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The Vine: April 10, 2013

Submitted by on April 10, 2013 – 9:31 AM95 Comments


My husband and I have been married for three years and have a baby on the way. We have a recurring issue in our relationship that I would really like to resolve with finality.

I work a traditional nine-to-five job whereas he works long, unpredictable hours. It's annoying and inconvenient to not know when to expect him home, but I've adjusted to it for the most part. The problem is that sometimes he likes to go out after work with friends or co-workers and not tell me that he is doing so. If he still gets home at a half-decent hour I won't know the difference.

As long as he thinks I won't know the difference he will just pretend (by omission) that he worked later than he actually did. Sometimes I find out about these occasions a day or so later because I will see a debit-card transaction from a bar or restaurant post to our checking account.

Other times, he comes home late enough that it is obvious he didn't come straight from work. I will wake up at 2 AM, 3 AM, sometimes later, and he won't be home and there will be no phone call or text message from him. This will jar me awake and I will immediately try to call and/or send him a text. More often than not he will be unreachable. Sometimes his phone will go straight to voicemail and his excuse later will be that the battery died, or I will call multiple times hoping he will answer or call back (I don't leave voicemails because he doesn't listen to them), and/or I send him multiple texts that will go unanswered for an hour or two or more.

We have had many, many arguments as well as rational discussions on this topic. We've come to an agreement (more than once) on proper going-out etiquette; conclusion being that if he is not coming straight home he will let me know what he's doing. And if he's going to be later than expected he will update me, even (especially) if it is an hour where I might be sleeping because the waking up alone and ignorant is the worst part about the situation. I believe that a rational person might have legitimate reason to worry about their spouse's safety in a situation like that. Unfortunately for me, it has happened so many times that I don't doubt he's just safely enjoying himself without regard for my feelings or peace of mind.

Let me clarify exactly how I feel about this behavior. First, I acknowledge that I have developed an insecure attachment relationship to my husband. Like a neglected child, I am deeply hurt that he chooses to spend his precious and rare free time with other people while I am home alone, probably bored, just wondering when he will get home. I know this sometimes manifests itself in the tone of my late-night text messaging or next-day arguments. I know it is unfair to want him to spend all of his free time with me, so as long as he lets me in on his plans and those plans are reasonable I am very nice about it.

I also have a problem trusting him in general because I know he is habitually deceitful in this way, and has been occasionally deceitful in other smaller ways that are technically water-under-the-bridge issues. But, you know, trust isn't quickly or easily repaired.

Lastly, and less importantly, this is a little bit about money management. He will easily spend $40 on an average night out all by himself. Meanwhile I'm packing leftovers or sandwiches for lunch because I'm trying to be frugal.

This is something that has been going on since the very beginning of our relationship, but it didn't used to happen all that often. The last several months it has become more and more frequent. I am tired of having the same argument over and over and hearing him promise to behave differently only to go through it again. With a baby due in six weeks this makes me even more angry and impatient. I want this to be a time of solidarity in our relationship and he is undermining that. It has occurred to me that the increased frequency of this behavior could be related to the anticipation of the baby and all of the responsibility that entails. I still expect him to act like an adult and in the best interest of our family. And this isn't a new problem since the pregnancy so we still need to resolve it because I have no confidence that it will pass.

Wise friend, I obviously don't know what to do. In my sleepless nights I think of doing things like locking him out or turning the tables and disappearing for a while. These are extreme actions that sound like punishment. I think these are bad ideas. But I'm out of good ideas.

"It" happened earlier this week and he decided he isn't sorry. After trying to reach him beginning at 2:30 AM he sent me a text at 3:20 saying, among other things, "I will be home when I get home." This sent me reeling and I got up and locked the deadbolts for which we do not carry keys. At 4:30 I saw that his car was still not in the driveway. The car was there when I got up for work at 6 AM and I assume he was sleeping in it. We haven't talked since.

His mother is visiting this weekend and I have packed a bag to stay with my mom for the weekend so I don't have to pretend to be loving toward him in front of his mother. He thinks I'm overreacting.

Sorry for the length. Please sign me

Just Tired

Dear Tired,

I have questions, but unfortunately I don't think the answers matter. I mean, what "other things"? What exactly is on the "bar or restaurant" tabs? What does he do for a living; is he just telling you he can't predict his work schedule? Because from where I sit, and I'm really sorry that this is my theory but I'm just going to rip the Band-Aid off here, the only explanations for the Tony Soprano hours (and matching attitude) besides that he actually is a Mafia capo? 1. He's an addict or 2. he's sleeping with someone else(s).

But as I said, the "why" is irrelevant here. The "what" is that he doesn't want to come home, he doesn't give a shit that that upsets you, and he's got you making excuses for him like it's your fault or the baby's. Sure, dudes freak out about an impending child and whether they can handle it, but you said yourself that this might explain the "increasing frequency," not the behavior itself, which is ongoing — and more to the point, you said that. He didn't. If that's the case, why wouldn't he trust his wife and the mother of his child enough to just say so, instead of having yet another fight about why he's not answering his goddamn phone at 3 in the morning? And: your wife is pregnant, guy. You keep the phone on, and when it rings, you answer it.

Unless, of course, you're in the middle of some sketch transaction behind the bar or restaurant having to do with narcotics or maybe not being straight.

I know you want it to be true that he's just having some beers with friends to unwind, that his battery really did die, that he's coping with the pressures of imminent fatherhood and it'll take care of itself — and again, I don't know how often it happens, and if it's only every two weeks, maybe it isn't an issue, I don't know. But even if it is that he has a stressful job and daddy anxiety, his coping skills give you stress and anxiety, and he refuses to change them. More likely, he's doing something he doesn't want you to know about, and I have to tell you, the whole "well maybe if you weren't so clingy" line of reasoning is classic junkie projection. He's trained you not just to accept his shit-heel behavior, but to give consequences for it only to yourself.

