When my husband and I first got married, it wasn't nightly dinners together, exciting weekend plans, or even going to bed at the same time every night. He was a retail sales representative, and I worked in an office, so while I was on a steady 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule, he had erratic hours, was often home late, and worked at least one day out of every weekend. Oftentimes, he would just be getting his night started while I was ready to go to bed so I could get up in the morning! Recently, he took a new job that put him on nearly the same schedule as me (and we're still getting used to it!), but looking back, I realize how dealing with different schedules as newlyweds presented a unique set of challenges and benefits. Here are five tips for survival if you and your newlywed husband find yourselves on different work schedules.
Use the alone time to your advantage.
Because you see your husband less frequently than other newlyweds see one another, you probably want to enjoy the time you spend together without thinking about other things you could be doing. Take the time to do stuff for you while your husband is at work. Take a bubble bath, watch the TV show he hates, do your workout DVD, take care of your spring cleaning, go to the salon... the list goes on. You might find out that you end up having a more balanced life as a result of your time apart.
Know days off in advance.
If you and/or your husband are on an irregular schedule, make sure that you communicate your days off as far in advance as possible. You could keep a wall calendar or blackboard at home, or you could use an electronic calendar system. I always checked my husband's days off so that I would know in advance when I should schedule "me" things," when I could schedule "us" things, and when I shouldn't schedule anything so that we could just be together. Remember, you do have control over some of your days off. Be sure to use as many of your vacation and personal days as you can afford so that you can plan some quality time in advance!
Pursue a hobby.
My hobby is writing, but that's not exactly an interactive activity that I could share with my husband. When we were on different schedules and he was at work while I was home, I worked on my writing. By the time he got home, I felt rejuvenated by my productivity and creative release. Whether it's knitting, photography, or yoga, find a hobby that you can have all to yourself, and use your time alone to work on it.
Build a social network.
Your social life will suffer if you only schedule social engagements when your husband is off work so that you don't have to do things alone. It's important to pursue a social life, rather than sitting home, waiting for your husband. I used the nights my husband worked late to have dinner with my girlfriends or visit my out-of-town friends. I had to go to weddings stag a lot of the time, but that gave me the opportunity to catch up with old friends without worrying whether my husband was entertained. I was able to nourish a social life of my own, which sometimes newlyweds are not able to do because they spend so much time together.
Get a pet.
My husband felt bad that I had to spend so many evenings alone, so guess what? He let me get a kitten! Having my cat Marla around was such a blessing. She greeted me when I got home, kept me entertained, and cuddled with me on the couch until my husband got home. For more reasons it's good to get a pet as newlyweds, read Getting a Pet: The Perfect Stepping-Stone for Parenting.
Although it may be more desirable to have the same schedule as your new husband, you can use this situation to your advantage. When you are apart, do things for yourself to help you become a more well-rounded and balanced person. When you are together, certainly be productive and get the important tasks and conversations taken care of, but more importantly, really enjoy each other's company. Hopefully, you will develop a deep appreciation for each other's presence when other couples might come to take each other for granted.
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