Confessions of a Traveling Spouses Wife


Confessions of a Traveling spouses wife

My husband has been traveling for his job for as long as he’s had it, including the entire time we’ve been together. His travels aren’t typically a leave on Monday, come home Friday kind of deal. It’s usually two weeks at a time and one week home. Sometimes if we are lucky, it is a one week shift, but that’s rare. He travels about 9-10 months out of the year (almost always to Puerto Rico) and works in Charleston during the rest of the time. We have two little girls, a 3.5 yr old who is well, and a ten-month-old). Let me be honest. I enjoy the time he’s gone. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband

Please understand, I LOVE when my husband is home. We get time together and he helps immensely with the girls. I even get to go do something for myself once in a while, and who doesn’t love that, right? But I can’t help but feel awkward when people comment on how hard it is that he travels so much and yet all i have to say back is,” on the contrary, it can actually be quite nice.” Yes, it’s hard and the hardest times are definitely at night when both kids are awake (our three-year-old is an awful sleeper!) and I go from room to room taking care of her, and the baby, and calming them back to sleep. Usually, I average about four to five hours of sleep a night when my husband isn’t here and yet I still function surprisingly well. 

The hardest times (other than nights) are the first day he leaves and the first day he gets back home. I pride myself on getting the girls into a great routine for just about everything when he’s gone, and rarely do we deter from that. You really have to be consistent if you want things to go smoothly when your spouse or significant other is gone. The first day he’s back is always rough. Everyone is super excited and things just go haywire. Now if you are type A, like myself, and learn to function on organized chaos vs just chaos, then this really screws you up mentally. 

The problem is that people tend to think of me as disheartened for not being sad or angry that my spouse travels for work. For both of us, our hearts definitely grow fonder with distance. We miss each other and like that feeling, plus I like knowing he’s getting uninterrupted sleep (he is someone who needs sleep) and he’s in the field doing what he loves.

Home for a long amount of time…a new routine

Since my husband travels to Puerto Rico, he was stuck in Charleston working from home for three months after the hurricane hit. That’s one time I’ll actually be happy he canceled his flight “just in case.” He was supposed to fly down that Monday before Maria hit but decided it was too risky. I’m so thankful he did because he would have been stuck down there for weeks without any contact. But being home for that long was three months of him working from home. All the time. It was really rough, and in the six years we’ve been together, it was the longest time he’d been home consistently. We had to learn to be together 24/7. When you have a husband who works primarily in the field, and loves being in the field, then he isn’t going to be happy behind a computer screen for months, not knowing when he can go back.

When my oldest daughter was first born, she and I would fly down to Puerto Rico every other month for about two years and it was great. But now that there are two of them and one of me, it’s rare and definitely a challenge to travel, not to mention expensive buying another seat. But at this point in time, I get to spend a little more time watching very poorly cast Christmas Movies (that I know he won’t enjoy watching), doing a lot less laundry, and the house just being a tad bit quieter. 

Hardest on the kids

Is this hard for my girls? Truthfully, this is the worst part. When my husband is home, he’ll wake up with our three-year-old in the middle of the night and read books to her to get her to go to sleep, even if he falls asleep with her during the process. I nurse and put the baby to bed and then we both meet downstairs to finish up the day. I miss him every single night and dream about him, hoping he’ll be there when I wake, but I have to be strong for my girls. I have to show them that it’s okay, and that mommy can handle everything when daddy is working. My 3.5 year old is so emotional lately that if I show one hint of sadness, or even talk about it, she will be miserable until he comes home. There’s only so much FaceTime we can do while he’s working. It makes me think about all the strong parents who have spouses with deployment and how they make it work. Although our situation might not be ideal for some families, we make it work the best we can, and thoroughly enjoy the time we get to have him back home with us! 

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Elizabeth O'Conor
Elizabeth resides on Johns Island with her husband and two daughters, Emma (3) and Rowen (baby). A native to South Carolina, originally from Hilton Head Island, she moved to Charleston in 2012 to be closer to family. The four of them love to travel (mostly to Puerto Rico where her husband works) and thrive on learning and educated themselves on any and all health issues. She loves teaching her daughters to garden, going to the beach, surfing and planning their next family adventure. Elizabeth is very naturally minded, having had a successful home birth with her most recent baby girl. In 2016 she went back to school to complete her certification in Holistic Nutrition for which she is very passionate about (she already has a BA in Public Relations from USC). She looks forward to working with other moms and families to help them with their health and nutrition needs.