When I married Jim, my husband of 35 years, I also married a suitcase. That's because Jim's first career, in the Coast Guard, included travel. Now, in a second career doing shipyard development, Jim meets with clients on every continent for long periods of time. I quickly discovered our marriage and life with our five children couldn't be placed on hold until Jim got back home.
Others struggle with the same lifestyle. According to airline figures, 48 percent of U.S. carriers' 1.4 million passengers are business travelers. The trucking industry's most frequent complaint from drivers is that they spend too much time away from home.
Because of Jim's frequent absences, our marriage challenges the biblical ideal of two people becoming one (Genesis 2:24). We've learned to rely on God and develop strategies to remain close. A great marriage, with frequent separations, takes effort. Here are some ways my husband and I stay connected.
The fine art of negotiation
Preparation makes our separations easier. Jim and I have worked out a budget we both understand: I pay the bills, but together we set spending and saving goals. Jim gives me his itinerary before departure, and I fill in a calendar for him with everyone's activities so we know what's happening in our separate worlds.
We plan ahead for momentous events that must be missed. When Jim cruised oceans, I mailed him special care packages. Once, when I was seven months pregnant, I sent him a balloon with a note, "Blow this up to discover how I'm doing." As he inflated the balloon, words grew, proclaiming, "I'm expanding."1