I've been asked so many times how Ray and I make our marriage work since he works for the railroad. It's quite amazing how if you have a solid marriage and great communication that you can actually thrive in a railroad marriage.
When Ray first was hired on the railroad it was tough at first because we didn't get paid for a whole month, but we planned well and actually were able to completely meet all needs and more during that month. Then he started training and that was really easy because he was just in a classroom and was home EVERY night which was awesome! Well then he had to do on the job training and there are three different shifts. The day one wasn't so bad and neither was the evening one...but that graveyard shift was sooooo difficult to adjust to. When Ray worked in the yard after training, he didn't have a regular schedule, but he was home at least every day for part of the time. This gave the boys time to adjust to Daddy working different times and sometimes having to sleep when they were up during the day. Now we homeschool all three boys so that sometimes makes it even harder to keep a house quiet during the day, but we have done it and I'm amazed how we have adjusted. Well now here's the kicker.....he eventually moves to Conducting and now Engineering on train trips and is out 1-2 days from our family. He still goes to work at all times of the night and day.
What changes is when he's home, we make a special effort to spend quality family time together. Ray and I try to read the Bible and pray together whenever possible so that we can strengthen our relationship with God as well as spending personal time together. Now I know that many railroad wives do not do this, but I get up with Ray even when he's going out at 3:00 a.m. and make sure he has a lunch, coffee, and whatever he needs before he takes off. I like to also send him off with a hug, I love you and a kiss goodbye. It's something that I've done ever since he has started and something I hope to continue as long as he's employed by the railroad. To me this is especially important since we cannot really talk together for up to 12 hours after he leaves the house since he can't use a cell phone on the train.
The boys also have learned to be flexible about where we do schoolwork. In the winter we go upstairs and lounge in the living room and do school and try to stay upstairs and keep quiet so Ray can sleep. In the spring and fall, we get to do class outside and for those of you who have boys...you can imagine how much they enjoy being able to go outside to school!! One of the things that also makes our marriage work is that I continually remind the boys of the sacrifice that Ray is making for our family. I let them know over and over that he has to work all kinds of hours and be gone because he loves us so much and wants to provide for us. It's so important that you speak positively of your children's father when you are married, especially when you have a husband that works long hours like my husband does. The Bible tells how to be a good wife in Proverbs 31, a passage that I read over and over and have continually worked to strive for in our marriage. I believe that speaking highly of your husband, not only brings honor to him but to you and your children. It also helps the children to have a strong relationship with their father. The older boys get it and when Ray is home they have learned to capitalized on daddy and them time because they know that it won't be long before he's out again. Josiah on the other hand gets "daddy" homesick and doesn't quite understand why daddy has to go to work all the time. However, even as I type this, he too has learned to take advantage of Daddy time and is on a special trip to the park with Ray to feed the deer and ducks!!
Ray and I also take special "us" time whenever we can. Now it is a little difficult to sometimes have actual dates, but we make sure to spend quality time with just the two of us, even if it's playing an internet game together while sitting by each other on different computers or just talking together one on one about what is going on in our lives, etc. Ray is by far my best friend and I think that because of that we will continue to grow closer and closer together as the years go by. The one thing that also brings us together and keeps our family so well grounded is our deep relationship with God. Prayer together and when we are apart has strengthened us as a couple and as individuals!!