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My 1st year of marriage is tough. Wife may be a workaholic. What do do?
February 24, 2013 4:48 PM   Subscribe

My [possibly workaholic] wife works seven days a week as a ski instructor. I live and work two hours away during the week, and then I drive up to see her on the weekends. When I'm there on the weekends, I spend an average of four hours a week with her. Usually she is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from working so much. Needless to say, it does not feel like she is there for me. When I tell her I would like to spend more time with her, she tells me I'm too needy and dependent on her. I would like her to take off a Saturday or Sunday every week so we can spend time together. Is that asking for too much? What other requests/things can I do to make life more manageable? Thanks for your help. P.S. You get bonus points if you have worked in the ski industry and can explain how difficult it is to ask for weekends off! :-)
posted by speedoavenger to Human Relations (53 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
What is your love language? Odds are, it is quality time (over touch, gifts and services, or words of encouragement) If you are not getting the love language you need, it can be very awkward.


Is this seasonal work? Does her ski job pay for the rest of the year? How much is she willing to compromise on the job vs you thing?

It does sound like your time expectations are much higher than hers.... aside from compromise and a lot of talking, I am unsure of what you can do if shes just not going to chose to be more present. Sorry.
posted by Jacen at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2013


What's your financial situation? That is a large part of the answer. If she needs financial independence because she's always been financially independent, it would explain the hours.

Need more info from you.
posted by taff at 5:02 PM on February 24, 2013


Is the workload seasonal?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:03 PM on February 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ski season is of limited duration and weekends are the busiest part of the week. Weekends aren't the best time to take off. Have you considered taking time off yourself and trying to coordinate free Tuesdays or something?

What is life like when it's not ski season? You're married, so hopefully you've been together for long enough to know -- but you're painting a short, impatient picture here.

Of course, four hours a week isn't enough for a lot of people who are not excessively needy. But that's a few months out of the year, and you are asking for her to accommodate you rather than trying to compromise or accommodate her. So, yeah, it sounds like you're asking for too much. But if this is somehow a year round issue and you try to accommodate her in ways you haven't told us about, and she never wants more than a few hours a week together, that's a problem.

Do you cook for her while you're there? Run errands? Clean? Those things should help her have more energy and time for you, although she would still have work.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:05 PM on February 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't know anything about being a ski instructor but I imagine that she works a lot on the weekends because that's when people want to take ski lessons. So asking her not to work weekends might be a big ask, like asking an accountant to go on vacation for two weeks in the beginning of April. Maybe ask about one weekend day or half days on weekends. Did you know she was a ski instructor when you got married? Is this a new job?
posted by kat518 at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You need to weigh in on what the rest of the year is like. We just got back from our accountant and he mentioned that during American tax season he works 100 days straight -- that's just the nature of his work. So is this just the nature of ski season for your wife? If she spends plent of time with you during the rest of the year then yeah, perhaps you just need to deal with it.

Also, was it always like this? Or is this new? Cause if it has always been like this then you can't really complain.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:12 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has she always done these kind of hours and did you enter the marriage knowing this and expecting it to change? How much time have you spent together a week normally, or is this a ski season thing?

IMO, relationships need a bare minimum of time spent together just to sustain it and keep you connected. That amount will vary for each couple, obviously, but four hours a week wouldn't be enough for me. This is coming from someone who had a long distance relationship where we only saw each other every six weeks, but we knew eventually we would be together, so we made it work in the meantime.

The concern for me in your situation isn't only that you're only seeing each other four hours a week, but that it doesn't bother her at all, she doesn't want to see more of you and sounds like she's actually annoyed that you want to spend time with her. This and the fact you're unhappy and she doesn't care isn't a good sign. I've also had a relationship like this with a workaholic who wasn't interested in seeing me and was either working or with his friends. FWIW, I'm now married to someone else who makes me a priority, this guy is still married to his work and is permanently single. People's actions tell you what their priorities are. Unless this is seasonal work, in which case, that changes everything.
posted by Jubey at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Marriage is a two-way street. You deserve to be happy, and she has an obligation to work with you to achieve a mutually agreed-upon state of affairs that maximizes both of your happiness. And she must do this without denigrating you as being "needy" when you discuss this. Otherwise, it's not a marriage. It's merely a convenient relationship.

