How Have You Achieved a Happy Medium for Normal Activity for a Traveling Spouse?

Updated on November 03, 2018
C.M. asks from Boston, MA
17 answers

My husband travels 2-4 days per week. All different cities and often in more than 1 city during the week. We have an 11 and a 6 yo and he resents me completely for being with them. He is an owner of his company, so it is not feasible for him to leave his job and he is less than 10 years from retirement. He needs to hold out. That said, we try our best to do anything fun outside of our home when he is gone b/c when he is home, he never wants to leave which is truly understandable. However, it is really difficult to achieve that happy medium and it is almost deemed unreasonable if we were to suggest that we do something other than be at home. From time to time, I am lulled into a false sense of security that he actually wants to do something with us or with me and so I schedule those things. Then he loses it b/c he wants nothing more than to be at home. Before marriage, I used to ski every Sunday in the winter and he would golf every Sunday in the summer. Now - he golfs every Sunday and with our 11 yo and I have only skied in the last 6 days in the last 11 yrs (we live 2 hours away from a ski resort). All of our friends are gone all winter in their ski homes. I am a work hard/play hard type of person. My husband is a work hard/drool on the couch for 3 days. Unfortunately, he doesn't see this and he thinks that I am unreasonable. That I just don't get how hard it is to be gone. I do get it - but he doesn't realize that our lives have to continue. Today is Halloween and our 11 yo wanted to go to a different neighborhood and trick or treat with his Best Friend in a joint costume. My husband was ballistic with me for saying he could do this as he had really bent over backward to rearrange his schedule to be with us. For the last 10 years - we only trick or treated in our neighborhood of 10 hours. BORING for an 11 YO and my son is a really good kid and should have some fun. How do you get to live your life the way you want to live it and still accommodate the needs of the overworked and overtired spouse who has every right to want to sit on the couch and rejuvenate. I am exhausted of our life surrounding his work schedule and as our 11 yo continues to get older - I am reminded that our chances of doing things with him are going away. We need to recognize he will want to be with his friends and we need to get out of the house on the weekends away from the TV, technology and drooling on the couch! A long time ago, I started to get a sitter during the week and would meet up with friends, etc - so I could get out my need for socializing during the week and be willing to drool with him on that couch during the weekend. But there are simply things we are missing out on - as a family - because he can't comprehend the world doesn't revolve around his travel schedule. How do we find that happy medium? BY THE WAY - I do not complain to him - at all. I've never complained about the skiing or the way that I prefer to live - I have figured out how to work with it. However, it is impacting the whole family and I need to find a better answer.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Life isn't a competition so you do you.

Let him know what the plans are and invite him to come or stay home; his choice. If he starts throwing a fit like a 3 yr old then just leave for the activity with the kids. Personally I think he's depressed or going through a mid life crisis.

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B.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

He doesn’t get it because he has not had to. You have done everything to accommodate him but he can only “go ballistic “ when all of you don’t do just what he wants. I recommend that you go to a counselor to help you deal with a “controlling “ person.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

My late husband was on the road most of our 26 yr marriage. He managed to never miss a performance or game of daughter's while she was growing up and he also maintained our yard and handyman things around the house.

A priority for us was date night weekly and we did that up until he died in 2015.

I understand the pressures of owning your business, we own ours and I have carried on since his death. It gets hard but you have to focus on the bottom line.. family.

We had our schedules and I gave him ample notice of when things were happening and he made arrangements based on his schedule.

I am sorry you are going through a hard time. Maybe your husband is depressed, feels the extra pressure of owning a business and providing for the family. Everyone needs down time, I get that completely but you have to have a balance.

You need to do the things for you and your children and your husband needs to find the happy medium he can deal with in order to be there and participate with you and your children.

Looking and planning toward retirement is essential but at the same time, it is important to be there for your family.

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

My husband traveled a lot when our kids were young. I finally had to explain to him that this is OUR schedule and we aren't changing it to accommodate his. That is a conversation you need to have with your hubby especially for the sake of your 11 yo old.

He goes ballistic because it works and he gets what he wants. I would shut him down quickly and tell him to knock it off. Life is messy and he needs to get that. You have made everyone tip toe around your husband. Kids grow up and have friends and activities on the weekend.

I travel out of town every other week, so I do understand the "I want to stay home" but I need to remember that my life isn't just about work and your husband needs to be reminded of that as well.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think the problem is in your last 2 sentences. You have never told him that the way you are living doesn't work for you and the kids. You are not being honest with him.

If the reason you are not being honest is because you are afraid of his temper, then you need to have this conversation in front of a marriage counselor. If he refuses to go, start seeing a counselor on your own, during the day while the kids are in school. You shouldn't live in fear of expressing your own needs to your husband.

Good luck to you.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

This is really about your husband recognizing that other people have needs too, including the kids.

