Patrick is one of the most ambitious people you’ll ever meet. After graduating summa cum laude, Patrick joined Morgan Stanley and made his first $100,000 in the stock market at the age of 23. At age 26, he bought his first condominium, and the very next year he made Vice President. Because Patrick is accustomed to getting in the office at 5:30 am and working until 7:30 pm every single day, he finds boredom on the weekends. Like clockwork, his body wakes up automatically no later than 6:00 am, and Patrick twiddles his thumbs every Saturday and Sunday until his friends wake up at 9:00 am. Sick of the boredom, Patrick decided to start a business during the morning hours and has spent the last year trying to launch it off the ground.
At the age of 30, Patrick married his longtime college sweetheart. He admired her for her kindness and her patience. She is a smart woman who has a steady but un-lucrative career in retail. Yet, after a couple years of marriage things started going sour, not because of the stress from their jobs, but because of the lack of private time outside of the office.
No off switch
Patrick has the same intensity on the weekends pursuing his online business as he has during work. Janice, his wife, on the other hand, loves to sleep in and relax on the weekends. That’s what weekends are for, she would always tell Patrick. She’d ignore him whenever he nudged her at 8:00 am to go out and play. Remember, by this time Patrick has already been up for two hours working on his side business.
Janice is musically gifted and is able to play both the violin and the piano. Yet, she no longer practices and plays her sweet music. Patrick has encouraged her to keep up her talents, but she is too tired during the weekends after a long week of work. It’s disappointing to Patrick because he regularly works 60 hours a week, and then comes home and puts in another three hours a day on average to ensure that his online business grows. Patrick understands that he shouldn’t expect the same type of intensity from his wife, but he can’t help but feel disappointed in her lack of passions.
One Friday night after Patrick had spent several hours working on his new site design after work, he asked Janice to come take a look and tell him what she thought. Patrick was sure the latest version would be the one. Instead of being encouraging, she told Patrick that a competitor’s site was so much better, and that he should work on it some more. This is when Patrick completely lost it. He didn’t yell at Janice, instead he began to cry. After working so hard, for so long, the person he loved the most had told him his work wasn’t good enough.
Patrick’s entire purpose for building his online business is so that they can have a business of their own during their early retirement years. Sure, the online business is Patrick’s vision, but the overall purpose is for both of them. He is so driven by the desire to take care of Janice that he is willing to put everything he has, time wise and emotionally into his project. Yet, he is so frustrated that Janice doesn’t invest the same amount of effort outside of work as he does. Patrick has no parachute in other words, and can’t depend on Janice to save enough money for them. The onus is almost entirely on him and that’s a lot of pressure.
If only things were like before
There used to be a time when Patrick admired everything about Janice. Now, things have faded. He’s sad that she doesn’t share his same zeal, which for the longest time was fine. But, he’s drawing the line now that she is no longer supportive of his efforts. Patrick can’t go on accepting the way things are and wants things to change. He wonders whether his drive to make a sustainable business online needs to be toned down for the sake of their marriage. Most of all, he just longs for Janice’s support again. Things were so good when they were younger. Now, so much has changed.
What would you do if you were Patrick? Do you think he should extend his early-forties retirement goal and his drive to create an online business so there’s less pressure? What should Janice do to ameliorate the situation?
Updated June 23, 2016 and originally published October 5, 2010.