Dear Emuna,

I knew when I married my husband that he liked to travel. While most of it is for business, some of it is what I consider optional – meetings or conferences he doesn’t absolutely have to attend or where he could possibly participate via Skype instead of flying half-way across the world! It wasn’t so bad before our children came along – just a little lonely – but now that we have three little ones, I’m starting to feel very resentful of his time away. It’s true that he didn’t change the original terms of our marriage but the composition of our family and the demands on my time have changed dramatically and I really want him to consider that. Any advice?

Alone A lot

Dear Alone,

It sounds like you are approaching this in a very mature, rational way, even if slightly frustrated. This situation calls for a leisurely conversation (and I know you’re thinking “With three young children, yeah right!”) when those little ones are sound asleep (do I hear “yeah right” again?).

Don’t begin with an accusation: “Why do you have to leave again? I’m sure it could be done via video conferencing.” Or attack: “You always leave me to fend for myself. I have to do everything around here!” But rather try a description and a question: “It’s gotten harder to manage on my own. Is it at all possible to use Skype for some of those overseas meetings? It would make such a difference and I would really appreciate it.”

That may sound difficult or even slightly artificial and that’s okay. We’re going for effective and kind here. You will have made your point without putting your husband on the defensive and even perhaps made him feel good about his ability to help you. Most men respond much more positively to a plea for assistance as oppose to an angry demand. (Wouldn’t you?)

To make this a fair conversation, you need to be prepared to hear his honest answer, even if it’s not the one you want. Maybe he’ll make a compelling argument for attending those meetings. Maybe his job or promotion or financial future or professional advancement really depends on showing up. But even if that’s true and he still needs to adhere to that brutal travel schedule, perhaps you’ll be more tolerant and understanding (albeit still alone and exhausted) once he’s been given a chance to explain.

On a simple, practical front, see if you can hire extra help when he’s gone (no need to be a martyr) and perhaps even take advantage of the time when he’s away to go out with a girlfriend, finish that household project you’ve put on the backburner or indulge in a little “me” time.

Dear Emuna,

My husband is a good provider and loving partner. I feel badly even writing but we all have our challenges and this is mine. He is very introverted. After dinner he only wants time by himself. Late in the evening he’ll be available to speak with me and we may have nice conversations – if I’m still awake! – but he never wants to socialize with anyone else so we are usually home just the two of us. Infrequently we may go out to dinner or a movie but never with any other couples. It’s a little lonely for me. I love him and our relationship but sometimes it’s really hard. Any coping suggestions?

Lonely at Home

Dear Lonely,

I know you don’t want to really hear this, but this is who your husband is and he is not going to change, no matter how hard you try. This is part of his personality, his hard-wiring. Your first decision/choice is to accept that. This is your life and your husband.

Your second choice is to focus on the positive, not only that he’s a good provider but that you actually enjoy talking to each other. That’s not something trivial, neither is it something to be taken for granted. You are fortunate to have a real and meaningful relationship!

Your third choice is to find another outlet for your social needs – girlfriends, clubs etc. There are many opportunities for you to go with people other than him, get your social batteries recharged and then return home to your basically happy marriage. Don’t put all the burden or pressure on him to satisfy your desire for other social interactions.

Marriage is an opportunity for growth (what isn’t?). We frequently marry people different from ourselves, the complementary puzzle piece. Our goal is not to change that but to learn from it and work with it.