I wasn't sure which forum was right. Parenting or relationships. However, relationships clearly wins out on this issue. Kids are part of the problem, but the issue is between her and I.
I'm a stay-at-home dad. My wife is out making the big bucks. Classic story in a sense. She works about 70 hours a week (at night, on weekends, while on vacation). She is a key player at her small company and things would fall into shambles without her constant guidance and input. She's a brilliant engineer and I can't say enough good things about her in that regard.
I'm at home with the kids. I help out in their school, meet with the teachers, go on field trips, sit down with them while they do their homework, prepare food for them, do the shopping, laundry, etc... My wife helps out where she can, but between work and travel, she is not home enough to really be counted on to keep things running. So I end up making the rules for the kids and keeping things running day to day. Anyone with kids can tell you, it's a moving target. Times change, needs change, desires change, kids change. Rules need to change to keep up with the current state of the family. I am constantly re-visiting what works and what doesn't. If my wife is around and we have the time, we will discuss it and come up with a plan together. However, it's impossible to keep her informed of every thing that happens day to day (I don't have the time to communicate it all, and she doesn't have the time to absorb it all). I stick to telling her things that are really stumping me. Such as our 8 year old daughter who appears to be turning 13.
Here is the issue: When she comes home she feels left out. I'm juggling it all, and she feels like an outsider. Even her making simple decisions for the kids, such as "Can I have desert?", can break "my" rules and vex me. She feels like she doesn't know the lay of the land and can't "be a parent", because she might make a decision in opposition to one of mine. Then I will take her to task for it and the kids will figure this out and play us against each other. Neither of us want that. This "lack of role" in her own family, has been pushing her farther away. Such that coming home to be with all of us is viewed as a source of conflict. So she begins making a concious choice to spend her time elsewhere to avoid the conflict. Since she is not needed/wanted, why bother coming home?
I have been proud that I can juggle so much and keep everything running, freeing her up to work/travel as needed. I often give her permission to go out and socialize and enjoy her hobbies, because it reduces her stress and keeps her happy. I have a saying at home "If mamma is not happy, no one is happy". What I haven't realized is that mamma is giving up and becoming estranged from our family. Lately her absence has become obvious and has led to a growing internal resentment on my part. I am left feeling more and more like a single parent.
Any advice on how we find a balance? How do we keep the family running like a well oiled machine during her long work days and travels, yet make her feel wanted/needed when she is home? How do you step in and take over running the family, when you aren't up to date on all that is going on and how the house is being run?
This could tear our marriage apart if we don't start reversing this trend ASAP.