Hi. I am new here. Looking for advice, words of wisdom, hope for the future. Sorry...this is long. I hope some wise people out there will bear with me and read this in order to provide some guidance. Thanks in advance.
This week, my husband told me our marriage is over. But he wants us to still live together until the market returns (not put our house on the market for another one to three years) and gradually split up our business and personal assets while maintaining a "friendship". I put friendship in quotes because I am mystified as to how this can work.
Here is some background.
My husband and I have been married for about 14 1/2 years....living together a total of 16 years. When we first got together (early 90's), I was having some troubles with my first business (due to the bank going out of business and poor economy). He had a high paying job and helped me out. We bought a huge beautiful home and he helped me start a new business by supporting our living expenses and also providing money here and there to finance growth of the business. During the first 7 years, he switched jobs four times (all high paying). I always thought it was odd that he changed jobs so many times but he informed me that it was normal in his field. Ok....gave him the benefit of the doubt.
During this time, I took care of our home and also worked on building our business (which was the same type of business I had before). He continued to earn a very good salary that supported our home and also provided some financing for the new business. His goal was to ultimately work in the business with me full time and have the business support us. He wanted to be part of building a business from the ground up. I was reluctant to do this because I grew up in my families business and knew how difficult it could be working with your spouse. Long story short....he won that argument and after our first 7 years together, he left the high paying jobs (he hated the jobs and just did it for the money) and started working with me in the biz full time. One aspect of that is great....I trusted him and had someone really smart to bounce ideas off and also have someone to help with the tough decisions. The bad aspect....we lived and worked together plus we have VERY different work styles...and our relationship has always been fragile/rocky....right from the get go. Deep down in my heart, I knew working together would not be good for us....but he wanted it so much when we first got together and I was too insecure to insist no.
He has now been in the biz with me for about 7 or 8 years but he does not do much. He thinks he contributes equally to the biz but I do not feel this is true. He procrastinates, he side steps, he blame shifts and he spends more time watching political shows on tv, reading the newspaper on his computer, chatting on bulletin boards, playing with our pets, taking naps, etc.
Yes...he did and still does contribute to the business. No disagreement there. But on a day to day basis....I do so much more....I work many more hours, do many more of the day to day biz chores, deal with all of our clients and vendors, etc.
And when he decided to work on something, he always wanted to change how we did it because he disagreed with how I had set things up (ie the bookkeeping system).
And now (in the last year or so) he does even less work in the business because he wants to focus on "his" business.
On top of this, he hardly ever wants to spend time with me. Getting him to do stuff is like pulling teeth. For example, during the week, I'll suggest making plans to do something fun that weekend and his standard reply is "we'll see. Saturday is a long way off. We'll see." He would rather spend time alone doing something by himself or with our pets than doing something with me.
For a number of years, in spite of our difficulties working together, our business was very successful and doing quite well.
Well fast forward to present time...the last 18 months have been very difficult for us financially. The economy has really cut into our business. And one of my original fears (having our finances totally dependent on just one source of income) came true.....our income dropped significantly.
During our 16 years together when ever we had a disagreement or fight, he would always say that we should not be together....we have fundamental differences. He would also complain about all of my short coming and issues and baggage. I would walk away from these fights feeling sad and useless and that everything was my fault. So I would try to be a better person and improve myself so we could be happy together. And after a while things would blow over and we'd seem to be okay again.
There would be periods of time when things would be calm and going well between us. Then, it would seem, it would change in an instant...he would be angry with me about something minor. I could never understand why he would get so angry with me. But I would do my best to either stay out of his way and give him his space....or apologize over and over.
About 2 years ago, he threatened me yet again...this time actually using the divorce word. He was angry about our debt level (partly because we had been reinvesting profits back into the business and not saving for a rainy day). He threatened that if we did not whittle down our debt by a certain amount at year's end....he was done.
That is right about the time the economy really started to down turn and over the next few months, while business was steady and we were not reinvesting in the biz, we did not work down the debt much. I was so stressed and worried about this....but he was fine about it at that time.
Things were calm between us for a couple of months (1st quarter 2007) but when I decided to go on an annual buying trip for the biz (bad decision on my part) he got angry again. The purpose of which was to freshen up our inventory and purchase things that were not our regular tried and true...but things that were new and exciting..to set us apart from competition.
I apologized for going on the buying trip and tried my best to earn his trust. That summer we started seeing a marriage counselor (I had been trying for years to get him to go with me but he had refused and felt they were a waste of time). His goal for seeing the counselor was for figuring out what went wrong with our relationship (not to fix it) so he would at least have a better understanding of why/how it happened. He also wanted us to separate the business into two separate businesses...one for him and one for me (different categories of the product/service we sell).
My goal for seeing the counselor was to have a neutral place to discuss things and hopefully for an independent person to not just referee....but possibly point out who needs to work on specific bad behavior tendancies (for lack of a better phrase). I was not looking to have the counselor lay blame. But I did want her to help both of us recognize what we were doing/saying and how it was impacting the other person. And I felt that if I was doing something wrong or bad....if I heard it from her rather than my spouse....then I would say...okay....that's on me.....I can work on that and try to improve. By the same token, if my spouse has certain bad patterns...that maybe he would accept constructive criticism from the counselor/mediator.
I guess I also wanted some sort of validation that the problems with us were either my fault (so I would know for sure it was me since that's how he always made me feel)...or if he was actually an emotional abuser and possibly address his behovior somehow. My husband has always been very careful to act nicely in front of other people but with me, at home....he is always very different. I started seeing a therapist on my own (2 years ago) because it was just so stressful living with him and feeling like everything was my fault.
