Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

Men and their work, when you come after that

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

InnerLight posted 2/7/2014 21:37 PM

I'm triggery tonight because my SO has to work and not see me and I'm writing to get it off my chest and hear everyone's perspective. I know I don't have a great perspective right now.

My guy has been working his ass off for months, full time work plus a part time gig for a few hours Saturday early eves 2x a month, and 2-4 free lance jobs on the side. He's always been a hard worker, and now its pretty intense.

I've expressed concern - somewhat selfishly I admit - that with all this work he won't have much energy left over for me. I've asked him what he does to take care of himself and stay in balance when work gets intense like this, and basically he just works harder to get through it. Not exercising, has never particularly eaten well, he doesn't give himself breaks.

This week when he was frustrated at work he texted me a one word message, 'Fuck!!!!!!!' which i didn't like. I let him know it made me anxious to read that, that if he has work issues I can listen and be there for him, but I didn't know what to do with 'fuck!!!' He apologized and said he just exploded in my direction. I accepted his apology.

Last night he told me he can't see me this Saturday night because he has to power through a pile of work. I understand. But I feel bad. I feel like a low priority. I feel triggered, like I'm not worth so much to him. I am full of self-doubt, thinking, I've attracted yet another unavailable man!

This triggers all this previous relationship stuff from being ignored by Dad, to many relationships that had me firmly on the side, to being dumped by my X. So yes I feel pretty bad. And then a bit ashamed that I'm so emotional about this too.

He was going to take me out tonight, but I'm too tired and crabby now, and I know he will be tired too. So I said no, I'm just going home. When I feel bad I want to retreat. I don't trust that he won't just get defensive especially because he is under a strain. I want to pre-empting any hearing of defensiveness when I feel triggery and emotional and sensitive so I am withdrawing.

So I get that I am contributing in creating distance too. And in my crabby state of mind, from afar I think 'oh this whole thing is never going to work'

I remember something about work being more important to men than to women. Is that really true? Are their healthy men that can keep their women front and center while they work hard? Is it a red flag that he has no methods of stress management / work/life balance than to cut out his girlfriend and work even harder?

I'm going to the movies with my mom tomorrow so that will be nice, and I will just get on with my life and be at a distance with SO until we can talk this through.

- Unhappily flickering Inner Light

GotPlayed posted 2/7/2014 23:03 PM

Hmm.. I work very hard. Very. Finding balance is hard, and it's something I have struggled for years (ironically it got a lot better the year prior and of my WW's A, which of course enabled her to have lots of time to pursue the OM - hopefully it won't become a trigger).

And texting something like that is a bit of a red flag for me.

If I was insanely busy and frustrated the last thing I'd want to do is direct it to my significant other. In fact if I felt I had to vent like that I'd just post that "F.." on my Facebook status or something (never done that either but I've seen people do it). That way it's not directed to anyone in particular.

Not even at the worst time with WW have I texted something like that. And I was married 18 years. That's a lot of frustration opportunities.

But that's just me.

Sad in AZ posted 2/7/2014 23:13 PM

At the risk of generalizing, men define themselves by their work; women define themselves by their families (or relationships). I guess it's part of the Men from Mars/Women from Venus. If you enjoy most parts of the relationship, the only thing you can do is encourage him to take better care of himself and live a little outside his career. Nagging won't get you anywhere (not saying that you do.) You have challenges in this relationship; only you can decide when enough is enough.

Believe me; I feel your pain. I went through this with the X, and wound up living a parallel life to his. We at least had weekends.

ProbableIceCream posted 2/8/2014 00:37 AM

Guy's gonna burn himself out, and it's going to get ugly.

cmego posted 2/8/2014 06:46 AM

My ex was a "work-a-holic" too, and he hid his affairs behind being "so busy at work". It would be a huge trigger for me too.

Guys that I have dated that are soooo busy mean, to me, that they will not put a relationship first and I tend to stay away from them.

From my perspective, I'm busier than most people I know. But, I can always find time for a relationship. The last two guys I've dated have said, "You are so busy!" And I respond, "Yes, I am busy. But, I think dating is important and I make time for the people in my life."

I dunno, Inner. Have you talked to him about this before?

SeanFLA posted 2/8/2014 09:43 AM

It's not just a man thing. ExWW put her job before me. She got egotistical because of her job promotion (that I helped and supported her towards). She planned and cheated on me on a business trip. That's putting your work before you're family as far as I'm concerned.

Why does he feel he needs to work that hard where he doesnt have time for you? Is he hurting THAT much for money? I believe people who work that much have sort of an addiction issue. It sounds noble, but at what cost to your family and relationships?

Know this....the guy on his death bed never said... "I wish I spent more time with my job."

