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How to cope with DH working very long hours

(37 Posts)
pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 15:27:41

I am after some words of wisdom and advice please smile

DH is self employed and works in a physical job for very long hours. He leaves the house at 5.30am to get to the yard and does not get home until late (average 8.30pm). I know some of you will say 'Is he working?', yes he is and he comes home very tired and dirty sad.
My head is telling me that he is working hard and providing for his family but my heart is resentful. We have no time together at all. I feel like a single parent and take on full responsibility of the children and the home. DH is physically tired at the weekend and needs rest time, he is great at playing with the children in short bursts though.

I just wondered how others coped? How can I address these feelings of anger and resentment at the situation? Am I being selfish?

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 15:36:20

Also DH is sleeping downstairs so that he gets a full nights sleep while I am upstairs with the children, including my 6 month old DS. I do and have always done all the night feeds. This does not help the way I feel but my head tells me that DH needs a full nights sleep to deal with the physical work that he does

prelim29 Fri 12-Apr-13 15:45:37

It's tough for you but it sounds to me like he is working all the hours he can to provide for you and the children. If he is working this hard it would be unreasonable to expect him to deal with the night feeds and as you say he is a good father in bursts. It's not helpful to you to be feeling as if you are bringing up the children alone but obviously he is providing for you all and as the children grow older hopefully you won't be so exhausted! It's a shame he's chosen to sleep on the sofa although he probably needs a full night's sleep if he has a physically demanding job - not that you don't either, looking after your children which is also physically exhausting. I'm sorry I'm unable to offer a solution! Is he affectionate towards you?

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 15:55:11

Thank you prelim29 for your response, you are right in what you say. No, he is not affectionate at all, I think that's what makes it hard. All we seem to do is bicker as we are both so tired and neither of us are ever getting a break really

HedleyLammarr Fri 12-Apr-13 15:55:14

Hi PinkPiggy

Can I ask is he working towards a goal? ie is this time at work investing into a future?

The answer to that makes all the difference IMO

I also work long hours, but it won't be forever.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 12-Apr-13 15:57:08

I don't think it would hurt him to do a night shift at the weekend to give you a full night of sleep though. You may well struggle less with resentment if you occasionally had some help at night.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:01:29

No, he is not working towards a goal at all. It is a dead-end physical job! He used to work in a professional office job on a good salary but since the recession, he has been forced to do this job to bring money in. The thing is DH is that tired that I would not trust him to wake up at the weekends to deal with the baby, - he is doing a very physical job in his mid 40's after having a long office career. It is a shock to his system!

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:03:24

I know there is no clear answer really. I just am struggling with feelings of anger and resentment towards him. Maybe this is not the man I married and the future I expected, I don't know. I should not complain too much as there are thousands of families in very dire straits at the moment sad

HedleyLammarr Fri 12-Apr-13 16:10:16

He sounds like a decent bloke with a good work ethic

It's a shame, I think you'll deeply regret doing anything like splitting up.

The recession will pass. It will get better.

DialsMavis Fri 12-Apr-13 16:11:16

Can you work or work more so that he can work less?

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:15:05

We nearly split up twice over the years and both did not actually want to do it. Yes, the recession will pass but he is totally out of touch now with his career (graphic and web design) so it would be extremely hard for him to get back into such a competitive field.

I am on maternity leave at the moment and will go back two days a week once MP stops. I have said to him a few times that I can work 4 days a week and he stay at home with the children and then do a few hours freelance design work, but he is adamant that he needs to work full time

oldwomaninashoe Fri 12-Apr-13 16:19:57

OP my husband and I have been married 30+ years and I have had to suffer the same as you for all those years.
However we have been happy (albeit knackered) fo all that time.
When my two youngest (twins) were babies he worked 7 days a week for 29 weeks, and I too felt like a single parent.

Once the children were older I started to work full time and it relieved some of the pressure. But I do appreciate what you say about a physical job and how tired he is. My DH never woke up and slept through any crying at nighttime.

Remember he is doing it all for his family, and he is very brave and resourceful at his age to take this on. He is obviously a proud person and needs to "earn" his living.

When he is home at the weekend try and pre -arrange some family activities that are not so strenuous.

Just go with the flow for the moment, and be as supportive as you can, it could all change in the future.

Is he looking for employment in the field he worked in previously?

DialsMavis Fri 12-Apr-13 16:22:36

Does he want to go back to his previous career or is he happy? It sounds v hard on you. My DP works v long hours and it does make me resentful sometimes. I just cut myself some slack on the house work, make sure me and the DC are happy and try and support DP as best I can (whilst reminding myself that he chose his career and loves it) smile

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:26:01

That's just it oldwomaninashoe, we are not 'happy'. He is tired and grumpy. I am tired and grumpy! And starting to get my depression back too, which does not help. I know it will pass and having babies is very hard work. I think it's the lack of forward planning and looking to the future thing that is difficult as DH is not actively looking for jobs in design. His confidence has been crushed and he thinks he is too old for design.

pizzaqueen Fri 12-Apr-13 16:28:26

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but is there a chance he is choosing to work so many hours to avoid the 'work' that family life involves?

What are your weekends like? Do you spend any family time? What other support do you have?

Do you need the money from him working or could he drop some hours but still survive, even if it meant cutting back a bit?

I really feel for you, I only have one DC and my DP helps out so much, we're equals I couldn't imagine doing it 'alone'

FairyPenguin Fri 12-Apr-13 16:29:13

My situation is a bit like yours as in my DH works very similar hours and is physically and mentally exhausted (office job, but multiple locations, lots of travelling, and high pressure). In the week, the DC don't see him at all as he leaves before they're up and gets home after they've gone to bed.

