Ways to strengthen your marriage when you have a travelling spouseWritten by Elsa Kok Colopy
What's inside this article
Sometimes I want to act like my dog. Not in the roll-in-the-mud, eat-shoes-for-fun kind of way, but in how I respond to my husband’s travels.
Let me explain. Our two dogs always know when my husband, Brian, and I pack to leave town. The minute suitcases appear, they plead their case. They start by lying on the bed, eyes big, tails wagging. Don’t leave us, they say. Look how cute we are!
When we ignore them and keep piling stuff into our luggage, they go on to their next manoeuvre. They sit together by the door, narrowing their eyes as little growls rise from their throats. Don’t make us stop you, they growl. We have our ways.
When we push past them to place our suitcases by the door, they really amp it up. The little one will hobble around whimpering. The big one will play dead on the living room carpet. Are you going to leave us now? they ask. In this condition?
My conditioned response to a travelling husband
I’ve been tempted to do the same things with my husband – not play dead on the living room carpet, but close. Brian travels a lot for his job, and I miss him when he goes. The minute he sets the suitcase on the bed, the ideas start.
I’ve been tempted to bat my eyes and pout my lips, give him my come-hither look and woo him into staying. Other times, I’m tempted to let the growl escape from my belly: "Again? You have to leave again?" And, on occasion, I consider exaggerating my need for him. "But, Honey, the car is acting up. And I think I feel a cold coming on. Cough, cough. You’d better stay and bring me some tissues; I can’t reach them all by myself."
How to cope
Thankfully, I haven’t acted on my ideas, but only because I’ve learned from someone more experienced. Married more than 50 years now, my mom has taught me a lot about loving a travelling man. My dad often travelled internationally for his job, sometimes leaving for weeks at a time. As I watched my mom, I learned how to love Brian as he travels. Here are a few things we do to make it easier:
- We enjoy the time we have. With less time together, Brian and I are intentional in building our relationship when he’s home. We go on dates, watch less TV, enjoy coffee together. We plan these times knowing travel takes from our weekday romance.
- We leave on good terms. Unless it’s 4:30 a.m., I always walk Brian to the car and wave him off. We hug and kiss, remind each other of our love and wish each other a good day. Even when our time is limited, keeping this moment intact leaves us both feeling loved and appreciated.
- We talk often. Unless Brian is in back-to-back meetings, we talk several times a day. Even if it’s a short call, we enjoy hearing each other’s voice.
- I pray. Whether praying about Brian’s safety, loneliness on the road or stress he might be under, I feel more connected to him when I bring his needs before God.
- I spend time with friends. I use the time when Brian is gone to develop friendships. We watch movies and pop popcorn. On the especially tough nights, we raid my chocolate stash.
- I welcome him home. If I can, I meet Brian at the airport. If I can’t, I light candles and create a warm environment at home. Then I get to bat my eyes and pout my lips, giving him my come-hither look.
Make every moment count
It’s not easy to be apart from the one you love, but there are ways to make the separation bearable. Most of all, it’s important to take advantage of the time you do have together. Enjoy a slow Saturday morning. Have a regular date night. Smooch often. Make the moments together count, so your love will remain secure in the moments apart.
Elsa Kok Colopy is the former editor of Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine. She now writes and speaks full time, leading retreats, seminars and workshops. Elsa pens the companion blog, Pure Love, Pure Life. She also pens a second blog, God Has Dimples.
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