IT is a question I am asked often: 'How can I live my life around my husband's travel schedule and still stay sane?' Betsy's husband James is an executive who is on the road half the time. Since they moved to Hong Kong nine months ago, she has been trying to get herself settled. To keep busy during her husband's absences, she built up an active social life for herself and has become involved in charity work. Both Betsy and her husband enjoy their time together when he is in town. But recently tension has been building up and they frequently fight over trivial matters. James complains that Betsy is too involved with her friends, even when he is in town. He feels she is short-changing, even ignoring him. After all, she spends all her time with friends when he is not around; why should her social life invade their precious and limited time together? James has a point. It is natural for anybody in his position to want to monopolise his wife's time for the sake of keeping close ties between them. However, James hasn't realised that lately they have been living very different lives. Betsy doesn't travel and she needs to build a life in Hong Kong. She cannot drop everything whenever he is back to town. She feels he is trivialising her friendships and charity work; in short, trivialising her own needs. Betsy, on the other hand, complains that all James does when he is home is sleep. Much of his time is spent recovering from the exhaustion of travelling. Yet he expects her to be there. Sex and intimacy are either non-existent or scheduled in an unspontaneous way. What's more, James doesn't hide his disappointment when his homecoming is not greeted with excitement. He is happy and relieved to be home. He can finally unload everything and needs a compassionate partner to share and to listen. Yet for Betsy his homecomings are routine matters. His demands for attention are seen as an intrusion into her routine. After weeks of running a self-sufficient life, adjusting to being a sharing partner often needs time. It is by no means easy for frequent travellers and their families to maintain a normal family life. It requires mutual effort to create a workable lifestyle that pleases both partners. Feelings should be honoured without judging who is more justified to feel a certain way. Such a situation calls for consideration and understanding for your partner, not just for yourself. James needs to respect Betsy's need to meet and maintain private commitments, even when they overlap with his time at home. Betsy needs to make an effort to adjust her schedule for her husband's sake. James' unpredictable travel schedule is the main obstacle to overcome. Effort is needed to make his itineraries more tolerable for both. Perhaps he could avoid being away at weekends, or perhaps he could plan certain trips well ahead, thus injecting some predictability and allowing Betsy to arrange to join him for a short holiday when his business is finished. Meanwhile, Betsy needs to be sensitive and not treat her husband like an outsider. She should invite him to meet some of her friends and join some of their activities. The above is not an actual case. Finally, she should try to welcome him enthusiastically when he arrives home from an exhausting trip. Lack of time to talk can cause problems for a frequent traveller and his or her spouse. Communication during the separation is just as essential. It is important to maintain frequent contact by telephone, fax or letters. Making a relationship work under such time constraints chiefly requires patience and understanding. Both sides must be willing to be open and to discuss ways to re-arrange or redefine their life together.