Husband Stays Out Past 10 at least 2x Week - am I over reacting?

by Jane
(New York)

Hi everyone, I'm married to a sweet man (N) whom I love but have had some issues with in terms of weekly routine responsibilities lately. He's always been more social than I. We live near NYC. I still love to go out sometimes also, but have always been mindful of balancing it with home life and now I find myself here 6 mos pregnant, not able to. On top of this, he has a 14 yo son (A) who lives with us and who is home alone all day while we work.

Here's what I wrote him and his response below. I'm feeling really heartbroken by his response. I'm not sure if I'm being irrational. Any opinions or insight is very appreciated.


"N, I need you to listen to me. I'm writing this to you because this is really important to me and I'm better at communicating through writing.

I am feeling rather frustrated because I feel like I've brought up these issues a number of times already, and am not finding you have been all that receptive to them. I am attempting to communicate these things again in this form, and I hope you write me back.

So, here goes...

I've realized that I have needs that are being unmet right now. As a result, it's causing me a lot of heartache and stress. I need predictability and stability in my life. More so now than ever. This is mainly in reference to our weekly lives. Predictability meaning our family has a regular routine that is in the best interest for our family. Stability meaning I have someone there regularly for me to depend upon - especially when I call on them and say I need them. Right now, neither of these are happening in a way to make me have faith in them.

It breaks my heart to start looking at my phone at 5pm everyday to see if you have anything to communicate to me, and if not, then be checking it at regular intervals. The real heartache seems to set in around 7:30, when there isn't any word from you, and I check your location and see you are at a bar - or just somewhere else, other than on your way home. Or, you finally reach out after its already after 7 or 8 to say you are already caught up in something and you will not be home soon. I hope you aren't doing this on purpose - it's hard for me to say with confidence one way or another at this point, but this stuff really, really hurts me. It breaks my heart each time in fact. Like tears swelling, lump in my throat, just feeling like a push over and I maybe fell in love with someone who doesn't feel the same way back. Or, we don't really have the same values, which is completely frightening.

I find myself dreading the end of each day during the week - each time foolishly getting my hopes up that you'll surprise me and come home early or surprise me with flowers or dinner. And that you'll magically be changed forever from there on out - a real family man. A man who knows how important it is to be present in his home life. Who loves coming home so much that he actively makes excuses and time to do so.

A and I regularly have dinners alone now. Sure you're there one or two days, but we're never really sure when you're going to show up. He asks me frequently where you are. I don't usually have an answer for him. Or I know you're at a bar because I can see your location and I decide to lie for you, or not. I can't tell you how much my heart aches for the kid. He has 2 parents who always seem to put him second. It makes me so sad that I am the one everyday checking in with him, taking time out from work to make a joke with him, rushing to be home, making sure he has food. Making sure he has someone to eat dinner with. It feels wrong to me that the majority of this falls on me. Yes, I love him to death, but where the hell are you during all this? He's YOUR son. You seem to regularly rationalize being away from him in the evenings, even when I'm there. He just seems to be so lonely. I can see it. I can't say I feel comfortable doing
this without your involvement much longer. That's not what I signed up for. I signed up for you and I working together as partners, building a home life together.

I am going to be explicit now here because, again, I've attempted to express this in the past, but I feel like it's been all for not. I need you to be communicative with me. If I reach out during the day to you, I need you to be able to get back to me within a reasonable amount of time - I would say means an hour at most. I need you to let me know, definitively by 5:30 pm what your plans are that evening. By 5:30 because that's when I am planning on what train to take and planning dinner and any other after work activities our family may have going on and am communicating with your son about dinner. I need you to regularly be home by 7:30pm for us to have dinner and spend time together. That actually seems to be pretty late for some families with young kids around these parts. I need to know at least a day in advance if you are not going to be home for dinner - and if you do stay out to be home by 11:30. Why? Because you are a dad and a husband, and your priorities should be at your home domain, not out.

I admit I have been deeply saddened lately over this behavior of yours that I felt the need to talk to someone about it. I've been so lonely and sad and scared. I confided in a couple of close people I trust to represent both you and I - just in case the hormones are kicking in too much. They agree that this behavior of yours is puzzling. And ultimately not OK - even if I wasn't pregnant. But I am pregnant, so that seems to make it 10x worse.

I feel like you are probably thinking to yourself what a prude - who comes home that early, I'm making big bucks and am needed at work. Well there's a huge difference between actual work and after work. And I honestly don't have confidence in you this point to be honest with yourself over what is what. I know you seem to always have had some issues with maintaining your freedom. I think it's some sort of PTSD thing from your experiences with A. Which, honestly break my heart if so. But N, why are you doing this now? I feel like enough is enough. You're ruining things for our family. Please, I beg you. We need to give this little one a fighting chance. A deserves a fighting chance. He's going into high school and is so impressionable about drinking habits and our abilities to work through challenges. We're having a baby and supposed to be settling down and being close. Instead, I feel like you're fleeing.

Believe it or not, I regularly hold myself to the above time standards. I actively manage my day for them. I have been able to be very successful professionally as I do that - even for a good deal of time amongst a chauvinistic group of spoiled start-up founders who definitely saw women as inferior. Most of the people I know have success doing this as well. I do this for the greater good of our family. For our son.

Your family NEEDS YOU to do this as well. Otherwise, we are just never really going to be a family. And that's not what I had in mind when I was saying my vows - to you or A. I had such happy memories planned for us to have. I feel like they are regularly shattered now, each day you make a choice to pick something else - anything and everything else, whatever you are picking to do over being with your family. "

"Let's talk to a neutral party."
"As you know people who you confide in can reinforce your biases"
"Please keep an open mind. My own perspective is that we have very different personalities and professionally are in different circumstances."
"I don't enjoy coming home late and I think you'll find that is the exception to the rule."
"You can say I shatter your heart but that just makes my commitments to my career and ultimately our family very very difficult to live with. Or I can find a local cushy job, or you could be more understanding -- what do you prefer?"

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Relationship and Counseling Forum.

If you would like to receive the Couples Guide Newsletter containing articles on relationships, please sign up below.

Visit  The Relationship Forum  to get and give advice on your relationship issues.

If you're struggling with your relationship, this is the place to talk about it!
Our counselors will answer your questions.
And you, our readers, can offer advice from your experience.

Eugene Kayser, MA, MFT's profile on the Gottman Referral Network