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Change in routine leaves my wife a little lonely

MY WIFE’S NEVER been one of those women who say one thing and mean another. In fact, she’s quite up front about her feelings. She’ll look right at me and say, “I feel this way about this thing you do, and now you know.”

So, when she told me how she felt about a recent change I made to my routine, I knew she meant it.

I thought I’d found the perfect “solution” to our situation. I hesitated to use solution there, because it doesn’t solve a problem, exactly.

In previous columns, I’ve written about how my work schedule (4 p.m. – 1 a.m.) and her work schedule (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) make it nearly impossible for us to see each other. It’s just reiteration here, but I’ll come home at 1 in the morning (12:30 if we get done with everything a little early), and 9-times-out-of-10 she’ll be in bed. Sure, there’s the random time when she’s just on the way to bed. And the few times when she — having the odd night shift the next day — will still be up, but tired and essentially on her way to bed.

I’ll come home, poke my head in the bedroom and give her a quick goodnight. Then, I’m off to the den to wind down, watch TV and have a snack (or a meal — don’t judge me for eating a full meal at 1 a.m. — don’t most people eat dinner after work?)

Anyway, the change to routine was that I would go to my 24-hour gym after work. Since there’s no crowd and no distractions, I can get in a serious workout. The kinds of workouts I was doing in my early 20s when I was in the best shape of my life.

I didn’t think it would be an issue, until I started getting home at 3 a.m. each night. What I didn’t realize is how being totally alone all night (from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m.) made my wife feel. Last week, after about three days of her cooking and eating dinner alone, watching nighttime TV alone, winding down and going to bed alone, she started to feel really lonely.

When I’d come home after work, and she’d be asleep, I’d be right in the next room working or watching TV, goofing with the dogs, doing laundry, whatever. She’d be asleep, but she knew I was there. She always says it makes her feel safe to sleep when she knows I’m home.

That’s what I didn’t realize.

We’ve lived together for almost a year now, and already she’s used to having me knock around when she’s drifting off to sleep. Each time I went to the gym last week, she was half awake when I got home.

On that third night, she told me how she felt. And I thought right then and there about scratching the late-night workouts. I mean, it’s not natural, really, to be working out from 1 a.m. – 3 a.m., right? But, then again, there’s nothing about my hours that is “natural.” So, it fits me.

Since then, she told me it’s just something she’d have to get used to. And she said I should continue to go (I’m sure she wouldn’t mind to see me walking around a little slimmer and a little more ripped), and that she was proud of my dedication.

I know she wants me to go. She said so, and really meant it. (Not one of those situations where she says “Sure, go out with your friends if you want to” but really means “No, I think we should go out to dinner just the two of us because I haven’t seen you in days.”). Like I said, she doesn’t do that. She’s great like that.

So, when she tells me she wants me to go to the gym latenights, I know she means it. But I also know there’s a part of her that wants me to come home.

I’m going to have to leave you hanging here. I’m not going to open this up to a vote or solicit opinions from the masses. It’s something I’m going to work out on my own. When I figure out what to do, she’ll be the first to know and you’ll be the second.

Tonight? She told me to have a good workout.

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