This is a seriously bizarre question. I mean, of course you're not asking too much. There's something else going on here. One if you is in a marriage and the other one is ... In something else.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:17 PM on February 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


One of my best friends was a ski instructor for a couple of years after college. He says that asking for one weekend day off a week is basically asking her to halve her salary, especially since the season is so short. That's pretty significant.

Which is not to say that shouldn't spend more time together. However, if your opening gambit is for her to give up half her revenue, you're starting in a very aggressive position that doesn't seem likely to lead to a mutually happy compromise.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:17 PM on February 24, 2013 [19 favorites]


The problem with how much time you spend together isn't because she works on weekends, it's because you live 2.5 hours away. So this isn't that "your wife may be a workaholic" ... it's that you have a long distance marriage.

I agree with the others that we need more information about the off season. Does she work then? Does she move back with you? Can you find a job closer to her? Can you take off week days?

If this situation really isn't working for you, and it wouldn't work for me, I would sit down after ski season and talk about what you two can do to fix it (probably, one or both of you will have to move and/or change jobs).
posted by murfed13 at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


Side note: if my husband said that I was a workaholic, I'd probably remind him that I'm currently the breadwinner in our family, I like my job and my colleagues, my job is important to me, and while I'll try to make more time for him, I've always been a hard worker in the time that he's known me so I wouldn't understand why now that's suddenly a big problem.

In other words, context matters.
posted by kat518 at 5:20 PM on February 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have several friends who are ski instructors. None of them thought that it would be reasonable to take off 1 weekend day per week. Most of them laughed when I asked if that would be possible. So unless your wife has a flexible employer (or great job security), that's probably not a reasonable request.

I am not a ski instructor, but I work a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding job. I only work 3-4 shifts per week, but these are 13+ hour night shifts. My spouse works days. In addition to this, I happen to be a person who has what I consider to be an above-average need for alone time (based on observations of others). As a result of all these factors, occasionally there are weeks where my husband and I spend very little time together. We make the most of this time by planning one thing to do together during each chunk of time that we are both off of work/awake/together. This might be something as simple as ordering a pizza and watching a movie, going for a walk at a nearby park, or going to the local camping/outdoors store together. It gives us both something to look forward to.

As far as things to do on your end, could you make your schedule more flexible or telecommute? Could you work four 10-hour shifts versus five 8-hour ones (assuming that's even what you do - a little bit more info about your work situation would help).

It's concerning to me that your wife is telling you that you are needy and demanding. Wanting to spend more than 4 hours a week with your spouse is not needy or demanding. Have you had a calm, serious, face-to-face talk with your wife about this? It's sounds as if resent is breeding on both ends here, and resentfulness is extremely destructive in a relationship. You both need to find a way to discuss this without blaming the other person.

Finally, how long is ski season where you are? Is an end in sight? If so, consider finding a way to make this work in the short term, and then talking to your wife about what other job options might be out there for her (and for you) that may work better for your family.
posted by pecanpies at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this also a problem when it's not snowy?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:26 PM on February 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone with any kind of seasonal occupation knows you've got to work your ass off as long and hard as you can DURING the season, grabbing every MINUTE of paid work and all the overtime you can get, because that hard work will be paying for the lean off-season times: 'Forget taking days off now: there'll be more of those than you'd want when the season is over!'

As for seeing more of her now, DURING the ski season: is there any way you can shift your own schedule around, so your days off come in mid-week, instead of weekends when she's probably at her very busiest? (Since lots of people have the weekEND off, that's most likely when more ski students show up than, say, Tuesday or Wednesday.)
posted by easily confused at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2013


I'm going to attempt to answer everyones questions from top to bottom, starting with Jacen's questions-

1. What is your love language? Quality time and touch. Her love language is probably services and words of encouragement.

2. Is this seasonal work? Yes. It will be over the first or second week of April.

3. Does her ski job pay for the rest of the year? No. We are probably breaking even because we need to rent a second apartment for the ski season.

4. How much is she willing to compromise on the job vs you thing? She is able to take a week day off once and a while, but mostly it feels like she is not willing to compromise.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:43 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the key here is not necessarily how much time you're spending together, but rather how you both approach and value that time. It sounds like there is a combination of unfortunate circumstances that limits the amount of time you have together: one is her job, but the other is that you've chosen to take a job 2 hours away from where she lives, and you don't want to commute that far on a daily basis. At least during ski season, it may be that the combination of these two factors really does strictly limit your 'together time.' That said, during those four hours or whatever that you guys get to spend together, it would be helpful if you could both focus on the positives of that time together and really enjoy yourselves. If you spend that 4 hours fighting, etc. then that's a separate problem to deal with. My boyfriend works crazy hours and is much more of a 'workaholic' than I am - but I don't have a problem with it, because I always know that our time together - even if it is limited at times because of his job - is a serious priority to him and something he values. If you don't feel that way about how your wife values time with you, I think that is the conversation you should be having, not merely trying to increase the minutes you spend together.
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:46 PM on February 24, 2013


Next is Taff's question-

What's your financial situation? I am an IT Consultant and I make a good salary.

