我的工作狂老公 – my workaholic husband

I was thinking a lot before should I write this post. I know my (unwanted) unemployment due to previous visa-related issues had an impact on this whole situation. I feel guilty and I feel like an ass that I still complain.image (17)

I don’t usually talk about our problems, there’s pretty much no point in making them public, they are pretty boring and can be solved just between us. Unless it goes to ‘If you can’t clean the litter box how could you possibly change a diaper‘ – I will probably have to take him to those Maury-type shows and make people force him to do that. But the problem we’re having is with us for the past two years and I don’t think me on my own can change anything.

And I have no idea if it’s only our problem or other (not only) AMWF couples have the same problem. All our Asian friends keep saying that if only they worked ‘in white’ company they would get much more benefits, more free time and more mental comfort. Can’t speak for every single company, but when Sing and his co-workers do overtime everyday and get calls after 10PM our other friend could use all the goodies in his LinkedIn office, enjoy free snacks, drinks, play table tennis or use the gym. Of course that’s just an example, people can treat you like a modern slave everywhere and I can see it by my friends, working for a really low salary like mad dogs. But the difference between my friends and my husband with his coworkers is that they actually seem to accept it like it was a totally normal thing.
I know our Hong Kong friends work hard, but they also play hard and enjoy their free time to the limits. I know Eastern ethos of work is bit different than the Western one, but it breaks my heart not to see my husband.  

It all started two years ago. Sing got his first (and current) job as an industrial engineer. I came to America, helped him move from Los Angeles area all the way to San Francisco Bay Area and me myself became a housewife and a non-profit blog writer. That’s just a really nice name for being bored at home.
Technically his job was suppose start at 8:30 and finish at 17:30. Of course at the beginning I didn’t see anything wrong. He was newbie on his OPT, so scared of getting fired – in that case we would have to leave the country as soon as possible. He was also starting from the same position and at the same time as his other coworker so naturally both of them wanted to show they are better than the other one. And I have to say Sing achieved it. He was the first one to get the salary increase, first one to get the offer of Green Card sponsorship. He was the one who’s image (16)project was used to build the current Irish office. Later on he got promoted to Project Manager. All that in less than two years of employment. And I’m extremely proud of him, how smart and hard working he is. How much he did to make where we are and what we have, but the sacrifices he’s making are too big.

He has never been a hard-worker. Momzilla taught him to work smart, not hard and that’s what he was doing. On his English class in college instead of reading ‘Macbeth’ in English he found a Chinese version of it and wrote his essay based on that version instead of struggling with the non-native language. But WahWah, his father, was always away. Always in the company, Sing has seen him less and less. Every weekend, every other weekend, once a month. Currently he haven’t seen him for almost three years, since our wedding day. WahWah is workaholic too. And Sing becomes one too.

We went to Hong Kong – he spent most of his time either working on his PC or replying e-mails on his phone. He even used the time I was doing my hair to reply some e-mails, sitting next to me on a client’s chair, having his PC next to hair equipment (as seen on the photo). He wakes up and checks his e-mails, he goes to sleep and all I see is his phone shining or Biscuit’s crazy-devil-shiny eyes staring at me, saying ‘FEED ME AGAIN’. Every 3 months I actually don’t see him – during quarter end he goes out before I wake up and comes back after midnight. He has over 250h of paid overtime hours. He could go for 3 months long holidays and still get paid, but he cannot and DOESN’T WANT TO take a single day off. Sometimes he will even go to work voluntary on weekend just to check on.
image (18)I’m currently in Poland but we hardly talk since there’s a quarter end and 3 days off coming due to Easter so they need to speed up with the orders.

I really feel awful for complaining about it – we have a nice place to live, we’re not hungry, technically we have money to buy new TV, Sing just got PS4. But so what? We are money-(not that)-rich but time poor. He has that PS4 but no time to play. When he has time he has to make a choice – me or the game (controllers are expensive, 55 Euro for an extra one!). We have money to go on holidays, we have a huge variety of countries we could visit even for a weekend, but he cannot take a day off. Even if there’s a day off he might get a call and start doing his work.
He earns 25% more than a person with his experience and position earns but I would give up all that money just to be able to eat a meal with him, go on a small trip, don’t have him so stressed out when he hears the e-mail notification. I wish we were able to visit my family together, I wish he wouldn’t chose his work over everything else.

I blame myself for putting on the pressure on him, I blame his father for the example he gave, I also blame Sing for some of his choices. Money won’t buy the time and experiences we lose. I keep talking to him about it every week, but all I hear is ‘Sorry, I will change it’. And it haven’t changed for past two weeks. Hopefully someone can help us, because I feel like being married to an invisible man. I miss him so much.

Any advice you can give me? Do you know anyone in similar situation? Do you think workaholism is more common around AMXF couples than other interracial couples or maybe you have different opinion on this topic? I know I won’t give up on Sing, but I wish things were different, I don’t want us to grow apart.

