Soul Sucking Job or Wife Stressed About Money?

Athol: I edited out the looooong backstory of the reader email. Before anyone paints the wife as a money hungry bitch entitlement princess… she didn’t come across that way to me. Seemed quite normal and hard working, just stressed by the bills.
Reader:  I am happy with my job – even if it is much less salary and prestige as before.  I have settled into it and don’t have a burning desire to look for bigger and better things – especially after 6 years of my previous high-paying but sucked-the-life-out-of-me job.  On the other hand, she is stressed and it makes me feel I should be constantly on the lookout for more money – even at the cost of my current job satisfaction.
My feeling is that the Alpha response is to do what makes me happy while the beta response is to constantly look for more money so she can be less stressed.
Does the married man constantly need to be looking for more money?  Is settling a bit (instead of trying to be CEO) wrong as the married man?
Athol: I think you’re asking this as one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t questions. Work extra hard and you be unhappy, or work normal and watch her get unhappy.
My feeling is the natural order works best for most couples when the husband is the higher earner, but also gets better treatment at home for doing so. So in other words, it you are super-husband and doing the long hours and soul sucking thing at the office to provide for your family, her job is to make all that worthwhile for you.
It’s not the soul sucking job that does men in. It’s the coming home and no one caring about you having to do that.
My choice has been to chart a path to a higher earning job that I want to do. I’m still working the nursing job, and the MMSL stuff is around 40 hours a week all up. So 80 hours weeks of “work”.
Jennifer has been quite supportive of it all and I get more of her pampering/catering to me than I ever did before. Both because I deserve it, and because I simply couldn’t do what I do without it. She’s always been pleasant and helpful to me, but it’s a different level now. The main difference being that I’m dong something worthy of support and needing support. It’s the Captain and First Officer thing.
Being able to be Beta as a husband is a good thing, but you can’t allow yourself to be taken for granted for doing Beta things.
Perhaps finding a little side job that brings in a little extra cash would be a good idea – but you frame it as “I’m willing to do this for us, but it is more work. So I think it’s fair that I get supported in doing this and get something more from you.”
She’ll have to ask what that something more is of course.
“And what’s that?”
“Well each time when I come home from doing the job…”
She’ll start figuring you mean blowjobs of course, which means she will immediately do the math for how much you working an extra shift equals in cash, and decide if that’s tempting enough to induce her into blowing you. If the cash value is enough, she’ll agree, if not she’ll complain that she isn’t a hooker and won’t have sex for (that much) money.
So cut her hamster accountant off before it gets up to speed.
“…I want you to say ‘Thank you’.”
Watch her hamster try and find a way to be mad at that. Just say thank you. How hard is that? And it’s free.
The trick is that by getting her to say thank you, it will start making her thankful. Saying words has meaning and they change us. Naturally wives thankful to their husbands are highly pre-disposed to giving up the goods easily. Plus if she can’t even be bothered to say “thank you” when you work your ass off for the family, it means she doesn’t appreciate your effort, so you may as well just stop trying so hard and head to the couch with a beer.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Good advice there, Athol.

    "She'll start figuring you mean blowjobs of course"

    LOL! You guys aren't hard to please or figure out, are you? :P


  2. Anonymous says:

    Men should work enough to support themselves. Full stop.
    Females want to be paid?
    By the hour, day, month? Spit or swallow?

  3. Anonymous says:

    > > "It's not the soul sucking job that does men in. It's the coming home and no one caring about you having to do that."


    > > "LOL! You guys aren't hard to please or figure out, are you? :P"

    No. No, we really aren't.

  4. I once liked a guy (we are still friends) who does just enough to get by in life. He's a smart smart man and a great guy in every way. And frankly, he has a great life! Doesn't work too hard, has great friends etc etc.

    But I want a family and his attitude was 'Well, this is how I am, this is how it's going to be. If you want more you'll have to do it.'

    So I'd be making all the money, giving birth, and taking care of the kids (because I'm a control freak when it comes to kids.)

    Fuck that shit. Also its upsetting to see a man who isn't living up to his potential…Or worse yet….Not Wanting To Live Up To Anything But Getting By.

