Ultimatums in Marriage - Need Advice


My husband is a night owl, always has been, swears it’ll never change. My issue is w/ the fact that he stays up way too late, getting to bed late (knowing full well that the nursing babe isn’t making it thru the night yet), sleeps in while I get both kids around by myself (2yo and 5mo) and try to get them both to the sitter and make it to work by 8. He doesn’t get to work until 11 or later which means he’s there till 7 or later.

We previously had a deal that he would not get on the computer till 7 at night, but it seems that he’s just ‘working the system’ so to speak. I have to keep on him to help out during the week - we agreed that he would do trash and dishes, I do the laundry and pretty well everything else. BTW, what he does on the computer is poker (with his blow money - we both get equal amounts to spend as we like) and he plays some video game-type stuff w/ his buddies from out of town.

He’s really bad when my mom comes to visit. She came to watch the kids while the sitter is on vacation for a week and the older one is sick now so she has to stay another week (she lives 3 hrs away). DH does absolutely nothing while she’s here b/c he knows she’ll do his chores. I’ve told her that she doesn’t need to do those things, but she does them anyway - I’ve also let DH know that his chores are not mom’s resposibility and her primary job while she’s here is to watch the kids. She’s gracious enough to cook for us as well, which possibly has something to do w/ why she does the dishes - so she has something to cook w/!!!

So here’s the ultimatum. When ‘things’ pile up and he’s getting way off schedule, I will take his modem until he gets caught up. Of course, as soon as it’s back in his possession, the cycle starts over. I feel like I am getting dumped on - like I’m just supposed to eat s**t and grin (sorry for the foul language). He’s stopped going to church as well, which I feel has more to do w/ getting a dig in at me than anything else. I also feel very strongly that satan is using this to drive a wedge between us, but I try to stay faithful and I continue to go to mass regularly.

He has said many times that he doesn’t like being treated like a child in this manner and that if I keep it up I won’t like what happens. When I’ve asked him what that means, he says he’ll leave. Only place he has to go it to his folks and I know they will side w/ me - I’m sure neither of his brothers would take him in, just tell him to straighten up. At this point, I have been to the brink several times where I’d be willing to help him pack. As it is right now, it’s already as though he isn’t there! Neither of us believes in divorce, but we could sure use a break. This has been an ongoing issue for as long as we’ve been together (8 yrs+), but we haven’t been married long enough for a retrovaille weekend, not that I’m sure he’d go anyway, and I know he won’t see anything about it, w/ or w/out me.

Any advice? I feel like I just need to stand my ground w/ him on this and quit giving in to him - keeping ‘peace at all costs.’ I really feel like he should prove himself before I return his modem, as much as I hate how childish this seems, it’s like the only way to get thru to him. Believe me, I pray for God to change me and bless DH in whatever way he needs. Any advice and prayers are welcome. Thanks and God Bless.


First impression: it sounds like he is your teen son and you are the mommy doling out chores.

How did that dynamic come about?

I don’t know you nor am I out to offend, but seriously, do you pick out his clothes to wear the next day and make sure he brushes his teeth at night? Is he encouraging this mother/son dynamic, or does he resent it?

The relationship sounds very unequal, IMO, even if he isn’t pulling his weight.


Well, I can recommend the book For Better… Forever by Greg Popcak to you. You can certainly benefit from reading it.

If your husband isn’t interested in bettering the situation then I don’t really know what to tell you.

I was not aware you had to be married any particular length of time to attend Retrouvaille.


May I ask how he was when you were dating? I have a close friend who did everything while she dated her husband…she planned where they’d go to dinner, etc…there was nothing her husband had to do but show up for the date. She even asked him to marry her. So, it’s no wonder that 20 years now into the marriage…she takes care of everything in and out of the home, (he was let go several times at different jobs, but she needs to keep her job–she is the responsible one) and is exhausted 90% of the time. I don’t say much, I just listen…but, I* definitely think that she married someone who wanted to be mothered*. She is now his second mother.

