Post # 1
Sorry this is sooo long.
I’m a SAHW/soon to be Stay-At-Home Mom and obviously, DH is our bread winner. He works his butt off for us and words can’t express my appreciation for the sacrifices he makes for our growing family. His work life isn’t ideal. He’s in law enforcement, his pay is crap, he works piles of overtime, deals with a lot of nonsense at work and also has to deal with some pretty backwards work-related politics. In essence, he loves what he does but absolutely hates where he does it. He’s miserable at his PD and our plan is to move within the next few years to be closer to family and to a place where he’ll be compensated fairly for the type of work he does.
So here’s my problem. I really don’t want to come across as ungreatful or make my husband sound like a moron (I love this man to the moon and back) but I feel like I’m approaching a breaking point with his incessant “work talk”. I would have to say that 75% or more of our conversation is him bitching about work or him telling stories about all the depressing stuff he deals with and sees on a daily basis. Its such a huge downer. We’re expecting our first child, have bought our first home and have so many exciting things going on in our lives and yet I find we rarely get to discuss this or focus on the good because he’s always nattering on about how shitty his work is, how backwards the pd is etc etc…ETC!!
When he’s not dwelling on this crap, he’s the most upbeat, happy-go-lucky person I know. His energy level and excitement is always high (and often hard to keep up with) but I feel like he’s slowly loosing himself in his frustrations with work. I feel like a witch admitting this, but I have days now where I don’t even look forward to talking to him because I know its always going to come back to work. He’ll be constantly riffling through work e-mails on his phone and bitching about new policies and work politics. We can’t watch TV or go out in the community without him relating one thing or another to all dirt baggery he sees and deals with. Its all day everyday. Good lord, we can’t even drive somewhere without him pointing out every last expired registration on every damned license plate…….WTF?
Normally we have great communication and I never hesitate to bring my concerns forward to him, but I feel like I’m walking a delicate line here. While I don’t want this to continue dominating our home life, I also don’t want him to feel he can’t come to me to talk about work. Because of the nature of his work this is incredibly important to me. He deals with heavy stuff and I know I’m his outlet and best support and want it to remain that way. That’s my absolute top priority and why I’ve never discouraged his work talk in the past… but its gone too far now.
I’m really at a loss with how to approach this. I’m worried he’ll take things too personally and totally shut off the work side of things because like men often do, he sometimes takes me too literally no matter how well I try to explain myself. He knows as well as I do that this kind of thing can be stressful and damaging to a relationship and yet its happeneing to an extreme. I’m feeling guilty because I’ve let it get to this point where its a real issue because I haven’t said anything in the past but I’m to a point where I’m becoming withdrawn and that’s so not fair to him because of my inaction.
How do I approach this without hurting him or making him feel attacked? Is there a way to do this so he knows I’m still approachable for heavy issues or a healthy dose of work related vents? If anyone has dealt with something like this, or has any advice its really appreciated!!!
Post # 3
He sounds like me with my old job. I basically became a bitch because I hated my job so much but it wasn’t like people were knocking down my door to hire me so I was stuck. I worked at a daycare so I would complain about the politics of it, the horrible pay, horrible hours, etc. DH (then FH) clearly got fed up, he made a rule that when I got home I had 10 min to complain (if I needed an extra 5 he’d give me that) but its was 10-15 full minutes of non-stop bitching, he’d listen and then that was it. When we’d go out and I’d see kids (again I was just in a bad place) and he would remind me that I shouldn’t call them little bastards just because I got peed on that day.
He set boundaries and while I didn’t always like them it made sense. Is that something you could possibly do with your husband? Let him know that you want to hear about his work just not all the time?
Edit: I should add that when DH first told me to stop he did kind of snap and then he was very delicate about how he approached me. He was blunt and just said something like, “I love you but I hate when you complain all the time, it makes you mean and I don’t want you mean.” Tough but fair.
Post # 4
Can you sit down and discuss putting a time limit on work talk? Tell him you know how stressful his job is, but you work hard too (and soon to work even harder with the baby). You want him to have an outlet to get his frustrations out, but then it’s time to move on with family/home life. For example, he can come home and he can rant and rave and complain about work for 45 minutes while you cook dinner, but then once the 45 minutes is up, no more work talk for the rest of the night.
ETA: Looks like june42011
beat me to it! =)
Post # 5
My Fiance has a tough job too, I do get annoyed with the work talk, but I also think of it as I’m the only person he can speak openly about it. He can chat with others at work about work issues, but he risks it coming back to bite him if someone tells his boss. Let him have his vent session if need be, but change the subject. Thats all I do. Chat about something else to get his mind off of work. Pick activities or movies that have nothing to do with his work, not even alittle! Talk about your job for once! Or your day!
Post # 6
My ex-husband asked me not to talk about work at home. I stopped talking to him. I am at work 50-60 hours per week…I had nothing else to talk about. Shrug.
Post # 7
I worked at a job I absolutely hated!! Our rule still to this day is… Come home, vent, don’t bring it up again for the rest of the night. He may need to switch jobs sooner than later. That is all that worked for me when I was miserable. Good Luck.
Post # 8
I can totally understand what you mean and how you feel. DH has gone through patches like this with his workplace and I would get at my WITS end when he’d come home and complain and complain and complain about the same things over and over and over.
I know how draining it can be for the spouse who ends up hearing it.
I agree it’s a fine line and I don’t have any magic answer for you.
I ended up hoping and praying it would blow over and he’d work through his frustrations and get to a place where you could find things to appreciate about his job.
