Monday, June 24, 2013

Survival Tips for Pilot Wives

Steve and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage. 


I have heard that one becomes an expert once they reach 10 years of experience.  Well folks, call me the expert pilot wife (although I am sure as hell I have a lot more to learn!).  Through all my years married to my dear husband, my dear pilot husband, I have come to learn how to help survive this marriage.  Being married to a traveling man, who is gone half your life, isn't easy.  So, yes, there are certain survival tips that I follow...and, here I am passing them along to you.


1. Bite your tongue.
Let me set the scene: I have been with the kids for the last 4 days, non-stop.  One kid has been sick the entire time, and the other kid has been a fussy mess.  Not to mention, I have been stressed at work.  Come day 4, I have had it up to my ears, and I am about to break. 

Steve gets home from his  trip.  The trip was loaded with full duty-days, early-ass shows, and min-rest.  He is a cranky-ass due to his exhaustion. 

As much as I want to throw in the towel the second he gets home and run for the hills, I realize he is exhausted.  His eyes are blood shot and he basically limps into the house dragging his exhausted body behind him....I bite my tongue, I put a smile on my face, and continue to do what I have been doing the last 4 days.  I realize that he can't just jump right in, so I bite my tongue and not seek the immediate relief I was looking for.  It takes a lot of my energy to continue through that evening, but I know I need to. 

Or, how about the exhausted Steve who has practically picked a fight with me?   Again, I bite my tongue and avoid an argument.  I chalk it up to his exhaustion, and realize that a well rested man will awake in the morning, and things will be back to normal.  (See The Cranky Pilot for this story)


I realize my role in this family, and that is to make everyone happy and healthy...and that includes my tired husband when he gets home from a trip.  The common denominator in all these stories is exhaustion.  I realize that exhaustion turns him into a beast, and that is why I bite my tongue...no use in arguing with a drunk, sort of speak.  I think most pilot wives have plenty of bite marks on their tongue from all the times we do what it takes to keep peace in the house.  And I am sure that most pilots take for granted the amount of grace we have when it comes to exhaustion causing bad attitudes.   

no, you go ahead and nap, I will take care of the kids...
as long as you promise to sleep off that bad attitude!




2. Realize that you have to give up stuff...and don't hold grudges about it.
I used to play recreation volleyball.  I stopped once I had babies.  Once the kids are old enough to not have to pay for a babysitter, I will play again.  Yes, I miss it, but it is what it is. 

I used to coach volleyball, and I really loved it.  At this point, I just can't commit the time to it with a traveling husband.  I work outside of the house, and my kids are starting to fill their own calendars (Polish school, gymnastics, swim lessons, ect) and I just can't go in all these directions with a traveling husband.  I realize that. 

I missed a purse party the other night since Steve was working.  No sense in paying for a sitter, simply to spend money.  Not to mention, they were with a sitter all day while I was at work, and I didn't want to have them with another sitter for the evening as well.  I gave up the party, even though I would have loved to go, and I will be sure not to make a fuss about it to Steve.  No sense in that, because it will get me nowhere. 



3. Take time for yourself.
I fully believe that in order to maintain sanity, it is important to reserve "me time".  And to the pilots that are reading this, it is important to understand the importance that your wife has "me time." 

When you make this time for yourself, you are re-energizing.  Being re-energized will make you a better wife, mother and friend.  If you have been taking care of the kids non-stop, and the same thing is expected of you when your pilot gets home, you may very well break.  You NEED "me time"!  You need that time to dedicate to you and you only...you have just given your entire self up for the last 4 days, so it is now your time to take some time for yourself! 

It has been you in the house with the kids for the last 4 days...non-stop.  You need to catch a break.  You have been working hard and managing it all.  Take time for yourself, because you will be back at it in a short 3 days, so you need to recharge so that you can gear up for what is to come. 


4. Make the house a warm and clean place for him to come home.
I read all about this, and even wrote a blog post about it, and it makes perfect sense.  (How to be a better pilot wife).  Set the mood for when your husband gets home, and make that mood a "warm fuzzy" place to WANT to come home to.  I promise that if your pilot walks into a warm, happy home, it will start his time home off right.  Sure I can do this for selfish reasons too...I would much rather have Steve walk into a happy home, which would set him happy.  His time home is so short...set it off right!


5. Embrace his cheapness prudence.
We all hear that pilots are cheap, and yes that includes my pilot. For sure, he is cheap on the road.  Take the other night for dinner while on an overnight in Sacramento.  He hit the hotel bar for happy hour - 1/2 off appetizers.  One can surely eat dinner from appetizers, especially if you aren't a big eater, like Steve.

Another example, he will regularly buy a Subway 12" sub for lunch, and eat 1/2 for lunch and eat 1/2 for dinner. 

Ah, but let it be know that he isn't that guy that shouts through hotel lobbies asking where the free coffee is, which was done by a CA on a recent trip (really, your salary doesn't afford you to spend the $2 on a coffee?!). 

