Calling the whambulance. Whine-One-One.
July 18, 2007 9:49 PM   Subscribe

For the next seven weeks or so, I'm a tour widow. Yes, my boyfriend is going on tour for the first time since we've been dating. How do I stop being such a whiny baby about it?

Ever since I found out about the tour a month or so ago, any time the topic has been breached, it's thrown me into an "all consuming sadness" (his words. his ANNOYED words.). Well, dammit, I'm sad about it. My boyfriend's my partner, my companion, my lover, my all around favorite guy. And yes, maybe I'm a little jealous that he gets to go all around the country and not work for a several weeks, but for the most part I'm just - plain - sad. Worried too. About the normal stuff: car crashes, flash floods, alien abduction, accordion-player groupies. Well the groupies part, not so much. I trust him. But still, I guess I'd be a fool not to wonder.

This is his favorite thing to do on earth, and I feel as if I'm bringing him down about it. And he's pretty much told me so. Apparently his former girlfriends didn't care as much as I do, but I still feel like I have a right to be sad at SOME level.

Its not as if he's going to war, gone for a year hiking the Amazon or anything remotely so serious. I have friends, it's a really busy time at work, and even have a little vacation soon. But still, I'm pretty dang depressed. Showing how depressed I am to him is just making him annoyed. And then I get more depressed. Am I overreacting? Should I just act like nothing's wrong so I don’t piss him off more? Any fellow tour widows/widowers with any tips?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Be as sad as you want to be about it.

However, also be happy because he's doing something he loves, and many people wander the earth desperately longing for any opportunity to do that for even one hour, much less several weeks.

And so, put the two together and say this: "I'm really going to miss you while you're gone, but I'm really happy that you're going, because I know you'll have a great time." And then let it go.

Then, get yourself a hobby doing something that you love, and go off and do it as much as you want while he does his thing. And if, in the future, your opportunities to do your fun hobby take place when he's stuck at home, I'm sure he'll say "I'm really going to miss you while you're gone, but I'm really happy that you're going, because I know you'll have a great time."

In short: the problem is not his leaving, the problem is that you feel like when he's gone your world is completely empty. No matter how many friends you have or how busy you are, on some level you recognize that he's going somewhere else to have fun, while you need him around for you to have fun. That's unsustainable, so ifyou want this to last, get the kind of hobby that makes you glad he tours, so that you'll have time to do your thing.
posted by davejay at 9:59 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

What is his tour routing? Maybe you could meet up with the group on a weekend or two to break up the longness of it. When the band I manage goes on tour, occasionally a girlfriend will drive out (if they swing back close enough), or fly out for a weekend.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 10:03 PM on July 18, 2007

I think you're exactly right: it sounds like you're kind of in this situation where you can't help yourself, but it's probably bumming him out. You don't want him to leave on that note. I would focus on planning something that you'll do while he's gone -- your vacation, even if it's one you don't eventually take; building skilz on some instrument that you can surprise him with upon his return.

As to meeting him on tour, query whether that would be misconstrued.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:16 PM on July 18, 2007

I'm a submariner. I know leaving for a while. Some things that may help:

Can you meet him somewhere about the half-way point? That gives you both something to look forward to - you get to go to a cool new place (maybe), he gets to see you.
If not, make him things for the trip. We do a "halfway box." She makes a shoe box (has to be small on a sub) that I don't get to open until "half way night." Put some stuff from home in there, some pictures, maybe a video, a hot letter, whatever. Be creative. Or make him an advent calendar-like thing, where he gets to open something every day for a little surprise, like a note, or candy, or nudie picture (hey, several weeks is a long time without, IYKWIM).

How about going shopping together for stuff he might need while he's gone? Make him maps of the towns he's going to. Troll the internet for the good places to go and mark them on the map. Make him a homemade custom sock puppet for a patrol sock.

Point is, the more you get involved in the preparation, the making sure his trip is comfortable, fun, and full of little funny reminders of home (and you), the less you'll focus on the being alone aspect. Don't just sulk and wait for him to disappear - be a part of it.