She does always feel like she needs to make more money to not feel like I'm financially supporting her. She also comes from a family of wealth but feels very guilty about the idea of resting on her laurels.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:46 PM on February 24, 2013


Mr. Yuck's question is next-

1. Is the workload seasonal? Thank God yes. Only about four or five more weeks.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:47 PM on February 24, 2013


Time for J. Wilson's questions-

Have you considered taking time off yourself and trying to coordinate free Tuesdays or something? Not really. That is a great idea!

What is life like when it's not ski season? Life is good. We spend more time together that makes me really happy. She usually falls into a depression at the end of ski season. It is difficult for her to transition from ski season to doing something else. I will say that one of her biggest complaints is that I am too dependent on her. I agree with her in some ways. I don't have a lot of friends and she is my main social. Yes I realize this is a problem and it is something I am working on.

Do you cook for her while you're there? Run errands? Clean? Those things should help her have more energy and time for you, although she would still have work.

I cook, vacuum, take the dog on a walk. It does help give her more energy and time, but still not as much as I would like.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2013


Now for Kat518's questions -

Did you know she was a ski instructor when you got married? yes
Is this a new job? no

It was easier when she was working as a ski instructor in the past because I had more friends close by, but it was still very difficult.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:55 PM on February 24, 2013


If you're an IT consultant, is there any way you can telecommute and work from her location sometimes instead? Is this her only work for the year? Is it a case where she's away for (just guessing) 3 months of the year but for the rest of the year, she's living with you and present? If this is the scenario, that may be the price you pay for having her around the other 9 months - its unreasonable to expect her to stop working altogether (not saying you are) but I think you both need to sit down and figure out what sacrifices you can make together to allow you to have more time, and not just expect that she will be the one to cut back.
posted by Jubey at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2013


BlahLaLa's questions-

. So is this just the nature of ski season for your wife? If she spends plent of time with you during the rest of the year then yeah, perhaps you just need to deal with it.

She doesn't spend as much time with me as I would like during the rest of the year.

Also, was it always like this? Or is this new? Cause if it has always been like this then you can't really complain.

She has been a ski instructor the last couple years, but we recently moved to a new place and I haven't been able to make too many new friends.
posted by speedoavenger at 5:58 PM on February 24, 2013


Half serious question - can you take up skiing and share in her passion?
posted by Jubey at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, I don't have any answers to your problem. I just wanted to remind you that it is perfectly fucking reasonable to want to spend more than four hours a week with your wife. It may always be difficult to do so, as long as you live so far away, and while she's doing her seasonal ski instruction. And yes, why not, you probably could use more friends. And yes, you should try to figure out how to relocate so you can live in the same house.

But don't you let anyone tell you that you're "needy" or "clingy" because you want to spend more time with your wife per week, than you do on the frigging toilet. It doesn't matter if the circumstances make it impossible -- there's nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with your spouse. I understand we live in a world with all sorts of marital arrangements, and that different people have different needs, and blah di blah. But as hopelessly old-fashioned and codependent as it may appear to some, it's just fine to want to have as much time with your spouse as possible.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


Has she always done these kind of hours and did you enter the marriage knowing this and expecting it to change? Yes...she always needs to stay busy throughout the year. I was hoping things would get better once we got married.

How much time have you spent together a week normally, or is this a ski season thing? During the off season, we live under the same room so I see her every night and we usually spend a Saturday or Sunday together.

I've also had a relationship like this with a workaholic who wasn't interested in seeing me and was either working or with his friends. FWIW, I'm now married to someone else who makes me a priority, this guy is still married to his work and is permanently single. People's actions tell you what their priorities are. Unless this is seasonal work, in which case, that changes everything.

