The Start-Up Spouse

“This is the hardest year of our life”, I told my husband as I collected my things to go to work. “Hey, you look good, did you get a hair cut?”

“Yeah, I got it cut two days ago, I was waiting for you to notice”, he said. And in that one moment, I felt like the worst wife ever.

When I signed on to work at a start-up I was warned and so was he. I would be entering an obsessive and intense part of my career like no other. He agreed to see how it played out and to support me along the way.

He knew my work ethic. He’d seen this before. The late nights seeing shows, meeting clients, getting advice from friends. I’d meet with everyone I ever knew. I’d wake up at 5am trying to piece together an idea. And I would wake up early on the weekends and go bang out two, three hours of work. The free time I had, I spent talking to our teenage daughters or playing with our three-year-old son in the park. He got me for quiet and few moments in between.

We do have dates, once a week. My husband doesn’t drink much at all, but he does love hard cider. We spend one hour a week at the Cider House in downtown Peekskill. Sue is the bartender. She always finds a way to keep us for one more round, which gives us ten more minutes to talk. Sometimes we just sit and sip and stare at each other, too tired to talk but happy to know the other one is there.

We don’t talk specifics about our jobs. But he does support the wide range of emotions that have come up since I accepted the new gig. He celebrates when I am feeling confident. He picks me up from my pity party, when I’m insecure and need to move on. He hopes my passion for what I am doing will extend past working hours. Often, to be honest, I run out of gas by the time the train pulls in to Peekskill.

I need to refuel in ways that I didn’t before. I need a night to Netflix and chill, except it’s literally watching Netflix and chilling. I want and need to be alone more than I ever have before. I have not been hiking or to yoga class or any of the things that keep me balanced. I just keep going, like an Energizer Bunny. And he is forced to occasionally change my batteries.

I wonder how he feels. What’s going on in his head? How hard it must be to live with me right now. I know, he gets it. But secretly does he wish he’d met and married someone less ambitious?

We all talk about how in this new culture, you can be working from anywhere. Work is not over when you leave the office. Everywhere can be converted into a virtual office. I’m available 24/7 lately. My laptop is my lover.

My husband is working just as hard, but his priorities remain family first. And I would love to tell you I have followed suit, but it’s not the case. While he holds down the fort, I go out and win the war.

My plan is to be successful and make enough money that he never needs to work again. It was never about money for me. But money equals freedom. And if that’s what we need to relax, then I will push to get us there.

Along the way to seeking success, I have recently started to be happy as well. Every ride on the daily rollercoaster of my new career is a thrill and I end most days determined and anxious to jump on the ride again. It’s addictive. One more email, one more meeting, one more phone call, could bring that extra win I need.

On Friday, I noticed, I had nothing left to give on date night. We held hands and sipped cider. He stared at the TV above the bar, watching “Tower Heist” (It’s a solid film for escapism). I took a picture of him in that moment. He took a picture of me, full-on, no make-up, exhausted and yet serene. We see each other. And yes, this is going to be a hard year. We will survive this.

I always say, “All the work will be worth it.” I usually say this about my job. Now I am saying it more regarding my life. Everything could fall apart in my career, but this man, I hope, will be waiting to pick me up from that train and take me home, time and time again.

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