I had a fight with my husband today and all I could think is “Why the hell are you here anyway? It’s my time.” That’s because my husband, Ed works days and I work nights. If we are home at the same time on a weekday then one of us is probably asleep. He had the day off of work though and so it was an odd Monday where we got to spend the morning together.
Ed and I had been together for four years when we got engaged in October 2009. After years of working swing shift, his job had finally put him on a day shift. Within two months of our engagement, my bosses put me on the night shift. I immediately called him after I got the news and tearfully told him our relationship was doomed. He calmed my fears and told me we would figure things out. Within 2 months, he had a new night job and everything seemed fine but then right after our 2011 wedding, he was put on days again. It seemed like any large life change was followed by some conspiracy to keep us apart.
I admit that I freaked out again. Ed wasn’t looking to change careers for a second time and so we had to make our new schedules work. Together, we decided that we wouldn’t make separate plans on weekends and that I would wake up earlier on weekends so we could have more time together. We also came up with “date night at work night.” I work a straight 7-hour shift with only a few minutes to grab a meal. Ed works so hard he barely takes time for lunch. One night a week, he visits me at work and we eat dinner together at my desk. I might not have time to talk but it is enough that we are near each other.
Almost immediately, the new “rules” we put in place began to chafe. I was getting angry that he could go out with friends every night of the week but making plans with my friends on the weekends meant having to take into consideration whether he wanted to go out as well. Also, if we stayed in, I might wake up early but then he would fall asleep early and so there went our precious time together. He tried staying awake but our body clocks are just set differently. Sometimes he wanted to change our date night to a different night of the week and I was feeling neglected.
We really were putting so much pressure on our time together that it made us crazy. We had to step back and stop. We had to realize that, in our lives, quality time is better than quantity time. Just because we have the two days doesn’t mean I have to skip seeing a play he doesn’t want to see or he can’t go to a party that I have no interest in. The one thing we decided to continue doing was our date night and while I am more flexible about what night of the week it is, Ed is more understanding that I sometimes just need to see him.
I got used to (and really enjoy) having the house to myself every morning. I lay in bed watching trashy tv. I make plans to meet with friends during their lunch hours. I go to the movies by myself. I go to the gym 4 days a week. Ed spends his evening going to karaoke with friends, hanging with the guys and watching all the shows I hate.
And sometimes during the week I wake up as Ed is getting ready for work and we talk for the few minutes he has between getting out of the shower and walking out the door. We actually work in the same midtown Manhattan office building so every now and then we see each other for 5 minutes when he grabs a late lunch as I am walking in. I admit that just getting those 5 minutes with him can improve my day drastically.
Yes, it is still hard to have such limited time together but we make it work. And even if we still fight sometimes they are the same fights every couple has. We may have fought this morning but we eventually made up and I was happy to have just a little extra time with my husband this week.