But really, “not hanging out” might be the very secret of my success. I only like to do things that are very pleasurable or very productive; it’s all this “hanging out” business in the middle that’s like the Chips Ahoy cookie of life, not pleasurable enough to be worth the calories. Eat something healthy or bake some actual hot, delicious, non-hydrogenated cookies. The in-between is a waste of human life.
I’m really pretty infuriated by anyone who thinks that there’s “nothing to do” but watch TV. (Learn something from a book! Do as many pushups as you can, and then do that every day until you are the PUSHUP CHAMPION. Take a free class on Coursera! Meditate.) I have been known to say to some perfectly nice men: “DON’T YOU HAVE ANY PROJECTS?!”
I’ve dated plenty of less ambitious men, or just men with 9-5 jobs who leave their work at the office and don’t have outside projects, and I’ve sometimes been annoyed when they come home at 6:30pm and expect me to instantly stop working. If I’m not teaching an evening class, then ideally I would like to work continuously until at least 1:30am, because I enjoy and am excited by my work, and I strongly value long stretches of unbroken concentration. To me, 1:30am is a nice time to go out for a drink and celebrate a day well-spent.
I once dated an entrepreneur, at the time I was also a full-time entrepreneur, and there was something glorious about it. We were a think-tank, all the time. When we found ways for our companies to work together, it was like we were getting away with something very sexy.
But that didn’t last. And I have found that the most ambitious men tend to have no trouble at all prioritizing their careers above their relationships (something ambitious women I know tend to waver on quite a bit), and they are not swayed at all by your feelings on the matter.
Two equally ambitious people are not necessarily a good combination. Somebody needs to slow down and remember when holidays are and how humans normally interact.
Personally, I have found that it is far better to be the ambitious one who is a little annoyed by being dragged off to fly kites and play Scrabble than it is to be the one wondering when your diplomat boyfriend is ever going to ask you how you feel about the fact that your grandmother died two weeks ago while he was negotiating a peace treaty somewhere.
Here, I’d like to defer to Dan Savage’s The Price of Admission. There is always a “price of admission” you pay for being in a long-term relationship. (“The only way you become ‘the one’ is becoming someone is willing to pretend you are…. because you’re not, nobody is.”)
Okay, back to Frustrated Farmwife. She doesn’t want to change her husband, just to work out an untenable working situation. So:
If your husband feels like you are working/online ALL the time and he can’t tiptoe around 24/7, then you need to set some hours. 40 hours per week during which there will be no TV, music, or other loud noises. If you are paying all the bills, he has absolutely no grounds on which to complain that he can’t watch TV while you are working full-time. Hell, he can watch Hulu on his laptop with headphones. HEADPHONES.
Put the working hours on a schedule. 9am-5pm M-F or whatnot, and take them really seriously, so he does too. If you make an exception (you go on a nice country walk mid-day), point out that the 2pm-3:30pm break will extend working hours from 5pm to 6:30pm — is that OK with him? Maybe even make a point of emailing your boss (“I’ll be offline 2-3:30, but working until 6:30pm today if you need me”) to drive home the point.
Also, can you express that you are concerned for your husband’s career prospects when you return to (whatever city) and that maybe he could work on his skills? You didn’t say what he does, but surely he could volunteer somewhere, or get some kind of online certification, or practice trimming the hedges into exciting shapes, learn whatever programming language is coming into fashion, start a blog in his field, or just read some books on the matter? Surely he could start some kind of small business.
He at least needs to join a club and make some friends. Hiking? Local politics? Dungeons and Dragons? (Going to Young Democrats meetings is totally unnecessary in a big city, but in a small town, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.)
Could he do a marathon to raise money for cancer research? And then go on a lot of long runs?