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Old 12-12-2015, 12:45 PM   #21
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If she's not up for counseling, go for counseling yourself so a professional can help you sort out your feelings and your options. Would it still jeopardize your job if you sought counseling for difficulties in your marriage? We know and you know that an extremely stressful job is part of the problem, but would that level of detail get back to your management?
No that would no affect my medical clearance. My wife would think I'm crazy, though. And would, maybe rightfully so, be angry at the extra time I am taking for myself instead of helping out at home.
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Old 12-12-2015, 12:54 PM   #22
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Thanks everybody. I think my mind is a bit cluttered right now and I'm sometimes having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We do have 2 kids under 2. Kuddos to those who did the background check to find that out.

We don't have a free second to ourselves let alone to each other. Sleep is very elusive and even more so with the shift work. A quick note, I wouldn't do any other job. I love this job, stress yes, but it is a passion of mine.

I have asked for counseling before but she thinks that is crazy, doesn't work, not for her... At least once a week I tell her to go do something (get a pedicure, go to coffee with a friend, go stare at a wall) I don't care what but to get out of the house. She has taken me up on it a few times. I really feel like I'm giving all I can and all I get back is resentment for going to work.

How I really feel is that I would do anything to help her with her workload or stress level but I don't get that in return. If she told me she had a headache, I would literally send her for a nap or to a coffee shop or anything she wanted. I'd take the kids and do my best. If I have a headache I get a look like I'm trying to get out of helping out and at best, a guilt-ridden "permission" to lay down for 10 minutes. When I bring this up to her, I am "whining."

I really wouldn't doubt I have some mild-moderate depression at times, but even admitting that to my doctor would make me lose my career. We have no family in the immediate area but have paperwork in for a transfer closer to family hopefully in the next 1-2 years.

Bottom line: I feel like I'm giving all I can but getting nothing but resentment back. I don't feel I can communicate with her, and probably have never been able to, but was too young and dumb when we first got together to realize it. I really try but I get a brick wall back.
A couple of thoughts here, is it anywhere in your budget to bring someone in for a few hours a week to watch the kids or to clean house or to do anything to lighten up the workload? You say you would do anything to help her yet admit you are exhausted and very stressed out.Keeping track of "tit for tat" and who does what for who is not helpful at this point. Try to get your wife to visit her doctor, she might have some postpartum depression herself.

Secondly, you say your job is stressful, demanding with shift work, but it's not open to discussion that another job might be better for your family. That's a pretty aggressive statement right there. And lastly, you admit you might need some help personally, but won't seek it out because of the conditions of your job. This makes your job number one in your life no matter how you try to sugar coat it. You are responsible for the safety and well being of many people a day, yet are highly stressed, sleep deprived and mild to moderately depressed. There are reasons medical safeguards are in place for ATC, and I'm not sure you are thinking clearly about your ability and efficiency on the job right now.
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Old 12-12-2015, 12:58 PM   #23
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The OP mentions sleeping as a goal several times--you are both physically exhausted plus you have a superhigh stress job plus your wife went through childbirth and pregnancy twice in the last two years--bet the littler kid is still waking up at night so no one is getting a good night's sleep. Do you have any family near you now that can lend a couple hours of help here and there?

These are really tough years for a lot of people, probably the hardest you'll encounter. Hang in there and try to support each other (if you go first you might get it back in spades). At some point reevaluate all your goals but righg now you are in the zombie years so just try to get through them without making big decisions that are impossible to reverse. I feel for you!
Very good points. OP, when is the last time you and DW took a weekend away together for fun? What childcare options might you have for this? DW and I always got away for a week (or, in bad years, a couple extended weekends) without the kids, beginning when our two eldest were no older than your two. Would either set of grandparents be interested in visiting for a weekend of quality time with the young uns? How about friends/neighbors availability?

Perhaps a weekend away in more relaxing environs would enable some good heart to heart discussions?

Good luck with this. Can't even imagine the heartache and stress you [and likely your wife] are going through.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:38 PM   #24
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Is it anywhere in your budget to bring someone in for a few hours a week to watch the kids or to clean house or to do anything to lighten up the workload?
I'd >make< room in the budget, even if it meant foregoing contributions to the IRA, etc. Just from the financial aspect, getting this relationship back on track (if possible) will be a much better use of funds than any stock purchase.
And I'd recommend that any time freed up by this be used to get you guys some individual "alone time" as well as time as couple. It's an investment in individual mental health as well as your relationship. Make it something regular and scheduled.
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There are reasons medical safeguards are in place for ATC, and I'm not sure you are thinking clearly about your ability and efficiency on the job right now.
There are millions of people that have clearances and conditions on their employment that deal with the same thing ATC Guy is experiencing. It's the rule of unintended consequences--some bureaucrat puts a rule in place (to cover his *ss and the equities of his organization) and it ends up being counterproductive. ATC Guy is addressing it the way most people in this situation do--deal with the situation as it is as bes they can for as long as they can, and self-identify the problem and take their lumps (job loss, etc) if necessary when the time comes. Neither you nor I know if that time is now.

