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DH work/life balance. I just don't know what to do.

(29 Posts)
ineedtogetready Wed 18-Nov-15 09:43:53

DH got a new job last Spring. It meant a substantial pay rise and more responsibility but similar length days meaning he is back by 5.30pm every day. I was aware that it would be more stressful and told him I was worried this would cause problems but he assured me this would be fine. I am a SAHM to 2 small dc. I have looked into working but the financial gain would not be worth the added strain after paying nursery fees for 2. I am aware that I am in a very lucky position. I love being at home with the dc and enjoying keeping the house nice, cooking etc. and do not expect DH to do anything when he gets home except spend time with us and do his hobby (sport) which I very much encourage. However, as I feared work has completely taken over DHs every waking thought. He constantly talks about all the issues that crop up, is always checking and sending e mails and is not even able to switch off at weekends. I have tried so hard to be supportive but this is getting to be a massive problem. I dread him phoning on the way home in case something has not gone right during the day. The thing is these problems always resolve themselves, he is not the only person working on these projects but tries to sort out the jobs single handedly and is unable to switch off at all. He does not need to send emails at 9pm but says he needs to get it done so he doesn't have to think about it, but of course he still does. The final straw for me came last night when we had sex. He just was so emotionally not there, just not considering me at all, it felt cold. After I was upset and told him. He apologised and said he was feeling a lot of pent up aggression and had not realised I was not enjoying it. We need to get this sorted. I am starting to see him as somebody I don't know any more.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Wed 18-Nov-15 11:01:52

There's not a lot you can do. He has to sort himself out.

The main thing you can do is make it absolutely clear to him that his behaviour is putting your relationship at risk. He has to sort out his priorities and make whatever changes are necessary to maintain his marriage.

ineedtogetready Wed 18-Nov-15 11:42:50

Thanks so much for replying. I feel helpless.I have tried to help him by listening, giving advice, doing everything at home so there is no pressure there, making him exercise. I spoke to him about about a month ago and he said then he would sort it out but of course it has just carried on. You are right. What else can I do? He has to sort this out. Many more months of this and our relationship will be in big trouble.

SolidGoldBrass Wed 18-Nov-15 12:27:39

Tell him he has 30 days and one more chance. If his behaviour doesn't improve - ie, if he doesn't show signs of remembering that you are a human being, his partner and his equal rather than a domestic appliance with a fuckhole on it, you will file for divorce.
If he was a decent man before this new job, that might shock him into treating you better. If he's always been a selfish sexist, the type who think that women are all very well but men are the ones who matter, then he's not going to get any better and it's not worth wasting your life on a man who considers you his inferior.

Offred Wed 18-Nov-15 12:36:39

Completely agree with SGB. Why are you fortunate to have restricted life choices because of your h's job? Yes you get to be with the DC but you also have no choice but to be with the DC. Why do you feel you need to be running round after him when he gets home and facilitating his hobby? Do you get equal free time? Your job as child carer, cook and housekeeper ends when he gets home from work. After that he should be sharing the household responsibilities with you.

gatewalker Wed 18-Nov-15 12:49:17

I'm with SGB all the way. It has to stop. You have every right to ask for that, and to take measures if it doesn't.

ILiveAtTheBeach Wed 18-Nov-15 12:50:13

Yeh. Divorce him. Be a single mother. Down house. Get a full time job, with all the same pressures that your DH has now. Pay for 2 Nursery spaces. Scrape by on what little cash you have left. Enjoy having no help with the DC's in the evening. Who on earth would want to be a SAHM and be fully financially supported by their DH? Not me! Oh....hang on......

Give the guy a break! I doubt he enjoys having to send e-mails at 9pm. He only just started the job in the Spring. He sounds like he's under immense pressure.

Offred Wed 18-Nov-15 12:52:03

Well clearly he is doing it for some reason because he doesnt need to do it.

He's got two DC and a wife. Those responsibilities are his whether or not he works outside the home or not.

Ladywithababy1 Wed 18-Nov-15 12:53:38

I agree with PP - being a SAHM is your job and he has his job and then the evenings and weekends are shared 50/50. If he's this distant from you it stands to reason he is the same with your DC and that will be causing irreparable harm.

You need to give him an ultimatum - you cant carry on being this unhappy.

