to be a bit fed up with aid worker DH?(124 Posts)
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!
Thanks madwoman - looks helpful!
ocelot, the come-down thing is exactly the same with the military. I assume aid workers get exactly the same advice and information regarding return from ops. You might find the army families federation website an interesting read. Total parallels in spousal commitment, lack of career progression, having to cope alone for months on end whatever is going on (childbirth, depression etc), deal with the post op tour stuff and PTSD issues, plus moving unexpectedly to the ends of the earth. The AFF have some great ideas and fact sheets.
But ultimately, it's entirely personal choice what you are prepared to commit to. If it has to be 50/50 in your relationship, then that's your bag. There are a lot of spouses in the same position.
That's really, really helpful Lottie - thanks. Actually DH has just agreed to come to Relate with me (see post on Relationships board). So that may be a tack I can try there! Thanks again for all.your care and support, it really gave me the encouragement I needed to ask for couples counselling
Btw, I wonder if it might help to think of and talk about your potential for illness differently, translating it into a roughly equivalent physical illness?
I think mental illness can be hard to acknowledge, manage so as to avoid, or quantify risks about, partly because you're wishing it away, partly that it's poorly understood by most people and not easy to talk about but also because while you're well it doesn't seem to be there at all.
If you had say a history of heart disease, with narrowed arteries and a set of risk factors, you'd know the arteries were really and actually furred up, whether you were chosing to think about them or not. They'd be a fact.
Then you'd have a set of risk factors, things to do and things to avoid (diet, exercise, stress etc). You'd know the consequences of doing the wrong things could be catastrophic in a way that might or might not be recoverable from and recovery could be very gradual and come with impairments and increased risk of relapse.
You, your DH, anyone, would be actively supportive of your maintaining your healthy regime, would alter normal domestic patterns to accommodate this and would become concerned quite quickly if something seemed to be slipping in the wrong direction.
It would seem a very unusal spouse who would say 'no, you just carry on eating burgers, finding no time for exercise and getting stressed out at work and, because of disruption to your study, prolonging your time in that job. Sure, there's a serious risk of a heart attack, leaving you incapacitated for a year, or worse but you know, I love my job and I just don't want to talk about changing things to make our lives work better for your health, so as to secure our children's care and happiness, in fact you can forget your self-indulgent 'lifestyle' ideas, I will not hear of changing our current set up in any way taht affects my career-lifestyle choice.'
Well, haven't I just described your situation, more or less exactly, from what you've told us?
I think you need to make your health vulnerabilities real to your DH. Maybe try a 'physical translation' like that, or get him to talk to a professional who can talk through what depression is and what its implications can be. I don't think he'll ever fully grasp it coming only from you because he hasn't seen you ill and won't want to believe it.
He really, really needs to understand that it's the opposite of something that can be left until crisis point is reached. Doing that is actively choosing to make it much, much worse.
Hi again. You ask whether putting your health and happiness first, while curtailing his career ambition / flexibility / fulfillment would just be movig the shoe to the other foot. The answer is no, it would not.
Health comes before having one's ideal job in the hierarchy of need.
That's a way to think about it and place things in context - and to see whether you and your DH's hierarchies are the same or not.
What are the bottom line essentials without which your family cannot function, what are the important quality of life issues and what are the nice to haves?
I'd say both your and his health and enough income to get by are in the first category.
Either of you having the ideal, fulfilling job (as opposed to another, quite interesting but occasionally frustrating i.e. normal, job) is probably in the nice to have category.
If the alternative is a very stressful, difficult job as yours seems to be, then getting a normal or more fulfilling job moves into the QoL category and if your health is likely to suffer, potentially seriously, from carrying on in your current job, finding a route out becomes a top priority. So it seems to me that changing your job is more important to the family (while two incomes are needed) than keeping him in his ideal job rather than an ok one.
Hi Shoewhore, thanks for letting me know about your experience. That sounds really tough too. I am aware of those kinds of risks - as is DH. This isn't all just bloodymindedness on his part! Isn't it bonkers that it has got to the point where SO much work is settled on London which most normal folk struggle to afford, whilst many of the regions go hang? It makes no sense for us as a country or for us as families trying to live together. I hope things get easier soon.
