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I''m afraid work is killing our relationship

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lucyandroger

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SO and I had a fight tonight...unfortunately it''s been happening quite a bit since we started working.

Background: SO and I both just graduated from law school and started working at large law firms. SO''s firm has been relatively slow because of the recession but he still works longer hours than most. I work extremely long and unpredictable hours.

While we were in law school and our few months off between law school and working, SO and I spent pretty much 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week together (except for some time off to visit with friends). We''re one of those couples that love to be together. We haven''t spent one night apart in 2 years.

Well now that we started working, we have very little time together. Luckily I can often bring work home with me so that I can get out of the office for dinner but everytime I work from home, SO gets very angry with me. He gets upset that I''m paying attention to work and we end up spending what little time we do have arguing. He acts like I WANT to work all night. Unfortunately, I don''t have control over my schedule. If a partner or client asks for something at 8, I just have to do it. I can''t just ignore it to cuddle up with SO no matter how much I want to.

He understands all this because he''s in the same field but he just can''t help but be disappointed and thus, get upset with me. He''s not a laid back guy and it doesn''t help that he''s sensitive that his firm is slow and he''s generally not happy with his job/office/co-workers.

I just don''t know what to do to make it better. We knew going in that taking these jobs was going to make life difficult but we didn''t realize how hard it would be. Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone else experienced this?

I just feel like SO is being irrational. I don''t know what he wants me to do - get myself fired??? Anyway, thank you if you read all this. I know it''s kind of a vent but I would like to hear any other experiences. I''m so scared that we''re ruining an otherwise wonderful relationship.
 

mrscushion

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I'm so sorry, that sounds tough. In addition to getting used to the tough lifestyle you'll be leading for the immediate future, you have SO's antics to worry about. You're right -- he is a law associate too and must know that this is what it's like. You can't just work less, particularly in your first year.

I'd sit him down and talk to him about it at length. Maybe you can't work from home anymore -- maybe you need to stay in the office and make "home time" (however little of it you can squeeze out every week) about the two of you only.

On the upside, it sounds to me like you are just going through a "normal" transition period that your relationship is probably going to survive & maybe grow stronger by. This is the life you've both chosen for the next few years -- if you've really spent 24/7 together (by the way, I am in a similar relationship, we are always together), it sounds like you have a really strong relationship that won't be killed anytime soon.
 

Bia

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You''re not doing anything wrong, it''s just an adjustment period because you went from spending so much time together, to a lot less time together, and that can be rough. BUT work is your bread and butter, and from what I hear, being an attorney in this climate is not easy.

Maybe try planning a romantic weekend, or just evening, in the next few days when you have some time. Let SO know how much you miss him and how much you love him. Also, use that as an opportunity to talk to him about your schedule. Explain that the lack of ''together time'' is not what you want, but it''s a fact of life right now. If you can, try to make an extra effort each day to let him know he''s still important (not that you don''t do that know, because Im sure you do). Sometimes when we are busy we forget the little things, you know? And set aside some time each week to do the quality time thing.

I''m not a lawyer so I have no idea what it is like, but just like in anything, when you are fresh out of school and just starting out in your career, you have to pay your dues. Lawyers ten fold!!!
 

choro72

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Hi, I''m usually on the other side, and first of all I want to preface that you are not doing anything wrong. After all, one has got to put food on the table.
My argument to FI is that it will be nice to know that I''m on his mind when we are apart. One line of "hugs" or something like that, just once a day. When we talk on the phone it will be nice to hear him paying attention to only me even if it''s a 5 minute conversation. And when we do see each other on the weekends, it will make me feel special to see that he has some cheapo vanilla ice cream from some burger joint that he was at during the week, because he knows it''s the only flavor I eat.
These tiny things will keep me from feeling like I''m taken for granted, but I know it''s also attention consuming to follow through. It takes a LOT of effort and creativity to keep the balance in your lifestyle, but I''m sure you guys will find your own way.
 

trillionaire

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I would just suggest being a little creative. Can you all meet for lunch dates? Even if you have to work later, maybe that one hour midday would help. Or teleconference a lunch date. Get a web cam for your desk. Put a sign on your door and accept no interruptions. Send each other notes or text messages, picture mail or emails. Something saucier could be something like this... I think he will approve! Send that and make sure he checks the mail before you get home. Before you come home that night, change into a special outfit and come home in a trench coat. I''ll let you imagine for there.