…Enh-enh. Can't continue; won't continue. The whole situation is shitty and unfair, and terrifying, and you don't deserve it, but sugar-free, he's already abandoned your little family emotionally. The worst that could happen has, really, already happened, and I think once you accept that, as horrible as it is, you'll feel relieved. No more "what if"s, just "what's next"s, and at this point, with a baby coming, you don't have the luxury of waiting around for him to do better (and he won't). Enough reacting; it's time to act, for yourself and Tired Jr.

Stay with your mom for a while, if you can. Inform your husband that you've had it. You don't know why he's lying and avoiding you, you don't know why he can't show you some consideration or charge his phone, but you don't care why; you're done. He's had enough chances, and this isn't a negotiation. And it really shouldn't be — the idea here isn't to force his hand, or scare him into compliance, but to really be done and accept that you can't count on this person, emotionally or otherwise.

I'm sorry this is happening to you, I really am. But it's happening, so take control of it, now, before the baby arrives and you're too exhausted to call him on his shit. And it's shit, make no mistake, so: scoop and flush, lady.

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  • Maria says:

    I'm so sorry, Tired. Being pregnant and then a new mom is the most vulnerable time of your life, and you have this man you can't rely on. But it sounds like you have your mother, and that's a good thing. You have a means to extricate yourself. I agree with Sars; you should leave.

    No matter what he is hiding about himself, you were twisted to and fro in this relationship. It doesn't sound like you had the best match, if you couldn't agree on big ticket items like how time and money would be spent. I have to wonder who wanted a baby more, but at this point it really doesn't matter. The baby is coming, and is something good that came out of your time together.

    You are really going to need some time with a therapist to figure out how you let yourself go down this path–to make sure you don't just lather, rinse, repeat with somebody else.

    Best of luck to you, and I wish you a happy, healthy baby.

  • Rachel says:

    Oh, damn. This sucks out loud.

    I am mostly agreed with Sars' questions and points above, but she didn't ask the two big ones that jumped out at me:

    1. Do you want to stay married, knowing you can't trust him? In my opinion, trust is not a sliding scale. It's either there or it's not. Yes, yes, baby on the way, etc, but… if he's sneaking around or lying by omission or whatever the hell NOW… girl, if you think that is going to improve when you have a newborn you are smoking some high-grade crack, right there. It won't. He sounds like a real shit.

    2. Okay, so if you want to stay married, have you thought about or suggested a couple of counseling sessions to him? That right there will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about his thoughts on the relationship. Either he is open to the idea in the hopes that you can "fix" what's happening and strengthen this shaky foundation you're building your family on, or he isn't. And if he isn't… I'd suggest going on your own and then calling a divorce lawyer.

    "but…" But, no. There is something going on here that is more than "unpredictable hours" and wanting to go out with his bros after work. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it's not an elephant.

    What advice would you give to a friend (or um, an Internet Stranger) who is in a similar situation? Think about it and DO THAT. Either DTMFA or counseling or something but you and your baby deserve better than what you're getting.

    Trust is everything. EVERYTHING. And right now, you've got nothing.

  • Just Tired says:

    Letter writer here – just want to mention that Hubs is a chef. I don't know why I didn't just say it out-right. I know from my previous stint in the restaurant business that it is wholly customary for restaurant workers to commiserate over cocktails after a shift. If there is addiction involved, alcohol is probably it.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I considered suggesting counseling, which I normally would as a matter of course, but I didn't — I think because I sense that this is not going to be a couples-counseling issue until it has been an addiction-counseling issue for a while first. What's that country song about how, at 4 AM, the world belongs to cops, robbers, drunks, and ghosts? Hey, maybe he's an undercover agent and he can't tell her where he is and what he's doing.

    But my strong instinct is that his disease is running this show. People with a "good" explanation for not coming home 'til 4 in the morning? Offer that explanation. They don't sleep in the car without comment.

    Totally agree that she needs to decide whether the marriage is worth saving, for her. But if this has always been an issue and if I'm right about the cause…

  • Deanna says:

    Oh, honey, this is NOT your fault. Whatever insecurities you may have (and we all do, girl, every last one of us) are no excuse to be treated like shit by the father of your child. You are strong enough to fly solo. Good luck to you.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    …I was writing the above when Just Tired was responding. That he's a chef makes total sense, and so in turn would alcoholism/cocaine addiction, which has a pretty high rate of co-morbidity in that line of work.

  • Maria says:

    Plenty of chefs come home, check in, charge their phone, care how their wife feels and ramp UP the attention when a baby is about to be born. But you're not with one of them. Being locked out and being bailed on when his mom's in town hasn't convinced him to check IN to the marriage. Consider him checked out.

    It's said that many a bad marriage hangs out on the second shift. When you aren't together for the non-working time of most days, you don't confront a lot of things and you slide into situations like this. I'm not saying it can't work…just that this particular marriage isn't working BECAUSE you collectively can't resolve the trust issue.

  • Lisa M. says:

    Dear Tired,
    I'm so sorry you're in this situation. It sounds like you might have a good relationship with your mom; ask her if you can stay with her for a while (even a couple of weeks would probably be enough). This would give you some distance in which to evaluate your relationship with a clear head. Then you can consider next steps (counseling, divorce lawyer, getting your own checking account, whatever).

    I agree that Dude's behavior isn't going to change, and that he has already abandoned you. His attendance at the delivery would probably be grudging, if he attended at all, and I don't anticipate much help from him post-birth.

    He doesn't seem to like your company; otherwise, he would spend time with you. And since you are already waking up alone, you may as well do it in a place where you know where you stand (i.e., your mother's, or a trusted friend's).

    I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I wish you a happy and healthy baby, and a fantastic support network :)

    Let us know what you decide (if you feel comfortable with that); I'm thinking about you.

  • SIngle mom says:

    Ah Just Tired, I have been where you are and I feel for you. Sars' advice is, as usual, dead on. In my case, both addiction and an affair were the cause when my ex-spouse was out late, unreachable and defensive about my subsequent questions.

    Anyway, my daughter was 5 when I finally made the decision to pack it up and pack it in and although the months following the split were some seriously tough months, they were not, in any way, as hard as the nights I spent lying alone in bed and wondering where the heck he was. You've already lived the worst times. That kind of loneliness is really, really difficult and I promise that when you do decide to move on, you will feel better.