He will try to spend little on the road, and I get that.  Sometimes he even boasts about how little he spent "Joanna, do you realize I only spent $20 on my last trip?"  But, on the flip side he drives a BMW.  What he saves in one pocket is spent from the other pocket on things that really matter to him. 

Not to mention, he is absolutely fearful that he could lose his job in the blink of an eye.  I think most pilots think this.  Another 9-11 could happen, and then what?  What happens if their contact negotiations go south and a strike happens?  And then what?  His skill is so focused that finding another job wouldn't be as easy as hitting the pavement and throwing out resumes left and right.  I think this fear is always in the back of his mind, so parting with money comes with a lot of thought.  Having this prudence is a good thing!  Embrace it. 

 
6. Realize that he won't always call you, or be pleasant on the phone, or respond to text messages.
One trip I texted Steve eight times over 3 days...EIGHT times!...and he didn't respond to a single one.  He just didn't. 

Another common phone conversation scenario: he has worked all day and is exhausted, relaxing in his hotel room.  I have been working all day and then I come home to care for the kids.  He calls me.  We talk about the yard work I have been doing in his absence.  The yard work isn't to his standard, so then he gets an attitude and tells me how he wants it.  I don't care to hear about it, and so the conversation ends quickly.  Listen, I am trying to manage house and home and work...the last thing I need is your criticism.  See tip #1 and bite tongue.

There are plenty of times when a day passes and I only "hear" from Steve via text.  It happens, and I realize that is sometimes just how the day goes.   I have said again and again that our relationship doesn't progress while he is on the road, rather it is in a holding pattern, if you will.  So be it...sometimes this is simply the case.


7. Know what you need to manage this all.
I suppose this could tie into #3.  But, if taking time for yourself doesn't help you get through this crazy lifestyle...do whatever it takes.  If that means blogging about it to vent :) or having girlfriends to bitch to, or having a glass of wine every night...then so be it!  Do whatever you need to do to get through this lifestyle!

Being a pilot wife is NOT easy.  You have to realize where your boundaries of success are, and if you are approaching the boundary you need to know how to pull yourself out of the danger zone.

Realizing these needs take time.  Also know that with each year, with each child, with each move, ect, these boundaries and needs will change and adjustment will need to happen.  Which brings me to the next tip...


8. Go with the flow. Adaptability.
** Me - 8 weeks post-partum with our second born, at a wedding without Steve.  It happens.  And bless my friends who understand his crazy schedule, and a grandmother who came with me to help balance a newborn without a husband around. 
I am on the right. 
Wish my boobs were still that big!



** Me - at work Holiday Dinners alone.  It happens.

** Me - in labor with our first born, while Steve is mid-pairing trying to get home. (He did get home)  It happens.

** Me - having to deal with water in our basement, while he is working.  It happens...twice!

Go with the flow.  Nothing is predictable.  Your ability to just go with the flow will increase your happiness level.  Believe me, I LOVE everything planned out to a T.  But, when it comes to Steve being home sometimes, and sometimes not, I deal.  I go with the flow, make the most of it, and that is that.  Otherwise I would be miserable, which would make my attitude towards Steve miserable. 

You have to be adaptable in this pilot life.  I just said it, and it begs repeating, nothing is predictable.  He is supposed to be home at 17:07, just in time to get home and get ready for your son's school performance - and there is a maintenance delay for 3 hours.  This happens, and your ability to adapt and just go with it will make or break you.  Don't let the unpredictability break you...work though each and every situation that challenges you.  And with each challenge, you will grow stronger.

And lastly...

9.  You will have bad days, and that is okay.
Have I had days where I cry in front of the kids because I am so frustrated?  Yes.  Tonight being one of them.  Have I had days where I question the life I got myself into?  Yes.  Have I ever wished my pilot had another job where he was home every night?  Yes.  These thoughts run through my head on bad days.  But remember that tomorrow is a new day...and one day closer that your husband is getting home. 

Everyone has bad days here and there, and that is okay!  Don't think you are a failure, or that you can't get through this.  You are not a failure, and you will get through this. You are stronger than you think you are! 









66 comments:

  1. Being a pilot wife has definitely toughened me up. Last night my husband and I were just talking about how you have to be really patient and understanding to be a pilots wife. He was telling me about somebody he knows that was just blindsided with a divorce when he thought they were happy. I told my husband that I don't think a lot of women would put up with this lifestyle. It takes a lot of sacrifice and adaptability. One thing he did for me to make my life less stressful was to hire somebody to do our yardwork so that I don't have to do it and he can spend time with the kids and me when he is at home. I am not as good about biting my tongue as you are and I am not very good at giving him down time when he gets home. He always amazes me at how he can come home and jump right in to whatever is going on with me and the kids without a complaint. I am definitely stronger for being a pilot's wife. If he had a regular job I would be so spoiled. I do appreciate being more independent as a result of his being gone a lot (but I would sure love to see what it would have been like to have him work 9-5 and spoil me every night too:)). Thanks for another great post. It is comforting to know that somebody else out there is going through what I go through.

