Road Dogs and Marriage

australia3 As Stephen prepares to fly to Australia, I am preparing for a grocery trip to Walmart.  Such is life of the road dog.  For 15 years Stephen has traveled for his job with Compassion International and most of the time I stay back and take care of the family.  The tables have turned a bit lately though.  For the last 3 years I have started to travel much more while Stephen holds down the fort.  Fortunately for us our mothers live within walking distance of our home and help us during these times so we can work and keep life going.

 Our lives have adjusted to travel but it still is hard saying goodbye.  We have been in separate locations several times through life changing events.  I remember telling Stephen I was pregnant with our 3rd child over the phone while he was at a music festival.  I remember calling Stephen to tell him to come home from Colorado when his dad discovered his cancer was terminal.  My husband was in Colorado on Sept. 11th and was not able to get home because all flights had been cancelled.  He and his boss, who also lives on the west coast, ended up renting a car and driving home.  Other events have happened during his travel.  We had a cat killed in our garage door this last spring when Stephen was gone, and my daughter Grace seems to get sick quite frequently during his travel.

 Staying connected and sharing life definitely has its struggles with the road, but we have worked hard to keep our marriage strong.   

 Experts say that travel can take its toll on marriage, but here is some advice to keeping the marriage strong through travel:

  1)      Stay connected.  Make sure you take time to discuss the happenings of the day.  Often we email each other, text and call frequently.  Skpe is a beautiful thing too and we have started utilizing this technology, plus it’s free.

 2)      Make a plan for handling emergencies, both big and small.  After Sept. 11th, we decided we needed an emergency plan for the family.  Such as what we would do if we were not able to communicate with each other. Also, several times I have had to deal with small emergencies such as car repairs and broken garage doors. Luckily I have great neighbors that have helped me during emergencies.

 3)      The road spouse needs to come home with love and not critique. Experts point out that the traveling spouse needs to trust the spouse that has been home and refrain from micromanaging and second guessing decisions.   

 4)      Make sure your spouse knows they will be missed.

 5)      Don’t bog down your spouse with every problem or mishap over the phone and immediately upon arrival.  Re-entry is always a challenge.  Everyone needs to catch up and reconnect, but this needs to be done strategically and with grace. 

 Resources used:

 http://marriage.families.com/blog/traveling-spouses-and-stress

 http://www.suite101.com/reference/traveling_spouse

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Sandra Jones Counseling

Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy

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