    I leaned on my parents, my siblings, my friends and everyone else who offered their help unselfishly and without hesitation. I'm happier and healthier than I was in that relationship and I feel immeasurably better about the kind of parent I am to my child.

    Someday, you will have to leave him. He's not a good partner to you and he's unlikely to prove a spectacular father to your child. You might not feel ready for it right now but when you are, you'll be stronger than you think you are. Good luck.

  • sam says:

    There are certainly jobs that have crazy, long, unpredictable hours (I'm a lawyer – I speak from experience). But they key for my married colleagues (my cat doesn't care if I call as long as I remembered to fill the auto-feeder before I left in the morning), is that they appear to let their spouses know when they're going to be late. Even when we decide to go out for a drink after getting a big project done. It doesn't mean everything is wine and roses in their home lives (I can't speak to that), but it's basic common courtesy. Heck, I'm staying in my parents' spare room for a few weeks while my bathroom is getting renovated, and I shoot them a quick email or something with my schedule, just so they know what's up.

    The problem isn't the unpredictable, late hours, per se, it's his complete lack of communication, together with his complete disregard for your feelings, not to mention health – I mean, you're six weeks away from giving birth! You could go at any time! he should not only be answering the phone when you call, he should have a backup phone in case the first one dies!

    The other thing though, is that you're going stir crazy sitting at home alone. This will have an obvious solution once the baby arrives, and is probably harder to do in your very-pregnant circumstances, but get out of the house. See friends, see your mom. At least fill some of that time with things other than problem husband. The added bonus is that the people you spend time with will become your support system if you need to make a more permanent change.

  • Cora says:

    Oh, God. I'm so sorry.

    From a practical point of view — and you might have thought of this already, since his schedule is so odd — start thinking about the issue of dealing with a newborn NOW. For one thing, it will give you a specific task to take your mind off of the shitty situation. It hurts to hear this, I know, but don't count on your husband to help you at all with the baby. Then, plan from there. You will need help; what resources do you have? Maybe a little internet research there; there have to be some mommy networks or free services provided by the state or community near you. I don't know how far along your pregnancy is, but I think that if you have some kind of plan in place, even if it's only "Mom will take the baby every Wednesday night," you'll feel a lot better facing the future.

  • Sarahnova says:

    Whatever else is going on… he's treating basic courtesy to you, his pregnant wife, as a nag and a hassle. He is downright avoiding you. That is… really not good.

    Can you live like this? Because it isn't changing. My sense is that your answer is 'no'. So… it's time to consider the consequences of that 'no', I think.

  • Molly says:

    Yeah, if he's a chef that definitely makes the "stays out until 2am or 4am or whatever" make more sense, but… dude's got a working phone. Dude hears how upset it makes you to not be able to get ahold of him. And dude… doesn't care. He's already REPEATEDLY indicated that he thinks whatever he's doing is more important than you. You're single in all but name at this point, really. And I don't think it's going to get better once there's a baby in the picture.

  • Barb says:

    He's not answering phone calls or texts from his 7.5/8-month pregnant wife? That's some serious jerkface behavior, I don't care what his job is. (Though I walked away and came back and now see that he's a chef. Doesn't matter.)

    LW, you don't trust him. He's given you no reason to trust him. And he apparently doesn't care about that, or about even about you knowing that he's lying (by omission) or misleading you about shifts when you see late-night transactions on your bank account.

    You're doing really well at giving all the reasons this is your fault (you've called it an insecure attachment relationship, called yourself a neglected child, hurt that he chooses to spend his free time with other people) and at the same time said that he is "habitually deceitful" and spending money in ways you don't like. (No idea if it's money he can afford to be spending or not. Not sure it matters.)

    Question: does he have free time to spend with you when it isn't the middle of the night? If he's closing a restaurant and comes right home, he'd be getting in 2-am-ish? Do you want him to wake you up (when you have a 9-to-5 job) to hang out with you? Or is what you really want for him to have another, different job at ends at an earlier hour or matches your hours more closely? Is he open to that possibility?

    What do you do with YOUR free time in the evenings when he is working? You wrote "I am deeply hurt that he chooses to spend his precious and rare free time with other people while I am home alone, probably bored, just wondering when he will get home." Do you do anything for yourself during that time? Take a class? Have dinner or see a movie with a friend? Work on a project (scrapbook, knitting, woodworking, whatever? Work out? (I realize being as pregnant as you are it might be difficult but in the 2.5 years before being pregnant did you do anything for yourself during that time?) You are allowed to have your own life outside of his!

    Have the two of you addressed how he thinks his behavior might change once the baby arrives? Since he hasn't changed it or attempted to change it for you even though you have reached agreement multiple times about what is acceptable behavior for his going out, I doubt his behavior will change at all with the new arrival.

    If you want to resolve this with finality, you leave him and file for divorce. Sorry to be so blunt, but that's where I see this going, and fast.

  • Emily says:

    The very best case scenario here is that nothing else is going on and your husband is just a world class asshole. And that scenario isn't very likely. I don't see this getting any better, honestly, and if it makes you angry now, you are going to be murderous when you have a newborn in the picture. You'll be home all day on maternity leave and just want to take a small break to regroup and maybe catch a shower. And then husband no-shows and you can't get in touch with him. I guarantee you will want to clock him with a ball peen hammer when he finally walks in the door. My suggestion: first, hire a doula if you haven't already. And then find a good divorce lawyer and figure out your options. You're looking at a potential addict being around your newborn – would you let drunk uncle Barry take care of baby? It's no different just because it's daddy.

  • holly says:

    Your husband is unwilling to do even the simplest things to stay in touch with you, his partner, his wife, soon to be the person he is raising a child with.

    He ignores phone calls that could well be about you going into labor, for heaven's sake.

    You let him go out, you don't mind that he doesn't call, you don't mind the sins of omission, you only object when the hours get late enough that you are worried, and he gets angry at you for even that.

