International corporate travel is on the rise – and many families pay the price. My husband, Franck, travels a lot for work. Coping hasn’t always been easy. But, is it worth it? This is my story.
Business Travel Is A Part of My Marriage
Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash
Franck’s been a work traveler since before our marriage began in 2008. For over a decade, I have habituated myself to not seeing my husband for days, weeks, and months on end. Last year, Franck traveled for work for nearly six months.
Franck’s dad often says when he hears that Franck is in the sky again, “You know, the more you want to earn in your career, the more you have to travel.” Surely: doing what many others would rather not do – spend time away from their families.
At the 2016 beach side company Christmas party, the co-founder of Nixon, Chad DiNenna, looked directly into my eyes during his champagne toast in front of 100 guests and said, “…And thanks to the families who let us travel.”
Chad later approached me and asked, “Did you notice how I was looking at you when I said that?”
Oh, I noticed.
When you’re married to a journeyman business traveler like me, you often receive understanding nods and oohs of sympathy the moment you say your spouse travels for work. It comes with the territory of marriage with a senior manager or executive. After ten years, I can safely say I can juggle and manage alone, but coping isn’t and hasn’t always been easy.
Accepting A Marriage With A Business Traveler
Even the start of our relationship was an ultimatum of accepting his frequent flyer career. Just two months into our relationship, he sat me down in his south Florida condo and informed me that his then company, Zodiac Pool Care, was relocating to southern California. And, out of the few who survived the layoffs, he would have to go – or lose his Green Card. From the get-go, we endured the ups and downs of a year-long long distance relationship. Eventually seeing each other every three months.
We found ourselves in a bistro in Paris, when I told him that I could not and would not continue this kind of relationship marriage wasn’t in the future. It wasn’t until after I relocated to San Diego he finally proposed – and the business travel increased with more responsibility as Franck’s career progressed.
We relocated back to South Florida during the great recession and then to France. When Franck worked at Salomon Snowboards, he traveled constantly across the U.S., Europe, and Asia to rebuild the brand and assure premium product quality. I can’t keep track of all of the ski resorts, outdoor shops, and restaurants he’s been to around the world. Franck’s passport is full of stamps. He knows which airports are good and which to avoid. He’s eaten weird things and has a ton of bizarre stories to tell.
The Emotional Strain of Business Travel Takes Its Toll on Our Marriage
While living in France, the business travel became so frequent that I refused to be alone any longer. I wrote him an email telling him that I was over the state of our relationship and then I went to bed. The next thing I know, I hear several firemen banging on the doors demanding to enter our apartment. Franck feared my ultimatum was a bizarre suicide note. He called his parents who then called the fire department to check in on me. It’s a hilarious story when we look back at it, but you can imagine how scary it might have been for him at the time.
Our perception of business travel transformed forever when kids came into the picture. When I was in postpartum depression, Franck’s business travel came to a grinding halt. He spent most days shuttling me from doctor to doctor and bonding with our new daughter. He looks back at that forced rest with bitter sweet memories. And, now, our children ask where their father is when he doesn’t return home at night. Our son points at every airplane and says, “Papa.”
While I have not experienced feelings of jealousy, many executive wives experience jealously when their husbands travel. In many cases rightfully so as I have experienced cases of executive clients who have cheated on their spouses during business trips. Fortunately, and knock on wood, this is not a problem we face as a couple. But adultery is a harsh reality many corporate wives live with every day.
Surprising Ways To Cope With Business Travel
After I transformed into a new and improved version of myself, we relocated back to southern California. It was then that the global business travel geared up again. Franck didn’t spend as much time with our newborn son as he wanted. The memory of this newborn phase filled Franck with regret. And, he secretly feared, for nearly two years, that he hadn’t properly bonded with our son (you couldn’t tell that now).
At the same time I experienced a mental breakdown and spiritual awakening, Franck’s work travel was in full steam. My anxiety was so debilitating, that Franck’s dad flew in from France regularly to help me. It was during this period that I found new and unexpected ways to cope with his absence and regain my confidence in my independence.
Franck experienced many nightmares about death and tragedy while away on a business trip. During several past life regressions, intuitive readings, and coaching sessions with me, Franck revealed startling truths about his soul’s purpose. Franck learned that he had many lifetimes as a warrior, a sailor, and other professions that required him to travel. The common theme was the dread of leaving his family and losing them while away on business.
Finding A Happy Place During My Husband’s Business Travel
The wonderful part of our journey came after discovering the emotional and spiritual ways of coping and understanding why business travel fits within the ultimate schema of his life and our marriage.
By using hypnosis and energy therapy, we uncovered a deep understanding into why business travel is an essential part of his career. We’ve made peace with this part of our lives and see business travel as function that serves a greater purpose. We’ve adjusted to each other’s business travel schedules (now that he and I both leave home for work) and taking on each other’s home and parenting duties.
While there is no end of our business travel in sight, we mutually agree that family is the first priority upon landing on the tarmac. Our priority is being fully mentally and emotionally present for our children when we are together. This is a skill that many professionals who don’t even travel for work can’t manage – maybe our business travel serves to remind us of this very important life goal.
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