update: do I really need to schedule my wedding around work events?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose boss was pushing back on her wedding date because it was right before a major annual event? Here’s the update.

I had written to you in 2017 asking if I was off-base for being upset when my boss didn’t like the date I chose for my wedding because it interfered with “Big Event.” In reality, my problem went beyond the issue with the wedding date. I became frustrated with the position almost immediately after starting, and I think it caused me to be a lot more upset with the situation than had it happened under different circumstances.

In this job, I had a kind supervisor who unfortunately was a micromanager and a “24/7” worker (nights, weekends, vacations and days off), so I’d often find myself staring at an inbox of anywhere from 40-60 emails from her each morning, and about 150 or so when I would return from a few days off (no exaggeration on those numbers!). The projects and initiatives themselves would be set with unrealistic deadlines that I drained myself to meet (by myself as there were no other department members), and there was never a reprieve between projects, nor was there ever acknowledgement of the amount of work I put in. I am in a creative field, and I have always found SO much joy in what I do. However as time went on, I got so burned out that I started to believe that I wasn’t cut out to be in design anymore, that the problem was me, that I just didn’t have the work ethic I used to, and I found myself making preventable and atypical mistakes. Sunday nights, my anxiety would be through the roof, and I struggled to enjoy any time off because I’d be dreading seeing what would be waiting for me upon returning to work.

I started looking for a new job, and, ironically enough, “Big Event” ended up being my last day with the company. They were sad to see me go, and asked if I had any feedback for what type of replacement they should look for. I was very honest with them I am happy to say they took my advice to heart, and they have had a solid employee in that role for the last year now.

However the BEST news here is that my confidence is back on the upswing, and I’ve found enjoyment in my work again. It’s amazing how much a person can flourish when they aren’t being micromanaged! I’m now in a position where I need to take more accountability for my work and the decisions I make, and as a result the quality of my work is much, much better and I no longer find myself making stupid mistakes. I’ve been at this new job for almost a year now, and I’m again having FUN doing what I do and I enjoy getting up for work again!

After I wrote in the first time, I found that so many commenters fell on opposite sides of the spectrum: Those who NEVER let work interfere with personal life, and those who see work as the “be all end all”. I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle. I am OK with making sacrifices in my personal life for work, but I know where the boundaries should lie so that I do have an adequate work/life balance. I make sure to never leave my team hanging, while making sure I take care of myself too.

Alison, your blog and the AAM community has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me to be introspective enough to acknowledge my own misgivings, and its (VERY SLOWLY) helping me to stand up, set boundaries, and advocate for myself (a lifelong hurdle of mine). Thank you so much for all your help, and your readers/commenters too, of course!

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. Four lights

    Congrats! It amazes me how often there is another story behind what the letter writers have written in.

    1. Observer

      Why should anyone care? I think it’s very healthy that the OP was able to just have the wedding and not go nuts over that. It would have been different if it were a one off thing. But, when it becomes a constant drumbeat, you have to stop worrying about this.

      1. MommaCat

        What I mean is did she have to move the wedding or honeymoon? The way the original post was worded, I got the impression that she’d be missing the big event if she took her honeymoon after, but if the big event was her last day, does that mean she shifted her honeymoon later, or was she able to get everything done in time to attend the event?

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Definitely. I mean the original letter was about the wedding/honeymoon and even though OP no longer works there, some of us are curious how that all shook out.

  2. Original OP

    OP here! We did not end up needing the move our wedding date, and we decided to take the advice of many AAM commenters and take our honeymoon a month later, which worked out for the best. In the end, here was the timeline of events:
    -Gave my job a months notice
    -took my wedding a few weeks later
    -big event was the following week, and ended up being my last day with the company
    -went on my honeymoon while (technically) unemployed
    -started new job 2 days after returning from the honeymoon

    The timing on everything couldn’t have been better. My relationship with the old company is still great, and the CEO personally pulled me aside to give me her best wishes and to thank me for giving them so much notice and helping with big event. Thanks everyone!

    1. animaniactoo

      OP, I’m really glad it worked out in a way that you’re happy with – including moving on to a new environment. Given the details you’ve provided here about how the job was functioning beyond simply not having any coverage and being overwhelmed then, that was not going to be sustainable and it sounds like they weren’t ready to listen until it really hurt them (by losing you). Congrats on making the moves you needed to in order to take care of yourself, and gaining confidence on drawing those boundaries sooner in the future. Both of those are great things.

