Posts Tagged ‘inappropriate choices’

What I Need to Make This Work Again

June 29, 2010

My Insignificant Other came home a few days ago and said someone had told him that he needed to work on his marriage. So over the weekend, we spent time together at the flea market, the movies, dinner, dinner again. I paid for some of it, but he spent more. In fact, he bought me some new clothes that I really, really love. And Saturday night, when we came home exhausted, but not nearly drunk enough, what did he want?

Sex, of course. And what do I want? To be able to trust him. I’m just colorful that way.

IO is capable of giving very nice gifts when he has the money to do so. But he either can’t see, or doesn’t care, what I really want from him. Trust is just the beginning.

In order to be able to trust him again, several things are going to have to happen. The first is that he’s going to have to confess that he bought the Mexican food. Then he needs to tell me honestly why he was spending money like that, all the while telling me we couldn’t afford a Coke. Then explain why he hid it from me for so long. Then continued to lie about it. Still continues to lie about it.

Next, he’s going to have to give up his separate bank account. I was good enough to share a joint account with for fifteen years; why not now?  At the very least, I should be able to get to the money in the event of his death. How does he think I would pay for his cremation? He doesn’t have life insurance, or any other kind.

Then he’s going to have to demonstrate for at least six months that he is trustworthy. He’s going to have to make an effort every single day to show me that he’s working to regain my trust. Along with six months of celibacy, followed by an HIV test, because if he’s still lying six months later about Mexican food, there’s not much hope he’d confess to something more serious. He just doesn’t get it. And he’s not getting any until he does. I can’t have sex with a man I can’t trust.

Another thing he’s going to have to do is re-commit to our relationship. He can do this by putting as much effort into our home as he expects from me. We both have jobs. We should share an equal division of household labor. He needs to prove to me that he’s a responsible adult by hanging up his own clothes, remembering to brush his teeth, and not drink until he passes out dirty in the bed. I’m not his mother or his maid. He’s a grown man. He should be able to do those things himself, and without having to be nagged. He should be able to open the dishwasher and put a dish in it, instead of leaving it in the sink for me to do. And stop using the bullshit excuse of not knowing if the dishes inside are clean or dirty. Open it. Pull out a glass and hold it up to the light. Is it clean, or not? It’s that simple. A self-sufficient man is a sexy man.

IO still believes it’s the woman’s job to do all the cleaning. You know that old saying, “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done”? After about fifteen years, I started getting tired of it. I have goals and ambitions, too. If I spend all my time cleaning up after him like a mother after a five-year-old, how much time does it leave to pursue my own interests? That’s right: none. So I quit cleaning. I spend that time working toward my dreams. And he can’t stand that. And really, neither can I, because we now live in a pig sty.

We both need to cook regularly. He likes to evoke the “one cooks; the other cleans” rule whenever he deigns to cook, but he doesn’t clean up when I cook. And he needs to stop having temper tantrums when I have to ask him to please move because he’s standing in front of the utensil drawer that I need to get into right now, not in ten minutes when he’s finished his “same bullshit / different day” story.  I said please.

Not only does he need to share in the household maintenance, I’d like him to demonstrate a willingness to work and a steady effort toward making our home a nice place that we can enjoy together. He could start by doing the lawn maintenance on the weekends, instead of performing his vanishing act, leaving it for me to do. He could get the trash to the curb on Sunday instead of leaving it for me to do. He could jump off the couch and help me carry in the beer or groceries or buckets of kitty litter, instead of waiting until I’ve finished the fifth trip in and then asking, “Is there any more?” He could fix the broken things, refinish furniture we started and never completed, or build some minor home improvements like a screen porch or a patio upgrade. Plan ahead, and finish them without excuses as to why he can’t.

Better yet, he could start making an effort toward finding a better place to live, a place that might change the energy that surrounds us. And stop expecting to find something better for less money. That would go a long way toward showing that he’s committed to improving our lives together.

He needs to give me the money to pay some overdue medical bills. He was willing to spend nearly the amount I owe on them for recreation over the weekend, but he won’t part with it for the really important things. He also needs to take care of our vehicles. They both need a lot of work, but he’d rather drive them into the ground than spend any time changing the oil.

