Extended Travel in Relationships

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.

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Picture is a wild rooster in a tree in Hawaii.

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