Being married to a trucker is challenging, to say the least, but if you’re a trucker spouse newbie, it can be the most demanding and exhausting struggle you will face as both a spouse and as a couple. We’re not going to lie to you, it’s rough, but the bright side is, it does get easier with time.
We’ve talked with some seasoned trucking spouses who have been in the industry for 3 to 20 years so that we can share their valuable insights and information with our readers in the hopes of making the transition just a little easier on you.
#5 Stay Busy
Consensus between the spouses we’ve talked to was to stay busy – especially at the beginning. “My house was never as clean as the first year my husband started trucking,” recounts one wife. Staying busy is something that all the spouses we talked to had in common, even those who have been married to 20 years. Learning new hobbies, spending time with family and friends, volunteering in your community, completing projects around the house, and even obsessive cleaning can help keep your mind off missing your husband or wife.
You need to avoid putting your life on hold while your trucker is gone for work. While at first, you may feel guilty about having fun without your spouse at your side, this will go away with time as you ease into the lifestyle. We all have a list of things we would love to do, and chances are, your spouse doesn’t want to do all the same things. While s/he’s at work, focus on the hobbies and activities that they wouldn’t miss. Then, while s/he’s home, you can focus on the hobbies and interests you have in common.
#4 Learn to Deal
This is a tough one, and it doesn’t matter how long your spouse has been a driver, there is always something you are going to have to deal with. The washing machine is going to break, the sink is going to get clogged, the car is going to get a flat tire, the kids are going to drive you to the brink of insanity, or get a cold, and you are going to have to deal with it. In the beginning, every little-unexpected malfunction is going to seem like a crisis, especially if it something that your spouse would normally take care of or fix. You are either going to have to learn some great new skills or develop a list of maintenance companies and friends to come to help you out.
Given time, the trucker’s spouse is going to build up one heck of a ‘Jack of all Trades’ portfolio: plumber, mechanic, landscaper, electrician, painter, cook, carpenter, hairstylist, costume designer, not to mention all the great skills you’ll learn while picking up new hobbies and volunteering in your community.
#3 Be Flexible
This is probably by far, the most difficult part of the trucking lifestyle you must submit to because not only do you have to train yourself to be flexible, you have to train your family and friends to do it as well. Even after years in the industry, it never fails, you expect your trucker home, and s/he gets a flat, or breaks down, or gets called on to take an emergency load because s/he’s the only one available. All our spouses had stories to share, from husband’s missing parties and events to wives missing school plays and teacher conferences; one husband even missed moving day because of a breakdown that stranded him on the road for a week while repairs were made.
The reality of trucking is Sh** happens, and after you’ve learned to deal, you’ll have to learn to be flexible. Aside from the jokes that erupted of wives purposely popping tires and husbands throwing sand in the differential to avoid certain family moments, the truth of the matter is, all of our spouses would much rather be home doing the most mundane or annoying family thing than on the road.
You’ll quickly learn that making plans, the way normal people make plans is a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll be one of those last-minute commitment type people and even become a more spontaneous couple and family as you decide on the fly what activities you’ll be doing when your trucker is home.
#2 Understand What Your Trucker is Going Through
While life at home is difficult, especially in the beginning, life on the road is no picnic either. Your spouse isn’t simply driving a truck down the road. S/he’s dealing with a magnitude of challenges too. First and foremost, s/he misses home, and he doesn’t get to fill her/his time with much of anything besides the job. Then there is the job itself. It’s not as easy as simply driving a truck down the highway. There are schedules to keep, whether to deal with, difficult docks to get into, trailers to unload, route and fuel planning to do, truck parking to find, traffic risks to avoid, and so much more. Life behind the wheel of a big rig is stressful and exhausting, especially for rookies.
Your spouse probably has a pretty good idea of what your daily responsibilities are because s/he used to be part of them, but it can be difficult to understand what life is like in the cab of a semi. After your trucker has accumulated enough miles on the road and had become accustomed to life on the road, all of the trucker spouses we talked to suggested going along for a ride-along so that you can see what life is really like in the truck. It is the best way to truly understand what your wife or husband is going through.
# 1 Trust Each Other
Trust is the cornerstone of any good marriage. Chances are, you trusted your spouse before s/he became a truck driver, so why would anything change. And yes, it can be scary to imagine your spouse out on the road. S/he’s all alone, and the lot lizards are knocking on the door, and – that’s where the story ends. Your spouse is a good person, you love her/him, you are building a life together, and chances are, they’ve taken this job to provide a good life for you and your family, so why would s/he want to mess it all up? Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.
It is also important to remember to not give your trucker any reason to doubt their trust in you. After all, you’re all alone, and temptation is knocking on your door – make sure your story ends there.