Clinging vines have been on my mind the past few weeks.
My husband’s business trips have been steadily increasing to the point that he has been gone almost full-time for six weeks. He wants to be home, but duty calls and it’s hard to say “no.” After all, the mortgage, car payments, etc. all need to be paid. My salary certainly isn’t enough to do it all. Things will loosen up soon, but we recently took a moment to review our approach to his absence.
When he began traveling frequently, I would mope, cry, and try to force things to the way I wanted them to be through my force of personality and emotion. I made us all miserable with my resistance to his trips. Our four children were still pretty young, and I certainly appreciated his help managing the house when he was home. But as a single mother of three for many years, I had learned how to go it alone, so there was no use complaining that I couldn’t handle parenting without him. We both knew that it was hard, but I could do it. Daily telephone calls and some video chats kept us in contact, so I couldn’t say that we were disconnected. I had an adult tantrum that lasted several years.
Then he worked locally with only occasional travel for a few years. We settled into a new routine of him home most of the time, and it was good for all of us. Another promotion, and now he’s traveling a lot again.
Fast forward to now. Only two children are left at home. I still have my full-time job, but I also have a part-time business. I have several creative projects also in the works. My husband and I still talk every day when he’s out of town, and we can always text or email each other too. Sometimes I send him photos from my smartphone to help him feel included with events at home. We celebrate birthdays without him when we have to, and we’ll have another wedding anniversary this year with him out of town.
I’m happy when he’s home, and I’m fine when he’s not here. I got over my snit and realized that to pin my happiness on him is immature. My happiness is up to me. I developed my life rather than trying to control him. Last month, I planned events for this weekend, only to discover that he would be home. I apologized at the scheduling conflict, figuring he would want to be the center of attention while he was here. To my surprise, he disagreed. He acknowledged that I couldn’t have known where he’d be when I scheduled the activities. We’ve still had time together this weekend, and a most-needed date night. He said he was very pleased that I was not a clinging vine and had my own life. He appreciates my independence.
I had to smile – we’ve come a long ways. And I guess he rather appreciates my change in approach. I do too; my life is much more vital and interesting. I’m lucky he’s a patient man and waited me out. Somehow, he had faith I’d eventually grow up. I’m glad I didn’t disappoint.