Being with someone, be it a domestic partner, a new relationship, or someone you’re married to, who travels often for work can feel like it puts a kink in the relationship.
However, luckily, there’s a hidden part to being in a relationship with someone who travels for work: the beauty of solitary, dazzling alone time, all while still nurturing the relationship.
Staying connected, whether they’re a few hours down the road or hundreds of miles away, doesn’t need to feel like a chore.
So don’t worry about work travel affecting your relationship; knowing the benefits and ways to stay connected can help you embrace the space!
1. Stay connected while you’re apart
We live in a technological age, so you can be as connected as much as you want to be, or as little. If you don’t text often or when you’re both home, or you take the time to catch up and chat at the end of the day and not in the morning, don’t pivot to a new pattern of communicating when you’re apart.
Depending on the length of the trip, you can set a standard of having a phone call every day, every other day, or two to three times a week. If phone calls are too impersonal, schedule a time to video chat. The best part is those calls can be pressure-free: make it a safe space to talk about anything. Vent about the neighbor’s dog, talk about the ridiculous man that sat next to you on the plane, or chat about the latest TV show you both watch.
Treat the time to chat as you would any other time you spend chatting, but maybe with a little bit more active listening.
If neither of you are morning people, isn’t the time to pretend that the morning is the best time to talk when someone is traveling. Stick to your routines: enjoy a quick chat first thing in the morning, over lunch, or before bed. If your usual routine won’t work, or things change, do just as you would at home: be courteous and kind and give the other person a heads up!
3. Don’t make assumptions about what your partner thinks
What’s important to one person may not be important to another. And what may be obvious and at the front of your mind may not be for your partner. Is Halloween a nonnegotiable time to be apart? Let your partner know. Do you not care about your anniversary, but you want to shower them with love and attention on their birthday in person? Make it known. Put the dates in writing in a place you can both reference quickly and easily.
Are you both introverts? Only one of you? Traveling can be exceptionally draining for those who relish alone time to recharge and recoup. Sometimes just playing a game online or an app on your phone is a way to stay connected in a long-distance relationship and gives you a connection both near and far.
4. Give them hidden notes and trinkets
You don’t need technology to feel close to your partner who is traveling or to make your partner at home feel loved while you’re away. If they’re flying, make sure you don’t accidentally plant a security problem in any of their bags, so use your best judgment with these.
Slip a note into your partner’s bags, books, or a toiletry bag. It doesn’t need to be an original poem! You can make it as simple as “I love you” or a quote you found while scrolling Pinterest. If you find yourself pining for them while they’re away, make yourself a board of quotes to use for upcoming travel.
Do you collect postcards or notebooks, and you’re looking for a way to put them into use without giving them up completely? Use those for the notes, or with a little planning, mail a note to the hotel ahead of time. And don’t forget old-school voicemail messages.
Drop a snack or treat (or two or four) into their bag. As thoughtful and plain as a few granola bars for the partner that suffers from hanger, their favorite candy, or something silly if you’re often playing pranks (but keep it small) that they can find and have a good chuckle will keep the two of you connected. Don’t forget your partner at home – you can leave notes and hidden things for them too!
Everyone has that gremlin side of themselves that only emerges from the cave when totally alone. Or perhaps you’re a people pleaser and rarely indulge in your favorite whims. Whether you want to sit in the dark and eat only Buffalo chicken dip for dinner while binge-watching shows from the 90s, or you want to get some tapas and sit at the bar in peace and quiet with a book, you can live your best life guilt-free and explanation-free with no one lovingly raising an eyebrow at your antics.
And, don’t forget, there’s always the chance to go full karaoke in the shower or bath, followed by the chance to fully starfish in the bed to claim it all for yourself. Nourish your heart, mind and spirit with self-care and your relationship will be stronger than ever.
6. Don’t stress about the time apart
Whenever a routine changes, there’s an adjustment period. Some people don’t sleep as well the first few nights or at all when their partner is away. And it can take some adjusting when they routine. This isn’t abnormal, and it certainly isn’t a bad thing. Adapt and roll with things, and these transitions will become easier and smoother.
If your partner doesn’t immediately reply to a message or call, don’t panic. Open communication that they’re getting dinner with the boss or coworkers that’ll run late means someone isn’t sitting up late at home, waiting. Waze or other driving apps (or location sharing) can help you know that your partner has arrived safely at their hotel or you’re safe after heading home from a friend’s house late at night.
Being with someone that travels often is a part-time long distance relationship, but with many more kisses in between.
Believe it or not, your relationship can benefit from that bit of physical space between the two of you. These are some of the powerful benefits a relationship can have when your partner travels for work or other reasons:
- You really learn how to communicate. Whether that’s communicating more clearly or learning to stop overthinking about any undertones in a text message, your communication skills will be the envy of your friends.
- When one, or both of you travels, you perfect the art of working together as a team. You’re coordinating when you’ll chat, plans for when you’re back together, and keeping up with your lives that continue on when you’re apart.
- That honeymoon phase rekindles over and over and over again. Seeing your partner again after some time apart keeps the butterflies fresh and you get to feel excited about reuniting at the end of a trip.
- Distance apart makes the mundane parts of life a little more interesting. Like learning the art of communication of what works best for you the two of you, you can enjoy actively listening to the mundane parts of the day you may not normally discuss. Which coffee did you decide to make this morning? Did you get your toe caught in that towel you should’ve thrown out months ago but just haven’t? The trivial becomes important and connecting.
- You learn to take care of the most important relationship: the one with yourself. While it’s true you don’t need to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else, it’s important to take care of yourself and treat yourself too.