Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to be a better pilot wife

Once again, google analytics is providing me with inspiration for my blog.  My last inspiration was "Does it suck being married to an airline pilot", which is actually my most popular blog post.

Well, this time the keywords "how to be a better pilot wife" struck a cord with me.  This set of keywords is actually great timing because I also just finished a book that really spoke to me.  The combination of these two points is the basis for this blog post.

If you read through my comments, you will find a decent conversation going on with the post "you act as if the kids are a burden".  "Old Husband" wrote a very welcome comment.  Here it is:
"I know that Steve deserves to relax when at home, or on vacation, just as much as I do. Work is hard on him, and can take a toll. He needs to unwind, and regroup when home and on vacation. But, I tend to override this and make my needs go to the forefront."

Quite so. Did you ever consider that Steve carries a heavy burden? His job requires him to be at the top of his game always or people will DIE. His mind worries about problems and horrors you can't even imagine.

He has a good job now, but could lose it all if he fails a medical or a flight check. And even if he never once makes a mistake or steps out of line, his airline could fail. Many airlines have. I'll bet he worries a lot about your reaction if his job ever goes away.

The subject of wives' ingratitude to husbands is covered well in
"The Proper Care and Feedings of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. In my circle of husbands, attitudes like yours are very common among wives...many of whom act like their husbands lack feelings and can be abused without limit.

I submit that being a good loving husband may be the most thankless job in America today.
Based on his suggestion I reserved this book from the library, and read it just a couple weeks ago.  Overall, I really liked the book.  I don't know that much about Dr. Laura Schlessinger, but I have heard that she is rather conservative.  This was the first book of hers that I read.  Yes, she may be conservative, she has a lot of good points.  I call some of her points old-fashioned, which is a good thing when it comes to family.  She believes in the family unit, and how important a strong family unit is for both the husband and wife as well as the kids.  She also has a lot of experience with the topic of troubled marriages, and can speak bluntly about why these marriages are troubled and what it takes to right things.  This book was quite enlightening.  Some of her points were encouraging me to continue to do the things I have been doing.  But also, I realized a number of things that I needed to change. 


So, where should I start in answering the question "how to be a better pilot wife?"...

My first suggestion on how to be a better pilot wife is to make your house and happy place for your pilot to come home.  If your pilot is gone for 4-days, coming home to a clean house and even a home cooked meal speak volumes.  If he walks into a stress-free home that is happy and clean and warm, the set of days home will start off right.  All of this will tell your husband that you love him and you welcome him. 

Now, I know us pilot wives can have it hard when our pilot is away for 4-days.  Our days can be full of playing catch-up and just trying to survive.  I get that sometimes it is hard to keep your head above the water when he is gone.  But, make it a point to make your house happy and warm and clean when he gets home.  Why?  Because you love him and want to make him happy.  Not to mention, while it is his job to go out and make money flying, it is your job to keep your home happy and clean and warm. And this is coming from a pilot wife that also works outside of the home.  Women have a lot on our plate, from work life to home life, but we can manage it!  We have amazing strength to manage this all. 

I get that some people could consider this an old-fashioned approach.  However, I have lived and learned that is approach works.  I have lived and learned that there is no faster way to piss Steve off than to have a mess when he walks through the door after being gone for 4-days.  Now, I am not perfect and there have been plenty of times where he walks into a mess...but, I warn him of what he will be walking into.  This softens the blow, and makes things okay.  But, most times I really like to try to set the mood straight from the beginning.

When it comes to making your home a happy and clean and warm place, know that what you put out there will come back to youThis is something that Dr. Laura talks about.  When you make your husband happy, he will be happy back to you.  And when you are happy, the cycle keeps going. When you do all the work to keep your home happy, your payback is a happy husband and a happy life.

My next suggestion is to maintain yourself.  Remember when you first met your man and on date-night you would spend so much time getting ready...using a loofah in the shower, using scented lotion, picking out the perfect outfit, perhaps buying a new outfit, matching your bra and panties, ect.  Let me ask, what do you do now?   Make sure that you look nice when he gets home.  I am not suggesting that you should get all fancy, especially if he is getting home on a random Tuesday night.  I am suggesting that you look nice for your man.  If looking nice is a simple shirt and jeans, fine.  Put on a bit of mascara and blush.  Be proud of yourself, which will give your self-confidence a boost!  And, if you are proud of yourself I can guarantee that he will be proud of you.

