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Love & Sex 6

Marriage communication issues
Flickr photo by fakelvis
The return of the traveling spouse is one of the hardest parts of this solo parenting gig. But coming in at a close second is having to put my relationship on hold for however long he's gone due to communication issues.

You'd think with the advances in technology - like web cams, Skype, and heck, even Twitter, there would be some way for us to maintain some semblance of normalcy while he's gone. But alas, it's way more complicated, at least for us, than just hooking up a laptop to the wall and flipping on a camera.

During his most recent trip, which was a combination of a 4-day domestic commercial flying trip and then a 3-day military assignment, cut in half by a whopping 12-hour stop at home so he could add laundry to my already gighugic pile, vacuum the basement steps, and take my daughter to school (whoo! vacation!), we communicated a total of just under seven times, all of which add up to probably just under an hour of interaction - including the time it takes him to type and send the text "Where are you?"

So let's break things down by mode of communication.

Text messages

These are generally quick "Hey, what are you up to?" or really "Hey, wht ru up 2?" (ugh) type interactions, but unfortunately they are the best way to get any type of message across because, well, you'll see the problem with all our other options.


Forget it. Even with an iPhone, my husband will check his email but never respond, which stinks because it's my main mode of communication. The lucky man has never had to attempt to have a phone conversation (or God, a work conference call) with three children around, so he doesn't quite get that emailing me is the best way to share more than a few acronyms and sentences interrupted by screaming kids. Sadly, he can't type to save his life, so it's pointless. And I've learned the hard way; I'll email a nice long message about what's going on here and how I'm feeling and if he actually does respond, it's something like "cool," which, God love him, is spelled wrong half the time. He blames the international keyboards. Right.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Aside from the fact that he's really never on an actual computer when he's away, the same issues that plague our email relationship are worse on IM. Here's a recent interaction:

Me (Excited! To see his name in green on my gmail!): Hey! What's up?
Him (After approximately 45 seconds): Hi.
Me (In about 4 seconds): So, the kids got up super early this morning, and I'm exhausted, but it looks like the weather is going to be really great today so I'm going to try to take them to the zoo. So how are things over there?
Him (After 2 minutes, and a few "Husband is typing" messages that come and go - which we experienced IM'ers know means he's typing and erasing A LOT): Not much.

Try that for a good solid 15 minutes and you feel like you're squeezing water out of a rock or something even more ridiculous. Needless to day, I do my best to avoid him on IM.


Now phone calls may seem to be the logical choice, and every so often, they work out fabulously. But most of the time, we're contending with those pesky time differences, work schedules, and 3G WHAT THE HECK AT&T MY MARRIAGE IS AT STAKE HERE! that means he's available to talk right when I need to get dinner on the table or when I'm about to collapse in bed from utter exhaustion.

Don't get me wrong - we have our fair share of conversations, but they're never more than five minutes long, mostly because the kids end up grabbing the phone, or he decides to interrupt my extremely compelling recap of the day by asking if I cleaned out the water table because WE DO NOT WANT TO BREED MOSQUITOS! Then the "aren't you listening to me? who gives a crap about the water table? I haven't talked to anyone in three days can you just let me talk?" which, as you can guess, never ends well.

For us, the long, deep conversations about love, life, and the important stuff, rarely occur, making the blocks of our time apart almost non-existent when it comes to our relationship.

So yeah, communication. It's a fine art that we have yet to master even after three years of all this nonsense.


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nonmember avatar sam_tempting

My husband is the same with typing. Your description was so dead-on it made me snort. For real. The 15 minutes of "husband is typing a message"... brilliant, and so fucking true.

nonmember avatar Erin

I loved this. I think we're married to the same man - I'll let you have him:) My husband is so stupid with phones that he actually was texting with a total stranger for awhile, believing it to be me. I'm sure they were a little spicier than my texts!

I think you'll find some things to relate to on my site.

www.imgonnakillhim.com dedicated to the mind-blowingly stupid stuff only a husband could do.

nonmember avatar Therese

Love your description of trying to talk on the phone. My pilot husband calls a lot in the middle of the day (when he's bored and lonely in a hotel or airport) and says, "Hey, what are you doing?" Well, Dear, I'm at work in an office with no privacy meaning everyone can hear me talking to you. What do you want... Of course, I always feel guilty later because I know that was probably the only 5 minutes he had to talk the entire day and I wasn't nice.

RanaA... RanaAurora

Appreciate every single conversation you get - no matter how convoluted. ;) Take it from the submarine wife - we have the sole pleasure unlike ANY other military job of not being able to speak to our husbands for 90-120 days. If you get 5 e-mails in that time, you're LUCKY.

Steph... StephanieSD

I agree with Rana. Any bit of communication I can get out of my husband when he's away lets me know that at least he's safe and sound. I keep my frequency expectations low, so that I'm happy when we do talk or email.

nonmember avatar Mighty

I'm a husband. I'm tech savvy. But if I were not and the ability to communicate with my wife and children hinged upon that skill set, I'd learn how. I'm obviously working with far too little information to say "he's just not that into you" but I can say, "what's his freakin' problem???"

Is it not as bad as you're making it sound or does he need to get on board (pun definitely intended) and learn how to have a real two-way marriage?

I mean, what's the deal here??? He's already in a naturally strained situation with his job choice. He's intent on making it more difficult by refusing to communicate? What gives???

And don't settle for the "guys just aren't like that" line, ladies. It's an ignorant statement made by people looking for excuses. People in love act as such ... bottom line.

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