Dopers, how do you feel about your spouse working late/overtime without compensation?

Suppose your spouse goes above and beyond in his job. He or she doesn’t leave his job untill (s)he has solved the problems, (s)he feels responsable, takes work home, works weekends or stands stand-by on weekends, etcetera.

Now suppose, for the sake of argument, that all this energy spent won’t bring either you or your spouse any ulterior rewards. Job-security is 100 percent whetether you are a super-worker or a slacker. Your spouse can’t be promoted financially, nor get extra benefits in any way. It is even unlikely that his/her boss or the co-workers even notice all the extra time your spouse puts in. The co-workers don’t work this hard either.

Also suppose that your spouse doesn’t really mind this hard extra work; (s)he just likes getting the job done and feels responsible for the results.

But it is a bit like your SO puts in a tremendous lot of energy into what is basically a hobby.

But you DO notice, as the day has only so much hours and your SO only so much energy, that home life suffers. Not much , but it is noticable. You do less fun things together, you have to do a bigger part of the chores, your spouse needs longer and longer to recuperate from the job every evening and every weekend.

How do you feel?

  1. I’m glad he has a job he likes. I’ll find other people to do stuff with, or I’ll do stuff alone.

  2. A bit miffed, and somehow robbed of something.

  3. I just feel guilty I’m such a slacker compared to my hard-working SO.

My girlfriend is in a situation like this, she’s salaried so she doesn’t get any extra money and she’s been promoted very well so those to aspects are different, but she’ll glady stay at work until 8:00pm or later every single day getting the job done, only to come home and collapse after a half hour or so. I stay late at work sometimes too, but not like she does. That’s not to say that I don’t work hard, I really do despite my Doping habit, but she works like a maniac. It’s just the way she is but yes, it can and has put some strain on our relationship.

In my European eyes, ALL Americans work like crazy hard, and working hard in the USA is valued and mostly rewarded, so the circumstances of the OP might be hard to culturally translate. But for the sake of argument, imagine that the circumstances as outlined in the OP are true.

This hasn’t been an issue for us until recently. My husband took a job as a high-level admin. assistant to a workaholic boss recently. They are in the mortgage business, too, and, although their company is going to be fine, people were very nervous for a while, especially since they were in the middle of selling the company. He has taken exactly one day off, excluding holidays, since he started working there.

It does put a strain on me. My son had the flu for basically the whole of last week and I had to use a lot of my time off. It’s been hard catching up. Same thing happened when the schools closed for 6 days due to the wild fires a while back.

So, I’m greatful that he likes the people he works with and is getting paid more than ever, but it does have its strains. My job is lower-paying now, but I have a been more flexibility, so I don’t feel like a slacker at all–I’m picking up a lot of the slack at home.

Well, he IS getting something out of it, even without pay or promotion possibilities - he *likes *the work. As you say, it’s a hobby. And like any hobby, it needs to be balanced against the needs of the household. If I have a problem with how much time my husband spends golfing or drinking with his buddies or doing stained glass in the garage, I’d expect us to be able to have a discussion about it and find out how he can enjoy his hobby and I can get my needs met. If we can’t have that discussion and work together to find a mutually satisfying solution, then we’re not the partners we thought we were.

I would absolutely feel better about it if we all agreed it was a hobby rather than work, though - “need to be at work” is only an excuse for those mandatory hours one is being paid or promoted for.

Mr. Athena and I are both software geeks, so we’re both in situations where we could have jobs that require a lot of overtime.

We’ve consciously avoided those jobs, though. It would not be acceptable to either of us if the other had a job that required much more than 40 hours a week on average. Note the “on average” - my job especially tends to require many hours near a release, but then it gets slow for a while. A bit of overtime is fine, it’s when you find yourself working 70 hour weeks with no end in sight that it’s an issue.

Definitely #2. One thing my husband and I both agree on is that a job is to make money to live, not to be your life. We attempt to make maximum money with minimum effort.

When Jim’s job requires him to work too much, we both resent it a little, and that helps somewhat (if you know what I mean). If he was just doing it because he felt an unrealistic sense of responsibility to the job and the company, we’d have a much bigger problem.

And yes, North Americans work way too damned much. I’m hoping to go part-time after March, and get my life back again.

Agreed. In the end, it comes down to what conversation you’re willing to have with your SO, and how much both of you are willing to compromise. Clearly the SO described in the OP does get something out of it, but when it gets to be too much, he/she need to recognise that other aspects of their lives are suffering, and be able to let it go.