It is seasonal work, and things change during the off season, but not to the degree I would like? I'm so happy that you found someone who makes you a top priority. Good for you!
posted by speedoavenger at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2013


Murfed13's questions-

Does she work then? yes
Does she move back with you? yes
Can you find a job closer to her? probably not
Can you take off week days? probably yes
posted by speedoavenger at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2013


I was hoping things would get better once we got married.

This unfortunately is probably the heart of the problem. Things only change in a relationship if both partners are open and committed to changing them. It sounds like this was your hope, but never her commitment.

Given what you've described about how you both interact and your goals, I think it will take some big moves on your part to make this work out. She may not be as kind as you'd like in how she relates her wants and needs, but it sounds like she has been consistent. You need to choose your response based on her reality, not your hopes.
posted by meinvt at 6:09 PM on February 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


The details here don't really matter about when she works and how often and where you are and the friends thing and whatever else.

You're expressing your needs to your wife and her reply is to dismiss you by saying you're too needy.

Standard AskMeFi answer: You two need counseling.
posted by kinetic at 6:10 PM on February 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with kinetic. Counseling or DTMFA. Her career is more important to her than your relationship.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:11 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pecanpie's questions-

I have several friends who are ski instructors. None of them thought that it would be reasonable to take off 1 weekend day per week. Most of them laughed when I asked if that would be possible. So unless your wife has a flexible employer (or great job security), that's probably not a reasonable request.

This is very good to know. Thank You!

As far as things to do on your end, could you make your schedule more flexible or telecommute?

Possibly. I'm not sure if she would want me to even if I could, but I'll look into it.

Could you work four 10-hour shifts versus five 8-hour ones (assuming that's even what you do - a little bit more info about your work situation would help).

Same as the answer above.

Have you had a calm, serious, face-to-face talk with your wife about this?

It's sounds as if resent is breeding on both ends here, and resentfulness is extremely destructive in a relationship. You both need to find a way to discuss this without blaming the other person.

It does feel like there is resentment on both ends, which I hate. I am trying to have a healthier dialogue with her.

Finally, how long is ski season where you are? Is an end in sight? If so, consider finding a way to make this work in the short term, and then talking to your wife about what other job options might be out there for her (and for you) that may work better for your family.

Ski season is another four or five weeks. We will probably be going to couple's counseling after the season is over.
posted by speedoavenger at 6:11 PM on February 24, 2013


chesty_a_arthur's question-

Is this also a problem when it's not snowy? Unfortunately yes. :-)
posted by speedoavenger at 6:13 PM on February 24, 2013


Is there a bigger picture you might be missing? Example: I had an extremely demanding career that had me working til all hours. It wasn't unusual to come home at 9 or 10 at night, and I was only just married too. Ultimately my husband was fine with it because the time I did have was spent with him but we both also knew that when we had kids, it wouldn't gel with my career and I'd be taking (maybe permanent) time off to devote to my family so the those few workaholic years were my time to really do a massive career push and give it all I had before it had to come to a stop. Do you have family or other plans that won't work with the ski season and is this her time to enjoy it?
posted by Jubey at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


easily confused's question-

Anyone with any kind of seasonal occupation knows you've got to work your ass off as long and hard as you can DURING the season, grabbing every MINUTE of paid work and all the overtime you can get, because that hard work will be paying for the lean off-season times: 'Forget taking days off now: there'll be more of those than you'd want when the season is over!'

As for seeing more of her now, DURING the ski season: is there any way you can shift your own schedule around, so your days off come in mid-week, instead of weekends when she's probably at her very busiest? (Since lots of people have the weekEND off, that's most likely when more ski students show up than, say, Tuesday or Wednesday.)

I think I might be able to shift my schedule around. The outstanding question is if she would be willing to take of a weekend day.
posted by speedoavenger at 6:15 PM on February 24, 2013


We are probably breaking even because we need to rent a second apartment for the ski season.

This makes no sense. Your wife doesn't have a job - no one works to break even. What she has is a hobby that she is playing is a job. She is a volunteer ski instructor.

So, if she is determined to work, I think she needs to find something else to do. Maybe she could volunteer to work for free in your area. And unlike others, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that she stop working all together. Not working does not mean that she is "resting on her laurels". Right now, her hobby is more important to her than your marriage. The sad news is that if she stops playing ski instructor, something else might become the more-important thing.