Seriouslyffs Wed 18-Nov-15 12:58:08

He gets home at 5.30 and sometimes sends emails at 9pm.

pocketsaviour Wed 18-Nov-15 12:58:47

Does it seem like he is stressed and anxious, and finding it hard to switch off from work, like if he stops checking his emails something might to wrong, and he'll be blamed?

or do you get the impression he is burying himself in work because it gives him an excuse to check out of family life and household duties?

Sallycinnamum Wed 18-Nov-15 12:58:57

Fucking hell. I've seen it all now. Poor bloke working all hours to support his non-working DW and family and he's the arsehole.

Yeah LTB OP he sounds like a right bastard.

Ladywithababy1 Wed 18-Nov-15 12:58:59

But beach she's not happy, and she gives him loads of breaks it seems. Why wouldn't she at least try and assert herself and let her feelings be known? Just because he pays for stuff doesn't mean she should just suck it up.

yakari Wed 18-Nov-15 13:02:12

Some people are a bit 'all or nothing'
And it may be his old job was lower level allowed home to keep the balance, whereas this new one and the subsequent promotion has tipped him over the edge.
I know this because I was like that - I can't seem to box things off and yes it was a huge impact at home, at work and frankly my own sanity. A first world problem I know because I was lucky enough to be able to stop work and my 'all' has become personal and family focused.
Look he may be an arse treating you like an appliance with a fuck hole, he may be genuinely stressed with major problems at work or he may be finding the promotion was a step too far to keep a good balance.
Yes talk to him but some LTB ultimatum is hardly likely to do anything but foster I'll feeling - and would you really go through with it? (If not it's an ideal threat - and one that could leave a big tear in your relationship)

tootsietoo Wed 18-Nov-15 13:07:12

Jobs are important, they do matter to people, this is a fairly new job to him and I think he should have some credit for wanting to do a good job. But obviously it is no good for him, let alone no good for you and the children, if he is stressed.

Can you talk to him again to tell him that it can't continue indefinitely, for the sake of all of you, so you need to make a plan together as to how to change the situation. I would imagine it's pretty scary being in a stressful job but not knowing how you can get out of it, and thinking you can't get out of it, because it is the only wage coming in. If you can make a plan together as to how you can change it, whether that be him changing jobs with you going back to work full or p-t or whatever else works for your family, then it would be better than just telling him to "pull his socks up".

Obviously if he loves the job, and prefers working to spending proper time with all of you then that is another issue all together and then maybe he does need an ultimatum.

Twitterqueen Wed 18-Nov-15 13:11:55

Can you suggest mindfulness classes perhaps, or some other kind of de-stress activity? He's clearly finding it impossible to switch off and to let things lie. I've not tried it myself but I understand mindfulness is brilliant at helping people to let go and just deal with the present.

Is his manager putting undue pressure on him or is it just him? Self-imposed stress is very common. I know I turn things over and over - knowing that actually no-one else is worrying about them!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 18-Nov-15 13:32:21

He's clearly under a lot of stress and pressure at work. When my DH gets in that state, me talking to him about not doing his emails just sounds and feels like another stress and pressure to him - it just doesn't help.

This is a relatively new role and times are tough. He's also the breadwinner - so it's all on him (more stress and pressure).

The situation isn't sustainable, for his health if nothing more, but the solution is to fix the source of the stress. So he has to find ways of managing that - whether that's speaking to his boss, agreeing a 'no phone' period each night and sticking to it, CBT to help him stop catastrophising the consequences of not answering his emails, etc etc.

Or he takes a step down and you get a job to make up the lost income.

LoveAnchor Wed 18-Nov-15 13:39:14

This isn't genuine, is it?

Alastrante Wed 18-Nov-15 13:40:22

Find out what is compelling him to do emails late into the night. Has he got a shitty colleague or boss?

Also what time zones is he working with? Sometimes emails just do have to be done at night in order that a whole working day at the other end is not wasted. It is tedious when there's a family involved but to be honest, that's what highly paid jobs are like (or can be).

MushroomMama Wed 18-Nov-15 13:43:26

Woah now!

He's only started in spring give the guy a break! He probably needs to debrief after a stressful day working.

