Faraway Family

24 Oct

Letterbalm Long Distance FamilyDear LetterBalm: After months of job hunting, I’ve accepted a position hundreds of miles away in another state. But it means I’ll have to commute between my job and my family. The job is excellent, and the company will help with my travel back-and-forth and living expenses, along with good family health insurance and 401(k) benefits. My wife is angry – she says she’s fed up because she’s had to move twice before for my work, and she doesn’t want to do it again. Plus, our two kids are in high school with one in his senior year, so they can’t move. I leave soon, but I want to put things right at home before I go. Suggestions?

–On the Move

In this challenging economic era, family members are often separated as one or more spouses must go where the work is. Ms. L.B. says your job as husband and father is to reassure your family and keep lines of communication open – everyone must have an opportunity to express concerns and fears before you depart. Be sure to plan one-on-one activities with each of your kids, doing what they like. Make definite plans to be home for certain activities (prom, science fair, graduation, moving to the college dorm, etc.) and be sure your kids know that just because you aren’t home is no excuse for slacking off on studies and responsibilities. Most importantly, you and your wife must agree on how you’ll handle problems and concerns together. There must be daily contact via Skype, text, e-mail or phone. Share every detail of your new job, surroundings, activities, apartment, co-workers and friends with your wife, so she knows you’re being completely open with her. But before you leave, have a few frank talks with her about your worries and needs, and the two of you plan your calendar for scheduled visits and vacations:

Honey, it’s not ideal for anybody in the family that we have to be apart because of my job. I’m worried that I won’t be here for you if problems arise. I don’t want you to think for a minute that I don’t want to share what’s happening in the family. I don’t want us to feel alone and unconnected. We have to agree that you and I will be in touch every day by Skype or phone or whatever works best, and we’ll be completely honest sharing with each other about what’s going on. We can’t keep secrets from each other. Can we look at the calendar and plan my visits home and the next family vacation? I also want you to come for a long weekend as soon as I get settled because the worst part of all this is missing you and not being together. Please, talk to me because I love and respect you and I want this to work.

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