    I'm sorry, you don't have a partner, you don't have someone that will be a co-parent.

    I think you need to find a new way of living, because this is only going to get worse when there is a baby involved. Even the most minor versions of not keeping in touch are harder with a kid. Even the most minor versions of "you came home late and I needed you here" are hard with kids.

    I'm completely failing to find the words here, but in my mind, this has to stop or you have to walk. He can still go out, but he should ALWAYS tell you when he expects to be later than X o'clock, and he should ALWAYS answer your phone calls as if you were the highest priority relationship in his life.

  • Elisa says:

    This is always a horrible situation and you shouldn't have to go through it, but I agree with Sars. This man has no consideration for your feelings. He's acting like he's a single man, like he has no responsibilities or commitments. He's playing the classic "I'm the victim – you're a crazy, paranoid, woman!" game. You need to circle the wagons, make yourself and the baby the priority.

    These next steps are probably not what you want to think of next, but having experienced the divorces of many close friends, these are some steps you may want to consider. Check the bank accounts, gather evidence that may help you in the case of a divorce. Open an account that is just yours, that he doesn't have access to and make sure the statements don't go to your joint address. Again, I'm sorry you're going through this.

  • Carrie Ann says:

    The most important fact: You could go into labor at any moment. And for hours at a time he can't be bothered to call or text you, check his texts or missed calls, or even keep his phone charged. Or even FEEL BAD about such abhorrent behavior. He could miss the birth of his own child; you could be in medical distress; you could be forced to deliver a baby on your own. And he simply does not care.

    My heart aches for you. I am so sorry that you've basically gone through this pregnancy alone and that you might well go through this birth alone. But it truly might be for the best because–let's not mince words because he has not earned that–he is a terrible, awful person.

    Could he change? Maybe. But only if he wants to, and you've given him 1,000 chances, and he hasn't taken the opportunity yet. And you're 8 months pregnant with his child. If not now, when?

    I don't even want to go here, because I pretty much hate your husband for doing this to you, and I don't want him to have any opportunity to be happy. But you're with him for some reason, so presumably he has some redeeming qualities? So if at all other times, he is a loving person who seems excited about having a baby and distressed when you are unhappy, then maybe your leaving him will cause him to wake up and realize he's been an utter monster and needs to change. If he does express these feelings after a time-out, then you need to have the world's longest talk about concrete expectations and consequences for now and after the baby arrives.

    Expectation #1 is that especially for the first few months, he will come home promptly after work to help with nighttime baby duty. No exceptions. And in the language of addiction/intervention, you will need to hold to your bottom line. If he even starts pulling this shit again, you're out. Tell your mom. Make someone hold you accountable.

  • Melissa says:


    I feel for you, and my husband displayed many of the same traits that you describe in your husband when we were dating and first married. He still has some of these traits, but he grew up, he saw the importance of balancing work vs. hanging out with friends vs. spending time with me (and now with his daughter as well).

    Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like your husband has the desire or the maturity to change his ways, at least not yet. Maybe the baby will change him, but let's assume it doesn't. The fact that you can't reach him by phone 24/7 at 8 months pregnant is deplorable. He's not there for you now, and he's not going to be. End of story.

    It's going to get so much harder for you once the baby comes. You are going to be so sleep-deprived and stir crazy being alone with this new human being that needs constant attention, and you are going to become even more resentful that he's not there to help you out. I had a very helpful husband who was there to do anything for me and baby when he wasn't working (and he was at work sometimes 14+ hours a day), and I still had these feelings of loneliness and helplessness. You are at risk for postpartum depression – all postpartum women are really, given all the changes that take place after baby – but you more so because you don't have a good support system in your husband.

    Go stay with your mom, for a weekend, a week, 3 months, as long as you need to. Maybe he'll come around and see the damage that he's done. Or maybe he'll realize that he just can't do it. As everyone has said, you've lived through the hard point. Find the support you need, and start to extract yourself from this relationship with the assumption that it's already over. I'm so sorry.

  • Bria says:

    Oh, this just makes me hurt to read. I'm so sorry. I wish you didn't have deal with this right as you're about to have a baby, but I think you have to deal with it now, today, rather than wait until the baby is born and you're in the throes of newborn care. I agree with Emily – the extent to which this bothers you is going to go up at least a full order of magnitude when he's jerking you around about coming home later AND you've been dealing with a new baby all day (and all night, and all day, and all night…).

    But there's more than that. Suppose you tough it out and grit your teeth through the next year. Then what? Do you want your child to watch him treat you like this and grow up either thinking that's okay, or feeling a constant, nagging ache for the hurt you experience every day? You mentioned that you end up feeling like a neglected child. Guess who will also feel like one? You guys aren't going to be able to hide this from your child for very long, and you can't compartmentalize the way he treats you in a separate silo from how he treats your kid. I agree with Sars – you've got to get out of there for a while to clear your head and make some plans.

    Sars – if Tired is on the East Coast and wants a possible referral to a family law attorney, please feel free to give her my email and I can pass along a few resources (I don't do family law, but a friend does and she has a pretty strong professional network).

    Best of luck, Tired. We're all pulling for you.

  • Marnie says:

    Oy. Except for the baby part, I could have written this letter about my ex-fiance. He was a barista, so had a legit reason to not be coming home until 11pm…except for the part where he mostly never bothered to come home until 2am, or 3am, or 4am. I got the same excuses, made the same unanswered phone calls, had the same fights. Over and over and over again. Nothing worked. He definitely had some alcohol issues, may have been cheating on me. Around this time last year I finally had had it and ended it. So I have no advice, except to point out, as Sarah did, that you might very well feel relieved once you accept that there IS no solution. I know I did. Maybe if you leave for a while, he'll get his act together. Maybe not. Either way, it's time for you to get on with your life (and your child's life) and stop expecting him to meet you halfway. Because he won't. I wish it weren't true. But.

  • Leigh says:

    I completely agree with all of the above.