    That's not a man you want to have children with.

  5. I don't think it's about money, it's about motivation, about having a dream to fulfill.

    If a woman senses that a man has no dream to fulfill, no goal to attain, no motivation.

    Then what is the point of him? Love for the sake of love? Hahaha That's what my cats are for.

  6. "Watch her hamster try and find a way to be mad at that. Just say thank you. How hard is that? And it's free."

    In my case, a "thank you" was the most expensive thing I could ask for. My wife's opinion was that my working in a job that paid the most I could make was the baseline minimum that I owed her, for which no thanks were necessary.

    I resented her for her lack of appreciation, lost my motivation and under-performed.

    I later found out that, as a child, her parents routinely extracted "thank yous" from her and her sister in some rather shockingly abusive ways. So, when I asked for basic appreciation for sticking with a job I would have otherwise abandoned were I not married, it brought up a lot of pain and emotional resistance for her.

    It has pretty much ended our marriage.

  7. Anonymous says:


    That kind of abuse leaves scars. They aren't your problem they're hers.

    In hindsight, were there red flags? Could you have seen this coming in the wife choosing process?


  8. Anonymous says:

    If I have to be stressed about money while married to you, I won't be married to you for long. It is one thing if there is some temporary hardship, but he's talking about making that hardship permanent.

    LOL @ just doing what you want being more alpha. Do women really buy your alpha act if you can't take good care of your family? That this is even a debate for him makes it seem like he's not much of a man.

  9. Luckily my well paying jobs have been the ones I liked, and the low paying ones were the soul sucking ones. But then I've never had one of those low wage but high social prestige jobs (TV, music, etc). My wife doesn't seem to mind that I'll never be the drummer in the popular band. A woman who can truly love a basically beta guy and not be constantly unha-a-appy about it is worth far above rubies.

  10. Anon466, I really didn't see it coming. Our marital problems started with career issues, then snowballed. We met in school, and didn't move into a career phase of our lives for another 3 years.

    I suppose it's possible I missed the red flags, but I can't remember things I never noticed at the time.

    One of the early predictions I made about her was that she'd always be faithful. Her opinion of adulterers was harsh, based on the hardship that her father's affairs caused for her and her family. But this year she conducted a classic emotional affair, complete with texts, coffee dates, and lots and lots of lying. Athol's advice helped me end it. Without that, they would very likely have gotten together.

    So I don't know how to pick a better wife. I'm focusing on attracting the one I've got.


    First letter of the column combines several manosphere concepts … Five minutes of alpha over five years of beta, notice she doesn't say she ever went on to get married. The rationalization hamster spinning furiously in her head trying to justify selling the photos. The demonization of her ex boyfriend and blaming him for her situation in life. She's a loser, I certainly hope her ex can get the photos peaceably and be finished with her for good.

  12. bookshelf says:

    @ Anon 9:58

    "Do women really buy your alpha act if you can't take good care of your family? That this is even a debate for him makes it seem like he's not much of a man."

    If the man is alpha (pursuing/living his mission – and reasonably successful at it, or working towards it), yes, many good women do buy it, and partner in supporting it mightily. With her support, I think it is common that his natural response is to simply continue to increase the mission efforts. (example on this page, Athol & Jennifer)
    If your current situation is not as desired, I can guarantee that you will(are) experience less than positive results if your telling him he's "not much of a man."

    I think that it can be easy for a woman(and men) to get caught-up in the day-to-day family life/chaos and forget or not recognize that most men do have a desire to earn/achieve more for themselves and those they love. But, since a lot of men are(or become) Beta, the woman forgets that the men are mistakenly working hard for her first, and his wants second. This being the case, a woman only shoots herself in the foot by not being supportive of his efforts. A woman can easily underestimates the incredible amount of influence she actually has in inspiring him, or working against him (and thus denying her own wants.)

    Countries have been invaded to simply get or please a woman. War quickly and easily becomes soul-sucking, and efforts/results lackluster, if the inspiration is a princess, rather than a queen.

    The sign that reads "will work for pussy" has fine print right below that you may have missed – "uninspiring pussy need not apply.

