Speak Up

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dear DCW...Comment please!

In the last post written there was a comment left by a desperate chefs' husband! He is going through many of the same struggles that we go through. Here is the comment he left:

hi i am not a chef wife but a chef husband. i make all the money, pay all the bills, and take care of everything at home. she makes next to nothing, is never home, and barely makes the payments on her old credit debt and student loans.she works from 10am - at least 10pm if not longer on weekend nights, has sunday and monday off.we have been married for 5 months and i cant deal with this lifestyle anymore.anyone else have a similar situation? i am struggling to keep this relationship going. we have issues now but no time to work through them and i am convinced that the lack of time we have together IS our issue.HELP PLEASE!

Now I know if we get all of our brilliant minds together, we can help this guy out. Everyone deserves some happiness.



ChefDelbert said...

Dude, if you make all the money and want to spend time with her, then buy her a restaurant ....... what spouses miss is that we (chef's) often want our spouses involved in some form of our careers.(mainly so they stop complaining about all the hours we put in)
Whether it is being our P.R. person, recipe searcher, recipe guinea pig, cookbook organizer and compiler or in my case my former line cook turned nurse.
A chef early on in my career gave me some advice that holds true for any relationship be it work or marriage and quite simply it is this ---- If you can't get out of it .... get into it.
So I urge all chef spouses to get into being a foodie. Read our magazines, peruse restaurant web sites, read the articles on StarChefs ... just don't give up on us ..... and cherish Sunday's and Monday's. Make her breakfast in bed on a Sunday it will be the non threatening key for discussions about how you feel toward her career choice. (just wait until at least 10 or 11 am for ample chef sleep)

Hilary Battes said...

I agree with Chef Delbert and I don't agree as well. First of all, I love that quote: If you can't get out of it, get into it. BUT I don't think anyone can force themselves to love someone or something they don't. I think chefhusband here should try to get into his wifes career and the lifestyle and culture of it all, but if he can't then he can't. I love reading up on Eater and PX this and thinking I know things about the "industry". It makes me feel a part of my husband's life. But that's not for everyone.

But buying his wife a restaurant is NOT THE SOLUTION! Neither is working with her. My chef would quit if I showed up to work with him one day. That works for some couples, but not all. They need time together as a couple, not coworkers.

My advice: TALK TO HER! Tell her how you feel in calm, soothing tones. Let her know that you are concerned for the future of your marriage. See what she has to say.

Keep us posted, chefhusband!

Anonymous said...

hi, chef husband here

one clarifying point which i think makes a big difference. she isnt head chef, just starting. i am not into restaurant life as a lifesyle and made it clear before this job started that if it was too tough we would re-evaluate. she wants this career and doesnt wish to change her job or reduce hours as the head chef would remove her from sushi bar area and back to prep cook which she wont accept.

i cant thank you all enough for your response and look forward to any insight.

maybe its best to let her go on with her career and stick with what i think a marriage is and what we agreed to. if she realizes that she really does want the marriage we envisioned she may come back. if the sushi family wins, then life goes on i spose.

Anonymous said...

Hello chef husband,
Having 25ish years in the service industry in one form or another I can understand the difficulty in maintaining a relationship while working long alternative hours. Since she is new to the restaurant scene, perhaps a few alternatives for thought...

How about a daytime cooking gig?
Corporate kitchens need you during the day make meals for their staff, but early morning hours may be part of the deal.

Is working part/reduced time an option?

Can you get Mondays off to fit her schedule?

What is the ultimate goal in her career?
Executive chef of a high end restaurant?
Steady money to put towards a common goal in your marriage?
Ownership of her own spot?

These factors and more will go into the decision making process. It's best to discuss them to make sure your both on the same page.

Best of luck in your new marriage,to your wife and her career choice!

Been there...

Anonymous said...

Hi chefhusband....I think that almost all of us chefspouses have been in a fairly similar place as you are now, especially those of us who have been with their chefs from the beginning of their careers. The early years of a culinary career and the early years of a marriage are some of the most challenging.

I think the best thing that you can do right now is to set a date this Sunday to talk to each other - go out to brunch or lunch together and talk about your expectations. Let her know that you feel like the marriage is currently an unbalanced partnership and see what you can do to make you both happy.