I clearly recall a "talk"  that I had with Steve after I got back Peace Corps.  When he wasn't working he would wear gym shorts and t-shirts, and he wouldn't do his hair or shave.  He looked like a slob.  My "talk" was to tell him that he should present himself nicer to me.  In his defense, he had just lived a year of not having to impress anyone, so he was in the mode of just not giving a shit.  Now, after that talk he was sure to look nice when he wasn't working.  It made a big difference.  Make the effort so that your partner is pleased. 

When you have pride and self confidence, he will be proud of you and attracted to you.  Which leads to my next point: bedroom talk (and I am purposefully not using specific words so that I don't get weirdo people finding my blog by searching for certain words...I get enough hits for "daddy" and "underwear" that I don't want to add any more words to the list).  One of the best lines in the book is when Dr. Laura mentions that a man will stay away from a fast food burger when he knows that prime rib is waiting at home.  I think that speaks volumes.  If both partners are satisfied, then everyone is happy.  Make it a point to make one another satisfied. 

I won't go as far as saying that it is your duty as a wife to give your husband proper "satisfaction" when HE needs it.  Fuck that...I am in this for me too!  Rather, I will say that the items that I listed above will set the mode for proper bedroom activities.  We all know that bedroom activities aren't always as simple as they are portrayed in the movies, and it may take time to work up to things.  Make it your point to set the mode right.  Set the stage, if you will, so that good things can happen.  If you read my Day 4 blog post, you remember all the scenarios of when Steve gets home from a 4-day trip.  This was scenario 4, the perfect scenario!:
Steve gets home from a trip and the evening is perfect.  All the anticipation is met and it is just good to have your pilot husband home.  The kids go down, and then you are able to reconnect with talk and just enjoy each others company.  At the end of the night, any lost time is surely recaptured, if you catch my drift.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  When you can finally "reconnect" for lost time, it is just good.  Plain and simple.  If drunk sex is best, this scenario comes in a close second. You pilot wives know what I am talking about.  This totally makes up for any lost time, and sometimes even makes the absence seem worth it.  I may even go as far as saying this is one of the perks of the job.
But, what would kill a scenario 4?  Having a dirty house, or not having a cooked meal for him, or having ciaos in the house when he gets home.  In this perfect scenario 4, I am sure I have the house in order, and he has a full belly, and the kids are well behaved, and life is just good.  In this perfect scenario, I am welcoming Steve into a home that is warm and happy.  There is no question that this set the evening out right.

I think that "bedroom activities" is an indicator of marital happiness, so I believe this is something that really should to focused on and addressed.  Make it a point to serve prime rib at home.  Make it a point to make your partner satisfied.  This all starts with setting the stage right, so make sure you take the right steps to get to that point.  As a pilot wife, you are the one in control of house and home when he is gone.  He is walking into YOUR house, if you will, after his trip.  You are in control of setting the stage.  You may ask yourself why should this all fall on you?  Well, remember that what you put out there will come back to you.  If your husband is satisfied then the cycle of happiness continues.

There will probably always be the stereotype around of the cheating pilot.  My take on that?  Anyone can cheat, regardless of gender or occupation.  If a relationship is strained, then straying is more likely.  The thing that works against a pilot, is that the lifestyle can put that strain on relationships.  Not every relationship is committed to stay together, and I think that those relationships are the ones to break.  When you are committed to a relationship, it is important to put that extra work out there so that you can make it.  Make the extra effort on the home front, from cooking to cleaning to bedroom activities, to make the strain of the pilot lifestyle not seem so prominent.  Your actions show your commitment to him. 

You know, one of the biggest strains on our relationship, as least the way I see it, is resentment.  I have used this word a lot in this blog.  What have I resented Steve for?  Sleep and extra time away from home.  The sleep thing has passed, thank goodness!  I no longer resent Steve for napping and sleeping in.  The kids are now 3 and 5, so I am passed being sleep deprived.  I think the resentment was totally situational because I was so exhausted with young children, and all I could think about was how Steve was getting uninterrupted sleep when he was on the road. Min rest for a pilot?  Screw that!  Let me tell you about min rest: min rest was me waking up multiple times a night with infant babies feeding and rocking and soothing, all the while he was sleeping straight for 6 hours.  Not just one night, not just two nights, but three nights in a row.  6 hours of uninterrupted sleep doesn't sound so bad now, does it?  But again, this has all passed.  So, what do I suggest for a pilot wife who resents her husband for his sleep?  Bite your tongue.  I know how freakin' hard it is to do that, but what you put out there will come back to you (keep reminding yourself of that). Yes, you are tired, but so is he.  Your tired is a different tired from him, and one does not trump the other (although I know you want to trump him).  If he is home for 3 days, let him sleep in one day and you the other two.  If he needs a nap during the afternoon, then you take one too.  I promise you, in a short couple years the sleep resentment will pass and will no longer be an issue. 