Our kids are in Scouts and play sports and just want to be able to see their friends. We live in a culture where sometimes the only time kids see their friends is at an activity.

Your husband likes to unwind be sitting and relaxing. There's nothing wrong with that, but he needs to realize that what other people want matter, too.

I agree that part of the problem might be that he's just so used to you catering your life around him since it's his job that tends to dictate the schedule. It's probably not going to be easy, but you need to talk to him about the fact that his wants are not the only wants that matter.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

You're being way too accommodating. I think it's nice that you've tried, but he's the one who is unreasonable. And FWIW, wanting to spend 3 days at home per week due to travel isn't normal or healthy. I work in an office where a lot of colleagues travel Monday through Thursday and I have a relative who lives in MA but has worked out of state 4 days a week in places like Texas and North Carolina. They all get home, work a half day on Friday, then gear up for time with their families on the weekends - coaching sports, driving places, family outings, weekends away, etc. Actually that's what the dads do. The moms don't even have that luxury of a lazy day - they fly home late Thursday night, catch up on personal email, throw in a load of laundry, do a week's worth of errands and chores and appointments on Friday and are in go mode until heading to the airport on Monday.

If he's unable to fully engage as a parent and spouse when he's home, which does mean facilitating a social life for the kids and having one with you, perhaps there are health issues or depression at play here? Has he ever been screened for depression or mood problems? Sometimes those with mild mood problems can muster the energy to get through a work week but then need to crash for the weekend. My ex was like that when his depression kicked in (his was bi-polar). During those weeks, he could get through the work day but would just sleep or watch TV on the couch over the weekend while life went on around him. If he's 10 years from retirement, he may be at an age where something like low testosterone or other changes are affecting his energy levels. Has he always been this way, or is it getting worse?

I think you need to speak up. In an effort to be supportive and not complain, it may be that he has no idea how much his issues - and they are issues, and they are *his* - affect the family. He needs to know. That might make for some uncomfortable conversations, and he might be resentful, but this is a quality of life issue for everyone. You all can't continue to accommodate his unreasonable expectations. If he truly doesn't have the energy to do things when he's home, then he needs to understand that that's *HIS* choice and that the rest of you will carry on and he'll have to just miss out on some things without making it all about him.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

The kids are at an age where their activities are going to start keeping them busy no matter what you or hubby want to do or Hubbys work schedule.
You are just going to have to go do things whether Hubby wants to stay home or not.
Once he's retired he'll be home all the time - and the kids will be grown and practically gone.
What did Hubby envision raising kids would be like for him?
You need some family counseling.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

My husband was an active duty officer for most of our marriage. He was deployed more times than I care to remember. My husband retired after 24 years of service. We moved from California to Georgia.

Every time he came home? We did NOT change our routine for him. It was tough sometimes. But the boys and I had things we were doing. We have a HUGE calendar in the kitchen with EVERYONE's schedule. With FOUR ACTIVE boys? That's how we keep track of everything, between soccer, football, lacrosse, college visits, etc.

We have one in college now. And three very active boys. My husband is now a government contractor, and he travels, however, when he comes home and wants to know what's going on? He goes to the kitchen and looks at the calendar.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

maybe you're non-complaints have set up an unrealistic set of expectations for your husband.

start complaining. better yet, start laying out sensible guidelines for how thing are going to be moving forward.

starting with enlightening him as to the rest of the family's schedule. his needs to revolve around his job. yours and the kids' revolve around other things.

it sounds like he needs to grow up, and you need to communicate your needs more clearly.
khairete
S.

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N.C.

answers from San Diego on

I get it about being work hard, play hard type person.

I also travel for work like your husband and still do tons of activities with my kids on the weekends and just like you like to do.

He needs to get his priorities straight.
Or just leave him home to drool.
You do stuff with the kids. Don’t expect him to come along.

It’s not the quantity of time, but the quality of time.

He can sit on the couch for 3 hours or go skiing for 3 hours...your kids are going to remember the Skiing.

What’s the point of working so hard if you are not enjoying it and creating memories with your family?

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

He needs to understand that life does not stop for him. Your son is getting older, it is normal for him to want to be with his friends, and it is also normal for you to want to do things you love, he can either join in the fun or sit on the couch alone, but I would stop babying him and just tell him point blank he can join in the fun or get left behind.

My husband has also traveled for work for the past 20 years, sometimes for a few days and sometimes for months at a time, our schedules never revolved around him because we are all our own people with our own lives. When he is home he is always welcome and included, but our lives don't stop just because he is home for a few days, it would be unfair of him to ask that of us. He joins us or does his own thing, or asks to schedule something with us, but would never expect us to all just stay home so he can sit on the couch with us near.