    @ Athol, I just want to express my concern that you are coming dangerously close to letting the cat out of the bag that a simple "thank you" coupled with a kiss on the cheek, can at times be just as, or more powerful, than a kiss on another body part. Let's steer clear of that, OK?

  13. Anonymous says:

    For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do. Asking to be thanked for supporting your family is a bit like asking to be thanked for being a law abiding citizen, washing your own ass and caring for your children. I guess it doesn't hurt anything to thank him and it makes him feel better, but it is odd to me that men need that. I wonder if the men who find that necessary thank their wives for doing their basic wifely duties?

  14. There are plenty of happily married couples out there who get by on next to nothing, and who purposefully stay away from the rat race in order to spend more time together and with their family. They have small houses in older neighborhoods. They clip coupons. They get clothes from thrift stores. They drive 8-year-old vehicles or perhaps even (gasp!) share a car. The kids share bedrooms. Vacations are rare and usually local (camping at the lake vs. flying to Cancun). And they are happy. Not romance movie "happily ever after" happy, but their love for eachother is genuine and deep, they laugh a lot, and their (many) hardships bring them close together instead of driving them apart, because they face them together as a team.

    I don't blame anyone for trying to do more than the bare minimum. I have pretty high financial goals and standards for myself and my family. However, if the above scenario is so horrible that living under it would cause you to quit loving your spouse, then something is wrong with you.

    I don't have enough details about their situation to say for sure, but my gut reaction is that if the only way for this guy to recieve love from his wife is to work himself to death for her, then he picked a rotten wife.

  15. Anonymous says:

    @ Eric

    If you've chosen to avoid the rat race then the financial obligations that you have usually reflect that. If she's stressed about the bills then clearly he decided to stick with the lower paying, less stressful job, after they had financial obligations that his new job wouldn't meet. That's different than a mutual agreement to be content with less.

  16. Anon@12:30,
    That could certainly be the case, though I wouldn't say it is 'clear' based on the information given. It definitely sounds like a conversation they need to have: "I don't want to work like I was working before, and unless you can pick up the financial slack somehow, that means we need to figure out ways to lower our expenses."

    I think Athol provides a decent option, but depending on how miserable this guy was with his old job, a bag full of "thank yous" may simply not be worth returning to that schedule when weighed against the alternatives. Maybe she could up the ante, but maybe also they should take a deep look at whether the stess of the job is worth the standard of living it gives them (and since he is the one who has to work the job, his opinion counts more). If we were talking about him not working at all, I'd feel very different about it, but it sounds like he is fully capable and willing to meet his financial obligations to his family.

  17. Anonymous says:

    @ Cal,
    I wasn't picking on you. It just seemed like a hard sort of abuse to spot to me and I think you confirmed that; however, the dysfunctional family with father's multiple affairs is a big tip-off. Good luck. Nothing is impossible. My marriage may be the "turn around of the century". Ask Athol.

    @Anonymous 11:37
    I think a lot of "thank you" both ways goes a long, long way to keep a couple from taking each other for granted. I make sure to thank my wife at least once daily and try to make sure it's several times in several areas and likewise. Even if it isn't important to you, it might be important to your spouse and IT COSTS YOU NOTHING.


  18. Jack Amok says:

    "For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do."

    For some reason, a lot of women need to be reminded they should be appreciative of the people around them who do nice things for them.

    But let's look a little deeper into Mz Anonymous11:37's statement. Should people get appreciation for doing what they're supposed to do? Suppose they aren't doing what they're supposed to do, what would the be doing instead? Doing what they want to do, most likely. So if he wants to do one thing (drink a beer and watch football, play poker with his friends, backhand his nagging wife across the room, etc.) but he's supposed to do another thing (go to work, clean the gutters, not hit the girl, etc.), does he deserve some appreciation for doing what he's supposed to? Why? Because maybe that's one of the big ways that the rest of us let him know what he's supposed to do.

    If he gets the same treatment from his wife when he does what he's supposed to do as when he does whatever the hell he wants to do, why bother doing anything besides whatever the hell he wants to do? His wife has made it pretty clear she doesn't care.

