Oct 232013 86 Responses

Marry a Partner, Not a Child

The following has been developed into a book, Friends, Partners, and Lovers.

Two friends want to start a business. They will be equal partners.

This decision has consequences. It’s assumed both will:

  • Do an equal amount of work
  • Be aggressively passionate about the success of the business
  • Support one another in every way to make the business thrive

These assumptions do not mean both will: (See: This Is Who You Want to Marry)

  • Do the same type of work
  • Always experience the exact same feelings at the same time
  • Have the same opinions on every issue

When partners begin a business, they bring different strengths, abilities, and backgrounds believing they are better together than apart. They want to leverage their differences to the benefit of both parties. They rejoice in differences because it adds strength to the organization, but their relationship is cemented by similar goals, desires, and ambitions.

This is the only way a partnership can work—in business and marriage.

Sadly, what is common sense to a business is not always common sense to a marriage.

Far too many people wanted to marry a partner, but instead, they married a child. Far too many people pledged to be a partner, but they are acting like a dependent.

Children are great. I will love mine forever, and I love most of yours for about an hour. They are wonderful. But I have different expectations of my children than I do of my spouse.

I do not expect my children to be an equal partner in the family. They will not contribute as much as me and my wife. They will not be responsible for as many things. They will not feel the stress and strain which comes from having responsibility. (See: When Dad Works and Mom Stays at Home)

They couldn’t handle it, and even if they could, I would not want them to experience it. I want them to be children. But I want my wife to be my wife and she wants me to be her husband.

Many marriages that I see are not partnerships—both parties are not working equally for the success of the family; each spouse is not being responsible for their actions; both husband and wife do not feel they have someone who is walking beside them.

Too many marriages devolve into a parent-child relationship.

One spouse plays the role of the parent:

  • They see the big picture.
  • They make the tough decisions.
  • They prevent the other spouse from doing foolish things.

The other spouse plays the role of the child:

  • They hide things from their mate.
  • They are more focused on having fun than reaching long-term goals.
  • They do not carry their share of the workload or responsibility.

On paper these are marriages, but in practice they are parent-child relationships. And it is unfair to both parties. (See: The Math of a Good Marriage)

The first piece of advice in working with couples in these types of relationships is obvious—tell one spouse to stop being a child.

More times than I can count, I’ve looked a man in the eye and told him, “Your wife deserves a husband not a child. Start being a man.”

Parent-child relationships are not always arranged where the man plays the role of the child, but in my experience it is more often that way than the reverse.

In these cases, I plead with the man to be a man. Their wives deserve a full-partner, not another dependent. They need to do their job. They need to support the family financially, be responsible, stop making foolish decisions, act their age, pick up their things, share the household chores, stop trying to make a career out of hobby, save money instead of spending it, and a host of other common sense actions which a partner in a business relationship would assume is normal.

Yet the second piece of advice is sometimes shocking—I tell the other spouse to stop being the parent.

When I tell that to a wife, she almost always objects, “But if I don’t, who will?”

It’s a fair question. And I almost always respond, “I don’t know who will do it, but I know who needs to stop doing it—you.”

In the same way the spouse who is acting like a child needs to stop acting like a child, a spouse who is acting like a parent needs to stop acting like a parent. This doesn’t mean they put the children in danger or make foolish financial decisions or risk the well-being of the family. It does mean they do what they are supposed to do and stop doing what their spouse should do.

While it is no excuse for the spouse playing the role of the child, one reason many spouses play that role is because they are allowed to do so without any real consequences. So the active alcoholic or relapsed prescription drug user or the wannabe rock star can ignore their family and their responsibilities without experiencing homelessness, separation from their children, and an end to their intimate relationship with their spouse.

Why should they grow up if they never experience the negative consequences of their decisions? If the worst thing that happens to them is an occasional cold shoulder or huff from their spouse, there isn’t a driving reason for them to stop drinking, come home on time, or get a job. (see: If Your Dog (or Husband) Runs, Don’t Chase Him)

You have every right to list your boundaries in regards to your relationship with your spouse:

  • I will help a recovering addict, but I will not live with a practicing addict.
  • I will support my husband in times of job loss, but I will not sleep with someone who isn’t even looking for a job.
  • I will serve my partner to the fullest extent, but I will not be my spouse’s father/mother.

This isn’t controlling or manipulating; it is a clear communication of what you are and are not willing to do.

Marriage can be the most important and fulfilling relationship in a person’s life but it only happens when two people are equal partners. This doesn’t mean they do the same things or have the same skills. It does mean they are equally invested, equally involved, and equally responsible.

Consider your spouse: Is he/she married to a partner or a child?

They deserve a partner.

So what should you do?

If you aren’t married yet: Whenever you pick your future spouse, make sure you choose a man/woman, not a boy/girl. If you think you can mature them, don’t be deceived. It’s never your job to “grow them up.” You can date a boy, but marry a man. (see: Pastoral Advice for Single Women)

If you are married to a child: Make an appointment with a marriage counselor. Your spouse will likely go because most children obey their parents. Even if they won’t go, you go. Begin to work with a professional on how you can stop enabling your spouse and give them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives. (see: 13 Questions to Gauge If You Need Marriage Counseling and What to do If Your Spouse Refuses Counseling)

If you are married to a partner: Thank God and them. Do everything in your power to love them, support them, encourage them, and enjoy them. No marriage is perfect, but it is far easier to navigate life with someone on your side rather than with someone demanding one more thing from you. (see: One Thing You Must Show Your Spouse)

86 Responses to Marry a Partner, Not a Child
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  4. Lisa Wheeler Reply

    Awesome advice!

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  6. Neenah Reply

    What do you do if you’re the “parent” and your spouse is a rebellious “child”? This definitely describes my marriage, especially after his affair last year. And the multiple times he reached out to other women and had inappropriate conversations with them. I want to work on our marriage but I realize I can’t do it by myself. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything and has told me that I am crazy for asking him to change his bad behavior for the sake of our marriage, saying that everything I ask him to do is me just trying to punish him. He says that I am trying to be controlling and I just want a loving, loyal husband. I also read the article about why you shouldn’t chase your husband and I realized that that’s what I have been doing for the last 15 months. I truly love him and believe he could be the husband God has called him to be but at the same time, I think it may be time to cut my losses and move on.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Neenah, it’s easy for me to say because it’s not me, but I would think if I’m in your situation I would be very open to forgiving my spouse and working on the marriage but only if they are willing to work on it to. If they are not willing and want to live in denial, I would give them a choice–live with me and work on it or live without me and continue in denial.

  7. David Pafford Reply

    The problem I see with the “enabling” part of this advice is that if I stop being the responsible party, we – as a family – collectively bear the consequences. This would be financially disastrous.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s a great point David. I would suggest getting with a counselor to determine what choices you must continue to make and what can be left to your spouse without severe consequences financially.

  8. Christina Reply

    I think that you have been secretly spying on my household for over 10+ years. I am the parent to a man-child who is good at his job and helping his friends but is completely useless at home. I stay at home and I literally am expected to do EVERYTHING from the cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of the kids, yardwork, cub scouts, etc, etc, etc. He goes to work, comes home, eats, watches TV, and after the kids go to bed he goes to the basement to play Xbox. We are coexisting as roommates at this point and I am tired of it. I have talked to him about it, yelled and fought about it, ignored it, stopped doing things for him, etc but to no avail. He usually responds with ‘I didn’t know!’ which is crap because I have absolutely no problem telling him what is bothering me and what he needs to do to fix it. He will say that he will change and it lasts 2 weeks and then it’s back to the same crap. I deserve better and so do my kids. It is exhausting to spend my life feeling like a married single parent. I never have time to enjoy my kids because I am too busy making sure that they are taken care of. I am done; emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

  9. Kristie Reply

    I’m so glad I found this article. This was my marriage for 17 years. I was the parent. Every day I told myself ” I can’t do this any more” . So one day it came down to the choice noted above. ” Live with me and work on it or live without me and continue in denial” . He chose the latter. I believed he could have been the man that God called him to be. But he chose diffrently .I though I was a minority in this type of relationship. So frustrated and hurt. But I know better now. And hope for better in the future.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Kristie, I’m sorry he didn’t make a better choice. It sounds like you gave him every opportunity.

