As the summer sun set gracefully beyond the Texas sky, I held tightly to my brand new husband's arm as we reveled in the memories of our honeymoon and set off into life together. We had just landed in my home town from the Riviera Maya the day before, and we packed up our new (used) SUV and carted all of our wedding gifts off to Tennessee to start life in our cookie cutter two bedroom apartment on the south side of town. The Mexican sun had left a glow on our faces that reflected the incommunicable joy inside our young hearts and the two bands of shiny bling on my left hand.
As I pictured life eternal with this man, I envisioned lazy Saturday mornings with breakfasts in bed, coming home to his hugs every night, date nights, sleepovers, and relishing in every significant life event hand in hand. I didn't picture the days spent alone at home, the texts goodnight instead of toes touching under the covers, the innumerable Sundays attending church by myself, the mowing the lawn because he is gone every weekend, the struggle to find friends because it's weird going on double dates alone but I'm also not single.
I don't say these things to complain. In fact, my marriage is happier than I could have ever asked for. My wonderful husband is worth every single moment at home while he is traveling, and I wouldn't trade this season. I say it because I know I'm not the only one who has been here. And, keep reading, because I say this so that friends of road wives know how to be friends of road wives.
My husband has a job that takes him on the road nearly half of the year (in intervals of a few days at a time). When I married my hunky guy, I knew what was coming. I was prepared for him to travel, but that doesn't mean it's been easy all the time.
Disclaimer: I know some people have it much worse than I do. Maybe your spouse is in the military, and you don't see him/her for months on end. My heart goes out to you, and I know I will probably never experience that kind of separation. Perhaps you still haven't found your future guy or girl, and you're thinking, "Why is she complaining? At least she has someone!" Well...you're right. And he rocks, and I hope you will find your forever someone someday soon! And I hope he stays in town, but if not, this is for the future you.
We live in a town where traveling spouses are quite common because half of the music industry sets off on tour buses every weekend. We, as a city, send a handful of our best and brightest musicians off around the country to grace all of you.
Many of my friends have husbands who travel or husbands who used to travel before they settled down and started making babies. I have found solidarity in those friends, but I also realize that sometimes being married with a traveling spouse can make you feel isolated. As I mentioned previously, it's a weird fit because when your hubby or wifey is on the road, you are neither single with roommates nor thrilled to do couple things with other couples, so it can be easy to just sit at home alone. I thought a blog post might lift your spirits today as it lifts mine in writing.
You see, the life you live right now isn't all bad. God has given you a partner to do forever with, and you are one lucky duck. There are some really awesome things about this stage of life, and I want to share what I have learned. Also, I am a wife so I will probably use pronouns accordingly. Feel free to substitute "wife" everywhere I say "husband" if you find the roles reversed.
Reasons To Be Grateful When Your Spouse Travels
1. You both get things to look forward to
I love having things to get excited about. I make plans just so I can look forward to them, so every time that Jeremy leaves, it is just one more time that I get to look forward to his return.
Also, it's pretty fun being the thing waiting for him at the end of a long business trip. It's a joy to plan out fancy meals, surprise him by doing something for him (like raking leaves. So glamorous), and make our home a place to which he wants to come home.
2. Date nights are more special
Every night we spend apart makes the nights together that much more special and intentional. Hanging out on the couch becomes such a joy. A night out together is cause for rejoicing. Also, because I accomplish so much on the days when he is away, I feel the freedom to give him my full attention when he is home.
3. You have built-in alone time and time with the Lord
I think I am an introvert in an extrovert shell. I am very chatty, wordy, and social. You may have met me and thought, "Oh. I bet she is an extrovert!" But I need alone time to thrive. I find energy in time spent by myself. In fact, this morning I woke up late and didn't get my usual hour and a half alone to start my day, and I have been off all day. Seriously. Talk about wrong side of the bed. When Jeremy is gone, I get evenings to myself and lots of time to work things out with Jesus. I get to wake up early and go on a hike if I want or read a book if I want or watch Pride & Prejudice or Anne of Green Gables without hearing complaints from my action-movie-preferring other half.
Because of that time, I am fueled up for uninterrupted and devoted time with my Jeremy. And we both have benefited from the time apart to grow our own personal passions and relationships with God in this early season of our marriage. Now, I pray this won't be forever and look forward to a different season when every day is together, and in that season, I will find my alone time elsewhere, but I appreciate the little blessing now.
4. You can find a new hobby!
If I didn't have things I loved, I would probably go crazy. I have found things that give me joy like home decor, wedding coordinating, and my favorite...songwriting. These are all hobbies & dreams that I have a lot more time to pursue when Jeremy is away. In fact, I have had friends ask, "how do you have time to constantly do house projects and write a blog and keep up with other things?"
Answer: my hubby travels.
5. You can learn skills like using an electric drill
It is easy to want to wait for Jeremy's assistance to do things like use the drill, mow the yard, or unclog the drain, but sometimes...I just can't. So I am now a master driller, mower, fixer girl. Well...sort of. I'm still scared of drywall anchors.
6. You can be an encourager.
Road life is draining. Often times, Jeremy comes home for just 48 hours, and all he wants to do is sit, but did I mention he is also working toward a seminary degree? So he works hard on the road, and then comes home to work hard again, answer emails, and tend to his emotional wife who has missed him.
And I get to be his encourager. I get to pray for him, to love on him, to take care of him, to help him, and to send him messages that remind him I am proud of him, and that I think he is the best husband ever and that he is doing such good work in his career.
I don't always do a good job, but it is a privilege to be his cheerleader.
Yes, there are blessings, but it is also really hard sometimes.
Sometimes I cry and cuddle my kittens, and they cuddle back but they don't know what to say to make me feel better ("meow" just doesn't cut it). Sometimes I get mad because I am sick of being alone so much. Sometimes I take it out on Jeremy because I don't know what else to do. Sometimes I sit alone at home way too often because it's easier than finding someone to hang out with.
So, here are my tips on how to be friends with a road wife.
1. Don't tell her how sorry you feel for her.
"I don't know how you do it." "I could never do that. My husband and I don't ever spend time apart." "I feel so bad for you."
I understand your sentiment, and I'm jealous that you never spend time apart from your spouse, but this is not helpful.
2. Do invite her to do things.
I have always been the initiator friend--the girl who thinks of the ideas and plans and sends out the invites, and it does make it easier for me when it comes to filling time when Jeremy is away, but I so appreciate invitations to do things...even if I can't.
So keep asking your road wife friend to go places...or just go over one night and hang out on her couch. It makes a huge difference.
3. Do ask how she is doing.
And genuinely care. It's just nice for someone to ask.
4. Do invite them to do things together.
Jeremy is gone quite a bit, but not all the time, and when he is home, we crave intentional community with other married (and not married) folks. So invite your friends to hang out together, and if one is gone, they can say so, but they will love that you thought of them.
That's all I got. This was a very long post, but thanks for sticking around. And thank you to all of my friends who are so fabulous and make me feel loved even when Jeremy is away. You rock my socks off.
And to all you road wives, solidarity, sisters. Keep your chin up, pray for your husband, and think positive. You are strong and awesome and God has cool things in store for your marriage. I can feel it.
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