Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"They Said What?" | Things Not to Say to Someone Whose Spouse Travels for Work

So y'all know by now that my husband travels for work. He and I both try very hard to not broadcast when he's away, because, you know…safety

And while I'm beyond thankful that my husband provides for our family with his job, it's tough stuff when he's traveling and I'm a single parent. (It was rough when I was working, too, lest you think this is just a stay-at-home mom's whining post.) It's hard to single parent -- and shout-out to all you single parents out there; you are freaking rockstars! Being both Mom and Dad is hard, and it only gets harder the older the children become and realize that Dad isn't here -- and there are things that they can pull over on Mom! 



I really do try to believe that people have only the best intentions, but sometimes people can say the dumbest stuff (me included) when they're trying to relate to a situation. And they can really say the dumbest, most insensitive stuff to someone whose spouse travels for work. Here are some of my favorites, marked down as things to not say to someone whose spouse travels for work, whether it's the husband or the wife traveling: 

1. Can't he/she just find a new job so they're home more often?
Sure, it's that simple. Let's just find a new job. {Insert eye-roll emoji here.} 

My husband absolutely adores his job and the industry he's in, so he doesn't want to find a new job. (And I don't want him to, either.) 

2. Well, you can't complain about his/her job. It's the life you chose. 
I guess you can't ever complain about your job, either, then, since you chose your job. 

Yes, it's the life we chose when my husband took this job. However, anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they love their job (or their spouse's job) complains about work and I'm allowed a pity party every now and then. 

3. Wow, he/she's traveling again?! I feel like he/she just got back. -OR- Wasn't he/she just traveling?
Uh, tell me about it. 

We live and die by our calendar, and our life constantly revolves around when Brandon's flying out for his next trip. So yes, he's traveling again. I'm glad you feel like he just got back, because ME TOO. 

4. I don't know how you do it. 
Me either. But I have to, so I just do. 

Be an encourager, not a discourager, to your friend whose spouse travels for work. They don't need to hear how you don't know how they do it -- they don't know how they do it, trust me. They just do it because they have to; that's their part of the deal. They take it one day at a time, trust me. Encourage them by saying, "You've made it halfway through the week! Only two more sleeps and you guys will all be together again!" 

5. I'd be a mess if my husband/wife traveled as much as yours did. Mine was gone for 2 days and I was dying. 
Newsflash: I am a mess. I just try to keep it together as best I can. 

We're all messes some days, regardless of whether our spouse travels or is home every single night after work. We're all tired, whether we work full-time, part-time or are stay-at-home parents. It's an exhausting life we lead, kids or not. Again, be an encourager. I'm sorry you were dying after two days; try six. 

6. You think it's hard now? Wait until you have kids. (Or the second baby gets here.) 
I know it's going to be hard adding another child into the mix. Just the mere thought of bathing two children at night; caring for an infant and a toddler alone; and figuring out how to balance it all scares the crap out of me. Thanks for the encouragement. 

Again, be an encourager. If you have to let them know your true thoughts, say something like, "I know it's difficult now and will very likely be harder when the second baby (or first baby) arrives. How can I help you?" 

And here are some tips to help that friend or family member of yours whose spouse may travel for work: 

1. Invite them over for dinner. 
For us, Walker and I eat very high-class meals of PB&J sandwiches, leftovers or even Chick-fil-A when Brandon's gone. While Walker is young, I'm going to get away with not cooking when Brandon travels for as long as I can! But the nighttime routine -- regardless of whether they have children or not -- gets lonely, and a simple invite over for dinner not only helps them break up the day, but it is a welcome reprieve from the reminder they're alone for dinner again. That's no fun for anyone! 

2. Don't say any of the things above. 
But seriously, don't. Be an encourager, a friend. Listen. Let them cry because their child is acting out and is crying for Daddy. Offer to come over and hang out with them one night after their kid goes to bed. Just ask them how they are. Trust me, they'll appreciate it. 

3. Offer to help where you can. 
I'm pregnant, and doing the simple things like taking out the trash when Brandon's gone are pretty annoying, hard tasks. If you know your friend or family member's spouse is gone, offer to help out where you can: taking the trash to the curb for them; having them over for dinner; leaving a coffee on their desk at work; coming over to help with bath time; etc. (Any of the things the spouse normally helps out with in the mornings or evenings is always a big help!) 

