Too Much Togetherness?

My husband has been working from home for the past two months while his office building was being remodeled.  While there have been many positive aspects of having him around 24/7, there were also some challenges. 

The pros:

  • I don’t just love my husband, I also like him, so spending extra time with him was good.
  • He was constantly available for opening jars.
  • He ran some errands for me.
  • Washing casual clothes is easier than washing work clothes.
  • We both got to sleep later.
  • We got to stay up later.
  • The kids saw him a lot more.
  • He did a lot more cooking than usual.
  • He had time to polish off some items on his “honey-do list.”
  • I got to see him in action, doing what he does at work on a daily basis (and I was very impressed).
  • We saved a lot of money on gas and lunches.

 The cons:

  • You can’t miss someone who is constantly there (and that goes both ways).
  • I felt thrown off my daily routine.
  • I felt like I had to stay quiet (he’s on the phone a lot), and I was always shushing the kids.
  • I had to stress a bit more about coming up with something for lunch that he’d like (and I felt like I failed miserably there).
  • I find it easier to cook and clean when I’m alone.
  • I think the kids’ normal, low-level bickering really started to bug him because he wasn’t used to it, so he seemed to become grumpier about it than usual.
  • The house really is my domain, so I think he felt a bit like he was imposing, and after a while, I think he resented feeling that way.
  • He’s a lot stricter with the kids than I am, so he bristled at seeing things I let them get away with, they bristled at the tighter discipline, and I bristled at being overridden.  And then he bristled at our bristling.  And that made us bristle back some more.

Final analysis?  Moral of the story? 

He’s only been gone a few hours, and though I must confess to feeling a bit of relief, I also kind of miss him, which is totally crazy.  And he’s already called me and sent me several messages.  Ironically enough, we’re actually talking more today, now that he’s gone, than we did when he was here.  My daughter (who schools at home through a virtual academy) was cantankerously argumentative with me about her schoolwork while he was here (which he hated), but now she is actually behaving herself.  It’s almost as if she argued while he was here just to annoy him.  Or maybe it’s just that I don’t notice her arguing if there’s no one else around to be bothered by it.

In some regards, it was a little bit difficult having my husband around 24/7.  Before we lived together, he traveled a lot for business.  His mother told me that if he started traveling again, it would be a big relief for me.  I was very skeptical of that, and almost offended.  Didn’t she realize I love this man and want to be with him?  Why would I feel relief for him to be gone for days at a time?  But of course she was speaking from the wisdom of a woman who has been married a long time.  It can be hard to share your living space with someone without a break.

But I think I learned from our togetherness experiment. 

  • Enjoying time away from a loved one doesn’t mean you don’t love him or her, and it doesn’t mean you don’t like being with that person.  It just means that you need some time alone to be uncompromisingly you.
  • My husband needs more space in our house.  I need to compact (and, dare I say it, reduce) my sprawl so that he doesn’t feel like an outsider in his own home.
  • I probably am a little too lenient with the kids.
  • I should have left the house, by myself and with the kids, more often.  He had to stay at home and work.  I had the option to get out sometimes, for all of our sakes.  I should have done that.

When my husband gets home from work tonight, he will have been gone for about 11 hours.  And I’m going to be so happy to see him.

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