He comes home, he leaves, and he comes back again. After over four years of marriage I have finally adjusted to such a reality. Just like most couples get used to parting ways on weekdays, I have gotten used to parting with my husband for a day or a few days or a week or a month…
I hear a lot of “I could never do that” or “wow that must be hard” or “how do you do it?” You don’t have to feel bad for me. We chose this lifestyle and it does have its disadvantages but it most certainly has its advantages.
I miss the night time snuggling. He misses the night time snuggling. Truth is, I think he has a harder time with this one than me. At least, when he’s gone, I get to welcome the dogs into my bed. The best bed snuggles he gets on the road is a butt bump with his brother.
A job on the road is a dangerous one. Fortunately I am not a worrier. However, I do have my moments. Sometimes I get struck with a panic that any given moment my husband’s life might be obliterated while on the road. They say car accidents are the 9th leading cause of death. The Citizen Way boys drive themselves across the country overnight. Crazy folks drive around in the middle of the night you know. Sometimes Josh will tell me of a close call. Like one time they were trekking along as usual when a semi truck freakishly swerved from the right of them to fishtailing around the front of them and into the ditch on the other side without even the slightest moment of contact. I lean heavily on God’s protection and fold myself into the truth that no matter what happens He will get me through it. There is beauty in that. Beauty in needing God that way.
Sometimes he has more fun than I do. Sometimes they play around at an amusement park, completely bypassing all the lines with their fancy VIP passes. Sometimes they get to go to really warm places in the dead of winter and come home with some nice tans. Sometimes he gets really cool, free stuff. Sometimes he gets to go to a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I love that he gets these things! But I do admit that I occasionally experience a trickle of jealousy when the most exciting thing I’m doing is culling a wedding.
I just don’t fit in. When Josh is gone I am half of a couple. This means I don’t exactly fit in with my couple’s friends and I don’t fit in with single friends. I think I fit in better with my single friends and, admittedly, tend to enjoy outings that aren’t strictly for the couples more than those that are while Josh is away. In the early days of Josh hitting the road I would jump at any invitation to be out with people. Not too long into my readiness though did I find it was hard to always be the single one at the couple’s outings. I found myself feeling like a little black sheep that people felt sorry for but no one really knew what to do with. More significantly, I found I became more homesick for Josh. Sometimes this was a fond homesickness, I longed for him to come home. Other times I grew frustrated that I didn’t get to be normal and have him around always like my other friends. You can imagine that the latter was particularly grievous to our relationship. Bummer for Josh to all of a sudden have a frustrated wife when he didn’t do anything wrong. All that being said, there are so many times when I love going to couples outings so don’t be scared to invite me! If I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it I’ll just hang back.
I’m stuck with the full load of responsibility. When Josh is gone, especially for long periods of time, I soon get stressed by the load that falls on my shoulders. I am suddenly also in charge of the matters Josh consistently takes care of. As a result of this phenomenon I happened to take on most of the load on a daily basis. This way, when he’s gone, I don’t get hit so hard with lots of extra responsibilities, I just get hit with the full load I normally handle.
Communication gets tough. Those of you who are married know how important good communication is. When Josh is on the road we are left to the occasional phone call and texting. Of course this is helpful, but phone calls can only dig so deep. I’ve come to find that certain good communication habits fall by the wayside when they haven’t been practiced even for a little while. When we get back together we are suddenly held accountable again for body language or tone subtleties that get masked by a phone call. We tend to misunderstand or misread each other for a good chunk of time before we get adjusted back to good communication habits. We also find just how much is left out of our phone conversations. After all, it’s hard for Josh to be as transparent and sociable with me when a whole van of dudes will hear what he tells me too.
I can get lots done when he’s gone. Sometimes friends ask me how I possibly manage to be so stinking productive. Well, the answer is, I am frequently left to my own devices and a girl’s gotta do something! This is how I can tackle a photography business, freelance photography work, DIY projects, homesteading, cooking and baking, blogging, writing, and other varieties of productiveness that come my way. This is, perhaps, the perk I enjoy most about our unique marriage. I love feeling useful and like I’ve accomplished a lot in one day! I love that in one day I can get all my photography work done, make a homemade meal from scratch, finish a DIY project or two, take the dogs to the dog park, and still sit down and read at the end of the day.
