Organising all the day to day activities for a family is challenging enough. Add in the unpredictability and regular absences that being married to a pilot brings and you really have your work cut out for you. We've done some research and found some of the best. family organising apps to help you stay organised and make sure your pilot knows what's going on as well.
This post contains affiliate links which mean we receive a small commission if you purchase a product. Thank you for your support which helps us to continue to provide support for you.
If you're looking for an app to help the whole family stay on top of everything, Cozi is your friend.
Cozi has a shared, colour coded calendar, to do list, meal planner and shopping list.
You can save recipes you love and drag them into your meal planner (happy days!!) or choose from pre loaded recipes on the app. You can even include links to the recipe website.
You can journal little things that happen through the day or week and share them with others who aren't part of your Cozi family or just have them available so your pilot can see them when he logs in at the end of a shift.
Cozi is available on iPhone and iPad, Android and Windows 8.1 and both free and paid versions available
Gold (paid) version includes: contacts and birthday lists and no ads.
Keeping up with the housework isn't always easy when there's no routine in your life. Save yourself some chaos on "come home" day with Tody.
This app helps you keep track of housework and when it's due (or well overdue!!). You can plan share with your pilot however it costs extra (.37c/month). You can add additional users in the app itself, so if you have an iPad that's usually at home, maybe it's cheaper to run the joint tasks on that.
You can see which areas and tasks are most in need of attention and have the app send reminders when something is due. It's not always obvious when some household tasks have been attended to so this is one way for you and your pilot to easily communicate when something has been done (or needs doing).
Plus if your pilot is the competitive type, you can keep track of who's completed more of the allocated tasks which may inspire him to do more to stay on top!
Tody is available here on iPhone and iPad and costs $4.99
Sortly is an organising app designed to help you stay on top of tasks like moving house or organising belongings. It allows you to take photo inventory of all your items and even create QR labels for easy reference.
Sortly also has an integrated checklist to help you plan for moving house and not miss any important tasks.
You can also make a note of items you lend out to others and warranty expiring items (or gift vouchers) and Sortly will send you a reminder about them.
As you can share the account details with others it doesn't matter if you add items to the app when your pilot is working, they will automatically sync on all connected devices.
Currently there are both free and paid versions of Sortly available on iOS and on Web which you can access here. However they are working on an Android app.
So there you have my Top 3 apps to help you stay on top of chaos and communication around the house when you live with a pilot!
For other suggestions to help you plan and stay on top of things when you live with a pilot, you can read Planning Ahead When You're Married To A Pilot.
Watch the video here or read the transcript below.
Erica: I'm here today with Dave Crispin from Regain My Relationship and Dave is a Relationship Coach with 5 years’ experience. But the thing about Dave that I think is really special is that he has focussed a lot of his work on working with couples in Fly In Fly Out relationships which means that one partner is home only some of the time. When I launched Sky Families and Dave heard about it, he actually reached out to me and asked how he could support our members. So Dave and I have been working together over the last couple of months for him to better understand what relationships with a pilot can look like and some of the complications that they might bring. Some of the challenges that we face and we've got together to answer some of the questions from other pilots' wives about how can they best overcome some of the most common challenges we might face in this type of relationship.
So Dave, thank you so much for reaching out to us. I really appreciate it.
Dave: My pleasure
1.23 min - Question 1: Why Does My Husband Act Like He’s Single When He’s On A Trip
Erica: We've got these questions here from everyone so I will ask you the questions and I know that we've spent a bit of time working on the answers, making sure that they relate to the pilot lifestyle. So Dave, one of the common questions that came up is "Why does my husband revert back to his teenage years when he's away on a trip and behave like he's single again?"
Dave: I had to laugh when I heard that question, I must admit. But I think we need to look at the big picture here. Is this normal behaviour Is it the type of behaviour that either one of you carry out when you're back together in your normal domestic situation where both partners are at home? If it's not then there needs to be some questions asked. If it's a new relationship sometimes you're still finding some common ground as to what you can and what you can't do, what the expectations are of one another in the relationship. But more importantly, it's about boundaries. Boundaries are really important in a relationship. Because boundaries actually tell you how far you can go. It's like that little voice on your shoulder that pops up and says "Hey - wait a minute, should I be doing this?" Boundaries actually protect. So boundaries work for both partners. I've heard before..."I thought you wouldn't mind if I went to the strip club". "Well no, no, that's not normal behaviour I don't expect that of you" "Well we didn't discuss that, I thought that'd be ok" "I went out with the girls while you were away I actually stayed out too late" "Well I didn't expect you to do that...how about we talk about that?"
