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 an admitted book hoarder. My loving husband designed me a beautiful built-in bookshelf that sits adjacent to my office. It is filled to the brim with books I’ve read, books I want to read, and books I plan to give away to others. And yes, in case you are wondering, words of affirmation is definitely my Love Language

Secondly, I am always looking for motivational encouragement for you in your walks through aviation marriage. The more books and resources I scour, the more insight I have to offer you. They also serve as great writing prompts if I’m running dry (because the 231 partially written blogs I have in my TPWL archive couldn’t possibly be enough!)

Pilot Wife Attributes Classic Tee, White Print

I currently have a pile of these books 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!

Reading through these books, it’s pretty easy to wonder if there’s even the remotest chance that our aviation marriages can survive. The traditional love-and-forever cards are obviously stacked heavily against us. If we can’t touch toes every night and kiss every morning, are we condemned to marital misery? Are all aviators and their spouses doomed to fail at this thing called marriage?

As I read, I began to realize something–getting advice about aviation marriage from someone who has no experience with this unique lifestyle is a little like trying to fly VFR in IFR conditions. You can try, and occasionally you may even 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 high potential for a crash landing. You’re basically flying blind!

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And of course it can be completely and utterly discouraging! The typical advice, while certainly woven with threads of underlying truth that are worth a ponder, doesn’t take into account the nuances of aviation life. It is often, therefore, unfeasible at best and laughable at 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 Houston, but just not the Houston you happen to be in! The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with the road map, it’s just not the one you need for your circumstance.

Both Houstons; two completely different maps!

It’s not so different from the resources we are using to guide our marriages—we need to carefully choose the right map for the right city…and marriage!

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 directions from people who have never been where you are going! No wonder so many of us end up lost.

Instead of feeling discouraged by the ‘normal’ things we cannot undertake in our marriages, we have to think outside the fuselage and discover new and innovative ways to fuel our aviation marriages within the unique vectors that we have been afforded.

Roger, roger?

Stop getting your directions from people who have never been where you are going! Click To Tweet

Our marriages quite 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. Blue skies, my friends! Keep your eyes on the horizon and enjoy the ride

Whiskey Tango Foxtrotting my way through the Pilot Wife Life 22oz tumbler

However, others of you are experiencing some bone-rattling turbulence. Listen to me—that’s okay! We all go through those hard seasons. All. Every single one of us. Instead of strapping on the parachute and jumping out, I encourage you instead to buckle your 5-point harness, grab 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 will never be turbulent patches or difficult 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)

8 thoughts on “Flying VFR in IFR Conditions”

  1. While those books offer great advice for normal marriages, your reality has echos of military wife experiences, as so many Ukraine wives there and in Poland experience now. While your spouse is not gone for months (or years) and not in immediate danger, there are echoes of military separation heartaches. Please dip your toe into their life stories for two reasons. First, to learn their coping strategies with enforced separation and stress. Second, it makes one count your blessings that no one’s shooting at him. Hey, anything to be thankful for is helpful in finding joy within what sometimes seems bleak, but upon reflection, is beautiful.

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