    Mz Anon probably thinks she treats him differently. She probably thinks she bitches him out when he doesn't do what he's supposed to and treats him normally when he does. But from the tone of her comment, I suspect she just bitches him out all the time.

    Assuming there actually is a "him" in the picture. I'm guessing maybe there used to be, but for some strange reason, he didn't do what he was supposed to and continue the relationship with her on her terms. Men are so irresponsible that way…

  19. Anonymous @11:37am –

    > For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do… it is odd to me that men need that.

    I hope you're in a healthy LTR (if that's what you want), but your attitude would be a big red flag to me. To most men, I suspect.

    You've charted a path to a take-him-for-granted, low respect, low intimacy, low-sex marriage.

    > I wonder if [these] men… thank their wives for doing their basic wifely duties?

    Appreciate my wife? You betcha! Part of my MAP is figuring out how to do that in alpha rather than beta ways.

    Stick around, read and comment more. You might change some of your opinions, or you might not. See what works, for you.

  20. bookshelf says:

    @ Anon 11:37
    "For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do."

    Are you suggesting I don't need to show my wife any appreciation for what she is "supposed to do"? No offense, but I don't think it takes a genius to know that would result in seriously reducing my quality of life.

    If it was easy to understand what makes the opposite sex 'tick', then neither of us would be here at Athol's house today.

  21. bookshelf says:

    @ Anon 12:30
    "That's different than a mutual agreement to be content with less."

    They were also likely not in mutual agreement that the soul-sucking effort for more money on his part was the perfect solution either. I'll even go so far to say they definitely weren't in mutual agreement previously, if she couldn't support him in a way to make him feel the current job situation was best solution. Maybe it wasn't that she lacked any supporting efforts – it could have simply been a bad particular job situation. So he needed to make an adjustment either way, since continuing would end-up negatively affecting her at some point anyway. His "mistake" then was for the time being leaning towards quality of life rather than $$ at all costs? It's a tough choice we all face daily.

    In my experience, he's not necessarily avoiding the rat race, he's avoiding wasting effort/misery on a particular job that wasn't paying off as desired (for him, and her for that matter if he works harder to provide and she struggles to work harder in supporting.)

    I've been there, and the job change can be used as a temporary adjustment period to add some needed quality back into to his life, while determining next/better plan of attack on how to better accomplish their mutaul desires, instead of just cracking and just walking and having no income while regrouping. Yes, this change can understandably cause her to be uncomfortable, but she may come to understand that he's being wise about taking steps to get the quality he desires that he is not getting, and now being more comfortable will likely continue seeking to better their situation. I've seen people take a much more drastic approach to reduce the soul-sucking, and hopefully she can find some solace in the fact that he could have impacted their financial stress much more than he has.

  22. Anonymous says:

    @Anon 11:37

    It does work both ways, everyone appreciates being appreciated.

  23. Anonymous says:

    @ Eric
    I would be willing to lower expenses so that my husband could be happier at work if most of the sacrifices made were on his end. For example, he drives a less expensive car and spends less, or nothing at all on his "toys" and entertainment. He is the one who will benefit from the changes, so he should be the one making most of the sacrifices.

  24. Stingray says:

    Anon 2:18,

    You are kidding, right? Are you not part of the marriage here? You can't see that you would benefit from him being happy in his job? Wow. I am a bit floored by this comment.

    A man comes home from a soul sucking job and can't help but suck a bit of the soul out of the marriage. It is inevitable. He's going to be pissed off and it is incredibly hard to not bring that home. He would be far happier in a different job and be happier at home. You seriously can't sacrifice any of your crap so that your husband can have a happier life? Isn't that what a wife does? Good grief, if you love him, you would want him to be happy. Are you, by chance, the same anon who was upset about the fat wife post?

  25. Anon@2:18

    I think that's a fair offer re: the auto situation. Asking him to spend less on toys and entertainment would be fair if he changed jobs (asking for no spending on toys or entertainment seems more vengeful than fair). But here's what really counts: lets assume he agreed to those things, but in order to get by on the income of his new job (which makes him happier), you had to cut back on those things as well. Would you support him trading income for happiness if it meant moving to a smaller house, or only eating at a restaraunt a handful of times per year, or giving up cable television?