At least you'll get the telephone. All I get is unreliable email service that gets turned off at the drop of a hat. You'll be fine.
posted by ctmf at 10:19 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

A couple thoughts:

1) The whinier you are to him about it now and prior to him leaving, the less he's probably going to want to call you and be really excited about what it's like for him on the road after he goes.

Put yourself in his shoes: If you knew that your boyfriend completely, absolutely, definitively did not want you to do something that you were going to do anyway, once you were doing it, would you want to call regularly if you thought that you were just going to hear more of the "Please Come Home" stuff? Or would you want him to be tremendously excited every time you called about how much you loved being out there?

2) Be whiny. Revel in your whiny-ness. Seriously. But find another outlet for it. I guarantee you, he wants nothing more than for you to share this with him, his excitement, his enthusiasm, all the stories from the road.

You absolutely have the right to be sad, depressed, blue, whiny. But you also have a choice as to where and with whom you whine about it openly.

I'd also look at what you think you might be trying to accomplish by being "whiny." Are you doing it because you want him to change his mind and not go? Because you want him to say, "Come with me!" Because you're worried that he'll fall in love with Life On The Road and be different when he returns? If any of these are the case, they may prove more productive conversations (i.e. "Please don't gooooooooooo" vs. "Baby, I want you to go and have the time of your life, but I am worried that this will change our relationship").

Again, you have Every Right to be whiny and miss him something fierce. It's even your prerogative to let him know how you're feeling. How you're doing it may just be counterproductive to what you actually want: a deeper connection with him.
posted by cheeken at 10:21 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I feel you, anon. At the end of this year my husband will start working rotation and he'll be gone for 28 days, home for 28 at a time. Previously we spent three months apart while he was working in Korea. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the ideas in this thread.

When my husband was gone (we actually weren't married at the time — he came home for two weeks for the sole purpose of hitching to me and gathering me up to bring back to Asia) I made sure to be a busy as possible, especially on the weekends. I got very active in my running group and went to almost every run, I trained and participated in a 40-mile bike race, I took our dog to the dog park every Saturday afternoon, I cooked dinner for friends so that I could have the company. Our friends were really, really supportive, and did their best to keep me occupied. Later my SO said that reading about all the things I was doing made him jealous he couldn't be there to do them with me.

I won't lie to you — it was really hard, and there were several times when I couldn't get a hold of him or just missed his call or had an emotional freak out, but in the end, the time actually passed really quickly, and I feel like we can handle almost anything now because of it.
posted by Brittanie at 10:48 PM on July 18, 2007

I forgot to add — keep a diary, journal, whatevs. I found it was much easier to be a whiny baby in my journal and get it all out there than to harangue him in the few moments when we could actually talk to each other on the phone.
posted by Brittanie at 10:53 PM on July 18, 2007

The whiny thing is... never a fun thing, so stop it (to him). Tell him you're going to miss him and you worry, but vent all other concerns elsewhere, to friends or the random strangers on the internet.

One thing struck me about your question. You said "And yes, maybe I'm a little jealous that he gets to go all around the country and not work for a several weeks, ..."

So, while he's off on this trip, he's just farting around? Not playing an instrument/producing a band/whatever touring role he's taken on?

He's working. He's on a work trip. Sure, he's away from you. But trust me, unless he's a giant assface, most of that time on the road will be spent a) actually traveling and missing you, and b) working. So:

By all means tell him you'll miss him. Keep track of his travel schedule and call him. But also figure out how to, you know, do shit on your own. I'm sure you have your own interests. Go see that movie he wouldn't like or go do that activity he thinks is lame.

And don't overthink it. Many people deal with traveling partners/spouses every day.It sucks, but we make it work.
posted by bedhead at 10:55 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just a bit here about surviving touring, but this should be required reading for every Band Girlfriend whether you are in Houston or not.

