Post # 1
I really need some help here. We have a great relationship otherwise. We don’t even fight about the small things like household stuff. We only fight about one thing: his work. He works well over 80 hours a week and 4 nights out of the week until 11pm or later. He works both days the whole weekend 90% of the time. We usually find time for dinner together and then he goes back in. No one else at his work has an appreciable personal life. They are all just friends with each other and it’s very insular. My FH does not hang out with them much outside of work and spends his free time alone, with his friends, or with me. His work culture is to work until you drop – it seems like everyone else is at work all the time, even Fri and Sat nights. My FH tries to take off those nights so we can have a date or watch a movie. Even this small peace is a result of what we’ve fought over thousands of times, and he’s learned to communicate better about when he needs to work. But the hours are seemingly non-negotiable. He feels more guilty about missing work than about missing time with me. He has been at this job for 4 years and has about 2 more years left – he told me that was all he could handle. I’m afraid it might be more than I can handle as I’m constantly at the end of my rope over this.
We just came back from an exhausting “vacation” where one of his friends got married. The whole weekend we never had any time to ourselves, and were always rushing from point A to B. Before “vacations” like this, he puts in overtime (yes even on top of the 80 hours, no they are not paid hourly) so he can feel less guilty about going away. We got back last night, and he said that today was going to be a relaxing day because he was so hungover all yesterday. Lo and behold he suddenly felt guilty about not working during our “vacation”, and off he goes to work for 6 hours (he calls it a short day. on a Sunday). I wanted at least one day to regroup and spend time with each other. Suddenly it just became more than I can take and I exploded in anger. I’m so upset that this is how I have to live, around his terrible schedule that he doesn’t make any effort to improve (he says he feels like he has no choice – they do not work shifts, you come in whenever you want, which makes it harder for me to understand). I’m the only person that gets stepped all over here and I feel trapped. I want to support him but I don’t want to have to work around his schedule constantly and spend an hour a day together when he can “spare” the time because he has no more energy to work so he can “give me that time”. Usually it’s just lying on the couch. I feel like his work is a mistress that he chooses over me. Today I seriously thought about packing my stuff and moving to my best friend’s house for a night. I’m not a mother now, but I just imagined a future Mother’s Day when this is still my life. Please help me.
Post # 2
Hugs! I understand how stressful horrible work schedules can be. My DH worked nights for the first four years of our relationship. I have to ask, what does he do? I wonder because is he working this many hours to get a promotion? For example, I know lawyers just starting out put in 80-100 hours because if they don’t they will get fired and they don’t have job security. All the advice I can give is maybe just talking calmly about it and ask him why he feels the need to work so much. Does he want to provide a certain lifestyle for you both, is he wanting to prove something to his peers/boss? He obviously is super stressed and knows how you feel,but maybe asking questions to get to the root of why he works so much could help. Its good that he has an end date in mind. Maybe you could talk about moving that date up by a year or so.
Post # 3
xtals: I think if he’s only going to do this for another two years, depending on your goals, it will be tough but I think you could make it through. I only say this because my stepfather was the same way. He worked sometimes 16 hour days and even on weekends for the company him and his brother ran. I never understood how my mom was okay with it but I think it is because they want to live a certain lifestyle where it requires a good deal of money to fund that. I think it was hard on her all those years but I think they both have the common goal to retire early (and he just did this past December and he’s under 50 years old.) I think it is what you are looking for in life and what you can both handle. Some decide to live at or under their means to spend more time together, others are major work horses and want to make a lot of money to retire younger. I think it is preference. If this is something you cannot live with, it may be time to have a good talk with him about it. Tell him that you prefer being with him more than maybe all the extras that come with the extra work (money, vacations, whatever it may be.)
Post # 4
NowMrsS: Thank you so much for your support and reply! He works as a researcher in a lab. The currency there is publishing your work. There are no promotions or monetary reasons. They make the same (low $30s) salary no matter what they do. He is already doing much better than everyone else in his lab in that regard. His reasons are that his boss is crazy and thinks everyone should be working constantly, and that everyone else in the lab seems to be able to follow along with this and this has resulted in a “culture” that is hard for him to get out of. He doesn’t like being the only person not working weekends, for example.
Post # 5
Ninebones: Thank you! Unfortunately NONE of this is so we can keep up with a certain lifestyle. We have not much income and I’m ok with it for this stage of our lives. We’re in our late 20s. To me, there is very little reason to do what he does with the hours except that he’s trying to fit in and not look like a slacker to his crazy boss. He works just as hard as everyone else, but no one else has a serious significant other or children. I don’t know if this is a good reason to work these types of hours.
