Dear Emuna,

My husband and I seem to be on different career paths. After years of being a stay-at-home mom, my kids have flown the coop and I have thrown myself into a very exciting and satisfying career. My husband seems to be moving in the opposite direction. After years of enthusiastically spending hours at work, he is winding down, spending his days doing some volunteer work, pursuing his hobbies and working part-time. Not only don’t I like when he is around the house more, but I also find our situations challenging. He wants to pick up and travel; I am committed to my job. He’s even thinking about moving…! How can we resolve this situation? I would be grateful for your advice.

Newly Free Mom

Dear Newly Free Mom,

I know that once you are a mom, you are never truly free, but I appreciate that the circumstances of your daily life have undergone a dramatic change. I think the best place to begin to reconcile your needs with your husband’s is with a conversation. He probably doesn’t realize how important this job is to you, what it means to be able to pursue something so completely different.

He needs to understand that you now feel similar to the way he felt at 25, starting afresh in the job market (hopefully with more wisdom!). And, on the other hand, you also need to understand his perspective. He has been working hard all his life (presumably you have been one of the beneficiaries of that) and can now slow it down and pursue his passions.

Just as you want (and need) his support, he wants (and needs) yours. I think that, with this psychological understanding and with good will, the rest is a matter of practical compromise. Can you structure your job so that you have some chunks of time to spend with him? Can he pursue some of his passions outside the home? Can he take over some of the jobs in the home so it’s not all on your head?

As they say, these are first world problems. You are both fortunate to have each other, the financial resources that allow him to wind his job down, the energy and ability to work on your side, and the health that makes this and not something more serious the relevant discussion point. I’m not saying your issue doesn’t require the two of you to grapple with it, to do some serious thinking and to perhaps make some significant compromises. But it’s a situation that reflects a privileged position and you should start by being grateful for that.

Although you don’t mention the quality of your relationship, I’m going to assume you have a good one since when it’s bad, people usually mention it and complain about it. Therefore, I know that this issue can and will be resolved. Like all good negotiations, there should be no winners and losers here, but you should both come out with a resolution that is mutually satisfying. It doesn’t hurt to bring in a third party if you’re stuck; it’s not a sign of weakness but rather maturity.

Begin your conversations with your husband by expressing your gratitude and appreciation for his love and support. This isn’t manipulative but will certainly make him more receptive than a list of grievances or all that you’ve done for him will! And, especially at this time of year, ask the Almighty to help – to give you strength, wisdom and clarity and the ability to come to a conclusion together – with love and caring and support.