Q: My husband and I have differing opinions on this subject and I thought perhaps I’d ask for another opinion. My husband and I have been married for nearly 8 years and have 4 children. He is very social and finds it very important that he spend time with his friends and co-workers. He goes out between 4 and 8 times a month, sometimes drinking heavily and oming home between 2AM and 4AM and sometimes drinking moderately and coming home between 10PM and midnight. He also has season tickets to see our local football team play for which he leaves at 6 AM on game day and returns at 9PM that evening. (These football games often interfere with family holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Occasionally through out the year he also chooses to spend a night away from home to visit friends ina town a few hours from here. Incidentally, I am rarely included in his social schedule. He thinks that these social interactions are fine and because he loves me and isn’t cheating on me, I should not get upset. Ifeel that he spends too much time on himself and that the out-till-dawn parties should’ve ended sometime in his early twenties. I’ve probably gotten more upset at times than I needed to but there have been times, to avoid my criticism, he will simply not call or come home until he’s already gone out. Does his behavior seem immature and selfish or am I just a jealous and controlling wife? He seems to think that other men he knows have these luxuries and their wives don’t mind a bit. Is that true?

A. I’m sorry that you find yourself in such a conflicted situation. The problem isn’t what your husband is doing. The problem is that the two of you aren’t in agreement about how he uses his time. People can be married in all sorts of ways but the marriages that work are those where the couple have negotiated out their differences. Your husband isn’t negotiating. He is just doing his thing. You aren’t negotiating. You are giving in. As a mother of 4 myself, I do have a guess that it is sometimes overwhelming for you to have to deal with the kids by yourself while he is off having his social time. And I have a guess that the two of you haven’t given you as much time off as he has. I have to wonder why you haven’t taken a stronger position on needing to have a meeting of the minds. It sounds like you make some demands but then back off when he accuses you of being controlling. It is not being controlling to want to feel like you have a real partner. If the two of you don’t sit down and come to a real agreement (meaning that you honestly can support what the two of you come up with – not that you just give in), then there is going to be trouble down the road. If you two haven’t yet figured out in 8 years of marriage how to talk so that both of you are reasonably happy with the result, you should find a counselor or mediator who can give you some pointers.

Dr. Marie