Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A New Career Twist

Wow. Writing my story is harder than I thought it would be. My hat is off to all the brave bloggers who have gone before me! Thanks for the inspiration. =)

I left off with my story with the beginning of my husband's career as a consultant. He started out with a large corporation and the promise of training to become the elite of the consulting world. He certainly has the smarts for it! And of course the idea of swooping in to heroically solve the unsolvable problems and then leave again, untouched by the petty politics of the client workplace, was extremely appealing. Think Superman of that database world.

It was not until very recently, as my husband began to heal from the toxic effects of his parents hardcore fundamentalism, that it occurred to him that he was actually recreating his childhood dynamics in our home at that time. You see, my husband is an old school missionary kid, sent off to boarding school at the tender age of six years old. When his own son reached the age of six, some unhealthy emotional autopilot inside of my husband's heart clicked on, and he was drawn into repeating the cycle of herioc abandonment in his own son's life.

The story changed slightly. He was off to rescue corporate America, while his own father was out to save the souls of remote tribal people in the jungle. His children got to stay home with the other parent at least. By contrast, missionary wives were total career women at that time, putting their children in 24/7 ten month a year total care rather than the 9/5 day only care utilized by the modern American career woman. It was a huge improvement for my children over his own childhood.

But what was eerily the same is the total emotional withdrawal of Dad from family life. The man who was once so close with his children hardly had time for them, and even less time for me. By the time he was six months into his new career, things were not working out for us at all.

Still, we both thought it was the fault of the big corporation. They required Monday to Friday travel, and if his plane was late it shortened out family time even more. Additionally, they required all kinds of paperwork to summarize the weeks events. If that wasn't finished on the flight home, it had to be done over the weekend. Plus there was dry cleaning to attend to on Saturday and packing to be done on Sunday. Every three months there was a weekend team-building meeting, so on those weekends he didn't come home at all.

The time we did have together was short. Everyone of us in our family longed for his love and time. He longed to be left alone and finally relax. I did my best to support both him and the children. We started having "snuggle night" on Fridays when Dad got home. We would all camp out in the living room on sleeping bags, telling stories, reading chapter books and praying together. It was a good experience. On Saturday morning Dad would make pancakes with the kids, always doing something fun and creative with shapes, colors or flavors.

Once the breakfast was over, it was time to go run errands (like the dry cleaners) and catch up on paperwork. Sundays we would go to church and after church it was time to pack. Sunday night we would go to bed early because he left very early Monday morning to get to the airport.

There was almost no romance at this point in our marriage. He was too stressed out, too tired, or he had no time. And since we had always had a meager sex life, this was not new. But it was unwelcome.

We had almost no time alone at all at this point in our marriage. We talked on the phone in the evening during the week, so we were usually caught up on events like bills, doctor's visits, lessons and home school on my part, client and co-worker relationships on his part. It was emotional closeness I was needing when he got home, and yet for some reason he was really bad at it most of the time.

The pattern was that I would present a need of some kind, for empathy or encouragement or some other heart need, and he would act put out. He would not want to be bothered, but being the passive aggressive guy he was, he would half-listen. When I was done talking he would be silent. This of course hurt and I would get angry. He would then ask what did I want him to say, and I would tell him and he would parrot it right back condescendingly. This is more or less what our married life would be like for years to come.

He would usually apologize near bed time, and blame it all on the stress of the job. He would promise again to get out at the end of the first year, once he had the experience on his resume. He was working alongside the owners of a smaller, more family friendly consulting firm. Maybe if he took a job with them, he could even work local. They would pay more, and the work-week would be shorter. If we could just hold it together for a year...

If he had been emotionally healthy enough to realize what was going on, that it was not consulting that was pulling him away from his family, but his heart wanting to pull away from family that drew him to consulting, things would have changed for the better much earlier in this story. But he was oblivious to that at the time, and it certainly never occurred to me.

So that year ended, and he left the big corporation to work for the smaller firm. Though they had no local work for him at the time, they expected to have something for him in six months, a year at the most. In the meantime, the work-week was shorter, dress code was casual and there was no monstrous pile of paperwork to fill out. There were no quarterly trips to attend. The owners of this company had families too! This was going to be much better for us all.

And in all the above ways it was. But what we didn't realize was that this new company was a surrogate boarding school good ole boys club. Joining this new firm allowed my husband to become even more distant from his wife, because now he had the boys to hang out with all week. Career wise, my husband was growing in leaps and bounds. Emotionally, my husband was regressing back to his boyhood days. And guess what? It is not good at all to be married to a child-man.

No comments:

Post a Comment