Shayne on You: Out of sight, definitely not out of mind

Dear Maggie,

I have to travel several times a year for my career, but my husband has never been comfortable with that. He canít accompany me, due to his own jobís demands, and he knows itís utterly vital that I take these trips. But he misses me so much when Iím away that I spend the entire time worrying about him. Our phone calls are always so difficult and I end up feeling guilty for hours after talking to him. I donít know what to do to fix this situation. I have to travel, so giving it up isnít an option. I realize I ought to be glad he loves me that much. But how do I change the way he reacts to my travel schedule?



Dear Torn,

His reactions to your traveling arenít based on how much he loves you. Not at all. Loving behavior doesnít make the beloved one feel badly about having to leave. Love says just deal, and be happy and wish your partner a successful trip. But your guy is heaping loads of guilt onto you so that your focus is on him and not on what youíre there to do. His behavior is based on insecurity. He is (whether he knows it or not) threatened in some way by your career or your travel, and that may or may not be justified.

I think the best thing you can do is to help make him feel more secure about your feelings for him and about the state of your relationship. If itís solid, be sure he knows it.

At the same time, you need to take a stand about guilt trips. As long as you keep allowing it, and playing along on the phone, heíll keep giving you guilt. So while an ďI miss you and I canít wait until you get homeĒ is wonderful, anything that goes too much beyond that is overkill. Heís a grown-up and can get by without you for a few days, and he shouldnít be heaping guilt on you about it. So let him know, gently, that those kinds of phone calls not only leave you feeling awful, but that they distract you from what youíre there to do, and ask him if thatís what heís intending. When he says of course not, tell him that the tone of the calls needs to change. Then, whenever you have those calls, as soon as it starts to turn into a guilt trip, itís time to hang up.

I think a two-pronged approach is best here. Reassure him, but stop tolerating the guilt. Really, people only dump as much onto us as we allow them to dump on us. So when you stop allowing it, it will stop happening.

Good luck!


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