Are you and your partner forced to spend time apart and away from home due to work commitments? Perhaps there is a job that requires travel for lengthy periods or frequent travel is a requirement throughout each month?
Being a solider, Russell is required to be available 24/7 in the event of an emergency, exercise, deployment or regular scheduled task. The length of time away from home can be anywhere between 24 hours to several months and while this is the nature of his job and something we expect, it is never something we accept nor does it get any easier as time goes on.
Having relocated here only 6 months ago, I am finding this particular exercise more difficult than previous ones. For some reason I miss him more and have a greater sense of panic and loss with him gone. He is constantly on my mind and these thoughts distract me from my daily tasks. Not having my wing man to talk to has been the hardest thing with this exercise. He is restricted from using his cellphone and not being able to talk to him to calm me down when I am anxious has created a sense of panic. This has led me to revert to our usual coping strategies when he is away.
Prior to him leaving each time, I take photographs of him which I look at often. What would normally be a daily debrief at the end of each day is now a few short messages that I leave him which are devoid of any issues on the home front. I distract myself by keeping busy and my thoughts are focused on his return by counting down the days until he arrives home again. When you are forced, through circumstances, to live and parent alone you are given opportunities to test the strength of your relationship and that of your well being.
Each minute he spends at home is made all the more special with the ever present thoughts of him having to leave again. If you are the one who is away from home, what do you do for your partner while you are away? What techniques do you use to keep communication open between the two of you when communication is difficult?
Previous exercises/courses have enabled Russell to write letters to me during his down time which I have read upon his return. They gave me an insight into what he was thinking and feeling during his time away. I felt included and could imagine him there through his descriptions and experiences.
Time apart gives us the opportunity to appreciate each other more and I see the gap he leaves in our lives during his absence. A healthy relationship will survive regardless of the distance between two people who are truly invested in it.
When an emergency strikes, Russells priority is to his job and after making sure his family are ok he heads out to make sure everyone else is ok too. This is just one of the few sacrifices we make in our relationship to support each other on our journey together. Here are a few examples of things you can do to maintain a healthy relationship when your job takes you away from home:
- Write letters to each other and post them if possible otherwise hold onto them until you are together again
- Write thoughts, experiences and feelings in a notebook and swap them for each other to read when you return
- Create a cd of your favourite songs together and listen to it often
- Schedule special reminders to be delivered to the person back at home (which we can help you organise)
- Leave notes around the house for the person back at home to find at random times
- Schedule social media posts (if you have it) to remind the person back at home just how much they mean to you
- Schedule a time of the day/night that you both look up at the stars and think of each other at that moment
- Swap an item of clothing that has each others scent on it to find some comfort in
These are just a few of the things we do when Russell is away for work. We would love to hear about some of the things you do if you are in a similar situation where one of you has a job that requires travel away from home for lengthy periods. Feel free to comment below or email them to Natasha.