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Feeling a sad third place in DHs life....

(72 Posts)
Slightlyfedup Sat 10-Sep-11 20:11:45

Name changed. Regular lurker and small time poster!
Been married nearly 11 years. 3 DC who are 7, 6 and 4. DH works in a very high powered job long hours and I am a SAHM since DS1 was born.
DH working practices have long been a bone of contention with us with periods of him trying and sometimes being able to moderate his hours, periods of complete insanity hours wise but mostly in between.
He regularly works a 60 hour week.
He used to work in London with a bitch of a commute but recently took on a different role which in theory sounded more attractive managing 5 offices, 2 within an hour of home and 3 further afield, although with his 'main base' 1.5 hours drive away. When he was offered the role he played it to me very much that he would be more in control of his hours and could be more flexible.
Suffice to say this has not happened.
Next week on Weds DD starts school. She is my last to go and I am feeling a little wobbly TBH especially as as a SAHM everyone keeps asking me 'what will you do with yourself' which is meant kindly but just makes me feel redundant. I also have 2 evening meetings for voluntary work I do, both of which could be very stressful. I have arranged outside babysitting for both.
Last night he announces that he will be away overnight on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and at a dinner on Thursday until late. All these events are indifferent cities across his patch.
The DC (and I) will not see him from Sun evening until Friday night (kids prob Sat am) and although this is not unusual I cannot believe he has not taken any account of his DD starting school. She is very nervous about it.
He is popping back Thursday afternoon to change and get a car to his dinner when I asked if he could manage to make school pick up he got shorty and said it depended on his phone calls.
Gosh this is long sorry. I am trying to encapsulate in this one incident where I feel the DC and I come in his life. Second and me a lowly third.
I have tried to talk to him before about these issues but get no where. I have mostly come to accept it but sometimes weeks such as next week throw me. He has known DDs start date sine June... He is incapable of saying no at work but happy to let me and more importantly the DC down.
I have offered to go back to work so he can down size his job but ultimately he doesn't want to. There is no way I can work with him working these sorts of hours.
He has the ultimate get out clause that he has to work so hard to earn the money. It's patently not true as so many other men appear to work the system in their favour.
So anyway no real question there is there? Just a general moan.. Don't know where to go from here. I sometimes think I would be better off on my own.

HotBurrito1 Sat 10-Sep-11 22:33:29

Sorry to hear you feel so disregarded. All I can suggest is that he obviously needs some sort of kick up the backside to make him realise what he is missing.
You say you have discussed it, but the message clearly hasn't got through. Do you know why he is motivated to work such long hours?

tiredgingerbabe Sat 10-Sep-11 22:56:39

sorry you are having a stressful time... I suppose it is really tricky. I completely understand where you are coming from. but from what you are writing, your DH seems to have a position which comes with a lot of responsibility and is much more of a 9-5 job. I assume, with your DH's job you don't have a lot of financial worries either and you are just so incredibly lucky to be a sahm and to be able to spent so much more time with your DC. I had to go back to work shortly after my DC where born (due to financial pressure) and I sometimes tend to get a bit hmm when I hear women moan about the absence of their hard working (and well earning) partners without looking at all the privileges that come with it... hope I don't come across too harsh (having a bit of a shite time with my partner atm...)

BlowHole Sat 10-Sep-11 23:00:37

So are you saying that you think your Dh could be at home more, but prefers to be at work?

Slightlyfedup Sun 11-Sep-11 07:09:45

I am fully aware that I am very lucky financially. I think the point is that I am more than willing to share the financial burden and go back to work and have been since DS 1 was born but that will only be possible if he cuts his hours and takes on some (frankly any) responsibility in our home life. Eg by having a job nearer home, down scaling his role (and income) etc
He won't contemplate this.
He is very driven by ambition and to some extent status.
Ii love having time with my DC and do regard myself as extremely fortunate there. But they and he and our marriage are missing out because he is so often not there. He wasn't like this so much when I married that time I too had his sort of career although neither of us worked the hours he does now.
As I said mostly I just get on with it and have adjusted my expectations re him ever being there for DC stuff. I was just having a bad day!
I will crawl back into my hole!!!