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89 thoughts on “我的工作狂老公 – my workaholic husband

  1. I hope Sing realizes that at the end of the day, you’re not wealthy until you have things that money can’t buy.

    I hope he takes some time off to spend some quality time with you and his loved ones soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been hoping for past two years, we haven’t been on holidays without e-mails since 2013 and now he complained something about getting a car, but no time to look around and no time for paperwork. I told him to take one day off… ‘I can’t babe’. To make matters worse, other project manager now announced another baby so he will probably take more days off to be with his wife and all his work will go to Sing 😦

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  2. I think you need to take a longer term view on this issue. He is doing it to set you up better for the future. So its best to support him in what he does.

    Nothing of any greatness is achieved without short-term pain. Endure the short-term pain and then enjoy the long-term gain.

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    1. I know, that’s why I try not to complain especially since it was his very first job and already he had all that pressure, but I’m afraid he will get so used to that kind of working that he will feel it’s normal and I will see him less and less. Now with other manager’s baby coming he will have to take some of his work… I try to support him as much as I can, but I wish at least during the night he wasn’t glued to that phone checking orders from America and China (because normal people in Ireland sleep instead of working at that time ;))

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      1. Understand. I think there is a balance with all things. My sense is there needs to be some boundaries but maybe after he establishes himself in his job.

        When I started work, I was on call all the time and didn’t have much of a say in when I worked. Now I have some balance and able to push back on requests or “farm them out” to others if required.

        He will need to learn to communicate to his boss and offer solutions rather then just saying yes to everything. – For example, rather than canceling dinner plans when given a piece of work I would say “I am unable to attend to it tonight as I have dinner date, but can I come in early tomorrow morning and complete the task”

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        1. hopefully one day he can realize what you realized. I told him to just ignore problems with the American office, but if there’s a call at 11PM with some drama there and they ask him for help (he is not obligated to help that department, especially since he’s now in Ireland) yet he will still do that. To make it more ironic, the boss who calls Sing his son (workaholic himself) tells him ‘Go home, finish tomorrow’ and even e-mails him back from States like ‘Don’t work so hard, go to your wife’ so Sing doesn’t make the same mistakes he did when his real son was growing up… That’s probably the only order my husband ignores at work 😉

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  3. I kind of know what you are feeling. Tom worked every Saturday for 18 months and many of those weekends included a Sunday at work, too. He would be so tired when he came home from work that he’d fall asleep after dinner. So I used that time without him to write a book. Things are better now and he only works one weekend a month. He’s on call once or twice a week and rarely has to go into work, but he’s often on the phone all night. He used to not use his vacation days because he was scared of getting fired, but now he takes most of his vacation days, even if we usually just stay home. I started planning fun things to do like going to concerts or nice restaurants. Sometimes people have to be shown how to have a nice evening out. I hope things change in the months to come, or when he feels more settled in his new office.

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    1. In Tom’s case – how did it all change? We eat out (if he doesn’t come too late, most of the places close at 10PM so after 9 they might not let us in), I force him to go on a small trips but when I look around he just keeps checking his e-mails. Sadly, I’m not as talented as you so I can’t use that time for the book haha, but I’m looking for a job. I’m shaking thinking of his coworker’s baby, because I know he will be out of office more often so Sing will have to take part of his work and I will see him even less. He is literally the last person leaving the company, even cleaning crew is gone long time before him. I don’t want to grow apart like his parents, his father literally lives in his office – yeah, he gets really a lot of money for that but money won’t buy the time he hasn’t seen his children.

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      1. “yeah, he gets really a lot of money for that but money won’t buy the time he hasn’t seen his children.”

        THIS. I wish more Asians understood this concept. Nothing will pay you back of the time you missed with your family. As cliche as it sounds, no one ever wished he worked more on his death bed.

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        1. It sounds cheesy but if your boss even tells you to go home because you will regret losing the balance then there has to be something in this! Especially that there are like 7-8 CEOs and only the one outside the family appreciates him. The rest just want to exploit the workers :/ he is paid better than local people but I would give up that money if I was guaranteed he can leave his office at 6PM

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      2. Two things happened in Tom’s case: 1. Other coworkers started sharing the weekends with him, but he’s still usually the last one at work. And 2. He became a partner, which gives him more job security, but it hasn’t taken away all the fear of getting fired. I keep telling him that they would never fire him. If he does all the work, who would do it if he wasn’t there? In Sing’s case, it could just be his age. He’s still very young and trying to prove himself. I laughed when you wrote that Sing emails when you are on little trips. I think a lot of people are addicted to their phones, and it’s just for surfing the internet! We can’t get through a family gathering without someone NOT checking his phone (it’s always a man). As my new MIL would say, at least Sing/Tom/etc has a job. That couldn’t be said for Cai!

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        1. Your MIL has a point haha 🙂 hopefully with more working experience he will learn how to manage his time and become valuable enough for the company not to consider firing him (that’s his biggest fear and I think that triggered his workaholism – we were on a working visa so if he got fired we would have to leave America immediately)

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          1. There’s nothing like fear to keep people hostage to their jobs. Tom’s dad lost his job when Tom was young (it was politically appointed, so not his fault) and that has scared Tom into thinking that he could also lose his job and not provide for him family. And when employers find people who will work really hard, who is going to say no to that?

