Am I married to a loser?

Today has been a hard day, mainly because I nearly got arrested for attempted burglary (I can assure you, readers, that I was not guilty!). I was planning on blogging about my brush with the law tonight, but, alas, I have just had a fight with Midwestern Man and so I feel the need to blog about this instead to make myself feel better.

My dear husband was in one of his annoying, passive-aggressive little moods tonight. When he’s in such a mood, he doesn’t say anything, so I always need to probe to get him to admit to what’s bothering him. I hate this! Just say what’s on your fucking mind, for fuck’s sake! The result of my probing is that we always end up having a huge argument about a major problem in our relationship at an inconvenient time. I’ve told him repeatedly that if there’s an issue we need to address, we should set aside a specific time to talk about it when we’re both mentally, emotionally and physically ready and willing to do so. But, no…Midwestern Man will always start the discussion late at night when I’m already tired and irritable. Midwestern Man keeps all his resentment and anger pent up until he unleashes it…and then there’s no stopping him. It doesn’t matter how tired, emotionally worn-out or drunk I may be, or how late the hour; if he’s started an argument, he wants to resolve it there and then.

Tonight’s discussion centred around the very topic which causes the demise of many marriages – money! Or, more exactly, my precarious financial situation. There’s no denying it. I’m in a financial mess. I’m tired of working as an erotic masseuse and, even if I weren’t, handjobs aren’t exactly a priority for men in this economy. This week I’ve made only $360 and, well, OK, the week’s not over yet, but I’m not exactly raking the money in. Most of what I make goes towards rent, bills and my credit card debt, and the rest is for food and my animals.

I used to be a very fiscally responsible person but sex work has been my undoing. When I had a proper job, I was extremely anal about budgeting, and I was never in debt, but in this line of work you never really know how much you’ll earn per month, so it’s extremely hard to budget. From what I can gather, the women who are the most successful in the sex industry are those who merely moonlight as sex workers and keep their full-time or part-time jobs. I think it’s very hard to earn your living purely from the sex industry because of the high rate of burn-out. I’m not tired of the job exactly but I am tired of spending so much time at home on my own online, trying to hustle up some business. I’m also tired of living in “the shadows” and not really being a “proper” member of society.

To cut a long story short, there are just not all that many clients anymore, and I’m too burnt out to attempt to see any more than I do (two a day, if I’m lucky).

I don’t mind Midwestern Man pointing out my dire financial state, and expressing concern about my (probably quite impractical) plans to apply to go to grad school to get certified as a teacher. However, what really, really, really pisses me off is that he expects me to listen to him complain about how financially irresponsible I am without my being able to mention my own concerns.

I take responsibility for my money problems, but I also feel that there have been many mitigating factors: (1) I moved to a different continent to begin grad school…not cheap! (2) with an F1 student visa, I was for many years not allowed to work anywhere but on campus, thus severely limiting my employment option (3) I don’t talk to my parents anymore, so I can’t expect any help from them (4) US Immigration bureaucracy is so incompetent that I spent many months last year without a work visa while they got their shit together. I now have an invalid work permit, and I’m still waiting to save up the money to send off my “change of status” application. In other words, I couldn’t find a teaching job because I didn’t have a work permit.

I’ve been trying to leave sex work behind, and find a normal job, and a regular salary, but this is easier said than done.

What’s Midwestern Man’s excuse for being broke, though?! I’d love to fucking know. I mean, he’s never left the fucking country (a huge sore point for me actually…He’s thirty-two, and he’s never once been tempted to leave the US?! Jesus…), so he’s never had to deal with the expense of uprooting yourself. He did move to LA for several years after college, and then he moved here, but I don’t think that moving across the US has anywhere near the financial and emotional cost that moving to different countries does.

Midwestern Man’s plan is to be a graphic novelist/professional illustrator. I find it hard to be 100% enthusiastic about his career goals, mainly because he has had this dream for a while, and yet never finishes anything. I wouldn’t mind at all about his being broke if he was working diligently every day on his novel, but he’s always so distracted and unfocused. Instead of working on his book, he’ll take an art class because that will apparently give him “better skills” but it’s obvious he’s just taking the class to avoid doing any real work.

I don’t think it’s spoiled to want to be an artist, but I do find Midwestern Man’s lifestyle incredibly spoiled. He has a nice, easy job in a café (the kind of job you have when you’re twenty) because he doesn’t want to be burdened with any responsibility or stress. That would “take him away from his art”. As much as I do genuinely want to be a teacher, what makes him think that I want to do that five days a week?! Hell, I’d kill to work only three days a week, and then spend the rest of the time writing, but, guess what, that’s something that I can perhaps achieve later down the line when I’ve actually been successful in the teaching and/or writing field. The idea of having a job with responsiblity terrifies me, too, but I’m a thirty-one-year-old woman, so it’s time for me to be an adult, I think!

Midwestern Man also passes judgement on my supposedly “extravagant lifestyle”. My only extravagances are my iPhone, my two bedroom house (it’s kind of justified, though, as I need a spare bedroom for the massage room) and my terrible inability to avoid rescuing yet another stray cat. Besides that, I barely ever go out to bars or spend money on “entertainment”; I don’t own a car; I don’t really drink very much or take drugs; I don’t really buy new clothes (God, how I wish I could!) or go on vacation.

He thinks it’s spoiled that I want to have nice things in the future, and be able to travel as much as possible, but I’m a big girl now, and I’m tired of living like a student. He apparently is not.

A couple of years ago, a doctor acquaintance of mine scoffed when I said that I only dated artistic types. He said I’d rapidly re-think that when I had kids and found myself living on the breadline. I thought his comment was incredibly mercenary and cynical, but sometimes I do catch myself wishing I’d married a successful, wealthy man. I wouldn’t be happy being a kept woman, but if Midwestern Man doesn’t shape up, I can’t help but see my life with him being one of crushing poverty.


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10 thoughts on “Am I married to a loser?

  1. justme September 11, 2009 at 5:25 am Reply

    I wonder what will happen if you ever decide to return to […]? Because I always get the feeling from you, that that is where you would really like to end up, and I am betting that in 10 years time, that is where you will be. Would Midwestern Man be able to live there? Would you want him to?
    I digress. Money seems to be one of the biggest problem areas between couples. I don’t know what the answer is! Somehow I doubt if Midwestern Man is going to change……

    • petrichoric September 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm Reply

      Hi, “justme”. Sorry for editing your comment…I’m just trying to be more low-key about where I come from this time. Yes, I would like to return to “The Motherland” eventually, but not yet. If I were to return now, I don’t know what I would do, as there are not many jobs for people with my kind of skills. I could train to be a teacher there, too, I suppose, but for some reason, I don’t want to do that there.

      I only want to go home when I’m more successful. Perhaps that will never happen, but that’s the plan. Yes, Midwestern Man could come with me, and that’s why I get pissed off that he doesn’t try to develop more marketable skills. He could also train to be a teacher, for example, as you can teach practically anywhere in the world, but he thinks that would be “selling out”.

  2. Terry September 11, 2009 at 6:14 am Reply

    Hm. It seems to me that he is the irresponsible one. I’m only saying that because since I “know” you…I’m on your side. You are financially responsible because you pay your bills, rent etc. You pay for your animals as well. Animals are a responsibility. I had an artist as a boyfriend and he preferred having no money than to find a regular job and do his illustrations after work and during weekends. Well. He still has no money.

    When my biodad couldn’t work, no one wanted to employ him after the plant closed because he was older than 50 and had no education, he decided to get jobs “under the table”. You are not a declared employee, you get paid cash.

    Such jobs could be : cleaning houses, helping old people do their shopping, house sitting, pet sitting, dog walking, concierge for apartments, tutoring kids with their homework…look for ads asking for help on a billboard at the grocery store, at the bank, at a community centre etc.

    It’s just a suggestion. I know I would have a burnout after only one handjob. 🙂 You are a tough woman.

    Usually I was the one waiting just before bed to strike “conversations”. After I made a few guys cry from exhaustion…I learned that I should wait for a better moment. Maybe he will understand one day.

    • petrichoric September 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm Reply

      Yes, you are right. I could do “under the table” work. The only problem with that is that I don’t own a car, and I’d really need one to do the kind of work you suggest because it’s very hard to get around without one in this place. The one benefit to massage is that I can work from home. Also, even if I had a car, I don’t know if it would be possible for me to earn enough money with that kind of work. I’d probably have to move house, into a smaller place, because I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent. I really don’t want to do that, as I’ve lived in the place I’m in now for almost four years. This house has been the one constant in my life for a while, and it would make me feel a bit unstable to leave it at the moment.

  3. Daisy September 11, 2009 at 7:51 am Reply

    So interesting this question of money in relationships – we all have such different ideas of how to make it, spend it, save it. I’d love to be a little bit more along the lines of mid-western man, but the fact is I’m too scared not to work full time even if I don’t love the job.

    • petrichoric September 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Don’t get me wrong, Daisy. It’s not that I mind Midwestern Man being artistic and broke. My problem is that he’s just not focused. I have three friends who are artists and all of them, even the two who are not yet making much money from their art, are incredibly disciplined and focused. I just don’t see these qualities in my husband.

