03 May
My Husband’s A Workaholic & I’m Sick of It

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means: Guest Post Friday! (Just go along with me here—I’m tired.) Today we have the very savvy and wise Lady Steele who has impressed us for years with the smart comments she leaves on our posts. So much so, that we gave her a question to answer all by herself. Please welcome Ms. Steele and be sure to check her out at sdfgarcia.blogspot.com! –Wendi

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I’m a SAHM to a two-year-old boy and my husband has a good job that makes decent money. That’s not the problem – the hours are. There always seems to be another deadline on the horizon that “will end soon, honey” which requires he work all day and all evening and some of the night. Last night, he was expected to literally work all day and all night, when he had a sudden reprieve at 4:30am. Today, he was told they would get off at 7pm and of course, that didn’t happen either. This company has ruined two vacations because of their effing deadlines. My husband is not a workaholic, but he’s becoming one. I’m becoming a single parent to our very active (exhausting) toddler and I feel so mad all of the time. What can I do?

Signed,

Work Widow

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Dear  Work Widow,

This is a tough one. I’m not a SAHM (don’t tell the other Mouthy Housewives, as they might vote me off the island), but I totally feel your pain. My husband is in IT and his job often interferes with our home life. He spends lots of time working late, and even spends evenings or weekends at the office. Even if he’s home, there is a chance he might be on his laptop or his cell phone, dealing with the Crisis Of The Moment. And those 3 a.m. emergency phone calls? Don’t even get me started….. Frankly, it all sucks.

But it’s his job that allows me to have a job that makes me very happy.   If he didn’t make the money he made, I would have to get a different job. Probably one that paid more but killed my soul. In the meantime, I have a nice home, a fancy minivan, and a little pocket money. Most of that comes from his job, not mine.

Presumably, it’s your husband’s income that allows you to stay at home with your son, unless you are a trust fund baby and just send him out into the work world for kicks.

But that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re stuck at home full time with a job that never ends. I bet you have a bunch of effing deadlines and you are forced to work nights and weekends as well. And the vacation? Forget about it.   You’re still on duty as long as your son is there with you, even if you’re in some fabulous vacation destination.

This may be oversimplifying it, but have you actually sat your husband down and talked to him about it? He may have no idea at all how you’re feeling or how angry you are. I can assure you that unless he has been a stay at home parent for any length of time, he has no idea what *your* job is like every day. Your job never ends, and it’s fair that he know that.

He also deserves to know that you want him home, present in your son’s life as well as your own. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that during the times he is off that you’re not getting much attention in the romance department, and that is an important part of a happy marriage and a happy wife.  I think it is, anyway, as well as I remember.

It really gets down to a quality of life issue. He may think he’s doing the best by you and your son by working all those hours.   I know for sure my husband would like to spend less time working, but his sacrifices allow us to have nice stuff. Your husband may just need to hear from you that your priority is your family, and he’s an important part of it.

You might also consider finding a mothers day out program or a babysitting club (where you trade off babysitting time with other moms) and get yourself out of the house for a few hours a week. Join a book club. Go to Bible study.   Listen to the sirens wail. Sit and watch the grass grow. But take care of you.  You owe it to your son, and his almost workaholic father, to take the best care of them that you can, and that may mean taking some time for yourself.

Perhaps this will just be a short term situation for you. Your family has to have the income, which means your husband has to play by the company’s rules, or go find a new job.   The job market *SUCKS* right now, so it seems to me that he really is  stuck between a rock and a hard place, just as you are.

Hang in there sister,
Lady Steele, Guest TMH

20 Responses to “My Husband’s A Workaholic & I’m Sick of It”

05.03.11#1

Comment by Jill.

My husband is in Iraq for the year … leaving me in a crappy 2 bedroom / 1 bath rental home … with 3 kids. And a dog. Which wouldn’t be THAT bad, because it is Newport Beach. But if that wasn’t bad enough? The cherry on top of the sh*t sundae is that I live directly around the corner from my inlaws. Who are none too quick to help.

I feel your pain lady. I totally feel it!

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JubanMama Reply:

“The cherry on top of the sh*t sundae.”

I’m totally stealing that. (The phrase, not the sh*t sundae.)

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05.03.11#2

Comment by natecammom.

Excellent advise. I too am a SAHM. Both kids are in school now which makes things a bit easier. My husband also went through the effing deadline phase. He thought he was being a good provider. I informed him that there is a HUGE difference between being a good provider (which he is) and being a good father/husband (which he wasn’t). What good is all the “stuff” if he isn’t around for his kids? It’s finally gotten better and he is spending much more time at home with family. And you do need to take care of yourself. Find your local MOMS Club and meet some other SAHM’s in your area. It worked wonders for me during those “clingy” toddler years.

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05.03.11#3

Comment by Minka.

