One aspect of our family life that I haven’t put out there very much is that my husband works away from home – a lot, and has done so for most of our married life. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t get mentioned, but one of them is that it is such a normal part of our life, that it is just normal, not needing comment. But I have been aware that this type of lifestyle is normal for a lot of people (to differing degrees) and I thought I would share some of the key things that have helped us maintain our marriage and create a family where there is good father/child relationships and a strong family identity.

Here are some of the things that have helped me, and I hope that they may help you in dealing with the work demands on your husband and how that affects your family.

 

Accepting his work as God’s provision.

When we came to this town, we had bought a farm, but the income received from that wasn’t enough to cover our daily expenses (it was a developing farm). We lived in a caravan and there were times where we were praying for money to pay our bills. It just so happened, that at the time we arrived in town, the live-export market was on the rise, and the cattle stations in the area needed a cattle vet. My husband is a cattle vet! Whenever I had a hard day, or attitude started rising, I would reflect: You asked God for income, He has provided, you can’t then go and say ‘this is not good enough God!’ I believe that God provides for our income, He also provides for the strength to cope with the situations that arise.

 

Nightly phone calls.

Peter has committed (to himself) that he will phone me every night. Now, to be honest, some of these phone calls are strictly business as he touches base with messages and what else is going on, but being able to catch up every day gave us the opportunity to maintain our relationship. He would also occasionally talk to the kids – though not every night. With this as our experience, I cannot understand men who go away on a business trip and phone home just to confirm a pick up from the airport. Relationships are built on communication, and if travel takes you away from home, we must find a way to maintain communication.

 

Recognise the emotional impact.

Often we get so caught up with dealing with all the practical side of living that we forget that our emotions can be affected as well. I always felt an emotional weight when Pete got ready to go away on a job. This made me cranky! I remember a time when we realised what was going on – every time he would leave we would have a fight – over the most silly inconsequential things. I realised that I was building a wall around myself, so that I could cope with all the pressures and decisions of being by myself. Once I knew what was happening, we were able to talk about it and work out ways to help me not be so intense. One of the things that Pete started to do was pack his own bag. As a young wife I had lovely ideas of writing notes and slipping into folded shirts etc but as a wife being left at home a lot these ideas soon left! I switched from romance to survival mode – and that was okay. You may find other ways to ease this emotional pressure, the key isn’t for your husband to pack their own bag, but rather to recognise how the emotions are impacted and how to be gentle with each other.

 

Recognise the kids will be impacted as well.

When I had little kids I recognised that their emotions were impacted as well and this made them very high maintenance. They missed their daddy. I noticed that they had a 2 day capacity – then on the 3rd day everything went feral (at least it felt like that!) On this day, we would take a break – we would do fun things like go to the library, the pool or visit with my friend, and their surrogate grandmother. We’d come home after lunch in town, and have a rest or watch a DVD. Of course, none of these activities took away the emotional sad, but it did give us relational time which I believe strengthened their sense of security.

 

Be careful about discipline.

We made a decision early on that when Pete came home he wouldn’t automatically resume discipline. This went hand in hand with the idea that when a child is disobedient, it is directly connected to the parent who gave the instruction. This meant that since I was the one giving the instructions, they were disobeying me, therefore I needed to deal with the consequences. When you are home with the kids all day it is easy to just dump the responsibility onto the husband who has just walked in the door but I felt it was unfair on both him and the kids as the disobedience wasn’t directed against him, and he didn’t know how the day had gone, or where their heart was at. Of course this would be different if he gave the instructions. I wanted the little bit of time that they did have together (dad and kids) to be positive not corrective.

 

Protect Relational Time.

Generally speaking, when the kids were young, they were ready for bed when Peter came home so I tried to create a space for them to catch up before they went to bed. One of my kids’ fondest memories is Peter carrying them to bed upside down! It is these little things that helped establish a relationship even though Peter wasn’t home every day.

Another aspect of protecting relational time was I carefully guarded social commitments for when Peter was home. This was a fine line, because we wanted to be involved in the community as a family but the priority was to build our family relational ties first. We had to prioritise how to use the social time that Peter’s work allowed.