  10. Brooke Reply

    If you’ve got 15 minutes – and you have ever wondered what led to me leaving my kids in FL with their father – this may interest you.

    I have certainly made mistakes in marriage. Those of us who’ve been married or are married all have. Perhaps the biggest I’ve made in terms of marriage, which in turn effected the parenting of my children, was that I parented my spouse.

    I would also agree with many people, who have said to me in the past that it’s never too late to work on your marriage OR as a parent. I would also include, IF you’re in an equal and fulfilling partnership (with your spouse and/or CHILDREN’S parent), not in one which is defined by some sort of hierarchy.

    NOTE: Drug/alcohol abuse – & the so-called “treatment” thereof – played a big part in my willingness and decision to get divorced. I didn’t stick around to see if it had actually “worked”.

    Full of gratitude for the personal experiences gained & a multitude of lessons learned since my divorce, I am a contributing person & partner going into my second marriage – as is my fiancé. I have found that there’s always “more to learn” and “ways to grow”, when you’re partnered with someone who is willing and respectful, walking the path of partnership and parenting as both “teachers” and “students”.

    I am, and have always been, working to raise independent children for adults who can think critically and make decisions for themselves. I do look forward to the opportunity of having an adult relationship with my children, with one who legally becomes an adult next week. The parent-child relationships I have had with my kids – and my ex – was all wrong for so long.

    In my first marriage, I was in “the parent” role with my husband & I agree with the article’s conclusion. It’s heartbreaking and agonizing to look back on my first marriage, 20 years since its inception & in retrospect, and see how this one thing – as the article points out – almost fully contributed to the demise of our legal contract and ongoing struggle/challenge with parental responsibilities. We never defined or nurtured a loving partnership within the context of the (dysfunctional) roles we stepped into & belabored. We perpetuated a cycle; whereby, people get left behind and people move on. If there’s just one thing that I hope for my children, it’s that they see we have modeled – in fragmented parts & pieces – a lot of “what not to do” in a marriage. I also hope they’ve been around me and Gage enough to see how forming a partnership proves different.

    I came to realize something that was an unfortunate “bi-product” of this relationship dynamic. It was after my ex, kids, and fiancé all lived together (3 years following the divorce) in CA. I had unwittingly handed my children that role of “parent” in my absence; the “typical” role of the child of an alcoholic, in the ABSENCE of me – the prior and primary enabler.

    I mistakenly thought that after over 10 years of couples counseling, 30 days of “treatment” and his newfound sobriety, that a divorce would be a quick fix towards a better “us” as parents. I was right AND I was wrong. I never realized how much I manipulated, enabled, and influenced my family – seamlessly flawless in practice; tragically consequential in outcome. As a strong-willed person, I am at times my biggest cheerleader and in others my harshest critic. The responsibility to the role I created often more weighty than the one I seek.

    The deep-seated dynamics are far too entrenched – and his drug/alcohol relapse far too pronounced – for any present day hope of progress to be made by us together. Without the legal distinction of his wife (“mother”), I realized I could no longer keep him from “foolish things” and I had no “control” over others, including him. Unfortunately, because of my children’s ages & thinking my good intentions were powerful enough to prevail, I never thought to consider what my children, then 9&12, wanted, would want, or would even need. Once again, I found myself staring into the mirrored faces of my control and powerlessness. They chose to live in FL – and were backed legally in doing so for their own right. Interesting and disturbing that they be given those controls for themselves, given they still depend on us as their parents – both financially and emotionally.

    Through countless conversations with adult children – in addition to my own – who were (bi)products of divorce, I discovered that no only did these children fantasize about their parents getting back together, but they also fantasize about having “their own perfect family”. I am learning to hear my children’s perspective, their struggles from those times, and the fears they faced. It’s difficult not to want to tell them (again) my perspective – rather, to truly hear theirs.

    What’s more difficult than watching kids go through a broken home? Knowing it happened once (at your hand) – and then living it WITH them during round two, while watching how well-intended actions and intentions play out. Then, being absolutely powerless over what happens next, because other people who have control – or don’t – over their life also factor into the mix.

    The paradox of my life as a mother is the inverse effect it’s had on me as a partner. I certainly wish I would have learned & taught it, in practice, the other way around.

    The article says, with respect to marriage, parents, and children:

    “Too many marriages devolve into a parent-child relationship.

    One spouse plays the role of the parent:

    They see the big picture.
    They make the tough decisions.
    They prevent the other spouse from doing foolish things.

    The other spouse plays the role of the child:

    They hide things from their mate.
    They are more focused on having fun than reaching long-term goals.
    They do not carry their share of the workload or responsibility.”

    I really want to take this article a step further, perhaps into the realm of, “Marry a partner; parent a child.” It’s in the partnership of marriage and in the effort of co-parenting, not in a parenting marriage, where that can even possibly exist.

    http://www.kevinathompson.com/marry-partner/

  11. mia Reply

    I just saved this article in my computer. It just makes you think.

  12. ann Reply

    This hits the nail on the head in my situation! I wish it were an easy fix. I have carried the load for year’s now with parenting our 4 girl’s ages 13, 10, 10 and 9, doing all the housework and having to be the responsible “parent” to a man child husband who at almost 40 years old still hasn’t grown up and decided to stop partying and drinking with the boys every weekend while me and the kids are at home . I’m sick of being a pushover. He knows I will be right here taking care of it All while he deer hunts, duck hunts, Turkey hunts, fishes, drinks, goes off with the boys on trips or has parties and cook outs and bon fires, or football parties or whatever he wants to do without ever asking what we need or if we ever want to go somewhere or do something as a family. Please help me. We’ve been married for 15 years and it’s worse now than ever before. The drinking is worse now than ever, and we have New neighbor’s who my husband has hit it off with fr on day 1 that don’t have kids, so they have parties very often that my husband is always there for and there daily hanging out even without a party going on. He literally walks to the neighbor’s house most days to speak or hang out before he even walks into our own home, and on most Fridays as soon as he pulls in from work, he doesn’t even set foot in our house, he walks straight to the neighbor’s and is there from about 5 pm till 1 am most weekends, and on Saturday its all day long until he is sloppy drunk and then he will finally come home to pass out. Then Sunday morning. He gets up and goes to church with us all. I don’t understand it. Advice please?? He knows I cant go anywhere bc I am a stay home mom with 4 kids and he knows I can’t provide income to support us without him. My self esteem is ruined, and I don’t even know how to have fun anymore.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Ann,
      I have an upcoming post which might answer some of these questions. The basic premise–don’t live with a active addict. If he is getting drunk, I wouldn’t live with him.

  13. […] Obviously there are exceptions. Some people have made bad choices in who they married or the spouse ... pagadiandiocese.org/2015/01/27/the-no-1-cause-of-divorce-may-not-be-what-you-think
  14. Jeff Reply

    This is an excellent article! I am a husband who is in the “parent” role and it’s frankly exhausting! I have been the sole breadwinner for 16 years, and as a result we are significantly behind where we should be in terms of savings for college and retirement. College comes in 2 1/2 years for us and my wife is not concerned. While I don’t feel we should pay the entire bill for our kids, we don’t have nearly enough saved (and I don’t see how we will if she doesn’t go back to work). She was a teacher early in our marriage and once she left to stay home with the kids, she hasn’t gone back. She’s let her certification lapse, and although she has most of the requirements done to get recertified, she will not do so. It is mind boggling to me, and we’ve had several frank discussions about it. I get the standard, “Everything will be OK,” or “The Lord will provide” answers. She has worked part-time, substitute taught, etc., but a couple hundred bucks a month doesn’t do nearly enough to put us where we need to be. Whenever we discuss money, it turns in to a fight. We have gone to counseling in the past and I wonder after reading this if we really should go again. I can’t MAKE her do anything, I realize, but at some point, if something is important to me and our family (her working), I would think if she loved me, she’d get serious about it!

