I’ve always loved a good, old fashioned cliché. I get that clichés are… well… cliché. However, clichés become clichés because there’s a universal truth hidden in there. My favorite clichés are: All that glitters isn’t gold. Only time will tell. Opposites attract. What goes around comes around. But my all time favorite is: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Because I believe this wholeheartedly. The more time you spend apart, the more you miss someone. And when you spend all your time with someone, it’s easy to set bad habits. Habits of being unappreciative and inattentive make not for a dynamic, engaging relationship. Last week, Brandon and I traveled separately for 3 days for the first time in a couple months. We’re a bit out of practice. As we both pulled up to JFK, him with a ticket to Dallas and me with a ticket to Phoenix, I was reminded of a familiar feeling of longing and sadness.
But sitting and crying about things isn’t my style.
So here are my Do’s and Don’ts for keeping the love alive when your guy is away:
Before he travels:
DO: Write him cards for each day he’s traveling
I have to thank my mom for this one. When I was a kid, I competitively waterskied. Since we live in Portland, staying competitive against the kids in California and Florida required extra practice in the wintertime. So I would travel to ski school in Florida in order to catch up to my competition. When I was in Florida, my mom would always write me a card for each day that I was gone and stick them in my suitcase before I took off. Some were long winded, others short and sweet. But I know that opening those cards were the highlight of my day. So now, when Brandon leaves for a longer trip, I bust out my favorite Papyrus cards, and leave them as a surprise for him in his suitcase. This is a little thing that really shows you’re thinking about the person you love.
DON’T: Badger him about his travel schedule
Just don’t do it. If he’s traveling for business, trust that he’s doing everything he can to create a successful life for you guys. Knowing what time the conference breakfast starts or when he’ll break for lunch is not important. Let him be and apply as little pressure as possible before he goes.
DO: Help him pack
Brandon needs wardrobe advice. I don’t pick everything out for him – he has a great eye. But sometimes, he needs a sounding board to ask if these shoes go with that belt. He also tends to lose the ONE thing he absolutely needs to bring with him. If he doesn’t find it, we might have a melt down on our hands – so I go search for his new favorite sweatshirt in the laundry while he continues packing. This certainly keeps the calm in our household.
During his travels:
DO: See your girls
This is critically important. Make plans with your girlfriends before he goes. Chances are, you don’t see your girls enough anyway. And now, you have an extra few evenings that are wide open. Grab happy hour. Get your nails done. Watch The Bachelor. You’ll be happy you made plans ahead of time because if you wait until the day of, it’s easy to get caught up in your to do list like cleaning your office or reorganizing your closet. Do those things – but invite your girls over to help.
DON’T: Text him every minute
Girl, leave him alone. I know you miss him. I know you’re usually connected at the hip. But just. Leave. Him. Alone. This will do wonders for your relationship. Let him do his thing and know that he’s thinking of you and loves you. You asking him to FaceTime you during General Session is a no go. He has important things to be doing and so do you. Lay off the texts and make him wonder what you’re doing. For me, this looks like not checking my phone any more than I do when he is around. If you have my number, you know that I’m not speedy when it comes to replying to texts as I have my notifications switched off and only check texts a couple times a day. I’m not saying ignore him. Just don’t revolve your precious time around him.
DO: Keep your morning/evening routines
The best part of my every morning and every evening is Brandon. So there’s clearly a big hole in my life when he’s not there to wake up next to. Because of this – we keep our morning and evening routine as close to the real thing as possible. In the morning, whoever wakes up first texts the other saying good morning with some words of positivity and encouragement. At night, he calls me before he goes to bed, because I’m a night owl and will certainly be up later than him. We take 5 minutes to catch up on our days, excitedly count down the days until he returns, and our “I love yous” and “goodnights.” When he’s gone, the bookends of my day are all I ask. I leave my neediness for when he comes home.
After his travels:
Do: Greet him in the airport
I have to admit I’ve gotten a little lazy in this department. For the first couple years, I was always standing as close to the gate as possible, greeting him with a diet coke and his favorite snack inside the airport. These days, I still pick him up but I don’t put the extra 15 minutes of effort in anymore. But I’m going to change this because those 15 minutes matter. He feels loved and I go to sleep knowing I loved him as best I could that day when I put in that extra 15 minutes. It really doesn’t take big gestures to love someone well. It’s actually easier to do the occasional big thing than the frequent small things but why not do both? You have one great love in your life. Why be mediocre at it?
DON’T: Start vomiting out all your problems as soon as he gets home
When you’ve been taking care of the home front, it’s easy to talk about all the things that are wrong. The bills will be there. The house isn’t burning down. Do everything you can to not talk about anything negative for the first 2 hours after he gets home. I dare you. It might be harder than you think but try it anyway and keep trying it until you’re a master at positivity. This helps in 2 ways: 1) it will give him confidence that you have your shit together. People who are always talking about what’s going wrong never give you the impression they THINK they’re giving you. Even though they make it seem like it’s everyone else’s problem, usually they have some major self awareness issues because they can’t see it’s actually them that’s the problem. 2) if you’re not asking him to fix it, he doesn’t need to know about it. That’s our policy. If we’re going to talk, we’re going to solve each other’s problems or we’re planning for our future. Don’t allow complaining and bitching to become a norm in your relationship – it’s a disservice to everyone.
DO: Tidy things up
I’m not talking a full house sweep – just pick up the area’s he’ll notice. After being gone, there’s no better feeling than walking into a clean home. A few years back, I had to travel for the weekend while Brandon was at home. When I returned, I was floored: he had spent the entire time I was gone making my apartment a home. I had just moved in there and hadn’t fully unpacked yet – much less put my touches on the place. Over that weekend, he bought storage containers for my clothes, picture frames for our photos, my favorite candles that filled each room, and he unpacked every last sock and scarf. This stands out as one of the sweetest things he’s done for me and the comfort I felt upon coming home was unparalleled. This is on the extreme end but it serves as an example: everyone loves feeling thought of. Chances are, he doesn’t want to be gone, away from you and his bed. So light a candle, fluff the comforter, and lay out his slippers before he gets home. This way, he’ll wish he never left.
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