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Parallax - Advice            June 5, 2000

   She wants to party, he wants to stay with the kids.

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I've got two kids, six and nine, and a husband, 39. I'm eight years younger than him, and now that the kids are somewhat older I am feeling like I can take an active social life again. But he's not interested in anything, and whenever I bring up 'let's go out' or 'let's go dancing,' or anything, he always brings up the kids and uses them as an excuse. We finally worked out a compromise - I go out, he stays in. He says he doesn't care but I can tell he's resentful. Is there a rational way to get around this situation before it blows up?

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Her view:

Dear Active,

Oh, and it will blow up - like the little ticking bomb. He will eventually really go berserk from staying home with the kids while you trot off to another nightclub and come home smelling like the Marlboro woman.

I would try to find out why he doesn't want to go out. Perhaps the activities you have chosen do not appeal to him. Maybe he doesn't like to be around large groups, or he hates dancing. How about suggesting some time out, just the two of you? Perhaps get away to a little bed and breakfast or go to dinner and a movie as a date. I think if you found something up his alley he'd be game.

Keep pushing until you get him to agree to something he would enjoy. If he still flat out refuses you may have a larger issue on your hands, as in: he's using the kids as an excuse not to spend time with you. And that's a whole different question...

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His view:

Dear Active,

When a couple's principal mutual interest is their family, and they don't share much else, a compromise like yours doesn't really address the issue - and it probably makes it worse. My impression is that your husband is resentful because he feels you are bored with him and the family, and that you are seeking an escape route. I realize this is probably an unfair assessment, but I can't see a better explanation for his bitterness.

There are two ways to help correct this. Obviously you should try discussing it. Get him to express the source of his resentment - that will at least allow you to understand the problem better. In your situation though, I think doing might be more effective than talking. I suggest you find ways to show him that you are not bored, or trying to escape the family ties, but rather, looking to add some variety into your life.

I also suggest you do this now - force the issue and find a solution. Or, you can wait twenty years until the kids leave home, only to discover you still don't have much in common.

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