Speak Up

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are the wives doomed?

Tonight I got a comment from a lovely wife in need of our advice. I could email her myself but why not gather the genius of us all?

I have been a chef wife for 2 years- girlfriend for 8 before that. I told myself for 10 years that life would get better & we'd have more time together, but so far it hasn't happened. For about 9 years, I was 2nd, 3rd or 4th to various things. About a year ago he left me, saying he wasn't sure he wanted to be married (and I suspect he wanted to try out life with a new waitress he connected with. He came back a few months later, asked for forgiveness, I gave it & he has made a huge effort to make things work. But now I am questioning whether or not this life is worth it. I find myself not giving 100% to our marriage & it kills me. I love him dearly & he is one of my favorite people. I feel like we're doomed. Any advice? I'm tired of spending holidays, weekends and every night alone.

Food Is Love,


KristaM said...

Hilary, I understand where your head is at. I am also a chef wife of 2.5+ years and we dated for 6 before getting married. We started dating in highschool, made it through college, then got married! :) He is my favorite person in the world, but you are right. The hardest part is spending EVERY night, weekend, and holiday alone. It's kind of funny, you think you will get more time together when you get married, but the rude awakening is that it is just the same. It also gets hard because when you suck it up and prepare yourself to spend the holidays alone, you are bothered by the questions of "Where is John?" "Is he working?" by your own family... kind of rubbing it in / not really getting how you feel. Don't you just want to say "NO sh*t he is working!!! If he WASN'T working, HE would be HERE! Or in fact, I wouldn't be HERE, I would be at home with HIM!" (Sorry I am starting to ramble ha). We have never taken a time out, so I can't give advice on that instance. But as far as dealing with the schedule, the chef wife life forces you to be independent and get to know YOU! Take advantage of that, stay busy, take an art class, go on day trips. The worst thing you can do is sit at home and think about your husband at the restaurant. I started realizing, any time I was sulking about my husbands schedule, it was my fault I was even doing that! So instead of sulking, I would get up and start doing something with myself. Try to find the good side to the crazy schedule, like, you can do what ever you want a lot of the time with out consulting him lol. The other side is, you have to make a decision. Is he worth it? (This should be easy to answer... if it isn't, that is a problem) When you are together, what is that time like? I could go on and on. Hope this helps!!

Krista - Raleigh, NC

Sarah Beth said...

I ma also a chef's wife. We have been married almost 3 years (this month) and dated about 7 years prior. I had to sit down with my DH earlier this week to have a discussion about his "hanging out" post work and not spending that time with me. The discussion didn't go exactly how I planned but after a day to mellow he seems to have come around. I agree with the previous post that you have to focus on the time you do have to be together. It is a life of indepence which makes marriage especially challenging. We maintain a level of indepence that can be isolating. However, I think coming out on the other side, after having overcome the challenges, will definitely be worth it.
I wish I could write more but I have to go back to work.
I just found this blog and I plan to be here a lot. We all need support!
Hang in there!
Sarah Beth, New Orleans

chefwife said...

Hillary, there is no easy answer here. But my suggestion is this: take the job out of the equation and answer from your heart, "Is this the man I want to be with when my hair is gray and I get the senior discount at the grocery store?" If no, then you know what to do. But if the answer is yes, then set that as your goal and go for it! You know that old saying about marriage being work, well, it is if you have to challenge the allure of your husband's job every day! I understand about being 2nd, 3rd even 4th. It stinks but you are not alone. I have been married to my chef for 27 years, so it can work. True, he has missed so many events with our son I stopped counting, but he's been there for others. He is the Executive Chef at a large urban convention hotel so he may be "blowin' and goin'" for 18 days straight and then take 2 days off. In the early years of apprenticeship and sous chefing we didn't see much of each other. I had my career and then stayed home to raise our son. So we'd have spontaneous dates when we could. You will become extremely independent and self-assured. But what a great thing that is! Cultivate your own circle of friends, acquaintances and activities. Your chef is a strong man (or he wouldn't make it in F&B) and he undoubtedly wants a strong wife. Have you ever worked in F & B? Use it to your adventure if you have - speak the lingo, ask questions and stay involved in his world. He is passionate about what he does, be part of that world, at least in knowledge. Ask him to teach you to cook something special like a sauce or a fabulous roast chicken. It's the little things that connect you to him that will keep you together. I wish you all the best!

