Monday, 30 April 2007

Channeling Dear Abby

I thought I might write today about how this blog came to be. I'm new to blogs, though they've been around for quite awhile. I read in the paper about an interesting one, Then I had a conversation with a friend who said I should write down all my opinions, which are many.

I also am emerging from one black devil dog of a depression. The depression grew over a year and a half. My husband got a new job in London (hooray!). We thought at the time that keeping the family together would be the best thing even though the kids and I really didn't want to move. So we spent a year and a lot of money doing up the house to get it ready to sell. Meanwhile, my husband got an apartment down south and commuted home at the weekends. Things started to go pear-shaped pretty quickly. When he was home, he seemed to criticize everything I did or didn't do. I was struggling to be a single parent during the week and wife at the weekend. The kids coped OK but I was the one who had to be there to do everything for them. Sundays became the most awful day of the week as my husband would get nervous about the drive back, and I would try to get his ironing done and cook a substantial family meal so we could all be together once a week. I began to resent my husband, he began to resent me. We would snipe at each other and talk badly about each other to the kids.

Then we put the house up for sale. Fairly quickly, it became obvious to me that the house wasn't going to shift in the time scale we'd hoped for (before my son started secondary school). At the same time I was working with my son to pass his 11-Plus test. My son is allergic to tests at the best of times, and this was not the best of times. Because we didn't know when we would move or where we end up, we thought it would be best to be prepared for all outcomes. We went on a house-hunting expedition to London (well, outside London). I knew there was a price difference in housing, but didn't think it would be HUGE. To live in a house like we have now in a decent school catchment area would mean living well outside London, like an hour commute. In the end, the house we liked sold, the people we thought liked our house didn't, and we were back to square one. Then, my husband and I had a huge fight (vodka-fuelled on my part) in which I said I'd already made huge sacrifices to be with him, and that if the situation were reversed I don't think he'd do the same for me. He admitted that he probably wouldn't. And a little part of me started to hate him.

Truthfully, I never wanted to move down south. I've spent 15 years here, the longest I've lived in one place since I was 15. I have friends and a life. I didn't feel like starting over at this stage in my life. But I didn't think there was an alternative. My husband wouldn't back down. Then I thought I finally got him to see things my way. The kids and I went skiing, and when I got back my husband had changed his mind again. Why? Well, the estate agent rang and said she had a really interested buyer. I knew that she lies, but my husband didn't. The so-called buyers hadn't even put their house up for sale. My husband and I had another big fight, in front of the kids. He said it is costing him £19,000 a year to commute back and forth and he is exhausted. I said what about working from home one day a week. He said he couldn't do that. I got very angry because I felt he was putting money in front of his family's needs. My hands and feet were very swollen from the flight back and I had to take my wedding rings off. I didn't bother putting them back on.

I started thinking about a life apart from my husband. We could sell the house, I could buy a smaller place up here and begin a new life without him. I gave the kids three scenarios and asked them which one they preferred most: 1) stay here and not move and their dad continues to commute, 2)sell the house and move to maybe not as nice a house down south, 3)sell the house and buy something smaller here. They both preferred options 1 and 2 and disliked 3 altogether. Of course they did. Even though I didn't say anything about splitting up with their dad, they knew what it meant. And I would be breaking a promise I made to myself when I was 15 that I would never put my own children through what my parents put me through. I burst into tears one day and ran upstairs and put the rings back on. I decided that whatever happens happens but that I would stay with my husband at least till the kids were grown, and then would think about a new life for myself. Then I got the letter saying my son passed the 11-plus. Once I told my husband, he was so happy that he gladly took the house off the market.

Throughout this crisis in the marriage, I kept hearing Dear Abby's voice in my head. She always had some good no-nonsense advice. She always told women who were thinking of leaving their husbands to ask themselves if they'd be better off with him or without him. This I did and decided to stay.

One day I decided to create a blog, and in a random search of other blogs found some that made me realize that my problems, while big to me, are quite small in the grand scheme of life. One in particular that has moved me to tears many times is Reading about what this woman is coping so admirably with made me "wake up and smell the coffee," as Dear Abby would say. Another one I found through snickollet is, who writes so well about issues I care about. It's a big bloguniverse out there, but it shows me that the human capacity to care about others, to share with others, is endless.

I worry constantly about my husband commuting so much, but he does seem more relaxed now. We are working at the building the relationship again because we both have so much to lose if it goes wrong and so much to gain if it doesn't.

1 comment:

lady macleod said...

Nicely said. Life is complicated isn't it? As a view from a stranger you appear to be making all the right moves. congratulations to your son!