Month Twenty

Dear Husband,
Well this last month certainly has been a notable one for us. Not necessarily “eventful” as I think we more had the feeling that things were not happening rather than progressing at full speed but it wasn’t a month where you could say that nothing much happened either. Most of this was obviously to do with the house.
For the first part of the month as you will recall, we were not being pre-approved for a home loan with the expediency that one might wish from a bank. As others have advised us however, we were dealt with in precisely the delayed fashion that most institutions employ with their clients. Stupid banks. Then we were not being approved for Mortgage Lenders Insurance without jumping through hoops which was very frustrating. Partly because we were putting off getting the house inspected till we knew the expense was worthwhile and partly because it was actually hard for us to jump through those hoops for good reason. Stupid employers. Then of course there was the return of the building report which was really what we should have considered “good” in that the electrical was satisfactory, the plumbing was satisfactory and there was no structural or termite damage visible. Its often easier to focus on the negative however so I was seeing all the things that were not good and was having visions of living in a house where you can’t run a heater and the oven at the same time without tripping a circuit or have a shower for more than five minutes without it going cold. Stupid me? Time will tell…And then there was the end of the cooling off period where we were not paying the deposit because the bank apparently can’t wire money after 4pm. I didn’t figure out till the next day of course that I could have simply transferred the money as both accounts were with the same bank!…That kind of was a stupid us…
So for most of this month, there was a lot of stress and frustration around things not happening and also around how we would manage everything if it did end up happening. How would we solve the wardrobe solution? Where would we put all the furniture? What would be first on the list to buy? It seems we have some very different ideas on those questions. I see you looking at all sorts of things on the internet like shade cloth and outdoor lights and I’m thinking that is so not important and is so far down on my list that its not even really on the list in the first place. I have a few more pressing concerns like the damp under the house and home and contents insurance. You come up with all these “nifty” ideas and my first thought is where on earth are you going to find the money for this? Which is apparently yet another example of me not supporting your ideas or letting you dream. So that just frustrates both of us as well. Which is why we needed a break.
Last year around this time when we were both unemployed and therefore did not have the disposable income to splash around, we went down to Beechworth with my parents and a group of their friends to drink wine. This year whilst in the middle of buying a house which therefore meant we did not have much disposable income to splash around, we did exactly the same thing. I see a pattern happening here…hopefully its not a bad one. It has been said to many a man though that a happy wife means a happy life but I think in terms of our sanity as a couple, its really important for you to be able to chill out. As it happens, in Beechworth and around this group of people seems to be one of the few places that you can really do that. You get to leave Sydney and drink lots of wine and hang around with people who have all been there and done that in terms of the major life experiences that you want for yourself and you are in your element. I in turn get some time to wander around taking photos and not be the centre of your attention socially. Win-win.
But then of course we came back to Sydney, back to work and back to day-to-day life. I continue to worry about how you’re going at work because I’m seeing some of the same things as when you were at your last job. Its definitely not as bad as your previous role which was seriously affecting your health but its still not good. I don’t know what to say though. If I try to get you to focus on the good things to get by, you point out all the times that they’ve done you wrong. If I try and get you to see it from their point of view you think I’m telling you to just bend over and take whatever they throw at you. I suggest that maybe you play their game and not get them offside and you start throwing your weight around citing legislation and contracts. I can see your point of view. I can. I know you want to work for a company that you respect. I know that you are willing to work hard and think that hard work should be recognised. I know you hate their double standards (we don’t mention yours). But I also know that pride comes before the fall.
I thought I was better than my last boss. I thought the way I was treated by management, at least in part, was unfair. I thought they completely misrepresented their desires and intentions to me. I thought they didn’t offer support where it was warranted and that some of their expectations were in fact unreasonable. I thought I could hide my attitude which was in equal parts a self-righteous sort of contempt, a frustration at feeling powerless and a deep unhappiness. I was wrong. And I lost my job because of that. Now it all worked out for the best because I was not what they wanted, obviously, and I love the job that I have now but I am scared that the same thing is going to happen to you very soon and we are going to be locked into a mortgage that we can’t afford. The job market seems a little better at the moment but I still don’t want either of us to end up unemployed. Hopefully that won’t happen.
And hopefully everything goes smoothly with the house. We settle next month and will need to move as well which is never a pleasant experience but I will try to communicate a little more effectively and perhaps you can try to be a little more patient with me.
In hope and ever yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at Gracebrook on our Beechworth weekend away.