For example - you work less hours, so it's only fair that you pick up some of the extra housework, but it's not fair that you do all of it. Agree that Sunday is your couple-day, a day where you spend time together, maybe run some errands together when needed, and plan something fun to do. On Mondays, when she's off and you're at work, she should have some responsibilities at home, perhaps she does the laundry or the mopping/vacuuming or something along those lines. On the financial front, you have to be realistic about money over the next couple of years - as an entry-level cook, the pay stinks. You should've been aware of that when you married her, but even if it came as a surprise, you have to deal with it now. The best advice I can give you is that you should combine your finances, unless there is some sort of history of financial irresponsibility on her part. You can't change her crummy pay, but you have to stop yourself from resenting it. Unless there's a prenup in place, you're responsible for her debt anyway, so starting to get into the mindset of OUR money, OUR debt, OUR savings, etc. Agree to financial goals and make a plan together - the pay will come with time as she moves up in the industry.

Lack of time together is very likely a main part of your problem - we tend to get testy and fight with each other when we haven't had any time off together in a long time. If she's been at her restaurant for at least 6 months, she should be able to request a Sat. off pretty soon - can you take a long weekend together? It might be something you can look forward to, a chance to reconnect for more than 1 day in a row. The loss of 1 shift's pay will more than make up for it!

Good luck, chefhusband, I think everyone will agree with me when I say I hope you'll update us on how things go with your wife!

lonestarstudent said...

Dear Chefhusband,

First, I want to say that my heart goes out to you. As previously mentioned, the first years of a culinary career are the most difficult as are the first few years of marriage. Being a spouse is a hard enough adjustment, but when your spouse is a chef, it's exponentially more difficult.

I agree with the previous posts--that you should talk to her. BUT if being a chef is her dream, you may not get an answer you like. If you force her to leave her job, she will most likely resent you later. Being a chef's spouse is all about patience. You may need to be patient and let her leave the chef-world on her own. If you love her, the wait will be worth it. It also might help if you stop thinking in terms of mine/her's and realize that jobs, money, time, etc are all about the partnership you committed to when you got married. I am the first one to tell you that being married to a chef is not easy - AT ALL, but it is worth it.

If it makes you feel any better, our first year of marriage was not good at all either. I didn't think I was going to make it to 6 months. We got married right after my husband graduated culinary school so I understand about the new marriage struggles while your wife is just starting her career.

Please keep us posted. I hope we can help you in some way!


Anonymous said...

Hello chefhusband ~


I am involved with a chef who travels 3 weeks out of the month. It kills me, but we happen to like each other a whole lot, so working at this is totally worth it. You always need to remind yourself that it is not always going to be like this. Things will change, its just getting used to the adjustment.

I find it help when you do the little things for each other, slip her a note, leave a snack on the counter for her when she gets home, send flowers on her day off, a simple text message even. My chef and I devote one day out of the week he is here to do nothing but sit in our pajamas and veg out with snacks and bad TV. It may sound lame, but its our thing, and my favorite day of the whole month! You absolutely do not need to be as extreme to buy her a restaurant, just remind her daily why you love her, and I know she will reciprocate. She too feels the same stresses and hurt that you do.

Hang in there, you always have us!

Anonymous said...

Hey chefhusband -

I don't want to attack you, but your attitude stinks. You need to get over the resentment you have for her making less than you. You seem hung up on that and she's doing what she can to do something about it - by trying to advance her career beyond line cook.

Also, in regards to your comment above, especially, "I am not into restaurant life as a lifestyle and made it clear before this job started that if it was too tough we would re-evaluate." Way to be supportive of your spouse. At the first sign of adversity, you expect her to reevaluate HER path and change HER job?

What about you? Why does she have to sacrifice her career to make you happy? This is the 21st century, try to be a bit more progressive.

When I got married, my husband was in the corporate world making good money, but was miserable. So, about six years into our marriage, we bit the bullet and sent him to culinary school. He doesn't make as much money, and I don't see him as much as I'd like, but he's HAPPY, and our time together is so much better. He was miserable in the corporate world, so he was miserable to be around. Now, we cherish the time we do get together, we don't fight, and we just enjoy us both being in jobs and careers that we enjoy, and that pay the bills.

I agree, you both need to talk and you BOTH need to contribute and make small changes to make the relationship work.

best of luck!

