I always feel the need to check the level of gushiness with which I talk about my husband. As a couple we are not super gushy anyway – I mean, we sleep on opposite sides of a very large King bed, we aren’t super touchy feely, and we do various activities apart and have varied personal interests including widely different tastes in music – where mine is good and his is not, of course. Our relationship isn’t perfect, we fight like anyone else and we don’t always agree on the next course of action. However, despite his love of strange, obscure, not-quite-punk, not-quite-rock, boy bands – our core values and goals out of life are the same. It feels like everyday we are walking together towards the same place, balancing each other along the way.
There is so much about him that I respect and admire, and our opposing character traits bring out the best in each other. My ability to remain calm and patient balances his short temper and impulsiveness. His ambitious “you can do anything” mentality quiets the part of me that feels insecure. His ability to talk for hours makes up for the moments when I simply can’t say another word. My love of cooking makes up for his inability to make scrambled eggs.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that we make a good team.
When I write about him, I feel self conscious about not sounding like I have it all “figured out” because I don’t. Or sounding like my life is perfect, because it isn’t. But I have learned things since becoming a wife that maybe I can pass on to someone, or in any case just share with friends. So here it is.
Peter travels for his job often- although this year has been an exception and he’s only made a couple of trips. Typically he travels up to 15 times in a year. Generally they are short – a few days, a week or two, sometimes a little longer- up to a month. He is a cinematographer and production manager and he LOVES his job in a way that most people only dream about. Plus he’s pretty damn great at it.
Travelling is hard on him though, he’s a bit of a homebody as it is and travelling just stresses him out. When he returns home a cold or some other illness usually follows. It’s hard on me as well, sometimes it’s hard to go out because the dogs can only be left alone for so long and with no one else here it rests on me. God forbid they should get sick when he’s away. Sometimes it’s lonely, and sometimes (particularly at nights) it’s scary. Sometimes I worry about his safety and his health and other times I’m annoyed at not having heard from him yet. Sometimes I feel envious of his dinners out at fancy restaurants in cool places and sometimes I feel bad for his inability to relax at home.
There is always a period of adjustment while he’s away as well as when he returns. It’s not the easiest but I have developed some strategies that help me get through it, although I should state this disclaimer: I do not have any children, so I can’t speak from that perspective. I’m sure it’s much more complicated to deal with a traveling spouse when you do have kids and although not all of these suggestions will apply to you- I hope some do;
1. Don’t schedule important appointments for the time he’s away.
Having to deal with being on your own is hard enough without complicating it with the added weight of meetings and appointments. This includes things like home repairs etc.
2. Discuss a Communication Schedule
Peter and I have a pretty good understanding about how our communication works when he is away. His line of work means that some days he needs to record footage in say the desert in the early morning hours, while other days he needs to be at a house party in the really early morning hours (or very late night time). Thus we can’t schedule a specific time each day to chat. Our goal is to communicate in any form at least once a day – which means sometimes I get video messages sent to me at 3 am, sometimes he gets texts or emails from me throughout the day etc. We never get angry or upset at a lack of immediate response, and we do our best to try and actually speak – but if we can’t, we can’t. I’m not saying THIS is the formula you need to follow- but what is important is that you talk about something that is realistic and that you are both happy with.
3. Spend time with friends/Get out
When Peter is away, I double my efforts to get out of the house, which includes spending time with friends, family or just taking the dogs for walks. Being active naturally just makes you feel good and having a nice chat with other people helps to ease some of the loneliness.
4. Expect Loneliness
You will have days where you feel lonely. For me it happens at night, when we would normally watch TV shows in bed. This is normal, and ok. You have to be ok with knowing that no matter how many things you do to fill your time – your partner in life, the person you have built routines with – is not there. You will feel lonely and it’s ok to feel that and to say it. I have learned to embrace those moments as opportunities to do things that Peter would hate – like watching Pride and Prejudice, or the entire Harry Potter series or making all the seafood dishes in the world (see also #6).
5. Choosing contentment
There are times when it is easy to feel resentful. You’re bored, lonely maybe overworked and you realize your husband is “working” while on the beach in California. Giving into those feelings does nothing. For you or for him; it only makes you feel worse and makes you see your relationship in a damaging light. For him it instils a sense of guilt and the feeling of being unappreciated. Neither of which encourages loving communication. You don’t need to try and feel overwhelming happiness while he’s away – but peaceful contentment, satisfaction – a peace with your lot in life at this current time is such a powerful tool and it’s a choice.
6. Pray for him
Believe that your husband needs your prayers more than you need to pray for yourself. When Peter is away I pray for his safety, his health, his good judgement and his ability to handle stressful situations. It would be easy for me to pray for myself – for comfort and to ease my loneliness, but praying for Peter is actually BETTER for me as well. It not only calms any anxiety I have about him being away but it helps me to appreciate the things that he may be experiencing. It helps squash any resentment and encourage my contentment. Frankly, I have often felt my prayers answered in strange and amazing ways.
7. Do all the girly things/or the things you never do (works with #3)
When Peter is away, I do all the strange things he just wouldn’t understand. This is the time I try DIY facemasks or eat ice cream while watching something completely heinous like “How to lose a guy”. I redecorate something – or spend an obscene amount of time at one craft store.
8. Have a night time ritual
Nights are the worst for me, as I’m sure they are for many others. My solution to this is to have a routine for when he is away. Peter is bit of a night owl, so when he is away I go to bed much earlier. I take my showers at night and tend to read rather than watch TV - with a cup of calming tea - how old am I? This way I am earlier to rise, and I get more of the daytime hours, which I enjoy. I can usually get through a book or two, which I like and generally I feel better.
9. Recovery Time
When he does come home, he will likely need recovery time. Be it from exhaustion, jet lag etc. It is tempting to just feel like “phew you’re home, here’s a list of things you need to do”. But that’s not really fair either, he’s tired as well and coming home should feel like a relief, not like something you want to avoid. Peter appreciates a clean home so I try to make sure everything is tidy when he arrives. The day after Peter comes home I usually just go about my day as usual – I do focus on making him healthy food, since he eats at restaurants mostly while he’s away – and he has a terrible immune system. He usually just relaxes and is much more himself a day or two later.
I tried to come up with a 10th strategy – wanted to give you that nice round number, but I couldn’t think of one, which means it probably wouldn’t be natural or true to how I deal with the situation. I also want to mention that I’ve actually had the opportunity to travel with Peter on a few times on these trips! A pretty sweet bonus and reward for my good work as a patient wife I think.