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Stressed husband....help

(56 Posts)
Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 16:38:12

Ive been happily married for 15 yrs. We have a very comfortable life for which I am grateful every day and never take for granted .My dh has a v stressful job, works long hours but gets v well paid for it.
I have watched him go up his career ladder and with every new responsibility (which he loves) I can see him get more and more stressed.
This shows itself in insomnia. He hardly sleeps and hasn't for the last two years. Last night was typical; he worked on his laptop coming to bed just after midnight, couldnt sleep, got up at 1 am and read until 3am then got up at 5am to get an early train to London. He looks permanently shattered. On weekends he does relax, pottering in the garden, spending time with the children and playing sport, but because our families live far away we are often away visiting or have visitors. Admittedly we love socialising and have a pretty full calendar.
I really worry about him. He doesn't smoke or drink excessively and isn't overweight but can you live like that long term? I need my sleep, just could not manage. We hardly ever have sex because he is tired,or working or I'm asleep when he eventually comes to bed. His best friend had a breakdown ten years ago and my dh discussed things with him but he doesn't want to take medication.
I feel helpless and just need advice. I don't know how to help him. I dont nag or complain when he works late because he doesnt need the extra stress and i have everything at homecovered too.I feel as if I'm watching my best friend work himself into an early grave. It's awful.

Proudnscary Fri 15-Jun-12 16:50:28

Wow you sound very selfless.

So he's stressed out of his mind all the time, 'potters about' in garden at weekends and very generously spends some time with his children, waking you up all hours of the night, is glued to his laptop...this would drive me mad and make me less than sympathetic.

I have a very busy FT, well paid job and am sometimes frazzled, but when I'm not at work I'm spending quality time with the dc, with dh and try to remember life is not all about me but about them too!

Why does he have to work all hours like this?

RightFedUp Fri 15-Jun-12 16:52:20

How lucky he is to have someone so concerned for his wellbeing. I don't have direct advice but I'm sure lots of others will - and then maybe you could share your concern with him and ask him to read this thread!

RightFedUp Fri 15-Jun-12 16:52:49

Or then again...maybe not!!!! Lol

Catsmamma Fri 15-Jun-12 16:55:49

i'd put a crimp in all the visiting as a first off, really make weekends "at home" time

I know I hate thinking about the driving/packing/socialising....I do usually enjoy it once there, but there is nothing like staying home.

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 16:56:34

proud I did not say he was selfish or that I'm a martyr. Perhaps I'm nieve,but he manages an office of 200 people ,can't really give any more details. Am I stupid to be so supportive? What would you do in my place? Not being funny, really need advice.

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 15-Jun-12 16:58:45

OP doesn't sound particularly selfless to me TBH, just like a caring wife.

My DH went though a period like this, was working long hours and ended up not really sleeping at all. He'd wake at 1am having panic attacks about work etc.and muscular seizures due to stress. One day he just said he couldn't do it anymore and had some time off. The only way he coped was to just stop and take a step down at work. It took a lot of courage and he had to swallow a lot of pride, but he knew that if he didn't he would end up with serious health problems.

I think the problem is that your DH needs to get to a point himself where he makes the decision to stop working so hard. If he is sensible he will realise his is not infallable and stop before he has some sort of breakdown. Mostly though it takes the 'breakdown' before men especially will recognise that they can't live like that.

OP, all you can do is support him as you are doing. The very best of luck.

Proudnscary Fri 15-Jun-12 16:59:56

Of course you're not stupid.

And no you didn't say he's selfish - but I am.

Honestly, I have a really full on job too (though to be fair I don't work long hours - that's because I'm the boss though and I choose not to. I do work from home but I do it late at night or v early morning) and I don't consider this more important or more stressful than the work my husband does at home.

Do you think he's depressed? If not, I think he needs to stop whining, stop working ridiculous hours for a company who merely pays his wage, get plugged into family life...does he ask you about your feelings, your day?

x

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 15-Jun-12 17:00:36

Dame I think you are doing exactly what you should be doing. He is lucky to have someone who cares so much. Incidentally how old is he? My DH was 41 when it all went tits up!

