Controlling wife but neglectful mother
I love my much younger (15 year age difference) wife but
My wife really loves me, or she used to anyways. At one point her whole world revolved around me. But I did not realize when we became a couple that she intended for me to raise her two very young children as a full time co-parent (maybe even more). Meaning my life as I knew it was over. I found myself in a situation where if I wanted to spend time with friends, I couldn't because we didn't have a babysitter which was pretty much 95% of the time. I quickly lost the majority of my friends.
She is a great stay at home mother but a lot of the time she does not pay attention to the kids while she is busy doing chores, is on her computer/facebook or watching TV, while she spends hours on her phone - they get into mischief, and unfortunately they have developed a fierce competition of who can get into more "fun" trouble. They have no regard for anyone's property or privacy in their quest to out do each other and sometimes I feel they get themselves into dangerous situations or beating each other up or tearing apart the house while mom is playing candy crush on her phone. When she is present she is a great mom.
When I have talked to her about it, she gets very angry, complains that she is "looking up recipes, or doing chores for me", yes she says for me, then completely shuts down with anxiety. She has a very condescending tone. I have found myself to be the default disciplinary and the kids resent me for the most part I can say the kids and I do not have a great relationship. Her ability to handle stress is not great at all but she is not a bad person.
We had together a new baby with a disability... It is a long story, but the baby was unexpected and we chose to save her together. This new baby is the love of my life.
My problem is YES, that I am put into the position of teacher and disciplinary, but even worse... while my wife has little to no supervision over the children, on the opposite spectrum she is extremely controlling of me.
When the house is dirty she somehow blames me; yes I am a culprit as well, but the majority of the messes are from the kids whom she doesn't seem to blame what-so-ever. She says it is because I am the other adult in the house and I should be more helpful. So I do the dishes and cook some of the time, but she still complains.
We are typically a great team and great parents by the way, because I comply, but also I am a dreamer and she does help me achieve my goals.
I have always known that she goes through my texts and my emails, but recently learned that she has now escalated her snooping to having my texts and emails routed directly to her phone so that she can monitor me. I think it has become another avenue of her phone addiction. She often criticizes my personal email responses to people (not as in jealous, but as in you use the wrong grammar, I do not agree with what you said to so and so...) and gets upset of she sees an email receipt for things I buy on the internet.
I am the sole breadwinner and she controls the money except for one stream of allowance I leave myself, but now she says I should not have an allowance because she does not have an allowance, but I feel she does. Since she has control over the money which leaves a positive cash flow after bills are paid, but we are poor but you would never know.
I do not know what to do... I hate having no free will. I hate being controlled and criticized with no escape from it, under her thumb and at the mercy of her temper at all times, but she says I am the one criticizing her when I complain or try to talk about how I feel about these things but she quickly jumps to "I'm done with you" and then threatens to kill herself. I have asked her to get help, she doesn't believe therapy helps and she is probably right.
I do love her very much though but its gradually getting worse.
There are times I really have felt like I have completely lost myself because I have learned to just give in to avoid nastiness and then even that makes her upset. My personality is slowly being zapped away from me. I have thought about leaving with my small allowance but I cannot fathom not being around to protect my new baby daughter from the dangers she is exposed to with little supervision and my wife will make my life a living hell trying to see my daughter.
What the heck can I do in this impossible situation?
Firstly I'd like to acknowledge your strength to step up like you have in your relationship with your wife and children. Not all men would have taken on the responsibilities that you have. It shows your committment, your compassion and your capability as a man, father and husband.
It sounds like your wife is searching for significance in her life, searching for self worth, importance and meaning. It sounds like she needs more than to be a mother, she has some energy that she doesn't know what to do with. There is always something that can be done to change a situation. In this case you could try giving her significance daily for two weeks. You could have a short purposeful conversation with her each day to tell her something you love about her, something you admire, something that makes her special, something that she does well. Do not expect a particular response and once you have expressed yourself, you should end the interaction with a hug or kiss and continue on with your day. It would be great if you could do this when someone else is present, eg a child, friend, family member etc. But it will also be valuable if you do it just with your wife.
Another thing you could do is praise her highly when she does something you want to see her doing. For example if she does discipline the kids, if she cooks a meal, if she shows love to your daughter. Any small or big action. It is important to go with her positive energy, encourage what you want to see more of by praise and ignore the things you don't want to see her doing. People who are searching for significance will not cope with criticism no matter how well you can put it.