Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ships Passing in the Night

My boyfriend and I fight about two things: how messy I think he his and his work hours.

I work your typical 9am to 6pm schedule. He is a sports writer/editor for a newspaper and works from 2pm to 2am five days a week, days that change every week and include weekends. As someone with a conventional work schedule that doesn't change, his schedule frustrates me a great deal. He, however, accepts this as the nature of his industry.

I've mentioned his love for his job before and that he's wanted to be a sports journalist his whole life. He works, hard, long, odd-hours for unreasonable compensation and loves it.

He and I approach work in very different ways; I, while I love my job, work to live and he lives to work. Add that to his crazy, always changing schedule and you have one very frustrated girlfriend. I get annoyed when he isn't off on weekends and I want him to go to a party or I find myself alone with no one to hang out with. I get annoyed when he make plans with friends on a day he has off because that's time I'm losing with him (I know, I have to work on this one).

We also live in two different cities. He is only an hour and fifteen minutes outside of New York so it's not far enough to be considered long-distance but it's not close enough that I see him as often as I'd like. Again, frustrating. Eventually, likely later this year, we'll move in together. Here in the city (a huge give on his part). So we'll at least be sleeping in the same bed at night but could still go days without being awake together at the same time.

In my perfect world, we'd have similar work schedules. Schedules that didn't include nights or weekends. I could make plans with my friends without checking if it's his night off or we could take a weekend trip without using his vacation days. As much as I hope that will happen and happen soon, it doesn't look like it's in the cards.

My M.O. with this situation is to get upset, fight and then get over it only to get upset a few weeks or months later. A draining cycle for both him and I. So I'm wondering, how am I supposed to deal with this long-term? How do those of you who have significant others with opposing work schedules deal?

21 comments:

Miss Adventurous said...

I know exactly how you feel... me and my boyfriend have pretty opposite schedules as well. I work during the day from 8-3 and he works at a hospital from 3:30-11:30. Luckily it's only M-F and he's only on call sometimes, but it still really sucks!

I haven't found out how to deal with it yet- it's the major cause of strain in our relationship. I'm obviously not going to push him to give up a career that he's spent so many years in school for... all I can hope for is that as he gains seniority in the hospital ranks he can choose better hours.

It's definitely a problem with no easy solution. You're not the only one!!!

Mel-Rox said...

I feel you sort of on this. However, my husband and I have almost the same work schedules. It's the off time that is our problem.

I work a second job one night a week. Mondays. I leave job #1 and head straight to job #2 and don't get home until 1am. I am back up at 6am with him. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays he has a jiu jitsu class. Wednesdays he has fishing tournaments and on Thursday nights we both play pool together. With me playing on Wednesdays as well while he goes fishing. We only have Fri-Sun left and our weekends are crammed full of weddings, parties, work functions and various other arrays of anything other than relaxation. It's rough. I feel you on the issues.

Young Mom/Wife said...

My husband works 12 hour shifts, 3 days on, 2 days off, 2 days on, 3 days off... Every other month he rotates to nights. It does completely suck, and he does love it. It was very hard for him to understand why I was so pissy, and we did fight the first few weeks. But once we sat down like adults and talked about it, in a calm non-yelling at each other, manner it worked itself out. When he is home he tries to hang out before he goes to sleep. We try to do as much as possible on his off days.

I think in your situation, you may have to let him know that you are frustrated about him making plans with his friends on his off days and why. If you two want it to work, I promise you two will find a way!

Sweet Carolina Bride said...

My husband and I are currently working very different hours and until the end of the football season, we will be. We try to make sure to not schedule things away from each other when we're both off. Like you, I work a traditional 8:30 to 5, but my job also requires a lot of after hours events and travel.

It took me a while to get used to us having such different schedules during this part of the year (and I'm sure it will require an adjustment even more as this is the first year we've been married), but I've decided that I should take advantage of that "me" time and enjoy doing things he doesn't like to do and hanging out with my girlfriends.

It takes an adjustment on both parts, but it's worth it in the end! Don't worry!

Megan said...

