Conflict with my Wife -- Need some advice


#1

I have been married almost 5 years, have 2 children I adore and until recently absolutely no problems with my wife.

I am an attorney with a large firm, getting somewhat burned out by the hours. My wife, however, has been haranguing me about the hours I work. One day, trying to complete a transaction before Christmas I came home after midnight. I tried to stay quiet, but it turned out she was awake. Her first words to me were “You know, it would be helpful if you can get home at around 6 and help me get the kids to bed.”

As I said, I have been getting burned out and she is on my case about my work hours. She has been pushing me to get a job with fewer hours. Then, out of the blue, a government agency I do a lot of work with offered me a job. Less money (but still very good money), the chance to be home at 6 p.m. every night, and no longer having to explain to my 2 year old son why on Saturday I was going to the office instead of taking him to the zoo. The only draw back is that it would require us to move back to Washington. But that did not seem to be much of a draw back as (i) my wife lived in DC until we got married and (ii) we really have few ties to Chicago (I came here for the job).

My wife then began complaining that the money was not enough and she did not want to move. She wants me to find a job with the same money but she wants me home at night at 6 p.m. (I have had dinner at home during the week maybe twice this month). (Needless to say, I just turned down the job about 2 minutes ago).

I on the other hand am willing to take a cut in pay and our life style if it means more time with her and the kids. (As an aside, my parents recently passed away, and while they were not rich, it has given us enough along to not worry about money – though we did not worry about it before).

Any ideas? For the first time I got into a yelling argument with my wife (which to be fair to her consisted mostly of me yelling and she asking me not to yell at her).


#2

Wow sounds like a tough one. "the old saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too applies very well here.

My husband and I lived like this for four long years always fighting because he was never home, while he was just trying to keep food on the table.

An opportunity came for him to get into another position in his company and yes it was a lot less money.

We sold the property we dreamed we would build on, cut backon ohter expenses so he could be home at a reasonable hour and I don’t regret a moment of it.

You two need to sit down and figure out what you can live with and what you can live without for the benefit of your two year old son. Go from there I will pray for you all.


#3

My brother-in-law is a lawyer and has kept many a long hours. I know they’ve had a few discussions about if from time to time.

I think what your wife is trying to say is that she is also getting burned out and lonely. I can’t say what is best for your family - moving/not moving/ new job, because I don’t completely know your finances, etc. . But as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s it working for ya’ right now?” Some things to consider…

Sit down together and talk about finances and hours. If you don’t work as late, I assume you will get paid less. Can you afford it on your current lifestyle? Will there be some sacrifices you would need to make to have more family time?

Can you make certain dates (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays) that you promise you will be home by 6 or not work at all. Using the other three nights as your late night at the office dates.

Or, perhaps, on those late nights, hire a babysitter and have your wife meet you at a restaurant for a dinner break - just the two of you.


#4

Ok, I’m going to be hard on your wife for a minute: She is living in fantasy land if she thinks that you are going to find a job with a high-powered paycheck that does not come with high-powered hours. Does she not grasp reality??? She has no right to complain that you are gone long hours if she is not willing to give up the lifestyle that comes with the pay.

I fully recognize that she is struggling with you being gone, and that the kids need dad at home. I am glad that you have recognized this fact and are willing to make it happen for your family. I also assume that she stays home due to your ample salary.

So, I don’t feel sorry for her one bit. She has a bad case of wanting to have her cake and eat it too. She’s being unreasonable.

So, tell her to decide which she wants more: reasonable hours or big bucks. I wouldn’t make a screaming match out of it, I would simply list the jobs that pay in the same range and explain the hours that go with them-- then make a list of the jobs that will have a reasonable work week and their corresonding salaries. You need to do the pro’s and con’s list for various jobs.

We all make choices in life, there are always trade offs. You will have to decide which ones are most important to you individually and as a family.


#5

She needs to decide what she wants more you or the money and foremost what is best for the kids. I remember being the mother of 2 young children, I needed my husband home and we lived on a shoestring to do it.

What if you took this job, saw how it went and then acted accordingly from there?


