Monday, September 20, 2010

State of the State, Part II

Oh, wow. Hundreds of you have clicked on over (via Swistle's link- thank you Swistle!) to commiserate with me over the STATE of not being able to convince my husband to have another child.

So many of us are in the same boat, it seems, and so many others of us can guess what that would feel like, and not much can make me feel better about my situation, but hearing all of your voices was very comforting. I can picture this whole community of crying ovaries, banding together to beg for ANOTHER BABY PLEASE.

Since I wrote that post 12 days ago, I've been increasingly mad and desperate feeling. I can barely LOOK at him, you guys. I'm just so ANGRY. It's just not fair that I feel so passionately about this, and he can so nonchalantly say "Hmmm. No. I don't feel like another child." He's not an emotional person, so of course his response isn't going to be as impassioned as mine, but STILL. It seems like the person who wants something so badly (ME) should trump the person who offhandedly disagrees (HIM).

So what do I do? I have no idea. It seems like the only thing I DO have control over is me- so I've been giving him the silent treatment for 12 days. I know it's extremely elementary, but it's the truth about what's been going on around here.

And before you feel the need to defend him, I should point out that ahhhh.... he hasn't NOTICED that I'm not speaking to him. HE HASN'T NOTICED. You know the one way that the silent treatment FAILS? It's if the recipient DOESN'T NOTICE. Eff. you guys. Effffffff.

(Also, David isn't a jerk, nor is he a complete buffoon. He simply is very straightforward. In his mind, if I was mad at him, I'd say so. If I'm simply not talking to him? Doesn't really register on his radar.)

So to recap: I am so angry at my husband, so frustrated that he has all the control in this situation, can barely stand to be in the same room with him. So I stop speaking to him, mostly because I cannot stand to, but also because- if I'm being honest- I WANT him to notice and care that I'm not speaking to him, but he doesn't notice. So, I'm still pissed, but now even MORE SO and WHAT DO I DO NOW?

It seems like this is something that will not just blow over in our marriage. And that's the scariest part.


Erica said...

Seems like it's time to have a heart-to-heart with your non-silent-treatment-noticing husband. At this point, you're getting angrier and angrier and he has no idea what's going on. I think you need to (calmly, if at all possible) tell him exactly how serious this is for you. If he still doesn't want another child, then you'll have to decide what that means for you.

Honestly, at this point is it really the desire for a forth child that's driving you or the fact that your husband has taken all the control away from you? That seems like a pretty important distinction to make before you talk to him. Right?

(Because if it was me, I'd be much angrier about the lack of control over the situation than the actual forth child thing. I'd be all "How DARE you decide this so one-sidedly!" It would be way more about getting my own way than getting pregnant. Ahem. Not that I speak from experience on this or anything.)

Marie Green said...

Oh, Erica, you are so right about the being more angry about him having control aspect. About a year ago, I explained to him that perhaps he needed to just tentatively agree to having another, so that I wasn't purely fighting because I wanted something I COULDN'T HAVE. And even though he wouldn't tentatively agree to that, *I* spent the rest of the year contemplating my own motivations. I can honestly say that it's truly that I want one more.

We've done the heart-to-heart thing. Times 1 million. Didn't help. And I don't want to "talk him into it". I want him to have a change of heart.

Ri said...

But... the partner who is saying "no" to changing your entire life by taking responsibility for a new child SHOULD have the control.

New babies are an all parties in or all parties out situation.

Sounds like a therapist - a GOOD therapist - might help. because right now? the crazies seem to be running the show. (not that you ARE crazy. you HAVE the crazies.)

Tess said...

Dude, this is so incredibly heartbreaking to me, but at the same time I SO APPRECIATE finally seeing an actual, REAL marriage issue discussed on a blog, you know? I mean, this is the REAL STUFF of LIFE right here.

And I love your comment that you don't want to "talk him into it" but rather want him to have a change of heart. YES. On so many issues, YES.

Becky said...

I agree with Tess that it is so good to see a real issue discussed in brutal honesty. Thank you for that. I'm sorry you are going through this, though.

I don't have any words of wisdom that you probably haven't already considered, but I'll try anyway. Maybe counselling? Couples, or individual? Also, you might have to decide which you want more (or less); to "talk him into" another child (or at least attempt to), or to not have one. Because the way things are going it's going to be decided by default for you, and that's never fun.

