My husband is away travelling for the second time in two months. During our first five years of marriage I could count on one hand the number of nights that we spent apart. And then as we were praying about where God wanted us to serve, my husband went on a vision trip to Central Asia. The travelling and nights apart have become more regular since!
Travelling is just a part of life within an international organisation. Each year my husband has to travel to different leadership meetings and then there are also trainings he needs to give or attend (Of course I also have the occasional opportunity to attend a training or a women’s retreat, but how my husband survives when I’m not around is a blog for him to write!).
Just as the tightrope walker has strategies to make her way across the rope high above ground, so I have found ways to survive the time that my husband is away. Here are 8 survival strategies that I have learnt and that have been shared with me by many teammates who face the same long weeks without their husbands on the field. I hope that this can be a help and encouragement to other wives whose husbands travel:
- Make sure emergency phone numbers are easily accessible in case the car breaks down or the water pipe bursts. We make sure to tell our trusty mechanic and handyman to please be available during the time that my husband is away.
- Reduce the small stresses – before my husband leaves I like to make sure that I’ve done a big grocery trip, the car is filled up with gas, internet and cell phone airtime is topped up and the sewage removers have been. It just gives me less to worry about if all these small things are done. I find it quite stressful to be running outside in my pajamas to open up for the sewage men on a Sunday morning! (Why is the garbage and sewage removal always on a Sunday around here?)
- Invite a single girl teammate to spend time with you and the kids – maybe even stay over for a night. We have a teammate from our home country who my kids love spending time with – she is even willing to have a nerf gun war! – and I enjoy the relaxed adult conversation.
- Have good, encouraging books lined up (on Kindle if needed) for those long lonely evenings.
- Have something for the kids to look forward to. My husband leaves treats each day that he is away for the kids – it could be a pencil or a candy – just something small for them to look forward to (he usually leaves me a surprise too). Special things to look forward to, like a planned movie night for the kids, make the time more bearable.
- Be real, share your struggles and ask for prayer. The last time my husband was away it was for a big leadership meeting that two other guys had to leave their families to attend as well. The three of us wives formed a WhatsApp group and regularly checked up on each other during the weeks our husbands were away. It was so encouraging to be able to share together and to be praying for each other.
- Recognise that your kids are struggling too. It helps me to acknowledge the ways in which the kids are missing my husband and adjusting to his absence. This doesn’t excuse their sinful behaviour, but it does help me to be more grace-filled and sympathetic as I deal with their tantrums and moodiness while he is away.
- Look forward to his return together. When the end is in sight and it’s just a couple of days until he is back, the kids count down and do something special for when he gets home – like baking a cake and making cards.
It is a sweet time when my husband finally gets home, but it also takes some adjusting as we need to be patient as he gets over the jet lag and tiredness from travel, and as we learn the rhythms of being all five of us together again.
Through the struggles of the time spent apart, God is so good. God gives me grace in unexpected small ways, which are a constant reminder that HE is the one caring for me and providing for me. Each time that my husband is away, I am encouraged to seek God and rely on Him more.
A wise missionary couple once told us that the best way to make a decision is to ask oneself “which decision is going to increase my faith the most?” and then go with that option. We always make the decision for my husband to travel, together. We recognise that my husband’s travels are part of our family ministry and so we don’t get angry or bitter about him being gone. When my husband is away it increases my faith and secures the knowledge for me that I surely am dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91 (NIV)
Beth is from the global South, and she loves the ocean and cold Christmas dinner on a hot day around the pool. She is married to an adventurer, and they have three wonderfully unique children.