It's not just 2-3 weeks Hermione - its then the time needed to 'come back around' to family life after seeing some pretty horrific things. I get it - I used to be involved in a related line of work (but left before TTC) and it would take me a good 6 weeks to feel like 'me' again. It's about processing what you've seen so although you are 'there' physically, you are going through the motions for a while, as your head is elsewhere. Then there's often a big burst of anger or irritability later as you start processing all the things you weren't able to do and can't do to change a global situation in which poor people will continue to be devastated by war/natural events whilst rich ones (by and large) will be ok. Then you feel guilty about your nice, warm cosy house with enough food and other comforts... It is quite a cycle! So I really do GET IT. But boy is it wearing on the receiving end....and with kids? Double hard.
OP I can totally understand your frustration. Glad to hear you've had a good talk and I hope it translates into positive changes.
We were in a similar-ish position 10 yrs ago (dh works in a different but similarly London-centric industry) and decided to make the move north. It was great while dh's original job was going well, much better work-life balance, lovely house etc. But the reality is there weren't enough other opportunities outside that company and dh had progressed as far as he could within it.
We're now in the very difficult position of him commuting back to London for work and trying to decide if we can afford to move back. Don't enter into the weekly commuting thing lightly would be my advice. I hate it.
Although I don't regret our move - we've had a great (if sometimes difficult) 10 years - being purely practical about it, it would have made more sense to move a bit further out of London and make positive changes to our lifestyle. I have learned that dh is still a bit of a workaholic wherever he's living!
I've got friends who work in the charity sector here and smaller regional charities have been hit v hard by funding cuts. Lots of redundancies and mergers. So not sure how many concrete opportunities would be open to your dh if you moved either. (I think regional offices of bigger charities tend to have a specific function eg back office or are about delivering local services, so depends on your dh's specific role as to whether that would work) I think the recession has hit the regions much harder than London in general, just something to bear in mind.
Just thought I'd share my experience, hope it helps.
Hmmm I don't see that pick ups 2-3 x per week is fair personally if you're both working. Keep talking to him op, the 2-3 week stretches away are a huge burden on you. If you don't get to have the career you want but he does I can't see how that doesn't end in in resentment
Well, is there some way that a trade off can be made financially?
So you could afford a bit of help at home, I mean.
I think the other thing is: if I insist that he leave a line of work that he is devoted to, and move to a place he doesn't want to live, in order to put my health and happiness first, wouldn't that just replicate a power imbalance but with all control lying in my hands.this time? I am struggling to see how to keep this fair for both of us.
Thanks for all your latest posts folks - sorry I didn't respond, I was asleep! Milkybar I can't go into more details without risking identifying my DH to anyone in the field who happens to be reading this. But he really ISNT some kind of egotistic jerk - otherwise I wouldn't be asking for help in how to keep this marriage going - I would be asking about ending it! He's genuinely a lovely guy, kind, warm, an involved father ...all that stuff. In many ways, I am.lucky. He, like all of us, is trying to balance the things he is committed to - its a shades of grey thing, not a black and white one,which is why I asked AIBU? As Madwoman points out - many women would be more than happy with my set up. I have other friends whose DHs work in law, commerce, medicine etc who land FAR more on them! The crunch for me is that this not the 50.50 I thought I had agreed to, its starting to impact on my health, its impeding my ability to get out of my current
hellhole workplace, and I feel controlled (and exhausted) by the way in which his career choices control our lives together, esp where we live. The obvious answer may be for me to reduce my hours as soon as I can afford to, get my qualification and look for a lower stress, closer job myself. But I really don't want to have to give up on my own career progression altogether just to stay sane! Lisianthus you make some fantastic, insightful comments. You are right - there's family history here, which makes me feel like I should be very grateful for DH being as caring and decent as he is - my own DF was not so. Don't really want to go into that though!
Ocelot, glad your DH seems a bit more receptive to the issues now, but theoriginalandbestrookie makes some realy good points above about your DH coming into his own when a "rescue" is needed but falling down a bit in the unsexy parts. Life is a marathon rather than a sprint.
I noticed that you have stated a number of times that you don't want to "emotionally blackmail" your DH. Why do you feel that raising your and your family's important needs is "emotional blackmail"? And on the other hand you don't seem to be noticing that your DH seems to be pulling a bit of this himself- he doesn't seem to be shy about using the halo effect of his job (which he has only been able to do for so long due to your and your family's support and sacrifice) to refuse to make things easier for the family. This has only changed now it's come to a crisis which, if he ignored it, would make him a "bad guy" with less of a claim to that halo. Speaking a bit bluntly here, but he chose to have a family just as much as you did. He can't just let it slide until it's hanging off a precipice and he can swing in and save you all.
He already has a flexible working arrangement whereby outside of emergencies he can do pick-ups two or three times a week?
