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O/T - This is getting bad. I am not sure how to support DW or what to do.

Rags's picture

I have shared that my DW is in a toxic work environment.  She has been for several years. She will absolutely not do anything about it.

She is brilliant. A graduate degreed CPA. The job market for CPAs is wide open and HOT and even with doing nothing but clicking one field on her LinkedIn she has had 3 interviews and two job offers.

Yet... she continues to jeopardize her physical health, mental health, relationships, professional health, and happiness because 'Who is going to take care of my clients and keep the firm profitable if I leave?'

I have tried everything I know to do to get her to take care of herself. I have parroted all of her complaints about the firm, the leaders, the clients, etc.... I have repeated the opinions of anyone she has spoken to about it. Friends, family, colleagues fron former employers, her doctors, her Psychologist. Dozens of people.  People who love her and care about her very much.  Professionals with zero personal skin in the game giving her their opinion.

She has made a list. 4 things in the stay column, a dozen or more in the leave column. 

Two therapists have told her the same thing. They are not her clients.  They are the firm's clients.

Recently I have put it in terms of $$$. She is effectively writing the firm a check for $3000/mo to stay. That is what her base salary would increase by.  Plus she would increase her bonus opportunity.  The firm that has given her a verbal offer and is getting a written offer approved shuts down for the last two weeks of the year and does not allow any employee to work more than 70hrs/wk for more than a single week. They have a corporate quality of life culture rathher than the abusive meat grinder leadeship ineptitude at the firm she has been at for the past 4.5 years.

She told me in 2019 that she felt she needed to move on. Then my VP and his entire director staff got released. I consulted and did okay financially. Her firm added me to insurance. They also paid DW as if she were working when my FIL passed two weeks after DW started working for them.

She is overwhelmed by guilt and paralyzed by analysis even though logically, intellectually, rationally, and realistically there is nothing to analyze. It very well may be KILLING HER!

She won't make a decision.

Then... she got her EKG results on Thursday. She has potentially significant heart condition.  By my quick research... one of 4 key causes is.... STRESS!!!!! Even her GP told her that he would not advise that she stay at that firm.

She has a cardiology appointment. I have no doubt the cardioligist will have the same opinion as her GP, her therapists, friends, family, colleagues... and ME!!!!

I am trying hard to listen and be supportive. However, I am no longer able to just be quiet when she reviews countless pages of notes from conversations with countless people who are all telling her the same thing. 

She starts reading me the notes... again... and I ask... what has changed with those notes since you read them to me the last time and the several times we have reviewed them before that? I ask her to just read me the new stuff.

Then I may have hit on something that might have broken through.  'If you drop dead of a heart attack while continuing to work a thousand hours of over time year in and year how am going to tell our son and family that you could have left but didn't while knowing that stress is a key cause of your heart condition and your medical team kept telling you that it was ill advised for you to stay.'

Apparently, that was not fair. It certainly got me in the dog house for several hours. 

So, now we just discussed her countless pages of notes... again. She is reading them again.

I am not mad at her. I am worried. I am frustrated.

 I love and respect her beyond measure.

But... WTF? 


JRI's picture

We do things because we get something out of doing them.  I wonder what she's getting that's so compelling.  Sense of control?  Familiarity? Fear of change?  Emotional security?  Excess feeling of responsibility?

I agree that all aspects, health, financial, etc point to a change and I'd be frustrated, too.

AlmostGone834's picture

Yes strange... what is she getting out of this job? 

Im going through something similar with my mother. She can retire comfortably now but she doesn't want to. Instead she insists on working herself to the bone with hours and hours of overtime. It's not good for her health and I've been trying to convince her to retire or at the very least slow down. It's frustrating. 

Winterglow's picture

Why is she worrying more about clients' needs and the firm's profits than about your future together? Also, despite what she might think, nobody is irreplacable ...

Kes's picture

There's got to be a reason she's doing this.  But I don't think you're going to get to it by trying to force her.  If you sit down with her and encourage her gently to talk about her feelings, you might get somewhere.  But at no point be tempted to step in and try telling her what to do. 

1st3rd5thWEInHell's picture

Sorry to hear that. Stress will send you to an early grave. I know a few ppl like your wife (my sister for example) who will stay in toxic work environment because of their strong work ethic. Leaving a job = failure in their mind. Change also scares them somewhat so they will stay in difficult situations for years until health or work deteriorates or they are laid off/forced to quit.

