Sunday 21 July 2019

Dear Mary: My husband's job has sucked all the life out of him and I feel so alone

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Mary O’Conor

Is it selfish of me to want my husband to take a step back in his career and be at home more to spend quality time with his family? We have been married for 10 years and have two gorgeous very young children. He has a very stressful, high-powered career and he's gone every day from 7am until 8 or 9pm.

He also stays away one night a week. I'm very resentful of this and it's causing nothing but arguments. I also work full-time but on top of this I manage our kids and the household duties every day.

My husband is a great man and a great dad but I just wish he was home more because I'm tired of feeling like a single mum and I'm angry all the time at him for working long, late hours.

He wants to keep climbing the ladder and he's very driven in his job. This only means that life will continue as it is and he'll remain a weekend husband and dad.

I know there are a lot of positives to his job because it's well paid and we have a beautiful home and good things because of this.

I just feel so lonely sometimes because he's always tired, stressed and worn out.

Sunday is really the only day we get to spend as a family. I don't enjoy his company any more a lot of the time and I feel that his career has sucked the life out of him.

How do people manage both stressful careers and family life?

Can you have an even balance?

A You have an awful lot going for you - a loving husband, healthy children, lovely home and probably not too many money worries. And yet you are desperately unhappy.

In answer to your question, yes I do think it is selfish of you to want your husband to take a step back in his career.

If he does that he will be putting himself at risk of being passed over for further advancement, he will be incredibly frustrated at being held back by you, and your standard of living will ultimately suffer.

But more importantly, I think that your relationship will suffer because he will blame you for it all.

When there are two equal busy careers then a decision has to be made as to who assumes more of a responsibility on the home front. If, however, one career is less demanding than the other then it seems only right that this person takes over the running of the household, which is what it sounds like in your case, but I'm not absolutely sure.

On the other hand you may wish for a more powerful career than you currently have, which could leave you feeling resentful of your husband.

It must be difficult for him to come home late at night to be met by an angry wife who resents his dedication to his job. However, as you are responsible for all the care of two small children you are naturally very tired, as looking after small children, while sometimes rewarding, is often a thankless job.

You are doing this while also working full-time outside the home so two tired people meeting up late at night is a recipe for trouble.

Ask yourself what would make you really happy - but it cannot involve your husband spending more time at home - and then work on making some changes.

Is there any way that you can get some help with the children or the household stuff other than from your husband?

If he were, say, away on an oil rig for months at a time you would have to be creative and find ways of sharing the load. You should also ensure that you get some nights out with your girlfriends so that you can enjoy their company and sound off if something is bothering you. Girlfriends are by nature empathic and are usually very good listeners, as well as being fun to be around.

It is alarming that you don't enjoy your husband's company a lot of the time. You are in danger of forgetting what it is about your husband that made you fall in love and marry him. Is there any possibility of just the two of you getting away for a weekend occasionally? Friends or family might oblige with taking the children, and apart from the joy of getting a sleep in you may find that spending time together as a couple may help rekindle some of your earlier feelings.

It is important to bear in mind that things never remain the same.

In a few short years your children will be at a different stage in their lives, your husband will be secure in his job and hopefully you will not be feeling so fed up.

In the meantime get some help at home, take care of yourself by making sure it is not just all work, and be thankful for what you have.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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