My job is straightforward. I work in a cubicle farm with a bunch of other people during standard work hours. I might stay late on any given day or work an evening or weekend if I need to, but for the most part I’m out of the office by 6pm.

Studly works for a government agency that covers some areas around the clock. He has the “first” shift – which means he starts work at 4am bright and early five days a week. It also means he gets off of work just after lunch and gets the rest of the afternoon to himself.

His work days differ from mine as well. I have Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays off but he has Wednesdays and Thursdays as his weekend and has to work some holidays. Basically his schedule kind of sucks. We try to make it work by having me stay with him during my weekend and he lives with me during his. That only leaves 3 days a week where we either trade off commuting to each other or have a night with friends. For him to stay with me means he has to leave at 2am to make it two hours to work. I leave his place when he goes to work at just before 4am. On the plus side I miss commuter traffic.

Then there’s trying to find things to do while we wait for the other person to get off of work. On Saturdays I putz around his place and explore the neighborhood until he gets off of work but he has to wait until I’m off at 5. Sometimes it’s hard to give up your weekend at your own house to wait around for the other person at their house. In short, it’s a struggle.

What makes is more difficult is the fact that he travels for work, often for long periods of time. The longest he was away was for three months! I actually went to visit him and we took a mini-vacation together during his weekend. His job entails being prepared to go anywhere for the government with less than 12 hours notice at any point in time and he might be gone up to four months. Before we met he was sent away for four months with only six hours notice. How do you even pack for that with so little time!? But the pay is really good and he loves to travel.

If you count how long he’s been gone it’s been about half of our relationship, most of that was while we were in different time zones. Right now he’s gone again, for the next three months. And I know that when he gets back he could be sent away again for months at a time with virtually no warning. It’s been tough – when he’s here he’s a significant drive away but when he’s gone we only have Skype and texting to try to keep connected. He’s worth it, but I won’t lie and say things are easy.