The reason I'm sharing our personal experiences with this is to help people understand the truly tension-packed environment at truck driving school, and how it may affect your spouse. Everyone's marriage is different, so everyone's experience will be unique, but there will be common issues for sure. And things will pop up that you never even considered. I'm being completely, 100% honest here, because I don't think glossing over the tough stuff would be very helpful! For me, just trying to get used to day-to-day life without my husband has been the hardest part, and I knew it would be. But it's even harder than I imagined, especially as more weeks go by and I know it will still be well over a month before I see him again. And after that, it's just more of the same. Blah. These are the main things I learned from the first couple of weeks that he was gone:
Some things can be dealt with ahead of time, like how to arrange your finances. Example: We decided Randy will use our joint checking account, I make sure there's expense money in there for him and he has the debit card. I have money in my personal checking to pay bills and expenses here. It would be too confusing if we were both using the same account while he's so far away and can't always be in contact. It's good to figure this stuff out ahead time. A bunch of overdrafts could cause a fight, and arguing about money is the #1 cause of divorce!
Since I was only 18, I've been used to being able to talk to Randy nearly 24/7/365. During this first week+ with him gone, having that change has been hard on both of us. The 2nd week is really preparing me for what seems to be the inevitable "new normal". I don't like it, but I'm dealing with it. I keep a notebook handy so I can remember things I want to ask him or tell him, and that's helping. And I send him a text message or 2 some days (no more than that, don't want to bombard him) if it's something that can't wait, and he looks at them when he has time (which is fine with me). But most of my TM's look like this:
"Hope ur doing well and having a good day so far! I'm fine, so don't worry about me...ttyl xxoo"
"I am SO proud of you, and SO happy u r doing so well! Luv u, Miss u. ttyl"
Food is causing trouble for Randy since he left. I prepared him healthy meals at home, but he ran for fast food and gained quite a bit of weight over the years. I knew that eating on the road could be a problem, but it's also an issue at this particular school. So far, he's doing what I was afraid of...either spending too much at the cafeteria there, or eating crap (Twinkies and chips I mentioned earlier). We've been joking about it (no, I didn't yell at him), but that can't be helping his overall health, especially with all the pressure he's under. Anyone planning to go there should give this some consideration...maybe having a plan ahead of time would help. Once you get there, it's too late because you'll have so many other things on your mind.
Advice for a Wife at Home:
1. Be ready to provide plenty of support, encouragement and reassurance. He'll be going through a rough time and needs you more than ever.
2. This experience really is an emotional roller coaster and it takes some time to adjust. You'll have good and bad days, just like when he's home. Do the best you can, but don't beat yourself up if you make some mistakes...that is normal!
3. It's o.k. to (calmly) share your concerns and what you're going through as well. After all, he doesn't want to think you're home lounging around or having a party-fun time while he's working so hard and suffering.
4. Make sure to have a support system in place for yourself. Besides being good for you, it will set his mind at ease to know you have others to count on when he's unavailable.
5. If an argument erupts, handle it right away, as gently as possible. It happens, we're only human. But don't scream or throw a tantrum...you can do that when he comes home. ;) (Just kidding on that last part, don't do that!) ;)
6. I have found writing about this stuff to be extremely helpful. If you don't have a blog or post on a forum, just keep a journal for yourself. Letting it out really does make you feel better. Personally, I have notebooks and post-its everywhere!
Advice for Couples:
Make sure both of you are truly on board with the decision to become a truck driver, because it will be hard enough without conflicted feelings.
Be ready to be flexible with your budget, how you will communicate, who will take care of which responsibilities at home, etc. Things keep changing as you proceed through the school and training and the way you do some things will need to be adjusted.
Stay connected, you are still a couple making decisions together and the responsibilities continue at home, whether you are there or not. But realize that finding time to talk will be challenging at times.
Don't forget, this doesn't last forever!