After struggling through a series of not-it relationships and waiting for the right guy to come along, I finally met the man of my dreams. He’s reliable and sweet — and, until recently, gainfully employed. He lost his job nearly six months ago as part of a downsizing situation and is now seriously considering taking a job in trucking. If he makes this career move, I understand that he could be gone, away from home for days, weeks and maybe even months at a time.
The reality of being in love with a man on the road and the demands of sustaining what will basically become a long-distance relationship is finally starting to sink in. And I’ve been searching far and wide for advice on if and how we can keep our relationship strong when living apart, at best, for a chunk of each week. I have friends with spouses who travel for business or are serving overseas as part of the military, but this possible situation in my own life seems different from those relationships. Mainly, my guy would leave and come home regularly; but does this make the separation better or worse?
Here are the issues that worry me most:
- Safety: I know that rules for driver logs and hours of service are designed to make truckers stop for breaks and avoid falling asleep at the wheel, so that side of safety seems reasonably covered; but are truck stops safe? Do people mess with trucks when drivers are sleeping? And when a driver needs to pull off to sleep or eat and no truck stop is nearby? How does he know where to go to avoid problems?
- Trust: My relationship feels solid, and we aren’t cheaters, but part of me worries that being away from home may present a too-good-to-pass-up opportunity to stray? How do couples keep their relationship strong enough to resist temptations to cheat? I’ve read some articles about ways to stay connected — like accessing Wi-Fi at truck stops during breaks to use Skype and exchange emails and texts — but does this kind of communication offer enough intimacy to sustain a relationship?
- Socializing: Up to this point, we’ve mostly gone out (to dinner, friends’ houses and other social events) as a couple. Should I still expect invitations as a half-couple? Does going out without my significant other send the wrong message — to other people and to my guy? I worry about feeling like a fifth wheel in these kinds of social settings or having to constantly tell people about his job so no one assumes we broke up. How do women deal with these situations and the loneliness of so much alone time?
- Housework: If my guy ends up working away from home all week, the bulk of housework and maintenance becomes solely my responsibility. This seems like a lot of extra stuff to worry about — for both of us. I’m sure the last thing he’ll want to do when he finally gets home is fix stuff in the house or deal with the lawn. So how can I possibly manage the regular house work as well as the yard and home maintenance, like plumbing leaks and broken windows, when I’m alone? Do I ask for favors from family and friends? Should we pay a handyman?
- Being together: Even though it’s hard not to focus mainly on the time apart, I know that a trucking job will also change the way my guy and I spend time together. We’ll need to catch up and talk about how we’re feeling and what’s been happening in our lives, and we’ll want to go out and do stuff, like see friends and family. But I’m unsure about how to deal with his need for downtime when he gets home and how we need to use this time to reconnect and strengthen our relationship. Does this part of the relationship just end up coming naturally?
I know that commercial trucking can be a great career for some people, but it’s clearly not right for everyone. So I want to make sure we have what it takes to make this successful before making such a huge change in our lives. I know many people live this lifestyle successfully, but I’m nervous. I’d appreciate any advice or personal stories you can share to help me better understand what to expect from this possible new phase of our relationship and how to keep our connection strong.