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how do you feel about work-a-holism? 'nother update

1859 Views 49 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  Labbemama
Well, sadly, tomorrow I meet with the divorce attorney. There are many issues that are making my marriage and life insufferable. I cannot tolerate so much of my marriage anymore. But before I go jumping off a cliff, I really need some friendly ears to help me see some issues clearly and get some perspective.

Like I wrote in the title, my DH is a work-a-holic. I don't know if that's the right word, exactly. This is only one of the many issues we have, albeit a very big one. He travels for work every week. He is a very successful non-profit businessperson and it's turned out that he has to go out of town pretty much every week. When he is working in-town, he often doesn't come home until 10 at night (or later). Even when he is home, he is still working, i.e. returning emails and phone calls or preparing something. When he is not doing anything work-related, he is mushing out on the sofa watching sports in his own man-cave. He is always stressed-out and tired and complaining. He is emotionally and verbally abusive (I don't know if it's from work-related stress or if it's just the way he is--maybe a little of both?).

As far as parenting goes, I am for the most part alone. I eat breakfast with the kids alone. I am with them all day. I eat dinner with them alone. I put them to bed alone. I am the only one to take them to birthday parties, easter egg hunts, or most other activities. I am very tight with a group of parents and I am almost always the only "single" parent there at gatherings (by single, I'm not saying I'm like a single parent, you get what I'm saying).

It's really not practical for me to go on business trips with him as we would have to foot the bill for the plane tickets, plus, I don't fly well and, as many of you know, it is a major PITA to travel with two small kids. We had an idea last year to buy a cabin in the middle of nowhere that would serve as a retreat for him. The idea was that we would go there, periodically, maybe once a season for a couple weeks and just be together--cook, go fishing, build stuff, etc... But now, as it turns out, when we go there, I have to pack up the kids and drive 2.5 hours each way to drive him to the nearest airport so he can work (or go to Vegas to watch a fight because a friend hooked him up with ring-side tickets :eyeroll). So, now I'm in a cabin in the middle of nowhere alone.

He is very ambitious and has some very ambitious plans coming up that will take up even more of his time and energy. I do not complain to him about his being gone all the time, though I know he knows it's not exactly cool, so he projects and says that I don't "support" or "appreciate" the work he does for "us." Honestly, I don't think the work he does is for "us." If he were fighting in Iraq or working on the North Slope for weeks on end to put a roof over our heads, it would be different. No, he has his dreams. And, honestly, I feel like his dreams just simply do not include us. Unless it's me getting dolled up and trotted out to some event to make small-talk with strangers while he works the crowd.

It occurred to me that if he were to move out, my life would not change at all. I could live easily off CS. The only difference would be that I wouldn't have a grumpy, angry guy coming home late friday nights and sitting around farting on the couch all weekend checking his emails.

I do believe he loves me and the kids. I think he does miss us. He's been saying that he wanted to take DD3 on a business trip with him for a year. She's upset he's gone so much. Last week, as she was playing with her doll she said about her doll, "Her name is Pearlie, she has a mommy. She has no Daddy. He works."
. So, he took her with him this time. And he's planned a ton of fun things for them to do together. I think this is great, but it's the kind of thing he can do as a single dad, yk?

Am I really being ungrateful and lame? I'm just so lonely and unhappy.
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I came here to complain about the exact same thing. DH travels a ton, more and more lately and I can't help but feel like he would much rather be gone. Especially when his superiors tell him he is traveling WAY too much. He is a great dad and husband when he is here and we have no other problems, but I still take it personally and can't help but feel a little jealous. Tonight I called him to web-cam with the girls and he tried to say he was too tired.

It just feels like we are not making it to the top of his priorities list.
I feel ungrateful too. So many people are losing their jobs and getting their hours cut back dramatically, so then I feel guilty and rejected at the same time.