  3. Carousel of Color

    When I got engaged, I specifically chose an off-season time well in advance for my wedding, but that was because I knew I wanted a signficant amount of time off- I took like 3.5 weeks. My boss at the time happily approved it with his congratulations, so I started putting date specific deposits down- and then my manager was unceremoniously sacked months later (for unrelated reasons). Our interim manager from corporate immediately told me there was no way I could take that much time off, and told me I could take a week. I pushed back hard and it was a huge frustration for a week or two- I eventually emailed HR, including the paper trail from my original boss approving the time, and told them I would be getting married, even if it meant they ended up terminating me for not showing up for work. I also broke down all of the costs that would accrue by my changing dates around, and pointed out that I specifically chose January because of work and wanting to be as accommodating as possible while still getting my dream wedding/honeymoon.

    HR was totally aghast and immediately told my interim GM where he could shove it But I also wonder if they would have backed him up if I hadn’t mentioned quitting- I was integral to the operation, especially without a permanent manager in place, and I know they would have been afraid to lose me

    1. Namey McNameface

      If I were HR I would also be aghast, even without the threat to quit. Companies should honour approved leave requests, even if it turns out to be inconvenient or costly. Plus, you wanted time off to get married. That’s a perfectly reasonable excuse for a long holiday. It’s not like you will get married every couple of years.

      1. Paquita

        I actually moved my second ‘wedding’ back a week. Boss didn’t know why I asked off and when he said that date wasn’t really convenient I just said I would take the next week. However, DH and I just went to the preacher and got married. No wedding, no fuss. For a real ‘do’ definitely push back!

  4. The Curator

    I loved that everything worked out so great. I don’t remember if I commented on your original posting. I wanted to get married during my fiancé’s busy season. It was also my own but September is beautiful, weather is good, and so. We got married on a Sunday. Took a few days off and went to a big work related conference that week. We never did plan a honeymoon but as I look back over the years, we have had quite a few. We have been to places together for work that I never expected, New Orleans, Bangkok, Singapore, and most recently Tokyo. I am a person who works most of the time but then again my work is my joy and I recognize that this is rare position. I do not “blow up” everyone’s in-boxes on off-hours.

  5. Triplestep

    Congratulations on getting married and starting a new job this past year!

    I was struck by the part of your update where you recognize that laboring under a micro-manager shook your confidence and hindered your creativity. I am going through something similar and am actively job searching.

    I’m curious what kinds of tips you gave your former employer that resulted in a replacement that was a good hire. During my job search I have understandably fantasized about leaving, and I think about volunteering information to HR about what kind of candidate to look for next. (I like my workplace and team and want to help – it’s the manager that’s the problem). I have no idea if I will be asked, but the only thing I can think to offer is that they need to hire a very inexperienced person. Who else can put up with a micro-manager but a person who expects NOT to have autonomy? I’d be interested to know what you suggested.

    For what it’s worth, I have always known that I would not tell any other employees my real reasons for leaving – not for my boss’ sake, but for the people who will still have to work with her. I don’t expect to use her as a reference and would never ask; one of her many personal issues is that she lies habitually, so even if she offered I would never take her up on it.

    1. Original OP

      When I was hired, my title was “Communications Manager” which encompassed designing all their marketing material as well as maintaining/updating their website, coordinating printing and photo shoots, running webinars and creating presentations for events, as well as managing other marketing initiatives. One of my real pet peeves was how, as a designer, I basically had no authority to make a single design decision – they chose the fonts, colors, made me move things “an inch” – I truly had no autonomy at all despite them constantly telling me to “own” the projects. When the time came for them to hire the new person, they put the job out as a “graphic designer” position, and for someone with more experience. I told them that anyone who identifies as a true graphic designer with a robust portfolio would never be happy in this position, and they should look for someone who handled “all around marketing” versus just designing, as it’s not really a creative position (like they thought it was). I suggested they call it “Marketing and Design Coordinator” and it seems to have worked out well for them!

      1. PB

        It’s eerie how much this job sounds like my husband’s old job, including coordinating printing and photo shoots and running webinars. There are enough differences that I know it’s a different place. So apparently there are two places that operate like this. I’m glad you got out, and helped them find a better way to fill the role.

      2. No Mas Pantalones

        I mean, if they’re telling you every aspect they want, it’s less “designer” and more “builder,” no? I’m sure there’s a better word that builder, but I just woke up.