I think Lady Steele makes some great points, many of which I’ve often had to say myself when talking to soooo many friends who are in the same boat as Work Widow. Because things really are tough “out there,” the job situations for many are not as flexible as they once were and so many of us have to just “suck it up.” It’s a drag.

It may not fix your problems simply by telling your husband how you feel, (and maybe you have already) but it will probably make you feel (a bit?) better to have him acknowledge how hard things are for you. But if he doesn’t acknowledge it, then you have the right to be pissed off.

And besides Lady Steele’s suggestions that you find some hobbies and activities that get you out of the house (which I think are ESSENTIAL to your sanity), it would probably make you feel better to have a cocktail every day. (just kidding!… or maybe not….) Seriously though, you should sit down with your husband and make some kind of long-term strategy, where he considers a realistic time-line for when he can start looking for another job, talking to head-hunters, etc., and the two of you work out whether or not you could afford for him to make less money at a job that requires less hours. (And possibly even consider relocating to an area where the cost of living is lower… which is what I did recently, leaving Los Angeles and coming to the midwest).

If you at least put a plan into place, you will see light at the end of the tunnel, and that will make things more bearable. Not great, but easier to deal with. (And again, that cocktail idea…? But only after your kid’s gone to sleep… Just sayin’…)

And lastly… not to be negative, but sadly I really have dealt with many many friends in the exact same boat as you, and what I’ve found is that a vicious cycle gets created where the wife becomes (rightfully) so resentful and unhappy about the husband being absent so frequently that when he DOES come home, it ain’t exactly a picnic for the husband either (not that I’m feeling sorry for him, btw). He is greeted by an unhappy woman and he, to some extent, is made to feel like an intruder. Not the woman’s fault — AT ALL. And the child is so much more attached to the mom than the dad. And the outcome of this is that the man does start to feel more comfortable AWAY from the home and his family, even though deep down he probably doesn’t want to admit this to himself, and possibly he allows himself to work even more than he actually HAS to. I know this sounds awful. But I think it needed to be pointed out.

Again — no one’s fault. Just a crappy situation. But being aware of it can sometimes help. My husband used to travel all the time, and shit would always hit the fan when he was gone (kids would get sick, cars would breakdown, dogs would puke on new carpets, appliances would malfunction… you get the picture) and I had to deal with it all MYSELF. So when he came home? Half the time I was like “Why bother? I’m doing fine without you.”

Not good. But we had to work through this. And when he finally could look for a new job, it was important that the travel load was less, and that was one of my non-negotiable requirements. He turned down other opportunities that would have paid more because we realized our family couldn’t take it, and he wanted to be more present in our childrens’ lives (and save our marriage!)

Hope this was helpful. And know, you are sooooo not alone.

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05.03.11#4

Comment by Christine.

I agree that it’s excellent advice to let your husband know how you feel. I have had a hard time doing that because I know, mentally, that in our situation it has to be how it is…nothing will really change by us having the conversation…but usually something does change in that I feel understood. I have also had to learn to separate out my anger at the 24/7 demands of corporate america from anger at my husband. That’s been hard for me, too. Also, about time for yourself, there’s never enough but you might be able to get SOME. I am in a little playgroup that meets for 2 hours twice a week and it’s made a big difference. Hang in there, mama!

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05.03.11#5

Comment by Melissa.

I totally know how you feel! I am also a SAHM work widow. I have three girls, 12, 9 and 2.

There is this phase I go through about once a month (pms?) where I throw myself a pity party and complain over the situation we have put ourselves in. Then I snap out of it and feel bad (again) for putting my husband through the routine.

He often reminds me that he doesn’t want to be at work and that he would rather be at home. But the choices we have made on how to raise our kids do not allow it. We both make sacrifices so that I can stay home with our girls. His is working all the time. Mine is taking care of the kids and all the other household chores mostly alone. In the end I’m glad that he has a job that he likes, that he can earn extra money doing, that can pay all the bills. And I’m so grateful for the sacrifices that he makes and I know he is grateful for mine.

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05.03.11#6

Comment by Bean.

Thank you all for such thoughtful comments. Been there, go the t-shirt. I can only reiterate what you are saying: find ways to get a break. Mom’s day out, play groups, Moms Club… My town also has an emergency childcare center for parents who have no one to help, or who are at their wits end.

Ultimately, my DH found a new job that didn’t require travel. It meant moving 1000 miles – but we’re all much happier (and that far from my MIL – my condolences Jill!).

