I work at an extremely demanding job. The hours are brutal and I often have to work weekends as well. I find it stimulating and challenging and I love the paycheck. The problem is that I just got married a few months ago and I know that I am neglecting my wife. She is not complaining at all (she is amazing), but I feel like I am missing out on making the most of my new life with her. I feel really guilty about it, and a little short changed as well. How can I make the most of what I have?
-Wishing Were With Wife
Dear Wishing Were With Wife,
You should know your question should be implanted into everyone’s brain. Making the most of what you have is a much better approach than, “How can I get more?” Looking at what you have is a realistic equation that can compute into a positive change.
So, let’s set up this equation. You, plus your wife, plus your positive feelings for her. You want this to equal a happy marriage, where the connection is felt strongly. You also have a minus sign here on your time. Well, this happens only if you let it. We can add in creative thinking. This can be a mathematical value that is able to grow exponentially.
For example, you’ve heard that texting in relationships is bad because people can’t read into your tone. However, in your particular case, I would definitely recommend texting about 3-5 times a day. I’m not talking about “Working late. See you around midnight.” I’m talking about the goopy, Cyrano de Bergerac sort of texts. Short, sweet, and rhetorical texts are not likely to take away from your job.
Another idea is to transform your Shabbos into unadulterated time with your wife. This means cut back on having guests and being guests. I don’t really see your marriage growing stronger when you two gaze at each other amidst the flurry of gender-segregated chatter. Keep it simple in order to build that connection; if you two are not the type to talk for hours, even parallel reading can do a couple good.
If you are going to have to put in a lot of extra hours at work one week, try devoting one evening to coming home at a decent hour. Then stay super late on a different night. You can log the same amount of hours, and be able to have a nice evening at home too. Another idea: If your wife’s schedule and mode of transport allows for, set up a lunch date with her every now and then.
If you have vacation time coming up, commit to making the most of it with her. That way, you at least have something to look forward to while she is sharing you with the office. Just make sure that you actually keep to what you guys are planning, otherwise you may as well spend your vacation in my office.
If the mode of “squeezing in love where you can find it” doesn’t make much of a difference, you will need to put up clear boundaries between you and your work.
I know it’s scary to rock the boat at work, especially during this hard economic time, but I would think that you prefer to be in a rocky boat with your wife than to sail by your lonesome.
Aviva Rizel is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Lawrence. She can be reached at 347-292-8482 or AvivaRizel.MFT@gmail.com.