I have found that talking in circles wont change much but will help them get some support. My sister ended up getting therapy and coaching to help her in the decision to quit her job. In her new job, it is less toxic but still very demanding and unfulfilling. I explained to her that she should invest in re orienting her career but she is afraid and not there yet


Career coaching may help your wife if her work ethic is getting in the way of changing jobs or leaving toxic professional environments...

Rags's picture

She repeatedly tells me that if she quits the last 4 years would have been a waste and for nothing. Which makes absolutely zero sense. 


There is zero connection with her brilliant mind on this.  

Holly's picture

Rags, I’ve been on this site for many a year and I always enjoy your contributions. It’s plain to see how much you adore your wife and the worry in your post is evident to everyone here. It’s also evident that both you and your wife are driven, successful and ambitious people.

Something has your darling wife stuck, it may be fear of the new, it may be misplaced loyalty to either the firm or her clients, it may be that she secretly doesn’t really feel that she deserves the upgrade in position and financial reward. Only she can figure that out. Outlining the financial benefits is not working, guilting her is not working, common sense is not working and now a serious health issue is not working to get her to move on.

My question to you is: how essential is her salary to your lifestyle? Could she take some time off work completely? Perhaps you could suggest that she look at going in a slightly new and exciting direction – working for herself? Maybe one or two of her most valued clients might consider coming with her in her new firm? She could chose how many clients to take on, how many hours to work, leave the stress behind, work from any part of the world or country that you live in… could something like this be an option that she might get excited about?

TheAccidentalSM's picture

I'd suggest some kind of career therapy.  She clearly knows that the current position isn't right for her but she can't make the change that she needs to for a variety of reasons.  Some times you need a 3rd party to help you make these kind of decisions and it sounds like she is in that space.

There may be, as well as the misplaced guilt about leaving the current firm, some imposter syndrom issues about accepting a new position that she needs to work through.  

Only you know your wife but do you think she'd be willing to explore this with a trained career therapist?

lieutenant_dad's picture

I think you need to stop being her emotional outlet for work. If I had to take a guess, being able to complain to you, her friends, colleagues, therapists, etc releases jjjjuuuussstttt enough pressure that she can't hit rock bottom in her job and finally move on.

Stop talking about this with her. Stop letting her complain to you. A simple "honey, I love you, but I can't and won't keep listening to this if you're not going to do something about it" and shutting down the conversation is the route you need to go.

Will it put you in the dog house? Yes, but your DW knows that you don't want to be there. She knows you'll cave because you've done it in the past. I'm not saying she is purposefully manipulative. However, it's clear that she doesn't want to do the hard thing and she knows you don't like to see her suffer. So she'll let her feelings get hurt so you come back around and comfort her.

Stop it. Let her be mad at you. Let her stew in the situation she created. I know you're worried, but so long as you keep letting her vent you're only letting her run from the problem. By all means, have a list of resources to help her when she finally is ready to take the plunge and get out of her bad job. Be supportive when she finally takes steps. But until then, she has to feel the full force of her decisions.

She is acting like someone with an addiction. She is willing to hurt relationships, hurt her body, and hurt herself financially in order to keep doing what she is doing. I can't tell you what it is about this job that is addicting, but something is, and until SHE wants to really give it up she won't. So stop enabling her to keep doing these things that hurt her.

Survivingstephell's picture

You've always talked about what a great care taker she is for everyone and I hazard a guess that she can't let go of that role and it's bled over to work.  Can she just quit and take a sabbatical from working and get her health back?  Transfer that need to care take to a pet? 

I also recently had to scare my hubby into shaping up with his health.  I got the book The Diabetes. Code by Dr Jason Fung and we have adapted his philosophy into our lifestyle and he has lost 20 pounds and me 30.  Since Thanksgiving.  It's a hard thing to watch your partner do this to themselves but keep trying.  The key to unlocking her thinking is out there somewhere.  

Rags's picture

I am so happy that you and DH have connected with controlling his diabetes.  It makes a world of difference in the quality of life of a diabetic and those who share life and a home with a diabetic to manage the disease at the family and household leve. Even when only one person in the mix has the disease.

