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Love Letters: Am I a Nag?

We had issues with chat yesterday. Sorry about that. Next week.


Q:

Hi Meredith,

I am looking for some perspective on how couples "check in" with each other. I've been with my husband for 10 years, have been married for four, and we're in our early 30s. We have a one-year-old child. My husband is my best friend and I couldn't imagine life without him. He travels frequently for work, typically early Tuesday returning late Thursday night. This isn't his schedule every week, and he is often home for several weeks with no travel or light travel. I ask what time he will be home, and he usually tells me an approximate time. I asked recently to know his flight information so that I could stop asking, and he got very defensive and said I need to trust him. I trust him completely and never once have I questioned what he is doing. I don't think I am wrong to ask for this information. I don't doubt what he is doing, but when I wake up at 11 p.m. after going to bed for the night and he's still not home, I worry.

When we first started dating, we were both very independent and often spent time with our own friends. However when we moved in together after three years, while we still spent time apart from each other, I felt like it was courteous to let the other person know what time they would be home. Of course, just an approximation. In general, he is a very thoughtful person. I want to preface by saying my husband does not have a drinking problem, but at times he is a little too eager to hang out with the boys especially now that we have a child. About once every four months he goes out with friends and comes home waaaaay later than he said he would. Like, 1 a.m. versus 10 p.m. I want to stress that I have no problem with us doing things with our own friends. I think it's healthy and I don't want to take that away from him. He doesn't need to ask my permission to go out nor do I need his. If he wants to stay out later, I have asked that he text me. Just say, "I'll be home at 1." No explanations needed. But he never does. And it causes a fight every time. He says he will do it next time but then forgets. I am not sure if he thinks the boys will think I'm a nagging wife, but I really don't think its too much to ask for him to let me know when he will be home. I always do the same for him. But again, I wake up after going to bed and see that he's not there and get worried.

I really do feel like a nagging wife because this happens again and again either with me not knowing when his flight lands or what time he'll be home from going out. I think he's afraid that I'm going to get mad at him for staying out, but I only get mad when it doesn't occur to him that he has a wife and child at home. I have suggested counseling to work on communication in general, but he said "we aren't there yet," meaning he doesn't see any problems worth discussing. I have asked the wives of his friends, and their husbands do the same thing my husband does and they find it annoying as well.

Am I asking too much? Is this lack of respect normal? Doesn't having a child mean that he needs to think about other people, not just himself? How do we fix this so that he is able to have fun whenever he wants and I am able to sleep not worrying that he fell in the Boston Harbor? Or that his plane was delayed in a snow/thunderstorm?

– Nag or Normal, North of Boston

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A: The plane thing is easy. He should tell you his flight number so that you can check his status whenever you want. It's not difficult and it's what families do. You have a one-year-old. You're allowed to know when your husband will be home to help. All he has to do is forward an email with the flight information.

The compromise here is that maybe you don't need check-ins when your husband is out with the guys. Maybe it's best to just assume that he'll be home at 1 a.m. Maybe the rule should be that if he's going to come in after 2, you need a text. If you expect a late entrance, you shouldn't be up all night panicking.

For the record, you're not a nag. With a one-year-old at home, much of your life is about scheduling -- when to eat, when to sleep, when to play, and when to worry. It's natural for you to want to know when your husband is coming home. But you can relax when it comes to a simple night out. Just assume he'll be late. If he walks through the door at 9 p.m., you can be pleasantly surprised.

Readers? Is she a nag? When are check-ins required? How do you check in with your significant other?

– Meredith