So a lot of these things, when I work with couples in a new relationship we talk about expectations, agreements, standards and boundaries. Because when you can set a healthy boundary, that recognises that I value myself. When we don't value ourselves and we allow the other partner to do as they please, maybe that's fine when they were single. Now we're in a relationship. We're in a committed relationship and there are certain standards which I think we need to adhere to because when this happens and we get into a conflict situation, it could last for days. The last thing that I want is when my partner goes away that he's got that argument or conflict situation still at the back of his mind, or her mind, which is very unhelpful or unhealthy. Sometimes when we can't reach one another for days on end, the thing can just grow and build and we tend to sit with these things and ruminate and then we start to form resentment and that can play out in many ways.
So setting boundaries is really healthy. I've come up with a couple of items which I think may be helpful or guidelines about setting healthy boundaries. Some guidelines for setting good boundaries in a relationship include: having discussions rather than telling or demanding. Remember that you can set a boundary but you can't just spring it on someone. You can't think "I'm going to set that boundary" and not tell your partner because that doesn't work. So you've got to have a discussion. You've got to talk about this and the time to have this discussion is not when you're in the middle of a conflict situation. You've got to have that beforehand. So when you're sitting down, maybe having dinner and you're having friendly communication. Making sure they're reasonable and not unreasonable. You can't confine someone if they're away. If your wife or husband is away, you can't expect them to stay in for the four or five or six days or ever how long that is, when your partner's not there. So it's got to be reasonable. Both have to interact in the social groups that they're in or with the rest of the crew. You've got to be reasonable. So setting reasonable boundaries is healthy. Don't use them to control your partner. That's really important. You can use boundaries that can be healthy as I mentioned earlier. When you say "You can't do this and you can't do that" it's not healthy and that obviously leads into conflict and it's seen as either manipulation or a way of controlling. It's really important to set healthy boundaries once again. If they're too restrictive or unworkable, have the courage to change them. It takes a far stronger person to stand up and say "Hey, I realise I was wrong there, that was a bit too harsh, let's just back off. How can we work around that?" Make it collaborative. Sit down and discuss "ok, I realise that was probably a bit too harsh, I'm willing to give there" and that's what relationships are about. It's about being able to come together and "What's negotiable here? How can we reach some common ground so that it's workable for both of us?" and there has to be consequences. If you set a boundary and your partner keeps stepping over that boundary then it's not really a boundary. It's just a wish or a dream. "I wish I should have said that. I wish we could put this in place or I put that boundary in place and it's been stepped over. Okay, I'll let that go this time." And as you know, if you let it go once then you let it go a second time and then before you know where you are it's just something which has no consequences. There's no significance there. And you feel aggrieved, you feel hurt once again, we go down that same track of building up that resentment, that hurt and then that plays out in the relationship.So that's a few guidelines there about setting some healthy boundaries and there will be a list available, which I can put together and give to Erica, which is a bit more comprehensive than that and it goes into detail a little bit more about setting healthy boundaries.
Now communication is one of the other pieces which is really a crucial part of really any relationship. Even more so where you have either a pilot away or the wife at home. The communication between the two is so important. What needs to be worked out or understood, is that there will be times when you can't communicate and if you put something in place prior to that happening, there won't be that tension, or that bad feeling when you can't get in touch with one another. Skype, using emails, What's App. There are many, many types of communication methods or channels we can use today. And one of the important things as well is that if the pilot is working in another country, it's important to know the time difference. Because the last thing you want is to ring up at 2 in the morning when you've got something important to say and it's maybe 8 or 9 o'clock at night where you are and then you get someone grumpy on the other end of the phone which is totally understandable if they've just had a hard day or they've just come in and then they need some of that all important sleep and it's 2 in the morning and you're excited, you want to tell them about some good event or something that happened to one the kids at school and then you get a gruff person on the other end of the phone because they've just woken up after a hard day. So it's important to try and get that timing right and in that instance, an email or a text message may do. Events - make sure you use your calendars. Write those special events down so that you do get the phone call or the message coming through to say "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Anniversary" and I must admit I have to write anniversaries down in my calendar because I forget them as well but they're so important. Those type of things are really important to keep that connection.
Relationships need work, no question. It's not something which you can just "yep, I'm in a relationship, we're committed to one another" and just leave it at that. Work on your relationship, feed energy into the relationship and I'm sure that it will be the relationship that you want.
Erica: Thanks so much for that Dave, there were some things in there that really resonated with me, I know the time zone difference, I've definitely made the mistake of waking my pilot up sometimes and I don't get a good result from him. It's great that you've given us some of those suggestions and we can put that in the description of the video and we've got a few online calendar apps and stuff as well and we can put that in the description as well so that people can access them.
Dave: Ok, sounds good.
Erica: I think there's some great advice there at setting those boundaries and really communicating with each other.
Part 2: Reverting From Pilot Mode to Husband/Dad Mode
Erica: So one of the other questions that came up a lot is that when a partner is working as a pilot, he often gets treated like a King all day. Especially if he's the Captain, what he says, goes. And so some wives have found that when their partner gets home, he may have trouble reverting from that Captain status, back to being an equal partner, a husband and a Dad. Have you got any suggestions for how they might be able to find that balance a little bit better in their relationship?
Dave: I work with a lot of CEOs of big corporations and people that we could say have a high status or powerful jobs. And whether you're a pilot of an A380 with 500 plus passengers, a lot of responsibility or whether you're someone that is in charge of a large global corporation, that's great while you're at work and the responsibility can be quite heavy on someone's shoulders. But when you get home into normal domestic life; family life; if you wear that same hat, quite often it can cause problems. Now, depending on what type of relationship you have and I've learnt a long time ago that there is no "normal" relationship. If your relationship is based on equality, and I'd say a good portion of them are, then you've got to work out how can I take the hat off of a pilot, a Captain, and then transition back into normal life as a husband or a wife? How can I put my domestic hat on?
There are a number of ways which I've heard of that have worked quite well during my time working with this type of relationship. One of the areas that I've worked with quite a bit with CEOs is that they've often referred to the way that they transition from coming home to leaving work, is using an analogy of a bridge. That when they leave work, there's a period of time when they start to unwind and as they go through their journey, they liken it to the starting to cross a bridge and on one side of the bridge represents work and the further they go across the bridge, they tend to leave work behind them and then just before they're crossing onto the other side of the bridge, they get more into family life. They go through a psychological process of leaving work behind and when they cross to the other side they're fully into the psyche of family life and they start to think about what's going on. What have I got to do when I get home? That type of thing. So that's one way of actually dealing with that thinking psychologically about going through that process of leaving work behind, going over the bridge and then getting into family life.
One way that you could help unwind is to journal. When you get into your car after you've finished a long stint away, is to open up a diary or journal and just debrief yourself. So when you debrief, it's like a catharsis. You're just letting go of all the feelings, the emotions the challenges that you've had while you've been away. It's a good way of writing them down to actually release that. Otherwise you're driving home and you've still got all this going on in your mind and by the time you get home you've probably still got some of that there. That residual aftereffect of the challenges that you faced while you've been away. So when you do touch down, if you spend 5 or 10 minutes to actually journal, to write that down and then just let that go. Writing it down, the physical process of actually doing that helps in relieving some of that stress, that pressure and the challenges.
Another way which I heard, was to change out of your uniform and change into civilian clothes, into your civvies. So it's a physical action once again. Maybe you've got to change your clothes when you come off the plane and you nip into the toilet like Superman does and you get changed in the cubicle or when you get into your car, get changed. Once again, it's that psychological process of letting go and you're actually assuming a new role. It's a good way which I've mentioned before to some other people that they tend to adopt and they felt that that was quite a good way of actually releasing, letting go and adopting a character or a position more in line with family life.
Another way was to pick a halfway point between your journey. Very similar to using the bridge, when you realise you're coming up to the halfway point. Say your journey for argument sake's 100km, when you know you're coming up to 50km then you've got to release. You've got to let the challenges, those incidents that have come up or some of that pent-up anxiety that you've had around different issues. You've got to let that go and know that as soon as you reach that 50km or that 50 mile point, that's it. Now I start to wind down and I get involved, I start thinking about home, I start thinking about what we're going to do when we get together. Time spent with my family. That's where you should start to really engage in your family again. By the time you get home, the time you pull up on that driveway work has been left behind, nearly a hundred kilometres ago and now you're fully engaged and involved in family life.
It may be ok to sort of bring up with your partner if they mention "how did it go?" Yep, give them a bit of a brief rundown a brief summary or if there's some really important issues that they feel they need to share. That's important in a relationship. Being able to turn to your partner and just let them in. Because it doesn't do to keep that anxiety or those events that have come up around something or which may be coming up. It doesn't do to hold that in because that can manifest in different ways. Having a partner there that you can share and actually let them in is a big part of what a relationship is all about.
I mentioned equality in a relationship before. And that may not be your model, it may be that there is, that you in your relationship for cultural reasons, have a different type of relationship. So it's whatever works for you. There's no hard and fast rules in relationships. It's really about your model and what you need to do to help you get through these types of scenarios that you're faced with.
