I am not sure just how it happened that I became so lost and powerless in my marriage. A decade or so ago I met a girl. She was everything I thought I needed. Beautiful and blond, she made me the center of her life. In the first years she seemed to want to get along with my family and friends. We got married and started a family. My family was excited for our milestones and looked forward to spending time with the babies. I began to notice her family was just not into our kids, but it mattered to her not at all. She assured me that I and our children were all she needed for a perfect life.
Dwindling family ties
As time went by we upgraded houses twice, both on her schedule and without much input from me. We were now living nearly an hour from my family in a neighborhood populated with mini-mansions. I rarely saw any of my high school or college friends anymore. “Good riddance to those low-lives.” said my wife. Life revolved around our kids, three adorable girls, and my wife’s hobbies and interests. I worked long overnight hours so I could be home with the kids and we could avoid the stress and cost of daycare, or at least that is what my wife said was important. Even though my parents called and asked we almost never traveled back to the old neighborhood to see my family. Visits with my side dwindled to a couple hours at Christmas.
We invited the families to the girls birthday parties until each daughter started kindergarten, then my wife informed me a kids only party with their school friends would suffice. If I pushed back she rolled her eyes at me and talked about how the children needed to make their own connections with people who were worthy of them and their talents. My family is working class yet, loving but that made no difference to her. I meekly acquiesced to her one-sided decisions. I now realize I have been doing this for years.
When we briefly saw my mom, dad, brothers, and sisters at the holidays I had to practically drag the kids toward grandma and grandpa to say hello. My three daughters clung to their mom, still blond and beautiful, anxious and afraid in their own grandparents’ house. After last Christmas my kids and wife sat around picking apart each of my extended family members. That aunt was too fat. Grandpa smelled funny. Their cousins were loud and stupid. They gave the girls presents that were “lame” and not up to my wife’s standards. “We are not wasting money on presents for them anymore,” decreed my wife.
All about looks
Everything is about how things look. I think back on my college psychology classes and realize I married a narcissist. My wife exercises and diets frantically, keeping thin, dressing in clothes appropriate for young women half her age. She splurges on things she wants and denies me things I need like minor health procedures or even a new pair of shoes. As the holidays approach this year the girls and their mom have announced they will not attend Christmas festivities with my family. We also are not even considering inviting them to our home because they “eat too much” and their vehicles are old and embarrassing. We can’t have that type of crowd at our home because, “what would people say?” When I try to reason with them they shrug their collective shoulders, flip their blond locks, and tell me to deal with it.
I am heartbroken and do not even know how to tell my parents and siblings. Some of them have been hinting for a few years that my wife is more than a little aloof, but they will ignore that for the sake of me and the children. One very blunt sister-in-law said my wife is brainwashing the children against my family. I thought she was being a little dramatic, but all the girls say they are glad not to have to endure another Christmas with my family. Maybe my brother’s wife it on to something.
The schism is growing. I feel so alone and the worst part is I now feel the spotlight of disapproval is swinging toward me. My daughters sass back and refuse to follow my directions. My wife is becoming cold and distant, spending more time with her friends and co-workers, even gone overnight on weekends. She recently said I need to find a higher paying job because she is tired of shouldering the financial burden for the family even though I provide all child care, cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, and volunteering at the girls’ school and activities, as well as contributing over half of the wages earned by the both of us.
I fear the next piece I write will be titled “My Narcissistic Wife Has Banned Me From The Family.” My next step may be the counseling she refuses to attend with me because she says her life is perfect. If I dare.
How did this happen to me?
[Story by reader: Hubert Hart]