Leave notes in his car, or write "I love you" on his car window. Encourage him to do little things to show his love, too. It can be a lot of fun. You can make a joke of your sh***y schedules and have ''5 minute makeout sessions", or 5 minute massages/cuddle sessions/head massages. Schedule baths together with a glass of wine. Order him a new cd by a favorite artist... or get a recipe from his mom for a favorite dessert.

the options are endless. When he is being irritable, put down your work and slow dance to 2 songs, or fast/silly dance until you are laughing. Squeeze out the little moments.
 

ANGEL WANTS A HALO

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The best advice I can give is, "Attack the problem, not eachother".
 

bee*

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I think that it''s definitely an adjustment period from going from college to working full time. D and I were the same. We''re kind of in the opposite situation at the moment in that D was made redundant back in October and had been working from home for the past while. The person that he''s working for demands things at all hours and he''s been up in the study working every night for the past few months. I have study to do myself so it''s been hard to spend time together even though we live together. D comes into me for a few minutes when I''m going to bed and gives me a cuddle so that makes me feel a bit better and I''ve just let it go as I know how worried D is about trying to earn money for us. I think that you just need to talk to him and let him understand that you do love him and care about him but unfortunately work gets in the way a lot.
 

swingirl

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Maybe around dinner time you should call DH and tell him you have more work to do. You could come home to have dinner with him and then continue to work at home or you could grab a quick bite and stay at the office until you are done. Which would he prefer.

I am guessing he will realize a little time together is better than none.
 

trillionaire

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Date: 4/10/2009 3:45:00 AM
Author: ANGEL WANTS A HALO
The best advice I can give is, ''Attack the problem, not eachother''.
lol, my idea for this? Get a team shirt made! Blend your names or nicknames and get two shirts that say Team ______ ! Then on the back, the motto: Attacking problems, not each other since 2006!


I think it would be hilarious. I''ve been planning to do this for years, and will get them when we are living together.

Then you can wear them and take funny team photos!
 

lucyandroger

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Thank you ladies so much for your responses!!

mscushion - Thanks for the support! I''ve been coming to the same conclusion as you about working from home but the problem is sometimes emergencies come up while I''m at home and also if I have to work until midnight, I''d much prefer to do it in my pjs. But you''re 100% right that this is where the conflict is coming from. SO sees "home time" as "us time." Maybe one option is to use our guest bedroom more as a home office...

Bia - Thank you! We''re taking your advice and going away this weekend just us instead of doing the usual family Easter.

Choro - It''s so helpful to hear the other side!

Trillionaire, you are hysterical!! I''m going to have to try some of your techniques! You''re definitely right that we need to bring more fun back into it!

ANGEL - that really is the problem! Somehow it became SO & our relationship vs. Me & my work....and I''m just wondering how that happened.

bee* - It''s good to hear that this normal. I''m just hoping we come out of it stronger and not resenting each other.

Swingirl - That''s been my exact argument...I''ve been saying wouldn''t you rather spend that little bit of time together rather than me being at the office where we can''t even see each other at all. Plus, he seems to turn what little time we have into a fight which is the MOST frustrating part for me.


Well, SO and I had a talk this morning and "made up" but didn''t really resolve anything besides agreeing not to be mad at each other. We''re going away this weekend to his mom''s condo near the beach rather than doing the usual Easter thing with the family (they''re really understanding). We''re going to have to do a lot of talking and re-connecting. We''ve been through a lot of stressful times together - my concern is that there has always been an end point in sight whereas, we''re unfortunately going to be in this position for a few years...

I really, really aprreciate you ladies offering your support and advice.
 

gwendolyn

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That''s a tough situation to be in. I think (in a twisted sort of way) that it''s sweet that your honey gets disappointed when you get called away from him by work when you''re at home. Maybe having a talk that''s removed from one of these arguments to say that you understand and share his frustration at your lack of quality time together and that maybe making clearer definitions between work time and couple time will help both of you cope. The idea of having a home office might help, but I think it is going to take quite a few little changes like this to make a noticeable difference. I like the idea of setting aside some regular time, like a weekday lunch, or maybe you could arrange a date night that you observe regularly, even if extra work comes up (I know that might mean you''d have to stay up extremely late sometimes but maybe seeing you put him before work now and then would help him feel loved and appreciated again). Dunno, just an idea.

Hope you both work through it. Don''t give up! You can work together to figure out a way to make things better!
 

purrfectpear

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As an associate I''d be surprised if either of you ever worked less than 65-70 hours a week. What did he think it was going to be like as an attorney
He should know that you''ll both be slaves for the next 6 years.

Frankly, I think he harbors some old fashioned values in his should-be-modern brain.


I''d tell him that if he can''t respect your work, then you won''t be coming home...you''ll stay at the office till it''s done. You don''t have time to argue, and you can''t afford for him to affect your work performance.
 

tlh

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Whenever you begin to fight, remove one article of clothing w/ each statement. Seriously, ends any dispute rather quickly... then you can get back to whatever business you need to attend to... I mean, I always have 10 minutes for THAT!

 

choro72

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Date: 4/10/2009 4:14:20 PM
Author: tlh
Whenever you begin to fight, remove one article of clothing w/ each statement. Seriously, ends any dispute rather quickly... then you can get back to whatever business you need to attend to... I mean, I always have 10 minutes for THAT!

Sorry for threadjack, but how do you do this? I heard about this before, but when I''m fighting with FI seeing or being in an act of removing clothes is the last thing I want to do. I think I''ll take that piece of clothing and strangle him (see other thread about temper...).
 

fieryred33143

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Date: 4/9/2009 11:52:40 PM
Author:lucyandroger


I just feel like SO is being irrational.
He''s not. And neither are you.

I''m not a lawyer myself but I have a lot of friends who are and the argument of working long hours and no time for oneself, let alone a partner, is a very common one amongst all of them. And the most unfortunate part of it all is that a lot of them feel like if you want to get ahead, you have to clock in a lot of face time (its the same with public accounting).

All isn''t lost though. You are both just frustrated with the situation. I think the best thing would be to come up with some sort of plan to spend time together. Maybe dedicate Saturday as couple day where you don''t do any work at all. You guys can plan an outing or just stay in bed all day (
). Also try to make it a habit to check in with one another at least once a day while you are working. Maybe set up some time to chat on the phone for 10 minutes. Those "hi babe how are you?" short phone calls can go a long way.
 

lucyandroger

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Date: 4/10/2009 10:33:40 AM
Author: purrfectpear
As an associate I'd be surprised if either of you ever worked less than 65-70 hours a week. What did he think it was going to be like as an attorney
He should know that you'll both be slaves for the next 6 years.

Frankly, I think he harbors some old fashioned values in his should-be-modern brain.


I'd tell him that if he can't respect your work, then you won't be coming home...you'll stay at the office till it's done. You don't have time to argue, and you can't afford for him to affect your work performance.
Ha! Well you just basically paraphrased my side of the argument last night!

I did accuse him of having "old fashioned values" which seem to have reared their ugly head lately. I told him that he can't have an SO that's available whenever he wants on his schedule and also bring in the salary that I do. It just doesn't work that way. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that his ego has been bruised because his firm is not doing so well in the recession and the attorneys were all surprised with a pay cut last week. Now for the first time he makes less money than I do (not a lot but still less). Plus he's not happy with his firm for various other reasons that I won't go into on a public forum.

He said he's miserable at work so he spends all day looking forward to our time together at night and gets disappointed when it's interrupted/ postponed. Every relationship before this one I was always the more ambitious one with the "better" career. In this relationship, we were equals - went to the same prestigious law school, both got jobs at great firms, made the same salary, etc. But now the balance is off and my having a healthy, busy firm is putting a strain on our relationship.

So I really think it's a mix of wanting the time together with a little bit of jealousy/ resentment and a whole lot of nervousness about his own career given the state of the economy.

