WT 141: Parenting With A Spouse Who Is Often Away
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Being on the same page with your spouse is never simple, and when one spouse is frequently away from home, things get even more complicated. On Wire Talk today, Karen and Sunny answer questions about how to squash resentment, smooth out the re-entry process, and even get dinner on the table when you're flying solo.
Question 1: Normally I love to cook, but when my husband is out of town I can’t find the motivation to cook “nice” meals. My kids are not the greatest eaters, so we end up rotating mac n cheese, pizza and chicken nuggets for dinner when dad’s out. Then when he’s home on the weekends I don’t want to cook ….because it’s the weekend! ;) Any tips for cooking better/healthier when you’re solo parenting a lot?
Karen's Answer: I did the same thing! ☺ Honestly, I think if you throw in a veggie here and there you are good. With winter here, you can roast a lot of veggies and the kids like them like roasted potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes. Toss the veggies in some olive oil, add salt and pepper, and roast them at 400 degrees until they are tender. My children always loved that, especially if you drown them in ketchup. The deal is, when you are parenting solo, it’s hard and meal time becomes really hard. Make it easier on yourself. As far as the weekends go, your crockpot is your friend! Start it in the morning, let it cook all day, and enjoy the home cooked meal at night. Got to think smarter not harder! OR send your hubby outside to grill. That was always my favorite.
Question 2: My husband travels about once a quarter for work, which I know is not a lot compared to many families - but when he is gone on a trip, he’s usually gone one to two weeks on an assignment. We have so much trouble getting into a rhythm once he comes home. It’s like by the time I get used to him being gone and running the household on my own, he’s back and the rhythm is disrupted. Can you help us?!
Karen's Answer: What you are describing is REAL! I call it the re-entering phase and sometimes that is the most difficult of all. I think a lot of it depends on your mindset. A few days before he gets home, start gearing up for it. Give yourself some good self talk that he’s coming home and you know it might be difficult, but you are going to have a good attitude and give him grace. I found a lot of the time if I adjusted my attitude, Greg followed. I also had a rule in our house that Greg could not give me any “helpful” advice for 24 hours after he got home. That helped me not think he was getting onto me the second he walked in the door. Your walk with the Lord really does make a difference. Think of you and your husband as a team, and you are the VP of the company, you can make it run while he’s away, but grateful for when he returns so you can pass the responsibility back to him.
Question 3: When my husband travels he gets to go stay in fancy hotels and eat expensive, paid-for meals, go to parties and events after meetings and see fun new cities. When I see pictures on his Instagram account of him doing all this I can easily get bitter - I mean I eat PB&Js half the time for lunch! How do I avoid falling into the trap of resentment?
Karen's Answer: PREACH!!!! I get you 100%. I also see this with my daughter, Kelsey and Kevin. Kevin calls in and tells Kelsey about these great hotels he is staying in because he is excited and wants to share, but it’s hard for her to hear because she’s got all the children and nothing is super exciting. I would tell Greg NOT to share with me while he is gone. It only makes me mad. I want to hear about it, but it’s better if he shares when he is home. Greg used to say, “I want to take you to this place, it was so nice.” That statement alone helped me have hope that maybe one day I would be able to travel. Take your thoughts captive and renew your mind with truth. It helped me when I was in your stage of life, to remind myself that Greg didn’t choose to be gone from the family - he was working. And because he was working hard, it afforded us to do things we wanted to do. Everything comes with a price. Have an attitude of gratitude. That always helps. Try to stay positive. It can be hard, but it will help you in the long run. I am finally at the stage in my life where I am joining Greg on some of these trips, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there!
Question 4: My husband misses a lot (school events, games, appointments) because of his work travel and I often feel resentful that he doesn’t “get” what’s going on with our kids. How did you keep Greg informed about your kids’ lives when he was gone for so much of the time?
Karen's Answer: I get it! What I did, was when Greg was away and he would call in, I would do my best to fill him in on what was going on with the children. Not just the highlights, but what I was seeing in them, working on with them, and areas that I was seeing growth. I felt like that helped Greg stay engaged in the family. Also, when your husband returns, make sure you are carving out at least one night per week where you are hanging out as a family. We did that through high school. Greg was gone for half of the month every month with all of our children, and sometimes more. But, I don’t think our children ever felt like he wasn’t a huge part of their life. When he was home, he made a big point to stay as engaged as possible, making their breakfasts in the morning, attending their sports, or shows, and doing car pool line. Those things really helped him “stay” in tune with the children and in tune with me.
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