Emotional Wellness
Mary Symmes is the founder of Self Investment Strategies and a life coach devoted to the empowerment of working women. Mary is also a clinical social worker in Alexandria, Va. Visit her Web site at SelfInvestmentStrategies.com

Husband Works A Lot

Question: My husband works very long hours, about 16 a day, I have 2 kids one is an infant, he recently got promoted and I just can't take the hours anymore, he never eats dinner with us anymore, I have tried to talk to him about it but he doesn't want to hear it, and it turns into a big fight! This happens just about every weekend!!! there is no time for the 2 of us it just feels like everything is falling apart. Help!

Answer: Wow, you guys are mega-stressed! I have a couple of ideas that could help, but will take a little changing on your part.

First, realize that your husband is terrified by his new job. See if you can get him to talk about his anxieties and maybe do some problem-solving to allay them. Could he use a coach? Does he need a little therapy? Is he sleeping all right? You will have to put your own needs aside for a few hours in order to talk to him in a way that won't make him defensive or just not want to talk about it.

Second, hire a babysitter and plan something relaxing over a weekend, after checking with him to see if he can work around it. Think about a motel room where the two of you can just talk without interruptions, watch TV, make love, or even sleep! You could both go swimming, or hiking, or have massages. Anything that will help your bodies feel better will make you feel closer and help him open up. But while you do these relaxing activities, don't talk about anything "heavy". This time is for R & R - not relationship discussions.

Third, take better care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise, good food, etc. If you need more time away from the kids, arrange for it. It sounds like having more time with your friends/family would be helpful for you to get some of your emotional needs met for the time being. Your husband is acting out the fact that he has no energy for anything but survival now, so you need to get at least some of your needs met elsewhere.

Tell your husband that you are going to be trying some new things to lower the tension between you, and hopefully help both of you feel better. Approach him calmly and positively, and you should see some good results. Once things are calmer between you, and in particular when you feel better, you can start talking. Read "The Dance of Anger" - it is a really helpful book in situations like yours.

Finally, consider some counseling for yourself as support while you go through this difficult time. A therapist can give you feedback and coach you as you try to make these changes and break the log jam. If there are underlying issues in your marriage, this is the time to address them.

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    The above is for general information only and is not intended to substitute for professional mental health treatment. Individuals should consult licensed professionals as needed.