What do you do when your SO works too much?

My fiance and I are having an ongoing problem; his company is forcing him to work too much, he doesn’t want to do it, I don’t want him to do it, and it is causing tension between us. He’s tired and grumpy because they are forcing him to work 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week (he’s a salaried employee in the construction industry - apparently, all bets are off for labour laws in construction).

He is less than fun to be around, because he’s tired and grumpy. I don’t want to bitch at him, because it’s not his fault they overwork him, but it’s not my fault, either, and I’m getting tired of being around someone who isn’t the fun person I signed on with. (No, I’m not thinking of ending the relationship - I’m just getting tired of keeping my feelings to myself about this.)

Now, I don’t want to sit him down and tell him how I’m feeling, because I don’t want to add even more stress to what I know is an already too stressful life. But I also don’t want things to continue like this indefinitely.

Have any of you relationship old-timers been through this? Going through it currently? What do you do about it? Talk about it in a non-accusatory way? Leave it alone until the stress lessens a bit? Grin and bear it, because life is hard sometimes? Any advice would be welcome, here.

Right now, and since June, I have been working 6 days a week 12 hours a day. This will continue until probably February. No Thanksgiving holidays, if I’m lucky I might get Christmas. The company I work for has to do this every 18 months, but usually only for about 30 days. This work is different because it’s much more complicated.
I warned my SO over and over and over but he was determined that we get married in June, before all this work started. All I can do is get up, go to work, go home, eat, and go to sleep. I have an excellent job, great benefits, way better than average pay. Jobs are gonna get scarce. I want to keep mine. So he can grin and bear it or hit the door. His choice. He was warned. And yes he has bitched about it, but one look from me usually shuts him up. No job, no eat, no home, etc.

Yeah, I’m more on-line with ultress, though I’ll get the holidays and I’m not currently working because of a recent surgery. However, I have to say I wish Mrs. Heap had a damn job!!!

Hmm, there seems to be a lack of people who have problems with working too much on this Board ;).

I would agree with you, ultress, except his working so much isn’t what I signed on for. When we met, he was working regular hours, and I made it very clear right from day one that I had just gotten out of a relationship with someone who worked too much, and I was not interested in doing that again.

One other question - does your personality change when you work so much, or are you just not as available time-wise? I feel like I’m with a different man when he’s working so much; very little laughter, tense, testy, not much fun at all (which are exactly the opposite of his real nature). The guy who was doing his job before him lost his marriage due to this job; I want us to be able to work these problems out before it gets to that point.

I had a similar problem early on in my relationship with my spouse. He didn’t work a gazillion hours, but we worked opposite hours. He worked 9-5 M-F and I worked 5-9 M-T plus 12-1 on Sunday. This made for a bit of stress in the relationship. I beleive it was mainly because we only had one real day off together to do all of the necessary boring household type stuff (laundry, shopping, bills, etc.) AND the fun relationship stuff (movies, long drives, etc.). We had high expectations for this one day off. If one of us was a tad grumpy or tired or whatever it really was a pisser. I think that we would try to cram in way too much stuff in the short time we saw each other which led to some tiffs.

How did we resolve it? Two ways. First, we agreed not to put so much pressure on ourselves to schedule 80 bajillion things into that one day. In the same vein, we agreed to not put so much pressure on ourselves and each other so that when one of us was feeling lazy it was not such a huge disappointment. Second, I got a daytime job.

In your situation, I’d suggest talking about it in a very non-confrontational way. When you bring it up, bring it up as concern for him. How he looks tired, stressed, etc. from working so much. Try to come up with a plan that would help him deal with that and you’re helping yourself at the same time (as you won’t have to deal with his crankiness). Perhaps he’s feeling guilty about working so much and this contributes to his crankiness. Perhaps you both may be feeling a bit of that “must squeeze in all of the fun” pressure I described above. Perhaps I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about at all. At any rate, talking about it should help you come to some sort of compromise.

tevya, I think you’re right about his feeling guilty about working too much contributing to the crankiness. Sort of a negative-feedback loop, or something. And that cramming everything into one day thing isn’t good, either. When he gets a day off, I think he feels overwhelmed with everything that has piled up waiting for him to do. Again, not contributing to making him a real happy camper. And it really doesn’t help that working so much isn’t his idea; he wants to have a well-balanced life, but his work just won’t let him.

We did manage to talk about it a little this weekend, and he’s going to try a few things to get his work to back off a little. We’ll see how that goes, I guess. ::sitting with fingers and toes crossed::

featherlou, I’m glad to hear that you got a chance to talk about it some. I hope it helps! I also hope he can arrange something with work so that they aren’t working him so hard.

What hours does he work… 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or what? How long has he been working like this and how long will he have to continue to work like this??

My SO works from 7-6 M-F and Saturdays from 7-3. Occassionally he’ll have to work past 6:00 during the week but not often. He works for a construction company too but since he’s not salaried he gets 20+ hours of overtime each week. It’s been like this ever since we’ve been together. I work 8-4 M-F but I have to leave the house at 7:00 so I can drop off the kids and get to work 15-20 minutes early. I don’t usually get home from picking up the kids until 4:45 or later and he gets home at 6:30. The only time we have together is the evenings but there’s housecleaning to do and the kids have to take a bath so we usually don’t get any “alone” time until 8:00 after the kids are in bed. There’s really nothing we can do about how little time we get together but it hasn’t hurt our relationship. Probably because we’re used to it.

I would suggest finding ways to communicate with each other while he’s at work. My SO and I talk 2-3 times during the day and I call him every morning and let the kids talk to him before we leave the house. Kind of helps the seperation anxiety (mine, not the kids) if I can speak to him throughout the day.

I’ve got a problem similar to tevya’s in that my husband and I work completely opposite hours. Of course, I knew this going in–he’s a musician, and I’d throw myself in front of a moving train before I’d ever try to force him to give it up.

Weekends are pretty much out for us. The ocassional Sunday (like yesterday–took the kids out to a pumpkin patch, an hada complete blast). But time for just me and him doesn’t happen often.

He also teaches guitar at a local music store. He does that in the evenings, because not all of the kids are in school full-time yet. The youngest is two, the middle one is four (in preschool four days a week, for half a day), and my stepson, who is living with us now, is eight. He’s in school all day.

It’s nice having him home with the kids during the day. But I do miss having time alone with him. I can’t give up my job–it’s the one that pays the bills and provides the benefits (hell, they even let me put my stepson on all of my insurances).

Once all the kids get in to school full time, my husband will be able to rearrange his work schedule. That’ll be nice. I know it’ll be three years before this happens, but the important thing is that I did, in fact, know this going in to the marriage (except for the teaching job–he din’t start that until last year). I feel really bad for the ones here that had stuff like this happen afterwards. It does suck. It really does.

I know this won’t make you feel any better about the situation, but if he is a salaried employee, there is no such thing as overtime. Salary is salary no matter if you work 40 hours a week or 80–salaried employees are considered exempt from the overtime rules that hourly employees fall under. I’m a salary slave myself.

I feel for you because I have been at both ends of this situation many times. The best thing I can tell you is to be patient, it won’t be this way forever. Try to support him as much as you can, he’s probably venting alot of his frustration on you…maybe tell him, “OK for the first half hour when you come home you can bitch about work, but the rest of the evening is for us”.