Marital Bliss or Discord? The True Cost of Team Driving with Your Spouseby Holly Plude - Published: 3/02/2017
Your husband is a long-haul truck driver. He’s out on the road for three weeks at a time. For the week he is home, all he wants to do is relax, but you have a laundry list of things that need his attention. This type of scenario is entirely realistic, unfortunately. The dissatisfaction in a marriage increases when there is continual separation. The happiest of marriages can flounder under the weight of long stretches away from home.
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With companies like Amazon.com, Blue Apron, and the like providing everything with door-to-door level service, truck driving jobs have never been in more demand. With that level of demand comes a demanding schedule. Over-the-road truck drivers can be gone any length of time. It depends on the company, the loads, and any issues encountered while on the road. Therefore, a driver can end up being home only one or two days a week, or even just a few days a month. That can be hard on a marriage - any marriage.
Enter the concept of team driving. Team driving is perhaps one of the most effective ways to deliver goods across the nation. Teaming allows a load to move non-stop from start to finish. Consider this example:
A load of new tennis shoes arrives via cargo ship in Los Angeles, California on Monday with a final destination of Chicago, Illinois. This run is roughly 2,000 miles. As a solo run, it would take a driver 30 hours, or nearly three days to complete the run. A team can get the run done in half that time as one driver can sleep while the other drives, and thus keep the truck running non-stop until it reaches Chicago.
One solution is team driving with your spouse. Some couples decide to team drive in order to spend more time together and really preserve their relationship. But is that going to make or break a marriage? There is a lot to consider before stepping into a truck together.
What are the pros to team driving as a married couple?
Truck driving allows you to see the contiguous United States in all seasons. From Michigan in the summer to Texas in the winter, you can explore so much of the continental U.S. Granted, you do have a schedule to keep, so you cannot meander as it were. However, you naturally end up in so many different cities and towns across the U.S. that you can see so much. You could have dinner tonight underneath the Arch in St. Louis, and enjoy a quick peek at the Grand Canyon tomorrow. And there is downtime to take advantage of. Your truck might be in the shop overnight, or you go in to pick up a load and the warehouse isn’t ready for you and you have to come back the next day. This may allow you a few hours to explore the area you are in. Traveling together is a truly bonding experience as you see new sights together and create lasting memories to last a lifetime.
There are more than a few opinions on what makes a happy and strong marriage. Not all experts agree. We will not pontificate on what makes a marriage last or not, however, one key most can agree on is that of communication. What better way to communicate than when a couple is in a 10-square foot space for days on end. Does that sound more like a con? Let’s take a quick look at why it’s a positive. If your spouse says something to upset you, you can’t go off into another room and shut the door. You can’t go to your mom’s house for the evening, or even go hang you with your girlfriends over a cup of coffee. You are in a smaller space and so you realistically should talk to each other and work out whatever is wrong. The more honestly and openly you communicate, the stronger your marriage will become. The time you spend together in a cab can go a long way towards building lasting communication skills.
Team drivers are paid fairly well. Traditionally, teams make a set cents per mile (CPM) rate, which is in turn split 50/50 (or whatever other arrangement has been mutually agreed upon). Teamed couples will make the entire CPM rate, rather than sharing it with someone you hardly know and may not even like.
Overall, there are significant pros to team driving as a couple that can lead to years of wedded bliss.
What are the cons?
For as much as together time is a pro, it can also be a con from time to time. You are in a confined space for days, or even weeks, on end. When at home, you can move into another room, maybe go have dinner with a friend, or just walk around the mall. In a truck, you can go into the sleeper berth (provided you are not the one driving). While stopped to load or unload, generally speaking, you are not allowed to leave the truck, unless it is to go into a designated driver area. While at a truck stop, rest area, or the like, you can’t really go your own way for too long because you do have to get back on the road, together. So, it can make for some uncomfortable times if you are working through a problem. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you want to handle the situation and what your desired outcome is.
Stress based on delivery requirements.
Today’s delivery requirements are extremely tight. The reason is to increase profit wherever possible. The result is a stress whenever the unexpected occurs (think blown tire, non-working reefer, etc.). From a passenger vehicle cutting you off on the highway to a warehouse manager who thinks being 60 seconds late to a delivery should knock you to the back of the line, there are a lot of stresses in truck driving. Stress may cause many people to say things they normally wouldn’t. That being said, good communication can help cement over the cracks of a stressful day.
There are some instances where team driving within the confines of a trucking job is far more impractical for a couple. There are obvious reasons why it wouldn’t work, such as a husband or wife who has a serious illness (i.e. certain types of diabetes or heart disease), or those who have small children at home.
If you have not driven with your spouse, consider going out on a run (provided it’s okay with the carrier). Learn what is going on day to day in terms of driving conditions, sleeping arrangements, daily hygiene routines, eating habits, and other aspects of the job. There is a lot to consider before jumping in the cab with your spouse on a permanent basis.
Here are some questions to ask before making your final decision:
- Can I live without a real bed every night?
- Will there be any ramifications on my health?
- Do I mind eating out most meals?
- Am I self-disciplined enough to maintain a healthy diet on the road?
- Will I have the ability to shower daily?
- How will I brush my teeth?
- How will I change my clothes?
- How will I wash my clothes?
- What if I have a pet?
- Can I be away from aging parents for long stretches?
- Will I miss my family?
- Can I live in a confined space for long periods of time?
- Do I have the tools to communicate effectively with my spouse?
- Can I sleep in a moving vehicle?
- Can I sleep while someone else drives?
- Can I deal with traffic 11 hours a day, every day?
This list is not all-inclusive by any means. However, as you start to ask yourself these questions, more will likely come to mind. The best advice is to not let your fears stop you from considering team driving.
Pen or pencil (or marker or lip liner or eyebrow pencil)
Pad of paper (or back of a receipt, napkin, back of hand)
Make your own list of pros and cons
Seeing your list in black and white in front of you helps solidify decisions. When you are thinking about something it is easy to push something aside, when it’s simply down on paper in front of you, you can’t ignore it so easily.
So, what is the true cost of truck driving with your spouse? There is no clear-cut answer across the board. Each couple must decide themselves if it is the right choice. Many couples enjoy team driving. They enjoy traveling together, exploring new places, talking to each other. However, deciding to team for a trucker job without even trying it would be a mistake. Your worst fears could turn out to be unfounded, or not nearly as big a problem as imagined. And, you might quite like the alone time with your husband or wife away from electronic distractions where the two of you can talk, listen to books, or simply enjoy the company of one another.