Erica: Dave, I think there was some really great suggestions in there. Some of the real physical things that people can do. You know, I agree, it can be hard to leave behind 4, 5 days, 2 weeks’ worth of work and I think having something more tangible will hopefully be helpful. Not everybody might have a 100km commute, even if it's a 10km commute and you know that at the 5km mark, that's where you've got to leave that stuff behind. I love that idea of having some real structures in place to help them let go but I also love that you said, you can still talk to your partner about what's happening at work. It's about leaving the emotions behind that if you can. Because I know my pilot and I, we love talking about some of the things that happen at work. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it might have been stressful but that is part of what we use to connect but if he can leave that, attitude, sometimes maybe and the emotion and the stress behind and get into that mindset of coming home to you and the kids. I actually notice that after time away, he almost finds it harder to come home to the kids. And you'd think after a break that he would find it easier, but I've realised he's gotten used to having some quiet time and some space and he comes home and is almost not in that mindset yet. So I'm hoping that maybe some of these solutions will help him to feel a little bit more at ease with the over-attention that you get from children when you come home.
Dave: yeah, yeah
Erica: So yeah, I love some of those. Definitely be putting some of those into practice.
Part 3: Seeing the Other Side
Erica: Okay so another question, which I guess in some ways, we've got the pilots being treated like kings while they're away and then sometimes what also happens is they get home and their partners feel like the pilot maybe doesn't acknowledge how much work they have to do at home. Some wives are suggesting maybe their husbands think they spend all day drinking coffee and going out for lunch dates with their girlfriends, watching movies. When in actual fact they're working quite hard to keep the household running, keep the kids alive and keep everything ticking over on the home front.
So is there a way without getting into an argument about it hopefully, that partners can help their pilot to understand maybe just how much they do have to do at home and how hard they are working to keep everything running smoothly while the pilot's working?
Dave: Absolutely, I think it basically boils down to once again about communication, about acknowledging actually what both do. I mentioned that earlier on there is a lot of responsibility in what the pilot does but there's also an equal amount of responsibility on what the partner does at home. When the pilot finishes his shift, he's able to relax and spend some time with the rest of the crew. Maybe relaxing or doing some recreation or doing something else. Whereas the person or the partner that's left at home basically it's a 24-hour job. If they have got a family i.e. kids then you've got to be there: school pickups, organise meals and also the running of the house, the bills to be paid and various other things. So there is a lot there that needs to be recognised. Putting out fires - not literally, but emergencies that come up. There's lots of things there that need to be recognised and acknowledged. Because I find that often what happens is that frustration and that hurt can build up and then when it starts taking hold of the relationship or that partner that feels aggrieved that they haven't been acknowledged or recognised for the effort that they put in then that's when that resentment builds up. And resentment leads to contempt and when you have contempt in a relationship, contempt is one of the four predictors of divorce alongside defensiveness, stonewalling and criticism. So with contempt there, that is one of the nails in the relationship coffin. That needs to be talked about, it needs to be aired so it doesn't build up.
A lot of times when one partner gets overlooked for a period of time, that's when these things start to unravel. And when we come together initially in our relationship, we have a lot of understanding, there's a lot of tolerance in the relationship and when I talk with young couples when they're starting out in the relationship you talk about things - what's going to happen when you come into conflict. "We won't fight, we won't argue. We love one another" And that's fine and that's in that initial, the honeymoon period, what's referred to as the honeymoon period. There's a lot of feel good chemicals that are going on with regards to that initial phase. It's almost like an infatuation or an obsession period and we can't do any wrong. You may stay around one another's houses intermittently, maybe toothpaste spots left on the mirror or wet towels left on the floor and they're picked up or it's sort of laughed off and that's cute, these cute little things that they do but the longer we get into a relationship they cease to be cute. They're more annoyances. So these are things once again that we have to talk about. And when we get into a relationship, after we've gone out of the me and you phase which is where relationships start - either I and you and me and you, we transition and we transition into a "we" or an "us". That's where we come together and we have a common cause which is to nurture that relationship. Because relationships - there's 3 elements to a relationship and that's you, your partner and the relationship. People often say to me "is it ok if I go out and do my own thing while my partner's away? Can I still carry on and go down to the gym or go out with my friends?" and I say to them, you really need to discuss that with your husband or your wife whoever the pilot may be and talk about what's acceptable, but you definitely need your own energy. If you haven't got your own energy, then often you become flat. You tend to look inwardly and think what have I got going for me? Am I just a person that stays at home and cooks and cleans? And that can happen in any domestic relationship.