Also, I feel as though if he is an adult with full mental capabilities (as it sounds like he is), then it's not really talking him into it. He is fully capable of saying no no matter what you say. Emotionally I completely understand wanting him to just get it and change his mind (I wish that all the time), but realistically you have to approach this as if that is just not going to happen. So what do you do then? Try to talk him into it, or let it go?

Ugh. I hate things like this. I wish there was an easier answer. I'll be asking St Nicholas to say a prayer on your behalf. It's as close to a fairy godmother (father?) as I can get.

Jess said...

I agree with some of the other commenters. I think you need to talk to him about this. And if you can't work it out with him, then I think you need to talk to a therapist about this, either just you or both of you together.

Here is one other thing I am noticing. You describe his lack of desire for a fourth child as offhanded disagreement. I'm not sure that's accurate. You are clearly much more passionate in the expression of your opinion about the subject. You are more emotional about it. And I think because he SEEMS so sensibly dispassionate about it, it's easy to assume that he doesn't feel as strongly about his opinion as you do about yours. But I'm just not sure that's the case. I think if he really were ambivalent, his sensible side would allow you to make the decision, you know what I mean? So I think you need to be careful not to assume that just because he doesn't express his feelings the same way you do, they aren't as strong as yours. If that makes any sense at all.

I really hope you guys can come to a decision about this, together, one way or another. Good luck!

Sarah said...

I told my husband about your dilemma. He wonders if your husband hasn't done a very good job of articulating his position. His thought is that no one can be so firmly "nonchalant" and that there must be something specific that he is balking at.

I can really appreciate your feelings in the matter. None of my pregnancies or births were ideal. My first baby was born at 32 weeks, my second baby was full term, but born via emergency c-section, and my third pregnancy was interrupted by my water breaking at 23 weeks, then followed by 6 weeks in the hospital before I delivered via c-section at 29 weeks. You can maybe imagine. Nothing went the way it should have. And after two preemies, I couldn't risk putting another baby through such trauma, especially at the risk of actually having a child die or live with severe difficulties.

I gave up another child and I felt the loss acutely. I grieved the healthy pregnancies and deliveries that I had wanted so badly and I breathed a sigh of relief that I'd even been as lucky as I had been. Most moms don't go through what I went through with my last baby and still have a baby to bring home from the hospital. In any case, grieving the loss of that vision of what 'should have been' is a very real process. And grieving the vision of the family I had wanted was very real, too.

My baby is two years old now. I'm starting to really look forward to doing other things with my growing children and I'm starting to see the positive sides to being past the baby stage. I'm sort of where Swistle is in being almost glad for it. I'm not telling you to 'get over it' or anything remotely like that, but I wanted to share with you what my experience has been and hope that it's of some help.

Thinking of you.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh girl, I can only imagine what it's like to feel so out of synch with your partner over such an emotional issue. Well, okay, I don't have to imagine what it's like, but I can imagine what it's like with this specific issue, which is a particularly difficult one, since there is no half-way compromise possible. I don't know what I would have done if CG hadn't agreed to baby #2, because I was NOT done and would have possibly gone mental if we weren't on the same page.

And not noticing the silent treatment? Would ENRAGE me.

Sending you hugs and support through the interwebs.

Beautiful Neighbor said...

Oh,Sarah. HUGE hugs. We'll talk about this in person. Perhaps (no, not perhaps - DEFINITELY) over wine on the porch.

d e v a n said...

yesh. This is the tough stuff, right here.
Since I'm sure you already know that the only two people on the planet who can figure this out are you and hubs, I will leave you with just a huge HUG!

GratefulTwinMom said...

Thinking of you as you work through this. I know how debilitating anger can be. I hope you and your husband can find some peace in this dilemma soon. I wish I knew the right thing to say, but know that we're sympathizing with you here in cyberspace.

Swistle said...

I am having such a hard time with this topic, AS YOU KNOW. And also with the comments, because so many people are saying you should TALK to him---but you HAVE, and THOROUGHLY, and THAT IS THE ISSUE.

