What it’s like to love a trucker
There’s no sugarcoating it: The trucker lifestyle is hard. Long days or weeks away takes a toll on even the strongest of relationships, and it takes a lot of patience, determination, and understanding to navigate the bumps in the road.
Trucker families, we’re here to tell you: you’re not alone. Whether you’re a trucker’s wife or husband, your struggle is acknowledged. Here are some of the ways the trucking lifestyle commonly affects relationships, along with a few small steps to take that may help alleviate some of the stress.
There’s a lot of alone time
Every truck driver’s wife or husband has likely asked the same question: “How long will you be gone this time?” The most common hardship among trucking families is certainly the sheer number of days that your loved one is away. Relationships are difficult to sustain when one partner is consistently in another part of the country, and this can be particularly hard if your family, friends, or other support system doesn’t live nearby to spend some of those hours with you.
While this may feel lonely or isolating—especially if you’re raising kids—it can also be a great opportunity to connect with friends, start new hobbies, and maybe even explore areas in your town that your significant other isn’t particularly interested in. Signing up for local clubs, joining a gym or fitness studio, and volunteering with an organization close to your heart are all great ways to meet new friends and pass your time alone in a meaningful way.
Scheduling plans is (virtually) impossible
The road waits for nothing—not even Christmas. Depending on what your loved one is hauling, you may not know what route they’ll be on from one week to the next, making it nearly impossible to schedule things ahead of time. That concert you both want to see? He might not be around for it. Your child’s parent-teacher conferences? She might not be in town to join you.
Whatever your trucker’s circumstances, you’ll likely spend at least a few holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other meaningful dates without them. While you’ll miss seeing their face at family get-togethers, you certainly can choose to celebrate them again when your loved one returns. Think of it as an opportunity to eat double the cake and have double the fun!
Communication Is hard
Being on the same page with your significant other is often hard enough when you’re sitting in the same room, much less when you’re in different states or even time zones. From creating a budget to coordinating childcare, every family decision usually requires input from both parties—which is virtually impossible when one of you is on the road. Mixed messages and crossed wires can lead to fraught conversations and high emotions. And what happens if there’s an emergency and you can’t reach your partner in time?
This is where patience and understanding become crucial. Establishing a routine for everyday updates and small talk can be helpful to ensure you’re both informed of the family’s status. Having a clear plan for communicating emergencies is also critical, whether that’s calling a certain emergency number or designating another family member as a proxy. Technology does wonders for bridging the distance, too—video chat apps like Skype and FaceTime help you feel like you’re both in the same room when you’re actually miles away.
The worry is real
As mentioned earlier, establishing a communication routine can be helpful in alleviating some of this stress. Knowing your trucker’s route and staying aware of the road conditions while they’re gone can also help you stop playing the game of “What if…?”
The kids feel it, too
For trucking families, the hardest part of the road is missing precious time with your children. Often, little ones don’t understand why their parent is frequently gone, and the emotional toll of missing them extends throughout the whole household. The job of functioning as both parents falls to the spouse or partner at home, which is double the pressure and stress—especially if you have more than one child to care for.
Hopefully, you can call on family and friends to arrange playdates, school pickups, meals, and other gestures of assistance and goodwill that alleviates some of the burden of being a temporary single parent. You can also save some of your kids’ favorite things to do, cook, see, etc. for when your loved one is home—giving them (and you!) something to look forward to.
Income can go scarce
Though truck driving can be extremely lucrative, your family may sometimes go through periods where the routes aren’t as plentiful and the paychecks simply aren’t rolling in as much as before. This is obviously a massive issue when there’s a mortgage to pay, groceries to buy, and school supplies to replenish.
Keeping to a strict budget when income is more reliable can help offset the leaner times. It can be easy to want to treat yourself a little more when the piggy bank is a little fuller, but it’s important to have balance in thriving along with being thrifty. Creating a “rainy day” fund specifically for off-season funding can go a long way toward ensuring your family’s health and happiness until the next batch of well-paying routes come along.
You become more independent
Often, we rely on our partners for things simply because we can—not because we actually need their help (though it’s always appreciated!). When your loved one is a trucker, however, you don’t have the luxury of someone else picking up half of the slack.
What you’re left with, then, is an opportunity to discover a different level of independence in your day-to-day life. From things both small (taking yourself to a movie, fixing a broken pipe, mowing the lawn) and large (making medical decisions for your family, adopting a pet—surprise!), you’ll find you’re more and more comfortable being the ultimate do-er and decider when your trucker is away.