These things need to be aired, they need to be talked about, because quite often what I find is that "we" that "us" that team environment can be quite challenged when you have a partner that's away for long periods of time. So it's a question what your relationship's about.
So when you have those opportunities to come together, build that bond and that strength, that's what sees you through that time. Because when it starts to fracture and you start to lead parallel lives, that's when the "we" becomes you and me again. And if you're not careful, it becomes you versus me. So it's knowing what you can do to acknowledge one another so that you can connect and still maintain that bond. Because if your marriage isn't moving forward or your relationship isn't moving forward, it's standing still. And if it stands still it stagnates.
You need to feed into your relationship, give it some energy, give it some life, that'll flow into you, you'll be a lot more understanding and a stronger connection.
Erica: Thanks again Dave, you've got great tips and I think it's going to be important for not just the wives to listen to this but the pilots to listen to this advice as well because it's so hard for one person to make the changes, it really needs to be both of them. So I'm hoping that some of what you're saying is going to get through to both parties and hopefully start to make those changes.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely, because connection in a relationship is so important, because when the relationship becomes disconnected and fractures start to appear. That's when I often hear people say "it's as if we're flatmates. We're living under the same roof but it's not as if we're connected" and that's when problems start, when you get that disconnection. So feeding into the relationship, feeding your energy into the marriage or the relationship is so important.
Erica: Yeah, I think even worse that the flatmates is that contempt. The versing each other, that's tough.
Part 4: Dealing With Issues While Your Pilot Is Away
Erica: Dave, it is a well-known fact that when the pilot is away, everything will go wrong at home and I know that on more than one occasion I've heard pilots' partners complain that they've done what they can to fix a problem and then maybe when their pilot gets home they're not happy with the way it's been done or they're concerned about the amount of money that's been spent, but the issue for the partner at home is, they feel it was something that needed to be solved then and there.
So what are some ways that partners can come to an understanding about how they can overcome these little issues or big issues sometimes that come up, without it turning into an argument after the event?
Dave: I've noticed that in general in relationships today, the stereotypical - husband goes out to work and the wife stays home and looks after the kids and does the cooking and the cleaning - for some relationships, that may still work and all well and good if that's your ideal relationship. Relationships today, there are so many different dynamics in relationships and we all take on various roles. We have a lot of house husbands that stay home and do domestic duties and domestic chores and good on them. Just the same equally as females. There are no clear cut roles today.
We're told a lot today to question, to be more independent and that's quite relevant in this type of scenario that we're talking about now, is that the person that's left at home while the other partner's away has to maybe have 2 hats on - the female and the male. And some of the traditional roles or tasks with regards to changing a spare tyre or unblocking a drain or a sink or fixing up the hot water system when those things start to malfunction. There needs to be a lot of understanding with regards to the roles that we often adopt and if our partner has to step up and take over those roles.
I can't think of anything worse that when you've mastered something that was quite challenging, whether it's regards to changing a tap washer which is something that's come up fairly recently. It was actually the wife that was at home that managed to figure out how to turn off the mains, to go to one of the local stores, buy some washers, actually go home and change a washer and she was so proud of herself to do that and good on her for doing that. The thing was that when her husband came home and sae that the tap was still dripping and, forgive the pun but, poured cold water on her efforts. That's like a huge slap in the face.
It's really important to recognise the efforts that go on while the other partner that may have traditionally carried that task or that role out. There needs to be a great deal of understanding there and not be so dismissive of the efforts that have been carried out while the other partner's at home.
A couple of good tools which I know Erica has on her website, on the Sky Families website. One I think is called a resource list which is a template where you can put emergency contact numbers in and I think that the other one which I've heard of is called a "What If" list. Basically it is just that. What if the hot water system goes, what if I get locked out of the car, what if I get locked out of the house. There's a sequence that you can put in place of how to carry that out. For example: what if we've got no hot water? One of the first things you can write in - check the pilot light on the boiler, if that doesn't work, check that the gas hasn't been turned off or disconnected and go through these various steps. They may be things that you take for granted that when your partner's home, but when you're faced with these challenges yourself, especially in a new situation with regards to a relationship or this is a new job it's a lot easier to actually think about these things before they actually come up and then you get a frantic phone call trying to get in touch with the pilot that's away. How can I fix this? How can I fix that?