And I also think the societal "two is normal, anything else is abnormal" thing is affecting people more than the even realize, and I'm offended on your behalf by anyone who suggests or SEEMS to suggest that this is a YOU issue rather than a MARRIAGE issue. This is a problem with two spouses wanting different and incompatible things; this is NOT a problem with "wanting more than two children."

Also, I went through a similar situation myself, and decided against therapy because I was pretty sure most therapists wouldn't be able to get past the "two is right, no more and no less" thing themselves.

Also, I do think that anyone who hasn't experienced the LONGING for more family members probably shouldn't be trying to give advice at this point. Particularly taking into account that a couple of generations back, it's the "two children" people who would have seemed to society to need therapy for not wanting a normal number of children.

Mimi said...

I totally give my husband the silent treatment when we're fighting, too. And sometimes I have to be like, "I'm not talking to you!" to get him to realize it.

Best of luck to you, though. It is just the worst when you want something so bad.

Bethsix said...

Swistle has a different take that makes me go, "HMMM, I THINK SHE'S RIGHT."

When we decided to have our third baby, I was completely astounded that, for most people, this meant that we went from a totally acceptable family size to "LARGE FAMILY." Really? Three? And then when we decided to have a fourth, geeeeeeeez. We get stares with four kids. There's a definite bias against morethantwo, even unconsciously, that probably makes people say different things than they'd say if you were saying you wanted to HAVE vs. NOT HAVE a child, or even a second. Le sigh.

That said, I HAVE NO IDEA. I have nothing to say that will help, I'm sure. I guess I would talk to him, since he isn't noticing that you're NOT.

It will work out; it always works out. I just hope you're not left feeling like you missed out on something you were supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

You know, it may be true that society undervalues children and scorns large families, but in some ways that's just background noise: whatever factors are contributing to this impasse, it's the impasse that's the problem. I mean, telling you, Marie, that your longing for another baby was a product of a cultural obsession with pregnancy and infancy would be incredibly condescending and unhelpful, right? And, above all, irrelevant: even if it were true -- and I DON'T think it is; I'm trying to think of the most reductive and dismissive explanation -- that wouldn't make your desire less heartfelt or valid: the heart wants what it wants. And your husband's desires -- which, as Jess said, don't count for less because they are expressed less passionately, or because they are a desire NOT to do something -- are what they are. The really hard, painful challenge is to figure out how to live with the frustration and disappointment and rage in a way that doesn't poison everything. And that, I absolutely agree with Swistle, is a joint problem: one reason the silent treatment seems like a bad idea to me is that it lets him off the hook. He has determined that he doesn't want another baby; fine -- but that choice has consequences, and it's main consequence is a wife who is powerfully hurt and angry. He needs to know that, and he also needs to see that that anger and pain aren't just your problem to deal with, they are his as well.

I wonder if it would be remotely possible -- it would probably be really hard -- to find some way of reframing this as a problem you two find yourself on the same side of, as allies. That is, instead of having Team One More facing off against Team All Done, you have the two of you, together, facing down the huge emotional and practical challenge of wanting different things very badly. I don't think it's likely that you could feel this way all the time, but maybe feeling it occasionally could create some space for feeling like partners again? When my husband and I were dating and agonizing over how we would manage an interfaith relationship, we found it a huge relief to have times when we thought of it not as a struggle between us, but as an emotional challenge we were going to have to help each other survive.

Too saccharine? If so, ignore me: I hear, and get, the rage. It's hard.

CARRIE said...

Sometimes the only way my husband discovers I'm pissed at him is by reading my blog.

I wish I could wish this dilemma away for you because it reminds me of our dilemma, which would have taken a huge toll on our marriage.

And that is one of the suckiest things about marriage---how you have to think of "us" even though you still need to think about "you."

Erin said...

Oh Marie. I've been wanting to comment but can't find anything helpful to say.

I hear you. I am sorry.

Maggie said...

Well damn, I wrote a soul baring comment about how I've been where you are and how much it hurt me and was like a deep wound in my marriage and how it turned out. But it got eaten and maybe that was the universe telling me not to over share on a blog I've just started reading. So instead I will just say that in my case it turned out my husband didn't want to try for another child because he was scared and saddened by the two miscarriages I'd had. Perhaps your husband is a little scared too since it sounds like your other pregnancies were tough?

If comment doesn't work this time, am forced to conclude universe wants me to keep my assvice to myself.