Married to an Itinerant Man

Marriage to an itinerant traveler is not for the faint of heart but I can confirm that distance does make the heart grow fond

Does familiarity breed contempt or does distance make the heart grow fond? You tell most people I’m gone for half the year and they’d probably guess the former. I won’t tell you how many times my friends or family have asked me if my marriage is “okay” when I tell them I embarking upon another trip. I know. Thankfully, appearances can be deceiving.

I have a great wife. Some spouses seem hardwired to function independently but mine does not. She is learning, though. It’s not like my travels were or are a surprise – after all, we did long-distance dating for nearly three years between Los Angeles and Frankfurt and I was the one who usually flew to Germany.

“Hi Mom, I am flying to Frankfurt for lunch. No, no, don’t worry, I’ll be back in LA at 10pm tomorrow.”

My wife was well acquainted with my career when we finally tied the knot, but perhaps she secretly thought I would settle down a little bit after marriage.

Nope. If anything, I have taken advantage of devaluing airline points over the last couple years to travel more than ever before. While I do not take long trips if I can avoid them, I do take many short trips. Many. I cannot provide expert consultation on travel if I have not properly experienced the carriers I place my clients on.

If travel can be addictive, which I believe it can be, then I am hopelessly addicted. Each year on my Live and Let’s Fly blog I write a year-end summary recounting my travel adventures for the year and am always amazed that I find a way to squeeze in 150,000-200,000 miles. I chuckle now looking back on my predictions that I will “curb my travel” in the new year. It just does not happen.

But after more than two years of marriage I have come to realize that travel does take its toll. Not that my marriage is in danger or anything like that, but think about how travel constrains the rest of your duties, responsibilities, and relationships.

It is rather hard to get involved in the community when you are home for one week and gone the next. Church functions? Volunteer work? Oh sorry, I’ll be out of town. Those lingering household projects like landscaping the garden or cleaning out the garage? Maybe when I get back from my next trip…?

I travel, I come home, I write. I travel, I come home, I write. Rinse and repeat. Throw in my points consulting business and I’m fortunate to block out enough time for my wife and I to have three meals together each day, train together at the gym, and hopefully go to bed at the same time. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Ah yes, the disciplined life.

But things don’t get done at my house. Not just the household projects I mentioned, but relationships too. Friendships are vital and my wife and I still have very few common friends. I have my travel friends and my old LA friends and she has her German friends that she Skypes. Forget the cultural barriers – even if we are two native Angelenos I think we’d run into the same issue.

We have made progress this year, but there have been many dinners of three and not four as I globetrot the world. There is no upside to that confession.

Ask my wife about all of this and she will put on her tough mask and assure you that everything is fine. Get to know my wife and she will tell you that she misses me desperately when I am gone…and I miss her too. Travel is a sacrifice in that sense.

The solution, though, is not less travel. That’s like saying the solution is to quit my job. The solution is to maximize our time together when we are together and to recognize those invisible signs, subtle hints and body language from my wife telling me that it may be wise to postpone this trip or to come home early from that one. I’m getting better a that.

Marriage to an itinerant traveler is not for the faint of heart but returning to my opening question I can confirm that distance does make the heart grow fond, at least in my house. I am thankful for that.

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Matthew is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles home. Each year he travels more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 120 countries over the last decade. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, Toronto Star, and on NPR. Studying international relations, American government, and later obtaining a law degree, Matthew has a plethora of knowledge outside the travel industry that leads to a unique writing perspective. He has served in the United States Air Force, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House. His Live and Let's Fly blog at shares the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs and promotions, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel. His writings on penandpassport.com offer more general musings on life from the eyes of a frequent traveler. He also founded awardexpert.com, a highly-personalized consulting service that aids clients in the effective use of their credit card points and frequent flyer miles. Clients range from retirees seeking to carefully use their nest egg of points to multinational corporations entrusting Matthew with the direction and coordination of company travel. Matthew can be reached at matthew@upgrd.com.
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