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R.K.

answers from Appleton on

He is being selfish. He can't expect you and the kids to sit on shelf and wait for him to come home to do fun stuff and then NOT want to any fun stuff. You are not a robot and are entitled to have fun. He doesn't seem to realize he needs to spend quality time with all of you. He needs to build fun memories for the kids. Ask him if he wants the kids to only remember him as gone a couple days each week then napping when he is home.
I get it he may be tired when he gets home traveling is not easy. But you and the kids deserve to have fun. If he doesn't want to go out with the three of you he can stay home and nap. It's his choice to join you later in the day.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Your husband is completely 100% wrong and he cannot demand you not do things or not schedule things. My husband travels every other week for work, so is around about half the time. He would never in a million years act like this. The kids and I live our lives like we would normally and things get scheduled. When he is in town he can join in on the fun or if he is tired and wants to stay home he can do that. If kids want to go do something with a friend or whatever then that is perfectly fine. No one should change what they want to do just because your husband is tired from traveling. That is unreasonable of him to think otherwise. He is being very selfish. Do you share a google calendar? My husband and I both have google calendars and so he sees everything I put on it and I see what he puts on it. That way he can look to see what is going on even when he's on travel and he can plan accordingly when he gets back. ALSO - why are you proud of never complaining to him about anything and about not skiing? Tell him how you feel. You wish to ski more. You and he are a team and he should support you in trying to figure out how to make skiing work more often. Another thing -- my husband seems to have a lot more energy than your husband. He does get tired from traveling but he would never spend a weekend on the couch. I find it a little odd that your husband is THAT tired. Maybe he should get checked out by his doctor.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I think you need to do a combination of "promoting what your children want to do" combined with "allowing your husband to be a parent in his own way, same as you being a parent in your own way".

Imagine a single-parent home (hard to imagine the specifics, but in general): If you were the only parent all the time, you and your children might be out doing activities frequently, going to other neighborhoods, going skiing. But, if your husband was the only parent, he might be telling the kids to stay indoors and entertain themselves frequently, because he was tired and wanted to stay home after working.

There is nothing really "wrong" either way. Neither of you is ignoring your children (your husband wants the children to be near home *with him* - he's not saying "the children should go away while I stay home and rest").

Since you are fortunately not alone - your household has TWO parents - you need a balance, neither of you needs to be telling the other "how to parent". (Just like if your husband washes a dish and then you micromanage and tell him he did it wrong...you should each be able to wash a dish your own way, rather than anyone making one person feel bad about their dishwashing skills to the point they don't even want to try.)

It's not exactly about arguing over which way the children would prefer to live their lives, it's about sharing parenting duties.

So I think the balance is: teach your children to enjoy life "both ways", and find the parenting balance with your husband.

If you want to make it simple, divide the week into "being active Mom days" and "around home Dad days". And decide with your husband in advance: "Wednesday is a 'being active' day - we're doing Halloween with the Smiths over in Sunnytown. Saturday is a home day - we'll rent a movie, do a puzzle, stay home all day." (And - as part of teaching your children to "enjoy both" - have some home days when Dad is not around...not just "Ugh, when your Dad is back we have to stay home, I know that is SO BORING".)

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, C..

Now you need to just continue on with your life. Take the kids skiing with you. Tell him you've made the plans so that he could be home and relax since he works so hard.

He goes ballistic as a way to control the situation since he probably feels he has no other control in his life. These are DECISIONS HE MADE. He can sell the company and go to work for another company that's W2. He MADE this choice. You didn't force him to make this choice, right?

When he is home? Let him drool. Take the kids and GO. LIVE YOUR LIFE. Don't walk on egg shells for him.

ETA: My husband CHOSE to stay in a mid-level job instead of being a Director or VP. WHY? Because he chose family over work. He was a baseball coach. And he's been there for things. This was HIS choice. NOT MINE. HIS. Your husband needs to OWN his decisions. He cannot expect the kids to sit around and watch TV with him while he decompresses from his trips. He needs to get off the couch and get moving WITH THEM - create memories.

One of my girlfriends husband was a 3 out of 4 week traveler. He missed SO MUCH of their son's life. He does and doesn't regret it - he worked hard and was able to save so that it didn't matter if his son went to college on or off scholarship. His hard work pays for it. It was a trade off. Does he have a good relationship with his son? Yes. Because when he was home? He was THERE - not sitting on the couch drooling. Tell your husband he needs to LIVE and make memories with the kids. Remember the song Cats in the Cradle??

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

My husband's brother traveled a LOT when the kids were growing up. My sister in law had lots of fun outside the house with the kids when he was gone, seeing friends, doing whatever activities they liked to do, sometimes going on trips without him. When my brother in law was home they stayed in more. That was their down time. He was exhausted and because his job required lots of socializing he just didn't feel like it. Understandable.
And I don't really get why you say your husband "resents" your time with the kids? If he wants time by all means let him have it! My ex husband almost NEVER wanted to spend time with the kids, unless I was there doing and managing everything. Take advantage of his desire and go skiing for crying out loud, see friends, do what you like. If the kids get bored let HIM deal with it. Problem solved.

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