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is it possible to have two very full-on careers, dc AND a functioning relationship?

(72 Posts)
woodstock3 Fri 22-Aug-08 16:44:06

something i read that the ghastly nicola horlick said, about it being totally possible to have a big job and 70 children or whatever it is she had but maybe not a happy marriage too, set me off. that and a row i had with dh who thinks both of us working in high pressure, long hours jobs isnt sustainable (oddly, it seems to be my job that is the problem, not hishmm). im not necessarily thinking about one of us (well let's face it, me) stopping working, just about whether it will eventually end with me stepping back to a less full on job for a bit.
i realise we are living a rather crazed life at the moment and there is very little slack and that's stressful: whatever time im not working i want to spend on ds, but that leaves us almost no time for ourselves. on the other hand, i love my job.
and please this isnt yet another sahm/wohm argument...it's about the effect of work on a couple, not on children. does anyone have two v full on careers and a sickmakingly happy marriage or is it always going to be a struggle?

sarah293 Fri 22-Aug-08 16:45:14

Message withdrawn

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 22-Aug-08 16:48:45

It's not easy and there have been some very low lows in our relationship - but we're still together 18 years and 2 DC later.

In the short term, while you're in the maelstrom of younger children my best advice is to throw money at the problem. Make sure you have the best and most flexible childcare you can afford; have a cleaner and a gardener.

And - actually I think most important of all - make time for each other. Plan a night out every week and make sure that you go away together without the children at least once a year.

We often have our best arguments when we're away grin - but it gets stuff out of our system, and we generally do have a good and relaxing time and re-engage with each other as adults and not just as parents.

CarGirl Fri 22-Aug-08 16:49:15

I think it would be impossible to sustain 2 full on careers, dc & a happy marriage over any reasonable length of time.

Something would give, probably your sanity.

WideWebWitch Fri 22-Aug-08 16:51:32

We both work ft oth, have 2 children and are very happily married. I commute 4.5 hours a day, dh drops and collects both children. So yes, I do tihnk it's possible. However, dh DOES have a 9-5pm job and did stipulate when he took it that he HAS to leave on time due to childcare. He has been promoted since and there will probably come a point when he needs to work longer hours. I'm hoping we'll have a house and an au pair by then so it won't matter.

How many children do you have?

I can tell you what works for us:

We have a cleaner, so we don't have to do that and we don't have to argue about who does washing etc

We shop online

We talk for 20 mins uninterrupted most lunchtimes and email each other during the day

We go away together when we can and that's LOVELY but I appreciate you can only do this if you have someone to have the children

I do as much as poss online and at work, eg managing the bank accounts, looking for jobs etc

Although my hours are fixed I end up working 40 hours a week and commuting for 20 so I leave at 7am and get back at 6.30pm

Children HAVE to lay their clothes out the night before and make their own packed lunches, ditto dh and I

There was a point last year when we'd both not been in our jobs very long and were both trying to impress our bosses and we were both KNACKERED but it has got easier. I'm a contractor so I can walk away or get fired at any point and dh is expecting to be promoted a lot in the next few years so he can earn more and I can step back a bit. But that's because I want to, having worked my arse off for the past 4 years.

TheCrackFox Fri 22-Aug-08 16:56:24

Hmm, would gladly take the nanny and the housekeeper that Horlick had. Would imagine that for a couple to hold down 2 crap jobs and bring up DCs would be harder. You still have to do all housework, DIY etc yourself and can't afford nights out and nice holidays to cheer yourself up. Just sounds like more middle class whinging.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 22-Aug-08 16:57:24

Mmm. Helpful post, TCF.

Anchovy Fri 22-Aug-08 16:57:32

I disagree here.

DH and I both have pretty full-on careers (mine probably more so than his, TBH), 2 DCs (6 and 4) and have been married for 13+ years with a full expectation of more to come. smile

I certainly don't intend to hold myself out as any example, and don't have any particular words of wisdom. But, yes, I think it can be done. We certainly don't have a night out together every week and don't go away once a year without DCs but that is largely because we work so hard a night at home is more of a treat!

