Seafarer’s Wife: 8 Best Practices To Manage Family and Self When He Is At Sea

Note: Though the article is focused towards seafarer’s wife, the content holds true for husbands of female seafarers as well (Every point may not be helpful, but most of them are). 

It feels a part of you is going away every time he/she sets out to sail. Your heart feels heavy as a rock and pounds as you wave goodbye. With a glitch in your throat and the yearn in your eyes, you wish Bon Voyage to your beloved!

Each one of us- seafarer’s spouse go through this drill when time comes to see him/her off at the airport. The journey post that seems most dreadful; for that moment you feel your world has fallen apart and living through this phase of loneliness is the worst that has befallen upon you.

How does one prepare to stay calm, motivated and upbeat during such times when you feel beleaguered and all the more saddened to think about the days ahead?

seafarer wife
Monument “Sailor’s wife” and cruiser in Novorossiysk, Russia — Photo by ryzhov

Over years seafarer’s spouse have overcome their fears, struggled through the testing times, shouldered their responsibilities successfully and yet emerged as strong individuals enjoying a life of their own despite all the hardships. Let us consider what can be learnt from them:

Stay Positive

It is often advised to stay positive whenever you face challenges or setbacks in life while you tend to find it extremely difficult to be motivated and optimistic about your surroundings. However, making a conscious effort to train your brain to practice the power of positive thinking can come of help. Whenever a negative thought comes to your mind replace it with a positive one. You think you will not be able to do a particular task. Remind yourself of one such incident from the past when you performed a tough task exceptionally well. Always talk positively to your inner self: “I can do it”, “I am strong enough to face this”, “I will try”. With practice, your brain will get conditioned to think positive over a period of time and your outlook will change automatically.

Remember the old adage “This too shall pass”. When you inculcate faith within yourself that your current state is merely temporary, which will pass soon and will end the day you are together again in a few months time; you will automatically feel a spurt of motivation. You will feel the impetus to think about “what next?” That’s when you fill the void space with all the positive thoughts about what you want to do once this phase is over.

Missing someone is a part of loving them, if you are never apart; you’ll never know how strong your love really is. While you always miss your better half and yearn for companionship when he/she is out at sea, it is often the good times, those moments of joy, love and togetherness that you shared with the person that you reminisce. So, smile while cherishing those times, draw strength from your love, think and plan about creating many more such memories in future when you are together again. Whenever you feel low, shift your attention to something positive and dwell on that.

Take charge

Life is what you decide to make of it. You may decide to contemplate over your loneliness while he is at sea or may choose to keep yourself strong to face newer challenges. Brooding over the inevitable will only add to your misery. Instead believe in yourself and gear up to take everything in your stride. It is surely easier said than done. But channelizing your thoughts and energies towards achieving a happier self for the well-being of your own self and family is totally worth the effort. So, kick-start this time with a new-found liveliness and realize a harmonious and brighter tomorrow. Brace yourself to take the onus of all the responsibilities, tasks and activities at hand and strengthen the self-belief to carry them out efficiently. Remind once again to yourself; it’s your family, you are accountable for their welfare and you will do your best to keep things going in the best possible way as you have always been doing. Find bliss in this freedom of decision-making and act responsibly.

Prioritize

A lot of chores and responsibilities fall upon your shoulders when he/she goes to sea. The boiler generally runs and haunts you as to how you will cope when so much needs to be managed all by yourself; personal finances, child care, household chores, job, parents, family etc. How to do it all? The answer is effective time management and an organized approach.

Feeling overwhelmed when lots need to be done can be very stressful. So prioritize activities depending upon their importance and urgency whether at work or home. Begin with a “To-Do list”! Start making note of activities to be done and prioritize them on a weekly/monthly basis. Set reminders on your phone/calendar or place post-it around your work area. Make sure you keep a buffer of few days while you schedule to perform various activities with reference to say ‘last date of submission/payment/renewal’ etc. Keeping it for the last minute will only create havoc and leave you stressed out. EMI’s and bills payment, scheduled meetings, deadlines, planned hospital visits, social events, shopping etc can be tracked, managed and performed meticulously without fail. It will help you remain organized and leave scope for addressing any unforeseen events that require your attention at the 11th hour.

