Family tension for traveling spouse/parent

- Dear Mary Jo,

I work out of town and want to know ways I can ease the tension and resentment felt by my wife and family when I leave?

Thanks,
Rich

Dear Rich,
To ease transitions and minimize resentment isn’t easy. Transitions are the most likely time for all marital conflict to take place, and leaving after a fight or coming home to a leftover unresolved issue leaves you feeling as though you’re walking on eggshells.

Try these things to make it easier for your family and you:

• Never leave without something to look forward to.
• Focus on communication and understanding. Text, email, call, or do whatever you can to talk to your spouse and children.
• Get involved in their lives while you’re gone. Know schedules and check up on the daily reports. For example, inquire about your wife’s job, your children’s events and be interested.
• Have a temporary time frame in mind of how long you’ll be apart.
• Talk about how you feel…the biggest problem with feeling resentful is trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.
• When you are together take on your fair share of the chores and household duties.
• Always put your marriage first, and keep date nights scheduled when you’re home. Having long phone conversations late at night can serve as a date night too…
• Lastly, don’t judge your spouse for her response while you’re away. Your spouse at home has to understand she can’t rely on you emotionally when you’re away. Sometimes, in practice, that may make her appear more aloof and disinterested (a coping mechanism can become an unhealthy defense mechanism if it’s used to punish your partner).

In the end, a dream job stops being a dream if it causes problems in your marriage and family. Valuing your family and relationships means finding a new job that has a family-friendly schedule. It may be a tough decision, but keeping your family and marriage healthy should always be first.

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