Once in a while, I’ll receive an email from a wife seeking tips on how to nurture marriage while hubby is on the road for work or business.
If you had asked me a few years ago how to thrive when one spouse travels for work I’d have given you a pat (to say the least) answer “Just make sure y’all stick together. Don’t take jobs where one of you has to travel!”
Ouch. Funny how God likes to organize personal doses of grow-up!
I couldn’t fathom a situation where my husband didn’t come home every evening. But now my husband travels a lot for work. And our marriage is thriving!
I want to share how we thrive in marriage in spite of his constant travel in the hope that you’ll be inspired to nurture your own marriage. Even if your spouse doesn’t travel, the tips will help you prioritize your marriage in the busy seasons.
8 ways we tend to our marriage when my husband travels for work
1. We talk every day
We try to chat every day. During the day we exchange texts, pictures, quick phone calls and in the evening we tend to catch up over a longer phone call.
We’ve found out that video is better way to talk and catch up. You get to see things you wouldn’t normally see over a phone call. Miscommunication is lessened.
So what do we talk about during the calls? Everything and nothing. Sometimes we’ll leave the phones on speaker and continue to do our own thing. Like he’ll start working on late night project and I’ll be doing something else on the other end.
It’s like being in the same room at home, doing your own thing but together. I love the comfort and familiarity of hanging out with him even if its from a distance.
When it comes to who initiates these phone calls, I used to wait on him to do most of the calling. And I’d get super frustrated when he didn’t call.
But when you are on the road (and I’ve been on the road a few times myself), you lose track of time or get exhausted. I’ve learned to go for what I want. When I want to hear his voice I pick up the phone and make the effort.
I think this is where many couples run into problems. We start expecting – or silently hoping – for the spouse who is away from home to make more effort to connect. Or vice versa, the spouse at home to make more effort.
But I’ve learned that it doesn’t make sense to keep count of who is pursuing who because at the end of the day, it’s your marriage on the line. A marriage that has a traveling spouse needs both of them to put all the effort and pull in the same direction.
If you want something to happen, don’t wait for the other person to make it happen. Do it, if it’s within your ability. Of course do bring up imbalances but determine to give 101% into the relationship.
2. We try to make up for his absence when he’s home.
When my husband comes home from a week of grueling travel, all he wants to do is crush on a couch the whole weekend. Me? I’ve missed him so much and I am itching to get back to our routines. And a lot of our routines involve being outside.
Over time we have learned to look for the happy medium. I recognize he needs to rest and recharge. And he recognizes that we need to reconnect and we do that best when we do things that we both like.
If your spouse travels a lot, your relationship cannot, will not, be business as usual. When he (or you) comes home, you have to try and make up for the days you were away from each other.
You have to be intentional about doing the things you both enjoy. Talk about what you both like – not just what you like – then figure out how to make it happen for one another. And a few tips to enjoying his homecoming
- Save the heavy stuff for when he gets home (unless it’s an emergency). And when he gets home, don’t blast him the moment he walks through the day. Give him time to decompress.
- Go out of your way to be extra tender and sweet as you re-adjust to one another.
- Enjoy being together. Don’t think about the next time he has to leave because it will suck the life out of you. Enjoy and cherish the moments.
3. We pray together
We pray together most evenings when he’s home. So when he travels we try to keep up the habit over the phone.
We haven’t been doing a good job of it lately, but I am hoping we can improve on this side of our joint prayer life.
4. We protect one another
We are committed to protecting our marriage. Not just from infidelity but from appearance or rumors of it. We care about our reputation and testimony.
When away from each other, we act as if the other person is right there. Honor, respect, high standards..the works. We don’t have an off day.
“Make it your goal to create a marriage that feels like the safest place on earth” Greg Smalley says. Building a safe place where both spouses feel like they can talk about anything takes time.
It has taken time for my husband and I. But today we can talk about almost anything, including how our hearts are doing when apart.
We don’t have these types of conversation every time he travels but every once in a while we’ll talk about how he’s doing, any struggles and how we can help each other.
Recently he reminded me of the power of the Lord’s prayer “Lead us not in to temptation but deliver us from evil”. It’s a powerful prayer for any spouse who travels away from home.
Often as wives we make the mistake of thinking that only men are tempted when away from their wives. But wives too are vulnerable to temptation, especially emotionally.
You must intentionally guard your heart, your conversations, the company you keep. And remember it’s not only about you (you won’t sleep with a guy because you smiled or engaged in small talk) but also about protecting the other persons heart. And upholding honor and respect.
5. I thank God for what I have
Perspective is everything. At one point I felt really bad about my husband’s travels.
Then one day I started to think about the alternative. We’ve lived it. So right now I am grateful for a job he loves, a job that takes care of us.
If you are struggling with his travels, ask God to show you something you can be grateful for. Perspective and intentional gratitude. Sometimes that’s all you need.
6. I depend on God
The goal of writing this post is not to pass on a method but to encourage you to depend on Christ. There will be lonely nights, long days, seasons of maddening miscommunication because of the distance (we had one of those this week).
You just have to keep your eyes on Jesus. He is our everything. Seasons come and go but you don’t have to life a frustrated life.
Happiness is a personal decision. Decide to get your joy from God, not your circumstances or spouse.
7. I keep myself busy
There’s nothing as frustrating and maddening as a lonely heart. Sometimes, loneliness is a choice. You can be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely.
When my husband travels, I take the time to do things that I don’t normally do when he’s around. I meet friends but mostly I hang out with my sister (I am writing this post from her house!)
When your spouse travels, take that time to do something different. Instead of heading home straight from work, meet someone. If you work from home like me, take your pretty self to a park or cafe and work from there.
Go out and do those girl things you don’t do as often when he’s around. You’ll be surprised at how time flies when you are busy living life.
8. I miss him
Yup. I allow myself to miss him. Cos sometimes I try so hard not to feel the pain of separation but sometimes those pains can be an ally as they help you appreciate your spouse even more.
Also #7. I get so busy living my routines that by the time he comes back home and if I am not careful, it can feel more like an interruption than a happy reunion!
So towards his return, I try to slow down and breath. I cook his favorite meals (which frees up time for when he’s home). I clear my schedules and prepare to just hang out.
So there you are! 8 things we do to nurture our marriage a midst his busy travels!
One thing I cannot emphasize enough is communication!
It’s easy to drift when one spouse travels a lot. You stop talking about the little things and resentment starts to build up.
One spouse starts to feel under-appreciated, like their efforts don’t matter and the other starts to feel misunderstood and taken for granted. That’s why you have to keep talking and connecting.
If you have to write a list of what you want to talk about everyday or when he comes back, do it!
Because if you can keep talking about the little stuff, the bigger things are easier to deal with.
I recognize that in some cases, we just need to find different jobs. Money is not everything. If your job is destroying your marriage and home, you need to decide what is more important. So keep talking so that you know what’s going on and whats best for your marriage!
Your turn – how do you nurture your marriage a midst busy travel schedules? Please share your tips in comments!