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    1. Slowly over the years we have starting to hire out a lot of working around the house (snowplow service, handyman, ect). But, sometimes I feel it isn't enough! I need a cleaning lady! Perhaps that will come this fall.

      Sorry to hear about your friend's divorce.

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  2. I completely agree that to survive and thrive in this lifestyle you have to be patient and understand sacrifice. You definitely tell it like it is. Hate to admit it, but it's nice to hear that other wives struggle as well. I will disagree with you on biting your tongue and letting him off when he gets home. My hubby absoloutely knows that he's been "off" for 4 days, so it's now his turn with the kids. I've just had mine. We're equally their parents. I don't get a pass because I'm tired when he's gone just the same as he doesn't get a pass because he's tired when he gets home. Being a parent is one of the most wonderful experiences in the world, but it does take the work of both of us.
    As far as biting your tongue, again that is a 50/50 thing. We've been married for 11 years. In some of that time, I've bit my tongue and some of the time my hubby bites his. Again we're partners in this. Just because he's a pilot doesn't mean that he gets a pass. I also have my own career demands/ stresses.
    I absoloutly would marry my husband again if I had the chance, but our marriage is partnership that requires both of our sacrifices and give to make a harmonious house.

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    1. I totally see your point about biting your tongue, and I totally agree with you. I guess the situation I had in mind when I wrote that paragraph was truly like I wrote it...blood shot even and an exhausted body. I knew any interaction with the kids would not have been successful - he would have been zoned out and not fun. That is about as extreme as they get. And yes, I sure as hell make him step in when I truly need him to.

      And yes, I am sure he bites his tongue a lot!

      I totally agree with you that marriage is a partnership!



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  3. I must say that you are awesome! To realize all that, and put it into practice despite the difficulty in being true to your own needs... Wow is all I can say. Steve is very blessed to have a wife like you!

    I say this from experience. I'm a pilot too. Still single as a result of the lifestyle. In my line of flying there is no schedule (aerial survey) I could be gone for weeks on end with no notice. Steve could be just as unlucky- at least you have a rough idea with his schedule! Hope that is some sort of consolation to you... Keep your chin up as always and the good work for your family!

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    1. Hell yeah, Steve is blessed to have me as his wife ;-)

      At this point, Steve is senior enough that his schedule has become rather predictable, and that is SUCH a good thing! I think anyone would struggle with a random schedule.

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  4. I can so totally relate to this as a pilot wife. Especially getting time to yourself. Sometimes you need a break from the kids to refresh and recharge. Sometimes, I will fly off to some exotic land to have some time to myself.
    beautyandthetravelbeat.com

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    1. Hi Ginger! I will have to check out your blog!

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  5. Hi Joanna,
    I'm so happy I found your blog! I just recently married my pilot (1 month ago) and I'm already getting myself wondering "how am I going to handle all of this loneliness?".
    He is a private pilot and his schedule is completely unpredictable. He left home yesterday and won't be back until October. However, there are months that he doesn't fly one single day. in average he flies half of the month. This time, I'll be flying to Boston to spend a week with him, but I know things will change when we have kids and if I have a job that is not this flexible.
    I'm ABSOLUTELY in love with my husband and I don't want any other man in my life, but it's so comforting finding a blog like yours to make me realize I'm not the only one.
    My husband is a bit of a hothead at times and I have already learned to bite my tongue as well.
    It's just funny that although we have been married for 1 month (we have been living together for over a year though), there are so many similarities that we share with you and your husband.
    I also make sure to have the house as warm, clean as possible. And I always make sure to cook him a welcoming meal.
    Again, I'm so happy I found your blog!
    Bianca

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  6. I got your tweet back <3 thank you!
    "But remember that tomorrow is a new day...and one day closer that your husband is getting home." So true. Need to remember that. Today is one of those bad days. I don't know how you do it! Being a pilot wifey is so hard. I just had to say goodbye yet again before another trip.
    I've been doing it for 2ish years and it just does not get any easier. I'm so fearful of how crazy difficult it will be once we have children too, and having them feels this way too. It's heartbreaking! I'm going to poke around a bit and read more of your pilot-wifey-survival posts, and it's good to know I'm not alone, because moving out of state, away from all your friends & family to a new base is so hard. So lonely. It sucks, but it's the life I signed up for I guess. :'(

    I'm glad I found your blog though! Really is nice to actually connect a bit with someone in the same boat.

    -Ashley

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    1. I am glad you found my blog too! Check out this post if you haven't seen it already: http://comebackdaddy.blogspot.com/2012/04/son-needs-his-father.html It is about a pilot as a father and the kids reaction to his work.

      It does get easier, promise! Once you have kids, and they get away from the baby/toddler stage, life isn't so lonely anymore.

      And all the while, you still keep your romance alive. Steve and I met in 1999, and I think that we are still as hot and heavy for each other as we were back then...not many people can say that. I think we are lucky in that regard.