Sounds pretty good to me.
I always blow things out of proportion when I am tired. In quieter moments try and sort things out regarding a move/ job change, whatever, but really, if he's picking up a third unless he's away, it isn't really that bad. Partic if he's only away for 2-3 weeks.
Yes, I come from a military family.
Yes, one of my good mates is banged up in St Petersburg with his 29 mates.
Relationship dynamics are an interesting thing, eh? Only you know if a third of the domestics plus your pride in your partner's job is enough. And only you know if you are prepared to sacrifice a bit of your own ambition for the family unit as a whole. I'd say that if you were a man or a woman, by the way.
Try for a compromise.
You need some help (by moving or reducing your hours?) if he wants to save the world.
Push your cause.
Ocelot, I read the thread earlier in the week and it immediately reminded me of this article I'd read last weekend. On finishing it I had immediately thought 'His poor wife, it's all very well for him but what about her and the kids?' I've now read it online and the comments are interesting. Some say he's a hero, others say he is selfish and self-indulgent (I notice there are a lot of recommends for those...) Anyway, thought it might interest you too.
Do go back to the question of moving and your possible job change in a few weeks, too. It's good that he has now said he will do more, but it does also suggest that that's going to take place within the context of him keeping his job and his commitment to it, hence the 'outside major emergencies' bit.
So he is an aid worker, but what does he actually do?
My uncle was a war correspondent and as a result I have a very jaded view of most aid work and the benefits it brings, too many people are there not for the greater good but for themselves. This isn't the view of one but backed up repeatedly, I know many people that went into CP in war zones and they all say the same.
So what really is he? The lack of thought about you and his family does suggest that he is an ego driven aid worker, so fuck all use to the people there.
I'm glad your DH has had an epiphany OP, but I do worry about what you say that he doesn't give things much thought unless "they have fallen apart at the seams".
That's effectively what has happened in this situation. You are a damsel in distress, he has promised to deliver a solution to fix it. Trouble is parenting isn't made up of grand gestures and highlights, as you know it's the relentless grind that makes it hard.
Get some definite long term commitments from him. He needs to be home say one or two days a week at a reasonable time ( genuine crises excepted). He does something with the DCs at the weekend. Otherwise at Christmas you review the situation. You shouldn't have to continue like this.
I commend your DH for being worthy, OP. We need more people like him around. However, when you have a family there has to be balance. Im not a great believer that anybody should take care of outside world issues, whilst neglecting their own family. You also sound to be his enabler - he can do what he does, because you are carrying far too much of a load. You may have to bite the bullet whilst the Phillipines situation is ongoing, however you matter too.
QuintessentialShadows has made a valid point re. her extremely busy - and single - friend. There's a message in there somewhere.
You need to tell your DH exactly how you are feeling. & be prepared that yes, he may think you are being selfish. But again remember, you matter too. In the meantime keep working on finding a less stressful job for yourself. I hope it all works out.
Thanks Kate. I think a babysitter more regularly would be a good thing anyway! Thanks for all your support x
ocelot that's great. Perhaps you could schedule a babysitter for a few week's time and have a more detailed chat then? You don't want your progress to slip but I think it is good that he has scheduled someone else to work this weekend. Hopefully you're on your way to a more balanced and happier place.
Mum hmm...surprising how often this kind of comment has come up!
Not quite the same but my grandfather was a vicar. Apparently he was a wonderful vicar, completely devoted to his parishioners, went far beyond the call of duty.
When he died the church was full of people sobbing over his death.
And in the front row was his wife, children and grandchildren looking a bit bored.
To be honest his funeral was not very different to any of the other times I had seen him - he was technically there but didn't speak to me much.
Thanks Join. I think part of the problem is that DH thinks in terms of, as well as works in, emergencies. Unless something has totally fallen apart at the seams, and isn't 'urgent' he doesn't give it much head space.
I guess it is why he is so good at what he does, but it also helps to explain what he doesn't tend to prioritize long term, structural stuff which is geared towards what might happen, or is gradually happening slowly - that's my forte. So the fact that he hasn't really engaged fully with this isn't necessarily a reflection of his feelings for me
. To be fair, our DS in particular is a lousy sleeper and having difficult and painful discussions once he is finally asleep isn't somethibg that either of us really feels like - rather than say, crash out ourselves, have a laugh, or watch a bit of telly... But sometimes ya gotta do a bit of marriage-mending work...
That's great! But maybe be proud of him for working so hard in this terrible crisis AND be pleased that he is willing to work things out.
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