If you married your soul mate and your life is smooth sailing, marriage is hard. But toss in a big transition, such as you going from being home and able to devote your time to taking care of your family and home to working til 6pm while the house does not clean itself or cook dinner for you, and you have a challenge. So now your husband, who also works all day, has to start making dinner once in a while and put his own socks in the laundry to get them clean. On top of that he also has to help get the kids ready and out the door for school or daycare and use his lunch hour to pick up supplies for a school project.
Yes, he is totally supportive of you going back to work and he knew it would be challenging, and he is willing to make changes. Hurray!
Marriage is still hard.
Or maybe he thought it was going to be fun to take on a few more responsibilities but he actually anticipated you would still do most of the work.
Marriage is Hard.
The thing is you are exhausted trying to transition to this new life, new routine, new system, new everything! And while there are still plenty of hours in the evening when you get home from work all you really want to do is pass out. You are on overload. And that overload, while it does get better each week, really last a good 6 months.
You can imagine how well your marriage will be going if you shut down for the next 6 months.
My husband and I have had a regular date night for years. Every Thursday night we would go split a dessert at Perkins and drink coffee and tea til late at night. We spend lots of time on our dates doing things you are not supposed to do, we talk household finances, I bring spreadsheets and budget updates, we talk business, we talk about our kids, problem solve parenting. These are things in our life we need to talk about in order for it to go smoothly. And date night is the time we have to catch up with these things. But to keep it fresh we also talk about dreams, plan trips, discuss politics and religion, share thoughts and feelings, we listen to each other.
That first Thursday night after I started working is still so clear to me. I was tired, no I was exhausted, I could barely keep my eyes open through dinner and then as we are getting ready to leave my daughter is crying and hanging on me and begging me not to leave. I have barely seen her in 4 days and I really just want to stay on the couch cuddled up with her for the night. I was about to tell my husband I needed to stay. I knew he would understand. And he would have. But then I wondered, what message is this sending to him? He needs me too. My daughter might not understand the way my husband does why I am not home and available for her but his needs and desires for time and attention from me are still there. I knew I could cuddle with my daughter for a few minutes in the morning or all the next evening but this was my night with my husband. It always had been and if we were going to make it through this transition together date night would be more important than ever.
As the year progressed that turned out to be so true. Our lives were running not toward each other but parallel. Without those weekly date nights to update each other on what was happening it would have been easy for us to quickly begin leading separate lives. Lives in which we had experiences and relationships the other knew nothing about. We had always managed to have plenty to talk about before I went to work but now there was even more. New people to talk about, new experiences to share, new problems to solve, new ideas to discuss.
So that first week we went out anyway. I told him about the new people I met and what I was learning. About an hour into the date I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I didn’t say anything but he knew and took me home. Each week I lasted a little longer until I was finally able to stay awake til we ran out of conversation.
Someday both my kids will be gone to college, someday I will retire and once again be at home, and through it all my husband will always be there. My kids are important. I spent all those years at home because of how important I believe it is to be present and involved in my children’s lives but in the end it will just be me and John and if I don’t put as much effort into him as I do into my children I will be rocking on that front porch alone.
So I encourage you to find a few minutes each week to connect with your husband. Tell him your stories from the week, listen to his and go through this transition together.