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    2. Ashley, I'm so glad I read your comment. My husband and I are just starting year 2 of him being a commercial pilot. We moved across the country from our family and friends, from a small (no TINY) community to a big city. He is at the bottom of the totem pole for seniority and schedules (and pay). I am working full time+ and he only gets days off during the week here and there (I work weekdays with weekends off). There is nothing better than him coming home after a 4 day trip, and nothing harder than him leaving two days later for 4 more days. I have found myself becoming actually resentful toward my friends who get their husbands after work and on the weekends everyday!

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  7. I have been married to a pilot for 28 years. We have four children. The most frustrating part of the whole experience has been this inflated sense of self that a lot of pilots seem to have when they come through the door. Day one is usually O.K., but by Day two, the guard goes down and he can be insufferable. He always seems to have a better idea or system about how things should be done. It drives me crazy. He has the luxury of going to work and not having to think about anything else but his job. He has never had to get up at six in the morning, get four kids to school/childminder, rush to do a full days work, pick up the kids, do tea, homework, housework, pets etc. etc. There have been nights when I have only had four hours sleep and I feel pretty jet lagged myself when I have to get up to go to work and start again He will never know how hard that is. As the years have gone by I realised that being married to a pilot is a half life existence. The truth is you are living separate lives and you do need to protect yourself. Make sure you do stand your ground, make sure you do have your own job and social life, make sure your husband supports you when you discipline your children, make sure you look after your own health. Do not be a door mat for anyone. It is just as much his job to look after you as it is for you to look after him. Being the wife of a pilot can end up being a very socially isolating experience as other people do not really understand the concept of trying to plan and organise family life around airline rosters. Without doubt it is vital that it be made quite plain that you will not stand for any flirting or infidelity while on the road. The rule is you behave as if I were standing in the same room with you. It is trust that is the most important part of a relationship with a pilot. It is paramount. Blind trust though is a fool's game. You have to look after your own interests as well. As harsh as this sounds you just have to. Face the cold reality that you are on your own most of the time and fending for yourself and your children. Be ready if you need to be. In any marriage there are no guarantees and living with a pilot brings a lot of pressures. I probably sound hard. I am because I have been married to a pilot for a long time and have put up with a lot. This is not to say I don't appreciate the demands being a pilot can place on my husband particularly as he gets older and we both worry about the financial aspects of providing for our family. I appreciate his contribution to supporting us, but as a family unit, he could not do what he does and enjoy the love of his children, if someone did not provide some level of constant for the family. I have taken up that role and worked most of my life at the same time. It has been about raising a family for many years now and a lot of give and take. Being married to a pilot is not an easy choice for a marriage and I think it is vital to say what you are thinking. Bottled up resentment is a recipe for disaster. Say what you think and don't mince words and let him do the same. You have to know each other and it has to be honest. You don't have time to save it for later because he is going away again. Get it out in the open and sort it! You obviously love your husband and he is lucky to have you. I wish you luck and me too. Maybe we will make it to a happy retirement as granny or grandpa. If not, I will have made sure to build the support network I need to rebuild my life and the strength to protect my kids' best interests.

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    1. thank you for your comment! So insightful!

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  8. I agree entirely with Anonymous. Being is pilots' wife, especially when you work yourself, is tough. My husband really doesn't understand what I am up against looking after the kids, the house, the pets, the finances the 'everything' in fact.... he just gets home and tells me what a long flight he's just had and how exhausted he is! I am going to try very hard to bite my tongue more often after reading these blogs, but it's hard not to react when you're exhausted yourself! I have found some research papers online about studies done about pilots' wives, but only the 'abstract' can be read (the introduction section). Does anyone know how to access the full articles as I think they might make very interesting reading! Good to know I am not alone in my struggles as a pilots wife.... if only other people understood how it's not at all the glamorous life that they think it is haha! (having said all of this I am actually very proud of my hubby and all that he has achieved) :-)

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    1. I haven't tried to access any articles.

      No, you are not alone in this pilot wife life! From all the feedback I get on my blog, we all share the same struggles.

      I am sure you are very proud! That is great :)

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  9. I am SO glad I came across this! My fiancé and I are going to be married in a couple months and after a year of living together the reality of what life is going to be like is really starting to set in for me. He upgraded to captain almost two years ago and still unable to hold a line. With him being on reserve he has a really stinky schedule. In the past two weeks, I have seen him for 5 hours... not enough!! It is very reassuring and helpful to read these posts and know I am not the only one feeling lonely, exhausted and at times very frustrated and resentful. I don't want to feel this way and I am committed to making our marriage work, I just have a lot to learn. I always try to make sure the house is put back together and he has a wonderful place to come home to, but I need to work on the nagging/biting my tongue part a bit. I just find it very hard to have sympathy for him when he sits in his crash pad all day playing candy crush waiting for a call and then goes to bed early because he's tired. Meanwhile, I am working, taking care of the house, our puppy and everything else all day and lucky to get to bed by 11:00pm only to get up at 5:45am and start all over. It scares me to think about when we bring kids into the mix! Again, I love him to death, and I will make it work, its just so nice to hear stories of other people in the same situation and how they handle it. Thank you all very much for sharing. I will take any and all advice I can for a happy, healthy marriage to a pilot!!