The third relational time we protected was for our own marriage relationship. Though it wasn’t always possible to have a date night we did prioritise time to have a cuppa together. If Pete came home in the afternoon, this happened before dinner while the kids played or did their chores, if he came home later, then it happened after the kids went to bed. When the kids were little more often than not our date nights were at home – movie night, Take Two (a quick version of Scrabble), or just talking. We learnt to make the most of the time that we did have.

 

Accept help.

Though it is easier to give help to others than it is to accept help, I know that having others help me was a big part of my coping, especially when the kids were young. Friends would help me at church by taking an unsettled baby, or fidgety toddler, someone would pick up the milk from the store for me, or pop in for a visit (adult conversation was very much sought after!) I remember one season of life where our friends would cook a meal, and not only deliver it, but stay and eat it with us. At that time in my life that was easier than us going to their place for dinner.

 

Have a life – just not too full.

One thing we talked about over the years is my getting involved in things even if Peter can’t always be there. There is a balance between living life myself, and waiting so we can do things together. An extreme to both choices will create discontent and friction. So there is a balance between doing things, and yet not being so busy that when he is home I am not.

Bible verse: 2 Cor 12:9

God’s Grace.

Though all these ideas have been very much a part of my journey the biggest thing that has helped my coping with 18 years of this type of lifestyle has been God’s grace. These two scriptures have been the basis of my coping with life:

2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Eph 4:7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

God’s grace. As I focus on Jesus, and what He has done for me, I am strengthened. As I focus on Jesus, as I allow the Holy Spirit to prompt, convict, teach, guide me in any situation I find myself in (including being a mum left at home with her kids for days at a time), then I can become more and more like Christ.

  • I can find the patience when I am tired.
  • I can find the wisdom when I am overwhelmed.
  • I can find the strength when I am exhausted.

 

So on those days when I’ve had enough my cry is: God help me! When I get my eyes off Jesus, and onto how hard this is my cry starts to be “Peter I need you at home!”

Though these are the keys that have helped me, I don’t necessarily believe that our lifestyle is ideal, but it is where we are at. Peter’s work commitments is an aspect that I have no control over – it is Peter’s life. My job is to keep my attitude right, do the things that God puts in my hand, and trust in God. God’s grace is sufficient.

My job is to keep my attitude right & do the things that God puts in my hand.

Over to you?

Do you relate?  What are your tips for when your husband travels for work?

Description of blog: Title image: Dealing with life when your husband works away
Quote: God asks me to do 3 things! Title image: Dealing with life when your husband works away

Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach

Further Reading:

My Husband Won’t Change – and What I can do about it!  We all know we can’t change our husband but it doesn’t mean we don’t try! But there is only one thing we can really do and that is look after our own heart.

Quick Guide to Communication for when it Hurts:  Since there is no perfect relationship these 12 communication tips are good skills to learn to build and strengthen any relationship.

You can Help your Spouse be Successful:  When you know and understand the heart of your spouse – you can help your spouse be successful by encouraging their dreams, hopes and ideals.

Practice these 10 Habits and  Build a Strong Marriage:  Habits reflect your values. When you practice these 10 habits you will build a strong marriage.

 

 

Pinterest image: Title image: Dealing with life when your husband works away
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21 Comments

  1. lanceabox

    Thanks Belinda. Very helpful article.

    Reply
  2. RevRon

    Good stuff Bel !

    Reply
    • Pesh

      My husband takes long to come home. I reall feel bad. I fear in the house. I want to cheat on him. But i feel bad

      Reply
      • Belinda

        Pesh – cheating on him is not a solution – not for long term happiness – not for you, for your husband or for your marriage.

        Can I encourage you to do two things.
        1. Talk to him about how you can build good memories while he is home and
        2. Find good things to do in your life, things that fulfill you for while he is away. You could get involved in community projects, hobby groups, study, etc.

        I pray you find some peace and purpose while your husband works away.

