Many types of creative people end up working away from home – often frequently. But this can seriously disrupt personal relationships. The danger with touring absences is that the partner who is left behind feels neglected or jealous. That’s never a good feeling to come home to.
Put measures in place when touring absences from your partner are coming up
The obvious answer is to put a few things in place before you go so that you partner is better able to cope. It’s well worth thinking about what will make them feel more involved and part of the process, so that there’s no reason for them to feel isolated or left out.
- a) First, you should have included them in your career plans so that they understand where this particular work absence fits in with your strategy. It’s always easier to bear something unpleasant when you know why you’re doing it.
- b) Second, agree on the important dates in their calendar e.g. their office party, your anniversary etc. and be present not just in body but in mind too. They deserve the same support they give you.
- c) Third, both before and during a tour, involve and update your partner so that they know all about the practicalities you’re dealing with. This helps them feel personally invested, and better able to support you through highs and lows, as well as feeling more needed and secure.
How you can both connect during touring absences from your partner
Regular phone calls, Skype calls, emails or even hand written letters from you are lovely to receive, and can make your partner feel as though they’re in your thoughts, despite the exciting distractions of work. It can also give you an opportunity to offload any personal feelings that you’ve been carrying around all day, which are inappropriate to express to your colleagues.
If you are completely cut off for the duration – rare these days, but possible − then writing a letter to your partner in the form of a diary can help you both reconnect if you read it together after you’re home.
Don’t forget to ‘feed’ your relationship while you’re away
If you’re touring and are going to miss your partner’s birthday or your wedding anniversary then do make a special effort to send flowers and a present, or do something special that marks the day. This lets them know that they’re still the most important person in your life.
Try to arrange points in a long tour when your partner can stay overnight with you at your hotel, if that’s practical. It’s good for them to have a date to look forward to when they can catch up with and reconnect with you before you’re off again. Make sure that you put time aside to concentrate on them exclusively, to remind them that even though you’re working, that they’re important, and the one you long to be with. If it’s a long term partner, your colleagues will understand. They’ll all be missing their partners too.
Be interested in what’s going on at home during touring absences from your partner
Life doesn’t stop because you’re on tour, nor is home life any less important, even if you are onstage in front of tens of thousands of fans. Make sure you’re emotionally available to offer support to your partner when practical, even if they just need to ‘vent’ after a hard day. Their issues may be far more mundane in comparison to the drama-filled situations occurring around you, but your home is your anchor. Keeping up with what’s important to your partner is a way of making sure you stay in touch with it. If circumstances are really bad for you on tour, doing this can also be a way of reminding you that the hell you’re in is only temporary, and will end sometime.
Keep your partner feeling secure about your loyalty
If you are around a lot of groupies, then this may be something your partner has fears about. Jealousy, as with anger, has both positive and negative aspects. Just like anger, when you are jealous it can be a sign that the other has broken one of your ‘boundaries’ or rules regarding the way in which you need to be treated to be happy in a relationship. Keep to the agreements you both have around fidelity on tour, and be prepared to keep assuring your partner that you have. It’s important that the jealous partner is free to express their fears (within reason) and that they have your support in quelling them.
How to ease back into home life after touring absences from your partner
I know a lot of amazing stuff happened while you were away, which you’re longing to share. But in the meantime, your partner has been left with the responsibility of keeping your domestic life going – in other words they’ve been left with the hard, unglamorous work. It’s important that you start contributing again as soon as possible. So walk into the house, put your bag down, take your jacket off, and start doing the washing up. Act as if you’ve never been away, or as if you’ve just come back from a mundane day at the office. Your job, however exciting, is actually another world, and not one that’s real to your family, especially your kids. You can share all that exciting stuff with your partner later when they’re well rested and in the mood to hear.
If you want to know more tips and tricks for staying sane in your professional creative work life, you’ll find them in ‘Organizing for Creative People’.