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Editor’s Note: This is the first of Aleteia’s new weekly advice column, Ask Zoe. If you have a dilemma, question, or need some general advice for your life, please email Zoe. All questions are given consideration and names are withheld.
I travel for business a lot. When I come home, I’m always exhausted—I don’t travel well—and I’m looking for comfort from my wife. In my absence, though, she’s had to cope with her job, the children, and household matters by herself. She wants to go "off duty" and have me take over the daily concerns. Romance is the last thing on her mind. We have both come to dread these times of re-entry when, predictably, we’ll become angry with each other over our conflicting desires, making a bad situation worse. Any tips for how to improve things?
Frustrated in Fresno
Some version of this reigns in many households so you’re not the only couple with this dilemma. Here’s what you’ve got going for you, though: You already acknowledge that both of you have legitimate needs. That’s the first step. The problem, as you point out, is that your needs conflict, and this tends to cause anxiety and frustration, as well as build resentment. There are a couple of ways you can help make re-entry better for both of you:
First, what can each of you do (and encourage each other to do) to take better care of yourselves when you’re away? Are there simple things that can help you travel with greater ease so you don’t come home so fried? Can your wife enlist some help for some of the homefront burden when she’s flying solo? If both of you come back together a little less depleted, you’ll be better equipped to do the second thing I suggest: Shift your focus at re-entry from yourself to your spouse.
Yes, you’re exhausted and want some tender loving care; and yes, she’s overwhelmed and needs relief, but your sacrifices for each other (and your family) do not end the moment you walk through the door. Make an agreement to do at least one special thing for one another when you get home—and ask each other for ideas. It can be simple stuff: You put the kids to bed and do the dishes in the sink; afterwards, she takes on the role of masseuse for a while. Whatever it may be, doing even the simplest things for one another at re-entry will help you re-connect, which is the most important part of coming home.
Readers, what do you think? Got any tips for how to make re-entry less stressful?
If you have a dilemma or question for Zoe, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zoe Romanowsky is the Lifestyle Editor and Video Curator for Aleteia. A freelance writer, blogger, and consultant, her work has appeared in many national publications including Real Simple, Catholic Digest, Baltimore Eats, and TruthAtlas. Zoe holds a Masters degree in Counseling from Franciscan University, and a certification in life coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She’s an urban homeschooling mother of twins with a weakness for dark chocolate, vintage Harleys, Instagram, and vodka martinis–not necessarily in that order.