        Reply
      • Angela Yazzie

        Thank you so much for the article. It encouraged me of ways to handle my husband to be when he is away. Being in a relationship with a man who job is demanding and works 90 hours a week is at times stressful because there’s no time for “us”. I had to go into the prayer closet and seek God’s guidance and wisdom. I’ve come to realize this isn’t for everyone. Yes, existing the relationship has entered my mind however God always came back to tell me to pray for him and I did. It seemed like the more I prayed for him, my heart begin to have more passionate for him because I don’t know what he is dealing with at work. I have to think, “He’s doing this for his children and grand children. He did this before you came into his life. You’ve accepted what he does as a career.” There are plenty of times I have to pepped talk myself. I’ve learned that communication is vital for us to grow and develop. I am a praying woman. I am so thankful God has placed him in my life. He is a true blessing. Now I’m praying and asking God to help me and show me how to love this man the way God loved him…
        Thank you so much for sharing.

        Reply
        • Belinda

          Pray is certainly the key. I may not mention prayer often. It’s just in my life but it is Jesus changing our heart and us growing more like him is what is important bthese circumstances we find ourselves in are the context where God does his work!!

          Reply
      • Kim

        Thank you so much for writing this
        This has truly encouraged me.
        My husband also works away in a different country and I’m raising our two kids while also doing a full time job so it does get pretty hard sometimes.
        Thank you for sharing your real experience . I am grateful to have read this.

        Reply
        • Belinda

          Hi Kim – that is a hard path that is for sure! Hope you have a support network around you.

          Reply
  3. Adelaide

    This is so timely as hubby is currently away for work, an occasional but soooo hard event. I’m clinging to your last point!
    Our children are still very young but I notice that it effects our oldest… and need to make an effort to get out of my self-pityparty to think of her more. Thank you for the encouragement!

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      Hi Adelaide – I’m with you on the pity parties… I’ve had my fair share. God’s grace, strength and wisdom is there for you. Lean on Him. I believe you can make this a special time of fun your daughter. Thanks for being in touch.

      Reply
  4. Beth

    Thank you for this. My husband works remotely for an company that builds call databases for big companies, like banks. Travel is 40% of the job. What’s worse, is when he’s sent to the home office for training, in Israel. There is an 8 hr difference, and international long distance is so expensive. Being the only parent is hard, and you feel like the other parent is getting off easy at times. Your article really helped me put our lives into perspective.

    Reply
  5. Naomi

    This is something that has been a part of the entire married life of my husband and I! His work has taken him away regularly. Many many weekends throughout the year; many many late, LATE nights; and at least once a month (some years) he would be away for a week or longer. And not just on the other side of the country, some years it’s been the other side of the world!
    Early on, I was similar to how you referred to yourself early on too. I wanted to be lovely before he left, but I also ended up making things difficult because I couldn’t handle him being away and me left behind with 3 young children!
    Fortunately I have a spiritual mother who is very honest and loving, she told me bluntly that I needed to rely more on the Lord for my strength and grace, and that hubby was the one who needed me more than I needed him! If Hubby knew I was confident in God and am stable, he was able to be at peace while away, and not feel guilty. And that made the home base so much more calm and together.
    Now the children are used to it and they are confident in both their parent’s love for them. And we make the most of when he is here. Some days are still tough, but with the Lord as our source, we get there!

    Thank you for a wonderful post Belinda!

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      Isn’t it good to have those older wiser people in our lives. My mum has always helped me readjust my thinking towards God and my relationship with him.

      Reply
  6. Rose

    Thank you for this article Belinda,

    I have been struggling with my husband being away and reading this helped me remember to stay focused on the positives things that I can do to be proactive. I have struggled more in the area of jealousy and insecurity. I know that it is mostly because of my lack of trust and security in God that I am struggling and allowing the enemy to infiltrate my mind with fears. It’s just so hard for me to feel secure when I look around me and see many beautiful women, but besides beautiful, women that don’t respect marriage anymore or maybe even themselves and that are okay with being the “ other woman.” I trust my husband and have talked with him about my concerns, he gets frustrated and feels that I don’t trust him. I feel that I do trust him I just fear the world. Literally terrified. We have one daughter and one on the way, I just wanted to ask if you dealt with these kinds of issues in your marriage and if you have any advice on the subject. I’ve been praying in the morning and night spiritual war fare prayers, and its been helping little by little but Im afraid I’m still allowing the enemy to attack my mind. How can I truly find my security in the Lord no matter what happens?