WideWebWitch Fri 22-Aug-08 16:58:49

I agree, it's MUCH easier to have 2 full on careers or jobs if they pay well enough to mean you can throw money at the problem. And as people pointed out on another thread the more senior you are the easier it is, in a way, as you CAN say "I am off to sports day" and no-one bats an eyelid. And although some of the freedom I have is due to being a contractor I have had 7 weeks holiday this year which is more than you get in a junior job.

Anchovy Fri 22-Aug-08 17:01:29

Sorry, moved on while I was posting.

I agree with TCF - there are much harder things in many ways than the way I live.

Agree with WWW in a lot of ways, although neither DH or I have a predictable 9-5pm job and both of us are subject to random international travel at short notice.

We sort of all survive and are happy. smile

oi Fri 22-Aug-08 17:04:12

we have 2 full on careers and it is totally mad I have to admit. Dh is away for 3 out of 4 weeks in September travelling, I need to go on a business trip but don't want to leave the kids with both of us out of the country (just don't like that as have no family here so worry about emergencies).

Our lives are underpinned by the nanny, there's no doubt about that. Without her, none of this would be possible. In fact, we could really do with a live in but we don't have a big enough place.

We only get one day a week together (dh works Tues to Sat, I work Mon to Fri) as a family and it is a strain but it's not our marriage that suffers. Our marriage is still fine, actually, I would say it has improved probably because we appreciate the time we spend together more but it does take the first couple of days of every holiday to get in synch with each other and we do often row or tread on each other's toes in that time.

What works for us is having regular time where we get a chance to do what we want (on our own) so dh plays sport once a week and I try and have one evening a week where I do something I want. We cannot plan a regular night together as we often don't have one together each week.

I'm not sure it's long term sustainable but we don't have a choice. I think the key is to keep yourself sane.

Kally Fri 22-Aug-08 17:04:41

It can work as long as you are harmonious with each other. Not vying for rest time and lumbering home chores onto one another agressively.

I had an excellent job and EXH was running his own business, but he was useless at functioning on the home front (more like he didn't want to) and therefore we were rowing continually instead of weighing up the benefits.

It annoyed me that if I wanted help (ie: cleaner or childcare) it had to come out of my salary as if it was my choice so I had to pay for it. But logistically it was the only way to function with us both working and avoid arguments. That was the thing that annoyed me.

We weren't any good at juggling all that and eventually (among many reasons) we split. I had to step off the career block and pick up the peices.

You have to be totally intune with each others priorities. It can be done if you are sensible and don't neglect each other. I know other couples that managed it and were very happy, but then they understood each other and cared for one anothers goals.

WideWebWitch Fri 22-Aug-08 17:07:57

That is tough Oi, at least we are both Mon - Fri and no travel. I turned down an interview for something recently because there was 25% travel.

Anchovy Fri 22-Aug-08 17:11:48

Good post, Kally - I completely agree.

oi Fri 22-Aug-08 17:13:29

www, I was told I wouldn't have to travel with this job. So I could legitimately refuse to go but I'd have to send someone else (more junior) and I'm not sure how that's going to work out tbh. Haven't decided. Am sticking my head in the sand (a very effective stress management tool I have discovered!).

I'm sure I remember from one of your posts woodstock, that your dh works Tues to Sat. I do think that is something that makes it very hard. Not having a whole weekend together. It also means you are looking after the kids on your own on Saturday which makes your week more like a 6 day week for some reason!

moondog Fri 22-Aug-08 17:17:38

We both work hard, and have two kids. Additionally dh away for 6 weeks at a time. I also have a business and am doing an MSc.
I think we are happily married.

Organisation is the key. Dh has worked out his entire flight schedule for next 12 months. I am extremely organised in the house. When dh comes home (for only a week at a time) we sit down that night and plan out the week.

