"Things Have Gone Downhill Since He Started Working from Home"

Christopher loves being able to work from home and be involved with the family more, but Beth just feels like he's always in the way. Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

"Two years ago, when my husband's company relocated, his boss offered to let him telecommute so we wouldn't have to move," said Beth, 30, a stay-at-home mom who's been married for six years. "I wish it never happened. Ever since Christopher stopped going to the office, our relationship has been a total nightmare.

"It's kind of ironic because at first we were totally psyched. We set up a home office for him in the basement and everything started off really well. But within a couple of months Christopher began slacking off. He sells computer software to small companies, but instead of calling or going out to meet clients, he started spending more and more time watching television or shooting hoops in the driveway. If I hadn't been around to tell him to go downstairs and work I don't think he would have gotten anything done. It didn't help that he'd inherited some money from his uncle around that time. He was feeling flush and wasn't so driven to earn those commissions.

"That's only part of the problem. I've been home full-time since our son, Jack, was born two years ago, and I have my routines down pat. Now I have to deal with Christopher weighing in on everything. Whenever I go out, I get the third degree: 'Who are you meeting?' 'How long will you be away?' Yesterday, when I came back from the supermarket, he actually criticized me for not buying healthy food. It's not like I came home with hot dogs and Twinkies!

"Christopher also complains that the house is always in shambles. Of course it is. We have a toddler! But my husband is also responsible for the mess. He never washes a pot or even puts his dirty laundry in the hamper. Frankly, I'm tired of being his personal maid.

"The worst is when he criticizes the way I'm taking care of Jack. Last week I needed to go online to see what time the children's museum opened so I put him in front of the television for a few minutes. Christopher came upstairs, saw Jack watching cartoons and went bonkers, screaming, 'Why aren't you outside playing with him?'

"He also yells at me whenever Jack knocks on the basement door and calls for him. I do my best to keep him away from Christopher when he's working, but Jack knows his daddy is down there and sometimes it's hard to control him. You'd think my husband would be more understanding.

"Christopher and I met when we were in college. We got married right after graduation and moved to Denver because he had a job offer here. I found a job in a jewelry boutique, which turned out to be tons of fun. Until this work-at-home arrangement, things were really good. I felt lucky to have such a great husband and was totally in love. But now I'm starting to feel trapped by how controlling he is. He makes all the decisions in our family, and I just go along because I don't want to start an argument. Last month he announced we were joining a gym 45 minutes away because it has a great indoor rock-climbing wall. If he'd checked with me I would have told him I'd prefer a gym closer to home. But he'd already signed us up without ever asking if I thought it was a good idea. At that point, what could I do?

"Ever since we've been married I've worked very hard at keeping the peace. My own parents divorced when I was 10. I was sad and angry, though it was a relief not to hear them arguing all the time. I promised myself that when I got married I wouldn't end up in a relationship like that. But here I am. I'm so upset about how badly we're getting along that I can hardly think straight. Maybe if he weren't home all day long, things would be different. But if things continue the way they are, I think I want a divorce."

Continued on page 2:  His Turn


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