ATC Guy:
Historically, child raising was not done solely by a mom and dad. Sure, they had primary oversight, but with the support of a lot of family members who could give advice, help each other out and give each other time to be alone/work on other tasks, etc. What you guys are doing now is "unnatural" (and it is what DW and I did). We probably wouldn't have survived as a species if we'd try to do things as couples raising kids. You may not have family members nearby who can serve in this "extended family" role, so you may need to "buy" some family--that's logical. If your wife has girlfriends with kids, maybe you can watch theirs in exchange for some time. Unless they are infants, it's not twice as hard to watch/play with 4 kids as it is to watch 2.

FWIW, I had several jobs with a lot of very long hours and stress. I came to identify the symptoms of sleep deprivation (just like a pilot should learn his individual symptoms of hypoxia). I discover that chronic sleep deprivation (months) caused me to be a little less efficient in concentration on tasks (it also caused me to be a very efficient sleeper (out cold inside of 5 minutes). Acute sleep deprivation resulted in feelings of pessimism. My color vision would also wash out a bit--everything slightly "overexposed"--weird, huh? Two solid nights of sleep would fix things--and once I realized this it was easy to recognize that it was happening, and made the feelings of pessimism/gloom very manageable ("Oh--I need some shuteye and this will all seem a lot better"). Now, your own symptoms might be a lot different, but you sound like I would sound if I were sleep deprived. Maybe there's no easy way to fix that, but I'd look for some relief if in your boots.
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Old 12-12-2015, 02:32 PM   #25
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There are two research based type workshops on how to have a happy marriage we have found both helpful. One was a workshop from the Gottman Institute and one is called Marriage Prep. We use the techniques in the videos for resolving disagreements and for us they really do help. If we find ourselves bickering we pop a DVD in the DVD player and take a refresher course.
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Old 12-12-2015, 02:49 PM   #26
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Did you have these feelings about wanting to divorce before you had the children?

If you did, obviously it would have been best to act on those before having children.

Oh man, I'm thinking about the episode of Breaking Bad with that poor air traffic controller.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:02 PM   #27
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I try to explain how I feel to her, I ask for counseling, I do everything I can to help her out and give her a break, but I get nothing in return.
Sure sounds like fun. Study divorce and support and child support in your jurisdiction, and other places where you could possibly go. Establish yourself in a jurisdiction that is less punitive on men than some others. There are none that are good, but some are less bad. Do not get divorced in New York or California or Wisconsin. I suppose that counseling often helps, but my first hand experience and that of my friends is that once you are falling, the real injury comes from trying to right yourself. Plan to hit the ground, because it is a real possibility. Take care of yourself. Courts and the machinery of "family law" will see to your wife and family. I think tmm99 mentioned that especially if your kids are female, it will be very very hard to maintain a relationship with them after divorce. Relations with one's children almost always go to hell when the marriage is suffering, divorce or no.

Read Philip Greenspun on divorce, maintenance and child support. He has an entire set of pages devoted to the laws of various states.

I would strongly try to avoid bringing things to a head. Once you know there is likely to be a showdown, pick the time and place and realize that no one but you gives a xxxx about how it works out for you.

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Old 12-12-2015, 03:16 PM   #28
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There is a lot of good advice in this thread. I would like to point out that the Prep videos cost $49 and a few hours of your time to watch. They may not help, but are unlikely to hurt, and if they help you, your wife, your kids, plus not to mention me and all the other airline passengers in the world, avoid the toll of divorce on your stress levels, attention span (I am also thinking of Breaking Bad here) and finances, why not give them a try? I would start with the least expensive, easiest possible potential solution first. And the Prep DVD cost is probably less than one session of marriage counseling.

People take courses to learn to drive cars and play tennis, why not take a course on how to have a happier, more conflict free marriage?
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:51 PM   #29
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If you can't get your wife to agree to marriage counseling , then make the appointment , arrange for childcare during the appointment, and go alone if she refuses.