#6

[quote=bear06]What if you took this job, saw how it went and then acted accordingly from there?
[/quote]

It is too late, I told them no.

In fairness to my wife:

(i) It would have required us moving on a fairly accellerated schedule. I would have to been on the government payroll by March 31 due to some sort of budget requirement. They then would have given me time off to move. It would have required finding a place in DC (we would have rented for a year, probably in my old neighborhood in Arlington) and selling our house here. At the same time, I am trying to sell my parent’s house in New York (though cleaning it out would be easier if I was in DC and not Chicago).

(ii) She did in the end say “it is your choice” but that was after 10 days of telling me constantly why she did not want to go (something I wish she would have done before I went for the interview). However, after listening to 10 days of “don’t take the job” I could not take it without her on board.

(iii) My wife had never really seen the yelling/passionate side of me before. OK, she had seen me at sporting events or when I was playing sports, but frankly, that is a side of me I have tried to tone down. She comes from a well educated, upper middle class North German family, with all the stereotypes that entails. I come from a Italian-American family from Long Island, my parents were born in Brooklyn, with all the stereotypes THAT entails. My parents talked loud, to me it is not yelling, it is talking loud – she was just not used to it and I think it frightened her a bit.


#7

Other posters have advised sitting down with your wife and talking through the issues involved here. I agree with them that she is being a bit unrealistic, but also that she is burnt out with parenting at the moment. Been there, done that.

Would it be possible for you to do what my husband did when our children (6 of them) were little? He came home for dinner and some down-time with the kids and then went back to work.

We lived in a small town so it wasn’t far for him to travel, but maybe you could bring your work home, if you establish some ground rules with your wife.


#8

I want to say that I understand where you are coming from.

I am an attorney as well. Although I went to a top law school, I went to work for our local county as a prosecutor. I get off at 4:30…get three weeks vacation and about 12 holidays a year…but we are barely making ends meet. And I am trying stressful high profile cases. I would have been doing much better financially had I been a teacher or even a police officer.

From time to time I am tempted to take my trial experience and do litigation work with a large firm. I may still have to go that route as our young family is growing. It just seems like a no win situation. Either work and have a life and be poor and underachieve by worldly standards or make good money and work your tail off at a boring job trying to bill 2000 hours a year. Sometimes I think becoming an attorney was the worst mistake I could make.

Thankfully my wife is much more understanding than yours. She didn’t marry me expecting us to be rich. She is very low maintenance and doesn’t spend much. Even on my low salary we are able to put money away for my son’s college. I think she’d much rather have us struggle and have me home more than have us be very well off and have me at a lawfirm all my life.

I am sorry that you turned down the government job. I think a well paying government job is really the ideal lawyer job. I don’t know of any lawyer job where you can make big bucks and be home at 6 every night. At some point I think your wife is going to need to realize that it is your decision about where to work and to respect your headship over the family when it comes to making those kinds of decisions for yourself and the family and to trust you. Good luck.


#9

Does your job offer you the flexibility to work from home in the evenings? If there are things that you can work on at home, then you could come home for dinner, and retire to your home office to work but still stay available for the kids and wife.

My husband puts in 12 hour days at the office and then another 4 to 6 at home in the evening and on Saturdays and Sundays. If I let him, my husband would work 12 hour days on the weekends and never take vacation. I periodically have to remind him that he is becoming overly absorbed in his work and ask him to readjust his family time. Generally, he sheepishly acknowledges that he has let the balance slip.

Fundamentally, I accept that both his work ethic and his career are not conducive to a 9 to 5 and 5 day a week life. My dad had a similar career and my mother enjoyed the perks that came with it and accepted without complaint the negatives along with the benefits. One of my sister-in-laws (whose father was a blue collar worker) hated my brother’s career which required travel and long hours despite their wealth.

Your wife needs to be willing to make choices. She can’t have it both ways–have you home at 6 and also have you keep the pay and career. So you need to talk whenever this is an issue. You need to change what you can and she needs to accept the negatives if she is not willing to relocate and accept a lower family income.


