Monday, April 29, 2013

A Busy Husband

I am one of many women who's husband is strapped for time, with a demanding school and work load. It was particularly hard adjustment for me for two reasons: 1) I had a dad who was pretty available, or at least I remember it that way. At one point his office was in our home, and then later since he taught, he was always home by 4pm it seemed like. Although I was aware this was not the norm, I assumed I could deal with the alternative. 2) We had not been married that long before he was gone all day long, and I was home all day long. Most people I knew who first became moms had husbands who were undergrads, meaning they could come home at random times during the day. When we started our family, Ben already had a full time 8-5 job and master's work.

I'm not looking for pity, but my situation forced me to learn quickly how to cope with a husband who was not around a lot.

For the 20 months before I had Delaney, I did pity myself. Thinking my life was so hard, wishing he would come home, blaming him, etc. But now looking back, I am in so much of a better place than I used to be.

I wanted to reflect on what I have learned that pushed me past that negative place, so if my girls are ever in a similar situation I can come at it from my own perspective.

-I stopped seeing my children as work (see this post). I don't need to be "relieved of my duties" so it's not going to make a difference if he comes home 15 minutes later. This doesn't mean that we don't have equal responsibility when we are together. But basically it translates to there are 4 people living in this house, and when you are around  you do what you can.

-The same goes for housework. It is silly to leave a chore for someone who is home a total of 15 minutes. I am home all day, so it's okay if you do 99% of the work. Someday he'll be home more, and we will adjust when that happens. I shouldn't have tried to force my ideal rules on a less-than-ideal situation. It just made me unhappy that my life is not ideal!

-I reworked my idea of "fun" and "happiness." This one took me a long time to come to grips with. When I first got married, I was under the impression that the only way you can have quality time is with your spouse present, and that even the most mundane things are better when your spouse is there. I still feel this way, minus the first part. I am so glad I gave myself this gift. Although everything is better with Ben there, I was stabbing myself in the back by saying with each walk to the park, "Yeah but he's not with me. This would be so much more fun if he were here." I remember one time I had a great afternoon with my neighbor as our kids played together. But when Ben got home I was actually mad at him because I had had such a great, memorable day and he was not there to be a part of it! It sounds ridiculous, but if you build your happiness around one person you have probably had a similar experience. Although you are eternally connected with your spouse, and one eternal unit, you can enjoy things just for yourself! You can go to the zoo with your kid, and count your blessings that you are home with them during the day. I have found that when I stop the "it would be so much more fulfilling if her dad were here. He would love to see her reaction to the tigers" it helps both me and him.

-Ben is home for such a small amount of time during the day, I joke that he's a celebrity. Jokingly I say that I don't know how to act around him because I'm starstruck. The girls light up whenever he's around, because he's such a rarity. It's actually been great for our marriage and I appreciate him so much more. In our case, absence has made the heart grow fonder. I cherish our moments together, and try my hardest to be in a good mood when he comes home from work. I may have been fuming the 20 minutes it took him to get home, or I may have blow ups during the day, but I try to resolve it before he comes home. It's really not his fault. Me getting mad was not changing the situation.  He wants to be home as much as you want him to be home. I can tell you from experience that the best way you can support your husband in this stressful experience is to greet him cheerfully when he comes home. He appreciates it more than he can say.

-Lastly I learned to answer truthfully when close friends or family say, "How are you doing?" It was okay to admit I was having a hard time. It is a hard situation, and when I talked to people about it I found out that many people had been through a similar time and could sympathize with me. However the #1 I learned in this regard was when I wasn't honest about how I felt, I left this huge emotional burden solely on Ben's shoulders. Yes, he is my spouse and he has the responsibility to help me through everything and he is willing to do that. But the nature of this problem was my own attitude. In his mind all he could hear was "She's not happy and there's nothing I can do about it." Which is about the meanest thing I could have done to my hardworking husband. The way I was dealing with my problems was making him feel like less, when really I was the one with the problem. Finding ways to solve my own problems freed up our sparse time together for happy, relationship-building communication.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you :) I needed this. I will probably come back and read this several more times. :) You are awesome for figuring this out!