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  4. Nothing wrong with working hard, as long as you party harder. All work and no play will make sing an unhappy boy (& you too).. Hopefully he’ll understand his efforts are futile, before its too late. To the company, like the rest of us, he’s just a number. Reading mail off the clock is the perfect recipe for penile dysfunction. Once that happens our point of existence is removed. Turn off the phone sing, nobody likes a brown noser, nor neither a limp dick. (Disclaimer – No part of this post was intended to offend). Don’t be a number, be a player, a cat, not a rat.

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    1. Like in the shinning he will get possessed 😀 I begged him to turn his phone after 10PM but he’s too scared of getting fired :/ I told him his too precious for the company to do that – he designed that factory and he’s the only one who works there and used to work in their American facility but he just won’t listen :/ maybe he will after reading your comment! 🙂

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      1. I’ll be happy if I’ve been able to help. If he was sick would the place stop operating? No. So don’t work for free is my advice, otherwise you burn out. We all need time out and you can then give more effort when your back in your seat.

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  5. Oh my goodness, honey, do I understand this? I understand this. My husband just got his first position in this country in the LA area a few months ago and it was supposed to be 40 hours a week and it’s….always more. His supervisor (non-U.S. person) kept sending him work related nonsense at 10pm. And he ANSWERS it. It’s the most ridiculous thing to me but if I push too hard about it or insert my opinion, I get told that I don’t understand and that he needs to save face, etc. and it will disintegrate into a huge fight and then I’m feeling like the unsupportive wife. Meanwhile, I am in another state, working at MY job. I go visit about once a month, since we’re trying to let him see how things are going before making a big switch with my job. :-/ It is really, really hard. And the time difference is no good. I’m trying to sleep by the time he’s home from work and wants to call me, and in the morning when I wish he’d call, he’s still sleeping or in a traffic jam. It is definitely not a good long term thing, but one day at a time, you know? I do very much feel like a lot of it does stem from his cultural background. Long hours and little personal life is a pretty normal thing for a many workers in Asia. I guess I had hoped it wouldn’t be that way when I moved him to MY country. It’s all good for his resume and work experience right now, so I try to be understanding and not pushy. You’ve been doing it for a long time, so I can feel for you even more.

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    1. I hope things for you and your husband turns out ok. It must be a huge sacrifice for you both and hopefully it will pay off in the future.

      As someone said in the previous comments, sometimes people need to be shown how to enjoy life and time off. Maybe this is the case with our Asian partners 😉

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      1. Can I ask you super stupid question? I heard over my husbands coworkers complaining about those siesta types breaks and was there any time your bf’s or him himself said that western people are lazy or something? I think relaxed worker is much better than always tired one!

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        1. Well I definitely feel like Asians in general think that Westerners are somehow lazy and not as hard working as them.

          In my bf’s case, because he grew up partially in Asia and partially in New Zealand/US, I think he struggles between the two sides. On one hand he absorbes the idea that working hard and long hours is necessary and good and bla bla bla. On the other hand he values happiness, family and life quality over money, success and prestige, at least in theory.

          I definitely think it is a struggle for him, but living with me makes his Western side a bit stronger and hopefully overtime it will also encourage him to take his job with a more balanced approach.

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  6. I think you real struck a chord here.

    I’ve been there, done that, said that. My boyfriend is from HK too and I am European. His dad is a crazy workaholic too (everyday 7 am- midnight and he works for himself!) and my bf is also way too eager to work overtime. I am Italian and I freaking want to chill the whole time.

    So far we only lived together in Asia, so I blame it to the fact at Asian companies take for granted that employees have to stay late and work overtime. I still hope that by the time we go back to Europe his working hours will get better, but I am not sure abou it.

    I think ultimately it comes about drawing a line and sticking to it. Considering career options in companies that are less competitve is also a good solution: the world is not limited to Google, Linkedin and Apple, there are so many small unknown companies and offices where the work culture is less extreme.

    Few days ago I had this conversation with my bf about his German colleague and my bf said he admired this colleague for working very efficiently and always leaving on time, while he never manages to do it. I think work expands to fill the time you think you have available for it: if you start your day thinking that you can stay until 10 pm, somehow your work will take you that long to be done. If you start your day telling yourself that you MUST leave at 6pm, you will be able to get your job done by that time.

    Same amount of work, but very different amount of hours worked. It is all about your mindset. This is a skill that can and must be learned, if we want to achieve a balanced life. Being able to say “enough” and walk away is a sign of strenght, not weakness.

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  7. All the best to you and Sing… Its not easy finding the balance between what we do and who we are… Sing I assume is a highly trained specialist ” engineer could mean many things ” Both my wife and I are driven designer / artist and programer / office manager. The phone thing hits home for sure. My career has been 90% freelance, you work when you have the gig and you don’t stop till its done… makes it pretty hard to have ” normal life “.