I get to be Miss Independent when he’s gone. I basically get to live like a single person while Josh is away. I get to do what I want, when I want, with who I want. Sometimes I like to go out with my single friends while Josh is on the road. Sometimes I rearrange the house. Sometimes I let the house be messy. And sometimes I clean the place until it’s sparkling. Sometimes I like to watch Tangled three nights in a row. Sometimes I like to make a salad the way I like it. Sometimes I take the dogs for a long walk along the routes Josh hates. Sometimes I play my favorite music very loud and dance as undignified as possible. Sometimes I sit in complete silence for as long as I want.
Alone time is good. I’m not sure if it’s because of my lifestyle that I value alone time and quiet time so much or if it’s the way I was from the beginning, but all I know is the moment Josh comes home I am struck my how much more noisy my life gets. When it’s just me at the house I get to choose any and all noise that fills my ears. Then, suddenly, when Josh gets back my whole day is packed with music or other noise – sometimes I even experience the noise through the night with heavy breathing or as I try to lay down to sleep while he’s still working on a song in his studio. If Josh isn’t actively writing or rehearsing a song, teaching music lessons, or performing on stage he’s usually still singing some song as he goes about his day. What I’ve learned in all this is that, eventually, even music just becomes noise. The bit I miss least when Josh is gone is the repetitive song playing. When he’s recording or practicing a song I hear the same one line of melody so many times that my feelings towards that line of notes is no different than to how I would respond to a broken record or someone unrelentingly knocking on my front door for an hour. This admittance pains me because I feel guilty for feeling this way – especially when most folks comment on how I’m so lucky to have my house filled with live music all the time. I will admit that the first time and even up to the fifth or sixth time I’ve heard the same song in a row I feel blessed and privileged… it’s when the song seems like it’s never going to end that my seams start to split.
The reunions are always incredible. They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Well I’d say Josh and I are well advanced in fondness due to all the time spent apart! Every time he leaves I am now in the habit if switching gears to life as an off-the-market single woman. It’s like changing clothes to me now. Simply switching gears. My heart lives in this interestingly content place of getting things done, hanging with the dogs or friends, or soaking up some alone time while also wholly looking forward to the moment he walks back through the front doors and into my longing arms. It feels like the honeymoon stage all over again! You may be thinking, well I’m sure glad I’m not in the honeymoon phase anymore! We were way too emotionally insane and unbalanced to want to go back to that! Let me tell you a secret, this perpetual “honeymoon phase” of ours is a different kind of animal. Instead of coupling the intense emotional excitement and passion with so much miscommunication and misunderstanding we get only the former! Cool huh? Perhaps this sounds totally not fun to you, but I’ve come to love the emotional highs and lows. Also, to be completely transparent, good ‘ol hanky panky after a forced period of time away is real nice.
Sometimes I get to go with. For every tour he’s a part of I make a point to make it out to at least one show. Even this small consolation of a free concert is enough to be a perk but it’s the overwhelming pride and joy I experience as I watch the world’s kindest and most adorable man living his dream out on stage that really takes the cake. And to top it off, sometimes I even get the opportunity to go with to a really snazzy event or to an awesome location. Some of my favorite “business” trips with Josh have been to the KLOVE Fan Awards and to the SESAC Awards Ceremony.
Love and Friendship
Even with all of the advantages to our marital lifestyle I must admit I do get significantly lonely when Josh is gone. It is just me and the dogs at home after all and they aren’t much for conversation. I know some people are unsure what to do with a lady in a situation like mine. Do we invite her or not? If I could choose, I would always be invited! Even if I can’t make it I am always filled up with warm tingles when I am invited. The only other alternative is me pestering all you folks to hang out with me and with a husband gone so frequently that truly gets exhausting! Moral of the story, the best way to love on this lonesome wife is to invite me for a hang.
