Not For Everyone

Recently my husband and I were discussing with a friend the different travel requirements of my husband’s job.

Briefly, my husband works for a major auto company (think 2 letters…but not the one going bankrupt) as a liason between their corporate credit division and all the dealerships in SE Texas.  He spends a lot of time traveling his district (SE Texas is big, y’all), meeting face-to-face with people, keeping everything on track and helping to grow his company’s business.  He’s also flown regularly to vast and varied areas of the country to meet with company execs and other district managers.

He’s gone about 50% of the time.

Our friend said something to the effect of, “Wow, it must really mess up your family’s schedule to have you coming and going like that.”

To which I responded that my husband isn’t very often part of our schedule.

Doesn’t that sound awful?  But it’s true.  The kids and I do our thing – I keep our world rotating, do what needs to be done, and when my husband can slide into our orbit, he does.  We’re usually pretty unfazed by the coming and going at this point.

Part of me is bothered with my complacency.  But a larger part understands that this is how I “handle” it – I can’t be lost and alone every time he’s gone, because he’s gone a lot.  And sometimes without much warning.  And sometimes for much longer than he intends to be.  Our lifestyle demands total flexibility on my part, and almost total independence.

I said we were unfazed, and this – at least for me – isn’t entirely true.  If I’m being honest, I’ll say that sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out our roles when he’s home.  I know that when he’s gone, everything is up to me.  But when he’s home, what’s “my” job?  What’s “his” job?  It’s a challenge to always communicate our expectations to each other when he is home, because the distribution of responsibilities is a bit out of whack.  That does lead to misunderstanding at times.

There is also the added challenge that when he’s home, he’s HOME – meaning, he works out of our house.  There’s a whoooooole other kind of lifestyle attached to that – like how he’s here, but unavailable, which is confusing to the kids and sometimes frustrating to me – but I won’t go there right now.

I look at how our lifestyle has evolved to this point, and I’m not sure it’s something I would prefer over, say, a husband who works 9-5 and is home for every dinner.  But in these times, with this economy, and with our family’s needs, I’m grateful he has a good job and that we are provided for.  I just know that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, even if it has to be for me right now.

  • Makes sense to me. Is it ideal? Certainly not, but you do what you gotta do. I would think the bigger question might be, is it working for your marriage and for your kids? My husband travels sometimes and I do on occasion too for work. We both find that if we’ve been away for awhile, the first day or two home there is still some distance between us…emotionally. It takes deliberate reconnecting and intimacy. But you certainly must be independent since he’s not there so often. I’m all about strong women 🙂

  • LCM

    I have to agree that you have to roll with the punches, especially in these economic times. We knew, moving down here, that TD was going to be spending a lot of time at work, so I adjusted my attitude accordingly. It was going to be quite a difference, compared to how much he was around when Fiona was sick. But more recently he’s stopped working late on Fridays and the girls and I are a bit bummed because we no longer have RedBox movie and trashy dinner night! The girls have adjusted to where I have to remind them that Dad is a fully functioning parent. I have to say, I HATE the working from home thing because I feel like I am constantly shushing everyone. The nice thing for us both is that we have older kids, if we were back in the mom with only young kids stage, it might just make us crazy.

  • You know what it’s like to be a military spouse. My husband slides in and out o four house easily, with me taking over his roles as needed. We’ve spent the last 8 years of our almost 9 year marriage with him gone. In fact the last house we bought, we moved in, and he was gone for this and that, then deployed. By the time he got home from deployment, we’d lived there for a year and a half. He’d only lived in the house for literally maybe 2-3 months. The area was still new to him other than going back and forth to work where I had learned where things were, etc.

    It’s hard, and you’re right, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out roles once they come home again. We do what we have to do sometimes. I’m just glad after 9 years of having a sometimes husband and dad that my husband has been afforded a position where he’s generally home much more.

  • Jen

    I know it doesn’t help to hear me say I’m glad Paul doesn’t travel for work, but I really don’t think I could handle it as well as you do. I’m not quite sure how I’ll deal with Paul starting grad school next month, especially with the baby coming, but, then again, we all end up dealing with the cards we are dealt somehow. Whether we like it or not, we manage with what we have. Sounds like you guys are doing great!

  • I can really relate to this post! My husband also travels (mostly during the academic year), and so the majority of the childcare duties falls to me. I notice his absence most between 8-10 PM, those two hours we have together alone between putting the kids to bed and falling asleep ourselves.

    I often have people say to me, “It must be so hard.” But it’s not, really. You do what you have to do and get on with things. I hate to say this, but it’s when he’s home (especially on the weekends) and we’re off our ‘normal’ schedule that I’m scratching my head about what to do. It’s almost as if he disrupts our day-to-day lives. (eesh, that sounds bad!)

  • This is SO our family. My husband is a truck driver and is home two weekends out of the month. It’s definitely not ideal, but this is how it’s been for all of our marriage. It is tough, but like you, we are thankful he can provide for us.