Dear Rachel,

My wife and I are currently struggling with a major issue in our marriage. I have just been promoted as a CEO for an up-and-coming hotel chain. This is a job that requires extensive travel and time. When I was first brought into the company, both my wife and I understood that I was on the track for this type of position. We talked about it, and we made the joint decision, that she would put her career goals on hold to be at home, so I could pursue my career. Neither one of us wants the kids (6, 4, and 6 months) to be raised by nannies or housekeepers, which is what would happen if she were to go out to work as well.

However, in the past year or so since I have been promoted, there has been an increasing amount of tension in the house when I get home. My wife wants me to take over as soon as I walk in the door, sometimes literally handing me the baby before I can even put my suitcase down. Meanwhile, when I get home, I want the chance to relax before I jump back into the fray. Also, she feels that when I am home, I should be at her disposal the entire time. But, I need some of own time to unwind as well. Any tips?

Overloaded Husband

Dear Overloaded Husband,

Any time travel is a part of the job requirement, balancing being away from home and family responsibilities is always a challenge. And the first thing that must be understood is how your roles are seen through each other's eyes.

First of all, men and women tend to look at things very differently. Stay at home moms see their responsibilities at home such as childcare, laundry and cooking as work, and not just work, but never ending work. Women will often quip that they would love a job outside the house, just to get a break! While for men, they tend to see some of the above household duties as a relaxing break from the tedium of office work.

Start by telling her how much you appreciate all that she does to keep things going while you are awayMost likely, as much as your wife understands that you are away on business, the idea of you staying at a hotel, flying without children and relaxing after work is probably seen by her as somewhat of a vacation. And for you, when you are away, you are working hard and doing your best to provide for your family. You are also making a huge sacrifice in doing all of the traveling that you do. It is exhausting, and it should not be taken lightly. However, the two of you need to work together to see each other's perspective and come to some mutually agreeable conclusions about how to resolve this.

Before you tell your wife all the things that are bothering you, start by telling her how much you appreciate all that she does to keep things going while you are away. While your task is definitely taxing and hard, remember that she is also working hard! Tell her how much you miss her and the kids while you are gone. Try to take the time to notice things that she handles while you are away, whether it be a household repair, or single-handedly navigating sibling rivalry.

Once these feelings are expressed, she will be more likely to hear what you have to say as long as you continue in the same non-confrontational way. Think through the issues that you mentioned to me, and how you would like to see them resolved. The more clarity that you have about how you would like to see these issues addressed, the more productive the conversation will be.

Define for yourself how much time you need to unwind before you "jump into the fray." Remember they are all missing you too! Perhaps, give yourself a couple of hours just to reconnect with them before you take some time to unwind. It might be hard to expect everyone to leave you alone upon your return, so perhaps you can find another solution.

Could you plan your flight arrivals for the morning, giving you the chance to rest before the kids get home? If that's not possible, talk to your wife about how much time you need. A good night's sleep? An afternoon just reading and relaxing? You needn't define it down to the minute, but give her an idea so you both have the same expectations.

Find out from your wife what she really wants from you when you are around. You said that you think that she wants you to just take over. When I hear someone say a comment like that, it comes from someone who is probably overwhelmed and needs to feel like she has some support. Offer to do the morning routine when you are around so she can rest in. Be home at dinner, bath and bed time to lend a hand. Offer to run to the grocery store, wash the dishes, or help with some laundry if possible. Taking over the littlest of tasks, especially the ones she hates (garbage, anyone?), will be greatly appreciated.

This is definitely a challenging situation, but, one that can be resolved with a little forethought, communication, and understanding between the two of you.