"Things Have Gone Downhill Since He Started Working from Home"
"Until Beth told me how miserable she was, I didn't realize our marriage was in so much trouble," said Christopher, 30. "I'm sure a lot of it is my fault, but I'm doing the best I can.
"When my boss offered me the chance to work at home I was thrilled. To make my own hours and not have to commute, isn't that everyone's dream? I didn't see any negatives and felt confident that I could make it work. It seemed great at first. I could roll out of bed in my sweats, do some work, go out and exercise, then work more. I loved that no one was checking on how many clients I contacted each day.
"But to be honest, I found it really hard to be productive. There were just too many other things to focus on. For example, I spent a lot of time figuring out what to do with some money I inherited from my uncle. I ended up investing it wisely, but the flip side of that good fortune was that it gave me an excuse to be lazy about my job.
"I never told Beth, but my boss began hounding me for not being more productive. He'd call and say that I needed to bring in more business. For a few weeks I'd pick up the pace but eventually I'd start slacking off again.
"At this point I'm not sure I like the work-at-home thing after all. I miss the structure of an office, especially the face time with my boss and colleagues. I feel sidelined and am starting to worry about whether management will see me as superfluous and fire me.
"I'm trying to buckle down, but it's very hard to concentrate when I hear my wife and son upstairs. I know Beth can't watch Jack every second, but when he starts knocking on the basement door I get tense and end up yelling at both of them. I don't mean to do that. I also don't mean to be so on top of her all the time. When I ask Beth where she's going -- or when I comment on the groceries she bought -- I'm just trying to stay involved with things around the house. I didn't realize that I came across as so controlling.
"Now that I listen to Beth, I realize that I must sound just like my mother did when I was growing up. She was the boss in our family and she ordered my father around a lot, especially when she was in a bad mood. I hated it then, and if that's really what I'm doing, I'm ashamed -- and really sorry.
"I don't blame my wife for thinking I'm a jerk. But in my defense, unless she tells me how she feels, how am I supposed to know? This is the first time I had any idea she didn't like the fact I joined the rock-climbing gym.
"Look, I truly love Beth. We had a fantastic relationship before I began working at home, and I don't want to lose her. I guess I could look for a new job, but there isn't much out there right now. So at least for a while I've got to make the best of what I've got. But I'm committed to improving our marriage. I'm tired of our bickering, and I miss the great relationship we used to have."