My husband has a great deal of ambition and works long hours. I know that he is doing this for our future but I feel like we have no life to speak of at present. How do I deal with these feelings?
Without knowing you, your husband or more details, this is one of those questions where we can do no more than raise discussion points and questions.
First, we’d like to make a few general comments. You and your husband are both fortunate. In today’s day and age, many males have been emasculated leaving them with neither ambition nor persistence. It is wonderful that you are married to a man who wants to provide well for his family.
At the same time, cultural propaganda teaches women that everything that goes wrong is the fault of men. Unlike you, those women would not ask how to deal with their own feelings but instead they would immediately castigate their husbands.
The first step is for each of you to appreciate how you are both contributing to your marriage. Your husband is taking his role seriously and you are wise enough to recognize that what you see as his relentless focus on work could crack the foundation of your relationship. Getting on the same page now can yield immense results.
You don’t mention how long you have been married. Let’s say, for example, that you married a man to whom you were attracted because he was in law school or in the midst of establishing a business. In that case, he is continuing on a path that was clearly laid out but you are recognizing that you didn’t plan for how little time you would have together. That is a very different case than if he is now doing something that is entirely different from what was in the works when you married. Another scenario might be that your financial needs have increased as your family grows and he is tackling that need alone without the two of you sitting down to figure out how best to do that.
Is this a problem that will last only a limited time? Do you expect his long hours to last for a limited number of years and then ease up? Or is he exhibiting a type-A personality and you see this leading to ongoing years of similar stress? What support system of friends and fulfillment do you have outside of marriage? Do you both make the most of the time you can spend together? Are you, consciously or not, worried that he is throwing himself into work to avoid being with you?
In other words, you’ve given us very little to go on, but it sounds to us that although you both want to be mature and supportive, there has been a communication breakdown. Too frequently husbands and wives each assume that the other party knows what’s in his or her head. Sometimes, not wanting to be a ‘complainer’ or simply not seeing down the road means that when a crisis is reached it is too late to repair the damage.
With sensitivity to work deadlines or personal commitments, we urge you to set a number of times when you and your husband can speak openly and respectfully to each other. Elaborating on the big picture – where you see yourselves one year, five years and ten years down the road – can help you strategize how to deal with the present. Most probably, you need to have a number of smaller conversations rather than one long one so that you can each digest what the other says and brainstorm. If you find that you aren’t understanding each other’s views better when you tackle this issue it is possible that a pro-marriage, wise third party might help facilitate discussion.
Meanwhile, perhaps a carefully crafted loving letter from you to your husband outlining your feelings and concerns could get the ball rolling.
We wish you Heavenly help in strengthening the bond in your marriage,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin