Work or Family

Updated on October 13, 2011
S.K. asks from Castle Rock, CO
19 answers

Okay here is my dilemma I am trying to be supportive of my husband but having a hard time accepting what he is wanting for work next year. He is a police officer and every year about this time they put in their shift bids for the entire next year. He has been working wed-sat graves so 8-6ish. It has worked for us, he is home for dinner he is around in the evenings while we are all home from school/work and he has made 90% of our childrens sports activities. This year he is wanting to go to the swing shift which means we wont see him wed morning-sat morn (the children will briefly as he wakes up and gets them to school) He will most likely miss the majority of sports games which means i will have to juggle everything. He will be under a outstanding sergeant and with a lot of guys who can teach him a lot more in a year than 4 years on the current shift he is on. He has only been an officer for a year and a half and has a lot to learn. I understand that this could be huge for his career seeing as he is excelling already but this is a huge change for the children and myself. One sgt told him that he would be stupid to pass on this shift and let someone under him have a chance at it and another (who has been married 3 times) has told him to never choose work over his family. I told him he has one year at this shift but if it makes things rough than next year he needs to find a shift that we can fix any issues that this has created. Our marriage has already changed since he has become a cop (not for the worst just different) I just feel that he is choosing his career over his family. Am i being stupid?

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So What Happened?

He is not the only bread winner, i work full time.

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answers from Detroit on

If he is the only breadwinner at this time- he might have to sacrifice some family time for the job so he can move up in rank. But him moving up in rank will allow you to stay home.

My hub is an engineer so he works days only.. but he makes 90% of the family income so if he has to work late or weekends that is OK.. at least I am home with my kids..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Look at it as "dues paying" and career enhancement. Yes, it may suck for a year, but then you'll start seeing the rewards! Unfortunately when people are in a new career, there are dues to be paid -lesser shifts, shifts no one really wants, certain jobs no one wants, etc. BUT -if you persevere and jump at chances (like this one for him) when they come along, you'll be in good shape before you know it. Look at it as "it's only for a year" and see how it goes -you'll both be in a better place to change or decide to stick with it a year from now.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

It's his career that supports the family. It's true he'll spend less time with the family and this is a definite negative to the decisions. But... I'd consider that this move will further his career and he'll have more opportunities for a better assignment in the future.

I'm a retired police officer and graveyard is a nowhere shift. At least half the shift is dead time and the officers are out of the sight of those who make assignments. Graveyard tends to be the shift that those who don't get along with higher ups and those with low seniority are on. Your husband will have a much better chance of getting a promotion if he's on the swing shift.

Just as marriage changed when he became an officer it will change when he changes shifts. You will all have major adjustments to make. It's known that swing shift is frequently more stressful for a marriage. Depending on how you face the challenge it can make your marriage stronger.

You said he works 8-6. That's a 10 hours shift; assuming swing is also 10 hours, he'll be home 3 days/evenings a week. When thought of that way it will not be as big a sacrifice as you might expect.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

It's only 4 days, which means your kids will still have 3 days with him. He will miss sporting events, but you, yourself said that this is not a permanent shift. You're thinking in absolutes, when you shouldn't be.

I think when you're a newbie at ANY job, you have to be willing to prove yourself, pay your dues, work harder than the veterans, & it will pay off in the end. Don't forget that job security is a major thing to worry about, as well. The guy that takes the easy way out will not be as respected at work.

Not to mention, what about his sanity, I'm sure working nights has to be getting to him. I bet he'd be happy to get back to a normal schedule.

Is he the sole provider? If so, be happy that a) he has an awesome job and b) he is able to pay all the bills with just his income, c) you are able to stay home with your kids. Also, if he is the sole provider, then you probably don't realize exactly how much pressure that is for a man. If he fails at his job, well, he fails his family.

