Flying VFR in IFR Conditions
I’m always buying random books on marriage when I run across them. I do this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I am always looking for motivational encouragement for you in your walks through aviation marriage. Secondly, I eventually plan to have a resource page for you to visit, and the more books and resources I have personally scoured, the more insight I will have to offer you. And last but not least, I hope to have some cool giveaways in the near future!
I currently have a pile of them at my bedside that I have either started to skim through…or plan to. You know, when the chaos ‘calms’ down. I know, I know. Insert rolls of maniacal laughter. It’s a pipe dream, but it’s my pipe and I’m holding onto it with white-knuckled tenacity. Because sometimes, a lot of times, in the pilot wife life, tenacity is the only thing that we have to hold onto!
So anyway, the other day I picked up one of those books looking for some inspiration. Then another. And then yet another. And let me tell you what I realized–
Those books were all warm and fuzzy and even had some pretty good ideas here and there… for a normal marriage. But aviation marriages are anything but normal!
“No matter how frustrated you got at each other during the day, always fall asleep touching toes.” Yeah, real cute. Except the toes I’m married to are a thousand miles away on any given night.
“If you want to have a great marriage, always kiss each other good morning and good night.” Mmmm hmmm, okay. Do smoochy emojis count? Because that’s as close to a kiss as we’re coming for the next four days.
“It is imperative that you go on a date at least once a month.” Awwww, so sweet. Except my pilot has been home a cumulative total of four days this past month and the last thing in the entire world he wants is yet another restaurant meal when he finally makes it home.
And on, and on, and on. It was almost discouraging!
I started to wonder if there was even a remote chance for pilot marriages to survive. The traditional love and forever cards are obviously stacked against us. If we can’t touch toes every night and kiss every morning, are we condemned to marital misery? Are all pilot families doomed to fail at this thing called marriage?
As I read, I began to realize something–getting advice about pilot marriages from someone that has no experience with the aviation life is a little like trying to fly VFR in IFR conditions. You can try, and occasionally you may see a patch of blue sky and a bit of smooth flying, but more often than not you’ll be in for a very bumpy ride with a high potential for a crash landing. You’re basically flying blind!
And of course it can be completely and utterly discouraging because the advice, while certainly woven with threads of useful truth and worth a ponder, doesn’t take into account the nuances of aviation life and often is unfeasible at the best and laughable at the worst when applied to our unique circumstances.
It’s kind of like trying to use a road map of Houston, PA, to navigate the city of Houston, TX. Sure it’s a great map created by a great source. Sure it’s got ‘Houston’ stamped nice and big on the front. Sure it can help you get through a Houston, but just not the Houston you are in! The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with the road map, it’s just not the one you need for your circumstance.
It’s not so different with the sources we are using to guide our marriages—we need to carefully choose the right map for the right city!
Listen to me, aviation families! Do not be discouraged. You are not failing. There is indescribable beauty and hope for your marriages. You just need to stop getting your coordinates from people who have never been where you are going!
Instead of feeling discouraged by the things we cannot undertake in our marriages, we have to think outside the fuselage and discover new and innovative ways to fuel our pilot marriages within the unique vectors that we have been afforded.
So here’s the thing. Our marriages simply are not and never will be ‘traditional.’ Getting over it, moving on. There will be some weeks, months, and even years when we will spend more time apart than together, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have amazing marriages. You can’t touch toes every single night, but you can touch hearts. You can’t kiss each other good morning every day, but you can send a little love text each morning. You might not want to go on a date every month, but you can send the kids away for a night and have some mind-blowing…ummm…well, fun when he comes home.
Look, we are all at different stages of our lives and marriages. Some of you are cruising at comfortable altitudes right now and things are simply smooth flying. Tailwinds, friends! Keep your eyes on the horizon!
However, others of you are experiencing some bone-rattling turbulence. Listen to me—that’s okay! We all go through seasons. All. Everyone of us. Instead of strapping on the parachute and jumping craft, I encourage you, instead, to buckle your seat belts, grab a hold of the yoke, set your jaw, and proclaim that this ship isn’t going down without one heck of a fight.
Now turn on those instruments and let’s fly this baby!
I love you, friends. Marriage in the ‘traditional’ sense isn’t easy. Marriage in the aviation sense is even less so. I won’t tell you that there won’t be turbulent patches or storms to navigate your way through, but I will tell you that if you work on figuring this thing out, love each other like crazy, utilize the right map, and hang on for the ride it’s completely and totally worth it.
~Angelia (A Fellow Pilot Wife)