    Keep the physical side alive, it will help with the emotional side. You “as the one with most free time” can pursue personal goals and development, it will catch his attention and make him appreciate you while helping your own mental state…

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  8. I used to work exactly like Sing too, in my first 2 or 3 years. I have hundreds of hours worth of Paid Time Off, but I cannot use them all up. (Workaholic mindset) Sometimes it is not that I DO NOT want to use the leave, but my workload does not allow me to. You know engineers are task and project oriented jobs, what this means is, even if you take leave, the workload remains the same and they will not complete by themselves. You need to squeeze in more work before and after vacation to cover for your vacation leave. Internally, engineers’ Leave is actually “Permission to complete the tasks at a different time”, So when we do take a vacation, it is almost impossible to not think about work. 😦

    It is a tough climate out there, especially for fresh engineers. If you follow the news, most of the companies shutting down are engineering related ones when the financial crisis hits. Sometimes we are not just struggling for better future, but struggling to ensure we don’t get fired when bad times come. 😦

    On the bright side, he seems to be progressing fast. When promotes to a more management based rather than task based role, then life will be a lot better. 🙂

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  9. This is a really common problem, I guess. we moved to Tokyo for Ryosukes job, but he was workung INSANE hours and was stressed.

    After 1 year, we had both had enough. And thankfully plenty saved up.

    He quit his job.
    We are quite poor right now, but my blog/books cover all our expenses and allow for vacations a couple times a year.

    And we’ve never been happier. I love where we are right now – neither of us EVER wants to go back to that workaholic lifestyle… 😦

    hugs
    I wish you and Sing the best!

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    1. I like living in the city, but it breaks my heart not seeing him. I felt so sorry for you and Ryosukr when I heard how long he works, I’m glad you two are happier and I have to say Ryosuke looks much healthier too!

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  10. No advice I have for you as I am myself the exact opposite at the moment. I really dislike my job so I try to spend as little time as possible there however I can also become a workaholic hen ein really like my work but I do not think in such extremes as Sing right now. My wife also is kind of a workaholic. She is building up a trading company right now and sometimes is busy finding products, doing customer support eat from early morning till evening without even rating as she doesn’t find enough time…

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    1. Crazy Chinese Family, right now I am in your same position! I passionately hate my job and I find any excuse to leave as early as possible. I spent most my working days thinking “I want to quit RIGHT NOW!”.

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  11. There is a price to pay for wanting to be the best and outstanding in a team and work 24 x 7 like your husband does. It happens to all couples, not interracial ones but it happens more in Asia because most bosses are not so understanding and expect that you answer your phone even when you are supposed to be on holiday. In this case, your husband has chosen to bring this work attitude along despite his boss telling him to slow down, so the question to ask himself is, “is it necessary to work and go beyond what he needs to do to be noticed or get promoted?” I think both of you need to discuss what is important for you.
    p/s: Does he work for Amazon? 🙂

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  12. My colleague in my previous company (Spanish guy) is also workaholic. I arrived in the morning and he was there, I left in the evening and he was still there. And also on Saturdays. He doesn’t even have time for relationships so he is 40 and single! I think companies take advantage of people. If there really are sooo many things to do, then maybe you should hire 2 people instead of one.

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    1. You know what made me really mad? Sing is an engineer because he and art is like me and Momzilla – just don’t match and they asked him to pick the colors for the offices in the company, designed size of the logo in the main office, pick the furniture etc. just because they were too cheap to hire a professional designer. Later on they still complained that it wasn’t what they wanted. Sigh 😦

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    2. I think you are right, many companies will always take advantage on employees as long as people will allow them to do so. You have to draw some line to keep your sanity.

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  13. I’m sorry to hear Sing’s working so much! YJ and I had the same problem until recently, and it was made even worse by a long commute of 1.5-2 hrs each way every day. He didn’t sleep much. 😦 Similar to Grace’s husband, he quit his job, took a break for about a month and has started a brand new shiny one. He’s only into his 2nd day, but is coming home at a “regular” hour of 7-8pm so far. We’ll see how it works out… But I guess we’re a bit different, because it was more that YJ couldn’t say “no” to his company/bosses when asked to do stupid amounts of overtime, extra projects, etc. :/
    It sounds like Sing is very ambitious and enjoys his work–or at least gets a rush from it. I can related to the “need” to check emails at all hours and keep up (I would often get emails from people I worked with at 11pm, 2am etc) but it stressed me out like crazy after a while, and now I probably check too seldom, but I’ve had to do that for my own sake. :/ But back to you guys — I wonder if things at work will settle down after a while in Ireland? The US has a similar crazy work ethic to Asia in some cases–many of my friends in the States are always working late…But they love it.
    My only advice (as the daughter of an engineer) is to maybe get him to schedule time for the two of you – for example, 2 hours of absolutely non-work, non-game time together on a Saturday. You have to be very precise, and specific. Tell him that even if he gets an email in that time, two hours is not a long time to wait to reply, and he can hold out for that long. Then, maybe gradually from there, work into making it longer/more often. But since he is “trapped” in that cycle, it’s best to ease him into it. It’s probably hard for him to remember how good taking time off feels like, and it will take a while for him to remember that again. I don’t know if this will help, but I think the important thing is to offer up “bitesize” time at specific hours/dates.