I couldn't put up with a partner like that I'm sorry. You're going to be doomed to a life of last minute canceled social plans and empty Saturday nights watching TV on your own while feeling that you're his punching bag for his stress release. You're unhappy and I think you need serious changes to be made. If he disagrees then move on. Life isn't all about work, plain and simple.

When I was starting out in the corporate world as a young guy my senior VP once told me..."Never put your work before your will always lose and you can't get them back. Jobs are always there. I did that and it cost me my marriage and relationship with my only son, whom I never see now."

fireproof posted 2/8/2014 10:28 AM

Just my 2 cents. Decide what you want from the relationship.

It depends on you and him. I was with someone working 24 hours at times and to be honest I accepted it was his job. He wasn't out enjoying himself. He also made an effort to see me and make the best of it. But most people did not in his situation their partners were resentful and unhappy.

I looked at it like an opportunity to branch out my interests.

This relationship may not be the best fit if you need more - no judgement just honesty. You need to look at him - if you enjoy being with him then enjoy the time you do have and let things naturally happen.

Wanting to see him because you miss him is one thing but what you feel is unique to you and if you need more you do or find a way to work this out internally so you can be happier.

InnerLight posted 2/8/2014 11:08 AM

I so appreciate everyone's thoughtful replies.

We did talk last night about it. There was a bit of defensiveness because he felt bad that I felt bad and he was just working hard to meet deadlines. That kind of defensiveness that's like - I didn't do anything that wrong to make you this upset - this is not fair.

I did tell him I was researching workaholism online and what it's like to be a partner of a workaholic. He flatly said he was not a workaholic. Just that he has deadlines.

He said I didn't understand the nature of his work, that it is very deadline driven (advertising, graphic design) and that he feels he could lose his job any time if he doesn't perform. I do understand all that, but it still doesn't feel good. I do think he is paranoid about losing his job and works harder out of that fear. Through the recession that fear got stronger. There are not many jobs in his field where we live.

He felt like I was snubbing him or punishing him by not having dinner with him last night. But I wouldn't let that stand. I am not giving him the silent treatment but just being honest about feeling hurt. I explained that when I am hurt I withdraw. I explained that I knew that part of my feeling so bad was triggering about other men in my life who made me a low priority in their life and that the emotional pain I was feeling was not all about him.

I asked for reassurances and he did profess his love for me. He reassured me that we will take a vacation together this summer and that he had checked with his HR person about how much vacation time he has accrued and let them know he was going to take some time off. Last year he barely took any time off.

I worry about this:

Guy's gonna burn himself out, and it's going to get ugly.

And ironically my career is all about helping people recover from / prevent this kind of burn out.

When we are together we do enjoy our time. I am also glad I am with someone who is not too demanding of my time. So maybe this situation is reflecting my own ambivalence about relationships back to me. I like the relaxing, and enjoying of life together part. I'm willing to talk through conflicts as long as drama is minimal. But I don't want anything all-emcompassing because I have some unique interests that not everyone shares and I won't give them up.

Get played -

And texting something like that is a bit of a red flag for me.

It was a terrible text. He did apologize right away and I know he won't do it again, that he gets it. But it shows that he thinks of me as his outlet, that he doesn't have other ones like exercise for example.

Phoenix1 posted 2/8/2014 16:56 PM

Decide what you want from the relationship.

This^^. I work very long hours as does BF, and we get together once, maybe twice a week. But we are both OK with that. Neither of us see it as putting the relationship last, and it works for us. Neither of us want more right now (we both got out of long term marriages). This wouldn't work for everyone, especially if one person was looking for more.

InnerLight posted 2/9/2014 09:49 AM

I went out to the movies and dinner with my mom who is 89 and we had a fun time.

Someone, I have no idea who, paid for our dinner. The waitress said she didn't know but that it was taken care of, gratuity and all.

I am mystified. It wasn't SO. I didn't see anyone we know. I am just amazed. My theory is that my mom who is so old looking is very attractive in that old-people-are-precious way. She doesn't have any dementia so her body is wizened but her mind is sharp. I noticed bystanders breaking into smiles as they see her go by. But still, paying for our whole dinner. I wish I knew who was so generous!

SO and I talked on the phone a couple times and he is working on a painting of someone's dogs on commission that has to be finished Monday. work work work work work work work.

Phoenix, I have a similar relationship situation and I'm usually fine with it, but I found out that we won't see eachother this weekend on Thursday so I wasn't prepared. Once a week, turning into once every other week....Well I got triggered with all those old abandonment/unworthy feelings. I am mostly over it.

Best solution is to go have fun with someone else and I did.

