When You’re Married to a Travelin’ Man

OK, disclaimer: I am not a DS (Diplomatic Security) spouse. I cannot even pretend to know as much about this subject as a DS spouse. My officer is just an ordinary State Department officer who happens to travel a lot for whatever reason.

Also, I’m a girl. My officer is a guy. We’re old-fashioned that way, sorry.

Also, I don’t have little kids anymore. I have one teenager that I hardly ever see. Granted, there have been times when he has taken my husband’s absence as an opportunity to behave badly. But, on average, we are not talking high-maintenance on a daily basis, if you see what I mean. He can dress himself, put himself to bed, and only rarely throws tantrums.

Anyway, here are some tips that come to mind for getting by that week here, week there, the occasional two-week TDY to Moscow or Minsk–you know how it goes.


Cook up a mess of something

Here’s the thing: I find it very hard to get motivated to cook up a real dinner for just one person (my son doesn’t eat adult food) at 6 PM. So, I’ve learned: put on a good podcast and spend a couple of hours cooking at the beginning of the week. Then all you have to do is warm up variations of this spread, maybe cook a little pasta, and you are good to go.

Right now, in my fridge, I have a mess of green beans, a mess of roasted potatoes, a mess of brown rice pilaf, a mess of lima beans, leftover pumpkin-sausage soup, and leftover pasta. Eggs and duty-free Dutch gouda for quickie omelets. Lots of yummy salad stuff, too, including some peppers I roasted on my cooking day. Yeah, I may be temporarily single, but I am eating good. And that makes me feel less abandoned *sniff*

Buy a good bottle of wine

No, really. Buy a good one. Then you can have a treat at the end of the day, but on the other hand, you will want to make it last. This is important. Trust me.

Break the rules

No TV during dinner? Screw that when Dad is out of town. In earlier years, I watched Frasier or Home Improvement on DVD with the kids. Now I watch the Daily Show online with my teenager. Order takeout now and then if you can get it. Your husband is probably eating in some fancy restaurant right now. Why should he have all the fun?

Binge-watch a TV series

If you aren’t signed up for Netflix and Amazon, sign up now. You will have access to all kinds of TV that your spouse will hate. Watch at least two episodes a night, alternating with movies that he would never want to see. Time will fly. I fondly remember watching two seasons of Homeland in one week while my husband was in Istanbul. Working on The Closer now. Orange is the New Black is next on the list…

Take up a hobby

Goes well with binge-watching TV. When people ask me how I get so much quilting or knitting done, I tell them, my husband travels a lot.  It helps if it is an obsessive absorbing hobby. I took up genealogy when my husband went unaccompanied for a year. It really did help pass the time, and I still tend to gravitate back to solving some historical puzzle whenever he’s gone for the week. There are worse (and more expensive) hobbies.

Join a women’s club

If you want to meet other people whose husbands are out of town all the time, this is the way to go. In general, the overseas expat spouse crowd is a group that accepts a lot of marital separation as a matter of course, and has many and varied coping strategies to deal with it. OK, the big money clearly does help. But the main point is, if you want to talk to people with a positive outlook on the business travel situation, get away from State. Go corporate and live for the moment. While away the morning knitting, or the afternoon playing bridge. The point is to get out of the house, be social, and develop an independent support network. Not that you can’t do that in a US mission community. But, if that’s not working out, or if you’d like to expand your circle, join the local women’s group. Just do it: they won’t bite.

Give yourself a present-or demand one

When my husband went to Indonesia, I got batiks. When he went to Turkey, I got a kilim. When he went to Egypt, I got jewelry. And so on. Now he’s in Warsaw, and since I already have beaucoup Polish pottery, I did a little online clothes shopping. I’m a girl, remember? Shopping nearly always helps!

And that’s my very short list of ways to deal with being married to a travelin’ man. Now, I’ve got some trash TV to binge-watch and a quilt to work on. Bye.



  1. I love the fact that you make “a mess of” green beans, etc! I grew up in Alabama and we said it all the time, but now everyone looks at me cross-eyed if I say it! IMy husband spent a year unaccompanied, and I looked at it as my chance to do all the girly stuff I couldn’t do with him, or would feel too guilty about subjecting him to too much of. So movies, tv shows, girls night out, etc. And oh, you forgot: “go to the masseuse and go get mani/pedis.” I had a monthly trip to the masseuse — money very well spent!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.