Bjorn and I have been married over a year and a half, and boy, has marriage been a beautiful, challenging, wonderful blessing in our lives. I believe that marriage is one big sanctifying process (where we are continually shaped and refined and stretched and challenged) as God works to use this relationship to show us more about Himself. It is awesome. But it also has its more difficult facets.
Since my husband is in the U.S. Army Reserves, we spend some time apart each month, as well as some longer weekends and trainings each year. At this point, we have spent over 97 days and nights of our marriage apart. It kind of makes me sad to type that – because that is a LOT of days! While I know it is nowhere near the amount of time that couples spend apart as a result of deployment, it is a significant enough amount of time to have taught me A TON about doing life with my sweet man out of town. I wanted to share some tips today – things I do when Bjorn is gone – that hopefully will be useful to you ladies when your own husband has to be away for period of time.
1 // Set goals. Make a list of what you want to do each day – even goals for each week. This will help drive your time apart into a more productive (and less endless-feeling) chunk of time.
2 // Make a list of fun things to chat about. These can be silly little stories to share with him either during a phone call, or after he arrives back home. I love doing this because then I don’t forget the little things that made me smile those days.
3 // Surprise him with a fun (USEFUL) project. This does not mean we should be going on shopping sprees to decorate the living room while our husbands are gone (because we most likely are more excited about home decor than they are!). Instead, surprise him with something that will make his day. Maybe he’s mentioned he’d love a better organizer for his shoes. Bjorn loved coming home to a bunch of frozen Crockpot recipes I had prepped when he was gone for 6 weeks last fall. (I called it Operation Crockpot and he was thrilled and pleased with how useful that project would be to us.)
4 // See the time as character-strengthening. This is a hard one to soak in. But, when you lean on God while your husband is gone, you can probably learn something new from the situation: perhaps you need to improve in terms of productivity, or getting over little fears, or simply avoiding alone-time to reflect. For a long time, I had a fear of spending the night alone (I’m a light sleeper and am constantly listening for noises! Anyone else like that?), but weekends apart from Bjorn have taught me to be safe and cautious but ultimately to trust God for safety as I sleep.
5 // Use that time to pray over your marriage. Use that space to step back and see the bigger picture of your unhealthy habits – make a renewing of your commitment to love him well in your marriage. I usually reflect and notice some not-so-great habits or patterns in my behavior when I have that time to think about it, and then I can reassess and recommit to loving Bjorn better.
6 // Do a “cherishing him” project. This project is for you, mostly. Write a letter to him, or a journal entry or blog post… 🙂 Or even do a craft where you print out pictures of the 2 of you. There are many little ways to really enjoy him while he’s gone – you don’t have to push him out of your mind as you try to “survive.” Live with joy!
7 // THANK HIM. Uplift him and encourage him for what he’s doing. Most likely, his being out of town is mandatory, and it is huge to remember that he is also sacrificing his energy and time, and probably doesn’t want to be apart either! Do NOT whine about him being gone! There is a difference, I’ve discovered, between saying “I miss you,” and griping to him about him having to be gone. Remember, you are supposed to be his greatest champion. Support him even in these not-as-fun times.
How do you stay positive and productive when your husband is gone? For those of you who are even more accustomed to time apart than we are, please(!) share your advice in the comments! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts – let’s encourage each other in upholding our marriages to God’s glory!