Tuesday, June 17, 2008

holding pattern

The last I shared, the Sober Husband acted checked out of our family vacation, distracted and silent. The children and I had a good time without his participation... until he skipped having dinner with us and I found him mesmerized by the mother of Lucy's new friend. I went into an icy rage. His excuse for this behavior was that he had vague problems with me that he "could not articulate." I informed him that being married to him was an option, not an obligation, and said I wanted a trial separation. So what happened next?

Driving back we made record time in silence in the car (apart from the occasional "Lucy's hogging the armrest" and "How much looonger" from the backseat). We unloaded the car in virtual silence, reunited with the cats (Princess Henry was especially pleased to see us), and skimmed the mail as the children darted off to catch up on their television watching. I plunged back into the World of Warcraft. The Sober Husband, in a surprising move at reconciliation, cleaned the litterboxes (the only time he has ever done that when I wasn't pregnant. Even when I was recovering from abdominal surgery he wouldn't do it). We spoke very little.

The next day was Father's Day, and I couldn't throw him out. I didn't acknowledge Father's Day myself, having already given him his traditional gift (a $250 buy-in to the annual Dads' Poker Night at Iris's school). The children made him presents and gave him cards I'd helped them buy before we left town. I really didn't interact with him much, which was assisted by the fact that my car somehow had both front tires severely damaged (a welcome back gift from the sociopathic contractor, who looked displeased to see us unload our U-haul, or residual damage from some rocks at Camp Mather?). The Sober Husband volunteered to get the tires replaced. In the afternoon, I proposed to the children that we catch the last few hours of RoboGames. I wanted to go without the Sober Husband, but he insinuated himself (acting weirdly cheerful) and I couldn't pick a fight in front of the children on Father's Day. At the Robogames, Lucy ran into a little friend from pre-k (Lucy is easily becoming the most popular of the family), and Iris and I delighted in watching robot combat. I could watch robots fight all day.

At night, when the children were watching "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill", I had a talk with the Sober Husband. I reiterated what I'd said earlier and asked him to leave for a while. I pressured him to tell me what his "problems he couldn't articulate" were. All he came up with was "sometimes I think you drink too much." My response to that was (1) duh! I'll cop to that, but (2) my drinking is the same now as when he married me, and he liked it then, and (3) I'm obviously not an alcoholic since I stop drinking with no problem when I'm pregnant or sick, and (4) he didn't even notice or appreciate that actually I'd been drinking very little the last few months (I've cut way back on my drinking because I'm following the Weight Watchers program. Every drink must be accounted for and compensated for with a commensurate reduction in food).

On Monday the Sober Husband left a message saying that he'd be coming home in the early evening to pick up a few things. I made a call and booked us for marriage counseling on Thurs. When he came in, he helped me finish putting away the laundry and change all the sheets. He also made a big point out of pouring us both a glass of sparkling wine and saying perkily that he felt it would do him good to have a glass with me more often. I expected him to leave when our pizzas arrived (I told the children that if they could clean their room without arguing, I'd order pizza), but he lingered. He told me that "the only really terrible thing about not being here is explaining to the girls", which instantly made tears well up in my eyes. "That's a tactless remark!" The Sober Husband tried to smooth over that, saying that of course he'd miss me.

The girls and I were very tired, so I put them and myself to bed abnormally early, letting Lucy sleep in the big bed with me ("sleep-over with Mommy" is a prized occurrence). In the morning the Sober Husband woke me up by bringing me a cup of coffee, which I was too sleepy to drink. Much later I trailed downstairs and said, "You aren't supposed to be here!" We both came close to laughing over that.

I did, however, have another serious talk with him. I pushed him to tell me what was so terribly wrong with me that he couldn't interact with me, and he came up dry. All he could say was that one night at dinner he felt disgusted by me pouring myself a glass of wine and couldn't look me in the eye. I pointed out that the woman he'd been so fascinated by had been sucking down Coronas. I offered to him an article in a recent New Yorker about drinking and hangovers, by dance critic Joan Acocella of all people, telling him how much some of the quotes about drinking had resonated with me (did y'all remember that the Bible contains a proverb commanding people to buy wine for the poor, so that they may have fun and forget their problems?). He admitted that he had loved having cocktails with me when we were dating and also that he hadn't noticed that I'd been drinking so seldom lately. He also said that he felt that any problems that he might have with me were "a red herring" and that the focus should be on how he had admittedly been "acting like an asshole" for some time towards me.

