Living Together, Living Apart - Coping with Time Apart from Your Spouse
When Work Separates a Family, it Can be Hard to Cope
By: totanaliz on: Wed 11 of Jul, 2007 [09:22 UTC] (3083 reads)
I haven´t seen a lot of my partner in the past 17 years. I sometimes think that is how we have stayed married for the last 10 years, and are still on speaking terms!
For most of our life together, we have been apart.
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When we met, we both worked as Management Consultants, working away on projects and meeting up each weekend.
After 3 years I tired of the “living in hotels” lifestyle, and went to work for myself as a Freelance Management Trainer. We moved around a lot, Stuart changed jobs a lot, but one thing stayed almost constant – he was hardly ever home.
Don´t get me wrong, it isn't a complaint. I love him, but I like my own space, have my own interests and work and I guess I´m just so used to it! Things were different briefly when we had the boys, but even our relocation to Spain to downsize and spend more time together as a family was a flawed plan. We had been here 4 weeks when the phone rang and he was offered a project for 26 weeks in the UK.
At least we have settled into a rhythm, with him here between jobs for as much as 6 months of the year, living a lifestyle with the kids that we previously only dreamed of. But it is still tough on the boys when the phone rings and Dad is called away for the next 6 months. Luckily in the age of cheap airlines, he even flies home every weekend, so I guess we really are lucky.
But to keep the relationship sound takes work. Here´s how I have coped being a part time single mom.
- whenever possible involve your partner in family life. If there are events on at school that they will miss, parties or school clubs, take plenty of photos and videos for them to watch when they come home.
- Let the kids talk to the absent parent as often as possible ( thank goodness for Skype!)
- When you do meet again, don´t immediately launch into one of those “ my week was worse than yours” contests. Both of you will be tired, and both working hard in your own way. Greet each other and the kids and settle down for a drink or a family meal before the week´s catching up gets done.
- Send plenty of texts and emails to keep each other updated. My husband sends me a “daily report” of his activities and uses it to let me know he is OK. Funny how his emails are more romantic than he is when he is here! It also has the benefit that we know some of the news and don´t have to spend all weekend catching up, but can relax instead.
- Plan something special for the time you do have together. We take a picnic out with the kids, go to the lido or the beach, walk the dogs... it doen´t have to cost much but makes sure that you all have something to look forward to.
- If you are the one left at home, make sure that you have a good support network. When we first moved to Spain and I knew no-one, it used to scare me a lot being left here on my own in case something happened to me. I asked neighbors and moms from school to keep an eye on us and make sure we were ok. Might sound daft, but at least when I then fell off a horse and broke my arm, there was someone to go and fetch the kids from school. (I know, you couldn't make it up!)
- Finally, look on the bright side, you have time to yourself! I love the evenings when the kids have finally gone to bed. I can work a little, catch up on letters, watch a DVD with a glass of wine, and generally do, eat and wear what I please. So for me, at least, the part time single life has it´s plus points!