Now, as for the extra time away from home, this I still struggle with a bit.  With Steve being gone 4-days a week I have the hardest time accepting him being gone even more time away...especially if it is for something that is extracurricular.  However, after reading Dr. Laura's book I know understand why Steve needs time away, and I am working on really making myself ok with his extracurricular time away.  He needs the extracurricular time away just like you need that quiet trip to Target with your coffee in hand.  He needs it like you need your girls nights out.  What you expect FROM him, you should also GIVE to him.

Each and every time you have alone time, it is bettering you as a person...which in turn will better your relationship.  Pre Dr. Laura's book, I hated that Steve was headed up to the lake for his "guys weekend".  I hated that he was going to be gone...again...and that I was going to have to be solo with the kids...again.  I didn't put up a stink up-front, because I knew Steve deserved it.  But, it still sucked and I know Steve knew deep down I wasn't totally pleased.  Well, after Dr. Laura's book, I am actually encouraging Steve to do these things.  As a matter of fact, he will shortly be making a trip to Florida to visit his soul brother (I swear these two were split from the same egg or something).


He is a college friend that is his best friend.  I have blogged about him before in Pilot Dork.  Well anyway, Steve will be joining his buddy and I am encouraging him.  I know they are going to get into shenanigans and act like they are 21 again...and that is good!  Steve will come back hopefully not too hungover refreshed and happy.

Another thing I want to suggest for you to be a better pilot wife is to be encouraging of your husband.  This doesn't come from Dr. Laura's suggestion, rather this comes from my experience.  Climbing the ladder in aviation is not easy.  It is full of crap pay, crap flying, crap sleep, crap bosses, ect, and you need to be the one to lift his spirits when he is down.  When he isn't making good money, don't bitch about being poor.  Cut your cable, shop at Aldi, do whatever it takes to not make him feel like he isn't contributing much.  I am sure that no man is proud of making $17k a year, especially after it cost so freakin' much to learn how to fly...and having a wife that rubs that in is not the right approach.  When he comes home from work and is so exhausted that he can't even make the decision about what he wants to drink with dinner (this is a true story), simply put down his favorite beverage and give him his space.  He probably won't want to talk, but rather zone out.  So, let him!  When he misses Christmas morning, don't rub it in.  It isn't his fault.  He probably did everything in his power to not work that day, but seniority wasn't on his side.  Make the most of the time you have together, and not dwell on what he is missing.  

This suggestion on how to be a better pilot wife is simple: send him reminders of you and the kids.  Send him a text telling him you miss him and you love him.  Send him a picture of you and the kids. Admittedly, this is something that I need to work on.
He misses home and family, so any touches of home will brighten his day.  And thanks to Cap'n Aux feedback, I now don't expect Steve to comment on or acknowledge these messages I send him.  Send these messages because you love him and want to cheer up his day, not because you want something back.  Although, I can guarantee that a lot more will be coming back to you...

I want to remind you of something that Dr. Laura mentioned in the book:  he picked you, and you picked him.  I think this is a great reminder to all couples.  In this day and age, your marriage was probably not arranged and something that both you and him did willingly and happily.  There was a reason you picked him, and there was a reason he picked you.  When the going gets rough, try to remember those reasons.  When the going gets rough, you have to work harder to have a clean home when he gets back from a 4-day, and that means you have to work harder to make sure that he goes on these guy weekends...because all that you put into the relationship will come back to you.  Do these things to shows him that you are committed to him and your relationship, and that you love the man and the life that you have.  In turn, he will give back to you the things you need, and your house will be happy again. 

In her book, Dr. Laura mentioned that boys are born to please their mothers,who then grow into men that are programed to please their wife.  And this is true!  Your husband wants to please you and make you happy.  When the happiness cycle is working well in your house, you will ask him to take the trash out, and he will.  No nagging required.  Why?  Because he wants to please you.  Remember that.  Your husband loves you, and cares for you, and wants to please you.  He is out there week after week flying the line so that he can bring home money, which can then provide you with a wonderful life. Do what you can on the home front to show him your contribution to house and home. This will continue the happiness cycle in your home. 

Pilot wives are strong types.  We are independent, controlling, and stubborn women who keep the home ship sailing with or without her husband around.  I know it may be hard to add all these other items to the already large list of to-do things.  But, I promise that what you put out there will come back to you.  Make the effort, show the love, and in the end it is all worth it!  Doing these things will put you in a place of innocent love for your pilot where you miss him like crazy on a trip, and can't wait for him to come back....the best part of this whole pilot lifestyle thing.   


