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When Will You Be Home?

When KT married Ben last year, she loved to get a call from him during her workday. She'd look forward to 5:30, when she'd arrive home to a big hug and a huge smile. With her new job, she can't count on leaving as early. She's often rushing to get out of the office, then racing through traffic only to get home closer to 6:00, when she gets only Ben's icy greeting from the sofa.

Today, she returned from lunch to an urgent request from her boss. She's offered to take KT to lunch tomorrow if she completes the task by the close of business, a first in her two months here. KT's in a mad rush to finish in time when Ben calls.

As she reaches for the phone and sees his number, KT's asking herself, "Is he checking up on me again? Why can't he see that it's the job that makes me late? Why does this matter so much to him? Why is he so insecure and childish? Why can't he be happy to see me whenever I come home? I feel like he's got me on a short leash, and so does my job. He's wrecking my career chances!" No matter what Ben says now, KT will not hear any love in it.

This would be a very good time to Assume Love, before she picks up the phone.

  1. Assume you are completely loved by a wonderful person. KT does this. She pictures a man who is not at all insecure or childish, a man who truly enjoys seeing her.
  2. Attempt to explain how such a person might come to do what just happened. How might a secure, mature man who loves his wife come to call her at work? He likes her voice. It builds his anticipation of seeing her again. He wants to assure her that he's thinking of her all day. He can find out when he needs to be home to greet her at the door.
  3. If you can think of one or more explanations that might possibly apply to your real life situation, too, decide whether you choose to react to the negative explanation or to one of these positive possibilities. KT realizes that all of those could easily be true of Ben. It's only his icy greetings at home that suggest there's anything wrong. He's never icy on the phone.
  4. If you choose one of the positive ones, check whether it teaches you something new about how your spouse loves you. Hmmm... KT realizes as her hand reaches the phone that perhaps Ben actually gets himself psyched up for those greetings. Maybe he himself races home to be there in time for them. When she's late, maybe he's frustrated in his attempts to show her love and icy because he feels rejected.

Today instead of saying she'll try her best to be home by 5:30, she says, "I'm likely to be late tonight, but I'm looking forward to one of your great hugs. Let's talk later about how to handle my new schedule in a way that works better for both of us."

Is the problem solved? No. But now the problem's not between them any more. It's just a problem, one they can solve together. And KT notices again how nice it feels to be loved.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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