Dear Loveawake: I am 34 and my husband is 30. We were married nearly 2 years ago. My husband is also sober 15 years, thanks to AA. When we first got together nearly 3 years ago, our income levels were close, but in the last 2 years my income has tripled. In the last year my husband decided that he did not like what he was doing as a CPA and wanted to try something else. I was totally supportive and encouraged him to find whatever line of work would make him happy. He found a business idea and bought a new truck, all the supplies, memberships and insurance. Three months later he hated it and decided to sell the business because it was not what he wanted to do. I was ok with that, too. I have come to realize that he does not know what he wants to do but I see that as his issue. My job is to support him in any path he chooses. What I am having a hard time with is that he has started seeing a counselor. This person gave him homework to come home last week and talk to me about what is giving him such anxiety. He came home from the counselor to tell me that I have caused all of his anxiety because he is so worried about not earning as much as I do. He said that if I do not love him solely for the man he is and not for the income he has potential to make, that I have married the wrong guy. I told him that I do love him, whatever he makes, that I know and trust that he has TONS of potential and that he is his worst critic. Amidst all of this, he also wants to start a family which I too want, just not right now when I feel like everything is unbalanced. He asked if he could be a stay at home Dad. That was when I got upset. I told him that it would not be all right with me. I would feel cheated and resentful and that is something I have waited all my life to do even if it is only for a few months. Over the last few days, I realized that I am angry because I feel like I'm being punished for being successful in my career by the man I have so unselfishly and unconditionally supported. Can you shed some light on what I should do? Thank you! - Wendy
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Dear Wendy: I think it is admirable that your husband had the courage to quit his job and try his hand at a business he thought would be successful. There is also no shame that he recognized early on that he made a mistake. It's also quite natural for him to have anxiety over making another wrong decision. Certainly a good counselor would validate his feelings and help him through this difficult transition period. It is hard for me to believe that he is seeing someone who is actually supporting the notion that your husband's anxiety is your fault. That is inconceivable to me after what you have written to me. Assuming it is the truth, it is obvious that you have been a very supportive and nurturing wife. Your husband should be so appreciative of having a woman who has been a true partner contributing, not only financially, but emotionally, to his well-being. You seem to have had only his best interests at heart. Of course you feel angry, frustrated and confused about getting blamed for his decisions and choices. It is not your fault and if he continues down this path, he will destroy the love you have for him.
You cannot be silent about this. You must tell him how much this has hurt you. You can validate his feelings by letting him know that you understand how awful it is to have his dreams shattered and how difficult it is to find the strength to go on. But you will not accept being the scapegoat.
He has gone through some disappointment and it will take a little time and lots of love and encouragement from you until he gets control of his life again. I have no doubt that a man who has been sober for 15 years and became a CPA, knows the meaning of commitment and dedication. He's just a little off track and needs to continually hear how much you believe in him.
Do not, however, bring a child into this world until you have a perfect understanding of what your roles will be. You have to decide on whether this is a deal breaker for you or not. If you are forced to work because he has chosen not to, then you will resent him and your child will suffer. Don't give any mixed messages here by saying one thing and really wanting another. If this has been your lifetime dream, you cannot agree to give it up. Make sure he is very clear that you will not work when the baby is born, period. So, if he really wants to be a stay-at-home dad, he will have to wait until you are ready to go back to work. You may decide on a few months or a few years. You can't take an opinion poll on this. This is a very personal decision. - Loveawake