Recently (as in, the last three months) a young college friend of Jordan’s posted on Facebook something like this:
“Working 60+ hours a week over summer break. #exhausted #nolife” This guy lives with his parents to save money. I laughed when I read his words. 60+ hours a week? Dude, trying having a wife and kids and two companies and a rental and working 70+ hours a week while also trying to spend quality time with the family and fix the leak in your roof. It’s called “The Real World”. Of course, I didn’t say that to the guy. He’ll figure it out soon enough. For now, he can think his life is super difficult and challenging.
IN reality, life is HARD. My husband works A LOT to provide for us, and i try not to be slack on my part at the other end of it all, caring for my three under three, cooking cheaply from scratch, gardening and canning, cloth diapering. We both strive super hard for frugality, not because we can’t afford to live off of what we make (we can, just barely) but because we have a vision for where we want our family to go and do and be, and also because we know our family will continue to grow (Lord willing) and we WILL eventually need more income. Hence, the constant struggle to earn more, pay off our house, work himself into a different job that has the ability to make more money (he is as high as he can go in his current work and that is making barely enough) and a job that he can leave to his kids someday.
This is not only physically demanding, this lifestyle is also emotionally draining. I have learned a lot about the different ways Jordan and I think through these 75 hour work weeks. For instance, when he is away from home working almost constantly, he feels strong, confident, loving towards his family, and even feels like he is close to his family because all of his effort is for our benefit. I, on the other hand, feel lonely, neglected, uncertain, weak and become resentful of everything that takes him away from us. Lame, I know, but true. IN my head, all these little thoughts go on, “I am alone in this, he’s always so busy and he doesn’t seem to care, he always comes home happy as if nothing is wrong, the only time I ever see him is if he wants to eat or sleep, I could just as well be his housekeeper instead of his wife, we hardly ever talk anymore, he falls asleep in the middle of every conversation, it’s like we’re living two separate lives, him doing his thing, me doing mine, I wonder if we love each other as much as we used to? He didn’t even notice that I did my hair extra nice tonight, we definitely must not love each other as much as we used to.” So, while he sees us as a team, both working super hard on opposite ends of the same problem and having full faith and trust in each other as partners, I see us as off in our own worlds doing our own thing and at the end of the day making this convenient exchange of his money and my cooking before falling asleep on opposite ends of our bed.
This thought process of mine has caused many tears. And a lot of stress to my husband. I live in the fear that he works so much because he doesn’t want to be home. He works so much because often he has no choice and he also wants to make our home better. For us.
This week is the second week in a row in which he is working about 80 hours. Last week was miserable. I knew he was on a contract he could not back out of, but I still punished him with my tears and my drama, all driven by the thought that he just must not care. It was unbelievably hard for him. And it wasn’t fair. Because there are times when he is home and I have no choice but to spend most of our potential time together washing enough dishes and cooking enough food that we have lunch to eat.
Finally, at the end of last week, I was able to wake up and realize, we really ARE a team. We have to be. I need to accept the hard weeks and get on board with it and be a team mate not a contestant. I need to trust that all of the extra work hours come from a heart of love and not from a desire to escape. I need to recognize how valuable it is for him to have a wife at home, keeping the bases covered, food in the fridge, keys and wallet found, laundry clean and kids happy and cared for. I can let this bother me and make me feel like a utensil. Or I can be glad that I am the partner he chose, and do my part.
Physically, this week has been harder than last, as we are all sick on top of being busy. But emotionally, it has been so much easier, just because I have been striving to change the negative thought pattern and focus on the amazing team that we make.