Wife drives me crazy but can't stand to not be around the kids - any thoughts?
Bit of emotional dump here, but have been storing it up for a very very long time, sorry. In short, if it wasn't for my two young sons, I think I would be divorcing my wife. The thought of not being with my sons is too unbearable to even consider so divorce won't happen. She just generally drives me crazy. I'm posting this up here just to get it out in the open and see if anyone can offer anything useful! The pertinent points in a roughly chronological order:
- Married for 4 years, been together for about 10. Two young kids under 3.
- Early relationship was pretty good.
- When we moved in together arguments increased because she is VERY messy. I'm no clean-freak but she literally drops things where she finished using them and doesn't tidy up. I mean literally literally, not as some stupid affectation. This is exacerbated by the fact that she has loads of 'projects' on the go at any one time, none of them getting finished. So if you can imagine a house bursting with half-knitted clothes, half-finished craft projects, and a garden with half-potted plants all over it your probably not being extreme enough. She also will not throw anything away, so we are just amassing crap (i.e. EVERY old piece of clothing I want to get rid of is in multiple bags because someday she wants to "make a quilt out of it for the kids"). This still continues today and is a CONSTANT source of arguments.
- We decided to buy a house. We have an offer accepted. Four years later we finally buy a house. In-between we had accepted offers on at least five different houses which we pulled out of at the last minute because she panicked over some ridiculous detail (e.g. the credit crunch meant we'll be needing to "grow our own food, so we'd better have a house with a garden"). She also had a habit of picking houses which had sold and then declaring that we should have bought it. In the end we only bought because a similar house next to one of these "dream houses" came up so there was no reason not to buy versus her earlier wishes. It was still a difficult experience.
- We decided to get married. Repeat paragraph above but without 'houses' and insert 'wedding venues'. We had a great wedding. The next day and half of our honeymoon she was in tears because she'd "embarrassed herself" at the wedding (she hadn't).
- She is diagnosed by a GP with General Anxiety Disorder. She attends some CBT classes (but doesn't do the homework) and ignores the advice to do some exercise. This whole thing is then dropped.
- We decided to have kids. We have two wonderful kids and my wife is fantastic with them. It's like a hidden talent that's always been there and she is a fantastic mum. She is never lazy in doing things around the house and with the kids BUT the problems with messiness (remember, this was there before kids) are still a problem. Before I get shot down by all the mums out there who think I'm not sympathetic; I can tell the difference between kids mess and ten different DIY/clothing/craft projects, I look after them too. I've taken holidays from work and taken the kids away; the house just gets messier.
- Decisions about money are a constant problem. Our household income is in the top 5% in the country, we don't have extravagant tastes and save a lot, yet my wife considers us 'poor' and quibbles over the most minor of expenditures.
- We argue a lot so go to couples therapy. I've developed quite an abrupt personality over the years of the relationship due to literally arguing over and over about the same thing, so I'm expecting to come out of counselling as the one who needs to up my game / change. Turns out it's mainly due to my wife's background (not her fault, but her part of the circumstances). Over-bearing mum (who constantly tidied for her), moved around a lot as a kid, never really made any decisions... The counselling was ended at the behest of the counselor as there was "nothing left to discuss" and she recommended my wife go on a mindfulness course and to do more exercise. Neither of which she has done.
- She has now self-diagnosed herself as having ADD (I must admit the adult symptoms sound pretty spot on). The main techniques to overcome are... exercise, good diet and mindfulness. She says she wants to but has done nothing.
So, that about brings us to today. In six months time we're likely to move house (mortgage period up) which is going to bring on a load of pain. Day to day she goes about being a great mum but repeating the same personal (remember, NOT the kids fault) messiness, indecisiveness which drives me crazy.
Can anyone throw any light on this for me? Tell me I'm the problem, tell me to change, tell me how to help her, tell me to just put up with it - anything! I just want to discuss it and think it through in dialogue.
Thanks for reading
That sounds like a really tough situation for you both.
First of all, your wife is messy and you need to accept that about her as she will never change that particular trait. If your wife has GAD/ADD then the only thing that will spark her into mindfulness and self management of her issues will be an internal trigger. It is down to her own inner being. You can't change it, so you need to accept it. If you accept negative traits, rather than fight them you may both feel happier. If you have fallen out of love with her you will find it very difficult to tolerate her negative traits. If you are not in love with your wife, and you don't want to separate, then you need to find a way to rediscover your love for her. You could try:
1. Spend Quality time together
Make sure you both prioritise at least 15 hours per week of quality time together. Have conversations, without abrupt language. Give each other undivided attention, listen to each other and ask questions about past present and future feelings, thoughts and actions, have sex and do fun activities together. Spend some of that top 5% income on babysitting, go out to dinner, take cookery lessons and learn to cook healthy food, go to a concert, go dancing, take tennis lessons or do some sport together. This might help kick start her healthy eating or exercise habits too.
2. Minimise the impact of bad habits
She needs to respect your rights to a comfortable living environment and if she cares for you she will make the effort. Make for her a room or various areas in your house and garden (a greenhouse, garden storage boxes, a sewing room, cupboard or large chest for example). Ask her to use these new areas to put her projects out of sight while she is not actively getting on with her crafts. Ask her if there are any habits she would like you to pay attention to in return. Arrange for her to go for a massage (or similar) to give her calm personal time to diffuse anxiety on a regular basis, pay for it yourself so she cannot worry about the money. Get her to make a list of what she wants in a house before you start to look and then tick off each thing before you seriously consider buying.
Good luck and happy Christmas