Together and separate: a marriage

Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been together for five years, for the vast majority of those years we have lived hundreds of miles apart. We’d often see each other on weekends, or every-other weekend, or, sometimes, every third weekend. Long distance relationshipping is not something I’d actually recommend for anyone, it is hard and complicated and is a breeding ground for a lot of issues that are difficult to weed out and sometimes impossible to even recognize until they are already deeply embedded. Blue Eyes and I spent our fourth wedding anniversary unpacking a moving truck here in Arizona and hauling boxes around to their proper rooms for unpacking. At that point we had only lived together for nine months of our marriage, a mere 18% of our (wedded) relationship. Yes, I did the math.

Overall, I think the last few months have been ones of adjustment, for each of us individually and also for the (capitalized!) Us. Some pieces have been easy, and others have….not been easy.

A few weeks ago Blue Eyes was assigned another out-of-town project. He’s a civil engineer and his line of work includes building things like roads and bridges, wind and solar fields, dams and mines. Shockingly, the places where that kind of project exist are not often close to home, they are in the middle of Nevada, or a Man Camp (of sorts) in western Utah, or a large flat-ish spot a stone’s throw from Mexico: basically, the middle of nowhere.

I know a lot of women have their own out-of-town business travel, or are married to spouses who travel often for work for a week (or more) at a time. But somehow this feels…different. I sometimes feel like each of our careers have left us as ships passing in the night, sometimes a wave or a Morse code signal, but the vast majority of the time we lead very separate lives. He is out of town for work, I spend a quarter of my time back in Salt Lake for my job. We choose to stay together and we both make sacrifices to that end, but dammit, sometimes it is really hard! I know there is a time and a season for everything, this particular season just keeps on going and going.

How would it be to both be home by 5:30 every night, leaving work at work and being able to spend our time building on and adding to our relationship? How would it be to somehow find ourselves on a similar sleep schedule, instead of me wide awake hours after he’s zonked out, and him leaving the house hours before I can fathom opening an eyelid. When you truly only have a few hours a week to spend with your spouse how do you prioritize that time? For years we’ve intentionally tried to do as many of our errands and boring maintenance or repair projects on our own time so that the few hours a week we have together aren’t spent doing our individual errands. Projects that require four hands instead of two are usually earmarked for our time together, but that time being at a premium means that they usually takes months longer than anticipated.

The other side-effect, it seems, is that we continue to live and even expand the parts of our lives where we are on our own. I don’t know if I’m explaining this very well, but I do my thing during the week, he does his thing, and then we spend a day or two together on the weekend that feels like vacation, kind of, but isn’t, really. It’s “Real Life” when we are together, but not our regular day-to-day life which we spend primarily alone.

Does this make sense? I’m almost beyond hoping that somehow (magically) we will both have 8-5 jobs in the same geographic area and can spend our evenings AND weekends together. It would require huge changes in both our chosen careers, and as “legit” adults that is much easier said than done. Not impossible, I understand, but “Just get a new job!” is a flippant and REALLY insensitive response to a very complex problem.

So, in lieu of such a solution, we both need to work on figuring out how to merge our lives and maintain some key commitments. It’s not impossible. But, dammit, it’s not easy.

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21 thoughts on “Together and separate: a marriage

  1. I feel like a lot of military marriages/relationships must feel the same. The time you have for togetherness is so limited that it’s almost like you’re not living your real life and you continue to grow as a person without your partner. I give you tons of credit dear. That type of relationship isn’t for everyone and you guys are striving to make it work. And it sounds like you have a good, solid foundation in each other to get you through.

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    1. I’ve wondered about the similarities with military marriages…I do envy the “military wife” her cadre of other military wives who are struggling with similar things. I think that would help lessen the feelings of being so alone.

      xox

      On Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 11:35 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  2. I have been wondering how you guys manage that. Real separate lives and real together lives and strengthening a relationship that is already difficult to maintain without all the added complications. Sigh. I salute you and Blue Eyes for making it work, and boy howdy do I hope things get easier down the road.

