The newborn ultimatum
Q: My wife has gone baby crazy. She’s demanding I get her pregnant — between screaming "You’re a horrible person," "I know why your ex cheated on you," and "You’re a cold and heartless machine." We’re both 42, and have been married for eight months. Last year, she had a miscarriage. She’s always been difficult, but things have gotten really bad. A counselor we’re seeing deemed her a "loose cannon."
He said we should get our relationship healthy, then consider having a baby, and set up rules for us that my wife ignores. Last time I reminded her we agreed to wait on the baby, she called me "pure evil," and for the third time, threw her engagement and wedding rings at me and said to sell them. She says if we don’t have a child right away, she’ll hold me responsible. Obviously, the dynamic here isn’t good, but the real problem is she can be amazingly sweet and giving. These extremes really scare me, for our future as a couple and as possible parents. — Shell-Shocked
A: Should you bring a child into the world with a raging psycho who can occasionally be nice? Um...well...sure...assuming you’ve already struck out with all the crack-addicted prostitutes. ("Aww, look, little feller’s got his daddy’s eyes and his mommy’s Hep C.") While other guys’ wives spend long hours reading self-help books, yours apparently favors how-to guides to totalitarianism ("The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Despots"?). Now, it is possible some of her behavior traces to some postpartum type upset; maybe hormones running wild after her miscarriage. Then again, you made it clear in our e-mail exchange that she was rather witchy prepartum. Sure, it’s tough for a woman who sees her eggs on the reduced-for-quick-sale rack. But, clearly, there’s something radically wrong here — something that begs for more intervention from a mental health professional than a set of rules. Regarding her ticking clock (with the loose cannon attachment), there are a lot of things you can call a woman who goes off on you like she does, but let’s hope the last thing anybody’ll be calling her is "Mommy."
As for what she calls you, we all get embarrassed by the little names our partners give us when emotion takes over; you know, Booboo, Sweetiepants, Pookie, or, in your case, Pure Evil, and Cold and Heartless Machine. You’ve spent so long with an exploding woman — an emotional blackmailer who tries to hell-state you into meeting her demands — that the nasty life has become normal life. In fact, the way you put it (from your hotel room in Stockholm syndrome), the real problem is that she’s "amazingly sweet and giving" — when she isn’t nearly putting your eye out with her rings. You need to recognize her behavior for what it is — domestic violence that can lead to more serious violence, should she run out of expensive jewelry to bean you with and reach for something a little heavier.
It’s fine by me if you want to hang around looking for the good in some woman while she bends silverware with her screams, but you and your wife aren’t just two people making each other miserable. One of you is desperately trying to make a third person. You need to do everything in your power to see that your as-yet-unborn child remains unborn. While I’m not usually one to explicitly advise people to end relationships, in your case, let me make this perfectly plain: Get out before she straps you down, hooks up the vacuum cleaner, and takes your sperm.
Q: My ex-husband and I were married for 19 years. We’ve been divorced for two, and have two sons, 17 and 20. He married a woman five years older than my oldest son. Amazingly, that’s not my problem. It’s that he calls with the pretense of checking on the boys, then talks about old times, and drama old and new. I realize his wife’s so young that he can’t start conversations with "remember when," but I need to move on with my life.
— Getting Yammered
A: You, too, need to start a conversation with "Remember when," as in, "Remember when you divorced me and married that other woman?" He could be delving into the milestones of her life, like where she was when Britney and Justin called it quits. Not surprisingly, he seems to prefer adult conversation with a woman who knows who he is and where he’s been. Inform him, kindly and politely, that from now on, you’ll only talk about the children; that is, the children you gave birth to. He’s made his bed, and tucked a very young woman into it, and it’s time he focused on things they have in common, like how 10 years ago, he was driving carpool and she was riding in one.
© 2009 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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