BTW, I predict you are going to get a thread-sitting warning very soon. Just sit back and let the answers come.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:16 PM on February 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


[speedoavenger, you do not need to respond to every single comment. In fact, it is very much preferred that you limit your responses to adding necessary clarifications, which you've probably covered by now. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 6:18 PM on February 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


So together you break even during ski season and you support her the rest of the year and she doesn't really want to spend much time with you? This may be an unnecessarily harsh way of viewing her but it sounds a little like a convenient sugar daddy situation in that you're around to support her and enable her to enjoy her hobby as long as you don't get in the way. I hope I'm wrong. The other way to read it is that she needs to feel like she's contributing and not mooching off you for the rest of the year which is why she works so hard during ski season. Doesn't explain her not wanting to spend time with you though.

For now, what I would do is reshuffle your own schedule as much as you can. This will only work if she wants to and arranges time off to be with you during those days. Also, try and make other friends so the pressure isn't always on her to be your sole form of support and entertainment. Figure out how much time you need with her and try and come to a compromise, with counselling if necessary. But it may pan out that ultimately her view of marriage may look more like 'casual relationship' to you, in which case you've got a problem.
posted by Jubey at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let me present this another way: wife is a very keen skier. It is a major part of her life. She gets a free season pass for teaching and her entire social life revolves around ski town which is familiar to anyone familiar with ski towns. They are small towns and very supportive and insular little communities with a very different set of lifestyle values to mainstream suburbia. Wife married the OP, they move for his job 2.5 hours away from any ski town. She says I would like to teach this winter (free pass, makes enough money to have a pass and gets to ski and be around her peeps and be outdoors and live the lifestyle she wants and had prior to marriage part of the year). They agree to this, then in February husband decides he wants her to quit her job, become financially dependent on him and move away from her friends. To devote more time to him, because he's lonely and bored without her.

I think that you and your wife need to have a long conversation that involves her desire to hang out at ski town over spending time with you and your belief that she should give up her things and community now that you are married. This isn't about a job, it's about totally incompatible lifestyles and I think the OP must know this and therefore I find this entire question pretty manipulative. NO ONE in the ski industry can reasonably be described as a "workaholic" in the traditional sense.

Her career is more important to her than your relationship.

No offense and I assume you're not a skier but the idea that teaching ski school is a "career" is pretty laughable! Unless she's coaching the US ski team or head of ski school it's not a career. It's a fun seasonal job so that you get a free pass and hang outside all day.
posted by fshgrl at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2013 [56 favorites]


fshgrl just nailed it. OP, however you resolve this with your wife, I hope you can continue to support her skiing. Of course you are reasonable to want more time with your wife, but take a close look at yourself to ensure that you aren't forcing her to pull away from what she loves. (Is fshgrl right that you moved away from a ski town?) I have to say, I'm a little skeptical given that you *knew* how much she loved skiing and how much time she devoted to it. I would advise you that when you do have this conversation, you should tell her you know how much she loves skiing, and that you aren't asking her to entirely give it up. Perhaps you would be amenable to her joining a ski team and going a couple of times a week, or maybe she could take a month to stay up there with some friends. In other words, you shouldn't be framing this as a job, but as a passion of hers. I think you know that.
posted by murfed13 at 7:34 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I disagree with the suggestion of counseling. What is counseling going to do? There are some problems that cannot be fixed by talking.

She would rather hang out with her ski friends than you. Build yourself up by going to the gym, making friends, reading, making art, meditating, etc. etc. Then hang out with her when your energy is strong. If every time you go to her, you're looking for her to fill up your tank, how do you think that makes her feel about you?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:37 PM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fshgirl, we don't know that they moved for his job, just that they moved to a new place - for all we know, it was to be closer to the snow fields. Either way, it sounds like this marriage is getting in the way of her awesome single snow bunny life.

The OP isn't asking his wife to quit her job, or give up her community, he's asking her to take more than four hours away from it a week to spend with her, given as you've rightly pointed out, it's a fun season job. That's she's putting ahead of her marriage. You're also right, apparently, she's not a workaholic, just selfish - she'd rather get a free pass and hang out all day for months on end than spend any time with her husband. it's not manipulative to want to spend time with your wife, for most people, it's called marriage.
posted by Jubey at 7:57 PM on February 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a professional dancer. Own a dance school that operates evenings and weekends. Husband works regular day hours, and I'm out of the house from 5-10pm most weeknights, and most weekends I travel/have gigs to perform at/teach. I get home most nights and eat dinner as he is heading to bed, and when I wake up in the morning he's left for work.