Post # 6
xtals: If he’s not getting anything more from that job…I’d ask him to really consider another position. It only makes sense to do that if you’re getting something from it! Otherwise, it’s like his boss is stealing his valueable family time away IMO.
Post # 7
This is part of the career culture but can have huge benefits in the long run. I’d suggest you talk with him about what benefits he expects to get from all this extra work– you said he wants to get published. What does that translate to, in terms of 10-20 year career path? If it sets him up for a more prestigious career, or one that pays very well, then it might just be a case of “deal with it for a few more years,” much like doctors in residency or junior lawyers trying to break through in big firms. If there’s no reasonable chance at a good reward down the road, perhaps that talk will show him that the benefits don’t justify all that extra work.
Post # 8
I have to simpathize with you because it is hard to deal with hard work schedules, but at the same time, I’m having a really hard time with that “so upset this is how I have to live” comment. If this is the case, then why are you marrying this man? Be glad he is a hard worker and not the opposite!! I think you should let it be, it is 2 years…. it isn’t like he is fooling around on you or going off with his buddies day in and day out….
A little background here, so you can see that I’m not just saying this without knowing how it feels… I work graveyard, 7:15 p.m to 7:15 a.m. He works in our store 6 days a week and opens at 7 a.m. The days I work, not only do we not even get to share our bed, but we don’t see each other at all. And if I work on Sunday (his only day off) like I am going to today, that’s it, there is nothing we can do about it. So we hardly see each other. But it is temporary (another 6 months of graveyard….) so we are ok with it.
Post # 9
If this is leading to a position where he makes more money, then he probably has to stick with it for a bit longer. If not, WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING??? I mean, for real. Admin assistants straight out of college make more than that for 9-5 M-F jobs. My husband works 35 hours a week and makes 5 times that much.
What I’m saying is that he’s actually not doing himself any favors by working that many hours for that little money. He’s showing his boss and everyone else that that’s all he thinks he’s worth.
Post # 10
xtals: There are plenty of labs out there that he could work in that don’t have those expectations. Only PhDs students, post docs, and lab heads worked that much when I was in academics (at a very high level school). Is he a post doc? Or is he a lab tech/manager? It’s hard to tell from the salary info you gave, since those both make around the same. Work/life balance is a big reason why I went into industry after grad school. Just something to seriously talk about with him.
Post # 12
xtals: what exactly does he do? what industry?
edit: nevermind, see you already answered that.
Post # 13
Um, no… That is ridiculous for that amount of money. He needs to look for another job ASAP. If he was making 80k, MAYBE I would get it, but that is not enough money for all those hours. He is literally wasting his time. He needs to find something with a better work/life balance and quick…
Post # 14
Did he work that amount of hours when you met him? If yes, I would not be expecting him to change.
Post # 15
xtals: I can totally sympathize with you, because I was doing my PhD previously, and the culture in the lab I was in was exactly the same. There was always pressure to be in the lab constantly. If you left after an 8 hour day, you felt supremely guilty and had to ‘make up for it’ always.
Is he a PhD student or a post doc?
If he is still in his PhD, I think you really need to speak with him about what is best for you both in the future– does he want to go into academia, or does he want to stop after the PhD?
Because if he chooses academia, then you guys are in for a tough 9 or 10 year future. You have to be honest and realistic. The life of a researcher is NOT an easy one, and you have to think whether you are up for it or not.
Post # 16
How much longer does he plan tomstay in academia? I am doing my PhD at the moment and I can see first hand the pressure that the Post Docs are under. If they don’t publish, they don’t get grants and they have no salary. It’s sink or swim.
Unfortunatly, even though a lot of work (reading and writing papers for example) can be done at home, if you aren’t in the lab/office then you are seen to not be working at all.
He needs to have some sort of exit plan, do you think he will stick to the “only two more years” thing? You need to find ways to be with him during work, what sort of lab is it? If they don’t work with diseases then is it possible for you to come in and help on weekends? I’ve had my sister help when I have labour intensive but not complicated or dangerous work to do. As long as I am with her 100% of the time and tell her how to be safe then I am allowed to do that. Or could you just come and hang with him in his office? My partner does that with me. Could you bring by lunch on Saturday and Sunday and have it together?
I’m sorry that you are dealing with all of this, the lab culture is very intense and the guilt I feel ever minute that I am not there is awful. Even writing this now I have voices in my head screaming about everything else I should be doing. I know that you want to spend quality time with him but it is very hard to get the best of him when he is feeling such guilt.