For some couples, that could be as simple as a ban-on-overtime-on-Fridays, for others it would be an X hours per week/month deal (with flexibility for true work emergencies, of course!) If the SO is unwilling to compromise; well, that tells you a lot about who they are! OTOH, you can’t ask for NO overtime, ever, or NO take home work, or something unreasonable, because then you are taking something away from someone, and they will just resent you.

From a personal standpoint, though, both my husband and I have always worked salaried jobs WITH overtime, so there is at least financial compensation for the hours we do (I’m a student now, though, so it’s just him). He occasionally has to work odd hours, if the system he needs is only free at 2am, that’s when he works, and he regularly has to travel for business (2 weeks in France next month!!) His company pays overtime on hours above 40hours/week, or they can bank it (to some limit) to take additional vacation, and travelling is fully paid for the time and he has a per diem which is worthwhile.

If all that were to change; well, there’d be a long conversation between us! :slight_smile:

I’m an assistant manager. I am not salaried. My boss, who is salaried, has been on vacation

On the average she works 50-60 hours a week, sometimes more, depending on the time of year. Most managers at her level work 40 hours, maybe 45.

I’ve been playing her. Last week I averaged almost 60 hours. This week it’ll no doubt be similar. Both my husband and myself are thrilled with the OT pay, but at what cost?

  • Most chores have gone by the wayside.
  • I have no interest in going back out when I get home (hubby works from home, so he’s always eager to “get out of here” when I show up).
  • I’m overtired beyond belief. “Zombie mode” has never been flattering.

I don’t have another day off until next Friday. Today – my day off – I’ve spent in pajamas just trying to recover.

#1 describes my relationship to a t.

I live with it. I’m happy that he has a job that he loves, and it’s not like I didn’t know what he was getting into - when we met, he was working 70-80 hours a week (he’s since scaled back to 40-50, with the occasional week of insanity).

It helps to know that he doesn’t ENJOY the long hours, and he does everything he can to avoid them. The sad fact is, a lot of the time, it’s simply unavoidable because clients don’t feel they’re getting their money’s worth unless people are working around the clock to meet an unreasonably tight deadline. This has meant working on holidays sometimes, including Christmas day in one case, and staying to the wee hours of the morning…

In his industry, you’ve got the guys who stay as late as it takes, and then you’ve got the guys who are unemployed. You can’t afford to get a reputation as the guy who walks out at 5pm and leaves his team holding the bag.

Of course, defining “mandatory hours that one is being paid or promoted for” is tricky when the person is salaried. Especially if one has a position like my dad does, where a certain number of nights and weekends he is expected to be on-call. He doesn’t really expect to get called, and really doesn’t expect to have to go in to work, but he has to plan weekend activities around staying in cell phone range, and sometimes gets panicked or stupid phone calls in the middle of the night. Oh, and the length of my Dad’s commute is sometimes an issue–hard to pack up and move now, but if Mom could turn back the clock, they’d live someplace a whole lot closer to Dad’s workplace.

For my mom, at this point in her life, she’s mostly happy that Dad didn’t work this kind of schedule, these kinds of hours back when my brother and I were younger. Dad was always able to attend a soccer game or a school play.

But, as my Dad gets to retirement age, she wishes there were a way for him to keep doing the job he does, but only three-quarters of the time. Work 40 hour weeks, but take one week off each month, or save up a couple and take a month off if he wanted to. And no phone calls after 10.

But, that’s tricky–Dad has no desire to be a consultant, and no passions to take up his free time and energy if he quit working–and Mom has several part time jobs, most of which she isn’t actually paid for but is still committed to.

And so, Dad keeps working.

To keep this thread from derailing: I’m not talking about a job where overtime is expected or mandatory. I’m talking about your spouse who completely voluntary gives up home time to spend at the job.

Featherlou, I understand what you mean about it being better if your SO doesn’t like the overtime either.
And WhyNot expressed my feeling the best; work like that IS a hobby, and the frstration I feel comes from the feeling I oughtn’t be miffed because it is work, when really it is a hobby.

Besides, a few guys with a work ethic like that can screw up an entire workplace. Soon everybody joins in, not to be the " slacker" who lets down the team in some imaginary way, when in reality everybody is just making everybody crazy.

