The Weekend Relationship

“It feels like a weekend relationship,” he says, sadly.

Woman and Man having issuesI take a deep breath.

How do I respond to that?

In a way, it’s true. We spend every weekend together, we spend his breaks and vacations together, and generally, he accommodates a good deal because he gets those paid breaks, whereas I do not.

I am working. I am nearly always working – when I have work. This is the economic reality for me, and countless others like me.

We’re talking on the phone. But the theme isn’t new – my availability, my schedule, my mind elsewhere when he needs my mind focused on him, or us. And I can’t say I blame him.

The Weekend Relationship Works Well for the Single Mom

First, it was about my kids. As a single mother, a solo mother really, I held down the fort and was still doing so when we met. I had some flexibility certainly, since I was at the point of half a nest remaining – one son already launched. Besides, my younger was a teenager by then, so I wasn’t as logistically tied down as in the years before.

The weekend relationship, I imagine, works well for many single parents. Those who have an arrangement of weekends to themselves may have a better shot at this sort of thing; even the weekend dating ritual is tough when you’re parenting solo full-time.

And since my younger son headed off to college?

My work is a roller coaster, subject to client whim, to feast or famine, to my need for the income from those clients, and “whatever it takes” to get the job done. Sometimes, that means weekends. Often, it means long hours. So even the “weekend relationship” is compromised, which leaves me conflicted and wondering where a resolution may lie.

Our Crazy Working Lives

These past 20 days?

I’ve exercised my “no” – no to seeing each other during the week, when it’s occasionally possible; no to spending the weekends together, although we may well work part of them side by side on our laptops; no to the long conversations we generally have on the phone.

“It doesn’t feel like enough,” he says. And I know what he means.

I think back to when I had two kids in my care full-time, was juggling multiple jobs (as a contractor and freelancer), and dating after divorce was either sporadic or non-existent. My most successful relationships during those years were long distance. And that’s precisely because it was as much as I could manage – Skype calls, phone calls, once every two month visits.

That’s not a relationship, you say?

The Long Distance Relationship: Emotions, Physical Connection

I disagree. You can have an incredibly rich emotional relationship, though it’s hard managing without physical intimacy more frequently and that, naturally, impacts the emotional connection.

Still – those advantages?

When we’re together – my guy and me – it’s great. Really great. And when we’re not, when I’m working I have the quiet I need, and the freedom to put in a 16-hour day if I wish, to eat or not eat if I so desire, to be responsible for me and only me – that being an extraordinary relief after a decade of being at the bottom of my own list, every day.

Yet I’m left to ponder where I am and where he is; I can barely make time for the “weekend relationship” at present, with a workload on a project that has had me going night and day in multiple time zones, and still not quite done.

Wind Me Up… Or Let Me Sleep?

I am worn out to a large degree, and yet energized by a good work project; I am slowed by the weeks of lack of sleep, and with the finish line in sight, fueled by adrenaline. I’m in serious need of winding up (in more ways than one), and in fact, Mr. Coffee winds me up throughout the day and evening. Otherwise, all I think of is dozing and unwinding – once I have achieved my goal – the satisfaction of an impeccable result and more importantly, a happy client.

Wind Me Up PleaseAnd as much as I would love to see the man in my life, I don’t have two hours to linger over cooking dinner together and then enjoying it, another two hours for a much needed bit of “dessert,” or the guilt I feel when he wants to talk and I need quiet to concentrate and work.

I ask myself if I have left those “single mother days” behind me after all. Much of the time, the answer is no.

I can trace my current situation back to my divorce, and yes, the economy has played a role but the most significant factor was – and remains – the set of circumstances unleashed at the termination of my marriage.

From that, the disruption and career setbacks that resulted are undeniable.

The “Good” Weekend Relationship?

On the bright side, and of course there is one, a good relationship is a good relationship. Whether you can spend as much time as you wish with the person you love, to find someone with whom you can share your life is a gift.

So I count my blessings when it comes to being loved by a genuinely good man. I count my blessings in my incredibly good hearted and hard-working kids. I count my blessings to have friends who are there for me. I count my blessings in retaining stamina despite long years of carrying a stressful load (and recent long nights of work). Yet I ask myself how many more months and years of living like this will be tolerable – driven by the need to make a few bucks to keep going.

I think of the advantages of the weekend relationship – and there are many, certainly for me. Yet I recognize that while I can love and feel attached to someone who is not physically with me all the time, this isn’t necessarily the case for the other person. And thus, my quandary.

 

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Comments

  1. Well D. A., as you know I am in my late 40s and have had one post divorce relationship that lasted 1.5 years and recently ended. Part of the issue was that she was an empty nester, and wanted attention (versus her time alone). I have teenage girls week on and week off.

