Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been together for five years, for the vast majority of those years we have lived hundreds of miles apart. We’d often see each other on weekends, or every-other weekend, or, sometimes, every third weekend. Long distance relationshipping is not something I’d actually recommend for anyone, it is hard and complicated and is a breeding ground for a lot of issues that are difficult to weed out and sometimes impossible to even recognize until they are already deeply embedded. Blue Eyes and I spent our fourth wedding anniversary unpacking a moving truck here in Arizona and hauling boxes around to their proper rooms for unpacking. At that point we had only lived together for nine months of our marriage, a mere 18% of our (wedded) relationship. Yes, I did the math.
Overall, I think the last few months have been ones of adjustment, for each of us individually and also for the (capitalized!) Us. Some pieces have been easy, and others have….not been easy.
A few weeks ago Blue Eyes was assigned another out-of-town project. He’s a civil engineer and his line of work includes building things like roads and bridges, wind and solar fields, dams and mines. Shockingly, the places where that kind of project exist are not often close to home, they are in the middle of Nevada, or a Man Camp (of sorts) in western Utah, or a large flat-ish spot a stone’s throw from Mexico: basically, the middle of nowhere.
I know a lot of women have their own out-of-town business travel, or are married to spouses who travel often for work for a week (or more) at a time. But somehow this feels…different. I sometimes feel like each of our careers have left us as ships passing in the night, sometimes a wave or a Morse code signal, but the vast majority of the time we lead very separate lives. He is out of town for work, I spend a quarter of my time back in Salt Lake for my job. We choose to stay together and we both make sacrifices to that end, but dammit, sometimes it is really hard! I know there is a time and a season for everything, this particular season just keeps on going and going.
How would it be to both be home by 5:30 every night, leaving work at work and being able to spend our time building on and adding to our relationship? How would it be to somehow find ourselves on a similar sleep schedule, instead of me wide awake hours after he’s zonked out, and him leaving the house hours before I can fathom opening an eyelid. When you truly only have a few hours a week to spend with your spouse how do you prioritize that time? For years we’ve intentionally tried to do as many of our errands and boring maintenance or repair projects on our own time so that the few hours a week we have together aren’t spent doing our individual errands. Projects that require four hands instead of two are usually earmarked for our time together, but that time being at a premium means that they usually takes months longer than anticipated.
The other side-effect, it seems, is that we continue to live and even expand the parts of our lives where we are on our own. I don’t know if I’m explaining this very well, but I do my thing during the week, he does his thing, and then we spend a day or two together on the weekend that feels like vacation, kind of, but isn’t, really. It’s “Real Life” when we are together, but not our regular day-to-day life which we spend primarily alone.
Does this make sense? I’m almost beyond hoping that somehow (magically) we will both have 8-5 jobs in the same geographic area and can spend our evenings AND weekends together. It would require huge changes in both our chosen careers, and as “legit” adults that is much easier said than done. Not impossible, I understand, but “Just get a new job!” is a flippant and REALLY insensitive response to a very complex problem.
So, in lieu of such a solution, we both need to work on figuring out how to merge our lives and maintain some key commitments. It’s not impossible. But, dammit, it’s not easy.