(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
My husband does not help around the house.
(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Irene? Welcome to the show.
Irene: Hi Dr. Kenner. Like you said, my name is Irene and I'm in a situation, like I was telling the young gentleman earlier, I have a 21-year-old daughter, a 22-year-old son, a husband and a home, of course. But, I'm in a situation that since my husband retired, or even prior to that - six or seven years earlier - he does not cooperate with anything around the house. He does not cooperate for anything at all.
Dr. Kenner: Give me one example that irks the heck out of you.
Irene: You know why I'm calling you actually? Because I've got water leaky faucets in all the bathrooms, outside, front yard, backyard, everywhere.
Dr. Kenner: Water leaking?
Irene: Yes. And I ask my brother to come and help me do the plumbing, because of course plumbing is expensive. I ask him, "Have you noticed the backyard, toward the very far end, is leaking?" And the answer that irritates me is that he snaps.
Dr. Kenner: What does he say?
Irene: Aren't you here? Haven't you gone to the backyard? Don't you see what's leaking? He puts everything on me. He sits here all day, since he retired. He sits here at the house all day, sitting in my son's bedroom, watching television all day, in my bedroom because we're no longer together since we've got so many problems - he sleeps in his bedroom, I'm in my bedroom, my daughter in hers and my son in his.
Dr. Kenner: How old is he?
Irene: He is 63. But very healthy, very strong.
Dr. Kenner: Healthy and strong. What does he do for hobbies? Besides watch TV?
Irene: Drink beer and liquor.
Dr. Kenner: He's an alcoholic?
Irene: I would think so.
Dr. Kenner: What keeps you with him?
Irene: I have judged him to be like that.
Dr. Kenner: How much does he drink?
Irene: Well, when I get home I see at least a dozen cans of beer.
Dr. Kenner: A dozen cans of beer?
Irene: And I'm sick. I'm at the verge of leukemia. I have a blood problem. And I get up and I drag myself to work still. My daughter drags herself to work and studies, goes to college.
Dr. Kenner: What do you do?
Irene: I work in an office. I'm an office clerk, secretary.
Dr. Kenner: Do you have a good friend in the office?
Irene: Actually no. Because I think that my problems here at the house shows on me at work.
Dr. Kenner: How so?
Irene: It seems like I snap at stuff that some of the girls at the office, also when they ask questions about something they should know, they've been there for such a long period also.
Dr. Kenner: So it spills over, you're frustrated?
Irene: Yes, his problems are on me, I'm thinking.
Dr. Kenner: What keeps you in the marriage? The leukemia?
Irene: No, at the beginning, what kept me in the marriage was that my sister had gotten divorced and her children always threw this thing back at her, like, "Oh, you left my dad because you want to go running around, looking for a husband. We don't want a new dad."
Dr. Kenner: How old were her kids when she divorced?
Irene: They were about 13 or 14.
Dr. Kenner: And your kids are 21 and 22.
Irene: My kids are old now. I was thinking of maybe, is he too old or am I too old to get a divorce?
Dr. Kenner: Do you know there are articles -
Irene: To lose anything we have accomplished. Actually, his answer today was, "Well, if you don't want to fix the leaks, if you don't want to fix this or you don't want to do anything around the house, then get out."
Dr. Kenner: He wants a free ride in life. What did he do for a living?
Irene: He used to work at a company manufacturing appliances.
Dr. Kenner: Was he in a corporate, did he use his brain a lot or just somebody who was a gopher and he was a day laborer?
Irene: He was a worker, just a worker and the company moved them out to another state.
Dr. Kenner: But was he a hard worker? A good worker?
Irene: Very hard worker.
Dr. Kenner: Did he love his work?
Irene: Yes he did.
Dr. Kenner: One of the problems - but you said this started before he left work too? So I'm hearing at least two major problems. One is his alcoholism, which may be his way of drowning the fact that he's let his mind corrode. He's not functioning. He's not building any self-respect and therefore, he's hateful of himself. It sounds like he's reflecting it out on you and the you bring it into work, so it's like this domino effect.
Irene: And it's not just on me. It's on my son and my daughter.
Dr. Kenner: Oh, he does it with them too?
Irene: When you hear one of your children say, "I hate my - "
Dr. Kenner: My father? Well, that's wonderful in a sense, because they're recognizing reality. How can they love someone who hates themselves? If they hate themselves and they've made themselves into a bad character - they're drinking, they're throwing what could have been a wonderful life away, he could have made the most of retirement and he's not, he's just watching TV and basically stagnating. There's a stench in that room, the alcohol stench. What I recommend is, you asking yourself the question, you can't change him. I would get therapy for yourself. Supportive therapy. And I would ask yourself what will make you happy long range? If it's living without him, make sure you can do it financially. Maybe you can find a darling little apartment. I've worked with women who have been married for many decades and I've just seen them so much happier on their own. There's a transition period that is sticky, but your kids will be supportive of you because it's not like your sister. Your kids are on your side. You'll be better to the people at work. You can even tell the people at work what's going on. They'll be more empathetic and maybe you'll soften up there and make your life a little better. Thank you so much for your call. I wish we had more time, we're right up against the break Irene.
Irene: I really appreciate your help here.
Dr. Kenner: Hope that helps. Give me a call back. Let me know how it turns out for you.
Irene: Thank you so much for your help.
Male 1: This last week with dad, it's been a living hell. When I'm there, I feel like my territory is being violated. When I'm not, I'm worried about what he's up to. Look at me, I'm a nervous wreck. You don't still have the brochures from those rest homes do you?
Male 2: You really think that's necessary?
Male 1: I'm afraid I do. I don't have my life anymore. You don't suppose there's a chance that you and Maris could -
Male 2: Dear God, no.
Dr. Kenner: That's from Fraiser. And so many people that I work with now are in that situation, where they've got elderly parents moving back in with them or living with them anyway or in an in-law apartment attached to the house and they constantly are shuttling them around, taking them to doctors, taking them to the church social, taking them everywhere you can imagine. The kids, the sandwich generation, the adult kids, just feel like they have no life anymore. Of course that's what Fraiser is dealing with. Typically it doesn't end up like with Fraiser. Typically, resentment spills between the adult child and the parent, and it comes out in screaming at one another or passive aggressive actions. The parent feels like a burden if they're a good parent and they feel like if they're an envious parent that the child owes them this. Then it becomes a nightmare and the child can't disentangle themselves from this. What's a solution?
Well, you pawn it off on your younger sibling or your older brother or somebody else in the family. That's not a solution. That's just passing the buck. I think the most respectful thing in this situation is to seriously look into assisted living if you're in the price category where you can afford it. It preserves the dignity of the aging parent and yourself. And, you each have your privacy. It's just a much healthier solution. That's the route we went with my mother-in-law, and it gave her a lot of privacy and it worked out very well. Of course if you have a loving parent and you've got young kids and the parent wants to babysit for the kids and it's a win-win situation, then that's a whole different category.