Nish and I connected on Twitter and I am so honored to have her guest post for my marriage series. I know this is something a ton of wives deal with so I am sure you will appreciate her perspective.
The house was quiet, with the small boy still sleeping soundly in his crib and the dogs tucked away on the bed upstairs. I poured my cup of morning coffee while he gathered up the last few things he needed for the road.
He was leaving. Again.
His does this often – the leaving. It’s never easy.
I hop up on the counter and let my legs dangle while I sip my coffee. Every time I lift it to my lips, I’m hoping that the oversized mug in my hands hides the tears building up behind my eyelids.
I hate it when he leaves.
The house seems bigger, the dogs seem more unruly, and the boy… the boy knows his daddy is gone.
My heart feels deeply when he leaves. It swells and aches and he’s standing in the living room, zipping up his duffel bag and I can feel the pain constrict my chest, even though he’s still here. He looks up after he zips it shut and he sees the tears from across the room. He comes over to me and stands between my straddled dangling legs. He takes my face in his hands and lifts my chin so our eyes lock in.
“Just a few days. I’ll be back in just a few days.”
I nod. The tipping of my head makes the tears fall and he wipes them with the thumb pressed against my cheek. I take a deep breath, gather my thoughts and repeat back to him, “Just a few days.”
“That’s it. Just a few days and I’ll be home again.”
I smile, even though I don’t want to smile. He kisses me and I kiss back and we say “I love you.”
He gathers up his bags, the thermos of coffee he poured earlier, and the keys from the kitchen counter and steps down the hall to the front door. I follow, arms crossed, still chilly from the morning air and the cold wood floors.
He kisses quick once more and tells me he’ll call me as soon as he gets there. I nod, remind him to drive safely, then quietly close the door behind him.
Throwing the bags in the back of the Subaru, he looks up and spots me in the window, watching. He smiles. I smile back and raise my hand in a small wave. He climbs in the drivers seat, shuts the door and backs out of our steep driveway. I stand at the window until I can’t see the tail lights anymore.
And this is how it goes around here.
It’s a constant repetition of coming and going and I can’t lie: It’s tiring and it’s hard. The work my husband does so well requires him to leave home a lot, and his job asks much of me, too. It would be remiss of me to tell you that we have the “Living Marriage Apart” thing figured out. It’s a process that we continuously work through every time he leaves. And it would be a lie for me to tell you that I’m good at not letting my emotions get the best of me… that happens, too.
Despite the pain and the sting of the leaving, we’ve learned how to effectively communicate with each other, keep things in perspective, and continue to strengthen our marriage. Like I said, we’re no experts at this, and some moments are harder than others. But, here are some things that have helped us overcome the distance:
1. We take each other’s calls. Always. There are definitely exceptions to this rule (like if he’s in the middle of an important meeting, or I’m dealing with blood coming out of my son’s mouth because he bit through his tongue. Not that I have any experience with that. ::side eye::), but for the most part, we make every effort to answer the phone when we call each other. It’s a good reminder that our marriage comes first.
2. We don’t just call, we talk on video. If you and your husband spend significant amount of time together, getting a webcam gets my highest recommendation. Being able to see each other’s faces when we talk is so valuable in our communication. I’m good at hiding my emotions in my voice, but I cannot hide them with my face. I wear them plain as day! So being face-to-face with Erik keeps our communication honest, open and vulnerable – how it should be in marriage. (Also, if you have kids, this is a great way for them to see Mommy or Daddy when they’re gone!)
3. If we can, we always call when we get into bed for the night. Some of our best and most honest conversations happen under the covers of our bed. Not only is it a place of physical intimacy, but our bed is a safe place emotionally and spiritually. Connecting with him, even if its over the phone, while I’m laying in bed is another way to stay closely tied together.
4. Work is work, and home is home. One thing that I really appreciate about my husband is that he leaves work at work, as much as he can. It allows him to be fully present with me and the kiddo when he’s here, and it keeps distractions at a minimum. I realize this is difficult with smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, etc., it’s easy to find a way to stay connected to everything outside of the house. But, we do our best to leave our phones on silent, we turn off all push notifications, and we don’t get on the computer. This may seem extreme to some, but it’s what we have to do for us. It’s the only way we can be fully present when we need to.
5. Get romantic on the phone. You know what I mean. ::waggles eyebrows::
What about you? How do you keep your marriage strong in the face of constant distance?