Dear Thelma: I'm a pregnant working mother, my husband is jobless

Dear Thelma: I'm a pregnant working mother, my husband is jobless
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

Dear Thelma

I am a 36-year-old married woman, with a four-year old-daughter. I am now nine weeks pregnant.

I have a stable job with a decent income. Unfortunately, that's not the case with my husband. He had a decent income when I decided to marry him five years ago. He is a good husband and a very patient one. Yet I am disappointed that I have to bear all the expenses in our family since he stopped working four years ago.

My income is enough for our monthly expenses but not enough to save anything. It's been very stressful with my second pregnancy, thinking of all the burdens I have to bear in the future.

I have tried to talk with my husband and even his mother, but it proved futile. He never really worked to help me with the expenses and this has really stressed me out.

I have thought of having an abortion, but I'm not brave enough to do it. I don't see any future with my husband but I'm not ready for a divorce. It's not because I'm afraid to be alone. What I am afraid of is how to handle my child (or children) by myself as both my parents have passed away and I don't have anybody else other than my husband.

I don't feel like I love him but I do admit that I need him a lot. I'm devastated and sometimes furious. I'm able to handle this for the time being but I'm afraid I can't do this any longer. The frustration lingers deep in my heart and is not getting any better.

Please advise. Thanks for lending me your ears. - Unhappy wife

Dear Unhappy

I'm curious about what your husband does with his days. If he is cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and looking after your little girl, and he's willing to take care of the new baby, then I can see why he might reasonably say that he has a job.

However, if he thinks that is "women's work" and he's just hanging about the house doing nothing, then that is an entirely different matter. Anyone can lose a job, but to be unemployed for four years when you have a little daughter to take care of, and a new baby on the way, is simply irresponsible. You are quite right to be worried about your salary being just enough to live on but not being able to put away any savings. If you lose your job, become ill, or have some other disaster, you will have no cushion. Also, if you keep going this way, what will happen when you retire? It's not like you can live off fresh air, is it?

Your husband is ignoring this and has thrown the burden of taking care of the family entirely on your shoulders. I am not at all surprised you are extremely frustrated and angry. Also, it's natural that after so many years of disregard, that you no longer see a future with him.

I suggest you figure out why you are putting up with this. What is going on here? And what else are you putting up with in your life? Counselling might give you some constructive advice on making general life happiness improvements.

List everything that you need for a safe, happy future… Look at this in a purely business sense: like a project plan.

As to your current issue, you've said you're not ready to leave. I get that. Your little girl and that new baby need a lot of care. As your parents are no longer with you, either, you feel very much alone.

I really am so sorry for you.

So, let's get practical. Work out exactly what you want from your husband. List everything that you need for a safe, happy future: monthly income, monthly savings, house duties, parenting duties, and so on. Then work out who will be responsible for what. Look at this in a purely business sense: like a project plan.

Then lay it out for him. Do it coolly, sensibly and without emotion. Remind him that marriage is a partnership and children are a shared responsibility. He needs to step up and do his part.

If that doesn't work, you need to figure out a path that will ensure the best possible happiness for you and your kids.

Look to your extended family and friends network to see what help they can offer. Also, build up your career. Focus on becoming completely independent. Talking to a financial advisor might be helpful, too. Also, while you're not ready to walk yet, consult a lawyer to find out where you'd stand in the event of a divorce.

In the short term, this plan will help relieve some of your frustration. And in the long-term, if you decide you want to walk, you'll be prepared.

Does that sound cold? Perhaps, but you're stuck with a partner who's happily ignoring your needs. Enough is enough. You are still young, and life should be sweet, not being angry and frustrated at the increasing burdens landing on you.

Good luck, and let me know how you get along.

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