10 answers

Husband Works a Lot. How Much Is Too Much?

Hello fellow Mamas,
How do you and your husband balance work, kids, and your relationship?

My husband works really hard at his job. He leaves for work most days before the kids are up and often comes home after our daughter's bedtime. He works from home almost every evening and for much of the weekend. I understand that he feels a lot of responsibility for providing for our family because he is the sole income-earner. He's under a ton of pressure at work and I know he feels like he can hardly even keep up.

As for me, I've been a SAHM mom since the birth of our daughter in April 08 and am now a mom of two. I sometimes have difficulty dealing with the isolation and loneliness that can come with being home with little ones. After our daughter was born, we moved back to Chicago after a couple of years away. I haven't made many friends since the move, and both of our families live out of state, so I don't have much local support/company.

Although I feel capable of handling the kids by myself most of the time (thanks to some help from family during the transition from 1 to 2 children), I feel that my husband's work schedule is interfering with our couple/family time too much. I'm afraid my children won't have the relationship with their father that I'd like for them. I also fear that my relationship with my husband is suffering. The infant/toddler years are hard enough on a relationship without the added demands of his work.

How much does your husband work? How can I get him to strike a better work/life balance? I'm proud of what he has accomplished and want to support his career, but not at the expense of our family and our relationship.

Thanks in advance for your advice and support!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

You need to tell him what you just told us. Communication is the key to the success of any relationship. He can't fix what he doesn't know is broken. So open up the lines of communication as a starting point, let him know exactly how you feel, and see where that takes you.

I know you don't really have local family, but if it is at all possible for the 2 of you to work out an adult weekend trip, you should take it. A little couple time away to reconnect and remember who you were before children can work wonders.

Good luck!

More Answers

Wow. First of all, I want to give you a big hug to tell you it is hard for almost all of us (and most people who tell you its not are lying) when our little ones are close together, very young, and we are couped up inside with them many days, without any adult interaction many days. The good news is that it DOES get better. They are yet very young and they need you 24/7. You are exhausted, craving attention and all the normal things we all need. The catch is this. Having been in a marriage that failed (for other reasons -- he was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive to me and the kids) I can tell you that a marriage needs effort. You can only do your part. Do not nag him for his time. Do not make him feel he is not doing enough because you are asking him to spend more time together. Instead, support him in his work. Tell him how proud you are of him and most of all, work at the sexuality component. No matter how busy he is, if he is interested in you he will find time for sex. Use that as a springboard to working on the other piece. He may remember how much he needs you when you give him more of you. Some ideas -- write little notes in his briefcase or post-its on his computer where he works to tell him you love him, you want him, you missed him while he was away. send him text messages that are sexually enticing. Leave something on his pillow (like a condom or spermicide) and make sure to make your bed nicely. Send him love letters at work. Send him ecards. Have small gifts delivered to his work once in a while. Ask him if you can meet him for his lunch hour and take him out WITHOUT THE KIDS. Get a sitter or drop them at a friend once in a while to give him some break time from the kids. Many guys don't deal well with noise from overtired kids when they walk in from work. Its not that they are dont love you or your kids - they just dont have the same maternal side and they have been working all day and they just want to relax, not deal with more exhausting, emotionally draining interaction. So first and foremost, make sure you are not a source of drain on him. Whether we like it or not, women contribute WAY MORE to the success of a relationship and marriage. Thats the way it goes and sorry to all the feminists out there! It just is true. All GOOD men have a GREAT woman behind them. Stay strong and if you need a friend to vent to or get encouragement/reassurance, I am always here.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K., I understand you very well. First of all accept that this is a difficult time, a very difficult time, but it WILL get better.
My husband works a lot too, same schedule as yours', also works on eves/weekend at times from home or office and travels for work at least once in a couple of months.
Let me share some strategies I came up over the years on how to achieve ballance in the situation like this.
First, you need to get some help, get some part time caregiver (nanny, day care, relative - does not matter) so you can get away from the kids - shopping, gym, sleep -whatever. That will help tremendously for your wellbeing!
Second, look at this as a long term situation and instead of trying to change your husband say to yourself - this is for a long time, how can I adjust to keep us all together and to improuve our lives?
Once I did that it became so much easier because my focus shifted from what is going on wrong to how we can make it better.
Some thing I did: got help PT, got a PT work (when my baby was about 1 y/o) so I can get out and spend time with adults and earn some income as well, I always try to keep in touch with friends even if they live far away, I enrolled my husband in class with the child (swim with a little guy, tennis with a big one) on the weekend so he has a scheduled time to spend with a child that they both enjoy and I have a break. I also talk to my husband several times a day on the phone or e-mail, I/or his parents tape shows that we watch together when kids are asleep. I do take interest in his work, I know what is going on, co-workers names, so he can talk to me about it and I feel like I am a part of that life he has away from us and he knows about our day. We try to go on dates once in a while without kids or the two of us with the older one (he is old enough that we all enjoy each other's company).
When my baby was as little as yours all I cared for was getting my sleep, so I got someone to come for half/day to watch the baby/cook/clean so I can sleep. Once the baby was sleeping through the night I got my energy back and slowly started getting back to life.
Just hang in there, you will be proud of yourself one day for making it through!
Good luck! If you have any more questions feel free to PM me.

