So I love my wife more than anything. She is my rock. She’s working on a PhD and becoming very well known in her field. She goes to these conferences and when she does I never hear from her. I’ll get an “I love you” text or a “ugh soooo tired” and the occasional phone call on speaker phone while she gets ready to go out and “network” and this is what bugs me. I ask her to text me when she lands…I get no text but see she has posted a snapchat and gone on Facebook. She calls 90 minutes after landing to tell me she’s rushed and trying to get ready to go out. I just don’t get how its so hard to text back or just excuse yourself for a little while to call your spouse. Am I being selfish?
Your feelings are perfectly understandable. And whether or not it is by definition selfish is not really important. This is how you feel about the situation and your feelings matter. But your feelings may not be as important to your wife. She too is consumed with her own stuff while away at her conference.
It would be nice of your wife to text you back or call you for a little while so that you don’t feel so disconnected and out of the loop with her being away. But she might just be so preoccupied with conference focused activity that half the time she doesn’t remember to check in. And the other half of the time she just doesn’t have the time. You might not be on her mind that much because she is wrapped up in what she’s doing. That’s not to suggest it’s no big deal that she might be so busy and distracted that she gives no thought and consideration to you. But if this is an established pattern, then she might not be aware you feel like there’s not enough contact between the two of you when she’s away. And she might be going with the confidence that you fully understand that while away at her conferences she is focused first on her professional responsibilities and last on personal issues like having a husband who might be missing her.
In the event you have never spoken to her about her tendency to ignore you while she’s away, you might need to do that. But if you do choose to bring it up, be careful to do it in a manner that doesn’t make her feel accused of neglecting you. Because then she might accuse you of being selfish. After all she’s away at an important conference networking with important people in her field. It’s to be expected she would be very busy and would not have time to play wifey. And as a supportive husband you would not be trying to make her feel guilty for neglecting you (this might be the position she takes).
There could be any number of things going on in reality. But the fact is you don’t know why your wife doesn’t answer your texts or call you more frequently when she’s away. You don’t want to conjure all the negative scenarios with no just cause. So just assume that when she landed there were so many things happening to distract her attention she forgot you’d asked her to text you when she landed. And she didn’t think to do it on her own because there were too many other things on her mind.
As to the texts she did not answer, assume that she either did not see them, or she saw them and meant to answer but it slipped her mind. And the same for her not calling more often. She just hasn’t been able to make the time. She’s too busy. And maybe it helps her to stay in a professional frame of mind if she can leave home matters at home while she’s away at her conference.
Again, none of this is to suggest it’s okay that she’s putting you last on her list of people to get back to. But it’s not that uncommon in such a situation. Our spouse/our family — they are the safest people to risk upsetting. More often than not they’ll accept our “I’m sorry” and life will go on. We don’t risk losing our reputation, or losing big opportunities, or irreparably damaging our professional image when we neglect our spouse and/or family. So we usually don’t try as hard to safeguard those relationships. It’s usually too late by the time we realize we were doing any damage.
Also there is the possibility that you’re just feeling a little extra sensitive what with your wife having so much going on and and becoming such an important figure in her field. Maybe to some extent you’re feeling threatened because you think that the more important she becomes, the less time she’ll have for you. And you’re already not getting enough of her time. But there’s probably no way to solve that problem except by you finding a way to keep yourself too preoccupied with your own stuff to be aware of how little contact you have with your wife when she’s away. After all, you can’t ask her to stop climbing up the academic success ladder because it’s taking her too far beyond your reach (assuming there’s any possibility this angle applies).