The Vine: July 20, 2011
I'm about to graduate from grad school, which is great, but I've got a bit of a problem.
I've been commuting between two cities (4.5 hours apart) for almost two years, every week, because when my husband and I moved from City A to City B for my graduate program, he hated his job in City B and wanted to move back to City A in order to go back to his old job. When there was an opening at his old company in City A, I took a breath and suggested that maybe we should move back to City A, and I would commute between the two cities. He took me up on it. Maybe I shouldn't have offered, but I did and we got through it.
Unfortunately, the job that he took back in City A came with some problems — namely, a truly awful boss (independently confirmed by people other than my husband). She's recently suggested that he look for another job. He pretty much feels awful about how this has all played out.
So now we're looking for work in City C — all the way across the country. It's the epicenter of my industry, and I've wanted to try to live there for years. However, my husband's industry was very, very hard hit in the recession, hasn't recovered, and probably won't recover for at least two years. He's sent out about 40 resumes since January, many to this area, and has gotten no nibbles at all.
My friends are concerned for me; they are all moving out to City C, they know this time has been very, very hard on me, and they're upset with my husband for not finding work in City C. They know that he's been reluctant to move there in the past; he's worried that he won't fit in and that he'll hate the climate.
I guess my question is twofold: How do I get my friends to give him the benefit of the doubt? He's doing the best he can in an awful economy. And my second question is how do I get past this myself? I'm frustrated and I love him. City A isn't terrible for my industry, but I'm honestly really resentful of the entire situation. I want to get past it, though. Any thoughts?
Rocks, Hard Place, Caught Between
The first one is pretty easy…and kind of hard at the same time, because the answer is, you can't. You can't really "get" your friends to do anything; they'll think what they think, and you can't control it. You can choose to view that as maddening and insulting — and this is how I myself tend to view things I can't control (heh), so I don't judge you — but you can also choose to let that set you free. He's your husband, not theirs; it's not their married life, it's yours; if they want to draw conclusions based on incomplete information, they will, so assume they mean well by doing it and don't let it inform your decision-making.
So, it's time for the old Thanks For Your Concern, Now We Discuss Popular Reality Programming. Ready? "Well, he's doing the best he can in an awful economy, but it'll work itself out one way or the other — and speaking of 'making it work,' WHAT is going ON with the product placement on Runway this season?"
I know it's frustrating when friends don't Get It with the S.O. and you're getting the skepti-brow at cocktails, but…that dovetails nicely with your second question, because I suspect part of your frustration here is that you kind of agree with them about the situation, and you feel guilty about selling out your husband even if you never verbalize it, and then in turn you feel more resentful about having to defend him when what you'd actually like to do is tie him to the top of the car like a canoe and just move to City C, end of story.
The two of you need to discuss your fears and resentments honestly, I think, because I think maybe he doesn't know how far the commute has worn you down, or how you worry about his career as well as your own. And I think maybe you don't know the full extent of his anxieties, because…he knows it's getting to you, and he's really worried about it, I bet. I bet he's terrified that he's going to let you down, or lose your respect, and it's coming close to paralyzing him because he knows it's your "turn" but he's seeing City C as a minefield instead of an opportunity.
All of that is normal, but you have to speak about it honestly to each other, because the whole situation is scary and stressful for you both, and you can't partner up and power through it together if each of you is isolating in your own neuroses. So, tell him you how you feel; stress that you want to team up in the situation as a couple instead of kind of working at cross-purposes; listen to what he has to say in response; and — this is key — let the choice to commute "for him" go. You chose to do it; it didn't work out as well as it could have; it's done, and you can't undo it. You can talk frankly about how it's been a hassle, but even if it's your instinct to use it as leverage on the City C thing, don't. Don't talk to him as though he's your adversary here. Clear the air of all of that so that the two of you can become a stronger team.
I live in a neighborhood that is overrun with stray cats. I adopted one of the friendlier boys, got him vaccinated, and gave him a collar and name tag. He was fixed by a trap-neuter-release program. He stays outdoors during the day, but he usually comes in late at night and spends the night inside. He is well fed and very affectionate.
In the last two weeks, he has brought NINE decapitated birds to the exact same spot in my backyard. I know cats will play with their dead prey, and I thought that was how the birds had lost their heads. Yesterday, I saw him come into the yard with a dead bird that still had its head. He took it over to the same area as the others and ATE THE HEAD. Just the head — he seems to have no interest in the rest of the body. I now believe that he has eaten the heads off of the other birds. I am on the third mass grave in my yard.
Why is he doing this?
Do I have to put a bell on his collar?
What should I rename him?
1. He's hungry. 2. Maybe. 3. Hannibal.
Kidding, kidding. First off, good for you for taking little Dahmer on, and I don't think the behavior's anything to worry about, really; he's a young cat, and they hunt. Still, why not call your vet (if you have a regular vet — if not, the trap/release program no doubt has one to recommend) and ask if this kind of compulsive head-eating is indicative of a nutritional deficiency, or any other problem you might have to worry about.
The other concern, of course, is rabies/fleas/anything else he — and/or you — might pick up from the birds. Please wear gloves and try to use a shovel or other tool to, um, inter our fallen avian friends.
And until you get word from a vet, try 1) a bell, and 2) feeling grateful he's not catching chipmunks and releasing them, still alive, in your house to rocket around your kitchen while you chase them with a broom and he sits there washing his ear like you've never met before.
Tags: boys (and girls) cats friendships workplace