I think the tone of your message here is what you should use
w/your hubby. You've indicated how proud you are of him, how you
know he works hard and must feel pressure to provide...but I
don't think its unreasonable to want family time too. The only
holdback I can see is that if the fix is finding a new job, that's
obviously harder to do these days. But at least if you have a heart-
to-heart with him he can keep that idea on the horizon for when there
is an opportunity. My other suggestion is take a park district or
library class, and maybe you can find a momma-friend who will
do reciporocal babysitting for you - you get a few hours on
Monday, and watch her kids a few hours on Wednesday.

I feel for you, I'm in a similar position. I have a baby who is almost four months, and it's amazing how much easier it is now than it was when he was 8 weeks. A little more sleep goes a long way toward feeling better about things.

I wouldn't worry too much at this point about your husband's relationship with your kids. He will have an opportunity to develop that later, when they are older, and perhaps he will have less pressure then. Work pressure tends to be cyclical and often gets easier as people are at their jobs longer. My husband didn't really connect with our daughter until she was 3 or 4, and now they are VERY close. My middle son is 2 and they are just barely starting to connect, but having seen the process with my daughter, I'm not worried, I know it will happen.

As for your relationship, I HIGHLY recommend a date night, as often as you can. Maybe once a week (that's what we have) or once every two weeks. If the budget is tight, just go for coffee, or a drink, or a walk. If you can afford it, treat yourselves to a meal. It doesn't have to be long - we usually go after the kids go to bed (around 7 or 8) and are only out for 1.5 hours, but it does WONDERS. We really reconnect in a way that we can't when we're home and distracted by everything we have to do. I'm sure you can find a babysitter who can come regularly on a week night.

Mostly, be patient, this is the hardest phase in your life. It will pass.

Good luck!

You need to tell him what you just told us. Communication is the key to the success of any relationship. He can't fix what he doesn't know is broken. So open up the lines of communication as a starting point, let him know exactly how you feel, and see where that takes you.

I know you don't really have local family, but if it is at all possible for the 2 of you to work out an adult weekend trip, you should take it. A little couple time away to reconnect and remember who you were before children can work wonders.

Good luck!

I too know how isolating being a SAHM can be. I have a lot of single friends without kids and they don’t always understand what I am going through. I am also a very artsy type and was involved in theatre; therefore I don’t have a lot in common with some of the Mom scene. They tend to think my tattoos and outgoing personality is a little strange. I am not a soccer mom and am not a single girl ready to hit the town either. I am trying to find a group where I can fit in and feel like I belong. I love spending time with my kids and miss working but would not give up these precious moments watching them grow up for a second.

