When we marry, few of us picture spending extended amounts of time away from our mate. Then reality sets in. Be it contract work, relocation, a business trip, higher education, deployment, coming to the aid of an ailing family member or similar situations, uninvited circumstances force us into a world of “temporary singleness”.
Here are some tips for getting through it, from the moment after goodbye to the readjustment period, with your health, sanity and emotions intact.
Assemble a support network of same-gender friends and married couples
Friends will be vital to your happiness, sanity and accountability and can be there for you. Enjoy regular fellowship with this group.
Vent your fears and worries to your support network and family
You can also share your apprehensions with your spouse, but try not to monopolize the small amount of time you have to communicate with negative thoughts. This may diminish your spouse’s morale.
Develop a new interest
Start exercising. Try your hand at flower arrangement. Join a cooking class with the community centre. Not only will your new activity take your mind off being alone, you’ll have something new to talk about during calls home.
Record items you’d like to discuss with your spouse in a small notebook as you go about your day
Write down important items, funny scenarios, interesting new facts you learned, a hilarious joke you heard – anything you’d like to share with your spouse. That way, if you do blank out when your spouse calls, you’ll still be capable of interesting conversation.
Update each other as regularly and frequently as possible
Be honest about your progress toward your shared goals and budget. If you accidentally broke your husband’s favourite exercise machine, tell him. No good can come of delaying or covering-up the truth. If frequent communication is not possible, send a weekly email detailing your progress. It’s a great way to keep each other accountable, even during gaps in communication.
Learn the lingo
You’ll probably never be able to understand exactly what your spouse is going through while away, especially if the situation is perilous. You can, however, read up on the country your spouse is in, the language spoken there, the type of work he’s completing, terminology commonly used in his career field, etc. This background information will bridge the knowledge gap between you and your spouse, leaving less explaining for him to do.
Care for yourself
If you think you already are, rethink your conclusion. Are you getting enough sleep, taking daily vitamins, eating enough, varying your diet and exercising a few times a week? Taking care of yourself will allow you to better manage your full plate while your spouse is gone. It will also ease your spouse’s mind.
Make a transition plan
If possible, do this together. Which duties of your spouse have you assumed during this separation? Have you discovered an interest in gardening or a strength in budgeting? Managing a marriage across the miles can open you to new learnings about yourself too. How will you transition duties back to your spouse when he returns, or will duties be reassigned or shared? If you have children, it’s especially important to plan for the resumption of parenting duties.
Plan a getaway upon return, even if it’s just an afternoon at the beach
Each day, set aside a small amount of money in a jar. What will you do with it? Have fun putting your heads together to think of a fun activity the both of you can do together!
How have you been keeping your marriage strong despite the miles between you and your spouse? Feel free to share your experiences with other couples here! We’d love to hear from you!
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
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