Originally posted on: Huffington Post
If you, like millions of other professionals, frequently travel for business, you might have mixed feelings toward this obligation. While it can be exciting to visit new locations and make interesting contacts, the demands of being away for an extended period can cause both physical and mental exhaustion, putting strain on your home life.
In particular, traveling for your job could potentially take a negative toll if you are married or in a serious relationship. Attending meetings around the country or even across the globe, while your significant other stays behind, can be stressful and taxing for both parties. Therefore, it’s crucial that each of you strive to bridge the geographical distance by consistently meeting one another’s emotional needs. Communication is key for any relationship, but it doubles in importance when that relationship must stand the test of travel.
So, to keep communication open and romance alive, try these practical tips on maintaining a healthy bond with your partner, in the midst of catching a business class flight.
Be Open and Honest
If you’re preparing to embark on a work-related trip, be aware of your partner’s needsahead of time. A simple and effective way to figure this out is by taking the Love Language Test together. Based on your significant other’s “love language,” you can determine how to show him/her affection while you’re away. Before leaving for the airport, both of you should also address any unresolved conflicts or misunderstandings. You won’t want to deal with argumentative phone calls after entertaining clients all day, so settle that tension and kiss goodbye on a positive note.
Know the End Date
Nothing stretches out time and distance like ambiguity, so make sure to clarify when exactly you will be home. This way, your significant other will have a specific date on the calendar to look forward to. While you’re apart, discuss ideas for a romantic date night that you both would enjoy upon your return, and when the trip is over, demonstratively convey your excitement to be reunited again.
Talk to Each Other Regularly
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many couples forget to stay connected throughout the day. Maintaining continuous dialogue while traveling is critical because, otherwise, that “out of sight, out of mind” mentality could become your new reality. To avoid this, agree upon a communication schedule for the duration of your trip. Text each other “good morning,” call him/her on your lunch break, and plan a Skype date every night. Get creative and send photos or videos documenting your adventures. Post sweet messages or silly anecdotes on one another’s social media accounts. But, above all, commit to keeping in touch as your top priority.
Agree on a Budget
Carefully track how much money you’re spending while away from a regular routine and make sure your partner is doing the same while home alone. It’s tempting to indulge in room service or grab an after-hours drink with coworkers, but be frugal whenever possible. Remember that your partner might feel like ordering take-out instead of cooking for just him/herself, so you each should account for individual expenditures. Set a budget beforehand then strive not to exceed that predetermined limit. Saving versus spending is a sensitive debate within any relationship, so don’t let the pressures of distance aggravate your financial situation.
Keep Your Partner in the Loop
Although you might be in a different time zone, that’s no excuse to fall off your significant other’s grid. Inform him/her of where you’ll be staying, what your schedule will entail, and which colleagues you’re traveling with. These details provide a sense of comfort, knowing you both are remaining active in one another’s lives. Tell your partner about the sights you encountered or the people you met, then listen attentively as he/she recounts what happened back at home.
Call When You Say You’re Going to Call
Often, people who travel for business struggle to keep that cliched “I’ll call you tonight around 7:30” commitment. Making promises, then failing to deliver fuels underlying tension that eventually escalates into a dispute. You’ll feel guilty and your partner will feel neglected, so simply honor your end of the communication bargain. Even set reminders on your phone, and something work-related prevents you from calling at the appropriated time, send an apologetic text message. He/she will understand and appreciate the heads-up.
Do Things Together Separately
This may sound like a paradox, but you can still participate in couples’ bonding activities while apart. Read a book series together, watch the same TV drama on Netflix, listen to identical music playlists or podcasts, train for a 5K event, mud run or cycling race that you can jointly compete in. Pursuing similar interests creates closeness despite the miles between you and fosters stimulating conversation topics, rather than just recapping your business meetings.
Continue to Express Your Love
Ensuring that romantic intimacy doesn’t fizzle out can be a daunting task when you and your significant other must forego face-to-face contact for extended periods. So, keep the spark alive by surprising him/her with “thinking of you” momentos, like a postcard or touristy trinket from your travels. Arrange for flowers to be delivered to his/her doorstep during your time spent apart. Or, before boarding the plane, leave love notes scattered around the house for your partner to stumble upon while you’re away. Have fun with this because even the most trivial romantic gestures will remind you both that “absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.”
Focus On Each Other
When talking by phone or video, make sure you focus on your partner, not on what may be going on around you. Paul Moore, a businessman and the marketing strategist for Aries, has had extensive experience learning how to maintain relationships while on the road over his 28 years of marriage. He shares what he’s learned from his experience: “When you’re spending time with your loved ones, be fully present and committed to them. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your phone and work pressures. It’s far better to spend 5 minutes fully focused on your spouse than to spend 30 distracted minutes where they don’t feel you’re really focused on them.“
Pursue Your Own Hobbies and Continue Living Life
It’s important to maintain personal interests and carve out some “me time.” Then, when you and your partner touch base, update one another on these individual pursuits, such as playing an instrument, going for a bike ride, trying out a recipe, dabbling in photography, or whatever you enjoy. Although you’ll understandably miss each other, avoid wallowing in these feelings. Keep pressing forward and nurturing yourself emotionally.
Travel With Your Partner
If you’re given advance notice about an upcoming business trip, set aside enough funds to take your partner along for the ride. While you’re working throughout the day, suggest that he/she go sight-seeing and offer personal recommendations if you’ve previously visited this destination. Then, meet up when the workday ends for a romantic evening on the town. If your schedule and budget allows, stay for an extra weekend and make more lifelong memories. Even job-related traveling can be relaxing when you turn it into a couples’ getaway.
Use Technology Well
While becoming absorbed with LED screens can often distract us from investing in real-world relationships, when used tactfully, technology can also enhance the connectionbetween you and your significant other. Here are a few suggestions on putting your gadgets to work:
- Program the calendar or alarm on your smartphone to alert you when it’s time for a text or phone call.
- Download Skype or Google Hangout, so you can see each other via video chat.
- If your partner loves receiving gifts, send him/her something special (with a personalized note) from his/her favorite online retailer.
- Share photos and videos via social media as a unique way to catch up on each other’s daily activities.
There’s no doubt that being separated from your partner can pose a significant relational challenge. However, you can make the best of this situation by prioritizing your relationship, no matter how far away your career endeavors might take you. By implementing these tips into the next travel itinerary, you might even notice that you and your partner are getting to know each other like never before.
This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission.