Nearly all who are currently in the trucking industry understand the emotional toll of being separated from one’s loved ones for prolonged periods of time, but many who are just entering the field may not fully understand the challenges that lie ahead.
The lovely lady behind My Crazy Life as a Trucker’s Wife has put together this bit of advice for new drivers’ significant others. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves…
Any experienced trucker’s wife will tell you that life with a man on the road is a challenge. It never fails, the only time the car breaks down, the washer quits or the kids get in trouble requiring an urgent parent/teacher conference is the day her husband leaves. It’s the Murphy’s Law of trucker’s wives. But, hey, those of us who’ve done it for awhile are used to it and sometimes we even laugh about it. However, those occurrences can be devastating when you’re new to the life of a trucker’s wife.
When you’re new, every crisis seems more serious, every task seems more daunting and every week your man is gone feels more like a month. We’ve all been through it and while we still have our moments of despair, we’ve also learned to adjust accordingly. Attitude and experience make all the difference.
While seasoned trucker’s wives have adjusted to the life, we certainly remember what it was like to be newbies. We remember what a change it was from having hubby home every night to having him home every few weeks. To help you transition from overwhelmed-wife to old-hand, read and remember the following tips:
1. Stay in Touch
When my husband left for truck driving school (three weeks) and then training with his company (another six weeks), we didn’t have cell phones and were limited to speaking once a day. Bummer! When you’re used to speaking frequently, lack of contact is devastating. I was already lonely and not being able to call my husband made things worse. When he began to drive solo, we were able to get cell phones. Life suddenly became bearable again. While we weren’t sure about taking on an extra bill with a new and uncertain income, the security of knowing we could call each other day or night was priceless.
2. Learn About the Trucking Life
When your husband becomes a truck driver, it’s easy to feel left out. There’s a simple way around that–learn all you can about the trucking life. There’s plenty of info available including books, websites and industry publications. Learn his lingo. Truckers have a language all their own. Buy a road atlas and look to see where your hubby is and how he got there. Make yourself a part of his new life. Remember, trucking is a family affair.
3. Do a Run with Him
This will help you see what life on the road is like. While you’re at home holding things together it sometimes seems like he’s out seeing the country and having a big old time. While this can be true to an extent, those of us at home have no idea of the loneliness, boredom or headaches that accompany truck driving. Getting out on the road with him from time to time will give you the perspective you lack when you’re safe at home.
4. Trust Him
This can be hard for new trucker’s wives. Who hasn’t heard the stories of cheating truckers and predatory lot lizards (for those of you who don’t know, that’s the slang name for hookers who frequent truck stops)? It can be terrifying to imagine your hubby out on the road, lonely and vulnerable. It goes both ways though. He may be worried about what you’re doing at home!
Being separated for weeks is hard. It takes trust to keep those crazy worries at bay. Just remember, if your husband was trustworthy when he was home then he’ll be trustworthy on the road. Our truckers are working hard and they’re dedicated to their wives and families. Give your man the benefit of the doubt and unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, trust him! By the same token, don’t give him any reason to doubt you either.
5. Stay Busy
The consensus among trucker’s wives is to stay busy, particularly when you’re new to the life. Whether you’re doing projects around the house, learning a new hobby or spending time with family and friends, time passes quickly when you’re busy. I spent the first weeks my husband was away wondering what to do with myself. Staying busy helped get my mind off of missing him and eased the way into this new life.
6. Have Your Own Activities and Interests
While it’s easy to put your life on hold while he’s gone, it’s not wise. It will only make you clingy and boring. You need your own interests. All of us have some interest we’d like to devote more time to. For me it was writing. Once my husband was on the road, it became harder to make excuses about not having time to write. Time was suddenly abundant. It’s probably the same for you. Maybe you want to paint or play an instrument or decorate cakes. Take this time to become proficient. Not only will it give you an outlet for your energy, it will impress your husband that you don’t turn into a vegetable when he leaves. Remember, truckers need strong, independent women at home!
7. Don’t Get Your Feelings Hurt
Realize that he has a job to do. He’s at work. If he’s too busy to talk or can’t be reached remember, he’s working! It’s not that he doesn’t care, but he has to get from Point A to Point B and there’s probably a dispatcher breathing down his neck to do it quickly.
Ditto when he’s coming home. After weeks apart you may have visions of candlelight dinners and of him taking you in his arms and telling you how much he’s missed you. While that may happen, if he’s like most truckers, his first priorities when he hits that door are food, a shower and sleep. Please don’t be offended. It’s just that there’s a lack of these things on the road. He’s hungry for your cooking, exhausted and probably hasn’t had a shower for a day or two (at least!).
Give him time to wind down and then you two will have plenty of special private time. Just don’t get your feelings hurt in the meantime. It’s an adjustment for him when he comes home and once he’s caught up on what he’s missed, he’s all yours.
8. Plan for His Return
By the same token, feel free to make plans for your husband’s return. Cook his favorite dish (but don’t do it until he’s getting close to home!), plan a fun outing for your family (but be flexible about when it happens), rent some videos to watch together, etc. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to when he’s coming home. It makes him feel welcome and lets him know you’re glad to see him.
9. Be Flexible
Realize that in trucking there are a million things that can go wrong. He can have a flat, be dispatched out on an emergency load when he was promised his home time or be kept waiting for hours at a shipper. Please don’t hold it against him if he doesn’t get home when he says he will.
I know it’s frustrating to fix yourself up, clean the house, make a great dinner and then get that call that he won’t be home on time. That’s why a lot of truckers’ wives get into the habit of doing these things when they know their man’s on his way. Those of us with experience know that there are things on the road beyond the driver’s control. Your husband is subject to the whims of others. Don’t expect him until you hear that truck pull into the drive–then run out and fling yourself into his arms!
10. Help Him Get Ready to Go
While it’s never easy when your hubby leaves, just as you’ve gotten used to having him home, it’s inevitable. Send him off on a positive note. Help him get his stuff packed, make sure he has clean clothes, his favorite CDs and video games, make some of his favorite dishes to take with him, drive him to the terminal or walk him to his truck, and send him off with a big hug, a kiss and a smile. While it may sound a little old fashioned, it’s important to stand by your man and send him off with the assurance that while you’ll miss him terribly, you have things under control.
The life of a trucker’s wife is not always easy but it can be rewarding. Your husband has a profession you can both be proud of. He works hard to take care of you and your family. Most likely he has a good paying job, good benefits and is able to provide for your family well. That means it’s up to you to make the best of this life. It is possible to be a trucker’s wife and be happy. You just have to put the effort into it and give it time. Remember, a trucker’s woman is a strong woman!What’s it like to grow up as a child of a driver.