When Your Man’s Long Hours Don’t Feel Like Love
Following a Major League Baseball career, my husband’s work led to a new demanding position. So, I came home to an empty house and had dinner alone again.
I married a man already on a mission. His dream, desire, and longtime goal was to play Major League Baseball for a living. When Jose and I married, he carefully explained the hardships, time apart, and long hours his career choice would require. And I bought in.
I was young, childless, and ready for the adventure. I believed his job was a mission. One God had assigned to us for that time in our lives. That together, this mission could transform us as a couple and a tool for God’s glory.
Then, we had kids. I had never given much thought to single parenting before our children came along. Suddenly, I found myself immersed in the task.
I always believed parenting was designed for a team. The only problem was, because of my husband’s work, half of my team was playing elsewhere. Along with being exhausting, parenting alone while my husband worked was hard. I had no other adult present to run things by, get sound advice from, and frankly, just relieve me when I felt tapped out.
This was not easy. I hated road trips, living away from home, and parenting alone. My husband’s work required much of both of us. Prioritizing our marriage had to be an intentional effort.
After Jose retired from baseball, he became a chaplain to professional athletes. Another demanding position that requires him to be away consistently. I still wrestle with how much time my husband’s work takes him away.
Tonight for example, as I write this piece, I am alone.
After work, I came home to an empty house and had dinner by myself … again. But I’ve discovered ways to manage too. I started a “married but single and single again” club for women whose husbands travel or other wives who simply would like company.
Let me just say that I have been married to the same man for 38 years. And I still need to hand this over to Jesus daily.
Telling him how I feel
When Jose returns from his trips, we have a special time where we can talk about the time away—what was good about it and what really stunk about being separated. We allow for open and honest dialogue. The listener doesn’t try to fix the speaker, but instead listens and empathizes.
It can seem silly. But having him in my corner makes me feel loved and cared for. We may even say, “This job really stinks because it takes us away from one another!” And then we laugh and thank God for my husband’s work. The job He uses to provide for us and to meet the needs of many young golfers and their wives and families. This helps bring us back into perspective and remain dedicated to our work and our marriage.
Making it work
In her book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn states that “It’s ironic that we may complain about our man’s work habits, not realizing that he thinks that he is saying ‘I love you’—and we are complaining about it! This dynamic is both confusing and distressing for men.”
Sometimes it’s important for us as women to put on our husbands’ glasses and see things from his perspective. Then we begin to understand our husband’s work. I have discovered by lightening the load of pressure I place on my husband in his role as provider, I reap great benefits of his time and attention.
Here are some ways I’ve found to give him a break:
- Communication is key to your husband’s success in a job that requires a lot of travel. Talk about it together in a non-conflict atmosphere.
- Understand that his work is at the core of his identity. Accepting that is a driving force for him that will assist you in being the “fit” wife he needs.
- Realize that God made him this way. It is a good thing.
- Make your relationship with him a priority by putting date night on the calendar. Take annual getaways as a couple to work on your marriage.
- Relieve the pressure he already feels to provide and succeed by thanking him openly and regularly.
Working out has never been a joy in my life, but I feel the benefits when I exercise regularly. The same is true when I am intentionally working on being the “fit” wife for my husband God created me to be. Our time together becomes time well spent instead of complaining about our time apart. We create good times together that make us only want more of the same in the future.
Copyright © 2019 Michelle Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michelle Alvarez is an event planning consultant for corporate events and weddings. She is administrative assistant to Jose, event planner for the church where they worship, and also serves the wives on the Web.com Tour. She and Jose are speakers for Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. They have three adult children.