        1. Emily K

          At my company we call people who do this type of work “producers” – content producer, digital producer, etc. Occasionally a producer will get a promote-in-place to a “Senior Producer” role where they have some more creative input, but the regular “producer” jobs are a coordinator/associate-level position for people with just a couple of years experience–enough that they can take ownership, troubleshoot basic problems on their own, and they’re encouraged to make minor constructive suggestions to their managers to improve the work where they see opportunity, but they’re still too inexperienced to be outright generating creative on their own.

  6. Gingerblue

    “I’d often find myself staring at an inbox of anywhere from 40-60 emails from her each morning”

    YIKES. Congrats on getting out of there and having the wedding you wanted, OP!

    1. Gerta

      That was my immediate reaction too! I mean, after reading that many emails, how do you find time to actually do anything about them? I would not last long in that situation, it would drive me nuts.

    2. Original OP

      Thanks! I remember the final straw was when I was carpooling back from a 3-day WEEKEND trip with girlfriends, and i decided to turn on my inbox juuuuust to give myself a heads up and I had over 200 emails. I just started crying and they all asked what was wrong, and we all got to talking about it and I realized it was just no longer sustainable!

      1. mark132

        This is why I’ve never connected my inbox to my (personal) phone. I’m not going to get 200+ emails from boss. But I don’t feel like I should have to worry about work issues when I’m not at work. And I don’t want to see an email on Friday evening to just fret about it all weekend. It’ll wait.

      2. Dr. Doll

        What the f was your boss *doing* that she was *able* to send that many emails? I have 9 people who report to me, a dozen big projects, and my own stuff, and I might be able to think of five things to tell three different people about at 4:00 a.m., so each person might get one email. Was she sending stream of consciousness one-micro-idea per email? She sounds completely scattered AND completely high maintenance, which is like my nightmare of incompetence scenario.

        1. Original OP

          I think part of it was that our CEO worked like that, and my boss was basically next in command and was a type A/High performer type, so she always wanted to be accessible to the CEO. But honestly I have no idea how my boss found the time, as her home life was just as busy! A few kids, 2 dogs with anxiety issues (and she watched them all day on a video camera – side note, on several days she thought she saw them dead, and panicked to call neighbors all while I tried to calm her down, that was fun!), multiple home renovations and a husband who (from what i heard on her personal daily calls) couldn’t function in day to day life without her lol. I just know that she used to make extra accommodations on vacations to make sure she had good wifi so that she could work, and when she was in the hospital she was contacting me from her bed, soooo….. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. Budgie Lover

            Maybe it’s the corollary to those people who seem unable to exist without talking constantly. The people who need to email constantly. While most put some thought into each email and only write for a specific purpose, there are also people who type out whatever is running through their heads and rapid-fire send. Out of 15 emails maybe two will be relevant. And because this person doesn’t take time to edit, and just starts a new email as new thoughts occur to them, it will take 3-4 emails to convey I information that could be contained in one.

            1. So.Many.Words

              My boss talks all the time. She’s extremely extroverted and is managing a team of introverts. We’ll be on a conference call (from separate phones and locations) and she’ll call me the second we hang up “to debrief”. Umm, I was just on the same call… heard everything you heard….! It’s as if nothing actually happens in her life unless she’s talked to someone about it, and as her direct report that someone is me. Thank goodness she’s a lovely person and boss otherwise and I’m learning a lot working for her. I could just use a bit more time to digest events instead of having to listen to her rehash them in great detail the second they’re over.

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian

            Were the emails important? Were they things that needed to go into emails? I, too, am so bewildered.

            Sleeping dogs on a streaming video camera…probably look the same as dead dogs…..

      3. RUKiddingMe

        What the hell was so important that she would send you that much email all the time? Did they all have only one sentence or something?

    3. Christy

      40-60 emails overnight from one person is a GIANT alarm bell for me. Like, work in your off time if you want, but keep one running email draft and send that when you go to bed! 40-60 emails from one person is a sign of someone who isn’t good at email/managing/idk what.

  7. FellowDesigner

    Happy to hear this!

    I’m a fellow creative that also just started a new job. Nowhere near getting married myself but my willingness to work around major events at work got taken advantage of at my old job to the point that I could never take time off because I “might” be needed. One of my final straws was when my oncologist recommended me for a post-cancer trip to meet other survivors. It was a whole week and only happening at one time that year– I formulated a plan for getting my work done (which basically meant working double time the weeks prior) and told my boss months in advance– she pitched a fit anyway and barely approved the time. I made sure I mentioned the opportunity to her boss and I’m sure that’s the only way I was granted the time off. I’m glad I didn’t back down because the trip was amazing and helped me realize it was time to job search.