I hope someone has some advice or ideas...I could use them too.
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I'm a bit of a workaholic myself. My job doesn't pay very well and it's hard for me to pass up a shift where I get to work all day just sitting around someone's house watching TV (all I do is make meals and pass meds) and earn $200 for doing it
My DH and I are in a similar situation. He works ALL the time. He never travels, he's just up at the office all the time, including weekends. He sometimes comes home for dinner, but is quickly off again afterwards to work back at the office until 2am? maybe sometimes 5am? Even weekends...It's so frustrating because DD is only 10 months old, but I'm afraid that the "Cat's in the Cradle" song is coming true for our family. Like you, I eat alone with DD in the morning, I quickly take a shower while DD's in her pack 'n' play, we eat dinner alone, I get her ready for bed, bathe her, and we co-sleep so we oftentimes go to bed alone without her Daddy to say goodnight. I have NO ONE to relieve me. I'm lucky if I see my husband for an hour each evening. Like you, I hate to sound ungrateful, especially in these current times, but children need their daddies. It's not like we are single moms right? Unfortunately, like you, many times I feel like a single mom who just has a great paycheck! I work part-time, so I have professional work, too, but I just have to find a way to fit it into DD's schedule (she's not too fond of me grading tests in front of her).

So, no advice, just support...
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I don't know... I think some people genuinely have to put in a lot of work time, but honestly, I think the vast majority of work-a-holics do it to avoid their families. I'm sorry, but I think it is true. There may be a million individual reasons why, but I think they don't come home because they don't want to be home. I also think that is true of the "weekend warrior" types as well- always doing a renovation or building a deck or whatever in all their spare time making it so they don't assume any regular parental responsibilies, so that they are not really involved. It is an escape without having to leave. All the perks of family in the background, none of the responsibility.

My husband is an academic veterinarian. During his residency, he put in 7 days a week and was on-call frequently on nights and weekends. It was 3 years. He hated it, but I hated it more. But it was a set time, we knew we would be better off after and dh always did his absolute best to be home (read: he NEVER went out with friends, he came right home every day to catch even 10 minutes before bedtime with ds, etc.). We both agreed when it was done, we didn't care what came next, but he was going to be home for dinner and be home on the weekends. And he is now and we are MUCH happier...
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Do you think your children would see their dad more, and have a better relationship with him if you left? Honest question.

If this "wakes him up", would you consider reconciling, with some boundaries in place?

Would you be looking for another man after leaving this one?

For me, it would take more than that to leave, especially if leaving would essentially make my life the same as it was now minus the crabby husband. I would have my own life while he's off working, and have a back-burner hope that at some point somebody would hit him over the head about his lack of involvement. I wouldn't tolerate grumpiness or let it get to my skin. If he's stressed and grumpy it's his own fault and you don't have to absorb or respond to any of it. I also honestly wouldn't want to take my kids through the ups and downs and dramas of more relationships looking for someone better.

I'll probably be the only one saying I wouldn't divorce over this.
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I'll probably be the only one saying I wouldn't divorce over this.

No, I was going to say it too, but it is hard not knowing the entire situation. I definitely would not be happy AT ALL and I would do something to give him a wake-up call.

When we were first together, my hubby was still in school and he sometimes tended to work all of the time and never spend any time with me. I told him plainly that I didn't like what he was doing and he would regret it once we had kids. To my relief, he toned it down a LOT and now spends lots of time with me and the kids.

I think I would try to find out if he just plans to do it for a necessary period or if he plans to do it for the rest of your lives. If it is just for a season, I'd try to stick it out but if he doesn't keep to your agreed time, I'd try to find some way to get his attention!
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Not much in the way of advice, but I can give you a bit of insught into the addiction of workaholism (I think).

Workaholics are addicts like any other - it might as well be drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. It causes severe health problems due to stress like increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It can quite literally be fatal. Not to mention the fatigue that it can cause can very easily lead to car accidents, etc. All addicts are, IMO, suffering from a huge case of DELUSION. (Just background info, I am one, so not trying so say anything I haven't admitted about myself!) In my case it was a substance and I very honestly thought that it was SAVING my life, not ruining it. Quite common in workaholics - they tend to see their work and ambitions as the ONLY way to keep their family together, to provide for them, to...well, LIVE. It's that difference which usually places any addict in the category of having a very serious, life-threatening, chronic DISEASE. At this point he honestly cannot help himself.

It does sound as if he is on the verge of a burn out (substance addicts bottom out - work addicts burn out). It sounds like the "projections" that he throws on you stem from his underlaying guilt and the fear that his "fix" is not quite what he was hoping to achieve - somewhere in there he knows he's losing his family through his actions but just can't stop. There's a LOT of fear in any addiction. It's like you don't know HOW to live any other way and of course any unknown is always scary - but for an addict it can be debilitating.

