The story isn’t hard to imagine… One spouse works a demanding, high-paying job that requires lots of travel, lots of hotel stays, lots of meeting new people – while the other is back at home, likely dealing with household and family responsibilities, working a lower paying job (or not at all)… And all the while, they are growing further and further apart, the likelihood of an affair is multiplying, and neither of them knows how to address the problem.
Despite the title of this piece, this doesn’t just happen to husbands who travel. It can happen to any of us: a traveling wife, spouses who both travel, or even spouses who just have to contend with extremely demanding schedules.
You see, travel is only part of the problem here – and a relatively small one at that. The larger issue is connection and a strong bond, because without them, it’s not the physical distance that puts a couple risk, it’s emotional distance.
The reason this seems so common with couples divided by work related travel is that time apart sets the stage for the formation of bad habits and eventual decay of the bond the two people share. Spending time together – alone, away from distractions – is an essential part of building a loving bond in a marriage, and it’s something that has to be maintained through continued “upkeep.”
Unfortunately, though, many couples that have gotten out of the habit (like couples who are separated by travel-heavy jobs) simply get used to not spending time together, so even when they have a chance to… they don’t.
For people who travel, this damaged bond can make infidelity more tempting because they aren’t feeling emotionally invested in their marriages, they aren’t putting their spouse first, and they likely aren’t feeling emotionally or sexually satisfied. This is NOT to say that travel itself creates these problems, or that people who travel for work are more likely to cheat, but when the marriage is already suffering from a lack of strength and intimacy, being on the road makes it that much easier for a person to succumb to temptation.
Again, it’s not the travel doing the damage here, but how a couple deals with it. The same damage to a marital bond can be done without even leaving the house. All it takes is a lack of attentiveness, a lack of effort, not spending time together, and not making your relationship a priority.
But of course here’s the real question: what can you do about it?
The first step is staying in touch. Even if one of you has to do a lot of travel, making regular phone calls, keeping each other up to date, and keeping the channels of communication open will go a long way in keeping the marriage at the top of the priority list for both of you. Even if you don’t get to physically interact, flirting by way of friendly text messages, talking over video chat, even sending each other pictures can keep the romantic spark alive while one of you is on the road.
When you do get the chance to spend time together in person, you have to make the most of it! That means getting away from the TV, the computer, and other distractions, and making a point to spend the time you have building your marriage. This could mean going on dates, engaging in deep and meaningful conversation, engaging in physical intimacy – anything where the focus is completely on your spouse.
There is one more extremely important component to this, and while it can go for everyone, it’s particularly important to couples that have to spend large amounts of time apart: avoiding relationships that could threaten your marriage.
Travel can be lonely, and so can being married to a person who travels often. Since we’re all subject to feelings of loneliness, we can seek out connections with other people fairly unconsciously, and while we may think we’re simply passing the time or making a new friend, we may begin to emotionally invest in this new person – and actually damage the strength of the marriage.
When we feel lonely or vulnerable, we may find ourselves connecting with others – especially those of the opposite gender – and while it may feel harmless, it’s setting the stage for an emotional affair (that could even lead to a physical affair). Any of us are susceptible to this – that’s why we need to be aware of the problem before we allow it to happen! You don’t have to wall yourself off from other people, but be aware of where your thoughts and feelings are headed whenever you’re interacting with someone new.
It can be tough, definitely, but with a focus on one another and an agreement to make your marriage a priority (even if you have to be apart for periods of time), travel and distance don’t have to create problems or chip away at the integrity of your relationship.
Stay connected any way you can! Stay in touch every day, and spend as much quality time together as you can – it will do wonders for you marriage!
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