Had a fight with my husband last night. It’s something that’s admittedly been festering all week but, this time, I wasn’t able to talk myself “off the ledge,” so to speak, like I have so many times before.
Anyway, we have this recurring “joke” about who gets what if we divorce. We started talking about who would get our son. He said it would have to be me because I’m the better parent. I reminded him how much our son loves him and that our son would be furious with me. And then I don’t even remember exactly what the words were, but it was the way my husband reasoned that his role as dad would be done that really irritated me. Truth be told, it’s hardly the first time he’s complained about parenting. I learned a long time ago that he can’t be counted on to pick-up the slack – at least not without having to be nagged incessantly, and not without him whining about it the whole time.
In hindsight, his crappy parenting style is a festering wound for me. And last night, my (admittedly unfair) response was to ask him to promise that he wouldn’t lie to whoever he ended up with next about wanting kids since he didn’t even want the one we have.
*BOOM* Shot fired. And I’m not even sorry.
I know his reasoning – he was scared he’d have no chance of getting a girl if he was honest about not wanting kids. I used to feel sympathy for how lonely and sad his life must have been that he felt he had to resort to that. But I’m still irked at being lied to. And the reason I keep coming back to that one particular sin is that it typifies a pattern of juvenile behavior and decision making that has slowly eroded any empathy I had for him.
I’ll be honest. At 43, another bout of 3 a.m. feedings and diaper changes sounds even less fun than they did 10 years ago. I’m not angry or hurt because I want more kids. I’m angry and hurt because I thought I was in a relationship with someone who shared a life goal that was pretty important to me and, just when we started building a life together, I found out I was misled.
I’m also kind of annoyed at his sexist thinking. Not all women want kids any more than we all want expensive shoes or Tom Cruise. And, contrary to his belief, not all of the women who don’t want those things are into chicks. That’s another line of thinking that invades our daily life. Stupid little comments about how I don’t cook or how I should do a particular chore because it’s “women’s work.” Even if he means it when he says he’s just kidding, it stopped being funny a long time ago. Sometimes I fire back about my higher pay and longer hours at work, but then the “teasing” just devolves into a full-on argument about the debt I’ve accrued and how his selfishness throws away whatever little windfalls we get that could help get us out of that debt.
I guess last night was kind of his wake-up call. Maybe the delivery could have been planned out better… but if nothing else, at least he knows that I’m not happy. And that it will take a helluva lot more than words to make things better. I don’t even care anymore if he means his apologies. I don’t want to hear them. I want to see him be more of a parent. I want him to be more attentive to me. I would like romance, but I’ll settle for affection that is more than a warm-up to sex.
And as much as it probably hurt to hear, what would he have preferred? That I waited until he was at work and helpless to stop me from running away with our son? It would sure have been a lot easier for me to go that route: to silently stew and demonize him while making my escape plan. But I care too much about him to treat him like that. Not to mention how unfair that would be to our son, to not even get to say goodbye to his own dad. No, that kind of exit is reserved for physical abuse situations. Not manchild husbands who wouldn’t spot an unhappy wife if she hit him in the head with a frying pan.
All of that said… I still went to bed feeling guilty and sad for hurting him, tempted to take it all back and blame it on whatever excuse seemed convenient and believable. And I’m kind of proud of myself for that – for being honest about my feelings. I am a lot of things – impatient and passionate being the two that get me into the most trouble. And I am certainly not the best at communicating, especially when my abandonment issues get triggered. But my imperfections shouldn’t sentence me to a life of feeling unhappy, unloved, unwelcome or unwanted.