Every year over 34 million Americans travel domestically or internationally for work. This kind of travel can take a deep toll on any marriage. According to a 2012 study by Harris Interactive, 70% of respondents who had experienced a failed marriage said business travel was a contributing factor.
In order to protect and build your marriage, here are some things that you can do when your spouse travels for work. Next week, we’ll give some insight for the traveling spouse on how to build your marriage while away.
1. Stay connected!
You know this already, don’t you? But as we’ve learned, life can get busy for both partners when we’re apart. There is additional work for the spouse left at home because now ALL of the work and responsibility rests with them. For the spouse on the road, there are dinner meetings, presentations, and work to catch up on at the hotel.
A daily conversation has to be a nearly inviolable agreement between you. At the bare minimum a phone conversation is important. Even better is FaceTime, Skype, or some other video streaming between you. One way to stay connected through the day is to send audio messages through an app like Voxer or video messages through the Marco Polo app. This allows you to tell longer stories or accounts. Your spouse can press play and listen or watch when they are ready.
2. Pray together
Be sure to take time in your conversation to ask how you can pray for each other. Then, take a little time to say a prayer for each other. Shared prayer is a huge support to each other and it releases God’s power and peace into your marriage.
3. Be present on their trip
No, we don’t mean travel with them (though that would be nice!). Whenever one of us is traveling, we write at least one note and hide it for the other to find. It only takes a few moments to write a quick, “I love you!” “Dreaming of you,” “Eager for your return,” or “Let’s have some fun when you get home :)!” But it helps keep the heart anchored where it belongs.
If you know their travel schedule ahead of time, you might choose to be super proactive and send a romantic card to their hotel so it’s waiting for them when they arrive. Little surprises like this take a bit of planning, but are great ways to build your marriage while apart.
4. Plan your time apart
Whether you are apart for one night or several, think through how you are going to spend that time. If your children are young, there may be very little “me” time available. Even so, putting a plan together for what you’d like to accomplish can keep you focused and help the time apart go more quickly. Give yourself grace, though, if you don’t accomplish much or any of the plan. Life happens and flexibility is a key to sanity!
5. Guard your heart
Resentment can easily creep into the heart of the spouse who is left at home. Thoughts like:
- “I have to do EVERYTHING around here while they are out having fun.”
- “They get nice restaurants, peace and quiet, while I have the kids and no time to myself.”
- “I work hard around here and get no rest, no break, and no appreciation.”
In every lie there is a kernel of truth. That’s how Satan operates (see Luke 4:1-13).
Protect your heart by taking those thoughts captive the moment the Enemy throws them at you. Replace them with thankfulness. Express gratitude out loud so you can hear yourself say it. Each time, say a few things about your spouse and your life for which you are grateful. Your heart will be guarded by a wall of thanksgiving.
6. Be accountable
Have a godly friend of the same gender whom you can call while your spouse is traveling. Perhaps you can even arrange to get together. Invite them to ask you about your marriage. Let them inquire about how you are doing. Sometimes having a good friend to lean on can diffuse the way you might share things with your traveling spouse.
Be proactive and do whatever it takes to stay connected in the most important relationship you have. As you do, you’ll find that even while apart, you can build your marriage!