Now, for my next blog post?  How a pilot can be a better husband to his wife: from a pilot's wife point of view. 











20 comments:

  1. I always love reading your posts. You are like the older, wiser version of myself! (Ok I don't mean OLD, but you are a little ahead of me in life stages :) There were a lot of things that hit home with me here, so thank you. I've read one of dr Laura's books, "In Praise of the Stay at Home Mom", and it was life-changing. I'm looking forward to reading this one now, too!

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    1. Thanks for the love! If you have already read and liked one of her books, then you MUST read this. Some of the parts are slow, but there are a lot of great reminders of how to be a good wife.

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  2. Spot on. The dirty house thing is by far the biggest factor that sets me off after being gone on a 4-day trip. I work so hard to keep the house clean when I'm home, and when I leave the home is spotless. When I return (sometimes on a 2-day trip) it's like a hurricane plowed through. Drives me absolutely nuts. The thing is, on our days off we don't want to spend all day to unscrew something that we maintained while we were at home just 2 days ago.

    ryanthepilot.

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    1. Oh, I know how it sets off a pilot...which is why I try my best to never have a dirty house when Steve gets home. Hell, it bothers me if the house is a mess after I get home from work and Steve has been home all day.

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  3. hye..im not married yet but im pilot gf..all i can say is all of that are soooooooooooo true..by giving 1st class treat to your husband..you wont be forgettable by him..in fact,he will miss his wife a lot..why must he cheating and go finding other girls if his wife is million times better in all aspects..im not saying sex is 1st thing in marriage,but men do need that..but 1st thing in marriage is about understanding each other,,as a wife,do something that makes him feel happier when he at home..healthy environment lead to healthy marriage..as their working environment is full with attractive girl,why dont we be like that?,in fact we can be much hotter than them..haha..,i adore u joanna..having kids is tough when your spouse is not around and even tougher if u are career woman...but at least,we can show something to them..we are not only a woman,but we are a superwoman..

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    1. I like your way of calling it first class treatment! And in the world of aviation, a pilot is sure to understand that :)

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    2. keep inspiring people.. :-)

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    3. that just made my day...thanks! :)

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  4. Man, all your advice from the book and yourself remind me of all the "sage advice" to housewives back in the 50's, that "liberated feminist" types would mock! But, could it be, that perhaps there's some WISDOM in making a house a welcome HOME, esp. for the type of spouse that is GONE from it for so long, misses his/her wife and kids, and just wants to come home and relax?!

    Perhaps we are coming full circle, where one spouse is gone from home, the other prepares the nest for his (or her!) return...what's so damn wrong with that?!! It's called INTERDEPENDENCE! It's called LOVE!!!

    And, YES, it can work BOTH WAYS...for loving, homemaking WIFE, or MR. MOM!!!

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    1. It is sage advice...and it does work...and it does makes a happy home...and it makes those husbands the envy of other husbands. I am not saying a woman has to bow down to her man. Men and women are wired differently, and a woman has the touch to make a man happy.

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  5. This is such a great post! A few of those points are area's I have trying to work on. And as you know, the cleaning aspect totally works both ways for us pilot wives who work outside of the home. If my pilot hubs is home during the week and I come from work at 5:30 to a disaster it immediately stresses me out! I want so badly to say "what the F*** have you been doing all day!!??" lol. (could be material for your next post on how to be a better pilot hubby!) ;)

    I love your posts, I can always relate to every one of them!

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    1. Yes, I have totally said "what the F&*#k have you been doing all day?!" That is too funny!

      Thank you for your kind words! :)

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  6. I really enjoyed this post Joanna...and the response from capnaux. I'd forward this to my wife, but she's already so good at it! I come home from work exhausted, but fully aware she is exhausted too. She is so good at giving me some space and time to decompress before attacking me with all the things that went wrong or broke while I was gone. I come home to a clean house and lit candles every time I return from work. My sweet wife manages our home, works at the kids school and runs a small store she and her dad own together...so she doesn't exactly have a lot of free time. The effort she puts into making our home a warm and comforting place has immeasurable benefits to both of us. I'm a lucky man! And it sounds like your husband is equally blessed.

    Thanks for the great post. I hope to learn something from "How a pilot can be a better husband to his wife." I'm looking forward to that one.

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    1. You have painted a perfect picture! Who wouldn't want to come home to that?!

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  7. Great post Joanna!