He’ll have to take the responsibility for at least some of the time we spend together. Plan some of the meals without asking me what I want to eat. Plan entertainment that will make it worth losing my precious time pursuing my dreams for a night. Initiate sex instead of waiting for me to do it (but not until I decide if and when I’ll ever have sex with him again). Develop an interest in the art of foreplay, and if he gives even one sigh of impatience, one slip in the tone of his voice that he’s bored with this already, it’s done. He might as well get used to those blue balls because he will have them a very long time.

He’ll have to significantly limit the amount of time spent with friends who are inappropriate to a married relationship. Boys twenty years his junior, and Pen Pals are not good influences on a man who has so much work cut out for him if he intends to “work on his marriage.” Staying out after happy hour on weeknights, or after 10 P.M. on the weekends, anytime, anywhere, for any reason without me is inappropriate, with the exception of a once-monthly boys night out. Not weekend out. Night out.

Coming home at one, two, three o’clock in the morning, or not at all, is unacceptable. So is drunk driving, so he’ll have to make responsible choices. He will have to cultivate friendships with people, hopefully couples, that I wouldn’t mind introducing to my mother. He needs to remember that other people do judge us by our clothing, and they do judge us by the company we keep. To evoke an old cliché, birds of a feather flock together. He has been drawn to the lowest common denominator for almost ten years now. Pretty Woman thought she was a bum magnet. She had no idea. It’s time for IO to clean up both areas of his life. Then real employers might start taking him seriously.

He’s going to have to stop trying to instate a rule that we can’t invoke the past when we argue. When a person has a long history of false starts, serious errors in judgment, and just plain bad behavior, then the past is relevant to the cure. It’s like alcoholism; first you have to admit you have a problem. It’s a verifiable fact that history repeats itself. If something is done the same way fifty times and the result is always the same, it’s ridiculous to think it will be different the fifty-first time. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a fucking duck; don’t expect a fish. Until the pattern of repetition is broken, then the past is not past; it’s a guidepost to the future.

The biggest hurdle to cross if we have any chance of saving our relationship is that he has to start showing some consideration when I’m working on my chairs.

In the movie Phenomenon, Doc Brunder chides Banes, whose girlfriend broke up with him, for not buying his girlfriend’s chairs. To paraphrase:


“Now George has a love at his side and she is sticking with him. You know why? Because he bought her chairs. That’s pretty smart to me. You ever buy Lisa’s chairs? Every woman has her chairs, something she needs to put herself into, Banes. You ever figure out what Lisa’s chairs were and buy ’em?”


IO has seen this movie a dozen or more times, and yet he still can’t bring himself to give a crap about my chairs. Not only does he not care about the pursuit of my dreams, he shows no respect for them at all. He thinks writing is a hobby, not something to be taken seriously. He can’t understand how important it is for me to have a block of uninterrupted time to work on my chairs.

We’ve argued hundreds of times about his annoying habit of barging in and interrupting my train of thought every five minutes. And every time he does, I have to start over. So what could be accomplished in two hours of interrupted time ends up taking six hours instead. Then he complains about how long I’m on he computer. He spends just as much time on his, except he’s downloading music and rearranging his music library, or watching television. And the difference is?

The difference is that he cannot stand being alone for even ten minutes. He doesn’t know how to be by himself, much less just be. He doesn’t even know what it means to just be. He continuously interrupts until he provokes me, then storms out to hang with those inappropriate friendships he’s got going. It’s the same pattern over and over, as predictable as the planets in their orbits. He needs to grow up and stop acting like a petulant teenager. If he can’t deal with being alone for a couple hours, then he needs to learn to spend that time in a more constructive way, like taking a class to improve his reading and writing, or some other skill that would help him get a better job. Or even a class to learn about a hobby he might want to pursue. Maybe one on how to entertain himself for an hour (now rinse and repeat). Or on having consideration and respect for other people’s efforts to make their dreams come true.


In six months, I’d assess the progress made toward our mutual happiness, and then maybe be willing to renegotiate our relationship for another term.