Planning your day every morning or a day in advance will help you keep control of all that needs to be done within the available time frame. You will also feel lot more confident about the pace of life when things are sorted and taken care of in the right manner.

Take care of yourself

Remember that you and your health are of paramount importance. You tend to play a pivotal role when trying to manage the house-hold, children, job and family when your better half is at sea. While trying to multi-task and doing all that is in your plate may weigh you down, it may be detrimental to your health if you do not invest in your well being.

  • Stay calm! Do not panic if you have not been able to meet a deadline, or forgot something important or left it until tomorrow. It’s not the end of the world. Remember it is ok to not be perfect. None of us are. There is always tomorrow to set things right and start again. Do not let the self-imposed or external deadlines act as a deterrent to your mental peace especially if your priorities have been set sensibly.
  • Exercise, Meditate and Eat Healthy. A healthy body and a healthy mind not only have immediate and long-term health benefits but also improve the quality of life. Increased fitness lifts your mood and often tends to make you feel happy about yourself and your life. Take time out from your hectic schedule and go for that 30-minute walk/run. It doesn’t necessarily have to be hours of sweating out to achieve a desired body if you are not after it. If hitting the gym is not your thing, do some basic stretching and exercises at home. Invest time in breathing exercise, meditation or yoga; it will have solemn influence on your system. Whatever works for you, make exercising a daily habit and stick to it. Having no time should not be an excuse. It will keep you fit physically, combat health problems/concerns, will boost your mood and confidence making you feel happier and more relaxed. Eating healthy is equally important. Skipping meals or grabbing unhealthy food items amidst work pressure or binge eating out of stress should not be done. Adopt a healthy lifestyle for your good.
  • Take a moment to yourself. Have been too occupied with activities one after the other, running around at work or at home, driving in crazy traffic and yet loads to be done! Hold on. Grab a cup of coffee, sip through it while you put things into perspective, re-organize your thoughts, get your focus back and then do the next activity. Our mind and body often needs these moments of revival to perform better. Pamper yourself if you are worn out after a stressful week. Indulge in a savory, go for a spa treatment, order food at home or treat yourself with a shopping spree. It is ok to do what you like doing or whatever pleases you once in a while. It will help you rejuvenate and instill new energy to follow your work schedule once again effectively.

Budgeting and Personal Finance

Money matters must be handled and taken care of judiciously. It is always hard earned money irrespective of the fact how much each one of you is contributing towards the expenses. Separate needs from wants. There can be no end to splurging money on eating out, buying luxury items or expensive shoes/watches/mobile phones. Use your judgment to differentiate between items of necessity/importance and extravagance. Spending huge sum on your child’s education may be important than getting him/her an expensive watch. Discipline is the key. Budget your expenses on a monthly basis and track them to stay within the budget. It does not mean that you resort to extreme frugality. Maintaining a balance is prudence. Allocate funds to different buckets of your expenses in a well thought out way to take care of everyone’s needs simultaneously. Pay all your bills/debts in full and much in advance to avoid last minute hassles. Avoid indulging on credit cards for it’s you who will be paying those credits at the end of the month.

Develop and practice the habit of saving. Do it yourself and inculcate it in your children too. Keeping yourself financially secured for the unforeseen circumstances is essential. While long-term investments may be made in mutual conjunction with your spouse; short-term investments and savings must be made by you on a regular basis. It is often these funds which prove most handy in times of need. Judicious treatment of personal finances will not only render mental peace, it will also carve out a smoother and comfortable life for you in the long run.

