The Lure of the Open Road
From the book, "Marriage in the Long Run" by Ellen Voie Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.
Many professional drivers' wives dream of the day when the kids are grown and they can accompany their husbands in the truck. They plan to quit their jobs, clean out the refrigerator, find a home for the dog and have their mail forwarded.
The lure of the open road replaces the maternal nesting instinct once the "brood" has flown the nest! Is this the life for you and your spouse?
Do you picture the two of you, driving as a team and seeing the country through a semi windshield? If this is your dream, there are some things you'll need to consider first. After all those years of being apart, will you be able to stand each other in the confines of a cab?
Sharon married Rick when he was in the military, so she was accustomed to being alone at times. She had her hands full with three kids they had before Rick decided to become a trucker. Fortunately for Sharon, Rick sort of eased into the life of an over the road trucker.
First, he hauled beans between Wisconsin and Illinois, so he was home often. Then, he decided to drive for a long haul company, and started appearing at the door only once a week or so.
Sharon adjusted, although she didn't like being alone so often. She had the children to keep her occupied, and she enjoyed her hobbies of making ceramics and raising dogs, but she missed her husband.
Rick continued to drive for truckload carriers, and when the children were in their teens, he worked for a company that kept him out up to three months at a time. Sharon was allowed to ride with him, and that's when she seriously started thinking about learning how to drive.
After their daughter was married and their sons enlisted in the navy, Sharon entered diesel driving school. She spent six weeks attending classes in learning how to drive an eighteen wheeler. Nights were spent studying in a motel near the school, waiting for the day she could get her CDL.
Although she wasn't thrilled with the school, she was glad that she didn't learn from her husband. She says that she has more credibility with him because she learned from instructors, instead of the school of hard knocks, as he did.
Also, she admits that she would've learned his bad habits from him if he had been her teacher! As an added incentive, most insurance companies require a formal education for their companys' drivers.
There's not a lot of shared time, because when he drives, she sleeps and vice versa. The only time they're really together is at meals and when they're unloading.
Sharon admits that the novelty of being a truck driver has worn off, and she often misses her time at home. She began skipping some of the runs that her husband makes and often feels guilty when he takes off alone.
But, now her grandchildren and her doll creations are also important to her, and she's decided that there has to be a balance in her life. Although she still accompanies Rick in the truck and will maintain her CDL, she also enjoys her time at home.
There is one warning that Sharon wants to make to wives who plan to drive as a team with their husbands, that is to be sure that you want to do this for yourself. Don't give up your life at home because he tells you to, you need to make this decision, and only after a lot of thought.
Think about your friends, your interests and your family. Will you miss them? Will you be able to spend 24 hours a day with a man you formerly saw a few times a month? Are your children prepared to be apart from you AND their dad? Can you handle truck stop food and four wheelers on the road? Do you enjoy the smell of diesel fuel?
If you decide to settle into a shelter above eighteen wheels rather than one over a basement, good luck! And remember to say "hi" to Sharon and Rick if you see them on the road!
Noted author and speaker Ellen Voie has been involved in the trucking industry for many years in a variety of roles. She is currently the National Director of Trucker Buddy International.
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