Maintaining a healthy relationship while traveling can be hard, but it doesn't have to be. Like anything, there are pros and cons, and by mitigating the cons and focusing on the pros, you can even make it a good thing. As someone who travels for the majority of the year, I have a lot of experience.
I'm married. My wife and I live together and travel together when we can, but we are separate for a big portion of the year, mostly due to my voluntary travel.
There are some parts of this that I really like. To some degree absence does make the heart grow fonder. After I've been gone for a month, no matter how much we communicate, we are really excited to see each other. During the periods of time that we have limited time together, our time together feels more special. I'm not sure if she feels the same way, but being apart also gives me perspective and makes me appreciate her even more.
Those advantages come with some very obvious disadvantages, though. By default, traveling a lot is probably not beneficial for a relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate those downsides.
In a normal relationship where we're in the same place, our feelings will probably mirror each others. If I'm gone, though, the separation will naturally be harder for her than it is for me. That's because I'm pulled out of normal life doing something that's fun or exciting, but she's experiencing normal life, minus me.
I try to always keep this in mind, and compensate for it. I may not have a great need to communicate, because I'm off doing exciting things, but I know that she probably has a greater need to communicate. So I make sure that I go out of my way to return texts quickly, have real conversations, and ask about what's going on in her day. There's a big difference in her feeling like I'm away and her feeling like I've abandoned her.
Even though she never asks for it, I also make an effort to make sure she knows how important she is to me and how much I appreciate her. Putting myself in her shoes, I think it would be nice to hear those things if she was off on her own without all that much contact.
We usually communicate over text, but I make a point to do voice or video calls every once in a while, even if there's no specific reason for it. Seeing your partner's smile or hearing their voice creates a much better connection than reading some text on the phone. We can't be together in person, so we can at least have that connection.
When possible, I try to break one trip up into two trips. It feels like a big difference between being gone for four weeks versus being gone for two, home for one day, gone for another two. Something about seeing each other in person resets the clock and makes it easier.
Last, I try to really give her credit. She handles me being gone very well, always focuses on the positive, and never tries to get me to take shorter trips or travel less. I am extremely grateful for that, so even as I enjoy activities that have nothing to do with her, I try to mentally give her some of the credit, since she's a part of making these things happen.
Although challenging, it is definitely possible to have a great close relationship even if one or both of you travel a lot. It just takes a little bit more consideration and thought.
Picture is a wild rooster in a tree in Hawaii.
A great post and very helpful insight for someone who travels a lot for business like myself as well. Being married for almost 25 years, being separated through traveling is still one of the biggest challenges to our marriage. Thank you!
I love this post. As a woman I can definitely say that my husband has the freedom to work as much as he wants and travel whenever necessary for him (private of business reasons) because he also takes the initiative to connect and to nurture our relationship and this makes all the difference for me. I never feel abandoned even though we spend less time together than most other couples/families.
By writing that you give your wife credit you implicitly acknowledge that once you are in an intimate relationship, you are interdependent and you cannot do anything without affecting (and needing to think of) your partner. When you are gone it takes extra effort on the other side as well to make the relationship work, and being grateful is extremely helpful to find balance there. It may sound like a paradoxon, but once you acknowledge that you are not independent but interdependent, and for this reason take care proactive care of the other person's feeling, you can do things much more "independently" without ruining the relationship.
I'm not sure how I've made it my entire life without knowing that my grandmother was an only child. I'm sitting in a pizza place in Vermont with my grandmother, surrounded by my father and aunts, my cousins, and my cousins' children. We have so many people that we don't know how many to tell the hostess, and we can't even count. We just keep flowing in and taking all of the tables.
I had just told her how much I appreciated what she did for us kids. Every summer all of us kids would go up and stay with our grandparents for a week or two. It didn't seem like a huge deal back in the day, but now I understand that it was essentially a full time job. Laundry, food, and corralling us.
"I'm on only child," she says, "but I had lots of cousins I grew up with, so I wanted to make sure that you all had the same thing."
I look around at the visible evidence of her success. We're all really close. Some of us haven't seen each other for years, but it feels like we were just hanging out yesterday. Such a lovely group of people.
We picked up an old candle lit lantern at a barn fair today. It is a dark lime color, and has sides like windows. She loves things like those. I do too. Negotiating the price for the items we picked up she left up to me. She has always been better at that, but she is still having trouble talking. The other people to their credit, didn't stare too much. The stitches are still in, and the doctor said it will still be a little bit before they come out. Margaret was released from the hospital a few days ago. I figured the fresh air would do her good.
The last few days have been the first time in almost a week that I have slept somewhere other than the hospital. It has been nice to be finally out, but things are hardly the same as they were before. Margaret is...sensitive. Not to things I say per-say. She seems to listen too closely. Everything I mention thinking about wanting she makes every attempt to get me. I have stopped mentioning my desires altogether, but that seems to make her anxious. I mentioned I had been wanting some coffee cake, and she went to three stores before she found one she thought was adequate.
I'm not stupid. I know that what the Surgeon told her must have affected her. She feels like she has to take extra care to take care of my needs. Whether this is out of a fear of the Surgeon finishing his work, or whether she has become convinced that she had somehow failed me before I do not know. But I don't like it. I love Margaret for her spirit. Her support has had its limits, but no one should have to be endure everything. I didn't want her to be different.
I guess taking her to the barn sale was an attempt to make things normal between us. I hoped that somehow if we fell back into a similar routine, and started doing the things we loved to do together, that it would snap her out of it. Now I am the one calming her down when she has nightmares. She wakes up screaming at all hours of the night. We are going to ask to doctor to give her something to help her sleep.
I tried to call the kids today. They didn't even pick up. I shouldn't be surprised. They have their own lives. And I can't blame them. Who really wants to admit their father is crazy.