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!

specialsubject Tue 12-Nov-13 11:14:49

never good when one member of what is supposed to be a partnership 'won't hear' of something.

TheWickedWitchOfTheWest Tue 12-Nov-13 11:15:27


thegreylady Tue 12-Nov-13 11:17:31

Oh dear I do sympathise but you love who he is.In the Phillipines whole families have died homes swept away and aid workers are their tenuous hope of surviva. I am sorry for you but YABU the world needs people like your dh-at least you have a loving husband and your dc can be proud of their father.
I think the answer has to be compromise.Could he still do his job if you moved nearer your family? If so then that is what is needed and 'he won't hear of it' isn't good enough.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:17:59

Any good suggestions for tackling it folks?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:19:18

Sorry greylady, we just cross-posted. No, my folks are Oop North, his job is based in London.

NorthernShores Tue 12-Nov-13 11:19:30

I think it is incredibly tricky for both parents to do a full on, more than full time job, and do it well. It seems there's always compromises to be had somewhere or to one partners career.

Good luck.

Nanny0gg Tue 12-Nov-13 11:20:09

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 me

Now is obviously a bad time because of the horrific situation in the Philippines, so you may just have to carry on coping for a bit.

However, when that has died down I suggest you repeat to your DH what you have said here, and ask him what he proposes to do to help as this current situation is untenable. If he 'won't hear' (won't hear my arse) he might like to think of what would happen if he suddenly found himself on his own - how would he like that senario?

cashmiriana Tue 12-Nov-13 11:23:02

Get him to read the chapters in Bleak House on the Jellyby family - telescopic philanthropy Dickens called it 150 years ago. In other words, saving the world is wonderful, but you also have a responsibility to the people you made a commitment to by marrying/ bringing into the world.

At the moment, you are doing as much for those people as he is, because he doesn't have to worry about you and the home situation. And that's simply not fair. Lots of people have important jobs with others relying in them, and in life or death situations too. But does he really think that doctors, firefighters and police all wash their hands of their home responsibilities?

Tell it to him straight: the current situation is making you ill. What is he going to do to help you to sort it?

WilsonFrickett Tue 12-Nov-13 11:24:20

I agree with nanny that this isn't a good time to raise it as his head will be absolutely elsewhere. But yes, you do need to raise it and some compromises do need to be made, maybe not when he is in full on disaster management mode, but when things are quieter maybe he could do more.

I remember when I took redundancy I said I would be making some changes and a nasty colleague quipped 'oh are you off to save the children then?' and I said 'yep, starting with the one who lives in my house.'

What your DH does is of course admirable but he does need to practically support his own partner and children, whom presumably he was happy enough to bring in to the world... You need to have a hard conversation OP, but probably not right now. cake meantime.

ginnybag Tue 12-Nov-13 11:25:52

I assume he gets paid for this?

I ask because if he doesn't, he's spectacularly out of order.

If he does, then the conversation is simply one that many couples have to have - his job, your job, the housework, the childcare and how to juggle it.

Unfortunately, I suspect that he's using the sector he works in to skew that conversation, every time. He shouldn't. What he does is irrelevant. It's how he's doing it that matters.

And how he's doing it, is making your life stressful and unhappy, and will make you finding alternative employment nigh-on impossible. You'll struggle like mad to match those terms and conditions from a new employer.

It's lovely for him to say 'he won't hear' of changing things, but that's not what an adult family man gets to say.

Take out what he does. Focus on the 'how'. Because unless he can support you all without you penny-pinching all the time, and you're prepared to give up working, you have to find a solution that works for you both. That, realistically, means compromise on both sides.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:27:31

Thanks women - I really do appreciate all your helpful and sympathetic replies. I feel so mean being cross about this when so many people have lost so much. But if I get ill again, the whole shebang will fall apart! Keen not to use that as emotional blackmail though...

Is most of his aid work overseas? If so, why won't he move somewhere cheaper in the UK?

I think that's the compromise I would focus on, supporting his overseas work in exchange for having a setup in the UK that is optimal for you.

Is he willing to make any kind of compromises at all?

diplodocus Tue 12-Nov-13 11:30:05

I used to work in aid and know how all-consuming it is. I also know how it's easy to let it define who you are. I really don't think a full on job involving emergency response is compatible with family life - agree with cashmiriana. It'll be hard for him to think through other options, but I really think you should ask him to - many people move to academia i that's an idea / option. And don't let him play the "but they're relying on me" card - there will be loads of well qualified, able people champing at the bit to take his job if he does choose to move to something less demanding.

zatyaballerina Tue 12-Nov-13 11:30:31

yabu, his first responsibility is to protect his family, then he can save the world. If he doesn't care enough about you to give you the help and attention you need, than rather than imploding yourself, you need to find that support elsewhere.

Life is about priorities, he can't expect his family to be there when he never is.

zatyaballerina Tue 12-Nov-13 11:30:46

sorry, meant yanbu!

DowntonTrout Tue 12-Nov-13 11:32:13

This is very difficult. My father was like that. His dogooding often came before us, his family.

I remember once, back in the 70s he and mum had saved some money to take us on holiday. This was a very big deal. He took two weeks off work then came home and announced that he was going to use that two weeks to go and help the Vietnamese boat people. My mum flipped and I remember her tearing up the money and throwing it at him. He wasn't an aid worker, but very involved in the church and everything had to revolve around his commitments to others.

I'm not suggesting you are like my mum. But she was sick of coming last in a long line and because dad was doing good he regarded her as selfish for wanting to put family first. I have no advice, I'm afraid. I'm sure you are very proud of your DH, but sometimes people are so intent on helping others they do not understand the impact on those closest to them.

How much longer til you finish your qualification and can move to less stressful job? Do you think that will solve a lot of your problems, or do you need him to change something regardless?

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:35:57

I think you have hit it in the head diplodocus family life feels tedious and black and white compared to the all absorbing drama of aid work! Ginnybag yes he is paid for what he does - and pretty well for the sector. But London is nose-bleedingly expensive and even a good aid worker salary doesn't really touch the sides on its own - so we need my salary. Dreaming most of his work is UK based now, although there are a few 2-3 week trips, its much less than before

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:42:40

Dreaming I have about a year to 18 months to go, IF I can keep up the pace by not continually cutting into my study days to do house/kid related stuff. But that's half the problem - that's always the first thing to get eaten into because it isn't 'urgent' in the same way, say, a sick kid is. It won't solve everything by a ling chalk, but it will open up jobs to me with companies between ten to 40 mins away which are far less hard hit by current recession and so aren't cost cutting to quite the same degree as my current place, which isn't far from going under altogether.

Ah okay.

So what is the single biggest change he could make, that you would ask him to do if you could?

Is it something practical like moving? Or is it emotional, being more invested in family life?

He's not really abroad that much, for an aid worker. What is the crux of the problem on a daily basis?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 12-Nov-13 11:46:33

Diplodocus said "I really don't think a full on job involving emergency response is compatible with family life"

Would that include a blanket ban on all those who work in the Army, Navy, RAF, ambulance service and the like from having children/a family?

Sorry x-posted there

Does he ever take off work when your DC are sick, is it always you who has to pick up the pieces when things go wrong?

I dont have any helpful suggestions.

But one of my best friends works in international aid. She travels a lot. She is in Zambia one moment, Haiti the next, Namibia and the Sudan. She is always busy, whether she is home and office based or out in the field. She is super busy when there is a disaster.

She has however chosen to be single, and child free. She loves her job, and made a choice.

friday16 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:52:17

Would that include a blanket ban on all those who work in the Army, Navy, RAF, ambulance service and the like from having children/a family?

The services are acknowledged as being very tough on families, which is why service children are now eligible for a range of assistance. It's not enough, in my view, but it's at least acknowledging the problem exists.

