My wife and I have been married nearly 7 years and have three young children. I currently work 800 miles away from where we live, and God-willing, this is the company where I will work for the rest of my career (I use standby airline travel to go to and from work 1-2 times per week). I provide approximately 98% of the income to support our family. I have a highly specialized job in the travel industry, and we feel very fortunate that I am able to work for this company. Since I have finally (after several employers) reached the place where I hope to spend the remainder of my career, I am wanting to move to the city where I work, so that I am able to be home more with my wife and children.
Currently, when I travel to work, I lose about 24 hours of time at home with my family, and sometimes more, since I have to allow for backup flights should something go awry. When I travel home, it takes as little as 4 and as much as 40 hours to make the journey. All of the above transit time is during my off time, and is unpaid by my employer. In a typical month, I will be home 8-11 days, and completely gone, out of town, for the remainder. For perspective, I have attended Mass with my family in my home parish once in the past three months (Yes, I attend Sunday Mass in other towns while on the road for work).
Our oldest child is in kindergarten this year. I want to be present in the lives of my family, and I know that the current arrangement will cause me to miss 50% or more of the “events” a typical father/husband would plan to be there for. I fear that I will become an absentee father by default, an also-ran in the lives of my spouse and children. Naturally, my wife is quite overloaded with the challenge of trying to raise our children all alone with me being gone so often, which isn’t ideal, either. If we lived where I worked, it is possible that I would be able to be home every single night (eventually). It is certain that I would go from not seeing anyone in my household for ~20 days each month to only being “totally gone” ~10 days per month or less, immediately.
My wife is extremely resistant to a move. She is concerned that our children will be farther from their grandparents and cousins (currently an 80 minute drive away from us). We have had marriage struggles in the past, and she is concerned that I won’t be the loving husband she needs to lean on while she is so far from her family. At times in the past, I have let the stress of my work (and my commute) boil over and reflect on my family. While I am far from perfect, I recognize this tendency and am sincerely doing everything I can to improve. Over the past few years, I have improved a great deal, but I could always do better. We have discussed this many times, and she acknowledges this improvement (and accepts my sincere apologies). While I recognize the struggles of the past, I can’t help but feel depressed that my presence in the lives of my family appears to be less important than the presence of extended family.
When I am home, I pour my soul into my family, in spite of the small amount of time we have together. Predictably, we are both exhausted by this arrangement. The present arrangement is not sustainable in terms of stress level, health, or being the family man I have always wanted to be. There are no opportunities in my specialty in the area where we live.
I’m frightened of where this road leads, and would appreciate any advice you can offer. God bless you.