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I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Fri Mar 20, 2015 03:38 PM

Ok, I'm trying to be brave and post this under my own username. So, please be kind with me if you think I'm being ridiculous.

I've been with my fiance for 3 and a half years, and his work schedule has been an issue for most of that time. I know he's right when he tells me that I knew what I got in to, but I guess I've been hoping that at some point it was going to change. With that next promotion, maybe his hours won't be so bad. Maybe he'll be more in charge of his own schedule. Maybe he'll get closer to "normal" hours.

He works in the restaurant industry, so his hours are literally all over the place. Some days he works until 6pm, others it's 3am. We just spent the last 7 months basically not seeing each other because he went back to working nightclub hours. Now, he's hoping that his schedule will be a little bit more consistent from 10am-7pm.

I should preface this and let you know that cooking dinners together is something that is really important to us. We love cooking together and we both really look forward to having dinner together. When he's done at 7, it's actually not too bad. He's home by 7:30 usually, and if I do enough planning before he gets home, we can usually eat at 8. To be honest, 8 is really late for dinner for me, but I can usually make it work.

What I really struggle with is that several nights a week, he has unexpected things come up and is usually 1-2 hours late. Sometimes he has absolutely no idea when he's going to be home, and it makes planning these dinners really challenging. He's totally fine with having dinner at 9 or 10, but I'm usually up at 6am the next day. Eating dinner that late makes it impossible for me to fall asleep until 11 or 12.

That's something else I should mention, I have a REALLY hard time sleeping. On a good night, it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to fall asleep, and then I usually wake up 3-4 times during the night. And that's a good night, I literally don't know what it feels like to sleep through the night. When we don't eat dinner until 9, it takes me even longer to fall asleep. I usually end up with pretty bad indigestion or heartburn, and I'm up even more often during the night sometimes for several hours at a time.

I've brought up the idea of us eating separately, and he's really not ok with it. I've explained the issues I have with sleep, but thinks I'm being dramatic. He tells me that he would wait until 1am if that meant we could have dinner together. I brought up the idea, if he knows he's going to be late, that I make dinner for the two of us and then he can heat up leftovers when he gets home. He doesn't like the idea, but I don't know what else we can do.

The worst part of this, is that he says it's unfair of me to ever be upset about being late from work. He also doesn't like apologizing when he's late, because he says that he hasn't done anything wrong and shouldn't have to apologize. As in, I don't even get a text saying, "sorry, I'm going to be late tonight." Last night we got into a fight about it, after he was an hour and a half late. He walked in the door, and could tell I was upset. Before I could even say a word, he was storming around the house, slamming doors and wouldn't speak to me. I can't even say, "I'm sad we don't get to spend much time together tonight" without him blowing up and saying that I'm making him feel guilty for not being home sooner. I know how much it sucks for him to be stuck at work, but he refuses to even acknowledge that it's a difficult situation for me too.

At the end of our fight, he told me that things are never going to change for him at work, so this is my issue and it's up to me to "figure it out." He also said that he deserved an apology at the end of it all because I'm not supporting him enough. I'm just at such a loss, I feel like the only way this is going to resolve is if I'm always 100% positive and happy about him being late, and if I wait for him to come home for dinners without complaining.

I worry about what our future is going to look like, especially when we want to start a family. But I can't even mention that, because he feels like I'm saying our lives are going to suck and he's going to be a bad father and that I'm making him feel guilty. I don't know what to do :(

19 Replies to I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule

re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Fri Mar 20, 2015 05:04 PM
My Bf and I have dinner separately during the work week. Instead of cooking dinner together, can you go grocery shopping together?
Or maybe, you can precook the dinner...but instead of going ahead and eating it...maybe you can wait for him?
How about you go ahead and eat dinner, but you have a " snack" with him when he comes home? Eating late at night, adds to your sleep issues.

