Another friend of mine is marrying a seafarer (welcome to the club!) and was asking me the other day how life is for a seafarer’s wife. Well, I told her that if a cat is said to have nine lives, a seafarer’s wife has six..
1. The life of a practically single mom. When you’re married to a man who spends six months to nine months and sometimes even a year onboard, you’re practically a single parent. This is one of the reasons why I have so much respect for single parents because I understand how it is to deal with pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and raising a child practically alone. For some, it may look unusual, but for a seafarer’s wife, it’s usual to have a husband who leaves for work while you’re three months pregnant dealing with morning sickness and then comes home when your baby is already three months old. Sometimes, he also gets you pregnant (again!) before leaving for work.
We already have two children and my husband was onboard when I gave birth to our boys. I know firsthand how hard it is to suffer through labor pains for almost seven hours without a husband by my side and to give birth without him seeing our children until they’re several months old. I know how difficult it is to wake up in the middle of the night with severe leg cramps due to pregnancy and you have to tend for yourself because your husband is miles away.
I couldn’t shoot a ball to save my life but now, I get to play ball games and wrestling with our kids. I’m now quite the expert in repairing toy cars and robots. Batgirl, Power Ranger of all possible colors, Spiderman, Superman (with a cluster of bangs and red cloth to complete the look as instructed by the little boy)…I’ve role played and fought them all.
2. The life of a decision maker. Having a seafarer for a husband means that there are times when there’s no communication at all because the husband is in the middle of the sea for weeks or even a month. Very often, this leaves the wife taking on the role of the main decision maker.
I actually love this part because it leaves no room for argument How can husband argue when things are already decided and done even before he knew it? From which school to enroll the kids to buying a new furniture, I get to have the upper hand.
Special occasions? A seafarer’s wife mainly decides how these occasions will be celebrated. When you’re married to a seafarer, you know better than to expect your husband and the father of your kids to be there on every birthday, Christmas, New Year, graduation and other important events in your family. You go through all these celebration with as much enthusiasm as you can muster for the sake of your kids while telling yourself that you cannot take it against him when he’s not home because when you married him, you also married his profession.
3. The life of an all-around employee. Five years of being married to a seafarer taught me to do a lot of “macho” things on my own. I may not know how to pedal a bike but I sure do know how to wash a car decently, replace damaged bulbs, use hammer and nails for minor repairs, detach and attach the LPG, unclog the sink, and seal a leaking water pipe among others. An all-around employee is also a driver (unfortunately, my driving skills include driving straight to the electrical posts and ditches), yaya, cook, all-around maid, budget officer..I do all these and more while making sure that my sanity is still intact at the end of the day.
4. The life a practically virgin wife. When you have a partner who comes home every nine months or longer, it’s a given fact that sex life is practically non-existent. Why, one of my former colleagues used to roar in laughter every time I announce that because I married a seafarer, I’m just “slightly used”
5. The life of a frequently misjudged person. Wives of seafarers, particularly the stay-at-home moms, are often misjudged as women living an easy life. Most people think that all we do is sit around, issue commands to our helpers, and wait for the monthly allotment to fatten our bank accounts and buy whatever pleases us. What these judgmental and envious people don’t know is that we work hard to be both a mom and a dad to our children while making sure that they understand their father’s hard work and sacrifice and even harder to make sure that our family life is running smooth while our seafarers are out there to earn a living.
6. The life of a person living in faith. By now, I learned enough to realize that marriage to a seafarer wouldn’t stand a chance if you don’t live by faith. Faith in my husband and faith in God keep our marriage going. All those times that my husband is in the middle of the sea and unreachable by any means of communication, faith is all I have. It’s either faith or nervous breakdown, and I choose faith..faith in my husband that he won’t go astray and faith in God that He is always there to unite us in love and in prayer. I live by the mantra that God’s love is much stronger than any storm, much bigger than any wave and much wider than the endless sea. Of all the lives that a seafarer’s wife has to live, this is probably the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Every wife, seafarer’s wife or not, has probably her own multiple lives to live and whatever these lives are, we just have to live it to the best we can..we just have to keep the faith.