Family

Can a Marriage Really Survive When One Partner Is Away 5 Days a Week ... Or More?

It's one reason why The Real Housewives of Orange County's Gina Kirschenheiter filed for divorce.

The Real Housewives of Orange County is bringing the drama before Season 13 even begins.

In April, new O.C. Housewife Gina Kirschenheiter filed for divorce from her husband, Matthew Kirschenheiter, citing irreconcilable differences, and she’s asked for sole physical custody and joint legal custody of their three children, Nicholas, 5, Sienna, 4, and Luca, 2.

“After careful consideration and deep thought, we have decided to end our legal marriage,” she told US Weekly of the split. "With that said, we will never end our friendship and will forever remain family,” she said. “We are dedicated to raising our children together in a happy, healthy loving environment. We will be navigating this difficult process with respect and grace for one another. We kindly ask for others to treat us with this same respect and grace [as] we move through this family adjustment."

The two are splitting after seven years of marriage, Gina says, mostly because it was hard to be in a relationship with someone who works and lives outside of the house five days a week. Matthew is working and living in Los Angeles during the week, and that left her feeling like a single mom.

“It’s been really difficult,” Gina said. “It’s not easy. It affected our relationship. And we’re trying to navigate through it, but I’m not going to say it’s been peaches and cream all the time.”

How can your marriage survive if one of you is away so often?

Lauren Eavarone, who offers sex therapy and relationship counseling in New York City, says constant communication is key. Don’t just bail on your family during the workweek with no phone calls and resurface on the weekend like oh, no big deal.

Communication is key.

“Communication is valuable for any relationship and when a couple commutes away during the work week, finding unique ways to maintain communication is key,” she says. “Be creative. Write each other love notes and leave them around the home. This gives your partner something to read and remember you by even when you’re unavailable. Plan to do something ‘together’ including watching a TV series you both enjoy or reading the same novel. Send surprise gifts to your partner’s office that are meaningful to you as a couple, which could simply be buying the other lunch without them knowing.”

Keep it sexy.

“Maintain the desire and intimacy in the relationship even when you are unable to physically be with each other,” Eavarone says. “Consider naughty texts, scheduling video chat, and risqué photos.”

Plan for the future.

“Establishing plans for when the couple reunites gives them something to look forward to,” she adds. “It sends the message that although we cannot be together now, when we are, we still get to do things as a couple that we want to do. It also suggests that the distance is only for a period of time which may provide as a useful reminder during moments of loneliness.”

Therapist Mordechai Salzberg, LCSW, has worked through this issue with patients.

His advice?

“Have clear communication around expectations, included what's considered appropriate interaction with others, how often you'll be in touch, expectations for transparency around schedule and social interactions. Talking things through clearly before can reduce a lot of resentment or feelings of being controlled or left out after,” he says.

Be realistic about the weekend/reunions.

“Expecting a magical re-connection is going to set you up for failure especially because there's a good chance a lot of non romantic stuff has piled up on the to do list over the week,” he says. “Talk to each other about the ways you like to be connected with when you're apart and then find creative ways to do that. For some it might be flirty texts, for others flowers and food deliveries. Be open with each other about what you like and then get creative.”

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