Hate my husband's job....any advice?

cindylouwho45October 26, 2006

New here and just thought I'd ask for suggestions. My husband and I have been together over 8 yrs....married for the last 4. I have always been supportive of his work and, in fact, we've moved several times over the past few years so that he could advance his career. I never complained. Six weeks after we bought our first house together, he went on an out-of-state job interview. Of course, he was offered the job and took it. We sold the house and moved from WA state to TX. It's been two years at his current job and it has been a nightmare. Of course, now I am learning that they "sold" the job to him as one thing, but now it's not what we expected. The travel is the main problem I am having trouble getting used to. His title is Director of Research and Marketing, but in reality, they just use him to prance around to clients and give presentations. (U.S. and Europe) We have 2 special needs (autistic) teenagers and have always managed to have plenty of family time. Now it is practically non-existent. Now I am in this situation where he wants me to be a "supportive" wife, and yet I am so resentful that his company keeps him away from home so much. At first he would say, "Well, I'm new...I'm still proving myself here....it will get better with time." It's been 2 yrs. now. The resentment is really building in me. Any wives out there in a similar situation? Should I tell my husband that he needs to put his foot down to some of his work demands? (You should see the pile of flight confirmations and hotel reservations on my regrigerator door!) And to boot, when his company sends him to Europe they won't even activate his (company) cell phone to make international calls!!! I've about had it.....what do I do?

cindylou

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rivkadr

My husband is a programmer, working in the computer gaming industry. Last year, there was a big hullabaloo over the sweatshop hours that the guys in his industry work. There were times when he would work 60, 80, 100 hours a week, for months on end. One example: for 3 months, he worked without getting a single day off -- this includes weekends. He'd go into work in the morning, and I wouldn't see him until he crawled into bed much later that evening (after I had already gone to bed). We never got to go home to visit family during holidays, because he could never take time off to do it. Never mind taking planned vacations. He was physically and mentally exhausted, depressed, you name it. They would finish a project, have 2-4 months to decompress and begin the next project, and then the vicious cycle would begin again.

For 6 years he worked for the same company. The first couple of years weren't too bad -- he was young, he enjoyed the work, and the company wasn't too egregious in their demands. The last few years, we figure that he worked at least a full year and half for each year he worked there. With no overtime, of course.

The solution? He quit. Found a job at another company, in the same industry. He now works 40 hours a week, and we see each other plenty. It saved our marriage, and it saved his health.

That original company he worked for? Got sued by someone else on his team. My husband was part of the class action lawsuit against them. We'll be getting a nice little sum of money out of it. It doesn't come anywhere near what his time spent there was worth, but it's better than nothing, I guess.

My advice would be to talk to your husband about the situation. See if he's willing to entertain the notion of asking for reduced or changed job duties, OR look for a different job. No job is worth your soul or your marriage, IMO. My husband felt he was trapped in his job, but didn't know what to do to extricate himself from the job; he was too overwhelmed. Because he wanted to make me happy, he looked elsewhere -- now he's a lot happier, too. Maybe your husband is feeling unhappy, too, and just needs some shoving from you?

About the game industry:

EA Spouse (not written by me, but oh, it could have been; her spouse was on the same team as my husband)
Santa's Sweatshop
EA Overtime Settlement

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 12:10AM
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cindylouwho45

Wow...I really dropped a jaw when I read your post! I never mentioned what line of work my husband does in my note, but when I saw "EA" you really had my attention. My husband does not work for EA, however he IS in the gaming industry, and I know that recently (and maybe still) his company has been trying to strike a deal with EA to do some business. I read the links you provided and really got an education. My husband has talked of updating his resume....getting his name back out there, etc. But we have moved so many times, and are afraid that doing so would mean moving yet again to take a "better" job. My husband is sent to Canada and Europe quite often with his job, and it didn't take long to learn that the Europeans do not adopt the same corporate culture as we Americans. It's very sad that corporate America has gotten to this point and the future looks very bleak. My husband's company is even European owned--and yet for the US offices they are expected to adhere to this "American" standard of working long hours with less people to do MORE work. The employees of this same company who work in Canada/Europe do not even come close to working the same hours that the American employees do! We hear about their vacations....time off with their families..etc. And they ask my husband...Where are you going for your next holiday? (They use the term "holiday" to refer to time off, not actually a specific holiday.) His response is always "Can't take time off right now." It's very disheartening when they tell us they are REQUIRED to take at least 6 weeks each year for vacation! (Not to mention paid time off for maternity leave and other benefits.)
I don't think this problem is exclusive to the gaming industry per se, but I think somehow we all got off track when we started giving employers so much power. My husband just entered his 40s and we know that everytime we land in a less than desireable job, we can't just up and leave. Sometimes I just get upset with him because I want him to stand up for himself in these situations....stop taking the crap, so to speak....but I"m sure he feels trapped to a certain extent. I hated reading about the conditions at EA....especially knowing that this is a company that my husband's company is now trying to do business with.