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!

Charity begins at home.

That means specifically in terms of doing good INSIDE YOUR OWN HOME, but also helping the millions suffering in the UK. There are children as hungry and scared as those abroad, right here, right now.

Is the issue that it's not as sexy? Not a massive crisis getting blanket media coverage (yep, I'm coordinating aid in the Phillippines right now sounds so much more impressive than yep, I'm helping the homeless in Wigan). But crises can be happening on your street this very minute.

And then is it that most of the 'big brand name' charities/ngos/governmental quangos are in London town aren't they...couldn't he find something as good for the soul in the north?

There must be known charities who have their head offices in the north? Or he could be a regional coordinator for a national one? Or set up his own?

Sorry to be blunt. I'm kind of wrestling with these thoughts myself - I want to 'do good' but am trying to be brutal about my motives. How much is it for the CV/my own sense of wellbeing vs putting my efforts in where they can genuinely make a difference which is probably something deeply unsexy to do with local old people and wee!

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:42:30

Ocelot, can't see what you are getting for having the bargaining chip of ft. While I see the strain on your marriage of moving north, depression and unhappiness cause strain too. At least go pt, then you can have more long weekends doing visits. A family network or a network of decent friends is worth it's weight in gold, mental health wise. Personally if my oh had been depressed and I worked long hours, I'd move to be nearer their network...

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:44:02

Stinking - another great name! I COMPLETELY agree. DH has done some UK-based and even some unsexy aid work before - his heart wasn't in it, there was little room for career development and it was still in London. Pants. I only know a couple Oop North - the fabbo Rowntree Foundation and the Nat Autistic Soc. If you know of more, pray tell!

friday16 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:47:02

most charities have offices in London because they are in and out of Westminster and TV studios

I wonder if the schoolchildren holding events over the next few days to raise money for people left destitute in the Philippines realise that's what they're funding? It's the precise reason I stopped giving money to international aid charities: I'm not at all convinced that once the overheads have been paid they do much of anything.

KateAdiesEarrings Tue 12-Nov-13 13:47:41

To answer your pt/ft question, I currently work school hours and have a few freelance contracts (not int dev related). It has affected the power balance in my marriage and I think if you're already concerned about that possibility then you should listen to that concern.

I know quite a few people are suggesting your dh makes the move into academia and I'd just say that you both need to think about how much his self-image and confidence are tied up with his career. If he can take the time to work out the parts of his role that he finds most fulfilling then that will help you both to identify what his next step should be eg it may be the travel; it may be the perception that he's working for a greater cause; it may be the intellectual challenge of arranging an emergency response in tight timescales. More stable roles can fulfil all of those needs.

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:48:31

Ps I do a 4 day week, while I do get bothered on my day off, have training courses that can only be on my day off and people making snide comments/resentful it is made up for by the general feeling of having everything together at home. Less than 4 days I can't comment you can always look for a ft position when you want to gear up for promotion

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:49:10

Hermione that's a good point. I haven't had depression for such a long time (because I got more practiced at spotting warning signs and acting on them before that slippery slope really began) that I don't think DH really considers it could happen again. But what worked for me pre kids (taking duvet days at weekends when needed, making sure I planned in two or three things I really loved every week, regular exercise) just not possible in current set up

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

Hermione that's a good point. I haven't had depression for such a long time (because I got more practiced at spotting warning signs and acting on them before that slippery slope really began) that I don't think DH really considers it could happen again. But what worked for me pre kids (taking duvet days at weekends when needed, making sure I planned in two or three things I really loved every week, regular exercise) just not possible in current set up

JoinYourPlayfellows Tue 12-Nov-13 13:49:34

"But London is nose-bleedingly expensive and even a good aid worker salary doesn't really touch the sides on its own - so we need my salary."

It sounds to me that your entire life - work, study, childcare, housework is about subsiding him to do a job that isn't bringing in enough money.

