Surviving the distance, or, why my husband is a wanker

G sent me a snapshot from Qatar. A few of his mates were assembled around a pool table with the footy playing the background. While one of the guys sat on the couch, another was lining up the 8 ball, there were a few half drunk beers on the table. It was all familiar to me, the house, the guys, the scenery. I knew the guys well but they looked different, a little lost, they were missing something: their kids and their partners. They were WANKERS.

Wives Away No Kids Eating Rubbish.

It’s been over a week now. G is about to enter his second weekend without us. We’re speaking every day, falling into our usual conversations. I’m missing him and feeling guilty that we’re here with family, great food and the comfort of home while he continues to work his way through summer in the Middle East. He’s turned the living room in Qatar into M.A.M.I.L. heaven (if you’re new here G is a Middle Aged Man In Lyca). the bike is up on bricks, he’s in training for when he gets home to the beach and makes his way up the Willunga Hill. The tour le G.

I’ve been interviewing women this week for the podcast, women who do this all the time. Evelyn whose husband is a WILIE (Works In London Lives In Edinburgh) and Ali whose husband is away during the week but home each weekend. Their choices were made for both financial and lifestyle reasons. Children whose school years cannot be interrupted, mortgages that need to be paid. As my girlfriend Michelle reminded me today as she cut my hair “some of us don’t have choices” her husband “works in the mines” like so many country people do these days. It’s become a part of the country vernacular “What happened to Bob?” someone will ask after the latest closure or downsize. “He works in the mines”. She giggles her way though three kids needing to go in three opposite directions for sport and play and the effect it has on her social life. People stop asking when they begin to assume you’ll be away.

There’s the upside though. The moment when you realise how much you miss something about him, the things he does that you’ve begun to take for granted. When you smile as you begin to think about him, and find ways to bring him up in conversation like a lovestruck teenager. I played my eldest a message that G had left on my phone yesterday “Oh hi there, my name’s G, a friend of mine suggested I give you a call. I’m going to be in town on July 9th and I wondered if you’d like to um, maybe get together for coffee?” she grins, this is Dad, not just full of Dad jokes, but Dad being in love with Mum.

There’s a similar message that comes through when I talk to couples who are spending time apart. Communication is the most important thing. Honesty and daily chats. If you find yourself being resentful just remember the situation you’re both in, which one would you prefer? “It could be so much worse” says Alli who knows someone who only gets to see her partner three times a year.

I miss him terribly, for a few weeks a year, how lucky am I.

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