Finding the balance time vs money

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Finding the balance time vs money
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 9:42am

I know we have discussed this on the board before, but DH and I are having difficulty finding balance right now and its frustrating for both of us, but moreso for me.

I work full time, 40 hours a week and have a 60-90 ninute commute each day.  We have two littles ones ages 4 and 6.  He works a ton, during high season in the summer, easily 80 hours a week, during the slower season, around 60, plus he still does side work for people that were customers before when he ran his own business.  He is never home an entire day, or even a half day on teh weekend and rarely is he home before hte kids go to bed in the evenings, maybe on average of 1 or 2 nights a week during the slow season and never during high season.  So, we are getting to the end of high season, and I am burned out, between work, the commute, and the kids, I am frazzled, burned out, tired, etc.  We had a talk this morning about it, I need a break, I have asked him before to set aside time to spend home with the family, even if its just one day a month, not only to give me a break, but to spend time with the family and the kids obviously.  The only time I get right now is when my oldest watches the kids fo rme for a bit, and she's off to college this week, so that's it.  And we have no babysitters any longer, they all went off to college also.  I did start an exercise class during my lunch hours at work, so at least i am getting some time to do something of my own, but that also cuts down on my lunch hour time, which is usually when I would get to run errands and stuff wtihout having to always drag the kids along.  His response when I mentioned this morning that it would be nice if he could be home just once in a while to do stuff with us was, well if we didn't spend so much money, I wouldn't have to work all the time.  And I get that, but the more he works, the more money is spent overall for a few reasons, 1, he eats out all the time when he is working.  We have tried to work on solutions to this and just aren't coming up with many.  yes, I can  make his lunches, but that adds yet another thing to my plate that I have to do every single day.  And this may seem small, but I do 90% of everything at the house.  I have the kids all the time, they do help somewhat with chores, but not a ton.  He's not home, so I do all of the yardwork, we live on a half acre, and while I could pay someone, it defeats the purpose.  We don't eat out much at all as a family, maybe 2-3 times a month and when I do for lunches its out of my spending money.  I do a lot of cooking at home and from scratch and so that eats up a lot of time.  I do have a cleaning lady come in every other week to help out with deep cleaning stuff, but at this point, that's more for my sanity sake because he's always upset that the house is a mess, and I don't have the time (becuase I always have the kids) to be able to sit down and really do a big decluttering of the house, which I would love to do, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Sometimes I feel like all I do is complain, and he overreacts and says its my fault, I am the one creating all these problems by not making the kids help out more, etc.  But they are 4 and 6, and we only have 2 hours a night after I get home from work to do homework, eat dinner, do anything at all together, and get them to bed.

Am I making this harder than it needs to be??  Anyone else having balancing issues?

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 10:51am

I think this is a marriage problem, not a money problem.  When one spouse prioritizes working over anything else, including children, then the problem is not about money.

Any incremental changes you make will be just that, and they're not likely to solve the problem.  What *can* solve the problem, if both you & your H agree to it, is going to counseling with the understanding that you are not seeing eye to eye on things, and that you both are willing to listen to each other and make the changes necessary.  Otherwise, I'm afraid, the situation will go on.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 11:47am
I am sure in some ways it is. He gave up drinking 9 months ago, and while he was always a hard worker before, because he's not drinking any longer, he tends to fill up his time with working instead, or his one hobby, skydiving or being at the wind tunnel. He complains that he wishes he had "my problems" of being home and with the kids so often, but he won't turn down work because of the money and he always needs to stay busy, if he's at home and not actively doing something, he's sleeping. I am sure he is ADHD, once he is focused on something, nothing can break his concentration on it and he says that if he's home and stuff needs to be done, I need to tell him it, give him a list, whatever, and he will do it. But do I really need to tell him to take the kids outside and play with them, just be home and enjoy doing stuff with them? I feel like I can't even sit down and enjoy them or do the simplest of things with them and enjoy it because I'm exhausted and frazzled all the time from having to juggle everything. So I suppose its not really entirely a money issue, I guess its just a life issue with money thrown in there on the side or something.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 11:47am

I think all couples raising young children and working have balance problems. At least you guys talk about it! I have resorted to putting number ratings on everything. Otherwise my point never really gets across. This sounds like a 10 for you and you are trying not to be a bother when you should be saying exactly how important this is to you.  4 and 6 year olds are messy, he should know that too. Once the girls get a little older that will change somewhat. i can't imagine giving your husband chores will change anything. I don't think he will do them, and if he does, he will have huge resentment.  This could be a priority problem too. You want to pay off debt  so you guys are working more. If you want more family time perhaps that will have to give a little. There are only so many hours in a day. You need to sit down and talk about how to spend the time. Giving things a number value has really helped me. My husband is not a great communicator either lol.

