The dilemma of a wife and mom working abroad
Today’s article discusses a common problem among moms/wives. What is your take on this?
Hello Ms. Rose,
I have this "mom's guilt" running in my system since I started working abroad, away from my sons and husband. It is very difficult living each day away from home, away from my loved ones. My “mom's guilt” feelings even exploded tonight that my husband and I had a fight over my decision of being away from my kids. We have been married for four years and it is our first time being away from each other.
I had my vacation once and I felt that the feelings and care from my husband have already subsided. I have been working abroad for two years now. My husband and son are staying near my parent-in-law’s residence. I feel like he is prioritizing his family (his parent and siblings) over our own family. I don't know if I just felt jealous but I am longing for his time especially my video call time with our sons. I know he is faithful and hardworking since he is focusing on our son and our small business, but I think our marriage has been compromised. I think that our marriage is not going to work as a long distance relationship. We argue a lot, I ask time from him a lot so we can have good communication as a family. He is currently angry that he even stated that I am not the kind of mom that they expected me to be.
I choose to work abroad for the ambition of serving decent food to my family. I am currently a working student and planning, focusing, and hoping to bring them with me in due time after I accomplish all the necessary requirements. I know my husband, and when he decides, it is firm. I want to have the spark of our love and marriage to return. Please help me overcome my "mom’s guilt: feeling and work things out with my husband as it seems like long distance is a hindrance. I have no one to talk to.
Dear Mom L,
First of all, thank you for sharing your story with me and the readers. I can feel your pain in your letter. And having no one to sort things out with makes it even more difficult.
There is no one formula or set of steps to solve your dilemma. What I can offer to you right now are some questions and guidelines that will help you and your husband sort things out.
Four years married is still a short period of time if we are talking about the forever nature of marriage. So, you are still in the “infant stage” of your married relationship. You also said that you left to work abroad two years ago, which means that you were only two years married then with very young children when you left.
Before you left, what were your plans? Was it a mutually-agreed upon decision to work abroad? Why? Were there no work prospects for you back home?
When you say that you want to serve your family decent food, what do you exactly mean by that? You can be as specific and detailed as possible – three meals a day, how many viands per meal, etc. Do you need to be away to afford these?
How about your husband, is he earning? What kind of life can his earnings provide your family? If you work back home and add your earnings to your husband’s income, what kind of lifestyle will you be able to afford together? Is that far from what you want for your family right now?
When you say you feel jealous that your husband seems to prioritize his parents and siblings over you and your sons, what exactly made you feel that way? Does he seem to be always in a hurry when he talks with you on video calls? Have you asked him why? Do you have regular time of the day when you, your husband and sons do the video calls?
During calls, you say you argue a lot. What are the arguments all about? Are they about money or your absence? When he expresses anger, does he tell you to just come home and you will work things out here? What do you and he say that usually start the argument?
You also mentioned that you are a working student right now. I always admire women who go for self-improvement and career development. I also believe that spouses are equals and the roles they play at different stages of a marriage should be clear. In my case, when the boys were very young, I put my career on hold to take care of them. I did this because at that time, I felt that I was the parent who was better suited to be meaningfully present in their day-to-day activities. I realized that I valued that much more than my contribution to the family income. I realized that a very important core value to me was purposeful parenting, something that I could not give while keeping my high-stress investment banking job. In FQ Book 1 FQ: The nth Intelligence, there is an exercise that makes you clarify and identify your core values found in Chapter 5.
Let me just say here that a wife and mom giving up her career is not the formula for every family, but it was the one I chose at that time and it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. If you are the one who is earning more right now, is your absence during the growing up years of your children and also the “growing up years” of your marriage all worth it? I wish you could really reflect more deeply on this. Again, there is no one formula that fits all. That is why you really have to start with your very own reflection and self-assessment. What kind of life do you really want to have? Talk to your husband about it. What is your dream life as a family? Listen to each other carefully and hopefully, lovingly so. This way, you can have a united set of goals and you can map out how to fulfill them together. The two of you will now decide how you will earn the money to fuel your united goals. This is the only way that the two of you can move forward and support each other.
I wish to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my books:
“If what you do with and for money does not align with your core values, no amount of money in this world will make you happy.”
For Thursday’s live show on Kumu and FB, we will discuss career clarity. Join us at 11 a.m.
Cheers to high FQ!
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This article is also published in FQMom.com.
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