I get that question a lot. Especially from women who learn how much I travel. So today, on our 20th wedding anniversary, I am asking myself that same question:
How have we done it? How have we made it work for 20 years when others haven’t?
Our marriage has not been the most conventional (no, not like that). Since the time we were first married, we have spent significant amounts of it apart. Even as far back as our first year of marriage, I was working in Los Angeles while she was down in San Diego. And back then we did not even share the same days off. We were constantly ships passing in the night as one of us was always driving up or down the California coast to spend time with each other. Since then, I have basically spent the better part of 3 months each year in hotel rooms away from my family.
So as I have been thinking about what it takes to make a marriage successful among the crazy demands of business travel, I keep coming back to the same six things……..
Take time to understand their Love Language:
If you are not familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages, I suggest you stop reading this and immediately click here. This was probably the most impactful self-development exercise I did when it comes to the impact on our marriage. Understanding how Acts of Service speaks to Joy and literally says “I love you” to her changed the way I look at tasks around the house. Which brings me to….
Embrace the ‘Honey-do’ list:
Did you catch that Joy’s love language is Acts of Service? That means that when I get stuff done around the house, she feels valued and loved. So if there is a research project that needs done, I will do it on a plane. I try and get stuff accomplished around the house on the weekends. I love to check things off of lists and she loves to put things on lists. It works for us.
When you are home – put them first:
I love to golf. I don’t play golf.
I would train all day everyday on a martial arts mat. I limit myself to only classes I do with my boys.
These are things that fuel and refresh me but THEY TAKE TIME!!! I have pontificated on this before but when I am home, I vehemently protect that time. I can train on the road. I can work late on the road. I can only spend time with my family, specifically my spouse, while I am at home.
Set them up for success:
Part of my weekly weekend ritual is to set my wife and kids up for success for the week. That means getting meals planned out, buying the groceries, meal prepping, making sure laundry is done, projects are completed and ready to be turned in, schedules are clear for the next week, and so on, and so on and so on. The weeks that are the most stressful on all of us are the ones where I fail to plan for the week. My job is to provide and more than just a paycheck.
Hide all evidence of travel:
When I get home I tend to unpack right away. Not because I am super diligent about processing my laundry but because if I leave my suitcase out all weekend it serves as a constant reminder that I have either been gone all week or will be gone all week. Unpack quickly and pack at the last minute.
This one was the hardest one for me to learn. Seems silly but for years I would wait till the last minute to let my wife know I was going to be traveling. She would consistently get mad when I was leaving so if I left it to the very last minute, I got to enjoy a few more days of ‘happiness’. This does not work. Communicate early. Communicate often. Communicate regularly. Call, text, email, skywriting……communicate.
Now please understand, developing these habits was a process. There have been times when I have been incredibly selfish. When I didn’t put her and the kids first and inevitably, our largest fights have been centered around those times. Also, I think this list can be applied to any marriage and approaching what separates you. For us, it happens to be literal distance. For others, it may just be time.
So hopefully this list will help you and your spouse survive the pitfalls of business travel, whether you have a short season of travel or whether you become a salty veteran like me.
See you on the road!!