Travel is required for most jobs at some point, so inevitably there will be a time when either you or your spouse is out of town for work. Marriage is challenging enough when you're able to spend lots of time together, and that challenge only increases when you have to spend time apart. Ryan and I travel pretty often, so we have discovered several ways to keep our marriage strong. You and your spouse will need to determine what will work for you.
If either of you must travel, try these suggestions to keep your marriage strong:
1. Write each other love notes. Ryan often leaves secret notes for me to find while he's gone. He leaves them in my vitamin box, in my purse, on my dashboard, or even in my dresser drawer. These are just quick little notes saying "I love you," or "I hope you have a great day today." You can put similar notes in your spouse's suitcase or briefcase when they travel, too. Finding the notes from Ryan makes me feel closer to him when we're apart, and it's nice to know he took the time to write them. It shows me that he cares.
2. Spend time together, even when you're apart. With all the technology that exists these days, there is no reason not to be in contact with each other during travel. Send text messages or Facebook messages often. Call each other when you have a few free minutes, and be sure to FaceTime or Skype with each other before bed. Even when travel separates you, there are countless ways to spend time together.
3. Avoid questionable situations. When you're apart, don't put yourself in situations that disrespect your spouse and marriage. It is unwise to get drunk at a bar when you're out of town without your spouse. It goes without saying that you'd be asking for trouble in a situation like that, but other scenarios should probably be avoided as well. Ryan doesn't drive to a work event alone with a woman. He also won't have dinner alone with a woman, even for work. He believes that would be disrespectful to me, and it might give the wrong idea to an onlooker. He drives and eats separately, or in a group that includes both men and women. I follow the same standards when we're apart as well. It's not that we don't trust each other (we do), but we like to avoid even the appearance that something questionable might be happening. A marriage that isn't as strong as ours might not even survive situations like the ones I described.
4. Be helpful at home when you return. Since the spouse who didn't travel has been holding down the fort in your absence, it's important that you do more once you get home. Unpack your suitcase, throw in a few loads of laundry, and help out with the housework and kids. Your spouse will need a break, so make sure that happens. Catch up on anything that needs to be done.
5. Go on a date night with your spouse. When the trip is over, make sure you schedule a date night together. It's a great way to reconnect with each other and chat about anything that happened while you were apart. If you have kids, plan a separate time to do something special with them.
6. Travel with your spouse whenever you can. Traveling together is so fun, and it's a great way to make memories and focus on each other. If one of you is traveling for work, maybe it's possible for both of you to go. Ryan and I do this quite often. If he needs to travel for work, I go with him whenever I can. I stay in the hotel while he's working during the day (or I shop, sightsee, or relax in a coffee shop), and then we have dinner together and go out at night when he's finished with work. We have found this to be a great way to keep our marriage strong and still accomplish the necessary travel.
The main thing is to keep your marriage the most important thing in your mind and heart when you are away from your spouse. Physical distance does not have to create problems if you are intentional about making your marriage a priority. Try a few of our suggestions, and figure out what will work best for you and your spouse. Do you have other ideas? Leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!