For the last 15 years, my husband, Stephen, has been a frequent traveler for his job. When he first started with Compassion, it was difficult for me to have him leave. I am highly relational, and found myself lonely without him. It was especially hard when our children were young. Stephen would call from some exotic place with incredible experiences while I was cleaning up puke. It didn’t seem fair. When he would come home from trips, I was always anxious to catch up and he was usually tired and grumpy. Let’s just say this has led to lots of marriage moments.
Through the years we have learned tricks to making this work. First, we both have had to let go of our perfect expectations of each other. Stephen is always tired when he gets home, so I have learned that he isn’t going to have energy and have the ability to be the fun guy (I once planned a surprise party for him when he got home from a trip, that didn’t go so well). Second, he has learned to keep his critical comments to himself. Sometimes in his grumpiness, he would get on me about misplacing things (keys, phones, kitchen items), or forgetting things while he was gone. This led me to think he was unhappy to see me. You can see how reconnecting would be difficult then.
Through the years we have continued to refine the re-entry process (that’s what we call it when he comes home from a trip). We both are more patient with each other, and we have let go of expectations. He is far more gracious and I have changed my expectations of him. When he comes home tired and grumpy, I stopped taking it personally. Now it’s much easier to connect and enjoy listening to each other about our separate experiences.
We have talked to many couples through the years that have had the same experience as we have with travel. All agree that travel has its blessings such as frequent flyer miles and hotel points but it can take a toll on a marriage if you are not careful. Just like all other parts of marriage, we have had to make a serious effort to care for each other, think of fun ways to keep connected while apart, and be understanding with each other when we are back together. Through a lot of effort, communication and years, we have refined the process. We are still not perfect but we keep working at it and its paying off.
Anyone else have any challenge with re-entry from travel? Any good ideas that work for your marriage or other relationships?
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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