My spouse travels a lot for work. Right now, he’s on his 5th international trip in seven months. For various reasons, we are only able to communicate two or three times during each trip–this includes email and phone calls. The fact that he is gone, and I can’t talk to him, makes me a little crazy. Here’s what crazy looks like:
Days -1/0 – Bickering – We are sad/stressed that he is leaving and handle these emotions by bickering constantly. It’s an awful way to say goodbye, but I can’t seem to break the pattern.
Day 1- Slight Euphoria – I can eat McDonald’s for lunch. And dinner. I can watch Glee as loud as I want. I get all the pillows in the bed. I don’t have to wash the dishes until I feel like it. Plus, there are no dishes to wash because I only eat fast food now.
Day 3- Depression – The fun has worn off. I’m sad and lonely. Even fast food is no longer my friend and I am craving vegetables. But I am too sad and lonely to go to the grocery store. Plus, it’s 5 pm and I am still wearing my pajamas.
Days 4/5 – Settled – I’m getting into a routine. I can do this! I am so energized and motivated that I will probably sew a quilt, write a letter to everyone in my address book, and clean the whole apartment before he gets home.
Day 6 – Panic – I’m not sure I can make it another week on my own. I start making irrational travel plans. Maybe I will visit my parents in Maine. During the week they go to court to finalize their divorce. Or wait, I could go visit my brother in Colorado for the weekend. Even though it’s already the weekend and I have yet to buy a ticket or mention it to him.
Days – 8- 14 - Contentment – I’m in a routine again, except this time I incorporate leaving the apartment, exercising, and seeing other people into the routine. Life feels normal.
Day 15 – Happy Reunion/Bickering – He gets home and after a brief happy reunion we bicker. Or I bicker. He is bewildered that I am not 100 percent happy that he is home. And it’s true, I should be. But his suitcase has exploded in the living room and ruined my feng shui. He has so much dirty laundry that I must immediately start washing a load. He sits down to watch The Sopranos and loses my paused place in Glee. And he brings home paintings made of elephant poop to hang in our apartment. “Why?” I ask. “Because, it’s what Rwanda is known for,” he says. Funny, I think to myself, I always thought Rwanda was known for something a bit more serious than animal poop paintings.
So, how do you deal when your spouse travels? And do you have any wise words to keep me sane?
PS- Military spouses, I realize that you don’t really have a choice, other than to grin and bear it, when your significant other leaves. But my heart goes out to you because I don’t think I would make it six or nine or twelve months without my spouse here. You amaze me.
The Elephant Poop Paintings
They don’t LOOK like they are made of elephant poop, but they SMELL like they are.