I can only tell you what works for us. Firstly, it felt a lot better once I was back at work so I wasn't with the DC all day every day. Secondly, we share the chores at the weekends and both get a break too. For example, DH has a lie-in on Saturdays and I have a lie-in on Sundays. We might all go and have breakfast together but then the other one gets to go back to bed for a bit whilst the other one clears up and gets the DC dressed. Just being able to go back to bed with a cup of tea, a bit of time online or reading, then showering and getting dressed in peace can really set me up for the day.

He will do the meal plan for the week, then he will take the children out to park or somewhere for some quality time while I go to the supermarket and buy all the food. I get time to myself, but he's actually done the hard work planning it all out.

He cleans the kitchen and I'll do the washing, etc, etc. You get the picture.

Oh, and we'll both start bedtime together but then one will do the stories and the other goes downstairs to crack open the wine and watch a bit of TV. So we've both shared the shitty bit of bedtime (negotiating with DC about going upstairs, getting changed and washed) but one person does the stories which is still a lovely time and the other has a quiet drink.

Hope some of this will help, and I hope it will all feel a bit better when you go back to work. smile

DialsMavis Fri 12-Apr-13 16:30:44

I doubt he has time to look for jobs! But as you say the longer he leaves it, the harder it will be. Are you OK for £? I can cope with the stress & tiredness, but not the fact we are still broke! Could he combine his design skills & the skills from current job to do something else?

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:33:38

DH can't 'drop hours', he goes to jobs and has to do them and has to work 5 or 6 whole days a week too.

I dread weekends as I deliberately don't make plans as DH is home but then we end up doing nothing as DH is in 'winding down and chilling' mode.

The chores are not shared at all. I do everything. There is simply no time for DH to do anything during the week

womenswork Fri 12-Apr-13 16:38:32

What a difficult situation. You both sound very stressed. It sounds like you have all the responsibility for childcare and he feels like he has all responsibility for providing for you financially. Either of those things is almost too much to bear, and normally you'd expect your other half to support you, but it sounds like you're both completely flat out doing everything you need to do, and are not able to support each other.

Did you ever agree that this was how the responsibilities would be parcelled out? It sounds a bit like he is trying to be a hero, but unfortunately getting it a bit wrong. Sometimes it's easier to keep doing what you're doing than to sit back and assess the situation and change. You know the adage, 'work smart, not hard'? Well it sounds like he's doing the opposite - working so hard, he doesn't have the time or space to think.

I know that you need him to spend more time with the family, but instead of asking him to do that on top of everything he's already doing, is there a way you could relieve some of the pressure he might be feeling? Even just talking about it and acknowledging it might help. Does he have anyone to talk to about work, or his feelings about his own career? It sounds counter-intuttive, but maybe spending an evening where you have a few drinks and let him talk about everything he's going through at work might make it easier for you to work out what you can do together, as a family, to make everyone happier.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:38:57

I keep saying to him to try and be proactive looking for work but he seems happy doing what he is doing....

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 17:13:03

I also have no help at all. My mum is of the 'i got in with it, so you should' camp and i have no in laws

Thank you all so much for your kind words. I half expected a flaming and you all to tell me to get on with it and don't complain!

Highlander Fri 12-Apr-13 18:50:11

I would normally say that childcare is always shared 50:50, even if that means the father going to go p/t to do that. I detest the assumption that it is unacceptable for men to do their share.

however, self-employed is a whole different ball game that I know nithing about.

I do think that, if you can afford it, you should both be p/t after mat leave. It will give your DH a bit if breathing space to plan his next (family-friendly) move.

rollmeover Fri 12-Apr-13 19:11:20

Oh dear, it sounds like its really tough for all of you.
I think you need to explain to your dh that you have a hard physical job in the week too with no time off! Could one of you do a lie in on a Sat and the other on the Sun. Mcould he be responsible for tea one of the weekend nights?

My dh works very long hours also, but as he is in an office job he tries to make it back for bedtime stories and then works after the kids are in bed. Could he make it home early even one mid week night and work later to make up the time? (is there something that you could do in return eg make his lunch?)

It sounds like he is working hard to take care of his family, but as another poster says he cant "check out". Do you really need the money that he is bringing in (not wanting to be flippant, but could he turn down a job pr two) Or when you go back to work will you be able to afford a cleaner?

It does sound like you have a strong relationship that neither have given up on in the past. Hopefully he will listen to you and you he can help more.

badguider Fri 12-Apr-13 19:15:45

I don't understand why he can't 'drop hours' - builders, drivers, joiners, they can all work 8am to 5pm. If the job takes more hours because of that then they quote for more days.

Does he want to work the hours he does (he's out the house 15hrs a day so must be working at least 12/13hrs a day!)?

I am self-employed and often end up overworked but I would not get myself in the situation your DH is in.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 19:25:42

Yes, self employed means taking every job he can to make ends meet. There is no way he can reduce hours or days, he works alongside another man, and apparently would be 'laughed out the yard' if he turns work down etc. It's a very tough macho environment.

Thank you all for the suggestions. I already make his packed lunch everyday etc. I just need to get him to see that he can do little things to help me too when he is home. No, we cannot afford a cleaner, money is tight. When I go back to work, after paying for childcare, I will have little money in my pocket but we figured that I should hang into my job as in the long run when DC3 turns three and starts preschool, we will reap the financial benefits again.

It has been really helpful writing this all down and people reinforcing that our situation is a hard one. I half thought that i was being weak and pathetic struggling!

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