  26. bookshelf says:

    @ Anon
    "He is the one who will benefit from the changes, so he should be the one making most of the sacrifices."

    Sounds fair and simple on the surface, but it still affects the family unit as a whole and his wife probably realizes this. Is he allowed to spread his cost reductions across all of his expenses or just some? A quick look at all of my pay's larger expenses shows things like her spending money, gas in her car, toys for kids, hair appointments, family eating out, etc. So it impacts everyone at some point in practice. Still a team effort on lifestyle adjustments. YES, I or he would always be wise to start with our extras like TV sports packages, golfing, etc., but when I look at my spreadsheet, my stuff isn't by far the biggest chunk (oh, and my boys watch more ball games than I do – so that's not all mine.)

    It's tough, but when you know you are overextended on effort for the returns you are getting, something has to give. No spouse is initially comfortable with the other reducing income that everyone in the house has become accustomed to. But everyone in the house benefits greatly by not having to hate living with a monster that had his soul-sucked out. If my wife wouldn't be willing to trade "stuff" for a happier husband, then I am better off knowing now rather than later.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @ Eric

    I think that a man is incredibly selfish if he asks the other 3 people in his family to give up a lot because he doesn't like his job. Why make everyone unhappy because you are unhappy?

    A smaller house might be doable if the kids wouldn't have to share bedrooms or change schools. If they would then he's being unreasonable. The cable thing is not a huge deal to me but the kids would certainly be less happy without it. I do most of the cooking in my house so I would be very unhappy if I had to do a lot more of it because we could no longer afford to eat out. I also would not want to give up spa visits, my gym/personal trainer and my hair stylist. If a wife did this, then husband's next complaint would probably be that she's letting herself go.

    Basically what the man in this scenario is saying is "I want you to work harder and enjoy yourself less so that I can work less and enjoy myself more." Unless the wife wasn't pulling her weight in the first place it is not a fair thing to do to your spouse.

  28. Anonymous says:

    "wouldn't have to share bedrooms"

    Oh the humanity! Some kids don't even have homes these days – they stay in shelters.

    "I also would not want to give up spa visits, my gym/personal trainer"

    This is why men are giving up on marriageā€¦and I don't blame them.

    I completely understand the whole soul-sucking job situation; have done it for years when it was absolutely necessary; as a permanent life situation it can kill you or put you in the hospital at least, that's been my personal experience.

    The Non-Material Girl

  29. "For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do. Asking to be thanked for supporting your family is a bit like asking to be thanked for being a law abiding citizen, washing your own ass and caring for your children. I guess it doesn't hurt anything to thank him and it makes him feel better, but it is odd to me that men need that. I wonder if the men who find that necessary thank their wives for doing their basic wifely duties?"


    Are you my wife, or just coaching her on what to say to me?

    My God, yes, it is necessary to thank each other for contributing to the family! Thank with words. Thank with actions. Often and sincerely.

    Marriage is not really about "duties" anyway. Duties are provided by compulsion. But all adult relationships are voluntary.

    I became a lot happier when I stopped worrying about right and wrong, duties and obligations, and who's breaking what rule. None of that means anything in a marriage. Duty is a weak motivator. So is guilt.

    If a spouse is not behaving in a way you find acceptable or fulfilling, there's nothing to be gained by resorting to the assertion, "You owe me." A more helpful way to look at it is that YOU have failed to inspire sufficient feelings of love and devotion in your spouse to get what you want.

    Those feelings are real. The behavior that evokes them is real. But citing your spouse's "duties" is relying on abstractions to motivate someone. That will never work in the long run. What you end up with is a decade or more of collected resentments over all the things you were owed but didn't get.

  30. bookshelf says:

    @ Anon
    That's hilarious.
    But don't worry, this is so easily addressed for you!
    Step 1) Identify the percentage of the total household income that you contribute.
    Step 2) Substantially increase your contribution.

    What's that? YOU can't provide separate bedrooms for everyone? They can sleep at the gym (bonus – it has multi-screen TV included.)

