Why Am I Being Given Orders?

Question: Dear Luise: My marriage is falling apart and I am unsure what to do. My husband and father were good friends and played golf regularly. Over time the relationship has started to sour as my family feel that I do everything for our children and my husband does not pull his weight. At Christmas my father and husband had words. My husband has since said that the children and myself can no longer see my parents. He sees nothing wrong in doing this. He has said if I take our children to see my parents that I am betraying him and our marriage is over. What do I do? My family are very important to me and we had until recently seen each other weekly. What can I do to make him be reasonable? F.

Answer: Dear F.: There is usually nothing any of us can do to make someone else do what we wish or be how they aren’t. That’s pretty much their business and permanent change is unlikely. Our expectations belong to us, not them.

You picked a guy that is not interested in helping raise his kids. He also feels he can tell you what to do and you will comply. If you don’t, threatening you seems totally reasonable to him. A few generations back that was pretty much par for the course. (I remember it well in the 1940s when I married.) Men earned a living, supported the family and played golf (or whatever.) Fathering children was biological and the raising of them was “women’s work.” Your husband sounds like a “throw-back.”

You did not mention how it is for you to be married to him…beyond finding it hard to “obey” his most recent “command.” It sounds like your father is cut out of a similar piece of cloth, which is probably no surprise. He thinks your marriage and your husband’s behavior is his business. If I am reading it right, neither of them appears overly concerned with how all of their posturing is affecting you.

Are you up for a declaration of independence? Can you even consider telling your father that what goes on in your marriage is none of his business and can you follow that up by telling your husband that he can make decrees until the cows come home, but your relationship with your family is your business, not his? If not, it’s time for you to seek some serious one-on-one counseling. This is a new century. If you don’t want to pass these dynamics on to your children, they need a different role model.

Look closely at the other option; it involves disowning your family of origin, meekly and willingly, like a good “wifey” should. What’s wrong with that picture? Someplace along the line you have lost any sense of self-worth and self-direction. Most of us need to create value in ourselves before we can ask much respect from others. They take their cue from us. Writing to me is a step in the right direction. Keep going…you deserve better and so do your kids. Blessings. Luise

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