Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Traveling Husband

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Ever since my husband first started working, he’s had to travel for a week or two at a time at least every month, sometimes more. It has been a challenge for us as a couple and as a family. Most of the time we haven’t lived near extended family members, so we have had to learn to rely on each other and the Lord.

For a long time I found myself feeling like I was “getting through” the times he was out of town. When I really sat down and calculated the time that we were apart, I realized I didn’t want to spend that amount of my life just “getting through”. I wanted to enjoy my blessings and family, and live life to its fullest. Over the years, we’ve figured out how to make this time in our lives enjoyable, to look at the positive side, and to be grateful for the time we have together as a family. Here are some things that have helped us (and me!) find the joy in this part of our journey.

-Use Technology: We bought a webcam for my computer and my husband’s laptop. This enables us to gather around the computer almost every night my husband is gone and talk as a family. We’ve had family home evenings this way; the kids can show their Dad a school assignment or a new dance move they learned; he can tell them their bedtime story. Even our baby starts smiling and reaching for the screen when she sees her Daddy. This small investment has really been a great way to feel more in touch.

-My Mom (who faced this same situation many times as a young mother) told me to treat myself during these long weeks. She said it was cheaper than a shrink, and I think she’s right. I don’t try to expect too much out of myself during these weeks. The house isn’t always spotless (not that it is when my husband’s home!) We will sometimes eat out, have an easy dinner at home (my kids will tell you that they’ve even eaten cold cereal for dinner, but I will deny this), or go get a treat together. I rent chick-flicks to watch after the kids go to bed. This is fun for me, and I know my husband doesn’t miss seeing those at all! I will start fun projects: once, when my husband left for China, our family room wall was white; when he came home it was red (ok, maybe it was actually a scary salmon pink color, but eventually it ended up red).

-During the summer, I’ve planned weeks of fun with the kids where we visit museums, the zoo, and the pool. Then we pick their favorite thing we did to do with Dad when he returns.

-Carry on traditions: I still try and hold family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study, as well as any other routines we have when Dad is home. They aren’t fancy, or long, but the kids seem to do the best with their routines and they know what to expect no matter who is home.

-Safety: My husband has set up rules for himself as he travels, to help him avoid temptations. He doesn’t turn the tv on after certain hours and is careful to pick only channels he knows aren’t going to have anything indecent on. He doesn’t turn the tv on at all in foreign countries. He takes his scriptures to read, keeps busy working, exercising, and trying to eat healthy. This helps us trust each other when we are apart.

I’m grateful for a husband who works hard for our family, and for the fact that he has a good job, even if it means time apart. For the time being I know we can work together to make this an opportunity to grow together as a family and couple, and start enjoying the journey of our life together.

I also found these articles in the Ensign really helpful:
Business Travelers: Return With Honor
Road Warriors


Melissa is a stay at home Mom with 4 kids that keep her happily busy. She is in the process of moving her family from Utah to Colorado. She loves photography, dancing, and all things messy and fun with her kids.


Cami said...

This is all great advice! My husband is in the military and has been gone for months at a time. It has forced me to rely on other people for help sometimes (like when both my kids were vomiting and I hadn't slept for days), but keeping the routines and foundation in the gospel is so important.

The Mighty Miners said...

I completely agree! It is so great to see that there are other people out there in the same situation as my family and seem to handling it about the same. I think having a strong Gospel focus is the key and my husband has definately figured out the whole "don't turn on the tv when out of the country thing!" Recently when he was activated we started treating ourselves to something fun every once in a while like going out to eat or a movie. We never used to do that. It sure seems to make a difference! I might try the movie nights. Thanks for the advice.

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