For instance: This week the company is hosting a U.S. Client Conference...here in our home city. The employees (my husband and co-workers) are being required to stay in the same hotel downtown for 2 over nights to "entertain" the clients in attendace instead of being allowed to come home and sleep in their own beds! He might as well be on another out of town trip! Oh, and did I mention our son had surgery this week? Do you think the "company" cared?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 5:34AM
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sweeby

This is a tough spot CindyLou... Now since you've been together 8 years and you mentioned your sons are teens, then I'm assuming they're from someone's first marriage -- probably yours? (I'd imagine that if you were the stepmother, you'd have said so, and that "being left alone to care for his autistic sons" would be more of an issue than simply being left alone.)

As the mother of an autistic 'tween', let me just come right out and ask -- What is your home life like with the boys? Or more specifically, what's his home life like with the boys? How severely are they affected? Hormonal teenage boys can be less-than-easy under the best of circumstances. Is there a chance your DH doesn't really mind being out of the house so much? Is his life simply easier when he's away? More exciting and glamorous? Or is he simply focused on providing a stable income to take care of their short- and long-term financial needs?

As a former corporate person in another industry with lots of travel and long hours, I knew many deeply-devoted fathers who were road warriors. And others who were so wrapped up in their own lives and careers that they practically forgot they had wives and families. Which camp does your DH fall into? Can he do any of his work from home? Or would that be just as bad? Does he even want to cut back?

From a purely practical standpoint, how secure would your family be financially if DH did lose his job? If he took a less-demanding but lower-paid position? Or if he refused to make any change and you felt you couldn't live with the current status quo? Our kids can go through money like - well, you know.

If it were easy, you'd have figured it out by now...

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 11:39AM
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rivkadr

I don't think this problem is exclusive to the gaming industry per se, but I think somehow we all got off track when we started giving employers so much power.

Nope, not a problem exclusive to the gaming industry, but unfortunately one that is found across the gaming industry as a whole, I'm afraid. It's the nature of the beast, when you have a product that must be on shelves by Christmas every year; that forces unnatural production schedules. The industry is also full of young men who are happy to be worked to death, because they're "in games", and so they're not willing to fight against the companies to jeopardize that. There are very few "good" companies -- I fear that if your husband stays in this specific industry, he might have a hard time finding one of those, though it's not impossible.

Sweeby brings up a good point -- where do you think your husband falls in all this? Does he want to cut back?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 12:06PM
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cindylouwho45

Sweeby...you've made the assumption that both the children are boys. Not so. One son, 18, and a daughter 15. You are right that they are both mine from a previous marrigae. They are both very high functioning and we are fortunate. They are not really that emotionally, or financially draining and our family is very grounded. I could certainly understand why some husbands would feel the pressure to be getting out there on the road and working to pay for all the extras, especially for "special needs" kids, but that is just not the case here. My husband would also like to be able to stay home more. As I mentioned in the first place, when he interviewed for this job, he was told one thing, and after he was hired it became something else. For the first year he felt he was in a position to not really complain, but to "prove" himself, hoping it would lead to better things. Turns out, the better job he did (at traveling and presenting) the more he got sent out to do it, and now we are in this situation. He is still considering updating the resume and sending it out just to see if he gets any bites. He would love to be able to cut back on the travel, especially.

rivkadr: Perhaps you're right....the gaming industry will always have the young pups to fall back on. Makes it harder for the more seasoned men to get what they deserve.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 12:26AM
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rivkadr

cindy, since it sounds like your husband is willing to make a change for the sake of you and the kids, I'd say he should update the ol' resume and send it around. What can it hurt? He may well find something that would be much better than where he is now. At the very least, it's unlikely to be worse, right?

My advice, personally, would be to branch outside the game industry if possible, if he's looking for something that is not so time-restrictive. My guess is that the production schedule at the game company trickles down even to his type of position, and that's why he has the crappy hours that he does. It's possible that something outside the game industry but still inside the tech sector might still be suitable for skill set, but less time intensive. The rest of the IT industry has time crunches, etc., but they usually have more realistic production schedules, and in general, crunch schedules are not as bad as they are in the game industry. Unless your husband "has" to be in the games industry, like mine does ;) I'm guessing you guys are near Austin? If so, there should be plenty of jobs in your area, I would think...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 5:17AM
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sweeby

That's good to hear CindyLou -- You're right - I'd assumed they were boys, and that since you'd said autism instead of PDD, Asperger's or HFA, that they were lower functioning. It's great that they're high-functioning, low-cost and low-maintenance. ;-) I hope I didn't offend by bringing up the issue -- I just know too many families with autistic kids that are under near-unbearable stress because of the kids' issues. (Our son is also very easy-going, and is honestly a pleasure to have around, but he still runs us about $30K/year in deductable medical alone plus long-term care concerns.)

Updating his resume certainly can't hurt. And once that's done and he's fully updated on his networking, it might be a good idea to talk to his employer and reach an agreement about what a reasonable travel schedule would look like. Who knows? Now that he's proven his worth, they might agree to it.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 11:43AM
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