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is a chef bf seeing as I am the chef of the relationship. And I have to admit the hours and days I work make me a cranky cranky person. Being a chef I am constantly focused on making other people happy, especially during the holidays, and I wonder who goes out of their way to make me happy. I have to admit we chefs need a lot of pampering. I feel ya though!

Anonymous said...

thank you all for the responses; some more frank than others ;)

i thought we had a compromise where i would support her for another 8 months while she looked for alternatives at a place that did sushi lunch and perhaps some catering jobs which made sense.

she would get up early with me, we would have breakfast together and make it work - all seemed to be working out where we could start healing and getting some more time together.

unfortunately the morning after, she awoke and said she didnt think the compromise would work for her.

my reaction to that is to understand that her passion is being a chef which puts her on a divergent path of what i see a marriage. it seems some people like go erin go are ok with never seeing their spouse but not me, its not the kind of life i want to live. i want to experience life WITH my spouse. in fact, part of the thought is that we both just get out of debt over the next 2 years then think about what we both want to do. if its opening a restaurant, right on...

i do appreciate everyones feedback and think this site is pretty cool with lots of involved folks. i still hold out some hope but again, my idea of a marriage is a bit different from my 32 year old eyes and her 26 year old eyes. in fact, when i was 26, i left it all and joined the peace corps. i get what she is doing all too much and think it may just be time to set her free.

thanks all and best wishes


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Money and instant gratification aren't everything, dude. What about happiness, passion, drive, determination? Isn't part of experiencing life WITH your spouse supporting each other's goals, even if it means reconsidering your idea of an "ideal" relationship?

Of course I want to see my husband more. He is forever saying that he will take more time off, then only gets busier as new opportunities present themselves. It makes me crazy, it makes me cry, and sometimes I don't think I want to do it anymore. Ultimately, though, I am so, so proud and happy and excited that he is successful in something that he's so very passionate about. We work together to make it work for our family.

But then, maybe I view marriage a bit differently through my 24 year old eyes (nearsighted ones, at that).

I hope your wife reads this blog.

Anonymous said...

Hola, Hi Chefhusband. This is simple, you and your chef needs a vacations with great and quality time, not quantity!!! We all understand you, not weekend, not holidays, not nights, no plans, no nothing, only love!!! and great food!

Another alternative is OK, but she will turn frustrated, because her career future is limited cause this situation.

So, you and your chef needs a great conversation.

Sorry for my english, I'm in the learning process.!!
Adios!! y mucha suerte (bye & good luck).

Livingston Cooks said...


I am a chef but no longer in the industry. It is a brutal industry and very difficult on the family. But chefs tend to be fierce and proud warriors who build strong relationships with their comrades who walk into battle with them every day. It's difficult for them to see things the way normal people do sometimes.

But hey kiddo, if you love this woman, stand by her. She's your wife. Give her time to get established and to get on her feet. She's just a young woman. You're young too.

Real love can sees couples through cancer, the death of a child, financial disaster...whatever. Keep what's most important in sight. If you love her, hold on to her. If you don't...say goodbye.

I think there's more at play here.


Hilary Battes said...

Beautifully said, Marko.

Livingston Cooks said...

Hey...you know how it is!


Anonymous said...

Hi again...I'm the longwinded one who wrote the response above LoneStar. I really felt for you with your first few posts, but it seems from your last one that you really don't care to work on your marriage. You seem to want to compromise - you want her to give up way more than you are.

At this point, I'm in agreement with Marko. There's something more going on here. You don't just decide to give up a marriage after 5 months if there isn't something else brewing. You complain that you don't see her enough, so your solution is to not be with her anymore?

She may be 26, but you're the one who seems like he needs to grow up.

Anonymous said...

**the above should read: you don't seem to want to compromise.

lonestarstudent said...

Chris, I think your second post changed the way a lot of us viewed your situation.

You seem to have the "it's my way or the highway" attitude. I really take issue with you degrading your wife by insuiating that she's immature because of her age. It actually made me cringe. I had to wait several days to respond to your second post because it infuriated me.

