This post is part two of the series: How to Keep Your Marriage Strong When You Never See Your Spouse.
When I became good friends with Amy a few years back, I was so impressed with how she was raising three small children basically alone day in and day out due to Brett’s crazy work schedule. When I’d ask about it, she’d shrug and be like, “no biggie.” I greatly admired her ability to not seem the least bit resentful toward her husband or the situation. Which was vastly different from my own experience of blowing up like Mount St. Helens when Rich would return home an hour late from work.
I’ve always wondered how they managed to keep their marriage strong when they saw each other so rarely. (Although I can’t lie, I did benefit from him working until 10:30pm because that allowed for many late night Gilmore Girl viewing parties with Amy. Thanks for that Brett.) – Celeste
This was Brett’s Monday–Saturday schedule from the beginning of law school until the end:
- Leave the house at 6:30 am, take the bus to school.
- Come home at 6:30 pm for dinner. Eat quickly and play with the kids for 20 minutes, back to school by 7 pm.
- Return home around 9:30 or 10 pm.
Sunday was his day off and we would go to church for three hours of that “family” day.
Summers he was essentially gone. One he actually moved a few hours away and we only saw him on the weekends, for a day and a half.
We didn’t go on dates.
We didn’t have daily phone calls and chats. Any traveling that happened during that time was me taking the kids somewhere.
We never had a family vacation.
Now that lovely scene has been set (I didn’t even touch the emotional stress and all the feelings, so many feelings!), how did we survive?
1. Realize it’s hard for BOTH of you.
Before we started law school, we met up with some friends who were just finishing law school and the husband and wife told Brett and me, “Remember, it’s just as difficult for him to be away, as it is for you to have him gone.” I think I told myself that every day.
2. Know your spouse loves you.
Brett isn’t a romantic. When he tells me he loves me, he expects me to believe it and feel it and KNOW it. I learned to cling to those three words “I love you” with every inch of my soul. They pulled me through some really rough times and brought me such peace.
Make sure you laugh together! Ours usually was at the expense of our children because they’re hilarious. The cause doesn’t matter, just laugh together!
This is so hard when you’re busy, but so important. A few notes on this point:
- It relieves stress for both of you.
- Allows you to connect with one another quicker than just about any other activity.
- Get creative with when…and maybe where. When time is limited, creativity is key.
- It’s okay to plan ahead! Don’t let the lack of spontaneity ruin a perfectly good opportunity to connect with your spouse. Maybe look at it this way, when you plan ahead, you can be spontaneous in other ways…
5. Be in it together.
Most importantly, we allowed it to become our new normal. It wasn’t our favorite normal but it was ours and we were in it together. We reminded ourselves daily that this isn’t our life, it’s only a season in it.