Everyone in America, it would seem, is looking for more time. We all feel hurried and haggard. But, in the case of life with a traveling husband, time becomes an elusive commodity, an enemy of sorts – and time is a four-letter word.
There are so many families in each community with a spouse who travels. In my home, it’s my husband. He has traveled on and off over the last 16 years – sometimes quite extensively. I call him a traveling mister.
When TIME is a four-letter word
I’m so thankful my husband has a job. At times, people have made unkind remarks about our situation because of ignorance or a differing opinion. But with many people looking for work or better positions, we are thankful for the job he has.
However, for those with husbands (or spouses) who travel each week for work, time looms frantically each weekend or each time your spouse is home. The biggest question becomes: how in the world do you fit your social calendar, romantic life, family time, honey-dos, and friendships into a sometimes 36 hour slot of time.
There is an amazing side effect to stuffing all of life into 36 hours. Recently, as my whole family was piled together – a tangle of arms and legs – watching a movie, I thought how fortunate I am that my family believes each moment together is precious and cherished.
Wives of traveling misters – the name I gave myself and friends who live this life – live an absurd amount of life during the days (or hours) a spouse is home. It’s like a stopwatch begins the minute the airplane touches ground. The plane hits the tarmac and you’re in a race against time until the plane lifts off once again.
What if there are home repairs or a calamity? Then, those moments become even more strained and pressed. And Lord help us if there is any argument or disagreement that crops up – as they often do. Your quality time is eaten up and when your spouse leaves, it can make you feel more disconnected then ever.
All of this proves very challenging for families with a traveling spouse or a spouse who works weird, long hours (doctors, pilots, police officers, and lawyers come to mind). How do you stay connected to people who are often miles and miles away?
My husband has a saying “affection grows by time and proximity.” We teach our teenagers this saying and let them use it to guide their feelings for others. You will feel close to the people you spend time with and are physically close to. Yet, my marriage and family is living proof that both travel and a healthy marriage can succeed. With 16+ years of marriage, 5 kids, a traveling husband, and 4 big, cross-country moves under our belt, we’re still madly in love and enjoy our family.
If you’re the wife of a traveling husband or simply love reading why people think they’ve stuck together, I put together a short list of reasons we think we work.
1. We put Jesus first
My husband and I have been separately pursuing a relationship with Jesus since we were young teens. Each day we seek God, pursue scriptures for wisdom, and actively put Him first in our lives. We desire to make Him the Lord of our lives in how we think and live each day – starting with the way we speak to and treat each other.
2. Covenant always wins
We believe in covenant. We believe in the choice to love and cover over someone else in love. To chase each other even when our brokenness is showing through. We believe in the idea of “one and only.” There is only one for me and I love the result of covenant after all these years. It is sexier than anything I know.
3. Communication is a must
We often have people tell us we are good communicators. But, the reason we are good communicators is because we have worked at communicating for 16+ years. Every day we practice communication with each other, our children, our family, our friends, and our co-workers. We want to be better and better. No one can read your mind. Not even someone you have been married to for years and years. It’s always better to speak what you are thinking, carefully and kindly, but speak it.
5. Be quick to say I’m sorry and quick to forgive
Being wrong is my least favorite thing. My husband’s too. Yet, we have learned over the years admitting our mistakes to each other, and our children, is the best way to stay close.
4. Be friends
My husband and I genuinely care for each other and enjoy spending time together. Yes, we have other close friendships. But, at the end of the day, we the best of friends. It has helped us so many times through many hard spots on our timeline. Traveling life as friends has been a huge blessing.
5. Be willing to call it quits
In the Bible, there is instruction for men who have recently married to stay home from war. This was for multiple reasons. Obviously, one reason is for the new couple to build a great relationship. My husband travels a lot, it’s true. But, marriage and family always comes first. If we felt our marriage was falling apart or our kids were struggling beyond normal limits, we would pull the plug on his traveling – even if it meant making a drastic change in job or life.
6. Romance, the cherry on the top
The romantic life of a couple is such a deep, sensitive, personal conversation with lots and lots of gray areas due to seasons of life, health, and so much more. But, I have found that covenant, friendship, communication, and valuing each other helps lay a foundation to a strong, enjoyable intimate relationship with my spouse. And when that‘s not in perfect working order, sometimes just choosing to be intimate is good medicine, too. I have found intimacy forms a bond that can withstand quite a lot. But it doesn’t fix everything. If you need more information, seeking professional help, the counsel of a pastor, or chatting with a friend who has a marriage you respect, is a great idea.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” His words still ring true today.
No matter how you pattern your life, marriage, family, relationships, or career you will need to work hard at each of them to do them well. No one just falls into having a great career – the opportunities you’re given must be held on to with moral character and hard work. The same can be said for any part of life – including marriage and family.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one person says to another “What! You too? I thought I was the only one . . .”
Are you the wife of a traveling mister? Or does your spouse hold a job with crazy, weird hours? The brand-new community, Wives of Traveling Misters, is for you. Will you join us? Come introduce yourself on Instagram or Facebook. You will find inspirational quotes, blog posts, and a growing community of women like you. Coming soon, we will have devotionals for you and your children, resources, and even an E-Book or two! We are excited to come along side you and champion you as you live the life of a traveling mister!
Sarah and her husband, Eric, have been married for 16 years and have 5 beautiful children – 4 biologically and 1 by gracious addition. She is passionate about a lot of things – especially loving God deeply and those around her well. She is a firm believer that life changing grace can be found in everyday life. Sarah and her family reside these days in the urban core of Kansas City. You can find her photography and writing at sarahkpatrick.com or follow her on FB and Instagram