It is "National Work & Family Month" and if you have ever lived with a spouse or partner who works in the travel industry or whose job requires frequent travel and/or time apart, you know what it feels like to be the one left at home living an opposite reality.
Millions do it, swing from married to single, couple to solo, especially in this hi/bye global world of work and family. Where one partner or both are at the mercy of someone else's work schedule oscillating between connection and disconnection in their most intimate relationships.
My husband is a pilot so I live this reality day in and day out and for the most part like it. I have an interesting career, hobbies, adult children overseas and a supportive network of family and friends. I decided long ago that time apart due to his flying schedule affords me time to pursue the things I love. All was well until my husband recently embarked on a demanding volunteer position for 12 months as well as his flying schedule. Extremely time deprived, suddenly his stress increased, our misunderstandings skyrocketed, and my resentment about his hobby, showed up!
To prevent an almighty blow up I began to question why I was so angry, what had triggered me? After all, at a rational level I wanted him to fully participate in a hobby he loves. I'm used to his absence. Plus, he's always encouraged me to expand my interests and advance personally and professionally.
Delving deeper, I realized my resentment was based on the belief 'time together is critical to build a relationship, maintain communication, and form deep connection'. So now that we have less time together, albeit short-term, my belief is challenged and I resorted to either/or thinking. Something has to give, is it the relationship or the hobby? I also realized my adaptation to our hi/bye schedule was conditional upon his flying schedule and extra curricular activities [on his part] were unacceptable, a threat to our relationship.
Irrational feelings flooded me, I felt rejected and unsupported.
The irony was as long as I continued to hold onto this strongly held belief, my resentment grew, I felt more isolated, unloved and our relationship suffered.
How often at work and home do we sabotage our relationships and bring on more of what we don't want instead of what we do want? Hindering our growth, kindness toward each other and all because feelings get triggered based on our old beliefs. So to avoid this duality, we either put a lid on our feelings, try and control the situation or the perpetrator! In my consulting and coaching I see this reaction often albeit different scenarios. This is not fun.
Armed with insight I decided to:
1. Accept my emotions, after all the more I avoid them the more they erupt.
2. Discern if my reaction is justified or founded on an old belief that no longer works for me.
3. Be kind to myself when I feel vulnerable, rejected and seek support.
4. Honor the integrity of our relationship, trust, communication and commitment.
5. Negotiate quality 'us' time to do things we love.
6. Respect my husband's enthusiasm in taking on this endeavor knowing it brings new energy to our relationship so is good for 'us'.
7. Be grateful this awareness provides me the opportunity to grow in love.
8. Take the opportunity to expand my world and channel my creative feminine energy into a new endeavor.
9. Laugh and take life less seriously.
The power paradox for me was realizing the more I 'let go' of trying to control the situation and cared for myself, the more I felt loved and empowered.
"We can never change another's response only change our own"