you didn't get your husband anything? I'm not talking about retaliation! If he doesn't really like the presents you get, and you don't like working so hard to satisfy him, could this be a solution? I know this is in now way a satisfying solution. Ideally, you lovingly shop for your husband and he is grateful for the things you got for him. But since this isn't happening, maybe just not getting him presents is the way to go. Another thing to think about is the way he gives gifts to you and the way his family did gifts growing up. Is he pretty cheap when it comes to giving gifts to you? Or does this feel more like a control issue --- implying you are wasteful with money? Could you switch to "handmade" gifts? One year I did a cheesecake-a month certificate for my husband, the next year a steak-a-month (we rarely spend a lot of money on groceries so this was a big treat).

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 9:08 AM by Andrea

  • Unknown- I am sorry it has gone this way for you. For the past several years I have been overwhelmed with 7 kids and homeschooling and not living close to any town (so I don;t go to save on gas). So I try to think of a few things to get hubs and then he suggests and gets things for himself that he wants (he will research and give me the codes and I get to buy them). This has helped. I also give him specific ideas and if it is hard to find I find it for him - give him the codes and he gets it. Could this be a solution? I do hope it is not a control issue as this may spiral in the future. Also, could you find something to do work wise (I know it hard and I do it but it is VERY hard - I am a translator in the wee hours of the night) to get a little something that can be used partly to help the household expenses and partly for your use so you don;t feel guilty? A company like Herbalife, Avon, Forever living might be a way for you. Just a suggestion.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 10:24 AM by Nadine

  • Anonymous on the beach, I have a beautiful marriage, a wonderful house, a wonderful husband and yes, I have chosen this AND I LOVE IT! We are NOT immature and I really resent this. My marriage is definitely NOT suffering. I would much rather live outside of town - I don;t have to live with all the problems of living in a town and the kids can run around free. I was merely trying to present ideas to help someone who is frustated - which happens to all of us at times. We all get overwhelmed at times and I guess you have not had that experience. Advice from other people helps and also a compassionate ear. If you have nothing helpful or constructive to add - and you are just going to beat us down- then have fun at your beach and don't comment. Just read and you may learn some compassion. I would never laugh at someone who has problems, I would try to help. May the Lord bless you this season!

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 11:56 AM by Nadine

  • Ok I am going to unload here. I am feeling so overwhelmed right now. My husband and I have been married 14 years and have 6 children(11, 9, 7, 4, 2, and 6 months). My husband has a good job(albeit an hour commute each way) and I have been staying home with kids. The oldest three are in small public school and 4 yr old has started preschool 2 mornings a week. My husband is gone a lot of the time. Many evenings he has work obligations(which I am fine with) but he also likes to spend a lot of time with his brother/dad or buddies. I am so overwhelmed right now-financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I feel like I am really messing my kids up. There is so much chaos at our house. The older kids are fighting or yelling at me, the younger ones are always trashing the house and dont listen, and the baby is not letting me sleep at night. It is torture to get anyone to help around house. I know my husband and I have communication issues. I have told him how I feel before but he always turns things around and says he is such a bad person and i should just leave him. I often feel he has underlying depression issues which he will never address because he doesnt believe in medication for that. So talking to him about my feelings just depresses him more. With my last pregnancy, I developed hip pain which hurts me enough to make me limp. I have since been told it is arthritis and I will need new hips sometime in life but basically nothing I can do now except live with it.(I am only 35). That also frustrates me because I used to run 30 miles a week and now have been told to never run again. My husband also gets very depressed about money and tends to overspend without looking at budget, and then I end up having to cut all sorts of things to make ends meet but he goes to vegas twice a year and dabbles in mini sprint car racing, which is a costly hobby that takes him away from family even more. I cant blame him for not wanting to be here. I just feel so lonely and stuck. I cant ever leave the house with 6 kids who make a scene everywhere we go. I have to make huge arrangements just to get groceries. There's no one I can talk to because either they have small families and they feel I did this to myself or have large families with a very present father/husband and therefore would never understand me. And then we have the whole issue of family planning. Both of us believe in natural family planning but have never been very good at it and probably should not mess up any more little lives. I know this makes my husband sound terrible and honestly that is not true. He is a genuinely good person. I just wish he would straighten out his priorities and step up a bit. I would appreciate any ideas to help me control this chaos:) Sorry about long post but guess i just needed to vent some.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 12:06 PM by unknown

