Photo by Ismail Hamzah on Unsplash
Photo by Ismail Hamzah on Unsplash

“Single” Spouse


My wife is a flight attendant and is gone a lot from home. The problem is when she is home, she goes into what I call “single mode.” So instead of us dealing with issues together, she makes her own decisions, spends a lot of time by herself, and doesn’t make the adjustment of being “wife.” She even bought a car without telling me! When I raise my concerns about it, she just brushes it off—and nothing changes.


You have a valid concern and you are wise to seek counsel. The problem you address is a common occurrence when one or both spouses are “on the road” a lot. It doesn’t matter if one is a flight attendant, a traveling salesman, or in the military. Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. These kinds of situations make it easy for a couple to become “married singles” and drift further and further apart.

The good news is that some of the most loving and mutually satisfying marriages we’ve seen involve couples where one spouse travels a lot. There are healthy ways of being apart that can make coming back together a real joy.

How would you and/or your wife rate your marriage in terms of your love for each other, your commitment to having a great marriage, the amount of good old fun you have together, how satisfied you are with how you spend the limited time you do have together and the amount of time you spend thinking about and praying for each other while you’re are apart?

The main problem is that you and your wife haven’t been intentional about cultivating deep levels of trust and intimacy.

In light of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5, what might it look like for you to prayerfully consider creative ways to “love you wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her?” Are there other healthy Christian couples that you enjoy being with? How much time do you spend prayerfully preparing for the times when she is going to be home? Do you talk with her when she is away? Do you initiate prayer together on the phone?

In these kinds of situations it’s awfully tempting to be so painfully aware of how our spouse could improve that we miss some of the simple things that we could do to make things better. As you choose to do all you can to be a godly husband and find some support and encouragement from other men to help you stay the course, you may be surprised at some of the changes you start to see in her.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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