All Dads are different, and all jobs have different requirements. My husband has given up promotions and opportunities to spend more time with his kids. He has only missed putting the kids to bed a handful of times. He also takes our daughter to preschool in the mornings. She loves riding the train with her Dad to work. He also vowed never to take a job that made him work on the weekends. He said that is his family time. We live comfortably, we are not rich and I don’t care about the money. I love how close my kids are to their father, which is all that matters to me. The big question is what does your husband do and is his job at risk for a lay-off? I am sure if my husband thought he was on the chopping block he would work more hours and fight harder for his job. I was a nanny for quite some time along with being a teacher and have seen families with Dads that leave at 6:00Am and don’t come home till 8:00 at night. It is sad and hard on the kids and the wife. I have worked for families that both parents worked those hours, when the child started calling me Mom I quit, I couldn’t handle it.

You and your husband need to sit down and look at all the sides of this situation. Are there other jobs out there for your husband? Could you financially handle him taking a pay-cut? Could he talk to his boss about fewer hours? You need to open up to him and let him know that you are proud of him and love how he is providing for the family, then add a but I miss you and the kids miss seeing you. Let him know how much you love him and want to spend more time with him. Even one day a week could be an early day that he comes home to put the kids to bed, and nap time and after bed time on the weekends he can work. Plus he needs to set aside one night of husband and wife time too. This should be possible. IF not, then I would reconsider your husband finding a new job soon, because he is going to wake up one morning and find his kids are all grown up and wonder where did the time go. I wish you luck and know that there are lots of moms out there feeling your pain and understand what you are going through. Don’t be afraid to write me anytime to talk. I could use more mom friends myself.

I think you posed a very important question, I am a mother of four and my husband works a lot as well, I also just started a business - but my kids are little bigger (11,8,6 and 4) and I carved out a few hours for work. You, as a new Mom, should enjoy this time with the little ones, it passes by fast. Well, as far as your husband and family time is concerned, you should see if he is really working on a career or just works works works without really going anywhere. THat is really important because it determines how much understanding you can have and how you move forward as a family. It needs to be both of your goal to better your finances, and future lives together. If you feel lonely and unhappy and your husband is not even able to see your unhappiness because you never talk - that will be a problem. Also, try to carve out a day on the weekend where it is family time, force it on him - talk about it, no body has to work 24/7! Besides; nobody can tell me that it is very productive. Is he really productive? Talk to him about his working habits - maybe he needs to change those as well.
Hope it helped...

I believe firmly that every situation in life is the result of our own choices... I know that sounds harsh and brings up tons of excuses, but the fact is that we always have a choice - they may not be the most ideal choices, but there is a choice. In this case, your family can choose to live with less materially and financially in exchange for more time with your husband. It's that simple. Which situation would you rather have? Only you and your husband can answer that question. Good luck!

J. Sassack
Founder and Contributor

K., I am sorry I have no advice for you but I can tell you I am in the same boat- could have written your request myself, except my oldest is a little older! I was thinking the exact same things as my husband came home last night about 9 pm and then left again about 6:30 am. He only saw the kids because I got them up right before he left. I too am proud of my husband but fear that we are replicating my parents' life and the relationship I had with my dad who travel 50% of the time for work while I was growing up (works out to him being in state only about 2 wks a month). I don't know what to do either, so I'll be watching this for any ideas from the other moms out there- just know you are not alone in how you feel!

Employers will ask for as much as they can. It won't end until more people say no, but in this economy, it seems like there are plenty of people lining up to be overworked, happy to have any job.

My husband and I have always shared as equally as we can in our partnership, including parenting and work. But there are drawbacks to that, too. The only thing I can suggest is for him to think about what kind of work life he wants and if it's less work, to make a plan to start working towards that, whether than means changing departments, companies, or the type of work he does. I made a choice like that right before I had my first child (see drawbacks above: I will never be rich, but at least I'm not working on weekends.)

I know a few women who are in your position, and I hope you can find an answer because none of those women are very happy with it. It's hard when so much of your lives are spent apart.

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