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Hi Rose – yes, the world is against us (and our marriage) but God is for us – and greater is He than the world.

      I have had a few times that uncertainty or insecurities have popped their head up – but very quickly squashed. One of the things that I know is strong in my faith journey is Objective Truth (regardless of what I feel, this I know is true). And protecting my marriage is such a place where I hold onto objective truth. Regardless of what I feel, this I know is true. Peter loves me. Peter is faithful to our marriage. Peter is faithful to his God. Its not that I don’t trust Peter but there is something there in women that want to be life and center which is a bit unfair. He needs to have stimulating conversations and even friendships in his work circle – otherwise he will be ineffective at work. I am okay with that. I think there is a lot of fear based ‘rules’ that Christians put around men and women that doesn’t help. Sure, there is wisdom, but there is plenty of fear driven rules under the guise of wisdom as well.

      I think you nail it on the head here – it is a spiritual attack on your mind, on your securities, on your peace. And as such that is what needs to be dealt with. There is no need to look for unfaithfulness (emotional or physical). Love in your marriage. Be the woman he married – not so he doesn’t wander – but because that is what God has called you to do.

      I was talking to someone this week about their anxieties – and though anxieties are real and I don’t want to diminish them or the effect of them, if we focus on the anxieties, on the what ifs, on the sin in the world – instead of focusing on our relationship with Jesus and what he calls us to do – then we get out of kilter.

      God calls us to live a faithful marriage. He gives us his spirit to help us walk in truthfulness and forgiveness, helps us to love when it is hard. He doesn’t want us to live in fear of the sin around us – but rather keep our mind on him.

      So next time you start to feel anxious – step aside from what you are doing, and talk to Jesus – get your eyes off what other people could do and focus on what Jesus has done, and given to you – and focus on what you can do – love Jesus.

      Joyce Meyers has a book on Battlefield of the Mind – you might find that helpful to work through – it comes in book or DVD.

      Reply
  7. Coralie

    Im so glad to have read this as my husband and I had been praying for more work and out of the blue we had a phone call to ask my husband if he could work for them. He works away part time each week and the rest from home- it’s an adjustment i will never want to get used to. i understand the emotions i go through and how the children feel, but having face time or calls def has helped and being honest with where we’re at. I do tell my husband I miss him; at the same time being thankful to be able to homeschool the children and not need to work has blessed our lives. In a sense it has allowed me to grow and be a stronger person. what was key for our family was having him home for 3 weeks on annual leave as we were able to find our feet as a family again- it was wonderful. I’ve had to rethink how to do things – like going for a jog by myself or going to a night meeting, some things have just had to go on hold and I’m learning bit by bit that that’s ok. Belinda this article and your website has been a huge encouragement to me- many thanks

    Reply
  8. Sarah

    My husband has just left again today. This post has really helped! Thank you for taking the time to write it!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      I’m sorry you are walking this lifestyle – its not ideal, but it is doable. If I can help you in any ways – please shoot me an email. Happy to chat.

      Reply
  9. Stephanie

    This is so hard….my husband works on the road. He comes home maybe three weeks all year long. I homeschool our seven children, and we are taking summer break while I try to find our first home. It should be a happy time. This was one of our goals, but I am just finding myself more discouraged and sad that he cant be here to help me. I think it is because we are on break and our schedule is different, but I have been struggling a lot with being overwhelmed and just depressed. Thank you for your post, and reminding me where my focus should be. I feel so alone, but I know my Father is with me and that He cares for me. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      It is hard when we miss doing those things we expected to do together and to have to do them on our own. I hope you’ve been able to share your sadness with your husband, but at the same time step up and focus on what is important.

      Reply

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