About ten years ago, my husband began traveling several weekends out of the year for work. As a young couple without kids, business travel was an exciting opportunity for him. The idea of seeing more of the world while providing for our family and gaining valuable experience along the way was definitely intriguing. Thankfully, he has worked for an incredible company that cares greatly for the well-being of its team members. The trips he takes for business, are mostly fun, energizing, and vital for his effectiveness and the success of the company. This does not mean that it is never grueling. 5:00 AM flights before a two hour time zone change, anyone? It can be exhausting, no matter how beautiful the place. It is still work, after all.
If business travel is apart of the job, we need to view it as a necessary investment in our family’s success rather than a necessary evil. The benefits of business travel usually have mostly to do with the success of the traveling spouse’s job, which then helps the family as a whole. If not, why take the trip in the first place? It is far too easy to accept the benefits of employment, without appreciating the adversity it took to achieve those benefits. If we have chosen as a family to accept the job, we have chosen to accept it, in its entirety. If that includes business travel, we need to incorporate it into our family life as a whole, as it doesn’t just affect the person that is traveling. It affects every member of the family and multiple days of family time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not excusing workaholic tendencies or a lack of boundaries around personal time. I am saying that we have a choice about the job. If we don’t like it or it requires too much time away from our family, we need to figure something else out. Maybe it is simply having a conversation to discuss potential changes or placing some better boundaries around work and family. Whatever it is, we need to choose a proactive approach to our circumstances.
As a spouse that is usually the one staying at home, I have lived and experienced a variety of effects that business travel has on our family. As much as I know the importance and reasons for his travel, and as much as it provides opportunities for me to have a different rhythm at home (less cooking!) and more time spent on other relationships, business travel can be rather unsettling and full of challenges. It can be flat out HARD. All too often, it is easy to feel ‘left at home’ and
sit stand around mulling about being overlooked and jealous of what our spouse ‘gets’ to do and see, and how we are stuck at home picking up all the slack. Or, it is easy to feel guilty for ‘always’ being gone and not at home where we ‘should’ be.
Either way, we are faced with a tension that can threaten the very core of our families. We must be intentional about our strategies to combat the adverse impact of business travel in our homes. Unless we take active steps to rebuff the negative ramifications at home, the success of the business trip can be quickly negated. This starts with communication about expectations, but can also include a variety of methods to relieve some of the additional strain that traveling can cause. In order to live a high-impact life, our family must function as a team and work together. It can start with us. We can make the choice to view employment and business travel positively and seek to figure out how best to support our family.
In Part 2 of this series, I will go into detail about one of our specific strategies to ease the negative impact of business travel on our family.
Join The Conversation: Do you or your spouse travel for work? Do you struggle to support your spouse’s business travel? Do you see yourself as part of the family ‘team’? You can leave a comment by clicking here.