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I’ve been taught there are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace.
You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
Grace doesn’t try to please itself.
Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.
Accepts insults and injuries.
Nature only wants to please itself.
Get others to please it too.
Likes to lord it over them.
To have its own way.
It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.
Even when love is smiling through all things.
I’ve been taught that no one who loves the way of Grace ever comes to a bad end.
I will be true to You.
Whatever comes.
(taken from the movie, Tree of Life)

My husband has stopped speaking to me. He is angry. Feels disrespected that I would question him. Believes he is completely justified in ignoring me and giving me the “cold shoulder”. But who should really be indignant, here? . . . Me or him? . . . I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

***

Tax time. I wasn’t completely clueless. I knew our refund was usually a big one, but that was about all I knew. In the past, I would usually drop by the local H&R Block office just to sign our tax forms after my husband had spent the hour with our tax preparer pouring over W-2’s, bank statements, and 1099’s. We usually filed early, so the refund could be used to pay the property taxes . . . and the remainder of the refund went directly into my husband’s bank account. My requests for a portion of the refund to be spent on helping pay school tuition or to lower credit card balances were either ignored or not deemed “do-able”.

This year, I decided to join my husband at the appointment. As the tax preparer began filling in the form with numbers from our W-2’s, a sick feeling swept over me.

The total amount of our income was more than I imagined.

Much more.

I was aware that we received a large refund check every spring, but never realized how much we earned throughout the year.

“How could this be,” I wondered. “Where was the money going?”

Our lifestyle, in no way, reflected an income of that amount. Working part time, my salary paid the monthly bills and the kid’s expenses. My husband paid the mortgage and the groceries.

It didn’t add up.

Our combined salaries minus our expenses left sooooo much money unaccounted for . . . so much of my husband’s money.

I questioned him. Was there a secret savings account? An addictive or spending compulsion? Did he even know where the money was going? He had no reasonable answer, became defensive . . . evasive, and has not spoken to me since.

He has added this incident to his list of the ways I have “wronged” him, and yet seems incapable of acknowledging any of the ways he has done wrong to others.

Whether due to his personality, ADD, or childhood scars, life for him is viewed as a victim. He needs someone to blame in order to justify his behavior; because to accept responsibility would also mean admitting he is wrong and unreasonable for reasons having to do with his own character.

He has a fragile ego . . . I get that, but demanding authority without taking responsibility is a warped way of fulfilling Christ’s command for his role as head of our family.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

5:22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

5:25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. (the Message)

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My therapist warned me there’d be days like this. “As you grow stronger,” she cautioned, “the enemy will attack harder. He will use your husband, your children, your circumstances . . . Be ready.”

Another busy day. I had worked an evening shift and after the 45 minute commute, I was ready to crawl into bed once I got home.

My husband was still up, which should have been an indication that something was different. He usually never waited up for me when I worked late.

I had barely shut the bedroom door when he said, “I can not live under the same roof with your daughter another day. Either she moves out or I will. You choose.”

I listened to his version of how the evening unfolded without saying much. The next day, I then asked my children, who had witnessed the blow out, for their perspective.

The kids: Sissy went to the supermarket that afternoon to buy all the ingredients she needed to bake apple pies for us and 2 friends she had invited over to watch the season finale of her favorite show.

My husband: S. made a complete mess of the kitchen using our food to make a complete dinner for her friends, without even asking if it was OK with me.

The kids: When her friends arrived, Dad answered the door and told them that they couldn’t come in.

My husband: I told S. that I was not expecting company and suggested she make a different plan with her friends for the evening.

The kids: Dad told S. that he couldn’t afford to feed her friends and he couldn’t wait for her to move out.

My husband: I want her to be happy, and I told her that maybe she would be happier if she got her own place, where she wouldn’t have to follow my rules. She then starting screaming at me, saying that I’m wrong if I think my marriage and relationship with my sons will improve if she moves out. What was she talking about? What have you told her about our marriage?

She also seemed to know a lot about our finances, saying that you are the one who pays the bills around here. Basically telling me that I have no authority in my own home since I don’t contribute financially as much as she thinks I should. Is this what you are telling the kids? With you influencing them like this, no wonder they show no respect towards me.