I would remind myself that I am his only source of venting. I once read something about how females typically share their thoughts and feelings with many people, but men tend to only share those deep feelings with their SO. I realized that he needed that time in a safe place to be able to vent those frustrations.
In turn, I did everything I could to give myself enough of what I needed to be able to cope with all that was going on at home. If that was a night out with friends, etc – I found ways to still make life enjoayble – even though things were very doom and gloom at home.
I will say that even though DH is in the same job environment he hates – the horrid days have passed. I’ve noticed it kind of goes in a cycle – maybe 3 months of doom and gloom. Do you find that there are some times that are more bearable than others? Or is he in an extended period of doom and gloom.
What helped DH out of his funk was the hope of something else. We started seriously job hunting and applying and that’s what’s helped him most. Since it sounds like you guys have a plan to move – what about researching things in the new area and giving him things to hope/dream about – along with reminders of a different future??
Post # 9
Wedding Bee is giving me troubles… double post 🙁
Post # 10
i like the idea of putting a time limit on it. my SO complains about work a lot and i try to be understanding, but it gets frustrating. reminds me of chris rock listening to his gf talk about work “uh huh, yup, i know, told you that b*tch is crazy!”
45 min seems long, like it could bring the whole night down, but 15 min is tolerable.
Post # 11
I’m going through the same thing with DH. He HATES his job, and with good reason. But I just can’t listen to him vent about it all the time. Yesterday, I pretty much said that we’ve got to find a way for him to feel OK or at the very least not completely miserable about going to work. Both for his own mental health, and because “it’s wearing on me too.” He immediately apologized. Thing is, I do feel really bad for him – his ego is taking a huge hit at his job AND he’s trying to find something else and not having much luck. But we can’t make this horrible thing the focus of our lives. We didn’t put a specific time limit on it his venting, but I think he understands that I’m happy to listen, but it can’t go on forever.
Post # 12
Wow thanks everyone for your responses!
Like many of you, I know I’m DH’s only outlet to vent which is why this has been so difficult for me to approach. I honestly feel badly that I’ve gotten to a point where this bothers me… but it does. I just want to focus on the happy sometimes.
Your little bastards comment made me laugh… haha but seriously, I really appreciate you bringing up the boundaries thing/time limits. I think that will make things so much more manageable.
I don’t know how I never even considered time limits, but I think this could really work. I really want to be his support and be able to discuss work with him good or bad… just not to the extent that we have been. I think this is a good compromise. He wont feel like he can’t approach me, but it sets a healthy, happy limit to it.
The trouble with my husband is that its only getting worse. He admits that it wont change either. Its funny you mention researching jobs and new areas. He’s been doing this a lot lately, looking for job openings realtor.com etc. and I agree that its a help. It at least brings back the positive spin to our situation, looking forward to brighter futures.
Its tough because with being a police officer he’s never really off duty. Because of this its a big challenge to find anything that can’t somehow be related. We can go out for a nice dinner and even him choosing his seat comes back to work, he likes to have a good view of the door/comings and goings in the restaurant haha But that said, even if he does bring up work or somehow relate things, you’re right that we should just focus on positive activities and doing things for ourselves. I can see this at least just keeping him in a happier state of mind and that’s my main objective.
Thanks again for everyone weighing in… I feel a lot more hopeful about things now and am relieved that there’s a compromise out there where he can still have a good vent and I can work on being a good support to him, while maintaining a better state of mind for ourselves and our home life – Thanks all!
Post # 13
This is what I worry about too. I mean it can’t feel good for him or be good for his state of mind to be so consumed by all this negativity relating to work. My husband is such a great guy and a character and I just hate seeing him become so bitter. As much as this is for my own self interest, I want to see him his happiest too! I hope you guys are able to find a good balance 🙂
Post # 14
Hope it goes well. Keep us updated with whatever you and he decide on. =)
Post # 15
I think PPs gave you some great advice. I just wanted to add that Fiance & I were in this same position a while ago. He hated his job, would come home with headaches every single day and he would complain about it non stop but at the same time any suggestions I gave to him to improve the situation were not good enough. I finally had it one day because it was wearing me down to listen to him every day and have to build him back up. Also, his headaches made him pretty useless and miserable to be around. I honestly believe that he had NO clue how exhausting it was for me to deal with his work stresses.
Our solution was this, he had to a) start looking for another job b) start seriously looking for a promotion at his place and c) look into further schooling if he needed it for a or b. I told him he could always come home and bitch about work but that he needed to take an active role in improving the situation otherwise I can’t give a crap. In the end a few months later he got a promotion (and a whole slew of other stressors)!
Hope it goes well!! The time limit idea is perfect!
Post # 16
I agree with the idea of a time-limit. I’d probably sit him down and talk about how you feel; stress that you understand that his job is extremely stressful, and that you feel it’s important that he feels able to talk through it with you, but gently explain that you think maybe he’s spending too much time and energy thinking about it. Then suggest that you have a set period, maybe straight after work when he gets home, where he can vent to his heart’s content for say, 20 minutes, and that after that, work talk stops, and you talk about happier, nicer things. Or, suggest that when he really really needs to vent, he does, but that he try to kind of prioritise. So I mean, if he’s been to the scene of a homicide, obviously he’s going to want to vent a lot; but if it’s something petty, like paper-work, or a colleague being slightly irritating, maybe he should see that these are just minor annoyances that really aren’t worth any time or energy ranting about.