I get it that there are a lot of bragging rights and a big sense of being importance in working in international aid, but if him being able to feel like do-gooder big shot is putting this much strain on the rest of the family, then it doesn't really seem like a good deal.

The fact that he likes to think of himself as this selfless person helping the world to be a better place doesn't make him more important than you.

There's an awful lot of ego in most aid work, and your husband seems to have at least his fair share of that.

You need to have a conversation about this where "won't hear" isn't a possibility.

Tell him you won't hear of him not hearing. That he HAS TO HEAR what you are saying, because you are his wife and he doesn't get to think of himself as this selfless crusader while he throws his family under a bus to he can enjoy feeling important.

KateAdiesEarrings Tue 12-Nov-13 13:52:33

As for charities with offices up North: Oxfam; Save the Children, etc have satellite offices across the country. Enable; Mary's Meals have offices in Scotland. If you have a look at charity jobs (sorry I don't have their url to hand) you'll get an idea of the charities across the country.

friday16 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:57:20

I suspect you can position people's views on aid work on the spectrum from selfless to selfish but their response to this:

JohnnyUtah Tue 12-Nov-13 13:57:31

From experience - going part time may help your sanity, your family life and your marriage - but it will totally knacker your career. I'm not saying I regret it, but you really should go into it with your eyes open, especially if it will mean your DH gets to keep his family unfriendly dream job with no changes at all. At least my DH's job is lucrative.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 13:58:58

Friday, are you a troll? I have no influence over where aid agencies based and that's not what this thread is about. I don't want to be frothy, but if you want to discuss that, the most appropriate thing to do would be to open a new thread. Kate and Hermione thanks for sharing your experiences. You both sound lovely - thanks for talking with me on a day when I was feeling pretty stressed out and down

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 12-Nov-13 14:12:04

What's his background? Could he move across the table and work as a grant maker/ in CSR or does he work in a more practical role/ political role?

I work as a funder and whilst it can have stressful weeks you at leadt can predict them ( usually)

I understand. I do a lot of aid work and it is tiring. Most days I enjoy it, others I don't. I have SN and have chosen to stay single. I have too much on my plate as it is.

Also it surprises me how many people think aid workers don't get paid. Many people get a salary

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:16:23

Johnny that is what I am scared of! I have worked so hard to get where I am and when I am not knackered really REALLY love what I do. Join can I have you in my pocket when I have that conversation please? That's exactly how I feel, like my whole life is revolving around aid work so I just get more and more knackered while he does 'good' work. This wasn't my choice and wasn't what I thought was the deal. I don't want to use emotional blackmail but I have been so depressed in the past (a long, llloooong time ago.before DH knew me) that train tracks were getting inviting. Whatever I do, I can't risk going back there if I can possibly help it (no judgement on anyone reading this thread who are that depressed and can't help it - it is absolutely not your fault and I feel for you. It is hell on earth!)

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:21:02

RichMan that's a really great idea! Is there a more even distribution of grant-making bodies? DH was actually approached for a CSR job recently at double the salary (shock) but wouldn't consider it as said the company were well known for being bastards and it was a fig leaf job. Fair enough - I do genuinely love his sense of integrity and that would just about kill me too, if that were the case. Just can't for the life of me find the pixies who are meant to shoulder all the work in the mean time....

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:21:04

RichMan that's a really great idea! Is there a more even distribution of grant-making bodies? DH was actually approached for a CSR job recently at double the salary (shock) but wouldn't consider it as said the company were well known for being bastards and it was a fig leaf job. Fair enough - I do genuinely love his sense of integrity and that would just about kill me too, if that were the case. Just can't for the life of me find the pixies who are meant to shoulder all the work in the mean time....

Also, OP I have trained as a translator so can hopefully be self employed. I moved back to the UK in September but it looks like I may be going back and forth between Asia and the UK. I have been doing this work for 7 years and know Asia so well now. Moving back to UK was very hard...and I'm on my own.

Hang in there.