It doesn’t sound like you want to mother your husband…so, I ask the question…did he display this type of passive behavior when you dated him? Was everything left up to you to plan and decide?


It does sound like you need to seek counseling - if nothing else, to help move into an adult relationship.

Two adults will sit down and work toward the common goal.

Did you discuss before you married and had children how the “business” of running the household would go?

Seems that your family has decided that you will both work out of the home. When two people both work full time jobs AND are raising children, many times it is best to hire someone to clean the house. Have someone come in at least once each week to do the deep cleaning and laundry.

If that will not work, the two of you work TOGETHER to come up with what does work.


He needs to step up and be a man. He needs to prioritize his time: God, wife, children…his leisure activities.

So, he’s a night owl? Great. He can play with his buds when you and the children are in bed; until they are tucked in, you are getting some sleep time and all the other items that need to be done are done, then he needs to stay off the computer. Maybe you need to ask him to grow up and accept that he is a man with responsibilities now and can’t act like a frat boy any more.

He is disrespecting you and his children and needs to be called on about his attitude and actions. If you can’t do it, find a male influence he respects (his father? older brother? uncle?) and have them tell him to “quit you like men”.

Now, that being said, acting like his mommie is a horrible thing to do. While his behavior may not merit your respect as a person, his role as husband and father merits it as his wife. Your behavior isn’t much better than his, frankly. While it may seem like it is the only way to curb his behavior, you are destroying what ever self-confidence he has left.

It seems like he is running away from responsibility in his poker. Find out why, but also ask yourself if you could be contributing to it. If you were married for a while before having kids do you wonder how his life has changed and if he was prepared for that. I’m not making excuses - his behavior is unacceptable - but I am asking if you have stopped paying attention to him as a man (no, not just that one thing!). Do you still make him feel special? Do you throw all your attention and affection onto the kids?

Men do need care and feeding. They also need butt-kickings from time to time. He sounds like he needs both.


while the advice is true…it’s hard for someone to change, if you have accepted behavior up to a point. which is why i asked if his behavior was pretty passive during the courtship?

marriage really doesn’t change people. i think counseling at this point is the next best step. but, counseling will always take you back before the marriage, to get to the ‘where this all began’ stage.


hasikalee/whatevergirl . . .

To answer your questions, it seems he’s always been ‘lazy’ to one degree or another. I feel I must explain that we dated for 6 years before we married and lived together for about 2 years - needless to say, we didn’t discern very well and I’m sure the physical part of it all blurred our judgement and was the main reason we stuck it out. No matter what our past tho, we are married now w/ a family and IMO the only option is to work things out - just haven’t figured that part out yet. I am convinced - however dillusional - that b/c DH joined the Church just before we married and b/c we were married in the Church and received communion together at our wedding mass, that God will see us thru this and wants this to work. I dedicate every communion to receiving graces for my husband and our family.

After having a clearer look at his family dynamics and from what his brother has said about him, he is the baby and his mom indulged him beyond a healthy point, so I can understand that what I’m asking is next to impossible.

I have always been the one to initiate pow-wows regarding how we run our home in reference to chores and money - mainly b/c I’m the only one who has a problem w/ the way things are. He has no interest in any of it. I ask for his opinion, but he only gives the shortest answer possible to get it over w/ and then he doesn’t hold to any sort of an agreement - I’m sure most of our ‘agreements’ are forced on my part. I have given in and let him have his way for the sake of peace - what that means is I look the other way while he racks up his credit card and take on all the household and family responsibilities myself. I feel justified in being forceful in some issues b/c I feel it would be irresponsible to totally let things go. Besides that, as long as I have to work away from home to support our lifestyle, I have a say too.