One thing stands out, your occupation is the same as your M.O.S. when your were on active duty, so it sounds like at your age, you haven't had much work experience outside of ATC. You might very well be suited and and enjoy some other occupation. Getting stuck in the " I am what I do " is very common at your age. Don't get stuck assuming this is the only thing., as so many millions of young people have over the ages. Don't sell yourself short , I would bet money you have abilities you haven't even considered.

As someone who could lose employment if your FAA medical gets yanked for a variety of reasons, you need a "Plan B" , even if things work out. What career paths does the FAA have for controllers who want to move out of the tower, or sector radar screen ?
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:51 PM   #30
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There is a lot of good advice in this thread. I would like to point out that the Prep videos cost $49 and a few hours of your time to watch. They may not help, but are unlikely to hurt, and if they help you, your wife, your kids, plus not to mention me and all the other airline passengers in the world, avoid the toll of divorce on your stress levels, attention span (I am also thinking of Breaking Bad here) and finances, why not give them a try? I would start with the least expensive, easiest possible potential solution first. And the Prep DVD cost is probably less than one session of marriage counseling.

People take courses to learn to drive cars and play tennis, why not take a course on how to have a happier, more conflict free marriage?
This seems a great, low risk, low cost way to begin. I am glad that it has helped you

Ha
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:31 PM   #31
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I've worked rotating shift work and did it for 18 years. Even I didn't fully understand how physically and mentally exhausting that is until I moved into a straight day work position. Six months later guys I worked with would say "Wow, you look a lot better!" So don't discount the effect that can and probably does have on everything else in your life.

An ex-BIL was an air traffic controller (retired now) and did find himself a position that did not require controlling aircraft. It was a supervisory position and it did take a while to get there. So there is hope for that too.

I agree on the counseling, but don't expect miracles. My ex did agree to counseling but she was also insistent on taking out a loan for a discretionary trip and that was not going to happen - ever - on my watch. Rock, meet Hard Place. My younger sister summed it up in one sentence: "Opposites attract but they can't live with each other".

Look around at the others who are divorced and happily remarried. I'm one of them. It is a hard thing to go through, no question. But in the long term as it was for me, it may be the better option. But do try to save the marriage first. It may be worth saving and both of you may come out better on the other side.
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:49 PM   #32
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OP, I need to tell you a cautionary tale about burnout.

I used to work for a large, multinational organization and one of our executives was a photogenic, upwardly mobile guy in his 30s with prestigious academic credentials, a beautiful wife and a 2-year old daughter. The pace was brutal- obviously not shift work, but lots of travel across multiple time zones with breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, drinks afterwards, then back to the hotel room to deal with piles of e-mail. The e-mail never stopped, of course- it was always working hours in SOME time zone.

After one too many conferences he came home and on a Sunday morning he beat his little girl to death because the voices in his head told him she was possessed by demons. He wasn’t a bad guy but his life was ruined. He got away with confinement in an institution and counseling and his wife even took him back (last I heard) but his little girl is gone for good.

That’s what burnout can do to you. Take care of yourself first. You have to.
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Old 12-12-2015, 05:08 PM   #33
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Sleep is very elusive and even more so with the shift work.
Back in the day, MegaCorp sent me to a three day seminar which focused on the issues involved with 24 X 7 operations. MegaCorp was building a new, capital intensive plant and wanted to run it around the clock, seven days a week, something we had not done before.

The seminar covered all the usual facets: circadian rhythms, rotating or fixed shifts, how to attract and retain talent on night shifts, fair ways to chose who works when, etc., etc. There were folks from manufacturing, power plants, public safety and all the usual 24 X 7 suspects.

I recall we spent quite a bit of time with the issue of the impact of rotating shifts or steady night shifts on families and marriages. The instructor (a psych PhD now consulting) emphasized statistics showing that marriage issues were fairly common among people working the "off shifts."

I'd look into some specific help or counseling regarding the fact you are involved with shift work and the possible steps that can be taken to help the family cope with it.
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Old 12-12-2015, 06:36 PM   #34
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I remember the exhaustion that came with small kids. I was working PT, but probably not producing super quality work due to sleep deprivation.

Around that time I heard an interview where the speaker stated that if marriages can survive until the youngest child enters kindergarten, it's got a significantly better chance of surviving long term... this is because of the stresses and sleep deprivation issues of young kids. Once they're all out of diapers, sleeping through the night, can verbally ask for what they want/need.... a lot (not all) of the stress is lessened.