I'm not sure how to have that serious talk about self-care so he doesn't burn out and affect my life with his exhaustion negativity. It's one of those talks that are delicate because you don't want to go into mommy / caretaking / nagging territory. I will have to think about this....

[This message edited by InnerLight at 9:53 AM, February 9th (Sunday)]

NaiveAgain posted 2/9/2014 10:13 AM

Everyone is unique and what they want and need from a relationship can be very different.

You have to be honest with yourself about what you truly want from a relationship, then you have to be honest with your partner to find out if he is capable of giving you what you need. If you pretend you don't need something that you do truly need, it won't end well.

Also, he IS headed towards burn out. Life has to have balance to it, otherwise it isn't "maybe there is a chance of burn out" it is going to happen. Even if he loves his job and is motivated, his physical body is going to give out. There are four sides to humans...emotional/physical/intellectual/spiritual. If we ignore one side, we become out of balance. We get sick easier, we get burnt out, we lose sight of what is important. He needs to figure a way to balance his job with the rest of his life. However, you can't make him do this. You can only tell him what you feel and what you think, and then let him decide what path he is going to take.

Me personally, I'm too old and selfish to share myself with another mistress, and someone that is a workaholic, in my view, has another mistress. I don't want someone that can't make me his priority. Period. I'm not willing to settle because I am okay with being alone. I'm willing to make SOME compromises, and work thru tough issues, but I'm not willing to not be a priority in someone else's life, because for ME (and this is me, not everyone), being a priority in someone else's life is what I need from a relationship.

hexed posted 2/9/2014 12:02 PM


Hi my name is hexed, I am a work a holic.

someone earlier pointed out that its based on your expectations from the relationship. What are your needs? Is this a long term situation? What can he do to make you feel better?

IIRC you've mentioned in the past that he is not financially secure? Having lived like that for a while, I take every opportunity I can find to work and help change my financial situation. If that is the case for him, he may be fighting the emotional as well as practical aspects of 'just getting by'

I tend to work more than is healthy or balanced. That is my comfort zone. I am completely unemployed for the first time since I was 14. I find it terribly uncomfortable and unsettling. A lot of my identity is wrapped up in my work. Could this be the case for him? He's working a lot so he feels very validated in this area?

My SO is patient when I am buried for months on end at work. We talk about it a lot. I've learned to commit to specific things with him. "lets have dinner on Tuesday night." or "I won't start working on Sunday until after lunch". He's learned to accept that a lot of my 'free' time includes work.

Perhaps tell him that its a big deal when he backs out. If he needs more time on night he's committed to see you maybe the compromise is dessert and drinks for an hour instead of dinner?

As a work-a-holic, it doesn't mean that I'm unavailable or that my partner isn't a priority, its that I feel secure enough in my relationship that I trust him to understand a stretch of 'extra' busy. He knows that in an emergency he would come first. He knows that when things slow down I will be back to my normal self. He knows that he can tell me he needs a little extra time and even when I'm busy I will make the time as long as he's understanding about how much I'm working too.

Work/Life balance is this horrible myth for some of us. We hear it and cringe. Work is a LOT of my life. I feel out of balance when there isn't enough of it. My whole world finances, personal, hobbies, mental health are out of balance w/o it. Work/Life balance isn't a daily thing for me more like semi-annual or annual. Over the course of year, I will have slow periods when I do non-work things and focus my energy there. Its just not a daily/weekly level thing for me.

You and your SO need to communicate about this so your needs are being met. I KNOW you're very empathetic so you will undoubtedly be understanding towards him. You're need to do the same thing for you.

InnerLight posted 2/9/2014 13:31 PM

double post

[This message edited by InnerLight at 1:31 PM, February 9th (Sunday)]

InnerLight posted 2/9/2014 13:31 PM

Thanks hexed, I appreciate you sharing about being the workaholic in the couple. It's true he has a lot of economic insecurity and the extra $ plus the validation feel good to him. I also have time when I'm putting on a workshop program and I am just flat out focused on that. I do understand it. It does sometimes still feel like crap on the receiving end.

I feel OK today. I'm involved in my own projects at home. I do feel a bit withdrawn from him emotionally, but not at the level of giving him the cold shoulder.

Today when I asked him what he was going to do to take care of himself today he said get the work done. Repeated this a couple times when I tried to reframe the question to get a different answer. He doesn't really get the concept that self-care improves performance. It's not just a nicey-nice thing to do.

I am afraid I will find myself pushing him around in a wheelchair in 5 years after he's had a stroke. Isn't that an awful thought?

I'm not going to break up with him over this one weekend, or the what-if scenarios. But something is not right here and I'm not sure yet what to do.

I am listening to a spiritual talk on 'Trust' and think it's interesting that this CD that I haven't listened to for years popped out at me today.

