Travelling Spouse: Prevent Your Relationship From Nose-Diving
When a spouse regularly works out of town, his (or her) return trips home usually spell stress and chaos on the home front. Over time, resentment can easily grow around issues like downtime, chores, parenting and (lack of) sex. Here are some tips and insights to keep your relationship on track.
Downtime: He needs it
After travelling and working long and hard, the husband is tired and in need of downtime. And the wife, being appreciative and supportive, should want him to have the time and space to recharge. Problems arise, however, when the amount of “me-time” he takes is unreasonably long: It should be an hour here or there, perhaps one night out with the buds per week, NOT back-to-back days or all week. Husbands shouldn’t get lazy or selfish: This isn’t a vacation for one!
Downtime: She needs it
While the husband’s away, the wife has to carry the load of work, home and kids on her own, so she’s bursting for some downtime, too. The problem is that women are usually terrible at asking for help or taking a break. And the more overtired and stressed out they get, the greater their workload appears to them, which feeds their stress even more.
So ladies, you need to commit to taking downtime REGULARLY – I’m talking pockets of time during the day as well as during the week. Do this when your partner is away at work AND do when he’s home. Moreover, you need to speak up and tell your partner when you need it; he cannot read your mind and will assume you’re fine if you don’t ask. Guys, your job is to give her the downtime she requests AND encourage her to take more of it. Oh – and clean up at home while she’s taking it!
Chores: Supporting your wife
Guys, in your opinion, the house might look “fine” and the chores on her to-do list aren’t pressing. Some part of you may also think the housekeeping is “her domain”, or maybe she’s a little “OCD” when it comes to cleaning. But the bottom line is, she doesn’t love housework, and she needs and wants you to pitch in. You need to ask her specifically what she wants/needs to have done and then do it. Understand that you pitching in reduces her stress levels and acts an aphrodisiac for later on *wink.
Chores: Getting the husband to do more
Wives often complain that not only does their travelling husband not help with chores, he adds to the amount they already have. Here are a few ways to get him to do more: First, if you give him a task and present it as “urgent”, he’ll be much more inclined to respond; men rouse to “emergencies”. Secondly, thank him and praise him for every job he does; men do more when they feel appreciated. Thirdly, you have to ASK him for help – otherwise, he could be oblivious to it, or assume you want to do it. Last but not least, before cursing him for not tackling the chores on your list, consider if he has a valuable list of his own: Maybe he took three hours to fix the computer. Or spent all afternoon washing your cars, changing the oil, and winterizing the trailer.
The more connected the husband can be to the kids while he’s away, whether it’s by phone, text, email or Skype, the easier the transition will be when he gets home. This way the kids can share their goings on and “big news events” and the dad isn’t oblivious to what’s happening in their lives. It also gives him voice around disciplinarian issues if and when required, so mom doesn’t feel like she does everything solo.
Kids: Muster extra patience for dad’s return
It’s not just possible, it’s probable that young kids will be out of sorts and act up when dad returns home. So make sure your patience reserves are in strong supply and trust that as dad settles in, the kids, too, will settle down. Dads also need to mentally prepare themselves for the noise and flurry of activity that awaits them at home; it’s a huge change to being around adults at work.
Kids: Dads must parent, not just play
Dads needs to understand that parenting doesn’t just mean wrestling with them on the floor and other fun stuff when they feel like it. It means baths, homework, driving to sports/activities, prepping lunches, holding playdates etc. Either jump right in and help in whatever you want, or ask the golden question that every wife appreciates hearing: “What can I do to help?”
Kids: Mom should loosen her “control reigns”
Dad deserves to be able to parent and spend time with the kids in ways he enjoys, even if he does things differently than the mom. Mom needs to be willing and able to loosen her control reigns – and focus, instead, on enjoying and appreciating the wonderful dimension he adds to the kids’ lives and home. One caveat for dads, however: you need to be respectful of important rules your spouse has established in the home; it’s not fair or kind to disregard them. Make sure the two of you have been discussing and updating them, so toes can avoid being stepped on.
Connecting: Spending time together without kids
The husband’s time at home may be limited and in hot demand by all. But without putting aside one on one husband/wife time, you run the risk of being co-managers instead of lovers and best friends. You need to laugh, have fun, talk about stuff other than the kids, and reconnect with the feelings of love and admiration that brought the two of you together. The biggest threat to your relationship will always be silence and resentment — they can grow fast and deep when two people lead separate lives much of the time.
To stay connected, it’s extremely important that husband and wife make time for sex a priority, too. That being said, guys, you need to understand something: When your wife is stressed out and tired, even the mere idea of having sex can feel like one more chore. Before you even try to make moves on her, take her out, help her relax and feel beautiful through good conversation and sensual touches. Sometimes it takes a bit of time and extra attention to help her feel like a woman, not a workhorse. Also remember that by encouraging her to take regularly take downtime to herself and by you helping out as much as possible around the house, her oven will warm up a lot faster.
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