#10

I like how a lot of women say they want all these children and want to be a stay at home mom. Then when they find out how hard it is, they get mad at the husband for not being home! He’s usually at work trying to pay for all the expenses associated with having children and only one income.

It also seems funny how they are all for the career choices of their husbands until they see it’s not all roses. A lot of women get this fantasy in their heads that the husband will make a ton of money, be home much of the time, the kids will be perfect, and the house will be large with a white picket fence. Then, when they see it’s not perfect, they blame the husband for not being home enough. Forget about the fact that many times the husband would much prefer to be at home with his wife and kids.

I see this a lot in law enforcement. Women think it’s romantic to marry a cop and stay at home and have babies. Knowing the whole time that he works long hours and the job is very stressfull. Then, after they get married, and they have kids, she starts to resent him because he is at work 12 to 16 hours a day, comes home tired, and only gets a couple days off in a fourteen day period.

It’s not like she couldn’t see it coming. She’ll have this vision of changing him, or that he will be able to stop working as hard as he was before. It’s a classic story. This is why law enforcement, military, public safety, lawyers, and doctors have such high divorce rates.

I’m lucky. My wife grew up in a law enforcement family. She saw the hard work it took on the part of her Mom and Dad to make it work. She experienced the fact that her Dad was not able to be home all the time. She understands what my job does to my schedule and stress levels. I, in turn, understand what it takes to raise children. I do what I can to give her all the time off I can when I have days off. I am perfectly willing to let her vent to me on the phone as often as possible. We both talk to our children constantly to reassure them that I would like to be home, but I can’t. In other words, we are a team. We work togeather. This “I” and “me” **** is what’s tearing apart marriages.


#11

[quote=Thomas Moore]I have been married almost 5 years, have 2 children I adore and until recently absolutely no problems with my wife.

I am an attorney with a large firm, getting somewhat burned out by the hours. My wife, however, has been haranguing me about the hours I work. One day, trying to complete a transaction before Christmas I came home after midnight. I tried to stay quiet, but it turned out she was awake. Her first words to me were “You know, it would be helpful if you can get home at around 6 and help me get the kids to bed.”

As I said, I have been getting burned out and she is on my case about my work hours. She has been pushing me to get a job with fewer hours. Then, out of the blue, a government agency I do a lot of work with offered me a job. Less money (but still very good money), the chance to be home at 6 p.m. every night, and no longer having to explain to my 2 year old son why on Saturday I was going to the office instead of taking him to the zoo. The only draw back is that it would require us to move back to Washington. But that did not seem to be much of a draw back as (i) my wife lived in DC until we got married and (ii) we really have few ties to Chicago (I came here for the job).

My wife then began complaining that the money was not enough and she did not want to move. She wants me to find a job with the same money but she wants me home at night at 6 p.m. (I have had dinner at home during the week maybe twice this month). (Needless to say, I just turned down the job about 2 minutes ago).

I on the other hand am willing to take a cut in pay and our life style if it means more time with her and the kids. (As an aside, my parents recently passed away, and while they were not rich, it has given us enough along to not worry about money – though we did not worry about it before).

Any ideas? For the first time I got into a yelling argument with my wife (which to be fair to her consisted mostly of me yelling and she asking me not to yell at her).
[/quote]

Would your wife consider getting a job so that you can both work fewer hours, have enough money, and both spend time with the kids?


#12

Thomas Moore, I’ve been in your shoes. Don’t take the pay cut. Speaking from personal experience, the Mrs had a hard time adjusting to a lower standard of living but I couldn’t go back to earning at the previous level and was forced to take on two additional part-time jobs resulting in even more time away from the family.


#13

In the past I have given my husband a hard time about anything from $$ to hours. The bottom line was, there was no satisfying me. It is his/your responsibility to lead the family, and you men will be answering to God for how well you do. Your wife and I, on the other hand, will be answering for how well we obey. You cannot assume responsibility for her unreasonable behavior if you’ve listened well to her and weighed her concerns carefully. My husband had to drill it into my head that his thinking is logical (which it is) keeping the financial security of the family intact. My thinking is emotional and subject to massive swings. He is right. If he had submitted to my rantings we would be living in a place without nearly the spiritual reinforcements we have where we are, and our financial situation would be precarious. God blessed his leadership and my obedience.
If you agree with your wife that you are never around, you should change that. Your family needs you more than they need any amount of money. DC (No. VA area) is great for raising a Catholic family, and if there is any chance of going back and accepting the job, you probably should do it.
Pray and remember that being a husband and father is your vocation, and being an attorney is only a job.


