Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is She His Wife - Or His Live-In Maid?

Dear Tazi,

My husband accepted a job nearly six months ago that we believed exhibited a lot of opportunity. Since then, it has been a lot of empty promises. He received an average salary for someone who works a 40 hours week. Expected bonuses, retirement plans and health insurance never manifested.

The business operates in three locations which are geographically distant seven days per week, nearly 24 hours per day. He has taken only 5 days off since October. Those days off are actually days he works from home via phone. He averages 95 hours per week and his health and family life have suffered greatly.

Tazi, we are hard workers in my home. I work three part time jobs and go to school full time. I understand the difficulties of having to work hard to get ahead but I have taken on all household matters, caregiving for his dogs and my step-daughter. I love her but she needs her father, too, in the absence of her natural mother. I feel like the hired help when I am leaving for work in the early hours just as he is showing up from work. I basically live alone in my marriage. I have asked my husband to limit his work schedule to 60 hours per week and he say he will, but fails miserably at fulfilling that request. I do not think I am being a miserable bat by making this request.

I have a value for pets far greater than most humans. Recently, I unexpectedly lost a pet that meant the world to me. He assured me he would come home and called a short time later to cancel because he was told to go to a meeting. He showed up 12 hours later. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A four day domestic war ensued.

My husband believes that if you love someone that is all that matters. I have tried to explain to him that love is important, but, respect, partnership, and cohabitation are just as important. I am ready to move on from a person I love profoundly over the whole matter. I can not get the man to keep a doctor’s appointment with his schedule so counseling surely will not fly.

Where do I go from here?

The Hired Help

Dear The Hired Help:

The expression "love conquers all" can have two meanings - it can conquer all hardships, or it can conquer you as a person. In your efforts to single-handedly keep your marriage and family afloat, it appears that love is conquering you, and your husband is not home often enough to see the toll it is taking. 

While love IS very important, there are other, equally important promises made when one takes wedding vows - to honor and cherish, forsaking all others, until death parts you. Or for as long as you both shall live. Or 'til death do you part. There are many ways to say it, but the bottom line is, your husband is not honoring and cherishing you the way you would like to be honored and cherished, and his is forsaking you for his employers! Is he aware of this fact? While these are things that are ideally discussed in a marriage counselor's office, you can discuss them with each other with a little advance planning. When people go to a counselor, they often keep a mental list of what they want to discuss and how it makes them feel; if you and your husband can take the time to do this and find an hour a week to calmly discuss these mental lists perhaps you will be able to work things through on your own. Let your husband know that committing to this time is a sign that he is still committed to your marriage in the way you need him to commit to it.

Many men believe that their "job" in a marriage is to care for the financial needs of the family, and that by working every waking moment (as in your husband's case) they are being a good husband by being a good provider. Once upon a time this may have been true, but nowadays - with wives working, and in your case working three jobs - husbands are no longer the sole financial providers to a family; nowadays, husbands need to provide social supports (emotional, intellectual) to their wives and families as well. It appears that you are the only one providing this kind of support, and that the well is running dry. Your husband needs to be made aware of these facts and commit to change, starting by accepting the fact that he is being short-changed at work, and in turn short-changing his loved ones - you, his daughter, and even the dogs - financially and emotionally. 

Even this Superwoman had help from Mrs. Brady and the kids!

One thing you do not mention is whether or not your husband actually enjoys working so much for so little. I know this question sounds daft, but some people are workaholics, and they thrill to the thought of accomplishing just one more task, just one more sale before calling it a day, regardless of how much money they are making for doing it - the sense of a job well done, of praise from the boss is all that they need. For people like this, work is their entertainment, and they cannot understand why everybody else does not feel the same. If this describes your husband, then you will need to approach him from his point of view, pointing out that the "joys and accomplishments" of work should leave time for life's other joys and accomplishments - time with a loving spouse that leads to a successful marriage; father-daughter dates that will help her grow into a well-adjusted adult woman (read: one without Daddy issues!); and most importantly, the ability to be there for those they love when those they love need them the most! If this tact does not work, you could also point out to your husband that all of his hard work is lining the pockets of the company owners - not his own. 

I strongly believe that six months is more than enough time to invest in a job to see if it is the right fit - most companies have a three month probationary period, during which time both sides can decide if the job is a good fit for the worker and if the worker is a good fit for the job. In many areas of the country the economy is improving and employers are willing to invest in workers who have the type of work ethic you and your husband have! It is past time for your husband to tell his employers that the time has come to shape up or he will ship out - before you offer your husband the same ultimatum. (He sounds like he would do well in Marketing or Sales, both fields that pay well and can offer a structured, 40-hour-a-week work schedule when the worker insists upon it). 

On a more personal note, I would like to offer my condolences on the loss of your beloved pet. We fur and feather covered creatures are family members, too, and from the sound of it your pet was your non-human child. A Paw Slap of Disgust (hard, not soft!) to your husband for not being there for you in your hour of need. When The Feline Uprising is complete, I shall make him clean the litter boxes of a thousand lactose-intolerant cats, sans gloves, and I shall make sure that we all drink heavy cream and use the cheap, non-clumping litter until he has paid his penance!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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