  15. Rebelitarian Reply

    Gotta get more men and women in the husband/wife zone. The 30th dimension that e-harmony misses out on that would give them an even better success rate

  16. Vuvu Reply

    My marriage is different in that my husband acts like a child but also treats me like a child. First when he was unemployed he just stayed home and watchedcTV all day. He did nothing to look for a job. I asked him to update his CV, he put it off until I did it. I would show him possible posts to apply for but he always had an excuse not to; I don’t want to do that kind of work, I don’t want to work that side of town, it pays little, etc. The job he has now I applied for him, and even when he was called for an interview he had so many reasons not to go. He is thriving in it at the moment!
    He treats me like a child in that I must do what he wants when he wants me to do it. He tells me what I must wear, how I must do my hair. If I dont he either shouts at me or sulks. He can sulk three days, not even eat my food.
    But at church he is the prayer worrier, others look up to him. I’ve suggested counseling but he says it won’t work because I don’t listen. I’m tired!

  17. […] 2. He is a true partner to her in raising children, making a home, and fulfilling her dreams. Respec... kevinathompson.com/five-ways-husband-respects-wife
  18. Melissa Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I have felt this way for a while and I am not married. I threatened to leave and he asked me what he can do to make me stay, and the first two things that came to mind were grow up and be an equal partner. I wish I would have read this sooner, again thank you.

  19. at_a_loss&devestated Reply

    I can relate to this as a husband who is now getting a separation. My soon-to-be-ex claims that she is tired of doing it all and tired of being married to a child. she has called me lazy and un-motivated. I work full time and come home every night to take care of our 2 kids (1 and 3 year old girls). On the weekends I usually end up watching the girls so that my wife can go run errands that she was unable to do during the week being that she was a stay at home mom. She’s now going back to work part time, bought a place and will be moving in a few weeks along w the kids. I’m a wreck. I tried making the changes she wanted but she says it was always a short term fix and I would fall back into being lazy. She found some guy who fawns over her and she has been spending a lot of time with him ever since she told me she is “done”. I don’t know what else I can do. I think her reasoning is absurd because I can (and I will) become a better man. It’s all about turning bad habits into good habits and getting used to being mindful about what needs to be done. This is a lot harder than you think. It’s about changing one’s mindset but I’m working on it and I have more determination than I’ve ever had in my life. However, she insists it’s too late. She is no longer in love with me and her recent behavior has been nothing short of malicious. I just want to become a better man regardless of the marriage but more than anything I want to keep our family together. What do I do?! The more I try and fight for us, the more she pushes away. She has turned our family upside down and I fear for the kids well being. I think her decisions and her actions are emotional and not healthy. This will have a major impact on the kids. I need her to see that this can be fixed. As long we are both on board, we can spare having to put the kids through this and it’s possible we could end up having a stronger bond between us in the long run. Any advice?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      My first thought it to simply find ways to work on yourself. Whether it be counseling, reading, finding a life coach, or a local Celebrate Recovery, do something with great intention about becoming a better person. Who knows what she will do but you can’t control that.

    • Candice Reply

      I’m sorry to say but she obviously is a cheater.

  20. […] I love this question. Some women do not. Without reading this article, some women want to shoot me... kevinathompson.com/partnership-when-dad-works-and-mom-stays-home
  21. Danyel Reply

    Feeling this entirely right now. My husband and I married young, at 19. We have been married for 6 years this summer. We have a 3 year old son and another child on the way. I am the “parent” in our lives. I can’t even bring myself to ever treat myself or to give myself any break because my husband acts as a child and spends money he should not, asks for loans on things he should not, or brings the decision to me and throws a fit until I give in and say “whatever, fine!” Now here we sit with our sons savings account drained to make up for the mistakes, unable to open another savings for our child on the way, no money in our savings, not behind on bills yet but living paycheck to paycheck and stretching them and really living beyond our means. There is not enough money in one month to pay our bills. My husband refuses to file bankruptcy and keeps saying he will fix it. Yet his habits continue, and he gets upset with me when I consider getting a second job to get us out of this. Even though I am pregnant, I already work over 100 hours every two weeks. And I can’t take time off when I don’t feel well or the bills will be worse than they already are. When I suggest selling some of his “toys” that he had to have he gets mad and yells and says that I am blaming him for everything which I really feel is just him being unable to admit his own fault.

  22. jbduenweg Reply

    This automatically assumes that the man is the “child” and the woman is the “parent”… perhaps it’s because of the stats. But there are cases where those roles/genders are reversed. There are a few mature men out there who are married or in a relationship with child wives….

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Very fair point. No doubt there are many relationships where the man is the adult and the woman is the child.

  23. Mitch Reply

    Hi Kevin.. great article.. the only problem I have is that your response to a time when a spouse is in the midst of a job loss.. or trying to find another.. you state “I will support my husband in times of job loss, but I will not sleep with someone who isn’t even looking for a job.”… I am currently in transition and trying to find a job.. however, as you know.. it is not that easy! Especially after 23 years at a secure job.. you have now turned sex into a hostage situation…I personally am going through many feelings including depression of not “being the man”…to lump this one into the advice is dangerous as it will only make matters worse..there are many reasons that husbands are not able to get a job…or even know where to start to get a job.. love and patience should be focused on.. not creating hostage situations..

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Mitch, that is a very good point and it’s such a fine line of what I’m trying to communicate. No doubt I believe a spouse should be supportive through the difficult process of a job layoff. I’m talking more about the guy who regularly quits jobs or gets fired because of attitude and refuses to make any effort at getting a new job. I’m sorry for any confusion. Thanks for the comment.

  24. Josh Reply

    I have been living with my fiancee for three years now, shortly after moving in together she lost her job and became pregnant while on the pill. I became the parent in our relationship after living together for month and a half. I just started school and was working full time at the same time as taking care of the household and her. During her pregnancy and ever since she puts off or won’t deal with life things (getting her drivers license, doing tax stuff, genrally being on time for appts etc.) Unless I bug her until she does it or I give up. She stayed home with our daughter and would regularly do nothing but sit on the computer all day watching videos and chattong on social media and lies to try an cover up why she didn’t do anything else. She doesn’t take care of herself and is more interested in the flashy parts of family life the then the nuts and bolts work that keeps it together. We now have a 2nd child and I don’t see things getting better. This bothers me because this isn’t the person I thought I was moving forward in a relationship with. She wants to plan a wedding and for the future but I don’t see a point if she can’t deal with the present. I have explained all of this several times and she agrees or acknowledges the issues, but that is the extent of it. I am tired of being supportive and am not liking the fact that I am becoming distrustful and resentful because I haven’t been treating her the way I think is right consistently for about a year and a half now. Advice?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Josh, I would get with a good counselor and meet with that person as a couple. You both need to figure out what you want to do and how you plan on doing it.

  25. Katharine Reply

    I think im the child in our relationship. I have to be constantly told to study for my upcoming college exams, and to be healthy and utilize time well but I’m feeling so demotivated. The only times i get motivated is when he hints that he might leave me if i do not work on myself. But that lasts for a day at the most. I need to learn to be self motivated like him. It is for my career goals that he wants me to work. But i have lost interest in career and i keep day dreaming about a family with him. I need to get a grip on myself. What should i do to go back to my motivated goal oriented hard working self?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Katharine, I would get a friend, a pastor, or a life coach to help you get a game plan and to hold you accountable to your goals. Most people don’t exercise without a workout partner. In the same way, most people will not do what they need to do without someone helping them along the way. If you live near me, I have a few people I could recommend. If you don’t, then you can find someone.

