Divorces, Avoiding Break Ups and Long Time Marriages
A 2010 study on divorce rates by occupation reported that truck drivers and other sales drivers had a 19.14% divorce rate. This number is surprising to many who would think that truck driver’s relationships are so unstable; apparently not. However, given the stressors found within the job, how do truck drivers maintain such low divorce numbers; it might be in their choice of partners and spouses or in understanding how to maintain a relationship.
It takes a very special person to stand in the doorway, waving goodbye to their loved one who is leaving for weeks at a time. These people have a strength and sense of independence to stay home alone to take care of the kids, the house and all of the minutia of daily living without their partner there to help. With internet and cell phones staying in touch is easier these days, but nothing will replace loving arms when things go terribly wrong.
Making a relationship work is difficult in the best of times, when one of the partners is gone a substantial length of time though, both being away and coming home presents some complicated issues. While there are a small percentage of women drivers who leave partners at home, most are men, so that is what will be referred to though issues and solutions apply to both genders.
WHEN A DRIVER LEAVES
When a driver leaves home for work, he should have in place procedures and people in support of his family. These should include family, neighbors, clergy and repair people for the wife to call when help is needed. This not only allows the driver to have peace of mind, but also lessens the wife’s stress when something goes wrong at home.
A driver should make sure his wife has a truck stop guide, an atlas, identification of the truck and company leased to or where the driver works, this includes truck make, VIN#, color, license number, company name on the doors and name and contact information for the company. In addition, she should have a clear photo of the driver along with his license number.
If there are small children at home, a large highway map of the United States and/or Canada could be provided so the kids can track where dad is when he travels.
WHILE THE DRIVER IS GONE
As most know, communication is key in keeping a relationship going. Don and Alice, who were married for 50 years and raised four children while Don drove, suggest that partners set two phone call times a day. The first early in the evening when the kids are awake so they can talk to dad, and one later on after they go to bed, or earlier while they are in school, so the partners can speak privately.
Of course, today, long after Don and Alice raised their kids, there are many more options for communicating. Skype, web cameras, social media sites and cell phones make communication more personal and much easier. Some couples join interactive websites that, from reports, can ease the loneliness of being apart.
A driver should tell his partner where he is going to, the route, cities and where he is delivering to for each load. In this way, if he goes missing, his partner has a place to start looking. Knowing where in the country their loved one is goes a long way in making a partner feel more secure in the relationship and allows them to feel they are a part of the working life of the driver; this builds and maintains trust.
On the other hand, the at home partner too needs to be completely honest and above board while their partner is gone. For instance, if a call time is set up, the partner should make sure they are there for the call, if something has come up unexpectedly, then a quick call, email or text to the driver will ease their mind if no one answers the phone. Both partners need to be careful of their behavior; people love to stir up trouble.
David and Sue had been together for several years. She was a stay at home mom. When David got home, while he was getting into his pick up at the terminal to go home, another driver came over and told David that a buddy had seen Sue at a local drinking hole a few nights earlier dancing with some other guy. Sue had not told David she had gone out to a bar. By the time David got home, he was angry and upset. An argument ensued during which Sue tried to explain that Sue’s brother and girlfriend had invited her to go along to the bar for a night out. Leaving the kids with her mom, Sue had gone. Sue had not thought it worth mentioning to David. Even though Sue’s story checked out, it took a long time to rebuild the trust in the relationship.
There is a stereotype of many truckers that avail themselves of the ladies of the evening services. While yes, a few do, most have Tim’s thought on the matter. “Heck, by the time I get done driving all day and dealing with shippers, receivers and traffic, I am too tired to worry about ”˜company’. I just want to go home to my wife,” he says. That is the vast majority attitude among male drivers.
WHEN THE DRIVER COMES HOME
When a driver comes home, the first day at home, there are four things he wants; his recliner, the beverage of his choice, a home cooked meal and a hot shower. When the driver comes home, his partner wants four things the first day he is home; to talk, to go out to eat or shop, lots of attention and to get started on the chore list. Cross-purposes indeed!
Don and Alice, mentioned above, worked out a deal. The first day at home, Alice kept the kids quiet, got the laundry going and cooked a good meal while Don zoned out in front of the TV napping and relaxing. The second day, Don would get up early, start the chore list with the kids, then mid morning, the kids went to Alice’s folks while Don took Alice out for lunch and shopping. In the evening, after supper with the family, Alice would finish Don’s laundry and get him packed to leave out the next day or so while Don spent more time with everyone. If there was a two day off period, the second day off was doing things such as visiting, hobbies or finishing the chore list as a family.
The one thing that amazes people about Alice was that while she was excited when Don was on his way home, she was just as excited when it was time for him to go. “I love him to death,” she says, “but with him gone so much, I have a routine for myself and the kids and him being home too long disrupts it. However, it is kind of like having a honeymoon once a month or so!”
Maintaining a successful relationship while one is a driver is like tap dancing thru a minefield. On both partner’s parts, it takes utmost consideration of the other person’s needs, complete trust and dedication to keeping the relationship strong and communication. Like driving across the George Washington Bridge in New York City in rush hour traffic, it is not easy, but it can be done as long as one remains patient.