Keep Yourself Engaged

Remember the old adage “an empty mind is where the devil resides”. Keep yourself engaged in any constructive or recreational activity when relatively unoccupied with work. While you thought kids, job or household chores may seize the opportunity to actually let you avail any free time; more often than not you will still find ample time at your disposal beyond your daily routine. Devote this time in doing what you always wanted to do. Pursue a hobby or a leisure activity. Reading, writing, listening to music, watching a movie, learning to play an instrument, drawing, painting or just spending time playing with kids or chatting away with your parents. If you are good at something, try taking it to the next level. You can also end up making little money out of an activity you are exceptionally fine at. It could be anything that pleases you. It will help you keep all your negative thoughts and energies at bay. As a result of which you will find yourself more productive in whatever you undertake.

Socialize

It is imperative of us to mix around and socialize. The fact that your spouse is not with you in person, does not mean that you distance yourself from the outside world and its people. Confining yourself to just work and routine may make you feel lonelier. Do not hesitate to get out, meet people, hang around with friends or invite them over. Attend office parties, team building activities or excursions. Make friends in whom you can confide or just vent your emotions. Sign up for events and gatherings of like-minded/varied people or interests or lead one of them. For example try getting together a group of sea-farer’s spouses in your city/area, plan monthly outings, play games and enjoy yourselves. If necessary, vexing friends or relatives can be limited to adherence of social protocol only. Keep yourself surrounded with positive people as much as possible. They will be instrumental in bringing happiness and learning to you.

Communication with Spouse

You are the pillar of strength and support behind your spouse’s successful career at sea. While s/he works hard to provide for the family there, you facilitate the smooth functioning of the family on land. Amidst these lives, it becomes imperative to understand the importance of communication that happens during this time period. With the advent of internet on ships, text/video chat, email exchange, instant messaging tools and other such mediums, maintaining contact with him/her has become much easier than before. They yearn for love and togetherness being far from home and often feel helpless too when matters relating home and family run berserk. Impending payments, inadequate upbringing of children or neglected parents build up the stress levels in him/her as much as it may do to you. So, next time when you tell him how much you love and missed him/her, do make it a point to share about specific tasks that you have completed for the month too. Same goes for other aspects of importance, be it related to home, children, parents or finances. This provides solace and a feeling of security and contentment in your better half that things are sorted and taken care of behind his/her back and s/he can focus on work better. Even without internet or any regular ways of communication, these little fillers whenever you get to interact, help providing the much needed mental peace to him/her.

Life may not be that easy and you may not really be able to handle a lot of situations coming your way. You will tend to vent or shatter in front of your most beloved one when things are not right. In such instances try to project a stronger self by the end of the conversation. It is easier said than done. But just think twice as you may only leave him/her feel vulnerable while s/he may not be able to do much. So continue to be his/her strength as much as possible.

It is true that while your better half is at sea, you might feel miserable at times, may miss him/her every moment, yearn for togetherness and love in your life. This does not mean that resorting to bad habits is in anyways justifiable. Indulging in smoking, drinking or drugs will only damage your health in the long run. Those who may even tempt to get disloyal or take to infidelity will only end up causing damage to their relationship and consequently their life forever. It is extremely important to maintain the right frame of mind and a positive outlook.

It will be interesting to note that research has also found women looking forward to these intermittent phases of separation over a period of years. It has greatly resulted in strengthening and adding charm to their bonding and relationship. It has also helped them getting back to the normal pace of life where children are more obedient, house-hold is well-managed and she is productively engaged in activities/jobs important to her.

Try finding happiness in whatever situations you come across and make the most of it. Keep up your spirits high!!!

Over to you all. Feel free to share what you do to keep yourself kicking when he/she is at sea…

You may also like to read – 8 Ways Seafarers can make their Loved Ones Feel Special this Valentine’s Day

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight. 

24 Comments

  1. The article is very well thought of and well written.
    It brings out most of the critical points faced by spouses both young and senior.
    There is another topic that the author can address- that of handling and bringing up children.
    I welcome a and support the idea of having a organisation around the world for dealing with seafarer issues.
    Unfortunately none exist right now.

  2. Am a female sailer and no one ever thinks nor writers about the struggles that we face as females at sea and the secrificis that we make because of our jobs when it comes to having families.

