"We Fight All the Time"
Her Turn"The Stupidest Stuff is Ammunition"
"We can't talk for five minutes without yeling at each other," says forty-year-old Valerie, the former director of a community outreach program. "Half the time I can't remember what we're arguing about; one fight blends into another.
"Mike and I decided that I'd stop working after our first child was born. I thought I'd enjoy the time with the kids--Jenna is four, and our second daughter, Caitlin, was born nine months ago. I adore them, but I wasn't prepared for how completely my life would change. I'm afraid I made the wrong decision.
"I was totally dedicated to my job. Then, when I had Jenna, suddenly I was isolated. I was nursing around the clock, doing laundry, cooking and barely getting out of my bathrobe by the afternoon. I was exhausted and weepy, and my husband was completely unsympathetic. Basically, he thought I was crazy, and didn't hesitate to tell me. I was better prepared with Caitlin, but he still has no clue what it's like to be home all day.
"Last month, when I started to tell Mike how I feel the world is passing me by, he immediately countered with, 'You think you have it hard? Try running a business in this cutthroat real-estate market.' I know he works hard. I simply want him to listen to me, to acknowledge how difficult this is
"The stupidest stuff is ammunition for a battle royal. If we're in the car and I ask him to slow down, he snaps that if I'm not happy, I can drive. We're not strapped financially, but that doesn't stop Mike from nickel-and-diming me about everything. When I wanted to buy a new coffeepot, I get a lecture that the old one is fine. He even has a fit if I buy Jenna a blueberry muffin on the way to preschool.
"Mike also thinks I spend too much time on the phone with my friends after the kids are asleep. But that's the only way I can stay in touch with people who mean a great deal to me -- people who offer me emotional support.