I am pleased to welcome fellow Winnipegger and travel blogger Deborah Zanke, with the following guest post. Check her site out at http://tagalongtravel.com/ for other interesting information very different from the kind of information and comments I tend to post.
Deborah will be sharing some of my travel tips with her loyal readers as well. Thank you Debbie. I think she has a great site so take a look and follow her as well.
It’s been about a year since I started Tag Along Travel and I have yet to touch on the subject of infidelity and frequent business travel. It’s a bit of an omission. I mean, isn’t that the biggest pop-culture cliché—cheating spouses on business trips? On the flip side, how many TV shows and movies feature the spouse-back-early-from-a-business-trip scenario? You know, where the traveller catches the stay-behind spouse doing the downward dog in their bedroom with her yoga instructor.
This “cheating during business travel” trope evolved for a reason. It happens. But infidelity can (and does) happen in a variety of settings. Granted, a spouse who is thousands of miles away in a city where he or she will likely never be recognized may face a bit of extra temptation.
How often cheating happens
In my exhaustive research that spanned 2-pages deep search results on Google, I found a number of references to crazy high infidelity rates among married couples (in the 50% range). Intrepid, evidence-based blogger that I am, I wasn’t convinced. So I specifically went to that paragon of psychological science, Psychology Today, and found out that many infidelity studies are flawed and the few credible studies that exist seem to indicate that it is significantly less common – in the range of 10 – 13%. Oh, and the big take away? Business travel doesn’t cause infidelity. It’s personal or relationship issues that do.
Keeping your relationship strong
In my opinion, every marriage worth its salt goes through some ups and downs over the long term. That’s expected. It’s how you deal with those hills and valleys that separate the separated from the intact couples. And if you believe that once you’re married you’ll never turn your head to glance at another, you’re either living in a dream world or in a city of very homely people. Attraction to others is a reality. There’s nothing wrong with looking.
So, how can you cope when you and your spouse are separated often because of work? What do you do if trust issues creep in after that 3rd back-to-back business trip? How do you deal with feeling lonely? Here are some ideas based on my more than a decade of experience:
If you were to describe me as stoic, the people who know me best would say, “Stoic? The woman barely tolerates hugs from close family members and small children!” It’s not easy for me to be vulnerable by sharing my feelings.
But one thing I’ve learned about relationship difficulties is that if you don’t talk about them, things are only going to get worse. So, if you’re worried about your spouse being tempted on the road, tell him (or her). I’m not talking about making accusations. I’m suggesting admitting you’re feeling anxious about the amount of time apart and why that is.
And if you’re feeling that the relationship is growing apart and you find yourself open to temptation, you need to call that too – before anything happens. Doing so sounds an alarm and makes both spouses pay more attention to what’s going on in the relationship that perhaps needs a tune-up.
A regular relationship “check-in” can also be a good idea. On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being I want to give you a big kiss and 1 being I want to scream when I look at our wedding pictures) how are we doing right now? This can be a good way to start a conversation.
Steve and I usually have our best talks about anything relationship related while we’re running together. Physically parallel conversations are great – way less intense. But that’s just me. Your results may vary.
Tag along as much as possible
Tagging along on a few of your spouse’s business trips accomplishes two things. First, it’s generally fun. You’re together some of the time and you can get out of your domestic routine, which is good for shaking up your relationship a bit.
Second, tagging along allows you to see that business travel is not usually that exciting. For Steve, it often involves long days, required social commitments, followed by responding to a bunch of emails when he returns to his hotel room. It’s often exhausting. Once you see what it’s like, you’re less likely to imagine your spouse making out with some hot business contact in a taxi on the way to a dinner meeting.
Stay in touch virtually
There are so many ways to stay connected when physically apart today it’s ridiculous. Relationship apps, texting, social media, and video calls are all at your disposal.
Even when days are busy for us and we can’t fit in a video call, we manage to sneak in a few text messages throughout the day. And even though thoughtful “I love you” messages are nice, it’s the back-and-forth routine conversation that provides a sense of continuity and a feeling of connection. Messages like “Look what came in the mail today,” or “How was your run this morning?” make it feel like we’re connected.
If the separation is an extended one, consider a virtual date via video call. Plan an activity, watch a movie, or even just hang out while making/eating dinner.The point is that you need to remain in regular contact. Make the time to do it every day. This keeps you in each other’s thoughts.
Make an event of the reunion
It doesn’t have to be a grand affair, but do something special as a couple after business travel. Take time to reconnect and catch up on what went on while you were apart.
If you’re the travelling spouse, consider bringing back a small gift that lets your spouse know you’ve thought of them while being away. For me, it’s usually free hotel soaps and a bottle of my favourite gin from the duty free shop, but hey, I’m easy to please.
That Travel Guy Note: I thank Deborah for her unique contribution to my blog. I encourage you to follow hers as well at http://tagalongtravel.com/