to be a bit fed up with aid worker DH?

(124 Posts)
ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:12:35

My DH is a lovely, kind, caring man who has always been very passionate about helping other peoplewhuch is what I fell in love with. But now we have DC I find this means that about two thirds of the house work and child care lands on me because of the pressures of his job - and that's when we aren't in the middle of a massive disaster. I've a long commute, a stressful f/t job at a company that's imploding, and am studying to get another qualification so I can move to a job which is closer, more secure and lower stress. I work from home 2-3 days a week so can get DC at 4pm and then work when they have gone to bed, but I feel like I am cracking up with over work. Aid work is such a big part of who DH is he won't hear of moving somewhere cheaper, nearer my family for help, considering a career change etc so less is riding on mec. I have a history of depression and am worried that I am sliding there again. Aibu for being angry that DH is off saving the world and not making more compromises for my sake? Currently sick at home with sick kid while he sorts the Philippines out which is bringing this all to a head. Sorry for long post!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:54:52

Dreaming it isn't always me otherwise I would have erupted by now! He isn't an uncaring bastard and will pick up an ok amount (around a third) when not flat out at work. But 'flat out' happens so often ....The biggest single change? Good question, and a tough one. I want to live somewhere I am happy, is cheaper and preferably near my ageing parents (my mother is gradually going blind and am painfully aware they won't be here forever). So if I could choose, that means going back Oop North but that mean a total career change for him, AND not somewhere he wants to live either. Honestly, I am stumped

oscarwilde Tue 12-Nov-13 11:56:42

So basically you are falling over yourself to keep family life afloat risking your job and your health.
What is the outcome if you lose your job even with a reasonable redundancy package? You may have no choice but to leave London then.
I would sit him down and reiterate some of the very good advice that is on here. If he doesn't want to consider doing anything else, he needs to ensure that his obligations to his family are met.

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:57:56

Assuming your qualification would be compatible with a move back around your family you should really talk to your dh about it and make my clear you need more support. You could probably finance him sharing a rental in London with the lower cost of loving out of London. Depression is serious, even if you're ok now, it doesn't sound as though your life is much fun. Family support is really useful with kids, put your family first. Awful as the AID situation is, everyone's troubles theirs to try and address.

KateAdiesEarrings Tue 12-Nov-13 12:03:20

YANBU. I was an aid worker and I completely understand your dh's passion and commitment. However there does come a time when you have to consider your responsibiities. As soon as I had dcs I had to rethink my ability to fly off to an emergency at a moment's notice. Yes, he's saving the world but that doesn't mean his needs are more important.

Now, isn't the time to have a conversation about it (when he's in the middle of an emergency) but when the first response is over, sit down and have an honest conversation about how it can work in the future.

You are not less important. If he wants to continue working in emergency response then he has to take steps to make it viable for you to support him.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:03:44

Excuse short break folks - sick kid now awake and have to go make lunch. Back in a bit - really REALLY appreciate all your responses. Was wondering if was just total bitch....

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Nov-13 12:07:38

I don't think there can be many absolutes is a relationship, especially not such big ones. That's why lots of people make a choice between 'antisocial' careers and having a family (women especially - the definition of 'unacceptably antisocial' usually differs between women and men doesn't it. Not so many single 'career men'. I digress but it is to do with unconscious expectations men grow up with - 'i can expect to have a wife who takes care of family and home and pursue my chosen career' - that can be hard to challenge).

Did he spell out his expectations before you married, before you had children? Did you agree to it? Did you both just assume - the same things, or different ones?

Anyway, what happens if your company goes under and you lose your job next month? If you can't find anything with acceptable pay and hours? What would he do then?

Could you move near your parents and he commute weekly, living in a rented room during the week? If you own your house could you let it out? You may need to throw all sorts of initially implausible options on the table to discover the most workable and affordable choices.

Can he reduce hours for a fixed period to enable you to complete your qualification?

KateAdiesEarrings Tue 12-Nov-13 12:14:17

Sorry I just read my last line make it viable for you to support him and just wanted to clarify that I don't mean the support is one-way. You deserve to have a fulfilling career and he has to support you to ensure you are well and happy, then you can support him too.

Depending on how far Oop North you're thinking then there are less aid agencies but they do exist. I also know former colleagues who freelance, completing various contracts for different agencies (focusing on their area of expertise eg disaster management in Africa; micro-finance in Latin America).