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  3. While we’ve had the great blessing of being in each others presence (at least in the same house) most of the time, most of the time we almost never talked to each other. Not like we were mad or something, we were both just busy with the life consuming Graduate School. Even on weekends, he would be crunching numbers on 30 sheets of paper in the bedroom, and I’d be moving my research has data from paper to excel spreadsheets. When we weren’t studying for exams, completing class projects, or in our separate labs.

    But at least we were together. Sitting in the same room with silence tended towards our normal. I think we had 1 vacation and maybe 3 “dates” in our first 2 years of marriage (no wedding, no honeymoon).

    We chose it though, so I can’t complain lol.

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    1. I do love me a comfortable silence…although, not on the phone. Minutes of silence going by during a phone conversation…that I do not like at all. But, I totally am fine with it when we’re both at home…?

      xox

      On Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 12:43 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so lucky to have a relationship like this.

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Maybe or maybe not, but I can imagine that every time you see each other you must be quivering with anticipation. Every time! You don’t get bored with each other. You don’t get sick of each other. You don’t have that relationship “burn out” that inevitably happens with every relationship. You get to have time together and time apart, and that would be an awesome way to keep things fresh. Always new stories and new experiences to share when you get together.

    I envy you that.

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    1. Exactly. I also worry that in the “heart growing fonder” it also starts making stuff up about the relationship, the persons in said relationship, etc etc etc. Constant checking in and communication is necessary to nip that in the bud, and sometimes even that doesn’t work all the time.

      Distance sucks. Permanent distance…it’s just the worst.

      xox

      On Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 8:59 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  5. Eep! That sounds so complicated. I didn’t realize you guys were married while living separately, I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. But, it sounds like your bond is so strong to be able to weather that!

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    1. We’ve primarily lived separately, dating, married, the works. Our first three years together (two married) we lived 400+ miles apart. A project of his that was supposed to last 9 months ended up stretching to three years. Ugh. It was awful.

      xox

      On Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 9:09 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  6. How often does Blue Eyes get to come back to AZ when he is on a job? Is he literally gone the entire time or does he get to come back on the weekends? My last year in law school my now husband traveled Monday-Friday every week for the entire year. It was really tough. Then when my daughter was 4 months old he was gone half the month in Thailand for 9 months in a row. When you have a little kid it’s not like you can really pursue fun activities outside the house while the other person is traveling (especially when you have a full time job as well) so I ended up watching a lot of tv. I do love the weeks when my husband is not traveling as we do sit down and have dinner as a family as much as possible.

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    1. Oh wow, that is a hard schedule!

      Now that we both are (hypothetically) living in the same house he’s home on the weekends, usually gets back Friday evening, leaves again Sunday night. We’ve got his kids one night a week as well, so on that evening he starts work early, drives 3 hours, usually is home by 6 (so I pick up the kids at 5:30), we spend some time with them for a few hours, they go back to their Mom’s house at 8:30 and he crashes because he has to get up and drive at 3:00 in the morning to be back to his job for the 6:00 or 6:30 morning meeting.

      It is ROUGH.

      Now, we do not have small children, and that is a whole other ball of wax. Solo parenting for days or weeks on end has got to be tough and anyone who does it has my sympathies.

      xox

      On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 8:50 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  7. I know how this feels. We are in the same boat, my hubby workes longer periods abroad or in different cities and the last year we`ve spent Friday to Monday morning together when he is in country but then longer stretches of time (weeks or a month) apart when he`s been abroad. It sort of makes me afraid of how we will manage to live full-time together, because we have such seperate lives and grow in our seperate direction. But still we love it when we are together and my hubby always says that not all couples spend that much more time together even though they are under the same roof 365 days a year. I guess everything has it ups and downs, at least we do not get bord of eachother 😉

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