Honestly: have great sex and a lot of laughs before he hits the road and he'll be the one calling you crying. Meet up with him on the tour at least once and have yet more great sex. Here's a secret: for most bands, touring is hell. Bad food, bad motels, endless driving, fighting, shows that go to pieces, other people's stinky socks (and worse). He's likely to be fairly desperate to come home to you when it's all said and done anyway.

Also, have a few adventures of your own. Go out as much as you can with your friends, start some big messy project he'd bitch about having to step over if he was there, take up the whole bed, do whatever you please. Have so much fun that when he calls from Shitkicker, Ohio, bored out of his mind and bloated from all the fast food he's been eating, he'll hear all the fun you've been having just in your voice and think dang, I wish I were home with her instead of these dudes who smell like month-old resin and feta cheese. Hang in there and good luck.
posted by melissa may at 11:02 PM on July 18, 2007 [5 favorites]

Oh, and other good stuff to put in a halfway box, if you decide to do that [slight derail]:

Anything that everyone else will notice and comment on. Jolly Ranchers or something to share. A harmonica and how-to book (won't work if he actually knows how to play it.) Little toys - my wife put in army men (for me to hide everywhere all over the boat) and a balsa wood toy airplane to throw around. She also makes me ridiculous little-boy-print pajamas every time. Which I wear, to everyone else's amusement.

The best part is when someone catches me with something I got in the box. Even if I feel sheepish about what it is, still I feel proud that I get to show off that my wife loves me. So don't make it all nudie pictures. It's not as fun if you can't show everyone.
posted by ctmf at 11:08 PM on July 18, 2007

I understand. My husband works away for days, weeks or months at a time in his profession, but it's something he loves that he's very good at, and as painful as the separation is, I prefer it to imagining him plodding away day after day at a less interesting, less challenging job just to be at home.

Here's what I do:

I really try to keep my complaints, visible sadness, fears and insecurities reined in because a) it helps neither of us, b) I don't want him worried and distracted about me when he should be focused on what he's doing, c) I don't want him to resent me for making his work into an emotional issue, and... honestly? d) I don't want him to see me as an weak/insecure/dependent.

(Which is not to say you can't ever talk about it or express your feelings. Definitely do, when the time is right... at the end of separation, once you have settled back in together, in a non-accusatory way. It's okay to let him know that part of you feels empty when he's gone.)

I pursue whatever projects I feel like working on that I wouldn't normally have the time to concentrate on properly; I take advantage of that time to get more exercise and keep to a diet that's harder to do when we're together; I luxuriate in the freedom to do what I want when I want without a couples-consultation; I read a lot, see friends, take long, exploratory walks, cook weird things that I'll like, but he probably won't, and I'm as lazy as I wanna be. :)

What we do:

We both have cell phones, and a subscription that includes the feature of (pretty much) unlimited free calls to one specific (cell) number, so we can talk whenever (at least once a day) and text-message silly, cheery little things occasionally or send each other photos of where we are, and we also use email and Skype or Googletalk.

Whenever possible, for the longer separations, we try to find a way to get together once every two or three weeks. A typical project for him might be six weeks, and if we can see each other two or three times during that period, it really breaks things up and gives us something to look forward to and tide us over in the interim periods.

And when he comes back - we party like mad... going out, cocooning in, cooking extravagant meals, being tourists in our own town, etc.... and these little mini-honeymoons are really lovely, and not something that can be easily manufactured in a regular always-together-every-day relationship. If you both handle it well, it can offer more passion, more opportunity for reaffirmation of your feelings for each other, more concentrated intimacy during reunion, and more fun than the more typical relationship. Which doesn't take away the pain of separation, but certainly adds some zest and intensity for solace.

