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How does one handle a nonsupportive spouse/partner?

eggbeatereggbeater 11 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
My wife and I have 3 kids - 2021, 23 and 25. Me: full-time employed professional. Her: a medical professional with her own practice. For the last several years she has been pretty much hands off the academics - she works on her practice and I am handling everything for them academically, athletically and socially while working as well. Now as things get serious (S21 taking the SAT entering junior year, S23 son entering a second, different high school, D25 in a magnet school) I find this to be really frustrating as she will get home from work and sit in bed and watch Law and Order while I work through homework, clubs scheduling etc with the kids. As an example, last May when my youngest was working through exponents and I was busy with Trig with the oldest she said she couldn't help the youngest because she "doesn't remember it" and closing the door. Further, she will undermine the process intentionally or unintentionally by scheduling days off school and family functions at the worst times. When I explain to her that they need to to study, attend class she looks at me like I am crazy. Tonight I wanted to help my son review a SAT practice test but then she invites over the cousins for a night of video games and chatting on the phone and gets angry at me when ask when they are going home so S21 can study for his August test date. This only adds to the stress of the education process for me. I am seriously about to blow. Any input?
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Replies to: How does one handle a nonsupportive spouse/partner?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think you two need some counseling. That you are posting this on a forum board instead of talking and working it out with her says a lot

    I always kept a large color coded calendar (different marker color for each kid) that had our way too busy schedules right there. You can buy a calendar at the Dollar tree, some markers and clearly mark days that the kids , you and the house are booked. That’s the simplest way to make it very obvious. What’s planned. Keep it real simple. Red letter days are already taken. You can footnote The Who, what, when.

    But if someone is not interested in cooperating and being passive aggressive or outright aggressive about it, that’s a whole other problem.
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  • eggbeatereggbeater 11 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the feedback. I actually had purchased a chalk board for that very reason last July but it went ignored (and in the trash) within 2 weeks. It just seems so odd that my wife was very high achieving all through her young life and now she is taking no personal responsibility for our kids. She seems to think in her mind that the deal was I work and take care of the kids because I can telecommute and she cant while she works at her practice. Really I feel like she is missing out and the kids are too when she isn't investing time as well.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 15
    Seems like your division of labor is not all that unusual, especially if the lower paid spouse is doing more of the parenting. But is it an issue for you specifically due to the traditional gender roles being apparently reversed? (Not every couple with reversed-from-traditional gender roles has a problem with it.)

    The counseling suggested by others here looks like a good idea.
    edited July 15
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 337 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    Could there be a "good cop" "bad cop" dynamic as well, where she may see you as having "all work no play" view?
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  • CreeklandCreekland 5754 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Consider googling "love languages" and reading about them figuring out both yours and your wife's. Most people know nothing about them. We (humans) do them all naturally when we fall in love and find a partner, but then we return to being ourselves and only speaking/reading our own. This is fine when the two people involved share the language, but it works horribly after time passes when they speak different languages because they don't feel loved and start to resent each other.

    Based upon adults I know, this sounds a bit like what might be happening in your marriage - then add the kids and a different style of parenting. If you can learn to speak her language, she'll feel loved again and probably rejoin you in a marriage. At that point you can gently point out your language to help it work both directions. Don't expect a miracle overnight, but keep speaking each other's languages even if it seems "dumb" and you'll likely welcome the change that comes about.

    Then tackle parenting together in a loving way. You have time. Your kids won't be ruined by waiting for a real fix - use this August's SAT as merely a baseline to look for gaps. Your kids will benefit more from having two parents who love each other than trying to pound out anything just because.

    There are whole books written about love languages. It's been common in my circles for married adults to really appreciate the info - some folks in their senior years having exclaimed, "I wish we'd known about this 40 years earlier."

    Best wishes to you both.
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2771 replies32 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Usually by high school, kids can handle studying on their own. Your wife may just have a different philosophy about child raising than you do. Was she an active parent when the children were toddlers and elementary school kids? By middle to high school, kids need to be cut lose on studying if you expect them to go to college on their own. We did not coach our kids on the SAT, there are classes for that, also self study for SAT rarely helps, unless your kids have specific weaknesses in test taking. Consider hiring out SAT study with a program like Mind Fish. ( It will take up weekend time that could be spent on other things though.) The SAT prep classes do improve scores by a lot in some cases.

    . It really depends on college goals though, and the money you have to invest on college, and what state you live in, as to whether it makes sense to spend time on SAT prep. Some in state programs care about test scores more than others, and then every point may count for merit scholarships or admission.