You have to make it clear that he has to engage in this issue. So far he's just ignoring it and that's not fair on you or the dcs flowers.

muddylettuce Tue 12-Nov-13 12:26:10

YANBU. Whilst right this second is not the time to raise the issue not least because he isn't physically available to discuss it, it's natural to feel like that. My ex husband is in the humanitarian sector and we separated due to his job. Only seeing your partner for 3 months of the year while he works in a war zone tends to put a strain on a relationship. Anyway, two people decided to have a child and only one is raising it right now. You need support and he either needs to provide that or compromise and allow other people to support you while he galavants off saving the world.

friday16 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:26:51

Presumably some disaster relief agencies are based in London because that way they can piss away the charitable donations at agreeable coffee bars in Hoxton, rather than slumming it somewhere cheaper. Some charities have savage overheads, spending money on expensive premises, and ones based in London are by definition spending more money on buildings, rates and other on-costs than were they to relocate to Doncaster. Why does an international relief agency need to be based in the most expensive city in Europe?

For example, the Disasters Emergency Committee has a very pleasant set of offices round the back of the British Library, with a nice Sushi place opposite. You wouldn't get that in Doncaster, and when it's only charitable donations you're spending, why not be based somewhere smart?

oscarwilde Tue 12-Nov-13 12:28:44

Most charities try to keep costs down and are quite keen on flexible working arrangements. Is there no option for him to work from home (further north) and travel to London for occasional meetings/big crises?

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Nov-13 12:35:27

I can think of quite a few people working in 'save the world' or other values-driven work that is a huge part of 'them'. What do they do when they want to have a family? Mostly move sideways or upwards to management - usually steadier hours, or part-time.

Often they're the lower-earning partner, so the one to go PT, not always.

Often they've recognised the issue in advance and opted for a different career track, some in a different country. Sometimes with the hope of moving back into a more frontline / fulfilling role later, sometimes not.

There's an apparent paradox, that people going into world-saving careers may sacrifice a lot of richer options and dedicate lots of time and effort to their path so seem very self-sacrificing. At the same time their freedom to choose, especially ability to volunteer and develop their career early on, is a luxury many people with dependents or without a supportive family, don't have. There's another aspect of sacrifice though - forward sacrifice of future opprtunities, earning potential and freedoms. That is a sacrifice of a future family or made on their behalf. They are doing something worthwhile but also up fulfilling their personal dreams at considerable cost and should never deny that.

There will be other people keen and able to do your DH's job.

Is he scared he might not be able to get a more settled management or academic position, or one in a different charity? Is here any element of having specialised himself out of the wider employment market? Is it all love of his current job, or are there underlying fears?

MajorieDawes Tue 12-Nov-13 12:40:24

There are plenty of jobs in international development, including humanitarian aid which don't require flying off to actually deliver the aid in emergencies. He doesn't necessarily need a complete career change.

Have you also considered an overseas posting? Obviously might not be great for your career (could you study?) but could be a break from the treadmill with less travel for your dh.

It's not all or nothing and your dh needs to compromise, at least while the children are small.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Nov-13 12:47:23

Agree a lot of charities are good at allowing flexible working, precisely because they can't reward with cash but want to keep good people.

(Many are not based in London precisely because of overheads, also staff retention but may have a small office there doing government liaison and stuff that has to happen in London).

Has he talked seriously to his employer about flexibility? Or is his desire to stay in London or he SE delaying that discussion?

capercaillie Tue 12-Nov-13 12:48:32

I do feel for you. I used to work in international development but realised it wasn't compatible for life with 2 children so took a break. How much does he help when he's not travelling - or is he stuck in the long office hours culture etc? Charities can be really really bad for that - and I've seen several people completely burnt out by it. But it can be really hard to get off the treadmill. Do you get a few days to yourself when he gets back from a trip when he can take more of hte burden from you?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:49:31

Thanks all - right, responses one by one. Oscar and Hermione We did look at moving to .or near York as good fast train service and near where I would need to be (waves to Yorkies) and for him to come down and stay when needed, but his work is team-based so he would be down an awful lot and we were both concerned that we would end up living separate lives which we were worried wouldn't be good for marriage - or DC. Would be very interested to hear from anyone who does this about pros and cons. Friday I think that's a bit unfair - most charities have offices in London because they are in and out of Westminster and TV studios, which would be much harder in Doncaster! Plus my DH's salary is half what he would earn in the commercial sector - which is why I can't afford to work p/t - that stuff has a knock.on impact on families. I assure you I am not hanging out in coffee bars in Hoxton but live in a pretty shabby and not very safe area of Sarf London because it is what we can (vaguely) afford. Not that am not v conscious of how lucky we are to have a home at all, being a kid of two unemployed parents.....KateAdiesearrings what an absolutely fab name! Food for thought. Finally Lottie, no he always promised me 50-50 which is why I am so angry. I changed my career before TTC because I thought the kind of very demanding shift work I was doing would be hard to sustain with kids, and I feel like I have been doing if not all, then most of the giving! That said I don't think either of us foresaw that we might both need to change careers! He swears blind it will all be different when DC are in school, but from the people I know with school age kids its just...different. Any thoughts on what is easier and harder?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:00:40

Lottie are you a mind reader?! Yes lots of fears behind it. He worked for a total bully awhile back who made his life hell and is scared of moving to a smaller pool of jobs where won't be able to get out if things not working. Alas he already has a flexible working agreement which means he can do pick ups 2-3 days a week when not in emergency. All cred to him for getting that - but it is still less than a third of the drop offs or pick ups that need to be done. Capercaille nope, when he gets back he needs more time off to recover. It sucks!