So if you talk about these things and pre-empt some situations that may come up it's going to be a lot easier and far less challenging and stressful. The resource list is a list about emergency contact numbers, things you can put in place if something does happen. If there are emergency numbers which you need to ring. It could be something like an emergency plumber. I mentioned earlier emergency electrician and you can even go to the point where you find out what their fees are when you call them out and sometimes this does lead to arguments. "Why did you call this plumber? He's the most expensive plumber or this electrician is the most expensive electrician" Even put a ceiling on their limit that you agree that you can both spend before you get 2 or 3 quotes.
So a lot of these type of situations are best dealt with before they happen. So the resource list and the what if list are 2 important tools.
But it still boils down to understanding, what your idea, whenever you feel there are traditional roles you feel you need to do and they often go down to our strengths, our capabilities in the relationship. Understanding your strengths, understanding your partner's strengths are crucial, but it's also crucial to acknowledge your partner and recognise what they've actually gone through to overcome the challenges that they've been faced with while the other partner's not there.
Erica: I love how you talk about, you don't want to stereotype gender roles and I agree that there are so many women that are really capable but I know that personally I have jobs that I prefer my pilot to do and there are some that when he has been away I've ended up in a pickle and that was kind of how I came up with those suggestions. I love how we're on the same page with that, planning ahead before the crisis happens, I think that's good. So we'll put the links to those things in the description of the video as well for people.
Dave: Ok, sounds good.
Part 5: Dealing With Anxiety and For More Support
Erica: Dave, one of the other questions that cropped up on more than one occasion when I asked the pilots' wives what sort of questions they'd like to have answered, some of them find they get a real sense of anxiety that starts to build up before their pilot goes away, sometimes that might stay while he's away, or it may ease but then unfortunately when they know their pilot's coming back again the anxiety actually ramps up as well. I guess there is some inconsistencies and some uncertainties that we need to deal with with this lifestyle and it would be great if you could give a few suggestions and ideas for how people can better manage this rollercoaster of emotions that they need to go through on a really consistent basis with a lot of the rosters.
Dave: Yeah, it's another really relevant and a good question and a lot of the couples that I work with, especially when things start to go astray or they start to go south is anxiety does start to creep in and I'll explain a little bit more later about what anxiety is. Anxiety in a relationship, especially when you've got one partner at home can often build because there's that expectation of "what have achieved while my pilot's been away? Should I have completed this task or does the house look tidy? Have I kept up appearances that I'm supposed to in social circles?" So there can be a lot of anxiety about that. That constant parting and reunion cycle can be quite stressful, it can be quite challenging. One of the areas that I tend to work with is a lot of time when people feel that anxiety, and anxiety is about that fear of the future, whereas depression is more based in the past, anxiety is more of that future focus. It's about the unknown, the fear of the unknown, what's going to happen, how am I going to be, what needs to happen before the pilot comes home?
That's really where anxiety sits. What I try and do is break that down, understand what that anxiety's about and try and work with that. Because also, we feel a lot of stress. We fell stress in everyday life and there's stress around that, anxiety, if that's not checked it can quite often lead into depression and then resentment can build and then resentment can manifest into anger it can materialise in so many different ways and even sexual problems, that's another big issue.
There are many, many challenges that face this type of lifestyle. Once again, talking about them, being able to openly communicate with your partner, talk about your feelings, talk about your emotions and what actually goes on for you.
It's not a sign of weakness to actually open up and tell your partner what you're actually feeling while they're away and for your partner to tell you what they're feeling while they're away. Open communication, open dialogue around these issues leads to a deep connection, a far deeper connection than if we put up these barriers that we don't allow our partner in and we're supposed to be this certain way while our partner's away or while we're away. Being able to come together, connect and open up and tell them what you're actually feeling while this is happening will help reduce some of that anxiety. Anxiety per se is not a bad thing. Anxiety has kept us safe throughout the ages. Anxiety goes back to Stone Age times. It stopped us walking into that cave where there was a sabre tooth tiger or another tribe waiting to attack us. So anxiety is there, but it's taken on a different form now. Anxiety comes from a part of our brain called the amygdala and it's the one that controls some natural stress hormones namely cortisol and adrenaline can take over as well. And when we start to live in that moment and we have more and more of that stress coming into our life and that anxiety, having cortisol running through our body for extended periods of time can really take its toll. Not only psychologically but physically as well. So it's a good idea to try and understand about the stress or anxiety that you're under and to try and break it down. A lot of people that I talk with they do struggle with knowing what they should do or shouldn't do. I talked about expectations early on in the piece - what's expected of me while my pilot's away? Knowing or understanding the roles that we're supposed to do or the things that we're supposed to do when our pilot is away can help alleviate that. We are independent, we are individuals and it's ok to have your own life while your partner's away. Because if we don't have our own life, we don't have our own independence to a certain extent, we get tied up in we only recognise who we are when we're in that relationship. we only identify as a wife, part of that relationship. So we forget that we do have our own identity. That's really important. When we recognise that we have got our own identity separate to the relationship, I'm not a complete or a whole person unless I'm in that relationship that's when it leads to problems. Because then we start to questions who we are, what we represent and what value do we see or do we give ourselves? Because when we start to question our value, when we start to question our worth, that's when the problems start and if we can't see the worth or our purpose or meaning and our value, then we can't see that in the relationship or other people. So when you understand what the anxiety's about and you're able to break that down, you're able to talk about that with your partner and recognise who you are and what your purpose is, it's not just someone there that is to serve the relationship or serve your partner or the pilot, that you are an identity on your own, that's when things hopefully will start to move forward and you'll start to build and grow and be that person that you should be. That own individual that is of value, someone that has got a purpose that has got a meaning outside of that marriage or that relationship. And when you recognise that and you can set your own goals, you can set your outcomes and work towards those, that will give you that energy and that feel good feeling that you can flow into the relationship. So it's really important to recognise who you are and also what you stand for.
