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November 26, 2022

The Forgotten Spouses of Public Accounting

We talk a lot about what you all go through during busy season, but what about those people in your life who barely see you for several months out of the year? You know, your spouse, your kids, your dog? What are they going through day after day, watching you grind out the very last bit of effort you have just to take out the garbage?

We talk a lot about what you all go through during busy season, but what about those people in your life who barely see you for several months out of the year? You know, your spouse, your kids, your dog? What are they going through day after day, watching you grind out the very last bit of effort you have just to take out the garbage?

This wife of a "recovered public accountant" wrote a touching account of living her life as the misunderstood partner of a public accountant:

I am a spouse of a recovered public accountant.

I say to people,"My husband worked as a public accountant." And then they say,"Oh, so does he do taxes?" I say, no. And then we stop talking about my husband the accountant.

When I say, "My husband worked in public accounting for 4 years." I am actually saying, "My husband traveled 4 months out of the year. He worked 50 hour weeks consistently, and sometimes 60-80 hour weeks for months at a time."

I mean to say, I was alone. I think he was, too. He fought his battles at work, and would come home drained. Anything I asked him to do was added pressure.

"Can you take out the trash?" He would say yes, and then forget to do it. Not on purpose. He gave everything he had at work. There was nothing left.

You could almost substitute "public accountant" for alcoholic and feel her pain. Her partner was never home and when he was, he was unreliable and checked out. Even something so basic as taking out the trash was an insurmountable task.

I imagine that his work was full of pressure. People feeling pressure from money, and deadlines, and then the pressure gets pushed down through the ranks.

The thing with public accounting is the culture. Part of it is the nature of the job, like with a doctor. Doctors have to be on call, and work strange hours because people get sick all hours of the day. However, the 24-48 hour shifts that doctors work is the culture. Nurses work 12 hour shifts. That is culture. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is the way the business is set up, and the precedent is set.

So, with public accounting part of the job is the nature of the profession. It requires travel to get to the electric utility company in Mora, New Mexico. Someone has to go there. Then the culture requires that they work from 7am-7pm at the job sight [sic]. Then they eat dinner, and work from 9-midnight from their motel rooms.  It is the way the deadlines are set up, the staff managed, and the work distributed.

Despite her disappointment, this wife of a former public accountant mentions that her burned out husband still managed to carve out some time for his kids. But life is much better now that he made the leap into private. They not only eat dinner together as a family, sometimes they even eat lunch. LUNCH.

I know it's not very GC of us to talk about things we actually care about as opposed to the things we hate but maybe now would be a good time to discuss how you make time for the things that matter in your life. This isn't touchy-feely work/life balance bullshit, it's about the people in your life who you are working so hard to provide for.

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