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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I have sought out a marriage forum to seek advice from others regarding my situation. I could use some advice on effectively communicating with my husband about his recent lack of providing for our family. Let me just sum up a few of the issues. For nearly a year, my husband has worked very minimally. He is on a contract position, has a masters degree in a physical science, and is currently employed as a sys admin (telecommute). As a contractor, he must seek projects to work on, as he is paid hourly. Right now, he is averaging $1600/month gross, even though he makes $45/hour. You can understand the math - he works about 36 hrs/month, or 9 hours a week. Taxes are not taken out, so what is deposited in the bank is gross not net (he has not done the proper paperwork, evidently), so we currently owe the IRS a significant amount of money. We are in a serious financial situation. I am salaried, and have been working a huge amount trying to get promotions and raises to help make ends meet. My dear husband simply has no energy to do the same. When I bring up the situation, or ask him to be a little bit more assertive in applying for better jobs, he defensively asks me what else I expect him to do, as he is doing everything he can to get more hours, and invariably adds that I should stop lecturing him. On a daily basis, I or my kids observe him playing video games, watching tv, and perusing the internet from morning till late, late night, with a bit of work strewn in between.

We have an 18 year old (my step-daughter by title only; I have raised her for 12 years and she is a legal dependent of mine and officially known as "my girl" <3) and a six-year old son.

We currently rent in a terrible neighborhood in a house that is in deplorable condition, despite our strong academic backgrounds (I work at a university now, however as those who have been young faculty know, the initial pay is quite small for many years). My husband has on his own accumulated over $100,000 in student loans (for a degree he did not complete to a level of his liking - he got a masters, not Ph.D. which is very likely part of his lack of motivation to work), over $12,000 in medical bills (we had to have both his hips replaced a few years ago), and nearly $10,000 to IRS. All loans are in default, as we spend all of our earnings on regular monthly bills. I have my own student loans that we applied for after becoming married, as for many years we had to pay his parents' rent and monthly bills. These are in my name of course (he had run out on being able to obtain a loan), so - as he is the first to remind me - I am ultimately responsible for these. I can't remember if I agreed to these or not at the time. I don't have that recollection, and our grad school years were so rough on both of us that many of those events - even our unlikely marriage - seem a blur. So, I hereby take that on and accept this $25,000 debt in my name. In any case, we stupidly chose to - on two grad student salaries mind you - make the fateful decision to fund his parents living arrangement for all those years.

My dear husband is morbidly obese, to which we both feel so helpless (he does not eat a whole lot, however he is exceedingly sedentary despite the new hips), often has body odor, and sweats profusely (he is usually soaking when we hug). He is on an antidepressant, which probably needs to be increased or switched. I need to take a stand for him and get him to a doctor (nearly 30% of my paycheck goes to our family benefit plan - thank the Good Lord we have access to medical benefits).

We had a nice bundle of savings there for awhile, but we blew it all this past year. My in-laws both suffered very bad medical problems consecutively (heart attack with subsequent bypass surgery and kidney failure). My MIL is still in nursing home. My husband essentially stopped working when this occurred (unbeknownst to me - he is telecommute so I foolishly did not notice he was not working). My husband has always wanted to take care of the family finances, and he was never very supportive of me getting involved. That was a source of many conflicts, and I - as usual - yielded to the conflict and left it alone. That is until a month ago, I figured we had a good portion of our nest egg ($10,000-ish), only to find out we had $1.46. Yep. That was what we had. I learned later that was after my FIL transferred $500 into our account. I was a fool to not be strong about being involved in the finances.

There are other matters for which I feel too weak to speak up about to him. He forbids the celebration of Christmas (my favorite holiday). Our kids have never celebrated, and I know my son wants to. He claims to be Jewish, but does nothing remotely Jewish other than forbid Christmas. Arrgh.

You see, I carry so much guilt for not being a good enough wife to keep my husband happy or to take care of him. Before and leading up to the hip replacements, I just gained so much from taking care of him. After the surgeries, something seemed to "break" with us. Affection is very difficult for me to show him, though I have no problem showing affection to my son, or even our pets. It's him that I want nothing to do with physically. Don't get the impression that it's all him, by any means. I am not perfect and would never marry me to begin with ;) He could write a column twice the size of this one on horrible things about me, my own demons that contribute like a plague to this marriage.

Basically, I need some perspective. I want my marriage to work. We do have good times together, however - anymore - our good times only seem to occur over a drink. So there it is. Feels weird to let out all this personal dirty laundry, and the pangs of guilt are creeping up, but I need help, suggestions, perspective, advice, anything. Neither of us are bad people. Just two lost souls searching for happiness and fulfillment and coming up empty.

Working it through my head lately, I know I can't change anyone else. I can only improve myself and hope some pattern follows suit. Anyways, help please.
 

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So I cant imagine why you wouldnt want to be affectionate with a deadbeat who wants to play video games all day long and has bad hygyne and is obese. I think you should have the doc check his meds, antidepressants can cause weight gain, but sitting on ones azz all day does to.

I also think you should read him the riot act, as in tell him get off your azz and look for work, start taking showers and using deorderant or I am kicking your sorry azz to the curb.