I've never been one to deal well with men's egos...and I really don't know what there is to do to make this better since I'm not going to give up on my responsibilities at work and we can't create more time in a day...
 

mrscushion

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Date: 4/10/2009 5:14:38 PM
Author: lucyandroger
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that his ego has been bruised because his firm is not doing so well in the recession and the attorneys were all surprised with a pay cut last week. Now for the first time he makes less money than I do (not a lot but still less). Plus he's not happy with his firm for various other reasons that I won't go into on a public forum.
I've never been one to deal well with men's egos...and I really don't know what there is to do to make this better since I'm not going to give up on my responsibilities at work and we can't create more time in a day...
Yep. I think that's what it is, too. I think the vast majority of men still cannot handle making less or seeming less professionally successful than their female SOs. Plus, this seems to be the first economic downturn that is really affecting big law, or at least that's how it's portrayed all over the news... the economy is just nerve-wracking for most people right now. Not sure what to tell you. I think knowing what his issues stem from is a big part of making them better, though. Being extra nice, extra complimentary and extra-"feminine" (whatever that might mean to you) might help.
 

purrfectpear

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I think you''ve nailed it Lucy, and I also think that he''s not really as committed to his career as you are. Sounds like he likes the "idea" of being Roger, Esq. more than he likes the reality of it.

You have a better grasp of what it is to be an associate. You pay miserable dues for 6 years or so, then hopefully the big payoff - partnership.

You can tell him I said that no associate in his/her right mind is counting the minutes until they can be home for dinner
He either needs to commit to the career, or pick a new one if he wants to be successful. He won''t last long at the rate he''s going.
 

trillionaire

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Date: 4/10/2009 4:21:54 PM
Author: choro72


Date: 4/10/2009 4:14:20 PM
Author: tlh
Whenever you begin to fight, remove one article of clothing w/ each statement. Seriously, ends any dispute rather quickly... then you can get back to whatever business you need to attend to... I mean, I always have 10 minutes for THAT!

Sorry for threadjack, but how do you do this? I heard about this before, but when I'm fighting with FI seeing or being in an act of removing clothes is the last thing I want to do. I think I'll take that piece of clothing and strangle him (see other thread about temper...).
Ditto Choro. When I am upset, I AM NOT IN THE MOOD!


Which is funny, him not being in the mood when I am is the #1 way to make me upset. Then again, I am almost always in the mood... unless we are arguing! HA
 

iheartscience

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Date: 4/10/2009 5:14:38 PM
Author: lucyandroger
Date: 4/10/2009 10:33:40 AM

Author: purrfectpear

As an associate I''d be surprised if either of you ever worked less than 65-70 hours a week. What did he think it was going to be like as an attorney
He should know that you''ll both be slaves for the next 6 years.

Frankly, I think he harbors some old fashioned values in his should-be-modern brain.


I''d tell him that if he can''t respect your work, then you won''t be coming home...you''ll stay at the office till it''s done. You don''t have time to argue, and you can''t afford for him to affect your work performance.
Ha! Well you just basically paraphrased my side of the argument last night!

I did accuse him of having ''old fashioned values'' which seem to have reared their ugly head lately. I told him that he can''t have an SO that''s available whenever he wants on his schedule and also bring in the salary that I do. It just doesn''t work that way. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that his ego has been bruised because his firm is not doing so well in the recession and the attorneys were all surprised with a pay cut last week. Now for the first time he makes less money than I do (not a lot but still less). Plus he''s not happy with his firm for various other reasons that I won''t go into on a public forum.

He said he''s miserable at work so he spends all day looking forward to our time together at night and gets disappointed when it''s interrupted/ postponed. Every relationship before this one I was always the more ambitious one with the ''better'' career. In this relationship, we were equals - went to the same prestigious law school, both got jobs at great firms, made the same salary, etc. But now the balance is off and my having a healthy, busy firm is putting a strain on our relationship.

So I really think it''s a mix of wanting the time together with a little bit of jealousy/ resentment and a whole lot of nervousness about his own career given the state of the economy.

