At 2am, the phone rings, startling the couple from their sleep. Mohammad Mubiru picks the call and after a few minutes, jumps out of bed. Such a phone call could mean his family may next see him after five days. It could also mean that by the time he returns, he will be Shs7 million richer. For the last 15 years, Mubiru has made a career out of transporting merchandise all over the country and across borders.

“When we had just got married, it irritated me that he would be home one minute and the next, without warning; be rushing out of the gate,” Gertrude Mubiru says, adding, “It was not until my mother helped me see that the money he made sustained our lifestyle, that I stopped worrying about his frequent movements.”

Mubiru’s family can be classified as middle-class, with a set of trucks, high-end rentals, and plots of undeveloped land – the fruits of Mubiru’s work. Gertrude has never been employed. “I am now used to his absence because I have the children to keep me company, Gertrude says, adding, “If a week goes by without him receiving a phone call from a client, I begin to worry that he might be losing his competitive edge over other transporters.

Of course, I worry about his safety, especially when his job takes him to [Democratic Republic of] Congo and South Sudan. Anything can happen there.”
Because of his frequent travels, Mubiru was not home when any of his four children were born. Neither has he been to their schools.

Communication is key
Jean Nuwagaba, the university counsellor at Kyambogo University, says by the time a woman agrees to get married to a man, she is aware of his occupation. “She should have accepted the type of job he does. She should also appreciate him because his work benefits both of them. However, constant communication and affirmation of your love for each other are key to having a trusting relationship.”
You cannot control your spouse. If he or she is a cheat, nothing will stop them from being unfaithful.

“You have heard of people who travel to work in the same car, but somehow, the spouse finds a way to cheat,” Nuwagaba says, adding, “Besides building a trusting relationship, try to avoid having mistrust because it breeds bad behaviour.

If you constantly affirm to your partner that you do not trust him or her, you are making it easy for them to confirm your suspicions.”

When absence causes damage
Ideally, absence should make the heart grow fonder. But, sadly that does not always happen, especially in Apollo and Agatha’s situation.

They are both children of clergy, are attractive, highly educated, and successful – he is a flight captain with an international airline while she is an executive in a local company.

They met through friends and dated for three years before Agatha got pregnant. Apollo bought a flat in an affluent Kampala suburb and they began living together.

“At first the time we would spend apart made the relationship very exciting,” Agatha says, continuing, “Whenever he got his two-week leave after every three months it felt like a honeymoon. Every minute was precious.”

But with time, Apollo began preferring to spend his leave in Europe claiming he was saving for the baby’s needs. Agatha was promoted at work, which meant she had to work longer hours, travel often, and appear in the press. “He kept questioning where I got the time to appear in the newspapers and on TV and take care of our son.

I assured him I was doing my best. Then, he accused me of having an affair with my boss and sent his sister to spy on me. She assured him that his suspicions were baseless but Apollo became so paranoid that he sneaked into the country unannounced to spy on me.”
He took the baby for a DNA test, which showed they were related.

Next, he complained that Agatha’s lifestyle was too lavish and stopped sending her money. She finally lost patience with him when he sent his sister and her two children to live with her.

“When I stood my ground, he threatened to throw me out,” Agatha says, adding, “One evening, I returned to find my property in the compound. He told me to go to the men I was always hanging out. My brother convinced him to let me take our three-year-old son.”

Later, Agatha learned Apollo’s affections had cooled because he had had a baby with his colleague.

Nuwagaba advises that when mistrust comes into a relationship it is good to be honest with your spouse about your feelings. “However, this conversation should happen early, before the mistrust deepens. Couples should avoid relying on rumours because sometimes they are unfounded and malicious.”

There is no doubt that having a partner who is never at home can pose a significant relational challenge. However, you can make the best of this situation by prioritising your relationship, no matter how difficult your partners’ schedule maybe.

Quick tips

Be open and honest. If you are preparing to embark on a work-related trip, be aware of your partner’s needs ahead of time.

A simple and effective way to figure this out is by taking the love language test together. Based on your significant other’s “love language,” you can determine how to show him/her affection while you are away. Before leaving for the journey, both of you should also address any unresolved conflicts or misunderstandings.

Know the end date. Nothing stretches out time and distance like ambiguity, so make sure to clarify when exactly you will be back home. This way, your significant other will have a specific date on the calendar or hour to look forward to.

Talk to each other regularly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many couples forget to stay connected throughout the day. Maintaining continuous dialogue while away is critical because, otherwise, that “out of sight, out of mind” mentality could become your new reality. To avoid this, agree upon a communication schedule.

Keep your partner in the loop. Although you might be in a different time zone, that is no excuse to fall off your significant other’s grid.

Inform him/her of where you will be staying, what your schedule will entail, and which colleagues you are travelling with. These details provide a sense of comfort, knowing you both are remaining active in one another’s lives.

Call when you say you’re going to. Often, people who travel for business struggle to keep that clichéd: “I’ll call you tonight around 7:30” commitment. Making promises, then failing to deliver fuels underlying tension that eventually escalates into a dispute.

You will feel guilty and your partner will feel neglected, so simply honour your end of the communication bargain. Even set reminders on your phone, and if something work-related prevents you from calling at the appropriated time, send an apologetic text message. He/she will understand and appreciate the heads-up.

Source: The Huffington Post

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com