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    1. Glad you found me!

      Oh gosh...5 hours is certainly not enough!

      Yes, you have a lot to learn, but with each experience you will learn and grow.

      And another thing to always remember "this, too, shall pass" He won't be on reserve forever. He will start to get weekends off, ect.

      I love how determined you are...and you need that determination! You need that commitment. And I have the strong sense you have it!

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    2. Joanna, you are a Godsend! My soon-to-be hubby is out now 12 of 22 days internationally. I already identify with some of what you wrote. I know I will understand the rest soon. I love my pilot literally to the ends of the earth and I'm grateful to you for so eloquently sharing your wisdom. I didn't even know there was such a thing as "pilot wives" but thank goodness there is! It's been a bit lonely. Thank you immensely!

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    3. Thank you for your kind words! I love getting feedback like this...makes me feel like my work in writing is paying off :) I love connecting with other pilot wives. Best wishes on your upcoming wedding!

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  10. Very interesting to hear about being an airline pilots wife bcos although my hubby is qualified (without a type rating for heavy jets) he is stuck instructing on instructing on single props. So amused about pilots being cheap bcos mine is too bcos of a £60k training debt and seemingly slim chance of getting a job with an airline. I hope and pray he gets an airline job bcos as u say about sleeping off the bad attitude, well imagine such a man who has failed...they take it out on the wife with rattiness and despondency and yeah, MEGA cheapness! Don't get me wrong, I love my hubby but as much as what you have described sounds tough, so is supporting a man who hasn't reached his goal but who really really should have. On the other hand, I hear you. I should be careful what I wish for! Like the tips about tongue biting and making a happy home. Thank you.

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    1. wishing you guys the best! I hope your husband is able to get an airline job!

      Stay strong!

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  11. Instead of you publicly complaining about your marriage & encouraging other women to dump on their husbands just because YOU don't like his job (because I'm sure your husband is happily supporting your family while out there flying & you're too single minded on your own personal happiness to realize it) why don't you stay home with your kids and not work? You can afford it If he flies for a major airline. Women are not supposed to work anyway. Their role is to stay home & take care of the home & children. By the way, I would cancel the internet connection at my house before I would let my wife publicly shame me on the web like you do your husband. I hope he gets advance notice before you blindside him with the divorce.

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    1. I do not know where you get that I am suggesting women dump their husbands. I strongly encourage marriage, and a very much against divorce.

      Me, single minded on my own personal happiness? Ha! You obviously don't realize how much I have given up in my life to be where we are right. Since I was pregnant with our first, I have actually been incredibly self-less ...because I have to in order to keep the family happy. If do all I do because it is my duty as a wife and mother.

      As for personal happiness, we should ALL be happy. To suggest that someone is selfish because they want to be happy is very mean, actually. To wish unhappiness on someone is just mean.

      As for me working? To each his own. Let it be known that I work part-time...only during the hours that my children are in school. It is the perfect balance of my happiness, earnings, and my family's happiness.

      As for Steve's salary...you obviously know that he made $30K his first year at the majors. That can easily keep a family of 4 afloat this day and age.

      Steve is very okay with my blogging. He knows it keeps me happy, and he knows I have made great connections by doing this.

      As for divorce...that word does not enter my home. Our marriage is happy and solid.

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    2. Wow, and there are pilots like that one above. Can you imagine not having internet access on top of all the stress of being pilot's wife. I don't even think this is for real, lot of trolls out there.

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    3. That guys a total Neanderthal! No wonder he was anonymous he is a total

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    4. U don't need to explain a thing to that jerk. Sounds like one of those extremists. I was going to say jerk on the last statement but it wouldn't take it... Terrorist might be a better discription. Should we were those black scarfs over our face too?

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  12. I'm a pilot's wife - and I'm really struggling.When my husband and I got married, he was working for a small carrier - which meant only the occasionally overnight (one night only) every couple of weeks or so; the rest of his flights would bring him home every night.

    A few years ago he joined a national carrier (something he told me he never would do); and that's when he would be gone for 4 day pairings. For the first year it was fine as I just dove into my work, and between a busy career and social schedule it was okay. Then we adopted a child - who turned out to have some special needs that we didn't know about. I'm still working full time, and raising our child. My self-care is about zero - and if I do go out when he's at home, I get a guilt trip. I'm exhausted.

    When I try to talk to him about the overwhelming loneliness (you'd be amazed how fast your friends disappear when you adopt a special needs child) - his response is "ok".

    We're talking separation because I honestly don't know how I can do this for the rest of my life. I never thought I would feel so completely alone as a married woman. I love him very much but this isn't the life that I envisioned. I don't want to be a single mum with the responsibilities of a marriage that I don't have 2/3 of the time.

    No one around me seems to understand either.