    I have known three women married to chefs. One has a marriage that sounds EXACTLY like yours, except their child is now 2 years old. Guess how much that husband has helped out with the child? Zero. ZERO. What he has contributed to the family is more to clean up after, and fights. If you are clinging to a bad relationship for the baby, please believe me when I say that this would actually be easier to do on your own (with a proper support system, which it sounds like you have) than with a drama-causing, unhelpful spouse.

    The other (family member, actually) HAD a marriage that sounded exactly like yours, and she hung in there until TWO kids (one with special needs) later, it turned out he was having an affair. Marriage over, finally, and everyone is much better off for it. Yes, even as a single mom with two extremely needy children.

    The third is married to a chef who manages to be a nice, normal, committed husband. The hours are one thing, but the behavior AROUND the hours is entirely another. There's a little bit here that can be written off to explainable situations, and the culture of going out after work with colleagues–I get that, and you're right that it's normal, to an extent. But absolutely nothing else about this is normal or right. And you deserve better. Please do go stay with your mom for a period of time, and take the break to do some serious soul-searching.

    I really feel for you. It's a terrible place to find yourself, especially with a baby on the way, and I wish you the best of luck.

  • Jenn says:

    I agree with what everyone's said, except for one thing: Don't leave. Make him leave.

    You're about to have a baby, and you can't rely on your husband to help you out. That on top of living in someone's spare room is too much stress. Plus, I would guess that you already have all the baby's stuff in the house. If there's going to be a separation, a break, whatever you want to call it, he should be the one to go. He's the jerk; you shouldn't have to uproot your life.

  • Megan says:

    Two observations, one of which has been made already.

    There are partners who are loving, considerate and reliable. Your partner's behavior isn't the norm. You shouldn't be used to it (if you are, perhaps this is how you are accustomed to men acting). You don't have to accept it, because lots of sweet partners do not do this.

    My second observation is that this sounds a lot like my sister's situation when her babies were born. Her assessment was that unreliable help was worse than no help. She said her partner created the work of an additional child. Expecting help and not getting it was worse than not expecting it and planning accordingly. There is a whole bunch of painful stuff about your situation and I'm sorry, but if it is like my sister's situation, single parenting is your comparatively easy option.

    Good luck. Enjoy your sweet baby.

  • Mandi says:

    Oh, dear. I'm so sorry to hear about this.

    My boyfriend is a (recovering) chef, who used to work the dinner shift. He'd often get off at 11 or 12 at night and sometimes, he'd grab a few beers after work. That'd put him coming in around 2am, sometimes 3.

    He started working those dinner shifts about 6 months into our relationship and sometimes he wouldn't call. But after a few fights about it, with me basically telling him it was disrespectful and, in some cases, downright cruel, he stopped doing it.

    That's the biggie. He stopped. The problem here is that your dude is not only not stopping, but he's somehow figured out a way to blame you for freaking out about it. And I think you're internalizing a lot of that. So let me be straight up. You're not being some nagging bitch for being upset about this. It is a legitimate thing to be upset about, it has gone on WAY too long, and, pregnant or not, it's time to go. I'm not totally on board with the addiction thing (though my man had issues with alcohol during this time and it's not totally unlikely), but I think both of you need to own up to the fact that he's very clearly avoiding a situation he's not happy with at home.

    Somewhat related, my father is an alcoholic. And he STILL does stuff like this to my mom (after 30 years of marriage and a 15 year period of sobriety that ended 4 years ago). And she's terribly miserable. Both of them feel trapped in their relationship, too used to one another and too comfortable in their lives to leave, but him avoiding the her and the house and her raging at him for doing so. Don't be in this situation. From experience, I can tell you it's not good for you or your future child. I often tell my parents they should just divorce and we'd all be happier if they did because both of them are so unfulfilled and so sad. You may feel like there's no out because baby is on the way, but there is and you need to take it, because this guy is not going to change. Don't let that take its toll on your psyche. Get out, cut him off, and get yourself a decent therapist.

    Much luck to you. Sorry for the long comment, but this one struck close to home for me.

  • Sharon says:

    I am speaking from experience – I'm much older than most of the commenters, so I can give advice with the benefit of hindsight wisdom. I was in a marriage much like yours – my ex-husband would disappear all night, no phone calls, no explanation. I know well the feeling of jolting awake in the middle of the night and realizing he wasn't in bed where he should have been. Sars is right – this isn't going to get better, he is up to no good (in my case, alcohol was the "other woman" but there were probably hook-ups that I wasn't aware of) and trust me, having a newborn isn't going to make him want to come home more – once the novelty of the baby wears off, he quite likely will be gone even more. Also, I hate to tell you this, but what you are viewing as agreements to call you when he is going to be out late, he sees as saying whatever the hell he needs to say to get you to shut up. Listen from someone who was where you are: You can do this. You can leave, you can manage on your own – because, really, you are already – and you will have so much peace once you realize you don't have to worry or care where he is or who he's with any more. Take care, and I will be thinking of you.

  • cayenne says:

    I have to agree with Jenn on the point of making him leave. In addition to all the aspects of baby prep, it puts you in a position of power that you don't seem to currently feel you have. This can help re-establish that.

    And also, re booting out the douchecanoe just before giving birth? A good friend of mine, less than 2 weeks from due date and already mom of a 2-year-old, discovered that her husband was having an affair. Since she had a 1-strike-you're-out policy on infidelity, she changed the locks on him while he was out with the floozy (love that poetic justice, a.k.a. karmic bitchslap). She had a good support network to help with the kids, and, realistically, less worry since she didn't have to wonder where the dirtbag was. You may find you're less stressed, even with a newborn.

    Good luck to you & all the best with the new wee one.

  • Kathryn says:

    I've been in exactly this situation. Pregnant, baby's dad a chef, never any idea where he was or what he was doing. I thought for sure I couldn't handle a child on my own and whatever he was doing it was easier for him to be there than not. It wasn't. Parenting on my own, where I knew what was going on and what to expect, was so much easier.

    If I knew then what I know now I would have left in a heartbeat as soon as I knew I was pregnant. Peace of mind is worth so much more than some asshole who doesn't know what he's missing.