Slightlyfedup Sun 11-Sep-11 07:11:33

Ps sorry to hear you are having a shite time tired ginger

philmassive Sun 11-Sep-11 07:35:39

Really sorry to hear that you're feeling like this. I completely sympathise. A nice salary in no way compensates for basically being left as a single parent on a day to day basis. People on here will say 'well I'm worse off than you are blah blah' but that doesn't negate the fact that you are not happy with the situation. I have no advice however, as I am struggling with a similar situation exacerbated by my dh playing a sport on the one occasion he could be with the family. So I think of it as his loss. However I watch other people's advice and comments with interest!

Ooh, just thought of one thing - don't take on a job unless you have extremely flexible and patient child care who don't mind chopping and changing from week to week as you'll find it's you who has to go cap in hand to them to cover the hours your dh let's you down at the last minute - bitter, moi?wink

PrettyCandles Sun 11-Sep-11 07:36:28

I think gingerbabe's being a little unfair to you. Your dh has a choice about how you live, and he is imposing that choice upon you. Neither you nor she like your lack of choice - just because the results are different doesn't make your situation any better.

My youngest started school this week. The question "What will you do now?" does not make me feel redundant (also SAHM), it reminds me that I will now have the peace and time to think about myself and my own needs. For you, in your situation, you need the recharge time you will have, whether you use it for self-pampering, self-improvement, work, volunteering, etc.

Sorry I have no advice, but I grew up in a similar household, and talked about it with my dad only once I myself had children. He now regrets his choice to work so hard. At the time he thought he was doing the best for the family, not just for himself, but sees now that family togetherness was more important than he realised.

countingto10 Sun 11-Sep-11 07:39:04

I think you need another, serious chat about priorities. Does he want to be on his death bed wishing he had spent more time with his family (or more importantly, been there on those significant occasions ie first day at school) or wishing he had spent more time in the office/at work ? Not many people get to their death bed wishing they had spent more time at the office hmm

This probably isn't about his ability to get the time off work, by the sounds of it he probably has an awful lot of control over his diary, it is probably more about how he feels he should be seen eg a very hard working man who doesn't let anything get in the way of the job - but really, who minds someone taking a couple of hours off to take their DD to their first day at school.

I think you also need to think about what you want to do as well. You sound like you feel unsupported, mentally, rather than physically. You need to do things that make you feel good (he is obviously getting his emotional needs/self esteem boost from being at work) - have a good think about what will make you happy eg new hobby (I took up horseriding again when my youngest went to school smile). I did feel a bit redundant when the last one went to school.

Good luck and come back out of that hole !

Animation Sun 11-Sep-11 07:54:38

"I asked if he could manage to make school pick up he got shorty and said it depended on his phone calls."

Hmmm - yes, his response does seem unnecessarily chilly and detached.

Surely he could schedule in ONE pick up if he's home that afternoon.

A workaholic mentality comes to mind - and yes I think he is neglecting you and his family.

joshandjamie Sun 11-Sep-11 08:10:09

OP - we had a similar thing in this house. DH had 1.5 hour commute into work each way, that was when he wasn't travelling abroad. Stressful job, never fully 'present' when he was with us, the entire burden on child-raising and house running left to me. I work from home but I had to fit work in around the household stuff.

I grew more and more resentful of DH. I tried talking to him to no avail - same kind of arguments - he earns the salary to put a roof over our head etc. It all came to a head eventually. I explained that just because his job/commute was like that didn't mean it had to stay that way. We needed to brainstorm a new approach to our lives as it wasn't working. I also spoke to his best friend and asked him to put in a quiet word about examining priorities.

He started to listen. And he started to see that there could be more to life than work. He arranged with his company to work at home at least 3 days a week. So he's around much more. We also decided to pay someone to do our gardening so that his weekends were free (as that has been his job) so he could spend more time with us. Lastly, we went to see a counsellor who helped us come up with wayts to communicate better and give us a chance to explain our respective points of view.

It is a million times better now. I'd ask him to set aside an evening (send him a meeting request if that's what it takes) and tackle it from a non-emotional stance, but from a business stance. Explain what isn't working. Suggest that you brainstorm some alternatives - open up to any ideas. Agree a plan you can both work towards. I found that when dealing with men who work all the time, they respond better to discussions that sound like a work problem they can solve rather than an emotional woman who is 'nagging' them.