I find it telling that many people with spouses working crazy times are so…unvocal about it. Part proud, even. Come on, this is your life time you are takling about, your family time, and it is spent in something as silly as trying to increase the economic market share of your company’s chicken nuggets!

Sure, absolutely. But I was trying to stay within the OP’s carefully framed hypothetical or, more accurately, description of HER situation, no matter how unlikely it sounds to me as an American. Here overtime, if not compensated financially, is always on the table when it comes to raises, promotions, or, assuming you’ve exhausted the possibilities in one company, getting another job within the same field where your cohort knows of your work ethic. But playing by Maastricht’s rules, I was assuming no compensation other than personal pleasure and clearly defined work hours.

We’re kind of in this situation now. My husband is a first-year teacher, and he’s been pulling 60 hour weeks. He comes home utterly exhausted after dealing with his students, their parents, and the head-up-its-ass school administration. I do almost all of the housework and cooking, because I’m only working 40 hour weeks (and I can do stuff like go to the bathroom during my workday). Does it suck? Oh, royally. And since he’s a teacher, it’s not like he’s getting big bucks to compensate for the long hours.

But we both know it will get better. There are lots of teachers in our circle of family and friends and they all say that the first year is the hardest. And it’s easier for me take because my husband isn’t “trying to increase the economic market share of your company’s chicken nuggets.” He’s busting his ass so that 17 8-year-olds know how to write, do math and be kind to one another. He works so hard for those kids, and I’m proud of him for that.

Why isn’t his job divided into two 30 hour part-time jobs, filled by two people so they can both be working part-time and still have time for a life? Yes, I know that doesn’t fit with American economics. But somehow, it is doable within Dutch economics.

Okay, now I’ll stop hijacking my own thread.

Marry your neighbor’s daughter, then you know what you are getting. Kidding. But only half, are you absolutely sure your spouse is Dutch? Bucking for burnout is not exactly a common hobby around here anyway – possibly it’s different further north. :wink: I am surprised his co workers haven’t had a come-to-Jesus with him yet.

Okay, for a serious answer now.

Has this always been true and it only bothers you more now? Or is this a recent development?

If the former, this is good, nothing wrong with that and a lot right with it. But you have to consider the possibility that the reason it bothers you now is the operation of your brain (which evolved long before the development of the social welfare state) checking to be sure that your support system is intact and functioning prior to The Immanent. The reason you have to consider it is that you can’t talk or think about it sensibly (if this is part of it) unless you do.

You are, it seems to me, bravely and forthrightly checking out your support network here lately and I have this feeling you are finding it lacking. Just a feeling, I could be wrong. But it was thought that I had.

It is good that this is going on now, if it is; if it happens after The Immanent it can IME lead to postpartum depression of a very unhappy kind.

If the latter, we have to consider the converse (is it the converse? Or the reverse? I am very bad with that…) which is that he is having his own issues related to The Immanent. Either support-my-family issues, or get-away-from-my-family issues, both are pretty common.

In education, especially the equivalent of high school, beginning teachers work insane hours in Holland also – they have to, to get the same amount of work done. Eduction is like that, it takes three years they say. Dearly Beloved is busting his ass to teach physics to bunch of kids in Delft, and it’s his first year. He works insane amounts, not to mention the kids calling/texting/emailing at all hours. But it’s temporary. He’ll figure it out and then it won’t take so long.

Marienee, you are not wrong. I’m thinking about what you say.

How “voluntary” is the overtime? Right now I’m working about 50-60 hours a week, although I’m only “required” to work 37. I don’t make any extra money for it, and I won’t increase my chance of a promotion by putting in the extra hours. It’s not because I like being at work- I’d much rather not be at work. But for a variety of reasons ( mainly because I’m new in my job, and most of the people I supervise are new to theirs) it takes that many hours to do my job properly. It won’t take that long forever- eventually I’ll learn my job, and it won’t take so long to figure out what to do, and they’ll learn their jobs, and I won’t spend so much time teaching them

Marienee is right. It’s not that an experienced teacher would typically be working 60-hour weeks most of the year (although all teachers I know pull at least a couple of looong weeks a year); it’s that because he’s new, it takes my husband longer to do stuff that experienced teachers already have down. Next year, he’ll have more templates and lesson plans already prepared and hopefully his hours will decrease.

Who could afford to teach if that was the case? Half the job would equal half the pay and half the benefits. I’m guessing that’s the big difference between the situations in the US and the Netherlands, if Dutch teachers’ pay is high enough that they could survive on half of their current salaries.