Dear Agony Editor,
My wife and I were discussing my (not so successful) writing career the other day. I said that if I didn’t feel so financially responsible to our relationship (we both have full-time jobs), I’d be a more successful writer. She took this as me saying our marriage is holding me back. I didn’t mean it like that, but there’s some truth to it. We have a good marriage, but she’s barely speaking to me now and I don’t know what to do. Was I wrong in what I said?
Yep, you were wrong. To boil this down, you basically told your wife you’d be more successful without her. Or, at least, without the burden of being a financially responsible adult. That’s pretty selfish. And it’s not a fact. It’s only what you think.
It’s all too easy to fall into the “if only” trap. Life would be infinitely better if only I didn’t have to work, if only I had more energy, if only I didn’t waste so much time watching Mariah Carey Male Version videos on YouTube (I’m speaking from experience on that one).
I understand your thinking: more time means more writing means more books means taking a private jet to book signings. But there’s no way to prove that would be the case. Besides, how many authors do you know who earn their livelihood solely off their books? By saying what you did, you were implying that your wife should give you permission to skip off in pursuit of your dreams while expecting her to hold down the fort. Not exactly a fair trade-off, is it?
Being in a relationship means sharing the load. That doesn’t mean laying down your dreams to die. But those dreams may need to get parked while you take care of more pressing issues – like car payments. Apologize to your wife, tell her you were a jerk, reassure her she’s never held you back and remind yourself that being in a loving, supportive relationship is far more rewarding than a shelf of published books.
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