Advice for Coping With A Spouse Who Works On the Road
How To Cope When Your Significant Other Travels for a Living
Dear April Masini,
Due to the economy my husband and I both have been forced to take jobs that off and on require us to be on the road for extended periods of time which is proving very hard on both our relationship and our children. Do you have any tips that can help?"
Sincerely, Traveling Spouse and Mom
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Traveling Spouse and Mom:
No doubt, it can be rough on a marriage (to say nothing of the children), when a spouse’s business requires them to travel a lot…. But there are ways to successfully deal with the situation, for instance:
Communication—Obviously, talking to your partner while away is key to keeping your marriage together, and happy. But what you talk about is even more important than how often you talk. Inquire about their well-being by asking intimate questions, and really listen to what they’re telling you. If they sound evasive…keep asking. It can take a while to bring out the truth in some people (especially if it’s not a pretty picture), but the rewards your marriage will reap if you can get at it are worth it. Buy books on the subject, and even write down questions you want to ask them so you won’t have any regrets when you hang up the phone.
Infidelity—Remaining monogamous is difficult for most couples, but put one person on the road, and those struggles are magnified. And simple loneliness plays a huge part in that. So, do all you can to make sure your partner doesn’t have to feel lonely. Call regularly, send letters, and care-packages. Get a digital camera so you can send pictures over email Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to learn the art of phone sex. Keeping your partner satisfied—in every way—is the most you can do to ensure their faithfulness.
Fighting Fair—Arguing is simply a part of most relationships. But when one person is on the road, having pre-established “rules” becomes all the more important. I suggest that you:
• Have a pre-established time you talk every single night, whether fighting or not. This lets each party feel that if they can’t resolve the fight in the moment, they know they’ll have a chance to speak later that evening.
• Agree to never hang up on one another. This is a non-negotiable.
• Be able to agree to disagree. You’re not always going to come to a consensus, and fighting until you do can prove futile—especially when you’re separated physically.
Staying in touch and connected to your children can be very challenging for out-of-town moms and dads, but it’s not impossible. Here’s a brief overview for the various "Ages and Stages":
• Baby—Calling and talking into the phone is the best thing a long-distance dad (or mom) can do for a young baby. Familiarize them with the sound of your voice, sing songs, and don’t speak in baby gibberish…even if that’s all they can say back.
• Toddler—These are the most formative years of their lives, so keep up with the phone calls, and send fun (and educational) gifts from the road. Try taking pictures of different locations you visit, and writing a little tidbit about that place on the back of the photo.
• Elementary School—They’re really starting to socialize at this stage, so be sure to ask them lots of questions about their friends, and get a feel for where their interests are. And tell them what you liked to do at their age, too; either introducing them to something new, or showing them how, even without your always being around, your influence still runs deep.
• Middle School—This would be the perfect age to start emailing on a regular basis. Not only will it enable you to keep in contact, but it will also help teach them computer and typing skills.
• Teenager—Just because you’re not around doesn’t mean you don’t have to go through the tough teenage years, and broach the difficult subjects. Keep up with the calls and emails, but ask pointed questions that really get to the heart of what they’re facing. Ask about drugs and sex (and everything in between), and don’t take any “I dunno answers”…because they do definitely know!
• Young Adult—Take them on one of your routes with you, so they can finally see and experience what it is you’ve been doing all these years—what you’ve sacrificed for them and the family. There are some things that only firsthand experience can explain, and this is one of them.
• Every Age—Pick up the lost art of letter writing. Not only is it cathartic for you, but your envelope in the mail will give your kids something to look forward to—and keepsakes they might have for the rest of their lives.