We both resent our roles - I resent being the reliable one and he resents being the failure. I’m sure he feels immasculated which is not what I want at all. I think we both have a hard time forgiving his past where he’s been in and out of jobs and quit school 3 times. Even in his present job he is constantly on a verbal/written warning for months at a time regarding his attendance.

I feel like he’s given up. I suppose I just need to support him and as our priest says, ‘Love him, not for what he does for me, but for who he is.’ I’m having a hard time w/ this. If nothing else, please just keep us in your prayers. I know all too well that I have a lot of changing that needs to take place in me just as much as him.

Thank you for your input.


Your marriage is very much salvageable, cecilia…My husband and I were separated for a time years ago, and it actually helped me to see that I expected the wrong things in marriage. Not that you do, but counseling will help you both to see where you need to make changes. There can be no resentment in marriage…it will cause so much pain, it’s unreal. Last year, I had a priest tell me…that when we get married, we become one with our spouses. You are one with your hubby, and he’s one with you, now. So…for the BEST of your marriage–you both must figure out a way to end the resentment, and give freely to one another, without all the strife.

Liken it to a sports team, or something…the individual players no longer exist, (they do, but theoretically) they are there to bring the team to victory. That is what marriage is about…for you and your husband to realize that you’re both playing for the same team;) , and to figure out ways to help the team to become victorious for God. That’s really all it’s supposed to be about. I know, I make it sound easy right?:stuck_out_tongue: It’s not, I know! At times, it might mean letting some things slide…at other times, it means your husband needing to become more responsible.

I will keep you and your marriage in my prayers…where there’s God’s will, there’s a way!


I don’t understand the comment you haven’t been married long enough to go to Retrouvaille. We were married 7 years when we went. There was never any discussion of length of time you had to be married.

I think it actually would be very helpful for you.


I will look into this a little further. Maybe I’m thinking of Marriage Encounter - I think that’s for couples married 5+yrs. Hoping he’ll consider. It turns out my folks live just miles away from a spiritual campus that provides this . . .would be perfect for them to be able to watch the kids w/out having to be too far away - this place is about 3 hrs from where we live. I’ll check it out, thanks.


Well, after you gave more background, it doesn’t sound as if you and your hubby are dealing with an impossible root problem. But both of your chain reactions/way of dealing with it are probably more dangerous than the actual issue.

Differences in priorities are pretty common, IMO. And maybe it’s just my experience, but I’ve noticed that women tend to worry a lot more about “important stuff” than men. I’m sure others have experienced the opposite, but I’ve seen this in my own relationship, my parents’ and my friends’.

The woman tends to worry about the kids, the bills, the housecleaning, the extended family, the upcoming birthday, the neighbor who needs help, the socks on the floor, etc. The man tends to look up from his hobby/job/tv and say, “huh?” :smiley:

Okay, on a serious note, that can certainly lead to hurt feelings on your part, if you feel very important things are being ignored by your hubby. And this is certainly the part where he flubbed. We can probably all agree that he should have realized you thought it was important so he could have helped bathe the kids, pay the bills, fix the car, whatever it might have been.

But the part where it went from a “regular” marriage to a “destructive” marriage was the insertion of those love busters, or direct behavior from both of you guys to hurt the other person. Demands, threats, angry outbursts, withdrawal, disrespectful judgments, these are like bullets and grenades being aimed at each other.

I wonder if you are open to a self-help book? www.marriagebuilders.com Dr. Harley has several books that use examples of couples in various situations to describe a bad situation and steps you can take to slowly but surely change it. “His Needs, Her needs” “Give and Take” “Love Busters” these are all good books. Even if your hubby is unwilling to change, you can still gain insight and even find ways to encourage him.


One practicle solution to one of your problems: Kids sleep in and husband drops them off at childcare, you pick them up. Then, your children spend the least amount of time as possible away from parents and you may be able to get a discount.