    Because I transferred within the same company all of my vacation days came with me– my new boss was so alarmed at how much time I’d accrued that they’re granting me an extra week of vacation around the holidays! It’s scary how nice it feels.

    1. Sick Civil Servant

      That is just awful to read – my heart aches for you (even though I don’t know who you are)! I am happy to hear that you found a better job within the same company and, most importantly, that you are recognised as a valued employee!

  8. Phoenix Programmer

    I rarely let work impact my social life but I can achieve that with a lot of planning. Sure sometimes I am working until 2 am or later on I and on the next morning at 8am but other times I take a comped half day. Its when you work at a place that tries to get you to work until 2am then balks at you asking to leave at 3 that are the real problems.

    1. Jennifer Juniper

      If anyone tries that with me, they regret it very fast and never do it again. I have six diagnosed mental illnesses and they all get exacerbated when I’m sleep-deprived.

    2. AcademiaNut

      Yeah, I think that’s the key – some jobs really do have busy seasons where you can’t take time off for anything short of a dire emergency, and others have times when you need to work late, or short bursts of intense activity, but you can’t do that indefinitely – you need the corresponding flexibility to recover. And if a job does involve consistent brutal hours, it should be clearly advertised before someone take the job, and compensated such that you can outsource the rest of your life.

      I had a work trip recently where I worked close to 50 hours in three days, in physically gruelling conditions. There were very good reasons for needing to do that, but it’s not that common, and the week after that was pretty much a write off, between exhaustion, jetlag and the cold I caught on the plane.

    3. RUKiddingMe

      Work/life balance is sacrosanct to me. My staff are not permitted to let work interfere with thier personal time.

      Fortunately there is very little in any of our businesses that would be time critical/emergency (intentionally), but on the few occasions it has happened *I* took care of it….and didn’t send anyone 40 emails about it.

  9. Database Developer Dude

    I remember an acquaintance of mine who was an Army Major when I was an active duty Staff Sergeant. He was trying to take leave for his daughter’s wedding, and the battalion commander didn’t want to let him go because of some training event.

    His response:” I’m sorry I haven’t made myself clear, sir. I will be gone for my daughter’s wedding, I’m walking her down the aisle. Whether I’m on leave or AWOL is up to you. “

    1. Drago Cucina

      Good response. The battalion commander wouldn’t want to explain trying to charge an officer for being AWOL in that situation. Unless the balloon was going up it would come across as very petty. I knew an colonel in the engineers who would call an alert every Friday after Thanksgiving and have people in the field practice building bridges. He wasn’t well regarded by other very senior officers.

      1. Free now (and forever)

        That colonel in the engineers should be happy he didn’t serve in Nam. That’s the kind of guy who could end up fragged by his own men.

        1. Drago Cucina

          I worked in a US Army HQ office. Other 06s would shake their heads and talk about how the promotion went to his head and he became someone they didn’t want to work with. I was an E5. It had to be bad if they were venting to me.

  10. DCGirl

    Two jobs ago, the company had a real butts-in-seats mentality, even for departments where that wasn’t absolutely necessary. For the customer service center, which had to keep mandated hours, it was essential to make sure there was coverage. For the marketing department, not so much.

    My manager (who has been immortalized for her munificent Christmas gift of exactly nine colorful thumbtacks to each of her subordinates) refused to authorize leave until, like, two weeks before you were supposed to go on vacation. You could tell her, “My husband and I would like to plan a cruise in 18 months. These are the dates we’re looking at,” and her response would be, “I’ll have to see what the workload will be then.” Which, of course, was impossible to predict 18 months in advance.

    It’s 18 months. If you can’t plan for an employee’s absence with 18 months’ notice, you really shouldn’t be a manager.

    1. Cat wrangler

      I had a manager a bit like that – oddly enough, they would happily approve leave for a couple of weeks (or longer in the case of the temps) but they found it difficult to give leave for one day, with several weeks notice. The rationale was that ‘we might be needed’ depending on the work-flow or other staff sickness and we would be told nearer the proposed date if we could take it or not. Great if you want to book cheap train or plane tickets! I didn’t mind if the date was impossible to grant – these things happen – but it would have been nice to be told one way or the other a bit sooner.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        It’s that kind of crap that gets people not bothering to ask for time and just calling in “sick” the night before.

        1. DCGirl

          I agree. Part of being a manager is knowing that your employees need time off and that you’ll need to manager that need. In other words, do your job.

  11. LGC

    In this job, I had a kind supervisor who unfortunately was a micromanager and a “24/7” worker (nights, weekends, vacations and days off), so I’d often find myself staring at an inbox of anywhere from 40-60 emails from her each morning, and about 150 or so when I would return from a few days off (no exaggeration on those numbers!).

