My husband travels a lot for work. Usually, he’s only away for a week or two at a time and then he’s home for four to six weeks before he travels again. This hasn’t always been the case. In the first twelve years of our marriage, we were rarely apart. It’s only really been the over the last five years that he has travelled, but with four children and me working full-time, it’s had its challenges.
It took me a while to get used to him being away. At first, I really hated it and I missed him badly. I couldn’t sleep very well at night – more than anything I felt unsafe, like my security was gone. I walked around during the days feeling like a big chunk of me was missing and I found it really difficult to carry the weight of being a single parent to my children (be it only for a short stint, but reality nonetheless) and running the show at work by myself (we worked at the same company together in joint leadership/management roles).
When he came home, I crashed into a heap, every single time! I felt the relief that he was home and he could now take back his share of the load, the responsibilities, the parenting and the managing. I just needed to take a moment to rest and recharge. It usually took me at least a day or two to recover and get myself back to a place where I could resume as per usual, back to the norm, the even keel and during that crash time I was usually pretty miserable and hard to deal with – which isn’t really fair for anyone.
Of course, the initial reunion was always wonderful and the sex after being apart for that period of time was always off-the-charts good. We always talk each others ear off to try to catch each other up on what’s been going on in both our lives while we were apart. But then always came the inevitable crash as we had to learn to navigate life with him back in the fold. You see, while he was away, new routines were put in place, a new pace was set, priorities changed, and things were done to a different standard because I had to change some things in order to carry the whole load and cope (ie: stay sane). The coming back part has always been the difficult part to manage.
It’s gotten easier though. And the more that he’s away, the more that I am ok. I sleep better now when he is away and sometimes it takes me a few nights to get used to having to share the bed with him again. I feel safe even though he’s away, because God has shown me that He is my source of strength, security and safety. I speak more now to the Holy Spirit than I ever did before, cos I realise that I need to in order to get through and to do it well. And, because we both know that the re-entering part of the coming home is the hardest for everyone, we are conscious to use grace with each other. Patience and grace. Oodles of grace!
My husband is away at this very moment as I am typing this up. He is on a work trip, driving a truck interstate across Australia from Queensland to Perth. He has taken our two sons with him and is making a bit of an exploring holiday of it. He’s travelled along the east coast of Australia, through New South Wales (Sydney), across the top of Victoria, into South Australia (Adelaide) and then into Western Australia. It’s pretty awesome that he gets to do that and take the boys along for the ride.
This time, I’m missing him like crazy in some ways but I’m happy as a pig in mud in others. You see, he was away for New Year’s Eve celebrations and he will be away for his birthday, which is later this week. And, because he is my best friend, my most favourite person and he is away, I haven’t felt much like celebrating. I miss talking to him and sharing my thoughts and dreams with him (phone reception & coverage isn’t so good across the rugged plains of this land). I miss having him around to hug when I feel I need comfort, to kiss as we see the new year in, to snuggle on the couch with as we watch movies, to bring me coffee in bed every morning, to drive the family around, to go places with me, to help parent, to just simply be there.
I decided mid-way through last year that I could miss him when he was away and that was that, or I could miss him and make it count. You see, each time my husband is away, I have an opportunity. I learn a little more about what makes him so amazing, so valuable, so irreplaceable. I get a better understanding of why I love him and why I need him. Because he is away, I realise what I am missing, what the gaps are, what my weaknesses are but also what my strengths are. I become more aware of why we work and what we can do to be better. Because he is away, I have a chance to reset, to hit the pause button on our marriage in order to redesign and redecorate the parts that need a little bit of sprucing up in me. So when he returns, I can be a better version of me, a better partner, a better help-mate, a better lover, a better parent, a better friend, a better wife (and avoid the inevitable crash).
My boys (my husband and two sons) will be home on the weekend and I am already preparing for it. I am looking forward to loving on them, to putting everything else aside and concentrating on them and their stories, to being attentive and conscious of their needs. I can’t wait to see all their photos and watch their animated faces as they share of all their experiences. I’m excited to hug them, kiss them, snuggle with them. I’m so ready to have a face-to-face conversation with my man and feel his skin beneath my hands and his strength alongside me again. I truly believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it’s what you do with that fondness from absence that counts. It can truly be your opportunity to take your marriage to the next level – what a blessing!
If you have a travelling spouse or if you are a single parent, I absolutely salute you. The load you carry is unimaginable and let me take a moment to say, you are doing an incredible job. My mother in law has always said to me “do your best and God will do the rest!”. Really, what more can you ask for than that? God is so full of grace that He will cover all your mistakes, failings and inadequacies. Just keep doing your best – God will do the rest!