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Hi folks, could use some remarks about something bothering me and the mrs recently.
So, I work long hours:-
My fingers are by the keyboard the moment I'm out of the shower, tapping away on the train, and by the time I'm in office I've already planned most of the day out.
Tick off some easy problems before lunch to get me energised, a quick bite and a coffee and then I'm back at the screen, plugging away at the harder stuff until the hours blur by.
People come and go in the meantime to chat the chat and see how things are moving along, and I'm constantly getting up to move around and refill my water bottle.
In the evenings, I'm usually watching TV in the background with a laptop on my lap as I start off some tasks for tomorrow and wrap up the days events with a nice typed up reflection of what was done and what needs to be. My partner chats with me, draws out some sketches on her pad, and we mumble about the program we're currently watching and I'm silently tapping away at the same time basking in the her warmth as well as the glow of the TV.
I love this.
I live for this lifestyle. You could break me free from the shackles of my job and make it such that I would never need for financial worry again, and I would still do this happily for free. (In fact, given that I am not paid for overtime, you could argue that I indeed am sometimes working for free!)
My partner is different.
She leaves her job by the door. Works the hours she was assigned and does no more or less. Evening are for hobbies, passions, and for socializing. Most of these she does alone and I love watching her do them, since it brings me joy to see her happy. But, her passions and her profession have no overlap. For her, work is simply something you do to get money to fund the things that you want to do instead.
Therefore we fight. She does not understand why I bring work into the house, and says that it detracts from me enjoying quality time with her. But, for me, us doing our hobbies side-by-side like this is pure heaven.
We fight on. It's now gotten to the point that I'm being asked to firmly leave the laptop by the door and not check any messages until the morning. I... don't know what to do. TV really doesn't interest me that much when I have to dedicate my full attention to it. Reading sometimes works. What pains me the most is that whenever I have an idea that I can't just quickly write it down somewhere to follow up on it. I just have to either remember it or let it die.
Are my work/life habits really that bad? I'm not overstressed, I sleep well enough, and I genuinely enjoy what I do. Why /can't/ work be a valid hobby?
tetris, I agree with your wife. A job is just that. You do the job and then you get paid. She gets that no matter how much you love your work, your work isn't going to love you back.
Regarding ideas: why not treat yourself to a good pen and a nice hardcover notebook? A5 is a decent size, but A6 is better if you want to keep it in your pocket. Keep your notebook handy and write things down. It'll be different exercise for your hands than typing.
I have taken some time to come up with a hopefully reasonable comment published on my blog:
I don't really know who they are but I liked their reply.
> She does not understand why I bring work into the house, and says that it detracts from me enjoying quality time with her.
It can't detract from you enjoying it, but maybe from her enjoying it.
If she means that it detracts from her experience of spending time with you, then she absolutely in the right to express that and that makes total sense to me. Doing stuff with the other person is completely different from doing separate stuff in the presence of them.
> But, for me, us doing our hobbies side-by-side like this is pure heaven.
That also makes total sense: as long as you're each doing separate stuff, it's cozy to do it in the same room, together. But that doesn't mean that she's wrong in wanting to do stuff that's actually doing stuff with you. A conversation, a game, or some other activities.
I would feel the exact same way as she feels here. I think what she is saying is 100% legit.
Please understand the difference between doing stuff together in the way she means it vs doing things together in the way you mean it.
Now, what to do about it?
First of all, she is 100% allowed to bring this up, express her desire for wanting to do stuff with you. And you are allowed to say that you don't wanna, that you'd rather spend your time on your computer (with her beside you, doing her thing). You are both 100% allowed to feel the things you're feeling here and there's no need to fight about that.
Now, then the next step is: what happens if either person insists on changing this situation? What if either of you says "It's my way or the highway?" That can happen and then the other person would need to make a very stark and difficult and heartbreaking choice.
It doesn't have to be super binary, it can be "one night a week, let's do it my way and the other four, your way".
A mutual hobby can be so awesome. It doesn't have to be a new thing; the two of you can work on her sketches or on your [what is it... programming?] together. Or it can be a new thing.
My number one issue with the guy I'm seeing right now is that I wish we could just see each other more often. And by that I mean actually interact.
What you mean by quality time (doing separate stuff in the same room) can be so valuable and relaxing and precious, and I get why you need it and want it and want to continue it. But, she can't enjoy it fully since she's so starved for interaction with you, longing for you, to talk to you and/or touch you and/or work on stuff with you like a boardgame or hobby project. As an analogy, I can't enjoy sleep if I'm hungry for actual food. She is starving for your attention, not just your presence. Being "just" in the presence of each other can be so great but not if you've got a hunger that has not been met.
Now, as I mentioned on fedi the other day, I like to solve all relationship advice by listening to Alanis' "You Owe Me Nothing in Return" a couple of thousand times on my own until I think I get it. What that means in this context is that neither of you is obligated to acquiesce to the other's wishes here. People are themselves, belong to themselves, do what they want to do, and when and if those things match up with the other person, that's great.
But whatever you decide to do, do so with awareness. Know how she is suffering and starving in this status quo. Then when you have that full awareness of the situation, when you know it's not just "why can't she just enjoy this as it is", when you know that she wants something else and why she wants something else, then you can listen to your own heart and make your own choice about how to resolve this.
I like to work for many, many hours (and I've reduced my working time because of overworking, stress and some random stuff in the past). Maybe 6 hours a day in my main activity, a few more in personal projects, studying on Saturdays, reading about my profession as often as possible and such.
It connects with me the idea of doing something for free. Luckily I can do now what I love (making video games and board games) with some buffer to fail, although sometimes I have to pay bills, and I don't know how to create more money than I need.
And it's similar with my partner, she works as little as possible, for her is a mean not a goal. It was even a difficult part of our marriage, having different styles, different goals, and different lifestyles in general.
And for the TV... She loves to watch it! I don't hate it, but I prefer to do something else, to work, create stuff, or if I'm watching a movie I want to take my full attention into it, really enjoying what I feel or watch to.
I don't know if your habits are bad. What I know is that your hobbies couldn't be your work, as they transform into something else.
There is a book that I like so much "Predictably Irrational"
The chapter: Being Paid vs. A Friendly Favor, was a great insight to me about how when money is involved everything changes.
So for me I can enjoy my work so much, but it's in the Work headspace, and my hobbies are my place where I can do the same thing, but without any need for money, tight schedules, a public or even useful restrictions. But's that's me, maybe I even need to look for different hobbies not related with my work. Just a thought.
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