On Wednesday Mr L asked me to quit my job.
Here’s the long, detailed backstory. For the last 9 months, the amount of overtime that I’ve been putting into my job have skyrocketed. This coincides almost perfectly with the date that I got my promotion at work to manager, but it’s not the only reason. There has just been a sequence of events at the office that required someone to put in a lot of extra time to fix, and since the people that report to me don’t get paid overtime, I chose to take on most of the extra work (I don’t either, but I’m paid more than them to begin with, so I’d feel guilty having them do it).
As a result of all of this, my life this year has been “Go to work, come home, eat supper, spend half the evening working at home, go to bed”, interspaced by trips to our other office where I lost time travelling and made up for it by spending all my evenings in hotel rooms working. It’s been a little cyclical (some months were better than others), but if you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting as much, this is it.
Anyway, on Tuesday this week I forgot about supper plans that Mr L and I had made and came home late from work. I then fell asleep in my chair at 8. This was after a period where a) for two weeks I was having bouts of insomnia where I’d wake up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep and b) for about a week I was getting sharp, sudden pains (like someone jabbed a red hot needle into my brain) in the back of my head that changed in frequency from every 2-3 minutes to every 30-45 minutes. I went to the doctor, massage therapist, and chiropractor, and no one could figure out what was causing them, but after about a week it faded. I don’t know with 100% certainty that it was stress related, but it did coincide with a problem that came up at work, so it’s a good possibility.
So, on Wednesday Mr L kind of blew up, told me that my employers were using me and I was letting them, and that my work had become my life and as a result I was putting way too much on him (taking care of the housework, the tenants, yard stuff, scheduling and following up on repairs, etc), and that our marriage couldn’t keep this up. We could afford for me to quit, and if I still wanted to work I could find something else, even a minimum wage job somewhere if that’s all there was.
I think if I was a Good Wife, this would be the part where I said that I realized that my marriage was more important and that our lifestyle and financial plans didn’t matter to me as much as he did so I agreed and gave my notice, but I guess I’m not a Good Wife. I did agree with almost everything he said, but had other things to add.
First of all, for good or bad, I would feel like a parasite if he was working and I wasn’t. I know this isn’t true, and don’t want to offend anyone, but if we don’t have kids and there is no physical reason for me not to work, I cannot emotionally wrap my head around the idea of not working. The Protestant work ethic was bred into me too deeply.
Second, I like my job. It’s stressful, admittedly, but the job itself is challenging and interesting, and I’m never bored.
Third, I’m respected and valued at my job. I came to this from 10+ years in various forms of customer service, and for the last few years I was in a place where it was made perfectly clear that I could quit or not and it made no difference to the company. I had managers who I’m pretty sure did their best to make me quit, in fact, since that would be cheaper than their firing me. It was monotonous and emotionally exhausting and sometimes I cried at the thought of going to work. Here, I’m told regularly that I’m the strongest person in my team. I’ve had directors from other departments tell me they love seeing my name on email lists, because they know that it means that everything will be done correctly. That feeling of being needed and appreciated is really important to me.
What I did do, though, was promise to talk to my manager and let her know that the crazy overtime had to stop asap. I followed through with that, and what happened then cemented the fact that I don’t think I’ll ever find a job that values me as much as this one. On Thursday morning I scheduled a meeting with my manager. When I walked in, she said right off the bat that she was terrified of what I was going to say. I told her I wasn’t quitting, but that I’d been working too many hours for too long, and that it had to change effective immediately. The company was putting too much on my department and I was enabling them, but that I couldn’t do so any longer, even if it meant that we were going to begin failing in some areas.
Her response was that as soon as she had seen my request for a meeting, she called the CFO (whom we both end up reporting to) and told him that if I quit, she was too, because she couldn’t handle the department without me. She said that they both decided to basically agree to whatever I asked for, because they didn’t want to lose me. She works way too many hours too, but that was a problem for her to fix, and she wouldn’t put it on my shoulders. At the end of our meeting I had approval to contact a staffing agency and hire a contract full time employee, with the condition that after three months I could hire them on permanently (we’ve had a few contract workers come in, but it almost made the situations worse because I’d train them, they’d help for a few weeks, and then we’d either lose funding or they would quit because a different permanent position came along). She also said that I could cc her and/or the CFO anytime I was telling someone that our team couldn’t have work done by a given day and they would back me up 100% if that person escalated it because they thought it was priority.
So, yeah. I had the classic “Work or Relationship” battle come up in my life, and I chose... compromise. I think almost all the women in my family would view me as an uncaring failure of a wife as a result. After reading through this too-long spiel, what would you have done?