Erica: Again Dave, I'm so excited by some of the things you've shared with us because I really feel like people are going to benefit from some of the hints and tips you've shared and also just feeling like what we deal with on a regular basis is normal. So many partners of pilots out there are just dealing with the same issues over and over again so it's great to be able to have someone who's really put a lot of thought into ways to try and overcome these issues so I'm really grateful that you've taken this time to help us out, to understand this a little bit better and have some solutions.
Dave: Not a problem. I think that's one thing that often does get lost in the mix is that when I’m at home and my pilot's away, is that what do I do? What am I supposed to do? What's to stop you starting up your own business or going out and getting a part time job? Strive your way. And then you're contributing not just relying on one income coming in and you've got a purpose, you've got meaning in your life. So that's really important.
Erica: Yeah, I agree, it's not for everyone. It's not to say that everyone has to go out and get a job but that might be what someone's missing. Finding those different things, it's really helpful.
Erica: Dave, I want to thank you so much for the time that you've put into preparing for today and the time that you've put in today. I know you've given some great solutions and suggestions that people can implement immediately to try and make some changes in their relationship and make some changes for the better. If people feel like they're needn't a little bit more, if people feel that this is maybe a start, or the tip of the iceberg and they'd like to look for someone else that can help support them a little bit more individually in more of a one on one situation, what would you suggest that people look for in a relationship counsellor or if they're wanting to work with you, is there a way that they can go about doing that?
Dave: I think the most important thing is to be able to relate or connect with the counsellor or the professional that you hopefully engage. So that's really important to feel that connection. You can get in touch with your professional body wherever you are. I would suggest in this area is try and look for someone that has experience with working in this field, especially relationships and if they can transient sort of lifestyle relationships. It's important that they recognise the nuances that go with this type of relationship because otherwise it can be so broad and you don't really connect. So it's a good idea to have a 20 or 30 minute conversation with the professional that you may be intending to engage with so that you can feel that they do understand your needs. That's a really important piece. If you can't connect and you can't relate then it's just not going to work.
I tend to have a good 20 or 30 minute conversation with either the individual or the couple before I even think about whether I can engage with them and vice versa. Because if I don't feel that there's that connection then I don't want to waste their time or their money and obviously they have to feel comfortable with working with me. That's a service that I offer and I've worked with Erica as she's mentioned earlier and we've put something together here to make it quite specific to be tailored towards your needs and that goes with the resources that are on the site which you can look into more.
Erica: I think what you said about connecting with a counsellor or a coach is so critical. I know in my relationship now but also in some relationships in the past we've sought counselling or we've worked with relationship counsellors and they're definitely not all created equal and I've done exactly that, is I've gone for an appointment and felt like it really wasn't working for us, maybe even 2 appointments and so we've actually gone and found someone else. So I definitely want to reiterate if you feel like something's not working for you, it m might not be the counselling, it might be the counsellor. And it doesn't mean that counsellor's not a good counsellor, it just might mean they're not a good fit for you and your relationship. I definitely agree with that.
Look I'd love it if people take you up on the offer to talk with you and maybe get some more advice if they're feeling that they need that. We will definitely put those links in the description of the video below so thank you again Dave so much for your time, I'm really really grateful.
Dave: No worries, thank you.
When I was 25, my partner of 4 1/2 years (James) was killed in a motorcycle accident. There was no warning, no time to prepare and certainly no expectation when he left for work that morning that my life was about to be turned on its head.
Now, just over 15 years since his death, I'd like to share with you some of the lessons I learned and I how believe they help me be a better pilot wife.