(I felt from the beginning of this conversation that my husband had been trying to involve me in the drama of the evening, which is why I chose to just listen. But when he tried to insinuate that I was somehow responsible for it, I had to speak.)

Me: I don’t have to say a word about our marital difficulties for her to be aware that we have issues. Everyone who lives in this house KNOWS what dysfunction goes on here. As for who pays the bills, that’s no secret, either. We have all heard your endless tales of woe as to how broke you always are and can never seem to make ends meet without “help”.

The kids: The situation got out of control, and both dad & S. were yelling at each other.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Kid #5: I made myself as small as I could, so I could be invisible . . .

Kid #3: It made me feel like I want to be NOTHING like my dad when I grow up . . .

“Being a child of a “broken” home is not a label just for kids whose parents are divorced. It’s about not having two parents around that you can look up to and model your life after. It’s about not having someone see the potential in you and speak to it.”

“It’s not just about just having two parents that are still married to each other. We need more than the acknowledgement that we are the children of our parents. We need endorsement, love, and support. And most important, we need to be taught how to use the gifts we have been given.”

“Making a son tough is not a parent’s responsibility. Never telling your daughter that she’s beautiful is not protecting her. Being a parent is about being someone to show your child their place in this world then releasing them into it.”

“A father’s job is to teach his daughter what to expect from a man, and to his son, to exemplify what it takes to be a man. Otherwise, not only will our homes be broken . . . So will we.(Max – Making it MAD)

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What would you give your spouse if you could give her anything?” our marriage counselor once asked my husband. His answer: “Financial freedom.”

“. . . Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and although yesterday was payday, I will only have $75 left after paying the bills. And that will be needed to put gas in the car for the next two weeks. We have no food for tomorrow and as I walk down the aisles of the supermarket, I am so drained, I could cry . . . not from the lack of funds in my checking account, but from the weariness of feeling so alone . . . ”

This is what I wrote in my journal November 2008. I can’t help but feel that same weariness as I remember my husband’s answer to our marriage counselor, as well as that walk down the supermarket aisle and realize that much hasn’t changed since then.

My husband recently told me that he feels I am the “parent” in the family and he is the “paycheck”. He feels like I don’t appreciate him for providing for us financially – I feel like he doesn’t realize just how dearly I have paid for his provision.

While my marriage has not changed much since 2008, and my heart is wounded just as easily by my husband’s words and actions, I find strength and comfort in a different Source.

“The Truth has the power to set me free and to protect my mind and heart from deceptive thoughts and feelings. The moments when I feel besieged with emotions or thoughts I know are not of God, I need to run to the Truth for refuge.” (Lies Women Believe – DeMoss)

When we are weary, looking at the future is draining and discouraging, but His mercies are new each day – we need to do what is right for today. Weariness leads to discouragement. When weariness sets it, go to the Word and wait (with expectancy) on the Lord to renew your strength.”    (J. Osteen)

My purpose in life is not to pursue all the health, wealth and happiness I can obtain but to glorify God in whatever circumstances I may be.

Isaiah 35:4-6 & 10b . . . to those who have tired hearts, “Be strong and do not fear for your God is coming to save you.” And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer and those who can not speak will shout and sing . . . Sorrow and mourning will disappear and they will be overcome with joy and gladness.

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Channel surfing again. It’s late. My husband is sleeping and the only light in the bedroom is the flicker that comes from the tv as I change the channel every few seconds. I set the remote down when I come to the PBS station. A couple is being interviewed. The title of the segment, “ADD and Loving It.” I listen as they talk about their marriage and the dynamics of their relationship. It sounds very much like my marriage, but instead of speaking with despair, the wife seems to be light-hearted about the challenges of their life together.

How can she do that?” I wonder. But it is only a passing thought, since I am “working on me” these days, and trying to understand my husband’s behavior or resolving my marital issues have not been a priority.

A few weeks pass . . . I am “blog surfing” and this catches my attention:

” . . . For the past three years, my online exchanges with hundreds of partners to people with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD tell me this: They desperately love their partners, and yet they’re desperately hurting and confused. They need help . . . They didn’t know ADHD had anything to do with their partner’s rage, compulsive spending, and difficulty being a parent. Many live with partners in complete denial, refusing to even hear of ADHD. It’s not that the non-ADHD partners consider themselves paragons of mental-health virtue. They represent a spectrum of personalities, behaviors, intelligences, and neuroses — as their ADHD partners do, too. Most of them want to grow, change, expand, and meet their ADHD mates halfway or more.

