What do you think your wife talks about with her friends while you’re on the road? Kelly Livingstone, a trucker’s wife, could give you an idea.
She often finds herself relating to other truckers’ wives about running the household while her husband is away. “The first time the toilet gets backed up -- do I clean it, or do I spend $200 on the plumber?” Livingstone says. It’s chores like these that remind her of her husband’s periodic absences.
For Livingstone and others, nurturing romance with someone who’s often out on the road for weeks at a time can be challenging. That is why trust and communication are especially important.
Here are some tips on how you, the one on the road, can keep the relationship strong while you’re away, so you can enjoy your time together when you are at home.
Unique Concerns for Truckers and Spouses
“Trucking requires one to be gone long hours, days, weeks and sometimes months,” says Tom Hawks, a veteran trucker. “A good relationship is hard to keep going when two folks are apart for that length of time.”
For Kathy Harders, founder of LOADS (Loved Ones and Drivers Support), a prominent Web site dedicated to supporting trucker spouses, this was especially true. “The confusion of the life -- not knowing when your spouse would return home, having to deal with all the home-front ups and downs -- I became frustrated.”
Hawks warns of the demands a trucking lifestyle can have on a personal relationship. "Not just anybody is cut out for it,” he says. “Many aren’t sure if they can take the daily grind day-in and day-out for months and years.”
Harders recommends setting up a scheduled time and day for the drivers to call home within a range of three to five hours, to ensure steady communication.
Livingstone, who started ATruckersWife.com after her husband became a truck driver, notes the importance of tactful communication. “You don’t bring up big issues with [your spouse] while they’re on the road, but wait until they come home -- just like you wouldn’t phone someone at the office,” she says.
Harders agrees. “Drivers must concentrate on their driving abilities, not the argument they just had,” she wrote on her Web site. “Sometimes, although you may feel it's unfair, we must bite our tongues.”
Make the Most of Your Time Together
“Let's face it, money is good in the trucking business,” says Hawks. “And it takes a very understanding person to understand how that works.”
For Livingstone, this understanding prompted a change in the dynamic of her relationship with her husband. “When your husband is home for two days, you don’t want to ask him to fix the back fence -- you want to spend time with him,” she says. Learning to take care of household tasks that previously had been left to her husband became key.
Hawks adds, “When at home, do things that make a happy ending to the past week of being apart. Never leave home under stress. Build a trust in each other and never take problems out with you.”
Harders emphasizes how important it is to be able to adapt to an ever-changing schedule. “Learn to adjust to celebrate [events] when the driver is home, instead of by when they are on the calendar.”
And because truckers’ time off can be sporadic, couples often find that some schedules work better than others. For Livingstone, having her husband home for a few days in between three-week-long trips was better than having him work a local route where he was home every night but too tired to do anything but work, eat and sleep.