How to succeed in an Unconventional Marriage in Aviation
The Wild Pilot & the Laid back Banker
Growing up I knew it in my bones that my heart belonged in the clouds. What I also knew at a very young age was I did not want to get married. I had a craving to travel, boys always disappointed, and often found my ambition and wild impulsive behaviors intimidating. Simply put, I was not a typical girl nor was I ever going to be caught dead living in stereotypical societal norms. Fast forward to my young adult years and onto the second biggest move of my career from Michigan to Texas (again, on impulse and knowing NO ONE). After my first jet trip, in my working attire, I walked into Chase Bank to change my address and the most beautiful blue eyes and big white smile popped up from a cubical and stated "welcome to Chase what can I do to you?". Yes you read that right! This was Blaine; he quickly composed himself red-faced and corrected his sentence. before my business was said and done, he so professionally got my number, you know, "for a contact he had that may need pilot", and I scurried out of there for the first time, believing a little bit in the "love at first sight" feeling, I have always scoffed at when I read past that ridiculous notion in books. The next day, all dolled up this time, I marched into that bank again where he was surprised to see me. "Back so soon?" he asked. "I dont know how you boys do it here in the south but when a girl gives you her number, you call her." I replied sternly and secretly joking knowing that was a very stereotypical thought in my mind. From there the story started and we both knew, staring across that mahogany desk, that this was going to be something quite different.
While most of my readers are travelers of some sort, I am going to make this as simple as I can and lay out our relationship like a trip. Lets break down how an unconventional marriage can succeed:
The first part of a successful trip is to have a safe and strong runway to take off on. this is your foundation. and Honesty in a relationship is going to make that runway strong to withhold the heaviest of burdens. Be upfront on WHO you are. for unconventionality to work, the non-negotiables need to be laid out there between the two of you as soon as possible. Things like faith, family, finances and boundaries must be discussed. I needed to make it clear to Blaine, before I went down another road of heartbreak, that I am a big time Christian, that I'm in a male-dominated field, that I'm going to be traveling with dudes most the time, that I need frequent space and independence and I had an unending list of hobbies. He in return clarified to me, that he too is a Christian, and as long as I never made him worry or waiver in monogamy, and respected his love for sports, and communicated with him on the daily, that this is going to work.
Another big piece to this relational aviation puzzle is communication. You aren't going on a trip of any kind if you dont make the calls, schedule the necessities and continuously clarify your needs. As a pilot, if I dont call to get my plane pulled out of the hangar, I'm not going anywhere. As a wife, if I dont communicate with Blaine what my changes in schedule are, he's not going to know if I will or won't be home for dinner/date night/etc. Being gone half of the year requires creativity to stay in sync with each other and to continue to grow your friendship together. Something as simple as checking in via text when I land makes him feel better knowing that I am safe and and he feels thought of while I'm gone. In return, Blaine needs to communitate to me, whether im home or not, that if he has set plans with friends, he needs to clarify that its important for him to not just drop everything for me.
While solo flights are fun, chances are, you are going somewhere with people, whether its another copilot or passengers in the back, maintaining friendships with these people is key to a successful and happy flight. While a friendship with your spouse should be more than the professional ones in the air, its so important to stay friends through this relational process. Blaine and I bond over sharing music, memes, articles and books when im on trips. And when we are home we spill our stories over dominoes, dogs, coffee and Hottub/pool time. We personally surprise each other with a date night as often as possible. If you aren't best friends, then coming together after any amount of time apart is going to be simply boring.
Ever wonder how a 30 year old airplane can still be in service flying around? Maintenance! Those planes go through regulatory maintenance every single year. If you individually dont take care of yourself and maintain your health, both physically and emotionally, your unconventional marriage is going to hit some turbulence. I hit a rough patch myself in 2018. I let work dictate my schedule to an unhealthy degree, I gained weight, I ignored my faith, I drank unhealthily to mask my emotions and all of this severely effected not only Blaines health but arguments began, space was created and a graveyard spiral started. Luckily for us, acknowledging this with each other allowed us to make massive changes and get back into a healthy routine and recover.
The only constant in aviation is change. From departure times, to flight routes, to weather, the fluidity a pilot must master keeps them on their toes and ready for change at any moment. This is key in your relationship, not just with each others scheduling and communication, but at the homestead. Blaine picks up so much slack for me in this area; Even though he has a very full time schedule on the regular, if I have been gone on an extended trip, he still finds time to help with dishes, laundry, meals and other various chores that typically falls on the woman of the house. When I get a string of days home, I return the favor and find myself doing little extras to let him know how much I appreciate him. He is constantly asking me, when im gone, if there's anything extra he can do to make my life easier for when I return. Even without a truly set schedule at our homestead, we both gladly run a tight ship.
Airplanes dont run on dreams. and neither does an unconventional relationship. In fact, One of us is the money maker and the other is the stability. Being incredibly respectful of each other pertaining to our finances keeps both of us feeling equally yoked in our marriage and communication lines open to reach the same financial goals together.
There really is no lady-like demure way to approach this topic; the act of flying is a physical act paired with a mental understanding and together critiquing your craft. Same goes for the bedroom. Blaine is a physical man and its important for us to fulfill this love language to keep both of us feeling loved and wanted whether we are together of separate. Creativity is key when you're gone half the year. Connecting physically when you're together grows you emotionally when you're apart, your relational airplane will have a smooth landing (wink wink).
Not every fly day is going to be smooth. Nor is every day in this unconventional relationship. Turbulence will be experienced, bad landings made, unruly passengers encountered and planes break down usually at the most inopportune time. Give yourself and your spouse grace. Understand that each of you have hard days separately, and both of you will experience disagreements.
Blaine's top Tips to home life sanity with a traveling spouse
- Stay busy, (beyond your job) to indulge in your hobbies when your spouse is away
- Make time to be with friends that dont normally hang out in a "couples scene"
- Work on planning what you want to do together when you're spouse gets back
- Dont do things when your spouse is away that you wouldn't do if they were present
- Work on your own self-care
- Keep an open line of communication
- put forth extra effort to get back on the same page together when your spouse returns
Our odd-marriage survival kit
A Note To My Life Partner
My dearest; Never in a million years would I have dreamed a man like you existed. A man who is so patient with me, someone who supports my crazy notions and cheers me on in my
ever-so-tiring career and hobbies.
Thank you for putting up with my impulsive behavior and constantly picking up slack when I'm spread so thin. I love how much you love our fur babies and I appreciate every tiny detail you so tenderly pay attention to, in our lives together. Cheers to so many more years together. I know it won't always be easy, but I know it will ALWAYS be worth it. You will always be the anchor that keeps my feet on the ground and I will always be the wings that keeps your heart in the clouds.
- Love always,