We don't see each other very much, largely due to our conflicting schedules, my choice of passion (I also have a day job which pays much more) which leads to 15 hour days, and his long hours as well.

The reasons we can make it work:

- He understands that dance fulfils me in a way that nothing else does.
- He also understands that once we have kids, I will not be able to dance in the same capacity, and my ability to participate in a dance community and travel to perform will be highly limited, hence wants me to go for my life NOW.
- I got injured 2 years ago, and was told I'd never dance again. I managed to resume dancing 1.5 years later. He doesn't want me to again be in a position where I'd regret not taking dance by its horns when I could.
- He is a workaholic too - long hours, plus regularly comes home and stares at computer for hours. But he loves it, it gives him joy, and he would be lost without it.
- We schedule in quality time, regularly. Many weeks it's only a few hours. This quality time is SACRED. No technology, no dance, none of his work, no TV, no housework. We go out, have a meal, and share our thoughts and cuddle lots. This happens about fortnightly. In addition, we TRY to have a 30 minute breakfast together on weekends (before I go to work).
- He asks me on a daily basis, about my day, and me, about his. 5 minutes is all you need. We also text each other a lot during the day, and send nice emails.
- He has never made it "your work or me". This would kill our relationship.
- He tells me what he needs without making it tantrummy, ultimatum filled, or dramatic. This goes a long way to making me 100% want to give him what he is asking for!
- Since he never makes me feel obligated, I respond by being loving because I FEEL so incredible supported in my passion - so by planning our date nights, giving him a LOT of love, making sure I know what's happening in his job, work, life, I ensure I'm not alienating him from my crazy, artist life.

I don't know if any of the above ANSWERS your question. But I want you to see a similar situation where it CAN work - but only because we are both reasonable. Yes, we argue sometimes. Yes, we don't LOVE not seeing each other all the time. But we make it work, because it is temporary, a phase of life, and something that makes our personalities so rich with content to share with each other.

I've certainly seen relationships where one person is so invested in their passion that it subsumes them and pushes the partner away. I've also personally been in a relationship where my partner did not have a good sense of self, and blamed my dancing incessantly - which made me refuse to compromise more.

I hope you work it out, it'll be worth it.
posted by shazzam! at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2013 [32 favorites]


If marriage means giving up something hugely important to her social life and sense of self, then it is likely she'll be very unhappy to give it up. Calling it an "awesome single snow bunny life" is like saying that a sportswriter is living an "awesome single quarterback frat house life" or something. It's perfectly legitimate to have a time-consuming career or hobby and still have a marriage. If this was a part of her life before they got married, it would be interesting to know if it was ever discussed before marriage and if there was an understanding about it (that she would continue to do it, or that the time commitment made him unhappy).

And yeesh, she's spending plenty of time with him during the off-season. It's not like she takes every opportunity to avoid the guy. This is just something that's important to her, and yeah, it's okay to keep that close to your heart, even in a marriage. Maybe they're not 100% perfect for each other right now in that respect.

I think the only way this can really work out happily is if the OP finds a way to feel content with his independence during the ski season, or if his wife decides independently that her skiing commitment no longer fulfills her and she wants to spend more time at home. But I don't know if asking her to give it up as a compromise is particularly reasonable.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dude, you're not having an issue with your first year of marriage; you're having an issue with incompatible jobs during ski season. Your wife is not a workaholic; she's working a balls-to-the-wall seasonal job that's really, really hard. It's only four or five more weeks. Marriage is long, and the biological reality is that if you and your wife are planning to have kids, her number of seasons to do this is limited. That sucks for her.

Be supportive of what your wife obviously loves to do. Let it go. Over the summer, ask her if she thinks next year will be the same as this year. If she says yes, ask her how she thinks the two of you can make this work better as a couple. The answer may be "this is just how it is."

Speaking only for myself, one of the best aspects of my marriage is how supportive we are of each other's endeavours and desires, even when those desires are not shared and those undertakings require weeks apart.

Again, remember: marriage is long. Done right, it lasts a lifetime, and that lifetime is better if both partners are fulfilled.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


Stoneandstar, as I stated he's not asking her to give it up, (maybe reread what the OP posted) just spend a little more time with him, which so far she's not wanting to do. I don't think anyone should have to give up their hobby, and he doesn't either, but the OPs also said even if he manages to rearrange his schedule and make the effort to go out to see her, he still doesn't think she'll make time for him, and at the moment, even in the off season he doesn't see much of her. It just seems like her priorities are elsewhere. I think there's absolutely a reasonable compromise, one that doesn't involve the wife quitting her sport but both have to want it.
posted by Jubey at 8:23 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute - he's already supporting her lifestyle. The lifestyle she wants is already taking place. Right now. Let's not make it out that he's not supporting her choice and passions in life.