  26. karen Reply

    I’m 52 and I’ve been married for a decade. Five years ago my husband and I had an argument, which wound up with him in tears, insisting I was “trying to make him grow up too fast”. He was 42 years old at the time. I spent the rest of the day in tears myself, realizing that I hadn’t married a partner to tackle the world with, I’d married a 300 pound baby to carry on my back, basically shattering my dreams of ever moving forward. I was a relatively high functioning person set on evolving further, at this point all my energy goes toward the least common denominator, this person who has so much baggage we’ve simply got a house built of suitcases here. The advice ‘stop parenting my husband’ is basically like saying, ‘stop cleaning up the dog poo in the living room’. It just means we both live surrounded by feces, what a lovely life. I have a hard time seeing how letting my life go down the drain at the hands of someone I can’t trust is a good idea.

    The real problem at this point is I don’t know how to even start. A tentative suggestion that we need to sit down and work out a fair work division is met with subtle refusal (“I’m too busy right now, I’m too tired, I’m overwhelmed, hot cold hungry thirsty sore dirty sad happy stressed bored … “) or defense – I chose the wrong words, the timing is wrong, I have the wrong tone of voice, and therefore a stonewall response is appropriate. If i ask when would be a good time, i get his favorite answer to everything: I don’t know. (or as my angry head translates it, “I, DUH, No,” All about him, expression that he’s an idiot, rejection of anything that might have originated with me or benefit me. )

    I realize I’m incredibly angry and accusatory and being the quintessential bitch at this point, but I Have Had It. How do you deal with a spouse who is actively Invested in, absolutely determined to, frantically dysfunctional about, making sure he gets his way and doesn’t have to grow up?

  27. louis Reply

    You left out one important relation. When the husband is much older then is wife.She has a “lover” and also has a husband she loves but looks at him as a parent.

  28. caine rodrigues Reply

    i think all this is bull shit……
    what is a marriage ???????
    reading all the comments
    people are only looking for their advantage and gain
    well
    if you have a carrier and a goal don’t get married be single if you think the so called child is burdening you
    everybody is not perfect
    marriage is two people becoming one irrespective how capable he/she is
    if you think at all he/she is a burden live alone
    everybody does not come to a mature being at the same time, or all do not mature to ones expectation we are human no ones perfect
    so marriage is all about compromise understanding and mutual (not as a burden)
    and if you think you cannot handle it
    please don’t get married and don’t spoil the so called child in your life

  29. Brian Reply

    I wish I had found this article years ago, before my wife admonished me for “treating her like a fourth-grader,” before my current therapist asked me, “Do you feel more like you’re her father than her husband?” Maybe, just maybe, the counseling sessions we went through back then would have taken a different path?

    A couple statements here really resonate with my situation. As hard as I’ve tried, I could not “grow her up.” I’m exhausted from that battle, both mentally and physically. I’m constantly on edge from her tantrums and open hostility toward me. I shake when I talk to her. I find myself breaking up fights between my 9-year-old and her 43-year-old mother, so it doesn’t stop with me.

    I just wish I’d have known. I wish I’d have paid more attention to her background and calculated the effects of having been abandoned by her own father. I wish I’d have known terms like “enmeshed.” I wish I’d have known that I was about to marry a child.

    Our divorce cannot come soon enough for me. I can’t wait for the day that I’m no longer responsible for fixing her mistakes, not shouldering the blame for everything that’s wrong in our marriage, not having an adult around who acts like a petulant teenager. Peace in my home. Rid of her.

  30. Tammy Reply

    At least in reading this I know that I’m not alone. Sadly, I still feel hopeless. I am lost.

    Throughout most of our marriage, my husband has had multiple jobs. It is not uncommon in his field (chef), but is still much too often when it comes to him, approximately 20 jobs in 20 years. Although I am “smarter” than he is, I took the back seat on the career path, working in restaurants part time, changing jobs to support his schedule, which also allowed me to always be there for our kids.

    During this time, he was always financially irresponsible. The concept of a budget was something he could not grasp. In his mind, we would have a certain amount of bills. Everything “extra” he spent. Unfortunately, he did not account for things like groceries, gasoline, babysitters, etc. So needless to say, we were always behind. Being married to him has destroyed my credit. We constantly fought over money because he could not understand why I would not get the bills paid on time. He truly had no concept of the fact that he was the cause.

    Fast forward through 20 years of marriage. during that time, he has never become more responsible with money. He has been a pot smoker his whole life, which I actually don’t care about to be quite honest. Or I wouldn’t, if that was his only issue. he had an affair, which I forgave because it was not a sexual one (and yes, I do know for certain, due to medical issues). Trust me when I say emotional is just as bad though. He had a severe drinking problem. He was arrested once for threatening. He got a DUI & totaled his vehicle which was another arrest. He got in a fight with our son, who was nearly 18, resulting in yet another arrest and a six-month investigation by DCF (this is the only time he has been physical or even argued with either of our kids). Because of that, he no longer drinks. He works 40 hours a week and this is his extent of contributing. Oh wait, he does drive our son to and from the local community college twice a week. In his mind, he does much more than I do. He doesn’t even put his clothes in the hamper, letting four or five full outfits build up on the side of the bed. When we bought our home 15 years ago, he was the one who did the renovations. Because of this, and because we have done two major cleanings & replacement of items in the house which requires his muscle, he believes he does and has always done more than I do. he admits to getting “lazy sometime”. I do not consider 48 weeks a year as sometimes.

    In the past 10 years I got my nursing degree. I make well over double his salary – especially since I average 20 hours per week of overtime. I am the only one with a 401k. I am the only one who provides our health insurance. I do all of the cooking, all of the shopping, most of the cleaning (with some help from our teenaged kids). I pick up report cards, I pay for tuition, I make & attend doctors appointments and parent teacher conferences. I have helped out with the Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts. I volunteer on school trips. I arrange outings for the kids. Even as teenagers. On the rare occasions when we have taken vacations – and they are rare due to his spending – I have booked it, planned it, packed for it, unpacked. I have finally divided our money and the bills because with what we make, we should not still be broke.

    There are more broken things in our house that I can count. And he’s fixing them. Yep. When I dare ask when something will be done, I am simply on his case. Never mind that the gate has been broken for almost 10 years (for example).

    The article says not to be a parent anymore. That’s fine, but what do I do? there are no consequences to his actions, because how is he affected negatively? If the pool is not covered, it’s not covered. If there’s a hole in the sidewalk, so what? If I only get 4 hours of sleep because I’m running myself ragged, well, that’s on me. I can work a 15 hour day, and come home and have to make dinner because he won’t, even if it is day off. By faith, I can’t leave. And he won’t. Everyday is frustrating and lonely and sad. I cry myself to sleep almost every night. We don’t even sleep in the same room.

    Please help me.

  31. Bianca Rodriguez Reply

    I have only just had the time to write and let you all know about how Dr. Lee helped me, my name is Bianca and in short Dr. Lee of the Ancientfatherandmothers@gmail.com or visit his website on http://ancientfathersandmothers.com is fabulous!! I did have to wait ages, and ages, for my partner to finally realise it was me he wanted, not the other woman but I did have faith in all the spell work Dr. Lee did for me and when he kept saying ‘hang on in there’ I did find it hard, but I did know in my heart that he would be back. I would just like to say that Dr. Lee really does do miracles, my soulmate came to quicker than I thought he would. I would recommend his work to any-one who needs help with his following info: Ancientfatherandmothers@gmail.com or visit his website on http://ancientfathersandmothers.com and I will use Dr. Lee again for further work in the future.

  32. Beautiful Amanda Reply

    Omg..I am not alone..but even after reading all of these, I still feel hopeless…My man child procrastinates all the time..when I mention something that needs to fixed he says I nag him but its only because he NEVER does what he says he’ll do. The dryer has been broke for six months so I spend my only day off taking all of the clothes to the laundry mat… I get annoyed because I do most of the cleaning, well me and the kids they are 9,8,6….He makes a mess and never cleans it up…I pick up after him and even the kids clean after themselves. He will rope off a whole day for a football game but won’t do anything to help our marriage. I’m burdened and he doesn’t care…He only considers himself when making decisions… Super selfish and won’t admit when he’s wrong.. I’m tired of Talking about it..All of our church family tells me to stay and work it out…and if he won’t go to church I should anyway but dam I’m married but feel so alone… Its sad

  33. peanutlee 33 Reply

    I always find it hilarious when any adult male asks my opinion or comments about women ‘buying a vintage barbie on eBay’ or ‘still collecting old dolls from thrift shops, etc’. in comparison to some men spending oodles on video games and gaming memberships, but that isn’t directly being immature. My response to them is: Yes.. some of us ladies DO collect old dolls and Barbies.. but for display only. We don’t actually play with them.