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    1. Although people around you may not seem to understand you...pilot wives surely do!

      Have you found this blog post of mine: Pilot wife kind of lonely
      http://comebackdaddy.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-pilot-wife-kind-of-lonely.html

      Us pilot wives know the lonely you are talking about...and it is hard! It does make you question the life you live...who dreams about a marriage where your spouse is gone half the time?!

      What balances the lonely is togetherness, and a great time when he IS home.

      You DO need self-care...no doubt! As a matter of fact, I haven't been giving myself enough self care lately, and I can feel it. I am finding myself scheduling extra girl time next month..mama needs it! Is your husband the one to give you guilt about self-care? If so, he truly needs to understand that you need it!

      Wishing you the very best! And know that pilot wives out there do understand you!

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    2. Anonymous I understand how you feel. I am in the same boat at the moment. Mu husband is based overseas and flies for a major airline. He comes home every 4 or so weeks for about a week. I take care of our home, the finances, the pets and work part-time. We have been renovating so I have also undertaken some of the more physical parts of that work. Three days ago he called to tell me he isn't coming home this month and unloaded a tonne of resentment and issues about our marriage on me. I was blindsided. I do my best to be understanding of his exhaustion and isolation and make an effort to have a clean home and yard, a full fridge and sometimes a small gift to arrive home to. I also try to make sure we have something to look forward to, all the while not overplanning or putting too much pressure on him for the short time he's home. He in turn is dismissive of my loneliness and gets angry at me anytime I express emotion about the struggles of, as an earlier poster commented, a 'half existence' and an inability to make plans for future events whether they be family, work or simply entertainment. I agree with the same poster's comment that many pilots have a hyper inflated sense of self with respect to their career choice and also Joanna, your comment re their 'prudence'. I encourage all wives of pilots to maintain their own lives, interests and voices. While it keeps the peace to bite your tongue - it's a slippery slope and it's pretty easy to become a doormat. On reflection of the past few days and the horrible conversations that they have involved, I see that I have lost myself, my voice and some of the best years of my life for this man and his job. Like the poster above I am now deciding if this is what I want for my life because when you combine the sacrifice and isolation with a distinct lack of appreciation and celebration it's no life at all. Good luck all you ladies - know that you're not alone and that any and every feeling you have about this life has been had by someone else. Love and support your husband but don't put him on a pedestal because he's a pilot (and I find other people really do expect that) - put him on a pedestal because he's the man above all men for whom you are the woman above all women. x

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    3. best of luck with your decisions!

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  13. Great blog post ! My husband is currently in Dubai but I can't see him until July cause he is doing training , it's tough but it brings the tough cookie out of me

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    1. Hang in there! Before you know it, he will be back home and you will be back to normal. This will make you stronger!

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  14. Hi Joanna! I've been married to a pilot for just a month and am already feeling the loneliness of doing things alone! It's not that I cannot, just that I miss his amazing company and sharing new experiences. And the worst part is that no one else (including him) can understand what I'm going through...except for a fellow pilot wife! I'm lucky in that I have hired help and family not too far away, but am trying so hard not to vent at him for not being around. I need to learn to be more gracious and understanding and I'm hoping time will make me stronger. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and for being so positive, it's so comforting :-)

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    1. Congratulations on your recent marriage. Time will make you more understanding and gracious...no doubt. Just keep lovin' on him, and supporting him...most importantly, keep the communication open!

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  15. Hi Joanna, I'm not a pilot's wife but my husband does travel a lot for work. Mostly it's leaving on Sunday and coming home Friday but sometimes it's 2 weeks at a time. An erratic schedule is the worst.
    I run my own business as a personal chef and also just work during school hours a few days a week. We have one awesome school age daughter. We've had this schedule for over a year after him having a job where he worked from home and was always around. This was a huge change.
    As an introvert it's been a challenge. I've had to broaden my social circle and try to accept the help and love from other people in my life.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing about your family. The next time I fly and see a pilot, I'll think about you and other wives. Those who are at home, waiting for their hubby to return, just like me.

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    1. Hi Cristina. Oh yes, and erratic schedule is the worst! My husband has a typical schedule, which I count on. When it strays from that, it interrupts us like no other.

      Yes, perhaps he will fly you one day :)

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  16. Hi Joanna - thanks so much for this. I have been married to a pilot for 7 1/2 years, and if I added up all of the time we've actually been together, it probably amounts to 2 1/2 years. When we met, he was active duty military. Now he is Reserves, with a charter job on the side. He might be home one weekend a month and less than a handful of days. I am really struggling. We have one child, and I desperately want another, but this is not the family life I imagined, and it is really hard to connect with your spouse when he's gone so much. I kept thinking it would get better. Some days are better than others. I just happen to be on the downswing right now, which is why I started googling "coping with husband as a pilot." Thanks again.

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    1. Oh goodness, I could imagine you are struggling! I think anyone would be struggling with that schedule.