DW and I have collectively lost over 70Lbs since June 27 2022.  I have lost 40+ and she has lost 30+. 

I am not familiar with Dr Fung's book.  My go to diabetes management resource (book) is Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution.  He is a nearly life long T-1 himself. He is in his mid 80s which is extremely rare for young child onset T-1s to have much longevity and abundant health.

The book is broadly available though this link will allow you to read exerpts from a number of chapters.

In short, low carb.

Keep up the great work.


Evil4's picture

I'm in that situation myself. Ten years of constantly receiving evidence that I suck and am inferior to the other analysts. I got stuck and couldn't get out because I can't win any competitions to move on due to being thwarted and my abuser at work giving me crappy references. (I'm in competition mode rn though). I was told by my career coach and two therapists that I had over the last year that I NEED to get out because the longer someone stays in a work situation like that, the more likely the person either normalizes it or starts to think that it's them. We may consciously know that it's not us, but subconsiously we develop a fear that if we go somewhere else, the new people will see our incompetence or lack or whatever it is that we think is us. 

Your DW may have gotten to the point of doubting herself and truly doesn't believe that it's not her despite everyone and their dog telling her to move on. She has to believe it with conviction herself. She has to accept that information and truly know it but she can't do that if she pushes it away. Tons of people telling her to move on won't work because your DW isn't accepting it. There must be some kind of message she's getting at work or "evidence" if you will, that keeps reinforcing her (likely subconscious) belief that how she's being treated is because she's just not doing enough, doesn't care enough, isn't enough this, that or the other thing. She may come across as a very strong, independent woman, but sometimes we have some old garbabage, namely an issue like a deeply rooted belief, get triggered and we have to keep learning that lesson until we accept that there's a lesson to learn. It's up to your DW. You cannot convince her. 

Then there's the paradox that may be keeping your DW locked in. I know it may sound crazy, but... Your DW goes through hell at work, then she comes home and vents to you, her friends, family, therapist etc. In turn, they build her up and tell her how great and smart she is and that she deserves better. So, why would she need to leave when she's getting her fix? This isn't conscious by the way. So, she's getting fed the affirmations that she needs, but what she really needs is to really believe them herself at her core. When she can look in the mirror and tell herself those same affiramations of her deserving better with conviction, she will leave those bastards in her rear-view mirror pronto. But she's the one that has to do that for herself. She's the one responsible for her inner work. 

She likely will in short order because from what you say of her, she sounds like a very smart and wise lady. You're an awesome husband and it's great that you support your DW and cheer her on. 

Just my two-cents worth. Keep in mind I'm a psych major and done lots of therapy, so it could be my biased lens saying all of this.

CajunMom's picture

It wasn't until I was technically "forced out" that I left. I had a 3 week vacation approved by all three of my supervisors...they knew it would take me a day to catch up once I returned and I could also log in remotely. The trip had been fully planned and purchased. Then a new VP came on the scene, pretty much told my supervisors that I would NOT be leaving for 3 weeks. I could quit. And that's what I did. That VP did not know how much work I did. They had to pull in 3 people to cover my work load, and finally settled with 2. That VP was eventually run off. 

Some of the reasons I stayed in my high pressure job:

1) Income. I've been supporting myself in some fashion since I was 15 years old. To NOT have a job scared me. I'd never left a job without having one to go to. 

2) Comfort. I knew my our smaller office of the corporation. We worked hard, got along and accomplished everything we needed to do as a team.

3) Fullfillment. While work was never my complete fullfillment as my husband - he got so much validation from his work, and doing what he loved - I did get some validation. I don't have a college degree. I worked my ass off to get ahead in the company and was the only Office Mgr without at least an Associates in the entire business. I traveled across the country, training people and had them flown in to my office to train. So, that did give me some satisfaction.

I don't know how you get through to your wife. I do know that health issues is what woke me up in StepHell. I was SICK from SK crap. And knowing I want to live to be old and healthy, well...I had to do something. All I can suggest is go to her with major concern...tell her how much you love her and you aren't are worried about her health. And maybe, as someone suggested, she see a career counselor. 

You're a good husband, Rags. I think your Sweetheart will see things soon, especially after your comment about family. Best to you both.