Good luck

Slightlyfedup Sun 11-Sep-11 08:13:34

Thank you all I feel a bit better now!
Philmassive puts it beautifully that at times I do feel like a single parent. I can not rely on him in any way for childcare during the week. I must find my own babysitters mostly for any evening activities altho he will get home in time when he can it is like asking for the most massive favour. And he is prone to then let me down leaving me requiring emergency childcare.
He does nothing in the home. At weekends he does spend time with the kids and is great with them but is also often bad tempered and lacking in patience depending on what his week has been like.
And I do fear that he is missing out on his kids. I see him so,little in the week that I even forget to tell him things that are of importance.
He is senior enough to control his diary. When I worked for the same institution people I came across working at his current level where able to dictate when they were unavailable. DH can't do that. He is so loyal to his employer but it doesn't work both ways.
Anyway it helps to rant on here. There are no answers really.

Slightlyfedup Sun 11-Sep-11 08:21:38

XP with joshandjamie. So glad things worked out for you. I have tried the unemotional brain storming but this didn't work. He has flatly refused to work from home or down shift.
We do have outside help for the blue jobs so he can focus on us at weekends which he mostly does (except for the almost constant blackberry use) which has helped to a certain extent. Except I am the one organising and sorting that help or doing the jobs myself which just adds to my role!
Might try again tho! The week after I tried last time DS1 asked if he could have piano lessons so on the phone later that week DH said 'well if all three want to do it then you can see how those ideas won't work" !! I gave up!

joshandjamie Sun 11-Sep-11 08:28:32

Keep trying. My DH flatly refused to. He said there was no way it could be done etc. It got as far as us going to the US to investigate us living there so he could be closer to work. But that trip forced him to realise that the US wasn't right for us and that we had to come up with a new solution. It was his boss who actually said to him that he could work from home.

I don't think in a marriage anyone gets the right to flatly refuse anything. I completely understand where you are coming from though. I would love to be able to go to evening classes but find it impossible as I never know whether he'll be here to look after the kids as no two weeks are the same. But at least I feel as though I'm getting more support at home

Slightlyfedup Sun 11-Sep-11 08:33:12

Next time he is home I will try again! Week after next sometime! Can't at weekends as don't want to ruin the time DC have with him.

haveigotnewsforyou Sun 11-Sep-11 09:37:47


I do sympathise slightlyfedup but having been a PA at senior management level for over 12 years I have seen the other side of the fence. Companies are putting staff under massive pressure to perform and managers/directors really are at the coalface. Although people should 'down tools' at 5.30pm it is very difficult to do that when you are on a conference call or meeting that has overrun especially if it is client facing or involving big bosses.

I too got sucked into it all and I don't even consider myself to be a career girl. If you want to be taken seriously at work you have to follow the herd. It's not right but it's the way it is. I've worked in a variety of industries and it's pretty much the same everywhere. I can understand how men want a wife at home to keep the home fires burning. I often used to joke that I wanted one myself.

It sounds as if your husband is very ambitious and really enjoys his job. He probably sees your job as running the house and looking after the children. In an ideal world, he should be putting time aside for you all but sadly I doubt if this is going to happen. It may be important to you but it's not to him otherwise he would be doing something. It is also very difficult to tell Alpha males what to do! You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. You need to do what's right for you and if that means issuing an ultimatum and following through on it then so be it. You will have to be brave and stick to your guns or he will never take you seriously again.

Very best of luck in what you decide to do.

HandsOffOurLand Sun 11-Sep-11 09:52:31

Really sorry that you are miserable. However, you are highlighting one of the perils of marrying an Alpha male. I know you say he wasn't such a workaholic when you married him - but you surely knew that he was driven by status and ambition? If he were the school-pick-up type of father, he would be a very different person. Would you have fallen for that type of man in the first place? And did you and he discuss in advance whether you would work after children? What I mean is: is he going back on agreements made beforehand? Or did you both make assumptions about what your roles would be without ever having talked about it explicitly?

Sorry - lots of questions!

FWIW, I think you're in a very fortunate position. There is nothing worse than a man wafting around the house, interfering with how you organise the children. What the children need is exactly what you're providing for them: someone who's always there. Your DD will be fine; having her father there or not will make no difference to her starting school. And you will find that school days are very short when it comes to it, and you will find that you don't get half the things done during the day that you intend to!!

eaglewings Sun 11-Sep-11 09:53:14

Lots of good advice, especially countingto10.

Dh was rushed to a and e this week with problems that could relate to his over working ( although very different situation to your dh) I managed to finally have the chat with him about how he was going to rethink how he coped and what his priorities were.

Ask your dh what he would like said at his funeral by his kids and work mates.