I get your frustration, but I think you need to suck it up, honestly. Your family will be fine, and it's only a small year out of your whole life. Learn how take the good with the bad.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

It is only a my husbands career field when there is a big project going out he can be at the office 16 hour days, for weeks...and he has a second weekend job. This happens several times a year and there is usually not much warning when it will happen.

If it will advance is career and put him in a better position for future promotions and shift choices...I would say tell him to go for it...we can do anything for a year. One of my friend's has a husband in Iraq for a year...this is his fourth deployment.

My husband took a year to study and pass his licensing exams...that was every night after dinner until bedtime.

You do see him from Sat morning through Tuesday night...and he will get them to school everyday...

If you can sacrifice for him this next year and it helps his career over all it is a total win. If he becomes dissatisfied in his career later, he can't blame it on you, because he gave up this opportunity.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

No, I don't think you are being stupid...but I don't think are looking at the big picture. While he has a "sweet" shift right now, it sounds as if the rewards outweigh the negatives - which it sounds like they do - I would "suck it up" for the year.

Does this mean you will be expecting more family time when he is home? If so - state your expectations BEFORE he accepts this shift so that he HEARS what you are saying - not just you telling us!! Remember - no one can read your mind...

If you don't think you can juggle it for a year - pull back on the kids activities so it is more manageable or start talking to the other mom's to see if they will be able to help you out. Start up a car pool or something else so that you don't have to pull back...

I can tell you that instead of thinking of the negatives and what you will be out for one year - think of all the positives this could mean for his career and your family...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

Sounds to me like he may be wanting this FOR his family. If he betters himself professionally then that may actually provide more time for him to spend with the family in the long run.

I understand that it is hard and that you will have to juggle the activites on your own (talk to any single mom on here and she does it all the time). However I think you need to think more long term than just the right now.

Sometimes the best decision for the family is not always the easiest.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Being part of a family means compromises for everyone. In order for your family to get ahead in the long term, this may be a short term compromise that you and the children have to make. And it's not like he's going away for months on end. Find ways to keep in touch during his working hours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't see this as him choosing work over family.

I see it as he is trying to enhance his career FOR his family, which in turn means providing more financially and securing himself a place in the police department.

If he has strong work ethic, which it sounds like he does if he is willing to make serious changes that will help him career wise and help his family in the long run then the rest of the family should compromise and support him. So many dad's are plain lazy and would not put forth extra effort.

Does it bother you because you will feel trapped with the children yourself? He will be there, just different times, it is not like he is out of town for weeks.

It is hard to adjust to a husband not being home. My husband has always been on the road, sometimes 4 nights a week. We adjust, we support him because the bottome line benefit is his FAMILY.

I wouldn't put too much faith on someone's word whom you do not know and has been married 3 times. I don't see a reason to judge the guy who has been married 3 times... maybe it had something to do with his job, maybe his is an a$$, maybe he married someone who was not supportive of him.

Good luck to your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I'm with those supporting your husband in this, especially Marda. You really need to support your husband in his working the swing shift especially if it will further his career. He's not choosing "job over family." He's doing this in order to support his family and stabilize what he plans to do for the rest of his life. This will put him in a much better position to do all of that. We all have to make sacrifices FOR our family sometimes. That doesn't mean it's a choice OVER them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well I'm glad I'm not in your position...sorry! ;) My very good friend is married to a police officer and she deals with this a lot. In fact his schedule changes something like every 6-8 weeks so sometimes he works graveyard, sometimes swing, sometimes I don't know! I think she's amazing for being so flexible but she tries her hardest to be supportive of him. I hear about it a lot ;) so I'd say just make sure you have some friends and family that you can rely on if you're in a bind and need some help with the kids. I think you are being smart and understanding to be willing to try it for a year and see what happens.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If he takes this shift this year will that mean better things for his future, meaning more choices, more family time, etc. It sounds like he is a newbie and this could be good for all of you, especially the part about learning so much so much faster on this new shift. You all might just have to pay your dues to secure your future. I know.....easier said than done. Hopefully the days he is home can be super fulfilling for all of you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Have you worked graveyard? It is a HORRIBLE shift! I have done it before as a young person (early 20's) and it was so hard on my body. You don't sleep well, you don't eat at the right times. And I lived by myself! So, I can only imagine how hard it would be with a family around. Maybe he is hoping to get his body back to something more manageable. There actually have been studies done on folks that have worked a grave shift and their health is affected by it. I don't think you are being stupid, I understand where you are coming from. But, I also totally see where your husband is coming from.
I copied this from an article...Apparently your hormone levels change when you are up at night.
“These include increased gastrointestinal disorders, increased stress, perhaps an increase in some cardiovascular diseases, perhaps some increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes, and an increase in breast, prostate, colon and endometrial cancer. All of these cancer types are thought to be related to hormone levels,” Davis said. (Davis is a University of Washington professor and chairman of Epidemiology. He is one guy that has done studies on grave shift and it's consequences. There are more, you can google it.)