    While she respected what I was doing with my children and encouraged it, the relationship was largely week on and week off. This gnawed at her and contributed to the end of the relationship.

    • D. A. Wolf says:

      I’m sorry your relationship couldn’t weather these different places in your life. But you know where I stand on priorities, and I think you’re in a similar position. Responsible parenting first, before social life. Sadly, we sometimes find ourselves emotionally involved with people who are wonderful, but not necessarily compatible in terms of what they want and what we want, or what they can give (and take) and what we can give (and take).

      It’s a matter of “stage” over age.

      In fact, a few years back, when I did date, I generally dated (divorced) dads who were younger than myself, typically by 4 to 8 years. It was irrelevant; what was relevant was that our kids were roughly the same age / stage. I had my children a little older, so those with children the same age were younger than I am. Thus, the critical issue we so easily ignore – how old are your kids (if we’re dating, it matters).

      Of course, now I’m past that (theoretically), and still in the place of strange (and excessive) hours in our non-employment employment environment. I wonder how prevalent this is in our society.

      • D.A. you make a good point that the circumstances are different. I think that there are quite a few jobs and work where people are apart for a while or on different schedules. It is a matter of one’s make-up and desire whether they can be in this type of relationship. I have a friend who teaches at a University in Miami and his wife works in D.C. This is the way it has always been and they see each other in the summers and every second weekend. I would have difficulty with this, while they are quite happy.

  2. Ah, I know this topic too well. I’m sorry you are in a quandary. I know you don’t want to lose this relationship. My lovah and I have the same issues in a way. He gets paid when he’s off and I don’t, so he travels more to be with me. Of course we are separated by 1000 miles. Both of us are steadfastly resolved to putting the kids first, and he won’t leave Baltimore until his last goes off to college because he doesn’t want her to feel abandoned. Of course I’m very busy with my kids too. We’ve been doing this almost 2 years now. We try to see each other every 2-4 weeks. Really what saves us is constant texts and emails. I hate to talk on the phone but we talk at least once every day although sometimes I grit my teeth when he says he wants to hear my voice. We do skype sometimes. It helps us to always have a plan to see each other again. So when he leaves, we usually already have another ticket bought. The expense has killed us. It has added greatly to our already strained by divorce finances.

    It’s very very hard. But he gives me constant attention and I never doubt that I am a priority (kids don’t count). But I feel like we are getting older and I don’t want to wait to be happy. I want to be happy now. But it comes back to him. I can’t imagine not having him on the other end of my text. And so for him, I do it. The good has to outweigh the hassle of schedules and traveling. For me that is a no brainer. That is what everyone in this position has to decide for themselves.

  3. Since I am married and my husband works at home, it is a 24-7 relationship. I read your post and think that maybe it would be fun to walk in your shoes for a week. Your work schedule does sound stressful, but it sounds exciting. It is unfortunate that it sometimes has to take priority over your relationship; but, I could use a few days that belong to me (just me). I’m not complaining. I, too, feel blessed for everything that I have.
    Robin recently posted…Worth SavingMy Profile

  4. I recently ended a 6 month post-divorce relationship due to similar reasons to what you shared here.
    Due to changes that happened after 2008, the guy I was dating started earning less than he used to so now he’s working 2 full time jobs plus primary parenting 2 kids.
    I recently started attending weekend classes to get my real estate license while working a part-time office job (so I can earn more money) and also running my Divorce and Co-Parenting Guidance Biz.
    I found that our budding relationship ran out of steam by the time the holidays came along that brought even more demands on our time with our families.
    Nancy Kay recently posted…Parenting Plans that Lead to Less Conflicts Later OnMy Profile

  5. I have a weekend relation and love it. We’ve been together for about 2 1/2 years, both of us having divorced others several years before. I’m retired and he still works a job about a 2 hour drive from me. I have the nice house, he has the small bachelor apartment so the weekends are spent at my house. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After 27 years of marriage to a very controlling spouse, I revel in my free time, my ability to do exactly what I want when I want without worrying about anyone else, at least during the week. And we really appreciate our limited time together on the weekends. When we vacation or have more free time together its also quite enjoyable although I think knowing that its only temporary makes it even more precious. I worry about our life together after he retires in 2 or 3 years. Will a 24/7 relationship change things for us?

    • D. A. Wolf says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Suzy S. What you say makes so much sense, to many of us, I think, especially after a long marriage with a controlling spouse. And that “precious time” as you describe it is wonderful.

      Your worry about 24/7 time when he retires. I understand completely. I share precisely that worry. (Will you keep us posted on how things go?)

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