    …I am so glad you’re out of that situation. But also, forty to sixty emails per night?! I’d ask whether this woman ever slept or did anything other than email you, but I already know the answer.

    Reading your original letter, your old boss sounds banana crackers, and I’m not surprised that she has absolutely no boundaries. (And I say this as a guy who doesn’t have great boundaries around work himself!) And I’m really glad that you’re realizing that you didn’t have a you issue, you had a boss issue!

  12. MassMatt

    Ugh the place sounds more and more awful as you describe it. 40-60 emails a NIGHT, yikes, I have gone weeks without that many emails from a manager. And being a graphic designer and being told what cars and fonts t use? Argh! Congrats on getting out of there!

    1. SwingingAxeWolfie

      Right?! It would take me an entire working day to consolidate that much information – in which time the emails are presumably building up then too. No wonder the OP was so burned out.

  13. No Mas Pantalones

    We have a boss here (thankfully not mine) that sends emails like that. He doesn’t consolidate. If he thinks of something– email. If he thinks of something else a few minutes later that’s related to that email–another email. On top of that, he wants all his email printed out every day.

    Related: finding an admin for him takes an act of god.

    1. Anonanon

      I had a colleague like that. Not my direct boss, but senior to me and directed a lot of work my way. It was incredibly frustrating at first, but then I learned it was just his way of spitballing ideas. Not a great method, but the emails didn’t all require responses. I would let the emails flow, and send a response at the end of the day addressing them within reason. I also learned to be VERY firm about deadlines or I would end up working endless hours on half-baked ideas.

      To be an admin for someone like that? I would imagine it’s pure hell.

  14. sunshyne84

    I’m glad everything worked out. Kinda sad all the updates end up with the OP having to get a new job instead of things changing for the better at current work place. I know sometimes that’s what is best, but people are still suffering there.

  15. rldk

    Goodness gracious, until you added the extra details this letter could have been written by me or any of my old coworkers – one was even getting engaged, so it fits perfectly!

    It really is amazing how much better and more rewarding work has gotten since I left micro-manager ExBoss and got a job with much more autonomy and more reasonable demands on my time and energy. I’m so glad you’ve gotten out!

  16. CM

    Interesting observation from the OP that commenters here (at least on her original post) tend to be at either extreme of never letting work interfere with personal life, or always prioritizing work over personal life. As I get older, I’m realizing I’m at the first extreme. I had a grad school reunion recently and noticed I was one of the very few people who had never moved for a job.

    1. jack

      IDK if that’s indicative of prioritizing work over private life. I wanted to move around a lot, and took a job with that in mind. A position that made me stay in one place would not be ideal.

  17. CommanderBanana

    Micromanaging is the fastest way to crush employee morale and drive good employees away – if you’re a micromanager you’re going to end up with the type of employees you have to micromanage.

    1. TheBeetsMotel

      Boom. Yes. Thank you.

      Which then entrenches bad managers in the mentality of “look how much I HAVE to micromanage these idiots; if I don’t, nothing gets done!” because all the good employees noped out and left the hand-holdees behind.

  18. JJ

    I’m so happy for you! I’ve been in your exact shoes re: your employer making you feel like you’re an incompetent designer, I almost quit the field altogether until I followed Alison’s raise-request advice and wrote a list of all the awesome stuff I’d been accomplishing and happy clients I’d been churning out with little-to-no support, and was like, I’m awesome! Also, I’m outta here!

    It’s SUCH an issue when employers do this…it’s taken me literally two years to get back to full confidence and embrace the fact that I am a rockstar with a lot to offer. Glad you are back to that too!!

  19. ValkyrAmy

    I used to work for a relief and development NGO (like Mercy Corps or MSF, but smaller). In 2005, I took an extra day at Labor Day so I could have a 4-day weekend. That’s the year Hurricane Katrina hit. I was the NGO’s only gift intake officer (among so many other duties) and of course, money started rolling in. They asked me to cut my trip short, but I didn’t get the request because I was camping in the Oregon wilderness & was out of cell reach.

    When I got back, the CEO declared that I could never take a days around a holiday or a Monday or Friday off again just in case A DISASTER HAPPENED. She backed this up with how the Banda Aceh earthquake/tsunami was also a holiday disaster (and one I was in the office for). When I didn’t seem enthusiastic about not being able to take long weekends or holiday vacation ever, ever again, they fired me. Excuse me, “laid me off.”

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