However, the workload can be overwhelming. For a while inside my new position, my husband asked me to stop my habit of sharing the problems and frustrations of the workday with him as it was tiring and daunting to listen to my stream of negativity. I understood his position and I stopped talking about work except when I shared something positive or optimistic. To be fair, he does not complain about his job to me.
Recently I had an unusually hard day and ended up airing out when I got home. It was not my intention to remove the plug and dump on him; I was sorry and it just happened a little bit. My husband was outraged and asked again that I not complain about the work.
I was hurt because one day I needed empathy and support, I instead felt like a villain.
I know something needs to be done about finding another job (I’m considering that). But is it unreasonable to have an expectation that a spouse is ready and willing to provide some kind of comfort and support on those extra hard days?
Bottled: It’s a “before” question – one you have to ask before you dumped your husband and carried him down until he insisted on a draconian agreement that you would never put more work stress on him.
You need “after” questions. Such as: “So, uh, no exceptions?”
“How about a time limit – five minutes, only on my worst days?”
“I really exaggerated it back then, didn’t I?”
I’m partly to the last.
For perhaps your husband is particularly unsympathetic. And maybe it’s especially rich if he enjoys the extra money but does not want to share the emotional work. But I suppose he has a point, based on your description and your “It all just fell out of my mouth!” defense. I suppose he’s absorbed enough of your prior stress agreement to go through all five stages of used negativity: worry, sympathetic stress, dull amazement, desperation, negotiations about silence.
I know I’m not cute. But this career change does not sound like a mutual decision, as much as your idea of what you both needed – and if so, then your husband may be ready for a family pay cut if it means getting you back and living in peace.
So therefore I urge you to ask for sympathy by first expressing something to your husband. “I chose this, you did not, and I dumped so much of it on you – I’m sorry I pushed you to the point where I reacted to reflex. I’m also sorry I slipped.”
So: “I hope I get some leeway though. I’m not perfect.”
So: “But even more, I hope you can help me figure out how to decompress. If you agree that we both live better for the extra money, then I would say we both have a role to play in absorbing the extra stress. “Without recreating today’s negativity or to have to pretend that everything is amazing, amazing.
In other words, your old method wears him up, and your new one wears you up. And while it’s ultimately your own riddle to solve, it’s fair to start the marriage with a problem that affects both of you. Maybe something as simple as a five-minute limit, or saying, “I need a hug today,” without a detailed explanation of your reasons, would work for both of you.
What does not fly, at least not for me, is to rework a very specific mutual problem into a generalized should-my-spouse-support-me? reply. The only right answer is what you both think is right.
Dear Carolyn: I am the friend who is not comfortable sharing information with others. It’s not something personal. The only person I share my feelings with is my husband.
I have a friend who wants me to share my traumatic life experiences and deepest thoughts. She feels like she shares her with me and expects the same in return. But I have no traumatic life experiences. I share other things with her, but not as deep as she wants them to be.
How do I tell this to my friend who feels I have a problem not sharing?
The friend: You do not share, you can agree on that – but it is she who has a problem with it, not you.
You can tell her that clearly. But it’s hard to persuade someone to project: She’s decided you’re the obstacle to the friendship she wants. If she is not ready to blame her own unrealistic expectations – ie. that you become someone you are not and share trauma you have not had – then it is controversial how you say it.
Still: You have told the whole relevant truth in your letter while you have not given any of the substance. Maybe just show her that?