Technically – and I mean technically – there should be no reason to encounter relationship issues when you are on the road, thanks to Skype, FaceTime, and unlimited mobile phone plans. We’re much more connected these days, right?
That said, on a recent evening, I was working in my hotel room and heard shouting from the next room, a man yelling at his partner (I assumed) on the other end of the phone. “Don’t you realize that I’m here working on a f***ing million dollar deal and all I get from you is grief. F*** off and find somebody else. I don’t want to hear it right now.” He repeated the scenario the next morning. Not the best way to use one’s unlimited phone plan, evidently.
Here are seven strategies to keep the flame kindled, and to let sanity and order reign, so that the course of true love can run smoothly whether you’re five feet or five thousand miles apart.
- Not taking each other for granted seems clichéd but – as I like to say – clichés are clichés for a reason. If complacency occurs in the course of “normal” relationships, imagine how extreme it may become when one party is away much of the time. While you’re absent, the house is managed; bills are paid; chores are completed; and the kids and pets are fed and watered, all this while your partner may be working full time. Even if the help is farmed out, that still has to be arranged and supervised. A little “thank you” here and there will go a long way; an “I appreciate you” will go even further.
- Be honest about how you’re coping with the separation rather than holding back how you really feel. The road warrior persona is a toughie. You have to be alert, adaptable and street-smart. And did I mention really good at your job while dealing with the stressors that frequent travel can deliver? When it’s time for your Skype session, put the tough nut aside and let your vulnerability shine.
- Plan special time for your return well in advance rather than arriving home with vague intentions of “doing something special”. That way you both have something to look forward to outside of the daily grind. Focus on the details of your romantic interlude; paint a picture of it in your mind’s eye. That will keep you going through a boring meeting.
- Do things together while you’re away. If you’re in the same time zone, keep the Skype or the phone on and watch a favourite TV show together, or just be. If you’re not in the same time zone, a wake-up call from the partner that is ahead in time can be a lovely start to the day.
- Show your loved one that you are thinking of them while you’re away. Buying presents last minute at the airport doesn’t count; buying something spontaneously because you know they’d like it or because it reminds you of them speaks volumes. Gifts aren’t necessary every trip, thoughtfulness is.
- Be sure that your partner doesn’t avoid addressing problems because you’re away and they don’t want to trouble you. If you were coming home every night, you’d have to deal with the issues and still go to work the next day. Address matters as they arrive rather than leaving them to accumulate. That way you can both move on.
- Be sensitive to adjusting when returning home. Maybe you’re returning from your trip brimming with excitement about the latest deal or great meeting. Meanwhile your partner who has stayed home looking after the kids, dealing with seeming disasters, and going to work every day, doesn’t care if you’ve been to the Barbados or Bangor. Conversely, you arrive jet lagged and drained while your loved one is bursting with energy on seeing you. Set parameters for at least 15 minutes of alone time so you can regroup in your own milieu, even if you’ve been alone on the road. It’s time to reset the odometer and that might mean locking the bathroom door.
How do you keep your relationship alive across the miles?
Jayne combines over 20 years of business travel with her passion for teaching long-lasting healthy habits to frequent travelers. Jayne is the host and diet/exercise expert for the Healthy Travel Summit: International Expert Interview Series; creator of http://www.dineoutloseweight.com/; and the Orlando ambassador for maiden-voyage.com. She has appeared on Fox News Channel and ABC, and on national radio in the USA. Jayne blogs, writes, and thinks constantly about keeping business travelers fit and healthy. For information about her individual and corporate programmes visit http://www.jaynemcallister.com/.