Keeping Romance Alive at Home
by David Coleman
The survival mentality -those of us who are frequent business travelers know it all too well. We do everything within our power to arrive at our destination on time, in one piece, and be mentally and physically prepared to handle our responsibilities. We do our best to meet and exceed people's expectations (and our own) quickly adapt to new priorities and make plans to repeat the process the next day in a new location with a different set of complexities. We "suspend" our relationships, and put our feelings on "lay away" as time, tasks and self-survival become paramount.
Just a few short years back, my goal was to visit all 50 states before I died. Now, my goal is to stop visiting all of them before I do. Sometimes when I arrive home from up to two straight weeks on the road, my wife and children barely recognize me and I can't blame them. "The road" can desensitize even the most veteran frequent traveler. Will this mentality allow us to develop and maintain exceptional and romantic relationships at home? No. Must we do something about it? Yes.
Those of us who travel frequently for business (at least two to three times per week) get into a very structured mindset in which we place our wants and needs first. That won't ignite the romantic fires at home, so here are several suggestions on how you can re-humanize yourself and foster romance and passion at home even when you might be mentally, physically, and emotionally quite far away.
1]. Alternate your methods of communication. Use the phone, email, post cards, voice mail, care packages, and hidden notes strategically placed before you leave to let your spouse or significant other know that you care and think about them when you are gone. Leave them brief voice mail messages, when you know they aren't home, to let them know they are in your thoughts. Arrange for a romantic gift to be delivered while you are gone.
2]. When you arrive back home, avoid becoming a time or energy "vampire." Upon returning home, road warriors sometimes resemble a "Black Hole" as everyone's time, energy, emotion and attention seems to get sucked into their gravitational pull. While you were away, your loved ones had responsibilities of their own to uphold and their new purpose is not to meet your every want, need or desire simply because you're back. In fact, they may expect those things of you.
3]. Don't deplete your romantic or emotional energy on the road. If you have become "too emotionally or physically close" with others you've worked with, met or interacted with, it will be evident when you arrive home and are not as caring, romantic, spontaneous, thoughtful, loving or interested as you normally are. If you open the door to your emotions while on the road, someone just might take a nice, long walk through them.
4]. Be aware that although you have been out "interacting with the world" the same might not be true for your spouse or significant other. They want and need to spend social time with you outside the home. Plan and make arrangements before you leave for dates that will take place upon your return. That way, you won't let such an important element of romance slide. They may even need some time out without you. Help them get it.
5]. Get as much of your work done as you can before you arrive back home. There is nothing worse for your loved ones than to see you immediately plug in your computer and start working when you get home. In their mind, enough is enough and they just can't compete, nor will they want to.
6]. Practice voluntary romance. This means performing unexpected and appreciated acts of love and kindness at unexpected times because you want to, not because you think you need to, to compensate for the guilt associated with being gone.
7]. Take care of yourself as you travel. Your significant other's idea of a romantic evening with you upon your return is not force feeding you liquids or taking your temperature every two hours. Have enough respect for them (and yourself) to eat right, get enough sleep, take personal time and exercise while you're away so that you are physically fit when you return.
8]. Reacquaint yourself with YOU before you get home. There are times you turn off certain extensions in your computer because they might not be needed to perform a particular function. The same is true for you as a person as you live life on the road. Before arriving home, reboot your internal operating system and restart your smile, patience, sense of humor, poise, charm, passion and compassion.
9]. Set aside adequate, separate and focused time for those who want and need your love and affection. Spend adequate time with your children and friends, but leave enough time to be alone with and focus on your spouse or significant other. If they feel as if they are being lumped in with everyone else or slighted, they'll feel as deflated as a popped balloon.
Always keep in mind that as important as your job may be to you and others, it pales in comparison to how important you are in the lives of those who care for you and how important you are to them. For many of us, frequent traveling is an integral part of our lives. We just need to ensure that it doesn't become the most important part of our lives.