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He can't seem to orient himself in a family way


Dear Dr. Romance:

I purchased your book, The Commuter Marriage and am reading it with keen interest.  I am not sure if the following scenario is covered in your book:


My husband has been commuting to the Mideast for over a year. In the beginning he would be there for 4 - 6 weeks and come home for a similar duration.  The company he works for is based in the country, where we live.  So basically he is working in both countries.  Since the beginning of this year, he has gone over to the Mideast for 3 months, returns home for 3- 6 weeks, and then the cycle repeats itself.  After his first 3 months being away, we had a five day timeshare holiday opportunity given to us as a gift by my mother.  It took him two days of deliberation to decide whether he could take the time off or not and told me that I was placing him in a difficult situation regarding his commitments to his work.  This made me angry because his company takes him away from his home and family for 3 months and he cannot even give us 5 days.

He is in his mid-forties, has bought a motorbike to make commuting to work over there easier and more cost efficient, but has also joined a bike group and socializes with them every Friday morning before going to work.  Two days before he was due to leave this last time, he came home sporting a huge tattoo on his arm.  I have been having the ugliest fights with him on email for the last three months.  It would seem that he is going through a midlife crisis too and has admitted that he has failed in communicating with me.

The issues are not so much him working out of the country, it is more about how the relationship has been neglected over the last ten years. He can't seem to orient himself in a family way.  I have nagged, begged, ignored, pleaded with him to create memories with his family, by going on outings, taking vacations etc.  He doesn't like to do those things and repeated in two recent emails to me that "we need to live a little and persue our own interests, yet remain faithful to each other and ourselves".  He has made me so angry that I have told him not to call me anymore and if our 6 year old daughter wants to speak to him, then I will dial the number for her.

How does one turn this around?  How does he balance the three months that he is away, with the 6 weeks he is at home, plus the fact that he continues to work when he is in SA? Effectively he is only really home for about 6 to 8 days collectively being weekends and when he is not out persuing his bike and ice hockey interests.  He is also more interested in developing a social circle outside his marriage with people who have similar interests to him only.  We don't share any interest and cannot even begin to think of one that we could do together.

Dear Reader: 

You didn't say how long you've been married, but it sounds like he's always been this way... A big, narcissistic kid who never grew up emotionally.  He probably think as long as he's providing money for you and your child, that's the total of his responsibility.  I have no idea what the divorce laws are where you live, but you might want to find out, because it looks like that's where you're headed.  Is it possible your husband is homosexual?  It sounds as if he might be.  He seems more bonded to his buddies than to his family.  I hope you have a good support system, family and/or friends, where you live; both for you and your daughter.  Approaching him with anger and demanding his time is probably not going to work.  How did you get connected in the first place?   What interested him about you?  Try to get some of that going again, and see if he is more amenable, and can be brought back to the family. My article "Jealousy, Faithfulness and Distance" will help you communicate with him.

If that doesn't work, you'll have to figure out how to take care of yourself on your own, and then, after you know what the laws are, and what your future might be, you may want to confront him and tell him you're going to leave.  It's very difficult to tell what's best for you, because I'm so unfamiliar with your country, culture, laws and customs.


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