The Jonas Family
We asked five wives of veteran maritime officers to share tips on how to keep the love alive despite work contracts onboard ranging from three to five months. They all agreed that open and constant communication is important. Thanks to mobile phones and the internet, sending messages throughout the day is now possible. They can also easily update their husbands about what’s happening at home and with their children via voice or video call.
How do you and your husband stay in love despite being away with each other most of the time?
Armel and her husband, Second Officer Jonathan Jonas, communicate daily through Facebook Messenger. Armel makes sure to share important news, especially about their kids’ activities. “I tell him mostly good news. If there’s bad news, I try to make it lighter. If there’s a small problem that I can handle by myself, I don’t tell him. Mag-iisip lang sya, baka makaapekto pa sa trabaho niya.”
Rowena and Second Engineer Mario Redulla always find the opportunity to see and hear each other despite the time difference. “We talk about everything every day. We also let each other know when we don’t like the topic anymore to avoid getting bored or irritated.”
Catherine shares that her husband, Chief Officer Clifford Dela Pena, sends text messages and calls her every single day. He never fails to send gifts and greetings on special occasions like her birthday and their anniversary.
Portia and Master Mariner Gerald Flora emphasize that while it is important to keep in touch often when they’re apart, it is equally important that they cherish every moment when they are together.
Donna and her husband like to surprise each other. “I’m fortunate to have a thoughtful husband who makes me feel loved by sending notes and flowers. On my part, I usually ask his office who will be joining his vessel so I can send gifts. There’s a time that I also prepared a video presentation for his birthday.” When her husband is home, they go out on simple dates just to talk about anything and enjoy each other’s company.
Happily married for 18 years now, Armel is glad to give advice to younger couples. “When your husband is on vacation, give him time to rest and relax. Most of the time, happy din sila pagsilbihan ang family at asikasuhin ang kids. As a wife, don’t nag. Understand your differences to avoid arguments. Ang tagal nyo hindi nagkita, aawayin mo pa? And lastly, have a healthy and passionate sex life!”
The Redulla Family
How do you make sure that your children have a loving relationship with their father?
Portia sees to it that their children, ages 13 and 16, get to speak with their Papa often, especially during special occasions. “With modern technologies, kids can now talk to their seafarer father onboard ships even though they’re thousands of miles apart.”
Donna encourages their three children to spend a lot of time with their Tatay when he’s on vacation. She reminds her husband to refrain from scolding the children so that they’re always excited to see their father back home.
Rowena is confident that their children, ages 5 and 15, love their father as if he is with them all the time. “We’ve trained them. They know our set-up and understand the situation.”
Armel always involves her husband in decision making concerning their kids. She lets them bond over activities that their three boys love to do with their father. When the kids were still young, Jonathan was very much hands on – taking charge of bathing and feeding whenever he could. “Our kids never felt na malayo ang loob nila sa Daddy nila. We’re very thankful that he accepts shorter contracts now unlike before na 8 to 10 months.”
Catherine credits her husband for making the effort to explain to their children, ages 13, 8, and 2, the reason why he needs to work abroad. “He talks to them whenever he calls. He always says, ‘I love you mga anak. Miss na kayo ni Daddy.’” During his vacation, Clifford takes time to bring their children to school and picks them up after, usually to hang out and watch movies together. He never forgets to give gifts on birthdays and always rewards them when they get good grades.
The Dela Pena Family
What are the activities or hobbies that you and your husband do individually to promote self-care?
Rowena and Mario have very simple self-care activities. “He reads the Bible a lot. He watches downloaded films and TV shows. He loves playing table tennis. I’m busy with our kids and our growing business – a number of food stores, from morning until night. I have my me-time once or twice a month – go to the spa, have coffee with friends, and do some shopping. “
Gerald maintains an active lifestyle onboard although his job can be considered sedentary. Portia, a dedicated homemaker, likes to cook healthy meals for herself and the kids whenever she can squeeze the time from her hectic daily schedule.
Catherine is a pharmacist and she prefers to stay home after work. She considers cooking and decorating their home as her therapy. Clifford loves to join races – from marathons, duathlons, to triathlons.
Donna loves to walk in the mornings. Her husband likes to go running and biking. Donna is into arts, which her husband fully supports. While she has no interest in gardening, her husband loves to tend to their home garden.
Jonathan usually plays sports with their sons. As a stay-at-home mom of three, Armel admits that practically all her time is for managing the household and supporting her children’s activities. A strong prayer life is her powerful form of self-care.
The Flora Family
What is the best thing about being in the seafarer industry?
Catherine and Rowena agree that the best thing about seafaring is the financial security. “With proper handling and investing, the high salary of a seaman can secure a bright future for his family, most especially for his children,” Rowena adds.
“Most seafarers have big salaries. They can afford luxuries in life. Although it is not completely a stable industry, it’s easy to save when you are lucky with your company. Another thing that I like about the seafaring industry is the shorter contracts, usually lasting 3 to 10 months. Unlike most land based OFWs who cannot go home for years, seafarers can spend more time with their families,” says Armel.
“You get to meet different kinds of people, learn about their culture and how to deal with them. Despite a lot of differences, you will realize that you just need to broaden your horizon in order to understand their mind set. You also get to experience different countries, their culture and tradition firsthand. My husband’s job gave our family the opportunity to acquire things that are not available in our country. Seafarers who know how to handle money can easily establish their families financially with the competitive income they receive,” says Donna.
“Well for one thing, you’ve got this chance to see the world for free! Maritime companies also offer lucrative salaries for their workers especially those who are deployed overseas and on specialized ships (i.e. tankers, survey/research vessels, etc.). On top of that, seafarers don’t pay income taxes, placement fees and other expenses associated with the job, such as board and lodging. Ever dream of a peaceful workplace sans the drudgery of having to commute daily? Then seafaring might be the right job for you!” exclaims Portia.