I’ve spent the past 30-plus years traveling for speaking engagements — one or two nights at a time, sometimes up to a week. In the early days, I assumed I should focus on my work while I was gone and reconnect with my wife, Diane, when I returned home.
That didn’t go well. The longer my wife and I had been disconnected, the harder it was to reconnect. During those trips, we both functioned as single people on vacation from each other. It wasn’t intentional, but it didn’t occur to us to nourish our relationship while we were apart. I might call to check in, but it was out of a sense of obligation rather than a priority.
Mark 10:8 says that when a couple marries, “they are no longer two but one flesh.” When I nurture my spouse, I nurture myself. When I ignore my spouse, I damage myself. At our wedding, we committed that we would be each other’s top priority. Anything that keeps that connection from happening is a problem — including travel.
Travel isn’t the enemy, and it’s possible to strengthen our relationship while one person is away. The key is to pay attention and be intentional about staying connected.
Pay attention to the small stuff
I used to assume that I didn’t have time to stay connected because I was focused on my work. Eventually, I realized that it didn’t take a massive amount of time; it just took a mindset of attention. I just had to intentionally keep Diane on my mind throughout the day and find simple ways to let her know.
When Diane travels, she reaches out in the same way. We let each other know with the simplest of gestures that the other person is more important to us than whatever we’re working on.
Focus on Marriage Assessment
Ways to stay connected
Try some of these ideas when you’re apart:
- Plan ahead. Coordinate your calendars before the trip and make appointments to talk every day. Treat the appointment with your spouse like any other appointment. Make these appointments a priority. If you have to reschedule, don’t push it off to another day. Even a short late-night check-in does the job.
- Surprise each other. The traveling spouse can leave sticky notes with a simple heart or “I love you” in random spots (the sock drawer, the refrigerator, a cellphone charger) where the spouse who stays home will find them. The “left-behind” spouse can hide notes in their spouse’s underwear or shoes that are packed in the luggage.
- Text often. Send photos of things you want to share — a sunrise, a bird you don’t have in your state or a sign that makes you think of your spouse. Start and end the day with a “good morning” or “good night” text.
- Discuss something you’ve both read. Pick a relationship article to read and then schedule a time to discuss it on a call.
- Have dinner together. Set up your phones at dinner and use a video app to have a meal “together” (at the same time). Dress up and buy flowers or something significant to share with your spouse virtually.
- Keep a list of things to share. Jot down the little things you think of throughout the day to have an agenda for your calls. It shows intention, and you don’t have to remember it all.
Make communication a creative priority, and your time apart can be an amazing time to bring you together!