As someone who gets heartburn, he needs to understand you aren't being over dramatic. Have you sat him down, and had a serious conversation with him? Tell him that if you ate too late, it makes you nauseated and feel sick.
You need to sit him down, on a regular day. Not trying to talk to him when he is late, he is already on the defense then.

I know our society is quite food motivated and food focused. Social events revolve around food and people place a huge emphasis on eating dinner together. Is there anyway you can find another activity that involves bonding time together, besides dinner/cooking?

Tell him that you WILL be eating at 7 PM, due to your health issues and sleeping issues. Tell him that you hope he understands and respects the fact that your health needs to come first.
Even when my Bf and I eat seperatly, we are still in the kitchen together, even if the other person doesn't eat. If I am in there heating up leftovers, he will sit with me and have a cup of tea or something.

Can you have dinner together without you actually having to eat a full meal?
Have your dinner alone around 5-7 ( a smaller portion then normal)..,then eat the rest of the portion with him later on?
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By hummingbird Comments: 10412, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Fri Mar 20, 2015 09:35 PM
I feel for you and my hubby has always had a difficult schedule to work a household round. When we first met he did night shifts and I ran a dance studio so it meant that we could go a whole week without seeing each other. It didn't get any better, it got worse when he changed jobs because then he became a long distance driver, sometimes it could be longer than a week :/ before I saw him.

Your SO does need to learn to communicate, he shouldn't feel the need to apologize if he's going to be late, it's his work after all and we can't always control what happens there but he does need to tell you if he's going to be that late. You're not upset about him being late, you are upset about his lack of communication, (and you need to tell him this) you shouldn't be left waiting an hour and a half to eat and keep your life on hold. It's called give and take, he needs to give a little in this case, especially with your heart burn, you need to describe what you're going through here more directly, more like a guy!

You need to stop holding the future over his head and start with what's going on now when you talk to him, you also need to remember why you both got together in the first place (pros and cons) It's difficult to have this sort of conversation with someone you only get to see properly every few days but you need to have it in a calm and focused way.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By Lauretta Comments: 1048, member since Wed Dec 01, 2004
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 02:50 AM
It seems like your partner wants to have it all his own way. He gets to come in whenever he wants, without letting you know, and he wants to eat with you at whatever time that may be. As you say, you are already compromising by eating at 8 and it doesn't look like he's acknowledging it.

I'm also getting from your post that he could be frustrated about the situation at work, could there be something going on there that you don't know about? Is he the kind of person who would tell you if that were the case? If he isn't an unreasonable person generally then it sounds like it could be misdirected anger to me.

Can you approach him about this when he hasn't just got home from work and is calm? Maybe take the approach of starting with letting him know that you do want to support him, but something has to give for this situation to work better for you both. I also have to eat at regular times otherwise it throws everything off for me and I would have drawn the line long before 8pm was the earliest time I'd be eating. Maybe if you say that you know he likes it when you cook dinner together, and you really like it too, but then tell him why that doesn't work for you. Does he see you in the mornings when you're tired? Does he know how disrupted your sleep is? I also find it unfair that he said he'd wait until 1am for you, when he knows he won't have the opportunity to back that up with actions. He's trying to justify why he gets to have it all his own way. Because he can't do it with actual logic and reason, he's doing it with empty statements.

This sounds like a tough situation and I don't envy you, hopefully you can catch him when he's calm and make some progress soon.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By Dancing_EMTmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3466, member since Wed Dec 08, 2004
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 09:33 AM
I fully admit that I have ADD and I skimmed your post. DH and I love cooking together and since he works retail, his hours can be all over the place as well.

However, I'm very open that I expect a text or something that tells me he'll be late so that I don't worry and vice versa. To us, it's common courtesy. Especially since one of us will start dinner and sometimes it's not as good warmed up. (Such as french fries)
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 09:55 AM
Sorry guys, I should have been more clear. He does message me when he knows he's going to be late, he just often has no idea how late he's going to be. When I ask about what's going to happen with dinner, he usually just says, "Can't you wait?"

