Spiritually Speaking answers personal questions and concerns with a spiritual perspective. Local religious leaders that will take part in the discussion include Bryan Griem of Montrose Community Church; Jon Karn of Light on the Corner Church; Kimberlie Zakarian of Holy House Ministries; Skip Lindeman of La Cañada Congregational United Church of Christ; Rabbi Simcha Backman of Chabad of Glendale; Levent Akbarut of Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge; Betty Stapleford of Unitarian Universalist; Paige Eaves CV United Methodist Church; Bryan Jones of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church; Steven Van Meter and Beverly Craig of La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living and Sharon Weisman, self described atheist/agnostic/secular humanist/free thinker. We welcome your questions and comments. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Responses are offered from the perspectives of individual clergy members, which may or may not be in agreement with other respondents of Spiritually Speaking nor the editor and staff of the Crescenta Valley Weekly.
What am I to do with a husband who is extremely self-centered and thinks the world should revolve around him? This is a second marriage for both of us. Our first marriages were mass chaos, so going into this one, I wanted to do everything I could to make it work. I have become the maid, mother, maintenance and carpenter. He does nothing to help and in all fairness wouldn’t know which end of a hammer to pick up. When our washer broke down, and the repairman couldn’t get out for a week, he did offer to take his clothes to the Laundromat. We are a family of five on a daily basis, and have his girls on the weekends, sending their clothes home with them dirty is not an option. My neighbor came and got the laundry and did it for us, because I have an in home day care and can’t get away to go to the Laundromat, and evenings are spent working on the house doing a major remodel. This winter I learned I am pregnant, not good timing, but if the Lord wants to send this baby, I will welcome it with open arms. My husband is not thrilled, but has accepted that this is happening.
He has a good job and works from home, but apparently he thinks that’s all he has to do. I cook, clean, and work, participate in our children’s activities, and am trying to be a good wife, but I am totally worn out.
What can I do to get him to take on some of the responsibility? – Overwhelmed in Verdugo City.
Without being sarcastic about the situation, I think you know now why – or at least one of the reasons why – his first marriage ended. The guy sounds as if he’s a narcissist, the kind of person who thinks everything revolves around him. He doesn’t seem to understand that marriage is a two-way street. If I were you, I’d try to go see a therapist together. You two really need a heart-to-heart talk, and it sounds to me as if you would rather do all the work yourself than confront him. And here’s something else, and it may sound strange coming from a minister: Is your relationship worth saving? Maybe you should get out of this relationship. Maybe you should admit to yourself that this choice really was the wrong one. My sense is that since your first marriage failed, you are doing your level-best to make sure THIS one doesn’t. The truth is, you can’t do it all yourself; he has to want this thing to work, too, and if he doesn’t, maybe it’s time to end another bad relationship.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman,
La Cañada Congregational Church,
United Church of Christ
My sympathy for your exhausting life. I was struck by the word “apparently” in your description of how your husband feels about sharing in house work and child rearing. First, find out exactly what his expectations are and tell him yours. Your husband may be worn out, too. Maybe the remodel will have to wait. Perhaps the other parents and extended family of your blended-family children can take them more of the time and help meet their emotional needs. Your children can be brought into the discussion to get their ideas of how they can help with chores, too. Even toddlers can match socks and help fold clothes. Being your family’s maid doesn’t help them learn to be fully functioning adults. Hopefully with more planning ahead of time and the cooperation of the entire family, you can get enough rest to nurture your new little one.
If your husband doesn’t want any more children he should get a vasectomy. Planned Parenthood may be able help if cost is an issue. You provide a good lesson for those considering marriage: discuss all of this before tying the knot.
My wife and I are in a marriage that is going on 11 tension-filled years. She has three children from her first marriage and we have one together. Because she was made to provide for her own needs as a teenager, she wants her children to have it all and works two jobs to provide it. It makes no difference that these are wants, not needs. She has maxed out six credit cards to keep them in gas, car insurance, high priced clothing and big kid toys. Her children are demanding, disrespectful, and lazy. If I suggest that things need to change, she becomes a momma bear protecting her cubs. Counseling isn’t going to help, because in her mind, I am the problem because I believe her children should be taught to be responsible family and community members.
Dear Neighbor –
I hear your sadness and despair loud and clear. I wonder if your wife can hear your deep concern for the soul of your family. Couples often get stuck in the same recycled arguments and can’t hear or respond beyond the usual trigger words. Is there a way to enter into this conversation that changes the tone of it? If you usually open with something like, “You have to stop buying everything the kids want!” – start instead with something like, “I need to talk with you about how sad and stressed out I am.”
Use your own words, of course, but figure out how to talk about what is on your heart, and share the hopes you have for a happy marriage and kids who will grow into spiritually (and fiscally) healthy adults. It is easy to jump to a Momma Bear grouch in response to attack language; it’s harder to growl at a husband who is obviously in pain.
Though you are not “the problem,” the process of healing your family begins with you, for God has put on your heart a vision for its long-term health and happiness. Counseling will help – even if at first you are going alone.
CV United Methodist Church
We remember always that there are two sides to every story. We’ve just heard one. Nevertheless, it is difficult to argue with “six maxed out credit cards.”
If this story is true, then it appears as though your wife has adopted the same approach to money and spending as our federal government. They spend and borrow at such an alarming rate that many have begun to see a new aspect to money and spending which is now highlighted in congress. Here it is – spending is a moral issue. The Bible says, “The borrower is a slave to the lender.” And that’s what credit cards allow us to do – borrow money at 18% interest. This must stop. It is immoral. It puts your marriage in financial bondage.
I never believe that counseling will do no good. Both of you should join hands and run to a financial counselor and a marriage counselor as fast as you can! A marriage, even a “tension-filled,” marriage is worth fighting for. But spending and debt are often the culprits that eat away at trust and relationship. I recommend Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. He discusses the steps husbands and wives can take to get out and stay out of debt.
The Bible says: “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continual debt to love one another.”
Rev. Jon T. Karn
Light on the Corner Church, Montrose