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:38:55

Np, also re pt you can talk to your boss honestly and ask them, it does depend on the industry exactly how much the pt knackers your career and also how high you want to go. Could you look at more flexibility like working extra hours on the days he's on pick up and take Friday afternoons off? You can ping emails out on the train smile also if you have a laptop you can do a few hrs in the pm from home. A good company rewards output not presenteeism. Hang in there, you must be pretty tough to be holding on to all that!

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Nov-13 14:47:09

Having said that someone else will be able and willing to his job (which I think is true because of all the reasons that attracted and have kept him doing it), it is not necessarily the case that someone as motivated, with his depth and breadth of knowledge, or as determined to do a job well, would take a job in another sector or organisation.

My point is that he could actually make more of a difference doing a less obvious or 'glamorous' job really well.

Bear with me, as I may sound like I'm arguing against myself now but I'm not. I've worked in the charitable sector of a different profession for years (in which every large NGO and public body has their main office outside London, incidentally) and one thing I've learnt is how much difference a good person can make, in all sorts of jobs.

When I started out as an idealistic youngster, I thought 'what's the point of doing a job that someone else would do, there's only any value in doing something new, that wouldn't happen otherwise'. Then I saw how differently people operate, how much can be developed and achieved by someone performing a role really well, and how useless and disappointing it is when someone isn't, so how dependent supposedly 'normal progress' is on good people.

That might sound like an argument for him staying in his current job but it isn't. There is a massive difference in the attractiveness of different sectors and roles to different types of people, so there will always be driven, impressive, impassioned people ready to do the high profile, frontline stuff - for some sorts of jobs, often the worst paid, entry-level charity ones, the quality and number of applicants is always incredibly high.

For the public sector, grant-giving body or private sector roles though and for jobs requiring certain types or amounts of experience, the recruitment shoe can sometimes be on the other foot and the same people might not apply (I don't know, maybe they fly high, burn out and go off to grow vegetables on a small-holding in Wales instead).

I'm not saying that there aren't really good people working in private sector organisations etc. I am saying that cross-sectoral experience is often valued and that he might be able to make connections and drive a role forward in a way that someone less steeped in his subject might not. So he could actually achieve a lot and see the real difference he's made, from behind a desk.

Of course there's a risk of clash of cultures, frustration, square pegs in round holes and all, so care needs to be taken and a willigness to adapt working style might be necessary but just, don't dismiss other types of organisation.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:47:37

Hermione I am an unfeasibly lucky bugger with my immediate boss so that is a conversation I have already had with him. Altho he has no kids himself he is very committed to keeping skilled women in the workplace if that's what they want and practically tied himself into pretzels for me when DC were tiny. He doesn't give a monkeys which hours I do as long as the job gets done. So when DC were 1-2 I left the office at 3 and worked again 8-10pm. I wouldn't be thinking of leaving if the company weren't nosediving, despite hideous commute. His advice was that if I went p/t then I was vulnerable to redundancy as I am senior in my field and therefore comparatively expensive- senior managers above him were apparently making noises about not getting enough 'bang for their buck' from other p/t mums which he thought was bang out of order.

Stinking, when I started my work I was barely 23 and very "young". In my case, I was helping myself just as much as I was helping others. It took 3 years for me to learn the language, cross the road with confidence, learn how to write reports, etc, etc. Yes, I had some rough moments but I learned so many life skills too. I am one of the only foreigners with SN in the area, and attitudes are changing little by little. I was on TV and in newspapers, and because I have SN, I get a lot of attention. Sometimes, it gets to be too much.

like the events and offerings in the UK, this point I'm unsure of what will happen. I would like to do Vietnamese translation but I need more practice.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:50:55

Ooh Lottie I would give my eye teeth to know which sector you are talking about!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:57:23

Good hellokitty! I have a disability (not a SN - dont want to say more as don't want to identify myself) and people often v surprised that have achieved so much. I like pissing off the doubters by achieving some more! (wink) Just remember Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did but she did it backwards and in high heels (with a but of mobility/audio/visual support - delete as needed)

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:04:19

Ah well it's good he was honest at least! Shame about the dinosaurs above him!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:07:57

Hermione Quite. The senior managers are ruthless and don't appear to have any idea how to handle people who have any caring responsibilities ar all (including elder care). My immediate manager is such a sweetie/genuinely right on, egalitarian kind of bloke I think he off soon as he's getting.increasingly frustrated at the managerial culture. One of the reasons I want to get out asap!