  • Nadine - I don't know if you participated in Coffee Talk forums over at Faith and Family, but "anonymous on the beach" is named Jeanne, and she was banned from the old site for repeatedly writing abusive comments like she wrote to you. Just ignore her.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 12:10 PM by MR

  • Thanks MR. Will keep that in mind - but I will keep praying for her.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 12:38 PM by nadine

  • unknown - I'ms o sorry you're feeling so overwhelmed! Boy, I could've written these sentences myself: <> I also really get that you don't have anyone to talk to. If you could convince your husband, maybe a Marriage Encounter weekend or just a weekend away may help. I know how hard that would be with the kids - we have no family to watch ours, but it may be worth the difficulty if it gets you on track and communicating again. I'll keep you in my prayers.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 3:53 PM by For unknown

  • Sorry - the quote I pasted didn't appear. It was regarding your husband simply saying you should divorce him instead of addressing your concern. My husband does the same thing, and it drives me nuts! I don't want another husband, I want HIM to help fix things.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 3:55 PM by For unknown

  • Thank you so much for your prayers. We did a marriage encounter a few years back, and while it was nice, my husband did not like the whole journaling thing and then coming together to discuss. I remember arguing more than anything else because the questions were bringing up more issues between us. We are just not good communicators. I hold things back all the time because I know it will just make him depressed and cause a fight. A weekend away would be great but our 6 month old is up many times at night, and while we have family around, I know we wouldnt have many takers for an overnighter. I also hate to ask people to help because I know it is hard, and I dont want to burden anyone else.

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 7:02 PM by unknown

  • @the second "unknown": counseling for you (if he won't go) sounds like a needed thing. www.catholictherapists.com is one place to look or Catholic Charities usually has services with sliding scale fees. If hubs would agree to go, great, sounds like he needs it (and that might help resolve some things even w/o meds - or might convince him that if he'd take, say, insulin for imbalances causing diabetes, it can also make sense to take meds for imbalances causing depression), but if not, it would help you see what you can do and avoid being manipulated by him turning things back on you. Is there a way to help with controlling his spending? Cut up credit cards or something? Not as a "punishment", just as a "we can't keep this as an avoidance tactic." State it as a Dave Ramsey kind of thing (so it's a third-party idea, not just you being random), and give him a set amount of cash each month to spend however, but when that's gone, it's gone. For some of the other things, could you try bringing up just one thing with a very concrete solution? If he starts universalizing, just keep sticking to that one thing. e.g. "Hon, I love you and I know you like the hobby, but the money and time-with-dad budgets just don't allow for the Vegas trip this year." Then, no caving to any of the "oh, I'm just an awful person" drama. Just stick to "no, *you're* fine, this is only about this trip. It's just the way things are right now; no one's fault, it just is what it is." Repeat as needed. For all I know, you've tried some of this and it hasn't worked (such are the limits of brief internet questions), but it seems worth a try, especially counseling. Also, dh's attitude about giving and receiving help may make it hard for you to ask for help from others (like watching kids while you are at counseling), but often it's a gift people really are willing to give. So don't be afraid to ask when you really do need help. :-)

    Posted on Dec 13th, 2012 at 8:07 PM by Anna

  • Philippians 4:6-7 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    Posted on Dec 14th, 2012 at 10:47 AM by God's word... read it

  • Jeanne, it is funny how you go out of your way to say the woman is not always at fault... when that is exactly why some other ladies were posting here. lol. Anyways, just sayin'. Btw, we have no debt at all. AND we are homeschooling because I have two education certificates, two degrees, and hubs has three degrees and is working on the fourth. Hardly homeschooling out of fear & hardly a family where we think its a mortal sin to improve the mind, eh. Incidentally, I believe the broader a person's mind, the more open they are to maturity and wisdom looking different from "what I do." Gotta go wrap X-mas presents now... I'm outta here!

    Posted on Dec 14th, 2012 at 2:33 PM by frequent poster who is grateful for this site!

  • Rule 14 of the Internet: don't argue with the trolls or they win.

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