Thank you for your responses so far.

I also find it unfair that he said he'd wait until 1am for you, when he knows he won't have the opportunity to back that up with actions.


That's the thing. There was a good period of time where he was working days, and I was the one working nights. When I'd come home at 12-1am, he was always fast asleep - as I'd expect him to be! Haha.

I'm also getting from your post that he could be frustrated about the situation at work, could there be something going on there that you don't know about? Is he the kind of person who would tell you if that were the case?


This is where I consider myself VERY lucky. He's a very open, expressive person. He has no problem sharing his stresses he's experiencing at work. And to be honest, he's been stressed about work for years. I know he generally loves his job, but his boss can be very demanding. His boss is a workaholic, he easily works 14-16 hours a day, almost every day of the week. So, when my fiance works 10-12 hours, he has no sympathy for him. It's just what's expected. He often expects my fiance to work 6-7 days a week, and if he objects, he has to lie about us having plans over the weekend to get out of it. The craziest part is that his boss is very good friends with both of us; he's even one of my fiance's groomsmen in our wedding. But he has no interest in dating or having a family - so he doesn't understand that we want to spend our weekends together. Before my fiance wrote his own schedule (as he does now), he would actually have to book his days off as vacation days, otherwise there was no guarantee that he wouldn't be scheduled during those days. We've had to cancel weekend trips last minute because his schedule changed without any warning. Let me be clear, he's not an hourly employee - he's a salaried manager. He shouldn't have to use his vacation days to book off his scheduled days off. He also doesn't get compensated for all of his extra hours - like I said, he works 10-12 hours a day, and often works 6-7 days a week. He recently got promoted and he's working more hours with a worse schedule and his salary didn't change (it actually decreased slightly).

So, yeah. Lots of work stress :?. That's why it's scary when it tells me it's always going to be like this, and it's likely going to get worse as he moves up with the company.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11321, member since Sun Nov 23, 2003
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:12 AM
Is there any reason he HAS to stay at this company? Because they're not doing a whole lot to inspire loyalty.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:27 AM
^With the restaurant industry, it's incredibly difficult to switch companies. Especially at the level that he's at (assistant general manager), it would mean starting back near the bottom of the ladder and working his way back up, which could take another 4-5 years to reach the same position he's at right now. He also risks taking a 50% pay cut by doing that.

The majority of his closest friends also work for this same company, so I think it would be very difficult socially to switch to work for a different restaurant, especially since most of them are direct competition.

He's going to have a new boss in the next few months, so that miiiight help. But, I can see him starting to adopt his current boss's work ethic. He honestly believes that working that much is what is necessary to move up in the company, and those that work less than that aren't doing their job properly and are never going to "make it."
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11321, member since Sun Nov 23, 2003
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:31 AM
Yikes, that's not how it is at all in the US. Is that true even if he were to go to a more upscale locally owned place instead of a corporate chain? My cousin went from head trainer at a national chain to GM at a swank chef-owned restaurant, and she makes her own hours.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:42 AM
^Unfortunately, not really. We've had friends that have left this company to work for local ones in our city, and they all end up working more hours for less money, even as GMs.

The crazy thing is that the chain he works for, is actually one of the best managed chain in Canada. And one of the most profitable. Plus, there are some incredible opportunities that are coming up with this company in the near future (including opening a restaurant down in Houston ;)). Some of these restaurants, the GMs are pulling in 100-200K a year, too.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By majeremember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5889, member since Sat Sep 29, 2007
On Sat Mar 21, 2015 01:49 PM
Is there anyway you guys could cook breakfast together instead etc? Or do your days start at totally different times?

Am I right in assuming you use dinner time to talk about your days/ start to relax etc? Why couldn't you eat before hand and just sit at the table with him while he eats his dinner etc?

