Work, laundry and invitations

December 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm 2 comments

This should probably be divided into two separate blog entries, but I’ve put in a lot of hours lately and haven’t gotten much sleep, so I’m not quite up to the effort of thinking so clearly. Yet I want to write this today.

Last week I had to change work shifts with a colleague because my husband was going away on business for a few days. He only gave me 5 days’ notice, and when I complained, said he’d only found out himself 2 days before. It struck me as strange that it took him two days to tell me, but we have a big house, so maybe it took him that long to find me. I told him that if he could give me enough notice, I can easily change my schedule. He grumped that he doesn’t like to commit himself ten months(?!) in advance. End of discussion. In any case, I was able to change my schedule so as not to have to work the night shift while he was away. In exchange, I had to work all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

Friday night I barely slept. 1.30 am phone call for a ride home from the train station. 3 am a cat. 5 am the cat’s brother. 6.30 am my husband was making noise in the kitchen — he was hungry. (He’d returned the previous evening.) I had to get up at 7.30 to get ready for work. I got home from work around 8 pm, changed and went out to meet a few girlfriends at the punch stand down the street. By the time I got there, the market was over and there was no mulled wine left. So I had a warm mug of children’s punch with no alcohol in it. That was a blessing in disguise, as my daughter called 10 minutes later from a hospital. A car door had accidentally been slammed on her hand, and could I please pick her up.

She sounded awful. I bid my friends adieu, ran home and quite out of breath asked my husband if he knew where the hospital was. (It was not our local hospital.) He lay sprawled on his electric massage mat on the couch watching TV, and said, “No. I don’t know.” So I googled it and got the necessary information. He didn’t offer to go with me, nor to drive there himself in his car with his GPS. It didn’t occur to him that he’d had the day off and I might be a tad tired after working for 10 hours. I found that interesting, and was glad to drive alone anyway. (Adrenaline provides a great energy boost!) But I’d halfway expected some kind of gesture of support or concern. Oh, these expectations!!

On the way there, I was nearly nauseous, imagining her mangled hand. When I got there, it was not so bad. She had calmed down, been examined, and was only bruised a bit deeply and had a bandaged-up hand. She wanted to go out on the town with her friends, which I did not allow. I told her that after such an accident, she had to go home. She was quite angry, and yelled at me on the way home: “I hate you! I’ll never call you up again if something happens to me!” My relief at the minor injury and the memory of my own youth helped me remain calm and insist that she go home with me. We picked her boyfriend up on the way so he could keep her company. It is indeed an awful blow of fate for a 16-year-old to have to stay home on a Saturday night.

Sunday I worked another 10 hours. That evening my daughter again reminded me that I had ruined her Saturday night. I calmly responded that I felt it necessary to tell her something. I told her that I am not angry with her and am glad that she was not more badly injured, but my Saturday night out with the girls had also been ruined. I wasn’t accusing her or anything. I just wanted her to know that she’s not the only one who was disappointed.

Monday I had night duty, working from 4 pm to 8.30 am, sleeping perhaps 3 hours. When I got home, I nearly bumped into a grumpy husband with an empty laundry basket. He said: “The laundry that you washed on Saturday and left in the machine stinks.” I went down to check. It was out of the machine, and new dirty laundry had been put in. He came down to put a few more things into the machine and turn it on, and grumbled something about his dirty laundry not being washed for a couple of months. That was simply not true. I assured him I’d done several loads last week. He stomped back upstairs.

It’s as if I should feel guilty for working. Yet recently I recalled a comment he made several years ago when the kids were smaller (and required considerably more attention) and I was still studying psychology. Back then he said he would love to have the easy job of staying home and taking care of things. I thought to myself: “Now he has that job. Now he knows how much fun it is to work at home when you have a family to take care of, while your partner goes off to work every day.” The funny thing is, I did both jobs (student & household/children) without thinking all that much about it. Now that the situation is different, it hasn’t occurred to him to cook or do the laundry unless he’s absolutely desperate.

I further thought it strange that when I tell people I work part time (28 hours/week) they say, “Oh, and your family is okay?” Some have even wondered aloud if it’s okay with my husband. And I thought to myself: “Does anybody ever ask the husband if his wife has a problem with his going to work?” It seems strange that I would do my job and take care of the housework — feeling the need to prove that I can do both — rather than delegate certain tasks to husband and children. But if I complain or delegate, he’ll just tell me to quit the job.

I laugh when I come home from work a half hour before lunchtime, and it is taken for granted that I’ll put lunch on the table. Yes, I do it.  Yet it would never occur to me to expect my husband to prepare a meal after he gets home from a long day at work. In fact, he used to need at least half an hour of quiet just to settle down. I am absolutely not complaining. I am simply observing and recording observations about our strange behavior patterns, myself included. It is my choice. I know quite well that I could delegate and ask someone else to prepare a meal. But when I used to ask for that help or try to delegate, I was reminded that he was bringing home the money, whereas I was “only” a student. It was suggested that I give up student life. End of discussion. Lately, though, if I know I won’t be home before 1 pm, I’ve taken to suggesting that he go out to eat. Before he had his office at home, he used to eat lunch out every day. I kind of miss that, though it’s been nice having him here more. He certainly has gotten much better acquainted with his children!

Monday night I had a rather difficult shift, with a few unpleasant developments at work. (Oh, by the way, part of the reason I have this job now is because I didn’t give up student life until after graduation!) I came home rather exhausted the next morning, but stayed up all day, as I had a few appointments. On the way home from the last one, I got a phone call and was reminded that it was a friend’s birthday and they would be happy if I stopped by. A familiar sensation went through me (perhaps it was the tiredness), as I wondered if he would “mind” if I went out. The absurdity of that hit me, and suddenly I felt incredibly angry as I realized that for over 20 years, whenever I got an invitation from a friend my first thought was: “Will he mind?” That is insane. Luckily, I have gotten over that. But like I said, perhaps the exhaustion made me slightly less resolute. By the time I got home, I had regained my composure. I came in, unpacked the groceries that I’d picked up on the way home, and announced that I had to go to a birthday party. There was not a hint of a question in my voice. No disapproval came from him. He was on his way out himself. It has never occurred to him to wonder if I would “mind” if he went out. To be honest, it never occurred to me to “mind.” What he does is his business. End of discussion.

Life is crazy sometimes and so am I. Some behavior patterns really seem inconceivable and quite absurd, when I look at them from a distance. Most people I know seem to be better at relating. I tended to lose myself and only think about what the other person expected of me. Most of the time things revolved around my husband, as he is the person I spent the most time with. It really makes me sad that it took me so long to figure out these things, to recognize the destructive, self-negating patterns, but I am happy to be moving further and further away from that behavior.

There are a lot of things I don’t understand. At this late date, I am grateful that I do recognize these weird things and question them. I used to recognize them, but then would question the validity of my own perception, rather than the incongruent behavior of the other person. What a relief it is to see things more clearly and make necessary changes! It’s just unfortunate that things went this way for so many years. Now I am no longer willing to even try to change things with him. I gave up and have set out on my own path. End of discussion. Actually, we were never able to discuss things very well to begin with. Yet since I gave up and set out on my own path (figuratively — we are still married and live together), a lot has changed!


Entry filed under: bad relationships, changing my behavior. Tags: , , , , , , .

Thanksgiving Unexpected encounter

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. novice101  |  December 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Wise move, it’s easier to change ourselves than to change others.

    • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  December 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

      That’s for sure. It just took me a while to figure that out! 🙂


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