Good luck Tracy, this is such a tough one!


Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 11:57am
That's interesting Karen. And he said this morning that he would give me a day each week, or this next entire weekend (resentfully) to do whatever I wanted to do, but that if I didn't choose to prioritize it correctly then that was my fault. But then I felt not only guilty, but like my point wasn't getting across. Its not about ME being by myself at all, its not about ME spending the entire weekend without kids trying to declutter and organize the house, its about using the time to spend together, and also apart to get things done. He will do chores when I ask him too, when he is home, which isn't a lot. But again, then I feel guilty that he's exhausted and wants to sleep, so I don't want to add to it doing the dishes, or mowing the lawn, or whatever else that needs to be done. I know he works really hard for us and I tell him all the time how much I appreciate it, and maybe I'm just feeling like my input and paycheck don't count at all, I make $60k a year, I have almost always provided the benefits for the family, but I Feel like he's constantly trivializing my contribution to the money in the household because he always makes comments about how much he has to work so that we can afford all the stuff "I" (meaning me) spend money on.
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 1:25pm

Aryl, I could write you a book!

But I won't. is the simplest place I can think to start.  What you are describing is very common in early sobriety.  If he isn't already, then AA.  And if he is already in AA, then hopefully as he works through the steps things will get better.  And for you, Alanon.  Regardless of what he is, or isn't doing. 

Your DH is uncomfortable in his own skin.  He is angry and resentful.  If something doesn't change, he will keep on like he is and the anger will grow, or he will start drinking again. 

You can't do everything, so don't try.  And just a heads up that if your DH does throw himself into AA, he may very well be gone a lot.  However, that will eventually settle into something more practical and hopefully more peaceful. 

There is hope, if your DH is willing to open his eyes to what is going on here.  Clearly, nagging isn't going to get you anywhere, so you need to do what you need to for yourself.  I don't know if you have already tried this, but do you ever plan something on a Saturday or Sunday and say "hey babe, taking the kids to the zoo and was hoping you could take the day off and come also."  It leaves him a choice on whether to come, or not. 

Not trying to promote anything passive-agressive, as clearly it would be better to be able to say "hey, can we plan for a family day saturday," but it doesn't sound like that is working.  IDK, just a thought. 

I truly believe that a person needs a full 24 hour period once a week of no work.   My DH is very busy in the summer, and getting a full day is often hard.  Many times he starts at 6 and comes home by noon.  But he has found that he needs to make a full day, even if it is in the middle of the week, to do something relaxing.   It may only happen every two weeks, but at 49, he has found it ultimately necessary. 

Send me a pm if you want to talk more.  Me and DH have been in recovery for 16 and 18 years. 

Serenity CL making a second marriage work


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2001
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 1:40pm

I can really relate to your situation.

Dh and I had no problems as a young newly married couple working our butts off 24/7 . . . I was working full time/ attending school full time and Dh was working (with some traveling) and both of us were rolling up our sleeves to rehab our old,old Victorian house.  It was hard work, but fun . . .

But you just can't keep that kind of pace up forever.  It's not healthy (physcially or emotionally).  And I'm thinking that since you have a daughter leaving for college soon, you've been working pretty hard for a long time yourself.

When H changed jobs and started traveling a lot for work, I really scaled back on my work schedule.  I was effectively single parenting, and that was hard, hard, hard.

And it became very apparent that Dh was a bit of a workaholic.  He wasn't just working hard to reach some end goal . . . he was working hard 'cause working hard was what he liked to do.  Like your Dh, mine never, ever sits down even when he has an afternoon off.

