I get asked pretty regularly what it’s like having a husband that is gone all the time. My response varies depending on my mood, but inevitably the word “adjusting” always comes into the conversation. “Adjusting” is the word that defines my existence as a commercial fishing wife.
This is the summary: Zed leaves to go fishing, and over the course of weeks or months I learn to adjust to his absence. I develop routines and coping mechanisms that allow me and the kids to “get by” until he returns (I’m sure he has his own ways of coping with the fishing lifestyle). And when he comes home I readjust as we get used to each other again. I change my schedules and my routines and I try to accommodate another person in the house.
After Zed returns from a fishing trip, we usually have a day or two of bliss, where we are just so happy to be a family again. Then we start stepping on each others toes as he struggles with adjusting to life on land after weeks or months on a boat with constant stress and danger, working around the clock, and I adjust to the disruption of my routines and the doubling of my cooking and cleaning. If Zed has been gone for an extended period of time we have to (in a way) get to know each other again. While he is gone we lead such drastically different lives, with very little communication between us, and almost no way of really knowing what the other person has been going through.
After a couple of weeks of mild irritation from both parties we begin to settle in and figure out how to share the duties around the house (like getting the kids ready for bed) and if we have enough time together we eventually develop a routine together. And then our time runs out and he’s back out on the water, and I once again adjust to being a single parent. This little dance we do is repeated MANY times throughout the year and we never seem to be able to avoid it.
I hate to sound whiny or negative because, despite the difficulties, we are very lucky to have the opportunities we do. Just to have a job in this economy is something to be thankful for! And I also know that I am not alone. I imagine that the experience would be similar for anyone with a spouse who is gone from home for much of the year. Military families must have it especially hard and, although I worry for my husband’s safety when he’s gone, I won’t even pretend to understand what it is like to have a spouse away at war.
So until we find another source of income, I will continue to adjust, readjust, adjust again, and try to think of it as an exercise in flexibility… or maybe strength training for our relationship. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder!