"He's Jealous of My Success"

Working mom Sharon thinks stay-at-home dad Seth's jealousy is at the root of her marriage problems. Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

"Who Can I Count On?"

"Some days, I wake up filled with this overwhelming sadness," said Sharon. "I'm exhausted, drained and angry. Seth and I have been married for twelve years. Three years ago, we agreed that I'd be the primary breadwinner and he'd handle most of the childcare and home responsibilities, since the small electrical supply business he inherited from his uncle went bankrupt, and the computer-service company he set up in our spare room wasn't really bringing in enough money. At the time, it made sense, though we thought it would only be temporary. But it simply isn't working at all. Seth is still trying to build up a client base, so he only bills twenty hours a week at the most. The rest of the time, he's supposed to be doing everything else. But too often, the jobs I assumed he'd take care of are left for me to handle.

"We argue all the time, and I'm convinced it's because Seth can't really handle the fact that I make more money than he does. It never bothered me that, by conventional standards, I'm more 'successful' than he is. But last year, when we went to have our taxes done, an insensitive clerk looked at our forms and burst out laughing: 'Well, look at this,' he said, 'Your wife makes more money than you do.' I wanted to smack the guy on the side of his head. I knew Seth was mortified, although he didn't say anything. I know he begrudges the fact that my days are long, and I often have to travel on business or take clients to dinner.

"I leave the house at 7:30 every morning, and some nights I don't get home until 9:30 at night. All I want to do is take a shower and fall into bed. I don't appreciate finding a sulking husband who was too busy watching the TV news to make a proper dinner for himself and the children. Is it so difficult to broil some hamburgers? If I don't specifically spell out what to feed everybody, they wind up eating dry cereal or pizza. Last Saturday, when I had to finish some spreadsheets for work, I asked him to keep the kids occupied for the afternoon. I had hoped he'd take them to the children's museum or even ice skating, something educational or outdoorsy. But his idea of quality time was making popcorn and renting a video. Well, I lost it. I said things I never should have said, but if I can't count on my husband, who can I count on?

Finding Their Niches

"I met Seth at work--he used to work for the same company. It was easy to fall in love with him. First of all, he's gorgeous. But he also has a sweetness and sensitivity about him that is positively endearing. We started dating, and everyone used to say we were the perfect couple. But while I loved him very much, even then I knew we were very different.

"I'm outgoing and up-front. I say what's on my mind. Seth is quiet and shy, almost timid. Trying to get him to talk about how he feels has never been easy. Half the time, I don't even think he knows how he feels. I like to get things out in the open, tackle a problem head-on and get it resolved. Seth ignores issues and hopes they'll disappear.

"Anyway, we got married, and the company wouldn't allow spouses to work together. So Seth decided to take over his uncle's business and see if he could make a go of it. Meanwhile, I quickly found my niche and was soon promoted. But while I was moving up the ladder, things weren't working out so well for Seth. His uncle's business had been on the brink of disaster when Seth took over, and I don't think anyone could have saved it. Thank goodness we had my salary to fall back on; we never would have made it otherwise.

Continued on page 2:  Her Turn, continued


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