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 17:00:47

catsmamma agree about weekend visiting.....his parents constantly complain that he has no time for them !!!!!

Toaster24 Fri 15-Jun-12 17:01:57

You're not at all stupid to be supportive; ignore the mumsnet knee-jerk-reaction of "the man is always in the wrong".

Does he talk much about the things that worry him?

Proudnscary Fri 15-Jun-12 17:05:06

I'm not saying the man is always in the wrong.

I am saying I'm in the same boat as her husband with a big stresful job - and I'm concerned that he seems to be overly preoccupied with his work to the detriment of his wife and family.

But yes I have a bee in my bonnet about SAHMs on here who seem to think their working husbands need rest and relaxation after work and on the weekend and that working out of the home is somehow much more stressful than working in the home!

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 17:13:35

funny thanks for your support. He's 45.
I don't think he's depressed (but how would I know?) just a workaholic I suppose.
proud he doesn't complain about his work or lack of sleep,I just worry about it. I suppose,yes,he could just quit, but that wasn't really the advice I was looking for. The wage he gets is quite considerable. He does ask me about my day/job.
His father was (still is) a massive stressed out workaholic who never engaged with his children. Dh has learned from that with regards the dcs but is a workaholic nevertheless......I don't want to end up with my filgrin

countingto10 Fri 15-Jun-12 17:13:50

It's all about balance and he has got it wrong ATM. I am sure he is worried about job security etc if he doesn't put in these hours but obviously he can't continue in this vein and you did a discussion.

My DH runs his own business and puts in lots of hours, the business never being far from his mind and he is also not sleeping well ATM. He knows it can't continue and we are looking at ways to change things. Life should be about time for work, time for family, time for being a couple and time for being on your own, doing your own thing. It is hard to strike a balance between all these things.

It sounds as if he is not coping very well, doesn't know how to/want to delegate, doesn't know how to say no or is possibly not up to the job - all these things will need discussing with you and his employers ultimately.

Good luck.

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 17:21:57

proud I completely understand where you are coming from and respect your opinions. The thing is I was asking about how to cope with a stressed out partner. I don't consider what I do to be any more or less stressful/important than my DH but I'm not the one with the sleep issues who is going round looking like the living dead!
Btw I get plenty of r and r because remember,he doesn't sleep so ican lie in all weekend smile

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 15-Jun-12 17:24:16

Dame DH is 45 now too and took a step down 4 years ago. He teaches and was running a large department. He is now a 'normal' teacher and far less stressed. He doesn't have to deal with staff issues etc and can more or less leave work at work.

I think you need to talk to your DH and explain how worried you are about him and then try and work out ways to sort it out. In our case it meant a drop in income, but I work FT too, so we were able to absorb that. Can he take a step down/sideways to a less demanding job? He really needs to consider his mental health before it is too late.

Incidentally I have seen many variations on this theme, with the worst being a workaholic lawyer who ended up being sectioned and will never work again. He is about 45 too!

oikopolis Fri 15-Jun-12 17:33:53

has he had his thyroid checked? and other hormone levels? he could have a pituitary tumour or something, he needs checking.

my dh didn't sleep for years and was often anxious/low. it used to upset me deeply to see him so shattered all the time. i begged and pleaded for him to go to the GP because i had an instinct it was thyroid related. he always put it off because of money (we weren't in UK). then we moved to a country with govt healthcare and he finally went.

lo and behold. i was right. GP put him on medication for thyroid imbalance. he now sleeps through and looks like a different person, his skin even looks different, as if there's more blood flowing through him iyswim. his mood changed too, much more positive and so much more loving and attentive.

he needs GP help, it's not necessarily depression. it's not normal to not sleep, he would be irresponsible not to look after his health.

try to position the GP visit to him as him being proactive about optimising his health, him using the GP as a service provider who he can call on to make his life more efficient.

it's not about being weak etc., it's about being responsible and covering all bases.

just be calm and practical about it, don't get emotional if you can help it, if he is feeling shit physically or psychologically then emotional stuff is just going to make him feel hectored and/or blackmailed.

