So you’re on the road again — and your spouse is at home, far away. The life of a travel nurse certainly comes with unique challenges. For married travel nurses, a major one is keeping your marriage solid despite long the stretches you’re apart. Luckily, you know a thing or two about working hard and being compassionate — two traits that are major resources in any marriage.
All couples need quality time together to stay connected, happy, and successful. Let’s be honest: if you’re separated by distance, it’s not as easy to keep things running smoothly. With a little extra effort, though, you can maintain a strong connection. How? Here are 7 ideas for staying connected with your spouse as a travel nurse.
Let’s start with the no-brainer. If you want to stay connected with your spouse while you’re away on assignment, you’ve got to stay in touch! Busy schedules can make it seem impossible to reach each other on a regular basis, but keep trying. It’s super important.
Your marriage is one of the most important foundations in your life. Schedule regular phone calls and stick with them. You’ll want to find out what’s going on at the home front, and your spouse needs to hear about what’s happening in your life. Ideally, plan to make these calls early in the day so you can make them up in the afternoon or evening if you miss each other.
Communicating isn’t always a walk in the park. Disagreements are a necessary part of any marriage — if you’re not arguing sometimes, you’re not really communicating. The most important factor is the way you handle disagreements when they occur.
Texting is great for practical matters. Ask your spouse to keep you in the loop about anything that really matters to you, and make it clear what you expect. Try to mix routine calls and texts with more spontaneous interactions, too, to keep things exciting!
Create and share art
There’s nothing like artistic expression to get your feelings flowing. If you want to create a special gift for your spouse, consider making a drawing, painting, sculpture or other piece of art. Go free from and do whatever jumps at you, or complete a project with personal significance to your marriage. Some ideas:
- Do a watercolor representing the place of your proposal or marriage ceremony
- Build a shadowbox with one of your wedding invitations, a dried flower, and ribbon or fabric from one of your garments.
- Needlepoint a phrase from your vows (or make a T-shirt!)
- Write a “toast” and ask your partner to read it while drinking a glass of wine
While you create your masterpiece, you’ll channel loving energy. It’s a way to embrace happy memories and create a tangible reminder of your commitment.
If you’re like many nurses, you probably love reading. Here’s an idea for staying intimate from afar. Pick a book to read at the same time as your spouse so you can discuss it during your regular phone calls. It’s a way to keep things interesting and share your deeper ideas and feelings. Think of it as a very exclusive book club for two!
Send a gift — or write a love letter
Ever heard of the five love languages? We all have a mix of preferred ways of feeling loved: through quality time, kind words, helpful actions, physical intimacy, and/or receiving gifts!
If your sweetheart is the kind of person who loves getting a good gift, that’s an easy way to reach out across a distance. Send a classic gift, like chocolate or flowers, or a nice item of clothing. (Include a little note saying how you can’t wait to see them wearing it!) Focus on your spouse’s interests and hobbies to find just the right gift.
Another way to strengthen intimacy from afar is good old-fashioned letter writing. There’s something uniquely comforting about seeing your loved one’s handwriting. Set off fireworks by writing out a list of everything you love (and miss) about your spouse, or craft a detailed letter about a significant memory you shared.
(Bonus tip: If you wear perfume or cologne, spray just a little bit on the paper to engage your honey’s sense memory, too.)
Go on a virtual date
Regular business-type phone calls are definitely important. Get even more out of your conversations by scheduling virtual dates.
- For a low-key virtual date, watch a movie at the same time while you’re on the phone together.
- If you’re into something more elaborate and romantic, try cooking the same meal and then sitting down “together” over a video call. Enjoy your meal, discuss your day, laugh together, and share your problems and your dreams.
Do intimacy exercises
It might seem a little corny at first, but intimacy exercises actually work. Marriage counselors have used them for years to help people in rocky situations rebuild trust and grow affection. Even if your marriage is rock solid, you can benefit from (and enjoy) some intimacy-building activities:
- Ask questions. More than two decades ago, a psychologist named Arthur Aron found that by asking each other a series of personal questions, two complete strangers could fall in love. These 36 questions are also great for stoking the flames between you and your spouse.
- Cuddle. When you are together, there’s almost nothing as satisfying as skin-to-skin contact to pump up oxytocin levels (the mammalian bonding hormone). Find twenty minutes to curl up together before you fall asleep or while you listen to music. Massages are great for this, too!
- Soul gaze. To notch up the intensity when you’re together in person, try soul gazing. Face your spouse in a seated position, almost close enough to touch, and hold eye contact for 3-5 minutes. (It’s not a staring contest — you can blink!) The eyes are the windows to the soul. Through this exercise, you’re building a deep connection that can help maintain your bond during your weeks apart.
Finally, remember that every marriage has its challenges! While you might not have thought you’d be in a long-distance marriage on your wedding day, you can make it work. By practicing skills to keep you connected from afar, you might even find you’re even stronger when you’re together!
Looking for more articles on living your best life as a travel nurse? Check out our articles on life hacks for travel nurses.