#14

I lost a job and career that was paying nearly six figures with bonuses, to mental illness and layoff. I had a master’s in electrical engineering and worked for Bell Labs.

It was a wonderful thing, that I was able to stay home now as much as I have been. Our family problems are nearly zero, as the healing the I needed and sought came to me and spread to the others. (In cases of mental illness, the whole family really shares it because it is behavioral.) Right now I am so much stronger of mind than before that I am not bitter about the whole thing anymore. Cynical, but not bitter. My life, my family is 100% in excellent shape right now to the point I don’t think Dr. Phil would have anything on us.

The price? Since then, we have been forced into bankruptcy, but luckily there have been people who could help us pay our bills. Our cars are broken down much of the time and only the right passenger door works right on the van so we all climb in and out that way. One night I pawned a pneumatic stapler for $15 so that I could buy milk and gasoline to get the kids breakfast and give them a ride to school. We have had to delay medical attention, and have gone through several tangles with the government but finally got some assistance for our six children medical bills. NEVER did I ever expect, during my “career,” that suddenly I would be thrown out on my backside and turned into a charity case.

The future? Completely uncertain. All I know is that spiritually I cannot be better off, and my family is perfect. I cannot say I would willingly have paid the price I did, but I am completely OK with where I am now.

If she REALLY wants the marriage to come first, and you really focus on that, then it will grow come what may. If she is not willing to give up on comfort to do so, then the marriage is in second place compared to income stream. The cannot both be top priority.

I’m not making light of the income stream. I am extremely lucky to have had to survived four years like this. Humiliating, but not starving or without food and shelter. In fact, half of my psychological problems and that of my wife might even stem from how unaccustomed we were to this way of life. This has been another unexpected by-product of the situation – I have so much more empathy for the poor and even for the stupid short-term decisions they make such as paying out the wazoo to get their refund checks a week sooner.

In short, I have healed and I have a perfected marriage now and am incredibly happy with my wife and family, and Julie is healing as well. On paper our life is in a shambles but we have never been so happy, and we sing and play music at home every day. Other kids’ parents are eager for our kids to hang out with ours because they are so positive and they help them with school work and personal problems. We have a model family, but no money, lousy cars, and much work that needs to be done on the house. I’m not saying you need to give that up to tighten up your marriage, but I am saying that your marriage can be healed so that even this circumstance is no longer a life/death thing.

Right now we would totally Thank God for a job which provided a good income but kept me away from the house. Ask your wife if she wants to trade situations with us. We’re done healing for a while and are ready to go get an income stream, so we are willing. We are strong enough now that we are certain such arrangements will not be a problem on our marriage. Marriages are stronger than money, but if they aren’t tested then they can sound shallow, and give a person an unrealistic “I want everything at the same time” attitude. Yours is now being tested by your wife’s imagination.

Alan

edit>> also, ditto to what momstheword said.


#15

I agree that you should find a way to be with your wife and kids more.

But, on a practical level, if you are making good money–could you hire some help for your wife? I find the late afternoon hours very difficult. Maybe a college student could come in and lend a hand for a few hours?

I wonder if you both would benefit from some spiritual direction? It seems like there is too much emphasis on material comfort. possible? :confused:

On a personal note, my time with my father (whom I adore) has been one of the great treasures of my life. I picked a wonderful man for a husband–whom is much like my dad. I have a wonderful understanding of God as a father. All my siblings–even those who have struggled with life in various ways–would say the same thing. Having the time with our dad was a precious gift. He was a public school teacher and coach. I’d not trade the time for a higher standard of living. I don’t know how to express my strong feelings on this in words.

Consider your children’s needs as well as your wife’s desires.

Good luck.


#16

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