Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lifestyle differences

I grew up in the northeast - fast paced, in town, near to the city, lifestyle. My family put the "D" in dysfunctional. We moved a lot - 2 states and 6 houses. We did not live near extended family. We travelled often and didn't think anything about driving 8 hours. Sister and I were encouraged to try all sorts of different things and to strive for the best. My parents insisted we use proper grammar and learn proper table manners. I was required to do well in school and no matter where we moved, the quality of the school systems were of absolute importance.
My husband grew up in the south - slow paced, out of town, not near a city, lifestyle. His family is Rockefeller normal. His father built a house on a plot of land given to him by his father. It is surrounded by land of his brothers and sisters. Seven of the nine siblings (one is deceased) live within a 2 mile radius on adjoining family plots of land. Husband never lived anywhere else. His family did not travel out of state except for two beach trips over the state line. They are not sophisticated. They had rotary dial telephones, antenna TV, and limited exposure to big-city life. Husband never had a computer in his house and only limited exposure in school. His parents had never eaten in a restaurant with cloth napkins and his mother didn't know what to do with it when I took her to one.
I went to school with Husband's cousin. It is how we met. She graduated toward the top of her highschool class - same school Husband went too. When we got to college she struggled in English and Math. Basic skills I had learned were lacking. She has found it difficult to find a job outside of their small hometown. She's received several interviews and I suspect the lack of a job is due to the fact that her grammar is not the best.
Tonight Husband bemoaned the fact that he doesn't like living here and wished we lived closer to his hometown. I know that it is 99.9 percent the fact that he wants to live closer to hunting land. He thinks that if he could just go on Saturday mornings instead of making a day out of it, things would be better. If he could just get out in the woods and shoot his guns, things would be better. I know better. He'd become even more immersed in hunting and family would lose out. He would want to go backwards and become entrenched in his childhood, instead of moving forward into being an adult.
He tried to make a case for his hometown. We'd be close to his family who is getting older. Husband's only brother is autistic so it will fall to us to care for his parents and brother if the need arises. He thinks the schools here are full of troubled youth. He remarked that the neighbors to his parents attend one of the best private schools in the state (which happens to be 1 hour away and just as close to our current house as his folks). I asked Husband how much of it was hunting related and he admitted most of it.
My counter argument - we both agreed a long time ago that the quality of education in that county is deplorable. Neither of us wanted our children to attend there. When we were making up our will and choosing a guardian for Daughter, we talked about how his hometown was very small-minded. There is no diversity. There are no jobs in that town - all of the big factories have closed.
My job is not transferrable. It takes years to build a client base and contacts and referrals. You can't just up and move. We have discussed caring for his mother (much younger than his dad) and brother if need arises. His mother is willing to move here and has researched facilities to assist with BIL in our area.
Husband thinks I am being elitist. I told him I do not think any less of his family or his hometown. But, I want more for my children. I don't care if they work at McDonalds when they grow up. I want them to be able to fit in there. If they want to be a high level executive who jet sets around the world, I want them to feel comfortable doing that too. I want them to be able to eat a meal in a homeless shelter and the next night dine at a 5 star restaurant. I want them to choose a career that fulfills them and where they feel they make a difference - if that is as a waitress, stay-at-home-parent or doctor, it doesn't matter to me. If they want to say "ain't" and other poor examples of grammar in the right circumstances (if there any) that is fine. However, I want them to know how to speak properly when needed.
I am NOT moving to Husband's hometown. I would be miserable. We discussed this in-depth before marrying. I insisted on some pre-marriage counseling sessions because I knew our backgrounds are so different. I was entering law school when we met and I discussed with Husband the parameters my job requires. We talked about his discomfort with the events I'm required to attend and the socialization it requires. We talked about my impatience with the slow lifestyle of his hometown. We each decided we were willing to make sacrifices.
Husband doesn't understand enjoying a career. He works to earn a living. I work to not only earn a living, but because I feel called to my vocation. I enjoy my work and making a difference. I have told Husband that we will do whatever it takes if he wants to switch fields. We will sell everything and move to a 1 bedroom apartment for him to go to school. He's not interested. He likes his job good enough - he has no desire to find a place where he can find purpose in his work. He wants to go in, work, get paid, come home. He doesn't want to make the effort school would require.
Husband said he doesn't like our friends. He said he doesn't have anything in common with them. He says the men are too "into sports and not hunting." He has nothing in common with the men because they are career men. This is not true. He has no problems talking to them when we are together. Some are career minded but some are not. He could certainly call some up to go hunting - he just doesn't.
As the years go by, Husband is more and more discontent with the path our lives have taken. He wants to go back to his childhood. He doesn't want to grow up. I've been grown up for a long time now. I find it much easier to get into the role of sacrificing for my family. He does not. This issue is driving us further and further apart. I am willing to sacrifice for my family when I think it is the right choice - but moving to his hometown is not what is right. I feel confident of that. So much so that I told Husband if he could honestly look me in the eyes, after much prayer and consideration, and tell me that moving was what God wanted and what he really thought was best for our entire family, that I'd move tomorrow. I don't expect to see packing boxes in my future.


