It’s 8:30 p.m. and my husband isn’t home from work yet.
That means I did today 100% solo. From my toddler’s 6 a.m. wake-up call, to homeschooling all morning, afternoon errands, a park stop, dinnertime, baths and a trio of bedtimes. Now I’m finally sitting, watching a little TV and nibbling on a pack of Gushers, my current pregnancy craving.
It’s not like this every day. Most days he aims to be home by six for family dinner and the bedtime routine, but more often than not he puts in 14+ hour days. Sometimes longer. Rarely shorter.
For what seems like eons, this was a HUGE point on contention in our marriage. How could he choose to be away from us for so long? Was work really that important? Do “normal” people commit to work schedules that call for rising before dawn and coming home with barely enough time to eat dinner?
I’d bellow. Yes, bellow about how much I disliked his schedule. How lonely it made me feel. How abandoned I was at home, pregnant with three other kids. I became the queen of snarky text messages and could have earned an award for my extreme pouting.
It all came from a place of hurt. Of misunderstanding. But that didn’t make it OK.
For so long I wished for a regular 9 to 5, for my husband to say no to work and yes to coming home early. That wishing poisoned me from the inside out.
I grew hurt and felt anxiety and cruelty within myself. It was my choice and I knew that. But for some reason, I justified all those feelings because of my situation. It made me feel better and helped me cope... but not for long.
When I stopped complaining—both in my head and out loud—our marriage flourished.
All those self-induced feelings left me upset and when my husband finally got home, I was resentful of the time we did have together. I was ruining us. I was choosing to make our current situation a wedge in our family. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t his work schedule. It was me and me alone.
The reason my husband works so much is because he cares about me. About our kids. About our future. In fact, 12 years ago when I met him, I pegged him as a family man. I knew he would be a fabulous husband and a top notch dad. That’s why I picked him! In his heart, built into his spirit, he totally gets what life is about, he knows people are most important.
Of course, he has career aspirations too. He wouldn’t be rolling into the office at 4 a.m. if he didn’t! But that’s all secondary. His fuel for the long days, his commitment to the obnoxious work schedule, is us—his family.
So, I made the choice to stop complaining.
I stopped giving him a hard time and partnered with him. I may not be his co-worker, boss, or subordinate, but his success is my success. We are a team and we are in this together.
When I stopped complaining—both in my head and out loud—our marriage flourished. When my attitude changed I empowered him to be a better husband and a more involved dad. I witnessed the change with my own eyes. Before, he would usually come home and quickly find his way to his recliner, watch a little TV while eating dinner, and roll his eyes when I asked for help brushing the kids’ teeth.
Now, he walks in the door and helps me finish prepping dinner, sits at the table with us while we eat, wrestles the boys or goes bug hunting outside with our middle child. Then he snuggles our toddler to sleep so I can take a bath and relax a little. He acknowledges that I’ve had a long day too.
Everything is night and day.
And 100 times better than before.
It's not perfect and we both have off days, but life is different and we are different because I am different.
All it took was a walk in his shoes and my recognizing that he is working for us, not for his boss or for his career advancement. Those both come after his people, his family. He pours himself into work because it's one of the many ways he shows us that he loves us and wants to take care of us. And in response to his love, I’m quitting the complaining for good.
He deserves it.