I''ve never been one to deal well with men''s egos...and I really don''t know what there is to do to make this better since I''m not going to give up on my responsibilities at work and we can''t create more time in a day...
This is exactly what I was thinking, too. Honestly, it''s pretty selfish of him lay a guilt trip on you when you''re working your ass off all day and night. I am also not very good at playing the fragile male ego game...I certainly wouldn''t go out of my way to make him feel better, though. He just needs to get over it.

(Hope this doesn''t sound too harsh because I don''t mean it that way at all! I just really dislike it when people act like this!)
 

Brown.Eyed.Girl

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I''m sorry to hear about this L&R. Your story really touches home because BF and I will be graduating from law school in a year and both going on to firms (same firm for us though). Already there''s quite a bit of stress as far as whether we''re going to get deferred, whether this market is going to get worse, etc. I can''t imagine being junior associates right now - no wonder he''s stressed. With that said though, there is no reason for him to take it out on you. I think knowing you''re going to be working crazy hours before graduating is very different from having to experience it - one reason why BF and I agreed to hold off on engagement until we''ve finished our first year as associates so we can get through the adjustment period without additional planning stress (and make sure our relationship is still on stable ground). I think the best course is to sit him down and really try to talk it out. Your work life isn''t going to get any better in terms of hours unless one of you quits - which I doubt is an option right now. It would definitely be better to get this out now before any more resentment fuels the fire, y''know? I wish you the best of luck and hope things work out!
 

Brown.Eyed.Girl

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Date: 4/10/2009 5:14:38 PM
Author: lucyandroger
Date: 4/10/2009 10:33:40 AM

Author: purrfectpear

As an associate I''d be surprised if either of you ever worked less than 65-70 hours a week. What did he think it was going to be like as an attorney
He should know that you''ll both be slaves for the next 6 years.


Frankly, I think he harbors some old fashioned values in his should-be-modern brain.



I''d tell him that if he can''t respect your work, then you won''t be coming home...you''ll stay at the office till it''s done. You don''t have time to argue, and you can''t afford for him to affect your work performance.
Ha! Well you just basically paraphrased my side of the argument last night!


I did accuse him of having ''old fashioned values'' which seem to have reared their ugly head lately. I told him that he can''t have an SO that''s available whenever he wants on his schedule and also bring in the salary that I do. It just doesn''t work that way. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that his ego has been bruised because his firm is not doing so well in the recession and the attorneys were all surprised with a pay cut last week. Now for the first time he makes less money than I do (not a lot but still less). Plus he''s not happy with his firm for various other reasons that I won''t go into on a public forum.


He said he''s miserable at work so he spends all day looking forward to our time together at night and gets disappointed when it''s interrupted/ postponed. Every relationship before this one I was always the more ambitious one with the ''better'' career. In this relationship, we were equals - went to the same prestigious law school, both got jobs at great firms, made the same salary, etc. But now the balance is off and my having a healthy, busy firm is putting a strain on our relationship.


So I really think it''s a mix of wanting the time together with a little bit of jealousy/ resentment and a whole lot of nervousness about his own career given the state of the economy.


I''ve never been one to deal well with men''s egos...and I really don''t know what there is to do to make this better since I''m not going to give up on my responsibilities at work and we can''t create more time in a day...
As to the bold, to be a bit insensitive to your SO, I think he should feel pretty lucky that he still has a job, with the legal economy having hit the sh*tter in the last few months. Even if he doesn''t like it, well at least he has work, and income, and isn''t struggling with paying off debt, rent, utilities, etc. I think he should also be grateful that you''re doing well, that you also have a job that allows you both some security in a very insecure time, and accept that this has a price - one I''m guessing he''s prepared to pay (putting in the hours) but doesn''t like when you have to pay it. Is that old-fashioned? Maybe. But you''re both working now, and his desire to spend time with you can''t always come first when you have deadlines and assignments - and I think if the situation was reversed (him being too busy to spend time with you) he''d feel the same way.
 

Guilty Pleasure

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Go ahead and send him that pantygram, but instead of a racy thong, send him his very own pair of "big girl panties."




