I am hearing frequent stories of married couples forced to be apart for work. Economic downturns have required many of us to take positions we’d never consider 5 years ago. We can relate to this, and although it is terribly difficult to get through, there is hope for the future. If you are in this position, reach out to people. Ask for what you need and be gracious about accepting it. If you know someone else, please share this with them as encouragement to know they are not alone.

Published in the Spring 2012 Issue of Eternal Encouragement (Formerly TEACH) as part of an ongoing marriage series I’d written. It is raw, for adults (thanks for skipping this post young reader friends)


Barb’s husband could not find a contract locally and was forced to work in another state for almost a year, coming home barely every 3rd weekend for 48 hours. Jeni’s husband has been working out of town, connecting with his family in person once a week. She has breast cancer, and a child with Down’s syndrome, and has had to mostly battle these things without him there physically. Tiffany’s husband has been looking for a new job for three years. In that time he has had to go where the work is, driving long hours to get home when he can.

My own husband came in quietly the other night. When I saw his face my stomach tightened into knots, dread filled my heart. We have faced upheaval many times for work and I recognized this as eminent. “Well,” he started, “work is sending me out of state for several months. Maybe we should start packing for you to come with me. We’d leave in three days’ time.”

I didn’t react well. I’d like to tell you I ran to him with a tender caress and supportive words. That I put his needs ahead of my own, his desires above mine. But, that would be untrue. No Godliness, no loving support, only outrage. 

We had done this before. After calming down we were able to discuss the obstacles to going along and staying. I spent the evening praying. First for forgiveness, and then desperate pleading for God to make clear his will for us. We didn’t have time to wait patiently in prayer.  My husband was required to give an answer in the morning. He didn’t want to leave our house empty for months in our harsh winters. We had “life” all neatly penciled in on the calendar for two months out. The holidays approached. The list went on.  I saw the frustration in his eyes, wanting to do what was right by us, knowing he had no choice but to take this difficult assignment. 

We decided, for now, the family would stay home. God softened my heart, put my priorities in right standing, and helped me to bless my husband.  I told him I would do whatever he desired, and I meant it. It was a huge comfort to him and within days he was gone. Here we sit, without him, yet trusting God to provide while our protector is away. Many of us are called to be apart in these economic times. Keeping our marriage strong requires extra effort. A few ideas to do this?

  • Think of our spouse’s feelings, not just our own. While I knew it would be hard for my husband to be away, panic set it when I thought of how I would feel without him. Somehow it seemed more painful to limited thinking on my end.  Philippians 2:3-4 (NCV) gently reminded me, When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.  Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”  The one who is away suffers also.
  • Often in marriage it seems one partner is desirous of deep communication, while the other, well, doesn’t require the same level. Express heart needs.
  • Keeping a normal schedule at home fills the days, but nights and weekends can feel lonely. Planning ahead for something out of the ordinary helps provide distraction. Go to a movie, let the kids have buddies over for a game night, or ask a friend to meet for coffee.
  • Start a project that celebrates the gift of marriage, gathering things that keep important memories forefront.
  • Plan in advance to celebrate the homecoming, however brief, of the absentee spouse. Do this with kids in preparation for seeing Daddy. Cultivate family time to keep relationships strong.
  • Time alone, husband and wife, is crucial. Separated bodies and spirits must be allowed time together to reconnect after being apart.
  • Send pictures and notes in their suitcase, simple gifts of love tucked away in the folds will be a treasured surprise upon arrival in a sterile hotel environment.
  • Most importantly, ask God for ways to help us grow in times of separation. For example; I have suffered from night terror my entire adult life. When my husband is gone this becomes a serious issue. I am trusting God for intimate times of growth in the depth of darkness.

It is ideal in marriage to be together. The reality of our world sometimes dictates an interruption.  God does not leave us without encouragement in these difficulties.  Romans 5:3-4 strengthens us, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”  Endeavor to face every challenge of life with a determination to grow, and marriage still blossoms. In any location.

When the nights are long and we grow weary of building perseverance, tired of the challenge of strengthening our character, there is comfort still in God’s arms when we long to be embraced by our husbands.

 “…Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning.” For “I am still confident of this: I will see the Goodness of the Lord…”

{Psalms 30:5b, Psalms 27:13} (All names have been changed for privacy)

There are two other articles I read this week that are encouraging to me!


One response »

  1. Powerful, Christa. I have to say that you might also mention our service men and women who are separated from their families for extended periods of time as well. Your thoughts would be encouraging to them. I’ve found, as you have, that planning ahead for expected changes helps tremendously. You have done that, and mentioned it as well. Good work, Bink…

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