I lived this and agree with the guy on the radio... It gets easier when you can get a decent amount of sleep and perhaps have a waking hour or two that aren't directly involved in house/kid chores.

But you're in the middle of it. It sounds like you need to have a frank talk with your wife about carving out an hour or two a week for down time... just you (and maybe napping kids). No trips to farmers markets during your down time. No chores. Just sleep or reading a book, or vegging in front of tv. We all need some down time... and with your job it sounds like you need it more than most as a way of decompressing from the stress.

I would try negotiating for this needed downtime before considering divorce. But that's me.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:06 PM   #35
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Don't know what your religious beliefs are, but I've seen firsthand the positive affect that this program can have on wrecked marriages: http://marriagehelp.org

Check it out.

Avoid divorce at all cost. It will send ripples throughout the rest of your life, your kids' lives, and their kids' lives that no amount of money can change.


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Old 12-12-2015, 09:23 PM   #36
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Your wife may be suffering from sleep deprivation due to caring for the babies, but she also may have depression, possibly post-partum depression. She needs to be evaluated by a doctor and you should try to get the two of you into counseling. My DH got counseling by himself, when his first wife refused to go and he found it helpful even though she ultimately decided that she wanted a divorce.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:38 PM   #37
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Tough spot, man. I feel for you!

We had 2 kids 17 months apart and so we know what it was like to have 2 kids under 2 for a while. Not fun at all! And the oldest loved to be awake and didn't require more than 4-5 hours of sleep (still doesn't at age 10!). But once the kids are a little older in a year or two, it seems to get radically easier in terms of parental stress. A 3 year old is much more autonomous than a 12 month old, for example. And it's more rewarding, too, because they can do so much more cool stuff at age 3 than at 12 months (at least from my guy's perspective).

So maybe give it another year or two before going nuclear.

In the mean time, just try to cope. Your wife does seem unreasonable from my POV, but I've only heard your side of the story. I found myself as the stay at home parent when I got let go from my job 2 years ago, with a 16 month old and a 7 and 8 year old. It really wasn't that bad honestly, but YMMV. I tried to do whatever I could so that my wife came home from work, sat down to a warm dinner in a (relatively) clean house, and didn't have to bother with anything other than relaxing and decompressing from work and the commute. I thought it was a lot less work that actually dealing with work 40 hours per week.

Social interaction was pretty easy, so I had enough outside adult interaction during the week (and could dial it up or down to suit my varying level of intro/extroversion).

I'd echo what others suggested in getting some outside help (babysitter, childcare swapping with friends, grandparents to babysit, etc) so you can have a nice quiet evening occasionally or a nice weekend without kid stress. Both sets of our family live in town and literally beg us to take our kids off our hands, so we have that safety release valve in our household (though DW is more reluctant to let the kids spend a weekend away since she didn't get to see them as much when she was still commuting to work 5x/wk). Give yourself permission to do nothing, netflix and chill, go out for a movie, or whatever occasionally.

I don't have any advice on the "must be busy" attitude of your wife (if I'm interpreting that correctly). Maybe if you could somehow communicate that her drive to make your life busy too was literally tearing your marriage apart. If you're doing things right, you should be able to allocate out your waking hours to me time, couple time, family time, chores, etc. Maybe your wife doesn't view it in such analytical or simplistic terms, but that's pretty much how you'll need to do it if you're going to survive the next couple years.

Best of luck ATC!

Edited to add: PS - farmer's markets are some bullshit. Just get good produce at your regular grocery store and squeeze in an extra hour or two of quality nap time by avoiding the farmer's mkt trip. Yeah, your wife can't post awesome pics to Pinterest or whatever to make the SAHM club jealous of how perfect her life is, but let's get real. It's just overpriced fruits and vegetables. That are tearing your marriage apart.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:52 PM   #38
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Don't know what your religious beliefs are, but I've seen firsthand the positive affect that this program can have on wrecked marriages: re|engage Marriage Enrichment Program
If you think you guys could get away for a weekend, another great program is called Weekend to RememberŪ

My wife and I usually go to one of these each year. It is religious-based, but there's also a lot of fun as well. There are sessions all over the country
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:54 PM   #39
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+1 agree with ivinsfan.
Get counseling on burn out + marriage asap.
Nothing to be ashamed for. Clever people look for counselling.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:59 PM   #40
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+1 agree with ivinsfan.
Get counseling on burn out + marriage asap.
Nothing to be ashamed for. Clever people use counseling in time.
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