  3. I liked the article but I do feel it’s sort of saying: ‘just suck it up and no matter what, keep a brave face on for the person who’s at sea’. Yes definitely it’s important to stay positive, productive and busy. BUT I think it’s also important to feel you can lean on the person who’s away. I think it’s ok to Skype your loved one and say: ‘Hey, today was hard and I wish you were here’. Best to be honest rather than just slap on a fake smile. Even if your partner is at sea they can still give you that verbal support and little boost you might need from time to time. So I’d say no don’t sugar-coat it. Be 100% honest about how you both feel. Otherwise yeah, the article makes sense.

  4. I agreed with Siphokazi. I am also a female seafarer. Its not easy…. Even the thoughts of starting up a family freaks me. Maybe i might just have a child. Not an easy Job.

  5. Am … we also have other potential Christians. Even we have planned to have ekubi right this month but we don’t have clue about it. so my brother all the above are your right potential people, so please pray and act.

    Pray pray pray

  6. Very well said..good article. Managing children part could have been more elaborated. And Rosie I believe you are right that we should share the tough day too with our husbands as not only he guides Nd motivates us but also feels a share of involvement in our daily chores.

  7. I grew up in this lifestyle because my Dad has been a seafarer for the past 18 years. Growing up, I never understood why my Mom had such mood swings when my Dad was away and when he was home. I didn’t understand why she didn’t want to really deal with acquaintances or most people. Nor did I understand why he was not home so often or why we visited him on the ship, slept over for a night, then he was gone again. Until three years ago when my boyfriend decided to join my Dad’s career path. Now I understand. It is extremely hard. Loneliness can really take a huge toll on your life. Your relationship is solely base on technology i.e. e-mails, text, phone calls, video chats.You can only socialize so much, but it’s hard to do it with people who don’t understand an ounce of how the lifestyle you and your spouse chose really works. It’s extremely annoying when they constantly ask “why is he gone so long, short vacation, etc.” because it just reminds you everytime how lonely you feel every day. It’s hard to socialize with people especially with couples who can go thru the day with 9-5 jobs & come home every night to their spouse. The way I see it, being a seafarer’s wife/partner is not much different from being a military wife. But other than that, this article has valid points.

  8. hi
    Very well written
    Perfect tom our states of mind
    I am a mariner’s wife and i totally agree and swear by each word of it
    I would like to communicate more
    Is it possible for u to send in your mail id ????
    THank you in advance

  9. Hi everyone. I’m a seafarer’s wife. I’m in a great confusion about my profession life. I have this 7 to 7 job and I’m unable to give my time when my husband is not sailing. This is very disturbing..

    Me planning to quit the job and give time to my relationship.

    What do I do when he is sailing if not my job!

    But I wonder, quitting my job is the only solution!!

    Any suggestions!
    Thank you in anticipation

  10. Hi All,

    I need help!!! I have started dating a would-be sailor. He has given his last exams and soon we will be joining the ship as a trainee. He asked me to choose between him and my career, even though he knows I want to be Vice president of marketing, I want to be a businesswoman. But yesterday he asked this question. I love him so much and at that moment I said I will sacrifice my career for him and he becomes very happy. Not even for a second, he felt bad although he knows my passion towards my career. I love him but I can’t be a housewife but what other alternatives should I go with. His parents are from Himachal, small town and I can’t get a job there moreover I am from the capital city of India. If I live in my city then I have to stay alone and whenever he will come back then I can hardly take one month leave and rest of the months I will be following the same office routine.

    I support and respect his sailing passion and I accept the same from him. Plz, suggest something.

  11. @Himanshi:

    It is very important to maintain your identity. Not for the world, but for yourself. The respect should be mutual and he should also respect your career decisions. It will be an advantage if you are also working as shipping job scenario is really bad and once you start a life together, he needs to take long breaks for examsfor promotions (1-2 years). That time, an earning member in the family will be a help. I am not a relationship adviser and Leaving this family calculations aside, you should ask yourself – would I be able to live happy wihtout a career?