  34. S. Jacob Reply

    How about when the wife is having a mental illness and the healthy husband has to bear the brunt of everything from work stress to personal stress to ensuring the wife has her meds and has to cajole her to meet her doctor. Wife cannot hold a job and keeps getting sacked, wants to keep spending money without any limit, constantly complains that the husband is not doing enough to give her thrills and excitement in her life (wants to be taken out to restaurants whenever she feels low).
    Keeps pestering him to have another child when he feels she is already a child and he has to take care of her in addition to their son.
    She feels she is perfectly fine and the medicines are not required.
    Husband is sinking into depression. He is staying in the marriage for his son but wondering at the price he is paying…. Any advice for him ?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thank you for your response, I’m sorry for your struggle. In the stated case, I would go to marriage counseling together. If she refuses to go, I would go without her.

  35. Olivia Reply

    How about when your husband lived at home before marriage with no real financial responsibility. Now after getting his masters, he hasn’t worked in two years. He went from parents taking care to me taking care. He searches for jobs, but is very slow, sleeps in, stays up “working” and gets angry when I ask about his job search. He thinks working as a cashier or in retail is benieth him. I’ve worked in remedial jobs with my masters just to get by, he won’t. He does housework and cooks but doesn’t want kids because he hasn’t made his career yet. I’m 33 and want children. He doesn’t get that age is an issue, and wants kids eventually.He’s new to this country (from Europe) but had a thriving career there and decided to change at 29 to follow his passion for art. I’ve been carrying him ever since. We have no intimacy because I resent him. When I tell him, he gets upset and then I get upset and we go back to square one. But I’ve had enough. Do I offer an ultimatum? Since only I work, we cannot afford counseling. I love him and his family, but I don’t know if I can keep doing this.

  36. Alisssa Reply

    Thank you for this article. I loved reading it and wish, wish, wish that I knew what I know now before I got married. My husband and I had the parent child marriage. The lies, blame, deceit, Marijuana use, no responsibility, always going out to play pool by my husband grated on me. He told me I needed to change. I took it to heart. I went to therapy. I spent 1.5 years there and did make significant changes. Learned why I ‘parent’ or ‘rescue’. Learned my enabling behaviour. No boundaries. Low self esteem. Childhood wounds. Learned about relationships. Values. Boundaries. Love languages. Shared responsibility. Etc etc. I learned a bloody lot! Then I found that an adult-child relationship just doesn’t work. My husband and I went to therapy. He was all talk. All commitments he made were just talk. No action. He could not learn to be self responsible. To learn fundamental aspects of a healthy relationship such as no shame/blame/criticism. To apologize! Etc. We are now separated. I just could not put up with it anymore 🙁
    I learned so much from this relationship. I hope to pass it on to my children so they don’t have to struggle as I did.

  37. Alycia Reply

    Hi I really enjoyed reading this because everuthing you talked about is exactly what I’m going through with my marriage. I’m very unhappy in my marriage but I stay because I want to be Inlove with my husband again and I don’t want my one year old to not have a chance to be in a happy family with both parents. My husband is the child in my relationship, he also has a problem with porn. I have a blocker on his phone to prevent him from looking at the stuff he does and to keep him from playing all the games he plays. The games are frustrating to deal with because he’s always on his phone and doesn’t pay attention to me or our baby. I don’t want to nag him anymore. I don’t want to feel like I have to force someone to not look at other women. Should I take this blocker off?

  38. Eva Reply

    Oh boy…..this was me and my now separated husband. I never felt like I had a man in my life, I always felt like I had a child! He wouldnt take responsibility for anything, financial, emotional or sexual. He did what he wanted to do, stupid fun things (which isnt a bad thing provided you are responsible first) and raged and fought when I tried to redirect his attention towards responsibilities. I ended up in therapy, because I felt I was going crazy. And then, one fine day, the night after he snarled to me about us going to a divorce lawyer that he had talked to, he posted on Facebook that I was abusing him for the 5 years we’ve been married! I left the very same day. And have been maintaining no contact ever since. My role in it was chasing him, being the parent. Therapy made me realize why I did what I did. I am a co-dependent. Working on myself now, which is a lot of hard work but I want to do this. For myself, my happiness and well-being. There has been progress, I no longer feel the need to source my happiness from someone else. Ive detached myself from relationships that were unhealthy, including family. I don’t know if I will be whole again but I sure won’t be broken. Ever again.

  39. Carrie Reply

    I married someone who I consider to be a child and not a real partner to me. Always seems to have enough money and time for hobbies, personal interests, and meeting clients, but many times he will trade clients for personal goodies instead of insisting that they pay him with actual money. For example, he has accepted guns as a form of payment from clients, which would be okay if he actually turned around and sold them so they’d help with bills. Instead, he hoards them and refuses to sell them because “he earned them through working.”

    My parents helped me through school – I’m very grateful to have no student loan debt. When I have asked my husband to sell some of his possessions to help pay our debts (he has a lot of student loan and credit card debt) he snaps at me and tells me that the “he earned the guns through work, and I have never actually earned anything in my life because my parents helped me with everything.”

    He has abused marijuana and alcohol at various times in our marriage and he finally decided to leave about 2 months ago. He now lives out of our car and his office. Don’t know where he showers or who he is with. I have to say that my level of apathy is rising. My inclination is to beg him to come back and chase him down like he’s my teenage son…but I am tired of not having good boundaries with him and then feeling like I am always being disrespected. I think having boundaries with someone you love is healthy for YOU and for THEM because there is no hope for change if consequences are never experienced.

    Thank you for this article; I felt like you were speaking directly to me.

  40. LJ Reply

    Hello: Thank you so much for this article! Can anyone offer some sound advice on this situation? My good friend’s husband likes to “play adult.” What I mean is he acts like an adult as long as he is getting what he wants. He has started multiple businesses using my good friends hard earned money. He has great ideas is very ambitious, but he is very cunning, smooth, narcissistic, and manipulative. He uses other peoples $$$ like it is water coming out a tap. He will talk a good game about return on investments. He likes to run the show or be in charge or have a sense of CEO power, but when real tough decisions need made or if there is an issue with a client he wants my friend to deal with all of it. If a business loan is due he is nowhere to be found. He got caught when they first got married having a sexual fling with someone younger than him. He vowed to change and here It is 15 years later and low and behold he was caught trying to exploit and coerce someone half his age. He blamed it on the stress of the office, his marriage getting stale, financial issues, emotional issues. It’s amazing on wherever he is there is always a problem to follow yet it is NEVER EVER his fault! He thinks money, sex, life is but a game or a joke. He screws off flirting with countless secretaries, admins, postal clerks, waitresses and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. My good friend works 50+ hours a week to keep the business afloat and has put her rear on the line so many times for him. When is she going to wake up and realize she married an immature boy instead of a man? Why did he bothered getting married in the first place? His first ex wife warned my good friend not to marry him that he would exploit and take advantage, but for some reason she thought they were soul mates and could save him. It makes my blood literally boil. He even had a couple younger gals contemplating suicide after he duped them so bad. Some of these men are damn near 50 and act like they are 16. He ruins other peoples lives, finances, marriages, businesses, reputations, emotional trust in the human race basically. Why doesn’t she see what everyone else sees? She is going to end up losing every cent andher mind because of him. On top of that he has the I love you issue with this woman and that woman. He loves more than one. It’s not love, it’s sick toxic exploitation. He loves them as long as they are getting his jollies off or wasting money on him and his material purchases. How can some human beings be that sick? The sad part of it all is he never even sees what he does is WRONG! Thank you. Any advice? I hate to get rid of the relationship with her after 20+ years but to sit back and watch someone you love go under or tank because of a narcissist is sad.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      There are times in which we have to put boundaries around a relationship. Can you stay friends without talking about her relationships? Simply say, “You know my opinion” and move on. If not, maybe the friendship does have to end.

