updated 16 Nov 2011, 03:00
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Wed, Nov 16, 2011
The Star/ANN
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Husband can't cut it

I'M in my late 40s and have three children. Things haven't been smooth in our over 20 years of marriage, but somehow, we managed to get by.

In 2009, my husband was terminated from his job and was unemployed for a few months. Our funds became critically low, so he withdrew all his EPF savings and started a car wash business.

He expected me to help out and I reluctantly agreed, although I was against the idea of the business. Also, I had not worked since giving birth to our first child in the late 80s. Business picked up slowly and the future appeared rosy. Then things started to fall apart one by one.

Problems with workers was the main factor. They were always asking for a raise, or for their salary in advance. My husband was fine with that initially, but as the requests became more frequent, he lost his patience.

Unpleasant words were exchanged on numerous occassions. The workers then started bringing their problems to me. I tried to help, thinking that if I solved their problems, they would have less worries and work harder to repay my understanding.

My husband reprimanded me everytime I helped a worker; he feels they should approach him directly. I told him I'd stay out of all this and stay home and do what I do best as a housewife. But he forbade me to do so. My frustration started to accumulate as I was torn between sympathy for the workers and his orders.

One by one the workers left. It was hard getting new staff. Sometimes I even had to help out with washing the cars - something he had told me I didn't have to do. I'm not paid a single sen for helping in the shop and days off are hard to come. The only long break I got was when I was hospitalised for being overly stressed.

Some weeks ago, I found out that our funds are running low again. I suggested that he packs up the business and that we look for jobs fast. My husband brushed it off and said business would improve once the new workers settled in.

I feel lost and really helpless. Thoughts of suicide have begun to surface.

How can I make my husband understand that he is not cut out to be a boss? How can I make him realise how critical the situation is? How come he never spares a thought for my suffering, despite my telling him so? I don't wish to carry on living this way.

Depressed soul

DO not ever think of killing yourself. You have three children who need you and life is never so bleak that you need to end your life. There are always solutions and if you look around you, people in worse situations have managed to survive.

Having been a housewife for so long, it is tough having to cope with helping out with the business. What's worse is that you cannot communicate with your husband, who seems unreasonable and demanding. You are physically and emotionally worn out because you hate the job, the endless problems and the quarrelling.

At this point, you have to make a stand. Tell your husband that you cannot help him in his business anymore. However, you do need to understand that he is a desperate soul trying very hard to make his last break. He is using up his EPF funds and he knows he cannot fail.

He believes that you are the only one who can support him so he is insistent that you help out. But you must make him listen and let him know how depressed and miserable you are. Tell him honestly that he is pushing you to suicide.

Every business is a challenge, especially during the start-up. Perhaps you could consider getting your children to put in an hour or two a day or during the weekends when you do not have enough staff. Have a family discussion as each member should be aware of the current situation. Rally together when the going gets tough so that you do not take on all the pressure. Your husband would appreciate that you are all there with him, and are for him.

When you feel that you are all alone with your problems, you need to talk to someone who understands. Be it a relative or a good friend, let off steam and tears so that you can tackle the next day with less intensity.

Or, get a job so that you are relieved from facing the business if you feel that this is the better option. At least, should the business fail, you can be the immediate financial backup.

Never feel that you are pushed against the cliff. There are many paths in life we can choose. Killing yourself will mean worse problems. Should your children blame and hate their father for pushing their mother to her death?

Instead, teach your kids strength in adversity so that they are emotionally equipped to handle the many more crises that they will face in life.

-The Star/Asia News Network

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