His request of his wife is awesomely simple - one weekend off.

That's his request of her. No "give it all up" drama, or asking her to give up her ambitions. He came here asking if his request is reasonable. That's genuine. To which, his wife is responding that he's being "needy." I'm sorry, but that's a shut-the-conversation-down tactic. Nothing makes a partner feel more stigmatized than that - and no partner deserves such a response.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:28 PM on February 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


What did your wife do during the off season when you two weren't living together? I'm siding with Tanizaki on this. Was she relying on her family's support during the off season to support her skiing instructor life style? Your wife is committed to a career that keeps her long distance and she's refused to discuss with you about the loneliness you're feeling when she's choosing a poorly paying career over your companionship. Divorce her. You can find someone with a regular job that isn't long distance for the winter months and she can be with a ski instructor on the same ski mountain as her.
posted by DetriusXii at 9:08 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


His request to his wife is awesomely simple - one weekend off.

it sounds more like he expects "weekends off", in general, which is not realistic when it comes to seasonal work.

Marriages can have any arrangement that the couple chooses. A long distance marriage for a few months out of the year where the spouse doesn't have weekends off would not be my preferred arrangement by any means. But this was obviously the wife's expectation. It is not clear how you and your wife came to this arrangement, but somehow you decided that it was ok to start with, but now you've decided that it isn't ok with you. That's alright. Some things might sound acceptable at first but only later prove infeasible. Your current needs aren't out of bounds for a married couple (and your wife is wrong to guilt you about feeling "needy" and "dependent"), but your wife is obviously someone who came into the marriage with the expectation of being able to do seasonal work, so possibly you should look into getting a year-round job closer to the slopes.

speedoavenger, see what I did there where I quoted someone else's words by putting them in italics so one could clearly differentiate Kruger5's words from my words? Pretty cool, huh?
posted by deanc at 9:37 PM on February 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes...she always needs to stay busy throughout the year. I was hoping things would get better once we got married.


Argh, somehow I knew you were going to say that. 1st year of marriage, the time period where fantasy crashes head on into reality.

Nobody changes just because they get married. The woman you dated for however long, THAT is the woman you're married to. From your follow ups, it sounds basically like you never got as much of her time as you wanted. Why would she not need to stay busy? Why would she fundamentally change her entire character just because she has a ring on the third finger of her hand?

It's not that you're needy or dependent--you may or may not be, but that's a shitty way for her to shut you down. It's that the two of you don't really sound very compatible, at least at the moment, but you're trying to force it.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:11 PM on February 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


His request to his wife is awesomely simple - one weekend off.

No, his "request" is one day off per weekend. I know nothing about the ski industry, but I know lots about other entertainment-related or tourist-related jobs, and "one day off per weekend" would unequivocally equal no job at all, because weekends are where the business is. I think that is an ABSOLUTELY ridiculous and not at all reasonable request. Especially if, as per his update, he hasn't taken any days off to to spend time with her himself! There's a strong stench here of "my real grown-up job versus your silly stupid time-consuming hobby that I really wish you'd just grow out of since we're married."

Now, I understand, completely, that four hours a week is not a reasonable amount of time for a lot of people to spend with their partner. But, as has been previously mentioned: (A) it's temporary/seasonal, not year-round; OP admits that this is not the state of things during off-season. (B) THIS IS HOW SHE'S ALWAYS BEEN. The concept that she is now, post-fact, being expected to effectively drop her passion since she's married is unutterably pretentious to me. If the tone of this post is any indication of the way OP is approaching this with his wife, I am not surprised that the legitimate part of his concern got shut down. He's not saying "I miss you, I want more time with you, how can we do that?" - he's saying "you're not fulfilling your wifely duty of dropping your pre-marriage interests that I just now decided to mention that I don't like, because they compete with MEEEE." It's being set up as a conflict of loyalties. And she gets defensive? Wow... Shocker.

