Probably the hardest issue I dealt with concerning my husbands job as a chef; was spending quality time together. We were so young when we got married and his dream was to work as a chef and cook amazing food. When he began as an apprentice I was heavily pregnant with our first and only child, it was difficult because I was alone almost every night.
I remember being terrified that I would go into labor and my significant other would miss the birth of our child. That fear was unreasonable as my labor began while we were both off work. I had stopped work a few weeks leading up to my due date and he was taking holiday. It was January, which is not a busy time in the restaurant, so we were together the afternoon our daughter came into the world. Apart from this, I was always pretty secure about being alone. In fact I love time to myself. It just began to feel like it was too much.
After our child was born I stayed at home with our child. This was important to me as I was raised by a mother who chose not to work and I always believed that one parent should be at home. As I said above, many of our disagreements and fights were about how we never saw each other and I was always alone at family reunions or regular dinners with his parents or my father. The resentment I felt began to build and while it almost destroyed our marriage, but somehow, we got through it. My significant other and I are not together anymore, but it had nothing to do with his job.
Do All You Can To Make It Work!
So I am going to share with you some things we tried to get things back on track and what actually worked for us. Once my daughter got to school, I worked part-time so I was able to be more flexible and be available for my child. My chef husband worked at a popular restaurant, where he eventually became head chef. This promotion occurred after we had parted ways, but I now see why he worked so hard because as the head chef, he does not seem to be working as many long hours these days and has more time for our daughter.
Make the Most of the Time You Have Together
When he first began his apprenticeship he was required to work split shifts, which meant going into work at around 10 am to do the lunch time service and then he would come home for a few hours and return to the restaurant at 5 pm for dinner service. It was a brutal schedule, requiring him to work seven days per week at times, he did get Monday’s off and sometimes Tuesdays during the quiet times. He did split shifts on Thursday to Sunday, so that left Monday totally free, Tuesday and Wednesday he was free until 5 pm. We had to make the most of the time we had together.
The warmer months in an inland town send people running for the coast, so there were times where we could take advantage of this. The slowest times were often some long weekends, but sometimes there were long weekends where people would stay in town and this was when the restaurant would get busy. The winter months are often busy and Easter and Christmas are too, especially December with Christmas parties, as I KNOW you are also familiar with yourself.
We often had a date night on Tuesday if he was off and sometimes we would arrange to do something special with our daughter. If he wasn’t needed until 5 pm on Sundays we would have a picnic, a trip to the zoo, or arrange a get together with our families. This strategy did work for a while, however we sometimes did not stick with it and the fighting started again. A friend of mine told me to create a playbook. What is a playbook you ask? My friends saved us a lot of arguments in any case.
Create a Playbook
A playbook is a simple exercise book or note book that you buy from the newsagent or supermarket and you write down your favorite places to go and things you love to do. When you are stuck for an idea of what to do one day or night, refer to your playbook, pick a restaurant you both love, call them and make a reservation. Don’t get into the habit of having your dates at the restaurant where your significant other works, you could regret this when he or she is in the kitchen talking shop with the other chefs and you are left alone at the table. You also need to be communicating about the distance in your relationship!
So, back to the playbook; when you go somewhere new and you both loved it, write it down in your playbook. Keep it handy, like on the coffee table in the living room, so if you think of something the two of you can do – write it down immediately before you forget. Spending quality time with the one you love is difficult for any relationship, so the playbook might just make reconnecting just that little bit easier.
For me, the playbook was a God-sent when it came to communicating and avoiding unnecessary arguments or disagreements, simply because it was created by both myself and my significant other and it was created from all the “Likes” we have in common. How can there be a disagreement when we choose something we both loved? It’s just impossible! Aside from this factor, the playbook was a great activity that helped us learn more about each other, interact regularly with one another and most importantly it allowed us to spend “Quality Time” together. This was the best, most important part of the effectiveness of the playbook.
Marriage or relationship counseling is something many couples might do, but honestly, I believe that if you bring in a counselor and they cannot help you then where do you go from there. Counseling should be left as a last resort, I would focus your efforts elsewhere in your marriage first. There are plenty of ways to reconnect your relationship.
For us, marriage counseling was a whole other story! It gave me and my significant other permission to argue during our counseling sessions, which most often times was continued as home. In my experience I think this created more issues for us, rather than helping to resolve them. If we had only been able to communicate better at home, or at least had time to, I personally wouldn’t have involved a third party. I would have found other solutions for home.
Those Who Nap Together – Stay Together
If he or she comes home from the lunch service and needs a nap, then join them for a nap, at least until the kids return from school. Try to have a nap during the day and be up at night when he or she gets home, so you can be with them during their period of winding down. This is not easy when you have a job or kids and need to be up early. Friday and Saturday nights should be taken advantage of here, when your significant other comes home at around midnight or later, there’s no reason why you cannot be there to greet him or her.
There is no problem that couldn’t use a little cuddling right? For me, it always made me feel closer and more connected to my partner. Nothing else in the world matters when you experience that feeling!
If the ideas above and your own ideas have already failed and you have tried marriage counseling, gave it your best shot, and not just made a half-hearted effort, and things are still a mess and left unresolved. Going to marriage counseling takes commitment to a schedule and it might be difficult to fit this into your significant other’s schedule, but if the two of you are serious about the health of your marriage, then you must attend counseling regularly and for at least three months. Again, I must point out that if marriage counseling does not work for you and your significant other, you might need to make a hard decision.
When We’ve Done All We Can
My partner and I tried everything we could to keep our marriage in tact, but nothing seemed to fix it. When we were left with no communication because the arguments were never-ending, many tears fell and everyday was a fight with not an ounce of joy – I realized it was over. This was most devastating!
You may have gotten to the point in your marriage where there is nothing left to do that will resolve this situation. Sometimes we move heaven and earth to fix our marriages and they are still unhappy and we have no other option but to contact a family attorney and discuss a separation or divorce. Not sure if it’s time, then you may want to check “Tell-Tale Signs That It’s Time to Divorce”. Although this is sometime the last resort, you still want to get through it with as little pain as possible, so you wouldn’t want to try handling it on your own.
As I reflect upon the past, we really could have done more, we gave up too soon. One thing I take away from this experience, is that being married to a chef or being a chef who is married takes commitment, time, love, communication and especially understanding. The hardest thing for me was walking away and always feeling like I could have done more. A life of regret is never an easy one. It was just easier to avoid the problems than face them head on. Which I think was probably my biggest downfall – always acting like there weren’t any issue. As I look back now, I wish I had a chance to do it over again, there is so much I would have done differently.
About the Author:
Jennifer Caughey is a content writer who has written this guest contribution on behalf of Colgan & Associates, a York family attorney. Jennifer herself used to be a chef, and was also once married to a chef for 15 years. She feels that it is an utter tragedy when a marriage may face challenges or end in divorce as hers did, mostly because there was no effort put into fixing it. She likes to offer significant others her tips how to make restaurant marriages and relationships work and overcome the hard times together.
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