I see you over there, sitting in the audience filled with families—moms and dads, grandparents and children. I see you juggling your toddler, holding your baby, and trying with all of your might to get a good video of your kindergartener on stage in his first-ever school play. I see you there. Alone.
I see you at t-ball games and ballet drop-off, every time, just you.
I see you making dinner in shifts, keeping a plate warm with tin foil as you eat with the kids, because you know he’ll be hungry when he comes home.
I see you doing bath time, story time, breakfast, and middle of the night feedings by yourself. All alone.
I see you feeling so lonely you could cry as you watch other moms and dads at the school, together, and you manage it solo. Every time.
I see you, dear Momma, whose husband is married to his job. I see you.
I Know This Solo Struggle All Too Well
I see you, dear Momma, because I am you. I know this struggle like I know the back of my own hand. I know how lonely and isolating it can be. I am you, and I see you.
To say that my husband is married to his job would be, if anything, an understatement. I have been with him for about 15 years now, and it’s always been the case. It was the case before we were married, when we were engaged, and still is today, three children and quite a few cross-country moves later.
This is my life.
I hesitate to complain because I understand what a blessing it is that he has a steady and solid career, that he has managed to work his way up the corporate ladder and provide us with a stable and, yes, even prosperous life. It feels like a #firstworldproblem to complain about my executive husband and his hours away from the family that also simultaneously provides me a life without financial fear or worry.
But what I do understand is that no matter what, absence is hard on a relationship. Distance, even if it’s just emotional distance because one partner is distracted and unavailable, can wreak havoc on a heart. I know how lonely you are, how you feel guilty for feeling envious when you watch other couples who have time, precious time, to do family things together as, well, a family. I know how heartbreaking it can be to be the only parent at all the meetings, all the practices, all the appointments.
I know all of this.
Your Feelings Are Normal and Valid
And I want to tell you that it’s okay to feel these hard feelings. It’s okay, even though you know it’s a double-edged sword, to wish you had more of your husband, more of his time, and more of his attention. It’s normal to feel resentful and even jealous of his job, of the time he spends there and the attention he gives it. It’s okay to wish he could give your children more than he does, even though you know he loves them with all of his might and tries, even after a long and exhausting day, to do his best. I know that it sometimes still doesn’t feel like enough. And that’s okay.
What I’m not going to do is sugarcoat my story for you and tell you that it’s all better now, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve now got my husband’s full attention. We’re still very much the same. He works about 60-70 hours a week, and I run the home-front completely solo. He is still my husband though. The man I married because he is the calm to my storm, because he is the only one who can make me laugh when I’m in a mood, and because he’s mine, for better or for worse. And I choose to love him through this workaholic life, to love him in spite of it, around it, and through it. Because that’s what marriage is, and this is our life, through thick and thin.
While I can’t say anything has changed in our story, I can tell you that I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, mostly that even though it’s hard and you might feel alone, you are not. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that make it more bearable. And my prayer is that they help you on the hard days, the lonely days, and everything in between.
Love Him in the Pockets
I have learned over the years that evenings are not my marriage’s best friend. My husband comes home late, most times well after dinner and evening activities have wound down, and he needs time to unwind. For him, this means peace and quiet. Naturally an introvert, he’s so tired from having to be “on” all day, he truly just wants silence and his own thoughts, not conversation or questions from me. I’m not going to lie to you, friends. This hurts. I’ve been home with kids all day and really just want some adult conversation, but he can’t do it.
So, I’ve learned to love him in the pockets. Because in the morning, before the kids are awake and he’s getting ready for work, that’s when he will chat. I don’t sleep in anymore. I wake up early and make us both coffee, sitting on the edge of the tub while he gets dressed. This is when we connect. This is when I get my “bucket filled.” It’s not the nighttime, but it’s our time. And I love him in the pockets as best I can. The magic of this, which was completely unexpected, is that the less pressure I put on him to talk in the evening, the less I am focused on it or need it, the more he is willing to open up. In this way, we are both getting our buckets filled, and it’s been a tremendous connector in our marriage.
I know this is easier said than done, but comparison is, as they say, the thief of all joy. In this situation, it can be deadly. I know how much it hurts to see others have a relationship that seems to be made in your dreams, to see date nights, school events, everything in tandem. I know this. But don’t compare. Not only do you not know the struggles anybody else is facing, it also will make your struggle about 30 times worse to do so. Hide people on Facebook that make your heart hurt. Unfollow them on Instagram. Whatever you have to do to protect your heart, do it. In this case, it really isn’t them. It is you. And that’s alright.
I choose to love him through this workaholic life, to love him in spite of it, around it, and through it. Because that’s what marriage is, and this is our life, through thick and thin.
Ask for Help
Early in our marriage, when I was juggling babies and toddlers all day long, I thought I had to be superwoman. I figured that because he was working so hard to make a living and support us that I had to do everything else, by myself. What I discounted with this thinking is that he doesn’t do it all alone at work. He has a team. He has assistants. He works closely with other people in his company to handle it all. And so should I. Trying to handle it all wasn’t winning me any awards except possibly one for martyrdom, and all it was doing was making me resent my husband, my kids, and the gigantic workload it takes to keep a young family afloat.
So I started asking for help. And you know what? I got it. My husband stepped in on weekends so I could have a break, and he gave me the green light to hire a sitter to help me out when I was overwhelmed. It doesn’t seem like much, but asking for help can make or break your sanity as a solo parent in a marriage to a workaholic.
I am a big believer in this one, friends. And I don’t mean praying that your husband will one day see the light and stop working so much. I mean praying for him. My husband has told me many times that he doesn’t want to be working this hard, but he feels a tremendous amount of pressure to work as hard as he does to give us a good life. This is a heavy weight, just as much as the weight of being the main caregiver. I can bet, if you asked your husband, he would say the same. So lift him up in prayer, ask God to give him peace and to help him know His presence. Pray intentionally that he is able to trust God as the ultimate provider. Pray for him as a father, husband, and man. Pray hard and pray with intention. He needs it, and so do you. It matters.
These things will not make your circumstances different. This won’t make him magically work less or be more present. But even in this hard season, the one where you feel so alone, you are not. Your marriage isn’t like that of your friends or your neighbors. It’s yours, and in order to make it thrive, you’re going to have to love him where he is and ask the same in return. There is nothing perfect on this side of heaven, but you can make it good, even great, with intention and care. He deserves this, and dear momma, so do you.
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Julie Graham’s Untold Story of Heartbreak, Healing and Hope – 101!