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mechelle Reply:

I am a work widow.I have always been one.I know it allowed me to be a SAHM,when I was in that part of life.It was our decision to do though,even with low pay.
Now my kids are grown.I was really looking forward to spending actual time with him,now that the kids are grown.
I have also always HATED travel jobs and we tried to not get into jobs that involved too much of it.
My problem is last year he was offered an expat position,with travel.(he already had a good job-we did not need to do this)I said no to it,but he was too unhappy not trying at least,so I said we would then.(I am a sucker-btw)
So we moved to France (no comments welcome on how you think that is just so lucky),I give up what little of a life I do have to.This and all the stuff we do have. Its ONLY for 2 yrs afterall.
Which I was actually just starting to get real cooking utensils,etc.And just starting to have some life that didn’t revolve around everyone else,and work.
But “its a chance of a lifetime” is all anyone can say.
It was supposed to involve 1 trip a month,which I was not happy with at all,and explained profusely too.I did not hide how I felt about it.
But the reality is it is 2 trips a month,and a few have had 3.I am in a foreign country ,with no one but my cat for 1/2 the month.I don’t speak the language either.
And despite what you may think,Paris is boring,dirty,and not the same in any way as home.It also rains all the time too.
At home I have 6+ grandkids.Who I miss alot.
Our apartment is small and needs constant small chores done in it.I feel like his “promotion” was a total demotion for me.In every way possible.
We are back in the same position,house-wise,as we were in the very beginning.I also have to walk everywhere and can’t.I even have meds I need that aren’t even available there.So I have given up nearly everything to do this.
Now,after 9 VERY LONG months of it,and ONLY 19 more to go yet,I find myself being mad at him when he takes every trip.Everytime.He knows how I feel about it.Hes too nice about it since he now also thinks he made a big mistake taking this job.And all the(lies)things about whatever made this job acceptable to him are not there at all.
So we are stuck.But I am the one who can’t work it out at all.When I get to come home on visits,its not even home anymore.Nothing about this whole deal is standable.
And in the end,I feel like it will have taken prime together time we will never get back again.Cause that is how it goes.
No one wants to talk to me anymore.Cause all I am is depressed or angry.
Work should not run your life.It has to enough as it is.
But this was one too far.I am not sure I can last it out either.But then,what else is there even?At 50,not much.
I hate my life and do not feel it will ever get much better either.
No one seems to have this problem.I do have abandonment issues.(DAH)And this was THE one thing I have said for years I can’t do.I still can’t for the life of me understand how he could pick to do something he knew I hate so much as I do.No matter what gain it would be,I could never do that to anyone,and haven’t.
Its hopeless to me. :(

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Jennifer Reply:

I am wondering how things are going for you now! I feel as if I am in the same boat. I am on the fence on how to deal with being all alone all the time. He doesn’t seem to care no matter how I treat him or what we discuss. He is so focused on work. He wants to retire in 2 years and I wonder how does he think I will even be here when that happens. If we could afford for me to travel I would do that right now on my own. Have you ever considered doing that? I don’t know what to do yet, but, I will. For now, I am just angry and try not to let it show.

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mechelle Reply:

Well,so far we got to move back home a yr early.But the job is still what it is.Since moving back,things do not fall right back into place,so I am still alone most of the time.I can just drive now,and see the grandkids.We have been up and down as a couple since he took this job.I don’t think I will ever understand why it had to happen at all either.Because he had a good job.I can’t seem to get past my anger of it either.With each trip,it grows anew.Now he can’t find something else,and always says some travel when he does talk about it.Except that was never agreed on.I have given up on ever being in a life I wanted now.Because I can see its not going to happen.I put all I had into 2 things,my husband and my kids.Who knew the both go away?I guess careers win all around?

05.03.11#7

Comment by Plano Mom.

I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m a working Mom, and although my husband also works, my job is the one with the insane hours and the travel.

Talk to him. When you don’t, you resent the job and then he can’t feel like he can share the successes. He is so busy because he is successful. I think Minka touched on something important-I know that I would like to celebrate my success in work, however because my husband resents it so much, I feel like I can’t mention it at all. And we got in that same cycle where I felt more free and less judged when I was gone. Talk to him, and be open to the idea that in some ways, he doesn’t completely hate his job. Only then can he feel successful in both work and life.

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05.03.11#8

Comment by N and Em's mom.

Although I agree with everything said, I have to draw the line at ruining vacation. If your husband is a valued employee who lets his employer know ahead of time when his vacation is, there is no reason not to go. Turn the phone off and don’t answer it. He is only masking problems at work if he bails them out all the time. He is not solving problems; he is a part of them. If they are understaffed or don’t have competent employees, he would be doing the company a favor by taking a frickin’ vacation for a week, so they can see what a crapload of hurt they would have if something happened to him.

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05.03.11#9

Comment by workwidow.

I’m the one who sent in the question and can I just say that I LOVE your advice?! The comments too.

I actually have found a new hobby and I think it’s one that will stick. It’s one I can do while we’re both watching movies at night and he’s working, so it’s a bit of an equalizer.

