My Husband’s Work Dictates How We Live

Article by Dr. Michael Tobin
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Dear Dr. Tobin,

I am 41, married with three children ages 15,11,and 5. My children are going to a public school that is 30 -45 minutes away from my home. My husband’s work has always dictated what side of town we live on. Now his job is shaky and I feel my life and my children’s life is eaten away by commuting, lack of friendships in the area we live, and lack of time to enjoy any sports or activities. I just started school to become an educator, and now I may have to give that up to work to support my family. I feel very dissatisfied with my life. What should I do?

Unhappy with Life


Dear Unhappy with Life,

First, let’s define the problem. Are you unhappy with your life or are you furious with your husband?

When I read your letter, I hear resentment and frustration pouring through: “My husband’s work has always dictated what side of town we live on.” You complain that because of your husband, your children have no friends or activities and you may have to give up your career plans.

Ask yourself:

  1. Have you agreed with your husband that the family’s financial needs demanded these sacrifices?
  2. Or, do you feel that you unwillingly accepting a lifestyle that you’ve never really wanted?

If the answer to question #1 is yes, then your anger and frustration are more a function of the fact that you are no longer satisfied with the choices that you and your husband once made. People and relationships grow and change. Perhaps moving for the sake of your husband’s work was once acceptable to you. However, you now understand the price that you and the children have had to pay and it’s no longer worth it to you.

If that’s the case, then I would suggest that you begin to dialog with your husband and help him to understand the effect moving has had on you and the children. Perhaps, when he fully understands how you feel, he will then be willing to explore additional options.

If, on the other hand, the answer to question #2 is yes, then ask yourself why you’ve allowed your husband to become so powerful that neither you nor the children have had a say in how this family functions.

Find the courage to assert yourself. Without blaming or accusing, confront your husband. Tell him that you’re not interested in making more sacrifices. He must understand that there are two people in this marriage and both have needs and wants. A marriage can only work when there is mutual respect. It might be safer to share your feelings in a letter which will enable him to have the time to think about your concerns.

Remember happiness is a function of self-respect and intimacy. Act to create happiness for yourself.

Good luck,

Dr. Michael Tobin

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