And now we just had a baby, a little girl. I’m sure a lot of these advantages and disadvantages will start looking very different. And I’ll probably have more to add now that we have Maisy around too. Maybe I’ll fill you in after we’ve experienced a couple rounds of Papa being away 🙂
I just came across your post and I feel like you pulled all of my thoughts and feelings about being married to a musician directly from my head! To those who don’t know what this life is like, it is always hard for them to understand that it isn’t the most glamorous and carefree existence in the world. There are days when I’m so excited to hear what new song he is working on or find out what cool new places they are going to visit, and other days when I think if I hear one more musical note I will break every instrument in the house! I think the most challenging part for me is that I work a full-time, 8-5 (sometimes 8-7) job running a manufacturing plant in which 75% of my employees speak a language other than English. I deal with their emotions and issues and everything else that comes along with being a “boss” and being the bread winner of the family, and then I come home to him sitting in the living room in shorts and a t-shirt, strumming a mandolin and showing me what vegetables he pulled from the garden. Those are the most challenging moments for me. I think maybe it’s because I’m jealous that he is living his dream…and I am the dream supporter. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks you for letting me know that my life and feelings are normal! 🙂
Jen that is rough! I’m glad you came across my blog though and that it helped in some small way. Hopefully somewhere down the road he starts pulling in enough money so you can pursue your dream too!
I feel your pain! When I have to go to sleep at 10pm because I have to get up at 6am and he’s whining because he wants to hang out, but he didn’t get up until 10am that day…
Listening to his woes about the band and the tour and whatever while thinking..I had a day too, and it was hard too..am I supposed to just be supportive and find another outlet for my feelings?
As I said to Kaia, I’d like to know if there is a Facebook support group for us. If there isn’t, I think we should start one!
Thanks for posting this! My husband just came home from a tour and he’s leaving again in October. You said all things I have said, thought, felt, and experienced since he started touring with his band early last year. I found this because I was wondering if there are any Facebook where we road widows can band together for support when the fellas are gone. If there isn’t, we should definitely start one! I hope things are still going well for you. I can only imagine adding a child into the mix…
Jen, thanks for reaching out! No idea if there’s a FB group. Even though I met some other band wives along the way I always felt alone since none of them were local to me and my local friends couldn’t quite understand despite their best efforts. I’m pleased to report that my man is not in the touring lifestyle anymore. He chose to come off the road just before our second baby was born, hated missing our first little girl’s firsts! I pray you find the support network you long for! My sister-in-law, one of the band wives, lives in Nashville now and says the band wives support community is incredible there… but that’s second hand intel 😉
I have been married to a musician for 18 years, but he’s been doing this crap instead of a real job for the last 8 years while i raise our 3 kids (one who is special needs) alone. oh, and did i mention he’s had 3 affairs along the way too? And we live in a rental trailer and we are on food stamps and I can’t work because of my child’s health? If you are dating a musician, RUN! If you are engaged to one RUN! If you are married to one, I’m sorry that he’s cheated on you. If you don’t think he has, you just don’t know it yet or he just hasn’t done it yet. How many famous ones stay married? NONE! And don’t use Tim & Faith or Garth & Trisha as an example. Both are second marriages and both are musicians. Unless you are a musician too, you will be left in the dust. Again I say RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Man Missy, I’m sorry this journey is even rougher on you than it was on me it seems. My husband came off the road just before we had our second baby a couple of years ago and it’s been so amazing parenting as a team! I can only imagine what stress you’re under this those three kiddos and doing so much by yourself. I pray you find relief from family and friends and your husband and that you two can reconcile and rebuild.
Wow! I also live with touring musician (he is just starting out his career but right now he is away for 3 weeks) and i feel exactly same about the pros and cons!
I’m quite interested how everything is going with a baby ? That is the thing i’ve been worried about in our marriage! I mean what happens when the baby arrives and so on?
With the due date it was always a little nerve-wracking, hoping we lined the timing up well with him taking time off the road to be here for delivery. Then when baby came he was off for a little bit, a week or two, then he’d hit the road again! That meant 24/7 baby care on me. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie, but it’s doable. Maisy was specifically attached to me because of all the time Josh was away so even when he was home it didn’t make sense for him to take the night time responsibility, but I should have gone for it anyways and then made sure I got to sleep in in the mornings when he was home and get naps while he was home to make up for the sleep deprivation. I also should have utilized family and friends more to get some sleep, naps and such. I say should because I didn’t! I just suffered through a long and very rough season of severe sleep deprivation, unnecessarily!