    I am currently the girlfriend of a regional airline pilot. I feel strongly that I shouldn't become a pilot wife unless I can be the type of wife you describe above because I know that is what he deserves. Since we have only been together about a year, it is easy for me to do these things now, and I know that as time progresses it would be just as easy to stop putting this extra effort in. I agree 100% that what you put in is given back. I honestly enjoy preparing for the boyfriend to come home by cleaning up, cooking, and looking good (with the occasional "dress-up" outfit to keep things interesting ;) ...). I try to make an effort to pack him food and a little note for his trips too. I think the reason I enjoy doing these things is because it is so genuinely appreciated (and because I love him and want to make him happy of course). I don't think I have ever met a man who appreciates a home cooked meal more than he does. When he is home and I am at work he makes an effort to clean and run any errands needed so that we can have relaxing time together in the evening. It is a nice cycle to get into :)

    You touched on the stereotype of the cheating pilot. I think you raise some really valid points - unhappy people cheat, this lifestyle is hard at times so people can become unhappy easier. This topic has been a bit of a sore spot for me because I have been unfortunate in this area in the past - and that combined with the stereotype and initial mystery of what a trip is like (images of drunken hotel room parties with girls in lingerie come to mind, haha! ... opening scene in the movie Flight anyone?) can feel overwhelming at first. I no longer worry about this as I completely trust the BF, but on top of that I feel like I am doing everything in my power to put effort and love into our relationship. You cannot control everything in life, and knowing that I am doing my part offers a piece of reassurance.

    I imagine it is tough to be a pilot wife. I give you a lot of credit. I am not sure if I am up to the challenge, but I feel like I am thinking about things in the right way and being honest with myself and the BF about my limitations and capabilities. You have provided invaluable insight for me (and many others, I am sure) about this lifestyle and I am very grateful for that. Thank you for sharing and being such a great example of a pilot wife!

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    1. I have to chuckle a bit at your "dress up" outfit...I did the same :) I totally recall being super aware of his goings and comings and trying my best to make it into a special to-do. You are off to a great start!

      You know, I haven't seen Flight, but maybe I should. Good blog material, I am sure. Yes, our minds can run away with thoughts of this or that. But, in reality their trips are mostly mundane.

      Thank you for your kind words! You are very sweet!

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  8. Hey there, such a great post. I just have a question though. With your being the super woman of every situation, putting up with sleep deprivation and biting your tongue on top of it, do you ever get recognition? You say that what you put out there will come back to you...does it and how? Do you get the appreciation you deserve in the same way you appreciate him by being strong, letting him go on weekends, being up every night while he get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep (although not anymore), etc? What I am trying to say is how does HE make you happy? Does HE ever take over? Does HE work harder to make it a happy home for you too (beside just being on the line)?

    I am interested in knowing how you recovered from consecutive sleepless nights....would he take over once he was back from work, so YOU could get uninterrupted sleep for at least 3 consecutive nights (so he could also get a taste of what it is you do)?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

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    1. Hi! To be thorough, I will answer your exact questions:

      Do I ever get recognition? Yes.

      Does it come back to me, and how? Steve will verbally recognize me. He will give me flowers. He will tell me to take a break because I have had it rough. He will clean the house while I sit my ass on the couch. He will "let me" hang with girlfiends or take solo shopping trips without ever saying a word. Most of all, my love language is physical touch, so he will be sure to keep my love tank full. And when push comes to shove, as long as my love tank is full, I am good.

      Do I get the appreciation I deserve? Yes, Steve is good to me. And a lot of times, the work I do is because I have to and I do it because I am a mother and it is my job. Therefore, I don't always need to get the appreciation.

      Yes, Steve does make me happy. Yes, he does take over. Yes, he does make our home happy. I think this all starts with the point that we still really dig each other. We still really love each other. We still work hard on staying attractive and committed to one another and to our family.

      Steve is a good man and a good husband. When he is home he 100% does his part to help out. In fact, there are times when I even feel guilty that he is doing this and that, and I am taking a break. Take last night, as an example. I was blogging and sending out emails while he was giving the kids a bath. Those are the little things that he does that balances everything out.

      As for my recovery from hard times...frankly, I don't really remember since it was so long ago, or at least it seems so long ago.

      I have the sense that you are getting at something. Do you care to detail it more? If you want to take this more private, please email me: comebackdaddy@gmail.com

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  9. I gave my wife that book after reading it myself. Spot on, I said, this is what it's all about to make/keep me. Simple creatures us men are.

    She let it sit until I returned it to the library six weeks later. Needless to say, I am most likely to get some hamburger out since I'm not getting any steak at home. Or maybe switch restaurants altogether.

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    1. Yes, I agree that men are simple creatures.

      I hope the best for you and your wife. Truly wishing you the best!

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