    (Sorry, this ended up super long!!) Wishing all the best for you! ❤

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    1. If they didn’t write URGENT to every e-mail it would be much easier to convince him haha 🙂 Congrats on YJ new job! I was terrified reading about Japanese work ethic so I just feel sorry for you and Grace and your partners! I keep my fingers crossed it works out for you and he will come back at normal time 🙂

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  14. Engineers have a shelf life of about 15 years. They either have to move into management or get laid off. IBM kinda has a reputation for this–at 45 your are old. They can hire a newbie for way less money. Sing is probably well aware of it. I am not saying he is right but he has a reason to be driven. My friend’s husband was the same way–it got worse when he got into management. She made a rule that they had to spend “their” time with no interruption. It was not perfect but it helped.
    Hope you are having a good time in Poland. Has spring arrived?

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    1. I’m glad to read the comments from people who know the environment of work for engineers, from my side it looks different and without it I can’t really see the whole thing. Hopefully he will slow down after he gains some more experience and be too valuable for the company to abuse him like they do now.
      Funny you ask about Spring! I posted a photo of beautiful flowers outside my house and for past two days it’s snowing. IN APRIL, haha 🙂

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  15. I’ll be very careful in my comments. Don’t want to get myself in trouble for giving advice. But I can say that blending cultures is a really tough deal (just look at my full name). My personal mistake was not being assertive enough about my own needs and in support of my own sense of right and wrong. I also sympathize with your idleness while your abilities are not being used. I think things will be better when you can be employed in something you enjoy (I do mean “employed.” Whether we like it or not, that paycheck is a recognition of our professional value.)

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    1. Don’t worry, you’re too nice to get into trouble ;)! I think you’re right, I should insist more when it goes to what I want but I also feel that since I still don’t work (currently I’m visiting my family) that I shouldn’t complain too much since he’s the one having all the pressure 😦

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      1. And also you are experiencing pressure of a different kind. You can help each other if you are each clear about what’s going on for you and want the best for each other.You love each other, and that’s powerful. But you do need to work together on this. That means being open and honest with your own stresses as well as his.

        OK. Now I’ll stop. Don’t want to be intrusive.

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  16. My husband is a workaholic as well. I do not work as well, and that makes the situation difficult. At least he do not work when we travel. However, we can actually not travel, due to his work. So I understand you situation very well…

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  17. Typical work-maniac type guy. As a hard working aboriginal Cantonese guy myself, I totally understand what the drives and goals are that make us engaged in work so much 🙂

    But there is one thing I learn, family >>>> career, and man should never lie to himself that as much as he’s making good money to the family, his wife should be happy all the time and no problem is to arise. NO! NO! NO!

    Sorry that I couldn’t address the issue further with my poor Eng skill, but here is a link to a thread on reddit, the top-voted reply speaks my heart. It deserves every single hard-working guy’s read:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/howtonotgiveafuck/comments/2epeb1/htngaf_about_my_job_killing_my_relationships/

    If possible, read with him. This is so real and so true. I have the same experience just like your husband, and this post of yours makes me so sad that I have to get out of being a long-time lurker of your blog.

    Hope you can still see this comment and may things turn bright with you Lina 😀

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    1. I sent that link to my e-mail, I will surely give it to Sing to read. Thank you so much for it! I thought maybe it’s all because surviving in HK is so difficult and the property prices in East Asia are expensive so to live alone people have to work their butts off! I think I would even sacrifice myself and live with Momzilla if that would give me few more hours everyday with Sing. And being with Momzilla is the biggest sacrifice 😀 also she might call the boss like she did with Sing’s father’s boss 😀 just pull out the grandchild card. But thank you so much once again for the link. And your English is great! 🙂

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  18. Aww honey I understand your feelings. I definitely think our Asian guys’ feel pressured to live up to their parents’ expectations and try not to disappoint their companies. I hope Sing can realize what he’s doing to you since you both made sacrifices. I sometimes get upset when Junkyu has to take a call late at night or when we are on a date, and when we aren’t together sometimes he forgets to call me back. But he tries to put his phone away when he can and explains to his boss why he couldn’t answer and he doesn’t act scared of getting fired. Maybe once Sing gets older and more confident in himself and feels more secure in his job he will be better. I think he feels like he needs to prove himself but never feels like he is finished. And now that you’ve moved to a new place he wants to keep proving himself even to the office he left in America. I really hope you guys work it out. When Junkyu and I are together we try to cherish our time together since we are long distance but I am nervous about living together because I’m not sure how he will act when we see each other every day, but I think our long distance has built it in us a desire to do even boring things together. Sing needs to live more in the moment with you and cherish your time together. I hope everything works out!

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    1. I actually admire you and Junkyu to make it work with job and relationship. When one of us is away we hardly talk due to time difference and workload. Congratulations, that’s a really big achievement 🙂 Hopefully for you two it will only be better once you live together

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      1. Thanks so much! I think communication and expressing feelings isnt always natural to guys, especially Asian guys but he tries to talk to me as much as he can since we are apart. I hope Sing starts to do that too.