Would he really like the kids to say, "he provided an amazing home but wasn't part of it" and his work mates to say "he worked so hard the rest of us felt guilty about going home in time to see the kids before bed time and we couldn't take time off for our kids first day at school"

What role model does he want to be? What type of father? If his lifestyle foes not reflect this he still has time to change.

But in the end you can't change him, only how you cope. Like the advice to take up riding. There is plenty of scope for things to give you positive feed back you are missing by not working, such as doing day time voluntary work

Good luck

MumblingRagDoll Sun 11-Sep-11 10:00:44

I understan about the youngest just went off to nursery last week and having been a SAHM and work at home Mum for 7 years it's very odd.

But I don't' know what you expect DH to do...his job is his job...I think you are mixing up our own issues of feling redundant with your feeling for worrying about 2 meetings with DH will be fine. I know people will say "I have it harder" or "try doing it on half the income" but you onlyhave your own perspective on sounds very much like you want his working life to change totally...and is that practical?

Animation Sun 11-Sep-11 10:05:17

"But I don't' know what you expect DH to do...his job is his job..."

To show some interest in his youngest starting school and offer some emotional support to his wife at least would be a start.

ImperialBlether Sun 11-Sep-11 10:14:52

I am sorry you're unhappy, but please, your life is NOTHING like that of a single parent's! For one thing, most single parents have to work full time and to constantly rush from one place to another, with a ticker tape list of things to remember running through their minds. They tend to feel very vulnerable financially - many worry constantly about money and unexpected costs make them feel ill. They have no partner and don't tend to get invited to anything that involves couples. Everything is down to them and usually they can't afford someone to do it for them.

I am sorry your husband is so caught up in his work. Financially, though, you seem quite free to do as you want. Is there a course you'd like to study? If you went to work, would you continue in the same profession you were in before children? Would you like to start up a small business?

Most men don't take/collect their children on their first day at school. I know it would be good if he could, particularly as it seems as though he could organise it. I'd send your child to ask him, to make him realise what he's doing.

eslteacher Sun 11-Sep-11 10:32:16

I'm so sorry, I can imagine how awful you feel. My DP has some workaholic tendencies, though thankfully not as extreme as your DH's. I don't know if yours is the same but what I can see in my DP is that he has an innate drive and ability to sit down and work regardless of the circumstances, ie whereas I would constantly say "I'm really tired so I'll do this tomorrow" or "ooh there's something good on TV, I'll do this later" he just sits down and gets on with it immediately. Also, he's very driven to keep building, creating and moving on and if he's not doing this I can see that he starts to get itchy and actually feel like he's letting himself down. We've discussed my point of view (much like yours) and I was surprised how alien he found some of the things I was saying about actually having a work/life balance and priotitising life as much as work.

Anyway, there's lots of good advice on this thread already so I don't have much to add to it. You definitely need to talk to your husband in a non-confrontational way, show that you understand the demands of his job and you know it must be hard for him too, but things are reaching breaking point for you and you don't want to spend the only life you get feeling like you and the person you love most in the world are just ships crossing in the night. No amount of material stuff that his job can provide is worth that. Try to lay down some compromise principles for quality time together and with the children, and then try your hardest to both stick by them, which means that sometimes you'll have to accept he can't be around due to the pressures of his job, and sometimes he has to find a way to put his foot down at work and get home in order to put his kids to bed.

Best of luck! Let us know how the talks turn out.

Animation Sun 11-Sep-11 10:34:03

" I'd send your child to ask him, to make him realise what he's doing."

?? confused

breatheslowly Sun 11-Sep-11 10:37:19

Your DH does sound senior enough to control his own diary and delegate some of long hours work to others who are trying to make a name for themselves - for example if the dinner is an internal thing then he really doesn't need to be there. He is also setting a bad example to parents on his staff.

I recently read about someone in a similar position who wrote a letter to her husband setting out exactly why it was a problem and how it made her and her children feel. It is all too easy for your husband to switch off from a conversation "I've heard it before" or "I'm too tired to listen". Whereas a letter can be read at a better time of day and can be reread.

I wouldn't worry about what you will do with the time that your DD is at school for. In a couple of months I think you will wonder how you coped with having her at home all the time.

I don't think it is useful for others to comment on whether they think any of this is actually a problem. They might as well say that there are children starving in Africa so it isn't a problem. If you think it is an issue, then it is.

TipOfTheSlung Sun 11-Sep-11 10:47:11

I would NOT send your child to ask him. Imagine how it would make dc fell when he gives the same kind of answers as he's given the op. At least the op can help shield her dc from the rejected feeling

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