Don’t sit in silence and expect
your significant other to read your mind.
I recently asked my Facebook friends to provide me with relationship topics that they would like to see discussed in my column. It was difficult to choose my first one to discuss, but I felt an immediate kinship to this in particular question.
How do I find time to be with my husband when we are both so busy?
Long gone are the days of June Cleaver cooking dinner for her husband and children when they get home from school and work. June has traded her apron in for a briefcase, and has over the past sixty-years transitioned herself from a dotting housewife to a high-powered working career woman. There are still a lot of women who have decided to stay at home and take care of their families. My own mother was one of these women, as was my mother-in-law. Raising children is a full-time job, and if they were being compensated in salary they would certainly be in the six-digit marker.
This leaves the wife home alone with her children a lot, as her husband is out working to make a livable wage for his family. Ultimately, this scenario leads to seeing less and less as each other as a couple. There is a huge toll placed on their relationship.
How do I support my husband in his career endeavors, but have him understand that I need him? I’m grateful that he’s working so hard to support us, but I miss him.
I love this question because it can be asked by both sexes with the roles were reversed. There are a lot of stay-at-home dads out there too that also are struggling with the same question.
Remember Mr. Mom? I know a real Mr. Mom and his struggles are real. It’s the same situation.
How do I support my wife’s endeavors, while letting her know that I need her?
You don’t need children involved in this matter. Perhaps one of you works at home, and the other is tied to a desk job. Whatever your arrangement is, your concerns need to be explored.
Every couple in this world is unique. Like a thumbprint, there are no two that are identical. We have different ideologies, morals, and personality differences. What works for one couple won’t necessarily work for another couple. Our relationships need delicate balance. If we find ourselves putting too much energy into one particular area, we lose sight of the other important things in our life. I should know; I’m a workaholic. I have my own hands dipped into many pots of honey on a daily basis.
One moment, I’m providing relationship advice, the next I’m teaching a class, and the next I’m working my part-time office job. In the past I worked in retail. It became evident that there was a problem when I’d get home close to 11 P.M., to find the house dark upon arrival. I quit my retail job for a number of reasons, one of which was that I noticed it was taking a toll on my husband and our relationship. I can’t change that I love to work, but I can manage when and how I work.
I no longer allow myself to work past 6 P.M., and at 7:30 P.M. I put my phone on the charger for the evening. I’m dedicated to my husband just about every night. There are certain events that come up that prevent us from following this routine, but since implementing this schedule, my husband and I feel more connected.
My solution to the issue was easy. I didn’t particularly see a bright future working in retail, so it gave me the opportunity to leave something that wasn’t working for me. Not everyone has that luxury, especially when children are involved. I set out to speak with some friends of mine who did have kids. I wanted to know:
How the heck do you make your relationship work when you never see your partner?
One of the first friends that I turned to was one who lives 5,000 miles away from me in my hometown of Spring Lake, Michigan. It’s a little spec on the Michigan map, and if you ever drive through population 2,323, you would probably miss it. It connects M104 to the very popular summer get-a-way spot, Grand Haven, Michigan. Because we grew up in a small town vibe we have small town values. That isn’t to say that we have small town mentality (we’re a pretty fucking smart community), but they are what you’d find in the typical Mid-West homes. Marry your high school sweetheart, and have children with a home in the suburbs. My husband and I hit a point four years into our marriage where we had to decide on having that life for ourselves, or setting out on a new life in Hawai`i. We chose Hawai`i. But many of our friends didn’t, and they decided to raise families where they grew up. Others left home for college only to wind up back there again. It really is the best place on Earth to raise children (I’m totally being biased here obviously and mean no offense to your hometowns). This one particular friend is case and point.
My friend Samantha* thought she and her husband were done after child number four was born. They were in for a surprise though, as they learned that she was pregnant with number five. She has thought about going to work to help support their growing family. She even once sat down with her husband to crunch some numbers. After deducting gas, food, childcare, and other expenses they both figured that she would make about $.50 p/ hour if she were to get a $10.00 p/hour job. Clearly, this wouldn’t help their circumstance, so they both decided it’s best if she were to stay home and be with the kids. Her husband, a University of Michigan alum, would have to support his family of seven on his salary. Financially, they have made it work. He works six days a week, and on Sundays he says a sermon at their church. Naturally it left me to question the obvious. With him working so much, how do they find time for each other?
Like most couples in this situation, they found themselves not seeing each other often. When they did see one another, the working spouse would be so burnt out that they would want to retreat from the family when they returned home. Samantha, being the strong willed woman that she is, finally had to put her foot down.
“I told him that I understood that he needed space when he was home. I got that. After all, he’s around people seven days a week, and he needs his quiet time. I had to speak up though because he wasn’t getting it. Even though he was home, he wasn’t present in our lives. If he wanted to have this family, he would have to be a part of it.”
Quickly nailing the problem on the head, she also had the solution:
“He can still have his quiet time, I will give him that. But after that down time, he has to do something with us. If he’s home he needs to make the time to read a book to our boys, or go watch our girls at a game, or lay down by my side at night. He just has to make an effort.” She also mentioned something that we tend to think comes easily in marriage, but often times is lost.
“Communication is key. If you can’t communicate with one another you probably shouldn’t be married.”
She’s right. Communication is key. Our communicating styles all are different, which means we have to understand how the other person communicates in order to get through to them. I know that my husband is a fixer. He will see a problem, analyze it, and try to solve it using a logical approach. I’m a feeler. I make all decisions based upon what feels right to me. When an issue comes up, I have to mindfully recognize that I can’t approach him through my way. I have to think about how to talk to him on a level that will make him understand the way I feel.
I wish that there were a magic pill that you could take to make all relationship issues just go away. Alas, we have to face each other on a daily basis, sometimes wishing that we didn’t have to. But to answer my friends question on how you can support your working spouse with them having the understand that they need you? I can tell you this. Learn how the other person speaks the language of love, and apply that towards your communication. Speak to them in a way that they will understand. My husband is a quality time man (the same as I), we love to spend time together.
When I speak to him, I make sure it’s after he’s had his creature comforts so that he can focus on me. I let him know how much I appreciate him, and then I communicate with him practically what it is that I need from him. If I need him to step up to the plate, I say that to him directly. As someone who deals with an anxiety disorder, this can be challenging for me. But my marriage is worth it. He’s worth it. Mostly though, YOU’RE worth it. Don’t sit in silence and expect your significant other to read your mind. It will only leave you feeling sad, lonely, and depressed. Communicate with him your love, adoration. Tell him it’s time to step up to the damn plate and make time for you. You deserve to be loved.
*Names have been changed to protect the person’s identity.
**Above I mention a book called The 5 Languages of Love. This is a wonderful book that will help you figure out how you and your significant other communicate affection. It could very well be that you are being appreciated, but you don’t see it because your styles are very different. I highly recommend checking out this book. It’s also wonderful to have for your less intimate relationships as well.