Yes, I enjoy the money he makes of course, which is how I’m a SAHM. But, I want him around more than I want the stuff (the payment right now is not that great, to be honest, thus we need to discuss moving on).

And vacations…that is my short fuse. Nothing makes me more furious.

Thanks ladies. A serious heart-to-heart is in order. Life is too short!

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05.03.11#10

Comment by Recovering Work Widow.

My husband and I do not have children, nor am I a SAHM to our cats, but we did have the Work Widow issue arise in our marriage within the first two years… first I was the one working 80+ weeks, working overnight, and getting paid pretty much no money to do it… so, after my husband had a “Come to Jesus Meeting” with me similar to what Lady Steele is suggesting you have, we figured out that even though I loved the idea of being an architect and loved the people I worked with, the way to firm was being run was not conducive to us having a happy marriage, so I decided to find a new job. Two jobs later I am now in my niche and loving it.

About 4 months after I left my first job, my husband turned me into the work widow with his software development job. Ever since we’ve been together, he’s always had the IT issues: the late nights before deadlines, the 3AM “software crash” phone calls, interrupted vacations, etc… and I would throw myself the little pity parties every now and then and we’d have our “you aren’t meeting my needs” fights every month or so… but it finally got ridiculous when his company started shipping him off on business trips to LA and NYC for “just three days”…. that would then turn into three or four weeks before getting to come home. So, after the third “3-day” trip to LA that lasted a month (missing halloween and thanksgiving), I got to sit him down and pull out the, “Remember that talk you had with me about my job taking over my life,” talk, and we decided that in his line of work, with his experience, he would be able to find a similar job easily that would give him better hours. Three jobs later, he is now at a very nice company working 7A-4P (better hours that my 8-5) as a manager with double the pay he was getting while working in LA/NYC most of our second year of marriage.

I’m not saying your husband needs to find a new job… especially with the economy… but I am definitely suggesting taking Lady Steele’s advice and sitting him down for a heart to heart. Maybe he is in one of the very few highly-in-demand industries and can easily find a better job that has family values… maybe he’s not. If he’s not, at least try and work out a compromise, he may have a boss that understands what it’s like to have a family. It can’t hurt to try and work out a way to meet both needs.

Both my mom and best friend have gone through this exact thing with their husbands… and both had to do what my husband and I did – get new jobs… but it worked for them as well.

If finding a better job is absolutely not in this economy’s cards for yall, you need to talk. Jobs come and go… but marriages should last forever.

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05.03.11#11

Comment by Lisa.

“I know for sure my husband would like to spend less time working, but his sacrifices allow us to have nice stuff.”

I’m so confused. I am having a really hard time understanding how “nice stuff” is somehow better for a family than a 2-parent household, or having a husband/lover/partner. There have been a few commenters saying the same thing – yeah, it sucks, but it lets me stay home, etc.

The math of one parent working an 80-hour week, so you don’t have two parents working 40-hour weeks just does not add up. Is having mom at home during the day is more important than seeing your father, well, at all?

Making these sacrifices to put food on the table or to serve your country is one thing – that’s noble as hell. But are you all really saying that these sacrifices to the family are worth it to serve a lifestyle?

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Ace Reply:

(Best comment award from random reader) Thank you for sharing your sanity :)

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mechelle Reply:

I fully agree.And have fought it forever too.Unfortunately,one of us still seems to think its ok.But its not me.Good one Ace :) Stuff is not what its about at all to me either.

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05.06.11#12

Comment by Lady Jennie.

It helps a lot to read about the job market, to help me appreciate my husband’s long hours and frequent travel. I sometimes have trouble seeing the bright side.

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05.10.11#13

Comment by Marina.

I would recommend to find a teenager who can help around the house for much less than you would pay a Nanny or a housecleaner. Especially during the summer

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06.07.11#14

Comment by Ace.

I am glad someone else pointed out military situations. My husband is in the army and spent 3 of our first 5 years of marriage deployed in a war-zone, where there is NO possible way I can pick up a telephone and get ahold of him when shit hits the fan on the homefront, I might get a call once a week or every two weeks, went two months one time without any contact whatsoever, and ever day it feels like you’re terrified to look out the window because you might see the black car show up to tell you he’s dead. That’s a sacrifice he chose before we were married, and one I signed up for when I married him. Needless to say, I am incapable of feeling appropriately sorry for spouses who can call or see their husband, an he’s not facing mortar attacks, sniper fire, or seeing his friends’ limbs blown off. However, we DO talk about the future – as in, “hey baby, your job sucks. Please don’t sign up for another 4 years of this crap.” my husband knows I would rather live in a hole with him than deal with any more of this presidential-style fast-aging stress. Do talk with your husband. And remember it could be a lot worse.

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