If it makes you feel any better it is most certainly NOT about you or the children. It's not even really about money or prestige or power. Well, it is, but only in the delusional sense that it will make everything better IF I can just get that promotion, raise, score that deal, etc. The addict is constantly trying to fill a viod that comes from deep inside - with some it is cars, homes, a fat paycheck - all of which create the illusion of power and prestige but they never solve that greater problem and fill the void. It was probably in place long before you ever met him, and was only a matter of time before it reared it's ugly head.

So, I guess what I am saying is that he is not doing this TO you or BECAUSE of you. He most likely REALLY REALLY loves his family and is only doing it because he's like any other addict out there - because he HAS TO. That little devious voice inside his head has taken over and is controlling that addiction. Unfortunately it probably won't end without some pretty hefty therapy and maybe even medication. I am not sure as to the "protocol" for workaholism. Should you choose to get help yourself, Al-Anon is amazing and will surely help you in unamaginable ways. I would highly recommend it to ANYONE with an addict spouse or partner, regardless of what your next course of action should be with your marriage. I would also contact a local workaholics anonymous chapter and maybe pick up some literature.

I hope that helps in some way! I hope you find your peace, and I truly feel for you.
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Thanks for the replies.

This is not the only issue we have. If he were a massive workaholic, but came home on weekends at least somewhat present and at least civil, it would be different. I married him knowing he has very lofty goals, but I didn't think it could even be possible to be as unhappy as I am now. He actually denies that he works as much as he does. He says I am lucky to be with a husband who can set his own schedule to be with us. What?? For the first three months of DS's life, he simply was not here. It was summer and I had to plan activities with other families every night just to combat the loneliness and get a little help. Mondays we did pizza night, Wednesdays were the free concert in the park days, Thursdays were Farmers' Market days, Fridays I went to a friend's house with the kids. During this time, he even went on some personal trips that had nothing to do with work. WTH?

Then he took a little down time. Things seemed to have improved a little bit, but then he was back to doing what he does. I don't see him at all, except for a few days here and there and he is just awful and abusive. He yells, shouts names, blames, criticizes. I have had it.
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ell...emoitional abuse, yelling,etc is a completely different story. That alone, even if he weren't a "workaholic", ould be enough to leave, IMO.
He hurts you....then leaves you alone for long periods of time....then he hurts you...then he leaves you alone for long periods of time.

What you said about the cabin made me sick to my stomach. I'm afraid, that the user agreement violations I would rack up if I told you exactly what I thought of this guy, wouldn't be worth it...s, I'll leave it at this: run, don't You don't need this.

It really sounds like you don't *want* to work things out...there is such a thing as being hurt and pushed away by a person enough that you stop wanting to make it work with them...and it really sounds like that is what has happened here. I have tried putting myself in your shoes...all I can imagine is that I would be unable to move past the way he has treated his family into a place of loving and trusting again.

He cut himself out of the, good thing to know, the amount of time he spends with his kids won't change and you already know how it feels to be a single parent.

It's not giving up on marriage....if there is no marriage. There is no marriage here. I'm so sorry you are going through this...nobody imagines that things will turn out like this. I can imagine that if he weren't an abusive blankity blank when he was home, that you probably would have put up with his disappearing act for a lot longer. The emotional/verbal abuse is where a person must draw the line. Unacceptable behavior.
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Well..I went away to get my chicken in the oven....but couldn't stop thinking about you and wanted to come back and add something:

I am so so sorry, for how painfully lonely this must have been for you...all of this time; seeing all of the firsts alone, all the nighttime parenting alone....all the tough questions, bad days, good days and choas...alone. It breaks my heart that a nice lady could be so ignored. Parenting is so hard...I cannot imagine how hard when you don't have a partner to help out.

I'm sending soooooo many hugs and so much peace and warmth your way. I really sense that you have made up your mind and I think you are doing the right thing. I just ache for you, that you've been left alone like this. It's not right, it's not fair and you deserve better.
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Well I asked my hubby if I was a work a holic (basically told him everything you wrote) would he divorce me and he said YES.

I would also divorce over this. Maybe to some people being married is just on paper or a financial deal, but not for either of us. Especially if he a crankbutt during the little time he sees his family, see ya!

My hubby thinks he got married and had kids because it looks good professionally.
I respect a healthy strong work ethic, but only from someone who knows his/her priorities. Most of the time, family needs to come first. DH busts his butt and has had his fair share of business trips and late nights, but he makes sure to be there when we need him. He is also very appreciative of me running the house alone while he's gone. I used to be a work-a-holic when we first met, but he has proved to me that the most successful (and happy) people aren't.

