“You realize that if I end up taking this job it’s going to involve a lot of travel, right?” Dan turned his head to look at me before turning his eyes back to the road. “Like, a lot of travel. At least one or two weeks out of every month.”
My careful reply came a few seconds later: “Yes, I get that. And I don’t love it. But I want to make sure you’re doing something you love.”
Dan was a few months away from graduating with his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering, and it was time to make a decision about his job offers. Basically, the options came down to:
1- Sit at a desk all day every day and do math (or whatever it is that Electrical Engineers do), or
2- Sit at a desk and do math all day for a week or two and then spend the next week traveling and doing the hands-on work to put that math into action. Knowing and loving Dan like I do, option number two was obviously the best choice for him.
Fast-forward about six months, and I’m dropping Dan off at the airport for his first business trip. He had to go to Orlando for the week (ironically, we were just there for our honeymoon two weeks before), and as I pulled the car up to drop-off area I couldn’t stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. He gave me a hug and a kiss goodbye, and then he’s off. The tears eventually stopped somewhere along the drive back home, and I kept myself as busy as I could that week to keep my mind off the fact that Dan wasn’t there.
In retrospect, that week of Dan’s first business trip was the longest time we’d ever spent apart. We started dating when we were sixteen, and even when we were at separate colleges we didn’t go more than a few days without seeing each other. That explains why being separated that first time was so hard. And I use the word “hard” with caution. I know that compared to women whose husbands are off fighting for our country overseas, my husband going on business trips for a week or two at a time is nothing. But I can only speak to my own experience, not theirs.
Here are some things that have helped me stay sane when my husband is out of town on business.
I made a rule for myself that I don’t post anything on social media about Dan being out of town while he is out of town. This is really a safety thing– I don’t want to be stupid and let strangers on the internet know that I’m home alone without my 6’3” husband to protect me. It’s 2019, and I think we should all know the dangers of oversharing on social media by now (see the Kim Kardashian Paris thing).
I got a guard dog. Seriously. One of the main reasons we wanted a big, strong dog is because Dan is gone 25% of the time, and having a dog around would make us both feel safer. Kingsley’s only five months old right now, but I already feel better having him as a companion around the house when Dan’s not there. Once he’s full grown he’ll be about 130 pounds, and nobody is going to want to mess with us.
People feed me. My family and close friends know that I can’t cook very well, so they make sure I stay nourished by more than just mac and cheese throughout the week. I love them for it. And it’s a two-for-one deal really, because not only are they feeding me, but they’re also keeping me company. Which brings me to my next point..
I make a conscious effort to be around people. When I was first coming to terms with being married to a “traveling businessman”, I consoled myself with the thought I’m an introvert, so I’ll be fine. I’ll have my cat, my books, and my crocheting, what else do I need? Oh boy was I wrong about that one. What should have been an introvert’s paradise turned into loneliness pretty quickly. There’s a line between solitude and loneliness. I enjoy a night of solitude every now and then. But string too many of those nights together, and you end up feeling lonely and isolated. I was surprised when I learned that maybe I’m not as much of an old cat lady as I thought I was.
The best part of Dan traveling is when he comes home. And no, I don’t just mean that. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but honestly it just makes it grow sadder. Dan is my best friend, and once he walks back through our front door my heart feels whole again. Not in an unhealthy, co-dependent, “I can’t live without you” sort of way. Being apart has taught me that I can live without my husband, but also that I don’t ever want to. Life is sweeter when he’s home.