When your husband finally comes home in the morning

Tracey Folly

If it happens once, it’s an exception; if it happens twice, it’s a habit.

A woman stands in front of red curtains and looks at the camera.Photo by Luke Southern on Unsplash

You never expect your husband to stay out all night until it happens. Then you will probably experience every negative emotion you can possibly imagine. All of them will be warranted.

It’s likely that your first reaction will be denial. You’ll look at the clock and realize your husband is running just a little bit late and figure everything is okay. “He’s probably just caught in traffic,” you tell yourself.

If it happens once, it’s an exception; if it happens twice, it’s a habit.

For too many couples, it becomes a habit. Once your partner stays out all night and gets away with it, they are likely to do it again. That's especially true if the root cause is not addressed and corrected.

What is the root cause when your husband doesn't come home? Unfortunately, it's often due to infidelity.

You’d never suspect that your husband is having an affair. That’s just one of many possible reasons why he didn’t come home that night. It's a common one though.

Maybe he's just unhappy. That's a possibility, too.

As the minutes tick by, you wonder why he doesn’t just call you on his cellphone so you don’t have to worry. He knows how much you worry. After all, it’s not 1992, and it’s not like he has to stop at a payphone. He would have called by now if something wasn’t wrong.

His cellphone is probably right there in his pocket, or on the dashboard of his car, or clutched in his hand. He can even send you a quick text message using the talk-to-text feature on his entertainment system, so what’s the problem?

You decide to wait a little while before calling his cellphone, still hoping you’re just overreacting but not wanting him to know you’re worried. Worry slowly morphs into frustration and exasperation. You want to be angry, but there’s still that chance something horrible has happened. What if he’s sick or injured? There could have been a robbery at work. He might have been in a car accident. You’d better reserve judgment until you know for sure that he’s okay.

Speaking from experience, it’s a bad sign if your husband doesn’t come home from work or after a night out with his friends. In a perfect world, or in a perfect relationship, you and your spouse would both be trusting and trustworthy. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, and you don’t have a perfect relationship. No one does.

Unless you have an alternate arrangement that works for both of you, a courtesy call to let your spouse or partner know if you aren’t planning to come home from work is appropriate. No one wants to feel like they have to answer to another person. Having to check in with your partner may feel like an inconvenience, but it’s not. It’s a matter of courtesy.

Of course, what works for one couple may not work for another. I had an acquaintance who had an unusual agreement within her marriage. She didn’t expect her husband to let her know if he wasn’t coming home. There was just one condition. He needed to be lying in bed beside her by sunrise. Most marriages don’t have that level of trust.

I was stunned when she told me about her arrangement because I couldn’t relate to her experience. When I was married, my husband didn’t come home without telling me because he was having an affair. So I’d been conditioned to think of it as a bad thing when your husband doesn’t come home.

The idea that a mature, responsible, committed couple could allow each other the autonomy and freedom of deciding whether to come home was simply foreign to me. I still struggle to see it as a sign of a healthy relationship, but it worked for them. Your mileage may vary.

The first time it happens, it’s an exception.

When your husband finally comes home from work just as the first streaks of daylight illuminate the sky, either you fight it out, or you’re so relieved to have him home safe and sound that you let it go. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, and maybe he even deserves it. He unexpectedly had to work late on an urgent project, or he needed to help his mother with something important. It’s perfectly understandable that he didn’t have a chance to call you.

If it happens again, it isn’t an exception. It’s a habit.

It’s possible that something came up at work again, but did your mother-in-law really have another medical emergency? Being possible doesn’t mean it’s probable. Being possible doesn’t make it true.

The worst thing you can do is remain in denial. Problems don’t go away because you pretend they aren’t happening. What’s the solution? It starts with communication and honesty and ends with the willingness to make changes on both sides. Most important, don’t be afraid to abandon a sinking ship. If your marriage isn’t working, and your husband doesn’t come home at night without a reasonable explanation, then you have the right to explore other options include marriage counseling, separation, and divorce.

After the first time your husband doesn't come home, you're more likely to feel angry than afraid. The first time is always the hardest because of the fear and uncertainty that something horrible has happened.

This is what I know from experience.

When it happened to me, I spent the entire night lying in bed shivering while I waited for my husband to come home. No matter how many layers and blankets I piled onto the bed, I couldn't warm up. My fear and anxiety had me chilled to the bone.

The second time it happened, my fear and anxiety were replaced by anger and hostility. While I lost count of how many times it happened prior to my divorce, I can still remember what it felt like when my husband didn't come home.

As someone who has experienced it firsthand, I can say that it's incredibly stressful when your husband doesn't come home one night. It doesn't matter whether you had an otherwise happy marriage, or the writing was already on the wall. It hurts.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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