My Marriage

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Photo from Photofunia

I know it looks bad that my life is so stressful and unsettled because of my husband’s career. I know it probably looks like I would be better off on my own. But if you’ve read some of my past posts, you know that I could not provide a stable life for myself when I was single, either. I didn’t get married until I was 31, so it’s not like marriage is all I’ve ever known. I started out my young adult life assuming I could take care of myself and soon finding out that I couldn’t. My quality of life is far better now than it was then.

My marriage actually feels like the one thing I’m getting right and is a great source of joy in my life. Whenever we spend time with other people socially, I find myself feeling grateful that my husband is the one I get to come home with, because being with him is so much more enjoyable than being with anyone else. We are very compatible and we laugh together a lot. And he gets me, which is an incredibly rare thing.

When everything else is going to shit, at least my husband and I have each other, and on every level, it is so much better than going it alone. He is good for me, and good to me, in all the ways that really matter.

 

 

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Dreaming of a Life

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Photo by Kristy via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

With my husband’s work contract about to expire in a couple months, he is once again applying for jobs. Jobs in his line of work are few and far between and we always have to end up moving when he gets one. The jobs he’s applied for this time around are in a variety of different cities. So things are very uncertain and we don’t know where we’ll end up.

I hate living like this. I didn’t know it was going to be like this when we got married. Because of his degrees and career ambition (not to mention my trouble coping in the workforce… but we didn’t fully understand the reasons for that back then like we do now), we agreed that he would be the primary breadwinner and we would go wherever he needed to for his career. I was perfectly happy with that, but even though he had warned me that we might have to move to a couple of different places while he did post-doctoral fellowships for the first few years, he thought he would land a tenure-track position after about five years and then we could settle down. Instead, his entire 12-year career thus far has turned out to be moving from one short-term contract to another and therefore one city to another. It’s not his fault. This is just the direction things have taken in the last decade in his line of work. It is a common problem, but one we did not anticipate.

People with autism tend to resist change and like (or need) routines and stability. I am no different. I feel like I can’t handle this life, and yet I have no choice. This is our life and we seem to have no real control over it. It is scary and very, very draining and disheartening.

I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster lately, alternating between dreaming of an ideal outcome where my husband lands a permanent position somewhere we’d really like to live, preferably near where we already have friends and family, and worrying that he’s going to end up unemployed again and we’re going to have to move back in with my parents, which, although I love them, is a nightmare scenario at our age. I’d like to be near family, but not be forced by poverty and hopelessness to actually live with them. The reality will likely end up being somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Another low-paid, short-term contact in a mediocre location.

But my dreams persist. There’s this one job my husband has applied for that’s in an idyllic location. Gorgeous scenery, mild winters, great culture. And my husband’s salary would be almost twice what he’s currently earning. I find myself picturing a life there. No, not just a life. A lifestyle. I see myself going for walks by the ocean, living in a house instead of an apartment, setting up a room to be my own private writer’s studio, shopping at farmer’s markets, experiencing the city’s culture, owning a car again and going on day trips in the surrounding countryside. And because of the mild winters, I wouldn’t practically become a recluse for five months of the year because of my cold-temperature-induced asthma like I do here. Plus, we’d at least be closer to some of our family and friends, if not in the same city as them.

My dreams aren’t entirely selfish though. I also dream of being able to help others. To be able to afford to give to the causes that tug at my heart. I know those who have no money can volunteer their time, but I have so little energy, such a low tolerance for busyness, and am so clumsy and inept, that I tend to be more of a liability than an asset when I try to volunteer. I can’t even serve soup without dumping it on someone. I’ve tried.

But then, why do I think I even have the right to dream about this, when I can’t even hold a job? I’m well aware that nothing comes for free in this life, and if you want something, you have to work for it, but every time I try to do that I crash and burn. Besides, if I did have a job or a career, I’d still have to leave it every time my husband had to move on, because that was our agreement. He’s often said that it’s fairly common for people in his line of work to end up having marital problems when their spouse has a career, because with the constant moving that has become the norm, there’s the struggle of one spouse having to sacrifice their career for the other’s career. He has met many fellow academics in that situation. That’s why he’s never minded one bit that I am the way I am, even if it does increase our financial struggles.

So anyway, I know I probably seem like some kind of entitled Real Housewife type, wanting my husband to provide all this for me. But I’m not really like that, deep down. I know I don’t deserve these things I desire. What I deserve is the life I current have: A tiny rented apartment (with no dishwasher or in-suite laundry facilities) in an ugly city with harsh winters, far from family and friends, and with no car to even allow me a change of scenery every once in a while. Or worse, living in my parents’ basement in their home in the middle of nowhere.

Right or wrong, I do still dream though. I’m sorry.

 

 

 

The Lack of a Secure Home, for Us or Anyone Else

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Photo by Nick Kendrick. Used under Creative Commons. (Photo’s colour has been edited.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I have no desire to have children. I’m not good with little kids, I have no idea how to talk to them or play with them, and my severe sensory issues would make it very difficult if not impossible for me to handle having a baby. But sometimes I find my heart going out to teenagers who are in bad situations, and I have sometimes thought maybe one day I might be willing to offer a home to one in need.

If this seems to contradict what I’ve said previously, it’s only because I’d forgotten about it. I’d forgotten that I’d ever felt this way. But I had a dream last night that reminded me.

Several years ago, I became aware that a 16-year-old relative of mine was in a bad situation. Her parents were immature, irresponsible, and unloving, and this girl had never had any stability or security. Somehow she had managed to turn out to be an intelligent, deep-thinking young lady, with more wisdom in her little finger than in both of her parents put together. I really liked this girl, and when her mother kicked her out of the house during an argument over something trivial, I yearned to take her in.

I never told anyone other than my husband that I felt this way. Especially her. My husband and I lived in a different city several hours away. To ask her to come there, away from her friends, school, and other relatives, I would have required the confidence that we had something to offer her. But we were living in a small rented home, I wasn’t working, and my husband’s job, like every job he’s ever had, was a short-term contract with no promise of renewal. I was praying that we could get into a more stable position, and if we did, I wanted to offer her a home with us.

But instead of getting into a more stable position, things got worse. The work ran out for my husband. We both desperately searched for work, to no avail. We had no choice but to move in with my parents and we lived with them for two years. When we finally got out of their house again, it was into another insecure situation in a city even further away.

Before I knew it, my young relative was of age, having gotten by living with roommates and boyfriends. She then met and married a man with a good job. She completed her post-secondary education and eventually opened her own business. She and her husband live in a beautiful, spacious house, she drives a brand new car, they have two children, and if her Facebook posts are anything to go by, they have a very happy, successful, prosperous life. She has landed on her feet.

Meanwhile, my husband and I are still struggling. We live in a 500-square-foot apartment. We don’t own a car. I’ve had and lost yet another job due to my inadequate social skills and inability to cope with stress. My husband’s work contract has recently been renewed for only two more months, and after that, we have no idea what’s going to happen. Despite his best efforts, his PhD and two master’s degrees have not been helpful in securing long-term or well-paid employment.

Who am I to think I have anything to offer anyone? I think the reason my heart goes out to young people who need a stable, secure home is because I want a stable, secure home myself. But I don’t have one, and I don’t have the ability create one for myself let alone for someone else.

I can’t help thinking that maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so well for my young relative if she had climbed aboard our sinking ship. She did just fine on her own, thank God.

And yet people still ask, why don’t you have kids? Why don’t you adopt kids? Just recently my husband was grilled about this by an old friend of his, and overhearing the conversation made me feel angry and frustrated.