Patricia Redlich

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Am Left Home Alone With Baby

I'm a 33 year old married woman and feel lonely and fed up. I gave birth to the most fantastic baby 11 months ago and wouldn't change her for the world. But I feel so lonely since she was born. Myself and my husband both work long hours but made sure before the baby arrived to spend lots of time together. Now we have to work opposite hours to ensure our baby is looked after by one or other of us, and this leaves little or no time for ourselves. We do have a crèche for some of the time, but because of our long working day and long commute, this offers little in terms of time off together.

I live at least a four hour drive away from my parents and see them, at most, once a month. I find this difficult as I think every girl needs her mother. I have few friends close by as we moved to this area only recently. I would like to reduce my working hours, but because of a big mortgage I feel this is difficult to do.

For ten years I lived in Dublin when the celtic tiger was roaring. I thrived during this time, wild parties, late nights, eating out with pals, more money to spend foolishly than I knew what to do with. Now I feel I'm stuck in the other end of the celtic tiger, high mortgage, long working hours, long commute, expensive crèche fees, regretting not having more time to spend with my family, and lonely at home, living in an estate where nobody wants to know their neighbour.

My husband doesn't seem to take any notice of my feelings and says that this is now the way things are. He is obsessed with money and his priority is to have us both working and bringing in the money - even though we don't get a chance to spend it. I no longer even enjoy sex and feel constantly bored. I know I should be grateful for all I have, including our health, but I feel I surrendered a lot of my independence to my husband and am now stuck in a rut.

As long as you understand that surrendering your independence was a voluntary decision. The point is, you could decide differently. Anyway, I don't think formulating your problem in this manner helps, so let's tell your story differently.

You got married, bought a house and had a baby. They were joint decisions, and happy ones. Yes, I am sure the decision as to where to buy your house was dictated also by circumstance - or what you call the celtic tiger. A long commute means a cheaper house. But they were joint decisions, made in good faith, by both of you.

You also both decided that you should go back to work. And jointly agreed that you'd share the baby-minding, and not just for hard economic reasons. As you've said, you're earning the money but have no time to spend it. You wanted your child minded largely by his parents. That, too, was a joint and well-intentioned decision, and much to be admired.

All decisions, however, have a down-side. There is always a price to pay. Your dilemma is that you're feeling the pinch much more than your husband. Put another way, you're not as happy with all your decisions as he is. That situation has to be seriously addressed. It is neither fair nor wise, however, to talk in terms of your husband bullying you into anything. And yes, that is effectively what you're saying. You talk of surrendering your independence, say that he's obsessed with money, and that he fails to take any notice of your feelings.
What's happening is that you're failing to assert yourself. That, in turn, has you angry and down and sexually switched off. You don't want the life you're currently living, but instead of making that clear and changing things, you've dampened down all your energy and enthusiasm and capacity for joy. You're acting like a victim. But you are not a victim at all - or at least you don't have to be.

You can do the sums. How many days work can you cut out and still survive financially? Time rich, you could do more baby- minding, have space for your relationship with your husband, visit your mother more often, and put energy into your community to make friends and feel at home.

It really is as simple as that you know. It's a question of setting life-enhancing priorities. In fact you could consider yourself lucky that you're feeling so unhappy at the moment. It's a wake-up call. Many couples don't get one, and lose each other. Which is the way you have to put it to your husband.

Men tend to focus on financial security. This comes from a sense of responsibility, so we should be careful about charging your husband with being obsessed with money. Maybe he is, but isn't that just an over-emphasis on one issue, or maybe even real fear for his family? And wouldn't it be great if you saw your task as one of balancing your husband's behaviour with the wisdom you have, namely that your relationship and quality of life are just as important?

Don't turn your husband into the enemy. He's not. You just need to have the courage of your convictions and change your priorities. Do it for yourself, for your husband, for your baby, for your marriage. You see you are the wise one. You are tuned in. There is no need to be angry and resentful. Just run with the wisdom. And bring your husband, who is your friend, on-side, by being strong and clear and compassionate about his understandable anxiety.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design