Sunday, March 08, 2009

the battling martyrs and the stimulus package

The Sober Husband and I made a deal some months ago, sort of a reparations package for the Martha's Vineyard Fiasco of 2008 [in a nutshell, he manipulated and guilt-tripped me into going on his mother's Extremely Expensive Celebration of Herself in an overpriced resort town on the other side of the continent, and I was angry and resentful]. In this deal, he would not travel to see his family this year unless there were a wedding or funeral of significant importance, and instead, we would take a trip together. This made me happy, and I started planning our trip, especially after my mother agreed to come to San Francisco to watch the little hellspawn for us. I felt that this was affordable, because I thought that if we took the money wasted last year on going to Martha's Vineyard, plus the expenses from two personal trips the Sober Husband took by himself (one to Chicago against my express wishes, one to the East Coast which I was in favor of), that would equal a nice, short vacation for two to somewhere exotic. If we could afford the hellish Martha's Vineyard boondoggle, which the Sober Husband obviously thought was in our budget, we could afford a week away somewhere exotic.

Some little time of happiness went by, with me bubbling from time to time little witlessisms like "September and October are really the best months to travel; airfares are always so low! And everything is so deserted!" and "I'm going to present this to you like a menu: Barcelona, Cuba, or Angkor Wat?

Then the Sober Husband turned on me. He began speaking in depressed tones about how "we don't live within our means; I'm just presenting that to you as a fact" and not talking any more about a vacation. In marriage counseling, with all the enthusiasm a corpse would have for taking the formaldehyde drip, he mustered up a lifeless, "I'm willing to go on a vacation with you even though we can't afford it." I was livid. "I refuse to go on any vacation with you!"

So there we were, a pair of battling martyrs. The Sober Husband kept insisting, "Oh, even though we can't afford to take a trip, I'm willing to do it to make you happy," with me rebutting, "I refuse to do anything expensive that you're going to bring up to me later" and "Oh, it's fine, I'll never go on a vacation again for as long as I live" and "Why is it when your MOTHER wants to go on an expensive trip you can afford it, but when I want to, we can't?"

"Now, now, Carole," chided the marriage counselor. "I'm not sure that is productive."

After a few rocky counseling sessions, the Sober Husband has arrived at a new, cheerier, less martyr-like attitude. He explained it to me today: "I forecast a deficit year, but I'm in favor of a stimulus package."

"A what? What is it stimulating, my happiness in the marriage?"

"Precisely. I believe a stimulus package will have payoffs."

We'll see how his mental state fares over the next few months. I'm tentatively raising my hopes for a trip again, fearful of disappointment.

Meanwhile I've already had one smackdown from another mother. I confided in the mother of one of Iris Uber Alles's closest friends yesterday that I am hoping to save up to take a vacation later in the year, without children. She drew herself up and said, in an icy voice, "Well, I must just be unusual, because I wouldn't dream of going anywhere without my child." Ouch!

In my case, I've been a martyr for long enough and am dying to spend a week drinking in sleazy foreign bars, spending whole days in art museums, and having sex. I'm quite eager to dream of going somewhere without my children. However, if the husband switches back into competitive martyrism, all bets are off. I predict then the vacation will be recancelled and there'll be an upsurge of catty remarks about his mother and HER expensive trip.


J9 said...

That's ok, I have a husband who is planning trips while not having an income, because he's bored and thinks I've planted a money tree. When we were both employed, and not declaring bankruptcy we would take a kid trip (think Disney), and an adult trip (BVI, Key West) every year. I miss all of that. I get no breaks (as I perceive it).

Unknown said...

"his mother's Extremely Expensive Celebration of Herself in an overpriced resort town on the other side of the continent..."
I think I know her. Is her name Diane?

Anonymous said...

effing guilt-tripping mothers! They will get their just deserts when their over-protected and coddled children rebel and take drugs behind their backs and go off the rails.

Just you wait and see.

Carol Ann said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with planning an adults-only vacation for you and your husband. Mark and I have friends who are deeply and weirdly proud of never having left their children with babysitters -- ever -- and it's not doing them or their children any good.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the spouses of people who refuse to leave their children. I can't imagine what it would feel like if my husband preferred to be with the kids over me.

Caroline said...

That woman is a See You Next Tuesday. Any mother who says crap like that will wind up alone in the nursing home, because her kids will be SO FRIGGIN' SICK OF HER. True fact!

If SH can't be convinced to go on vacation, you could always go alone...AND, I think you are well within your rights to bring up the fact that he seems ready, willing and able to go to all kinds of lengths for his mother's happiness, when he is not willing to extend himself the same way when it comes to his WIFE, whether doing so is productive or not.

Caroline said...

Okay, so I'm trying to find the backstory on the MIL trip to the Vineyard. Where can I find it in your archives?

Anonymous said...

I am taking a solo trip to LA (Hollywood) in two weeks to see the premiere of one of my plays. I am not bringing children or spouse. I feel no guilt.

Missing people is good for a relationship. After 3 days away my kids will think I'm fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Does your husband know mine???

We were supposed to head to the Land of the Mouse to see my DD march with the big animals and then celebrate our wedding anniversary(that's where we were married). Tickets are purchased, Airfare too, staying with friends so no major hotel costs and 3 weeks before the trip HE decides that we can't afford all of us to go so I can go watch my DD tooting her horn by myself.

Marriage counseling starts Friday.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I actually did go away a couple of times all by myself without guilt, but those were a few years ago and the children have become accustomed to my constant presence since then. I'm taking night classes which is shaking them up a bit (the first few classes there was a lot of crying over how can Mommy leave us. Mind you these children go to school, on playdates, have sleepovers, etc..without problem. But when they are home, they want Mommy there. "IT's your fault," said Iris. "You made us used to it."

the Drunken Housewife said...

Caroline, the actual trip is described around 7/25 (I posted from on the trip). There is discussion from around Mar. 2007 of the trip, proposed at that time.

I started making links for you, but it was too depressing. If I read all that stuff, I'll go into a rage. But that's the timeframe!

Anonymous said...

Eh, what a bitch. The kids would love to hang out with grandma. Grandmas let kids do anything. It's fabulous. It's a vacation the whole family enjoys.

Anonymous said...

Carole, I'm a little pissed off at Sober Husband. My own DH used to pull similar crap--when it was something he wanted, it was money well-spent. Something I wanted was silly and wasteful. This is especially annoying when the things I wanted would improve our house, but the things he wanted were just for him.

(And why do women so often "become" the house? A man might get a nice wristwatch for a gift, but the woman gets a wall clock. One is for a person, one is for a house.)

Anyway, I especially dislike the attitude of "Even though I will benefit from this expenditure, I will treat it as if it's only for you, and I will most certainly hold it against you later." Then, when you understandably object, you are the witch for not accepting this oh-so-gracious offer.

Well, apparently this has really touched a nerve with me! Let me say that DH grew out of most of this, and now we are on the same team (aka "the Family") and this rarely occurs anymore.

But I do hope that you get your trip and that you get to enjoy it.

Caroline said...

Oh my. Relevant posts have been reviewed and remembered. Poor you.

Hayley said...

Weren't you going to South by Southwest this month?

Anonymous said...

I wanted to go, but I ended up balking at having the MIL come take charge of the children, and I. & L. were going through a very clingy phase where it seemed inappropriate for me to leave them. Also, I was not on good enough terms with the S.H. to go away with him, when he was in his balky, "I am just informing you that we don't live within our means" stage. You won't catch me leaving the state limits when he's pulling that.

(DH logged in as IRis)