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  19. 😦 This must be really tough. As for advice, I agree with what others have said about making sure you are being heard and coming at your concerns from different angles until this happens. It might take a few tries before you can both feel you are heard, understood by the other and have a plan to make it through the tough times. For me, figuring out how to communicate in my relationships (not just with hubby but friends and family) has been one of the most difficult things to do. And this is compounded when you’re using different languages and different ways of approaching problems, right? 😀 But I think the same problems can happen for couples that speak the same language and grew up on the same street.

    And yes! As for relating to this… most of my family (including me) are into working long hours. I don’t think it’s necessarily related to cultural background. I think culture can influence it but personality is also a big part. I think perfectionism, fear, lack of guidelines or knowledge, high expectations, and trouble with boundaries contribute to working too much. And not just from the worker… from the boss as well. I think where the workaholicism (is that a word? :D) becomes really tough is in situations like yours where there’s a big imbalance in what each person is doing with their day. One feels swamped by work and swallowing food seems too much effort while the other is clamoring for attention and exasperated that the other won’t drop what they are doing and morph back into that amazing partner/spouse/lover/friend that they were before. I’ve been on both sides of this fence and there isn’t one solution but… communicating needs, making a plan and persevering seem to usually come up. And this is the other tough thing being married… both people and the relationship will change and likely many times over the years. Trying to run towards the change instead of away has helped me. I’m thinking of you two! 🙂

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  20. My husband was worked long hours at his old job in Shanghai, and not because he wanted to. He was miserable. It’s not like he gets more pay when he works overtime. Same pay, and all. One time he came home at 5am.

    His other job was at a Taiwanese company in Shanghai – they learned from Japan about the working culture. Well, there are many things great about Japan to copy but the working culture sure aint one of them. My husband said that it’s not that they work harder,they simply work longer. He always see his co-workers sleeping till 10 pm and then they start to work. The reason why they did that is because then they can have extra hours off whenever they need them. My Taiwanese friend a lot of times had to work till 8 am. It’s crazy. She’s an interior designer, not a surgeon. The reason why she had to keep working like this because her boss kept changing everything at the last minute when the deadline is already very tight. Many times she would get 3d rendering done only to have it to be completely changed the next morning. Why? Because her boss doesn’t have 3d perception despite he is a “interior designer.” He has to see everything in 3d, which takes so much time. You can’t do that in the States, you would be fired.

    In Taiwan, when you’re working overtime, it is seen as “hardworking” and that you care about the company. Even if you have nothing to do, you still can’t go home on time. Hence why many times people work slower because what’s the point? Even if you get it done on time, you can’t leave.

    Many of my Taiwanese friends have a point – Taiwanese companies see people as exposables, they are used to the last drop. My husband said that is why Taiwanese people are always quitting to go somewhere else. When he was working at Taiwanese company, he see people come and go all the time. It was pretty common to go to work and see that somebody is missing. Usually people leave right after Chinese New Year (once they get their bonsus).

    Right now it’s not so bad. His current boss cares more about design and doesn’t try to rush things to get done like the other companies. He works overtime but it is not outrageous.

    I can’t work in China. I am not allowed. I am here in China with a “reunion” visa to be with my husband. I sell artwork online instead.

    My advice (from what Taiwanese people have told me) is that if you’re going to work in a Taiwanese/Japanese company, try your hardest to stay. They don’t care how much experience you have somewhere else. Seniority is key.

    Despite he is not in a Taiwanese company, maybe if he gets seniority, you would then be able to tell other people to do the work? I wish you both the best. I usually don’t respond and type this much. xD

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    1. I heard something like ‘If your boss is Taiwanese he will make sure you walk so he can drive his BMW’, but of course it can’t be true for everyone. One of the bosses is also Taiwanese (all of them are from Taiwan, he’s just the only one who’s not connected to the family by blood or marriage) and he is a terrific boss, he even wanted to pay out of his own pocket for the flat until June. He always tells Sing to go home earlier or to not reply e-mails during weekend, but the rest of the bosses keep abusing people, making them work overtime and instead of paying them overtime money (1,5-2 time of regular paid hour) they will give you paid hours off (which is just normal amount per hour) to save up on you and later will not give you days off because ‘company needs you right now’. I feel really bitter that they will give Sing extra tasks not connected to his major because they don’t want to hire an interior designer.
      Thank you so much for the ‘seniority’ advice. I hope it will work in their company! They are American-Taiwanese company – when they don’t want you to go for Lunar New Year they will tell you they are American company and you cannot go and when you want to take longer time off they will tell you that’s not how Asian companies work haha 🙂
      But I can understand not giving a job to someone else – I like to be in control in case someone screws something up haha 🙂 thank you so much for your super long comment and I will surely let Sing know about what you said 🙂

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  21. Dear, I think what you are going through is just a phase in the life of you two. Your husband is still at some early stage of his career, right? Things will get better, I am sure! And yes, I do think AMWF couples are more prone to this situation… – Asian work culture is one factor, but the other is one spouse’s visa limitation to take up a job… one person takes all the responsibility for sustainance….