  41. Anonymous Reply

    I am married now. My husband says I mentally abuse him because I ask for more from him. He does help with cooking, dishes, & taking care of our son, however I work ALL the time. I have been asking for years now he carry that load or take some off of me. He only works 3 hours a day and sometimes only 3 days a week. Financially it has always been 70/30 with bills. We can’t plan vacations or anything unless I pay more than half. I cover health insurance for us all and file the taxes since he is considered a dependent. He has made some very stupid choices that has cost him & as a result has a negative impact on us as a family. I can say I am tired!!!! I would like to enjoy my kids more and go back to school. At this point I feel like it’s never going to happen unless I divorce him? Am I married to a child or am I mentally abusive because I ask for more from him? He says I degrade him or constantly put him down.

    • Courtney Reply

      You’re married to a child. It’s ok! There are many children out there. We may love them, but in reality, they’ll never change. We are the ones that have it grow some balls and leave them. I put up with my man child for ten years. I finally let go, and although it’s only been a week since we broke up, I feel so much better. I feel free. Able to take care of myself finally. It’s exhausting taking care of someone emotionally, physically, and financially for 9 years. I’m done, and I feel good!!

    • Angie Reply

      Hello, my sympathy goes out to you. A very dear friend said this to me which made me snap out of my bad marriage. Are you prepared to put up with it for another 10yrs! The answer was Hell No!love yourself and your children enough to make the change, bless…

  42. Dee Reply

    Here is a situation: one partner reluctantly trying to get back to work, after feeling they deserved disability, but we’re refused. So the other partner encouraged them to take their life back. But this person insisted on doing it their way, only looking for limited work that they were familiar with and liked, refused to improve skills or work with a job agency. I was told that I had no right to tell them what to do or pressure them, but they could not pay their bills (we weren’t married). This went on for 4 years, until I gave up on them. Was this wrong? Many said, if I truly loved them, I would have been more patient and supported them, but it was important to me to see they would support themselves. Funny thing, after we split they found a good job doing what they wanted, so I feel like I was wrong (at least about this, as there were other issues, like lying!). We definitely had different values, but I still wonder about this issue.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      You had every right to expect them to play a full role within the relationship. They chose not to so the relationship ended. Chances are, they never would have done their part with you there.

  43. […] and writer Kevin A. Thompson stated each companions will have to percentage duty in a dating. “A l... rrune.com/5-types-of-people-who-might-not-be-marriage-material
  44. Dee Reply

    Throw in passive aggressive with a bit of narcissism, and I’ve got a husband who is basically unteachable in how to become a partner. He works, I do everything else. Saving is impossible because he doesn’t follow even the best laid out budget. My life is full of tripping over unfinished, endless projects of his. He also gives me a hard time every day. I am exhausted trying to keep all the little, unwritten rules in order not to inconvenience him. He also tries to make me responsible for his negative feelings and outlook on life. He will contendly sit and play video games on his phone while I spend hours on my feet completing laundry, dishes, cooking, all planning for anything and everything. His idea of a date is to give me 20-30 min notice to get ready to go out and eat something. He fed the dogs last night and it apparently was the last of the food in their container. This morning, I had to hunt for scissors with barking dogs at my feet to open the full bag that was right next to the empty container. Which I planned and bought, of course. The commotion then disturbs his sleep, which I am now responsible for? He also says he enjoys playing devil’s advocate. So conversations are often discouraging and I don’t bring many subjects up anymore. I used to ignore his behavior and still be affectionate, but after 25 years, I am just trying to function every day. This means limited contact with draining people. Oh, and he works from home, so any minute he can pop up over my shoulder to micromanage me. His idea of a good evening is him on his phone, and me stuck sitting in the same room. He says it makes him ‘feel bad’ if I am doing dishes at night. Never mind, he does about a fourth of them and leaves all the rest. This, after shooing me away and insisting self-righteously that he will ‘do the dishes.’ Amazing that I can be gone to work 4-5 hours and he can’t seem to manage to do anything while I am gone. He refuses to go to many places with me because he thinks most everything is dumb and beneath him. I often find out what is going on by listening to his phone conversations with others. He is animated and charming with others. There was a stretch in our marriage where there were no gifts or flowers for at least ten years. When I confronted him, he gives gifts because ‘I guess I had to.’ My gifts to him were undermined. This really is no fun to deal with day after day. He says he is ‘helping me’ if he puts anything away, because he probably doesn’t think anything in the house should be done by him. And he sure didn’t do anything for me for Mother’s Day, not even with my 5 year old, because ‘You’re not my mother.’ I am on eggshells because of his personality disorder. His moods flip flop from day to day. He never seems to consider my feelings or worry a about ruining the moment.

  45. Kate Reply

    I’m really glad I found this article. I’m in my mid-thirties and been married for almost two years. We do not own a house or have children together, but I’m terrified to do either with the man I married. Equal work around the house, work ethic at jobs, saving money for the future, health, and even recognizing that intimacy needs to be worked on are all issues that I’m facing. I definitely feel like the parent. Even when I was jobless for 7 months, I spent 4 hours a day looking for jobs and the other four taking classes or online tutorials, and had enough money saved to cover my half. Every time we talk about money, I bring up as nicely as I can that his spending habits need to change if he wants to buy a house or have kids (as we make about the same but I can save money and he can’t), and he always gets upset because he doesn’t want to hear it. Not wanting to listen or being in denial = no progress. On top of that, I cook for both of us everyday, do dishes everyday, take care of both of our pets, cut the grass/do yard work to avoid getting fined by the city, do cleaning tasks, and every day he leaves for work after I do and gets home before me and inevitably I will find him on the couch watching TV, more or less until the wee hours of the morning after I’ve been in bed by myself for hours. I got very spoiled in the environment I grew up in before I married. My father and his father (my grandpa) were both very equitable in their marriages. My grandpa did laundry in the 1950’s and my dad made dinner and did dishes for most of my life. Why? Because they recognized that my mother and grandmother needed help, and they were less concerned with what a “man’s job” is, and more concerned that if something needs to be done, you just do it. Every time I ask for help I get huffing and puffing, and when the task is remembered it is accomplished with the least amount of effort possible. I feel like I’m living with myself as a teenager when I refused to clean my room, which thankfully I grew out of. I’ve been seeing a therapist alone for guidance on how to bring up these topics of concern I have with my husband, and the sessions have been pretty helpful. I feel confident that I am addressing him with respect and care, but there has been very little change on his part. I’m getting tired of worrying about if I hurt his feelings or not, because now I’m just angry. I don’t want to keep score, but I’ve been doing that a lot lately. One of the worse ones that popped into mind recently was when we were dog sitting for a friend (which we both agreed to) and I hurt my back (herniated disc, in bed for two days) and still had to be the one walking and feeding the dog. I don’t want to raise children with a child who thinks it’s okay that I basically do everything, and when I ask for help the reaction suggests that what I am asking for is unreasonable. I have a feeling that eventually we will end up in therapy sessions together if he is willing to go, but every day that passes I feel like I’m growing more distant from our relationship to protect myself. I would never cheat on him, but I hate the lonely feelings I’m experiencing due to our parallel but not joined home lives. I’d much rather just be alone and only have to clean up after myself and get stressed out by my own stuff. I hope one day, he can be the partner I want, or I can find someone else who can be a partner. I never thought it would be like this.

  46. Henry Reply

    My uncomfortable feeling used to be strong, but I could not point my finger on what exactly went wrong.
    But thanks for your simple metaphor, which makes me to see the problem more clearly.

