Friday, September 27, 2013

Stressed Husband+Patient Wife

Anyone who is in construction now, especially in Johor, will know how stressful it is. JB's all into property craze now, though as a local, I don't feel the urge to buy for investment, unlike the more property-savvy Singaporeans across the border.

The husband, you guessed right, is in construction, specializing in pools. His boss? My father. This daughter, mua, can't handle bricks, only pipettes and test tubes. Being an only child, I have provided my father with a son-in-law who is able to manage A LOT of the projects. Are things rosy and sunshiny? Not always.

I must first tell you a little history of the man I married. We graduated from the same university 13 years ago, he in Biochemistry, me in Biotechnology. I secured a position in a research lab in Singapore, so hand in hand, we came to JB, my kampung, his new kampung. He worked as a pharmaceutical sales executive/associate/representative/specialist but I called him a drug-dealer...hehe. For those in sales, you know how flexible the hours can be, especially when you are not based in headquater (Kuala Lumpur). In one particular pharma company, he didn't have an office, so he did his admin work from home. So his days were making phonecalls for orders, visiting clients for 'chats', and troubleshooting if any. The busiest time would be the end of the month for closing, and claims and reports etc. On regular days, gorgeous evenings were spent on the golf course.

It became a routine. No challenge. Increasing quota. Same old clients. That's it.

You know man and their mid-life crisis. He was at a crossroad. One led to forever-pharma-sales, and one led to being a boss of his own company which he dreamt of. The opportunity came. He took it while risking and sacrificing very nice incentive packages only multinational companies can offer. But he wanted to trot down that path of someday-I'll-be-my-own-boss. I supported him.

Construction was a total change for him. It was big scale, rough and tumble, and involved a subject he had wanted to study instead of biochemistry: engineering. He was thrilled! It was a new challenge he felt excited to take. He learnt and he completed pool projects from start to finish within 6 months and it felt very rewarding.

More projects came in, with tighter schedules and insufficient workers. My father and him drilled through. Bigger contracts came too. It was not masak-masak anymore. The stress crept in.

From 2011 until today, I no longer recognize my husband as the happy golf-playing free and easy guy anymore. He'd call me during the day just to ask me if I had lunch, bla bla, and I could reach him during the day if I needed anything. I missed that accessibility and reliability. I could rely on him for anything because I could reach him every time.

Those days are gone. My vision of him now is a frowning or stoning look. Or the 'fan' look (troubled).
His entire life is work now. But work in this context means problems at work.

When he is home, he is not home. I felt that his heart and mind were still at work. I felt that his mind was obsessed with work. During the early stress days, I'd try to relax him. There were massages, and facial sessions with spa music background and scented candles. Then it stopped because I felt that it didn't help. Maybe he was relaxed for a few minutes but the mind wandered off to work again. Some nights were spent drinking with his buddies, or clients or subcons. Weekly, at least.

Our conversations also became all about him and his work. I appreciated that he talked to me about his troubles. I could share his burden just by listening and maybe offer some suggestions. But lately, it felt like..... when your bestie broke up and couldn't get over it, and all she talks about is the heartache and how strong she has become bla bla bla. And your problems became smaller smaller in comparison to what she's going through, and though you would like to talk about it, you think "Nah..forget it, she's already so occupied with her thang, I won't bother her, maybe she'd listen but you know her mind will be all about her and her ex".

I felt lonely. Even when he was beside me, I felt lonely. Like being in the backseat of a car. There were no connection. He wasn't dialing, and I wasn't looking for available networks. Just one stressed up man, and one lonely woman living in her own world. The worst days were the ones I had to deal with alone after we lost our unborn baby. We mourned briefly, but I felt he left me and immersed himself with work while I longed for a support. Day after day, I had to deal with it with my own strength. I went further and further into my own happy place, one I made for myself.

One day I told him, maybe this is not suitable for you? I explained what I meant, that maybe his core personality is something that doesn't suit what entails of this industry. You know like some people are just meant to be teachers and some are not. Perhaps, construction is just not him? He said he is actually enjoying all the challenge and that he is learning a great deal. There is no turning back.

Then last week, the husband had a wake-up call in a form of high blood pressure and feeling of uneasiness. Thankfully, he listened to his body and went for a medical advice. With some temporary medications, his BP is back to normal.

Is it over? I don't know... he is back to his troubled looks. And I'm losing that connection. be continued


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, health is wealth, no amount of money can buy back our health.

Probably your husband feels more stress cos he may need to perform much better than an average person since he is working with his father in law. He may not want the father in law to think that he is incapable.


Ally said...

You're spot on, Sally. It's what he confessed too, that he feels that he wants to 'prove himself' thus all the pressure he puts on himself is getting more and more. This is something he gotta work on.. to NOT think about what others think of him.

Ally said...
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