QUESTION: After 10 months of marriage
and a two-month-old baby, my husband will not give me any access to
money for food, clothing, etc. He says that if I want something, I
need to ask for it. I can't just go out and get the money because
we do not have joint accounts. I am not working and I have no cash
and no car.
My husband told me I could stay at home with
the baby. I'm frequently depressed because I have no means to travel
or to buy food or clothing for my child. I'm isolated in the house
day after day with no contact with others.
My husband goes out drinking, sometimes for
days, and I am left alone to deal with our child. Sometimes we even
run out of food.
Any advice on how I should be handling this
situation? I am going crazy and sinking deeper into depression. I
Thank you for any advice you can offer.
ANSWER: Your husband's behavior borders
on abuse. Do not ask, but calmly insist that your husband cooperate
in establishing equal access to economic resources and transportation.
If you are not successful in establishing clear and immediate access
to the money, seek support through food stamps and other services
such as the WIC Program (in California). These supply mothers and
children with food sources.
Marital law renders all income "shared property" between
husband and wife. You are an equal partner by law. I recommend that
you seek emotional support through group therapy aimed at helping
you become emotionally and psychologically strong enough to require
changes in your marriage. You will need to claim your place as an
equal partner rather than.
No doubt your childhood holds patterns of abuse or
neglect with passive, rather than active, women role models. For your
own sake, as well as the sake of your new baby, this cycle of female
depression based on inequities in power dynamics needs to end. Marital
counseling aimed at preventing abuse, addressing alcoholism and correcting
the imbalance of gender-based power is a part of the solution. That
is, if your husband does not want to lose his family.
Seek immediate professional help for your depression!
Support services to treat your postpartum depression may be available
from your county mental-health agency or other government family-health
programs. Clearly you are depressed due to isolation and an overall
feeling of helplessness and neglect. But being in the midst of a postpartum
adjustment makes you extra vulnerable in the area of your relationship.
And all of this, of course, affects your child.
Your depression may be the result of a learned helplessness.
Rather than remain a passive victim to your circumstances, respond
actively. If you do not change your own coping style, this cycle is
likely to be repeated in the next generation. Consider developing
friendships with other mothers and reaching out for help in as many
ways as possible.
And remember that you are your child's parent, with
full responsibility for any jeopardy she is in right now. It is your
job to take any action necessary to remove her (as well as yourself)
from potential harm or neglect. Without an equal partnership, divorce
may hold a greater appeal than remaining married.