My boyfriend, an investment banker, doesn't necessarily have opposing hours, or at least, his hours would be opposing no matter what. He works from 8 a.m. until sometimes 3 or 4 a.m., and while that's not often, an early night for him is 10 p.m. Weekend works vary, but I totally understand what you mean about having to constantly worry about making plans and checking in with him for everything, often to not even really get an answer. We too have to alert all of his bosses before taking a weekend trip. And I've been dealing with this for almost 2 years! It's hard, and it used to drain on me a lot, still does sometimes when he misses big or important dates because of work. But on a day to day basis, I have taken the opinion that I like him working, because it allows me to have my own life. I have figured out that if I want to do something with my friends, and he gets off work and wants to join, he is always welcome, but I can't plan my whole life around his ever-changing unstable schedule. And it really works! It makes you feel less like a dependent woman stuck at home waiting constantly for your man, and gives you some power in the relationship. Which I think is really why we all hate boyfriends that work too much anyway. It does suck to miss people, but really, its about losing some power in your life and relationship to his job. Hope this helps!

Caitlin said...

Add me to this group! My boyfriend works alone and for himself, so he works whenever he (or his clients) want. He will end up working until 6 in the morning and sleeping until 4 in the afternoon, when I'm about to get off of work.

It's frustrating when he ends up having to work nights and weekends because sometimes I have to find someone else to accompany me places, when I just want him to.

And it's one of those things where it'll be really rough for a stretch of time, then peachy for a stretch of time. I'm getting better at dealing with it, knowing he isn't doing it to annoy me, ha.

Erin said...

I've totally been there! I work days and my (now ex) bf worked nights (bartending). It was difficult to find time to see each other, for sure. Even though it bothered me, a lot, I accepted it, because he didn't plan on doing it forever. It was just something that we had to overcome. However, it turned out that it bothered him a lot more than it bothered me. We would fight about it, I'd tell him that he'd been to find a day job. And he'd say "Why don't YOU get a different job?" - Um, because mine is fulltime, and is during normal business hours.
Anyway, this wasn't the reason we ended things. So don't worry! I'm sure moving in together will help things a bit. And then eventually, when he earns it, he'll get more normal hours, no?

Katie cat said...

Send each other lots of emails and text messages throughout the day to keep each other company.

Take a vacation together.

(maybe you've already done or are doing this)

My boyfriend and I are long distance (FL and NY), and we just make the most of chatting throughout the day in whatever way we can, and seeing each other on the holidays.

Girl About Business said...

It seems as though you guys are pretty serious about each other, considering you're moving in together soon. In this situation, it could be tricky. You work conflicting schedules, AND you live 1.5 hours apart.

My advice would be to pick a day out of the month that is your guys' day. Make that day a priority, and always plan something fun and exciting to do so that you'll always have those memories when you're feeling bummed out about not seeing him. It'll help you get through it just by thinking about the next time you two will have that much fun together.

I concur with another reader, send each other texts throughout the day. Emails, or maybe even snail mail as a kind, flirty gesture.

Since your time together is limited, when you do get together, turn off all technology. Focus on your relationship, and don't mention the bad. However, don't suppress it either. Cope with it, and there are plenty of ways to deal.

I could go on for days on how to keep a long distance/straining relationship alive. I've been there- Michigan vs. California...

It's not easy, at all. It takes willpower!

Sarah said...

I am currently dealing with this situation and planned on writing a post about it. My boyfriend has been trying to find work for at least 6 months now as he was laid off from his company. All of the jobs that he is currently looking into as future careers are opposite work schedules than me.

I was extremely bummed about it but have accepted that he will work different hours. We have talked about it to great lengths and I'm sure we'll talk about it more when he finds a job.

Most of his jobs that he is interested in are far away (ie; Air Force, Police, Coast Guard, just to name a few)I'm trying to deal with it the best way I can.

I know that whatever comes our way that we will make it work it will just be harder than it has before.

I understand exactly how you feel as I'm just now going through all of this "exciting" stuff.

Good Luck I'm sure things will work out.

Elizabeth said...

My situation is actually just the opposite of yours. My boyfriend is a lawyer and generally works 9-6, with the occasional weekend of work here and there. But I work at a newspaper, where on my earliest day I get off at 9 p.m. (usually I'm there until 11 p.m. or 1 a.m.). My boyfriend and I moved in together a few months ago, so that's increased the amount of time we see each other, but it's really hard having our schedules, harder than I thought it would be.

I will say, though, at least when I leave work, I am done with work — nothing comes home with me. How do you guys deal with a partner who has to bring home work on nights and weekends?