Yet, when their partner’s untreated ADHD creates chaos at every turn . . . They’re left unable to act, only react — sometimes until they reach “meltdown.” Even the most formerly confident among them start to believe their partner’s accusations that their partnership woes are entirely their fault . . . On top of that, they are often dealing with financial difficulties, performing most of the household chores, and often working a full-time job.

For the most part, it’s not the little ADHD’ish things that wear them down. They can live with those (mostly) once they understand their underpinnings, and they can work together on solutions. Rather, it’s the big, teeth-rattling things that send them seeking support . . .The following list of most-problematic “hot spots” – again, primarily found among those refusing diagnosis and treatment — is not for the faint of heart . . .

Financial: They wrestle with their partners’ secret (and not so secret) debts, impulsive spending . . . Mention E-bay to them at your own risk; their closets (and garages) are filled with their partner’s impulsive and expensive online purchases . . .

Children: An often-heard phrase is “We feel like single parents.” . . . They have to act as referee between their children and partner . . .

Support: Not much. Their families often see the charming “social” side of their partners and think they’re exaggerating. Their closest friends commiserate but can’t help them, other than to say “get out!” Their in-laws often are wrapped up in their own undiagnosed sagas, decades in the making. Much of the public, including the family doctor or their therapist, relegate adult ADHD to tooth-fairy status: They don’t believe in it . . .

Self-Esteem: When they are consistently not valued or “seen,” they slowly become invisible. Even to themselves. They’re blamed for the sky being blue . . .

Provocation to anger: They hate themselves when their anger overwhelms them – it’s a new behavior for most of them — and they hate that their partner keeps provoking them. They are bone-tired of fighting.

Getting Help: Many place trust in doctors and psychologists only to find their problems worsen due to their ignorance about ADHD. While their ADHD partners can conveniently forget the trauma that’s transpired or place the blame at their feet – they are so traumatized, confused and depressed that, to the untrained eye, they often look like the cause of the relationship woes.

It often takes from 5 to 30 years before they gain a clue their partner’s behavior comes with a name – and hope for change. But by that time, much damage has been done . . .” (G. Pera)

Wow. This really resonated with me. Could it be possible I am married to a man with ADD? No . . . Not ready for that question or answer. Still “working on me” . . .

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After years of stumbling thru a dark tunnel, not knowing which direction to go, feeling helpless and hoping to be rescued, I have decided it is time for a plan to “rescue” myself from this toxic marriage. A simple plan, really, but one that, I am trusting, will result in a better life. Easier life? Maybe not, but I can not continue indefinitely on the path which I have been nor “until death us do part”, under the current conditions.

STEP ONE – Begin seeing a new therapist to address:

1) my own dysfunction

2) ways in which I can help my children re-connect as a family

3) confronting my husband with the responsibility of his own dysfunction and the ways it has affected me

STEP TWO – prepare myself financially for the possibility of supporting myself & the children without my husband by:

1) applying for a benefitted position at work where I will have guaranteed hours and accrue PTO, as well as be eligible for medical benefits

2) making the maximum payment (that I can afford) to each of my credit cards in order to have them paid off within the next 2 years

3) instead of refinancing our mortgage in 2 years as planned, when the time comes, if the situation with my husband has not changed, I will tell him that we need to sell the house, split the equity and separate.

Yes, 2 years is still a long way off . . . but with a plan, I am now going to “move” towards these goals and take control of my future, rather than continue living each day, in response to my husband, my circumstances and the influences around me.

“Life doesn’t give you a re-write; it only let’s you keep telling the stories you’ve got and offering fresh pages.” http://deeperstory.com/the-gift-of-your-beginning/

I am so ready for a new story . . .

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As I sit on the couch that has now become familiar to me over the last 6 months, I am aware that my therapist truly has tried his best to help me but that maybe the problem is me. Maybe I am just a hopeless patient. At our last session he asked, “Are you trying to change yourself in order to get your husband to change? Are you trying to change the way you respond to him in order to get your desired behavior from him?”