I really had to explain to him how hard it was to single parent.  Besides being physically demanding, it takes a lot of an emotional toll to be the only one responsibile for the caring of young people (money aside).  And my Dh came to understand what I was saying.  He came to understand that if working is what he wanted to do himself (and he wasn't willing, interested or able to CO-parent) than I would HAVE to scale back my work schedule to accomodate his working choices.

If your Dh thinks caring for a 4 and 6 year old is like coloring and doing crafts all day, have him stay with the children solo for a long enough time for him to understand how HARD it is.

Anyway, people often comment to me how hard it must be to have a spouse who travels for work as much as my Dh does.  I can answer them honestly that it's not so bad since Dh and I have compromised on how we deal with our family obligations.  I work much less than Dh, 'cause I pick up much more of the family responsibilities.

I think you are right to consider scaling back your workload.  It sounds like you are going to have a challange to explain to your Dh on why this is a reasonable thing to do.  I do think marrige counseling can help in these situations.  It's nice to have an outside party help with negotiations . ..  and that's really what it is; a negoiation.

Perhaps you can set some shot term financial goals that you can continue to work really hard to meet, and then once they are met, start scaling back your schedule.

60-90 min commutes and $60,000 income is NOTHING to sneeze at.  It's very, very impressive!!!!!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Thu, 09-12-2013 - 12:49am

Is there an end in sight? Do you plan for a future when he isn't working so much/hard? (ie, you will be out of debt and less money is needed).

Yes, we struggle for balance. I don't think we have it. I'm not sure it is possible in this day and age when you have to work FT, clean and raise children.


Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 09-12-2013 - 10:16am
We do have some long range plans that we're going to move back to Michigan to where all of our family lives and he is going to restart his company up there. His dad and brother also do the same line of work, so it'll start as a family business and then expand. Once we get it running smoothly, like 2-3 years, he's going back to school to use his GI bill to finish a degree in engineering. That's as far as we've gotten in planning, I think its easier for me to see a relief in 2-3 years when we are back living near family who will be there to help us out and give me a bit of relief. Right now its just us and while we have a few friends here and there, no real support at all so its just us all the time and I have found that a lot harder
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 09-20-2013 - 11:38am

I really feel for you in this situation.  I know it's hard because I was divorced w/ 2 kids ages 7 & 1--it obviously wasn't my choice to get divorced.  But at least being divorced, I actually had more time to myself than you do being married because my ex was always a good father & would come over 2 nights a week for a while before he went to work (he worked overnight then) and then some time on the weekends.  So I always got a break.  what is very sad is that your DH does not realize what he is missing out on by never spending family time w/ the kids--he is never going to be able to get this time back.  I've heard men say that they are going to have relationships w/ their kids when the kids get older but if the kids aren't used to dad being around, they aren't gonig to care by then--and as you probably know by having an older child, by the time they are teenagers, they are more into being with their friends than spending time w/ their parents.  Sometimes I felt like a single parent before I was even divorced--not cause my ex was working, more because he was playing.  He always loved softball, so much that he's still playing it and he's over 50 now--so he'd work Fri. night so he'd have to sleep a little on Sat. morning, so we would have Sat. together but on Sundays it was softball all the time--he'd play games and then hang around at the field drinking beer with the guys--it basically killed the whole day.  I think it put a big strain on the marriage, so I agree that your marriage is what's in trouble and money is only a symptom of the problem--if you don't spend any quality time together, how do you keep the connection going?  If he works 80 hrs/ week he must be exhausted when he gets home & just eating and going to bed.  

I don't know your financial situation so I don't know how your money gets spent--you don't sound low income, so I don't know if you're spending money on unncessary things or not.  But I do know you can't keep going on like this for a long time.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Sat, 09-21-2013 - 4:22pm
Tracey - I hear you, I am now putting in over 80 hours at work and traveled this week, coming home to piles of laundry and a kind of messy house. Sorry, but the house has to go. It was really, really hard for me and I hate this house, but I had to let go in order to do the work needed. What does your DH care about if the house is a mess, if it gets bad enough, let him deal with it, he is never home anyway!! Your little ones are getting a bit older now, and next year will probably be a lot better with the youngest in school. I do pack DH"s lunch and he is in an office environment. IT is a PITA, but I do it or he will eat out too much. Funny thing, when I was gone this week, he went and bought his own lunch meat! Huggs, Wish I could help you -Marie