Advice columnist Carolyn Hax: Give yourself and your husband a break. Be happy to see him and be happy to steal a moment to yourself, too, without the guilt, because it will restore you for him.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: I have an amazing husband with whom I am very much in love. The problem is that we are currently living apart for one year due to work. It’s difficult but we make it work — most of the time.
My issue is that when we visit each other, I start to crave alone time. Last night I stayed up late reading just to be by myself. I feel like a crazy person because I am wasting precious time together, yet at the same time, I feel like I can’t be my best self.
Is this just a byproduct of trying to cram in our togetherness? Or am I broken in some way?
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DEAR LONG-DISTANCE: Visiting puts a lot of pressure on people, especially introverts. It’s all together all the time when our normal mode is to move independently and share select things with others. It’s a complete 180 and humans in general aren’t so great at managing abrupt changes or extremes.
Visits with someone you love have their own pressures, because every minute is supposed to be special within and throughout your scheduled times together — yet that expectation is inherently contradictory. If it’s special, then by definition it can’t be sustained; normal sticks around while special only passes through. And not when you say it will but usually just when it feels like it.
So please give yourself and your husband a break. Be happy to see him and be happy to steal a moment to yourself, too, without the guilt, because it will restore you for him. He might need a bit of time to recharge as well, so don’t be afraid to offer it to him. If he’s an extrovert he might not understand why, but as long as you communicate well you can get past that.
DEAR CAROLYN: I recently got engaged to a wonderful woman, and we’re very excited to get married next year. I’m not incredibly happy at work — primarily because of (mis)management. I’m concerned that starting a new job will make things more difficult as I make this other big change (getting married) at the same time. I know there are tons of variables that go into this, but should I be safe or daring in general while I prepare for this other big (although wonderful) life change?
— In Love but Not With Work
DEAR IN LOVE BUT NOT WITH WORK: Start the job hunt now, because you don’t know how long it will take or what it will to bring. You could end up somewhere new in a matter of weeks and be nicely acclimated by wedding time, or you could still be looking then — in which case you just suspend your search temporarily to accommodate.
What you do know is that you’re stressed by your current job, and so why not at least try to fix that? You can stop looking any time it feels like too many life changes at once.
Obviously you have to talk about all of this with your fiancee, especially if relocation is involved. You’re part of a partnership now and that includes decisions about your career. Good luck.