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Nov-13 15:15:22

I've PMed you.

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:17:48

Yeah I can't see that you'd want to work with such charmers either!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:28:48

Hermione you don't know the half of it! We are in.the middle of a 'strategic review' aka ritudl blood letting. It's horrible.

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:29:54

Thanks Lottie. PM'd you back!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:39:09

Just wanted to say thanks to all who posted here today now the thread has gone quiet. I really was having a 'wits end' day and I appreciate all your help, advice and validation. Gotta go now as the Big Nap Kid now awake again (it was a VERY vommy night so poor soul was totally shattered). Will check in again later but meanwhile, THANKS. Talking it through much better than festering in silence!

JoinYourPlayfellows Tue 12-Nov-13 15:40:08

Best of luck, ocelot.

Let us know how you get on smile

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:43:24

Will do Join. Will get through the com/typhoon, give it some time and then try and have a proper sit down conversation about this. Gulp.

JoinYourPlayfellows Tue 12-Nov-13 15:49:36

No gulping smile

You have no reason to feel bad about this conversation. It's one that really needs to happen.

You guys need to think AS A TEAM about what is best for your family and for BOTH your careers in the short, medium and long term.

Right now he is expecting four people's lives to be entirely dictated by his preferences. That's not on.

And if he's really the fair-minded man of integrity he likes to present himself as, then he will not take much persuading on that.

Hermione123 Tue 12-Nov-13 16:04:40

agree with join, good luck op!

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 16:22:00

Thanks both - you are right. X

ShedWood Tue 12-Nov-13 17:13:38

If you're struggling to get your point across to your DH OP, why don't you drop him a quick email and say

"Great news! Inspired by your fantastic aid work, I've applied for a new job in the aid sector and got it! I know you'll be pleased for me but we won't get much chance to talk about it as the day you return from the Philippines I fly out there for a month. Can't wait to get stuck into really helping people!"

Then don't answer your phone or email for a day or so and let him stew on how you doing what he does would affect him.

With any luck he will present you with the reasons why you taking this new aid job won't work with family life and you can just agree with him, then explain that's exactly how you feel about him doing it.

It's a way of opening the debate anyway.

WilsonFrickett Tue 12-Nov-13 17:17:32

They have all sorts of charities in Scotland who tend to have their HQ's in... Scotland. London or MN's laughingly southern version of 'the north' isn't the end of the earth you know!

Edinburgh in particular is an easy travel to York.

<mild huff>

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 17:25:09

Shedwood snort! What a deliciously evil idea! Wilson I love, love LOVE Edinburgh! (Lived there a long time ago, then Glasgow). What charities are based there? Tell me more!

WilsonFrickett Tue 12-Nov-13 19:01:54

goodmoves is your friend 84 jobs on here for the east of Scotland...

ocelot41 Tue 12-Nov-13 19:03:38

Ooh, Ta Wilson!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 13-Nov-13 09:25:54

Re distribution of grant makers, yes, my understanding is that they are more evenly distributed, albeit still weighted towards London. Obviously, the ones attached to companies tend to be where the companies are, but there must be some in the north of England and definitely some in Edinburgh.

Re CSR, yes, I agree with him that some is very tokenistic, but he may find a company that's really looking to do a bit more than send out an email for "jeans for genes" grin

EspressoMonkey Wed 13-Nov-13 10:43:06

OP YANBU. My dad was very much like your DH. I am one of four DCS, DM was expected to carry the torch at home looking after DCs, house, part time cleaning whilst my Dad helped out the local community. He did many wonderful things for people and recieved a lot of public thanks for his work. But they say charity begins at home and the one person he never helped out was his own DW, who developped breast cancer and worked herself into an early grave. Part of me still doesn't forgive him for expecting DM to be the silent supportive wife whilst he was the local hero.

ocelot41 Fri 15-Nov-13 12:50:35

Thanks to all who posted a couple of days back - I thought I would post an update. I had planned to have 'the conversation' after the current crisis (DH is not physically in the Philippines at the moment but is working understandably v long hours co-ordinating others from UK office). But he found me having a quiet sob in the early hours of the morning on the kitchen table and it all came tumbling out.

He has now said he will do equal shares outside of a major emergency, and has made arrangements so that someone else is on call this weekend so he can take DC as I am stil running a fever. I think we still have a lot of talking to do - not least about the anger and mistrust that has built up over the past few years because of aid work repeatedly trumping family commitments, power imbalances and all the rest of it- but I do feel like he cares and that he is listening now. So thanks everyone.

That is soooooo good. Well done for talking. Hopefully this is just the start of feeling able to be open and honest, and him listening.

CoffeeTea103 Fri 15-Nov-13 12:56:40

That's great news op. It's a start and he is willing to listen so it's a good sign. smile

ocelot41 Fri 15-Nov-13 12:59:38

Thanks! I feel very sad that it has basically taken several years and my health starting to fall apart, rather than making the basic point about fairness to get there. But a start is a start.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 15-Nov-13 13:53:39

Well done, ocelot smile

Glad to hear things are looking up.

Make sure you have that chat when the current crisis has abated.

I think ShedWood's idea is really good actually. You don't need to do it in exactly that form, but it should make some of your points for you.

RedHelenB Fri 15-Nov-13 14:05:27

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.

ocelot41 Fri 15-Nov-13 14:12:43

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...

Mumoftwoyoungkids Fri 15-Nov-13 14:12:43

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.

ocelot41 Fri 15-Nov-13 14:14:03

Mum hmm...surprising how often this kind of comment has come up!

KateAdiesEarrings Fri 15-Nov-13 15:27:47

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 wink 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.

ocelot41 Fri 15-Nov-13 15:44:45

Thanks Kate. I think a babysitter more regularly would be a good thing anyway! Thanks for all your support x

MistressDeeCee Fri 15-Nov-13 15:58:08

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.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 15-Nov-13 22:50:45

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.

MilkyBarButtons Sat 16-Nov-13 00:37:46

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.

Mellowandfruitful Sat 16-Nov-13 00:58:25

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.

TheRealAmandaClarke Sat 16-Nov-13 03:05:52

Try for a compromise.
You need some help (by moving or reducing your hours?) if he wants to save the world.
Push your cause.
Good luck.

madwomanintheatt1c Sat 16-Nov-13 03:27:20

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. grin

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. grin

lisianthus Sat 16-Nov-13 04:04:00

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.

ocelot41 Sat 16-Nov-13 07:40:55

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!

ocelot41 Sat 16-Nov-13 07:54:12

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.

TheRealAmandaClarke Sat 16-Nov-13 08:02:05

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.

Hermione123 Sat 16-Nov-13 08:05:12

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

ShoeWhore Sat 16-Nov-13 08:42:05

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.

ocelot41 Sat 16-Nov-13 08:51:05

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.

ocelot41 Sat 16-Nov-13 08:55:36

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.

lottiegarbanzo Sun 17-Nov-13 21:54:36

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.

lottiegarbanzo Sun 17-Nov-13 23:14:36

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.

ocelot41 Sun 17-Nov-13 23:19:47

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

madwomanintheatt1c Mon 18-Nov-13 02:07:21

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.

ocelot41 Mon 18-Nov-13 17:34:45

Thanks madwoman - looks helpful!

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