I don't think it would be quite so grand, though, if he had to suffer me weeping and complaining on the phone every day while we're apart... and I would certainly not feel very celebratory if he weren't very reassuring and "there" for me as much as he can be during these times - he makes it a point to call me when he's away, so I don't have to feel like I'm "pestering" him, and he often calls multiple times a day, though I haven't asked him to (and specifically told him he shouldn't feel obliged to do so), which makes me know he's thinking of me all the time. You both have things you can do to make that period more bearable, and more enjoyable when you are back together, and to keep resentment from creeping in while you are apart. Go ahead and discuss that calmly - tell him that you are going to be working on keeping yourself positive about it, and how he can help.
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on July 19, 2007 [6 favorites]

A key point to remember: sure, he may be doing something totally fun and wild, but he is working! Perhaps not nine to five, but if he hopes to persue music professionially eventially, he's setting the ground work for a fan base and such. On a completly unrelated note, may we hear some of his music?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:50 AM on July 19, 2007

Taz, I favorited your comment, but just had to say out loud that it was fantastic.
posted by Roach at 1:19 AM on July 19, 2007

How strong is your relationship, really? You didn't give your ages or say how long you've been dating, but I'm gonna guess you're both pretty young, say your early 20s. Here's the thing: this will be a good test for the relationship. You'll both see how much you miss each other for a month or two.

My best advice: keep in contact with him. Call him. Maybe every day, maybe every other day. Whatever your relationship bears out. Don't be obsessive about it, because if you're feeling needy and call him up while he's, say, boozing it up with some buddies, it'll be a real downer (take it from this guy, ladies, we really don't like these calls). Are you worried about this? Talk to him about it. You shouldn't feel like you can't express your worry about this.

And ask yourself which emotion is stronger: worry about him leaving, or happiness for your bf living out his dream. If the former, you've got some soul-searching to do.
posted by zardoz at 2:53 AM on July 19, 2007

You do absolutely have a right to be sad, but you also have an obligation to be supportive if you want to be in a healthy relationship. Moping is not supportive; moping is emotional blackmail. It's punishment, and it's immature, and it's also ruining the time you have together.

Most importantly, the depth of your depression is not correlative to the amount you love him. You don't have to be miserable to prove something. And if you are actually depressed, get help; that's what you do about depression, it's got nothing to do with him. If you are not depressed, dial the dramameter down some.

any time the topic has been breached, it's thrown me into an "all consuming sadness"

Stop doing that. Just stop. You are feeding your drama with this, it's high school stuff, and now you've made it a habit (and for him you've laid a nice carpet of eggshells). So when you feel it coming on you have to stop yourself, grab the old bootstraps, stand up straight, and learn to talk about it like a grownup. Talk about it every day - you bring it up - until you understand that even if the circumstances are a little unusual, it's normal for people to sometimes have to (and want to) do things that other people might not like as much.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:58 AM on July 19, 2007

ctmf, sounds like you lucked out in the wife department!
posted by footnote at 6:27 AM on July 19, 2007

Speak to him daily. Text him regularly (several times a day) with fun not whiney messages. Go meet him somewhere every couple of weeks and spend the weekend. Have great sex before he goes and give him a sexy photo of yourself to take with him. Above all, don't whine, and enjoy your temporary freedom.
posted by londongeezer at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2007

I married a musician on purpose, so I don't get sad when he goes away on tour... it's an exciting and fun part of our lives, even though it's hard work for both of us when he's away. I do get jealous sometimes, when I don't have the money/time to visit him while he's away. The only thing to be done about that is for me to live as fully as possible so that my life is cool too.

Here's what I do when he's gone:
I get extra-efficient with my own projects, which in turn makes me feel really accomplished. I revel in coming back home to everything exactly as I left it. I take on some bigger projects that'd be disruptive for him if he was around, like painting the bedroom or rearranging my office or something with paper and glue all over the kitchen table, or eating only vegetables. I have the friends over that he doesn't really enjoy. I watch the tv shows he'd mock me for watching.

Usually I visit him once during the tour, choosing some place I particularly like or some place I've never been, even if it's just for one show/overnight. If you can do this, it really helps you picture what his life is like while he's away and put a lot of things into perspective. It's also fun to get friendly with the rest of the band. It's really sweet to get the call after you've visited that the rest of the band misses you too!

