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Caroline Manzo tackles questions on family time, teen troubles, and Greg's relationship status.

on Aug 23, 2011

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Susan from Nashville, TN says: Caroline - My husband is a very busy physician and works at least 80 hours a week. I don't see this changing anytime soon. While I am grateful that he is working (I know how things can change on a dime), I often feel lonely and disconnected. We have one young son and we live 2,000 miles away from both of our families. I want our family to be close, but my husband is hardly home. Any suggestions?

Caroline says: I know the feeling Susan, my husband works long hours as well, but this is something I knew and accepted as part of our relationship from the very beginning. I would imagine that the same holds true for a doctor's wife.

Your husband works in a demanding, high-pressure environment, and he's obligated to be available for his patients. I can understand how his job can be time consuming. 

I'd suggest that you have a conversation with your husband and try to find a balance between his work and home life. It's important that you both are on the same page and see things the same way. Long hours certainly affect a marriage, so try to find a way to make it part of who you are as a couple and parents too.

What's your husband's home attitude like? Does he make an effort to spend time with you and your son? If so then good quality time goes a long way and makes up for minimal quantity time. In other words seize the moment, connect, and communicate in a positive manner. Show affection to one and other; children recognize this and feel the love between mom and dad. Take it further by interacting with your son -- laugh, hug, kiss, and tickle -- physical affection is an affirmation of family unity and love. These are feelings your son will remember and connect to.

When your husband is working, take a minute to call or send a text with a photo attached from you and your son to say hi, show him you're thinking of him. Leave a lipstick kiss on the bathroom mirror for when he comes home late. There are so many little things you can do to stay relevant in each other's thoughts. What may seem like a small gesture goes a long way.

As for yourself, you have to adjust your way of thinking. Your marriage is different than most, you have to put a little more effort into making it work. That's not a bad thing, it's just reality. Adapt to the hours and spend your time together wisely.

Be positive don't dwell on the negative. You both play a very important role in the family dynamic, and you should support each other in those roles. Remember, he may be feeling your absence and feel badly about missing time spent together too. 

I'm sure you're feelings of loneliness are magnified with your families being so far away, and I can understand where you're coming from. Again, it is what it is… find something that interests you -- volunteer at the hospital or your child's school, join a gym, meet girlfriends for lunch/shopping, take classes at your local college, the possibilities are endless. Just DO SOMETHING, don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself. That will only get you nowhere fast.

Trust me, Susan, I've been in your shoes. I still am, attitude is everything. If you have a good man and your relationship is solid, you will find a way to make it work. Good luck! xo