  • Jen S 2.0 says:

    I can add nothing better to what has already been said by the Nation about your passive-aggressive nightmare of a spouse, so I will just say:

    This. So much this.



    *People with a "good" explanation for not coming home 'til 4 in the morning? Offer that explanation. They don't sleep in the car without comment.

    *He doesn't seem to like your company; otherwise, he would spend time with you.

    *He's not a good partner to you and he's unlikely to prove a spectacular father to your child.

    *He's already REPEATEDLY indicated that he thinks whatever he's doing is more important than you.

    *You could go into labor at any moment. And for hours at a time he can't be bothered to call or text you, check his texts or missed calls, or even keep his phone charged. Or even FEEL BAD about such abhorrent behavior. He could miss the birth of his own child; you could be in medical distress; you could be forced to deliver a baby on your own. And he simply does not care.

    *Do you want your child to watch him treat you like this and grow up either thinking that's okay?

    *He's very clearly avoiding a situation he's not happy with at home.

    *What you are viewing as agreements to call you when he is going to be out late, he sees as saying whatever the hell he needs to say to get you to shut up. (**and then doing whatever he always was going to do anyway)

    Sigh. I'm so sorry.

  • Been There says:

    Oh, gosh. I have been there – pregnant with an absent husband. I could have written your letter verbatim.

    I knew my husband had a problem with alcohol. I later learned that he also had a problem keeping his pants zipped. There were other women, LOTS of other women.

    Having a child did not improve his behavior or magically cause him to grow up. Please listen to the advice given here – see a lawyer, get a support system, get a financial plan in place. Also, do NOT have sex with him again until he has a full STD screening.

    I know this is harsh and you might be tempted to try to work it out for the sake of the baby. I can tell you I wish I had left my husband much sooner than I did. The stress that the "marriage" brought to my life was not worth it. In reality, I was a single parent since day one. And, it was probably harder for my toddler to see her dad leave than it would have been for a newborn.
    Good luck!

  • MinglesMommy says:

    "First, I acknowledge that I have developed an insecure attachment relationship to my husband. Like a neglected child, I am deeply hurt that he chooses to spend his precious and rare free time with other people while I am home alone, probably bored, just wondering when he will get home."

    NO, you do not have an insecure attachment to your husband. You are a normal person asking for some (deserved) attention from the person you married. This is supposed to be someone you trust, someone with whom you have built and continue to build a life. Your insecurity comes from HIS behavior!

    "I know this sometimes manifests itself in the tone of my late-night text messaging or next-day arguments. I know it is unfair to want him to spend all of his free time with me, so as long as he lets me in on his plans and those plans are reasonable I am very nice about it."

    HE'S YOUR HUSBAND. He's SUPPOSED to be spending a significant amount of his "free time" with you. He should WANT to spend his free time with you. Sure, he'll have individual interests. Sure, he'll want a night out with the guys. But NOT EVERY NIGHT ALL THE TIME.

    Your behavior is not the behavior of "neglected child" but of a woman who is BEING neglected by, forgive me for speaking bluntly, a real jackass of a husband. I can't help wondering if he's just waiting for you to do the work of kicking him out so he doesn't have to do it himself. If he had nothing to hide, you wouldn't be wondering where he is all the time.

    You and your coming baby deserve better. You are NOT overreacting. I hope you keep everyone posted, and my best wishes to you!

  • Beth C. says:

    So, having been in the restaurant and bar industry quite a bit and having dated several boys in said industry there are a few things that jump out to me. The staying late and mixing drinks until 4am is pretty par for the course, so that does partially explain that (of course, so does Sars's comment that there is often coke to go with the rum… if you catch my drift)and their may be an addiction angle there, the behaviour is in line. At the same time, I have never worked with a more macho, bro-ish bunch than chefs and kitchen staff, especially when said staff skews mostly male. There was nothing more humilitaing amongst that group that having the wife blow up your phone to find out where you are. If that happened you had to deal with "whipped" jokes for quite a while. HOWEVER if you payed attention you would also see every single one of the married/attached guys (and girls) whip out the phones as soon as they clocked out to tell whoever their person-of-interest was to either come join the group or that they would be out late. Like someone else said, it's manners.

    So, basically, there may be a bit of a resentment cycle happening, He doesn't call, you get worried, check in, the bros give him shit, he retaliates by pouting and pulling the "I'm a grown man! I don't have to tell you anything!" Which causes you to get pissed off because he doesn't call so you call him, blah blah. Unfortunately, the reality is as a grown ass man it is his job to tell you what's up and babies pout and use passive agression. I'm not saying in the slightest this is your fault, it isn't, dude needs to tell you what's up, but there may be a cycle that has developed that both of you are feeding to a certain extent.

    Ultimately, like others have said, it's time to have a good, hard think on what you really want. You can bring up councelling if you want. Like someone else said, his reaction alone will tell you a lot. But the fact of the matter is, and I really, really hate to tell you this, but he probably isn't going to change so you need to figure out if this is behaviour you can learn to be OK with or if you need to get out. Like Sars has told so many other people, you can't force anyone to change anything, all you can do is change your reactions and boundaries.

    I think going to your mom's for a bit is a really good idea. Take a break, step out of the situation and see where your head really is. Then make a birth plan with her that doesn't include your dude, just in case. I really hope he steps up for you in that moment, but if he doesn't answer the phone when you tell him it's go time, you just need to be ready for that. Good luck, and may you and the baby be happy and healthy.

  • A says:

    Best summation ever: The very best case scenario here is that nothing else is going on and your husband is just a world class asshole.

    With that in mind, there's not much more to say, is there?

  • ferretrick says:

    The whole time I was reading the letter, I was like, you know he's cheating on you, right? I'll admit the addiction idea didn't occur until Sars said it, but it's also a strong possibility, maybe even stronger. I would think an adulterer would be more likely to take steps to cover their tracks, versus being this blatantly disrespectful.