Now for some actual advice - I know that with wedding planning, I do spend a lot of time "working" on the couch but not really getting much done. I''m checking out vendors or browsing for centerpiece ideas or reading pricescope while FI is sitting next to me watching basketball. He asks me why I spend sooooo much time on the computer, and I say, "I''m planning our wedding" which he can''t argue with and usually shrugs his shoulders. He wants me to watch TV "with" him. (I don''t really understand why it matters to him if I watch - like I care about two teams from schools that aren''t even in my conference! I''m sitting next to you aren''t I? Isn''t that good enough?) However, I know I could spend less time on the computer if I cared to. My point is that maybe he sees you doing things that he interprets as wasting time, and he wishes you could channel your energy into getting your work done more quickly so you could spend time with him instead.

Maybe you work efficiently in your pajamas, and you really cannot work any fewer hours than you do. But if possible, try to examine the way you work and see if you can scrunch it into less time, even if that means staying at the office for two extra hours instead of working in your pajamas for three or four.


Work smarter, not harder. Quality over quantity. yadda yadda yadda.
 

ilovesparkles

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Well I know nothing more about being a lawyer than what is portrayed on TV. Soooo, nothing. It sounds horribly stressful though, and everyone is giving great advice. So I'll just send some good thoughts your way and I hope things work out and you two are able to be a little less stressed about the facts of life and the careers you have chosen.

HUGS, or a big GRRRR for him being so silly about it all!
 

iheartbora

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Yea it''s tough when you guys are both working long hours! How about try doing something routine every week (ie fri nights) so that you both have to make an effort for each other? Or start planning a longer vacation so there is something to look forward to? SO and I work a lot as well, we don''t really spend time with each other until weekends, but I find it easier when there is something fun to look forward to!
 

rainwood

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I was a big firm associate many years ago, and I understand the long and unpredictable hours. It''s really stressful. Having been a lawyer for a long time, I also know the stress that comes when the economy is down and there''s uncertainty at the firm I''m working for. That''s a completely different kind of stress and I actually thought it was worse than the too busy stress. It just shakes you to your core, and coming early in your career (I think the first year is the hardest) probably makes it worse. If he''s also unhappy with his firm for other reasons, then that''s even a bigger heap of stress.

You can''t change the fact that his firm is hitting rocky times or that he doesn''t like it there. It might help when he''s unhappy and an argument is on the horizon to remember that he''s not unhappy with you, he''s unhappy that you''re having a different experience. It''s hard to watch when other lawyers around you are busier/more highly paid/happier. You feel like you don''t measure up, and that''s never a good feeling. It''s even harder when that lawyer is someone you live with and is your SO. And I think that the dynamic can be even worse if the person on the down cycle is male, and the person on the up cycle is female. It may sound sexist, but a lot of men take more of their self-worth from their jobs than women do.

So that''s a lot to deal with for both of you. I don''t know there''s a way to make it better other than to recognize it for what it is, and try not to get into an argument over something that can''t be changed right now.
 

lucyandroger

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Thank you ladies for all of your support and advice! SO is watching hockey so I figured I''d update you guys.

We went away last weekend and since it poured on Saturday, we were "stuck" in the condo together which meant we really got to talk and work through how we''ve been feeling lately.

At first it got pretty ugly as I think we were both hurt from our previous arguments. SO also didn''t appreciate what he called my "psychoanalysis" of him and how his feelings about his career were affecting his view of mine. So anyway, we ended up talking it through, agreed to really try not to snap at each other and revisited our goals and why we''re working so hard right now.

Neither one of his is interested in making partner. We''re more the "make our money, pay off the loans and get out" type. So we made some plans for when we''d be leaving our firms and discussed ideas for what to do afterwards. It was actually really fun! I love that we''re both planners!

So, after all this SO said that what was really bothering him was he thought I was really "into" my job like that I was going to want to do this indefinitely. And it scared him that maybe we all of a sudden wanted different things from life. We both realize that working at big firms is not conducive to healthy family life. I assured him that this hadn''t changed but we have to pay our dues so that we can have a nice life later.

So that''s where we are now....we managed not to get into any arguments this week even though I had to work really late two days this week. So we''ll take it one day at a time...
 
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