Hilary Battes said...

Hi Chefwife, I just want to remind you that this past post was from a reader, not from me. Congrats on being married for 27 years!! Woo hoo!

Allie said...

It's nice to know that someone else out there feels the same way I do. We haven't gotten married yet. I also feel like I come 2nd, 3rd, 4th, never first. It's usually the shapenening of knives, or looking up more recipies, and prep, all comes before me.

What helps me is having something to do. Since I have 9 units of school, work, plus his hours we dont have time for our relationship. So I continue doing things that I would normally do if I wasn't with him. But doing that for so long makes him feel more like a "bestie" and not a boyfriend.

I suggest taking some sort of class, whether it be crafting, or a quick seminar. Hell go wine tasting! Seems to be my biggest love right now.

They need to make a show for ladies like us!

Cindy said...

I have been a chef's wife for 16 years. I've spend every holiday without him, every weekend (been a stay-at-home-mom for 13 years)lived on a super tight budget, watched my husband leave for work when the sun comes up til after the sun goes down, ironed chef jacket w/starch, gone to the kids activities alone, teacher conferences alone, cried, questioned, wondered what is this all for?, waited for the day all of this hard work would pay off. Well, the day has come! 4 months ago he lost his job and has been looking ever since. Now he's home everyday and I go to work. I teach so now my kids qualify for free/reduced lunch! Wow that hard work has sure paid off!
One plus, my chef never cheated (never had time or money too in addition to the fact he is a decent, honest and moral person) I guess the nice guy and his family finishes last.
Don't know if this answers any questions. Just a glimpse into a life you too can have if you work really hard and try to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I am a newly married chef wife but dated for nearly 10 years and must say that this blog is a huge relief for me to see. Dating or being married to a chef is not all roses like many think or say so thank you for keeping it real here. Mac N Cheese, hot dogs, and eggs for dinner at 12:00 at night because he's too tired to cook is not what people picture.(I usually do all the cooking if we want real food) I can totally relate to a lot that has been said here and actually laughed at the comment about people asking why your husband is not somewhere with you when they've all asked numerous times before and just don't seem to get it, he works EVERY DAY EVERY NIGHT EVERY HOLIDAY EVERY everything, i'm surprised he made our wedding. =) On another note, not many mention this but chefs typically make very very little for the hours they work unless they're the owner of the restaurant or work at a resort of some sort. soo.... plan on never seeming your husband and when you both have the same day off he'll typically be sleepy and tired from work and you'll be broke so vacation (if he gets one) is out of the question. All that said I love my husband more than anything so I put up with it all because i look forward to the fews days a month i do get to see him but it's not for everyone. phew... i think i needed that off my chest!!! THANK YOU......

KristaM said...

I wrote the comment from OrangeLilyDesigns, and it is so nice to read that others can totally relate! I hope the person who wrote the about her situation to begin with has found some helpful insight to her life as a chef wife... keep us posted!!


Anonymous said...

I can relate. We're 13 years, 2 kids, 2 cats, 1 puppy (who is about to push me over the edge) into this. I never see him. Holidays have become a dread. I'm in a slump. The kids just feed off my energy, so if my heart isn't in it- I guess it shows.
I appreciate the advice from the 27year married veteran. I think I keep forgetting that he isn't coming back. It's easier when you let go. I guess it just hurts sometimes to realize that he lives in the underworld of restaurants. I want to care, but at some point, when does he care? When does he make the effort back? 13 years is a long time.....

Anonymous said...

I admire the strong wills these women have to "stick it out". I'm engaged to a chef, been together for over four years. But our relationship is close to being over. All these wives that are telling you to be strong, though great advices, are not realistic. I've also been in a relationship where my significant other "connected with a coworker" (from previous relationship), so I know exactly how that betrayal feels. Remember, as long as he's a chef, he will be surrounded by waitresses with gleaming eyes. Chefs do not equal promiscuity, but if HE did it once, what's to say he won't do it again? To be a wife of a chef, first thing is, THE RELATIONSHIP NEEDS TO BE STRONG TO BEGIN WITH. I've been a waitress/hostess for many years before I called it quits, so I also know what it's like to be in the environment.
"Be-strong-and-hang-in-there" only applys to strong realtionships. Just as this blog reveals, it's very tough trying to have a life with a chef. I want our future children to have a father who is present in thier lives, not hanging out in his restaurants whenever they can see him. I want our future family to spend holidays together, as a family. I want our future family to take trips together. But those things will never happen as long as he's a chef....
What type of future are you envisioning? Only YOU know for real, if your relationship will be strong enough (after an infidelity) to survive through being a wife of a chef.
Good luck, I know you'll be able yo listen to your inner feelings and intuitions!!

