When I met my husband, he was getting out of the military to pursue a job with the airlines.
Our first date went a little something like this:
Him: “I’m not staying here.”
Me: “I’m not leaving here.”
A few years later, he got his airline job.
I traveled with our three-year-old and newborn to the city where he was training – the same city where he would ultimately be based – to visit him that Thanksgiving, looking around at apartments and neighborhoods to call our own.
Still, we stayed – in my hometown, near my family.
It has been a great stressor in our marriage. Not the support we get from having grandparents around to help, nor our beautiful home in a community made for raising children – no, the dreaded “commute.”
Commuting is a weekly point of contention in our lives. Before he ever starts working, my husband drives to our small-town airport, waits to find out if he gets a seat on an overcrowded, often delayed plane, and sits in an uncomfortable, germ-laden seat for two hours. Upon arriving, he waits up to five or six more before beginning his actual workday. (On the way home he sometimes spends longer wandering the airport before boarding a flight back to us. On the bright side, he’s gotten a lot of steps in that terminal.)
Admittedly, I haven’t had an awful lot of sympathy for him, because I’m home raising the children, who were, at the start of this journey – toddling around and freshly born. (We’ve since added a third to the mix, who is not yet three himself.)
The truth is, I don’t actually know what it would be like if we moved. Change is a scary thing, especially when you’re raising your kids where you were once a kid yourself, and your parents are there when your husband is not, and you’ve made friends you don’t want to leave behind.
But commuting inevitably leads to complaining, which can be heavy on a young family, especially when you’re getting enough of that from the little people you created together.
He complains about not living where his job is; I complain about not living where I am comfortable.
Just as every profession has its ups and downs, every marriage has its “One Big Thing.” Other people may fight about money, sex, or free time. We fight about location. Being a bus-driver-in-the-sky isn’t as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be. If in doubt, just watch every airline pilot’s favorite stop-motion LEGO video, “Living the Dream.”
Sure, we have travel benefits, but as a family of five in a world where algorithms fill seats to capacity, we’d be lucky to get very far. (See: the first and only time we tried flying standby, which went surprisingly well.)
Pilots are pretty spoiled – they talk of too many days worked for too little pay, labor rules, union agreements, new contracts and old captains. But then again, I’m kind of spoiled, too. Getting to live here, in the place I love, surrounded with support while I raise my babies. We truly are “living the dream.”
So … we’ve come to a compromise. If, after 10 years together in this place we call home, the commute is still a conflict in our lives, we will pack up and give change a chance.
(I just have to find a suitcase big enough for my Mom and Dad.)
What’s your “One Big Thing”? Where are some spaces in your life that could use a little compromise?