Thriving Relationships//

In a Relationship With a Frequent Traveler? Here’s How to Make It Work

Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.

Anna Gerasko/Shutterstock
Anna Gerasko/Shutterstock

Despite ever-improving technology that lets remote employees join a meeting from thousands of miles away, more and more people are traveling for business. In fact, business travel spending is projected to reach $1.7 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) by 2022. But all this mobility can be a strain on your relationship, when one or both partners are out-of-town frequently, leaving limited time to connect in person. Even if you are someone who is energized by travel and seeing new places, being away from your partner on a regular basis could end up being a source of stress.

We asked the Thrive Community for their best tips for keeping their relationship strong when one or both partners frequently travels for work. They had some great strategies — here are some of our favorites:

Make your relationship a priority

“My husband’s from Amsterdam, and I’m American. We base ourselves in The Netherlands, but because I return home regularly for work and family, we end up spending weeks, sometimes even months, apart. How do we make it work? We view our nontraditional relationship as a plus rather than a problem. We’re always each other’s first priority, connecting throughout the day when we’re apart, by texting and FaceTiming. We stay super supportive of each other’s needs and interests. And we don’t take each other for granted — when we’re together, there’s appreciation, and when we’re apart, there’s anticipation. And we’re in our 28th year, so it seems to be working!”

—Grace de Rond, author, Los Angeles/Amsterdam

Unplug and focus on each other

“When I was in a relationship I would be gone for 30 days and with no way to communicate. I was always in the desert or some place where service couldn’t connect. So we would make it a tradition when we came back from work to shut our phones off, we would go to a nice unknown place via Yelp recommendation, and rekindle the flames through pure human communication.”

—Bertrand Ngampa, life coach, Washington, D.C.

Take two minutes to create a connection

“Being away from your partner is stressful for most relationship but in just two minutes a day, you can create connection across the miles. Each day you’re away, take one minute and write down something specific about your partner that makes you smile. For the second minute, take a picture that in some way exemplifies your day and send it to your partner. Bonus: Include the thing you wrote down with the picture!”

—Lisa Culhane, relationship coach, Denver, CO

Make the most of your time together

“Traveling is an integral part of my relationship now. My partner travels frequently leaving us with limited time for each other. The silver lining is that it has taught us to value and cherish our relationship much more than ever. We have now consciously programmed ourselves to ‘make the most’ of the times that we are together. We look forward to that ‘pick up’ from the airport to sneaking in an early morning coffee at Starbucks.

We ensure that we are fully present and there for each other during these times and keep revisiting our mutual goals — be it finances, kids, our relationship or health. These moments are stored in as what we call a ‘love bank.’ We deposit when together and withdraw when traveling!”

—Aakriti Agarwal, coach, facilitator, and image consultant, Hyderabad, India

Don’t wait for the other person to reach out

“One thing that I recommend for people is to not wait for the other person to chat back. Just reach out when you feel like it. Treat it like any other friendship, not a game of ‘wait to see who responds first.’ We’ve also been partners for almost 7 years, so having some experience and long-term trust helps too. In the end, communication is important and if you’re lacking that, try to find alternative ways to show your language of love.”

—Alex Tran, digital marketing specialist, California

Get flirty

“My husband and I get flirty over Gchat and text when I’m in back-to-back meetings on the road. My being on the road gives us the chance to leverage that “just started dating energy” when, after 11 years, our conversations can skew a bit more ‘what are we having for dinner?’ than ‘what you’re wearing?.’”

—Kelly Dowd, consultant, Chicago IL.   

Make the first hour together count

“Make a point to greet your partner with a kiss rather than a list of complaints and chores. Find a therapist, whine to a friend, hire a lawn guy, and do whatever you can to give the responsibilities to appropriate resources so the first hour at home is your partner’s BEST hour at home.”

—Sarah K. Ramsey, toxic relationship recovery specialist, Knoxville, TN

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