SteppedOut's picture

She is in an abusive relationship. While it is not a "romantic" relationship it is abusive. Just like people get stuck in abusive romantic relationships, same applies for other types. Likely her abusers are using similar mind fvck techniques. Seriously, have her see a therapist that specializes in abusive (domestic) relationships. 

Evil4's picture

OMG! Yes!!!! THIS!!!!

When DH and I started our counselling and martial therapy, our marriage improved, and my relationships with my SKs, including SD improved significantly. However, shit hit that fan at work and my abusive supervisor got much much worse. My therapist said that being abused at work is still an abusive relationship and since I was no longer experiencing that in my home and family, I was now experiencing it at work. And yes, my boss uses the same mind-fuck techniques as any other abuser. 

thinkthrice's picture

Of loyalty/duty.  I had the same feelings when I was running the county's 911 system (IT) single handedly Which included supporting all the local police fire and ambulance districts including campus security.  Also the local sheriff department.  Most counties this size have at least 4 to 6 people doing what I was doing all by myself.

Looking back I'm glad I got out now.  I left extremely detailed instructions on how to do the various components of the job which was way more than what I was left with when the previous guy retired. 

I should add that the previous retired guy only focused on the software... his ex wife who once worked there did the hardware.   I was doing BOTH and getting paid less.

I was also extremely resentful because I did not get the same pay grade as the guy before me which didn't help my health any.

That job will go on even if she leaves one way or another.

Can she take her clients with her forming her own business?

StepUltimate's picture

... but I just love you & your wife and hope she makes a positive change.


CLove's picture

But also like the therapy option.

So try the therapy suggestion, THEN if she refuses, try the disengagement suggestion. If youve tried EVERYTHING and she still refuses to change her situation, then its definitely on HER for making those choices. And you can step out of the feedback loop, kindly and with love.

Rags's picture

I just read her every word in this Blog/Thread.  She said she appreciates my sharing. Then she dropped the .... 'I am a visual person.  Can I read it directly.

I copied it it and sent it to her.

Lets see how she processes it all when she reads it.

Thank you all so much for your advice, guidance, support, and help.

Give rose

Fingers crossed that she will make a decision soon.

Hopefully... I did not get myself in the doghouse for sending it all unedited.


Cover1W's picture

HA!  I was just going to suggest sharing this string with her.

She needs to move on. I've stayed in jobs that were bad for me, maybe a little too long because one or two things were holidng me there...fear, duty, another co-worker, lack of motivation.

But whenever I made the change, esp. the one 3 years ago now, it was WORTH IT. I cannot tell you how less stressed I am now.

ESMOD's picture

I think there are a few things going on.... mainly.. fear of the unknown.

It's better the devil you know than the one you don't right?  She knows her current situation.. and despite the crap she deals with.. her job is comfortable.. for lack of a better word.

Even good changes are stessors for people.. so simply changing to a new job.. won't automatically mean reduction of stress.. and she also likely worries that the toxicity she experiences at her current job.. could be just as present at any new job.. but she wouldn't have the years of "professional currency" to keep her employed there.  And.. I have worked in financial/accounting (former CPA myself) and people can be tools.. and I have seen it at almost every place I have worked.. so her firm's issues.. are NOT isolated and she probably worries she will end up in a worse situation.. with less stability.

Which brings up the bobbles with your employment.. likely makes her extra cautious.. as she probably feels more stress that she has to keep her end of the rope tight.. 

I do kind of agree with the gentle but firm... "you know there are other options.. but if you can't make a change.. you will have to stop trauma dumping on me.. " 

Or tell her you could make a financial plan that would allow you both to survive for X months.. if the worst happened to make her feel there is a safety net?


Merry's picture

I agree that there is something stopping her--in the emotional, not logical, realm. Is she so much of a people pleaser that she can't see her way to telling her boss that she's taking another job? Or leaving the clients she works with? She can work on a script of sorts to help prepare for those conversations.

And it's ok if she has mixed emotions, especially considering the clients she has come to know. It's hard to let go of something that's become part of your identity, but she is not just her job. She's way more than that.

I hope she can see the big picture and get past whatever is holding her back.

Rags's picture

She said as we were tucking in for the night last night that she was sending her 2wk notice today.


Dance 4



I think it was all of you that finally locked in the point that so many have been trying to get her to realize for a very long time.  She has never verbalized that she will make the change before.

Thank you.