Some things have to give. I am in Bangladesh with him at present (unpaid leave) and unlike most expats, we are not out on the piss 3/4 times a week with nannies looking after our kids. If we go out, we all go out.

Blackduck Fri 22-Aug-08 17:24:25

Doable, but only if you both pull your weight and deal with the house/children etc togther. Dps career is def full-on - I currently freelance so can take or leave it as I please (this may not last with the current economic downturn), would say the relationship is the first thing to suffer and ours has taken a battering since having ds, but we try to get time together when we can. It isn't easy and I guess hours and travel will up the anti...Have decided (like MD) that if DP goes abroad and we can do it ds and I will join him whenever possible (Lisbon next July...)

pointydog Fri 22-Aug-08 17:31:53

It is only possible if you have enough money for a nanny or possibly if one of you works condensed hours or can work at home.

Money and/or nearby family work wonders.

cmotdibbler Fri 22-Aug-08 20:44:49

Depends what you mean by full on too - city 70 hour weeks, or just busy, involving jobs that aren't always 9-5 ?

DH and I both work ft, both travel (me UK and international, DH UK but short notice), both in intense jobs. DS is 2, but we've had the travelling for 8 years - I've brought it down from 75% to 25% since having DS though.

We just make sure that our time together is really together - and that means we rarely do things on our own (although tonight DH is out with friends and I have both children), and that family time is always prioritised. 'Me' time is considered to be if you have to be away for work !

We don't have a nanny or involved family, but do have a cleaner and a great nursery. We don't earn mega bucks by any means

hf128219 Fri 22-Aug-08 20:46:41

I will find out when I go back to work in January! grin

oi Fri 22-Aug-08 20:50:31

we have a nanny out of necessity not choice. My children are school age. The after school clubs stop at 6pm and we can't get back by then, none of the nearby, convenient childminders had spaces and none could accomodate what we needed anyway and the house isn't big enough for an au pair or a live-in nanny, we have no family so a live-out nanny is our only childcare option.

We are not loaded by any means but we are ok and now with both of us working, can at least pay the bills every month and have a little bit left over.

drbread Fri 22-Aug-08 20:54:11

tell your dh to take a step off for a while let him do part time, sounds like he's the one with the problem not you.
he needs to learn to take the rough with the smooth, or HE should do something about it.

strawberrycornetto Fri 22-Aug-08 21:11:55

Hello. I think Pointydog's point about family nearby is a good one. Pre my maternity leave, I was working very long hours. DH is a long haul pilot so its all or nothing with him. We deliberately moved to live close to my parents and my mum is wonderful. We definitely would not cope without her support.

As far as DH and I go, I think the time we spend apart is the strength in our marriage (coming up to 10 years). He's always spent time away and I miss him terribly but it means I appreciate him more when he's around. He also goes out lots while he's away so when he's home, we are mainly together. The worst times are when he's away all weekend and I have the children on my own!

Its tough sometimes but at the moment it works.

mylittlemonsters Fri 22-Aug-08 21:24:22

This is the most frequent conversation I have with my friends since I got pregnant and now have number 2 - 6 months old.

I think it is very very hard to have success in all the areas.

I think that the more you squeeze in the fitter you need to be which means fitting exercise into your schedule too.

I have personally come to the conclusion that it is not a goer for me. I think one has to give, either my job or my partners.

I do think there is a break point of take home pay. If you both earn lots and enough to have a housekeeper, child carer and good holidays then prob can do.

If you don't then you are making life hard for yourself - but that of course does not mean it is not possible.

I suppose you have to decide if the stress is just temporary and you both agree to brave it.

strawberrycornetto Fri 22-Aug-08 22:15:48

I agree. I have also decided that I can't keep it up and will be working 4 days a week, one from home, when I go back to work. I have no illusions that this is pretty much career suicide, at least for now. But even if we could cope, I just don't want to live my life like that any more. I am very lucky that I can afford the paycut and quality of life seems more important now. Perhaps coping with two careers for the last ten years has just worn me out....

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