4. Respect family time. 
When the husband or wife gets back home, respect family time that they so desire and need. Not that they don't want or need you anymore (so don't feel that way), they just all need to be together as a family without any binding contracts or a full agenda. When Brandon gets home after a full week away, we thoroughly enjoy a low-key, laid-back family weekend if we can. We typically only say "yes" to things that are absolute must-do's and even though we love our friends like family and family like friends, we just need a couple of days to download, be together, and catch up. 

15 comments:

  1. I think sometimes people say stupid things (read: my coworker), but do so in an attempt to connect, or at the very least to try and relate. Sometimes it comes off as insensitive. And then there are just people who don't think before they speak.
    I know it's hard when my husband travels, and I don't have a little one to care for. I can only imagine how difficult it is. I'm here for you anytime you need to vent! :)

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  2. My husband used to travel for work and while we didn't have kids when he had that job it was still hard to be home alone for the majority of the month! I think certain people have no filter!! xo, Biana-BlovedBoston

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  3. Love this! Aaron traveled M-F for 2 years and it was terrible and we don't even have kids. I would add to the list "Respect family time when he is home" - I've had so many weird responses when I tell people we need family time on a Saturday night after Aaron is traveling!

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  4. A. freaking. men. to ALL of this! My personal favorite (when making a small off-handed comment about how ___ is ____ when Nathan is out of town) "Well it's only going to get harder from here!" Like, REALLY? Really? How is this helpful? I 100% believe Nathan was MADE for the job he is doing, I was made to be his wife while he does it! I get that other people DON'T get it, but seeing your spouse working a job he is amazing at and LOVES makes very, very hard to have negative feelings towards it!

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  5. My sister has dated a guy who was deployed and her husband to be will be traveling quite a lot when they are first married. My husband travels a few times a month but nothing big which will be changing soon. I always provide a listening ear and pray for the friends and family who have loved ones traveling all the time.

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  6. Preach!! People don't get it and it's so frustrating when they try to relate their life to it and it's not even remotely close to the same thing. Loving this post. And seriously you are amazing for handling it all with a toddler + being pregnant + not having time "off" by going to work. Working is hard too, but at least it's a little break to do something else! I wish we lived closer and I would totally invite you for dinner and help with night duties. I think night duties are the toughest part of it!

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  7. Oh my gosh, I totally feel you!! Especially on the "wasn't he just on travel?" comment!! Last year I blogged on what helps me while husby is away: http://www.klein.co/2015/08/the-sahms-guide-to-business-travel.html He has Rome coming up this year, and darn if I'm not going to stuff myself in his suitcase ;)

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  8. My husband has traveled and likely will again at some point in the future, so I hear you in how rough it can get. Such a nice list of reminders and how to help out parents handling things on their own!

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  9. Great post!! You're doing an amazing job, especially when Brandon isn't home! One thing that's great is that Brandon loved his job - makes the traveling worth it :)

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  10. Great post! I've been dating my boyfriend for nearly 5 years and his work has always involved a significant amount of travel. I often think about what it will be like down the road, when we're married with kids and much of my time is basically being a single mom. While I'm not there yet, what I could relate to most is the loneliness piece, and also the piece about respecting time. One of the couples that we are the closest with doesn't always get this and will get frustrated if we say no to plans too many times, which makes us feel guilty for not filling their friend quota. Over the last six months or so we've really had to make it clear that not only do we need quality time when Bryce isn't on the road, but because he travels, we also need that time to just get stuff done, whether it be projects in the house or yard!

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  11. I relate to ALL of these! Tyler's isn't always travel (although sometimes he does- later this year he's doing a sixty day rotation in KY) but a lot of those same comments apply and get to me during field rotations, deployments, etc... he can be gone anywhere from a night or two to a few weeks to months on end! Insensitive comments never help. Especially the well you chose this blah blah blah. I always internally think "knife gun emoji" ;) and then feel a little better ha!

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  12. I remember those days of traveling all too well, and as I've told you before, I truly admire you for all that you do!! Brandon is a lucky guy to have you :) xo

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  13. Great post! Jason has been traveling much more lately so I can relate. I have a handful of people that give me then "again?" speeches and I always wish they were more positive about it. Like you said, just trying to keep it all together. I thought it would be too hard when I was pregnant and caring for a toddler, but we did it. Then I thought it would be too hard to do it with a toddler and an infant, but now we are doing it so my point is - you will too! It's awesome that Brandon loves his job. That's what makes it all worth it!

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  14. Great points and tips!! My husband works away from home as well and we've had our house for sale for a while to hopefully change our lifestyle! I give a huge round of applause to the single parents as well as the "single-married" parents like you! It's not an easy job, but just remember your doing a fabulous job!!!

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