"We Keep Tearing Each Other Down"
Her Turn, continued
"After we married, Steve and I sublet an apartment in downtown Philadelphia and took advantage of everything the city offered. I loved the fact that we worked in the same field. We weren't direct competitors, so it gave us an extra bond. Then, just six months after the wedding, I discovered I was pregnant. That's when things started to sour. I was excited; Steve wasn't. He gave me very little support during my pregnancy. He was in the delivery room, but he hadn't gone with me to a single doctor's appointment.
"I worked until the day I delivered, but I wanted to be home with my children when they were young. That was a source of fights before Justin was even born. Afterward, when I was home full time, Steve would make snide comments like 'Can't you straighten up around here? You're not even working.'
"I loved being a stay-at-home mom, even though it was exhausting. And I started to resent the fact that Steve was anything but the understanding, helpful husband I'd hoped for. He'd stay out late with clients and golf all day Saturday. It never even occurred to him to help me carry in groceries after I'd been to the supermarket. Lots of husbands do that sort of thing without being asked."He Expects Me to Do Everything"
"Money is a constant sore spot. Steve is a spender, I'm a saver. I clip coupons, he buys a new flat-screen TV. Yet he put me down for 'not working'! Two years ago, I agreed to come in to the office -- he opened his own firm a few years ago -- three days a week to handle billing and bookkeeping. The business grew quickly, so those three days soon turned into five. Then I took over some of the residential sales while Steve handled the commercial side. I hired a teenager to stay with the boys after school.
"While I'm thrilled that our business -- I'm officially a co-owner -- is doing so well, it burns me up that Steve still expects me to do everything at home. I get up with the kids in the morning, put them to bed at night and juggle everything in between. Is it too much for him to pick up his dirty socks? Do I have to remind him every night to take out the trash? I hate the fact that I fly off the handle like my mother did, and I wish I were less anxious. But when he shows such utter disregard for me, it pushes all my buttons."I've Invested Too Much to Let It Die"
"Oddly enough, we function well at work. We operate in different aspects of the business and our offices are at opposite ends of the hall. And we put on a great act when we're with other people.
"Everyone thinks Steve is terrific. They see this giving guy who is Mr. Camp Director, organizing all the kids on the Little League field and making each one feel special. They don't see what I see.
"I can't believe we've let ourselves be so miserable for so long. That's why I told him to get out. But now that he's actually gone, I realize how much I have invested in this relationship -- way too much to just let it die. I hope he feels the same way."