Now, we do our best not to take each other for granted, and have even resorted to "mental health days" together during stressful times (hey, you gotta spend that sick leave once in a while

My mom and stepdad are work-a-holics. Let's just say it was not easy growing up in that household. Now that I see them as an adult, I can honestly say I've seen few more tortured couples. I wish I could change them (I'm hoping that maybe the birth of DD will at least slow Mom down

I think if I had to live with another work-a-holic, I'd be very miserable or get a divorce. It is very lonely to be attached to someone who is never around or always uptight...and it can be contagious if you let it, too.
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I'm married to a workaholic too but he's not abusive when he's around. That's the clincher for me.
His field requires a crazy amount of hours and then his practice requires even more. We reconnect as often as we can using various methods like phone calls, etc.

And on the other hand, I'm pretty independent. I have my own stuff to pursue so although I love and like my DH, I don't really "miss" him when he's not around. That's not the case for a lot of spouses.

Lastly, the fact that DH simply loves what he's doing and knowing that he is making a difference in a lot of people's lives for the better also makes it wasier to deal with. DH pursues his passion which gives me the freedom to pursue mine. Luckily for us, my passion is our kids.
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You are not being "ungrateful" or "lame."

It's ok to give yourself permission to walk away from this man. You don't need to justify it to anyone. He abuses you. Period. You are unhappy and lonely. You are being abused and taken advantage of by a man who doesn't appreciate you, or his own children. It's ok to take the steps you need to become happy. *hugs*
I think that when you partner with an ambitious person, this is one of the drawbacks.

A lot of people really like to see the fire of greater ambition in someone they're dating/involved with, but most are completely clueless as to what the flip side of that means.

I grew up with a dad who was a workaholic. Though, in his defense, if he slacked off, then many people would die or there would be huge gaping holes in our national defense. Still, no matter what the reason was, he was still gone most of the time. And when he was home, he was often very crabby and world-weary. As an adult, I actually can understand why he was that way (I wouldn't want to deal with that kind of pressure, where one eff-up can cost you, or worse, innocent other people their lives or livelihoods). As a kid, it wasn't fun. Particularly with an ill mother. Perhaps if my mom had it together mentally, things could have been different, but I'll never know so oh well.

It's interesting to me that it's the "workaholic" bit and not the "abusive" bit that is making you consider leaving him. If he is indeed abusive, and not just crabby/irritable, then I have to ask what makes you think that life would be the same with him gone? Abusive people are extremely controlling. Ambitious people are often quick on the draw, have a lot of resources and contacts. So I would not bet that you will be a stay at home mom, or that you would enjoy having full custody of your children, ect.

I'm not saying this to discourage you from leaving--only that I think that maybe you need to take a more realistic view of the situation, so that you can adequately prepare for it.

If this man is not abusive, then it could be a separation will wake him up, and things will get better. But if he have a really long road ahead of you. Please contact the local domestic violence hotline and get the steps in place for your plan. If he is pretty negligent/inobservant around you and the kids, then you should be able to start squirreling things away relatively quickly.

But you must keep your head. If you still are thinking that your life wouldn't change at all (except only positively) as you leave an ambitious, abusive spouse, I think you are setting yourself up for a bad situation.
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I used to be in a similar situation with my DH back when we first got married. It seemed that as soon as we said "I do" he started putting himself in to his work even more. But he is self-employed and has to do it to a certain extent if we want to eat and have a roof over our heads so I've learned to adjust over the years.

Have you compared yourself to wives in other situations? I say this because moms who are married to men in the military, doctors and lawyers very rarely see their spouses either and if you married him knowing he already worked alot then you kind of knew what you were getting in to. I'm not trying to be snarky but that's how it was in my situation.

However, if you are unhappy or if he abuses you physically or mentally then you have every right to want better for yourself and your children. You have to do what is best for you. But please weigh all the options first. You have to keep your children in mind and what is best for them as well.

Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
So I would not bet that you will be a stay at home mom, or that you would enjoy having full custody of your children, ect.
I would keep this in mind as well. If you think you are alone right now while married then imagine it being 6x worse after a divorce. You will likely have to work and your DH will have the kids when and if he is in town and can have them on his weekends or however you decide to work out custody.
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