Ethereal Highway said...

He would move to HUNT? Wow, Enola. I wonder if there might be some way you could show him what this is really about. Does he need to spend more time with his dad or something maybe?

beautifuldreamer said...

My first marriage was to someone from a very diverse background from my own. He grew up on a mountain in the south, I was a kid from the suburbs.

Probably because I was so young at the time (16) I didn't give much thought to the differences of how we were raised, etc.

He tried living in this part of the country, as we'd already lived in the south many times and he decided it was only fair to give my turf equal time.

He hated it; he was miserable, couldn't adjust to the cold, etc. We ended up moving back to the south. At the time I felt it my duty to go where hubby went, with no real consideration for my own wants and needs. I don't know that I'd do the same today, but at the time it seemed sensible.

Some things are nearly impossible to overcome without a lot of hard work, respect--and even then professional guidance may be needed to help you understand one another better.

It does sound as if hunting meets some deep down basic need of his, and I wonder if on some level you sense this and resent it mostly for that reason (aside from the obvious one: that it takes him away from his family.)

quacks like a duck said...

Wow... you and your husband are both in a tough position here...
My husband is devoted to his family... I am grateful to live 2,000 miles away from mine. Too bad for us both of our families live in the same small-ish town. It makes it hard to negotiate sometimes, but I think that I am glad he's devoted to family... because I think it says something about his commitment to me also. Maybe there's another way for your husband to be able to meet that need... something that doesn't involve uprooting the whole family...

Anonymous said...

I ain't too shore if this here post is about you're husbands kneed fer kinfolk are you're attempt two bee...


I'll finish reading this later. Being much like you're hubby I found myself becoming a bit upset about two thirds through.

Deep breath....

Dang it, I wonder what all this is really all about?

Kahless said...


this hunting issue is going to keep coming through everything.

How are you going to find an equitable solution for both of you before it becomes a monster?

Enola said...

We've been through counseling on this issue. Pre-marriage counseling and counseling while married. I think I've done all that we agreed during counseling - agreeing to set definite times to hunt (1x a month), I don't object to the $$ spent on hunting, and we spend almost every holiday with his parents. I love his parents and his family. I enjoy being a part of a "normal" family. I love visiting with them - but I have no desire to live there.

Not sure where this will go. It could be just blowing off steam. I'll have to see. Husband tends to get into a funk this time of year. So does his mother. They have talked daily this week and they feed off each other's "down" feelings. If it does turn into a serious contemplation I think we'll have to get a professional involved to help us through it.

I did pick up a book called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend today - hoping it will help me set boundaries in a diplomatic and loving way. We'll see.....