@Finn - I'm taking an interest in this thread because I'm dealing with similar emotions. Although I have zero desire to own 15 acres of wilderness, I believe I feel the same kind of dissatisfaction that led you to start this thread. Things are starting to crystallize.
suomalainen wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:56 pm
Long backstory, but to the extent I even HAD a self, I certainly lost it with the kids. I suspect the truth is that I've never been a person; I've always been a role. But that's a pity party for another time. What I am certainly trying to do in the midst of all this financial stuff is to self-actualize, I guess.
ffj wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:59 pm
It sounds like your wife is getting what she wants (think of the children) and you are left scrambling for any kind of sanity in what remains. [...] It's very easy to get lost in other's expectations of oneself.
I don't have a very strong sense of identity. Unlike those driven individuals who just *know* from a very young age that they want to be (for example) an astronaut, and then devote their entire lives to the fulfillment of that aim, my preferences are simply not that strong. Additionally, unlike the vast majority of the human race, I don't define myself or measure my self-worth by what I do, what I have, or even what I think and believe... so there's nothing much to anchor to. Fastforward to having kids, and I'm finding myself totally overwhelmed and lost.
For the record (and I'm not saying this to be PC), I love my kids very much. If given an opportunity to do things over, I would choose the same outcome; I do love them that much. But I believe there has been a misapplication of our culture's prevailing "children-first" values, at least in my household, and it is causing me much grief. My wife expects that, if we are not at work and the children are awake, we should be doing some productive activity with the kids, e.g. reading to them, playing with them, taking them to activities, etc. My counter is that I believe that our children should be the highest priority, but not the only priority. And I'm losing this battle. We set aside time for the kids, but not ourselves. DW keeps adding kid-related activities until we both feel positively overwhelmed.
DW has very strong motherhood tendencies and my weak sense of self leaves me vulnerable to being taken over by that unless I establish some barriers. Any attempts to recharge
during normal child-business hours get met with hostility because it's in conflict with the kid-first directive. Even my choice to take the bus to work (at a cost of 1 hour/day over driving) gets portrayed as an attempt to "escape" from the family.
Hence my fascination with FI/RE. The fantasy that if I didn't have to work, I might have some quality time to myself while continuing to fulfill my family duties in a satisfactory manner. But given our track record, I don't believe that FI/RE will be that answer. It's a lifestyle (or emotional?) problem, not a money problem. Which then leads to my obsession with ERE. If I am constrained to have no choice in what I do (i.e. working this specialist job, maintaining the comfortable suburban kid-first lifestyle), then I am determined to assert my freedom in how I choose to do what must be done.
Although I'm not quite satisfied with the present situation, I have zero grounds to complain about my wife. DW contributes half of our household income, does 2/3+ of the housework, and takes the lead on a lot of the kid stuff. She's a stellar partner to have on my life journey, and I fully appreciate that. Because she's already selflessly and tirelessly working on the behalf of our children, it only seems appropriate to step into the role that she's designed for me. She's giving it all her effort and energy, and all she wants is for me to do the same. That's fair right? But strangely enough... even though I have been an I-don't-know-what-I-want type my whole life, I am discovering that I do have my preferences, and at the very least I do know FOR CERTAIN that this is not what I want for myself.
I don't know how this is going to be resolved. It's a very "stable" equilibrium in the sense that we're both too exhausted to make any meaningful changes to our lifestyle. How can I hit the pause button on life? It's so hard trying to navigate an unfamiliar place while moving at full speed. Sorry for depositing my personal problems into your thread, Finn. I do hope something in this post makes things click for you.
Edit: To avoid further contaminating this thread with my problems, I request any discussion that is specific to my personal situation take place here: Career Advice For Fish