Bjorn and I will have been married 3 years ALREADY this coming March, and boy, has marriage been a beautiful, sometimes challenging, but 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.
One of those facets has, for me, been how to approach all of the time apart.
Since my husband is in the U.S. Army Reserves, we are apart at least one weekend each month for army drill, as well as several longer weekends and trainings each year. This monthly drill typically means that Bjorn leaves on a Friday after teaching, and is gone until later on Sunday evening, with minimal communication, since he is so busy when he is at drill. When I tallied it up back in 2015, we had spent over 97 days and nights of our marriage apart. Now, the number is probably somewhere around 140 days and nights 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’m not going to lie — I initially really struggled with loneliness and negativity when Bjorn would leave for a weekend away. When we were newly married, this was a bit harder for me, since it was a transition and I needed to sort out what my role would be and what my mindset would become.
Now days, I still struggle a little with griping (even to Bjorn) when he must leave or when I find out about an additional training he must be out of town for. But that’s not right. Yes, it’s natural for a wife who loves her husband to miss him and want to be with him when he’s gone…however, it is not okay to whine and pout and essentially turn the situation back on MYSELF. It’s not about me. My husband is a phenomenally hard worker and a driven man, providing even more for us with this additional career of his. I knew coming into this marriage that he is a soldier – it should not be a surprise to me when Bjorn has soldier responsibilities.
I’ve had to realize that it is CRUCIAL for me to resist whining, pouting, and griping about my husband being gone. It’s an unhealthy and unproductive attitude for me to have, since it gets me nowhere and instead lets me sit in a puddle of self-pity. And that’s a yucky puddle to sit in, isn’t it?
Is your husband gone sometimes? Even if he’s only gone for a business trip twice a year, I know it can be a difficult thing to get used to. It’s a good idea to be proactively positive about it. Since our role as wives is partly to be our husband’s greatest cheerleader, let’s make sure we are building up our husbands and honoring God even when our men need to be gone for a chunk of time.
I wanted to share some tips today – things I do and attitudes I must adopt when Bjorn is gone. I hope these will be useful to you ladies when your own husband has to be away for period of time.
8 Tips for Staying Positive & Productive When Your Husband’s Out of Town
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. It’s easier to face a stretch of time in chunks, not by simply staring it all in the face.
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 or think of Bjorn on those days apart.
3 // Surprise him with a fun (USEFUL) project. This does not mean we should frequently 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. Are his clothes laundered for work the following week? Bjorn loved coming home to a bunch of frozen Crockpot recipes I had prepped when he was gone for 6 weeks straight one fall. (I called it Operation Crockpot and he was thrilled and pleased with how useful that project was.)
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 could improve in terms of productivity, or getting over little fears, or you’ve simply avoiding alone-time to reflect or spend with God. 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 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. And think about HIM – your husband! – when he’s gone! Not just yourself. 😉 Think about the responsibilities he has, the stresses or pressures that he may be dealing with, and pray for him — that he can be successful in the God-given paths in his life.
6 // Do a “cherishing him” project. Write a letter to him, or a journal entry or blog post… 🙂 Or even do a craft where you print out pictures of the two 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 from you either! Do NOT whine about him being gone! There is a difference, I’ve discovered, between genuinely 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.
8 // Know what he needs from you when he returns. This will most likely just take some time, conversation, or even trial-and-error to figure out as a couple. Some husbands return from days away bursting with stories, jokes, and happy chatter! Some husbands return with a quieter attitude. Sometimes, your husband will come home drained or tired, and sometimes, he’ll be thrilled to see you and want to chat! You’ll need to learn to read your man, and know if he needs a backrub, a listening ear, a home-cooked meal, or just some space.
Don’t let yourself be offended if he comes home and just really wants peace and quiet (even if you’re bursting to tell him those funny stories I mentioned in Tip 2). Everyone functions differently, so you may have to directly ask your husband what it is that he really desires when he comes home. That way, you’re showing him that comfort and love (and peace) that you can offer him as a wife — which, in turn, shows him just how much you care.
How do you stay positive and productive when your husband is gone? 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!