    Don’t worry, be patient 🙂
    all the best to you two brave ones!

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  22. actually this is not an “asian company” thing at all – and whilst you could argue that asian people are more likely to have a workaholic culture due to how they were raised up, it affects everyone who is like that. I know many white people, men and women, who simply will not quit – early start, late finish – they have no life outside work. These are the people who get more money and better/faster chances of promotion in the future. Of course many of them have failed relationships (and even suicides due to the stress) during this crunch period of their life, in the hope that once they have made it to senior management or equivalent, they will live like kings and queens after.

    Of course its much easier to do if you have nothing to lose – say, a caring wife.

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  23. I feel this… My Japanese boyfriend is amazing, but he’s forced to work too much. He’s at work right now on a Saturday night (and they always inform him on Friday that he’s working Saturday, which is happening 2-3 weekends a month lately). And during the week he works as late as anywhere between 10 PM-2 AM. He doesn’t want to be there, he doesn’t answer work emails/calls when he’s at home, but he also can’t say no apparently (even though he’s a type of employee can’t be fired). He recently got so stressed and sick that he stopped contacting me for days, I went to his place before he left for work one day and found him looking like a zombie but he still went to work! He said the doctor had told him to take 3 months off but he can’t bring himself to ask for it, and he’s recovered a bit now so he’s thinking he doesn’t have to. He knows how much I don’t like this and he already feels so guilty about it that I don’t know how to tell him that I really need him to make a change in some way because I don’t know how long I can be supportive of this, when I think it would change if he did something…

    I really, really want him to take that leave and/or look for a new job, but he always says he thinks of his other coworkers and can’t bring himself to…

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  24. It sounds a lot more difficult since he is an engineer. I’m sure after a while once he feels more secure with his job he will allow himself free time. It doesn’t hurt to voice your thoughts and feelings. I think you both need a day to focus on your relationship or just a simple conversation discussing what you both need.

    Tony for a while was studying engineering and would always be busy studying. I swear all the engineers lived in the school building. They would never step out unless it was for a smoke break. Sometimes they need someone to help them stop for a minute and enjoy life for a bit.

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  25. Hi ‘myhongkonghusband’, thanks for visiting my blog and the like on ‘New pictures added in South Korea’. Hmm, lot of work, lot of responsibilities, lots of meeting (also after regular work hours) … sounds quite familiar to me. Especially observed in South Korea. And things are changing here in Switzerland, too. In my case, I sort of down sized my social media networks to the ones really useful. (Don’t need any updates on what my friend just cooked for late dinner etc…) Hope you find quality time slots for you a a couple! Cheers, Adrian

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  26. Oh no, this is just so sad. 😦 Why can’t he go and take a leave? Is it because he has a strict boss or is he pressured to perform better than most of his colleagues? There might be certain things pressuring him. Have you asked him about those?

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  27. Immigrate to Canada if he or you can find a job here. Canadian-born Asians do tend to be often hard-working, especially if they have seen their immigrant hard working parents work long hrs. and make sacrifices for their chlldren. Then their children, like me, work hard to climb the professional/management ranks in Canada but know it’s important to take advantage of hobbies, sports and good times with loved ones. They aren’t as insane workaholic in unhealthiness as Asians in Asia. They aren’t lazy, just smart and healthier mentally.

    We look at HK workers and in Japan. We know that the workaholic insane hrs. are very much culturally based. So you’ve tried hard and it’s not wrong to be concerned.

    You are concerned for your long term happiness and if you have children later on what Sing’s role will be. You really need to chat up…and live a life BEFORE children, so that you both will change your roles so that he enjoys personal/home life also. If he does. This will not happen when babies come into your lives. He will expect you to do all the childraising.

    But he has to want to make the change.

    Like him and many, when you’re young in your career, you bust your ass off to progress career-wise and then later, can ease up (hopefully) to do other things in life outside of work.

    My partner has paid the price, he is divorced after his 15 yr. long marriage, he had to pay child support payments and had shared child custody of 2 children. They are now productive, working adults. He tried very hard to share child care, housework while also working hard full-time and taking a lot of out of town business trips. In the end, something must give.

    I have made a choice to be child-free and have not regretted this decision at all. I have been with my partner for nearly last 25 yrs. 🙂

    So ask where you and Sing want to do in 5 yrs., 10 yrs. and what type of company he wants to work for. Does he know English very well? Then bone up and that will open up a broader range of engineering jobs worldwide to a country that’s just less insane. I do think some workers in some Asian countries work themselves that is mentally unhealthy. They think it’s normal. It’s not.

    Ask yourself this: if you were struck with a long term disease or injury, would Sing make an effort to spend time to look after you? Can he do this? Then make your marriage work towards this in the future. My partner did: He cooked 80% of all the meals, bought 90% all groceries and did 90% of all housework for 2 months (this Jan. to Feb.) because I had a head injury, was dizzy and unbalanced. I had to lie in bed to heal: doctor’s orders.