    Regardless, whichever it is, everyone is right. No couple is more tolerant of outside friends/activities and values each other's space more than me and my husband, but there is no time we don't know where the other is and when they will be home and certainly not at 3 o'clock in the morning. I'd expect even that basic level of courtesy from a plain roommate, much less a romantic partner.

    "Wise friend, I obviously don't know what to do. In my sleepless nights I think of doing things like locking him out or turning the tables and disappearing for a while. These are extreme actions that sound like punishment. I think these are bad ideas. But I'm out of good ideas."

    They aren't bad ideas (well, the disappearing isn't the most mature way to end it-just tell him you are leaving if you take that tack). But really, you think they are bad ideas because you are afraid of what you will find out when you take them-namely, that he'll continue on exactly as before, that he really won't give a shit. And, I'm very, very sorry, but he won't. He's already shown it repeatedly.

    You can't count on him; you won't be able to when you have the baby. The next time he's not home when he said he would be, pack his stuff, lock the deadbolts, and leave it on the lawn. Or pack your own bags and go to your mother's. Whichever you choose, best of luck to you-you are strong enough and you can do this.

  • Laura says:

    I echo the "don't sleep with him until STD screening" comment. Furthermore you should mention the possibility to your OB. They screen for many STDs at the beginning of pregnancy because they can harm the baby, but if there's a chance you picked something up between then and now, it's worth getting screened again.

  • SarahS says:

    My husband is a chef and I work 9-5, so I can sooo feel your pain on the schedule thing. We've been trying to have a baby for a while, and part of me is less concerned that it hasn't happened yet because I honestly don't know how I could raise a baby with him on his current schedule anyway!


    We are in frequent contact during his shift and when he works late nights he comes straight home. He even texts me to let me know when he's getting in the car. Granted we have kind of a codependent and needy relationship at times, but the thing is when he works until 1am I cannot go to sleep until I know he's on his way back to me. Because I worry. If he pulled the shit your husband is pulling, nooooo. Just no.

    I'm not sure about addiction, though I can see the argument for that. But if he's only spending $40 at the bar and no other money is missing, I'm thinking he's sleeping with someone. I hate to say that and I know it's harsh, but that was my first thought at reading your letter.

    I thin you have to get out. At least for now. I feel so terrible for you, please update this thread with what happens.

  • Lis says:

    Chiming in with the rest to say it doesn't matter what his job is. It takes 2 seconds to text "just closed, crazy night, having a couple of drinks before heading home" and then if it's two hours later and you're still "hanging out" to text again and say "Sorry this is turning into an all nighter, Steve's girlfriend dumped him and he's crying in the bathroom". Even if all that is going on is exactly what he says, the fact that he's ignoring your calls and texts and trying to make YOU out to be the one with the problems screams "dude is a jerk". Maybe he's not cheating, and maybe he's not an addict, but he is an asshole. You've discussed this more than once with him and he is refusing to give a shit about your feelings (and potentially health) by not responding to calls or texts. You're better off without a selfish child like that in your life.

  • Kristin says:


    Honey, you deserve better. And if you're not in a place to feel that way right now, be damn sure your child deserves better.

  • Yoshi says:

    I too could have written this letter about a previous relationship (including the hospitality-industry complicating factors but minus the baby, fortunately). What I will say is that in my case, there wasn't a full-scale addiction (she was what I'd call a social alcoholic: would go out and wouldn't/couldn't stop until the night was over, but didn't need alcohol to function physically or emotionally apart from that) and I'm confident that there wasn't any cheating.

    But here's the thing: if she had been doing those things, at least there would have been some reason for her behaviour. Without them it was actually worse, because what she was doing was being an insensitive jackass for no reason other than selfishness and some of the posturing-among-friends that Beth C. referred to above. I don't doubt for a moment that she loved me – in many ways she was wonderful and caring and giving – but when it came to this one issue, I was just not going to win out over whatever it was that was driving her to behave this way. And 3.5 years passed, and it got better and got worse and got better and got worse, but it never ever went away, and it was scary and hurtful and broke my heart anew *every* *single* *time*.

    This man is not a fit partner, and odds are he's not going to be a fit father. I'm sorry that you're having to face this down at all, let alone right now; but you are worth more than this, and your child will be worth more than this, and you have to do what you have to do to protect yourself and the kind of life you want to have.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Ahhh, gaslighting. It's a classic.

    Your husband is no husband, nor is he a grown man. There is nothing more childish than a man with a PREGNANT wife pouting about how he has to "check in." You are not checking in, asshole. Checking in is what you do with your parole officer. You are letting your PREGNANT life partner know what's up with your physical location.

    You are not needy, a child, overbearing, or selfish. He's convinced you of those things for whatever jackass/sociopath/asshole reason he has, but all those reasons are FALSE. Whatever crap he's spewed about how all this is your fault is just that, crap. You can't become the perfect spouse for him because he doesn't want a spouse. NONE of this is on you.

    Move the hell out. File for divorce. Take back your agency for you and your child. He's got you convinced that no matter how bad it gets it's worse without him, but the exact opposite is true. He's trying to make you think that all this is relevant and real, but he clearly is totally irrelevant to the family he's supposedly building.

    Opposite Day is over. Time to get your life back on a reality schedule. You and your child will be nothing without him? Hah, try nothing but stronger, happier, and more sane.

  • LDA says:

    Yeah, the lack of money missing ruled out addiction for me.

    I assumed affair. I'm really sorry- I think this is one of those things where if a friend told you this story and you weren't personally involved, you would know exactly what to think, but because its you…..

    Either way, you are pregnant and he won't take your calls.

  • H., says:

    I really have nothing to add, except that this *was* my story. Past tense. Today actually would have been our anniversary. And today, oddly enough, 7 years post divorce, he apologized. Finally. Anyway, my husband had worked in the restaurant industry, then the bowling industry (no, really) and it seems that both are dens of alcoholics and addicts. I know it seems like a good idea to stick with your baby's dad, but… oh, honey. Stay with your mom. He needs to make a SERIOUS effort now because things will not get any better with a baby. Would you feel safe depending on him to care for your sweet, defenseless baby? Seriously, think about it. Will he watch a toddler? Change diapers? And kids figure out what's going on, no matter how hard you work to shelter them. I stayed with it for 10 years, seriously on the verge of my own mental breakdown from trying to do too much and keeping secrets, when my son told me he wished that person X (who we only knew casually) was his daddy because person X paid more attention to him than his actual daddy.