So here's what I think.
(1) Drop the condescending attitude about your wife's hobby and lifestyle. Like yesterday.
(2) Think, long and hard, about what would make you feel better about the next 4-5 weeks, what quality time means to you, what you could do to meet her halfway (i.e. take a day off yourself! Drive up mid-week! etc) and write them down.
(3) Go to your wife, apologize if you said anything nasty or condescending in your last conversation.
(4) Explain that you are not trying to make her choose between you or skiing, but that you are feeling left out/lonely/unsupported and you need her to acknowledge your feelings without belittling them. DO NOT equate her acknowledging/respecting your feelings with her cooperating with your "request." They are not the same thing.
(5) Tell her what you wrote down and ask for her input, see if there are any ways you can compromise during the ski season to make you feel better that don't involve her giving up what she loves.
posted by celtalitha at 12:57 AM on February 25, 2013 [26 favorites]


I live in the tropics; I just returned from a trip to ruins in a desert where the average temperature was about 35C, so I have zero insight into how the ski industry works. Nor do I intend to micro-analyze your and your wife's lifestyle; don't intend to go into a value-judgment of sorts.

All I'll say is this:-

1) Wanting to spend more time with your wife isn't being needy. You essentially need to find a way to ask your wife for more solutions; clearly, it is her schedule that's the key here. You might need to be more flexible than her, obviously; feel free to let her suggest timings. But do make sure to stress that you want more than four hours a week together.

2) My wife and I spent a significant part of our first married year living in different cities and time-zones for a variety of reasons. Here's a trick I learnt from my then constantly-travelling boss: have a rule where you *have* to speak to your spouse for an hour on Skype/ FaceTime at least once a day, either in mornings before work, or after dinner. Helps to have a regular time where you both will call. You both might have to force yourselves to stick to the schedule and duration at least for the first few times, and to be sure, you might run out of things to say initially, but very quickly, you'll get used to sharing absolute minutae with your partner, and soon, you just might even begin to look forward to your "date". The key insight here is that, while you might not have physical intimacy in the immediate short-term, you shouldn't be losing out on emotional intimacy just because you both are apart.
posted by the cydonian at 1:22 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Per your updates, here are the things I find significant.

1) You moved to a new town - it would also be a useful and possibly necessary clarification, if you were in a ski town previously and then moved to a non-ski town.

2) You don't have friends in this new town - is it possible you've been leaning on your wife the rest of the year to a degree she finds exhausting?

3) Has this always been her only job? How was she able to support herself at it before, or did she rely on family support?

4) If she was reliant on family support before, is she able to still receive family support now, or has the fact of your marriage removed that family support?

5) You say she comes from a family of wealth - has her lifestyle lowered since marrying you?


I think sometimes there's an idea that once a couple marries, they should be able to be all and everything to each other, which is not exactly true. You moved to a new place, where you alone dont' have friends, or you moved to a new place where both of you don't have friends?
posted by corb at 6:25 AM on February 25, 2013


she always needs to stay busy throughout the year.

This is pretty standard human behavior. If you guys are living in some isolated place where there's nothing to do and no people around, it would sort of make sense that she would leverage her skiing background into seasonal work to give her "something to do" and then start getting depressed at the end of the season when she will have to go back to doing nothing and running around trying to find something to do to "stay busy."

You have a gulf in expectations of your marriage and your lifestyles that need to be resolved so you can find something that's mutually agreeable. That may well involve having to move.
posted by deanc at 7:34 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


We just got back from visiting relatives who live and work in a ski town. One of the couple has a ski-related job and he told me he typically gets 1-2 days off per month from Nov-March. This is not only because the weekends are the busiest but the people doing the scheduling will take note of who is inflexible when it comes time to give out desirable shifts/promotions/raises--or jobs for the next season. The other person in this pair of relatives used to be a ski instructor but got a job with more regular hours when they had kids. They live together and told me they still struggle with finding time together during the season, but they trade off during the summer.

So your wife is being realistic about her schedule during ski season. It doesn't mean that your desire for more closeness is unwarranted, but the two of you need to think strategically and creatively about how to make it work. Maybe you coordinate with her days off. Maybe you set up a daily Skype. Maybe you find some outside interests so that you're not totally dependent on her for company. Maybe she finds a less time intensive summer job. I do think it's concerning that she was dismissive of your feelings, but it also sounds like you had some fundamental misconceptions about the realities of her job. Back when I was a medical resident I had friends in my program that had to end relationships with people who just couldn't accept the time constraints of the job. Hopefully you guys will be able to come to a better mutual understanding and a plan that works for you both.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2013


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