We did try this for a little while, but what ends up happening is DS ends up fussing in his crib for hours while DH tries to ignore him and get his shut-eye. Then DS misses breakfast and just gets to the sitter in time for lunch. DH doesn’t get to work till 12, doesn’t get home till 8 or later, leaving me alone w/ the kiddos to handle the entire evening by myself. There have even been times that he called me at work to come get DS and take him to the sitter so he could get his sleep.

I have to say that here recently the babe and I went on a trip for a week and DH was left to care for the 2yo on his own. Seems he was able to get around on time - he had to b/c the sitter’s hours are 7:30-5, so he HAD to get DS there in time to get to work and be able to get off @ 5 to pick him up. I couldn’t help but notice the relaxed tone in his voice when he’d call me that week. I know for sure that even w/ the stress of caring for a young child, he had to have felt some sense of pride in doing it all on his own.

I can’t help but wonder just what all I’m doing wrong to make him completely opt out on the family - I know I can be overbearing and all, but simply keeping to myself and carrying on w/out him doesn’t really make a difference in his attitude either. Something that comes to mind is mowing the yard. This is one chore I never have to ask him to do. Quite frankly, it doesn’t bother me if it gets overgrown, so there’s no issue there w/ me. But it actually seems somewhat important to him and he takes pride in it - even tho he is seriously not into physical labor. Maybe the fresh air and getting to kind of tune everything out.

Just wish I knew what was going on in that noggin of his!


Is it possible your husband is depressed? Honestly from the beginning of my marriage I thought my husband was just lazy. He had no motivation to do anything, I felt like I was his mom more than his wife constantly having to keep after him. He was often late for work because he just couldn’t get out of bed (and he worked aftrernoon shift) and he stayed up very late into the early morning hours.

After eight years of this he was finally diagnosed with with chronic depression that went back to his early teens. Once treated I couldn’t get over the difference. All that time I had thought that’s just the way he was. The cycle we were on just worsened things. The more I acted like his mom, the worse his depression got. The worse his depression got the more I felt I had to act like his mom.

He did take antidepressants for about two years or so and we had to change meds a few times but he has been off them for almost a decade now and does just fine.
Maybe ask him about that?


I’m certain you are right. He has struggled w/ depression in the past, esp when he was unemployed. I’m sure after our last ‘incident’ regarding his schooling, he feels pretty low. We had a lot going on this last fall when he tried school for the 3rd time and he ended up getting behind then getting sick and giving up. B/c of our financial situation at the time and the amount of stress I was under b/c of it, I flat out told him that I would not support him going to school ever again.

I’m sure that the way I talk about him to my mom or sister must make him feel pretty low. He must feel totally embarrassed to be around my family - not that the opportunity presents itself very often. I slipped up here in the last month and griped to his brother and sister-in-law. They are the only two that DH and I feel comfortable w/ talking about such sensitive subjects - but I went overboard out of my pent up frustration. He did tell me afterwards that he didn’t appreciate it and of course I was embarrassed at my behavior.

Seems prayers are the only thing at this point. We have covered the same ground again and again and we cannot come to any sort of agreement about these ‘things.’ And I know that he isn’t open to any sort of ‘suggestions’ from me re: counseling or medicating his depression. Honestly I guess it lies on me to pump him up. Hard to reconcile this when it feels like a lie to tell him how great he is when I honestly just want to gripe him out. Guess practice makes perfect and I better start sooner than later.

Thank you for all the advice and input - open to more ideas if anyone has any. God Bless.


My family has seen tremendous benefits from cancelling the internet connection at home and cable TV.

Also, before I went back to work after I had my first baby, DH and I had a heart to heart that went like this… “Honey, IF you would like me to go back to work full time to help pay for the bills around here then we need to look at all the household chores and divide them equally. I would be more than happy to quit my job and do everything myself, but if you would like me to work, then we’ll need to share the household responsibilities.” How would your DH feel if you came to him with the idea of quitting your job in order to be able to do all you need to do at home? My guess he would either agree with you or he might consider helping more?


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