    You and your baby deserve so, so much better and I am soooo sorry, but really, it's better you face this head on now, rather than avoiding it for a decade like some folks (damn it, that was me)

  • Jody says:

    Many have already said it…leave him, leave him now!

  • Ducky says:

    My husband is a chef, and the staying-out-unreasonably-late-with-no-phone-call/text happened exactly once.

    It was when he was in culinary school, five years ago. It was the last day of classes for that session, he and his friends went out to celebrate. I woke up at 1am, he's not home, I called and texted repeatedly, he finally came home just after 3am. My relief that he was not bleeding to death in the San Francisco gutters did not entirely outweigh the last two hours of panic.

    He apologized profusely, and now he always tells me when he expects to be home. If his plans change, he lets me know.

    I think your husband would do the same if he cared about you and the future of your relationship – but I don't see that as the case. If he's not hiding anything, he should communicate better. Since he refuses to communicate and tries to shift this to you being unreasonable, I think it's time to move on.

  • Ang. says:

    I want to second pretty much everything here, but especially the idea that HE should move out, not you. Why should you leave your home and sleep on a couch or a spare room in someone else's house when you are pregnant, no less? You didn't do anything wrong! Let him scrounge around for a place to stay. Visit your mom for a few days if you want, but after that, reclaim your territory. You will be more comfortable in familiar surroundings, and you probably already have the nursery set up, so just stay there in your place and force his ass out.

  • Meri says:

    Ok, first of all you do NOT have "an insecure attachment relationship"- wanting to know if your HUSBAND is going to be home late, and being worried if you wake up and he's not there is baseline relationship stuff. An example- my husband and I only have one car, so he picks me up after he gets off work. He shoots me an email (we're the last people on earth who don't have cellphones) saying he's leaving so I know what time to expect him. About a month ago, he sent the email, but had to take a call right after, so he was about 45 minutes later than he should have been. Needless to say, I was concerned. The first thing he did was apologize and explain what had happened. He didn't get mad at me for being worried, because we're married- you SHOULD be worried when your partner is missing.

    The fact that he's willing to lie about when he gets off if he thinks you won't know the difference, and gets mad if you want to be treated with the same courtesy as any other human being- maybe he's an addict, maybe he's cheating, it doesn't matter. Divorce him. If you really want to make this work- tell him you want a divorce, and if he doesn't agree to change (and follow through), get one. You and your child will be better off with a support system you can count on.

  • Not my real name . . . says:

    . . . because I'm going to be harsh. In my defense, if I ever brought a problem like this to the nation I'd want direct, honest response and suggestions for problem solving.

    That said, do you honestly think you and your child will be better off with this man then you will without him? Your husband's actions say he does not want to be married and doesn't want to be a father.
    1. Get a lawyer. Today. Accept you are going to be divorced.
    2. If you don't already have one, get a separate bank account. Today. If you have a joint account and have direct deposit that needs to change before your next payday. If you have joint credit cards, close them and get new ones in your name only.
    3. Get to a therapist. Today. At the very least call and make an appointment. Explore why you put up with this behavior for so long and still decided it was a good thing to have a child with this person. Long-term, you need to figure out how you're going to handle being a single parent and how you're going to handle visitation and child support (see 1 above and include that in the discussion). You've just committed to an 18+ year responsibility to another being and you need to accept your husband isn't going to help.
    4. If the mortgage or lease is in both your names and you want him to leave, figure out how to get that changed. Today.
    5. If he's that one who leaves, get the locks changed. If/when you tell him to leave, have someone there with you and try to do it in your lawyer's office or somewhere neutral.
    6. If you have Facebook or other social networking, shut it down from public view and don't use it for the time being. Let your mom or a good friend make the baby's born announcement. Unfriend husband.
    7. Change any passwords on email, social media, bank accounts, credit cards, etc.
    8. On the job, enlist your boss or a trusted co-worker to help you keep the drama out of the workplace–that is, him not calling, not dropping by, you having a safe, private place to decompress if you need to take a moment and don't have a private office. Practice saying to nosy parkers "yes, we have split, I'm sure you understand it's too painful to discuss" or some other polite "butt-out" phrase.

    You deserve better then this man and so does your child. It's possible I'm a cynical asshole and your husband will come around and change completely when you confront him and ask him to leave. Whatever happens, you are in for a tough time, but you're strong enough to handle it, as evidenced by throwing the problem to the nation, a group specializing in non-sugar coated truths.

    I'm pulling for you, as are the rest of the folks reading and commenting.

  • M says:

    This is a tough situation, Tired.

    My main advice would be to take care of your finances NOW. And I mean your's. Open new accounts for your paycheck to be deposited in. Get a new savings/money market account in your name. You can shift money around later if needed.
    It's important that you have access to funds that can't be used by anyone else.

    For the rest, take good care of your physical health. Counseling to unpack your feelings and actions that led you to this point, is important, but I realize the timing is inconvenient. I hope you can get some therapy in. You are worth taking the time to take care of yourself.

  • Abigail says:

    Oh, honey. I'm so sorry this is happening. Nothing you are doing or feeling is out of line. You are growing another human being, which is very hard work, and even more hard work is ahead of you. Your "husband" is being a world class dick.

    However painful this act is for you, believe me, it will be a million times worse when you witness it enacted upon your child. I've witnessed it up close, and it's agony.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    When I worked in the restaurant business I was friends and a common ride for our head chef. He had a roomie with whom he barely interacted. If he was going out with us after-hours HE would call home. You're his damned wife. If you're not getting as much respect as a roommate who really only communicates when it's time to split the bills there is something seriously wrong. The nights that he was really late, by the way? He was really drunk and/or fooling around with me. (It was a friends-with-benefits sort of thing.) A person's job is no excuse for basic disrespect.

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