I think though you need to say can we have work phone off when you get in gentle reminder that he's not getting paid whilst he's at home.

bjrce Wed 18-Nov-15 14:01:28

Jesus Christ, the dh has started a new job since spring and is quite obviously under a lot of pressure at work, he is doing his best ffs. This is what happens when people move up a level in their careers, it may well be the case he is out of his depth, time will tell. In most new jobs it takes at least 6 months to settle in, then it can be at least 18 months before the h really gets to grips with the role. Have a bit of compassion for him, most men under stress won't talk about it. Just because the w is " not happy". Everyone screams ltb?
I worked in a highly stressful job, now my dh is in that situation, 4 dc. I know what it's like. It really annoyed me that people who don't understand the situation. I can remember doing presentations for work at 11 at night. To the wife grow up.

jamaisjedors Wed 18-Nov-15 14:07:07


"Obviously if he loves the job, and prefers working to spending proper time with all of you then that is another issue all together and then maybe he does need an ultimatum."

Can I ask what you mean by this?

I have a job I love, and my DH does too, and sometimes, yes, it is more interesting than doing homework with the DC.

I don't think getting home at 5.30pm and sending occasional emails at 9pm is particularly full-on. Both DH and I work (side by side in our office at home) til 11pm quite often once the DC are in bed.

However, because you don't have any work outside the home the contrast is striking between you and your husband.

You do have my sympathy though - I have a workaholic husband and my solution to not feel too lonely is to keep busy too!

tribpot Wed 18-Nov-15 14:28:44

The OP didn't say he was sending occasional emails a 9pm, she said he was doing so constantly - the 9pm was just an example.

A number of issues - I would agree with previous posters that you don't need to feel as grateful as you do about the choices which you as a couple have made about dividing up your home and work responsibilities. It's good that you're happy with the division of labour but your work is not less valuable than his merely because it doesn't directly generate income. It does so indirectly since otherwise he would have to provide childcare, housekeeping etc. It sounds like he gets an exceptionally easy time at home if he's not expected to pull his weight at all, and I would be looking to address that as a separate issue.

He isn't dealing well with the step up in responsibility and I very much sympathise with him on that score. It can be nerve-wracking and horrendously stressful to move up a level and it doesn't sound like he's being well supported at work. Unfortunately you probably aren't the best person to help him in this if you haven't got any comparable experience - he really needs a mentor. Is there anyone who could play that role, or could he seek one at work or in a professional network? He does need to get a grip but it may be that the company encourages this kind of 'presenteeism' and if he's not sending out of hours emails he'll be regarded as a coaster.

The stress sounds very bad for him - is he still keeping up with his sport at the weekends? It is really important that he does get some time away from work but it's important that you do, too.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Wed 18-Nov-15 14:36:19

I think the situation where he is just working and you are running round and doing everything else is actually contributing. He never has to switch off and get into 'home mode' and think about what might need doing.

The vast majority of people manage to work - yes in stressful jobs - and yet still engage with life in the home. Otherwise they wouldn't eat, or have any clothes to wear.

He needs to find a way to deal with it and be present in your lives.

LeaLeander Wed 18-Nov-15 14:48:31

As someone who has worked in stressful and consuming jobs, there is NOTHING worse than getting home from a work day and having someone there waiting -- spouse, kids, dogs, whatever -- to download you on their day and expect you to switch into leisure mode immediately. Especially if a commute of any length is involved. Does he get any personal space to shower, web surf or otherwise decompress when he walks in the door?

If he's only been in the new position for six months or so, it's understandable that it is consuming a lot of his mental bandwidth. There's no law that couples have to be in lockstep for every split second of their marriage. You might just have to reconcile yourself that at this period of his life he has to focus on career. After all, it sounds as though you and your children stand to benefit considerably from his ability to earn a decent living. If you aren't Priority No. 1 in his life for a year or two is that the worst thing in the world?

A man I worked with recently mused "I find it takes about 18 months to get really comfortable with a new position." His wife doesn't complain in fact they have three really little kids and she decided she wanted to be a doctor and has started medical school. Perhaps you need to find an outlet for your own mental and intellectual energy instead of expecting him to dumb down his approach to his career. Just a thought.

And if you dread him phoning on the way home, just don't answer. Or tell him "it disrupts my late-afternoon routine to hang on the phone like that; let's talk after the kids are in bed." Or whatever works.

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