Three, and Counting?

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m on marriage number three. Number one was short and unpleasant.
He was an abusive jerk, and while I could put up with the demeaning
language, when he started hitting it was over, pronto. Number two
was a wonderful happy year until he got brain cancer. I have a lovely
son and many great memories, but also a decade of caretaking that
left me exhausted. I met number three on the internet and the first
five years were great. Lots of travel, volunteer work, and busying
ourselves with creative projects (him woodworking, me fabric arts and
local food movement). David has slowly been going blind, and is now
legally so, though he can still work with tools without losing any
fingers. He expects me to drive him everywhere, from his adjunct
teaching position to various medical appointments. I have a full life of
my own, and while I don’t mind helping, I do not want to be on call
24/7. There is a ride service for disabled folks in our town, but it
requires 24 hours notice and he is most definitely not a planner. He
usually gives me an hour heads up. Last night we had a huge blowup
when he refused to ok using household money to a small venture I am
starting, saying “It’s just going to fail.” I lost it, and told him I was
hurt and needed a life beyond being his chauffeur. His answer, “Well
you did it for [number two]!” I’m so steamed I cannot see straight. Are
we even on the same planet?

Three, and Counting?

Dear And Counting:

You are not only on the same planet but also in the same house. I am
sure he is frightened with the changes and dependency imposed by his
disability. But that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make you his psychological
punching bag.

My biggest advice is to immediately identify and interview marriage
counselors. The communication issues are big enough that a facilitator
would be useful. But the underlying structural shift in the relationship
imposed by his inability to get around is a big factor. As for driving
him, explain you have your own set of commitments and goals, and
that you also need 24 hours notice. Tell him you will meet with him
once a week, say Sunday supper, to identify specific commitments like
medical appointments and teaching times that you will drive him to,
and also schedule household errands around. But other than those
specific times, your time is your own to devote to creativity and

The money question is bigger than I can tackle with little into. But
most households do best with a yours/mine/ours approach, that’s
based on paying necessities first and then seeing what’s left for the
discretionary categories. Don’t start counseling with subjects like sex
or money. Learn to talk first.