Give rose

Now, I am heading home for the day.  Hopefully she actually sent it. And my key still works.



Wish me luck.



Winterglow's picture

Oh WOW! That is great news! The next part of your lives is going to be so much better! WooHoo! I'm happy for both of you!

Rags's picture

The offer from her likely new company should be in her hands by EOW.  

My assumption is that she will not send her notice until she has the offer in hand. I think that gives her permission to resign.

I hope anyway.

Winterglow's picture

That I can understand. It also gives you an insight into why she hasn't done so before. 

Hoping that once the ball starts rolling that the rest will follow.

Flustered's picture

Fear of change. Fear of starting new. Fear of not succeeding. All of the above. All of the above.

Both my husband and I stayed in the same jobs teaching in a terrible school system for a total of 62 years between us -- Because we just did not want to change. (I was better at change than him. At least I went to several different buildings; in 33 years, he was only in 2. ) What did we get out of it? Total aggravation/constant frustration with administration/rotten pay in comparison to other districts. The only thing we actually got out of this? Paid health insurance when we retired. We paid nothing while he was alive. And I pay all of $330 a year now. Was that one benefit worth staying in that system? I don't know.

What I do know is that neither one of us wanted to change the district and change the salary and change the step that you were on which regulated your seniority… So we stayed. No matter, how bad everything was, it was a known factor and we didn't feel like stepping into an unknown; however, We also got out the minute that we could /neither one of us were ever big spenders  plus we had invested well and paid off the house so no lifestyle changes. By the time we retired, both kids were gone, adults out on their own.....

It was truly a toxic work environment and I don't know whether we could've made our marriage work had not both of our kids been older when we married and out of the house.


CLove's picture

For DW!!!

And yay for you!!!

Rags's picture

She is starting to be radiant again.  She had her 3rd session with her shrink. today  I like this therapist.  So does DW.  I like that the therapist has a firm pace she is driving, I like that DW is driving the process as well with the intent on making progress.

A few days ago when we hit about as close to rock bottom as we have ever been DW asked me why her job bothers me so much. I replied that it is not her job that bothers me, it is the place that she works that bothers me. She was confused. I took her hand, led her to our bathroom, stood her in front of our mirrored wall, pointed and told her that what she was seeing in that mirror is why I am worried and what bothers me about her staying at the firm.  The hour after that was another of several rough hours as we verbally fenced on the topic of why she was so hell bent on embracing guilt and staying in such a hostile work place.

A couple of days later I saw a ray of her starting to show.  Monday my college BFF called to talk with DH for some Tax/Counting Mutant/Bean Counter advice for his mom's business.  My bride was sitting on our bed when I handed her my phone when the call came.  He did not all to speak with me, he called to talk to her.  




I watched for nearly an hour as they discussed taxes, accounting methodologies, business structure, tax planning, etc... She was incredible and oh so happy. It was obvious that she loves being a Counting Mutant (a line from Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium).  I soaked up her happiness while she got her accountant on.  She truly loves her profession.

Meanwhile 3 days later, we were talking this evening. She was going through the therapy notes from today's session.  We discussed different aspects of the session, her notes, etc.. I asked her thoughts on a number of things, etc.... I noticed as soon as I walked into our home from work this evening, that she was starting to be radiant.  Fewer worry lines on her face, no sad frown on her face, no massive bags under her eyes.  There is some of her usual magnetic and radiant self starting to show a bit. 

So while she was going through her day, the therapy session, and the notes without one look at the worn out pages of her journal that were about defending her lack of action to leave, I took her hand, led her to our bathroom, and stood with her in front of our mirrored wall.  I asked if the person in the mirror was the same person we were looking at in the mirror a few days ago.  She smiled radiantly, told me nope, then she burst into tears and burried her face in my neck.


Women, I will never have any clue how you incredible beings work.


Then she whacked me on the arm, told me she had to pee, and kicked me out of our bathroom.

That.. I understood.

I am feeling some cautious and optimistic relief.

She/we may just get through this okay.  She made her appointment with the cardiologist. It is Monday.  She pushed for as early an appointment as she could get.  I am so happy that she is not waiting until 'after tax season'.  This is huge.  She would normally never make an appointment during tax season.

Thanks for letting me purge and thank you all for your advice, support, clarity, and guidance.

Give rose

Stay tuned.