Welcome to the crazy, erratic, one of a kind life of the Pilot Wife. Whether you are a wife, spouse, partner, significant other, or in some other way fit into the Aviation Lifestyle - you are aware of the challenges (along with fun) that this presents.
The pilot wife and aviation family life is a different type of lifestyle, and one that is quite often misunderstood by those around us. They can’t relate so they just don’t get it.
Let’s face it - irregular schedules that offer little continuity; doses of single parenting; many occasions and social events spent alone; and the general disruptions created by a life in aviation can be frustrating at best, without good tools.
So, put on your oxygen mask and buckle up - let’s cover 7 Keys that can make for much less turbulence!
Here is a dose of reality - some of these challenges are just part of the package. Instead of fighting it - Focus on the AAAs, (Triple A’s!)
Awareness, Acknowledgement and Acceptance
Awareness - Managing your own thoughts and reactions to this lifestyle is much easier when we start with Awareness of what this life entails. This includes what we control and what we don’t control.
I am a commercial pilot wife and my experience in aviation personally, and with my family is from the airline world of things, so most often I share from that perspective. Things can be different and much the same in corporate, charter, freight and other aviation paths.
When we are aware that in most cases, each month will likely be different, we are better prepared to handle change. The pilot or aviator will have different days of flying, days off, layovers, coworkers and people and STRESS. Be aware of the potential triggers this might have for your pilot, and the trickle down to you. Simply being aware can reduce the potential stress.
I am a big planner, so I use an old fashioned calendar and plan as far out as possible. And, I always let my pilot know what's ahead on the home front, so he can plan the best he can. I have also learned to adjust my expectations to accept that I may not always get everything I want.
We don't always get what we want, and neither does the pilot when bidding schedules. I learned to prioritize what events during the month mattered most, and in what order, and we would talk about it.
And, part of planning ahead meant that I made back up plans where I could. What would I/our (kids) holiday plan be if he wasn't off? Who would I take with me if I had to go alone? Was it still worth it to go alone?
I was always upfront with people we met and explained our "lifestyle" situation. Some got it, some didn't, who cares? I also had some friends that thought my husband was a figment of my imagination because it might be 6 months before there was a "pilot sighting!" 😂 😳
Be aware of other things as well. I learned to "read the room" and “take his temperature” metaphorically when he walked in the door from a trip - his mood! I also learned not to take it personally if he wasn't super upbeat and chipper first thing.
My husband is a "5" on the Enneagram and if you know anything about that - he is quiet and inward. A thinker. It's how he processes things.
Learn more about the Enneagram at enneagram.pilotwifepodcast.com
When I stopped taking it personally when he retreated or wasn't openly conversing, everything changed. For the better!
The pilot wife and aviation lifestyle can be filled with stresses, disappointments and anxiety. It can and will also be filled with unforgettable moments, adventures and possibilities. Whatever you do, don’t let the negatives that I’m sharing in this article detract from all of the good.
When you feel stressors and triggers kick in - acknowledge it. Don’t fight the feelings, just “feel the feels.” Breathe in and out, slowly. Remind yourself that “This too shall pass” and you can “do hard things!”
I learned to talk myself through the disappointments. To journal about them, and to communicate in positive ways to my husband, at the right time.
In my home, I learned that the minute he walks in the door, or while he is on a trip and unable to do much about what’s going on was not the best time to try and communicate my own thoughts and feelings. I learned how to manage my emotions, without burying them, and wait until the time was more optimal to converse. This led to a more positive situation for us both and our marriage.
Of course, there are always exceptions, but I learned to weigh in on how important these exceptions are and to prioritize accordingly. Just as he can’t fully know what is going on at home, I also don’t fully grasp all that he is dealing with at work.
My journal became my best friend, "go to place" to vent and I use it almost daily. I seldom look back at it; I just know expressing my feelings openly, honestly and without fear became a huge catalyst for growth, peace and calm for me.
I also learned to lean on my pilot wife community - others who knew what I was facing and could empathize with my situation. While they couldn’t fix it, they could listen and allow me to vent.
More than ANYTHING, though, I learned not to disregard my feelings. Feelings are normal, natural and never wrong. They have gifts and lessons for us, if we just take the time to sit with them; breathe through them, and allow them to pass. Once they pass, we are often left with a new and better feeling.
Like the serenity prayer says - help me to accept the things I can not change. With this lifestyle comes things that you will be unable to change. With the right tools, you can accept it, and even learn to grow despite it!
FYI - Acceptance is not the same as condoning something. More on that later in our journey together! And, it’s a unique journey for each of us. You will travel your road; your path; and that is the right path for you.
The trickiest part in the journey to acceptance is being aware that at first there is resistance. From there, we must move to alignment with what is.
From “No!” to “yes, okay….”
Write down these words:
It’s happened. I can’t change it. How can I learn, grow and move on from this.
That is the only real choice we have if we want to live a life of calm, peace and joy.
Remember that people’s actions are not aways an exact reflection of who they are overall as a person.
We are all having “the human experience” and that causes all of us, at times, to do things; say things; and act in ways that few later regret.
Keep this in mind with acceptance.
Applying these 3 tools - Awareness, Acknowledgment and Acceptance - can get you through ALL of the rest that life throws at you.
Get the Pilot Wife Checklist here, and let me take you through 7 key steps to making the most of this life.
Blue Skies and Tailwinds!