Do you travel with your work? Or maybe your spouse does. How do you keep your relationship healthy while one of you is out of town?
This week Gorgeous is up in Wisconsin. Her folks are not in the best of health and she is staying with her mom while her dad goes hunting later in the week.
Then after Thanksgiving my company is sending me out of town for 10 days.
So we have to make sure we take the time to keep in touch. Otherwise it would be way too easy to drift apart. And with divorce rates somewhere above 50% we want to be especially vigilant here to do what we can to prevent becoming part of that statistic.
Communication is the biggest influencer to good relationships. The challenge is keeping that communication flowing when one of you is off somewhere else. Even in our modern age it takes some effort.
Fortunately we have some great technology to help us out. Here are some pointers.
Commit to talking every day – Regular communication is vital to any relationship. This is true whether you are traveling or when you are home in your normal routine. A breakdown in communication leads to isolation. If it remains unchecked it will likely result in one person relating more with other folks. And that puts the relationship squarely on the road to divorce.
When traveling it is especially critical to keep those communication lines open. Actual regular conversation is critical. Emails and instant messages can supplement voice conversation. But they shouldn’t be seen as a complete substitute. So much of our communication is non-verbal that just seeing words on a screen leaves so much out. Make the time to call.
Schedule calls when you can be mentally present
– OR –
Shift gears during a call with your spouse so that you are mentally present – You’ve got to be mentally in the call when you are talking. Nearly everyone can tell when you have checked out of the conversation. Certainly your spouse knows it!
When either Gorgeous or I are working it our minds are racing and it is easy to be distracted when we are talking. If she calls me when I’m in the office I make it a point to step outside so that I am focused on our conversation. It helps me mentally shift gears. If I’m in the car, I’ll turn the radio off.
The point is I take some physical action to tell my brain to shift gears. This call is important. I want to be as mentally there as I can.
When I don’t have the ability to shift gears because I’m in the middle of something, I’ll tell her. “Hey, this isn’t a good time. Let me call you back.” She does the same thing if she’s in the middle of something.
We’ve talked about this ahead of time so we know that when we hear that, it isn’t a rejection of us. We aren’t saying that the other is not important. What we are saying is that they are so important that we don’t want to devalue them by having a conversation while we are mentally distracted.
Work out your ground rules ahead of time. Talk about what to expect. Coordinating your expectations will go a long way to avoiding hurt feelings and escalating emotions when one of you is under the gun at work.
Never ever forget to call back! Ever. – Both Gorgeous and I have been guilty of this one. Ooch! Talk about hurting the other person. It totally devalues the other person. Don’t ever let it happen. Ever. You say you’ll call back then call back. Keep your commitment. Enough said.
Use technology to help you communicate – There are tons of new gadget and services out there that can help you stay in touch.
Gorgeous and I are both with the same cellular provider. So when one of us is out of town we talk almost exclusively on our cell phones. With our plans we don’t get charged minutes when we talk to each other. That way neither of us has a mental clock ticking in the background.
I have a friend whose job takes him to Europe pretty regularly. He said he uses Skype to keep his costs down when he talks to his wife.
We’ve come a long ways from my Navy days when we’d be out flying and guys would make a HF radio call to some Air Force base and ask for a phone patch to the duty desk in our home town which would then transfer the call to their local home number. It was a cumbersome process. But it allowed some of the guys who were at the pointy end of the lance to stay in touch with their families.
My point is there are tons of new gadgets and services out there. Get creative. Do some research.
The bottom line is we have more technology options available to us to keep in touch than ever before. We have the ability to keep the communication flowing with home