Me: “Well, yes, isn’t that how things work? If I change the way I respond to him, then won’t that change the negative dynamics between us?”

Therapist: ” Don’t you see, the ways you have changed in order to accommodate your husband’s behavior or to obtain desired behavior from him will only result in your unhappiness, because you are not being true to your feelings and because you are hoping for a change in your husband that may never come. It’s fine if you want to change yourself, but it has to be for you and without any expectations for a change in him.

(OK, even though that seems to be different from what I have been told and have read up to this point, I can wrap my head around why that way of thinking makes sense. Although it seems like this approach is just a different way to “self-protect” and it makes me angry to face the reality – once again – that I need a coping strategy to protect my heart from the man to whom I am married.)

Therapist: I don’t know why your husband behaves the way he does but always remember, don’t feed his need for drama. When he behaves in a way that leaves you hurt or frustrated, realize that this is only part of his personality.

Me: But why do me & the kids always get the bad part of his personality, while his friends & co-workers get the good?! I have come to believe that my husband is incapable of nurturing me & our relationship.

Therapist: Name some of the recurring negative feelings you have related to your marriage.

Me: Hurt, disappointment, resentment . . . I often feel like I don’t meet his standards, so I guess inferiority would also be one. Hopeless, over a lack of change. Guilt about considering divorce. Tension & anger whenever I am around him. Unimportant – I am not a priority to him. Insecure over his inability to provide financially. . .

Therapist: (heavy sigh) OK – how about you list some of the recurring themes in you marriage.

Me: Relationships with him are conditional. We got married because I was pregnant which contributes to my self-condemnation. He treats other people better than he treats me and the children. His relationship with my (2) children is terrible. Life with him is difficult because he is so inconsistent. We have a long history of disappointment in our relationship. His negative, passive aggressive behavior is draining. His convenient memory lapses are frustrating. I have little/no respect for him. No matter how bad I am feeling (physically or emotionally) or how hard my day has been, it is pointless to discuss it with him because he will usually turn it around to be about him and how much worse things are for him. . .

Therapist: There seems to be so many bad things you associate with your marriage, what would you need in order to make you feel good about the marriage?

. . . I had no answer.

Stuffing anger into some dark corner of your heart may temporarily help you skirt past a conflict but the anger doesn’t go away. If you persist in stuffing your hurt and anger, it will affect you negatively in mind, body and spirit. Your outlook on life will tarnish, your hope for deeper happiness will fade and you will be more susceptible to illness.” (Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage – Rosberg)

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A difficult but necessary conversation with my husband last night. He still has no plans of returning home. (maybe next week, he said) I no longer felt like I could continue to say, “Everything is fine over here, we are all doing well.” No more sugar-coating. The circumstances called for nothing less than honesty. I reminded him that he had not deposited money for household expenses (like food) for 2 weeks now, informed him that my daughter had been deplorably violated, and I spoke of the emotional aftermath that is resulting from it.

His response was understanding, but not without also letting me know that things have been very difficult for him as well. He has been wading through the Mexican bureaucracy of trying to settle things with his mother’s life insurance company and transferring ownership of her home to his name. He has also begun remodeling his mother’s house in preparation to rent out or sell. Apparently this is where his money is being spent which is why he said to me last night that he can not contribute to our families finances. (leaving me to buy groceries – yet again- with a credit card) It’s possible that, in reality, it was just a mutual “unloading” type of conversation but, to me, it felt more like he was saying, “things might be hard for you right now, but they have been just as hard, if not harder for me.” After all, that is his usual pattern of conversation . . to make everything about him.

I am running low on empathy for him. I realize the death of his mother was an unexpected shock and he must be experiencing much guilt over the neglected relationship he had with her. But while he has been gone, life has continued for us here. Since he has been in Mexico, he seems so completely removed from the “other” life he has in the States. It’s as if the only life that exists for him is the one he is currently living in Mexico.

I want to be supportive but I’m having a hard time understanding what is going on with him . . . and I’m running on empty.

Colossians 1:9b -10 (I) continually ask God to fill (me) with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that (I) may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God

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