    I’m sorry, Sing holds equal responsibility with you to make your marriage work long term. As for yourself, yes, find a job so that not all your eggs for your future are on just Sing. Your happiness is not reliant on Sing. Remember this.

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    1. “so that not all your eggs for your future are on just Sing. Your happiness is not reliant on Sing. Remember this”

      Sounds suspiciously like you want to break them up… there are plenty of marriages where both partners have clearly defined roles, and they have been together til death. It is interesting that your comment “I’m sorry, Sing holds equal responsibility with you to make your marriage work long term” – implying that Sing not working his arse off (of which Lina recognises) is not him showing his love, his dedication to her. You honestly think anyone wants to sacrifice their time with their loved one?

      In particular asian men, they show they love in their commitment to providing for their family. If you are asian you would know this. I dread to think what you made of your dad – if he was a workaholic, would you call that child neglect – or just a man who realised he sacrificed his time so he can provide for you and his wife?

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      1. I really don’t think she meant anything bad – more like wise words of an older sister. I’m glad to listen to every experience. If you want to discuss it’s fine, but I hope no family members will be harmed by words ;)! But also thanks for being protective! 😉
        It’s all about the view – from Sing’s point of view he does what his father does: money so the family can live a good life, but if I look at my parents they lived poorer than his family, but my family is more happy. I appreciate with all my heart his hard work and I understand the culture difference, but it doesn’t mean I want to accept.
        Just to let you both know we had a really long few hours conversation about future, responsibilities. It’s now good, hopefully it will stay that way.
        I admire women who can accept their husband’s working sacrifice, but I would give up the savings just to have him more at home. This week it was e-mail free weekend, finally I could enjoy our time.

        And Jean – big thumbs up for your partner who could take care of you. Once I got sick, Sing tried to make a wonton soup but we end up buying a take out haha 🙂 I hope you now feel better.

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  28. Anonymous: “In particular asian men, they show they love in their commitment to providing for their family. If you are asian you would know this. I dread to think what you made of your dad – if he was a workaholic, would you call that child neglect – or just a man who realised he sacrificed his time so he can provide for you and his wife..”

    I don’t think myself nor my 5 siblings are blind to my father’s expression of love/sacrifice, because he was a restaurant cook to support 6 children…he became our role model in terms of persistence and stamina. My mother was isolated alot at home trying to cope with 6 children. When children don’t see their father, it easily affects developing a close, harmonious father-child relationship. I think my brother was affected.

    It is possible to work ambitiously career-wise in North America and fit in some family time, have some exercise, etc…..by setting boundaries on certain work-related activities after work hrs.

    I would say my father was (he died just last yr.) an exception in his generation: he willingly helped my mother with cooking and household chores daily after he retired. A lot of Asian men in their 70’s -90’s, refuse to help out because the guys were raised to view such work as women’s work. My great-uncle refused to even boil a pot of water for his wife here in Canada. They had 7 children. Just dumb.

    My expression is reflective of someone born, raised in Canada. Thank God. I’m sorry… I know the benefits of living in a society that tries to live out personal lives/family lives abit more equitably or at least, demonstrate better work-life balance for family positive development.
    Thx, myhk. The advice to you, is like an older sister.

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  29. Good to work hard, be disciplined and build up a career. But apparently the number one ‘deathbed regret’ of most people is that they didn’t spend more time with their family. I made a major career choice fifteen years ago (more time with family instead of a big promotion with more travel) and don’t regret it one minute.

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  30. I just moved back from the US to Hong Kong, I would say working in Hong Kong is not easy. Many of my friends are getting really low pay with long working hours. The future is unseen here. I wish your husband can get a better job so he could spend more time with you.

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    1. I cannot even imagine how much would he work if he was back in Asia, he worked like a mad dog in America, now he works the same in Ireland – he worked few times with his father but I know even then he worked his butt off 😦 hopefully you won’t be one of the people suffering from workaholism 😦

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  31. Our situation is exactly the opposite. My husband is an artist and paints at home. So he’s with me all the time, when I’m home. But, his art is not selling and I have to go out to work. Do you prefer a workaholic husband who makes you not think about money or an artist husband who makes you worry about money? Which type do you prefer?

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  32. In a AMWF relationship with kids, born in HK, and claimed up corporate ladder x4 within 3 years. Advices:

    1) Set career goal together: what is his career goal and within what time frame? if it is to land a position with better quality of life than you guys need to decide whether that’s acceptable (e.g., medical residency = 80hrs/week workload x 3 consecutive years, but goal is to work 50hrs/week afterwards with more $$). Beware climbing up ladder doesn’t necessarily = better quality + $$

    2) Budgeting goals: what are they? There are numerous videos, blogs, and books on this but long story short establishing this will help especially on % earn vs % spend/save/invest/give. If you guys are clearly ok in this area than the last area is…

    3) Chronic workholic due to hidden emotional issues: we guys have a tendency to do this. Talking and nagging will not help. As with as psychology, it is most effective when the individual recognizes the prob and actively seek help and support.

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