Road Warrior's "Re-Entry Syndrome"

            My first trip business trip was in 1980. Leaving Los Angeles, I flew into DFW, took a taxi to Love field, and continued on to Amarillo. It was exciting. Since that first trip, I have flown more than 3 million miles to all 50 states and over 40 foreign countries. Last year, I traveled 32 weeks for business. The excitement is gone.  You might call me a Road Warrior.

            Each time I leave, my wife and two active boys make decisions and take action without me.  In other words, life continues even though I am not home. It was especially evident when the boys were young because every time I came home, they had changed – a little bigger, a little more coordinated, a little more talkative, a little more everything! Somewhere in the back of my male mind, my ego wondered how I could rejoin the family when I returned. My wife and I dubbed this the “Re-entry Syndrome”.

            Early into the cycle, we realized that each time I “parachuted” back into the family from the road I felt a sense of loss - a loss of relationship, of the life that had passed by in my absence and a loss of control.  Initially, I responded by trying to be “Super Dad” and “Super Husband”.  That didn’t go so well. Trying to recapture the weeklong losses during my brief time at home made everyone miserable, including me. Worse, I left again on Monday morning feeling less connected and even more distant. The family felt bad too.

            Proverbs 3:5-6 became a verse I leaned on heavily – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”.  Life happens, but God is still in control.  Even when the roof leaks or there is a surprise on a test grade, or bedtime isn’t as early as what I thought it was . . . and well, you know. Leaning on this verse and keeping the family in my prayers were all I could do.

            With this view, the pressure for me to be “Super Dad” upon my return went away.  God had my family in His care during my trip and has the reunited family in His care too! Practically, this means that I don’t do any “problem solving” for the first 24 hours and just come alongside the family as support and to encourage.  This has resulted in some wonderful family times and enhanced emotional health for us all.

            It is still hard on families and marriages when one of the spouses is a Road Warrior. In my case, active faith when I travel and intentional behavior when I return have provided a solution.

 

Coach Kirk Novak

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