As for the debt he can say whatever he wants the debt is 50% his no matter whos name is on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and reply to me, Brewster 59. Such a sad state of affairs and I just need to find the strength to help him not just for him, not just for me, but for the quality of our lives together.
 

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So how are you going to do that? Definetly talk to the doc, but right now this guy has to do next to nothing, I dont think he will change unless he has to.
 

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Well, hmmm, that is a good question. Yes, you are right. He probably won't change unless he has to.

He has indicated strongly in the past that he wants to go back to finish the Ph.D. Last Spring, I wrote many materials for him (essays, etc.) and helped him write a research plan. He submitted the materials past the deadline, so they declined him on that basis alone, at which point he admitted to giving up on the idea. I told him that's no reason to give up; simply resubmit the documents before the next deadline. The reaction was a bit like "meh", if you know what I mean. We then made plans for him to meet with a professor at another nearby university. Well, my husband got sick and did not complete that task. I broached the subject this morning and he says he will do it. However, since I want to move to a better neighborhood, he suggested we should work on plans to move. I replied that we actually haven't enough money to adequately cover our bills this month, so how is it possible to move. He agreed, so I asked him if he would call his supervisor and request more hours. He replied that yeah, he would do that. I will have to be on his case about that, however that seems like another dead end.

Obviously it takes two to tango, so the only power I feel I have in the situation is to focus more on looking inward, for example, what sort of atmosphere am I creating that may not be helping. He seems to be a bit more productive, such as with yard work and the like when I am not around, however I don't know how that translates to his motivations to actually work. I have considered separating from him for awhile so he can learn to live on his own (he never has, well perhaps the dorm as an undergraduate and ultimately with his first wife).

I probably need to push him to visit his doctor, so they can re-evaluate his meds. That is a pretty much standard practice when starting antidepressants. He's been on them a year or so, and I don't think he has been re-evaluated.

So, what I will do, I guess is continue pushing him to go to the doc for re-evaluation of his depression, push him toward the school idea (with the idea he has to generate more income not only in the meantime, but be gainfully employed while he goes to school). I ask him to do something and pretty much receive a blank response of "k" or "ok". I ought to stand a little stronger and really push him. He's not happy. He's not secure. He may feel inadequate because of his perceived failings. Basically he may be creating his failure out of a belief that he is a failure. I don't know. What the hell do I know about psychology.

Thanks again for your support, Brewster. Helps to put all these feelings, questions, and thoughts down on paper to sort them out.
 

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Well it is a down economy, and he very well may be suffering from depression. It doesnt seem that his current medication is working.

The video games are an escape from reality. I dont know maybe being a cheerleader for a little while might be a better approach than the riot act. Maybe telling him you know things are tough but you believe that there is something out there for him and he can do it. This is where a qualifyed psy is good but its hard when you are struggling to pay the bills.

It seems to me that he already has a good education so the main goal should be more employment. Going to school is not cheap and really what doors would open for him that are closed now? So if he wants to go to school while being gainfully employed that a worthy goal just be careful on the student loans, seems their are a lot of rip offs going on right now and a lot of people drowning behind student loans. Good story on MSN about that today. Check this out http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/CutCollegeCosts/CutCollegeCostsDyn.aspx?cp-documentid=23827823&GT1=33006
 

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Wow, thank you for that article. Very interesting. Often the fine print is written in such a convoluted fashion that it is darn near impossible to understand all the implications and terms without a specialized degree! Yeah, these student loans we have are approaching 10 years old. We had them deferred for awhile, but they are back in business now.

You are right, maybe he needs more of a cheerleader and someone to believe in him. He does not respond well when I read him the riot act :) Well, I don't blame him, I guess. It is so hard to be in a relationship with another person. So difficult to make the personalities work together, synergistically and symbiotically rather than in a grating fashion. Definitely, financial stresses contribute a great deal. Like I say, I really do enjoy being with him when we forget all our daily woes and struggles. He's a fun guy when we put aside the pressures, particularly the financial pressures. He likes to have fun and enjoy himself (who doesn't), but for him it seems to be difficult to add the "work" component before the "play". I wonder how many married people think - 10 or 12 years in - that they would have been much better as friends than spouses. I had fun "hanging out" with him early on, and he was such a nice counter to the stresses of graduate school. I think he felt the same of me. He lived with his Mom and daughter at the time we met, which was not an easy living environment for him. So in retrospect, it seems our relationship may have started as an escape from reality. Now that we are who we are, we find ourselves trying to escape each other. There is nowhere to go though, so he resorts to video games and tv, and I resort to my work. Funny how relationships evolve.

Well so far, I have not brought up the antidepressant re-evaluation thing. Well not recently (i.e., last month or so). Maybe this weekend I will confront every situation here that is bugging me. Maybe I can encourage him to help me in working like crazy to get our house in order, and once that is done, maybe he will have some confidence to go out into the world. This telecommute position has got to go! Or at least serve as a side income.

Thank you again, Brewster. This conversation has been immensely helpful in sorting these things out. Wow, you sure ask the right questions. Thanks many, many times.
 
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