RedHelenB Tue 12-Nov-13 13:01:16

I think you are being unreasonable if he can't get a job in his sector up NOrth BUT he does need to pitch in to allow you the chance to have the less stressful career you want/need.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:12:21

One option might be for me to go p/t when DC into school as then fewer child care costs, and use extra time to study and get the qualification I need. But this whole thing has turned into such a power struggle, I am sort of loath to give away the bargaining chip of 'but I work f/t too'. Plus p/timers in my sector tend to get really, really exploited and not have much lower workloads than f/timers. Any p/timers want to comment on how going p/time has affected the power/sanity/marriage balance in your lives?

PiratePanda Tue 12-Nov-13 13:14:39

If I were you I would be seriously considering the York move (though York itself is not super cheap). I know a lot of people who do a weekly commute to London from York and Leeds, and with advance purchase train tickets it's not even that expensive. But you would have to insist on a four-day week for him in London - down on Monday morning, back on Thursday night. And you'd have to have serious support from family too.

That being said, you say your mother is ailing. Are you seriously considering adding care duties for her to your already overwhelming list of duties? Might staying in London in fact absolve you of these? Or is part of your problem - and forgive me for putting this a little harshly - the fact that you yourself are a bit of a selfless martyr?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:20:27

Pirate Thanks for making me smile, I don't think I have ever been accused of being selfless before! Am bit of rampant feminist, hence why the injustice of this situation is rankling so much. My mum doesn't need caring for - she very sensibly agreed to move to move to sheltered accommodation where she's very happy. I adore her, we are very close and have a good laugh, and I cry my eyes out when she gas to go home after a visit. Just want more time with her whilst she is still on this planet , she is a totally brilliant Granny and the DC love her. So its a love thing and an awareness of mortality thing, not a responsibility thing!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:25:39

Btw Pirate where do the people you know stay who do.the York-London commute in.order to make costs work? As you say, York lovely but not cheap... How do.they make relationships work with 4 nights away per week? Seems like a big step and don't want to walk straight into divorce-ville...

PiratePanda Tue 12-Nov-13 13:25:42

Your mum sounds awesome. If her support and that of your relatives would make your DH's absences easier to cope with, move.

I know it's not at all easy. My DSis and DBIL are long-term development workers who have just made a very difficult decision to move back home for their DCs' education (3 DCs under 8). Overseas development is their career, and they have no idea what they will be able to do at home. I really feel for them and I feel for you.

bakingaddict Tue 12-Nov-13 13:29:13

I agree with Lottie...if he is an experienced aid worker then has he looked into the possibility of flexible working. Perhaps he could be office based 3 days a week and work from home the remainder. Obviously if there is a big disaster then he might need to be London based for the duration. That way a move up North could be a realistic possibility, providing the cost of him staying in London isn't excessively expensive.

Myself and DH are considering this for the future as he wants to keep his London job and salary but it's all dependant on how much travel and staying in London for the 3 days would cost

PiratePanda Tue 12-Nov-13 13:34:27

Only 3 nights apart per week if you can get the company/organisation to agree to one day per week from home. The people I know who do it live within 20 mins walk or drive of an East Coast mainline station (York, Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster, even Skipton and Ilkley). I myself did a 36-hour round-trip commute from the Yorkshire Dales to London without my breastfed baby when DS was 6 months old (and I breastfed him til 15 months). I have to confess I wouldn't do it again with a tiny baby, but there are a lot of family men (in particular) who do the short weekly commute. There's even a long established comany called Doctor in the House who rent rooms in family homes to professionals who do the long weekly commute.

Hell, in my small department two of my male colleagues have wives and children long-term in New York.

As for the route to divorce thing, it doesn't have to be that way. You trust him, right?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:35:49

Pirate, yeah I am lucky, my mum is awesome smile I don't really think of it in terms of babysitting support (although she would love, love LOVE to see DC more often!) as I don't think it would be fair given her health. It's more - she makes me happy, my siblings make me happy and I am not happy here. I have terrific friends but usually too tired/over worked to spend much time just hanging out with them. And I do.think that London prices for anything have just gone insane and given the jobs we both do we will never be able to afford to live anywhere I actually really like. I don't like that 'Never got enough, never got enough time/energy/money feeling. It's a bit - stop the hamster wheel I want to get off!

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