Out of energy

My wife and I own a business together and in the last couple of years she has continued to do less of her part, plus she has high expectations for me to clean the house and do things around the house. She has dedicated a ton of time to the Protestant church she goes to 4 things a week. I finally realized this when I had a week vacation for the first time in two years and realized I hadn’t slept more than 5 hours a night in years or excersised regarly. I have tried to get involved at my parish and haven’t found the time. I feel she is bull dozing me and has really abandoned me.

I think you should seriously consider marriage counseling. If you can’t resolve these issues yourselves having a professional impartial 3rd party might help.


One of the things I have come to believe very firmly in is that spouses deserve roughly equivalent amounts of free time and “fun money” to spend as they choose (within the parameters of morals, but with a lot of leeway otherwise) and both spouses need to be enjoying roughly the same standard of living. It’s never going to be exactly even, and there will be times where one spouse needs to pick up slack, but during normal times, there should be some effort at fairness.

You will always have a lot of work and projects at home, because that’s how things are, but feel free to look at a calendar and say, “You’ve got four nights out a week. Where are my four nights out? And hey, where is our date night?” I would actually suggest starting with that last item and maybe just do something once a month, but being assertive about getting your wife to choose a time and to present her with several choices of activity. If you go the dinner and movie route, BEL has had some excellent advice about seeing the movie FIRST and then having dinner, so you have something to talk about and don’t lapse into talking about WORK. And be strict about it, because otherwise it’s a business meeting. (I know a lot of people have a rule about not talking about the kids on dates, but I personally find that nearly impossible.)

Working with a spouse is tough, because it can feel like living with your boss. My parents work in businesses together (and have for many years) and come to think of it, they take vacations religiously. Come winter, they regularly head off for 10 days in the Southwest. My in-laws also have worked together for many years (mostly out of their house), and for quite a while, they had a get-away property that they seemed to go to several times a month, even though it was rather inconvenient to get to. I personally would find a second home a huge headache, but the principle is sound–figure out a way to get away from work and work concerns together.

Good luck!

Yes, an equal standard of living is important. The OP mentioned being exhausted, not getting enough sleep, not being able to work out. I’d guess his diet isn’t that great, either. Taking care of yourself is important preventative medicine. Proper sleep, exercise, and diet also make you feel better about yourself and life in general as well as boost energy levels. If your wife can make time for her interests then you should be able to make time for your interests and your health!

My in-laws also worked together in the family business which is a hardware store. My DH tells me they took vacations a couple times a year as well as going on trips to hardware conventions and shows. When all 5 kids were at home they did this during school vacations and used an RV. When it was just 1 or 2 at home they flew or took a smaller car unless the RV was going to be used in lieu of a hotel. They’re in their 80’s now, married over 55 years, and still kicking. Must have been doing something right!

Is your wife doing most of the child care, or are you?

Get your 8 hours sleep/night for starters. I agree with a previous post about marriage counseling.

You might have to just find a way, simple MAKE time to sleep 8 hours.

Sleep deficit, especially prolonged, can cause all kinds of problems, among them, depression. Insomnia can cause depression, and depression can cause insomnia.

When I don´t sleep well, I have trouble functioning, can be unhappy, irritable. I think that’s the case with most people.

My father had a Radio-TV business, which was so hard, it was giving him ulcers. At age 45 y.o., he decided to go into another line of work, which was still hard, but at least he didn´t have all that responsibilities. The ulcers stopped.

I used to interpret for a company, did that 3 years. Finally, my supervisor said she was closing that business, gave me, I think less than a week’s notice! She let me take over some interpretations on my own, along with some other interpreters.

I asked why they were closing, and she explained that when they first started, one handled the administrative aspect. The other handled getting new clients. Then, her business partner’s mother got ill, and the partner was absent much of the time. This left my supervisor, unfairly, shouldering the lion’s share of the work.

So, they reconsidered everything. My supervisor said she was fine when it was when she handled administrative tasks, but she admitted to hating trying to get new clients. Due to the change in dynamics, the two did some soul searching, decided to close the company, do something else.

As I say, something similar happened with my father. He was burnt out, finally decided to do something else.

My supervisor said she wanted to try something new, now. She simply closed the business, and I haven´t heard from her, since. Apparently, she’s moved on with her life.

If your wife can’t/won’t do what needs to be done, can you get help?

What are your options? You could probably hire some help…

You probably have different options, but it doesn’t sound like you’ll be happy if this continues.

