I am a successful businessman married and have two grown up kids.
I travel a lot in India as I am starting new businesses in other cities. I spend 5 days of my week in Ahmedabad and the weekend is with my family in Bangalore.
This has been going on since over a year now and my wife is fed up. She misses me and hates being all alone every night of the week. But my Bangalore end of the business is progressing smoothly and doesn't require my presence. My Ahmedabad venture is newly started and is really struggling. A lot of money is stuck in the business and I have a lot of loans to repay. I cant help it but i have to leave my family alone.
My wife is always upset and lonely and she is very understanding most of the times. But of late, she has become really upset and cries and fights with me a lot. I don't know what to do. If i could, I would really spend more time with her but I cant. I cant even make her come with me to Ahmedabad as we live in a joint family and my elder brother and his wife and my parents are very old. She cant just leave them and stay with me for a long time.
Can someone suggest ways I can make her feel less lonely, How can i make this long distance relationship work? Read More...
Let us use language from the world of management to discuss your situation.
You have been in a highly successful joint venture partnership with your wife for a long time.
Then comes the day when you decide to set up an office in Ahmedabad and embark upon an expansion spree that requires a great deal of financial investment (the loans).
This is not just a business decision - it is also going to have a major impact on your marriage partnership. However, you seem to have omitted to consult with your wife, who is your major stakeholder. It’s essentially been a unilateral decision that’s been imposed upon her.
When viewed this way, we can understand why she is unhappy. She has the poor end of the deal here.
But you, on the other hand, have the best of both worlds. You get to focus on the juicy challenge of your business during the week, and enjoy your family at the weekend when it suits you.
But what’s the benefit of the new arrangement for her? None that I can see.
You seem highly ambitious and driven. So the expansion activities might be very stimulating for you. But for your wife, clearly, money is not her motivating factor. She might have remained quite content with just the modest Bangalore business, enjoying time with you. Your vision to have offices around India only has negative implications for her - she gets less of your time and attention, the things that are important to her.
The solution is to pause, have a series of roundtable discussions with your major stakeholder and partner, and rethink your plans, keeping in mind that the two of you have very different needs and values.
Please don’t try to persuade her to be “more understanding”. That would be unfair and manipulative, taking advantage of her good nature. Further, even if you get your own way and she reluctantly goes along with what you want, it will be a pyrrhic victory - because you will be killing the love between you slowly but surely.
Instead, think in terms of win-win, inclusivity and fairness. Treat her as an equal partner and ask her what her thoughts are on the way forward. What does she propose? What is her vision for your joint future?
What are her needs and wishes? They matter as much as yours.
Do some brainstorming together for a solution that would honour both your needs.
In other words, you need a plan that has her whole-hearted buy-in.
Be prepared to yield some ground. Over the last year (perhaps longer, if your wife has “always been understanding”), you have had things entirely your way. Now, it is time to practice being less self-absorbed and think about her happiness too.
Many men justify their ambition and drive for success by saying, “I’m doing it for my wife and children.” But when you check with the long-suffering wife and children who rarely see their fly-by father, the truth emerges. The family is being “bought off” with material goodies so that the man can endlessly chase success.
Instead of giving the family his time and attention, he is giving them money.
Now, this is not to dishonour the countless devoted husbands and fathers who sacrifice precious time with their family in order to pay the bills, provide food, education, holidays etc. For such dads, work is about service, not just ambition.
However, the truth is there are many men (and some women) who are really married to their career/business, money or other interests, while the wife is left waiting alone.
I urge you not to become one of these workaholics. The business becomes a monster which devours them, leaves little room for love or contentment, and makes them strangely skewed personalities.
Instead, strive for balance in your own self and in your marriage. Learn to value self-awareness, inner growth and intimacy with your wife.
Work is essential as a means of self-expression and personal power. If we are blessed, it is also about service.
Lives that are all about business, however, leave us limited in terms of personal growth. There is something profoundly important about sharing daily life with a partner and/or other members of the family that enriches our inner self and creates wholeness. Avoiding relationship will always leave us partial beings. I urge you not to overlook this.
Being successful at business requires creative thinking. Bring that to bear on your dilemma with your wife. Open your mind to new possibilities, be ready to yield and not simply take from your wife.
You might have to reconsider your business expansion plans. If there is an end in sight to the current situation, your wife might be willing to continue in the current unhappy situation for a little while longer.
Or your wife could spend most of her time with you in Ahmedabad and return to Bangalore from time to time to oversee your family’s well-being. You might need to invest in trustworthy staff to help out during the days she is away.
Perhaps you need to put together an integrated solution that is a mixture of all of the above ideas.
It is unkind and unfair to expect your wife to sacrifice her needs for an indefinite length of time. This places her happiness at the bottom of the list, below yours, and your family’s. This one-way relationship is not about love, but exploitation.
So, I reiterate, give equal weight to your wife’s happiness as your own and your family’s.