Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My husband recently got a new job in sales that means he’s on the road a lot entertaining clients. Sometimes that travel is around Alaska (mostly Juneau and Fairbanks) but he’s also going to Seattle, Portland, Boise and Sacramento pretty regularly.
In short, I hate this. First of all, I miss him when he’s gone, plain and simple. Second, it’s incredibly hard on the household. We have two school-age children and while I do feel I’ve done most of the parenting and handled most of the logistics, now it’s like I have zero help at all.
Here’s the big thing: Many years ago, my husband had an affair. It was brief, he confessed, and we went to counseling. It took a long time, but we chose our marriage, we rebuilt the trust, and the past few years, we have truly never been happier. But now that he’s in this job, I find all my old insecurities bubbling up. He’s on the road half the time and out late entertaining clients, and I know there are late nights, and drinks — and women. And they’re working, professional women who are basically my opposite — I just imagine them with perfect suits and perfect hair and important jobs and ugh, I just feel totally inadequate and mistrustful, and it’s really killing me.
I’ve shared with my husband that this new schedule is very hard, but I haven’t shared my doubts and freak-outs about him being surrounded by temptation. Should I? Is this my issue to work out alone? What should I do?
My take is twofold: First, yes, this is your issue to work out, but second, you shouldn’t try to do it alone and you should absolutely share your insecurities with your husband so you can work through this together. Look, a marriage surviving infidelity is a huge deal. It takes so much work to rebuild that trust, and with children involved, it’s all the more complicated. As I’m sure you worked through with your therapist, strong communication — honesty, forthrightness and sharing — is essential to not only making it through that awful betrayal, but also in maintaining trust from here on out.
It seems very likely here that your husband has done nothing wrong in the present day except get a promotion. This should be good news! But his out-of-sight is now your top-of-mind. as old insecurities rise up. If you liked your previous therapist, reach out and schedule a couple of solo sessions — and tell your husband you’re doing so.
Explain to him that the new schedule is messing with your equilibrium and you just need to course-correct with a professional to understand your own emotional reaction to the changes. Promise to keep him updated on how you are feeling. Continue to support his professional journey.
This new routine sounds challenging, but not impossible. Alaska is a state full of couples who, thanks to shift work on boats and Slopes and military bases, make part-time long-distance relationships work. Above all, continue be honest with yourself, and each other.
Wanda’s got the communication piece covered, which is critical here. Heed her words, take those actions, have those conversations. And if all of that goes well there, then you can start focusing less on what could be happening with your husband on the road and focusing more on what should be happening with you at home.
You’re all up in your head right now and it’s driving you crazy. So what can you be doing instead to make yourself feel better, healthier, more confident?
It’s time to get to the yoga studio, gym or trails. Whatever gets your body moving, gets your blood flowing, makes you focus on your breathing and on the moment instead of obsessing about things you cannot control. This will make you instantly feel lighter and better about your day, your partnership and yourself.
I know you’ve got your hands full with the kids, but maximize the time they are at school to give yourself some love. If you can’t get far from home, log in for an online workout. Trading an hour of the old routine for a fresh dose of sanity once a day is totally worth it. And there are a million virtual trainers, videos and apps out there to get you moving. There are also just as many meditation apps that will center you, calm you, free you from the stress of the day. On the weekends, the traveling hubby can come home and get the kids going for the morning while you catch up on sleep and recharge.
By committing to a healthier you and shifting your energy away from everything else in the world and back onto you, you’ll regain some of the strength, self-confidence and liberation that has slipped away in recent months.