    Just a wild hunch, but I am pretty sure that when you start working enough to provide for all, your husband might enjoy taking cooking classes (after his gym session of course) and happily cook for you EVERY night.

    You don't want the soul-sucking for you? That's OK too, just figure-out the value. Everything has a cost associated with the benefit.

  31. Anon@4:11, Or maybe the man wants to work less so he can enjoy his family more (as opposed to punishing them). That might mean cooking more meals or being more involved with the kids. That might mean working out with you at home (Supreme 90 Day costs $20, and provides excellent results) instead of going to the trainer.

    I spent most of my daughter's second year leaving for work before she woke up in the morning and getting home after she'd gone to sleep. I missed so much, and I hated myself for being the type of person who would prioritize money over being engaged with my family. When I'd had enough, my wife was glad to give up a few luxuries as I went through a career transition, and now 7 years on the other side of it we are better off financially and (more importantly) our marriage is stronger because of what we went through together. I'm sure glad she didn't look at it as me just wanting to do less so she'd have to do more.

  32. So do most men want a verbal "thank you?" I know that my husband's love language is words of affirmation and affection. Mine is quality time and acts of service.

    My husband is always walking around praising me, thanking me, and telling me I'm beautiful. It doesn't really do anything for me because I already know he loves me because he works hard to provide for us and is always pro-active fixing things and doing important stuff with the kids.

    I have to constantly remember to say thank you to him, because that is his love language. When I care for his kids, make his dinner, clean his house, do his laundry, run his errands, and get him things he needs when he only asks once – that is me showing him I love him. He doesn't always notice, because he needs to be praised and given affection to know I care.

    I wonder how much of this is just couples not knowing each other's love language.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @ Non Material Girl – If some men give up on marriage because some women refuse to let themselves go then I don't care. Because I take care with my appearance finding another man to marry would not be hard for me. I'm surprised that this is an unpopular opinion considering that few posts ago people were complaining about fat women.

    As far as the bedrooms go, there are some kids who don't even have food. What does that have to do with my standards for my kids?

    @bookshelf – I already pull my weight in my marriage. If I have to increase what I contribute then I will also be pulling his. I wouldn't be OK with that. Thankfully, my husband is the kind of man who wouldn't be Ok with that either.

  34. Anonymous says:

    A great many men DO thrive on positive reinforcement. Some will work themselves to death just seeking it—it seems somehow imbedded in the male psyche.

    As far as being a thankful wife/gf, think about all the people out there that do nothing for anyone but themselves. Perhaps it's good to, once in a while, recognize how lucky you really are to be taken care of in an increasingly "every man for himself" world.

    I have been blessed with an extremely ambitious and giving man. He's got all the alpha and beta traits in SPADES. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I thank him with home cooked meals from scratch, dolling myself up, oil massages, flirty love notes, and other ego-stroking things.

    I've come up with a theory that you can edge a beta male into alpha simply by turning up the feminine whiles and submissiveness full tilt. But who knows if it would work on everyone, maybe I am just lucky.

  35. Anonymous says:

    @ Cal – I'm pretty sure that we aren't married, but I you make good points about being grateful for each other in general. It seems like the man who wrote the email was doing what he should, then started slacking, and the advice is to thank him for doing what he should. I don't like the idea, but I guess the end result is the most important part.

    @ Eric – It is one thing to make a plan that will leave you happier and better off financially in the end. It is another thing to suddenly start slacking on your responsibilities and leave your wife holding the bag and the stress. The man who wrote the email didn't seem to have a plan to improve matters. He was "happy" and "alpha" where he was while his wife was unhappy and stressed. Hardly fair or reasonable behavior.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Aw Cal, I'm so sorry. I would have hoped discovering that disturbing part of your wife's past would have helped you both.


  37. Thank you, Jennifer. I believe it did help when I understood why my wife has such strong resistance to showing gratitude. It was used to demean her. But that's nothing compared to what it would cost her to apologize! That was an exercise in humiliation.