The Sober Husband said that he was grateful I'd let him go along on the Robogames expedition and how precious it had been to him to have that family outing. I acidulously observed that he had shown no interest whatsoever in being with his family on our vacation, and he said that it wasn't until he was threatened with losing it that it became obvious how valuable it was.

I admitted that I felt unsure about what to do and asked him to just keep away for a couple of days, as opposed to a lengthy or open-ended separation. I'll see him again at counseling.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

How are your kids handling everything? Any uncomfortable questions?

hokgardner said...

Thank you for the update. I've been fretting about you and yours. I hope that being smacked upside the head by the possibility of losing you will cause SH to realize and appreciate what he has. Good luck with counseling tomorrow. Hubby and I have gone several times for some tweaks, and it's always done us good.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for this update.

And, thank you for your honesty, it takes great courage to look at the full panorama of a problem, all sides, even the unflattering angles, you are strong to do so.

I hope you guys will find a new and better platform for connection after this.

When my husband and I had problems before, I was always pleased to discover that having survived it made us stronger.

Kim

the Drunken Housewife said...

The children are surprisingly fine. There was only one hard moment, when Lucy wished for her father at toothbrushing time. I helped her call his celphone, and then she was fine.

Melissa said...

These are all good steps. Thanks immensely for the update. And good for you for getting the counseling appt. going. Hugs (()))) Missy

hughman said...

thanks for the update. thoughts are with you much. i may even make soup.

xxx

DCup said...

I'm hoping for a positive outcome for you. Having been through something similar, I'm seeing red flags, of course, but that's just me projecting.

I hope the counseling session goes well.

Joyce said...

It really sounds like he took you seriously. I'm so glad you posted, I have been worried about you. It sounds to me like he's realized what an absentee he's been. That is so cool! He is such a rare individual that instead of being all defensive, he's totally copping to it. See, that is why I don't advocate throwing him on the garbage heap! He is actually a fine man. Which is rare. I will eagerly await a post on Thursday, if you are not too tired.

Captain Steve said...

I'm glad you're doing counseling. Good luck.

Marketeer said...

Thanks for the update. I'm glad that you are going to try counseling. Take care!

Freewheel said...

Good luck. The cocktail time sounds like a good idea too.

Jim said...

SH has work to do.

You also, methinks.

Seems like you are on the right track.

Good luck.

The Stute Fish said...

I've been thinking, if we have another kid, about having both of us cut down to 80% time. (We both currently work full time). Would you consider going back to work if he came back to home? I'm just thinking about it because you said that you felt part of the dynamic change had to do with you staying home, and the parenting aspect seems to have a lot to do with how much time he spends at work. I know it wouldn't be an immediate shift (the summer is not the best time for that) but won't your girls both be in full-time school soon?

Maybe I'm just totally projecting my own issues and anxieties on a stranger. \o/ In any case, good for you for standing up for yourself and demanding the respect you deserve. I hope it works out well for all.

hughman said...

i feel i somehow had all this support come your way. then again, i'm a gay narcissist who used to make things happen. HA! silly me.

none the less, revel in all your fans and support, you were ultimately the one who had all this come your way, you are the goddess in the universe you created.

we, here on the outside, are proud of you.

Iris said...

Dear Stute Fish (incidentally I love your name; I have always loved it ever since running across you online yonks ago), you are so right that there is an opportunity for me to start working when Lucy starts kindergarten. However, I'm quailing at that. I feel under a lot of societal pressure to suddenly do something amazing, but I've been out of the job force for 9 years AND I don't want to return to my former profession (litigator). I'm actually toying with the idea of applying for an MFA program. I have one half-written novel and an idea for a non fiction book, and an MFA program would provide me with some structure and assistance in doing those projects. That's not an ideal program for a single mom...

Iris said...

oops, that was the DH, not Iris. Child is always using every computer in the house.

hughman said...

i, for one, would definately read a novel by iris.