  4. Judith September 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm Reply

    Hey! Not all artistic types are impratical. Lol. I had my starchart done recently and turns out I’m some weird sort of aquarian that straddles the free spirit world and the grounded business world — which she also said accounted for a lot of strife for me earlier in life with push and pull from two different worlds.

    But I digress…

    I’m with you about not being fond of passive-agressive behavior. And I’m not sure where your man gets off with judging your financial situation ad more dire than his own. I smell something that rhymes with hippogryph. Perhaps he is partially projecting his own fears about his own career (lack of) trajectory on to you.

    Career and money issues are huge in relationships. My first marriage lasted all of 8 months and I think it was in no small part due to diverging ideas on how we saw our lives headed. With my current husband, what seems to have worked has been me deciding what I need and then hoping he’ll come along for the ride. He’s done the same. There have been no resentments about abandoned dreams or forced sacrifices because we’ve each made our own decisions. Maybe it’s dangerous because at any time we could decide the other person’s choices decidedly do not work for us. But nothing in life is certain, and we’ll worry about that if and when it ever happens. I would say I feel truly loved and supported by him and I hope he feels the same. Neither one of us is dependent on the other’s success or failure (although I probably am pretty financially dependent on him right now, although we both know I could make it on my own. Money really isn’t everything in a relationship). It could change tomorrow, but why worry when it isn’t the case now.

    This all sounds like I have all the answers but that’s far from true. You probably remember that about 2 years ago I was struggling with my feelings about my husband. In my case, I needed to give myself a good hard look, especially as I was still in early recovery (heh. I probably still am). But in my first marriage, it really was a problem with incompatibility. The bottomline is that relationships are complicated. The place to start is with yourself (and your SO should be starting there too and not looking at what you are doing wrong in his opinion).

    Good grief, I sound like a long-winded know-it-all. Well, if your husband wants to do graphic novels, there’s definitely agents and editors looking for talent. I’ve seen them at the conferences I’ve attended. (I’m a bit of a graphic novel nerd too, but not too much. But I did meet the publisher of Mike Carey this weekend. She is awesome and a super nice, helpful person. He ought to know her name, I’d think.)

    Slightly off subject, what do you know about horses? Maybe next summer you can come up here and work part time for my inlaws at their stables and go to grad school. They have apartments for the help and allow pets. 🙂

  5. petrichoric September 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm Reply

    Oh, that’s right you’re Aquarian, too. So is Midwestern Man! (and my mother and my grandmother…lots of Aquarians in my life). I wish you could come round and give Midwestern Man a bit of your groundedness, though, as that’s something he is sorely lacking.

    I’m glad that things are going so well between you and your husband now! I must say I was very impressed about his swimming achievements in Hawaii. He must be very fit and toned. Nice!

    As regards the suggestion about working for your in-laws, I had to laugh, as I actually have a HUGE allergy to horses. I found that out when I was seven after petting my friend’s horse…my eyes and lips became incredibly swollen and I couldn’t breathe at all hardly (asthma attack). I haven’t been near a horse since but I’m pretty sure that I’m still allergic to them, as I had a client once who’s a horse trainer, and even just having his clothes in the room (presumably with some horse hair on them) made me somewhat sick. Thanks for the offer, though!

  6. williamx September 12, 2009 at 8:58 pm Reply

    I’ll defend MWman just a little by saying that moving across country to LA can be just as culturally shocking as moving to a new country. That said, his handling of this stress is not great. I thought marriage was sort of like an alliance, a union of lives or something? Don’t ya’ll live together in that fine two bedroom pad? I mean, I wish I had someone to be poor with, rather than feeling all alienated and isolated from my friends when it comes time to do stuff and I have to say “can’t, too poor.” Some days I’ll accept the inevitable and generous charity, other days my pride and self esteem say “Today is suffering day.”
    So, that didn’t make much sense, huh? Sorry. The thing to deal with, it seems to me, is this passive aggressive bullshit. It’s work enough just talking about these kinds of things without any extra stress or confusion. How to actually do that is beyond my ken.

    • petrichoric September 13, 2009 at 7:29 pm Reply

      Yes, Midwestern Man also tells me that moving to LA was a culture shock. I’m not denying that it was, but it’s still nowhere near as big a culture shock as moving to a brand new country where you don’t know how things work. The US is so homogenous that you have pretty much the same stores everywhere you go, so when you move from one state to another, I don’t think you really get the same sense of dislocation you get when you move country. And then, of course, everybody speaks the same language, too.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re broke. What you need is a rich cougar!

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