My Husband Treated Me Like An Obligation

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serious married couple

My friends and I are having lunch. All three of their cell phones ring within a ten-minute time frame. It’s a mere coincidence that each call is from a husband checking in.

"Your husbands call you during the day?" I ask.

"Yes," they say.

"You mean for no reason?" I say. "Just to say hello."

"Yes," they respond.

By the look on their faces, I can tell they are as bewildered as I am. They find my astonishment surprising. I am completely shell-shocked. Some men think of their wives while at work.

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I never hear from my husband during the day.

I’m not exaggerating. I am speaking in the extreme. If my phone rings with his number it alarms me because it’s rare. This leads me to routinely respond the same way.

"Is everything okay?" I ask.

Obviously, this is not a normal exchange. 

You shouldn’t be worried that something is wrong because your spouse is calling you during office hours. It means my husband never calls me.

He says he’s a busy man.

But I’m sitting with three women who are married to busy men. Men who have high-level corporate jobs and less able to free themselves for a few minutes.

My husband is self-employed and spends the majority of the day in the car driving from appointment to appointment.

I think because I was raised by a single mom it’s taken me years to notice this.

I am an obligation in my husband’s life. 

I feel it. It’s painful.

Most of the time, I am oblivious to it because my mother was a strong role model. I go through my day looking for little help because she did it alone.

Today the sadness washes over me.

These men care about their wives enough to wonder how their day is going. They don’t initiate rigid boundaries and declare parts of their lives off-limits.

They don’t feel superior to the best friend they married.

Or signify this self-importance with rules and intolerance.

They work outside the home. Their wives work within it. These are facts. They aren’t barbaric insinuations cultivated by playing archaic traditional roles.

One spouse doesn’t feel more worthy than the other.

One doesn’t deem the work they do more important.

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They are a team. 

They don’t hold resentments rooted in their assigned 'roles.' They appreciate one another. They respect the work one another does albeit different. No one is taking advantage of the other.

There’s no imbalance of power.

I was raised in a family of joy, not an obligation. 

We race toward one another, we want to be together and light up when we see one another. There’s honestly no place else we’d rather be.

My husband felt his family was an obligation.

This should have been a red flag to me but we were already married. 

It was too late when I figured it out. I had to push him to go see his parents and family. He had zero inclination to do so. He never thought of them or called them.

Again, something I absurdly realized far too late.

One day my husband and I are watching television and I tell him he should call his dad because he’s getting older.

"What will I say to my dad?" he asks.

"I dunno, how about 'Go Birds' since you’re watching the Eagles play," I say.

My husband relents and grabs the phone.

"Hey," He says.

"Who’s this?" says his father.

"Your son," he says.

Suffice it to say it’s a short conversation. 

The same thing happens weeks later when I tell him to phone his mother. She doesn’t recognize the voice on the phone either.

Not long after we go to visit his parents.

"Colleen," says his dad. "I feel terrible I didn’t recognize my own son’s voice but you’re always the one who calls us."

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It’s sad to grasp the truth of my marriage.

I was an accompaniment to someone else’s life. I held down the fort while he was free to do his thing. He wanted me to be available when the time was right.

He deemed me 'an interruption' otherwise.

Most days I confused this with our traditional arrangement

The guy who left for the office and the mom who took care of her children. It became disturbingly clear on the days I needed him.

I have to be picked up from oral surgery under anesthesia. Nope, sorry I’m a busy man.

How could you not have even had one present under the tree for me to at least not disappoint the boys? Sorry, no money.

It’s my birthday and the boys and I love going to two movies back to back. Nope, not gonna happen.

It’s our Godson’s birthday we have to go. Nope, it’s opening day; I want to watch the game.

There are too many stories to tell.

We took a trip not long before I left my husband. I went to work with him that morning since it was on the way to our destination.

As we drove, he called one of the guys he worked with. Forty-five minutes later he hung up the phone.

"Wow," I say. "That was a long phone call."

"Yes," he says. "Work call."

"Really?" I say. "You do know I’m sitting right here beside you?"

"Yes," he says.

"Well, busy man," I say. "Only the first five minutes had anything remotely to do with work."

He didn’t care enough to respond. 

It makes sense. He didn’t care to treat me as anything other than an obligation. But it was my epiphany moment. I spent years listening to my husband’s words rather than paying attention to his actions.

He said he was a busy man and I believed him.

His actions merely said he had different priorities.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.