When my pilot is away, I miss him. I miss snuggling with him, I miss his presence and help around the house, I miss being able to chat with him easily. But he's still here. I know that at some stage, I can chat to him about our days. I can ask his advice to help me solve a problem. That he will be home for cuddles eventually.
Having experienced the finality that is death, I have incredible gratitude that missing my pilot is only temporary. A fleeting moment that I know will pass and we will again be back in each others arms - even if only for short periods at times.
Sure I get annoyed and frustrated by things. I yell at the kids, I get cranky at my pilot - sometimes for silly things...but I don't let it stay. These little annoyances that crop up in life on a regular basis are just that. Minor blips on the radar that I let pass through as quickly as possible.
This is the man I have chosen to spend my life with and raise a family with. We don't always agree with each other but we love each other so we choose to let the little things (and sometimes even big things) pass us by.
I'm not saying you shouldn't address issues that bother you or upset you. This is not about sweeping everything under the carpet, more about making a choice to deal with it then leave it behind.
We have had counselling at times to help us find balance and compromise and to overcome hurdles we struggled to do alone. And then we moved forward, stronger and happier than before and if we need to, we will do so again.
When something is bothering you, ask yourself is this "small stuff"? Can I let this pass me by and move forward? Seek help if you need it when you feel it's not the small stuff, but ask yourself honestly if your concerns really matter in the bigger picture.
Life is really short. If you're lucky you'll get a good 80+ years out of it. If not, it could be a lot less. Seize every moment you have. I used to be so focussed on the future that I forgot to live in the moment. Funnily enough, James (who lost his Mum when he was only 17) was always the one to say to me "life is short, you never know what's in your future so live for now". How right he was and yet I never fully comprehended his words until I lived it.
I'm not suggesting you completely throw all future planning to the wind, but take a moment to reflect. Are you living in the moment? Can you take a moment out to leaves the dishes in the sink a little longer and snuggle the kids, jump on a flight and surprise your pilot on an overnight, dance in the rain and have a warm shower after?
I'm sure you've heard it before but it's so true. These little moments make the memories of a lifetime. One of my favourite photos and memories of James is of him sitting on the front porch, brushing his daughter's hair while she read him a story. A moment of peace and connectedness in an often busy life.
I know a lot of wives fret when they can't contact their pilot, or the flight does something weird on the flight radar. Please let me save you a lot of stress and worry. The majority of the time, you will be notified if something bad has happened before you've even had time to consider it.
Early in my relationship with James he went missing one night. He rode home from my house and never called me when he arrived as he usually would. I was beside myself with worry. Mum and I called hospitals and police stations trying to find out if something has happened to him. Eventually with no news, I had to assume the best and get some sleep. He called me the next day. He'd stopped at a friend's house, had a few drinks and fallen asleep. I had worked myself into a complete state for no reason.
The morning he died, he left for work as usual. About 20 minutes later I heard sirens. Lots of sirens. I thought nothing of it. About another 20 minutes later, I received a phone call telling me there'd been an accident. I still didn't associate it with James as he'd only just left. His work hadn't called to tell me that he hadn't arrived and there was zero reason for me to think that anything could possibly be wrong.
6 months later, my grandparents were involved in a serious accident. Again the call came out of the blue. The majority of people I speak to who have lost someone suddenly have known well before they had time to worry.
I'm not saying this is the case 100% of the time, but please, for your peace of mind and the peace of your relationship, assume the best when something out of character happens. It is so easy to jump to the worst case scenario then when you finally talk to your pilot, you realise it was all for nothing.
The same thing goes for when my pilot may not call me as expected, or doesn't answer a text straight away when I know he's around. I always assume the best - he's asleep, the phone's on silent, there was a holdup with transport or the accommodation or any number of little things that can go wrong to mess with the best laid plans. I always give him the benefit of the doubt and know that we will talk when we can - that's just how it goes when you're a pilot wife.
I know lots of people are into Gratitude Journalling these days. I have to confess I'm not much of a journaller. However I am grateful every single day. I can find gratitude in the smallest of things.
I am grateful when my kids wake me up at night because they're alive to wake me.
I am grateful when my pilot's away because he has a job that he's worked hard for and that helps support us as a family.
I am grateful when we get bumped off a flight because we even have the opportunity to travel like we do when thousands don't.
I'm not perfect (woah...so far from it!) and I don't always see the positive side straight away, but I do choose to take a step back and look at what good can come of a tough situation. I know things could be better, but they could be so much worse. So I invite you to choose gratitude. Choose happiness. Choose peace.