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 17:35:05

My dh is a workaholic lawyer! shock

orangeandlemons Fri 15-Jun-12 17:38:47

You can have CBT for sleep, I've had it, although it didn't do much for me. But it is wonderful for some I know.

Eventually I ended up on a low dose anti-depressant for sleep. What a trasformation. After 15 years od crap life quality it improved dramatically, and physical illnesses went down.

I know you say he doesn't want to take medication, but lack of sleep is now recognised to be very damaging healthwise, and he should be considering this too. x

Toaster24 Fri 15-Jun-12 17:40:37

Does he talk much about the things that are bothering him?

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 18:03:25

Not really. He just says he needs more support. But I do agree that he may not be good at delegating. He seems happy enough, just looks shattered .

I really do appreciate all your advice.

Fairenuff Fri 15-Jun-12 18:10:15

People who work like your dh are actually creating the problem in the first place, or at least perpetuating it.

It's common now for employers to expect one person to take the workload of one and a half or two people. The work cannot all be accomplished within the contracted hours, so people like your dh work late, or take work home. Even then, they still can't get on top of it so they worry and can't sleep.

Where will it end? Well, sooner or later the stress takes it's toll and the person becomes ill either with physical or mental health problems. Eventually they will either have to leave the job through ill health or, as so often happens, they face serious, fatal consequences such as heart failure.

So, I would advise that you help your dh to see this for what it is. Workaholics are no different to any other addict, they have to want to change first and then they need to seek help. It's mostly down to him OP, there is not much you can do other than insist he cuts back and his response will tell you how he feels.

He will probably give all the classic responses such as he will be fired, or other people depending on him or his role is too important or he has to provide for the family or you don't understand, etc.

This is denial. If this is where he is it is unlikely that he will change and you will probably just accept it and carry on.

Damejollybolly Fri 15-Jun-12 18:18:00

fairenuff you are absolutely right. He has said all of that. He has said so many times" after this job it will be better","when I have more staff it will be better "etc but it never is. I don't want to be married to a workaholic .I accidentally ran over his blackberry on holiday last year and it was brilliant!

Fairenuff Fri 15-Jun-12 18:26:19

Well if you want things to change, you will have to make it happen.

FWIW I do nag my dh to come home on time each day. He could so easily put in an extra two hours every single day and still not catch up. There is always something, some deadline, some meeting, something that just cannot wait until tomorrow.

But I tell him that things will wait, the world will not stop turning. His family love him and want to share their lives with him. Sometimes he says it is costing the company money to wait an extra day or two for him to finish a report, so I tell him, that is not his responsibility. If it's costing them, his company need to employ more people. So far, there has been no major fallout but I do keep on top of him and remind him that family comes first.

Personally, I think it is disprespectful to me if he is conducting business on holiday or when we are out as a family on a day off. It's not necessary, it's really not. So family time is our time, work time is work time and we have very clear boundaries. Otherwise it would not interest me to be in a relationship like that.

Mumsyblouse Fri 15-Jun-12 18:42:30

Could you give him a version of the post you posted here, OP?

You sound like a loving wife who is seeing this as a joint problem, but as you rightly say, he's going to go to an early grave, or at the very least suffer the mental or physical toll of lack of sleep and stress. He's been going two years like this now, it's probably another year or two max before the reckoning will come.

In some ways, your niceness isn't helping, in that you are not setting any boundaries around his workaholism. I realised I had to be quite assertive with my husband who was a workaholic when we met, we agreed on two nights home by 7, and one day on weekends as family time. This is not much by some people's standards, but it was better than waiting til 10/11 every night for him to come home. Think about what you want from him and then ask for it.

He also cannot cannot, however much he says he can, be working to full capacity on so little sleep. His work can't be as good at midnight if he's had two hours the day before and the day before. He's addicted to working, but his work will take even longer due to going slower in his down periods. He's not superman.

The funny thing is that ever since my husband took some time out and spent a few days a week caring for my dd2, he's been much more into home and family anyway, and is less of a workaholic, it may be if your husband dares step off the treadmill, he might like it and start to see how being the boss means he should be determining what happens in his place of work, not dancing ever longer and every harder to the tune of others.

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