For more than a decade, I’ve enjoyed meeting regularly with friends whose spouses, like mine, are pilots; we call it Pilot Supper Club. It began as a bimonthly supper and support group with our families, but sometimes we have couple events, or just the men or women go out. We relate to one another’s lives like no other friends can. One interesting quality about the group is the strength of its marriages, despite the fact that all the couples are in the stressful child rearing years.
Maybe that surprises you, because of all the required travel that is a part of every pilot’s life. Most of our friends with spouses outside the industry ask, “How can you stand your husband being gone so often?” But we always laugh and say that’s one of the reasons our marriages are so strong. I asked the wives about this issue at a luncheon last week. They responded that, in all seriousness, the regular opportunities for separation help their marriages immensely.
If you’re thinking they just don’t like to spend time with their spouses, it’s quite the contrary. The couples are great together and clearly in love, even after 10 or 15 years of marriage. It can be difficult to find ample time together; however, there are definite benefits. For one thing, after a trip, both partners are usually longing to see one another. Separation fuels desire to be together, rather fueling the more common frustration at daily annoyances. (Face it, it’s hard to long to see your spouse after only nine hours apart.) Time apart also keeps you from taking one another for granted. And, yes, several said there were times when they were glad their spouse needed to go to work so they could have some space. Whether the spouses are traveling or home, the families work hard to be supportive, affectionate and kind to each other. They follow their dreams as individuals and as couples.
Trustworthiness and fidelity are especially critical in a marriage when one or both spouses travel alone regularly. Couples who are weak in this area might find it more daunting and less beneficial. Another big challenge is the traveling partner remaining active in the children’s lives and activities. (Tools like texting, Skype and Facebook help families to stay connected when apart.) That being said, my friends and I believe a little space and independence can be good for both partners in trusting marriages.
One spouse doesn’t need a traveling job to have these benefits. I have a number of friends who take an annual or occasional girls’ trip or guys’ trip. They enjoy a relaxed vacation or weekend without family responsibilities, appreciate the time away, and are eager to invest their love and energy back in the family when they return. Often, they spend time doing things their spouse wouldn’t enjoy, for example, fishing trips for the guys and shopping or spa trips for the girls.
Last week, Salon Magazine published “The secret to our happy marriage: Traveling alone.” Writer Neal Pollack says, “It may sound odd, but solo adventures give my wife and me our freedom—and the gift of missing each other.” I recommend reading the entire article for some interesting insights on this topic. Pollack also advocates traveling with your spouse, not just alone. I agree; sharing memories together makes traveling most meaningful.
While I’m advocating for some inedependence, there is a risk of running two separate lives, with not enough intersections. Time together is even more important than time apart, in my view, but the time apart can make you appreciate your time together more. You don’t want to become so separate that you no longer depend on and support one another. Sharing and participating in novel experiences will help you remain bonded and feeling “in love.”
Only you can know how much togetherness or independence is ideal for your marriage. I thought I’d share this viewpoint that “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” since a group of strong, happily married women concurred.
Where do you think the balance lies between togetherness and independence as far as traveling goes? Do you or your spouse travel alone? How does it impact your marriage?
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