He needs to compromise on this...
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Sun Mar 22, 2015 01:16 PM
^Our morning schedules are all over the place, too. Every now and then they line up, and we carpool to work and school together, so that's nice. We're usually up so early that we pack our breakfast and bring it in with us, though. Our mornings would become pretty hectic if we tried to cook breakfast and sit down to eat it.

The thing is that we're still spending the same time together, if we makes dinner after me. I'm still in the kitchen with him while he puts it together, and then we sit down together. So, we're not actually losing time together by eating separately, he just doesn't like the idea of me not waiting for him.

I talked with a friend of mine whose fiance also works for the same company. They have a number of the same issues, and she basically starts cooking dinner at 7, and if he's home when it's ready then they eat together. If he's not, she puts it aside and he eats when he gets home. I think that's what's going to work the best for us, as long as I can get my fiance on board with it. I just wish he didn't say I'm being selfish for doing this.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member Comments: 7417, member since Sun Apr 18, 2004
On Sun Mar 22, 2015 02:34 PM
This is a situation where something has got to give--sure everything is important, but that doesn't change reality. The reality is that, while sitting for dinner can be something you both care about, you have other factors that keep that from being reliable every night. You have to let this go for the time that it isn't feaseable, do it when it is feasable, and jump back in with both feet when you can do it regularly again.

I think that he isn't realizing the toll that waiting to start your evening until he's home can take. It doesn't minimize what he's doing--he must have a ton of dedication and work ethic to work the hours that he does...but you need to be able to use your down time in a way that is healthy for you physically and emotionally/stresslessly.

There are plenty of compromises on the way, such as you joining him at the table, even if you aren't eating, when he does come home. Maybe one weekend you create some freezeable or easily cooked on short notice meals, so that you have some options to whip up quickly so if you get the call that he will be 2 hours late, you can do something with that time and only have to wait 15 minutes after he gets home to chow down.

Ultimately, it's not ideal...but that doesn't mean it can't be good. I essentially don't see my husband from Sunday night to Tuesday night, since our Monday schedules are so opposite (he leaves early, i get back late) and we don't get to talk face-to-face. Someday I hope that I will get an hour or two every night with my husband, but until then I find ways to make it work, and treasure our Sunday nights.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule (karma: 1)
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Sun Mar 22, 2015 02:40 PM
This is totally the passive aggressive side of me....

If you need to wake up at 5-6 AM...and he is able to sleep in because he worked until 1AM....I would get his butt out of bed to cook breakfast with you. If he didn't, I would say he was being selfish according to him.

I think he is being selfish in this case. Have you asked him why he cares so little for your health, knowing your heartburn issues and sleep deprivation?
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By kandykanePremium member Comments: 16415, member since Mon May 01, 2006
On Mon Mar 23, 2015 04:36 PM
Edited by kandykane (157761) on 2015-03-23 16:38:48 necessity not necessary
Most couples/families face this situation at one time or another. Schedule conflicts are just that. Schedule conflicts. Don't make it more than it is. Neither of you should feel guilty or mad about it. That's life and it just is what it is and it's up to the two of you to find some middle ground. It seems you have a handle on that idea, but he doesn't. I agree with the suggestion of sitting down to discuss this at a time when he isn't walking in the door. He's already worked up at that point. Maybe on his day off. Maybe suggest something like dinner together three times a week, breakfast once a week and maybe lunch once or twice a month.

But I really think you need to stop asking "when are you coming home?" when he is later than usual. You know where he is. It just annoys him. But also, he needs to understand those nights you may eat without him. Not because you don't love him and want to spend time together, but just out of necessity for YOUR schedule. And your tummy.

I have to wonder, is this the only thing he is unreasonable about?