Perhaps, as a temporary thing, one could do hours like that but NOT as a permanent arrangement! That’s AWFUL! I remember overextending myself at one point so I would only sleep about 4 hours/night, but luckily, that was temporary. I was not happy, though.

To feel at peace, you need to do Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. There are the physical needs at the bottom…food, clothing, shelter, medical care, doctors. Sleep, to me, comes WAY at the bottom, as a VERY basic need.

If you don´t sleep enough, you can have sleep deprivation. Some people, over the long haul, begin to experience mental problems if it’s not resolved. This is nothing to play with.

What will happen if you just put your foot down and say, “I’ve slept only 5 hours/night for x time…I’m going to bed, and from now on, every night, I will get 8 hours sleep”? Will the sky fall in?

YOU have to tend to your needs. The needs come above wants. Sleep is not a “want”. It’s a “need”. Her church activities come later.

Does she want to even continue with the business? Maybe she’s had a change of heart.

Counseling sounds like a very good option, and if she won’t go, I think you should. We MAKE the time for what’s important. MAKE the time to sleep!

You don’t state whether you’ve discussed this with your wife. You do need to have that conversation, you’re entitled to sleep exercise, time to pursue your activities every bit as much as your wife is. I shared household chores with my wife, even though at times she felt a bit guilty which I thought was weird. She felt like since she was a SAHM, that she should do all the housework I always thought the point of SAHM was to be the Mom, not a maid/cook. So, I washed dishes, she cooked, we shared the cleaning of bathrooms etc. Point being we were both working full time, me outside the home and her taking care of the kids.

Now, consider alternative solutions. If she just hates housework, and you don’t want to do it all the time- how about hiring someone to clean a couple of times a week or once a week?

Some more ideas:

  1. Maybe your wife is out so much because she is falling out of love with the business but doesn’t feel like she can quit? Perhaps she’d either like to just leave the business and just do home stuff or get a job outside the business so that she can come home at night and be off work?

  2. You guys are both pretty high pressure types, right? She may feel like she’s living with her boss, just like you may feel you’re living with your boss.

  3. I think I remember you guys make a good income. How much of your home stuff can you outsource? Twice a month housecleaning help (or even just once a month) could remove a lot of stress from your life. If you make $100 an hour doing what you do and you like your official job more than house cleaning, a $40 an hour cleaning lady could be a very reasonable use of funds. (We ran this particular calculation with regard to my husband and yard work–he hasn’t mowed a lawn since we bought our house 18+ months ago. It makes more sense for him to knock out an extra project for $100 or $200 while enjoying AC and pay the yard service $35 rather than sweat under the Texas sun.)

  4. Here’s our family’s model for dealing with household maintenance. At some point, I just stopped talking about projects mid-week, because talking about them when you can’t get to them yet is often the most stressful part of dealing with household maintenance, as well as being a waste of time. I now keep a running list of household projects that need to be done. I email my husband a copy and I keep a copy on our fridge. On Friday night, we try to talk about which projects will be done on Saturday morning. Unless there is something particularly urgent, I let my husband choose. On Saturday AM, I keep the kids out of my husband’s hair (except maybe a particularly helpful child), and he knocks out two or three projects. It’s more efficient to do them in a long block, rather than to do one at a time on a week night. During the down time after Christmas, I encouraged him to do one a day, but I left it up to him what to tackle. It’s a very important thing to realize that we will never finish everything on the list, but that as long as a project or two gets done with some regularity, we are keeping up and that is good enough.

This model has worked very well for our family and I suggest you adopt some version of it, especially the parts about her keeping a list for you, saving discussions about household projects for particular times, you choosing projects, and doing a block of projects rather than doing a 15-minute job every night (unless you actually prefer that). Having autonomy over your work process and not being micromanaged will hopefully make you feel better about the work itself.

But that is just for irregularly occurring projects–you should also expect to have routine daily or weekly chores–take out the trash, wash the dishes, etc.

Best wishes!

Why don’t you fill out a monthly schedule of what you do and what she does, both your work-related, family-related, church-related, housework-related and FUN-related activities, then sit down with her and discuss what part you think is lopsided.

Sometimes you think you’re doing a whole lot more than your partner until you get it down in black and white. You might discover you’re not as good at managing your time as she is, or you might discover that things are exactly as you’re thinking-- in which case you’ll have the proof to talk with her about.

As another poster said, what about childcare, if any? Don’t forget that. I wouldn’t hold her church activities against her-- God bless her for doing them. Just explain how you also want to do those things…

Good luck, and God bless you both.

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