When we first started seeing our marriage counselor (a different person than whom I see individually), he was very careful not to act out. But after a few months....his true colors came out and the counselor saw how he could be.
She called him out on a few things here and there....but if he got too wound up about something, she would back off. I am guessing she was either concerned that later on he may hurt me....or maybe she was afraid that if she pushed too hard...he would blow out of seeing her all together.
After about 7 or 8 months of seeing her, we seemed to be making some progress....not sure if it was because of the counselor or if it was because we were in a "good" period and I was not doing anything to upset my husband. Our meetings with the counselor had gotten further apart since things were going well. We had theoretically split the biz into two divisions (at least from my husbands perspective). We have not really financially split the biz in the way it needs to be done to make each division self sufficient but in his mind, he sees that the business has been split. (sorry if this sounds confusing).
For the last few months we have been getting along better and we have been trying to go out on a date once a week on Wednesdays. We have missed it a few weeks for various reasons, but overall, during the last few months we have taken some nice days here and there to do something fun together.
When we met with the counselor this week, things started off fine and she even suggested that we did not need to meet again for some time since things were going so well. But about half way through the session, the subject turned to us selling the house and moving to another city/town (my husband hates the city we live in and wants to move out of here as soon as the real estate market comes back). I have been resistant to moving for numerous reasons....this is a good location for our biz, I love our house and neighborhood and I really dread all the time needed to keep the house presentable while on the market (all while working 70 hours a week) plus having to pack everything and move it ourselves. But lately, I started to realize the really deep reason why I was having anxiety about moving. And that was because I have friends here, a daily routine I like, group activities, etc. I basically work alone all day long...I spend a great deal of time alone. And my husband is really the loner type. He does not need alot of interaction with people and from my perspective, he seems to prefer being alone....reading a book, watching tv, playing on the computer, walking the dog. I am the total opposite. I need interaction with people. My first choice is to do fun things with him. But if he is not interested then I try to do things with friends (I play on a couple of team sports during the year, I do other outdoors activities with friends, etc.). Our marriage is not the type of relationship I hoped and dreamed of....it is not like many of my friends marriages whom do alot together (like vacations, day trips, socializing with other couples, etc.).
I finally realized a few years ago that he can not/will not fulfill my life in terms of social activities. Once a week (if that much)of going on a date is not enough for me. I do work long hours and do spend a great deal of time alone....so I'm not a dweebe. But I do also like being with other people and having fun.
So my great fear about moving away was that I would have to start all over in a new area, making friends (which is hard for me and takes a long time) and that I would be all alone again because my spouse does not spend much time with me (except for when we sit in the family room with our pets watching tv). I want to get out of the house and do fun things and he wants to either stay home ....or if he does do things away from the house, he likes to do them alone.
So this came up during our session and he got very angry. I was trying to explain that I had recently come to realize why I was having anxiety about moving away. I had explained that while we have been going out on dates once a week and having a nice time, I needed more interaction. He was my first choice to spend time with, but if he was not available, I was trying not to be too dependent on him or clingy...and had sought out friendships and activities elsewhere. And now I was afraid that I would lose all of that when we move and I would be alone again and I was really feeling lonely. He was fuming. He felt that I was complaining about things when from his perspective things had been going real well between us lately. Even the counselor was trying to help him see that I was not complaining about him....I was merely explaining why I was worried about moving away (I never said I would not move...I was just saying that I was having reservations and hoping that maybe we would not move).
After our session, he would not even talk to me and when he did (on the car ride home) he was very abrupt and obviously steaming. When we got home he announced that given the way things ended at the session, it would be best to not go on our date (which was the next day; we were supposed to go hiking together) and that he wanted to go hiking alone...he needed time to think about things.
Okay....I felt he needed his space but I also knew that he was probably going to come back and throw divorce at me again.
Sure enough, he went by himself.....came home....and the next day told me our marriage was over. He was devastated at how the session went the other day and that along with his day hiking by himself made him realize that we just can't be married.
But here is the clincher. He does not want to be married to me. But he thinks we need to still live together for the next year or two because the housing market is soft and also to continue working through splitting up the biz gradually.
He tells me that he still loves me and wishes the best for me, but after this weeks meeting, he realizes he can not give me what I want/need and that we both have a different goal for what our relationship should be.
I certainly agree about that....I really want to be with someone that wants to be with me and shares my interests and hobbies. By the same token, I am worried about trying to live with him for another year or two. How can I possibly move on if we are still living together like roommates. I will feel even lonelier (if that is even possible). Plus, I will be providing most of the income to support us since my part of the business (the work that I do) brings in about 90% of our total income and the work that he does (his division) barely brings in 10% (and that's before we even calculate the expenses for his part of the biz and his cost of goods). And at the end of this 1 or 2 year period, when we go our separate ways, I will still have to split all of our assets (both the house and the biz) with him and splitting the biz in half could possibly force me out of business (it's complicated).
I am so appreciative of him supporting us in those early years. And he has been my best friend (and I thought soulmate) all these years...even though he is not the warmest/fuzziest partner around. But for the last 7+ years, the biz has been supporting us and he has had the luxury of not working a boring 9 to 5 job....but instead have a VERY relaxing schedule and doing what he wants, when he wants, etc. I kind of think he is using me....to support him while he gets his own part of the biz up and running....or to support him until we can sell the house and he can get his chunk of money out of it then and go be by himself.
So sorry for the very long story. But the background will hopefully provide some incite.
Is there anyone out there that has had any similar problems (even part of this) that can give me some advice?
I still love him....but I think I am also just afraid of going through the divorce, losing my business (because of him) and being completely alone.
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