His Job is to Drive and My Job is to Manage the Home
(Arlington, TX, USA)
My husband is a long haul driver. He is my third (I divorced an alcoholic and drug abuser and was widowed by my second husband) husband and I am his second wife. His first wife is much like my first husband. While those were bad experiences for us, we both learned so much from them. The biggest thing we both have learned is how important it is to let your partner know he is appreciated.
I have three children from my first marriage. His job is really good for them, actually. I have one pre-teen and two teenagers. Especially after the heartbreak of the way my second marriage ended, the kids were dead set against me ever marrying again. They love him now and two of them want to change their name to his. His being gone for weeks on end provided them with a nice slow introduction of him into their lives. He is gone anywhere from 2-9 weeks at a time. We are fortunate in that I am used to being the only parent. I have been for 10 years. When he is home, it is family time. We all do an activity together, like a museum, movies, the zoo, etc. He helps the kids with the things they need help with. We try to have a game night while he is home. My favorite thing about when Eric is home is that the TV is never on. We all spend every minute talking and visiting with each other as a family. The kids love having our undivided attention. I really believe that his job makes me a better parent. I have learned patience, that is for sure. I now have someone to bounce ideas off of and get reassurance that I am reacting appropriately to kid situations and problems. He puts things in perspective for me. The kids don't see him as a threat who is trying to replace their dad. They see him as just who he is, Eric. He being gone makes this much more clear to them. He is not their dad and does not try to be. Mama handles the kid management and it will always be that way.
When he is home we always spend one evening cooking together. It is amazing how easy it is to create a romantic evening by putting on aprons and a little Sinatra, add a cocktail or two, and you can wind up with a very relaxing, romantic evening. The romance lasts even after the kids come down to dinner and talk with us some more. We keep that flame burning with little looks, winks, touches that the kids don't see. By the time dinner is cleaned up, Mama and Eric and more than ready for "bed".
We try to make sure that we get one date night here and there so that we get some much needed alone time away from the kids doing something for adults. This time it was the Improv to see comedian Steve Byrne.
I work full time and maintain the house on my own. When he is home, the poor guy is WAY too tired, so I don't ask him to help with chores. Occasionally there is something I need help with, but I handle everything from minor plumbing, dry wall, and appliance repairs to calling a repair man for any job that is too big for me. I know how much he hates to paint, so I handle all of that kind of thing. He wants to do his part at home and feels guilty for being so exhausted. I keep telling him that is crazy. He ran 7,800 miles in 12 days this last time he was gone! Of course he is exhausted. Exhausted or not, he did pick out and install a new kitchen spigot for us this weekend and do minor things like fixing the dishwasher so that it doesn't tip out (after my son sat on the door. Yeah, I don't know why the kid did it either). While it was nice to have help, I would never expect him to come home and work all weekend. With the hours that he works, me working full-time and taking care of the kids and house chores pretty much makes us even on how many hours we each work. I keep reading these stories and blogs about how these wives are so mad because their husband is exhausted and doesn't do anything around the house. There is no reason these ladies can't do these things themselves. I do.
Based upon what I'm reading, I'm guessing that my views on his job and him are in the minority. My husband works hard and makes half the money I do. The nice thing is that he does not have to work at all. I can support the entire family (and have for 10 years). People often ask, "Then why does he still drive truck?? My answer is "Because he loves it". If it makes him happy, it makes me happy.
The way I treat my husband is also in the minority. It is something of a throwback to the 1950s. I completely spoil him. When he is home, I wait on him hand and foot. The day he comes home I have the house absolutely spotless and the laundry done so that he does not have to come home to a messy house. Before dinner, I fix him a cocktail or two. I cook dinner and clean up so that he can relax. After dinner, I make him some coffee. While he is outside enjoying his cigarettes and coffee, I draw him a nice hot bubble bath so that he can soak away all of the tension of the drive. While he is soaking, I give him a massage. When that is done, I tuck him into bed, lie beside him, and massage his back until he falls asleep (which is usually immediately). The rest of the weekend goes much the same way. When it is time for him to get back on the road, I go shopping for supplies with him, make sure all of his laundry is done, and go to the truck with him so that I can help him get settled in. By the end of the weekend, he is generally well rested and ready to face the weeks ahead. Allowing your husband to be tired is a great thing for him. Don't forget that the guys feel guilty and frustrated that they are so tired. Giving them grief about it will only make it so that they don't want to come home. I want home to be his safe place, where he feels loved and wanted. Giving him permission to be tired without negative consequences will make him want to help you even more.
It really grates on me when I read complaints about the guys not helping to raise the kids. Don't you think that he wishes that was not a reality of his profession? I don't know any drivers who are glad to not get to be there to see all of their children's milestones, first step, first day at school, first successful bike ride WITHOUT training wheels, etc. Yes, the kids need them, but having dad in their lives on weekends here and there is manageable. YOU, the wife and mother, are the key to forging a strong bond between your husband and your children. Make sure you are having the kids call Daddy every night to say good night. Daddy should be tucking them in and can do that if you make sure that the phone gets to the kids. Have the kids call him when something exciting happens at school. Take lots of pictures and email them. I send Eric pictures of every day stuff so that he feels more like he is here with us. Quit complaining and do every thing in your power to ensure a strong bond and the paternal influence in your children's lives. You are in a position to make all the difference.
Another thing I see these other women do that I never have done and never will do, is gripe at them while they are on the road. It does not matter what it is about, bills, the kids, etc. Handle it yourself. You are grown-ups, ladies. He is not home. That is a fact. No amount of complaining will change that. In reality, a lot of complaining will encourage him to stay gone longer. You can handle the kids, house, job, pets, and still find time and energy to go to school part-time (I'm in grad school), and participate in an activity or interest (I am a competitive Irish dancer and attend class three times a week). Trust me; you will not melt from working hard. Exercise gives you an amazing amount of energy that will help you to be able to handle everything else.
One way to keep the romance and attraction alive is to keep yourself in shape and as beautiful as possible for him. I maintain a 5'4" frame at 104 lbs through proper diet and exercise. When he comes home, I am completely done up, hair, make-up, and well dressed. I want him to think "My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world" when I go pick him up. When I pick him up at the local truck stop, I am dressed in "office casual" or a dress, never jeans, sweats, or the type of ratty old shirts I see women walking around wearing at Wal-Mart. If you own any shirts like that, please turn them into cleaning rags of throw them away. You don't look good in them. There are times that I will pick him up wearing a naughty little costume covered by a trench coat. That gets him every time! Things like that light his fire right then and there and keep it lit while he is gone. Think about it, would you rather he look at you and think "Wow! My wife is hot!? or "She looks like a slob"? If you don't want him to think that, don't do it. Again, you are in the position to make all the difference for him.
I know I'm starting to sound preachy, but our Drivers deserve our love and respect, not complaining and being made to feel inferior and bad about the way that they are providing for their families. Especially those of you who complain that you have no connection with him anymore, try spoiling him both when he is and is not home. He will love it and you just might find that it lights a new flame.