      For what it is worth, when we had our second, I didn't have much difficulty with the adjustment. The most difficulty I had was the adjustment from 0 to 1 child.

      Of course you will have swings, highs and lows. And that is why we are there to support one another on the lows...we need that support.

      Keep thinking it will get better...because it will! Steve and I are married 11 years, and we are now at a comfortable schedule with his work (he was hired main line about 8 years ago). It takes time...and you will get there soon enough!

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  17. I just stumbled onto your blog. When my hubs started with the regional airlines 7 years ago (we had one child who was 11 months), I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I cried when I found out the airlines aren't like the military that have a 'military wives' comraderie among the 'single wives' while their husbands are gone. This fall we'll be married for 9 years, and I confess, some 4 day trips seem like they're getting harder, not easier (although others go by without a hitch). Looking forward to looking around your blog some more, and on finding a 'community' of similar situation ladies! I work part time, but for the most part am a SAHM.

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    1. Hi Bonnie - glad you found my blog. You are at a very tough spot now with your little one only 11 months. It is incredibly lonely when you husband is gone and the baby is so young. The trips do seem long. But, once they get older, you get much more active...and the trips fly by....promise.


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  19. Just married a pilot a month ago (december 2014)...its a good blog....help me preparing my self;-) wish me luck....

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  20. I love your blog. I started following it a couple of months ago. Unfortunately I have to say i broke up with my pilot boyfriend a month a go, who was truly the love of my life, at least I thought he was. I was getting so much strength from your blog. Everything you said is so true. You have to give up so much, but you also have to look at the positive side of things. For example I loved the fact that we were both truly happy when we saw each other instead of having the same routine everyday together. Although I was not married to a pilot or didn't have a relationship for that long ( we were together for a year) I still came across everything you mentioned. It was hard, I trusted him fully, but I didn't trust the FA's.. I don't know why, it was just too hard. Besides that he was always tired the days he was at home and then when he felt better he had to go again. If i look back now, i wish I had to strength to cope with the different lifestyle. It was just not for me.. I think I just want to say that I have so much respect for you, adapting yourself and being a fulltime mom (and parttime dad) . And wish you all the best and happiness in your life.

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  21. Thanks Joanna!! I've stumbled across your blog and love it. I'm also a pilot wife where hubby is away for half a month most of the time. We are expecting in Aug and with the hormonal changes, I wasn't sure how am I going to survive this.
    Am so glad to find out I'm not the only one out there and glad to read what other pilot wifes are coping.
    Your words and insight really helped me.
    I can't wait to read more.
    Once again, thank you for sharing !

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  22. I love your blog. I have been a pilots wife for 9 years...three kids (ages 7,5 & 2)...and one recent job change from a regional airlines to a major airline. I think you needed to add a tip about arguing. lol We do not argue via the phone while he is at work. We make a point to wait until we are together to discuss problems because we both know it will most likely end in the silent treatment (it is too easy to hang up, and not pick up) and not solve anything. I find the hardest days are the first day your husband is home and the first day they are gone on a trip. The first day home I find that we all have to adjust. By the last day home, we are running like a well oiled machine and than it's time for my husband to go to work. Also, I find that if some kind of negative event happens while my husband is working, I often wait until I know the outcome before concerning my husband with events. (home emergencies, family emergencies, etc.) My in-laws are not so nice. Last month they called him on a trip to tell him that he grandfather had a heart attack and that he needed to come home asap....only to call him back a couple hours later to tell him it was a false alarm and that everything was fine. Grrrrr!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment and insight into how your household works. I agree with a lot that you said!

      Glad his Grandfather had a false alarm! Did you have a chance to read: http://comebackdaddy.blogspot.com/2014/05/first-time-for-everything.html

      it is about a medical emergency that my FIL had last summer, and a call that I had to made. I hope to NEVER be in that position again!

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  23. Hi - Thanks so much for your blog. Definitely helps to read about others who are in the same boat and understand the lifestyle. I've been married to my pilot 16 years but he wasn't a (professional) pilot when we married. So it was an adjustment to our lives when he changed careers! I work full-time and we have an 11 year old. It definitely gets easier as the kids get more independent. However, my husband just left a regional airline (Yay!) and is now in training w/ a major. But he's gone for 2 months. We are about 1/2 way in and I'm getting tired of the single mom thing. And feeling a bit lonely. I have alot of friends but they don't understand and I don't like to complain to them. They just think I'm supermom and handle everything (while meanwhile I feel like I'm losing my mind and pulling my hair out with scheduling everything and managing the house, finances and working etc.). Thanks for your blog. I'll keep reading ;)

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  24. Gone for 2 months in training that is...

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  25. Wow. It sounds like you are married to a jerk and you have loads and loads of resentment. This is not good advice for maintaining a happy marriage.