I hope you two can come to an agreement.

kk~
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule (karma: 1)
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Tue Mar 24, 2015 08:49 AM
So I've kind of been in your boyfriend's shoes once before. When I met my husband I was working at dance studios starting as early as 7:00 or 8:00 am and often there until 9 or 10 pm. He was really tired of not being able to eat with the person he loved. Often times he'd wait, sometimes he wouldn't...but when I felt I was letting him down or failing in our relationship I got very defensive when he would ask why I was late. Sometimes I felt backed into a corner like I needed to choose between my career and him. He never ever ever suggested anything like that...it was stuff I had made up in my own head because I didn't like the lack of balance in my life and I felt I had no choice.

The restaurant business is brutal. Chews you up and spits you out. The hours are awful, and raising a family is tough, but doable if people are willing to compromise. I hope he is willing to think outside the box, and put your needs in front of his own for a few days out of the week.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Tue Mar 24, 2015 05:05 PM
^Thank you for that, it's nice to hear things from his point of view as well.

Often times he'd wait, sometimes he wouldn't...but when I felt I was letting him down or failing in our relationship I got very defensive when he would ask why I was late. Sometimes I felt backed into a corner like I needed to choose between my career and him. He never ever ever suggested anything like that...it was stuff I had made up in my own head because I didn't like the lack of balance in my life and I felt I had no choice.


I think you hit the nail on the head with that, I believe that that's the way he is feeling to a T.

I have to wonder, is this the only thing he is unreasonable about?


You know, it really is. We don't often fight, but when we do, 9 times out of 10 it's about work. Being late consistently, having to cancel family vacations or weekend plans last minute, missing out on special events/birthdays because of work or staff parties, working opposite schedules for months on end.

We've been living together for over two years, and we've never once fought about household things or money. We're both marrying into wonderful families, and have never fought about in-laws. Neither of us are very jealous people, but we've never fought about female or male friends in our life. We often do informal "check-ins" every month or so to get a feel for where we're at in our relationship, what's working, and what we want to improve on. Work is just a contentious subject for him (and us).
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule (karma: 3)
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 12490, member since Fri Aug 27, 2004
On Tue Mar 24, 2015 09:39 PM
My take is that you need to let go of the eating together. I know it is important to you. But if you could let it go, then when you DID get to have dinner together it could be a very special thing that you could make a big happy deal out of and it would be positive and romantic. Right now there is all this tension over it that is unnecessary. You may think I am oversimplifying the issue, but there are so many other creative ways to enjoy being together when you can. When you look at a relationship over time and in terms of long-term, then this is a just a temporary period when it is difficult and it won't be this way forever. Take it from someone who has been married for thirty years - it is not worth trying to force the issue. Everything else in your relationship sounds so solid, why not make the relationship you have the priority instead of trying to make it fit into something that is just not realistic right now?
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Thu Mar 26, 2015 08:49 AM
You know, it really is. We don't often fight, but when we do, 9 times out of 10 it's about work. Being late consistently, having to cancel family vacations or weekend plans last minute, missing out on special events/birthdays because of work or staff parties, working opposite schedules for months on end.


He probably hates letting you down, and that is why this subject is double the amount of emotion. He wants his career, he wants to keep moving up, he wants you and the life he dreams, and when the pieces don't fit together (often) it just sucks for everyone. But I think men disappointing the love of their life and not living up to their expectations is rather devastating...its a lot to process.
re: I'm struggling with my fiance's work schedule (karma: 1)
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3639, member since Wed Jan 15, 2003
On Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:45 PM
We had a good chat about this again last night, in a more casual and relaxed environment.

He explained a little bit more about what his days look like, especially since he started this new position. It helped me to see how much really is on his plate, and to know how hard he tried to get out on time, but sometimes things just come up.

I also explained that I'm not upset with him because he's late, but I need a little bit more freedom on how I spend my nights. I explained that I would be much happier with the situation if I'm able to eat at a normal time, and if he's there - all the better. I also explained that if we take a little bit of pressure off of having dinner together every night, I think the number of fights we have will decrease dramatically, and we can focus on having "family dinners" together on nights where we're more certain that he won't be there as late (Sundays and Mondays usually).

Thanks again, you guys all had some really great advice :)

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