    I don't believe in couples counseling as it often just leads to divorce. The key is to accept the spouse as they are, if you want to stay married to her.

    Are the kids missing her "help" at this stage? Ask them. Also ask your wife what
    kind of help she got from her own parents. Chances are, she was on her own since 6th grade. Thats an OK way to parent though, and clearly worked well for your wife, if that was the case in her family of origin.

    Also think of it this way, you get the benefit of a closer relationship with your teens.
    You also may be handling things so well, your wife feels she had nothing extra to offer.
    You could divide and conquer on say attending games or concerts, but usually one person needs to keep the family schedule and you are doing a great job!
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  • Leigh22Leigh22 640 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Maybe your spouse thinks you’re pushing too much? Too controlling? Unless you ask her directly, you’ll be in the dark. I have a feeling you’ll be very surprised at her response. I don’t mean this negatively, but people tend to put blinders on.
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  • bopperbopper 14014 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Did your spouse go to college?
    If not, did her family promote or not promote education?
    I can see a scenario where she didn't get to go to college, and has resentment about the kids going to college or that the rest of the family (you & kids) are going to think you are "better" than she is.
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  • vistajayvistajay 1453 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @eggbeater , my wife and I are similar to your situation in some ways. I am a working professional and my wife is a full time physician. There are some things I have ended up assuming responsibility for in the evenings. After working all day seeing patients, my wife like to relax watching TV at night. While I am taking care of household issues in the evenings, I am sometimes resentful of her sitting on the couch. But I've come to understand her job is much different than mine, and she needs that time to decompress. Otherwise, I echo what others have said. Y'all really need to find a constructive way to communicate.
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  • Leigh22Leigh22 640 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    @bopper she’s a medical professional with her own practice, so yes, she’s educated and surely not jealous. The truth is there are so many possible explanations for this couples dynamic and the only way for OP to get to the bottom of it is to actually speak to his wife.
    Some people just don’t think it’s is necessary or worth it to stress over schooling.
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  • IgloooIglooo 8142 replies209 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    To me, it looks to be more than philosophical difference on schooling. If she thinks he is doing too much for kids, she should voice her objection that that's not the way she believes parenting should be. It sounds to me she is "sabotaging" what he is trying to do. He may be wrong in doing what he is doing but that's certainly not how to stop him.
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  • Midwest67Midwest67 2961 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, therapy can help so much in situations like the OP is describing.

    Although H & I both work full time, I was what’s sometimes referred to as “the primary parent”.

    However, my style is MUCH more hands-off than the OP is describing. I don’t recall being involved in either kids academics from about 7th or 8th grade on. That’s just me and my “raised by wolves” style of parenting where I gave the kids a lot of room to manage their own lives & was often saying “I’m sure you will figure it out. LMK if you feel completely stuck & need me to jump in”.

    H was immersed in work & by default, had a similar parenting style. I can imagine how difficult it would be if one parent thought the kids needed a lot of management and the other parent thought the kids needed a lot less.

    Good luck OP!
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38128 replies2089 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Agree with @CardinalBobcat!
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  • eggbeatereggbeater 11 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the replies. For some context we are a somewhat stereotypical Asian family. I went to UCB and her UCLA for undergrad and were products of “Dragon” households so yes we are demanding. Do I do homework for them? No. Do I make sure they know the concepts before the test? Yes. Maybe that is different than others but that is how I try to help.

    The reason the SAT studying issue was a big deal for me is S21 goes back to school next week as his HS on a modified year round schedule. A lot less hours available. Furthermore, he had the list of math questions from his practice test he wanted go over which normally we save for Sunday nights. I am not a STEM person so I really need to relearn concepts so I can help him with his questions.

    Neither of us are perfect but there isn’t any physical abuse, infidelity, or addiction issues. We just have issues like any other couple but this is major one.
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  • eggbeatereggbeater 11 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Sorry one last thing. The “clubs and scheduling” comment is regarding my role as coach for 2 of the kid’s travel teams. All 3 play but only two I actually coach.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 15561 replies98 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the suggestion of couples therapy is excellent ... or just go yourself, if necessary. The issues you are experiencing are not unusual, but they can lead to divorce - or worse, to a climate that makes your kids think divorce would make their home life easier. For your family's sake, find a therapist who knows how to deal with people with your cultural background (you don't want someone who just says, "Stop being a Dragon" ... because I am sure it's not quite that simple).
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