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answers from Washington DC on

I also think that you and DH need to formulate a plan so that if he does take this shift, it doesn't negate family time. If he misses half the week, what's the other half going to look like? Will he take on other tasks or kid events? Will you video the games and he watches them so he can "cheer on" his child?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

I totally understand your position. My husband is a police officer (and has been for almost 12 years) and his shift changes every 2 weeks (sometimes he works nights for 2 days, then he goes to a mid-morning shift for 2 days, next week he could be on days - it's never the same). His schedule is CRAZY!! But we're lucky enough that he makes enough money and I can be a SAHM. I would say to give it a chance and if after a year it's not working, then at least he can switch shifts. I wish my husband had more of a permanent shift situation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My first thought is - of course dont choose work over family!
but I'm not sure that's whats happening here. He'll be with the children every morning and taking them to school? He'll be home three nights a week (will he be a hands on father and husband those nights?) Your major worry seems to be your kid's schedules- Your children are five and six? very young to have a lot of sports activities, maybe you should cut back on activities for a while. I would be more concerned with the lack of time you and your hubby will have together. Will you be working when he is off?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Yup, in your words, you are being stupid. He needs to work his career, not just put in hours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

This is a hard one. I can understand where you are coming from. My husband has a hard job that at times, keep him from spending time with the family. But, you will have to decide together if this short term challenge, will be a long term benefit. Sometimes it's worth it. You had a good idea to let him try it out for this year to see how things go. I would do that.
To excel in a career sometimes takes a lot of sacrifice. But maybe if it means having a stable income, and a husband who is proud of his accomplishments, it will make family time better in the long run.
I feel it is better than having a husband with a low self esteem, who loses motivation, and becomes lazy. I think that would be harder.
It's true that there needs to be a balance. So I think you are right in thinking you should give him a chance to see how things go.


answers from Spokane on

My husband also works for the sheriff's dept and has to bid his schedule. I, by far, prefer the swing shift over graveyard. Yeah, in a perfect world he would work days, but this isn't a perfect world we live in!
Graveyard shift is so hard on a person. They sleep during the day for 4 or 5 days then expect the body to switch back to sleeping at night for 2 days then switch again. It's crazy! Yes, my husband misses some stuff during the evenings and it's up to me to shuttle the boys, but we believe it is worth it. Your kids will adjust and so will you. You have to look at the long term benefits of him doing this right now.
What my husband does to help me out (b/c I also work full time M-F) is that he does all the laundry in the am before he leaves for work, oftentimes he will make dinner so all I have to do is re-heat it, he vacuums, keeps our 3 y/o home with him on his days off, picks up our oldest from school on his days off, plows snow and is there in the mornings if I need help getting the boys ready. It all works out in the end :)
Be supportive. If this is what he wants and needs to do in his job, then try to support him. Try it. If you hate it then he can bid a different shift next mark up. Good luck ~ I know from experience how hard their career choice can be on their spouse!

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