  47. Sarah Jane Reply

    Today we go to the councilor once more. Today may be the last day of my relationship with my husband of 27 years. He has, oh so slowly, learned that I won’t allow him to be a child in our relationship. Note that I said “allow”. I have to enforce my rule that he be an adult in order to stop him regressing.

    The final straw is that he is still a child in his relationship with our disabled daughter who is now an adult. Four years ago I had a mental health breakdown from being the sole home-therapy parent to our child because my husband simply did not do his share no matter what the therapist told him he needed to do to help her. He continues to encourage and enable her dependency even though she has demonstrated that, away from us, she can now take care of herself. I cannot manage the relationship they have with each other, but I can stop tacitly condoning my husband’s destructive non-parenting by remaining in a relationship with him.

    My own mental health continues to deteriorate in spite of years of treatment and medication, and it’s time for me to stop trying to get him to help me as a partner and parent should and to and fully commit to healing myself.

  48. […] Some responsibilities come and go throughout the differing seasons of marriage while others are alwa... kevinathompson.com/relationship-benefits-responsibilities
  49. Scott Clarke Reply

    What bunch of whiners and complainers leaving posts here. If you don’t like your situation – change it! You are the one who picked your spouse in the first place as your spouse people, what does that say about you!

  50. Jhec Azucena Reply

    Great article! As a young married I learned a lot in this. But one thing I dont like in what you said is the ” stop trying to make a career out of hobby”, your right if that men/woman is not doing their job as husband or wife but I think example as men if I I’m a good provider but still I think in my heart that I can make a better career out of that hobby or passion and doing it with my spare time only isnt that great? Thank you for this article, i really learned a lot. I think I would read more of your post. God bless!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m fine with that approach as long as they are still taking care of their responsibilities.

  51. liz Reply

    This article hit the nail on the head. I also have worked out I am in this situation but sadly all my love has been sucked out of me to even attempt to mend it. The child in my husband stems from a childhood of the mother in law doing everything fir him and not allowing him to learn himself. Even when I met him he had returned to his mothers at the age of 29! I’m in a new city with little friends and non of my family but Im now strong enough to pull out after 2 years of marriage as Im not the type to look back in 10-20 years and be even more of a mess than I am now. Husband has now put up the fight he’s going to make my life a living Hell after suggesting a split on the equity so we can move on. He’s now turning my child against me (his step kid) because of the situation of him being a man child I told him I didn’t want his baby. So this is not going to be an easy break up as I’m dealing with child tantrums and threats. (he’s been vile to me this past year,taking a cigarette stub in my mouth,pushing and shoving me and saying vile things to me often usually I’m a cunt or a twat amongst other names. Any advice appreciated.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      My first thought–get out. If he wants you, he will do whatever it takes to make the marriage works–which at minimum is getting counseling and working on himself to understand why he has done what he has done.

  52. Hsama Reply

    Kevin, can I get your opinion? I met my significant other 13 years ago
    I had been divorced and wrote a letter to myself that I must promise myself to never marry again, or, if I did to make sure his values were acceptable. I made a list of criteria and the top of the list was a steady job. Well when I met “D” he said he had his own business and own house. He was charming and affectionate. After I became intimate with him, my mom said she read in the paper he hadn’t paid taxes. I asked him about it. He said he was a little behind. Also his “own business” consisted of a truck and some tools. He worked for a property owner doing apartment fixing and cleaning. He did this when he felt like it, never more than 30 hours per week. I assumed he wanted to work more and grow a real business so I let him move in to get back on his fit. I bought him professional signage for his truck. Well he ended up losing his job he was doing for the owner and did odd little jobs here and there for others, still saying he owned his own construction business. I knew I was going to be laid off and made plans to go to dental school even though I was in my late thirties. He said he envied me and wished he could go back to school. I recommended he set a goal, outline the steps to it, the barriers and determine if he could address the barriers and outline how. He decided to go to dental school even though he had two kids in grade school. I had a grown son and had already addressed my plan. He would not share with me how his plan would work but said he would make it work and that was all I needed to know. Well he failed to get into dental school so went to podiatry school for a year and then dropped out. Then he went to chiropractic school and graduated four years ago withe about half a million in student loan debt. He couldn’t find a job so decided to start his own practice. He borrowed 13,000 from his parents and 3000 from me. He never learned to properly submit insurance claims. He lived with me and I paid all mortgages, expenses and “dates.”. We never married because he is a financial nightmare. And I have always paid for our dates. I had to move back home to take care of my mom. He closed his business and never got paid from his insurance claims. Then he started up a new practice in our home town. He doesn’t see enough patients to pay his office rent. I pay him to do maintenance on some properties I bought so he can pay his office rent. He just found out he cannot get paid for claims he submitted because they are 6 months too late. I feel sick to my stomach. He said he does too but it won’t do any good to throw a fit about it. Since we moved he has been doing maintenance for the apartment building we live in exchange for rent. I had given him an ultimatum. We would live in the apartment for one year and then he would be ready to support himself. I loved the apartment because he is contributing. But he hates it. He convinced me I should buy a house so he can have place for all his stuff. Right now he is storing his stuff at his daughter’s house. We’ve been in the apartment over two years and he’s worse off than ever. Student loan collectors call and he doesn’t answer. I bought a house and he is slowly helping with some of the remodeling. He is excited to live in it but I am terrified to let him move in. I fear I will be providing for him forever. At least in the apartment he is sustaining himself. If I have to leave him at least won’t worry that he can’t provide for himself. But if he moves all his stuff in with me in the new house it will be too hard to kick him out. Leaving him is always on my mind. When I bring up how sick ‘l am over his financial situation, he feels awful and asks if I am breaking up wirh him. I feel so sorry for him. But I am not attracted to him at all for many years now even though he is handsome and fit. I feel like his mom or older sister and it just kills any romantic passion I has many years ago. It is going on 14 years. He has been by my side through Moms illness and other family loss. He has a good heart. I love him as some kind of friend or family but not sexually even though he desires me that way and always pursues that aspect of our relationship. In the beginning I thought I could help him get on his own two feet. But I have only enabled his failure I fear. I fantasize of being single or of dating someone new though I am now 50 and should be settled down by now. I don’t want to be sugar momma. He has had enough time. It will break my heart and his. We have all these years together and do almost everything together. We love each other but I am keeping him from reaching his potential I fear.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would go to a counselor–together–and talk through these issues. I do believe you are right in recognizing that you are probably enabling him more than helping him.

  53. mai Reply

    My husband of 2years (5y together) is the parent, checking on me and my tasks, constantly nagging (he doesnt tell me once when i make some mistake, he reminds me of it a dozen times within hours over and over even if i acknowledge,apologize and explain why it was not possible otherwise), his favourite sentence “no one does it, only me”… yes, i can see a lot of traits of the child on me but the heartbreaking point is that i have worked hard to grow up fast to be an equal partner, because i loved him so much, idolized him (he is responsible, thougtful, caring, loving when he chooses to express it, hardworking, reliable, religious, nonalcoholic). Ive always been lazy, mostly unreliable, daydreaming, jumping from one thing to another, no selfesteem, poor selfcontrol resulting in alcohol abuse (with a toxic relationship) and anger outbursts, at one pointe even suicidal and i had a hardtime completing my masters degree. But ever since ive known my husband i have changed so much (apparently only in my eyes): i do not drink not even ocasionaly (i have set my head up firm never ever to loose control over myself and i am proud to not have let myself down on this one even when the times were very hard) i have a steady wellpayed job for 5years (tons of stress though this year), i learned to cook, to do all the house chores (though im slower than him i have learned to do my tasks faster), yet he is never satisfied.. Checking (slightly less than before) whether ive done things right or at all. Sometimes i felt like when he doesnt see me doing things he does not believe i really did them.. this all resulted into my nonexistent selfesteem and subsequent jealousy and his angry sometimes violent outbursts. My spontaneity and happynes gone. I do stres alot about his parent reactions when he finds something not done to his liking He would nag me for being forgetful, disorganized and being indecisive but in the most important decisions did not respect what we agreed upon and followed something i was against..without knowing i have started withdrawing from him.. we would talk about our problems many many times coming to agreements we do not hold onto and nothing changes.. somehow i always end up being the problem.. my withdrawal continues, i barely speak at home, no intimacies, im becoming more and more of that stuborn child again.. there is no point in going on.. He is desperate and so am i.. im exhausted.. i cannot even tell anyone (not even myself!) but.. im not sure i love him anymore..

