Two years ago, I declared that one of the only things I know about marriage is how to survive a move. But there is one other aspect of marriage I’m pretty good at: coping when my husband travels for work.
I’ve never known a time in our marriage when my husband didn’t travel for work. He began his job that brought us to Florida (then to Dublin and back to Florida) midway through our engagement and just a few days after our wedding and a short honeymoon cruise, he hopped on a plane to France for his first big industry conference. A few months later he was in Dublin while I was home and pregnant with pneumonia brewing deep in my body.
Even though my husband’s work traveling has had its lulls, he has never been home for more than a few months straight. And at its worst, he’s been gone more than half the time (the worst was 13 days straight when Sugarplum was in her newborn screamy phase and I was oceans away from my family and friends).
I won’t lie and say it’s gotten easier because it hasn’t, it’s just as hard now as it was in the beginning. Part of it is that life has gotten harder overall as our family has grown and the worries have certainly changed but the hardest part is still being on my own and not having that help and companionship I’ve grown so accustomed to over the past almost 15 years.
But I have found a few things that help me cope when my husband travels for work:
You want to go to bed at 8:30 immediately after the kids are down? Go for it. You feel like a nice, loooong bath? Why not? Pizza for dinner three nights in a row? Who’s going to know?
So maybe you still have to maintain some amount of responsibility, but when else can you take time to do things just for you? I know I for one tend to stay up later than maybe I should most days in order to sit silently on the couch with my husband when he’s home (because silence is golden once the four kids are in bed!) but you can rest assured when he’s away I’m in bed when I’m tired and doing pretty much whatever else makes me happy because I don’t have to be concerned about someone else’s needs.
Turning to Others
When my husband isn’t around to help me with the kids and provide me with much-needed adult conversation, I have to fill those needs in other ways. I’ll go to my parent’s house and hang out (or have them over). I’ll call my sister to chat. I’ll have a friend over to hang out after the kids are in bed. We’ll meet friends at the park or for lunch. Anything to not feel like I’m drowning alone in motherhood.
I have a bad habit of coping with my husband traveling for work and his leaving by being horribly mean. Somehow it helps me not feel so sad or stressed about him leaving if I’m agitated with him. But it’s not a good habit to have and it has really strained our relationship. It’s definitely a work in progress but I find that by focusing on doing fun family things leading up to his trips really helps.
I also make a big effort to not blame him or lash out when things go wrong at home when he’s traveling. Yes, things would certainly be easier if he were around but it’s not his fault when things are hard when he isn’t even in the state (or country). I’ll vent but try hard not to guilt him about things neither of us can change or control.
Taking it Easy
Life is crazy enough in normal life and being responsible for all things house and children 24/7 when my husband travels for work makes it ridiculous so I take shortcuts whenever I can. That means we go out to breakfast sometimes. We eat sandwiches for dinner sometimes. We watch movies after our earlier than usual dinners and longer than usual nights. And I let the pots and pans stack up in the sink. Everything (generally) gets back into order before my husband gets home but I don’t waste my energy on things no one else will ever know about.
When my husband travels for work, we don’t always get to talk during they day. My insane parenting schedule doesn’t always match up with his downtime between meetings plus depending on where in the world he’s traveling, our awake hours can be completely off. But no matter how the day goes, I always try to say good night and tell him that I love him. It’s often via text and I don’t always get his response before passing out for the night, but it’s important to me that he knows I’m thinking of him even when he’s away.
This post is part of the 2017 March Marriage Challenge hosted by The Eyes of a Boy.
Don’t miss my posts from previous years: I’m Glad I Found Love Before Technology Took Over the World, Protecting your Marriage while Managing a Move and Tips and Ideas for Date Nights After Kids.