If your job takes you far from home on a regular basis, such as working as a truck driver or perhaps you’re in the military and you’ve been transferred overseas; then your relationship is going to be extremely difficult. There is no way to pull punches on this.
For a relationship to survive in such trying circumstances, it will take all that you and your partner can muster to make it work.
It’s hard enough for a couple who see each other every day to keep a relationship ticking along, let alone when you’re apart for weeks or months at a time.
Frankly, I think driving trucks has to be one of the most challenging jobs a person can do to earn a living. If you’ve never thought about this before maybe now is the time to give it some thought!
Imagine how hard it must be to kiss you children goodbye early on a dark Sunday night, fire up your rig and head off to work for the week! It is tough work and you arrived back on Friday night – you’re buggered. On Saturday all you want to do is sleep, perhaps the kids are happy to see you and they’re jumping all over you… Perhaps you’ve had a bad week, something went wrong? The truck needs repairs?… There are hundreds of possible scenarios. Perhaps you snap at the kids – you don’t mean it, it just comes out. Your other half snaps at you for snapping at the kids – and it starts an endless cycle… Sunday morning, you get up to wash the truck and do some basic maintenance, if you’re lucky you have time to catch up with some mates and watch the footie – before getting back in the truck that night.
What sort of the way is this to live? If you are a parent, what sort of role model are you for your children? How do you keep a relationship together?
Many remote workers are men and that means often the wife is left behind to look after children in the home, to manage all the bills, all the challenges with schools, and the relationships in the community. Many struggle with little or no money day after day. Often the mother also has to work in order to make ends meet. I can only imagine the stress and responsibility a woman in this situation lives with.
Long-distance relationships have the highest risk of failure. Not just with partners, but more importantly, relationships with children.
Research tells us that the longer the time apart, the greater the risk that the relationship will eventually fail. With distance comes loneliness and lack of physical and emotional support. If we have any chance of making long-distance relationships work then we must do all we can to put in place a strategy that will keep the family together and ensure that our relationship with our partner remains strong.
This is no easy task. If you have children, it is particularly important that both parents are committed to making the relationship work. It is a long term challenge and it needs a long term strategy.
I’d love to sit down and help every family living with a long-distance relationship but of course I can’t. But what I can do is offer some tips that can help to hold and nurture long-distance relationships.
This is no easy task. It isn’t as simple as just picking up the phone and calling regularly – (although this can be a big help!) But we are actually very lucky living in the communication age. Imagine how hard it would have been to keep a relationship or a family together back before the Internet or the telephone?
One of my ancestors emigrated from the UK to Adelaide, Australia, on a ship in 1853 and it was years before his wife and children were able to join him. (By then he’d done many things that they had no idea about!) At least today, we have free communication tools such as Skype, Facebook, FaceTime and many more to help us easily talk to our loved ones. But communication tools can be a curse or a blessing, it all depends how you use them… And that is a real skill.
As I said at the beginning of this article, long-distance relationships take a monumental commitment to make them work. Only the extraordinary can do it alone, but through upcoming articles, I hope to at least give readers some worthwhile tips that I hope will help glue families and couples together in the way that we all desire.
One of the greatest challenges for couples is going to be physical contact. Distance breeds loneliness, and infrequent sex and lack of emotional and physical support, particularly in times of stress, leads people to become more vulnerable to temptation. This is not an insurmountable challenge, but it very much depends on the individuals involved as to how we would go about addressing it.
The other challenge is maintaining relationships with children. This is somewhat easier and can also be a lot of fun.
Chris is one of our regular contributors. He will be writing a monthly article that will be posted on the second Friday of each month, focusing on maintaining long distance relationships.