Anonymous said...

I've been with a chef for many years. My question to you is, is he really "The One" for you? Really, only a really strong relationship can survive this. And you also have to think about your future family. Do you want a father that is present in their lives, b/c most of the time he won't be there. Are you willing to raise family on your own, while worrying about some waitress at his work place (since he does have a history of that already). Infidelity is already a difficult, if not, a devastating event in a relationship. And putting chef's hours/environment, you've got a rough road ahead of you. Listen to your female intuitions, listen to your true inner feeling. Don't block out those little voices that are giving you red flags (you're already not giving 100%, maybe your heart already knows...).
Good luck!!

KaL.A. said...

Many of you are so strong to stay many years with a chef. I have only been with mine for 1 1/2 yrs and it's a struggle for us. We are in our mid 20s (24 & 26), and he makes little money, is moving back into his parents house to save $, I had to move in w/ my parents so we don't get to have private time together anymore. Like another wife posted- my boyfriend would never cheat on me and have the same great core values & morals I have that makes us have such a strong bond. Let alone the fact we have the SAME BDAY (March 7th), our moms have the SAME NAME (Marissa). It's so hard being put on "the back burner" to their career. I like reading all your stories to help me become stronger and realize what he says "If there's a will, we will make a way".

Anonymous said...

Well I may have only been with my Chef for two and a half years but the way I see it is if you want to be together you will do anything to make it work. Not only did we have to contend with his ridiculous work schedule but on top of that he was in college full time during the day I was at University and I lived fifty miles away for the first year and a half of our relationship. I saw him twice a week he would get to my flat at about one in the afternoon and leave at six in the morning the next day, but I stuck it out because I love him. Granted a lot of time I thought it wasn't going to be worth it but things do get easier with time. But now the next hurdle comes as I'll be finishing University in the summer and he's going to start at a University in September (he did four years of collage) but its one hundred and fifty miles away from where we currently live and I've never been, but because I want this relationship to work I'm leaving everything I know and moving with him :D
The hardest thing to do is to forgive an infidelity but if he is worth it then you will have made the right decision and you will just have to trust that he wont do it again. If he does but you still want to make the relationship work try a couples Councillor, or just talk it out there's always a reason and if your willing to recognize one resolve it then you will have a much stronger relationship in the long run.
It's tough but if you want the relationship you will both find a way to make it work to be a couple is to be a team so anything you want to do you have to do together :D I hope that helps and that it doesn't sound like a lecture :/ I really hope you both work it out :D
I wish you the best of Luck :D
S.C. Newcastle England

Hilary Battes said...

PinaKALAda, I agree that wives and significant others frequently feel they are on the back burner, but we do have options. I think the first thing is you need to make sure you are very clear and tell your chef how you feel. It's important to be as direct as possible, too. Learn from my mistake of years of complaining and whining. I thought I was getting my point across, but I was really driving Erik away.

S.C, You are absolutely correct about finding ways to make it work. I think one of the hardest things about dating/being married to a chef is that you have to be flexible and expect the unexpected.

Please, keep us updated!

Anonymous said...

I am just discovering this site, and read through all these comments... and my question is: is anyone Christian and has advice on how to make it work with a chef? How do you prioritize God- then Husband- then Family... when your chef is only prioritizing CHEF??
I am married to a chef/owner- 10 years- been together for 13 years- have a almost 3 and a 4 year old- and we are all *suffering* in this lifestyle. Back in the day I was the first to say how great being with a chef was- I had so much freedom to do what I wanted and still had a man that came home every night (eventually)... but I was lying to myself to make my situation seem ok because the lonliness and being second to a career is not the way we are supposed to live our lives. Chef first is NOT natural. Now, I understand there is a lot more that goes into all of our stories... it is hard to sum it up... but I had thought we were "soul mates"...but the whole time he has been cheating on me- with his career.