    My story is far different. I was more or less on my own from age 10, malnourished due to neglect, despite living in a nice middle class house. I learned to ingratiate myself to adults, and sponged off my friends' parents for most of that time. It's also where I got my encouragement and guidance, since my father was in prison and my mother was addicted to prescriptions. Saying please, thank you and sorry are NO PROBLEM for me! It's what I used to charm my way through some rough years.

    The problem I have now is that I learned my wife's emotional landscape about 10 years too late. I expected a kind of gratitude that she finds very hard to give, for reasons that have nothing to do with me. In turn, I withheld sex, and she eventually went out and found a new life and love interest. The toll of all that is heavy. I like to think this can all be turned around, but I've only been applying these principles for a couple of months, and inexpertly at that.

  38. Jack Amok says:

    Thinking about the email situation a bit more, it occured to me the real problem isn't how much the guy is working or earning, it's that he isn't stepping up to be the Captain.

    What we have is two crew members (the wife, and the husband in his role as primary breadwinner) who disagree about where the ship ought to be going. The crewmembers can't reconcile their dispute because each one, from their own perspective, is right. What they need is the Captian to take stock of the situation, provide leadership, and make a decision for the good of the ship, er, I mean family.

    The husband (Cal, is that you?) has to take off his working-guy hat and put on the Captain's Hat. Once he does that, once he starts looking at the problem as reconciling conflicting interests in the family, he'll have a much better chance of finding a solution that makes everyone happy. Right now, at least based on Athol's recap, he's just looking at it as another crewman, wonder who wins, me or her?

    Be the Captain!

  39. Athol Kay says:

    For some reason men need a lot of appreciation for doing what they are supposed to do. Asking to be thanked for supporting your family is a bit like asking to be thanked for being a law abiding citizen, washing your own ass and caring for your children. I guess it doesn't hurt anything to thank him and it makes him feel better, but it is odd to me that men need that. I wonder if the men who find that necessary thank their wives for doing their basic wifely duties?

    It's a very sound behavioral move to give positive attention to the behavior you want to see continue. It's called "catching them when they are good."

    It seems like the man who wrote the email was doing what he should, then started slacking

    Not true. He is in IT and developed a system for a company that made him indispensible and expensive… then they outscourced it all to India to get rid of him and now he works a more standard IT job/pay rate.

  40. No, I am not the husband in this post. I'm commenting
    On it because I can relate — my marriage began to break up over the strain of my soul-sucking job, my desire to leave it, my wife's total opposition to that idea, despite my having encouraged her to make a switch when she had been in a similar situation. I perceived her pressure to endure in it as brutal, unsupportive and a shocking lack of empathy. It was downhill from there.

  41. I'm sorry, Cal. Is she worried about the economy? It is hard to switch jobs right now.

  42. Sometimes, a couple can blame each other for what's mutually their fault as a team.

    This is guesswork and I won't be casting stones. This is a note for the future.

    They need to be more fiscally responsible. A high paying job means there should've been so much surplus not only tucked away in the bank, but tied up in a lot of investments, which meant little worry about current bills provided a steady income. They need to deflate their lifestyle and put a heck a lot more aside. Everyone should have an emergency cash fund, worth probably three months' salary. This could be for car breakdowns, losing jobs, medical bills, anything.

    But there's no need to worry ultimately about any money issues with regards to debt if there's a steady income. Debts can be paid down provided that you hold down a job.

    It's easy for anyone to just pay for stuff they don't need. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy security. Shelter, food, that's all you really need. The rest is acessories.

    It's so hard for couples to work through money issues. One may be reasonable about it, the other not. People have portfolio careers now, changing jobs is a given. But couples don't realise how much of selfhood and the way they look at each other is invested in jobs.

    Basically if you marry someone for themselves and not the money, you've got support them having a steady job that they're happy with. You've got to deflate your lifestyle, and focus on loving your partner, working through financial issues sensibly together. That goes for both genders.

    Making my guy stick to a job he hates just so I can live our current lifestyle is appalling to me. I wouldn't want him to do that to me, and I wouldn't want to subject him to that. I'd rather earn technically more than have him unable to enjoy life. I know doctor couples (they don't get paid much here until training finishes) who took turns taking time out and flexible jobs so that they could look after their kids, and work around their training. They also were sensible, so saved up enough to get a decent home and lifestyle.

