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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to stay connected when you are separated by travel

I'm back! Did you miss me?

I just returned from a two-week trip to Europe for business. Before you proclaim your jealousy, let me say this trip involved 6 flights totaling 12,000 miles, 1200 miles by car, and another 400 miles by train. (I could throw a boat into the mix as well, if I included my Paris sightseeing river cruise!) I stayed in 10 different hotels and participated in a total of 18 meetings over the two weeks.  Still jealous?

It feels really good to be home!

During this trip, my wife, Jenni and I remarked how well we were able to stay connected, despite the distance and time-zone separation. It prompted me to write about how we stay connected when one of us has to travel. I would love to get your ideas and tips as well.

Why It Matters

You may think that being separated for a few weeks is no big deal. I suppose if you compare it to over 30 years of marriage, a few weeks is not a long time. But for us, it was too long!

Jenni and I have discovered that we both weather the separation much better when we manage to stay connected through it.

Here are a few reasons I think it matters:
  • It helps the spouse left at home cope with loneliness
  • It helps the traveling spouse stay anchored in the love of the spouse back home
  • It helps develop alternate communication skills and methods
  • It helps maintain intimacy and the emotional connection between you
  • It makes the homecoming sweeter, with less time spent getting back in sync

Connection Tips

There's really no magic to staying connected during times of physical separation. For the most part it just takes a little effort and attentiveness.

Here are a few things we do to maintain intimacy when one of us has to travel.
  • Send a quick text whenever you change venues: "Just got to the hotel in Düsseldorf." "Landed in Copenhagen."
  • Make sure your spouse has at least a short email to wake up to. This is especially helpful across time zones, and helps with those hours where on of you is "out of contact" due to the time change.
  • Ask how you can pray for each other, and do it.
  • Use a private messaging app (We use Couple, but I hear that Avocado is also good). It allows you to send more intimate notes and pictures in a secure and private manner.
  • Clue each other in on your plans each day and report significant happenings.
  • Use Skype, Google Chat, FaceTime or other video chat program for a little face--to-face time when time and your Internet connection will allow it.
During travel times it can be difficult to find the time stay in touch. We've found that frequent short communications is better than waiting until you have time to write a long email or extended video chat. Quick texts, photos and private message go a long way to keep you connected.

So now you know why I haven't posted in a few weeks. In case you are curious, you can click here to see a map of my European adventure.

Do you or your spouse have to travel frequently or for extended periods? We would love to hear how you keep in touch across the miles (or kilometers as the case may be!). Leave a comment!

photo credit: rrraven /


Nancy Lehman said...

For one extended business trip,
my husband left little notes and
reminders that he was praying for me,
throughout the house.
He strategically left them in places that I would "discover" -places that I would go to, in my normal course of a day.
It was a very sweet reminder of his love and care for me.

Scott said...

Nancy - excellent idea! Thanks for sharing it.

lasher007 said...

My husband is an overland safari guide so he is often away. He returns today after being away for 6 weeks so you can imagine my excitement. We call or text or whatsapp each other as often as we can and keep each other updated on what's happening. It definitely helps because sometimes he goes to places with no network coverage and its really hard then. Having awesome friends and family who understand what I go through is also a huge blessing and helps not to feel lonely. I'm a hopeless romantic so I leave little notes and messages in random places for him to find while he's gone as well.

Megan said...

Mine has done this too! I did appreciate it but it also made for a few tears. He asked me how many I found and I told him five, he said "oh you've missed one". Instantly I began scouring to find it. :)

Jonnie said...

My husband travels probably sometimes every week with trips home on the weekends...sometimes gone through the weekend. And it sucks royally. Don't get me wrong...we are grateful for his job but it's hard.

SO in saying that, these are great tips. Sometimes we do well at keeping in touch. And sometimes his work has him so busy, he barely gets time to call or do much of anything.

Here's to hoping that the travel stops in the next few weeks when a new job comes through.

Jonnie said...

That was supposed to say travels probably 2-3 weeks out of the month and sometimes every week...

Cassie from True Agape said...

So far all of our travels have been together. However, in the future we will have separate trips I am sure! As my husband becomes a professional triathlete there will be times he may travel early to races and such. Especially once we have kids. Thank you for this reminder! Need to bookmark it for the future!

Anonymous said...

Yes I missed you!! Glad your trip was a success and also that you got to see some sights rather than just work, work, work!

I loved all your ideas about connecting, but for us, it's the texting and sexting. Our phones have been our "go-to-glue" in this season (I'm in the process of writing a post about our current situation).

The landline works well, but I find I like the mobile better. I can send him texts all day: - the dogs just did such and such and it reminded me of when ... Or, the girls want to know such and such, we should chat later ...Or, just a simple, 'thinking of you right now'.

The sexting: well, that one speaks for itself.

Quite often I'll wake up and there will be a text from Darrell that came through at 2:30am ... "Couldn't sleep and was thinking of you. Or he'll just ramble on a bit. As his wife, I find it extremely comforting to know that when he had trouble sleeping, it was thoughts of me that comforted him to get back to sleep.

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