[This message edited by InnerLight at 1:34 PM, February 9th (Sunday)]

NaiveAgain posted 2/9/2014 14:05 PM

I am afraid I will find myself pushing him around in a wheelchair in 5 years after he's had a stroke. Isn't that an awful thought?
No, it is a realistic thought. I worry about my SO also, he isn't much into exercise or self-care either but I've neglected myself also lately and he wants to start getting back in shape, so I am going to try to get us on a walking program or something together.

I have the workaholic trait. I can take anything to the extreme and I tend to throw myself into whatever I am doing with utter abandon. And then my life usually gets out of balance and I pay the price with broken or neglected relationships, bad health, or depression.

Right now, I am doing good with the intellectual and the emotional, but I let the physical and spiritual slide and I am paying the price. This is because I threw myself into my school career and community activism last year with a vengeance, I achieved and was at the top of my game, but in doing so, I let my exercise program and good health go to the wayside and now I am 30 pounds overweight and addicted to sugar. I cut way back on my extra curriculars this year in order to concentrate on getting the balance back again.

IL, you don't have to break up with him over something like this, it can probably be negotiated if you are both willing and it is important to both of you. Getting our needs met in a relationship is always difficult because no one else thinks exactly the same way we do so good communication is essential to let our partner know what we need.

If he is having a difficult time with balancing his work with the rest of his life and he is terrified of cutting back, I think it is important for him to open up with you about his fears and his reasons for "needing" his work so badly. There is always an underlying reason. For me, there are various reasons I overachieve or throw myself into whatever I am doing 110%. I can't stand to fail, I still have a little bit of that perfectionism illness left, sometimes I do it to avoid looking at the real problems in my life, it validates me, and it gives me societal approval. I'm still working on that inner love and acceptance and I'm getting closer, but I'm not quite there all the way yet. What need is he getting from work that he feels he can't get elsewhere? Or what is he avoiding?

k94ever posted 2/9/2014 14:09 PM

Just realize that his work will ALWAYS come before you.

You will always be #2 or #3 on his priority list.


hexed posted 2/9/2014 14:53 PM

Just realize that his work will ALWAYS come before you.
You will always be #2 or #3 on his priority list.

I don't know if this is always true. IL's SO hasn't always done this. (I don't think). It could be related to the current circumstances.

Personally, I never expect to always be #1. I always expect that in a true time of need I would always be #1. I expect to be #1 enough of the time to satisfy my personal needs. Mine are less than many people. I don't feel like #1 is an all or nothing kind of things. There is room in life for priorities to vary.

InnerLight posted 2/9/2014 17:12 PM

I so appreciate everyone's thoughts on this.

K9, I think in some ways you are right that he will always be placing work high on the priority list. I notice that I feel suffocated at the thought of being a #1 priority ALL the time. Maybe I would think he would have poor boundaries if he did.

I think I am like hexed, I expect to be #1 when it counts, in an emergency, or on my birthday, or generally on the weekends. I had an expectation we would see eachother this weekend and that gone blow away and it shocked me.

NA thanks for helping me to think about the underlying fears. His for overworking, mine for needing my loved ones to take care of themselves.

I've been listening to a spiritual talk about Trust, and how tolerance is part of it, but not blind trust and not fake 'putting up with it' tolerance. Thanks everyone for helping me think about this from all these different angles.

InnerLight posted 2/10/2014 23:20 PM

We had another conversation about this tonight.

I find it hard to express my concern for his health and wellbeing without sounding critical. I did the best I could, and at first he was annoyed and defensive. He kept saying that the only way through a pile of work is to work.

Eventually we heard each other out. He said some guys at work talked about lifting weights together so maybe he will actually do some exercise. He admits that he has to find a way to incorporate that again. He ended up saying that he appreciates my caring for him. And that the way we communicate about difficult stuff is the best he's ever had in a relationship and that he appreciates that I make the effort to express my concerns even if I find it hard to do.

It looks like we will hangout Saturday eve and then go snowshoeing in the mountains on Sunday. And a quick dinner tomorrow eve.

NaiveAgain posted 2/11/2014 06:00 AM

I love when we can take the time to communicate and really listen to each other and understand what is behind the words.

Eventually we heard each other out.
Do you guys use the mirroring technique? We do that from time to time when we are unsure of what we heard and it is amazing what we think we hear when that isn't being said at all.

He admits that he has to find a way to incorporate that again. He ended up saying that he appreciates my caring for him. And that the way we communicate about difficult stuff is the best he's ever had in a relationship and that he appreciates that I make the effort to express my concerns even if I find it hard to do.

First post for me this morning and it is awesome to start my day with a huge smile!

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.