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  26. If you read your blog with brutal honesty, I'm guessing that you might see all the anger and resentment that you wrote about. "No sense in that, because it will get me nowhere," Your numbered survival tips are sprinkled with sarcastic, angry comments similar to this one.
    I understand the anger of feeling lonely and not understood. I got to your blog because I too am married to a pilot. However, I do not understand masking this anger and resentment as "survival tips". Surviving is no way to live. Just surviving is not how I want to live. There is a difference between surviving and living.
    Your "survival tips" read more like a long list of vented anger that you have towards your husband and the lifestyle that you lead.

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    1. Not everyone is the same honey and to be honest you sound
      More angry then her by a mile... She's helping people what are u doing but knocking her for it? I just came across her website and began to cry because I have been married too a pilot for a year and with him for two. I knew what I was getting into but that doesn't make it easy regardless. Do you think everyone is as strong as you? Then you live in a fantasy world and maybe you should stay there.... Open your mind a bit because you seem to have tunnel vision. Contribute don't distribute negativity. This is a journey not a destination this thing we call life and not everyone is cookie cutter sweetheart. I for one have been

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  27. Thanks for writing your blogs my husband flies a rescue chopper and is on duty 24hrs up to 6 days a week it is encouraging to know im not alone. You have some good advice.

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  28. I am also a pilot wife of 7 years and after reading your blog I couldn't help but notice that so much of your perspective and experiences are driven by having children, not so much having a husband who is a pilot. My husband and I decided not to have kids and we enjoy a tremendous amount of stress free freedom. The travel benefits are amazing and I take advantage of them on a monthly basis. Hopping to Thailand, France, Amsterdam and Hawaii is not an unusual 3 months for me... I have NEVER had to bite my tongue around my husband, I sleep 12 hours a night, so exhaustion really isn't a problem. I certainly have never had to give up a pastime or activity I love simply because my husband is a pilot. Every day is "me time", I have never felt particularly compelled to make the house a "happy" place for another person to come home to - I make it a clean happy place because I live there and that is the environment I prefer. So lots of your advice is geared for having a busy household filled with children, not so much having a pilot for a husband.

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    1. I think being a mother is obviously quite important to her and being married (wether to a pilot or not) goes hand in hand. What's she supposed to do pretend she doesn't have kids with the man? For your sake? When a woman is alone because she's married to a pilot her children must be her life in general cause he's not around obviously !

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    2. Also if you sleep 12 hours a night I'd see a doctor because that's not normal! In fact I believe you are actually a pilot writing as a pilots wife in order to make the woman feel badly about her website blogs!

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  29. I for one think it's a wonderful website as I lay here awake at night because I am going thru it due to my own issues with my pilot husband. It's been a life I wasn't prepared for to say the least and it's only getting worse! I am on the edge of divorce and definitely depressed over this lifestyle I now lead in it. I hav'nt been on in awhile but am finding comfort that it's here still. Otherwise I'd be keeping him up arguing cause I am angry as hell right now at him. Then I would have to feel quilts about keeping him up when he

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  30. It's a no win situation at times. At least for me. He gets his cake and eats it too.

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  31. I gave up a lot to marry him and I got difficulty in return in many ways I never saw coming... He's great in some ways but horrible in others... I'd rather have a balanced life of so so in every area rather then this roller coaster ride I'm on. There's no balance to life with a pilot of my kind. I feel like I'm always on also and we don't even have kids together thank GOD! I can't imagine doing that alone.

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  32. Helo everyone...

    I'm bit nervous of getting in yo the stage of being a pilots wife....
    thought I could manage my self as a girlfriend, lover even.... Now I'm bit nervous that will I manage my self better.....

    could you all give me for this new wife..please

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  33. Helo everyone...

    I'm bit nervous of getting in yo the stage of being a pilots wife....
    thought I could manage my self as a girlfriend, lover even.... Now I'm bit nervous that will I manage my self better.....

    could you all give me for this new wife..please

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  34. Freebird1 - I am currently divorcing my airline Capt husband, lived together since 2011, married 2014. I totally agree with your last statement 'no balance' and ' roller coaster'. I personally felt I was going mad in the end, after many ups and downs, Jekyll and Hyde behaviour that really concerned me, whilst being made to feel it was me that was in the wrong. We tried counselling and that just highlighted how bad it had become. Was second marriage for us both, two of my kids lived with us and it was too hard on them too. One minute a lovely guy, the next a sergeant major that created a walking on egg shells home. He was a bully at times. Since I left with my 15 and 24 year old he has fallen apart, been ill, in hospital and signed off til June. Meanwhile I have got two jobs, rented a house, got my life back together and enjoying being out of the 'bubble'.

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  35. I have been married to my pilot husband for 9 months. He is a fire fighting helicopter pilot and has been on contract for two months now. I don't know when I'm going to see him next and sometimes I don't hear from him but once a day when he's back at base and exhausted. I started my own blog to help myself cope (rotorwingwife.weebly.com) I really appreciate all the tips. I really love him and I want us to work and be together forever as I'm sure everyone wants in the beginning stages of a marriage. I miss him so much it hurts but I will persevere because I believe that we are worth it. Thank you so much for you encouragement and I hope that this comment finds you and family well and happy.

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