Last October, my hard working husband was offered a full-time accounting internship with KPMG in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. For small town Aggies in Logan, Utah, we both were SUPER STOKED to have new experiences in a bigger town with bigger (and better) work opportunities…Until he came home from the second day of his internship to tell me he’d be traveling for an entire month. Oh, and that he’d be leaving in just a couple of days. I admit that dread engulfed my entire body. I hoped Monday would never arrive. Of course we were excited for this opportunity he was given, to audit major companies and plunge into a career, but he was dreading the separation, too. We’ve been married for one year & one month with small weekend fishing trips and girl’s nights in-between but being apart is never a comfortable thing, and we hope it never is.
I don’t think I made a big deal about him leaving, but I’ve cried during our Skype calls and our nightly prayers over the phone. And I promise you I’ve been calculating the milliseconds until he comes back. He’s been away for 2.5 weeks and I enjoy telling random people that he’s away for work. The Target cashier, the librarian, the Cafe Rio “Curb-Side To Go” worker, THE WHOLE STINK’N WORLD. He’s just that wonderful he deserves to be spoken of. It may sound like I’m anxiety-ridden with him gone (yeah, I totally am) but that’s life with a hard working husband and we’re both adjusting to it. It’s draining. It’s lonely. But I have a couple little secrets that have made our time apart a bit more manageable.
- Spend intentional time together before he leaves. For us, we chose a temple trip, an afternoon at the movies, and a late-night eating gourmet hot dogs. Aren’t we so glamorous? We attended the temple before he left to feel closer to each other and especially to God. By doing so we know that an extra measure of protection would be added to each of us while I stayed here in Utah and traveling mercies would be upon him (he gets extremely motion sick so flights are always risky for him — shhhh… don’t tell him I told you!), and for our marriage to still be strong and thriving, even through travel.
- Support your hard working husband, and let him know you support him. A little hint on marriage: It isn’t about you, but instead about finding ways to love and serve your spouse. I like to wash, iron, and pack Aaron’s clothes before he leaves and while he is away in No Man’s Land, U.S.A. (Casper, Wyoming) I try to think of things that’d he’d appreciate for the day. Sometimes I send him photos of things that the kids and I are doing (the kids I babysit, not our own), or I try to respond with patience and love when he says he won’t be able to talk until 12:30 a.m. because he’s still working. Our hard working husbands come home to us tired and exhausted only to find us tired and exhausted, too, but the more you make loving, serving, and blessing each other a habit, the happier your marriage.
- Be his biggest fan and be thankful for a hard working man. Know his schedule. Pray for him over the specific meetings, challenges, clients and appointments he has. Keep yourself on his team. It’s not easy for him to be catching constant flights, to sit in airports for hours, and to live out of a suitcase for a night, a week, a month. Aaron is out slaying dragons for our family and I’m forever thankful for that.
- Give yourself (and seek for) grace. There are times when I am completely spent from handling life at home by myself (gosh, we don’t even have kids yet!) and honestly, the last thing I want to do is be a happy, supportive wife. All I want is for Aaron to be home! When I allow myself to slip into this mental state, I’m overwhelmed with guilt (and grouchiness) which seems to bring out my insecurities and anxieties. All this means is that I need to spend more time bringing these feelings to God and let Him reassure me of Aaron’s safety and this is what is good for him, his career, and our future.
- Send him off with gifts. A quick back story: Last August I took a week long trip to Washington State to visit my grandfather. At this point in our marriage, a week was the longest time period we would be apart and although I was so excited to visit my family, we weren’t so hyped up on the fact that we wouldn’t be sleeping side-by-side. The morning I left for my trip, I woke up to a gigantic package by the front door. The post-it on it read, “Marlee, I want to show you how much I appreciate all you do and especially for the lunches you make for me each day with the notes you leave inside. I love you so much and can not wait to hold you again in my arms. Love, Aaron.” I teared up, of course, and I am again right now. He’s a total sweetheart. Inside the box were seven small packages, one that I could open each day of my trip. Small gifts that let me know he was thinking of me and how much he appreciates me. He gave me a few of my favorites: bubble gum, lip gloss, and Finding Dory! Next, he surprised me with a new arm band for my i-pod because I’m an exercise addict. Then he gave me nail polish and an Olive Garden gift card because he knows that’s my guilty pleasure. You see, it’s the simple things that make love so strong and a package each day made the trip pass by a little faster. For his month’s business trip, I did the same for him, and I’m pretty sure he has loved coming to his hotel at night after a 15-hour work day to find a little love from his wife. You know, granola bars, air heads, a Rubik’s cube, pop-tarts, a movie — the essentials.
- Try not to be jealous. Yes, you heard it. Jealous. He eats delicious dinners at new restaurants while I’m eating Cheerios and on the 3rd day of leftovers. He’s visiting new places — different cities, terrains, and cultures. I’m going to Harmon’s, the gym, and doing after school carpool every day. He sleeps in a quiet hotel on plush pillows while I’m doing laundry. When I’m in these pitiful moods, I look at the other side: Yes, it’s hard that he’s gone but he’s gone because he loves me. He loves me so much that he’s willing to work hard, long hours away from his home and his family in order to provide a paycheck, a home, clothes and food for me. He has a great job where he is needed and wanted and it’s a job he loves. He won’t be gone forever and he will be home soon. I see those as incredible blessings.
I’m thankful for a hard working husband, a Heavenly Father who comforts me when I feel lonely, and the power of a Happy Meal. That boosts my mood for about 10 minutes. After that, there’s enough chocolate, Pretty Little Liars, and writing about the pain to numb it a bit. All my love to each of you and your hard working spouses.