Magic City College Girl said...

i have been there too. my boyfriend an i now have somewhat similar schedules. its mostly my friends and i have crazy scedules lately. i'm not exactly sure what i can tell you to help you deal with this. for me i just had to be patient and just work with it when this happened to my boyfriend and i. we try to schedule time together as much as possible since we dont get to see eachother that much so we make the most of it when we do see eachother. we plan to move in together too and that will make it easier to spend more time together. these kinds of things take time. for rigt now you two might just have to be patient until you do move in together. or since you have crazy but stable schedules maybe you can figure out when y ou two do have day off that work with eachother and plan time then. it can be hard but you two will get through it.

Anonymous said...

Just some advice because you asked...My boyfriend has a very demanding career as well and works whatever hours the hospital tells him to. For example this year, he is working every single holiday except Thanksgiving and our birthdays as well. He is in residency and working 80 hours a week and is often on call when he is home.

We do not live together, but have been together for 2 years. We balance the time he does have off with "together time" and when he needs to be with just the guys, or alone. I can not expect him to spend every night he has off fitting into my plans. That will just foster bitter feelings in the relationship.

It isn't easy...but I know that is part of being in a relationship with him. But I don't *have to* date him if I feel like I'm not getting what I need. It is something you can choose to either fully accept or not.

When we are together I make a point of not spending that time fighting with him about his schedule. I don't expect to change him or his work ethic. His schedule is set. It will be busy for the rest of his life. Even when things slow down after residency, I know I am dating someone who is work-driven so I expect he will find other activies to be involved in.

If you are not getting what you need now, I suggest you really think about living with his schedule/work ethic long term, esp. before you move in together. Talk with him about your expectations and then instead of wanting him to change just decide if he can meet them or not.

Sleeping in the same bed is not a fix-all... in fact it might just make you miss him even more.

D. Ramblings said...

This is the toughest problem! My husband works 10-7 and is off on random days during the week. Right now, it's Tues & Wed.
We were dating when he got the job and it caused lots of fights. Over time, I've just adjusted and accepted the fact that the hours are not what they would be in my dream world. Of course, right now things are easier b/c I'm laid off and we have time to spend together on his off days.
Still, having an SO that works weekends sucks, plain and simple. I think the key is to make the most of the time you have together and realize that he still needs his alone time or time w/ his friends. (That was a hard one for me to adjust to)

Anonymous said...

I totally understand, my bf has an 8-4 schedule and lots of holidays while on the other hand I work until late and have to bring work home with me some weekends and have just a few vacation days a year, it totally frustrates me, as I expect him to be available for me on my little free time but sometimes he has other plans, sometimes id really complicated and I haven´t figured out yet how to manage this.

Bridget said...

My husband and I did exactly what you're doing for a year (actually, the first year we were married). It was really tough! We just learned to be absolutely appreciative of the time we had together. At one point, we were not awake together for 11 days in a row, and we lived in the same apartment!

For us, it was just impossible. Things have been so much happier since he found a job that has more normal hours.

My only advice to you is to be aware that the person is not the reason for the problem--it's the situation--so don't fight/blame him when it's not actually him you're mad at. You're mad at the situation... Does that make sense?

Best of luck!

kacijohanna said...

I totally understand what you mean about wishing for similar work schedules. I deal with this daily.

At least your boy has a set time schedule - I work at a newspaper and I work through the day... until whenever we finish the paper. That's about a four or five hour gap. Not. Cool.

Anyway, I can relate. Hang tough.

Anonymous said...

Me and my boyfriend are both studying at university except he will be on his industrial year whilst I will be studying my 2nd year. So we aren't going to be able to see eachother much but atm he's working as an app developer in Rhondda 8-4 weekdays and I work 1-5 on weekends in Cardiff. We live about 20 minutes away from each other but only get to see each other for a couple of hours once/twice a week. Any advice for making more time for each other?

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel! My BF works 3rd shift at his job at a warehouse, and I work at a grocery store where my hours vary from week to week. And I usually have to work weekends. Where he usually doesn't.

If I do hang out with him it's only on a Saturday. So there has been a few times where I have the day off, and he decides to hang out with his friends which is VERY frustrating, and then the next weekend I work late and he doesn't like hanging out after I get off at a certain time. I don't live with him yet, so this whole thing is extremely frustrating especially because sometimes I won't see him for a couple of weeks in a row. I know when we starting living together it'll be a tad more easier to handle.. but right now it's annoying!

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