  12. @Sonia Pothugunta : I am in the same dilemma. I am planning to resign today but I am not sure if my decision is right. Just like you even I see no option but quit. The decision is difficult and I need to talk to someone who can relate to me.

  13. @Sonia Pothungunta @Cheryl
    I recently left my job, in large part for this reason. We have plans to start a family very soon but for the time being, I’ll be honest that this 60 days has been challenging for me in terms of staying occupied. However, I am getting better and learning how to make productive use of my days. I’m exercising more and cooking healthy meals and reading and exploring new hobbies. And now when my husband pulls into port every couple of weeks, I have a completely open schedule and the ability to see him for lunch! It’s a small thing, but it means everything to us. And we are planning lots of traveling when he gets home this time which is super exciting. I don’t think either one of us regrets our joint decision for me to quit my job. We both feel that our time together is a precious priority. Living off of one income may require certain compromises, such as a smaller home and less fancy dinners, but all of that feels like such a small sacrifice if it means I get an extra day with my King. There is no shame in putting love first.

  14. Hello Ma’am,

    After reading your profile, I could gather you have been working for a while and now you have started sailing with your husband. I am about to marry a seafarer and I want to spend a good chunk of my married life with him before we have a family. I am looking for options to work from home or work as a freelancer, however, the decision is very daunting. My parents suggest that I should continue working for financial independence, on the other hand, I want to make sure I nurture our relationship in the initial days by staying with him as much as possible. Also, quitting my job means staying with his parents at a small town and maintain the decorum as per their customs. I have made up my mind of marrying him but the dilemma of quitting or not quitting my career for a while or forever is very confusing.

    Can you advise me based on your experience?
    Thank you

  15. Hi Priya, I am married for three years to a seafarer and i am working as well. We live in a city away from parents and in laws due to my job. Feeling of guilt to leave your husband behind and go for work is definitely going to affect you and will force you to leave your job. We cant get everything in life having said that if your job empowers you and you feel emotionally satisfied with the kind of work you do, continue to do that and rest be assured everything will fall in place provided you have an understanding husband. You might want to make sure you have a disciplined and balanced life. Hire someone to get your household chores specially cooking completed and the time you get away from work spend with your husband. This way you can have time for family and work both. Hope this helps.

  16. @Radhika Gulati Thank you for your wise advice. You actually validated my decision and made it sound like a reality. Hope I can be as emotionally strong as you are. Thanks again

  17. when my wife left me and the kids for no reason, all my effort to get her back wasn’t successful . I had to play the role of a mother and father at the same time, it  wasn’t easy at all for me. So i decided to look for a spiritual help to get her back home. I was so lucky to get in touch with Dr. Joe who helped me to get my wife back in less than 48 hours, i was surprised and  overwhelmed. it was a miracle and only Dr. Joe can do this.Thank you Dr. Joe, for my family and i will  forever be grateful  to you. You need your wife or husband back or you want to do a love spell on anyone you love then hurry now and contact Dr. Joe the great spell caster;  via email:   dr.joespirtualhome@ gmail. com

  18. @About Isha Bansal
    Hi mam !
    Im happy finding this article of yours. It enlightened me on what should I do.I am a seamns wife, no kids,I admit its very hard to accept husband is not around knowing this pandemic time ( CORONA VIRUS ).. I thought we can be together for longer times knowing how critical and difficult to come and in and out of ships but for my husband is tooks very fine. I left all alone in our house, feel depressed so I find someone who can stay with me , just like nanny…First two days with my nanny is not good I thought I can be ok but its not..I feel alone,inside and outside, feel lazy all the time, doesn’t want to move…One day I woke up and I ask myself what wrong with me?then suddenly I find it myself telling me YOURE NOT OK,day by day I’m not..so I told my husband about that and we decided I need someone around so I went to my parents home , I stay for two weeks..BUt after reading thisarticle I find myself ready again to go home where my husband I lives…That I can say Im ready , no sadness, but ill be more productive wife…

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