My husband is a workaholic. It’s like a disease, only dumber. Last night, I had to call and remind him that 18 hours is more than enough for one day. I made the call at 2:30 am in the morning and I think it is a sign of how used to his symptoms I have become that when he called me at 9:30 pm to tell me he would be late(r), I was more surprised he called at all than the lateness of the hour.
It is not like this is a new illness that has recently come upon him. Oh no, he was like this when I met him. He and his friend M would show up at my friend MJ’s after work on Friday night for drinks. They never came over earlier than 8:30 pm and often, it was closer to 9:30. One of the first times we were supposed to “hang out” without others around (which I didn’t realize was a date and I don’t think counts as one because of the rest of the story), he showed up two hours late to pick me up - on a Saturday morning. Where was he? He was at work, of course! We may have missed the beer fest in Chapel Hill, but we did have a nice time all the same. Once we actually started dating (much easier to identify with the sex and all), his habits didn’t change, but at least he didn’t have to eat Chinese alone.
I am going to skip the brief, nightmarish period of our lives together where he worked out of our shared apartment. The less said about it the better, but how we managed to get married when he worked from sunup EST to sundown PST I will never know.
Anyway, onto a new job, a new city, and new levels of work dementia – our first Christmas Eve in our home, we had his brother and lovely wife over for dinner. My dippy dear came home mid-afternoon. An early day! Yay! However, during dinner, his brother seemed perplexed that the office had even been open at all and forced to either lie or confess, my husband sheepishly replied that well, yes, the office actually had been closed. While I stared at him in shock, he explained that he really hadn’t realized it was closed, but since he was there, he figured he’d get a lot of work done. And, he went on to point out, he had come home early.
My husband in a nutshell: the office was closed, but at least he got a lot of work done.
There are benefits to being married to a workaholic. I get to watch whatever I want on TV at night. I get to hog the blankets on the couch. On the nights he is home, I get to foist the kids off on him with nary a pang of guilt. Lest you think I am a pushover, he also does get punished for egregious lateness. End-of-quarter, end-of-year, or holiday season (he’s senior management for an e-retailer), lateness is expected. When end-of-quarter falls on every major holiday, as it did this year, trapping him in the office over Easter, the Fourth of July weekend, and New Years? I grin and bear it. But working late just for the sake of working? That is punishable by a fine of one $25 gift card to BN. This year I earned so many I actually have a few stashed away. As my friend C explains, being late is not the problem, being late when you say you are going to be early is. So, on the rare nights when I cooked a nice meal, or needed him home for an event, or was sick – kaching!
I’d complain (more than just in a blog) but really, when there is one paycheck for four people, how do you tell the guy earning it not to work so hard? True, I did honestly believe you couldn’t turn off a CrackBerry because I had never seen one in a resting state, I have threatened to throw it in various bodies of water, and considering his work habits, a less self-confident woman might believe he is cheating – but I just let it all pass. Sure, we were once SIX HOURS LATE to a weekend getaway (with his family), and every friend can tell a story of how I arrived late because I was waiting for my husband to get home, but now they just lie to me and tell me earlier times and it all works out. As for cheating? Never. He was so subtle about asking me out on dates that we went on three of them before I realized what they were. The man hasn’t spoken to a stranger since 1982 and practically has to be stepped on to make a sound in front of friends we have known for years. The only mistress he has is strapped to his belt and allows him to play Angry Birds in the bathroom.
So when he does come home “early” so that I can attend book club, or PTA meetings, or mom’s night out, I do try to appreciate his efforts. This year, he made great strides and actually took two separate vacations without his laptop. He doesn’t check e-mail under the table at dinner anymore (mostly) and has been known to make it through an entire movie without getting up to check his messages. He may even use all of his vacation days. Baby steps, but I’ll take them. Because really - what would I do if he suddenly started showing up in time for a hot meal every night? Learn to cook? Only if he, he himself, the Grinch carved the roast beast.