    Sorry for the wall of text.. i dont know what to do now.. how do i fall back in love with someone i want to run away from?!

  54. […] These and other boundaries should be communicated clearly. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child) [R... kevinathompson.com/if-your-dog-or-husband-runs-dont-chase-him
  55. […] Partner. Marriage is a business decision. Many people live in the denial of this reality but it is ... kevinathompson.com/three-people-marry
  56. Day Marie Reply

    I was so glad to read this article, as I felt it spoke volumes to my situation. My fiance and I have been together for 7 years. I was a bartender when we met, he was always the bad boy most young girls fall for at 20 and think they can help tame. He had quite the record with a long history of drinking and enjoying the bar scene party life. I have an almost 8 year old daughter (not with my fiance). Their relationship has always been strange. I know there is love there, yet I don’t feel in my heart they love each other the way I have always hoped. Although he has come a long way in 7 years, he is still one to drink a beer or 6 every week night. Varies and I do over night shifts twice a week so who knows for sure. I’ve tried to set boundaries that if he is going to work on control beer should not be in the house. Caught him doing it all, hiding empty beer cans in his work cooler. Taking garbage bags to near by dumpsters, you name in. All to make it look like he was doing pretty good. He is definitely an over grown child in many ways. Has tantrums when things don’t go his way, has a short fuse, is very impatient and lacks understanding with my daughter 90% of the time, says extremely rude things to people (family included) out of anger over what seems to me as the smallest things… you name it. I have my daughter all the time but every other weekend her father has her. When we do have her, we try to plan family stuff and all is good during the day if we’re active, but the nights come and we want to watch a movie and he falls asleep. Wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t get the sense that he would always rather be somewhere else. Anywhere that involves socializing, a good time, and bud light. I get these feelings because I know him. I can tell by slick remarks- oh man this is going on, that is going on, this person wants to go out, etc. But we have (my daughter) and he always looks/seems bummed by it and bored with us. My weekends without my daughter are always spent with hid plans made, and they always involve drinking. I am literally never home with my two overnight shifts a week with one job and my different shifts with the other. Sometimes I’d like to just stay home. I’ve always communicated this with him, for the last 7 years. Well even try to make a night out for dinner plan and then home for a movie and maybe some intimacy for once. Always turns in to him basically pre gaming dinner (drinking 2-4 beers before we leave while I get ready) and then having a few at dinner, and then more afterwards. Enough to when we get home to have some quality US time, hes passed out before the movie hits 10 minutes. There’s no doubting I started dating an alcoholic and continue to do so. As I write this out I feel stupid for still being here. However, for the most part we have a great relationship.. rarely argue, very good with words of affirmation, it’s just the little bit of quality time I am missing here. And when I get it he almost always makes a comment about “what we’re missing that night” and it’s always socializing and drinking. I think we are overall happy because although I parent him for the most part, I also let him get away with a lot. Such as only drinking on special occasions. This does not work for alcoholics I’m afraid. I feel I need to parent him or I’ll lose him. He had 5 drunk drivings when I met him and got a 6th at our 4 year mark. He is also still on probation and a no drink. If he gets another dui he’s gone for a long time. If he gets caught as a passenger in a car with alcohol in his system he’s gone for who knows how long and probation is revolked. It’s exhausting. I’ve considered telling him he should take time, a week, weekendidn’t, month, whatever to just go and try out that carefree lifestyle he seems to be craving and missing so much. It would drive me crazy but I’m at that point. I’ve considered moving out, although it’s never that simple as it would hurt a lot. Any advice is SO much appreciated!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      My first thought is that I think the two of you should find a good counselor and see them to talk through this issue. In my opinion, he must be more responsible and that is not your job to make sure he does what he is supposed to do.

  57. Lila Reply

    I have this issue with my husband. He avoids dealing with anything he finds uncomfortable and so leaves me holding the bag. If someone is mistreating me he will say nothing because he doesn’t want to risk HIS relationship with that person. HE will not deal with our finances and has been out of work for a long time. If he gets a line on a job, he will drag his feet and procrastinate calling. When we first got married, I remember him being really upset if I didn’t use the same appliances his mom did or put my things in the same cupboards his mother would. And he sandbagged me. He told me that he believed that a man’s role was to provide and a woman’s to home make, which is fine with me because I am a bit old fashioned that way. But as soon as we got married, he suddenly just sagged to the floor so to speak and wouldn’t look for work. He should have been looking for work before we got married. He played computer games for a month or two until I finally confronted him about what he had said vs what he was doing. His response was to accuse me of just using him as a meal ticket and shoving him out to get a job to support me! I was the one working!

    Yet ironically one of my motivations in wanting a strong leader was because I wanted that security I missed as a child. I figured if I had a strong man who was not afraid to lead, not afraid to stand up for what was right and have solid boundaries, I’d have it made. I had a pretty abusive father with a drinking problem and of course with both my parents I wound up getting used as a confidant, surrogate spouse, caretaker who provided emotional support and strength.

    So what do you in a situation like this to fix it?

  58. Mary Reply

    I think the main point is the problems that develop when a partner’s basic needs are met. When we point a finger at one partner acting like a child and the other acting like a parent, we’re forgetting that both partners’s needs are not being met – which leads to frustration and distance between partners. I may feel that my husband of almost 17 years is my son in that he has never once taken out the trash, rarely does any yard work, and cannot be trusted in the house with the kids unsupervised (they won’t be fed and may hurt each other). On the flip side, I’m the worst sort of daughter to him as I haven’t made a dime since I gave birth to our first child 15 years ago. I haven’t even looked for work. How could I be so financially irresponsible? I completed my college degree and have been too terrified of what will happen to the kids when I’m not there that I haven’t pushed the boundaries to explain that sometimes I won’t be there. I’m so lazy I don’t even demand our kids put away their clean clothes or take out the trash because, hey, I have responsibilities that I take seriously.
    I don’t think pointing the finger at one partner and labeling as the child will help resolve the problem. Once, after driving our kids and some other kids to an event, I returned home to my husband who was still playing video games – having decided that yard work was not going to happen. I pushed the power button on that video game console and the tv. I was yelled at and told to stop acting like such a child! It was a slap in the face. I was still unable to look for jobs – who would want to hire me anyway? But I managed to clean up the house and cook. It was a meal not worth mentioning. My husband chose to eat Frosted Flakes instead. He did not notice my efforts at cleaning the house and instead pointed out how poorly I’d chosen to stock the groceries as there was nothing good to eat.
    I know I need to get a job. I need to teach my kids basic chores and cooking skills. I’m terrified of making these adult decisions.
    I appreciate this article because it helps me see that others are also struggling. I’d love to hear a success story – where someone has turned it around in their partnership and now they have an equal partnership – how long a struggle was it, when was it different, did it get worse before it got better?
    I need to put my big girl pants on and start turning in my resume and applications. And chore charts for the kids – with repercussions.

  59. Lies Reply

    This article is exactly what I needed to read today. I have been dating a guy for three years and we’re still not married, he still doesn’t have a job, but due to personal family issues and childhood issues in his life I feel responsible for him and guilty that I would ‘abandon’ him. It’s been very unclear to me what God would have me do. But I feel like this helps.

  60. Anon Ymous Reply

    Have you ever seen the “child” in the situation grow up? Also, do you know of any marriage counselors in NYC who subscribe to this theory and provide counseling?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m sorry, but I don’t know of a counselor in NYC. Call Redeemer Church and see if they have a recommendation. I have seen the “child” grow up.

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