Marriage,  Stories

How to Survive When the Husband is Away

My husband travels for work most of the time. In fact, I can’t seem to keep track of the number of times he’s been gone every year. I remember the longest he was out is about a month and a half, and I was left home alone with our two children, both under the age of 10. It was also during this time when my kids got sick one after the other. On top of that, I’m also a working mom, so trying to keep my sanity during this time was indeed quite a challenge.

Some days I feel like I was “Superwoman”, able to accomplish everything, keeping myself busy so I wouldn’t have to think too much about my husband’s absence. But some days would really hit me hard and I would wallow in self-pity, feeling all alone.

Don’t get me wrong I fully support my husband and I understand the value of his mission work, and why he needs to be out most of the time. But sometimes it’s tough being left on my own. I have to fill in for his absence on top of my role as a working mom. Other wives would sometimes ask, “How do you manage?”. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a real formula to surviving when the hubby is away because it is still dependent on our different situations, specific roles, and of course coping mechanisms.

However, through the years, I have learned to adapt and realize that there are tactics I can use, not only to survive but also to thrive while my husband is away.

Plan Ahead. Create and stick to a routine. I would normally involve my eight-year old son and give him simple responsibilities everytime my husband is away. I would tell him, “when daddy is out, you’re the man of the house”, and he feels good about it. From helping fix the bed to taking care of his little sister, it gives me a sense of security to know that I have someone and I am not completely alone. Having my kid’s support eases that emotional burden and sticking to a routine also helps my children cope with the emotions of missing their daddy.

There are times when my kids and I would plan a weekend “day of fun” and make sure to document what we did so we can share it with my husband. We would also schedule a regular time to chat or call their daddy so we have something to look forward to.

Get Support. I know I can’t do everything on my own and it’s an undeniable blessing to have the support of extended family, friends, and community to help out as necessary. During these times, my mom becomes my lifeline. She would stay over at our house as often as she can to help out with the kids. I also take advantage of this opportunity to learn new marriage and parenting insights from our mother-daughter chats.

Stay Connected.Being apart is not an excuse at all to neglect each other’s emotional needs. It is quite important to put effort into keeping our marriage intact even if one spouse if away. With technology nowadays, there are so many ways to stay connected, so there’s no excuse not to talk or update each other. Noli and I would make sure to take photos of our separate activities and to give quick updates via chat or SMS. Of course, we also make the effort to greet each other the moment we wake up, check on each other at random times of the day, and even before bedtime despite being in different time zones.

Make Time for ‘Me-Time.’ When my husband is away, I make sure to give myself a break, like making plans to meet with friends, schedule a trip to the spa or the salon, read a good book, or watch a “feel good” movie once the kids are asleep. Spending a bit of quality time for myself gives me a sense of well-being and allows me the opportunity to look and feel good in time for my husband’s return.

Stay Positive. It’s quite normal to feel worn out by a spouse’s frequent and prolonged absences but at the end of the day, I give myself a pat on the back for doing the best I can to be a supportive wife, a loving mother, and a productive career woman. Staying positive while facing a tough situation will have a positive effect as well on our kids and on our marital relationship.

Through it all, being on my own helps me grow more as a woman. It gives me time to reflect on how I can be a better person and allows me to discover strengths I never knew I had. And of course, what keeps me going is the excitement and anticipation of having my husband come back to me. It’s a perfect reason to celebrate and renew our bond. After all, as the saying goes,“absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Samantha Catabas-Manuel

Married to Noli Manuel, a missionary, and a mom of two, Sam's other greatest passion is writing, especially on topics that make her heart skip a beat: family, relationships, parenting, love, and faith. Working as a marketing communications manager at a premier wellness resort in Batangas, Sam has been a contributor to various family and parenting publications.

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