Perhaps you are correct that you two view marriage differently. I get it. But your way is not the only way. And I'd like to hear one person that found marriage to be exactly what they thought it would be on their wedding day. Marriage is tough, real work. And you expecting your wife to give up her career to suit your view of marriage is completely unrealistic. I don't know one chef who takes ultimatums. And I don't know one person who benefits from giving them.

I also hope your wife reads this blog. And I agree with the above posts that something else must be going on. Good luck to you and your wife.

Livingston Cooks said...


You're in the hot seat man. You're first mistake was posting on a "chef wife" site. Ummm...lots of women her? Get it?! Your second comment would never fall on sympathetic ears on this blog pal.

But, not to worry. Mistakes get made, right? And that's what life is all about.

So listen.....

I was in the hospitality industry for many years. I worked my way through the ranks and eventually got my first gig as and Executive Chef. At that time, I had my first child - a new born - suckling her mommy's booby while I worked 80 hours a week. Do you think my wife was happy with that situation?


Anyway...I worked my ass off for several years to work myself to the top of the heap and that entailed moving across the country to work in one of Canada's top restaurants as Executive Chef, family in tow.

I tell you this...my wife stood by me working 90 hour weeks, weekends, holidays...all of it...and she never quit on me. My kids never quit on me either.

But, it wasn't easy. What the hell is easy Chris? Life?

Love sees us through tough times until there isn't enough love there anymore. THEN...it's quitting time.

I think you should take a long, hard look in the mirror and determine what the real reason is that you want to leave your marriage after such a short time.

Be a man.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand everything after being on this page for about an hour reading everyones situations.. I recently started seeing someone who is separated.. hes a chef.. he was married 22 yrs.. im divorced for 9 yrs.. ive been seeing him for 3 months. during these 3 months he was transitioning from being an employer (chef) in a restaurant, to being a partner (head chef) in his own restaurant. now i understand what kind of toll it took on their marriage. i dont know who left who, i never asked. but i dont see him as much as id like to and i know im not going to see him as much as i used to because he just opened the new restaurant this past monday. so here i am looking on the internet to see what its like to be involved with a chef and i found this site. last friday was his last day at the restaurant he worked for and he came to see me. before he left he said, this isnt goodbye, i just have to get settled in my new restaurant and then we'll see each other often again. by the looks of what i read about the hours a chef puts in, i dont think im ever gonna see him again..... now my situation is different.. he has an ex and 3 kids, plus me, plus the restaurant... poor guy.. i am not going to put pressure on him or bother him.. but i will support him and not complain about anything.. i appreciate the times we are together and i understand his passion for cooking, and responsiblity as a chef, and a father. i think hes got alot "on his plate" no pun intended.. im gonna be nice and patient.. we're both 46 yrs old so we've had our share of ups and downs.. i think as you get older you have more patience and understanding.. im also really glad i found this site.. it made me understand his career alot more..
thanks... MV

Livingston Cooks said...


Personally speaking...being a chef isn't something you do for passion. That's something for the novices. Being a chef - owner...employee is all about long hours and stress. It's a thankless job.

Keep these things in mind when dealing with your boyfriend. There will be good days and bad days.

I don't know what else to tell you.

Anonymous said...

if someone one is really a chef and wants to continue to be a chef then the situation of long hours, working weekends, holidays will not change unless the person changes their mind and wants to change careers. It's the only way out of this mess and unless that happens suck it up and deal....guess what, that life is not for a lot of people who marry in to the world of chefdom. Along with the hard drinking and eating that often go along with it, the hours suck and social life comes down to the people you currently work around because nobody else in the real world shares your schedule. But it's also not a life for a lot of people who want to be a chef and go to culinary school and burn out in a year working in a restaurant(It would probably take most people a good ten years before they would truly break over the top to be an exec. chef) So give it time and a year or two into it just maybe every party involved will have a reality check about what they want out of life and career and decide to sacrifice or hold there guns, damned be it to the one who gets in the way. Long story short, life's brutal; you either take it by the horns and get what you want out of it or it eats you alive and you get spit out broken on the other side. Love, life, work-holds true for all

Tina said...

Your wife of five months works two 12-hour days a week and you "can't deal with it." Oh, boy, you're a gem. Here's a thought. How about being supportive. How about not looking for things to pick on like her one old credit card. How about saying, this is my wife's dream and I'm going to help make it happen for her.
Man up guy and start being a husband.