Month Nineteen

Dear Husband,
This was a hard month for me. It was also hard for you by proxy I guess but I got a few truths handed to me this month that were necessary although I’m still not quite sure what to do with them. I think it’s a good thing on the whole. You can’t work on things unless you know what they are but it was difficult for me to realise I can’t keep ignoring the bits of the puzzle that don’t fit and I’m sure that was also very difficult for you to hear…
This month I met with the life coach at work. It was part of my KPI’s for my role and the original intention for the session was to identify where I want to be in my career and paths that I could take to get there. At least that’s what I wanted to discuss. I did the questionnaire before the session to identify my character strengths which didn’t hold too many surprises for me and it was all good. As soon as I sat down though, I think I started to feel defensive or unsure or…something not all that comfortable. I think I normally do such a good job of telling myself (and everyone else for that matter) that I have all my crap together but I know as soon as anyone takes a closer look or tries to crack the surface that I’m just going to fall to pieces. And I did. Big time.
Within about 20-30 minutes, I was having an increasingly hard time keeping the tears at bay and by the end of the session (where we were definitely not talking about work), lets just say that if I had been wearing eyeliner, I would have looked like a panda. Now as I write this, I am struggling with how to express what I want to say accurately without throwing it out of proportion or giving the wrong impression. Which may well happen anyway because I know from experience that we tend to interpret language quite differently. One of the things that came out of the session for me for example was that in some respects, I don’t feel supported. Would I then say that “you are unsupportive” however? Emphatically not. When I am obviously down or struggling with something then you are always willing to help or to try and understand but at other times the situation is quite different.
If I come home and put on a load of washing before folding the washing that is dry and then do the washing up, all whilst you are sitting on the couch surfing the net, I can deal with that. Those jobs are “my jobs”. When you later get up to cook dinner however and ask if I want to help after I have sat down to watch television, well I resent being made to feel lazy when I say “no”. Preparing dinner is “your job” and since you were relaxing whilst I was working at my job I see no reason why the situation cannot be reversed. I think when we spoke about this however, you saw more of the black and white of the situation and came up with the conclusion that “I [you] am unsupportive” anyway.
Another thing that kind of shook me was to realise for the first time that sometimes I don’t feel free. That’s kind of a profound statement when you realise that you have just said out loud “I’m not free” to another person. Once again though, I feel that I need to qualify that statement lest it be misunderstood. I do not feel as a result of that statement that I am therefore trapped. Nor do I feel that I am restricted or on a leash per se but I feel like I disappoint you if I want to do something that doesn’t involve you or attend something to which you were not invited. I feel under pressure to entertain and amuse you at times and I feel resentment from you when I am reading a book or working on my photos (pastimes that tend to exclude you). I feel expected to ask permission for personal time and time with my family and as much as I am blessed with your care for my person I am also burdened by your fear for me should I ever be out in the evening without you. I tiptoe around you when I know that something I want is not going to fit in your neat little box of behaviours. I make decisions based around how not to rock the boat and create an unpleasant home environment and I excuse behaviour to family and friends to smooth things over. As a matter of course, I don’t think I should have to do that.
And I think more and more that I am starting to push back. I back down less than I used to at the beginning of the marriage and I don’t engage with some of the situations that come up like I did previously. I also don’t let you manipulate me as frequently either. I would like to point out here that I don’t think the manipulation thing is as insidious as it may sound. I freely admit that I manipulate you from time to time and within reason, I am not offended if you do the same to me but when it ceases to be the gentle coercion or nudge towards the desired outcome through positive feelings and is more a shove with guilt or other negative emotions, that is not cool. I love you and I want to be with you and none of this has made me even consider walking away but I am not happy and something needs to change. Whether that’s you, me or both of us, I don’t know. I now think I need more tools to deal with everything though.
Change is never an easy thing and I know that this won’t just get better overnight. I also know that change might be a while coming because we have discussed all of the above at various times in the past and also on the evening that this came to a head for me. Many times you have promised that you are working on making things better because you have recognised in yourself things that you want to change but that’s very difficult for me to see. I remember thinking maybe things will change once we’re engaged and not just dating. Maybe things will change when we’re married and not just engaged. Maybe things will change once we have a house and a family. But given my experience, maybe they won’t. Maybe those are excuses not to deal with something. I’m scared that we’ll get to the point that we have a house and a family and I’ll need more support so I don’t fall to pieces but it won’t be there.
At the moment I feel like the one who has the steady job and I feel like I’m the one that always makes sure theres enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month. I see all the times that you buy beer and coffee that I don’t drink or times that you invite people over and offer 3 courses when 1 would do and its frustrating when on top of that you want to eat out or buy something for which there is really no money. I hate saying no to you so I feel like I say no to myself a lot and its draining. Maybe because I’m the one that deals with the accounts day-to-day, you don’t understand that over the last few months, it hasn’t been unusual to get down to about $30 to our name before the next pay cheque comes into the account. Maybe we need to redress the budget so you have spending money and I have spending money and therefore if you don’t have enough to buy beer, you just can’t buy it. I don’t know what the answer is.
I don’t know what the answer is for any of this. Whatever it is though, I know its not something I can decide by myself. This is my side of what is a complex situation that is emotionally charged. I know that I am not without my own faults and whilst I feel what I feel, I may not have been as fair to you as I should have been. I do think that we should be able to work on this together and I hope that we can make it better. Especially as it seems that we may have a house sooner rather than later…
With everything else that we were going through this month, the house hunt was still going ahead at the same time which brought a whole different set of frustrations. Mostly stemming from the fact that we never sat down and worked out “the list”, which you never asked me about even though you knew I had a personal wish list and I never offered, probably because I thought you should have asked me for it. Dumb, I know. Especially when you made assumptions like I would like a pool when that was pretty much at the top of my list of reasons not to look at a property. Anyway, we spent some of the hottest days all summer checking out houses that were both fair and foul in the west until we finally found something to which we kept returning. Since we were also in discussions with family as to whether they would be able to help us out if we wanted to buy our first home (which was slightly uncomfortable for most) we eventually figured out that all going well, we would be able to do it. At the end of the month therefore, we put an offer in on a house. And immediately felt like little kids trying to play in the big leagues. Who knows what the future will bring in regards to this but it is a bit exciting so fingers crossed it all works out well.
In hope and love yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at a cafe we went to for lunch – just to prove we had happy times this month!