One thing I do that's different from the above posters is that I don't call him -- I wait for him to call me. Occasionally I'll email him to request that he call me that day/night (if I have to ask him something), but otherwise, I leave it to his schedule. The thing is, he spends most of his time in a van, or in a backstage room, or on a stage with 5 other guys. He's never alone and he's never anywhere quiet. When I first visited him on tour I realized this, and it made me understand why he just wasn't having those kinds of lonely "I miss my wife" moments. He missed me all the time, but thoughtful loneliness didn't really come into it, not in the same way that it does for the one at home in the empty bedroom.

I don't send care packages, but I always help him pack, which makes me feel closer to him because I'll be able to picture what he's wearing and reading. The book he brings to read for enjoyment is usually one I've recommended, so that's another closeness point. Sometimes I've given him a small book of poetry or a CD for his iPod, and these things will make him think of me when he's away, and he can tell me what he thought of them when he returns.
posted by xo at 9:14 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

i'm with XO on this one. Don't text and call several times a day. While he will be missing you, he won't have time to text you back or talk for long (or at all). This may make you even more sad. But he IS at work. Maybe text him every other day with the expectation that he might not get back to you right away.
posted by nimsey lou at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2007

Hey my fella's on tour right now. There's a lot of good advice in this thread already. I it really helps to have a positive attitude about it. Fake it until you really feel that way. He's doing what he really wants to do and what makes him happy. That's such a wonderful thing! Use the time alone to focus on you. Don't let your mind shift into negative sad feelings. Tell yourself: I'm happy for him and I'm glad to have this time for myself - or whatever works. Sometimes I go along if I can, but The Esteemed Doctor makes a great point about remembering they're working up-thread. I really cherish this time on my own - it allows me to work on the 'me' in the 'us.' This can be a really fun life if you let it.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2007

i agree with everyone else that you need to keep the whining/sadness to another outlet. of course you're sad and you're going to miss him, but you're also happy for him. just fake like you're not that sad when it comes up in conversation, because the last thing you want to do is bum him out over something he's so excited about.

when you need to vent or you're feeling sad about it, vent to your (ahem, cough cough) friends or a journal, or put on some sad bastard music and wallow in it, but try to keep the sadness separate from him so you don't guilt him.

and of course, you'll have things to distract yourself while he's gone, and you'll be able to email/call/text him. give him some self-addressed stamped envelopes and a polaroid or something to take along so he can send you snapshots from the road or little notes in the mail. come over and help me paint my bathroom. read 248324 new comic books. throw yourself into a crafty project to make something to give him when he gets back.

you might be overreacting a little bit, but that's not the point. you can react however you see fit, but if you're bringing him down you do need to redirect that.
posted by booknerd at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2007

footnote: yeah, well I prefer to think it just proves the rule that good guys get good deals (instant karma), but yeah, she's amazing.

The perfect wife, though, would not be looking over my shoulder to see what I wrote about her and correcting my grammar.
posted by ctmf at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I only play out 2-3 time a month anymore, but even so I don't care if my girl comes to shows. If there's a gig I really want her to hear, I'll let her know; otherwise, it's all up to her.

She did just come with on a little tour in Japan, but even then she skipped all but one gig.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:13 PM on July 19, 2007

I have a similar problem with my boyfriend. The truth is the more you talk abbout it he wil get more annoyed and may cause more serious problems. 7weeks is a long time but you HAVE to get yourself together and enjoy rest of the time you have together before he leaves. You don't want him to be mad at you right before he leaves. Keep yourself busy. That is the key. Work your butt off and enjoy yourself. Go to a bar with your friends and when you get home cry. Crying helps me let the feelings out and help me cope with my emotions. Don't keep your feeling inside. Also think about what you can do, get, or make for him when he comes back.
posted by ahreumee at 3:05 AM on August 5, 2007

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