    A good couple can do it. But it has to come from both sides. They have to learn to be a team when it comes to finances.

  43. Thunder says:

    As the Husband who sent the email to Athol, the discussions have been very illuminating.

    After working almost 15 years at jobs for long hours, lots of stress, and travel I finally ended up at a job (after I was let go from my previous one) that is low stress, no travel and allows me to have more quality time with my family – and for myself. Of course for less pay. (At the time it was the best paying job I could find.)
    I am trying to balance the financial issues with the benefits of this current job.
    While I am always keeping an eye out for what else is out there I am in no rush to jump ship.

    For now, we will need to deal with tougher financial realities and continue to tighten our belts.
    At some point, my quality of life needs to come before the extra money.

  44. The MacNut says:

    I find myself thinking about the other side of this issue, the side we may have all heard about; where the husband works from crack of dawn to well past dusk in a high-stress but high paying job. His family gets a nice living from his income, but doesn't see much of him, since he's, y'know, working to make that income.

    You know how this story all too often ends-the wife, feeling neglected by a husband she hardly sees, eventually leaves him for another man who's more available (or more likely, kicks the husband out of their fine home he paid for and moves the other man in) and the kids aren't overly upset about it since Dad's a virtual stranger to them too.

    I've seen that happen to men who thought they were "doing the right thing" and "making the necessary sacrifices" for their family. Only they end up losing that family to other men who reap the material rewards of their hard work, and end up estranged from families who took that hard work entirely for granted. Can you blame other guys who've seen this happen (who may have been the sons of men this happened to!) not wanting to end up like that?

    Sure, you can say choosing the right mate can forestall that, but can you really predict what someone will do 5, 10 or more years down the line? Especially when women these days appear to be a LOT less forgiving and understanding of men working long hours and doing a lot of business travelling than their mothers and grandmothers were.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Throw in the all to frequent death by AMI or cancer diagnosis around 50 and you've finished the profile.

    And the guv'ment getting half the entire time.

    Fork that noise. Get off the hamster wheel.

  46. @Lainey: she's worried about the economy, yes, but fortunately, I just recently started in the best job I've ever had. We're in a deep hole financially, but just now starting to dig out of it.

    The other part of our financial situation is that my wife has a work-at-home career that she loves. It defines her as a person. I'm not sure she can relate to how hard it is for me to work in a soul-sucking job, because she hard in a very fulfilling job. It's so fulfilling that her main problem is that she suspects that no one respects the fact that what she does requires actual work. She believes that everyone thinks her job is all fun, all the time, when she actually works at it quite diligently. (Still, her work load is maybe one tenth of mine, which has none of the fulfillment aspects and a thousand soul-sucking elements to boot.)

    Her career has been in jeopardy. For about a year, she has had good reason to believe that her career is basically over, and she will have to find something else to do with her life. As a result, she's been in a more or less constant low-grade panic for all that time, which has been punctuated with sporadic moments of intense panic.

    But just YESTERDAY she got some very good news, and now it looks like her worst fears about the end of her career will not actually come true.

    So, things are looking up.

  47. I think the wife's problem has less to do with her family's financial situation and more to do with her husband's apparent lack of mission. Yeah, Athol mentioned that she was stressed about paying the bills, but as long as the bills are getting paid, I think that's just her way of telling him that he seems to be low on mojo.

    The reason lots of women will fall for "starving artists" despite their complete lack of financial resources is that they most definitely have missions. Such men want to "make it big" or "create a masterpiece," and a woman's hamster will happily rationalize away any financial hardship her attachment to such a man brings by telling her that once he makes it, all their worries will vanish.

    In today's world, most guys don't have a mission in life tied to one particular task or skill. They just do jobs to earn money and make a living, so "making money" becomes their mission. Not wanting to make money=not having a mission. If this guy found himself a job that fired him up, that made him want to work 80 hours a week no matter what the pay, AND that also had at least some tiny, remote chance of getting extremely lucrative at some point, she would probably be okay with even less salary than he's pulling in now. Instead, it seems as if he's just getting by, not with money, but in life, which isn't enough for her.

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